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Walter Hudson

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words and co-hosts the weekly podcast Liberty Tree Radio. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Fast Food Vigilante Flips Lid Over Wrong Order

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Neither PJ Media nor this author condones violence for settling commercial disputes. That said, it’s hard not to sympathize with an Oklahoma guy who decided McDonald’s served him the wrong oder for the last time. From The Smoking Gun:

A female cashier told police that a vehicle came through the drive-thru late Tuesday night and the driver picked up an order. But after discovering that the McDonald’s bag was short an item, a male passenger became upset, according to police in Chickasha, a city 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

At that point, the suspect, who was in the vehicle’s back seat, pointed a gun at the employee and warned, “Don’t make me use this” and “Don’t let it happen again.”

We may never know, but it’s fair to bet this wasn’t the first time this suspect received an errant order from the drive-thru. God knows the rest of us have. While pulling a gun certainly amounts to an overreaction, we can imagine the train of thought which led to it.

How hard is it get a food order right? It seems especially egregious nowadays with all the technology and redundancies — computerized registers with pictures on the buttons, monitors for customers to verify orders, printed receipts to reference as a final check. How do you get it wrong? How?!

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Actor Chris O’Dowd: Religion to Become as Offensive as Racism

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Really not into that God stuff.

Really not into that God stuff.

If there’s one thing the rise of gay marriage has taught us, it’s how dramatically public opinion can shift in a short period of time. A poll of Minnesotans taken shortly after that state became the twelfth to legalize gay unions found a radical 18-point shift in opinion among respondents aged 50 to 64 in just a few months. Sixty-eight percent opposed gay marriage in February of 2013. By June, that dropped to 50%.

Recall that President Obama, radical leftist that he is, only “evolved” on the marriage issue less than two years ago. Such observations suggest that radical social ideas can rapidly become mainstream given the right circumstances.

So when actor Chris O’Dowd predicts that religion will one day be widely considered as offensive and unacceptable as racism, I don’t immediately write him off. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Irish star of films such as The Sapphires and Bridesmaids says he grew up respecting people of faith despite his atheist views, but has become “less liberal” as he ages.

Now he says religious doctrine is halting human progress and brands it “a weird cult”…

O’Dowd has told Britain’s GQ magazine: “For most of my life, I’ve been, ‘Hey, I’m not into it, but I respect your right to believe whatever you want’. But as time goes on, weirdly, I’m growing less liberal. I’m more like, ‘No, religion is ruining the world, you need to stop!’.

“There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You know, ‘You’re not allowed to say that weird s**t! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!’

While we may be a long way off from such a world, with the vast majority of Americans still claiming a religious affiliation. However, it’s not hard to imagine a radical shift toward the dystopia O’Dowd predicts.

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How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in October of 2012 as “6 Green Lies Threatening to Starve You.” 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 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Ain’t prosperity grand? We have so much to eat in this country that we toss nearly half of it in the trash. At least that’s the finding of a recent study conducted by a prominent environmental organization. From the Los Angeles Times:

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40% of the country’s supply each year – a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20 pounds per person per month, according to the nonprofit and nonpartisan environmental advocacy group.

Among the study’s prescriptions is a call for government “to set a target for food-waste reduction” as the European Parliament has. After resolving to reduce food waste, the body stated:

The most important problem in the future will be to tackle increased demand for food, as it will outstrip supply. We can no longer afford to stand idly by while perfectly edible food is being wasted. This is an ethical but also an economic and social problem, with huge implications for the environment.

The obvious alternative to any government “standing idly by” is its taking action. Whenever government takes action, it applies force. That is the NRDC’s ultimate prescription, to force Americans to reduce food waste. This is ironic since government action already plays a substantial role in the amount of food produced and consumed. The Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards explains:

Farm subsidies damage the economy. In most industries, market prices balance supply and demand and encourage efficient production. But Congress short–circuits market mechanisms in agriculture. Farm programs cause overproduction, the overuse of marginal farmland, land price inflation and excess borrowing by farm businesses.

Force is not a morally permissible or practically effective means of guiding productive behavior. Our rejection of slavery is an acknowledgment of that truth. Yet the notion that government ought to act forcefully to prevent pollution and reduce waste remains popular. Why?

The case built by green movement organizations like the NRDC relies on a tightly wound knot of lies. These falsehoods appear in the NRDC’s mission “to safeguard the Earth, its people, its plants and animals and the natural systems on which all life depends,” as well as its “priority issues”:

    • Curbing global warming
    • Creating the clean energy future
    • Reviving the world’s oceans
    • Defending endangered wildlife and wild places
    • Protecting our health by preventing pollution
    • Ensuring safe and sufficient water
    • and; Fostering sustainable communities

Underlying this mission and these goals are six green lies which threaten to starve you and your family…

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You Want to Work for a Company Run Like This

Friday, March 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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I never thought the day would come when I got genuinely excited about business management. I do not own a business. Nor am I a manager. Be that as it may, I can’t stop thinking about the potential applications of something called “lean management.”

Have you ever trained in a new hire? If so, perhaps you’ve watched as their initial eagerness and exuberance fade into doldrum and routine upon their learning “how things are done around here.” Perhaps you advised:

No, you’re working too hard….

No, we don’t do it like that….

No, that’s not your job….

Listen, if you expect things to make sense, you’re just going to end up frustrated and disappointed. Go with the flow.

