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Morning Pages: A Secret To Finding Your ‘Self’ Behind the Lies

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Part 1: Finding My Way Back To Creativity, And The Heart of My Daughter

Part 2: 2 Indispensable Tools For Blocked Writers and Closet Artists

Part 3: Want to Kill The Dragon That Ate Your Dreams and Your Socks?

Part 4: What We Owe Rockwell, Orwell and the God of Creation

Part 5: Anger Is An Agent For Change. So Why Control It?

Part 6: How to Attract And Keep A Muse In Your Creative Life

We really do learn to lie from a very young age.

One particular toddler of mine, removed her diaper, wet the floor and blamed it on the dog. I’ve had children become adept liars before they could string three word sentences together. Are my children natural born liars? In a word yes.

As adults, we have to learn how to be truthful. Or better still, we learn when to be truthful–when it doesn’t pay to lie. That’s not to say, that all lies are for sinister reasons.

We become masters at lying to protect our inner selves. It’s a built-in protection mechanism. Who we really are, our deepest feelings and thoughts are kept hidden only to be revealed to our inner circle of close family and friends.

Children master the craft of protecting their inner selves. In high school teens learn to craft the acceptable persona for school, and often another to present to parents.

“By the time we grow up we become masters at dissimulation, at cultivating a self that the world cannot probe. But we pay a price. After years of turning people away, of protecting our inner self, of cultivating it by living in a different world, of furnishing this world with our fantasies and dreams–lo and behold we find that we are hopelessly separated from everyone else. We have become victims of our own art.” —  Ernest Becker

Not only do we protect our inner self from the world–we protect it from our harshest critic–our own minds.

We pretend something doesn’t bother us, that our feelings are not hurt. We lie to ourselves about how important our dreams are, and the real reason we are angry.

If we want to take our creativity to the next level, as with any deep relationship, complete honesty with our inner self is a must.

Peeling back those layers aren’t as frightening as you might think. What you unleash might surprise you.

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How to Attract And Keep A Muse In Your Creative Life

Sunday, April 27th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Part 1: Finding My Way Back To Creativity, And The Heart of My Daughter

Part 2: 2 Indispensable Tools For Blocked Writers and Closet Artists

Part 3: Want to Kill The Dragon That Ate Your Dreams and Your Socks?

Part 4: What We Owe Rockwell, Orwell and the God of Creation

Part 5: Anger Is An Agent For Change. So Why Control It?

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At the beginning of the year, I realized what’s wrong with me–I’m a creative.

It wasn’t until we moved to the Nashville area that I understood that it’s not what you do, it’s a personality type. People from all over the world come to Nashville to follow their dreams and find their own kind. Writers, artists, recording artists and songwriters–all creatives from every area of the arts flourish and wither here.

Living with your creativity is a challenge. Making a living with it is a lot like trying to make two marriages work at once.

Creatives of all genres want a muse. Every artist has watched with amazement as their best work flowed effortlessly through their fingertips as though they were the instrument, not the creator.

Call her what you like. Although she is fickle, selfish and obstinate, she is a most desired companion. She is the whisperer of the words to a song in the middle of the night. She is the unseen hand atop your brush as it glides across the canvass. She is wisdom. She is color, song and prose. She sows thoughts in the mind that blossom at the fingertips. She is your creative self, set free.

Without her, the fields of creativity are rough, rocky and require long hours of toil– often abandoned, and left to lay fallow.

With her at your side, the creative life is a joy and new every morning–but if you wait on her to feed you, you will become an artist all right–a starving artist.

As any marriage partner, she is to be treated with respect, courted and never taken for granted.

But first, you have to know where to find her.

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Anger Is An Agent For Change. So Why Control It?

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson
NoEyesNellie

Penelope, my constant companion.

Do you ever wake up feeling guilty or angry with yourself? Contrary to popular belief, anger and guilt aren’t about self-control– they’re catalysts for change.

