» Badass
  
Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

5 Reasons Why Big Hero 6 Belongs Among The Pantheon Of Disney Classics

Saturday, March 7th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

BH6_Team_Transparent

WARNING: this post contains plot spoilers! If you haven’t seen Big Hero 6, go watch it – RIGHT NOW! – and then come back to read this.

I recently watched Disney’s latest Oscar-winning animated feature Big Hero 6 for the first (and second) time. I loved the film so much that I watched it twice in less than 24 hours. The story of Hiro Hamada, his robot buddy Baymax, and their college pals who become unwitting superheroes surprised me in so many ways that I believe Big Hero 6 deserves a place among the classics of Disney animation, and here are a few reasons why.

nofwfwqlhhgo68adftlf

5. Big Hero 6 contains some of the most appealing characters Disney has introduced in a long time.

Over nearly a century, Disney has brought us some memorable and wonderful characters, and though the Big Hero 6 originated in the Marvel universe, the characters in the film Big Hero 6 wind up being some of the best Disney characters in recent memory.

Hiro takes many character tropes – the young teen, the plucky orphan, the prodigious genius – and overcomes them with his sense of wonder at the world around him. Tadashi’s selfless nature manifests itself beautifully in his love for his brother, and Aunt Cass is both high-strung and grounded as guardian of her nephews.

Hiro and Tadashi’s friends are terrific characters in their own right. Go-Go counters her surface misanthropy by revealing her heart at just the right times, while Honey Lemon breaks through a vapid exterior with intellect and concern for others. Wasabi’s quirky neuroses belie a maturity that drives him, while Fred proves he’s more than just an apparent stoner ne’er-do-well.

And then there’s Baymax, my personal favorite. His robotic deadpan turns out to be the perfect delivery for some of the movie’s best lines (what he mines from a simple “oh no” is worth its weight in gold). Baymax proves that artificial intelligence can generate genuine heart.

YouTube Preview Image

4. The self-esteem message in Big Hero 6 contains more substance than anything else in our culture today.

Nowadays pop culture tends to send the same message to young people – embrace your weirdness, let your freak flag fly. It seems like films, music, and television tell our kids that unless they’re an oddball in some way they’ll never fit it.

Big Hero 6 conveys a self-esteem message that runs counter to current pop culture: the notion that everyone has talents and ways that they can make the world a better place. Sure, the Big Hero 6 are weird, but their value lies not in embracing their weirdness but in the skills and knowledge they possess (or, to paraphrase Tadashi, their big brains). That’s a message that carries more substance than the freak flag ever will.

YouTube Preview Image

3. Big Hero 6 appeals to boys better than most of Disney’s prior attempts.

Let’s face it: Disney’s animated output has been princess-centric since the beginning, and it seems like the studio has upped the ante since discovering the princesses’ marketing power a few years back. Disney has attempted to appeal directly to boys over the years, but for various reasons, those attempts haven’t really stuck long term.

As wonderful as The Sword In The Stone is, it has never ranked among the classics with long-term staying power. The Black Cauldron? Nope, too dark. Unfortunately, Aladdin has had to suffer the “Princess Movie” label, despite the fact that the protagonist and titular character is a guy. The Lion King is one of the rare Disney “boy movies” that rank among the classics, and I firmly believe Big Hero 6 will join that short list.

Big Hero 6 is the total package for a guy’s movie: edge-of-the-seat action, high and low comedy, and a heroes-versus-villains tension (even if the villain’s evil is driven by family revenge). The movie balances these elements with the right amount of heart, as well as including sly jokes that parents can laugh along with. I feel strongly that the film has the kind of staying power that will resist changing trends and attitudes, despite it’s current cutting-edge style.

big-hero-six-e1415145924663

2. There are elements of countercultural conservatism in Big Hero 6.

Whether the filmmakers intended them or not, we can find threads in Big Hero 6 that suggest countercultural conservative themes. I’ve already discussed the unique (and positive) message of self-esteem we see in the film. We also see evidence of the value of hard work and perseverance when Baymax shows Hiro the footage of Tadashi working on his prized robot.

In spite of his off-the-charts intelligence (the kid graduated high school at 13, for crying out loud!), Hiro must work hard to produce a unique invention to ensure his admission into the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology’s robotics program. He even receives in invitation to work with the billionaire industrialist Alistair Krei as a result of his presentation.

The most interesting countercultural conservative thread runs through the villain story. When Alistair Krei approaches Hiro after his robotics presentation, the earnest Professor Callaghan decries Krei as a selfish robber baron. Yet the villain turns out to be Callaghan, and Krei is his target. It’s also worth noting that, with Krei’s obvious success, his major failure is the government-sponsored teleportation project.

YouTube Preview Image

1. Big Hero 6 conveys a message about innovation that would make Walt himself proud.

One underlying – and possibly intentional – lesson from Big Hero 6 has to do with innovation, and the movie delivers it in a way that would make Walt and his inner circle proud.

