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Bonnie Ramthun

Bonnie Ramthun lives in Colorado with her husband and children. She's the author of mysteries and thrillers for adults and children. Her middle grade mystery "The White Gates' was a Junior Library Guild premiere selection and was a finalist for the Missouri Truman award. All her novels are available on Amazon.
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The New Charlotte’s Web Medicine

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

My home state of Colorado is a guinea pig for the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Other states are observing closely to see if they should move down the path towards legalization.

There’s plenty of bad news to go around. Police in other states are pulling over Colorado drivers with no justification other than the green license plate. (We’re all stoners now, I guess.) A college student named Levy Thamba fell to his death from a high balcony during spring break after eating a marijuana cookie. And last week a Denver man who ate pot-infused candy became incoherent and paranoid and shot his wife to death.

Is there good news? Turns out there is. Colorado Springs is the source of the Charlotte’s Web strain of medical marijuana that has sent parents with gravely ill children flocking to the city for treatment.

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The strain was developed by Joel Stanley and his brothers in their Colorado Springs medical marijuana facility. They’d read that marijuana strains that are high in a chemical called CBD can help to shrink tumors and prevent seizures. The chemical in marijuana that gets users high is called THC, and since it has an adverse affect on seizures the Stanley’s bred it out of the plant.

Their first patient, 5 year old Charlotte Figis, was so affected by a genetic seizure condition called Dravet’s Syndrome that she was not expected to live much longer. Today, she’s almost seizure free. The Stanley brothers named the strain after their first little patient, and it’s showing the world what medical uses marijuana can offer.

Today there are nearly a hundred families with gravely ill children who have relocated to Colorado Springs, purchasing a treatment for their children that would have landed them in prison just a few years ago. Medical marijuana is well known to help in the treatment of nausea in cancer and AIDs patients, but the strains now being investigated may uncover new lifesaving medicines such as Charlotte’s Web.

The recreational use of marijuana is proving to be the problem it was predicted to be, but while the stoners fill the headlines the researchers in medical marijuana are quietly making amazing advances in the treatment of illnesses. That’s some very good news indeed.

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Image via CNN Health.

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The Rise of the Robot Employee

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)

Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?

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Governments’ Desperate Efforts to Encourage Childbirth

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.

In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”

Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.

Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.

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3 Reasons Why Teens Today Can’t Find Jobs

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in July of 2013 as “3 Reasons Why Our Teenagers Can’t Find Jobs.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

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The employment rate among teenagers is incredibly dismal. I know this firsthand, since I have teens at home and teenage nieces and nephews who cannot find work. There’s an irritating theme that runs through family conversations about our unemployed teens, and the words I hear most often are “lazy” and “entitled.”

“I had a paper route when I was their age,” one of the older members of the family will tell me every time we get together. “They need to get out and hustle. Walk the neighborhood, mow lawns, weed gardens. There’s lots of jobs out there for teens.”

“They should get roofing jobs,” another family member exclaimed. “When I was a teenager in high school, the dreamiest guys were the summertime roofers since they had the most gorgeous tans. And they had the best bodies, too!”

The attitude towards teens today is one of disdain for the luxuries they enjoy and their lack of a good work ethic. Teens are spoiled, lazy, and unwilling to work hard.  Do you believe this?

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Listen up, older people. The world isn’t the same now as it was then, and that’s not good. Not good for our teens and not good for our future. The days of the paper route are gone.  Here are the three reasons why teens can’t get jobs today, and why this is terrible for America.

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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”

Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.

What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.

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Men achieve fertility at 12 years old and can father children all the way to 96. Women have a narrow fertility window of around 16 to 40. That’s a fertility gap of up to fifty years!

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We’re No Better Than The Walking Dead In Dealing with the Mentally Ill

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Love it or hate it, The AMC channel hit series The Walking Dead is a mirror of our culture. The show is nominally an apocalyptic zombie series but it is really about how people deal with a total societal collapse.

The answer is: Badly. Usually very badly.

