PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle offers his initial picks, in preparation for a longer, more in-depth list post eventually. Photographed amidst some of the books on history, religion, ideology, culture, and technology on his reading list:
Nigel Slater at the Guardian: why Big Macs are my guilty pleasure:
My walk of shame is more of a ravenous dash. An excited run to the parked car. Yes, it is about the three layers of bun, the two thin beef patties and the secret sauce (oh God, the sauce) but so, so much more. The soft rustle of warm paper as I slip my hand deep into the bag and slowly pull out the chunky waxed box. The almost imperceptible click as I unhook the cardboard seal of the crass red and white carton and the salty rustle as I tip the fries into the lid. The wisp of stray lettuce. The warm, soft cushion of dough in my fingers. The peeking gherkin. The excited dribble of sauce between patty and bun. But more even than that. It’s the gorgeous, tingling luxury of instant gratification.
All comfort food is about timing. Get it wrong – too soon, too late, too often – and it misses the point. To be truly comforted you need, briefly, to be in a bad place. That slightly out-of-body feeling of extreme tiredness, low blood sugar, lost, away from home. In truth I have wolfed the Big Mac everywhere from Stockholm to Stoke-on-Trent. Hottest was Stockholm, where the fries almost burnt our lips and the bun was gold rather than beige. The most satisfying was at a fast food cathedral just off the motorway this summer, a salad dodger’s nirvana boasting everything from a Domino’s Pizza to an outpost of KFC. We didn’t possess the shiny manmade fibres and luminous trainers to eat in, so ran through the torrential rain back to our rented car, its windows lashed by the torrential rain. Ten minutes later, still licking our lips, we were back on the road, briefly satisfied, the windows fugged up and dripping with condensation.
image via businessweek.com
January 27, 2013: What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us
Among the nine lines of evidence that Long reviews: People who were blind from birth experience clear vision during NDEs and accurately report things they saw, usually in the operating room but sometimes even outside of it. NDEs sometimes occur during general anesthesia “when no form of consciousness should be taking place.” Virtually all people encountered during NDEs are deceased, usually relatives; skeptics who insist NDEs are a dream or hallucination-like event cannot explain why, unlike in dreams or hallucinations, that should be the case. NDEs often change people’s lives permanently, leading to enhanced spirituality or religiosity; in Long’s survey, 95 percent said subsequent to their NDEs that they were “definitely real” and 5 percent “probably real.”
And NDEs show remarkably similar features all over the world, transcending religious and cultural backgrounds. One of those constantly reported features is the encounter with the deity. Strongly religious people usually perceive the deity (and sometimes other mythological beings) in terms of their own religion; but people of little or no religion also have the encounter and speak more generally of a “being of light.”
Most dramatically of all, the phrase “unconditional love” occurs repeatedly in these descriptions. The deity is reported to be what we would call nonjudgmental; entirely accepting; and a source of overwhelming love. Yes, the news is rather good.
A Russian NDEr named Victor reported: “The light was extraordinary. In it were love and peace. I was completely enveloped by love and I felt totally secure.” Miller notes that “the descriptions of [the light’s] personality and abilities and effects are remarkably similar.” Moody called the encounter “the most incredible common element” of NDEs and affirmed that “not one person has expressed any doubt whatsoever that it was a being, a being of light.”
The being of light is always singular; there is only one, never multiple beings. Van Lommel wrote: “This encounter is always accompanied by an overwhelming sense of unconditional love and acceptance.” The light knows and cares about the NDEr’s whole life and personal choices, and is always experienced as just, not capricious or errant.
February 16, 2014: Near-Death Experiences—A New Take on Life, Part 1: Sam Parnia Explains Where the Field Is Leading
To all that must be added the numerous reports of people in NDEs accurately recalling specific conversations and events that occurred—in and sometimes out of their operating rooms—while they had no brain function. Parnia recounts one case where a new doctor, dealing with a patient in a prolonged cardiac arrest, ate the patient’s lunch. After recovery, the patient described to the doctor a detailed NDE, and finished with: “And you ate my lunch!”
No, the skeptics may not like it, but doctors and their staff are hearing more and more accounts from revived patients like this one, told by a patient to a nurse in Parnia’s AWARE study:
His journey commenced by travelling through a tunnel towards a very strong light, which didn’t dazzle him or hurt his eyes. Interestingly, he said that there were other people in the tunnel, whom he did not recognize. When he emerged he described a very beautiful crystal city and I quote “I have seen nothing more beautiful.” He said there was a river that ran through. There were many people, without faces, who were washing in the waters….
