I find it fascinating the way we all seemed to suddenly crash with our ambitious writing plans at about the same time. Is there just some invisible wave, a disturbance in the force to kind of throw off a whole bunch of PJ Lifestyle writers, myself included? It seems like the past few weeks we’ve all gotten sick or had life events of some kind throwing off our blogging routines.
Is this almost a seasonal occurrence perhaps? We’ll figure it out someday. You’ll probably come up with some way to run the data and pick up on some pattern.
But in the mean time, how about we hit the reset button? Now’s the time to start transitioning in the direction that I emailed you and the other PJ Lifestyle regulars about earlier this month: more and shorter posts.
I came to PJ Media almost three years ago with the hope of learning as much as I could from Roger L. Simon. One lesson that he taught and that I’m still pushing to focus on: Do not overwrite. It is a sign that we are not confident in what we are saying when we feel the need to explain excessively.
Make the point in as few words as possible. Roger the Oscar-nominated screenwriter informed the style of Roger the new media editor.
So I’m going to try and do more short posts and I’ll be doing so with the methods you’ve explored in your 13 weeks and organizational series with Sarah Hoyt:
Pomodoro timer – I’ll give it 25 minutes in the morning, after my morning reading and running, but before I start the day’s PJM editing.
To these tools I’ll add four New Media practices:
InstaGram – photographs of book excerpts
InstaGram – handwritten posts
Twitter – Current news stories that I tweet about are the seeds of blog posts
YouTube – Music, video, lectures – to illustrate and augment posts. Blogs work when they juxtapose image, text, and video.
I’m going to start trying to do at least a post a day, drawing from something in my morning writing pages. Everyday I’ll dive into the editing day with a strong idea in concept and then will be able to quickly assemble a short, juxtaposed blog post from my various media piles, hopefully using a timely story as a hook. Just one or two pages, 100, 200 words – 600 max. Blog posts are best when they’re like jabs in a boxing match.
And I’ve already gone too long. Damn it.
Charlie, you’ve been such a leader and inspiration at PJ Lifestyle. How about jumping in on this style too when you’re ready? All the subjects you’ve been doing so well – health, science, Buddhism, pop culture and book publishing, and feel free to explore more – just aim to up the quantity of posts and decrease the word counts in them. (Sarah, you’re invited too when you’re done finishing up your big writing projects.)
So here’s my new 13 Weeks challenge, for myself and others: during the week we aim to up the quantity of posts, with an emphasis on current stories in culture. Monday-Friday I’m going to aim for at least one post (under 600 words and no more than 2 pages) making one point well. Longer pieces can be saved for our new list-focused weekends and written at a more leisurely pace later.
It’s going to be a sort of multi-theme column today: I’ve accumulated several things I want to write about while I’ve been suffering keyboard constipation the last couple of weeks. I’ve got some new things to talk about on the exercise front (and the workmonster front as well.)
First the general (and uninteresting) stats: weight is still right there on the same old plateau between 265 and 270, glucose is doing the thing of being high first thing in the morning and low to unpleasantly low in the afternoons. Except for one day when I ate apple pieces and cheese at bedtime, instead of just protein, and got up with my glucose around 100 instead of the 120s. I’m going to the grocery store shortly, and will get more apples to see if that can be repeated.
I also got a new Fitbit Force, which is more or less wristwatch-like. (Immediately afterward, I found the Fitbit Uno that went missing when I’d just started this column. Figures.)
It’s a combination pedometer and recorder; you wear it all the time — except it’s not waterproof, so you can’t wear it into the shower, which strikes me as a little bit dumb. The most interesting thing I’m getting is that it does record various things while you’re asleep, and can thus track the quality of your sleep. From this I’ve learned that I am doing much better along those lines, that I can’t really get by on five and a half hours, and that it’s pretty repeatable that Kaleo gets lonely and wants affection around 5AM.
Which brings us to the actual point. The thing is a pedometer, and if anything I’m surprised that I do get some exercise even working at home and all. Most of it comes from running up and down the stairs, which is helped by the fact that I’m apparently constitutionally unable to actually remember everything I went up or down the stairs for by the time I get to the other end.
As I have repeatedly complained, however, it’s not enough and I’m sure it’s not enough, but it’s hard to both be a workaholic and make time for exercise.
At one point as I was complaining, my sometime writing partner Sarah Hoyt gave me an idea. An idea she said she’d gotten from Ginnie Heinlein, who said it was something Robert Heinlein used to to, and for a couple of Heinlein fanboys/girls like us that has to be good, right?
Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
(Charlie here:) Okay, so the fact that I’ve missed two weeks of columns and Sarah’s theoretically on sabbatical is probably an indication that we’re still struggling with the workmonster in our own ways. I really had about a week of burnout where neither words nor code were making a ton of sense. This may have been a fit of sort of sub-clinical depression, as well as just being tired; starting the “walk to work” thing I talk about in my other column today may have resolved that. Certainly my mood is still sort of ridiculously good.
But while I haven’t been getting lots of production done, I have been thinking and trying to get something coherent together in order to start getting more things done. Basically, to review what I’ve done so far, I
Picked a steno pad to serve as my “inbox”. When I have something I need to do, it gets entered on the steno pad.
I have a second “projects” steno pad which captures more extended thoughts on something that will take more than a few minutes to do. The official Getting Things Done rule is 2 minutes.
Every so often, usually while I’m writing my morning pages (when I often capture a lot of things for the inbox anyway) I go through the inbox pad and put things onto a Today’s To-Dos list. Sometimes I just cross them off, having decided they’re not worth doing. And here’s a practice that seems to be working well: when I do something on the To Do list, I cross it off the inbox list. At the end of the day, I throw away the To Do list. If it hasn’t been done, it’s still in the inbox; if it’s still important, it’ll get back on a to-do list eventually.
So, then, we come to the “projects” pad. Some of them are “little projects” and never get off the pad — they just become some specific to-do items. Others are bigger, and it’s those that have been a problem for me historically. See, I have so many ideas of things I want to do, and some of them didn’t fit at all on a single steno pad page. (Not that I expected them to, the steno pad was just a stopgap.)
So this week, I set up a project file box, shown below. Each project gets a file folder of some sort. I started off with some colorful ones but I could never remember what the colors meant, so I went back to vanilla manilla. Stuff about that project goes into the folder. You’ll notice the divider, artistically crafted from the cardboard back of one of the writing pads I use. (Two or three a week usually. Staples should hire me to do commercials.) The ones behind the cardboard are things I’m officially not working on, the things in front are thing that officially are on my mind.
Now we get to the good part: what do I do with those folders? Okay, this is now work in progress, but Getting Things Done has a description of “natural project planning” that rings true to me. It’s five steps.
This is the cover of my upcoming novel from Goldport Press. The novel is regency fantasy (alternate world.) The background painting is by John Atkinson Grimshaw, a painter who infuses his paintings with an eerie light. The dragon and the man in the foreground (originally a photograph) are both from dreamstime. Both man and dragon were run through Filter Forge’s oil-painting filter, then tweaked to fit in with the colors, etc.
Now, this is a cover that will work for today’s Amazon KDP and frankly, all online sites, and also for Create Space printing. (Yes, I need to tweak that tag line, and there’s too much white showing around the space under his arm, but that’s blendable.)
However, the standards weren’t always so high, and the covers I (and others) put up when KDP was young are borderline offensive to the eye now. Which probably explains why so few of my old stories that are up there sell.
So, we’ll take one — The Blood of Dreams — because I’ve never liked it, and also because I happened to see it the other day and find it offensive.
The Blood of Dreams is a vampire short story set in post-Soviet Russia. It was published in The Secret History of Vampires, where the conceit was you had to use and historic figure. (I was invited to contribute and had to come up with something.) The rights have reverted to me. So I put it out, I think over a year ago. And this is what the cover looks like:
Is this the most horrible cover I have out there? Not even close. And that’s me, and my covers were never the MOST horrible ones out there. (They were pretty close, though.) However, seriously, no one could mistake that for a professional cover, either. Let me count the ways:
It’s two photoshopped together (not convincingly) photos. The lettering work is Times New Roman, I think. It’s not even centered. And it doesn’t in any way signal genre.
In fact, if you considered this as a traditionally published book, you’d expect it to be “my experiences escaping the East in the eighties” or something.
So, let’s give this much abused story a new look, shall we?
So, first I go to Morguefile and let my fingers do the walking (if I can find something in morgue file I don’t need to pay for it. So I’d like to at least get the background in morgue file.) My first search term is Russia. I’m looking for something (like that background) identifiable as “Russian.”
This is the photo I decided on:
It’s by fmfm166 at morguefile.
While I’m running it by Filter Forge, I’m going to look for a photo of a woman. Last resort, I’ll go to Dreamstime.com but the problem is that this limits how much I can show you. (I.e. picture of a woman pre-manipulation is right out, and in fact, I shouldn’t show you anything but the finished cover. It’s a license thing.) Look, the story involves a woman and vampires, and Moscow and Lenin and Stalin. I could, I grant you, use a drawing of Lenin or Stalin, but a woman on the cover will sell better.
If I go to dreamstime I won’t be able to put the raw picture here, because dreamstime is a specific license, though. I will put the transformed picture of the background, and then the full cover. But meanwhile let me look other places.
Success. Wikimedia commons has a photo of a painting by Ferdinand Keller which, since he died in 1922 is fair game. It’s a highly dystopic looking painting, so perfect. (It is by the way, photographed by Hampel Auctions.)
Since the image is an oil and in a certain style, it restricts what I can do with the background, too.
Supplemental Cover Series to Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks — post 3
Start with a cat picture taken from Morguefile, and take it to JASC paintshop and do one step photo correction? Could you use this as a cover? probably not. Most stories that would take a cat on the cover require drawings to signal right genre. This photo is by SimoneSantos btw.
Before we start this, I’d best come clean and explain that I never do things with standard programs or in the standard way. This is not on purpose. It’s because my brain seems to be wired backwards and sideways from every other human being on the planet and, if there are aliens, from every other alien too. No, seriously. Trying to follow along and do things the exact way I do them is probably a fool’s game.
For instance, for years after everyone was using Microsoft Word for writing, I continued using Corel Wordperfect. It did what I wanted it to, it was intuitive to me, and I had no intention of changing, much to the despair of my computer-geek husband.
I finally switched to Word only because most conversion programs for ebooks gag at Word Perfect. I’ve now been using Word for two years, and I’m used to it, and it doesn’t bother me anymore. BUT the ramp up and changing of my brain’s default settings took me about six months where I couldn’t just concentrate on the writing, because the mechanics of the program kept obtruding.
For me, at least – if not for any sane human being – this is often a reason to stick with outmoded software. I have very little time and don’t want to spend time retooling my workflow.
Most people doing their own covers use one of two programs: either Photoshop or the free alternative, GIMP. Me? Well….
I might be willing to give Photoshop a try, but I’ve seen people use it, and there would be significant retooling. I’m not willing to invest the time into that retooling. The fact that the company which makes Photoshop – Adobe – has gone subscription-only and that its website got hacked for subscriber data a few weeks back was just icing on the cake. I don’t see any reason to deal with that.
There is nothing wrong with this cover, if — read the description — what you’re writing is somewhat “literary” (what the academics consider literary) a little highbrow, and appeals to a limited audience. It would, however, be a terrible cover for your bodice ripper, your sword and sorcery fantasy, your commercial urban fantasy, or anything else not “literary and little.” This is also how most cover designers you can get (i.e. not the ones working for major houses) design covers. And this is why it might be best to learn to do it yourself with resources at hand.
No, don’t run away (yet.) While my family has a tendency to go through the art museum making fun of things and pretending we think the trash can is an installation (it might have been, now that I think about it) and making all the arty people mad (well, guys, we pay our membership. We enjoy at as we want to. We’re not shouting. Stop getting close enough to us so you can seethe at what we say) that is not the sort of talk I want to have (though a stroll through the art museum with a camera followed by a “the Hoyts desecrate art post might be fun.)
I’m talking of art in its right and proper place and not exactly high art, either. (Yes, I know high art. During one of the worst depressions of my life, a book with reproductions of Leonardo DaVinci’s paintings and sketches pulled me through.)
The art we want to talk about here, is the sort of art that is needed in a certain place and needs to be good enough to pass muster in that place.
It’s sort of like the wallpaper patterns painted on canvas and mounted on cubes that are used on hotel walls. As “high art” they fall short of the mark, neither elevating nor communicating any other emotion. As art for your own home, they’d probably get incredibly tiring (unless you’re one of those people who uses his/her apartment as a crash pad.) But as “hotel art” it does break the monotony of what would otherwise be institutionally bland walls, and doesn’t have anything particularly memorable to offend or confuse a fussy guest.