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Episode #14 of season 4, “The Grove,” is a thoughtful and tragic examination of what a society should or can do with a psychopath. (Spoilers!) Set in the woodlands of the American south after a zombie apocalypse, in this episode a group of five refugees find a cabin to stop and rest for a few days. There, disturbed young Lizzie goes homicidal. She stabs another little girl to death. Her mother-figure, Carol, then asks her to “look at the flowers” while she prepares to execute her, the only solution possible in their terrible new world.

The clues were all there, laid out carefully in past episodes. The girl had an obsession with capturing and cutting up live rats. She had sudden outbreaks of violent rage and anger. She was fascinated with zombies and couldn’t distinguish between the living and the dead.

The clues are all here in the real world as well, and we are no better at preventing the slaughter when a mentally disturbed person decides to kill. The Sandy Hook killer, the Aurora theater killer, the murderer at Virginia Tech, the killers at Columbine High School, all exhibited distinct indicators of violence and psychosis. All of these killers were under psychiatric care and on medically prescribed drugs. Each of them showed signs like little Lizzie on The Walking Dead, and her path ended the same as theirs, in blood.

In “The Grove,” just as in America today, we wait until a disturbed person becomes a killer and only then do we do something about them. Only then do they receive the confines of a cell or a grave. We can do better than this. Unlike Carol on The Walking Dead, we have options.

In the heartbreaking and frightening essay “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” the mother of a mentally disturbed boy explains how she cannot find care for him. “With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill.” This mother doesn’t want to put her innocent (but violent and disturbed) twelve-year-old boy in prison. Would you like to live in a world where people are jailed for crimes they might commit? Instead, we need to re-build our mental health care system in this country and that includes treatment centers and hospitals. If we don’t, we will continue to endure the slaughter of innocents at the hands of the mentally ill.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Irish Way: Get Drunk!

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Saint Patrick’s Day is an outrageous celebration of my Irish heritage. On that day adult Americans of all ethnic backgrounds feel free to wear green derby hats and shamrock necklaces, pack into bars and pubs to drink green beer and, if they’re really serious about celebrating the Irish way, end the day by vomiting and passing out in the gutter.

I’m offended by this, and it has to stop! Okay, just kidding. I don’t care a bit. The Irish are a fully integrated ethnic minority in America and St. Patrick’s Day is proof. You know your heritage is not an issue when you can poke fun at yourself.

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I don’t know how to make the Martin Luther King holiday as genuinely warm, funny, and celebratory as St. Patrick’s Day, but I’d like to try. Just last month a school system had to apologize for serving a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on Martin Luther King Day. How sad that the African-American holiday commemorating such a great man is about grievances and not praise. Why shouldn’t we all celebrate Martin Luther King day with soul food, vibrant African designs and colors in our decorations and celebrations, and a sense of fun and gratitude?

I fear that instead of moving towards celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a positive affirmation of African-American heritage, we’re moving in the other direction. Columbus Day has come under such attack that this brave Italian hero and explorer is accused of genocide and celebrations in his honor are protested. The very word “Christmas” has been banned in some schools. How long before someone wants to ban St. Patrick’s Day?

May this never happen. Long may the green beer flow in the pubs of America on St. Patrick’s Day. May the green derby hats continue to be perched on the heads of all, may the Leprechaun decorations continue to be ridiculous and offensive, and may you always feel free to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

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images courtesy Shutterstock: Patryk Kosmider

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The Cadillac ELR Proclaims: ‘The Emperor has no Clothes!’

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

The new commercial for the Cadillac ELR, a fully electric vehicle, has riled some people with its unabashed American patriotism. They’re outraged that a commercial selling a car would dare to celebrate American exceptionalism.  Some are calling it xenophobic. Twitter feeds erupted with anger at the arrogance and self-confidence of the American businessman portrayed in the ad.  Others called it “hyper-patriotic.”  They did not mean this as a compliment.

