Jews and Christians have this crazy tendency to make themselves lighting rods for criticism and attack when they make their beliefs public. People really take offense to dangerous values like “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal.” From militant atheists clamping down on anything related to Christmas and Hanukkah to leftists developing Kwanzaa as an alternative to the Judeo-Christian holidays to the seemingly endless lawsuits surrounding displays of the Ten Commandments, the Left never tires of making a reality of Jesus’ warning that the world would hate His followers.
These days, the Satanists have decided to take a different approach – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In Oklahoma, where the legislature has erected a Ten Commandments monument, a group of Satanists (based in New York, naturally) have expressed their desire to put up their own monument next to it.
It notified the state’s Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument and plans to submit one of several possible designs this month, said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the temple.
“We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards,” Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. “Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines.”
Greaves said one potential design involves a pentagram, a satanic symbol, while another is meant to be an interactive display for children. He said he expects the monument, if approved by Oklahoma officials, would cost about $20,000.
I don’t see why Oklahoma officials wouldn’t approve an interactive display for children on the, um, values of Satanism, would you? Greaves – whose name sounds like a Satanist’s name if anyone’s does – believes that the monument would help spread the word about the Prince of Darkness.
You don’t walk around and see too many satanic temples around, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that’s when you’re going to see us.
As expected, the Oklahoma ACLU has jumped into the fray. Its director, Brady Henderson, weighed in:
…if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple’s proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint.
What values would the monument promote? What would the slogan be: “The Devil Made Me Do It”? What do you think? Is the controversy all a bunch of nothing, or do the Satanists have a beef? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below. All I know is that some stories are too bizarre not to be made up. This is one of them.
Welcome to Week 11 of my series exploring Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkin’s 2012 album Oceania. If you’ve been following this series, you know that we’ve looked at the themes of the seeker, the sacred Name of God, wisdom, unfaithfulness, hope, unfailing love, repentance, the way, and faith. Last week, we looked at the concept of contentment in the lyrics to Track 11, “Glissandra.”
This week, we’re looking at Track 9, “Pale Horse,” which is a mid-tempo rocker with a steady rhythm. In the lyrics, Corgan signs to someone who is separated from him. (References to the antipsychotic drug Thorazine and the line “When they locked you up they shut me out” suggest that the song refers to someone in a mental institution.)
I’ll admit that I had some trouble seeing anything in the lyrics that I could write about, so I skipped past it for a couple of weeks. But this week, as I was preparing to write this post, certain lyrics made me think of one of the most poignant stories in the Bible:
If I was to listen, I’d turn back
Give up on my reasons
Forgive up the past
You think I’d swallow that?
There’ll be no others
There’ll be no long lost friends
Empty on the insides
Empty of a last pretense
To stand by on feeling of the end
So many lives
A runaway life
So many lies
So many lives
A runaway life
Please come back
Please come back
A six-month-old study of consumer phone calls has gone viral, and it reveals some fascinating things about which states’ residents use the most profanity and which are the most courteous.
Ohio ranked first among states where people were most likely to curse, swearing in one out of about every 150 phone conversations. Maryland came in second, followed by New Jersey, Louisiana and Illinois.
The state less likely to drop the f-bomb or some other curse word? Washington. People there cursed once in about every 300 conversations — or half as much as Ohioans. Massachusetts, Arizona, Texas and Virginia rounded out the top five of what Marchex dubbed the “goody two-shoes” category.
The company also aggregated data on the states most likely to say “please” and “thank you.” South Carolina came in first, followed by North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia. The least courteous states were Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio.
Mobile and technology company Marchex examined 600,000 consumer phone calls over a year, and their findings revealed even more specifics about profanity in phone conversations:
The data also found that:
66% of curses come from men
The calls that contain the most cursing are more than 10 minutes long. So the longer someone is on the phone, the more likely that call is to devolve.
Calls in the morning are twice as likely to produce cursing as calls in the afternoon or evening.