The type of art we’re going to talk about is sort of the same: book cover art.
You must have something on the cover of your books. I’ve already talked about signaling and how to make sure your book fits with its genre. Most designers – and for that matter most artists – you can hire will in fact give you “art” and “cover design” that fits only with the “literary and little” set. This is because until very recently that was who the artists and cover designers who hadn’t quite made it worked.
The other problem with “hiring the professionals” is monetary. I’m now making around $500 a month from my indie (mostly backlog of reverted novels and short stories) publishing. But that is after two years and with my having a lot of backlog. Yes, it’s also on the low side due to these being reverted novels and my only having about a third of them out. I have friends who are making the same from one or two indie-published-from-the-get-go novels.
You’ve probably noticed a marked lack of updates on the getting healthy in thirteen weeks post. At least I hope you did, because otherwise I’m going to go in the backyard and eat worms.
Okay, let’s suppose you did notice I was gone (“How can we miss you, if you just won’t go away?) and were wondering where this series had gone.
First let me explain how things have been going: we’re three weeks in. I’ve lost six pounds, slept better and not gotten sick. The last is a bit of an achievement.
I’ve cut down on carbs, except for today (there’s a long story behind that, but let’s just say today was a bad day. Tomorrow is not defined by today and I’ll get back on that horse.) I’ve taken a walk every day that’s been at least 20 at a time I can walk (unfortunately, that’s about 3 days in the last three weeks.) I have tried to do stuff around the house that can be considered “exercise.” This has not included formal exercise, more’s the pity. And I’ve done exactly zero relaxing/fun activities, though I’ve tried to persuade one of my best friends that doing covers actually falls under that category. It does, I think, or at least it “pulls from the same side” and is fun – sort of – because I’m learning so much new stuff. It’s not exactly or fully relaxing though, because it’s stuff that must be done.
And here we come upon the purpose of this post.
I’ve mentioned before that when my husband and I were first married, we were so ridiculously, so profoundly broke that we couldn’t make a budget. Whenever we made a budget we always came to the same conclusion “there’s no way we can survive this month.”
But we always sort of did. Because one month when we’d hit rock bottom, had an empty fridge and $5 in the bank, they had a sale on chicken in the nearby supermarket. We bought two chickens, roasted them, and lived on chicken for a week. Another time Dan’s company had a party, and he brought back enough sandwiches to last us for two weeks. (They’d seriously overbought food.) Another time the store I worked for threw away a whole bunch of candles and knick knacks while clearing a back storage room. So, I told Dan to drive around back, and we had a garage sale, which allowed us to replenish food AND (very important and how you know we were newly weds) toothpaste until the next pay check.
So we coasted from pay check to pay check, dependent on miracles, until we started making a little more, and we could survive without these harrowing incidents. Then we budgeted, but it was so tight that if we had to buy saline solution one week, it threw us off.
Anyway, I’ve jokingly said that’s how tightly budgeted I am on time. This is part of the whole “Taming the workmonster” thing with Charlie.
Throughout my life, I’ve brushed by his artwork and admired it just like countless other Americans. However, his delightful mixture of realism and caricature are nothing short of captivating on their original massive canvases. I don’t think I could have appreciated him more as a person or as an artist if he were alive and standing in the midst of that exhibit. His lifetime of artwork left behind footprints pooled with deep, reflective waters.
Our trip to the Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the Frist Center started out to be this week’s “Artist Date” as prescribed weekly by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. It turned out to be more than just looking at the work of a master illustrator; it caused me to consider what it means to love your work, and what impact our creativity has on the world around us.
Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m a workaholic.
It wasn’t meant to work out this way. Back in the eighties we discovered the “workaholic” syndrome.
At the time I remembered thinking it was nonsense. The theory, at least according to the experts, was that workaholics came into work too early, left too late and the reason they were doing this was some mumbo jumbo about avoiding your family and the emptiness of your own soul.
In fact, they classed workaholism at the same level as alcoholism, as a coping mechanism for the anomie of modern life, or what have you.
I still think it’s a load of hooey. Look, I came of age in the early eighties. I remember the tight labor market and the hero mode most intellectual industries worked under. My husband was in computers. He was expected to work till he dropped or the project was done, whichever came first. People who didn’t pull for the team were often let go.
Then it occurred to me that this workplace climate and the expectations might very well have encouraged workaholism.
You see, at least according to the experts, the problem is that workaholics are always “on” but their rate of return for the time invested gets smaller and smaller.
You’ve all known this person. He comes to the office before everyone. He leaves last. He is always insanely busy. But when you analyze what he’s done, it’s almost nothing.
And that’s where I found myself this week – and many weeks throughout the year. I’m always working, but I’m not accomplishing my most important tasks — to wit, finishing novels.
Ms Obama’s revealtion comes more than a year after the National Enquirer reported that the First Lady had banned Ms Washington from the White House because she was ‘too flirty’ with the President.
The First Lady was said to have had a ‘watch list’ of women that were to be kept away from her husband, including Ms Washington– despite her honorary post on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
A White House official told MailOnline that the story is ’100 per cent false,’ adding that Ms Washington is a keen Democrat and campaigned for Obama in the 2008 president race.
I previously blogged about Scandal and its connections to today’s political culture on January 24, Who Wants Barack Obama As Her Baby’s Godfather?, in response to a gossip story claiming that Washington sought the president to be her child’s spiritual guide:
Last week my wife April and I finished watching the first two seasons of Scandal on Netflix streaming. It’s a show popular among Washington D.C.’s progressives, kind of an Obama-era fantasy West Wing only since they already have their dream president in office this time around it’s a wimpy, corrupt, center-right Republican president. (Added bonus: among the main villains is a married and gay chief of staff who does most of the President’s dirty work.)
The show is a celebration of political amorality and conspiracy theory culture. In it Washington plays a scandal fixer who runs an elite firm of dedicated super-lawyers while she maintains an affair with the president. Throughout the seasons both she and the President and his henchmen commit crimes that should put them away in jail for life. There are no heroes — both “sides” are equally corrupt and criminal. In future PJ Lifestyle pieces I’ll begin exploring some of the themes in the show, explaining how it promotes nihilism, postmodernism, and conspiracism with entertaining plots and badass characters. It’s truly a show of the Obama era, perfectly in synch with what I’ve begun describing as Single Mom Nation. Perhaps some PJ Lifestyle contributors would like to join me in dissecting another dark show poisoning American culture?
President Obama is also notably a fan of the similarly themed, everyone-in-Washington-D.C.-is-evil-and-corrupt political drama House of Cards, whose second season starts this month on February 14.
The Obamas being such vocal fans of television shows celebrating amoral politicians and the women who pretend to love them wouldn’t be so troublesome if the president weren’t so connected to what should be career-ending scandals of his own in Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting of politial opponents, and the Big Lies of Obamacare. The media has largely dismissed all of these stories — that they would have impeached Republican presidents over — as just racist conservative fearmongering thanks to the real-life Oliva Popes doing their magic behind the scenes and in the media. (Yes, I am talking about people like Valerie Jarrett, who is a real life version of the wheeler-dealer, reality-twisting character Washington plays on the show. Except in real life she’s more like the president’s mommy rather than his lover and also wields the federal government power of Scandal’s chief-of-staff antagonist Cyrus Beene.)
Does anyone doubt that the reason why the Obamas love these shows so much is because the characters fantasize about how they’d like to be similarly ruthless themselves?
At the start of a meeting with tech industry CEOs on NSA surveillance, Obama quipped “I’m just wondering if [Netflix CEO Reed Hastings] brought advance copies of House of Cards,” according to a pool video camera in the room.
As the CEOs laughed and joked that Obama should make a cameo appearance in the series, the president continued to praise the series, which revolves around a power-hungry House Majority Whip played by actor Kevin Spacey.
“I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,” Obama said in his first public remarks on the show. “It’s true. It’s like Kevin Spacey, man this guy’s getting a lot of stuff done.”
On Tuesday we noted that Malik Obama is President Barack Obama’s half-brother, but the two are very close. Malik Obama was best man at the future president’s wedding, and has visited the White House during the Obama years. We also reported that Malik Obama posted a photograph of himself on the Barack H. Obama Foundation website in which he is wearing a scarf emblazoned with calls for Muslims to destroy Israel.
Wearing a scarf is by no means the full extent of evidence that Malik Obama is anti Israel and supports its destruction. According to anti-terrorism activist Walid Shoebat, Malik Obama raises money through an Islamic charity organization, and uses that money to support Hamas.
Along with being president of the IRS tax-exempt Barack H. Obama Foundation, which the IRS’ Lois Lerner fast-tracked to tax-exempt status and illegally back-dated so the foundation and Mr. Obama could avoid legal trouble, Malik Obama is executive secretary of the Islamic Da’wa Organization. That organization collects funds and sends them directly to designated terrorists organization Hamas. The funding goes toward attacks and “martyrdom operations” — suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are out to lunch on the stealth jihad and collaborating on further suicidal policies, as ably highlighted by Ann Coulter’s column this week.
According the 2012 National Asian American Survey, as well as a Kaiser Foundation poll, only 40 percent of the general public holds a favorable opinion of Obamacare, 42 percent unfavorable. Meanwhile, 51 percent of Asians have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, 18 percent an unfavorable one. Even Koreans support Obamacare by 57 percent to 17 percent.
Overall, 69 percent of immigrants like Obamacare, according to a 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.
That same survey showed that only 35 percent of native-born Americans support affirmative action, compared to 58 percent of immigrants, including — amazingly — 64 percent of Asians (suggesting they may not be as smart as everyone thinks).
See Leslie Loftis and Walter Hudson in response to this column this week at PJ Lifestyle:
So here’s my simple — call it simple-minded, if you want — solution, my modest proposal. Illegal immigrants, assuming they have lived here for a decent period of time and have not committed a felony, can have amnesty, but they can NEVER be allowed to vote. They can do anything else that is legal, but if they want to vote — or run for office or practice law in our country, as just happened in California — they must return home and go through the normal immigrant application process, however long that may take until they have citizenship.
This is a humane solution that does not make a complete mockery of the rule of law (only a partial one). You can live a satisfactory life without voting. Many who have the right to vote don’t bother anyway. (In 2012, only 57.5% of eligible voters voted in the presidential election. Many fewer voted in other contests.) It’s up to the individual illegal immigrant here: He or she can enjoy the privileges of U.S. citizenship without voting or go home and wait in line.
This takes political motivations off the table in immigration policy and allows it to be about the lives of the people themselves, not the advancement of politicians and their parties. If our Democratic friends mean what they say about their “compassion,” they should have no objection. If they do, they simply expose themselves as political opportunists with no real interest in the welfare of what they euphemistically choose to call “undocumented workers,” only in creating a voting bloc.
I think it’s a great idea. Walter Hudson’s arguments are also very thoughtful.
Do you have Bridget on your #ReadEverythingTheyWrite list yet? Are you following her on Twitter? She consistently reports on the most important of stories that all too often do not get the attention their subjects warrant. Here are two.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Russia’s apparent violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty could thrust relations with the former Soviet Union back toward the Cold War era.
The New York Times cited anonymous U.S. officials as saying Russia has been testing medium-range nuclear missiles since 2008. Washington has reportedly brought up the issue with Russia several times and is now taking its concerns over compliance to NATO.
“News reports indicating Russia is in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are deeply troubling. The signing of that treaty in 1987 by President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev, marked an historic turning point in the Cold War, and stood as the pillar of our post-Cold War relations with Russia,” said Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).
“Over the past year I have met with intelligence and policy officials to assess the intelligence surrounding the apparent Russian violation, and to urge the Administration to strongly confront the Russians and to keep our Allies informed. Russia has been pursuing a troubling and aggressive ramp up of military and intelligence capabilities in recent years,” Rogers continued. “The apparent violation of this treaty would put our allies at risk and be a major step backward in our post-Cold War relations.”
WASHINGTON — President Obama heartily defended his nuclear deal with Iran at the State of the Union, vowing to veto a sizable bipartisan movement in Congress to keep sanctions pressure on the Islamic Republic.
“For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” Obama said, getting not as much applause as he may have hoped from the joint session.
The morning before he took the dais, though, a congressional panel heard that Iran has fully retained its ability to build a nuclear bomb that could be cranked out in as little as two months under the terms of the much-touted P5+1 agreement.