The outrage against this commercial is quite peculiar. In the Ukraine right now people are fighting and dying in order to remain Ukrainian and not to become citizens of Russia. Why shouldn’t Americans be pleased to be American?

We have this situation because the idea of loving our country is seen as arrogant by our pundit class and our education system.  My children learned about the Civil War but the focus was on slavery, not the Abolitionists or the Union that fought to end it. They learned the Native American experience as one of oppression and slaughter and America was the villain of every lesson. When history turned to World War II the majority of the class time was spent on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bashing America for using nuclear weapons, leaving Pearl Harbor as a footnote. The Bataan Death march wasn’t covered. Is there any wonder some students graduate from high school after reading A People’s History of the United States by the America-hating Howard Zinn and feel little sense of patriotism and pride in their own country? That is by design, not by accident.

Here’s the danger of this Cadillac ELR commercial that celebrates America: America is a great country, an exceptional one, the grand experiment in self-government that has unleashed unprecedented freedom and liberty to her citizens. This commercial is like the parable of the boy who cried out that the Emperor had no clothes on. Once the boy said this, the people no longer had to pretend any more, or try to fool themselves into seeing something where there wasn’t anything. There are those who wish to “fundamentally transform” America into something else, and a commercial like this one reveals the ridiculousness of that goal.  Well done, Cadillac. Well done.

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Your Neighborhood Pool is More Dangerous Than a Loaded Gun

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

While researching information on accidental gun deaths for an upcoming article, I found something astonishing. A swimming pool is far more deadly than a loaded gun to a child. The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that 114 kids died from an accidental gun discharge in the home in 2010, the latest year available, but in the same year 1025 children drowned. In 2009, 980 children died in swimming accidents. In 2008, the number was a staggering 1015. Almost ten times as many children die in drowning deaths each year than from an accidental gun discharge. This is unacceptable. The solution is clear.

We need swimming pool control.

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First: Children should not be taught how to swim. No child should be allowed near water deep enough for them to drown. Adults may swim in pools or in the ocean, but children must be strictly forbidden from participating in or learning about swimming. Backyard family pools should be banned. Beaches should be closed to children.

Second: Paintings, television shows, movies, and novels that show children enjoying pools or swimming in water must be censored and the offending images stripped out. Just as Steven Speilberg once edited guns out of his movie “ET,” swimming scenes involving children should be edited and censored. New books, movies and television shows should portray adults swimming, but never children.

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Third: We need to have background checks and a permit before an adult is allowed to enter a lesson program and achieve swim certification. Adults need to have their swim certificates with them if they intend to go swimming and they should go through re-certification every year. Eventually, adults might realize that swimming is dangerous and foolish and they’ll abandon it altogether.

Finally: Dare we hope the government will just ban swimming altogether? Let’s make our world a safer place for children. Join me in working for a total ban of this dangerous activity. Let’s ban swimming now.

After all, it’s for the children.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock: schab

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3 Lost World Discoveries

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

I keep an eye out for new discoveries that I can share with my kids around the breakfast table. I’m sorry that the current public school curriculum focuses almost exclusively on the negative aspects of humanity. History and English classes are dominated by subjects like overpopulation, pollution, poverty, and victims of oppression and war. Each day my children get a full helping of depressing and pessimistic education from their teachers.

To fight back, I try to find interesting stories that show the amazing complexity and beauty of our world, and the scientists and adventurers who are still exploring it. Here are three news items that made my kid’s eyes light up. Mine, too!

1.) The Pallas Cat of Nepal.

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The pallas cat is a brand new species, unknown until a year ago. This beautiful feline is slightly bigger than a housecat and lives in the mountains of Nepal in Asia. The discovery was made by the Snow Leopard Conservancy researchers who had placed trail cameras to find leopards and instead found an entirely new species. The secretive little cat is known now, and will be protected. And no, you can’t have one as a pet. But aren’t they just gorgeous?

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Common Core Pornography

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Common Core is a federal takeover of the public education system, where a single set of learning standards is intended to replace each state’s curriculum. The standards were designed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-five states have adopted the standards.

