Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.
Their study controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment, retirement, poverty rates, state population, murder arrest rates, violent crime rates, and on and on.
The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.
Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.
You will notice that most multiple-victim shootings occur in “gun-free zones” — even within states that have concealed-carry laws: public schools, churches, Sikh temples, post offices, the movie theater where James Holmes committed mass murder, and the Portland, Ore., mall where a nut gunned down shoppers a few weeks ago.
Guns were banned in all these places. Mass killers may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.
If the deterrent effect of concealed-carry laws seems surprising to you, that’s because the media hide stories of armed citizens stopping mass shooters. At the Portland shooting, for example, no explanation was given for the amazing fact that the assailant managed to kill only two people in the mall during the busy Christmas season.
It turns out, concealed-carry-holder Nick Meli hadn’t noticed that the mall was a gun-free zone. He pointed his (otherwise legal) gun at the shooter as he paused to reload, and the next shot was the attempted mass murderer killing himself. (Meli aimed, but didn’t shoot, because there were bystanders behind the shooter.)
In a nonsense “study” going around the Internet right now, Mother Jones magazine claims to have produced its own study of all public shootings in the last 30 years and concludes: “In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.”
This will come as a shock to people who know something about the subject.
The magazine reaches its conclusion by simply excluding all cases where an armed civilian stopped the shooter: They looked only at public shootings where four or more people were killed, i.e., the ones where the shooter wasn’t stopped.
If we care about reducing the number of people killed in mass shootings, shouldn’t we pay particular attention to the cases where the aspiring mass murderer was prevented from getting off more than a couple rounds?
It would be like testing the effectiveness of weed killers, but refusing to consider any cases where the weeds died.
Image courtesy shutterstock / Darren Liby
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Hat tip: Mediaite
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Zero Dark Thirty marks a cinematic breakthrough into the realm of journalism. Just a year and a half after the Navy SEAL assault that brought Osama bin Laden’s life to a bloody conclusion, The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow has brought the story to the screen, using extensive research and aid from the White House. President Obama evidently thought this film, which has a gripping documentary feel, would be released before the election and make him look good, but it turns out he was wrong on both counts. Zero Dark Thirty (military slang for the wee hours of the morning when the attack took place) makes Obama appear somewhere between irrelevant and counterproductive in the intelligence mission that led to Bin Laden’s demise.
Young star Jessica Chastain, who last year got an Oscar nomination for The Help, gives another awards-caliber performance as a 30-year-old CIA agent named Maya who has spent 12 years tracking Bin Laden, ever since she was recruited out of high school. At CIA black sites in Pakistan and Afghanistan, she actively participates in brutal interrogation techniques including forced sleep deprivation, beatings and waterboarding. These procedures are shown as essential to learning of the existence of a courier, Abu Ahmed, whose trail would eventually lead to Bin Laden’s fortress-like lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
President Obama is referred to obliquely as someone who demands factual certainty (without which, it is implied, he won’t give the go-ahead for the assault, which is worrisome enough) but doesn’t appear in the film except in a clip from a real-life news program. In the clip, Obama is shown disavowing torture, which would seem to pose a major obstacle to the CIA agents watching him on television. They know too well that meddling from politicians who have no idea how difficult it is to obtain intelligence from career terrorists could easily nullify their efforts. Obama comes off looking like a weak, oblivious fool who places his own preening above the national interest. Like I said: This movie is practically a documentary.
Margaret Ling fears that a catastrophic hurricane will devastate the city. Cameron Moore is preparing for the meltdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, a rather sketchy reactor on the east bank of the Hudson River north of the city. Stock trader Jay — who remembers 9/11 vividly — fears a dirty bomb. In this special Doomsday Preppers, these three team up with a team of experts and attempt to “escape from New York.”
Yes, like you I figured “they’re dead” before the opening credits completed but tempered my skepticism with the knowledge that this town has survived both terror attacks and Hurricane Sandy. Yes, they can be obnoxious, self-centered, and self-important, but they are survivors.
So… how did they do?
It’s late in the holiday shopping season, and you are short on ideas for that child, nephew, niece or grandchild who loves to read. As someone who has perused quite a number of books for kids, I can tell you that there are good ones and bad ones – and I don’t mean quality. While some of the bad ones are obviously bad, sometimes it is not so clear. So here are eight PJ-approved gifts for kids, while there is still time to get them:
1. The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.
This is probably the most beautiful children’s book I have ever read. It is the story of Jewish immigrants to the United States and tells the tale of an article of clothing owned by those immigrants turned into a quilt passed down one generation to the next. It is a story of traditions, family, goodness, celebration and America.
2. The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
These books are indispensable children’s literature and should be in every home. They are the story of the Ingalls family through young Laura’s eyes as they traveled west and made America. It is a story of self-reliance, hard work, faith, values and goodness. The hardships suffered by this American family are a reminder of how this country was built.
3. The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown.
Skip the silly Goodnight Moon by the same author and get this lyrical story of a small island, faith, nature, and the march of time.