I must confess to having dispensed such advice on more than one occasion. Deep down, I have always resented it. Responding to the muted exuberance of a new hire, I recall my own lost exuberance and ask:

Why don’t things make sense around here? Why doesn’t it pay to work harder? Shouldn’t processes be as efficient as possible?

Meh, that’s above my pay grade. It’s for the managers to worry about. I’m just here for the paycheck.

Organizational structure and management style enable such fatalism and contribute to an inefficient and even antagonistic workforce. When initiative and innovation go unrewarded and even punished, the game becomes doing just enough in just the right way to stay below the radar.

Concisely introduced in the above video, lean management presents an alternative to the modern management style employed in most organizations. Instead of managerial authority, lean management concerns itself with managerial responsibility. Instead of judging performance by results, lean management judges performance by process, recognizing that properly performed processes will deliver intended results. Instead of coming up with an authoritative plan, lean management conducts experiments in a kind of scientific process utilizing feedback to constantly adjust the plan. Instead of making decisions in sterile conference rooms looking at data without context, lean management gets its hands dirty inspecting the value-creation process and asking workers about their work. Speaker Jim Womack outlines these points in greater detail in the video below.

You can begin to imagine what it might be like to work in an organization managed in this way. Exuberance and enthusiasm would suddenly become welcome and profoundly relevant. You would be encouraged to offer feedback and solicit experimental changes to processes. Your job would be safe when innovation fails, because it would be generally understood that experiments are experiments. When innovation worked, you would be rewarded and fulfilled.

The quirky genius of lean management is that it’s not even clever. It’s just the recognition of objective reality and the application of the scientific method to the craft of management. Things are what they are. Processes work how they work. And we ought to adjust our plans accordingly. It’s stupid brilliant.

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Obama: Give Up Your TV and Phone to Fund Other People’s Healthcare

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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By now you may have caught the LIBRE Initiative report of President Obama telling a town hall audience to consider cutting personal expenses to afford health insurance under the [Un]affordable Care Act. Here’s the quote:

[Obama] responded to a question received via email, from a consumer who makes $36,000 per year and cannot find insurance for a family of three for less than $315 per month. The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

Imagine a Republican politician saying the same thing. The leftist media would go apoplectic.

While that may appear to be a partisan double standard, the truth has more to do with ideology than parties. A Republican telling people to prioritize healthcare expenses over their cable or cell phone would likely do so in a free-market context where such priorities would serve the consumer’s individual interest. Obama, by contrast, asks people to sacrifice for the sake of others.

Obamacare depends upon its mandated enrollments to fund its mandated benefits, a process designed to redistribute wealth. Since paying for others is considered morally superior to paying for yourself in Obama’s worldview, he advises cancelling your cable or cell phone to pay for Obamacare. A Republican offering the same advice in a free-market context would be castigated not primarily for the notion of prioritization, but for the notion of self-reliance. Prioritizing to benefit yourself — bad. Prioritizing to benefit others — good.

The philosophical underpinning of Obama’s comment is altruism, the idea that you exist for the sake of others. The countervailing idea, that you exist for your own sake, is egoism. Obama gets away with his comment not because he’s a Democrat so much as because our culture embraces altruism and bristles at egoism.

Critics of the president would do well to focus on that point rather then the “audacity” of suggesting families might need to prioritize one expense over another. Indeed, families will always need to prioritize one expense over another. That’s part of being an adult in the real world. An alternative to Obamacare should not promise a world without prioritization, but a world where the priorities which individuals choose redound to their own benefit.

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Noah Set to Flip the Biblical Script

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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As a Christian and a fan of Hollywood’s past biblical epics, I got excited upon viewing the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The story of Noah and his ark has resonated through every culture of man, yet has never been the subject of a major Hollywood motion picture.

Alongside my enthusiasm, skepticism lurked. Modern Hollywood producing a biblical epic adhering to the written narrative and theological themes seemed unlikely given a culture increasingly opposed to the source material. That doubt grew with last month’s report that a disclaimer would be attached to the film’s marketing explaining that “artistic license has been taken.”

Any adaptation requires artistic license. Certainly, narratives were added to Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments which fleshed out the characters and layered the world in which Moses lived. Adding Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri to spice things up between Moses and Rameses is one thing. But you don’t add or subtract commandments from the ten. In the case of Noah, the disclaimer added by Paramount addressed criticism from Christian groups who claim that the film deviates substantively from the biblical narrative.

A clue to Aronofsky’s approach emerged alongside reports that actress Emma Watson had become sick during production after the director banned bottled water from their location. Watson told Wonderland magazine that the ban comported with the “pro-environmental message” of the film. The Telegraph recalled that Aronofsky called Noah “the first environmentalist” in a 2011 interview.

Now we have begun to see clips from the film. The one above revealed Aronofsky’s revised reason for Noah to build an ark. “Our family has been chosen for a great task, to save the innocent… the animals,” Noah tells his family.

When one of his sons asks what makes the animals innocent, Noah’s daughter beats him to the punch: “Because they still live as they did in the Garden [of Eden].”

From this we may infer that God regards animals as morally superior to human beings. In the clip, Noah adds, “I guess we get to start over too,” as if the involvement of his family were an afterthought secondary to God’s purpose.

The Bible tells a different story. All creation shares the curse of sin, including animals. The flood surged as judgment against that sin, and Noah’s family was preserved in fulfillment of God’s covenant to provide salvation for mankind.