So, I guess the lesson here is, if you see a number with an Ohio area code on your caller ID in the morning, brace yourself…
Lately, we’ve heard too many stories of chintzy tippers. There’s the story of the Alabama fan who refused to tip his Auburn-fan server after Auburn’s surprise upset of the Crimson Tide on November 30. A server in New Jersey garnered a ton of media attention when she claimed a family refused to tip her because of her homosexual lifestyle (several people have cast doubt on her claims, and she is now suspended from her job). And of course Christians have earned a reputation for tipping poorly. So, hearing about an anonymous bar and restaurant patron who leaves massive tips all over the country and posts them on his Instagram account under the moniker “Tips for Jesus” encourages me.
Micah Olson learned about the man Tuesday night only after he left the Phoenix restaurant he co-owns. The mysterious man arrived with a woman and asked Olson, who was working behind the bar, whether he had ever heard of Tips for Jesus. Olson hadn’t.
“Oh, you’ll hear about it later tonight,” the man laughed — and then proceeded to order several $70 drinks for himself and his friend.
When the man closed his tab, he bought a round of drinks for Olson and his fellow bartender and left a $2,500 tip on his $530 bill.
According to his Instagram account, the mysterious man is “doing the Lord’s work, one tip at a time.”
His gratuities have ranged from $500 on a $24 bill in Hollywood, Calif., to several $10,000 tips, all dropped within the last three months at bars and restaurants along the West coast, in the Pacific Northwest and in several Midwest states.
Tips for Jesus has left his mark all over the country, seemingly in conjunction with college football games (some of his messages lead others to believe he’s a fan of the University of Southern California). He has even posted screenshots of his AmEx bill to prove that the huge gratuities are legitimate.
Will Tips for Jesus inspire others to tip better? I know I’ve rethought what I pay to servers since I’ve discovered TFJ, and though I can’t afford three- and four-digit tips, I’m hoping I can show more gratitude to people who serve me. After all, what better way to show the love of Jesus than through generosity?
If you’re read much of my work here or at my own website, chrisqueen.net, or if you’ve spent more than five minutes around me, you know how much Disney means to me. I admire Walt Disney, his brother Roy, and the men and women who built the company. I’ve enjoyed most of the films and several of the TV projects over the years. Most of all, I love Walt Disney World and the history, culture, and secrets that surround Disney’s theme parks.
Even though I’m a Disney fanboy through and through, I’m willing to admit that the company doesn’t always get things right. One of the ways Disney falls short of excellence is in the transportation at Walt Disney World. From the earliest days of his parks, Walt Disney placed a premium on transportation not just as a way to get around, but as an experience too. From pleasant trains and boat rides to the sleek monorails, Walt intended for transportation to be part of the fun. Unfortunately, when it comes to getting around property, guests are more likely to encounter long waits for buses.
I’ve come up with three ideas for ways Disney can improve transportation around Walt Disney World. I admit that two of these ideas are pipe dreams, but Disney could implement one of them today if they wanted to. Let’s start with an idea that would honor Walt’s legacy in a really unique way.
Welcome to Week 10 of my series listening through the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 release Oceania, delving into the lyrics, and looking for Judeo-Christian themes and values. Feel free to check out Parts 1-8 at your leisure. Last week we looked at the value of faith in Track 10, “The Chimera.”
This week we’re taking Track 11, “Glissandra,” for a spin. This tune rocks easily and smoothly, with a driving bass groove and guitar and keyboard lines typical of Smashing Pumpkins’ work. As with the rest of the album, Corgan is in fine, confident voice here. His lyrics come from the perspective of someone who has experienced what life has to offer, and he makes some observations:
As life uncovers our unions pulled threadbare
Pleasure taps it’s vein
I’ve been hungry and I’ve been full
And I’ve been sated some more
I used to know
What a wish was for
What’s left for me to leave for you unsaid?
You can’t fill with dread
I’ve been hungry and I’ve been full
Here, Corgan echoes the Biblical concept of contentment. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, we can find instructions to be content with what we have. In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived, according to the Bible – wrote that he had seen it all, and he knew that pleasure, materialism, and even wisdom do not fulfill on their own. Instead, Solomon says:
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)
In Psalm 37, King David instructs God’s people:
3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this…
For a couple of years, in my late-middle and early-high school days, I took piano lessons. Every Monday after school, my mom would take me to a historic home on the campus of Oxford College where Mrs. Jean Phillips would invest an hour of time in a talented kid who didn’t practice enough. My parents paid Mrs. Phillips $10 a week to teach me how to play.