Your behavior is influenced by information that surges through three different channels — your conscious mind, your subconscious mind, and your instincts.
Your conscious mind is easy to explain. Think about how you use your conscious mind and, congratulations, you’re using your conscious mind. Now, think about what that means — and again, you’re using your conscious mind and you know you’re doing it.
Your instincts are a little trickier and many people would even categorize them as part of your subconscious mind. However, because they’re more instantaneous and easier to read, i.e. “This just doesn’t feel right” or “Something tells me that guy is lying to me,” they deserve to be treated as distinct from our conscious and unconscious mind.
That brings us to the subconscious, which is the most fascinating of the three because it so often steers us without our being able to feel its misty hand on the reins. It’s like The Matrix Revolutions except with mediocre special effects and no Keanu Reeves. One day you’re a computer programmer and the next thing you know, you’re engaged in a seemingly endless stream of philosophy class banter while you wait for your ten-minute fight scene at the end of the movie with Agent Smith, which is the only cool thing left in the atrocity you call a movie…ehr, a life.
The message: Your life doesn’t have to be as crummy as The Matrix Revolutions. You can be better than that by spotting and correcting these psychological defense mechanisms.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic The Screwtape Letters, a devil instructs his nephew to try to corrupt a man by
(aggravating) that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.
Actually, it doesn’t take a devil to pull this off. Unless you have honest friends, a good psychologist, or are unusually introspective, that’s probably a good description of you as well. Taking a tough, unsparing look at yourself is painful and even scary because when you find problems, you feel compelled to change to fix them. Denial may be easy, but ultimately it’s those who know themselves best who go the farthest in life.
Picture a lovely California spring day, mid-1990s. I headed up to the Sierras with a friend in a 1982 Plymouth Reliant K car to meet up with my boyfriend and his fraternity brothers at a rock face they liked to climb. We’d missed them at the original spot and had to come back down the dirt, one-lane road that snaked up the hill. I carefully tried to ride the stiff ridges left by more adequate cars along a muddy stretch. I felt the K-car start to sink to the side, slowly becoming mired in the muddy grooves. Dusk was near, and in the interest of not becoming bear appetizer I jumped out the car, mud rising past my ankles (there went my white Keds), and had my friend slide behind the driver’s seat. I pushed as she hit the gas, the car eventually lurched out of the sticky mud, and I landed face-first in said mud.
Fast forward to my first new car, a 1995 Ford Escort GT. A friend and I decided to hop in the hooptie for a spontaneous road trip to Monterey. I found a brilliant shortcut across the Coast Ranges on my non-AAA-quality road map that should get us there in no time. When the road quicly turned dirt, I just kept on going. And going, with clods of hard dirt banging against the bottom of the car. Until the road was washed out, at which point we had to turn around and go back.
And I also can’t forget the time when I was reporting from near Campo, Calif., at the Mexican border, plowing through the dirt not-quite roads in a 2003 Camry when I heard someone following me in the desolate area frequented by drug traffickers and had to peel rubber to lose them.
In short, I have a long, illustrious history of taking vehicles into places they just aren’t built to go.
So when it came time to trade in my 2007 New Beetle convertible — first step was getting over the emotional attachment to Herbie, who brought me to the East Coast from L.A. and even had a stint in Denver where he got fitted with Blizzak tires — I decided to give in to my adventurous nature and get a car that could make it over a speed bump without bottoming out.
Here’s a lovely picture that may have slipped by you: Silver Linings Playbook. You might have been put off by its subject matter (bipolar disorder) or scared away by its R-rating (for language mostly, I think) or just missed it because it’s on the small side. But it really is delightful — an uplifting Christmas romance of the old school, albeit dressed in modern dysfunction.
That modern-to-old-fashioned storytelling strategy seems to be something director David O. Russell developed for his last fine film, The Fighter. That one opened with half an hour of such realistically depicted familial cruelty that I nearly stopped watching — until a startling scene of grace and redemption about a third of the way through transformed the entire picture into a stand-up-and-cheer fight film of the first water.
Likewise here, Russell starts out depicting the travails of a man with bipolar disorder (played by Bradley Cooper) with searing honesty and humor — but then sets him in a love story with all the charm and style of a movie on TCM. Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (of Hunger Games fame) play a couple of self-destructive misfits, deploying all their modern acting skills to get them right. But as their characters teach each other tolerance and kindness — and learn to take their medication — the actors unleash their inner movie stars and walk into a Christmas finale with all the self-assurance of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.
It’s not just good storytelling, it’s smart movie making with a real understanding of how the medium works. Not something you see too often, I know.
Excellent supporting cast too: Robert De Niro’s great; Chris Tucker steals every scene he’s in — he had me in stitches.
If you’re going to grouse about the four-letter words and realism, don’t go. But if you like uplifting entertainment for adults, this is really good stuff. One of the better movies I’ve seen this year.