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There are many problems with Common Core. Here’s one: Common Core reading materials are designed to “groom” young people and leave them vulnerable to molestation and sexual abuse.

“Grooming” is the process by which a predator desensitizes a young person to sexual contact. A predator who is in a position of authority, such as a coach, teacher or counselor, uses his position to befriend a child and eventually to abuse that child. One of the steps in grooming is to expose the young person to graphic sexual material such as pornographic photos, stories, and movies. When the child is used to the idea that “everyone does” these sexual acts, the predator has his victim prepared and ready for molestation.

The Common Core reading materials are filled with graphic pornography cloaked as literature. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, is what your teen will be forced to read if your school accepts Common Core. The story includes descriptions of child rape, incest, and molestation. The pedophile in the novel is portrayed with sympathy and Morrison reportedly wrote the story so the reader becomes a “co-conspirator” with the predator.

The book Monster by Walter Dean Myers includes a description of a homosexual gang rape and the use of a butt plug. In New York, a Common Core education portal encourages teens to visit a pornographic sex survey site where they are asked if they want to participate in a threesome or a gang-bang, among other acts.

The novel Black Swan Green features a 13-year-old boy who graphically describes his father’s genitals and then a sex act. Dreaming in Cuban contains teen sadomasochism. In Kansas, a father discovered a Common Core poster in his daughter’s class titled “How Do People Express Their Sexual Feelings?” with items such as “anal sex,” “masturbation,” and “grinding” as examples. Our young people are being deliberately exposed to graphic sexual material in schools that accept Common Core.

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Who’s Afraid of the Denver Airport’s Fiery Blue ‘Devil Horse’?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Planning on traveling through my closest airport hub, Denver International Airport? Keep an eye out for the gigantic sculpture of a bright blue, anatomically correct, rearing stallion complete with glow-in-the-dark red eyes. Called “Mustang,” this 32-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture is notorious both for its demonic appearance and the fact that it killed its creator.

The sculptor, Luis Jimenez, died when a portion of the Mustang fell on his leg, severing his artery. The artwork was completed by Jimenez’s son and erected at the entrance to Denver International Airport in 2008. The stallion has gathered notorious nicknames such as “Blucifer” and “Devil Horse” and some say it is haunted. Whoever could think that?

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The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months. Click here to vote for your favorites in the comments.

As a reader, the mother of four children, and an author, I want my kids to love to read and to approach reading as joy and nourishment. The following five works of fiction do not encourage and inspire the love of reading in children. They’re terrible books for kids. If you make your children read these they will develop a loathing for reading that will last their whole lives and may possibly poison their very souls. Let’s see why.

Note: Minor spoilers.

5.) The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

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This is a set of four short stories set in the western United States and an excellent example of John Steinbeck’s famously spare, elegant prose. Beautifully written, with underlying themes of death and redemption, we can all agree that this is a classic. Did I mention the gruesome death of the title character, the beloved red pony? No? Want to watch your children sob in heartbreak and then continue on to read the next three stories with increasing puzzlement and despair as the complicated themes go over their heads and they must endure the agonizing death of another beloved horse? The Red Pony will not give your children a desire to read for pleasure. Just because a novel features a child doesn’t mean that the work is appropriate for them.

Yes, children should be exposed to stories of heartbreak, loss, and redemption, but there are much better novels than Steinbeck’s to share with your child. Hand over Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, or Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Each of these books will make your child cry, but in the end will fill them with joy.

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3 Great Male Role Models for Girls

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Last week I examined the fairy-tale world of the perfect young man, who is portrayed as suave, witty, and handsome (“3 Terrible Male Role Models for Girls”).

Now let’s look at the role models our girls should be looking at when they begin to date. What kind of young man will prepare them best to navigate the stormy waters of modern relationships? I have a few suggestions from popular culture for great male role models for young women.

1) Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. Let’s call him “Mr. Nice Guy.”