For starters, the competition which results in Hiro’s admission to SFIT is one where prospective students seek to create truly innovative robotics applications, and Hiro wins over both Krei and Professor Callaghan with his microbots. But the kicker is Tadashi’s encouragment to Hiro which leads to his invention of the microbots.

When Hiro hits a dead end in coming up with ideas for the competition, Tadashi gives his younger brother advice in an unusual way:

Tadashi: Hey, I’m not giving up on you.

[Tadashi grabs Hiro by the ankles and hangs him upside-down over his shoulders. He begins jumping around the room, with Hiro flopping behind him.]

Hiro: Ahhǃ What are you doing?

Tadashi: Shake things up! Use that big brain of yours to think your way out!

Hiro: What?

Tadashi: Look for a new angle.

[Hiro groans and decides to humor Tadashi. He looks around the room from a new angle and spots Megabot. He gets an idea.]

Tadashi’s advice would make Walt proud and even reads like a page out of The Imagineering Way. Hiro dishes it out when the team runs up against trouble in their battle against Callaghan. He tells the team, “Listen up! Use those big brains of yours to think your way around the problem! Look for a new angle!”

And while we’re at it, let’s consider the coolest innovation of all – Baymax. Tadashi set out to help people, and in doing so he created the ultimate innovation in health care, one that didn’t require massive federal bureaucracy.

I’m telling you, Walt would be proud.

*******

Please join the discussion on TwitterThe essay above is the twelfth in volume 2 of the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. Want to contribute? Check out the articles below, reach out, and lets brainstorm: @DaveSwindle

Volume II

  1. Frank J. Fleming on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek 
  2. Aaron C. Smith on February 26, 2015: What Is the Future of Superheroes? Why They Need To Start Killing Super-Villains
  3. Mark Ellis on February 26, 2016: What Is the Future of Gen-X Manhood? Adam Carolla Vs Chuck Palahniuk?
  4. David S. Bernstein on February 26, 2015: What is the Future of Fiction? You’ll Be Shocked Who’s Fighting the New Conservative Counter-Culture
  5. Aaron C. Smith on March 2, 2015: The House Loses: Why Season 3 of House of Cards Utterly Disappoints
  6. Michael Walsh on March 2: What the Left Doesn’t Get About Robert A. Heinlein
  7. Frank J. Fleming on March 3: 8 Frank Rules For How Not to Tweet
  8. Susan L.M. Goldberg on March 4: 7 Reasons Why Backstrom Is Perfect Counter-Culture Conservative TV
  9. Frank J. Fleming on March 5: What Is the Future of Religion?
  10. Aaron C. Smith on March 5: The Future of Religion: Why Judeo-Christian Values Are More Important Than Science
  11. Spencer Klavan on March 5: Not Religion’s Future: ISIS and the Art of Destruction

See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014 – Starting the Discussion…

January 2015 – Volume I

February 2015

Read bullet | Comments »

Net Neutrality: 3 Reasons It’s Time for the Ron Swanson Internet Warriors to Fight Back

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Nathan Lichtman

“I enjoy government functions like I enjoy getting kicked in the nuggets by a steel toed boot.” So sayeth the mustachioed libertarian prophet of Parks and Recreation.

It cannot be a coincidence that net neutrality passed the FCC and that Ron Swanson’s character was aired for the last time, within a week. I mean, the universe plays some funny jokes on us from time to time… but this is too much!

Ron Swanson instilled a healthy distrust of government in everyone who watched NBC’s sitcom. He liked doing nothing to advance the government bureaucracy (that he worked for), because he recognized that government, more often than not, gets in the way.

But the very week the final episode of this wildly successful show was on the tube, already people across the nation are assuming that “net neutrality” is a thing to be celebrated. The Daily Dot even ran a story with the subtitle “Victory.”

So let me explain why I’m bashing the “net neutrality” thing that just passed the FCC in a landmark vote:

First, the FCC is the same group that will let you call someone a “bitch” or an “asshole” on the air, but God forbid you say the word “s**t.”

Aside from the stupidity of what constitutes a George Carlin “bad word,” let’s just register the fact that the FCC already regulates speech. Unless you have a HAM radio license (like I do), the only time you’ve ever heard of the FCC before is when they’ve fined a television network or radio station for saying a “bad word.” So my first objection is that, inevitably, the FCC will decide what the bad things to say on the internet are, and regulate them. Censorship—it’s what they do.

Secondly, I want people to embrace their Ron Swanson-ness (a term which he would probably dislike).

The articles I’ve read that are pro-”neutrality” claim that the greedy internet companies need regulation. That otherwise they will place heavy rates on the consumer, or charge companies for faster service. So shady. But, what is the largest and greediest company in the world? That’s right, Ron Swanson Jr., it’s the U.S. government. They have a monopoly on everything they do, and they inherently do things with the goal of taking more power and tax money for themselves — especially for an unelected body like the FCC. So why would we trust the government to oversee corporations?