A contrary view at PJ Lifestyle from John Boot:
The number of young black men who cast a vote for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 tripled that of 2008. Hearing this statistic, one commenter quipped, “Is this one of those situations where three times nothing is still nothing?”
No. “Nearly 20 percent of black males under 30 voted for Romney, more than three times what McCain got.” That according to Ann Coulter, who gets her information from Pew Research.
How? Why? Is there a growing number of young black conservatives?
Those stand as worthy questions. Answering them properly would require follow-up polling. Any number of factors could have informed these votes, which deviate markedly from the wider black community. At large, blacks voted 93% for Barack Obama, making it all the more fascinating to ponder why young black men trended toward the Republican candidate.
While we must wait and see if more comprehensive polling provides answers, likely influences upon the black vote hang ripe for analysis. Generally, it makes sense that the proverbial honeymoon is over. President Obama’s second inauguration cannot be as historic as his first. The novelty of beholding the nation’s first black president has faded over time.
Of course, there must be more to our cited trend than that. If fading novelty were the only factor, we would see the trend across the entire black electorate, and not merely among young black males. What do they see that their elders don’t?
For one thing, blacks fared worse under the Obama administration than in previous years. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley confirms:
When the president assumed office, unemployment was 12.7% for blacks and 7.1% for whites. Today it is 14.3% for blacks and 7% for whites, which means that the black-white employment gap has not merely persisted under Mr. Obama but widened.
American Thinker’s Chad Stafko adds:
[A report from the liberal Center for American Progress], released in April, shows more dismal economic conditions in the African-American community. It found that from 2009 through 2011, black minimum wage workers swelled 16.6%, while whites had only 5.2% more minimum wage workers. Not only, then, has there been a disproportionate increase in the number of African-Americans who are in the unemployment line, but there is also a greater number of blacks working for minimum wage. This surely wasn’t the change African-Americans were looking for in Obama.
These results shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, the kind of “change” which the president and his ideological ilk continue to propose ignores the source of value, and thus the source of wealth and prosperity.
The music industry’s annual holiday shuttering begins this week. Sure, Motorhead and Rush will battle on the reissue front, with a few other albums from smaller labels looking to pick up a few end-of-year sales, including a hip-hop concept album from Atlanta-based rapper T.I. Beyond that, the labels count on catalog sales carrying the remainder of the season, not wanting a major release crushed by the post-Christmas lull.
Hollywood loves this run-up to Christmas, choosing to issue DVDs and Blu-Rays this week on both Tuesday and Friday, in advance of next week’s annual Christmas new-release blowout in theaters. The studios’ big names set up for battle, including Matthew McConaughey’s NC-17-rated bloody black comedy Killer Joe, Richard Gere’s Oscar bait Arbitrage and Clint Eastwood’s unjustly maligned Trouble with the Curve. And with Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s third film outing and the Glee-light Pitch Perfect coming out the same week, welcome literally to something for every taste.
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New Releases: DVD / Blu-Ray
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bike messenger who puts his life on the line every time he sets out on a delivery run. But with someone truly out to kill him, this last-envelope-of-the-day “premium rush” run definitely ups the ante. High-octane action and enjoyable performances buoy this real-time bike messenger action flick, in a film the Minneapolis Star Tribune called “loopy, crazed, dangerous fun.”
The film which put the NC-17 rating back into public discussion, Killer Joe features a scheme which makes the depravity of Fargo look quaint. Tom Long, of the Detroit News, puts it best: “If you like your movies filled with twisted humor, sexual perversion, psychological intimidation and sudden violence, Killer Joe is the flick for you.” Surprisingly, the film comes in an unrated “Director’s Cut” edition as well, suggesting changes were made even to receive its original “kiss of death” rating.
In an age of stat-crunching “moneyball,” Gus Lobel, an old-school scout, struggles to keep up despite a career’s worth of long-term success. Needing to scout the latest hitting phenom despite his failing eyesight, Lobel teams up with his adult daughter for a road trip, learning in the process that bodies fail us but family never will. Though critically reamed during its theatrical run, Eastwood’s sentimental film deserves a second look on Blu-Ray, playing better to its strengths on the smaller screen.
Army Wives: Season Six Part Two (DVD)
Californication: The Fifth Season (DVD)
A Madoff-esque hedge-fund manager attempts to pass off his trading empire to a major bank before anyone can expose his massive financial fraud, but an unexpected bloody error leaves him juggling family, business and crime. Richard Gere hopes to secure an Oscar nomination for his performance, among his all-time best according to Time and Rolling Stone.
Funny or Die Presents: Season Two (DVD)
House of Lies: Season One (DVD)
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“You’ll shoot your eye out!” your mother cries, even as you’ll drool over the ultimate holiday gift for everyone who ever saw A Christmas Story. We’ve also discovered your own personal interactive R2D2 droid and a perfect pair of headphones for the online gamer on your list this week in last-minute gift finds.