Looking back at those days, two thoughts come to mind. First, I wish I had practiced more, because then my parents would have let me take lessons longer. Second, Mrs. Phillips was a little old lady from church who charged a paltry sum to teach kids piano. These days, she might have caught the eye of the feds. You read that right – the federal government is now going after piano teachers for price gouging and suppression of competition.
This is no joke, as Kim Strassel reports in the Wall Street Journal:
Every month, it seems, brings a new story of this presidency leveling the intimidating powers of the federal government against some law-abiding citizen. Now comes a terrifying tale of how the Federal Trade Commission, a governmental Goliath, crushes an average David—because it can.
In March of this year, a small nonprofit in Cincinnati—the Music Teachers National Association—received a letter from the FTC. The agency was investigating whether the association was engaged in, uh, anticompetitive practices.
The association’s sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow—a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues’ studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.
That’s a common enough provision among professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), yet the FTC avers that the suggestion that Miss Sally not poach students from Miss Lucy was an attempt to raise prices for piano lessons.
Essentially, the FTC is accusing the MTNA of allowing its teachers to be mini-monopolies, cruelly price gouging poor students who supposedly can’t jump ship to an instructor who charges less. It goes without saying that the FTC view of things is far from reality.
Growing up, I used to think that it would be cool to be a member of the Disney family. The Disney progeny should be the happiest family on earth – after all, they’re the heirs to all that Walt and Roy built. (Plus, imagine being able to visit the parks and resorts whenever you wanted.) Over the years, I’ve learned that the Disneys are pretty much just like any other family, only their squabbles are more public, with more at stake.
The first public dispute within the Disney family came when Roy O. Disney’s son, Roy E. Disney, fought to remove the company’s CEO Ron Miller, a former NFL player and the husband of Walt’s daughter, Diane, in 1984. (Similarly, Roy E. Disney pushed to remove Michael Eisner a decade and a half later.) Animator Steve Hulett writes:
I always kind of understood the wrestling match between Ron and Roy. They were members of the same family, and they were having a feud. Ron Miller thought the status quo was okay; Roy wanted more changes. Ron won the first round and Roy left the company, then Roy won the second round and Ron was forced out.
Now, the twin children of Walt’s other daughter, Sharon, are locked in a feud over their $400 million inheritance, and the story has more twists and turns than Space Mountain:
Once close siblings, Walt Disney’s grandkids Michelle and Brad Lund are now embroiled in a battle over their $400 and haven’t spoken in four years.
On one side are Brad Lund and the twins’ father Bill Lund. They say the trustees, who haven’t paid Brad his multi-million installments in years, are controlling Michelle like a ‘robot.’
In the other corner are Michelle and the trustees. They say Brad is mentally incompetent and cannot handle the millions and go so far as to suggest he has Down’s [sic] Syndrome, though he’s never been diagnosed.
These days, most professional athletes don’t do themselves many favors in the eye of the public. Take Alex Rodriguez, Richie Incognito, or Aaron Hernandez, for example. Most pro athletes tend to come across as spoiled brats who care more about their next paycheck than with connecting with their fans. Class acts in professional sports don’t come around often enough, but when they do, fans take notice. One true example of class is Tim Hudson.
Hudson, 38, joined the Braves before the 2005 season. A free agent this year, he signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the San Francisco Giants after the Braves declined to match the Giants’ offer. Over the weekend, Hudson shared an open letter to Braves fans with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His love for Atlanta shines through in this display of gratitude and emotion:
When I was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Atlanta Braves before the 2005 season, a childhood dream was realized. I grew up a Braves fan just a few hours south of Atlanta, and it was hard for me to believe that I was going to actually play for the Atlanta Braves and legendary manager Bobby Cox. My family was young. We had a toddler (Kennedie), a baby (Tess) and a baby on the way (Kade). We were welcomed into the Braves organization with open arms. Our son was born two weeks into my first season, and our journey began. The Atlanta Braves are really all that our children know about this crazy baseball life, and we are so thankful for this upbringing for them.
Welcome to Week 9 of my series exploring Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 album Oceania. Check out the previous posts if you want to catch up. Last week we talked about the concept of The Way in Track 8, the title track. This week, I’ve pressed the skip button to check out Track 10, “The Chimera.”