And finally, the idea behind this new regulation is to make the internet into a public utility.

Public utilities are the worst. At least in internet and cable, I have had competition when choosing my plans. I could get my television from DirecTV or Time Warner, and I could get my internet from several entities as well. I made my choice because of the speeds to price ratio. And I chose to pay a little more to get higher internet speeds. I do not have the same choice with water and power. In my community, it’s a public utility — the same public utility that fines me if I take a “too-long” shower, that charges me extra to use a dryer at 9pm, that posts billboards all around telling people to not wash their cars or water their lawns. So what’s next? Well, “We have a drought of internet speeds because too many people are watching Netflix, so we are going to have to ask you to only use the streaming services you’ve paid for between the hours of 6am to 8am”?

Under the label “neutral,” the FCC board has created anything but. Please, everyone, embrace you inner Swanson-ality (a term he’d like even less) and stop posting this #NetNeutrality thing like it’s good. It will spell the end of freedom of speech as we know it, and I’m not hyperbolizing.

Sorry, Leslie Knope.

Read bullet | Comments »

What Is the Future of Government? Why It Won’t Look Like Star Trek

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

Imagine it’s the future. You have your jet pack, your laser gun, your robot butler, your much smaller or much bigger phone (I don’t really get what direction phones are going right now). The music of kids these days is awful beyond all human comprehension. No one celebrates Earth Day anymore because we’ve found much better planets more worth celebrating and live on those. So do you see yourself there, in the future? Now I want you to answer one question: What does your tax bill look like?

That’s my question today: What is the future of government? Hi, I’m Frank J. Fleming. You might remember me from a bunch of political humor writing and a great peace plan that involves nuking only one natural satellite, but now I’m also a science fiction author. Liberty Island has published my first novel, Superego, which is a heartwarming story about a genetically engineered psychotic hitman who accidentally becomes a hero, falls in love, and, of course, kills lots of people. My intention in writing the novel was for it to be a fun action-adventure, but I explore a lot of themes in the novel that seem worth discussing. And one of the themes is what could happen to government in the future.

Now, anyone who knows how to use a calculator does not predict a great future for the U.S. government, but I’m not talking about specific governments here (like whether a thousand years from now there will still inexplicably be a Canada). I’m talking about the nature of government in general and how that might evolve.

When you think of a future government, probably the first thing that pops into your mind is the Federation in Star Trek. Another might be the Empire from Star Wars, but I said we’re talking about government in the future, and the Empire is from a long time ago. Anyway, the Federation is a more left-wing, highly organized type of government. And what do all the ships in the Federation have? Phasers and proton torpedos — because if you’re going to go around the galaxy telling people what to do, you’re going to need them.

The Federation reflects a problem with our current model of government and why it might not last into the future. That’s because it’s still based on a rather primitive notion: I’m bigger than you, so you have to do what I say. The first government was probably the largest guy in the tribe ruthlessly enforcing the rule that no one could make fun of his fancy leader hat, and then things escalated from there.  In a way, government is a more civilized way of putting a gun to someone’s head to make them do something — whether those edicts come from a democratically elected government or a single guy with a fancy leader hat. The reason most people obey laws — even really asinine ones — is that they know the government is big and can hurt them if they don’t. We don’t see something like passing a tax on cigarettes as a violent act, but that’s what Eric Garner got killed over. If the government is interested in enforcing a law, it will have to resort to using violence if someone does not comply. And the progressive vision of the future of government is that we will be threatened with violence over more and more things, like if we don’t buy health insurance or if our soda is too large.

In Superego, man has spread out to countless planets and interacts with numerous other sentient species, all with their own laws and customs. There are also spaceships that allow nearly instantaneous travel across the galaxy, which means someone could commit a crime on one planet and quickly get to some place where the government has no jurisdiction. The scope of the universe’s population has basically gotten too big for a traditional centralized government, meaning government can’t enforce much and thus becomes rather feckless — like a space Europe. This leaves a vacuum that is filled by ruthless criminal syndicates — organizations that don’t worry about borders or jurisdiction and rule wherever they’re strong enough to enforce their will. Which leads to an interesting side question about government: How is an organization like a mafia different from a traditional government, if at all?

So that’s what I see: Government just won’t work in the future. Eventually the scope of humanity (and perhaps alien-ity) will get so big that governments will either become irrelevant or will have to become extremely ruthless to keep enforcing their will. And, anyway, is our vision of the future really that the only way people can live together is if we have this big entity threatening us with fines and imprisonment over millions and millions of different things? Instead I think our future  — at least the one we should aim for — is using our advances in technology and our knowledge to find more ways people can work together voluntarily. We’ll always need punishments for theft and violence, but perhaps we can find ways to work together and provide for the poor and needy without all the threats over non-violent actions, such as how we choose to run our own lives or our own businesses. It does seem like a nicer, more peaceful future than our current arc.