PJ Lifestyle: Ultimate Holiday Gifts
For the kid in all of us, or the one living just down the hall, this Daisy Red Ryder youth BB gun brings rich tradition and dependable design together with a lever-cocking action and a 650-shot BB capacity. Whether you’re bringing back past holiday memories or creating new ones with your family, order now and you’ll protect your homestead from Black Bart’s men in no time.
What better way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Star Wars than by bringing this movie-accurate droid into your life? This electronic toy responds to commands, can find and follow you, and plays multiple games, responding to more than 40 voice commands. Though not for small children — the droid’s personality requires patience to learn features parts which risk breakage in small hands — few interactive gifts pack the punch of this 15-inch companion. Once you master R2’s “companion” and “game” modes, move on to “command” mode to plot real-time maneuvering or programmed courses, which your droid will learn to follow. I’m geeking out just thinking about it.
This headset combines premium stereo game sound with crystal-clear communication on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and PC/Mac. For those who long for a truly engaging audio-gaming experience, this product combines a stereo headset for chat sound and an amplified stereo headset for in-game sound, featuring independent volume controls mounted right on the cloth-braided cables. Over-the-ear design allows for optimal comfort as well, making these perfect for any extended session.
Nikon’s most compact FX-format HD-SLR camera, the D600 allows you to share photos and cinema-quality HD video in 1080p, while the 24.3 megapixel sensor allows you to capture every detail in stunning clarity. From Amazon:
Passionate photographers who seek exceptional full-frame, high-resolution performance rely on Nikon FX-format HD-SLRs. For the first time ever, that level of performance is available in a compact, affordable HD-SLR. D600’s 24.3 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor captures every detail with lifelike sharpness. Its EXPEED 3 processing system manages all that data with remarkable speed and accuracy, enabling up to 5.5 fps continuous shooting at full resolution. And the lowlight performance synonymous with Nikon is again proven deserved—shoot crystal clear images from ISO 100 to 6400, expandable down to 50 and up to 25600 for extreme situations.
If you’ve been looking for the right camera to push your passion for photography beyond the amateur level, consider the D600 while Amazon still has it steeply discounted for the holidays!
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Without many major-label albums getting a big pre-holiday push this week, there’s room to find a few nice surprises, including a 16-disc collection of Motorhead’s early albums, and live albums from Buddy Guy, The Pogues and Toots and the Maytals. Meanwhile, a soundtrack battle looms between Les Misérables and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Tuesday New Releases in Music
Beausoleil w. Michael Doucet – Hot Chilli Mama (Arhoolie Records)
Live at Legends features Buddy Guy’s last live recordings from the now-defunct Legends Blues Club in Chicago, captured during his 2010 residency at the venue. The album features a variety of hits spanning his five decades in blues, a perfect introduction to the music which earned him this year’s Kennedy Center honors alongside Led Zeppelin.
John Delafose – Zydeco Man (Arhoolie Records) – Vinyl
Memphis May Fire – Challenger (Rise Records) – Vinyl
Memphis’s post-hardcore answer to southern rock, Memphis May Fire’s latest features fiery grunge-fueled guitar riffs coupled with dueling vocals alternating from pop-punk choruses to full-throated metal-core screams. Out since June, this week’s reissue includes the album on both CD and vinyl.
Motorhead – Complete Early Years (Sanctuary) - 16 Disc Box Set
Soundtrack – Les Misérables: Highlights from the Motion Picture (Universal Republic)
Soundtrack – Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (Universal Republic)
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head (Atlantic)
The Atlanta-based rapper’s eighth studio album features collaborations with R. Kelly, CeeLo Green, Andre 3000 and Pink, alongside production from long-time collaborators Pharell and DJ Toomp. The LP’s concept, the first in a series inspired by Marvin Gaye’s Troubled Man, seeks to answer the question: “Could you learn to love a troubled man?”
Tilly and the Wall – Defenders (Team Love) – Vinyl Single
Toots and the Maytals – Live (Island)
Toots Hibbert’s career spans the development of Jamaican music over the last four decades, from ska and rock-steady all the way through contemporary reggae. This live performance from 1991 features his band the Maytals, mixing his own songs with creative covers including his take on John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” showcasing the range of his talents.
Venom – Fallen Angels: Limited Edition (Universal Int’l)
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That’s all for this week’s edition of Tuesday New Releases! We’re open to your suggestions as we develop this column to best serve you. If you have suggestions for future coverage, or if you have a product you’d like featured or reviewed here, simply email Jonathan Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Related at PJ Lifestyle, differing views on the film:
John Boot: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Chore
David P. Goldman: Why J.R.R. Tolkien’s Enduring Popularity Is a Cause for Hope in Our Popular Culture
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
The Occupy Cleveland movement ground to an anticlimactic halt last year as four of the five men accused of plotting to blow up an area bridge received prison sentences ranging from 6-11 years.
After an undercover operation, the FBI arrested the men April 30 in what the agency termed an act of domestic terrorism. The men later admitted their roles in a plan to remotely detonate improvised devices containing C-4 explosives. … The men pleaded guilty in September to charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and use of an explosive device to destroy property used in interstate commerce.