“The Chimera” is a driving, straight-ahead rocker. I have a lot of fun listening to it, and I imagine Billy Corgan enjoyed the recording process as well. Upbeat yet edgy guitars and pounding drums drive the track, and Corgan sings with abandon.
I can’t really tell what the song is about exactly – the titular creature, a mythical combination of a lion, a goat, and a snake – doesn’t appear anywhere in the lyrics. Some of the lyrics sound as if they come from the perspective of someone who is discovering faith and perhaps even singing to God.
I’ll take you with me where I climb
In my mind, oh my mind
I’ll take you with me where I keep
In my sleep, oh in my sleep
And if I’m wrong, I’m right
I’m never gonna lose you
If I’m wrong, I’m right
Take me to your life
All you need is you, lover
All you need is you
All you need is you, lover
So please need me too
What you need is love, stranger
What you need is love
When your love needs its danger
Please let me through when I’ve got you
The anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has captured America’s attention today, as it has the last several weeks. What is somewhat lost to history is that today is also the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney’s decision to build a new theme park in Central Florida. As one Disney history site tells it:
Walt and his entourage of top executives are at the end of a tour of the eastern United States in search of an ideal location for a new theme park. The aerial view confirms Walt’s doubts about building a theme park by the ocean. They fly inland over Orlando, circling the forests and swamps for the very first time. From the air they see the good road network below (which includes Interstate 4, Florida’s Turnpike and McCoy Air Force Base – soon to be Orlando International Airport). Walt has a good feeling about this site. This is followed with a stop in New Orleans to refuel for the trip back to Burbank, California.
And from the Disney Parks Blog:
“Well, that’s the place – Florida,” Walt Disney reportedly decided on a flight from New Orleans to Burbank, Calif. on November 22, 1963 – 50 years ago today. Walt and a group of company executives had just toured east coast sites in an effort to find the best location for a “Disneyland East.” But those words confirmed Walt’s choice for his “whole new Disney World.”
At the refueling stop, Walt and his party learned of Kennedy’s assassination, and the flight back to California became a somber one. Disney closed Disneyland the next day in memory of the slain president.
Within months of Walt’s decision, the company began acquiring the land for what would become Walt Disney World. And the rest is entertainment history.
Last week, I wrote about Seattle’s City Council election, in which Socialist Kshama Sawant was leading at the time. She eventually won.
When I posted that piece on Facebook the first time, I wrote an aside offering “apologies to my Seattle family and friends,” some of whose beliefs line up closely with those of Sawant. My aunt commented on the post, “No apologies necessary. I know how f’d up it is here. No other word to use really.” Looks like Sawant’s election was just the beginning.
One of Seattle’s largest industrial residents is Boeing. Recently, Boeing entered negotiations with IAM, the machinists’ union, over the company’s contract to build its 777X plane at the Puget Sound plant. Boeing requested a long-term contract with few opportunities for the union to strike, a deal the union rejected. As a result, Boeing may take its business elsewhere.
After the negotiations broke down, leftist activists took to the streets to express their displeasure. Among them was Councilwoman-elect Sawant.
On Monday, Seattle-area labor activists held a post-rejection rally in Seattle. Hundreds of activists were in attendance, including Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Councilwoman-elect Kshama Sawant.
At Monday’s rally, according to KIROTV.com, Sawant told hundreds of union activists what they should do if Boeing does indeed build its 777X elsewhere:
“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.
This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers.
Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”
“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.
Ms. Sawant told KIROTV.com that, once the factories are seized, the workers could retool them to produce mass transit buses.
That’s no joke. She wants labor unions to take a factory that Boeing may abandon and use it to make buses for mass transit. Why stop at buses? Why not light rail, Kshama?
If this behavior keeps up, we may never take Seattle seriously again.
Walt Disney World possesses its own brand of magic 365 days a year, but from early November to shortly after the New Year, the World becomes something much more magical as the whole resort takes on the air of Christmas.
The holidays really are a special time to visit Walt Disney World. Sure, prices go up during this “peak” season and at times the crowds go up just as much, but it’s worth the extra saving to be able to experience the parks and resorts in their full Christmas regalia.
At night, Cinderella Castle transforms into a wintry ice castle. Each park and resort boasts its own unique tree, and the decorations match the theme of each land and attraction. World of Disney in Downtown Disney is the perfect place for gift shopping, while at World Showcase in Epcot, each nation features storytellers who share that country’s holiday traditions.