One of the perks of old age is that I seldom do things that make me feel guilty. The majority of my guilt comes from things I don’t do.

There’s a lot to be said about our conscious. In “Is Self-Esteem a Social Construct or the Soul’s Self-Awarness“ I wrote about how our “self” is stamped with the knowledge of right and wrong, and how it comes with a moral imprint. While this is true, all guilt doesn’t necessarily come from immorality. Nor is all anger wrong.

I’ve battled bouts of guilt all week. Like, every time I look at my dog. Poor girl can’t see me because I’ve failed to take the time to cut holes out of her mop for her eyes. I’ve been guilty of not calling my mother–and getting lost in Facebook when I should be working, just to name a few. All of these things seem minor on the surface. But they do in fact diminish the quality of my life, and those I love–in small and large ways.

Recently, I woke up under a severe reality attack–another failure, I’d been too busy to realize. I failed to continue both my series. The works on Ernest Becker that I began here, and creative recovery which began as a promise to my daughter. While I consider both important for several reasons, guess which one held enough guilt to induce anger at myself?

I made commitments on two levels. First to my daughter who once begged, “Come draw with me mama.” The idea of this creative series was to explore and revitalize our creative lives as artists, and bring our PJ readers along for the ride. Our thirteen-week adventure The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron fizzled out in just four weeks.

My theory is that when we fail to do something that we know is right or would enrich our lives and relationships–it’s more of a spiritual battle than one of self-discipline.

When confronted with failure of any sort Michael Hyatt explains we have three options: recommit, revise or remove.

I chose to recommit. That’s when I learned about anger.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Bullet-Resistant Coffee

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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So this is the latest goofy food fad: hot buttered toffee coffee. Basically, here’s the idea: you add unsalted butter, plus a little coconut oil, to coffee and whip it up in a blender, and drink that for breakfast.  Nothing else.  The theory is that this provides a good start for the day, leading to faster fat metabolism, increased mental alertness, weight loss, cures yaws, gives you greater strength, and conceals any foolish political contributions you may have made when young and foolish.

Or something.  It’s officially called Bulletproof Coffee, and according to the recipe you have to make it with special low-toxin coffee beans that the inventor sells for $26 a pound.

Well, maybe. Hot buttered drinks aren’t that unusual; Tibetans drink tea with butter. But the recipe sounds like a pain in the ass — coffee, boiling water, blender, and so on.  But let’s apply a little thought here.  Butter, reasonably enough, is basically 100 percent butterfat, and about 100 kcals a tablespoon. What you’re doing when you run it through a blender with liquid is returning the butterfat to an emulsion — you’re “re-creaming” it. Heavy cream, like whipping cream, is about half butterfat by volume (and 50 kcal per tablespoon).  So it stands to reason that adding heavy cream to coffee would be effectively the same.

So I tried it.  The recipe suggests between 2 and 6 Tsp of butter, so that’s 4 to 12 Tsp of cream — so make it 1/4 to 3/4 cup of cream.  For the last couple of days, I’ve started the day by adding about a quarter cup of cream to a big cup of coffee, adding some Stevia because I’m not thrilled by coffee with cream and no sugar — I usually prefer black — and drinking that first thing.

Okay, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty satisfying; I don’t have any particular hunger until noonish. And from the pure caloric standpoint, it’s got no carbs at all, and only about 200 kcal. As to any other effects, well, it’s only been two days.

When I lived in Europe, I used to go to Paris every so often, and stayed in a little hotel in the 15th arrondissement. Regular French businessman’s hotel, nothing special.  As with most European hotels they served “breakfast”; as with most French hotels, that consisted of a half a baguette, cafe au lait, a big lump of butter, and some jam. (And last night’s baguette at that, so it was a little hard.) You butter a chunk of the bread and dunk it, then eat it and drink the coffee. Now, I would have preferred eggs over easy and bacon, but honestly it was pretty good.