Joshua Stafford, the fifth member of the group, awaits sentencing pending the outcome of a psychological evaluation.
The men all participated regularly in the Occupy Cleveland movement. A website dedicated to supporting the confessed bombers clearly links them to the group, and Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummings, himself a founding member, even admitted he knew about the anarchist views of the “Cleveland Five.”
Nevertheless, on the day of the arrests, Occupy Cleveland denounced the actions of the men, emphasizing their commitment to non-violence:
While the persons arrested Monday evening by the FBI have participated in Occupy Cleveland events, they were in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland. Occupy Cleveland has affirmed the principles of non-violence since its inception on October 6, 2011.
Whenever someone in their camp commits an act of violence, someone in the group exchanges his Guy Fawkes mask for a “surprised face” and issues a statement like this, wondering aloud how this could have happened to their peaceful little commune. Verum Serum compiled a list of violent crimes associated with the movement, including rapes, assaults, knife fights, and Molotov cocktails — all behaviors we’ve come to expect from the left.
The reality: while the public faces of the Occupy movement spout the mantras of peace and non-violence, these groups act as tolerant breeding grounds for violence. While citing Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as their role models, the movement creates a safe ideological space for those who would choose violence as the means for revolution. While the U.S. Constitution and the Judeo-Christian legal traditions rely upon the concepts of natural law, absolute truth, and, quite simply, a general agreement that some actions are right and others are wrong, the Occupy movement deconstructs those virtues as it embraces postmodernism and adheres to policies designed to turn a blind eye to violence.
Peter Jackson’s first of three “Hobbit” films took a thrashing from the critics, who disliked the effect produced by the new 48-frames-per-second projection system. This makes everything a bit too clear, a bit too smooth, such that sets and costumes seemed artificial to some. It is off-putting at first. Halfway through the film, though, I suddenly thought, “This is the way I saw the world when I was a child!” There are many wonderful things about Jackson’s film, of which the choice of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins stands at the top of my list; unlike the listless Elijah Wood, a boy playing the role of the middle-aged Frodo in the “Rings” trilogy, Freeman is a grown-up. He is a master of English understatement but also an actor of great range, and he carries the film brilliantly. As in the “Rings” trilogy, the sets and settings are marvelous. Especially gratifying was the inclusion of many of Tolkien’s poems with affecting settings by Howard Shore.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduring popularity is cause for hope in popular culture. He did not write fantasy so much as roman à clef about the past and future of the West. His Hobbits are the English standing against totalitarian aggression — the two towers of Berlin and Moscow — with decency and courage. “Alone among 20th century novelists, J.R.R. Tolkien concerned himself with the mortality not of individuals but of peoples. The young soldier-scholar of World War I viewed the uncertain fate of European nations through the mirror of the Dark Ages, when the life of small peoples hung by a thread. In the midst of today’s Great Extinction of cultures, and at the onset of civilizational war, Tolkien evokes an uncanny resonance among today’s readers,” I wrote when the first of the Rings films appeared. I am no maven where Christian literature is concerned, but Tolkien’s theological depth impressed me:
Tolkien is a writer of greater theological depth than his Oxford colleague C S Lewis, in my judgment. Lewis is a felicitous writer and a diligent apologist, but mere allegory along the lines of the Narnia series can do no more than restate Christian doctrine; it cannot really expand our experience of it. Tolkien takes us to the dark frontier of a world that is not yet Christian, and therefore is tragic, but has the capacity to become Christian. It is the world of the Dark Ages, in which barbarians first encounter the light. It is not fantasy, but rather a distillation of the spiritual history of the West. Whereas C S Lewis tries to make us comfortable in what we already believe by dressing up the story as a children’s masquerade, Tolkien makes us profoundly uncomfortable. Our people, our culture, our language, our toehold upon this shifting and uncertain Earth are no more secure than those of a thousand extinct tribes of the Dark Ages; and a greater hope than that of the work of our hands and the hone of our swords must avail us.
Few people in the last 200 years understood human nature and mankind’s fallen state quite like Dostoevsky. His uncanny abilities to dissect the pathology of a killer or the spiritual joy of a contented Russian peasant have inspired generations of writers, thinkers, and even psychologists for a century and a half.
But more than simply being an insightful novelist on the human condition, Dostoevsky turned out to be a truly prophetic voice in his predictions of the dangerous and deadly places where certain ideologies and philosophies popular at the time would lead his beloved Russia in particular, and the modern Western world in general.
In the course of a number of his books – The Devils (aka The Possessed) and The Brothers Karamazov, for example – he foretold of the coming socioeconomic and geopolitical nightmares that awaited 20th century societies that would adopt progressivism, nihilism, and socialism as their guiding principles. His words carry with them a deeper weight since Dostoevsky lived during his youth as a progressive ideologue eventually sentenced first to death and then, after a mock execution meant to “get his attention,” to four years of hard labor in Siberia.