Above everything else, five events and experiences stand out. These traditions make a November or December vacation to Walt Disney World one the whole family will remember forever.
Diane Disney Miller, the older daughter and only biological child of Walt Disney passed away November 19 after suffering injuries in a fall. She was responsible for founding the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and was instrumental in the development of the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She received credit for writing a book about her father in 1956, though ghostwriters actually took care of the bulk of the writing. In addition to her philanthropic work, she co-owned Silverado Vineyards with her husband Ron Miller.
The company released a statement from CEO Robert Iger:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Diane Disney Miller and our thoughts are with her family during his difficult time. As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company and in the hearts of fans everywhere. She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father’s legacy, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Diane was a fierce guardian of her father’s legacy who never hesitated to set the record straight, opening The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to bring her father’s fascinating story to life. In our many conversations over the years, Diane’s unique and special perspective about her father only deepened my considerable appreciation for him. Diane was incredibly generous in that regard, freely sharing her personal insights and providing details that deepened our knowledge, and we remain grateful for her many valuable contributions to our efforts to preserve Disney history. She and her sister, Sharon, have long been recognized as Walt’s inspiration for Disneyland, a place he created for families to have fun together. For that reason and many others, Diane will always have a special place in our company’s legacy and in the hearts of fans.
Miller was 79. She is survived by her husband Ron, who served as President of Walt Disney Productions from 1978-1983 and as CEO of the Walt Disney Company from 1983 to 1984. The Miller family included seven children, 13 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Walt Disney’s other daughter, Sharon, died in 1993.
Today marks the birthday of one of the most beloved characters in entertainment history. On November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse made his debut in the short “Steamboat Willie.” It was the third short Walt Disney had made – the first two, “Plane Crazy” and “The Gallopin’ Gaucho,” failed to land a distributor, though they did see release after the success of “Steamboat Willie.”
Walt Disney initially provided the voice for Mickey in the early shorts, and he continued to voice Mickey until 1946 and again briefly on The Mickey Mouse Club television series. The simplicity of Mickey’s form and his early success in animated shorts made him the company’s icon.
The company is celebrating Mickey’s birthday all day long on Disney Channel:
Disney Channel is celebrating by showing this year’s Mickey Mouse cartoons every half-hour beginning at 1:25 p.m., culminating in the 8 p.m. airing of “Potatoland,” the first-ever extended episode of “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts. “Potatoland” is a brand-new short that is longer than the usual 3-1/2 minutes.
“Potatoland” is a seven-minute cartoon that follows Mickey, Donald and Goofy on a road trip to Idaho to fulfill Goofy’s dream of visiting the Potatoland theme park.
Throughout the day, Disney will also be airing birthday messages to Mickey from the stars of “Austin & Ally,” “Dog with a Blog,” “Jessie” and “Shake It Up.” The network will also air back-to-back episodes of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
No doubt guests will see celebrations in the theme parks as well, but as of this writing, I have not found a list of any events at the parks.
In honor of Mickey Mouse’s birthday, enjoy “Steamboat Willie”:
Track 8 on Oceania is the title track, and it’s more of a challenge musically or lyrically than any of the previous songs. “Oceania” is a nine-minute opus that shifts time signatures and tempos reminiscent of progressive rock. I’ll confess that I had a difficult time figuring out the lyrics and finding something worth writing about – until my mind stuck on the last few lines. You can’t really call it a stanza or verse, since the song doesn’t have a traditional structure, but in these lyrics Corgan tries to convince another person to:
Try the way
Skirt the cliffs of your illusion
Find the faith of me
My mistake as the last remaining soldier
Was to take the place of you
Love the way
Love the way and learn
Try the way
Cast off your indecision
Corgan sounds as though he’s found something truly life-changing and wants to share it with the woman to whom he’s singing.
The West Coast has a pretty solid reputation for leftist politics. Calling some of their more kooky leftists “socialist” is a bit of a cliche, but let’s face it — there’s so much truth to the stereotype. Take Seattle, for example. This is the city where police passed out Doritos to attendees of the annual Hempfest, where Occupy protesters dumped $5,000 out a hotel window, where lawmakers closed a budget deficit with $5 billion in tax hikes. And now this year, we have a literal socialist making inroads in a city council election.