Gregory Jones, senior researcher of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, told a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittees on the Middle East and North Africa and Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade that the Obama administration has engaged in “mischaracterization of the deal’s benefits and the denial of the deal’s great flaw.”
“President Obama has said that the deal has ‘cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,’” Jones said. “This is not true. Before the current nuclear deal, Iran could produce the highly enriched uranium — HEU — for a nuclear weapon in just six weeks. Over the next six months, the joint plan of action will increase this interval only slightly to eight weeks.”
In college, I thought rape culture was just another scary phrase made up by feminists further to guilt and to demonize men. And then I found out a friend had been raped. And then I heard about more people who had been victimized by thoughtless sexual boundary-crossing. And then I realized that what I had already identified as a culture of male sexual entitlement was essentially the same thing that feminists call rape culture.
Now, there is a danger in defining a concept like rape culture so broadly that it collapses into meaninglessness. Men taking up too much space on the subway is not rape culture. But the purposeful transgressing of perceived sexual boundaries? You bet.
This is especially true when we consider the muted reaction to Cook’s outburst. No mainstream condemnation. No even mild tut-tutting from anyone but a few conservative commentators. No realization that this was a pristine example of a trend that was all the rage only a week ago: the dangers of being a woman writer on the Internet.
Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, set to be published in September, will explore nonreligious spirituality. In 2012 Harris wrote that his goal for this book was “to write a ‘spiritual’ book for smart, skeptical people — dealing with issues like the illusion of the self, the efficacy of practices like meditation, the cultivation of positive mental states, etc.”
With Waking Up‘s impending publication, many in the atheist community will debate whether it makes sense for atheists to use the word spirituality. But this isn’t the first time this question has come up in recent years.
Twenty-five-year-old Yaelle Frohlich’s winning performance — a religious take on Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” — told the story of a woman who wakes up one morning with the words “Holy to God” emblazoned on her forehead.
Ellis has had a few online conversations, but he has not gone on any dates because he said there are not a lot of Sugar Daddies looking for gay Sugar Babies.
“Being gay in the sugaring world is not a common thing because it’s usually girls who are in their 20s who find older men who just want to spoil them,” Ellis said.
Both students use SeekingArrangement.com, a website used to connect potential Sugar Babies to benefactors offering monthly lifestyle budgets ranging from less than $1,000 to more than $10,000.
The website recently released a press release announcing the top 20 fastest growing Sugar Baby schools: Indiana University is No. 18, Ball State at No. 58 and Purdue University at No. 66.
Seeking Arrangement targets college students looking to earn money to ease student debt. According to a press release, college students make up 42 percent of the website’s Sugar Baby membership.
“A lot of these college students don’t have jobs and they’re fighting to pay student loans with increases in the cost of education,” said Leroy Velasquez, public relations manager for the website. “And rather than graduate with a financial burden on their back before they even get a job, they could just date a Sugar Daddy on Seeking Arrangement and graduate debt free.”
One woman chooses to become a prostitute in order to support a drug addiction. That’s understandable and tragic. My favorite movie, Requiem for a Dream, is a heartbreaking story. A woman is so desperate for her fix that she abandons the man she loves and degrades herself.
But so you can avoid having to pay student loans back for a few years? You let some guy you’re not attracted to pay you to have a fake relationship with him and then rent your body to him?
It just breaks my heart that some women place so low a value on themselves.
Major props to Ed Driscoll for this awesome graphic illustrating the lead story of the week:
The baby-boomer/me generation demands what its “greatest generation” parents got — or, in fact, far more, given its increased rates of longevity. The solution of more taxes and less benefits will fall on young people and the unborn, apparently on the premise that those under 18 do not vote, and those between 18 and 30 either vote less frequently than their grandparents or less knowledgeably about their own self-interest.
The Social Security pyramidal scheme is merely the tip of the ephebiphobic iceberg. Currently student indebtedness exceeds $1 trillion. Many of these loans begin compounding before graduation and are pegged at interest rates far higher than parental mortgages. The cause of this tuition bubble is also not controversial. The prices colleges charge for annual tuition, room and board have for over two decades far exceeded the annual rate of inflation.
There were four causes of such price gouging of students. None of them had anything to do with offering better education for a more competitive price for job-hungry graduates.
At the museum, Shin sought the horrific images from 1945 of thousands of decomposing bodies from a liberated Nazi concentration camp being dug up by a bulldozer.
The horror of that image, which he had viewed for the first time in South Korea, convinced him that he must do what he can to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners languishing today in North Korea’s four concentration camps. Shin has become, despite his desire to remain private, a public face for what is a growing movement to shed light on North Korea’s totalitarian government and its unrelenting political imprisonment of its countrymen.
The international media coverage of North Korea tends to focus on anything but the country’s humanitarian crisis. We hear about the country’s nuclear program or the budding friendship between former American basketball star Dennis Rodman and North Korea’s 31-year-old dictator Kim Jong-un, or the latter’s recent execution of his uncle, Jang Sung-taek, formerly Kim’s No. 2 man.
But Shin is a living testament to the fact that attention must be paid to what is happening to a completely hidden population: Nearly seven decades after the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet forces on Jan. 27, 1945, North Korea’s concentration camps have now existed more than 12 times longer than the Nazi camps and twice as long as the Soviet gulag.
As lunch wound down, Shin’s translator said that they had to leave soon for another interview. So I asked him if we could discuss a light topic — God.
Shin responded that although he isn’t entirely convinced of God’s existence, he does believe he received help from above. “I believe that there was a higher being, a higher power involved with my life, for me to be where I am right now,” he said.
Like all of North Korea, Camp 14 was devoid of any religion, of anything that could challenge the Kim family’s throne.
Today, Shin attends an Evangelical church in Seoul whenever he can, and, in fact, finds solace in Moses and the story of the Exodus — a self-doubting leader who helped an enslaved people escape a tyrant.
“When I look at North Korea now,” Shin said, “It reminds me of ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs.”
Read the whole thing. Jared is an extraordinary writer with a lot of talent. I look forward to seeing what he continues to do.
On the surface, it’s easy to criticize Sunday night’s Grammy Awards telecast for sliding from a celebration of music into a celebration of gay marriage with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s live performance of “Same Love,” featuring Mary Lambert, Madonna, Queen Latifa and 33 couples – gay and straight – tying the knot.
There’s no question that the sanctimonious display, complete with gospel choir, stained-glass cathedral motif and pseudo-religious rhymes was intended to propagandize Americans into further support for gay marriage by giving the appearance of universal acceptance among the glitterati while marginalizing opposition from religious conservatives by reducing their motives to “fear” and “playing God.” “Right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,” the lyric intones. The fact that the socialist mayor of New York’s former lesbian wife agrees with that assessment is of no more concern to the songwriter than the fact that the current Democratic president – and indeed all of the Democratic presidents who went before him – all saw marriage as a male/female issue until right about election time last year.
Still, to turn one’s nose up at the Grammys for letting a show meant to honor art turn into a propaganda-fest is to misrepresent art itself. The simple fact is that all art is propaganda. From the first man scrawling on the first cave wall to da Vinci to the Beatles, the purpose of the artist is always to communicate a unique perspective in the hopes of moving the audience. In fact, for most of human history (and perhaps even still…) art has been less a business and more a patronage system where the wealthy would literally pay for art that promoted their vision of the world, not the artists. It’s hard to say what Michelangelo’s personal beliefs on scripture were, but his employer’s motive of inspiring awe in the face of the divine lives on in the Sistine Chapel and the Accademia to this day. As capitalism has imprinted itself on art, the values of the artist themselves have taken a more dominant role.
The idea of neutral art is as misguided as the idea of objective journalism – it has never existed in all of human history, and it shouldn’t.
Read the whole thing. Spot on. Jeremy is someone else I should make a point to keep an eye on. This is a great piece the way he puts the Grammys in a bigger discussion about the nature of art.
There are none so blind as those who will not see, and hardly anyone wants to see Iran for what it is: an evil regime bound and determined to dominate and destroy us, our friends and our allies. The evidence is luminously clear, but most all of our attention has focused, as usual, on the nuclear issue. Did the Iranians promise to stop enriching uranium or “dismantle” some of the components of their nuclear program? How many Western sanctions are being eased or lifted in exchange? And on and on…
We don’t know the answers to these questions, as the text of the agreement is secret. However, we do know that the Iranians now have six months — the sort of deadline that often slides — to reach a “final” agreement with the 5 + 1 countries.
We can expect the Iranians to prolong and exploit this period to their advantage and our peril. They’ve already begun. The Iranian regime is expanding its regional and global power, killing its domestic enemies, and subverting and intimidating Middle Eastern nations that are reluctant to bend to its will. These matters require serious Western attention, but they aren’t getting much. For us, it’s all about nukes and sanctions.
Allan Bloom, call your office — New York intellectual life really had become an enclave of the Weimar Republic by the early 1960s; as Bloom wrote in 1986’s The Closing of the American Mind, “The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.”
Just for the sake of history, let’s recall that Clinton could have prevented the attack but failed to do so. Her State Department turned down repeated requests for enhancing security at the U.S. facility in Benghazi. After the attack, she blamed it on a YouTube video and promised one of the parents of the victims that the U.S. government would go after and get the man who made that video. Clinton made good on that threat. The perpetrators who actually carried out the attack, however, remain at large and the Obama government has shown no interest in capturing them.
Far fewer than half the number needed by March 31 have signed up. And, as it turns out, most of the people signing up for Obamacare aren’t the uninsured for whom it was supposedly enacted, but people who were previously insured (many of whom lost their previous insurancebecause of Obamacare’s new requirements). “At most,” writes Bloomberg‘s Megan McArdle, “they’ve signed up 15% of the uninsured that they were expecting to enroll. … Where are the uninsured? Did hardly any of them want coverage beginning Jan. 1?” It looks that way.
In fact, there seem to be more uninsured than there were before Obama took office, leaving Jonah Goldberg to ask, “So what was the point of Obamacare again?”
There are a couple of major flaws leading to fewer millennials than needed signing up. One, it’s cheaper just to pay the fine for violating the individual mandate than to buy insurance that most young people don’t need. Young single men don’t need to buy pregnancy and mammography coverage, but Obamacare mandates it, making policies more expensive. Additionally, Obamacare allows younger people to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. That slices off the 18-26 part of the 18-34 demo that needs to sign up in greater numbers.
Sunday, January 26th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
[Charlie:] Getting more done while not killing myself is sort of the core story today.
Well, I’ve been getting half of that done: I definitely got more done this week. I’m not exactly feeling like I got more rest however. But let’s talk about getting more done first.
I’ve been trying to adopt the Getting Things Done methods, and have found an adaptation that so far seems to work reasonably well. Call it Steno Pad GTD.
I started by doing the GTD brain dump into a steno pad. I have a bunch of them around, because the real secret of life is to have office supplies available at a moment’s notice. This ends up being a series of bulleted notes, like:
Science column on cancer immunotherapy
Experiment with Cucumber and Capistrano
Science column on neurological effects of growing up bilingual
The first thing I did was start by writing all this … stuff down. In the morning, when I write my morning pages, I keep the steno pad with me, and add things, because during the morning braindump is when I have a lot of ideas and to-dos come to mind. After the morning pages I go through the list and see what I have to do that day.
Now, some of them are just to-dos that will take little time, but some of them are ideas or projects. This morning I had an idea for a mystery — I wrote it down on the first pad — then kept going with the pages. (Notice that from the standpoint of doing morning pages you have to be a little careful with this; sometimes I write the idea directly in the pages and underline it to move it to the steno pad later.)
I was thinking about my old cat Radar this morning. I was having my usual low-carb breakfast of hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise, salt and pepper — sort of Philip Glass egg salad — and bacon, and remembering how much Radar loved bacon. Now, my other two cats don’t have much interest in people food — oh, Ali’i will deign to accept some scraps of roast pork or turkey skin, but most of the time if I offer them something they’ll investigate it politely, maybe take a taste and then look at me clearly saying “are you nuts?” Radar really liked bacon and chicken.
Radar was something like 13 years old when he died, which is pretty old for an Abyssinian — they tend to have limited shelf lives, which is too bad as they’re incredible cats otherwise — and, unusually for an Aby, he was … plump. And a bit of a chow-hound. Ali’i and Kaleo, the current players in the role of masters of the house, are not at all plump; neither was Vashti, my first cat, nor was Yeshimbra, Radar’s predecessor in the goofy Aby role.