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Ron is a hot mess, both in the books and the movies. This teenage wizard is awkward, gaffe-tastic, and so bumbling that J.K. Rowling recently mentioned that she wondered if she should have put Ron and Hermione together. She shouldn’t wonder. Ron is tender and loving and he makes an excellent husband and father. He’s a nice guy.

But as a teenage boyfriend, he’s the best example of how mixed-up the dating life of a Mr. Nice can be. We grow up with Ron in the Harry Potter novels and movies and his generous and friendly personality becomes a disaster in his teen dating years.

Ron is pressured into a romance with fellow student Lavender Brown. She’s the worst nightmare of a girlfriend — possessive, overbearing, and infantile. She hangs on Ron in public, bestows sickly, sweet nicknames on him (Won-Won!), and has no time for conversation because she’s too busy trying to make out with him. Ron finds himself more and more trapped, unwilling to hurt her feelings but unable to bear her for another minute. He’s a classic Mr. Nice Guy.

This is a great male role model for girls. Lots of teenage boys don’t know how to navigate through relationships. They can find themselves trapped with a girl they’d rather not be with, and breaking up with someone like that is not easy. Hermione doesn’t reject Ron because he was with Lavender, even if her feelings were hurt while he was going out with her. A Mr. Nice Guy like Ron is worth the effort.

Finally, watching Lavender Brown act out her crazed romance is a healthy reminder to girls: Don’t be a Lavender Brown.

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Why Do Moms Hate Valentine’s Day?

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Why do moms with kids in elementary school hate Valentine’s Day?  Let me count the ways.  Elementary schools have Valentine’s Day parties where cards are exchanged between all members of the class.  First, moms have to travel to the store and purchase boxes of cards.  If you’re not super organized and you don’t get to the store early enough, you end up with the dregs, the cards that no little kid wants to give or receive. One year all I could find was a super creepy Chinese knockoff of Ken and Barbie. Not my best year.

These days candy has somehow crept into the yearly Valentine’s Day card offering, so if you don’t have cards with candy attached your child may burst into hysterical tears. Nobody wants to be seen as the lame kid in class who doesn’t offer candy.  I have friends who spend the night before Valentine’s Day frantically attaching candy to cards with scotch tape.

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But wait, there’s more to do.  Moms have to fill out the cards for each child in the classroom, after they procure the list from the teacher, and heaven help you if you misspell or forget one. At one point I had three children in elementary school and that equaled around 78 cards filled out, by hand, for Valentine’s Day. If you’re an especially dedicated mom you make your child sign his or her name to the cards, which is difficult and stressful to the child. They can burst into tears when they have to sign their name to the classroom bully’s card, or to a secret crush. Their little hands get tired. Any moms want to admit they signed Valentine’s Day cards using a forgery of their child’s handwriting?  No?

Then there’s the Valentine’s Day school party, where the kids get over-sugared, over-excited, and over-stimulated with the excitement and come home in exhausted tears with bags of candy and cheap cards that mom now has to deal with.

This may be why some husbands arrive home on the Most Romantic Day of the Year with flowers and chocolates only to find out that mom is already in the middle of a date with a bottle of Chardonnay.  Yes, dear husbands, moms of elementary school kids love flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  We’ve earned them.  Just don’t give us a card.

Please, not a card.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock: Brent Hofacker

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3 Terrible Male Role Models for Girls

Saturday, February 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Last spring one of my friend’s teenage sons worked up his courage and asked a girl to the prom. He asked her very much like Harry Potter asking Cho Chang out in the Goblet of Fire, a scene that touches my heart every time I see it. Harry Potter stumbles, he stutters, he barely squeaks out the invitation. When this young man asked a girl to the prom in a similar clumsy way, her response was not the gentle letdown that Cho gives Harry.

This girl said: “Really? That’s how you’re asking me? Ask me again, but do it better next time.”