Following the latest ballot count Tuesday night, Kshama Sawant had a 41-vote lead over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin.
Given Washington state’s mail-in voting system, a winner won’t be named for days or even weeks after the Nov. 4 election.
Still, the strong showing by Sawant, a college economics professor and prominent figure in Seattle’s Occupy Wall Street movement, has surprised many people.
Sawant, 41, drew attention as part of local Occupy Wall Street protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior college campus in late 2011. She then ran for legislative office in 2012, challenging the powerful speaker of the state House, a Democrat. She was easily defeated.
This year, Sawant’s platform includes raising the minimum wage to $15.00/hour, rent control, and levying higher taxes on millionaires to pay for public works. She has seized on what she calls “economic inequality” to get the attention of her fellow leftists:
“This is one of wealthiest cities in the wealthiest country in the world,” she said. “For people to struggle for basic needs is absurd.”
City Council races are technically non-partisan in Seattle. Sawant, however, made sure people knew she was running as a Socialist, a label that would ensure defeat in many areas of the country.
The last time a self-declared Socialist ran for office in Seattle was 1991, when Yolanda Alaniz emerged from the primary in second place but was easily defeated in the general election.
“There were certainly populist candidates,” said Cline, the city archivist. “I don’t think any of them you could remotely call Socialist. Certainly there has never been anybody who has run as strongly as Sawant has.”
Go figure. At a time when the rest of the country appears to be turning more toward conservatism, we can count on Seattle to keep the stereotype of the loony Left Coast alive.
I just finished one of the most eye-opening political books that I’ve read in a long time. In Disinformation, former Romanian Lt. General – and current PJ Media columnist – Ion Mihai Pacepa and cowriter Ronald Rychlak shed light on the Soviet technique of disinformation, and they demonstrate how we’ve seen it throughout history and even today. The authors define disinformation as “a secret intelligence tool, intended to bestow a Western, nongovernment cachet on government [i.e., Soviet] lies.” Pacepa shares plenty of examples of how Soviet, Eastern Bloc and Russian leaders from Stalin to Khrushchev to Ceausescu to Putin have employed disinformation to change public perception of the West and even alter the course of history.
In one particular chapter, Pacepa delves into the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns to demonstrate how a senator from Illinois used the same type of disinformation techniques to catapult himself to the presidency. Pacepa admits that “the 2008 election campaign for the White House was, for me, a major case of deja vu” as he witnessed how the Democratic Party, and Barack Obama in particular, used the mainstream news media to paint redistribution of wealth as the solution to our country’s problems:
In the same way, the establishment US media painted America as a decaying, racist, predatory capitalist realm unable to provide medical care for the poor, rebuild her “crumbling schools,” or replace the “shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race,” and promised all this could be changed by redistributing the country’s wealth.
…the quintessence of Marxism is change, which is built on the dialectical materialist tenet that quantitative changes generate qualitative transformations. Thus, “change,” through the redistribution of wealth, became the electoral slogan in all Soviet bloc countries.
Alas, change through wealth redistribution also became the electoral slogan of the Democratic Party during American’s 2008 electoral campaign.
Obama and his camp continued to use disinformation techniques to denigrate capitalism into the 2012 campaign cycle until, in Pacepa’s words, “Capitalism lost elections for the first time in the history of the United States.”
Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm just over a year ago and announced a new film trilogy, fans of the expanding Star Wars universe have sat on the edge of their seats awaiting a release date for Episode VII. Now we have a date – December 18, 2015, and the announcement became the talk of Hollywood last week.
The same day as the announcement, Disney CEO Bob Iger appeared on Blooomberg TV’s Street Smart to talk about Episode VII, as well as the increased presence that Star Wars will have at Disney’s various theme parks:
The only thing I can share which, actually I don’t think we’ve really talked about much, is that there is a fair amount development going on at Disney Imagineering right now to expand the Star Wars presence in California and in Orlando and eventually in other parks around the world… It’s probably likely that Star Wars will be more than in just our two domestic parks.
Iger made a similar (but more vague) statement back in May:
In addition to the Star Wars feature films that we’ve already talked about, we’re also working on opportunities for television and our parks. It’s still very early in the process.