By turning the story of Noah into an environmental tale, Aronofsky has missed the point. Beyond artistic license, he seems to have defiled the story’s essence. Imagine a film about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which portrayed the hijackers as Hindu, and you understand the difference between artistic license and fraud. If Aronofsky’s Noah ends up as divergent as the above clip, it will trivialize something sacred, the treasured relationship between God and mankind.

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6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013. 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…

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The phenomenon occurs among activists on the Left and the Right. Regardless of their ideological perspective or particular cause, amateur activists sabotage their own effort at every turn. Whether due to ignorance of processes or – more likely – stubborn defiance of reality, citizen activists focus too much on grinding their axe and not enough on achieving a goal.

Three recent examples warrant consideration. First, in Maine, a group of libertarian Republicans including a National Committeeman authored an open letter to the state party secretary tendering their resignation from the GOP following a rules fight which didn’t go their way at a meeting of the RNC. Dave Nalle, former national chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus, an organization working within the party to steer it toward greater advocacy of individual rights, called the mass exodus a “betrayal” in a public Facebook post:

After years of working to gain those positions of influence and as a key component of a liberty coalition which controls the state party, they have thrown everything away because of losing one battle over the rules with the RNC leadership.

Did they go into this thinking it was going to be easy to change the Republican Party? I respect their efforts and commitment up to this point, but what they have done puts liberty movement control of their state party in jeopardy and hands additional victories to the malefactors who run the national party. It weakens the movement nationwide and sets a terrible example for others.

In Minnesota, the Occupy movement has splintered as Occupy MN announced that it was cutting ties with a spin-off organization called Occupy Homes MN on account of the latter becoming “commercialized” and “profitable.” City Pages reports on the schism, citing a public statement from Occupy MN:

Many of us helped create, volunteered with and were arrested with Occupy Homes, until unethical tactics serving the goal of evolution into a profitable Non-Governmental Organization achieved dominance.

Last but not least, activists made a stink following an incident at the Republican Party booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Volunteers arrived to work a shift at the booth wearing campaign t-shirts supporting a libertarian challenger to Congressman John Kline. The state party chair, fulfilling his fiduciary responsibility to protect the party brand, required the volunteers to turn their shirts inside-out while representing the party in an official capacity. The move sparked a firestorm of protest from liberty activists within the party. A former candidate for the state chair position rallied support on Facebook by noting:

Neither Kline nor Mr. [David] Gerson [the challenger] is endorsed for the 2014 race to keep MN CD 2 in GOP hands.

Apparently, political parties have no vested interest in promoting their elected officials or protecting their brand by not associating it with non-endorsed challengers. So goes the protesters’ argument.

Each of these examples and many more which could be cited indicate an activist mindset which I refer to as anti-activism. Like a gerbil running on its wheel, anti-activists expend tremendous energy toward getting nowhere. That becomes problematic for more thoughtful activists who focus on affecting public policy rather than protest for its own sake. Let’s consider 6 ways activists sabotage their cause.

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Should Atlas Shrug Off Apple?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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What would you do, as the owner of a company, if the manager you hired to run it rebuked your desire for the highest return on investment? Imagine that you approach your manager with concerns about his performance, and he tells you to stop worrying so much about profit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did precisely that in a meeting with stockholders at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Mashable reports on the confrontation with a group of stockholders objecting to Cook’s wasteful spending on environmental initiatives:

“We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive,” the CEO said:

We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are. That’s who we are as a company. I don’t…when I think about human rights, I don’t think about an ROI. When I think about making our products accessible for the people that can’t see or to help a kid with autism, I don’t think about a bloody ROI, and by the same token, I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view.

Anyone who had a problem with that approach? They should sell their Apple shares. “If you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock,” Cook said to applause.

Emphasis should be placed on that applause. Stockholders went on to vote down a proposal to halt environmental efforts which hurt the company’s bottom line. In other words, stockholders voted against making money.

The episode evokes comparisons to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the character of James Taggart, heir to a railroad company who squanders his inherited wealth on altruistic efforts which ruin both his company and the national economy. Like Cook, Taggart believes business should be motivated by more than profit. Like Cook, Taggart believes business holds some responsibility to help people.

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18 Year Old Sues Parents for Tuitution, Living Expenses

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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A good working definition of discipline may be the aligning of perception with reality. I may perceive that I can eat pizza and cupcakes without consequence. But reality will bear a different result.

Children who go without discipline enter adulthood with an unrealistic sense of entitlement. One young adult, newly loosed upon the world, just set a new bar. The Los Angeles Times reports:

A New Jersey high school honor student, who is also an athlete and a cheerleader, has sued her parents for school money after she says they kicked her out of their home when she turned 18, the Daily Record of Parsippany, N.J., reported.

Rachel Canning’s father told the newspaper that his daughter isn’t telling the whole story and that she moved out because she didn’t want to do chores or keep a curfew, among other disagreements.

[Her father says,] “She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home, and she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live under your rules.’”

The young woman argues “she’s an unemanicipated student,” whatever that means, and her parents should therefore pay her tuition along with living and transportation costs.

Her attitude proves emblematic of that embraced by the culture at large, particularly in relation to public entitlements and subsidies. She would force her parents to sustain her life without submitting to their terms. Similarly, rent-seeking constituencies condone the use of force against taxpayers while resisting any accountability.

If the account of Canning’s parents can be believed, her costs would be covered if she chose to abide by their rules. Instead, she demands to live as she wills, while demanding support from her parents.