What’s going on? Some scientists are suggesting, Parnia notes, that “human consciousness or the soul may in fact be an irreducible scientific entity in its own right, similar to many of the concepts in physics, such as mass and gravity, which are also irreducible entities.” If so, then consciousness is not just an epiphenomenon of the brain; it has an independent existence and could survive death. The exhaustive, multiauthored book Irreducible Mind, well-known in the field of mind-brain studies, argues just such positions based on abundant evidence.
image illustrations courtesy shutterstock / Bruce Rolff /
PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle offers his choices to get the discussion going…
Venue: Club 33 at DisneyLand
1. and 2. Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams together.
This dinner would last approximately 12 hours and would include multiple courses. It would need to take that long because its purpose would be to give Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, and Reagan the opportunity to convert the current shadow president, Valerie Jarrett, to the ideology that unites the four of them — revolutionary classical liberalism. Afterwards, her brain finally dethawed from the socialist ice box, having realized the great evil she has perpetrated against the American people, she would resign from the Obama administration and provide Republicans with the evidence needed to impeach the president, in exchange for immunity from prosecution and for agreeing to assist the 2016 Republican nominee defeat Joe Biden (the only Democrat remaining who will be dumb enough, and untainted by whole-scale criminality, to try and run). With Jarrett having renounced her faith in Alinskyite stealth socialism, and converted to Christianity or Judaism (let’s pretend the latter — as that’s more amusing), Hillary will be horrified. She’ll know that at this point Jarrett has collected too much dirt on her to even survive a primary, and she’ll retreat to her back-up, Plan B identity of finally divorcing Bill and then reinventing herself as a New Age Oprah-style Baby Boomer goddess feel-good cultural figure.
That’s, of course, if we imagine that Hillary would avoid being swept up in the Obama administration prosecutions. Surely someone would roll over on her at that point, right? As the ship sinks, all the rats will flee. Or does Jarrett have the evidence on hand that she needs to make sure Hillary is no longer a threat to anyone?
Hey, if we’re dreaming of a fantasy dinner with presidents, might as well dream big, right?
image via eater.com
PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle offers his five picks to get the debate going. This is presented in order counting down to favorite, with favorite tracks offered. Agree? Disagree?
5. Rubber Soul
At the Daily Mail: Hillary Clinton thought Bill didn’t have sex ‘of any real meaning’ with ‘narcissistic loony toon’ Monica Lewinsky, secret papers reveal
She later wrote in her autobiography that in reality she felt ‘dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged’ at finding out he had lied to her and the public – an act that ultimately led to his impeachment in later that year.
But it can now be revealed that Hillary, who is now running for the presidency herself in 2016, told Blair he was driven to infidelity in part by his political adversaries, the loneliness of the presidency, and her own failures as a wife.
Hillary told Blair she had received ‘a letter from a psychologist who does family therapy and sexual infidelity problems,’ who told her, ‘most men with fidelity problems [were] raised by two women and felt conflicted between them.’
She said the psychologist believed Bill’s lapse in fidelity was rooted in his childhood.
Alana Goodman at The Free Beacon: The Hillary Papers: Archive of ‘closest friend’ paints portrait of ruthless First Lady
The Clinton camp found itself dealing with Bill Clinton’s infidelity early on. In a confidential Feb. 16, 1992, memo entitled “Possible Investigation Needs,” Clinton campaign staff proposed ways to suppress and discredit stories about the then-Arkansas governor’s affairs.
Campaign operatives Loretta Lynch and Nancy McFadden wrote the memo, addressed to campaign manager David Wilhelm.
The first item on the itinerary discussed “GF,” a reference to Gennifer Flowers, the actress and adult model who had recently disclosed her 12-year affair with Bill Clinton.
“Exposing GF: completely as a fraud, liar and possible criminal to stop this story and related stories, prevent future non-related stories and expose press inaction and manipulation,” said the memo.
In 1998 Bill Clinton admitted he had had a sexual relationship with Flowers.
On Feb. 23, 1993, Blair joined the Clintons for a family dinner at the White House. The subject of health care reform came up.
“At dinner, [Hillary] to [Bill] at length on the complexities of health care—thinks managed competition a crock; single-payer necessary; maybe add to Medicare,” Blair wrote.
The account is at odds with public statements by the former First Lady that she never supported the single-payer option.
In an interview with the New York Times as she ran for president in 2008, Hillary Clinton said she had never seriously considered adopting a single-payer system, in which the government, using funds appropriated from taxpayers, pays for all health care expenses.
“You know, I have thought about this, as you might guess, for 15 years and I never seriously considered a single payer system,” said Clinton in the interview.