What will this mean – individual attractions? Meet and greets? Or perhaps an entire Star Wars Land at the parks? (I’ve said for a while that a Star Wars land somewhere like Disney’s Hollywood Studios would generate far more excitement and interest than the Avatar Land in the works at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.) In March, the company surveyed guests at Disneyland to gauge their interest in a Star Wars land, and I wrote about swirling rumors back in June. The success of Star Tours 2.0 in the American parks, as well at Tokyo and Paris, along with the annual Star Wars Weekends in Orlando and Anaheim, suggest that the idea of a Star Wars land isn’t that great of a gamble.
Obviously, this situation continue to develop, but as both a Disney fan and a Star Wars fan, I’m excited at the idea that Disney Parks will see something in terms of an increased Star Wars presence. Stay tuned – as I learn more, I’ll pass it on here.
Welcome back to my series on Judeo-Christian themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 release Oceania. I can’t believe we’re just over halfway through the album! If you’re just joining me, I hope you’ll seek out my other posts in the series.
Last week we looked at Track 6, “One Diamond, One Heart,” and the concept of God’s unfailing love. Now we’ll move on to Track 7 – “Pinwheels.” The song starts out in an unusual way – nearly half the song is an instrumental intro, driven by a synth and guitar riff. Nearly three minutes in, Corgan begins strumming an acoustic guitar and singing a love song. In the chorus, he sings:
Floating away I think I’ll stay, as refused
Floating away I think I’ll stay blue, black
Floating away I think I’ll change next to you
Finding a way to make the loss seem new
‘Cause you don’t deserve me, but I deserve you
Clearly, the lover to whom Corgan sings is above someone like him. She doesn’t deserve to have to put up with a man who is bruised and in need of change. If we look at these line in a more metaphorical sense, they suggest someone who wants to turn from his ways and start anew. In Biblical terms, this act is called repentance.
We can find plenty of scriptures about repentance in the Bible – in fact, you could say the book’s entire narrative is the story of fallen mankind turning from sin and back to God. In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people turned away and then back to Him over and over again. God spoke frequently on the need to repent:
21 But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. (Ezekiel 18:21-22)
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)
For decades, the Left has waged a war to bend history to suit their narrative. From the disinformation tactics of the former Soviet Union (and even Russia today) to the dishonesty in modern American textbooks, the Left has no compunction about changing the facts of history. Most recently, British leftist Owen Jones appeared on a BBC program and attempted to wash the hands of Karl Marx of the damage caused by his followers. Earlier this month, columnist and author Dr. Tim Stanley weighed in on Jones’ rehab attempts on Marx’s image:
I can’t quite believe that I’ve just sat through ten minutes of BBC television in which British journalists Owen Jones and Zoe Williams have defended Karl Marx as the prophet of the End of Capitalism. Unbelievable because I had thought Marxism was over with the fall of the Berlin Wall – when we discovered that socialism was one part bloodshed, one part farce. But unbelievable also because you’d have to be a pretty lacking in moral sensitivity to defend a thinker whose work sent millions of people to an early grave.
I don’t want to have to rehearse the numbers but, apparently, they’re not being taught in schools anymore – so here goes. Sixty-five million were murdered in China – starved, hounded to suicide, shot as class traitors. Twenty million in the USSR, 2 million in North Korea, 1.7 million in Africa. The nightmare of Cambodia (2 million dead) is especially vivid. “Reactionaries” were sorted out from the base population on the grounds of being supporters of the old regime, having gone to school or just for wearing glasses. They were taken to the side of paddy fields and hacked to death by teenagers.
On the BBC broadcast, Jones and journalist Zoe Williams both dismissed Marx as “just an economist,” yet Stanley neatly draws the line from Marx’s theorizing to the natural result of Marxism’s implementation:
It’s possible to argue that Marx was an economist rather than a politician – that he only analysed the failings of Capitalism and never offered the blue-print for building socialism that would end in disaster in the 20th century. But that misses the point that Marx’s analysis was what informed that blue-print and, so, he bears intellectual responsibility for it. His view that all human relations are shaped by economics and that everything we do is measured in purely material terms reduced the individual to a pawn in a historic war between competing classes. You’re not a person – you’re either an exploiter or an alienated peasant… Throw into the mix Karl’s belief that the working-class could not lose – historical determinism – and you get the kind of fanatical, anti-human view of life that would end inevitably in gulags. “To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss,” said the teenage vanguard of the Cambodian communists. Compelling logic to the intellectually unformed.