So along with my rocket ships and genetically engineered miniature T. rex, I see little to no tax bill at all.

What do you think is the future of government?

Join the discussion on Twitter. And submit your answer to Frank’s question for publication at PJ Lifestyle: DaveSwindlePJM [AT] Gmail.com

*****

The essay above is the beginning of the second volume in the cultural discussions between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island exploring the history of counter-cultures, the future of conservatism and the role of new, emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the first volume of articles from 2014 and January and February 2015 below:

2014

January 2015

February 2015

Read bullet | 43 Comments »

Lord Reptile’s Top 5 Apocalypse Movies

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 - by Jeremy Swindle

You’re reading the concluding post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terrorby James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.

5. Mortal Kombat

If the apocalypse means having my skull smashed open on the rocks by Goro while Napalm Death plays then count me in. After all, Reptile is just Shang Tsung’s humble bodyguard for swatting down mortal weaklings in this film. The Reptile can take a few body slams with no problem.

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with the Mortal Kombat video games’ plot it shouldn’t matter. The movie involves a brutal tournament between the mortals of Earthrealm and Shang Tsung’s flunkies of Outworld. If Earth’s warriors lose the 10th tournament, the emperor Shao Khan becomes the ruler of Earthrealm.

I’m not going to spoil the ending but it should be fairly obvious that a certain Shaolin monk by the name of Louis Kang lays the smack down on the evil sorcerer and reappears for the sequel, Annihilation. This is the only proper MK film. Don’t bother with any others.

Mortal Kombat is a fine apocalyptic movie for parties or any situation.

Read bullet | Comments »

Wouldn’t You Like To Be a Prepper Too?

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

MtRedoubtedit1

You’re reading a post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.

People who go overboard to prepare for disaster scenarios are easy targets. I think back to 1999 during the whole Y2K scare, when the pastor of our church at the time held a seminar about what to stock up on when all the computers failed on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. I’ll never forget grown men arguing over who had the bigger food stash. My own personal stash consisted of two cans of green beans, and those cans helped me survive the crisis of what to serve with pork chops one day in January 2000.

National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers series brought the eccentricities of modern disaster preppers to light in an entertaining way, showing us what some otherwise normal Americans do to prepare for “when the s*** hits the fan,” as so many of them were apt to say. These folks could have been your neighbors, except unlike you they were also worried about implausible scenarios like the super-volcano underneath Yellowstone Park erupting and throwing New York City into chaos. We’re talking about people who make plans to live off bathtub water or stockpile liquor to use as barter — people whose endearing wackiness packs a perverse fascination.

But the reality is that we do have genuine threats to worry about and ways to prepare for the worst without going off the deep end. That’s the point national that security expert and my PJ Lifestyle colleague James Jay Carafano, PhD makes in his brand new book Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age Of Terror. Nowhere in this book will you find advice on how to create the ideal liquor stockpile or how to “bug out” to the wilderness, and you won’t read about an eruption at Yellowstone Park. What you will find is sober-minded advice on how to prepare for real, plausible scenarios that threaten the American way of life.

Quarantine
Carafano writes not with a Chicken Little doomsday mentality but with an eye toward clear thinking and calm judgment in a crisis (and with just the right amount of humor). His solutions are not over the top or prohibitively expensive — rather, his ideas only require reasonable amounts of time and money. Most simply put, Carafano drills down his philosophy of preparedness to health, faith, family, and education.

In Surving the End, Carafano looks at five distinct threats: epidemic disease, nuclear explosions, terrorism in its may forms, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses), and cyber attacks. While each of these scenarios carry their own scariness, they’re all quite real and carry their own far-reaching consequences. With each threat, Carafano examines the potential danger and fallout (no pun intended) and looks at practical and reasonable ways to ensure safety and long-term survival in each situation.

One theme that emerges throughout the book is that we should be proactive as families and communities to prepare for the worst, rather than relying on the federal government to help us out in a crisis. While he admits that Uncle Sam does provide some good resources and gets responses right once in a while, Carafano goes to great lengths to point out the failure of federal authorities when both sides are in charge. Glaring recent examples like Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima nuclear disaster stand alongside historical records like the 1918 Swine Flu epidemic to warn all of us that governments rarely have the answers in a crisis.

cyber_attack
Carafano’s recommendations in the book are always practical and doable. Some of them require investments of time and money, of course, but so do most worthwhile pursuits. Nothing the author suggests requires the odd leaps of faith that eccentric preppers promote. The fact that Carafano recommends so many well-researched and sensible responses to worst-case scenarios lends a genuine credibility to his writing. Surviving the End is no doomsday manual — it’s a guidebook for practical preparedness.

When all is said and done, Carafano has brought a new attitude to the arena of disaster prep — neither the quasi-Biblical urgency of a Glenn Beck nor the smug fatalism of reality show preppers, but a common-sense, can-do approach to readiness. And in the end, Carafano encourages us to realize that being sensibly prepared is the American way.