Scary thought: electing Hillary as President tells America’s daughters that to succeed they must endure a man like Bill for life… #tcot
— David Swindle (@DaveSwindle) February 10, 2014
An alternative perspective? Just released today from Prager University, Tammy Bruce describes a Feminism 2.0:
1. The New York Daily News: Golden Globe Awards 2014: Ronan Farrow takes shot at Woody Allen tribute on Twitter
Woody Allen‘s Cecil B. DeMille lifetime-achievement tribute at the Golden Globes drew one big criticism — from his estranged son, Ronan Farrow.
2. At Tablet: Who Is Responsible for Dylan Farrow’s Pain?
Imagine if Mia Farrow had pressed charges and Allen had been convicted and gone to prison. Does anyone think, for one second, that he’d be the recipient of a Golden Globes lifetime achievement award?
And indeed, if anyone abrogated their civic duty, it was not the public. “That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up,” Farrow writes. “I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls.” She has one thing wrong here: *She* did not allow this; she was a child. But indeed, if we are to believe this story, her mother did—perhaps for entirely understandable reasons. But still: the person who, inadvertently or not, protected Allen from facing public judgment is the person who prevented him from ever being formally judged.
USA Today: Obama: Pot no more dangerous than alcohol
President Obama says marijuana use is no more dangerous than alcohol, though he regards it as a bad habit he hopes his children will avoid.
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” he said in a magazine interview. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
He said marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”
“It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” he said.
Obama made his remarks in a series of interviews with The New Yorker, which published a story about the conversations in its Jan. 27 issue and on its website.
Marijuana remains illegal to possess or sell under federal law, although Colorado and Washington have adopted state laws making it legal to possess and use small amounts. A number of states have decriminalized the weed and authorized it for medical uses.
Obama said he was troubled by the disproportionate arrests and imprisonment of minorities on marijuana charges.
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.
Bridget Johnson at the PJ Tatler: Obama Praises CVS for Pulling All Tobacco Products from Its Shelves
Drugstore chain CVS got a shout out from President Obama after announcing this morning that it would stop selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores across the country.
“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” said Larry J. Merlo, president and CEO, CVS Caremark. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”
“As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we’re taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and health care providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving health care marketplace,” Merlo added.
CNN: How heroin kills you
The autopsy results aren’t in yet, but police believe heroin played a role in the death of Academy Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — if not the primary role.
Using heroin can kill you, but it may not be in the way you think. If Hoffman did die from using heroin, his death was atypical in some aspects. Here’s how heroin kills.
Most people die from heroin overdoses when their bodiesforget to breathe.
“Heroin makes someone calm and a little bit sleepy, but if you take too much then you can fall asleep, and when you are asleep your respiratory drive shuts down,” said Dr. Karen Drexler, director of the addiction psychiatry residency training program and an associate professor in Emory University’s psychiatry and behavioral sciences department.
“Usually when you are sleeping, your body naturally remembers to breathe. In the case of a heroin overdose, you fall asleep and essentially your body forgets.”
A must-read article today makes the case for “Why classical liberalism is superior to hard-core libertarianism.”
The name of my Defining Ideas column is “The Libertarian.” The title of my recent book on constitutional law is “The Classical Liberal Constitution.” Clearly, I consider myself a proponent of limited government. So does Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has moved the term “libertarian” to the fore of our national political debates. In a recent New York Times analysis, “Rand Paul’s Mixed Inheritance,” Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Rutenberg treat him as today’s exemplar of libertarian thought. But Paul’s ideology is a far cry from classical liberalism, which is conceptually and politically superior to hard-line libertarianism.
Libertarians and Holdouts
Libertarians fall into two distinct groups: strict libertarians like Rand Paul and classical liberals such as myself. “Classical liberal” is not a term that rolls off of the tongue. Consequently, “libertarian” is the choice term in popular discourse when discussing policies that favor limited government. Libertarians of all stripes oppose President Obama’s endless attacks on market institutions and the rich. The umbrella term comfortably embraces both strands of libertarian theory vis-à-vis a common intellectual foe.
The renewed attention to Paul exposes the critical tension between hard-line libertarians and classical liberals. The latter are comfortable with a larger government than hard-core libertarians because they take into account three issues that libertarians like Paul tend to downplay: (1) coordination problems; (2) uncertainty; (3) and matters of institutional design. None of this is at all evident from Tanenhaus and Rutenberg’s unfair caricature of the “mixed inheritance” among the “libertarian faithful,” which to them includes, “antitax activists and war protestors, John Birch Society members, and a smatter of truthers who suspect the government’s hand in the 2001 terrorist attacks.”