But it occurs to me that this isn’t far away from what we’re talking about: several hundred kcals of butterfat, coffee, and of course some carbs.  Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Collard Greens

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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So I’ve been trying to ramp up the veggies and I like collard greens but it’s a pain to cook them in a big batch. So, I thought, how about the Microwave? The package suggested cooking them for 13 minutes, but I was only cooking half a package, so I tried 6 minutes. They were a little rare.

Then I added a little butter and tried 4 more minutes. You see the results above.

For future reference, collard greens that catch fire aren’t a good choice.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Corned Beef with Cabbage and Turnip Greens

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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I really like my slow cooker, and I really like the week after St Patrick’s Day, when corned beef is suddenly cheap. And I like corned beef and cabbage and don’t even miss the potatoes — which are usually overcooked and watery anyway.

So here was a little bit different approach. Cooked a corned beef round in the slow cooker. Took it out and refrigerated it, as well as the broth. (I also cooked a brisket and sliced that hot. Different meal.)

The next day, I took the fat off the top of the broth, poured a good bit into a wok and rewarmed the corned beef (which I’d sliced after it was cold). Then I added a half head of cabbage and about 4 cups of turnip greens, which I’d sliced into roughly similar sized pieces. I simmered them for about ten minutes. There’s the result.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Burgers and Greens

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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This time I had some leftover greens. Burgers into the George Foreman with about a tablespoon of chopped onions between them. Cook thoroughly.

Look, I like my meat crunchy. Deal with it.

Rewarmed the greens, burgers on top of the greens, grated quesadilla cheese on top.

I’m beginning to like this veggies thing.

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Adventures in Low Carb

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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Continuing the effort to eat more vegetables, I got up this morning and felt ambitious, so I took out a bag of spinach and baby kale. I sauteed the greens with butter and olive oil and two sliced cloves of garlic, added some chopped onions and four beaten eggs, and about 2 Tablespoons of quesadilla cheese, and scrambled them.

This one worked good, but I think turnip greens and eggs are better.

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Making Media Mischief? 40 Products and Books I Recommend For Inspiration

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Today's product post coming shortly...

This year at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to try and increase the number of products that we review. This is version 3 of an ongoing list of the best books and products for self-styled “new media troublemakers.” I’m going to try and publish new versions with more products and photos regularly. I’d say daily but don’t want to over-promise yet. I’ll TRY for daily (Monday-Friday) with more product suggestions and original photos… Have a product you want to see photographed and reviewed in this space? Send me an email: DaveSwindlePJM {@} Gmail.com

Seven Writing and Media Tools I Use Daily

1. Morning reading spot of choice (when Wife hasn’t commandeered it): Sumo Gigantor - reviewed here, and named “The Giant Tribble” for its furry resemblance to a notorious Star Trek villain. It serves as background for many book photos.

2. Tablet of choice: iPad, a tool I use throughout the work day…

3. Tablet case of choice: Snugg - reviewed here. Have a better one I should try?

4. zebra stylus pen - I like having a real pen on one end and a stylus on the other. I need to order ink refills.

5. Moleskine Journal - I strongly recommend writing by hand and this has become my journal of choice over the years.

6. iPhone for taking and uploading photos.

7. Instagram for sharing images quickly.

Two New Books I’m Enjoying Reading Now That I’ll Review More Thoroughly Soon:

What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House by Tevi Troy. #Book that just arrived I am excited to read and review! #history #freedom #America #siberianhusky

8What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted by Tevi Troy

On the reading agenda this morning: Lisa De Pasquale's debut book #FindingMrRighteous

9. Lisa De Pasquale’s debut book Finding Mr. Righteous

Three Of My Favorite New Books I’m Going to Reread and Write More About Soon:

Very excited to finally get to read Glenn Reynolds's brand new book! The New #School How the Information Age Will Save #American #Education from Itself

10. The New School by Glenn Reynolds

Was Islam manufactured just to unify the Arab empire? Politically incorrect questions... #history #religion #war #god #empire #secular

11. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Prof. Ronald Rychlak’s Disinformation 

12. Robert Spencer’s Did Muhammad Exist?

Twelve Library Books on my Mind of Late:

10 books on #art #culture #history #WaltDisney #BillandHillaryClinton and #EVIL on my mind today.