A hearing on the case is set for today. Look for additional commentary here at PJ Lifestyle, and listen to extended reaction on my Fightin Words podcast.

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Crispin Glover’s Gripe with Back to the Future

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Back to the Future actor Crispin Glover sat down with IGN recently to talk about his experience filming the classic time-travel adventure. Glover only worked on the first film in the franchise, though his likeness and select footage from the first film was used in the second.

In his interview with IGN, posted above, Glover explained some of the creative differences which contributed to his leaving the franchise. He objected to what he called “propaganda” in the film promoting “corporate interests.” Specifically, Glover felt that the ending of the first film, portraying the McFly family as happier and notably wealthier than when it began, sent the wrong message.

The happier was fine to me. And the idea of the characters being in love, I thought was excellent. But I thought – I saw that if there was a kind of a financial reward, where the son character cheers because he has a truck in the garage – I thought that the moral aspect ends up being that money equals happiness. And I questioned that, and that was met with a lot of hostility and upset.

Glover recalls watching old movies in revival houses as a teenager in Los Angeles, films which he felt “were questioning things.” He apparently did not want to be complicit in a film which takes for granted that “money equals happiness,” a message he felt deceived moviegoers into sacrificing their interests to that of corporations.

Propaganda is essentially fooling people into believing that there’s something good for them, but it’s actually in the interests of the corporations. I mean, you can call anything propaganda. You can say what I’m saying right now is propaganda. I mean, you’re saying – it’s propagating an idea. But the kind of propaganda that I’m speaking of, that I think is very damaging, is the propaganda that is making people at large feel that what’s being put forth to them is good for their own interests. But in fact, it’s actually best for the corporate interests and it ends up hurting the people at large.

And unfortunately, I think – even though there are very positive things about Back to the Future – there’s very good story structure. There was good writing within it. My argument was, if we just take out the element of wealth as a reward – and it was only that the characters were in love, I would like the film altogether wholly.

The philosophical notion fueling Glover’s objection was that money should not matter if you pursue those things which you love.

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Beyond ‘Turn Away the Gay,’ How About Consent in All Relationships?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Arizona

If I approached ten random people on the street and asked them whether “relationships should be consensual,” ten out of ten would likely answer yes. I mean, what’s the alternative? People should be able to force themselves on each other? It’s a no-brainer.

Yet, if I asked the same ten people whether “a business should be able to deny service on the basis of race or sexual orientation,” seven or eight would probably answer no.

How do we reconcile that? Do we believe relationships should be governed by mutual consent, or not?

In the wake of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s veto of S.B. 1062, a bill which by some accounts would have expanded the freedom of association in that state, we do well to consider the true nature of Jim Crow. Today, we all agree that the laws which emerged at the state and local level in the century following the Civil War mandating racial segregation clearly violated individual rights. But what about those laws made them a violation of rights? Was it the fact that they discriminated on the basis of race? Or was it the fact that they kept individuals from utilizing their judgment?

By replacing Jim Crow laws with anti-discrimination laws, all we did was change whom the state victimizes. Instead of mandating segregation, we mandated integration. We went from forcing people to abstain from relationships to forcing them to engage in them.

Who speaks for consent? Why have we never tried letting people choose whom they enter into relationships with, and whom they do not? How did we solve the offense of Jim Crow by inverting its trespass?

Arizona’s S.B. 1062 aims too narrowly, and at the wrong target. While businesses should be able to deny service to customers whose needs conflict with the owner’s religious conscience, that stands as only one example of a broader principle which must be applied universally. All relationships should be consensual. Indeed, the case for gay marriage rests upon that very notion. Rather than focus on whether a gay couple should be able to marry or whether a vendor should be able to deny them service, let’s broaden our consideration to whether individuals ought to define their own relationships in all contexts.

No one should be able to force themselves on someone else, ever, under any circumstances. Embracing that maxim and applying it to public policy would settle many of these divisive social issues.

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Harold Ramis on Cash-In Sequels: ‘No One Wants to Do That’

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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With the passing this week of legendary comedy writer and director Harold Ramis, who also starred in a number of films, the door seemed to shut a little tighter on any possibility of a third Ghostbusters movie. As one half of the writing team which conceived the original concept, Ramis may have been essential to the property’s continuation.

Rumors of a new film in the paranormal exterminator franchise have haunted fans for years. In the above clip, Ramis addresses some of the challenges which held up production.

Perhaps the most compelling reason not to make another Ghostbusters film was not having a story worth telling. Here’s Ramis on the prospect:

We could do anything and, you know, we’d all make some money probably. But no one wants to do that. We don’t need the work. We don’t need to do it. The public, if they only had two Ghostbusters, we’d all be fine. The world would not end.

In the interview, Ramis cited Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as an example of a film which took a franchise off its rails.

… although I read online that Harrison Ford made 65 million dollars from [the film].

Ford may not have needed the money either. But perhaps the prospect of squeezing in one last turn as the globe-trotting tomb raider was a value in and of itself.

In the event the Ghostbusters ever return to the big screen, here’s hoping they’ll deliver on character, story, and humor. Ramis would have wanted it that way.

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7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013. 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…

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Worf wants back into your living room. Michael Dorn, the veteran actor who portrayed Star Trek’s most beloved klingon in two series and five films, has been telling fans of his desire to bring the character back to television. Hollywood.com shares Dorn’s belief that Worf has more to give to the galaxy.