Of course girls have been swooning over romantic heroes since Heathcliff stalked the moors in Wuthering Heights, but at least these fictional characters were grown men. Our young women’s romantic expectations today are being poisoned by terrible male role models. No, not violent action stars. Not brutes or lawbreaking bad boys. These terrible role models are the impossibly perfect young men of romantic movies, who say the right thing at the right time, always look terrific and never stumble over words or have a single pimple. Today, young men in romantic movies are as suave, charming, and witty as a grown-up, because they are written by grown-ups. Here are three who are terrible role models. Young women who watch these improbably perfect young men and think that they exist are setting themselves up for disappointment.

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The Enemy in the Classroom

Friday, January 31st, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Our culture is so used to the adversarial conditions in education that most people don’t know that before the 1960s there was a deep and respectful relationship between parents and teachers.  Then a disturbing trend in education started. Educators started to blame parents for the problems in the classroom. The students aren’t responsible for poor test scores and dismal graduation rates. The teachers certainly aren’t. Of course not! Parents are to blame.

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Parents are the ones who refuse to vote for tax increases to fund schools and pay teachers the salaries they deserve. Parents often don’t check homework, don’t attend parent-teacher conferences, and don’t provide healthy food and a positive home study experience for their children. When their precious little Johnny or Sue gets bad grades, parents erupt in outrage and blame the teacher. Parents used to be co-educators with teachers, united in a common front to teach children, but now they are villians.

How did this happen? How did parents suddenly turn into the enemy in the classroom?

The answer is clearly the National Education Association. In 1959 Wisconsin passed a collective bargaining law for public employees. The National Education Association, with only 766,000 members in 1961, is now a labor union with more than 3.2 million members today. The NEA’s purpose is not to educate students. Their purpose, as in all labor unions, is to increase membership and to keep their members employed. In order to keep the money coming in, they need an enemy to keep their members frightened of what will happen to them without the protection of their union.

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How Can Ghost Ships Still Sail Our Seas?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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This story is loads of spooky fun. The UK Telegraph reports “Ghost ship carrying cannibal rats could be headed for Britain.” The 300 foot Russian luxury curise liner Lyubov Orlova has been drifting in the North Atlantic for over a year and the ocean currents might be pushing her to Britain’s shore.

The ship was impounded for unpaid debts and her tow line broke in stormy seas when she was being towed to the Dominican Republic to be scrapped. She’s been drifting ever since, populated by rats who are now turning into cannibals in order to survive. Unless, of course, the rats have learned how to fish, and then we’ve got a whole new invasion problem when the luxury cruise liner smashes into the coast of Britain.

But how could a 300 foot cruise liner be lost? Wouldn’t she be spotted at sea by planes or other ocean vessels? That’s the spooky part, not the ghost ship or the rats. In a world that seems to be smaller every day, with cell phones everywhere and cameras in every city, with the NSA tracking our e-mails and the IRS targeting individual citizens because of their political views, losing a 300 foot cruise ship seems impossible.

Turns out our planet is not that small, and our oceans are immense. The Lyubox Orlova is not the only ghost ship that sails our seas. There are many mysterious stories of drifting ships with no one on board, from today’s ghostly cruise liner all the way back to the discovery of the Mary Celeste in 1872. The Mary Celeste was a sailing ship found in the Atlantic, completely unharmed, stocked with food and water, with the table laid for supper, and not a soul left on board. Not a single member of the crew was ever found.

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Bram Stoker took the stories of abandoned ships drifting at sea and wove them into his classic novel Dracula, first published in 1897. Yet another reason to wonder what exactly is on board the Lyubox Orlova as she drifts silently towards Great Britain…

I find it comforting to think that our world is still in many ways a wild and dangerous place. Our seas hold mysteries that we cannot solve. Our technology is no match for the vast stretches of our oceans. Let’s hear it for the Lyubox Orlova, who broke her towline on the way to the junk yard and now sails the ocean with her crew of rats, unchained, her location unknown. I hope she is never found.

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photos: Getty images

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3 Tips for Writing Your Life Sketches

Saturday, January 18th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

The second week of January is at a close, and if you’re following my 4 Simple Steps for a Happy January, you’ll have sketched out a life story or two by now.