This guide has given you the best there is to offer of simple, practical, useful measures you can take to keep your loved ones safe. But there is another important message in the guide as well. We all will survive better if we pull together – not as mindless lemmings following Washington, but as free Americans who fight together for the future of freedom.

As terrible as the terrors we have talked about here are, they are no worse than the suffering at Valley Forge, the slaughter of Gettysburg, the crushing Great Depression, the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, or the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This generation of Americans is every bit as capable of besting the worst life has to offer. If we do that together, our odds are more than even.

You know, he’s right. I really only had to read this book for the sake of this review, but I’ve already begun making a list of things I want to do to become more prepared (including getting in shape — as if I needed another reason to remind me), and I’ll recommend that my loved ones do the same. For this kind of sober-minded preparation boils down to common sense, plain and simple.

Carafano suggests that we all become preppers, and if we take the advice we read in Surviving the End, we can do so. We won’t turn into the kind of weirdos who are ready to off the pets and high tail it out to the wilderness or move to a bunker with more canned food than a Super Walmart “when the s*** hits the fan,” but we’ll be the kind of people who embody the robust, enterprising American spirit that has made our nation so great. And we’ll do our part to help ensure that America survives just as much as our families survive.

Learn more about the inspiration for Disaster Week by downloading Surviving the End on the PJ Store today, and make sure your family is prepared.

Read bullet | 22 Comments »

Learning Israel-Style Self-Defense and Practical Fighting Skills

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

515fou34qgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I am re-reading the book Krav Maga: How to Defend Yourself Against Armed Assault as I went back to a private lesson last week. I took Krav Maga lessons about six years ago and decided that I needed a refresher course. For those of you who do not know what Krav Maga is, from the book I mentioned:

Krav Maga is today’s cutting edge self-defense and hand to hand combat system. Initially developed by Grandmaster Imi Sde-Or (Lichtenfeld) for the Israel Defense Forces and other national security services, Krav Maga has been thoroughly adapted to meet civilan needs. The method was designed so that ordinary citizens, young and old, men and women alike, can successfully use it, regardless of their physical strength. This is the first and only authorized comprehensive manual on the Krav Maga discipline, written by its founder, Imi Sde-Or, and his senior disciple and follower, Eyal Yanilove. This volume especially focuses on the various facets of dealing with an assailant armed with a sharp-edged weapon, a blunt object, or a firearm.

One of the tips the book mentions is to avoid injury. Apparently, I can’t follow that rule as I came home with a boxer’s contusion on my right hand. I remember when I took Taekwondo, I broke my fingers twice. I was in grad school at the time and decided it wasn’t worth risking not being able to write and left the classes after three years (the karate classes, not the grad school, though the risk of getting an expensive degree that wouldn’t pan out was certainly up for debate).

Read bullet | Comments »

5 Articles That Reveal How Badass The Iliad Really Is

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

Editor’s Note: This series first ran from August 25 through September 22, 2014. It’s part of a developing body of work in which Spencer Klavan makes classical history and myth come alive with vivid descriptions based on his own translations and comparisons to modern day culture and events.

1. The 10 Goriest Deaths in the Iliad

2. The 5 Most Epic Scenes in The Iliad (And What They Say About Heroism)

3. The NFL Borrows from the Iliad’s Playbook: Ray Rice and Achilles

4. Why Everyone Isn’t Special, as Told by the Iliad

5. The 5 Most Underrated Heroes of the Iliad (and their Battle Stats)

Read bullet | Comments »

15 Tricks and Tips for Getting the Most Out of College

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

15. Everything you know about the social stratosphere is wrong…

College is nothing like high school. You understand this in theory, but have never experienced the kind of social freedom you will in college. There are no cliques. There is no lunch table. Welcome to the world of being an adult. For the first couple of weeks you’ll attend pre-arranged mixers, usually orientation events or annoying team-building activities your RA spent all summer training to lead. These awkward moments are helpful for one reason: Discovering who has a car. As a freshman, be aware that the parties you crash at frat houses aren’t for making friends, they’re for getting drunk and hooking up. You’ve been warned.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Star Spangled Banner Fantasy

Friday, July 4th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

Read bullet | Comments »

11 Star-Spangled Super Women

Friday, July 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

11. Wonder Woman

Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth.  Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.

Read bullet | Comments »

Untold War Stories: My Family’s Secret Agent

Monday, May 26th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

John Phillip Sousa on 33 1/3 blasts from the Hi-Fi — yes, you heard right, “Hi-Fi” —  conducted by my flag-waving Grandfather, proudly standing at attention at 8 o’clock in the morning in the doorway of his open garage, wondering why it took us so long to get there. We may have been at the shore, but Memorial Day was not about a barbecue on the beach.