They all have lived on effectively the same diet — some good dry cat food freely fed, and a can of Friskies wet food split among them every day, half in the morning half at night. Oh, sometimes I try different kinds of wet food, but honestly they always seem to like Friskies the best and I can buy it at Costco in 48-can megapacks.
So, okay, you might think the difference is the human food, but Shimbra was even more gluttonous than Radar — his opinion was that if I was eating it it must be good, and that you should never eat anything much bigger than your head unless it’s a chicken — and Vashti was quite willing to accept part of any meal of mine, and was an absolute nut for pudding, especially tapioca.
And yet, four out of five cats had no weight problem at all, and Radar was … plump.
The dragon ate my week. It’s gone, along with my left sock. There’s not a trace of artwork and very little actual writing to be found; nothing was left behind but a few crumbs of productivity scattered around my office.
In the very first chapter of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron details two indispensable tools for creative recovery: morning pages and the artist date. I am happy to report that together with my daughter, Emily, we have managed to integrate both practices into our daily lives over the last couple weeks. That’s how I discovered the dragon.
Every morning I’ve gotten up, poured my coffee and sat down with pen and paper to produce the assigned three pages of “stream of consciousness writing.” The theory is that by doing so, you drain off the daily debris of life, thereby clearing the pipeline into the deep resources of your creativity, even spirituality. (There’s also the added benefit of improving your penmanship.)
My morning pages have been nothing short of life changing. From them have emerged the critical missing element in a book I’ve been developing for years. With several major projects nipping at my heals, I’ve been productively immobilized–the literary version of a deer-caught-in-the-headlights. Over a three-day spread of pages, the answer and clear direction surfaced.
Most shocking however, was the unexpected creature that also came crawling out into the light and found its way onto my pages –the aforementioned dragon living in my house. Skeptical? Evil is real.
This dragon follows me. The creature obscures my vision, eats my time and steals my productivity. In the War of Art Steven Pressfield calls him “Resistance.”
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Although I can’t kill him, as he is reborn with every sunrise, I did learn how to render him toothless.
I made a point to put this story on top because it’s the most important thing I read yesterday. It’s more chilling evidence of how the conspiratorial vision of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright shaped how Barack Obama leads the country:
The latest dustup in U.S.-Israel relations is one that makes you wonder if Obama administration officials have a shred of self-awareness. The Jerusalem Post reports that the president is unhappy with the Israeli government because his consistent opposition to sanctions on Iran is not meeting with universal approval from American Jewish groups. And why does this make him upset with Israel? Because he apparently believes that such dissent must be the product of foreign influence:
A US official close to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry said both men are disturbed over what is being perceived in their inner circle as “Jewish activism in Congress” that they think is being encouraged by the Israeli government, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.
The official has informed Israeli government figures that the president and secretary of state are disappointed over repeated attacks made against them by leading members of the Jewish community in the US.
The president and secretary of state would like American Jews’ foreign handlers and sponsors to please stop riling up the Jews, because those Jews then practice their voodoo on members of Congress. Now, while this is obviously a very stupid thing for the president and secretary of state to believe–conspiracy theorists love the Walt-Mearsheimer dark tales of Jewish influence, but rarely do serious or intelligent people fall for it–it is even dumber to, you know, say out loud.
This is who our president actually is. He is a man who not only believes that those criticizing him do so because the Israeli government has directed them to do so, but will say it. He genuinely believes that there is a Jewish conspiracy and that it is a more malevolent actor against him and America, than say, the Muslim Brotherhood or Vladimir Putin.
One of the few things that comforts me about this is the knowledge that America has survived having antisemitic, paranoid, lying presidents in the past…
White House press secretary Jay Carney brushed off the Iranian foreign minister’s claims that there is no dismantling of their nuclear program in the p5+1 agreement.
Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN during an interview in Davos that “the White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments.”
“The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again,” he said. “If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment.”
Zarif urged the CNN reporter to read the agreement, but the White House won’t release the text — claiming that the P5+1 agreed there was some technical information in the document that should remain classified.
“We’ve said before that we expected the Iranian government to spin the commitments they made under the joint plan of action for their domestic political purposes,” Carney told reporters in today’s briefing.
Because Millennials wanted Obamacare and John McCain was too cowardly to talk about Rev. Wright — he actually fired campaigners who did — Iran will end up with a nuclear weapon. Political failures result in military catastrophe.
Start with Iowa. Last May, Rand Paul gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner. How did he secure this prize invitation? Because the chairman, co-chairman, and finance chairman of the Iowa Republican Party all supported his father. Rand Paul’s not the only potential 2012 candidate who will inherit a political infrastructure in the Hawkeye State. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee also have networks left over from prior runs. But their supporters don’t play as influential a role in the state GOP. “RPI no longer stands for the Republican Party of Iowa,” noted arecent article in Politico, “but for Rand Paul, Inc.”
Because the Iowa GOP will elect new leaders next spring, it’s unlikely “Paulestinians” will so thoroughly dominate the party leadership in 2016. But Craig Robinson, former political director of the Iowa GOP, says that’s actually to Rand Paul’s advantage, since it will free up some of Iowa’s most powerful Republicans to run his 2016 campaign.
If there’s one thing that could obviate all this, it’s the possibility that Paul could suffer his own candidacy-crippling scandal. He’s already gotten himself into trouble for plagiarism and employing neo-Confederates. Who knows what the media will turn up when the real vetting that greets a presidential candidate begins?
Rand Paul is unfit to be president for the same reason that Obama was: having an unrepentant antisemitic conspiracy theorist as one of your core mentors means you are an evil person. And Rand Paul was campaigning for his father in 2008, invoking his father’s antisemitic mentors in 2009 during his Senate campaign, writing a book with a neo-confederate staffer in 2010, and defending him in 2013 after his fantasies of assassinating Abraham Lincoln were revealed.
What’s Jack Hunter doing now? Here’s the publication that’s decided to hire him…
Well, today, Rare‘s newest editorial hire, Jack Hunter, who has reportedly judged wet T-shirt contests, worn a mask emblazoned with the Confederate flag and supported the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, both backed up and contradicted internal orders (depending whom you believe) by announcing Rare‘s extremely strong stance on gay marriage: They are all in and all for it.
As an aside, Hunter is listed both as Rare‘s Editor and a “contributing editor.”
“There is a civil war happening in the Republican Party over the issue of same-sex marriage,” he wrote. (A pretty strange metaphor for someone who has said repeatedly that he supports the slave-holding South’s independence.) “There are two sides—the winning side and the losing side. The winning side are those who believe the time for same sex marriage has come… The losing side are those who believe the country will somehow reverse course on this issue despite every single cultural indicator showing otherwise.”
Question: now that Rare has a gay-marriage-only editorial line will they continue to publish the antisemitic, very anti-gay marriage, paleoconservative Patrick Buchanan?
What a fantastic piece of art! Did you notice that all the cover lines are puns about space? “The gravitational pull of a possible campaign,” “the Chelsea quasar,” “the Friends-of-Bill black hole,” etc. Other, less rhetorical questions: why can’t planets have hair? Like, obviously planets don’t have faces and smiles, so our disbelief is already suspended. Why not just give her/it hair? She looks like Benjamin Button toward the end (beginning?) of that movie. (Full disclosure: we never saw Benjamin Button.)
Second question: why isn’t, say, “the Chelsea quasar” in the shape of Chelsea Clinton’s disembodied head? Why is Planet Hillary the only anthropomorphized astronomical entity? (“A quasar in the shape of a person? That’s stupid. But a planet in the shape of a person? Now that’s a metaphor.”)
Third question: if the boys over in graphics were going to turn Hillary into a planet, couldn’t they at least have made her an attractive rock planet? Why all the mountains and valleys to represent wrinkles? It’s an invented astral body! It’s not like the mountains and valleys correspond to actual geological properties of a real place. Also: in real life, Hillary Clinton’s eyebrows are notably well-maintained. Why the unflattering half-brows? Or are those mountain ranges framing her ocean eyes?
Slater says Davis’ kids lived with Jeff Davis in Texas while she attended law school. Wendy Davis claims her girls lived with her during her first year of law school. Let’s say that’s true. Why not the other two years? And what was the matter with the University of Texas Law School?
Sorry, MSNBC, I know you want to fixate on how many months Davis spent in the trailer park and her precise age when the first divorce went through. And that would be an incredibly stupid thing for conservatives to obsess on, if they were, in fact, obsessing on it. But I’m still stuck on her leaving her kids behind while she headed off to a law school 1,500 miles away.
The reason Wendy Davis’ apocryphal story was impressive is that single mothers have to run a household, take care of kids and provide for a family all by themselves. But Wendy was neither supporting her kids, nor raising them. If someone else is taking care of your kids and paying your tuition, that’s not amazing.
I wonder what a private conversation between Hillary Clinton and Wendy Davis would sound like.
Top-secret “price lists,” known officially as “party dues,” that include the donation totals members of Congress must raise to land top committee spots and chairmanships
How leadership PAC loopholes allow members of Congress to convert campaign cash into lavish lifestyle upgrades for themselves and their family members
Allegations that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) bagged over $200,000 in donations from executives and companies prior to holding votes on three bills of critical importance to their industries
How President Barack Obama used a political extortion tactic known as a “double milker bill” to “milk” millions in donations by pitting Obama’s friends in Hollywood against his supporters in Silicon Valley to extract cash from both
This is the first time any accused member of the mafia has ever faced charges in connection with the crime.
The arrests of the five men follows a discovery by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of human remains at a New York property tied to James ‘Jimmy the Gent’ Burke last summer.
Burke, the suspected mastermind of the heist, died in prison in 1996 while serving time for the murder of a drug dealer. Actor Robert De Niro played a character based on Burke in the film.
Question: which is more morally objectionable and destructive, a bunch of mobsters who steal $5 million dollars in 1978 or a President who, to take just one example, enables his campaign supporters to legally steal $535 million in government loans before declaring bankruptcy?
In 2012, the Election Act limited both primary and general election campaign contributions to $2,500 for a total of $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In August 2012, D’SOUZA directed other individuals with whom he was associated to make contributions to the campaign committee for a candidate for the United States Senate (the “Campaign Committee”) that totaled $20,000. D’SOUZA then reimbursed those individuals for the contributions. By directing the illegal contributions to be made, D’SOUZA also caused the Campaign Committee to falsely report to the FEC the sources and amounts of those contributions to the campaign.
* * *
D’SOUZA, 52, of San Diego, California, is charged with one count of causing $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to be made to a candidate for the United States Senate in calendar year 2012, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. He also is charged with one count of causing false statements to be made to the FEC in connection with the illegal campaign contributions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
I’m not a D’Souza defender at all. I think his critique of Obama in both his book and film were wrong-headed. Naming Obama’s anti-colonialism and his father’s ideology as the keys to understanding him is like saying that the Filet-o-Fish and McRib are the most popular menu items at McDonald’s.
And it wasn’t the first time he’s been really wrong about a major issue. Remember his horrific book about 9/11 that claimed the “cultural Left” had inspired the Jihadists to attack us over our decadent Britney Spears society? Robert Spencer took him apart in a memorable debate.
6. Self-defined public female nudity is a challenge to capitalism and its uses of women as products, props, assets and distributable resources. Nothing on Earth is used to drive sales and profits and display male wealth and status like women’s, often naked and semi-naked, bodies. If you are thinking women make choices and are complicit, show contempt for other women because they are women — well, of course some of them do. That is a defining feature of misogyny. Until we have equal access to resources, and are not subject to constant predation, this is a no-brainer. In the meantime, when women refuse to sexualize themselves and use their bodies to challenge powerful interests that profit from that sexualization, the words we should use aren’t “lewd” and “obscene”; they’re “threatening” and “destabilizing.”
Women who use public nudity for social commentary, art and protest are myth-busting along many dimensions: active, not passive; strong not vulnerable; together, not isolated; public, not private; and, usually, angry, not alluring. The morality offense is misogyny, not nudity.
A former high-ranking San Francisco government employee convicted of felony possession of child pornography will continue to receive his government pension because, according to city regulations, evidence of “moral turpitude” is required to revoke a pension yet viewing violent kiddie porn does not qualify as moral turpitude.
As reported here in the Tatler, Larry Brinkin, a prominent San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner and nationally known gay rights advocate, was arrested in 2012 for possessing and possibly distributing videos and images of babies being raped by adult men. Because of Brinkin’s “iconic” stature in the community as the person who pioneered “domestic partnership” laws nationwide, supporters at the time accused the police of framing him with false charges. But the evidence was so overwhelming that, after 18 months of legal wrangling, on Tuesday, January 21, Brinkin pled guilty to felony possession of child pornography, with various other more serious charges dropped as part of the plea bargain. He will serve just six months in jail and thereafter have to register as a sex offender.