Once I started thinking about it, it became obvious to me that I wanted to at least put it out there, which I have, and the response has been pretty amazing. We’ve been contacted by different individuals… about wanting to come on board and be part of this.

I was on a movie not too long ago, where one of the producers was basically lobbying to be part of it. He was like, “Michael, I’d love to write it, if you haven’t.” So, at this point, my agents and my manager are looking at all the avenues and trying to figure out which is the best one.

The itch to bring Trek back to the small screen has Rolling Stone clawing as well. A recent article calls for the re-launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation, arguably the most popular and successful series in the franchise. Author Andy Greene explains why the time is right:

With Star Trek Into Darkness hitting DVD this month and a third film in the rebooted series roughly slated for 2016, it’s pretty safe to say the Star Trek movie franchise is in the best shape it’s been in years, possibly all the way back to the days of The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. Prior to these recent J.J. Abrams movies, there were never even two great Star Trek movies released back-to-back, and Paramount is obviously thrilled by the box office results.

Unfortunately, no Abrams-like figure came around to save the Star Trek TV franchise. It’s been off the air ever since Star Trek: Enterprise got yanked in May of 2005 after just four seasons. Audiences never warmed to Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer, and the idea of a show taking place 100 years before the original Star Trek was better in theory than actual practice.

In the last eight years there hasn’t even been any serious attempts to put Star Trek back on the air, and everyone seems entirely focused on the movies. This is a horrible mistake. At its core, Star Trek is a television series…

Indeed, Trek thrives in its native format. However, Green’s call to revive The Next Generation sinks with the same nostalgic weight that Enterprise did. The fourth and final season of that last Trek series was actually quite good, but hit its pace too late to save the show. Viewers tend not to suffer through three seasons of meh waiting for a cast and crew to get their act together. A new show would have to make it so from the start.

Trek should return to television. The time is right. However, it needs to arrive with a new perspective. It needs to progress. The Next Generation did not succeed by its emulation of the original series. It made its own mark, building on the original’s legacy and advancing in creative new directions.

A new series would signal a new era of Trek – a next, next generation. And would need to set a new tone for a new time. To do that, it would have to go where no Trek has gone before. Here are 7 possible directions.

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Why The Fantastic Four Casting Annoys This Black Man

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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The Fantastic Four returns to theaters in 2015 with a new and controversial cast. The New York Daily News reports:

Within minutes of the bombshell reports that Fox has found its titular superheroes in the Fantastic Four reboot, naysayers flamed on social media to pick apart the reported selections of actors Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Invisible Woman), Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch) and Jamie Bell (The Thing) .

Complaints ranged from the good points (Teller’s track record of one-liner spewing parts is a poor fit for the super-serious Reed Richards) to the bad (Mara isn’t blonde) to the ugly (Jordan is not Caucasian like the character in the comics).

The author leaves unclear what makes that last compliant “ugly.”

Changing the racial identity of an established character in order to cast the best actor for the job works in many situations. The Avengers‘ Nick Fury was Irish in the comics long before Samuel L. Jackson portrayed him onscreen.

The offbeat casting choices in Zack Synder’s Man of Steel worked despite diverging wildly from past iterations. Laurence Fishburne starred as Perry White. Photographer Jimmy Olsen became a Latina intern named Jenny. And red-head Amy Adams portrayed the traditionally brunette Lois Lane.

However, there are times when a character’s physical characteristics or racial identity serve a narrative purpose. When Idris Elba, a black actor, was cast as the Norse god Heimdall in Marvel Studios’ Thor, it seemed like a gratuitous bit of multiculturalism. Then again, the Marvel version of Asgardians prove more alien than divine, so perhaps racial diversity makes sense in that context.

But casting a black man to play Human Torch makes no sense whatsoever. The character’s given name is Johnny Storm, biological full-brother to sister Sue, the Invisible Woman played by the decisively Caucasian Kate Mara. Unless this turns out to be some kind of artsy color-blind thing like you might see in a stage play, the relationship between these characters which has been integral to past narratives will have to be changed.

Will one of them be adopted? Will they be related at all? I suppose it could be handled in any number of ways which would not necessarily throw off the story, but for what purpose? Why do this? The only answer I can come up with is gratuitous multiculturalism, which this black author regards as an insulting bit of pandering.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Mock Poor with ‘Minimum Wage Challenge’

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Recently, I wrote of a Harvard/CUNY study, conducted by advocates of a single-payer healthcare system, which claims that over 17,000 people will die unless states expand Medicaid. The study rests upon a deeply cynical and inaccurate view of humanity inherent to the Left which regards people as helpless as houseplants.

Now, a group of state lawmakers in Minnesota have announced a political stunt demonstrating that same insulting view of humanity. ThinkProgress reports:

Five state lawmakers in Minnesota have decided to take on the “Minimum Wage Challenge” and live off of a typical budget for a worker who makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The state has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country at $6.15 an hour, which means it gets trumped by the federal wage. A worker who puts in 40 hours a week at that level will earn just $290 before taxes. The challenge limits the lawmakers to $5 a day for food and $9 for transportation.

I am reminded of my high school health class, where it was expected students would learn the hardships of parenthood by carting around a bag of sugar taped to a Cabbage Patch Kids doll. This seems no less puerile.

Rep. Frank Hornstein (D) told CBS Minnesota that it made him take more notice of his costs. “An orange juice was $1.79. That’s not something that I would normally notice,” he said after getting breakfast from McDonald’s Dollar Menu. “Making the decision to take the bus today versus taking the car will save me a little money for dinner. For food,” he added.