My grandparents lived down the street from my Great Uncle and Aunt. My Grandfather idolized my Great Uncle (his brother), naming his only son after his brother who had spent World War II as a gunner on a Navy ship in the Pacific. Having broken his back before the war, my Grandfather wasn’t able to get into the military during the conflict. Instead, he busied himself crafting knives to send to his buddies overseas (yes, they censored letters, but allowed knives to be carried through V-Mail) with the instructions “leave them in the enemy’s guts and I’ll make you a new one when you get home.”

My grandfather also played a key role in the war effort, one that goes overlooked when we take the time to honor the troops on Memorial Day. Recruited by the FBI in 1940, my grandfather and his father played a key role in the creation of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, the largest shell and bomb loading facility in operation during the war.

In the autumn of 1940, when a fairly isolationist population still dismissed the idea of entering into Europe’s conflict, my grandfather was pulled out of his job as a tool and die maker by two fairly typical FBI mugs. They strapped secret plans for a military facility, designed by Day & Zimmermann, Co., to his body and handed him a train ticket and a gun with the instructions, “Don’t be afraid to use it.” At the age of 23, my grandfather was the perfect cover: “If anyone asks, you’re on your way out west to go to college.” His job was simple: Escort his father, recruited by the government for his skills as a tool and die maker, to San Francisco to convene with a number of highly skilled Americans engaged to prepare America for war.

Read bullet | Comments »

10 of Walter Hudson’s Greatest Hits

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

 

Editor’s Note: For years now Walter Hudson has been a perpetual inspiration and a joy to edit. His articles, lists, blog posts, and now podcasts dance across the fault lines of politics, culture, and religion with an always encouraging sense of optimism and clarity. See this compilation today here of his most recent podcasts: Ready For An Argument? 15 of Walter Hudson’s Fightin’ Words Podcasts Not To Miss. Also follow him on Twitter here. For more of of his work check out this collection of PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013, which includes several more Hudson hits. This selection of 10 articles here showcases some of Walter’s most popular and engaging pieces. Please consider adding Walter to your list of #ReadEverythingTheyWrite writers. He’s been on mine for some time now…

Dave Swindle

1. March 2, 2012:

American Immaturity: How We Grow Up After We Grow Old

2. May 9, 2013:

Walter Hudson’s Guide For Making Peace Between Christians and Objectivists

3. April 18, 2013:

The Anti-Gospel of Bioshock Infinite 

4. July 17, 2012:

Eight Ways Blacks Perpetuate Racism and the Only Way to Thwart It

5. July 6, 2013:

The Red Placebo: Confessions of a Former Conspiracy Dabbler

6. July 13, 2013:

Folly of the Jedi

7. January 29, 2013:

Five Ideas You Need to Rise From Poverty to the Middle Class

8. January 31, 2012

Hunkered Between Santorum and Paul Lies Peace Through Total War

9. September 2, 2013:

Six Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

10. March 7, 2013:

Five Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

Read bullet | Comments »

5 Reasons to Book a Non-Stop Ticket

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by John Boot

non_stop_poster-620x356

Liam Neeson is back in fine form with an old-school whodunnit packaged as an action thriller, Non-Stop. Fans of the over-the-top action style of Taken may wish it had more stunts and less Agatha Christie, but it’s a solid piece of entertainment. Here are five reasons it works:

1) The setup is grabby.

Neeson plays a down-at-heel federal air marshal with a bad attitude and a drinking problem (he takes a belt of whiskey before getting on the plane, then tries to order a gin and tonic when he’s on it) but a kindly way with children. It turns out he’s harboring one of those routine Deep Dark Movie Secrets, but his backstory does both make him easy to identify with and mark him with a possible red flag when, in the middle of a flight halfway across the Atlantic, he starts getting text messages informing him that someone on the plane is going to die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is wired into a specified bank account.

When people do indeed start dying — though none in a way that can be definitely tied to terrorism — air marshal Bill Marks discovers that security people on the ground have reason to believe he is the one hijacking the plane, for his own profit.

Read bullet | 19 Comments »

A Big Toy For Grown-Up Boys

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Tonka F-150

The 2014 Chicago Auto Show offers the largest selection of production and concept vehicles of any auto show in the country. Like every other auto maker, Ford is serving up some exciting vehicles, including a reimagined 2015 F-150. But the absolute coolest truck at Ford’s show space in Chicago is bound to bring out the little boy in all of us guys: the Ford Tonka F-150.

Based on an F-150 Lariat powered by a 5.0-liter V8, it gets mechanical upgrades that include a six-inch Pro-Comp lift kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a Quiet Tone exhaust system. That’s all well and good, but this truck is all about the style, and it has plenty of that.

It features chunky new bumpers, side cladding, step bars, and a redesigned tailgate all embossed with the Tonka logo; stainless steel billet steel inserts on the grille openings; fender vents;  and to top it all off a bulging ram-air hood that’s just short of being cartoony. More Tonka logos are applied to the interior, and the bed is finished with a hard tonneau cover and heavy-duty carpeting.