On the second page of Zombie’s post he has some horrific excerpts of Brinkin’s comments about the violent videos he was sharing. Making them even more chilling is the way his racism expresses itself.
During their incarceration he repeatedly raped them, forced them to have sex with other men for money and made them perform in pornographic web shows.
When you see a woman performing online how do you really know that she’s doing so by her own consent and that she’s 18 or older? You don’t. This is the real danger of internet pornography, far darker than the commonly discussed problem of men dropping out of relationships to retreat into a virtual realm. It’s a world where anyone can shoot a video and throw it online in minutes, perhaps not even breaking the law in the foreign country where they’re shooting.
Kleinman has been waging this war against porn in libraries for 20 years now, largely on his own since his friend and SafeLibraries.org partner died several years ago. There is no one more well-versed in the ALA’s tactics, lies, intimidation techniques, and actual court cases involving pornography in libraries than Kleinman; refusing him the right to speak on behalf of children and parents who don’t want porn in libraries is nothing less than willful deceit of the public on behalf of the OPPL.
That may explain why — until I read about it in the comments beneath Gavin’s article — I’d never heard of Ted Nugent’s relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Trying to get the truth about this felt like a game of “telephone,” with hysterical left-wing sites like The Daily Kos quoting Wikipedia quotingSpin magazine, circa 2000:
In 1978, 30-year-old Ted Nugent fell in love with 17-year-old Hawaiian lovely Pele Massa. To keep the hassle factor low, the Motor City Madman convinced the girl’s parents to sign documents that officially made Nugent Pele’s guardian. His pitch? Better a horny, rich, drug-free, right-wing bow hunter than a horny, poor, stoned high school student.
That’s the most authoritative citation I’ve found so far.
Archaeologists and the Bursa Muncipality plan to turn the dungeons and corridors into an open-air museum. Yimiz said torture tools will also be put on display, and the museum is expected to be ready by 2016.
The past is so much darker than we’re ready to accept but if we can overcome it then the future will be brighter than we can imagine.
A so-called “informant” for the tab says, “Kerry’s been courting the President and First Lady for some time now because she wants to play Michelle in a movie.”
The purported “insider” goes on to allege, “She’s desperate to have someone as prestigious as the Obamas as her baby’s godparents and plans on casually asking Michelle at the next fundraiser they attend together.”
It seems like someone over at Star has been watching too much “Scandal.”
For some bizarre reason, the magazine and its sister publication the National Enquirer are intent on trying to link the actress to Obama, despite how obviously ridiculous the idea is.
In any case, Gossip Cop checked in with a source close to the situation, who laughed off the outlandish story.
Michelle Obama has banned actress Kerry Washington from the White House because she it ‘too flirty’ with the President, it was sensationally claimed today.
The First Lady was said to have a ‘watch list’ of women that were to be kept away from her 50-year-old husband – but it’s a story one White House official claims it totally false.
According to an article in the National Enquirer, Mrs Obama, 48, planned to keep the actress at arm’s length – despite Miss Washington’s honorary post on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
“It always comes down to my gut, my gut tells me everything I need to know.” — Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, expressing the matriarchal credo.
Last week my wife April and I finished watching the first two seasons of Scandal on Netflix streaming. It’s a show popular among Washington D.C.’s progressives, kind of an Obama-era fantasy West Wing only since they already have their dream president in office this time around it’s a wimpy, corrupt, center-right Republican president. (Added bonus: among the main villains is a married and gay chief of staff who does most of the President’s dirty work.)
The show is a celebration of political amorality and conspiracy theory culture. In it Washington plays a scandal fixer who runs an elite firm of dedicated super-lawyers while she maintains an affair with the president. Throughout the seasons both she and the President and his henchmen commit crimes that should put them away in jail for life. There are no heroes — both “sides” are equally corrupt and criminal. In future PJ Lifestyle pieces I’ll begin exploring some of the themes in the show, explaining how it promotes nihilism, postmodernism, and conspiracism with entertaining plots and badass characters. It’s truly a show of the Obama era, perfectly in synch with what I’ve begun describing as Single Mom Nation. Perhaps some PJ Lifestyle contributors would like to join me in dissecting another dark show poisoning American culture?
Sometimes covers are supposed to create an impression
A supplemental series to Selling Your Writing in 13 weeks. Post 1.
I’ve been meaning to do a post on covers, as a supplemental to my 13 weeks posts on selling your writing, but I couldn’t seem to do it, until I realized that I was in fact trying to cram several posts worth into a single post. Whenever I do that, I get highly bizarre comments, from people who read their own stuff into what I elided.
Part of this is a problem that I don’t remember what lay people know and don’t know anymore.
By lay people in this case, I mean people outside of publishing. Even avid readers might never have noticed consciously that covers are meant to signal genre, nor all the other subtle signals they give.
Before I start, I took the cover workshop with WMG publishing, and that made me aware of things even I hadn’t noticed, and I’ve been a professional in the field for several years. For anyone doing indie publishing, if you can afford the workshop take it. We’re right now scraping up the money to put older son through it. A I don’t use the same tools they do (I judged it was easier for me to use less professional tools than to spend a lot of time – more important than money – learning InDesign. So I use tools that I’m used to, the highly outdated but very familiar to me JASC paintshop. The newer versions, by Corel, which I own, aren’t nearly as good, but the last JASC version I can make sit up and sing, because I’ve been using it for ten years. And what it can’t do GIMP can. Both programs I’m familiar with and therefore find preferable to a program that I found oddly counterintuitive and would have to learn to use.) But even so, what I learned transferred. I won’t say it made me an awesome cover designer. That is an actual profession and you need years of practice and usually specialize in one genre. But it has made me a decent cover designer.
The other thing I should say is that every time I make one of these posts, I get people offering to design my covers. Most of these people have a background in art and design and usually some experience in tiny presses (or advertising layout.) All of the offers I’ve had, when I look at their samples, they’re very pretty… and all of them signal “literary and little” which is inappropriate for my books which are, unabashedly genre. Looking over the covers, I see myself at a con, passing the tables with books for tiny presses with names like Necrophiliac Duck Press. This is not the image I want to project, since my books were once published by big publishers, and I want the same feel for the re-issue. Also, I’m still publishing with one major publisher, and don’t want people to think everything I bring indie is “too precious for words.”
Some of it will be, but when it is, I shall so signal.
Fortunately for me, the big houses don’t usually give midlisters like me experienced cover designers. (I’m not talking of Baen here. They’re always an exception.) They usually hand the job to the first under-designer just hired from community college. And that level I can imitate.
However, to know where we are and what we’re doing, let’s start with a look at some bestseller covers in some distinct genres. And pointing out how they signal genre/subgenre.
This is something you should always do before you start designing covers. Go look at what other people are doing. Look at the bestsellers under paper (because that’s usually the professional books, that got lavish attention) and their covers, and figure out what to do for yours.
But Her is not one of those movies. It’s bad. Its plot — a guy falls in love with the artificial intelligence of a new computer operating system — is an already played-out and unoriginal version of Pygmalion. (See everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey to 2002′s Simone). Its characters are collections of ideas rather than actual personalities — even the wonderful Amy Adams has to struggle to make her cliched nothing of a part come to life. And, most importantly, its central performance is just brutally dull.
Without that sort of skill from its lead actor, a film like Her is just a charmless display of intellection. Which is all right for critics, I guess, if they’re not very good critics. But for humans? Pass.
Andrew, I have to admit it: your review yesterday inspired me. Recalling our occasional disagreements over movies and TV — which I still attribute mostly to our differing generational perspectives — the thinking went something like: “If Klavan hates it that much then maybe I’ll really like it!”
Last night April and I went to the ArcLight. I suggested four potential movies: Gravity 3D in IMAX, Saving Mr. Banks, Frozen, and Her. April picked Her — which really surprised me. And we both liked it — me more than her. She overall found it enjoyable — a good B-level movie worth seeing once but nothing special. I was more enthusiastic. As a singularitarian who thinks seriously about how biological and artificial intelligence will interact in the coming decades, I found it a thoughtful, well-shot fable.
And while you couldn’t relate to the main hero and his phone-based emotional life, I kind of could. It was great to go on this date with April last night; in the two weeks following our family Christmas visit we were separated while she put on a successful solo art show in the Bahamas and I hammered away at the book manuscript. So remember those scenes in Her with Theodore running around with the camera showing Samantha the world? That was me and our Siberian Husky running through the park the last few weeks, smart phone extended filming, sharing the emotional experience through a technological medium to connect with another person thousands of miles away. Where Her gets challenging is in taking the common experience we have today of using smart phones to channel our emotions and then asking the Turing Question: how do you know if the person you’re communicating with is a real person? What does it mean when you can no longer tell?
So what does it make me that Her is my best picture pick so far? Not a very good critic? Too influenced by America’s corrupt popular culture without even realizing it? Somehow less than human? You did say that humans should pass and I know that it was just a joke, but yeah, I’m a believer in Kathy Shaidle’s “nobody is ever just kidding” philosophy.
But that’s alright. I’m not offended. In my previous life as a film obsessive working at an art house movie theatre and writing weekly film reviews, the secret that came to me which I submit to you and everyone else for debate: if you don’t like a movie the first time you see it and a whole lot of other people (who are generally smart and thoughtful and whose advice you trust) do like it, then maybe you should just watch it again. Maybe you didn’t get it.
As I emailed you after your questioning review of Inside Llewyn Davis, I meant to write a blog post arguing that the Coen brothers are the primary example of this phenomenon. (They’re also my pick for your generation’s greatest filmmakers.) I didn’t like Fargo and The Big Lebowski the first times I saw them. It took a few viewings for them to unfold and for me to pick up on just how much they offer. All of the Coen brothers’ movies seem to be like that. Some — like No Country for Old Men and True Grit — hit you with their greatness immediately and obviously. But all the others just get better with each viewing. (Her‘s writer-director Spike Jonze falls into the same camp – Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are reward repeat watching.)
And honestly, I think that’s my definition of what it takes for a movie to be great — it has to be one that gets better each time you watch it. Is that a decent definition of what makes for great art in general? A painting you can stare at and always see something new, a song that always stirs the emotions differently, a book where each visit reveals new depth?
“… the fact is that the modern teenager is a modern phenomenon, and teenagers in previous eras were far more responsible — and far more integrated into society as a whole.” - page 69
During my miserable junior high and high school years I just knew in my bones that the factory-like school system was an anti-American aberration designed to create efficient drones to serve in the hive. Now Glenn’s book confirms it and lays bare the flaws at the base of this model imported from Germany during the Industrial Revolution.
A question for debate and discussion (particularly amongst my PJ Lifestyle co-conspirators): in declaring war against the false gods of pop culture polytheism and the educational establishment should we also reject the very idea of the “teenager” and the “adolescent”? For children with the aptitude to skip over the made-up, in-between period of tolerated, coddled irresponsibility, why not start treating them like genuine young adults as soon as they’re able?
On page 87 Glenn cuts to the essence of how an America 3.0-style libertarian-conservatism seeks to solve problems:
Slater reported that the truth is far more complicated than Davis’ origins story. Davis divorced at 21, not 19. She only lived in the trailer for a few months. She was able to get her Harvard education thanks to her second husband, Jeff Davis, whom she left the day after he made the final payment on her tuition. He had cashed his 401(k) savings and taken out a loan to pay for her education.
I hope Davis continues to be held up as an icon of 3rd wave postmodern Marxist feminism. A woman who rose to media-fueled prominence defending late term abortion gained her Harvard education through abandoning her children and husband. And HE got the kids afterward, citing infidelity!
That’s what ideology does to people: it inspires them to sacrifice their family in pursuit of something they value as more important. You know, like defending a woman’s right to an abortion after 20 weeks.
The universities were the great backbone of the West, from the Academy and Lyceum to medieval Pisa and Oxbridge to the great 18th- and 19th-century founding of American campuses. Not necessarily any longer. Too many are bankrupt morally, economically, politically, and culturally.
The symptoms are terrifying: one trillion dollars in student debt (many of these loans accruing at higher than average interest rates and even before students have graduated); a small Eloi class of rarefied elites who teach little and write in runes that no one can decipher; a large Morlock class of part-timers and oppressed lecturers who subsidize the fat and waste of the tenured and administrative classes; graduates who are arrogant but ignorant, nursed on –studies ideology without the liberal arts foundations to back up their zeal; and a BA/BS brand that no longer ensures better-paying jobs, if any jobs at all.