13. No One Left to Lie To By Christopher Hitchens

14. The Wisdom of Maimonides by Edward Hoffman

15. Bill and Hillary: The Politics of the Personal by William H. Chafe

16. Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker

17. Walt Disney’s Fantasia by John Culhane

18. Walt Disney’s Animated Characters by John Grant

#maura and me Sunday #book reading, jogging, and lunch at the park. Wish Wife was here. #siberianhusky

19. The Hebrew Republic by Eric Nelson

11 books on culture, #art, #poetry personality cults, hate, racism, and #Paganism ancient and modern. Picked up as holds from the library Friday afternoon.

20. Break, Blow Burn by Camille Paglia

21. In Search of Bill Clinton by John Gartner

22. Timothy Leary: A Biography by Robert Greenfield

23. Antisemitism and the American Far Left by Stephen H. Norwood 

"Whenever a person is haughty, the #Divine Presence wails over him." - Maimonides, Commentary on Pirkey Avot quoted in Edward Hoffman's The #Wisdom of #maimonides page 46 juxtaposed with cover of Ann Coulter's case against #BillClinton

24. High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton By Ann Coulter

Where to Get the Best Deals on Books? Library Book Sales. For $20.50 I Got These Ten Last Weekend:

Yesterday morning at this month's library #book sale I spent $20.50 and acquired these 10 finds - all hardbacks, ranging in price from 1-2.50 each. #Apple #ForbiddenKnowledge #Film #hate #founders #dog #Jefferson #Washington #Hamilton The wife was disappointed there weren't as many art books this month. Maybe next time...

25. Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate by Neil Baldwin

26. The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

27. George Washington collected writings

28. Thomas Jefferson collected writings

29. Alexander Hamilton collected writings

(I really made off like a bandit with getting these 3 Library of America collections for only $8. Brand new they’re about $75 and even used you’re lucky to get them for under $30 not counting shipping.)

30. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

31. What’s a Dog For? by John Homans

32. Film: An International History of the Medium by Robert Sklar

33. Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography by Roger Shattuck

34. Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative

Six Movie, Music and Talk Radio Recommendations To Have On in the Background While Troublemaking:

What are the 5 best #disney animated films? I am counting down my picks. I have concluded that #Fantasia is the greatest film Disney ever made. Why? I will explain in a future article...

35. Walt Disney’s Fantasia on Blu Ray

I’ve gotten in the habit of just having it on in the background some days while working…

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36. Oceania by the Smashing Pumpkins, which Chris Queen blogged through track by track last year, is still my favorite go-to album when I need to focus and work.

37. Songza for classical music while working and something more energetic while running the Siberian.

38. Early Morning Talk Radio Recommendation: 6 AM-9 AM PST on Am 870 – The Morning Answer with Ben Shapiro, Elisha Krauss, and Brian Whitman

39. Late Morning Talk Radio Recommendation: 9 AM- Noon, The Dennis Prager Show

40. Late Afternoon Talk Radio Recommendation: 3-6 PM The Ben Shapiro Show on KTTH 770

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Maybe you have a product that you’d like to see featured or reviewed? Everything from food to books to tech gadgets and accessories to Giant Tribbles is fair game. And if I’m not the one to review it then another of the PJ Lifestyle contributors might have the expertise. Please contact me: DaveSwindlePJM <@> Gmail.com

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6 Shocking Authors I Seek to Syncretize

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

6 Shocking authors I seek to syncretize together: #robertantonwilson #RobertSpencer #Maimonides #AnnCoulter #camillepaglia and #IonMihaiPacepa The #siberianhusky #maura is eager for her evening run.