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Sometimes this task can be more daunting than it seems. The famous blank sheet of paper or blank screen is no joke to writers. How do you start filling in a life story, a sketch that will be meaningful to your life and to others? I have some ideas. Here are three tips for filling in that blank page.

1.) Use the journalist’s rule: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

Start with the basics and fill in the details later.

Here’s an example:

Who: My debate team in high school.
What: Our school bus was chased down the highway by a crazed semi-truck driver.
When: The year was 1980.
Where: The Interstate between Rawlins and Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Why: The trucker was amped up on meth, and our bus had turned into a giant yellow dragon that he had to destroy.

The page is no longer blank. You’ve got the bones of your story.

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Hooray for Marijuana Legalization in Colorado!

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

I live in Boulder County, Colorado, the genesis of the marijuana legalization movement in my state. The students at the University of Colorado in Boulder hold an annual illegal celebration called 420. Every year on April 20 students cover the campus lawns and smoke marijuana.  There are other rallies, but this is one of the most famous.

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Our home has a lovely view over the Boulder valley, and last spring when I pointed out a low-lying fog bank in the early morning my youngest son joked: “I think that’s the pot haze from Boulder, Mom.”

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Colorado, a state previously known for fresh air, active lifestyles and beautiful mountains, is now the Pothead state. Thanks, marijuana activists.

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On the other hand, we can now get to the important part of pot legalization: Getting users into rehab and getting them clean. This attitude does not endear me to libertarian types and marijuana users, who consider pot a harmless drug. Here’s a sample of headlines from marijuana activists in their joy at achieving recreational pot legalization in Colorado:

“It’s a plant, it’s harmless, and now anyone over 21 can buy it if they want to. Beautiful.” (A quote from pot shop owner Amy Reynolds.)

Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization  (A joke column from the Daily Currant).

Here Are All The People Who Have Died From A Marijuana Overdose (The article shows a .gif of playing pandas, because no one has died from a marijuana overdose.  Hilarious!)

The lie of marijuana as a harmless drug must be fought strongly, ferociously, and with every tool at our disposal. Join me if you drive a car on the highway, if you ever get on an aircraft, or if you have children. Marijuana is an addicting drug that stupefies the brain, stays in the human system for days, and puts anyone around an addict at risk.

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The Slacker Manifesto

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Rolling Stone recently published an essay titled “Five Economic Reforms Millenials Should Be Fighting For” by twenty-something author Jesse A. Myerson. It won’t take long to read, though you might develop a headache while doing so.

Essentially, young Jesse wants communism, and he wants it now. There are several wonderful takedowns of this youngster’s astounding ignorance about communism and the misery, degradation, and death that result in the countries that have attempted to force it on their people, but I’d like to address the why.

Why does communism sound so lovely and appealing to teenagers and young adults? You can argue that our school systems and our universities are seething with Marxists, and you’d be right. But if all those teachers were agitating for forced labor camps and mass executions, you wouldn’t see young people getting excited and marching around holding signs.

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Communism ends up with forced labor camps, starvation, and mass murder, but it starts out sounding like Mom’s house. Young Jesse wants a guaranteed income, housing, and food. This is what adults provide for children. Jesse’s entire “Five Economic Reforms” are a cry to keep living at home, to have his needs taken care of by parental figures, to remain forever a child.

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My Nomination for Worst Dad of 2014

Monday, January 6th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

I spotted this on a Facebook site styling itself “The Other 98%.” Dear Lord, I hope that’s not true.

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What is wrong with this t-shirt? Besides everything? Let’s just list a few items:

1.) This father is abdicating his responsibility to put boundaries around his dating-age daughter until she’s mature enough to make good decisions on her own. We don’t let our toddlers alone near swimming pools and we shouldn’t let our teenage daughters and sons make their own dating rules.  They will make bad ones because they don’t know any better yet.  This is called “parenting.”