Hornstein ought to recognize that the same process of rational judgment which prompts him to consider the price of orange juice while on his restricted budget would also apply when considering obligations like rent, marriage, and parenthood.

Gee, if I make minimum wage, maybe I shouldn’t rent a two-bedroom apartment. Maybe I should aspire to better means before taking on new costs.

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What Is ‘Homophobia’ Anyway?

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
There's a message we can all get behind.

There’s a message we can all get behind.

Our own Bethany Mandel highlights the contrast in expectations placed upon African-Americans versus most everyone else when it comes to homophobia. Asking “Where Is It Still Acceptable to Be Homophobic?,” she points to attitudes expressed in the hip-hop community, a demographic breakdown of election results from California’s infamous Proposition 8, and an anecdote which indicates other minority groups get a free pass when criticizing homosexuality.

While the case for hypocrisy rests, what struck me as more troubling was the use of the word “homophobic” in reference to voting for traditional marriage or refusing to associate with homosexuals. This word – homophobic – has rapidly become an acceptable way to describe anything less than enthusiastic acceptance of homosexuality, which leads me to wonder. What is “homophobia” anyway?

We can get all etymological about it and break the word down to its constituent parts. Obviously, “homo” references homosexuality. “Phobia” means fear. So I guess a strict interpretation would be fear of homosexuals.

But that doesn’t really fit its dominant usage in the culture. How many people are actually afraid of homosexuals in the phobic sense? It does not follow that a vote against gay marriage indicates fear of homosexuals.

The rhetorical weight lent to the word “homophobe” places it on a connotative par with the word “racist.” Yet we would not call a racist a “blackophobe” or some such. While the racist may fear the object of his racism, fear does not define racism. Irrational beliefs about racial determinism define racism. The racist judges his race superior to another, and limits his assessment of individuals to racial stereotypes.

Are we talking about something similar when we speak of homophobia? Does the homophobe judge himself a higher order of human being than the homosexual? Does the homophobe limit their assessment of homosexual individuals to cultural stereotypes?

Undoubtedly, there are those who think homosexuals of lesser value than heterosexuals, or who rush to stereotypical judgment against homosexuals. Such thought and conduct proves as irrational and distasteful as racism.

However, we should distinguish between those negative attitudes and the kind of moral sanction which seems increasingly necessary to ward off accusations of homophobia. It’s one thing to expect acceptance of homosexuals as equal in their humanity and worthy of individual consideration. It’s quite another to expect celebration or endorsement of homosexual activity.

If we accept the connotative equivalence of “racism” and “homophobia,” then we must conclude that it is not homophobic to deny sanction of gay marriage, or to disassociate with homosexuals, or to believe and teach that homosexuality is a sin. Indeed, the same free association argument which fuels the movement for gay marriage necessitates tolerance of countervailing conscience.

Failure to love my blackness does not make you a racist. Likewise, failure to love homosexuality should not make you a homophobe.

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Toy Story ‘Gun’ Confiscated at Airport

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Amidst the vortex of impressions known as social media, some things fail to receive the attention they deserve. When I first saw the above picture of airport security confiscating a toy gun from a cowboy doll, I dismissed it as too absurd to be real. Turns out, as reported by National Review Online, it really happened:

Another gun-wielding toy has had its weapon seized by airport security. After a cowboy sock monkey Rooster Monkburn had his tiny harmless weapon seized last year, a Woody doll underwent similar probe at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Healthrow traveler John Hazen posted a picture of his son’s figurine to the social-media website Reddit on Tuesday showing a security official removing the doll’s gun. “At Heathrow, security just confiscated his ‘weapon,’ keep the world safe boys,”​ Hazen wrote on the site. The doll does not usually come armed with gun — it was an accessory the family added.

How could anyone be so stupid you ask? In a word, government.

Surely, people make dumb decisions in the market. However, the market quickly checks and balances dumb decisions by subjecting them to the individual judgment of competitors, consumers, and stakeholders – all free to associate or disassociate at will. Government, by contrast, deals in force. It mandates compliance instead of judgment. Ergo, when you tell a security officer to confiscate all guns, he’s going to confiscate ALL guns. Common sense be damned.

Let us imagine a world where government was constrained to its proper role of protecting individual rights. In such a world, functions like airport security would be private, as would airports, air traffic control, and the entire aviation sector. Competitors in that environment would remain incentivized to prevent terrorist attacks and other disasters which would adversely affect their business. It turns out having your customers die in your care does little for your brand.

Sensible security precautions would develop, tempered by the demands of consumers who would vote with their dollars on the best overall solution. No doubt, the security realized in a free market would require some assumption of risk on the part of consumers. But the flip side would be getting your kid’s cowboy doll on-board without triggering a federal case. Market judgment outperforms government edict in the development of best practices every time.

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Flappy Bird Creator Has Right to Deny Fun

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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There was a time, not too many years ago, when I was up on all the latest games on any given platform. Nowadays, with a wife, two young sons, and several other responsibilities — not so much.

I never even tried the most recent smartphone craze, something called Flappy Bird. Now, I may never get the chance. IGN reports:

The creator of Flappy Birdpulled the game from the iOS App Store and Google Play because it’s become an “addictive product”.

In his first interview since he followed through on his threat to remove the game, 29-year-old Dong Nguyen told Forbes that he has no plans to bring it back.

“Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed,” he said. “But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone forever.”

Ultimately, it was guilt that motivated his decision to pull the game. “My life has not been as comfortable as I was before,” he explained. “I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think it’s a mistake. I have thought it through.”

Thus Nguyen disposes of his intellectual property in a manner that would make John Galt proud. We can argue whether Flappy Bird was actually addictive or whether it caused real harm. Regardless, though many may enjoy the game Nguyen created, as its owner he retains sole discretion as to whether it should remain available.

The decision to yank a smartphone game from the market may not prove controversial. However, similar decisions made upon the same principle of ownership generate controversy all the time. The champions of antitrust law and consumer protection, along with critics of intellectual property, adhere religiously to that famous Vulcan maxim: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

Think of all the smartphone users like me who will never get the opportunity to play Flappy Bird. Who’s looking out for us? Who does Nguyen think he is, robbing us of the fun we never knew we could have?

Of course, it was never ours to have in the first place. We played no role in its creation, and thus hold no claim upon its use. Wasn’t there another flappy bird, The Little Red Hen, who taught us this long ago?

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5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

Sunday, February 9th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in March of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. 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…

Republican.

My conservatism caught me by surprise.

While raised in the peculiar isolation of Jehovah’s Witnesses by a white mother and a black father, politics was as elusive as birthday celebrations and gifts on Christmas morning (prohibited by JW theology). In elementary school, as other children would cover their hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I stood silent with my hands at my side. Participation in the political system of men was a betrayal of the kingdom of God, or so I had been taught. I therefore had little frame of reference for, or interest in, the political discourse.

I thus came into middle school ripe for indoctrination. My first impression of the major political parties was imprinted by a social studies teacher who explained as a matter of fact that Republicans were the party of the rich and powerful while Democrats were the party of the little guy. That settled it. Lacking in wealth and power as I was, if I was ever to be political, I was clearly to be a Democrat. Thus guided, I dutifully cast my ballot in the mock election of 1992 for the well-coifed champion of we little people – Bill Clinton.

In the years that followed, something happened which my teachers did not intend. I enrolled in my state’s postsecondary enrollment options program, and came to spend half the day at a local community college. My schedule was such that I drove between my high school and the college right when a certain talk radio personality took to the air. In a way, listening to Rush Limbaugh proved a form of youthful rebellion. My curiosity was aroused by leftist characterizations of the man as a bigoted hate-monger. Surely, listening to the rantings of a modern-day Klansman would prove entertaining.

You can fill in the rest of the story. What Limbaugh had to say on those daily drives to college proved more enlightening than what I was offered in class. I was not converted so much as matched with the ideology I implicitly held.

As I came of age politically, the reality of being a black conservative was no more isolating than being a Jehovah’s Witness. I had grown used to being a minority within a minority, the odd guy out, and having to routinely explain myself to others. While I eventually dropped the religion, I maintained its contentment with abnormality. As a result, I did not endure quite the same trials which many other black conservatives do when they reveal their values to a community enthralled by liberation theology.

Nevertheless, life as a black conservative has granted me insight into the plight facing those who stand up for what they believe in. Here are 5 tips for coming out as a black conservative.

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People As Houseplants: The Harvard View of Humanity

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Every once in a while, I tune into the local lefty talk station to satiate my mild but persistent masochism. I made it through about ten minutes recently, including commercials. Somewhere in the mix I heard mention of a recent study conducted by advocates of a single-payer socialized healthcare system which claims that over 17,000 people will die unless states expand Medicaid.

Forbes does a decent job of debunking the Harvard/CUNY study. But I don’t need Forbes. I don’t even need to look at the study. I know the claim proves false on its face, because it defies objective reality.

Saying people will die unless states expand Medicaid is like saying your neighbor will starve unless you buy his lunch. It proceeds from a worldview which regards people as houseplants, wholly dependent on external care. My neighbor does not need me to feed him. He needs to obtain food to feed himself. Indeed, if my neighbor needs me to feed him, it can be said that I need him to feed me, in which case we’re both right back were we started.

You know who will die unless they are fed? Prisoners.

Prisoners need to be fed, because they lack the freedom to pursue sustenance on their own. Perhaps that lends some credibility to the study’s claim. Since our healthcare system makes it impossible for people to seek care in a market driven by individual judgment, we just might need the slop doled out by the state.

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Jobs Come from Executive Orders? Why Didn’t You Say So?

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

obama-magic

Since he first took office in 2009, President Barack Obama has consistently invited comparisons between his vision for America and the world of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. In particular, the president has frequently attracted references to Directive 10-289, a government edict in the novel which forbids hiring and firing, mandates production, and seizes patents.

The explicit realization of that directive approaches with each new abuse and usurpation committed by the administration. Now, after the president brazenly declared his intention to defy the rule of law and craft legislation from the Oval Office via executive order, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee conspires with fellow members of a “Full Employment Caucus” to tee up the tyranny. This from the Washington Times:

She said at a recent press conference reported by The Daily Mail that the caucus members will work hard to “give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength. In fact, I think that should be our number one agenda. Let’s write up these executive orders – draft them, of course – and ask the president to stand with us on full employment.”

It’s about time. The only real question is why it has taken so long for the president to come to our aid with the stoke of his magic pen.

That might have been sarcasm, which might have been funny were its object not so deadly serious. We have a sitting president and a caucus of congresspeople who believe jobs may be royally decreed.