This unfortunate list mixes libertarians of all stripes into a convention of unthinking kooks. A more accurate rendition of the various strands of libertarian thought would hearken back to such great thinkers as Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Hume, Smith, and Madison. Their incisive contributions concerned the relationship between individual liberty and the social order.
It is important to understand the differences in views between the strong libertarian and classical liberal position. Serious hard-line libertarian thinkers include Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. Rothbard believes nonaggression is the sole requirement of a just social order. For Hess, “libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit.” There are large kernels of truth in both propositions. It is quite impossible to see how any social order could be maintained if there were no limitations against the use, or threatened use, of force to enslave or butcher other people, which Hess’s proposition of absolute self-ownership strongly counteracts.
Yet the overarching question is how does a group of people move from the Hobbesian “war of all against all” toward a peaceful society? Hess claims that stable institutions are created by “voluntary association and cooperation.” Again, strong libertarians are on solid ground in defending (most) private contracts against government interference, which is why Lochner v. New York (1905), reviled as it is by most constitutional thinkers, was right in striking down New York’s sixty hours per week maximum labor statute. Yet the hard-line libertarian position badly misfires in assuming that any set of voluntary contracts can solve the far larger problem of social order, which, as Rothbard notes, in practice requires each and every citizen to relinquish the use force against all others. Voluntary cooperation cannot secure unanimous consent, because the one violent holdout could upset the peace and tranquility of all others.
Read the whole thing and share your thoughts in the comments. Which side are you on? Who are the best libertarian thinkers in your view?
Buy Mugged on Amazon here.
And find more great book recommendations at the Freedom Academy Book Club here.
image courtesy shutterstock / Nikola Spasenoski
The top story right now at TMZ is about Michael Jackson’s daughter:
Note the particular ad that TMZ decided to follow it, minus the cropped photo of female breasts used to grab attention to the left of the text:
Any relationship between the two? Isn’t that kind of strange — the insistence on sex and death at the same time?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has voiced her support for the work of controversial British conspiracy theorist David Icke on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
When asked which book she would take were she to be an isolated castaway, the author of The Color Purple chose Icke’s ‘Human Race Get Off Your Knees: The Lion Sleeps No More.’
In the 750-page tome, Icke describes how the human mind is controlled from the moon.
The moon, he claims, is actually a “gigantic spacecraft” which sends us a “fake reality broadcast”.
This method of manipulation is said to work “in much the same way as portrayed in the Matrix movie trilogy”.
Icke, a former BBC presenter, drew mockery in 1991 when he pronounced himself the son of the messiah in an interview with Terry Wogan.
Since then, he has made a career as an author and public speaker.
One of his key ideas is that Earth is ruled by shape-shifting reptiles, including the Queen and President Barack Obama.
PJ Media columnist Michael Ledeen wrote on Friday in response to President Barack Obama’s speech proclaiming an end to the War on Terror:
He’s actually getting worse. This president will not admit that we are in a war, as President George W. Bush defined it, with various terrorist organizations and with countries that support them. In his overlong, rambling speech  to the National Defense University on terrorism and national security, the president never even mentioned Iran, which happens to be our main enemy and the world’s leading sponsor of international terrorism. Not one word.
You may well ask how it is possible for the president to talk about his counterterrorism “strategy” without addressing the main source of terrorism. You would be right to ask, and you should also ask how it is possible that, so far as I can see, not one of the pundits, experts and commentators noticed the omission. They were so busy with the future of Gitmo and where captured terrorists should be tried, and how many drones can fit on the head of a jihadi, that they missed the biggest thing.
Talk about a dog that didn’t bark!
The speech was bizarre, to put it mildly. It was often incoherent, as when he gritted his teeth and actually admitted that there is an ideological conflict between us and the terrorists. “Most…of the terrorism we face,” he said, ”is fueled by a common ideology…that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West.” Without taking a deep breath, he hastily added that the “common ideology” was “based on a lie.” Why? Because “the United States is not at war with Islam…”
It’s typical of the president’s world-view that he would assume any such war to be instigated by us, but in this case the jihadis have it right, and he’s got it backwards. There is indeed a war, it is theirs, the jihadis’ war, and they are waging it because they firmly believe they are commanded to do so by the Almighty. They aim to destroy or dominate Western infidels and apostates. Those commands are in the Koran, and are repeated by a great mass of imams, ayatollahs and mullahs. Those thousands of Iranians or Hezbollahis who chant “death to America” mean just that. It’s the reason for their jihad against us.