2.) By declaring that his daughter makes the rules and he is not responsible for her, he is signaling to every male predator out there that his daughter is available for victimization.  Or as Barney Stinson says on How I Met Your Mother, “How would we get strippers if girls didn’t have lousy daddies?”  This father is advertising his daughter to bad men.  Boy Scouts will not be asking this teenage girl out on dates.  Her fifty-year-old married schoolteacher will be.

3.) Feminist Father.  Feminist?  This word might have meant something brave and honest fifty years ago, but is now irrevocably associated with abortion on demand up to and including infanticide after birth, hatred of marriage and men, and a whiny victim status that desires complete equality with men unless they can’t compete, and then the rules should be changed.  This is what this father calls himself, and he is evidently encouraging this attitude in his daughter.  (Are you surprised he could even father a child?)

4.) The fact that this meme even exists is both pathetic and disturbing.  Are such men so emasculated, so morally adrift, that they would actually wear such a thing?

Let’s hope it’s just a meme, and not an actual t-shirt.  If I saw a man wearing it, he’d end up crying like a little girl, and nobody wants to see that.

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4 Simple Steps for a Happy January

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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January settles in like a damp blanket. The cheerful lights and Christmas displays disappear, the decorations are stripped and put away, and the commercial air time is filled with ads for weight-loss programs, gym memberships, and help with tax preparation. Is there anything more depressing than watching relentlessly fit superbodies who’ve never eaten three slices of pie at a single sitting tell you how easy it is to get in shape? Your local store shelves are now packed with exercise equipment and diet books. The commercial intent of this month is to make you as miserable as possible and make you part with money you don’t want to spend. Don’t let it happen this year.

Here are four simple steps to a happy January. You’ll start February refreshed, fit, and renewed. Give these a try.

1. Don’t weigh yourself

Don’t throw your scale away, just put it in the closet. Don’t weigh yourself for the entire month. Maybe you’ve put on some weight during December (and most people do), but fretting about those pounds in January does nothing but make you unhappy and does no good. The majority of New Year’s resolution weight-loss plans don’t work.

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My yoga instructor asked our class today if we were ready for the “newbies” in January. The New Year’s resolution types get gym memberships, they resolve to lose ten or twenty pounds, and they fill the gyms for a week or so. They exercise outrageously, make themselves sore and exhausted, and stop coming to work out after the first week. Does this sound like fun? Of course not. This is a waste of money, time, and energy.

Unless you’re a member of OK Go, in which case never mind, you’re awesome.

Don’t buy expensive exercise equipment, don’t engage in some outrageous fitness plan, and turn away from advertisements that barrage you with fitness appeals. You can resist because you have already resolved to follow the Four Simple Steps. They are now powerless against you. You can laugh at the commercials now. I use the disdainful laugh from Christopher Lambert in Mortal Kombat.

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3 Reasons Why Our Teenagers Can’t Find Jobs

Monday, December 9th, 2013 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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The employment rate among teenagers is incredibly dismal. I know this firsthand, since I have teens at home and teenage nieces and nephews who cannot find work. There’s an irritating theme that runs through family conversations about our unemployed teens, and the words I hear most often are “lazy” and “entitled.”

“I had a paper route when I was their age,” one of the older members of the family will tell me every time we get together. “They need to get out and hustle. Walk the neighborhood, mow lawns, weed gardens. There’s lots of jobs out there for teens.”

“They should get roofing jobs,” another family member exclaimed. “When I was a teenager in high school, the dreamiest guys were the summertime roofers since they had the most gorgeous tans. And they had the best bodies, too!”

The attitude towards teens today is one of disdain for the luxuries they enjoy and their lack of a good work ethic. Teens are spoiled, lazy, and unwilling to work hard.  Do you believe this?

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Listen up, older people. The world isn’t the same now as it was then, and that’s not good. Not good for our teens and not good for our future. The days of the paper route are gone.  Here are the three reasons why teens can’t get jobs today, and why this is terrible for America.

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