True, this does not represent an ideological shift from the past. The Left has always asserted that government can create jobs. However, this new tact of stripping the process down to an executive order leaves the folly more naked than before.

Indeed, if jobs come from executive orders, what have we been waiting for? How bad was the president going to let things get before rescuing the economy with a piece of paper?

After Sheila Jackson Lee secures full employment, perhaps she can ask the Wizard for a brain.

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Dear Post-Game 9/11 ‘Truther’

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Dear Mr. Mills,

I thought you might appreciate some feedback regarding your recent trespass into MetLife Stadium during the Super Bowl. You went to a lot of trouble, lying your way past several layers of security before gaining access to a televised post-game interview where you seized the microphone and called upon the audience to “investigate 9/11.” The least I can do is offer this brief response.

Of course, if I really wanted to do your effort justice, I would have to trespass into your home as you trespassed into the homes of tens of millions through the magic of television and impose my views upon you without your consent. Be that as it may, I trust you will choose to consider my opinion without me shoving it down your throat.

I just wanted to let you know what we normals took away from your brief bleating about our government killing thousands of its own citizens on September 11, 2001. If that claim were not ludicrous on its face, having it shouted rudely in the middle of a post-game interview may have caused some to doubt its veracity.

Here’s the thing, Matt. If you expect anyone to believe that “truth” motivates your actions, you may want to conduct yourself truthfully. Lying to law enforcement and security personnel to gain unauthorized access to a platform you do not own does not imbue your message with credibility.

I know you think the end justifies the means, and that the importance of your message justifies any action taken to propagate it. But you’re wrong. We have free speech in this country. That does not entitle you to a venue or an audience. We also have free association, which means individuals get to choose to whom they listen. When you jumped in front of the camera and seized the microphone for those few seconds, you trampled on the free-association right of tens of millions of people. It wasn’t just rude, though it was surely that. It was a violation, a trespass, and probably a crime.

Before you or your buddies in the “truther” movement try a similar stunt in the future, realize that your message has gotten out just fine without rights-violating tactics. It’s not that we’re not hearing it. We’re just not buying it. Factor that truth into your paradigm.

Sincerely,

Walter Hudson

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In the Role of Lex Luthor… Jesse Eisenberg?

Friday, January 31st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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The internet balked at Ben Affleck as Batman. Wait ’til they get a load of this.

Jesse Eisenberg, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, has been cast to play Lex Luthor in director Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman. Rumored contenders had included Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and Gladiator alum Joaquin Phoenix. However, the confirmed selection of Eisenberg suggests those men may have never been considered.

Eisenberg’s physique, age, and peculiar demeanor suggest Snyder will defy convention yet again. In Man of Steel, demure redhead Amy Adams was cast as dogged reporter Lois Lane. African-American actor Laurence Fishburne took on the role of Daily Planet editor Perry White. Most dramatically, Jimmy Olson became a Latina named Jenny. None of these casting choices were overstated upon execution. Each character took easily to their altered shell, proving that none were necessarily defined by physical characteristics.

Lex Luthor may prove different, however. With Eisenberg, Snyder would seem to be recasting Superman’s mortal nemesis as a young tech CEO in the Zuckerberg mold, a deep contrast to the crusty old versions we have seen onscreen before. It’s a bold choice, enhancing the ying/yang contrast between hero and villain. After all, you can’t get much less “man of steel” than Jesse Eisenberg.

Alongside the Eisenberg announcement, Warner Brothers confirmed that Jeremy Irons will join the cast as Alfred Pennyworth, butler and mentor to Affleck’s Bruce Wayne. With apologies to Michael Caine, that may make for the most intriguing portrayal of the character in history.

We will have to wait until next year to see how the production pans out. These offbeat casting choices may pay off in surprising ways.

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Death or Exile: Will Immigration Reform End the GOP?

Friday, January 31st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Ann Coulter has published a scathing critique of House Republicans who plan to move forward on immigration reform. She previews a forthcoming report from Phyllis Schlafly which seems to indicate that any increase in immigration will redound to the benefit of Democrats. Coulter delivers a convincing argument, leading our own Leslie Loftis to herald a return to Tammany Hall.

Taking each woman’s conclusions for granted, a question of political strategy arises. What inspiring plan should be offered as an alternative? We need an answer, because opposing immigration reform solely on the basis of its political effect will convince no one. What exactly does Coulter expect House Republicans to do? Are they to stand up on the floor and say they oppose a policy which will foster votes for Democrats? Even if that somehow proved successful in the short term, this issue will not go away. Republicans need a serious proposal with marketable merit.

The first step involves dropping rhetoric about native unemployment and cheap labor. It’s divisive and offputting in a time when the Republican Party needs to build its coalition amid plainly shifting demographics. More importantly, it ignores key economic realities and the moral principle of individual rights.

The unemployment in America owes far more to government intrusion in the market than to any number of immigrants. Our market’s producers operate with one hand clasped behind their backs by regulation, and the other chopped off through taxation. The rules by which the market plays shift constantly, increasing risk and thus uncertainty and doubt. Such a climate chills innovation and enterprise, slowing the growth which creates jobs.

In a free market, immigration causes unemployment no more than native births do. Adding people to an economy does not take anything from anyone when individual rights stand protected. Under liberty, new people must become their own producers. If they want to survive and thrive, then they will work to that end. Indeed, the freedom to pursue happiness through merit has remained the lure of the New World since its discovery.

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