The Tonka F-150 is available in any color as long as it’s yellow, because anything else would just be wrong. Prices vary by participating dealer, but the conversion listed on the show truck is $22,282 on top of the $50,078 truck it’s built on for a grand total of $72,360.

Ford is collaborating with Tuscany Motors to produce a limited run of 500 Tonka F-150s. The companies produced a handful of the trucks in 2013, and the response to them led to this year’s new run. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but if you can afford to relive your childhood in the coolest possible way, wouldn’t you?

Read bullet | Comments »

10 Reasons Why Camille Paglia Is the Champion of the Feminist Right

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

paglia1

She is an unabashed liberal. In a culture increasingly governed by Marxist Nomenklatura masking itself as “liberal”, conservatives should be bold enough to reclaim that much maligned political descriptor as one of our own. We are, after all, the ideological descendants of classical liberals, making the outspoken once Liberal Democrat, now Libertarian Camille Paglia the perfect match for contemporary politically conservative feminists.

Can’t possibly imagine the lady who, even when she smiles, gives you a look that says, “I know you’re full of s**t,” could possibly fit in the ranks of the right wing? Here are 10 reasons why you need to throw out the stereotypical baby with your lukewarm bathwater thinking and get hot for the fast-talking, heavy thinking, pop culture-loving Camille Paglia.

10. Paglia embraces the idea of electing public leaders with military experience.

“The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

9. Paglia is Pro-Individual, Pro-Manual Trade, Pro-Free Market.

“We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter [manual trades] without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

8. Paglia is Pro-Capitalist and Anti-Socialist.

“…it is capitalism that ended the stranglehold of the hereditary aristocracies, raised the standard of living for most of the world and enabled the emancipation of women. The routine defamation of capitalism by armchair leftists in academe and the mainstream media has cut young artists and thinkers off from the authentic cultural energies of our time.”

“In my view, comparing the evidence of the 20th century, that socialism in a nation ultimately does lead to economic stagnation and eventually of the creative impulse, in terms of new technology and other things.”

Read bullet | Comments »

Will Volkswagen Make The Beetle Cool Again?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

02-vw-beetle-dune-concept-detroit-1

My first car was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle, a semi-automatic in a sort of blue I called “electric powder blue” (clearly not a factory color). It was far from the perfect car – the heat ran constantly, so I had to disconnect it during warmer months and reconnect it when the weather turned cold. The parking brake didn’t work, so I had to carry a chock block with me everywhere I went. When it finally died, it left me stranded on a pretty remote stretch of Highway 78, and I had to hitchhike to the nearest pay phone. But it was a Beetle, and I was proud of that car and look back on it fondly even now.

When Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle in 1997, the company brought out a car that was funky and fun, but it just didn’t exude the same cool as the original Beetle that became an institution. (I honestly thought the car was a bit girly.) The 2011 reintroduction came closer, but it still wasn’t the same.

Now it looks like Volkswagen may be ready to make the Beetle cool again. This week VW has unveiled a concept car they’re calling the “Beetle Dune.”

VW calls the Beetle Dune Concept a “Baja Bug for the 21st century”.  Of course, real Baja bugs were heavily modified rear-wheel-drive Type 1 Beetles, fortified for desert racing in Mexico’s Baja California. The front-wheel-drive Dune Concept is an aesthetic statement only, with no desert-strafing aspirations.

The car on the show stand wears a desert-hued paint VW calls Arizona – a yellow-orange metallic – with matte-finished two-part fender cladding on the wheel arches intended to convey a bolder stance than the base Beetle musters. The larger, 19in wheels have increased offset to visually fill the fender openings and push the wheels to the corners of the car, while a custom raised hood and rear spoiler that doubles as a ski rack round out the appearance changes. The Dune does sit two inches higher than the 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line, on which the concept car was based.

Unsurprisingly, VW says the Dune “looks production ready”, since it is basically an appearance package, but the overt hint suggests a production version may come along.

Doesn’t that car just scream “badass”? The Beetle Dune looks muscular, edgy, and much less feminine than the late 90s Beetles, yet it retains that distinctive funkiness that’s always been appealing. This is a new Beetle I could get excited about, and I bet plenty of other Beetle enthusiasts could too.

Read bullet | Comments »

Book Review: The Forest of Assassins by David Forsmark and Timothy Imholt

Monday, January 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

The Forest Of Assassins

I have a confession to make: I know far too little about the Vietnam War. My dad served in the Air Force in Libya in the mid 60s, so I don’t have any firsthand accounts of what life was like during the war, and I’m aware of enough to know that most of the films and TV specials I’ve seen were produced from a certain point of view. So, when I received the opportunity to review the new novel The Forest of Assassins by my PJM colleague David Forsmark and Dr. Timothy Imholt, I jumped at the chance to learn something new while enjoying a different kind of literary experience.