Books photographed on the awesome sumo gigantor beanbag…

So when I asked today’s PJ Lifestyle daily question about the best way to read, it was wholly with practical intent. I don’t read one book at a time; I’m always aways into dozens. It’s because my goal for many years now as a writer and editor has been to smash together ideas and thinkers to try to develop new approaches that transcend the stereotypes of Left vs Right, Believer vs Secularist, Liberal vs Conservative.

Here are six very different authors who I focused on last year and will continue dissecting this year to try to find fresh connections. The books of each of them will shock you in totally different ways. I recommend reading them alongside one another.

1. Counterculture intellectual and sci fi novelist Robert Anton Wilson

Page 7 of the introduction to the play Wilhelm Reich in Hell:

#RobertAntonWilson defines scientism and it's soul-smashing consequences on page 7 of the introduction to his play Wilhelm Reich in Hell. #science #dogma #secularism #secular #atheism #god #religion #freedom #history

Page 221 of Volume 2 of Schrodinger’s Cat: The Trick Top Hat

"The real secret is that you're not a member until it's too late to get out." - #robertantonwilson page 221 of Volume 2 of #SchrodingersCat The Trick Top Hat #Illuminati #magick #occult #selftransformation

2. Counter-jihad activist and religious scholar Robert Spencer

Page 139 of Islam Unveiled:

Robert Spencer explains the truth about the Crusades on page 139 of #Islam Unveiled.

Page 63 of Did Muhammad Exist?:

Reminder: #Muhammad is as historical as #MickeyMouse and was invented for the same purpose... #empire. Page 63 of Robert Spencer's Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam's Obscure Origins #religion #history #God #truth #Christianity #atheist #secular

3. Former Soviet Spymaster and Hero Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Was Islam manufactured just to unify the Arab empire? Politically incorrect questions... #history #religion #war #god #empire #secular

Page 207 of Pacepa’s memoir Red Horizons

How #Marxist #criminal tyrants duped the naive liberals in the West with #disinformation and bogus defense figures. An excerpt from page 207 of Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa's mind-blowing memoir #RedHorizons , a book that can transform one's understanding of history. Pacepa is highest ranking defector from the Soviet Union. He was the spymaster for Ceausescu, dictator of Romania. He now lives in the US in hiding with a bounty still on his head, writing books and articles and responding to interviews via email. His understanding of the world is unique and his insights have been important influences as I've developed my book. #history #freedom #Pacepa

4. The #1 Conservative Columnist and Most Provocative Cable News Pundit Ann Coulter

Edward Hoffman’s The Wisdom of Maimonides page 46 juxtaposed with the cover of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton:

"Whenever a person is haughty, the #Divine Presence wails over him." - Maimonides, Commentary on Pirkey Avot quoted in Edward Hoffman's The #Wisdom of #maimonides page 46 juxtaposed with cover of Ann Coulter's case against #BillClinton

Page 56 of High Crimes and Misdemeanors:

A reminder of who #BillClinton, defining icon of #babyboomer liberalism, actually is. Page 56 of High Crimes and Misdemeanors by #AnnCoulter

5. Foundational Thinker of Western Civilization and Jewish Philosopher Maimonides

Page 35 of Hoffman’s The Wisdom of Maimonides:

"Undesirable traits are acquired through association with the wicked." - #maimonides page 35 of Hoffman's The #wisdom of Maimonides

6. Cultural Critic and Literary Theorist Camille Paglia

Page 66 of Sex, Art, and American Culturean essay collection from the early ’90s:

Camille Paglia explains how she differs from the prominent feminists today. Page 66 of Sex, #Art and #American Culture. #feminism #feminist #liberal #conservative #radical

Page xiv from the introduction to Break Blow Burn, Paglia’s analysis of 43 significant poems from Western Civilization:

"Art is a revelation of the interconnectedness of the universe." - Camille Paglia, xiv introduction to Break Blow Burn, her analysis of 43 great, classic #poems of Western Civilization. #art #culture #camillepaglia #Shakespeare #god #sacred

What connections do you see between these various excerpts featured today? And what other authors and books that you like should I add to my studies?