In sum, apart from the sciences and medicine, most of the university coarsens rather than enlightens American life.
The current campus is unsustainable and we are beginning to see its decline, as online courses and for-profit tech schools usurp its students. The liberal arts are not nurtured and protected for another generation in the university. Instead, their umbilical cords have become cut with the cleaver of race/class/gender no-nothingism. Again the theme: the more bloated, exploitive, and costly the university, the more it lashes out it that it is short-changed, the victim of philistine budget cuts, and the last bastion of civilized life.
Each day when I drive to work I try to look at the surrounding communities, and count how many are working and how many of the able-bodied are not. I listen to the car radio and tally up how many stories, both in their subject matter and method of presentation, seem to preserve civilization, or how many seem to tear it down. I try to assess how many drivers stay between the lines, how many weave while texting or zoom in and out of traffic at 90mph or honk and flip off drivers.
Today, as the reader can note from the tone of this apocalyptic essay, civilization seemed to be losing.
There are many solutions to our problems out there. There just isn’t one single absolute answer. (And in fact it’s the pursuit of the belief that there is — what Bennett and Lotus define as America 2.0 — that has largely led America to many of these problems in the first place.)
While we see few occasions of consciousness–and certainly few publicly expressed–from Arab and Muslim intellectuals of what is really going on, they still do take place. For example, in a December 30, 2013, interview that aired on CBC TV, Egyptian novelist Youssef Ziedan said:
We should reconsider our notions regarding the Jewish question. We are not even aware how much this affects us. [Antisemitism] has become a common trade, benefiting all our politicians. Any politician who wants to gain popularity curses Israel, but when he comes to power, he has no problem with Israel.
That’s stupidity. That’s stupidity which is connected to the ignorance of the people. We should reconsider this. Nobody looks out for our interests. We should be aware of this.
In other words, Ziedan shows keen consciousness of political movements and how leaders manipulate them.
Former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover feared Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so much he sent the civil rights leader an anonymous letter urging him to commit suicide, it has emerged.
A new book has chronicled how the FBI under Hoover classified King as ‘the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country’ and went to extreme lengths – including breaking in and bugging his home, office and hotel rooms – to destroy him and his work to bring about racial equality.
After delivering his ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ at the 1963 March on Washington, the government’s interest in the leader intensified and Hoover allocated significant resources to monitoring King’s movements and eavesdropping on his conversations, according to ‘The Burglary: the Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.’
I wonder what Hoover would think of an NSA that has the capability of delivering reports on every single computer user’s porn preferences?
Spend a little while on Twitter or in Internet comment sections and you’ll see a significant number of people who think that the NSA may have been relaying intelligence about the Mitt Romney campaign to Obama operatives, or that Chief Justice John Roberts’ sudden about-face in the Obamacare case might have been driven by some sort of NSA-facilitated blackmail.
A year ago, these kinds of comments would have been dismissable as paranoid conspiracy theory. But now, while I still don’t think they’re true, they’re no longer obviously crazy. And that’s Obama’s legacy: a government that makes paranoid conspiracy theories seem possibly sane.
What are the potential solutions to the NSA spying on all internet traffic and making backup copies of everyone’s email inboxes and g-chats? There really isn’t one, from what I can tell. Even if some law is passed saying the NSA needs to stop providing the ability to spy on your keystrokes to the 29-year-old Edward Snowden nutjobs they hire then abuses will still happen. And BTW, do you think Vladimir Putin has similar capabilities?
How about this: the genie’s out of the bottle here and there are bigger fights to have. Anytime you do something digitally, online you should just accept the fact that someone could be spying on you or could recover the data about what you did later. And then live your life accordingly. Want privacy? Write by hand in a journal or how about *gasp* on a computer or something that isn’t hooked up to the internet?
The Washington Post today announced a partnership with The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that covers law, public policy, politics, culture and other topics.
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, founded the blog in April 2002, and it quickly became a regular destination for Supreme Court junkies, academics, and anyone interested in law and national issues. Most of the contributors are law professors, and include some of the top legal scholars in the nation.
Great for them! I’ll make a point to start featuring more of their posts in my link round-ups.
A 28-year-old woman has posted online a video of her confronting the female teacher who allegedly molested her as a 12-year-old girl.
The shocking clip, which was uploaded to YouTube last Friday, shows a woman who identifies herself by the name Jamie X, talking about abuse that she allegedly suffered at the hands of a teacher at Chemawa Middle School in Riverside, California.
Jamie X calls Alhambra Unified School District where she claims that her attacker is now an assistant principal. In the call, she tells the woman, whose name is not being released by MailOnline, that she did something terribly wrong.
It can sometimes be very difficult trying to find the line between internet justice and internet vengeance. Not so much in this case here. Just watch the video. The assistant principal has since resigned. See this interview of Jamie X:
Question: was this the best way to make sure that this assistant principal can no longer be in a position of power? What was the other, better solution? And as Jamie points out in the interview, she now expects others to come forward. Perhaps someone whose crimes were committed more recently so charges can be filed?
All of this speaks to Davis’ honesty and integrity. If she cannot be counted on to accurately report her own history, she’s likely to run a slipshod governorship that remains at arm’s length with the truth. Asking legitimate questions about her veracity is not a personal attack, but the vetting that political candidates should expect to undergo when they seek high office and the power that comes with it. Her reaction to the publication of this story suggests that her skin hasn’t gotten any thicker since she blamed the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for her first political defeat and sued the paper for endorsing her opponent, back in 1996.
Basically, Facebook users will lose interest in Facebook over time as their peers lose interest — if the model is correct. ”Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models,” write the researchers.
Are you someone who has given up Facebook recently in search of better solutions for keeping in touch with your friends and family? What are better social networking options? I’ve been upping my Twitter and Instagram usage lately.
On October 10, 2012, PJ Media and The New Criterion combined forces to give the first annual Walter Duranty Prize for journalistic mendacity, named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow bureau chief between 1922 and 1936. Duranty is notorious for having whitewashed Stalin’s atrocities, notably the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians known as the Holodomor. Duranty’s cleansed reports were further responsible for encouraging Franklin Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union.
That last sentence there is the big, painful truth: American history for the 20th century was transformed because FDR, misled by disinformation in The New York Times, chose to recognize the Soviet Union, an evil criminal state built on torture, murder, and lies. That was when the floodgate broke down for the Marxist assault on America’s institutions.
With just three years left in office and a possible Republican landslide in the fall’s midterm elections, Obama must be in something close to panic mode. His health care plan seems like it’s imploding, his foreign policy and civil liberties record is awful, and the economy is still barely stumbling forward into an uncertain future. Enthusiastically winding down the federal war on pot would be popular with voters and, as important, wouldn’t require immediate cooperation from Congress.
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin tells Remnick that in 2007, Obama explained, “I have no desire to be one of those presidents who are just on the list—you see their pictures lined up on the wall. … I really want to be a President who makes a difference.” But Obama’s approval ratings are mired in the low 40s, a reality he partially—and unconvincingly—attributes to racism: “There’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” As HotAir’s Ed Morrissey notes, the existence of rump racists completely fail to explain Obama’s two electoral victories and his 60 percent-plus approval ratings at the start of his presidency. A far better explanation is simply that he’s failed to accomplish much of anything the public likes.
Would it honestly surprise anyone if President Valerie Jarrett decided to do this? It’s kind of her Hail Mary Jane last resort, isn’t it? One final big, feel good invocation of the goddess to distract people while Iran goes nuclear. Is there a more important issue in the final years of Obama’s presidency than preventing the further rise of Iran as the world’s most dangerous global terror state?
Oh yeah, making sure you can buy cheap pot at Wal-Mart. Should marijuana be legal at the federal level, thus allowing individual states to regulate as their voters see fit? Of course, but let’s be sure and call it exactly what it is should Jarrett puppet Obama onto this path: an unneeded, wholly hypocritical act designed just to distract stupid people. Bread and circuses, as VDH would say.
Like my PJ colleague, Victor Davis Hanson, I too am pessimistic about the future of our country. Like many of us, I fell into the trap of thinking that, during the election of 2012, the country would somehow come to its senses and evict from the White House an obviously unqualified charlatan with a threadbare act, and that we would begin the slow restoration of Foundational values to the Republic. Andy McCarthy, Roger Simon, Victor, Roger Kimball, Dr. Helen, J. Christian Adams — all wrong. And these are not stupid people; neither is Michael Barone, who also fell on his face.
Sitting here on this Sunday morning before the election, the Sun now up, reflecting back on these years scouring through dusty old Marxist books, trying to understand a president who built his career on a mountain of lies, I confess a peace with either electoral result on Tuesday. A part of me almost wishes that Obama steals wins reelection (as I anticipate he will). The thought of him quietly retiring to a mansion in Hawaii in January to live out the rest of his life in comfort and adoration should inspire nausea. Only if Obama wins reelection do conservatives have a chance to hold him accountable for Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and all the crimes we don’t even know about yet. The man has blood on his hands and we can’t let him get away with it.
An ancient dictum popularized in recent years by the late Christopher Hitchens on the path forward, should Tuesday disappoint:
Last year I started experimenting with Instagram. Inspired by PJM columnist Zombie I decided to create an account to A) confuse the hell out of people, B) stir up trouble, and C) explore the truth of what people believe in the world today without the baggage of my existing politically incorrect identity clouding how they addressed me.
As with Zombie, with “Thoth and Ma’at Married” people can’t even tell if I’m a man or woman — the handle includes the names of both male and female Egyptian deities of writing (and thus serves as my stealth so-con way of promoting marriage too). They likewise can’t tell at first glance what my religion, politics, or philosophy are. I use the account to engage with people all across the spectrum of cultures and ideas to try to learn more about where their values come from and how they think. On January 10, one of the atheists that I follow posted a photo in which he asked for anyone to ask him his opinion about anything. I asked which side he supported in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here’s the exchange that followed and the revealing admission from an atheist about where he really learned right from wrong in our pop culture-dominated world today:
So he simultaneously admits he knows nothing but expresses his preset ideological opinion that the governments are driven by money and the militaries by primitivism.
Here’s when I drop my counterculture conservative provocation, defining the evil in the issue and then seeing how he or any of his followers choose to react to the facts:
Did my provocation catch any fish? Yes, two revealing responses. The first a somewhat innocent, naive idealist, and the second doubting my facts.
One thing that I’ve learned in these exchanges over the years is to try to cut to the key points you want to make. Don’t go on and on. Just give the link and state your idea. Over-writing is a sign that you’re not confident in what you’re saying.
Here’s where I pose the question that really matters to me for my research and writing: if you’re an atheist, from where do you get your values? I then offer a number of possibilities. Usually I’ll try to throw out five or six, here just three:
Sounds like a good punk rock song title, doesn’t it? “Let Me Stab to Be Corrected.” This is a much more cordial exchange than many that I have with more hostile secularists. But then again, with this particular meme it allowed for more of a thoughtful discussion. Perhaps I should start experimenting with using “Ask My Opinion” and “Ask Anything” type images to fish for more interesting questions…
I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to remind atheists that there are multiple ways of reading the Bible is to start talking about Maimonides. See Douglas Rushkoff’s Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism for the accessible introduction that turned me on to the Rambam not just as a Jewish theologian, but as a foundational thinker of Western civilization and one of the inspirers of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the founding of America.
And here’s where I got the kind of off-hand, not-even-thinking-about-it, honest admission that I look for when engaging in these kinds of exchanges:
It’s hard for me to pinpoint with as much precision as @isaac_of_portage just which specific pop culture properties most influenced my values and understanding of good and evil. There are just so many from Star Wars to Super Mario to the Disney canon which shaped my childhood and initial adolescence much more than the irregular church attendance in mushy Methodism.
Though, as I mentioned in the exchange, seeing Schindler’s List in seventh grade — amidst the controversy of it being broadcast uncensored, commercial-free on NBC — did psychologically scar me somehow. But it’s a way that I needed to be scarred — it was one of the big beginning-to-wake-up-to-evil moments that would take a long time to process. Throughout my life in my obsessions with movies, books, comics, and video games, I understand that I’ve been influenced both for the good and the bad. Some pop culture properties derive from the foundational stories and myths of Western civilization, others are reinventions of the primitive, pre-modern death cults which one needs to understand in order to make much sense of the first five books of the Bible. (I’ve found from years of these kinds of exchanges that many secularists misinterpret the Bible to such an extent that they end up taking the side of the Egyptians and Canaanites, not realizing just what the ancient Hebrews were rebelling against — nature worship, human sacrifice and temple prostitution.)