He returned a deeply religious man and, after spending a few years in Europe investigating the teachings of leading Western intellectuals, a vehement anti-socialist.
In describing the underlying motivations of the young, radical, rabble-rousing character Peter Verkhovensky in The Devils, Dostoevsky said:
He’s a kind, well-meaning boy, and awfully sensitive…But let me tell you, the whole trouble stems from immaturity and sentimentality! It’s not the practical aspects of socialism that fascinate him, but its emotional appeal – its idealism –what we may call its mystical, religious aspect – its romanticism…and on top of that, he just parrots other people.
Only someone who has known the “other side” of the psychological lines, commiserating among those who wish to tear civilizations and their institutions down from within, can write with such creative specificity.
But again, Dostoevsky’s strength remains the predictive quality of his novels. He identified the strategies the Left would use in the 20th century and their final destinations. Three of these nightmare prophecies stand out: the war on the family, the replacement of old theistic religions for a new (thoroughly secular) one, and the extermination of millions of citizens on behalf of “the cause.”
My new car comes equipped with a three month trial subscription to Sirius XM radio and when Patriot Channel talk gets repetitive, I occasionally switch to 60′s on Channel 6, where I know the words to every song.
So the other day I happened to hear a song which really jolted my memory bank. It was A Taste of Honey by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, but while listening, all I could think about was the album cover.
And if you are of a certain age, you know exactly what I mean.
In 1965 when the album, Whipped Cream and Other Delights, was released the cover was considered “veddy” racy.
And here is the hit song, A Taste of Honey from the album.
Whipped Cream was my parent’s album, but even as a Beatles loving 10-year-old I enjoyed it along with them. However, it was the cover that really made an impression. I even remember spreading whipped cream all over my arms in tribute to the girl on the cover.
This Sirius XM Radio childhood flashback got me thinking about what other album covers made lasting, even mind blowing visual impressions. So here is that small stack of album covers which came tumbling off a dusty shelf in the far reaches of my brain — presented in chronological order.
The Mamas and the Papas — If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
In the middle of 1966 Beatlemania, this album by the Mamas and the Papas was released. To me, the music and the cover were equally impactful, for sitting in a bathtub fully dressed struck me as rather extreme. Chiefly responsible for the brain dent was Michelle Phillips, who was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, wearing those jeans and cowboy boots. I remember getting into our dry bathtub pretending to be her. Yes, I was an impressionable pre-teen!
The Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Of course the most famous album cover in history absorbed hours of 1967 summer time fun for me and my friends as we tried in vain to identify all the faces on the cover. Since we were stumped by so many, I remember having to ask my parents. (Oh the horror of asking your parents to explain a Beatles album cover!) But I had no choice since Google was 31 years in the future. Now, in one Google second here is the complete list. (How I love the modern age!)
Psychedelic flower power anyone? Released in November of 1967, this album cover fascinated me. On the inside I loved Cream’s music too, but something about the album design with all the fuchsia colors, totally blew my 12-year-old mind and opened doors of endless creative possibilities.
Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
This 1971 album by Traffic was so graphically unique with its die-cut design, it truly broke new ground and decades later the title song is still one of my favorite classic rock tunes. So here is a 1972 live version to enjoy, especially if it has been awhile since you have heard Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.
We must not fret about the passing of album cover art for it now lives on the net with many sites dedicated to its greatness. There are also numerous cover art quizzes that will be used as “game time” trivia at nursing homes around 2040 when I am in my 80’s. (Now at my mother’s nursing home they play trivia contest games with Broadway show tunes and my mother is often the proud winner of a new fluffy nap blanket.)
Speaking of getting old, here is the Whipped Cream girl from that famous 1965 album cover now age 76.
So what classic rock covers blew your mind at a tender age?
And if you can recall them now, remember them for later when a new fluffy nap blanket is at stake.
These are the adventures of Charlie Martin, his 13-week mission to follow a Taubes-inspired low-carb eating plan with high-intensity training, to find out what the hell happens and hopefully lose some weight and improve his health besides. Follow me here on PJ Lifestyle, and on the 13 Weeks Facebook page.
Yeah, it’s Saturday. I forgot to mention last Sunday that to fit in with the new weekly schedule for Lifestyle health-related posts, we’re moving to Saturday. So strictly, this is really sort of week 5 1/2, but roll with it.
This really has gotten to be sort of the boring middle — my blood sugar continues its slow decline, and I’m still more or less plateaued: my weight hovered at 278.2 exactly for 6 days before breaking below that this morning. Except, maybe it’s not a real plateau: my weight is still fitting a trend line of about 1 pound every four days. We’ll see on Sunday.
In the mean time, though, there’s been one thing I’ve noticed: I’ve been letting the exercise slide. There are several reasons, or excuses, for this — I really did feel bad right after Thanksgiving, and last week was a terror, with one all-nighter programming and a cold. But still, I’ve been back to my old habit of the most exercise I get being the trip from the parking lot to my desk at the office, and I’ve been parking closer to the door than usual.