Question this morning: do you believe in angels? #religion #God #mystic #Happiness

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A 13 Weeks Challenge: Say More, Write Less

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

My new weekday morning writing plan. Inspired by friends... #writing #blogging #newmedia #pomodorotimer #organization

Dear Charlie,

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.

[In my case, looking back now, I realize that my consistent, daily blogging stopped on February 3, when learning about Barry Rubin's death. That explains it more than I would've liked.]

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:

  • Morning Pages – I’ll do free writing in my Moleskine journal each morning
  • 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.

How’s that sound?

- David

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13 Weeks: The Problem of Exercise

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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.)

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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?

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5 Steps for Workmonster Project Planning

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

  1. Picked a steno pad to serve as my “inbox”. When I have something I need to do, it gets entered on the steno pad.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

2014-02-15 12.52.41

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.

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How To Make Your Book Cover Step-By-Step

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
witchfindercoverfinal

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:

bloodofdreams

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.

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Creating Covers for your Indie Works – The Tool Box Post

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt

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.

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.

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Let’s Talk Art: How to Create Affordable Covers for Your Indie Book

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt

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.

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Getting Healthy In 13 Weeks

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
You have to know when to leave them wanting more.

You have to know when to leave them wanting more.

In Which The Writer Takes A Curtain Bow.

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.

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What We Owe Rockwell, Orwell and the God of Creation

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

normanRockwell

I met Norman Rockwell in Nashville last week.

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.

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Waltzing with the Workmonster

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m a workaholic.

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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.

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Michelle Obama ♡ Kerry Washington

Saturday, February 1st, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

This is Week 4, day 2 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at DaveSwindlePJM@gmail.com

1. At The Daily Mail: ‘I love Kerry Washington, she’s amazing’: Michelle Obama admits to binge-watching Scandal during her last vacation

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.)

zap-callie-torres-cameron-tucker-and-waylon-sm-019 + picture-23 =

Jarrett and Obama

?

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.”

And don’t forget that Obama has admitted to fantasizing about the suicidal criminal Democrat played by Warren Beatty in Bulworth.

It’s hard to just laugh off the cumulative effective of stories like these when you have news like this:

2.Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler: Report: Malik Obama, the President’s Brother, Funds Hamas

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.

Hamas is a designated terrorist organization by the United States Department of State, and has been since 1997. Hamas’ original foundational charter explicitly called for Israel’s destruction. Hamas continues to insist that it will make no agreements that recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hamas officials were quoted in Arabic-language media last fall saying that “no usurper has any right to a speck of dust” of the territory that Hamas believes belongs to Palestine, which includes all of present-day Israel.

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.

3. Ann Coulter: GOP Crafts Plan to Wreck the Country, Lose Voters

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:

4. Roger L. Simon: A Modest Proposal for Immigration Reform

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.

5. Bridget Johnson Here at PJM: Intel Chairman: White House Must ‘Strongly Confront’ Russia Over Apparent Violation of Nuclear Treaty

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.”

6. Bridget Johnson Here at PJM : Iran Could Have Enough Fuel for Four Bombs by July Under Administration’s Deal

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.”

7. AP, Hat tip AH: US prosecutors seek execution of marathon suspect

Seventeen of 30 charges against Tsarnaev carry the possibility of the death penalty, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

The 20-year-old Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty.

8. Brandon McGinley at Acculturated: How Gawker Promotes Rape Culture

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.

9. Religion News Service: Can atheists be spiritual? Sam Harris reignites long-running debate

Sam Harris, author of books like The End of Faith and one of the so-called “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” has just announced his next book—ressurecting a long-running debate among atheists.

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.