So when I talk about Pop Culture Polytheism, I don’t do so with complete condemnation, because it is a religion that I have practiced to one degree or another all my life and still do to a lesser, more controlled extent today. Pop culture polytheists are those who use pop culture properties as substitutes – or supplements — to religion. You can be a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, secular humanist, etc. first and a pop culture polytheist second — many people are, more should be.
When pop culture is understood as a tool for us to better understand and engage with the world then it’s useful and valuable. When it’s held up as how we should model ourselves, when the figures dancing across the screen become like the gods on Mount Olympus, then we’ve got a problem. And that’s what we have to face and confront today. Pop culture polytheism can be a wonderful thing — my wife and I bond deeply over our shared Disney and Star Trek enthusiasms — but it is only a toolbox, not a foundation upon which to build a life. So in keeping with my third New Year’s resolution…
10 Headlines from Around the Web this Week
Starting With 6 Pop Culture Polytheist Idols of the Age
In November,Vanity Fair published Maureen Orth’s revisitation of the Allen-Farrow scandal, including the first-ever media interview with Dylan. The interview was a bombshell: Dylan (who now uses a different name) did not waver from the story she told at age 7 about Allen molesting and sexually assaulting her in the attic of her mother’s home in Connecticut, on Aug. 4, 1992. On her side is her brother, media-star-in-the-making Ronan Farrow. After Allen received a lifetime-achievement award at last Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony,Ronan tweeted, “Missed the Woody Allen tribute—did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
So what should an outside observer make of the Allen-Farrow debacle, two decades after the fact?
In his June 1993 ruling, Wilk also denied Allen any visitation rights with Dylan or his older adopted child with Farrow, 15-year-old Moses. In May 1994, in a hearing considering custody or increased visitation for Allen, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court cited a “clear consensus” among psychiatric experts involved in the case that Allen’s “interest in Dylan was abnormally intense.”
Popular culture celebrates criminality — both on screen and off. Someday a lot of people are going to be very ashamed that they gave Allen the benefit of the doubt for all these years. I suspect that some day we’ll have a better idea of the full extent of the truth. If Allen is who his accusers claim he is then eventually more victims will emerge. And too many to be denied.
But will anybody care? They still listen to Michael Jackson songs, don’t they?
The high priorities of the leading third wave feminist publication today.
Last night The Wife and I watched the first two episodes of the new season. What struck me as very awkward during the sex scenes is that with the new short haircut and her insistence on displaying her body she honestly looks more boyish than feminine. So these supposedly heterosexual scenes end up having this creepy homoerotic undertone to them. Hannah doesn’t look or behave like a mature woman; in both instances she’s a teenage boy. I knew too many Hannahs in college. She unfortunately is a voice of a generation.
That’s really the nature of the show and of many secular millennial pop culture polytheists: today’s politically correct ideology has pushed girls to aspire to be more masculine and men to be more feminine. In a bigger expression it’s what we see in Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett making the big decisions while hapless, wimpy Barack Obama goes out to whine that his approval ratings are tanking because people just don’t like the idea of a black president.
What, it’s Saturday already? And my deadline is Friday? Oh, hell.
So here’s the update, first of all, on the whole diet thing. Basically, not good, not bad: my glucose is holding steady with morning fasting around 120 and mid-day down to the low 100s and below. My weight, according to the new round to the nearest 5 pounds once a week rule, is about 270 — which means by the scale I’ve gone from 267 to 269, or in other words, same old same old plateau.
Which is actually good, because my compliance with the diet and exercise plan this week has sucked. I haven’t left the house since I went grocery shopping last Sunday and I haven’t done any exercise besides jumping to conclusions and chasing deadlines. And I haven’t caught any of them.
Oddly, however, I’m very happy. Which is the topic of this column.
My friend Donna is often after me about exercise — she skis and walks and Gods know what all else — and she said something that I think was more insightful than she realized.
“The problem is that you don’t like exercising.”
Frankly, that’s a good bit of the problem. I’ve done extended exercise things. IBM had me in Rochester Minnesota for one whole winter, and while I was there, I went to the amazing health club in Rochester pretty much every weeknight on the way home from work. There were several reasons for it, but the biggest one was that honestly there’s nothing to do in Rochester except eat and work out. And that was right when I’d gone vegetarian, and eating wasn’t all that interesting either.
Some things about it were good — I was race walking more than 20 miles a week at up to 6-7 miles an hour, which is extremely taxing cardiovascularly, much more than running 6-7 miles an hour. When I was called upon to run through the Detroit airport, I was pretty much astounded that I wasn’t even breathing very hard.
But then I was also in an extended fairly severe depression — this was before I finally gave in and tried drug therapy. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t doing much of anything, and the job was such that I couldn’t actually work into the evening. So what the hell.
Saturday, January 18th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Yeah, this week it seems like the workmonster is winning.
Not the authors of this column.
This is Charlie, and I think Sarah will have some additions but we’re both late and we know it — and it’s because the workmonster goes untamed, at least this week. Sarah can tell her own story — although I know it includes unexpected veterinary emergencies and backed up plumbing — but in my case, it’s in the way that projects spawn projects.
Here’s where it stands for me: I did a lot of thinking about this, about which more anon, starting from my observation that I have ideas lots faster than I can execute them. (This is, I’m sure, something the PJ Editors can tell you — I’ve got several promised articles dangling.) Part of the solution is clearly to do something to keep that under control, not by stopping the ideas, but by capturing them in a way that lets me come back and pick and choose later without losing the original inspiration.
A second and equally vital thing is to keep the daily little tasks and steps under control — all the little to-dos that either grow out of a bigger project, or just come up in ordinary life.
The inspiration that both Sarah and I have been drawing on in trying to get these things under control is David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. This is a good book, although not a great one — I find it difficult to work through it without skipping. I’ve noticed this with other self-help books — they spend a lot of time convincing me that there is a problem and telling me anecdotes and endorsements. In general, if I’m reading a book on “getting things done” you can pretty much bet that I’m already concerned with getting things done, and while it’s nice to know that other people have been successful getting things done, there’s a black-swan problem: as with a diet book, they only include people whose Lives Have Been Utterly Changed. What about people who aren’t complete and total successes, what are their problems?
The interesting thing going through the blog is seeing how many days I curtailed posting or posted briefer or weirder because I was ill.
Now I was aware of having been in indifferent health for the last ten years or so. It’s nothing really bad or spectacularly interesting, which is part of the issue, because if it were, I could take time off and not feel guilty. I confess I have found myself at various occasions fantasizing about a stay in the hospital. Which is stupid, because no one rests in the hospital. (What I need, of course, is a stay in a remote cottage for a few days. Even if I’m writing.) And I knew that my health got much worse in the last year. 2013 was the pits, at least since August or so. But it is not unusual for me to spend every third week “down.” – Usually with an ear infection or a throat thingy or some kind of stomach bug.
My friends have said for years that this is because I don’t listen to my body’s signals to slow down or stop, so it has to bring me to a complete stop by making me too sick to work.
This is part of the reason Charlie Martin and I (in collaboration) are doing a series on taming the work monster. Part of it is that I have way too much to do, and part of it is that it’s really hard to compartmentalize things when you work from home. Eventually when we sell the house and move, we’d like to get a place where the office is a distinct area. It was pretty much all of the attic in our last house, which meant if I came downstairs for dinner (which I did) I didn’t go up again. But now my office is half of the bedroom (and before someone imagines me cramped in a corner, the bedroom runs the full front of the house. We just couldn’t figure out what to do with a room that size. We don’t sleep that much.) This is convenient in terms of my getting up really early to work, or of my going to bed way after my husband, because I’m right there… It’s also contributing to a 24/7 work schedule, because I can think “Oh, I should write about that” and roll out of bed, and do so. There is no “I have to be dressed, as the sons might be roaming the house” and there isn’t (as in the other house) “the attic will be cold.”
The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday. Here’s the full list at the Hollywood Reporter. Best picture nominees:
American Hustle - Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers Captain Phillips - Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers Dallas Buyers Club - Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers Gravity - Alfonso Cuaron and David Heyman, Producers Her - Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers Nebraska - Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers Philomena - Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers 12 Years a Slave - Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers The Wolf of Wall Street - Nominees to be determined
A few years back the Academy decided to expand the number of films they’d nominate for best picture, thus diluting the significance of the award. It used to be that only five films would be nominated and it could be a genuinely close race. In 2008 it was Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (The best of the them won, IMHO.) Then in 2009 it ballooned to ten, offering an assortment ranging from Avatar to Up to Precious and Inglourious Basterds.
It seems weird to compare a blue aliens action flick to a Pixar family comedy to a ghetto sentimentality to a high-brow grindhouse bloodbath. But I guess that’s just the nature of our postmodern film age. (Of the films nominated, fanatical Disney partisan I am, Up would’ve earned my vote.)
This year’s list is similarly all over the map and I haven’t seen any of them, though I imagine The Wife and I will catch some of when they start making their way to Netflix streaming. With her finishing up graduate school we tend to only make it to the theaters to see something that’s really big and mind-blowing. The Hobbit films in IMAX 3-D are well worth whichever arm or leg you’ll need to barter for a ticket.
But for a comedy or a drama, why bother going out to the theaters? The effect of seeing it on a decent-sized screen at home isn’t much different. And why bother trying to see all the best picture nominees before the show so you can talk about it when they’ve inflated the category to ten? That’s a lot of work!
Film is now a culturally dead medium. It’s akin to painting, ballet, classical music, drama, and the literary novel. Other, newer technologies have spawned mediums with greater power and influence amongst the masses while high-thinking elitists talk mostly to themselves about how their art is saving the world.
But kudos to Oscar for the delicious snub of Oprah Winfrey’s hateful The Butler, a disinformation project designed to make people believe America and conservatives are racist. The one good thing about having 10 best picture spots to fill? Intentionally only pick to fill nine of them and the message to the one snubbed is loud and clear. Are we done with the Oscar-bait genre yet?
Maybe now that “film” is dead individual movies can start to live more. Here’s the best picture nominee I’m going to make a point to see:
Here are 10 Interesting Stories From Around the Web on Thursday
I’ve received what follows from Iran, via Banafsheh Zand, who has written at PJ Media on several occasions. As you will see, it’s an open letter from one of the bravest men of our time, Heshmat Tabarzadi, a fighter for the freedom of the Iranian people who has repeatedly put his life on the line in that worthy cause. Heshmat was one of the central figures in the Iranian student movement, and then joined the Green Movement that was cheated out of its electoral victory in 2009. Along with other Green leaders, Heshmat was subsequently arrested, convicted by a “Revolutionary Tribunal,” and locked away.
As he writes, he was recently paroled halfway through his 8-year sentence. I rather suspect that the regime hoped he would take the opportunity to flee the country, but he won’t do that. Like the Green leaders Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi, Heshmat is one of the most respected figures in contemporary Iran, and, so far at least, the regime prefers to keep them locked away rather than killing them, probably hoping they will die in prison.
Today, January 15th, they arrested him again and he is incarcerated. It behooves any one who really cares about human rights to keep his name in front of the civilized world, to condemn his imprisonment, and to call for his release so that he can publicly and freely promote his cause, in which the civilized world purports to believe.
Read The Whole Thing. While Americans are having fun debating their popular culture other people are fighting for their freedom:
My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent part of every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.
Earlier today we reported on OWN’s special interview with TV star Mowry, in which she tearfully recounted being called a “white man’s whore,” among other slurs. Speaking with TVNewser, Housley excoriated those who wish to cut down their relationship.
“The fact that in this day and age, we get attacked for our interracial relationship is beyond sad…it is pathetic,” he said. “Yes I am white. Yes she is half black. Marrying a white man does not erase her color and marrying a woman who is half black does not mean I am blinded. The problem isn’t pigmentation…the problem is backwards, bigoted thought from people who should know better.”
In short, it’s all about The Wheel. No, we’re not talking about the Wheel of Fortune. That’s Pat Sajak — different minister. It’s some kind of mothership from outer space that follows Farrakhan around. At some point, when he’s good and ready, he will climb on board to fly away from planet Earth and, for good measure, maybe kill off all of our planet’s blue-eyed devils.
So I promise to return to 12 Years in our next round (and please get started without me if you like). But first, a few observations about this morning’s predawn rites: The biggest puzzle for me is why the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, a near-universal presence on top-10 lists throughout the land and certainly a far more accessible movie than their Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, has been entirely shut out of the major awards (though it did get some recognition in the technical categories, including a nod for its magic-making DP, Bruno Delbonnel, for his cinematography).