And that nonsense has got to stop. Starting today, I’ll be carefully recording the exercise on Lose It! and I’ll be announcing it in my morning updates on Facebook. Every time. Days with no exercise I’ll also mention in my morning updates. That’ll keep me honest.
I did notice one interesting thing this week. Here’s my Physics Diet chart from the start of the experiment:
The line along the bottom is daily weight; the straight line is the linear-fit trend line and the blue line is a exponentially weighted moving average. What’s interesting is the way it seems there’s almost a pattern to it — a bump up, a plateau, then a sudden decline. I don’t know what to make of that. In any case, the current plateau is going to be challenged quite a bit this weekend; I’m having a little procedure done this Monday, so I’ll be on clear liquids for the weekend.
What? What procedure? Just a procedure.
Oh, all right: it’s a colonoscopy. Happy now? Another of the joys of middle age.
Portentousness is the means by which cliché, the banal and the obvious are turned into technicality or wisdom, or both. An editorial in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association titled “Mental Health Effects of Hurricane Sandy: Characteristics, Potential Aftermath, and Response” illustrates this very well. One expects a medical journal to contain information that is not common knowledge or available to everyone on the most minimal reflection; it is therefore tempting, though a logical error, for authors to suppose that if what they have written is published in such a medical journal, it ipso facto contains such information.
The editorial in question makes statements such as “The mental health effects of any given disaster are related to the intensity of exposure to the event. Sustaining personal injury and experiencing the injury or death of a loved one in the disaster are particularly potent predictors of psychological impairment.” In other words those who suffer more suffer more. The editorial continues, “Research has also indicated that disaster-related displacement, relocation, and loss of property and personal finances are risk factors for mental health problems…”
I don’t suppose this will come as any great surprise, let alone shock, to readers. I will overlook the rather strange locution “loss of personal finances” – one continues to have personal finances even in bankruptcy. But how vital is research that tells us that people who are displaced and lose their possessions are likely to be unhappy for a long time? Until such research was done, did anyone for a moment doubt that losing your home, becoming a refugee, having your wife or child killed in front of you. etc., was a potent cause of misery? Have we so lost our common humanity that we need “research” to tell us this, or that such misery may be long-lasting?
Can anyone tell me the difference between playing Angry Birds and getting hooked on methamphetamines? Okay, I guess with Angry Birds you don’t lose your teeth. And you don’t have to sell your body to keep up the supply. In fact, after the nice Angry Bird people sell you the app for around five bucks, they periodically stock it with new levels for free. Try to get your meth supplier to give you a deal like that!
But has anyone besides me ever tried to give this thing up? It’s virtually impossible. Fortunately, however, playing teaches you a ton of conservative virtues. That’s what I tell my wife anyway. Because she thinks I’m just, you know, goofing off.
But here’s a few of the things you can learn flipping birds at pigs:
1. It’s not nice to steal what other people produce. The pigs are the villains because they take the birds’ eggs. Could the symbolism be any clearer? Pigs = Government. Eggs = The Productions of the Productive. Ayn Rand couldn’t have said it better — except maybe in her brilliant scene where a boomerang myna bird flies backwards into a beach ball.
2. When in doubt, turn to the wisdom of those who’ve gone before. If you want to score three stars on every level and pick up the golden eggs, sooner or later, you’re going to have to consult YouTube. It’s what we Angry Birders have instead of the Federalist Papers.
One of the problems facing people with non-verbal autism is that when they use a letter board the disbelieving assume that the autistic person is a mere puppet, with the real thoughts coming from the aide or parent holding the board and reading the letters. For many years, that was the problem faced by Ido Kedar, a non-verbal autistic teenager who wrote Ido in Autismland: Climbing Out of Autism’s Silent Prison (which I reviewed here at PJ Lifestyle earlier this week).
Time and time again, I witnessed Ido tap out sentences on the letterboard his mother held, only to have someone standing at my side saying “That’s not Ido. That’s his mother.” This was especially true when Ido first mastered the letterboard. His muscle control was so limited back then that he needed someone to support his elbow, heightening the illusion that the person supporting Ido’s arm, rather than Ido himself, was the creative force.
The wonders of technology, however, can finally put to rest the suspicion that Ido and other non-verbal autistic children are not capable of producing the thoughts that flow from their letterboards. The two videos here show Ido with his iPad. The only prompting he receives is a reminder to keep his focus on the writing. Other than that, all the work and all the content is Ido’s alone.
Ido is still getting used to the iPad, so it’s a slower process than when he writes using his letterboard. Once he gets comfortable with the new technology, I think the sky’s the limit for his communication skills.
How do you top the Lord of the Rings trilogy? The answer seems to be: with quantity. The medium-length novel The Hobbit is now apparently going to inspire more hours of big-screen film than any comparably-sized book ever.
Originally scheduled as one film, then two, and now three, J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 juvenile fantasy book, which begins 60 years before The Fellowship of the Ring, finally comes to the screen after decades of legal disputes, in a bloated two hour and fifty minute production that left me thinking: So what?