10. Hat tip SLM Goldberg, at The Forward‘SermonSlam’ Teeters on Edge Between Earnest and Cool -Trendy Jewish Spoken Word Hits Brooklyn Synagogue

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.

 

PJ Media Story Round Up

Lead PJM Stories

Bridget Johnson: White House Faced with Increasingly Likely Prospect that Assad Will Violate Deal

Make Employer-Based Insurance Taxable? Surprisingly, the Right Solution

Positive Environmental Report Means Admin Would Need Other Rationale to Kill Keystone

School Testers Earn an F

Claudia Rosett: Her Ladyship Marks Holocaust without Mentioning Jews

Port Authority Official Says Christie Knew About the Lane Closings

Alexander, Scott Unveil Bills to Redirect Funds into School Choice

PJTV’s Trifecta on ‘Executive Lawlessness: Obama’s Weapons of Political Intimidation’ (Video)

VIDEO: What Constitutes Reasonable Definitions of Lawlessness, Dictatorship, and Tyranny?

PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page

Where Does the Left vs. Right Fight Come From?

Obama’s Great Jewish Conspiracy That Isn’t

Strength vs. Endurance: Why You Are Wasting Your Time in the Gym

pjlifestyle

New at PJ Lifestyle

Saturday

8 Ways to Fight Morning Sickness

The 12 Best San Fernando Valley Sunrises From January 2014

Friday

In the Role of Lex Luthor… Jesse Eisenberg?

Feathered Friday: If You’ve Never Met a Kakariki, You Should

Cute Animal Video: ‘Little Puppet Made of Pine, Awake. The Gift of Life is Thine.’

Book Plug Friday: Girl Genius Vs. Tor

Music for My Dad’s Guitar

Where Does the Left vs. Right Fight Come From?

The Enemy in the Classroom

2 Mysterious Shots of the Sunrise in the San Fernando Valley This Morning

Thursday

A Florida Sunset For Your Birthday

Boycott, Divestment & ScarJo: Pop Culture Questions #BDS

Why Would Someone in Colorado Keep Buying Weed Illegally?

Disney Parks From The Air Over The Years

How Not to Turn Into The Shining This Winter

Obama Plays SOTU Lip Service to Equality

Wednesday

How Could Google Become More Evil?

Dallas Buyers Club Could’ve Used More Hollywood

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N.Y. Congressman Tells Capitol Reporter ‘I’ll Break You in Half’

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From PJM’s Colordado Editor, Vodkapundit Stephen Green,

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Arrivederci, American Dream

It Takes a Potemkin Village

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Andrea Mitchell: Iran Really Dug the US Until W.

Just NBC the Hack Work

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‘Sugaring’: The Sad Way Some Students Use Sex to Escape Debt at My Alma Mater

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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This is Week 4, day 1 of my new 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media that crosses my path each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at DaveSwindlePJM@gmail.com

1. From the publication where a decade ago I wrote op/ed columns and movie reviews as an undergrad: Ball State students get close for cash

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 Dreamis 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.

2. Via Conservative Videos and hat tip to SLM Goldberg: Kirsten Powers: Being A Democrat ‘Was My Religion’ Before Christian Conversion

3. Victor Davis Hanson here at PJM: Eating Our Young

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.

 4. Jared Sichel at The Jewish Journal: Holocaust in North Korea

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.

5. Jeremy Boreing at Truth Revolt: Gay Marriage at the Grammys: All Art is Propaganda

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.

6. Michael Ledeen here at PJM: Hey Stupid! It’s Not About Nukes, It’s About Life and Death

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.

7. Ed Driscoll here at PJM: The Evil of Banality

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.”

8. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler: Hillary Wants to Get Benghazi Out of the Way

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.

9. Glenn Reynolds at USA TodayHow Americans can kill Obamacare, legalize pot: Column

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?”

10. Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler: Could Obamacare Become a Generational Problem for Democrats?

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.