I just wrote about the brewing scandal involving the Miami Dolphins and the alleged bullying of offensive tackle Jonathan Martin. Apparently, the situation contains further wrinkles that we’re just learning today. The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel has reported that Dolphins coaches told teammate Richie Incognito to toughen Martin up, though Incognito may have taken the instruction too far:
Sources say that communication took place when Martin skipped two days of the team’s OTA program, and Incognito was encouraged by his coaches to make a call that would “get him into the fold,” one source said.
Even though OTA workouts are voluntary, the NFL culture forces coaches to strong arm the team’s leaders to make sure everyone attends. Sources say Incognito was doing his job, but they admit he crossed the line.
Incognito spoke out to the press for the first time this week, telling a local reporter, ”You know what, I’m just trying to weather the storm right now… this will pass.”
Other Dolphins players, though supportive of Martin, say he should have spoken out sooner.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe indicated that Martin should have come to the leadership council with his problems, which apparently carried over to his second season. The problem is Incognito was also on the leadership council, and possessed a tremendous amount of power and influence.
That might explain why Martin hid his issues with Incognito, and on occasion hung around with him in South Florida, and during road trips. It is possible Martin felt he had to do so to feel accepted.
Martin remains on the team’s 53-man roster, and his teammates have indicated that they would welcome him back when he is ready to return.
Football fans love drama. The back and forth of close games, the thrill of a come-from-behind victory, the outsized personalities — all of these make for plenty of excitement in the NFL. However, one team is making headlines for its off-the-field drama far more than for its on-the-field antics these days. The Miami Dolphins have suddenly found themselves embroiled in a controversy involving player hazing, bullying, and harassment, with the added twist of apparent racism.
The soap opera began last week when second -ear offensive tackle Jonathan Martin took a leave of absence from the team, claiming other players bullied him.
Martin left Dolphins headquarters on Monday when finally reaching his limit with the persistent bullying and teasing from some teammates that has plagued him since joining Miami as a 2012 second-round draft choice. As first reported by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer, the latest taunt – a group of players stood up and left when he tried joining them for lunch – led to Martin getting up himself and walking out the door.
There is no timetable for a return, which could lead Miami to ultimately place him on the reserve/non-football injury list. It also raises questions about his future with the franchise.
This wasn’t an abrupt action by Martin, who is Stanford-educated and the son of two lawyers who attended Harvard University. A source said Martin has tried dealing with a slew of indignities that crossed into personal and family insults, including being bestowed with the nickname of “Big Weirdo.”
In the last few years, Disney has made some of the boldest corporate moves, purchasing Marvel Studios in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. In both cases, the company quickly incorporated both acquisitions into their brand, making and planning films and increasing their presence in theme parks and on television. Disney is also ensuring that both Lucasfilm and Marvel fit in with the company’s family-friendly reputation, announcing last week that they will phase out Star Wars and Marvel-themed slot machines over the next few years, according to The Guardian (UK).
A Disney spokeswoman told the NY Times the decision to phase out gambling machines linked to its recently acquired brands had been in place for some time, but was only now being made public. “Marvel discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney,” the spokeswoman said. “The handful of remaining licence agreements have expiration dates within the next few years.” LucasFilm would follow suit, though it might take several years for branded slot machines to disappear altogether.
Taking on the lucrative gambling industry is nothing new to Disney. The company has fought attempts to bring resort casinos into Florida for several years, despite the protests of critics.
Disney is particularly determined to fight the proliferation of gambling in Florida. “We oppose the legalisation of so-called destination resort casinos because this major expansion of gambling is inconsistent with Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly destination,” said Andrea M Finger of the Walt Disney World resort.
Competitors, however, argue that Disney fears competition more than gambling. Michael A Leven, whose Las Vegas Sands Corporation hopes to open a casino in south Florida, told the Times: “Disney’s internecine warfare against integrated resorts in Florida under this pretence demeans them significantly.”
What do you think? Is Disney right to align its brands with a family-friendly focus? Is the company’s battle with the gambling industry a fight against the inevitable?