It’s not that the movie is bad, exactly. It has as many magical creatures and thrilling battle scenes as you could want. Its special effects are seamless and amazing. It’s just that its structure takes on a numbing, repetitive feel. After nearly an hour of preliminaries, the title little guy Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman; Gandalf the Grey, played by Ian McKellan; and their associated band of 13 dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage, head off to fight for the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, which has been terrorized by a dragon called Smaug.
So it’s march, battle, discuss the next stage, repeat. For nearly three hours, at the conclusion of which our band of friends spies their destination in the distance, which they figure to reach only after another five and a half hours of such slogging.
Bilbo, the uncle of Frodo (Elijah Wood), is the character through whom we first encounter the One Ring to Rule Them All, in a scene where he meets Gollum (Andy Serkis) that is among the creepiest and most compelling in the film. Bilbo is a mild-mannered little hobbit who had no interest in adventure when a sudden visit from the wizard Gandalf was quickly followed by the unwelcome intrusion of the 13 rambunctious dwarves sworn to repel the dragon from their homeland. Bilbo, tapped by Gandalf to be the “burglar” of this adventure, is at first not interested, but being dismissed as unadventurous seems to bring out the daredevil in him. Bilbo grows as the film goes on, outwitting Gollum for “the precious” and gradually turning into an unexpected, if quiet and mild-mannered, action hero.
This is what a study found on how women respond to female politicians:
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had elocution lessons to lower her voice and make it sound more masculine and authoritative.
She was advised – correctly, in light of subsequent research – that members of the public would find this more appealing.
Studies have demonstrated that men and women prefer leaders of both sexes in politics or business to have lower voices.
The new research shows this rule even extends to leadership positions traditionally occupied by women.
Unfortunately for me, the low voice phenomenon is accurate. When I was in LA recently, I had the opportunity to meet with voice coach Bob Corff who runs an LA studio. I tend to talk to0 quickly and my voice pitches upward when I speak at times. The first thing Corff told me was to speak slowly and lower my voice. “I sound like a man!” I exclaimed in my high-pitched voice. “No” you don’t,” he told me, “but if you want people to listen to you, you have to learn to communicate effectively. Lower your voice and slow down.” I now practice this technique when I am at a store, out in public or even just talking to others. It is hard and doesn’t come naturally for me but it works. I notice people hear more of what I am saying and respond better. It also helps me stay calmer when I speak which is important.
I still practice Corff’s techniques with an inexpensive audio CD called Corff Voice Studios: Speaker’s Voice Method that I highly recommend if you want to improve your voice for work, speaking, or just in general. You can also watch his video here at YouTube for more tips. (Oops, just removed the exclamation mark from that last sentence so you wouldn’t get the impression that I raised my voice).
Being a more effective communicator is ever important in the present economic and political climate.
This excerpt is from chapter 2 of The KinderGarden of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks:
Like Adam and Eve just prior to eating from the apple, the Modern Liberal has never had a mature thought in his life. That is, he has never once attempted to gather the facts, study the evidence and weigh these things in a rational formulation in order to seek out the rightful answers. This is because, like Adam and Eve in Eden, he’s never once had to.
The Modern Liberal was born into a life as close to paradise as any human being since God first created man. Having come of age in or after the 1960s, virtually everything that virtually every other human being, in literally every other time and in literally every other place, had had to think about – at its most basic, how to avoid things like disease, hunger, poverty and physical pain – had all but been eradicated just prior to the Modern Liberal’s entry into the sentient world.
It’s easy to forget – or just to have never thought about it at all – but America after the Second World War was not only unlike anything man had ever known, it was, in fact, the culmination of a “five- thousand year leap” forward in time. It was eons ahead of the technologies and medicines from not just earlier millennia or earlier centuries but, in many important ways, from just years and even months before. And every new dawn brought the promise – if not yet the achievement – of still another miraculous stride.
Thanks to the recent advances of Western Civilization in general and the Great Generations of Americans in particular (where the near-perfect balance between God and science had been struck), things like polio, chicken pox, smallpox, the flu as a death sentence and virtually any and every other monstrous disease that had plagued humanity – including the plague – were simply never part of the Modern Liberal’s life and therefore played no part in the Modern Liberal’s “thinking.”
Amazon’s cloud music service is now available on Roku and Samsung Smart TVs, offering the ability to stream your own digital music tracks without needing to keep a separate computer running. For Roku, it’s a solid response to Apple’s iTunes Match service, which offers cloud storage and streaming for $25 per year.
While Amazon Cloud Player started off as a largely free service, it now requires a similar fee as iTunes Match: $25 per year for up to 250,000 uploaded songs. That’s a ton of digital music, although the competing Google Play Music allows you to store up to 20,000 tracks for free and is available on Google TV devices.
The release comes on the same day Amazon added an Amazon Instant Video app to the iPhone and iPod Touch as well.
For our original review of the Roku box from January, click here.