Reading of the Day, from Ann Coulter’s Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obamapage 94:

BAD IDEAS MEAN MORE MURDER. (Or: Why I am not a #Democrat or #progressive anymore.) excerpt from page 94 of #AnnCoulter book Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the 70s to #obama

PJ Media Story Round Up

Lead PJM Stories

Time for South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal to Retire

State of the Union Guests Range from Obama’s DREAMers to Benghazi Dad

Is the Prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza Politically Motivated?

What Do the Oscar Nominations Tell Us?

PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page

Robert Spencer: The Hypocrisy of the Huffington Post’s Praise of Muhammad

Chris Queen: Are Obama’s Economic Policy Failures Part of a Strategy?

P. David Hornik: The Ten Worst U.S. Purveyors of Antisemitism, #3: Thomas Friedman

 

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Hillsdale Professor Dr. Terrence Moore: Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls

Feminism: A Rich White Girl’s Game

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6 Sunrises to Start the Last Week of January

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The Hypocrisy of the Huffington Post’s Praise of Muhammad

The Religion of Beatlemania Still Going Strong

The Ten Worst U.S. Purveyors of Antisemitism, #3: Thomas Friedman

You’re Not As Happy As You Think You Are

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VIDEO: Obama’s Nominee to be Ambassador to China Admits that He Is No Expert on China

Karzai Blames US for Recent Terror Attacks in Afghanistan

A ‘Pattern of Abuse’ — PJ’s J. Christian Adams on Fox’s The Kelly File

You Won’t Believe the Reasons that This Colorado Man Continues to Buy Marijuana Illegally

Hillary Clinton, Superhero, Icon and Example to All Women Everywhere, Hasn’t Driven a Car in Nearly 20 Years?

Sen. Ted Cruz: Obama Should Apologize to the Five Million Americans Who’ve Lost Their Healthcare Because of Obamacare

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Google Buys DeepMind, Aquiring More Potential to Be Evil

In Case You Were Wondering, Yes, the Republicans are Dumb Enough to Wreck Their 2014 Advantage

After Scott Walker’s Reforms, Government Union Having Trouble Skimming Tax Dollars to Help Democrats

19 Senate Democrats Join Fight to Force Hobby Lobby to Pay for Abortifacient Drugs

From PJM’s Washington D.C. Editor Bridget Johnson

Pick the Official GOP SOTU Response, the Official Tea Party One, the Unofficial Tea Party One

Rubio Holds POTUS-Style Meetings with Heads of State on Weeklong Asia Trip

Schumer Bill Would Offer Tracking Devices to Caregivers of Those with Autism

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Washington Learned About Potential Suicide Bombers on the Loose from Media Reports

Senate Dems Filing Brief at Supreme Court Against Hobby Lobby’s Position

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From PJM’s Colordado Editor, Vodkapundit Stephen Green,

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As Seen on Twitter

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Did We Just Become a Third World Country?

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day [PM Edition]

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The Fastest Hunk of Junk in the Indian Subcontinent

An Open Letter

Hello Iran, Goodbye Syria

A ‘Do-Nothing Congress’? That’s a Compliment!

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From PJM’s San Jose Editor, Ed Driscoll

Pete Seeger’s Totalitarian Trifecta

What Could Go Wrong?

Abuse Their Illusions

Obama: Promises Made, Promises Kept

25 Years After the Fact, MSM Finally Condemns Al Gore’s Kristallnacht NY Times Op-Ed

Almond Killjoy

Republicans Ate Their Wheaties This Morning

Today it's time to break free. #sunrise in #socal

*****

image courtesy shutterstock / Viktor1

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How to Track Your Workmonster

Sunday, January 26th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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[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
  • Order fountain pen cartridges
  • Order Schneider Xpress pens from Amazon. (They’re great pens by the way)
  • Re-read the Google testing book

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.)

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13 Weeks: Misunderstanding Obesity

Sunday, January 26th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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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.

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Want to Kill The Dragon That Ate Your Dreams and Your Socks?

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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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.

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