The network’s prime time hosts have, in fact, gone all in (so to speak) in the effort to expose Christie as a vindictive and manipulative “bully,” going so far as to repeatedly broadcast arcane and unsubstantiated theories about Christie’s motives. National Review editor Rich Lowry correctly noted that the various theories posited by MSNBC personalities designed to make Christie a toxic property“failed to meet the most basic evidentiary standard of, you know, marshaling some evidence.”
But those theories satisfy a purpose, one with bipartisan appeal, apparently: The desperate need shared by both the far-right and the far-left to smother the Christie juggernaut in its crib.
Pundits on the cable news networks often lament the lack of bipartisanship that supposedly characterized an idealized version of American history, often while failing to recognize their own roles in an era of hyper-partisan politics. But these pundits could just as easily recognize it in the emerging fringe alliance. Both of America’s political extremes apparently view centrism as an existential threat and are willing, if reluctantly, to ally in order to guarantee that theirs remain the loudest and most influential voices in the room.
I’ll keep reading Rothman, who I regard as one of the best media writers around, but I found this one to be a misfire in the narrowness with which he chose to frame the “far-right” and “far-left.” I registered my dissent with him on Twitter:
Even in 1997 — a decade after Brawley’s story had been proved a hoax beyond a scintilla of a doubt — Sharpton arranged for her to give a speech to his United African Movement at a Brooklyn church.
I find it hard to believe that Al Sharpton did not know Brawley was lying about being raped by a Nazi cult on the Wappingers Falls police force.
Brawley’s boyfriend later told Newsday that she had admitted to him at the time that she cooked up the story with her mother. Is it believable that she didn’t also tell her trusted adviser Al Sharpton?
Is Al Sharpton a “far left” figure? Maybe he was when first starting out, but these days he’s within the bosom of the Democratic Party. He’s “left” and his views may be “far out” sometimes, but his views, as despicable as they are, count as within the mainstream of progressive/so-called liberal thought.
How about this for a definition: you’re not “far” anything if you choose to work through either the Democratic or Republican parties.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Lena Dunham’s naked body. It’s a difficult job, but someone’s got to do it. Last week, TheWrap’s TV Editor Tim Molloy got yelled at because he dared to ask why Dunham was always taking her clothes off on her TV show Girls. Girls is an HBO series in which the 20-something actress daughters of famous people — including the daughters of newsman Brian Williams and playwright David Mamet — portray obnoxious, self-obsessed 20-something females trying to make it in New York. About 870,000 people watch the show every week. That’s not a lot, but I suspect most of them work in the media. Anyway, that would explain why the show gets such ecstatic reviews.
Well, guess what? I’m an editor at ELLE.com. I have a formidable pile of Miu Miu. My love life is actually pretty exciting. And with every TBS re-run or SATC marathon on the Style Network, I’m starting to realize something kind of sad: What I didn’t “get” in my younger days wasn’t the secret to Carrie’s coolness… it was that Carrie Bradshaw is an idiot. And a sucker. And—this is the part that hurts me most—a really shitty modern woman.
And I think that’s what pisses me off most about Carrie Bradshaw, what makes me angry at myself for not seeing it before: Carrie pretends to be independent and free-thinking, but at her core, she’s a totally passive woman who can’t lead an adventure or survive without knowing someone (or actually, everyone) is totally in love with her. Despite her “girls just wanna be free” party line, Carrie Bradshaw still needs a guy to make her feel complete. And to me, that’s beyond dumb. It’s kind of unforgivable.
I admire Mandy’s stand. As a 32-year-old virgin who’s happily getting married this summer, I know how challenging it can be to save sex for marriage. As a woman who works at a pregnancy resource center, I also see the damaging effects of sex outside marriage. Sex is meant to be a holistic experience that touches our minds, bodies, souls, and emotions. It’s more than just a pleasure; it’s a pleasure that comes with great responsibility.
This Wednesday evening and Thursday mark the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat (the name refers to the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat). Also known as the New Year of Trees and as Israeli Arbor Day, it’s a minor, nonbiblical holiday, its source in the Talmud. But quite a to-do is made about it in Israel.
The Talmud specified Tu Bishvat as the day on which the annual agricultural cycle begins. Considering that the holiday falls in January or, at best, February, this—the middle of winter—may seem a strange time for agricultural rebirth. It is, though, the time in the Land of Israel when—amid the cold and damp, but with sunnier intervals—you start to see the first white and pink almond blossoms.
You also see packages of dried fruits (dates, figs, apricots, pineapple) and nuts, especially almonds, everywhere. In the Diaspora, Tu Bishvat was marked by eating fruits of the Land of Israel. In the European Diaspora with its cold winters, that meant dried fruits. Now, back in the Land of Israel, they’re ubiquitous at this time of year.
I admire my Jewish friends for all the holidays in their religion and how diligent they are in celebrating them. It’s a practice that we should all keep in mind regardless of faith or lack thereof — making time to just step apart from the world for a moment and reflect on who we are where we’re going.
Because it’s a dangerous, cruel place out there. Here’s a decadent, crime-ridden collection of headlines for today. Sorry.
Sheard, who has reportedly been unable to hold down any semblance of well-paid, full-time employment, constantly struggles to stay financially afloat, has thus far failed to make a living off of writing as a career, and has frequently spiraled into long periods of severe depression and unhappiness. “She introduced me to Faulkner, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Joyce, and that’s what began my lifelong love affair with the narrative form. Those authors really opened up a whole new world to me, which ultimately inspired me to devote my whole life to the craft of prose. Mrs. Merriman was the catalyst for that; I’ll never forget her.”
For some reason Glenn Reynolds’ book The New Schooland all those literature and philosophy and religious studies majors all across America come to mind…
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He is backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers. The brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 re-election is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power.
Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals. Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama’s softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity.
The Romney campaign, which reluctantly agreed to Christie’s incessant demands for private jets, ungainly entourages and expensive hotel rooms in return for campaign appearances by the governor in behalf of the GOP nominee, decided against selecting him as running mate because, as the authors write, Romney’s vetters were “stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record.”
Hilarious. Christie is a third-world despot and we need to “overthrow the corporate state.”
The site’s growth milestone marks an all-time monthly high for both unique visitors and page views
TheWrap is pleased to announce that it has achieved its highest traffic month in the history of the site, surpassing both industry trades Variety and Deadline.
According to comScore, TheWrap scored 3.4 million unique visitors in December 2013, besting both Deadline Hollywood (2.6 million) and Variety (2.6 million) by almost 700,000 unique visitors each.
Among the four Hollywood industry news sites, the comScore ranking places TheWrap No. 2 behind The Hollywood Reporter which earned 5.7 million unique visitors in December, according to the ranking service.
What is the greatest fear of conservatives when they warn against the dangers of big government? It is that a leader or the coterie around him will abuse the authority of the state arbitrarily to gather yet more power, punish opponents and, in the process, harm rank-and-file citizens whose well-being matters not a whit to those who are trying to enhance their control.
This, of course, is a quite precise description of what happened when Gov. Chris Christie’s aides ordered the closure of some access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September. Their motivation was political payback. The result: thousands of commuters along with emergency vehicles, school buses and pretty much the entire town of Fort Lee, N.J., were thrown into gridlock.
Using public facilities for selfish ends is the very definition of corruption, which is why this scandal bothers people far outside the conservative orbit.
Patch isn’t dead, and AOL isn’t officially done with it. But Tim Armstrong’s big bet on local news has come to an end: The AOL CEO is handing over Patch to investment fund Hale Global, which will run the network of news sites.
The deal is structured as a joint venture, and AOL will hold on to a small stake. But Hale will control and operate the company, and AOL will no longer have to fund Patch’s losses, which Armstrong had promised would stop by the end of 2013 but didn’t.
Hale specializes in turnaround projects and “special situations,” and normally that would mean that many of the 900 Patch sites would be shuttered — especially since that’s what AOL said it was going to do last summer. But AOL and Hale say all of the Patches will remain open.
I’ve avoided writing about Danish director Lars von Trier’s upcoming arthouse movie epic Nymphomaniac for two reasons: one, such blatant titillation is boring, and two, I didn’t want to give publicity to a film I feel certain will be a degrading experience. But the recent revelation that actor Shia LaBeouf secured his role in the movie partly because he sent pictures of his penis to the filmmakers has compelled me to comment.
If you’re not familiar with von Trier, he’s the provocateur behind such disturbing flicks as Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist, Dogville, and now the sexually explicitNymphomaniac – which, as the title suggests, isn’t exactly a Disney movie, and which is notable mostly for its unusually creepy marketing campaign consisting of posters of the actors in mid-orgasm. If you have ever found yourself wondering what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo bad guy Stellan Skarsgaard looks like during sexual climax, well, now you know. As Midwestern storyteller Garrison Keillor once put it, “If it feels good, it probably doesn’t look good.”
I saw a whole lot — too many — of these “explicit sex in dramatic feature” independent and foreign films back in my film critic and art house movie days a decade ago. Most of them are really very, very boring. The only narrative films with explicit sex that seem to be able to work are comedies where the sex is for goofy shocks. Pink Flamingos and Shortbuscome to mind which chuckles. “Kill everyone now!”
My conclusion: pornography and art are opposite in their purpose and effects. Art is Apollonian, pornography is Dionysian. One challenges you to rise up, to transcend your base nature; the other encourages you to dive down and wallow in your animality. The erotic — the mysterious, the transcendent — is where one gets beyond the false dualism. Erotica and pornography are not synonymous. The most erotic part of a woman’s body is her face. Example, from Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Marjorie Cameron, widow of notorious rocket scientist/occultist Jack Parsons, as the Scarlet Woman:
I’ve had Maleficent from Sleeping Beautyon the brain today in my ongoing Disney studies. Perhaps she’s another example of this persona that Camille Paglia writes about? Think it’s a coincidence that the seductive demoness’ role in the story is to break up a family for 16 years? To divide a father from his daughter? (Yes, analyzing Disney culture through Paglia’s cultural approach seems a good approach for this year…)
But really all of this is nothing new. The cultural decadence has always been with America, it’s just more in the open now. But the old dirt is creeping out too…
‘I am the sexiest man alive,’ he told a Danish newspaper before his death from AIDS in 1993. ‘Just ask Lee Radziwill. Just ask Jackie Kennedy. And if you don’t believe me, ask Bobby and John-John Kennedy. Nobody can resist me. Everyone who has gone to bed with me has fallen in love with me,’ he added.
The book details the lives of playwright Tennessee Williams and two of Jackie’s closest friends, authors Truman Capote and Gore Vidal.
‘I think Rudi systematically plans to seduce every member of my family, even my son when he grows up,’ the book says Jackie confessed to Capote.
Capote was also said to be shocked to learn about Nureyev’s affair with Bobby Kennedy, whom the writer had long suspected of being a deeply closeted homosexual,’ says Globe.
An outraged Jackie only ended the relationship when she saw the dancer paying too much attention to her son, JFK Jr., writes Porter.
The truth about the Democratic Party is that it’s really just the political wing of a sex-and-death worshiping cult. Read Michael Walsh’s Encounter Broadside on the Party’s criminal history and origins if you haven’t already.
The Miami strip club that lost its license in the wake of allegations that a 13-year-old sex slave had been forced to perform under the stage name Peaches has filed an injunction to get re-opened.
Miami Beach city manager Jimmy Morales suspended Club Madonna’s business permits for six months on Friday, while police investigate the circumstances around how a 13-year old girl was able to get a job dancing at the fully nude strip club.
But club owner Leroy Griffith has refused to take the decision lying down and on Tuesday went to federal court to file an injunction against the city.
That’s right. “Club Madonna.”
The three people accused of forcing the young runaway into a life of sex slavery after scooping her up off a Miami Beach street last month are Vilbert Jean, 36, Marlene San Vincente, 22, and DeWayne Ward, 18.
The trio forced her to have sex for money on at least one occasion, before forcing her to strip at Club Madonna on the South Beach Strip, according to an affidavit cited by the Miami Herald.
Slavery still exists in this world. But one day more people will recognize what evil is, where it comes from, and how we must fight to overcome it. And we will. And someday our descendants will look back and find it strange the way publications once flourished where stories of brutal crimes appeared next to cute Siberian huskies. (Apparently the Daily Mail and the Blaze are also doing husky videos, a perhaps necessary pick-me-up when confronted with the horrors of what humans will do to each other…)