The year is 1964. The war in Vietnam is in its infancy, and the top secret Navy SEAL program is new enough that hardly anyone serving there has heard of it. Lieutenant Hank Dillon commands a unit of the elite SEALs in a dangerous area known as the “Forest of Assassins.” Dillon and his men trust each other with their lives, and Dillon believes he knows who else he can trust. We follow Dillon and his team from mission to mission, each one with increasing complexity and precision and greater danger. Dillon leads his men admirably and heroically, but inwardly he expresses his fear for their safety and his worry about the future of the Vietnamese people for whom they are fighting.

I know it sounds like a cliche, but as I read The Forest of Assassins, I felt like I was right there in the jungles of Southeast Asia with Dillon and his men. The violence and bloodshed are vivid and memorable, yet rarely gruesome. The authors’ attention to detail adds so much to the story, and their depiction of life in country kept the plot from feeling like battle after battle after battle.

Read bullet | Comments »

The Most Controversial Voice Ever in in the History of Recorded Music, Steve Taylor, is Back. And He’d Better Behave. (UPDATE)

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Since I gave up hope of ever expecting to hear from Steve Taylor again, I felt a lot better. Because I blame Steve Taylor for pretty much everything.

Sure, I could blame myself for picking up his Meltdown record back in 1984. That was a fateful choice. But I was a kid. How was I to know how damaging that record would turn out to be?

Steve Taylor was already controversial back then. He had debuted in 1983 with a mini-LP (that was a thing in the 1980s, Google it), I Want to be a Clone, that made an awful lot of people mad at him. They had every right to be. In “Bad Rap” he seethed “You save the whales/You save the seals/You save whatever’s cute and squeals/But you kill that thing that’s in the womb/Would not want no baby boom.” Green Peace denounced it, but they couldn’t deny it. In the title song, he mocked “Be a clone and kiss conviction good night/Clone-liness is next to Godliness, right?/I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way/To serve Him on my own?/I want to be a clone!”

Then he did it again, in “I Manipulate.” There was pretty much no one and no issue that Steve Taylor wouldn’t write about. He’s arrogant like that.

To a 14-year-old Christian, Taylor’s mix of art, humor, rebellion, truth and nasal vocals was just too much to resist. “We Don’t Need No Colour Code” beat up on Bob Jones before it was a mainstream thing. The haunting “Hero” took the nice-boy notion of being something more than another corporate type and turned it all on its head. “Meltdown” burned the rich and famous long before the Kardashians showed up to beg for every thinking person’s derision.

Then, there was this hideous cover photo on CCM. It set the magazine publishing industry back 10 years. The music industry almost never recovered.

taylor-cover

Steve Taylor taught me that it was possible to be right with God and still have a healthy skepticism for those who claimed to speak for Him, and that it was possible to make a difference in one way or another. What a jerk. I’d probably be rich and own a Gulfstream if not for him.

Taylor’s entire career is littered with wickedness. He ripped amoral state-run education in “Lifeboat” decades before CSCOPE and Common Core showed up. He tore up celebrity cults in “Jim Morrison’s Grave.” Then he got lost in “Sock Heaven.” I followed him the whole time, and even saw him wear a bizarre confetti suit in concert once. But it’s all his fault.

The reason I started caring about issues more than just having a regular job? At least partly Steve Taylor’s fault. The reason I started wanting more from the artists I support than just a good back-beat I can badly dance to? Also partly Steve Taylor’s fault. My collection of Flannery O’ Connor books? His fault too. Have fun Googling that one. The two years I wasted in the Hindu Kush searching for the perfect backup band? Totally Steve Taylor’s fault. The money I blew on yodeling lessons because he made the Swiss mountain call rock star cool? Absolutely, 100% Steve Taylor’s fault. I’ll never forgive him. Neither will anyone who’s ever heard me yodel.

So now he’s at it again. After 20 years of producing hits like “Kiss Me” with Sixpence None the Richer, being the shadowy hand behind the Newsboys (yep, they’re both his fault) and making movies, Taylor is going to inflict himself on the music world again. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ll be right there with him. I’m already backing his next album on Kickstarter. I can’t help myself. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t join in. But I’m living proof that people who like Steve Taylor never seem to know what’s good for them.

Update: I’m not sure yet who deserves the most blame, but they’ve made their goal. There WILL BE another Steve Taylor album.

Read bullet | Comments »

We Should All Be The Dude

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 - by Jon Bishop

Everyone should try to emulate The Dude, the main character from the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski. He’s a loyal friend. He’s adventurous. He puts others above himself. He’s virtuous.

And he is sustained by community.

Some might say, “But isn’t The Dude unemployed?” Well, yes. But viewers of the film will notice that Jeffrey Lebowski, the rich man who shares The Dude’s name, is successful, famous, powerful — and alone. Slacker Lebowski, who admits that he keeps busy with Krameresque odd jobs, is living a more human life than his counterpart.

And that’s why studying The Dude can help us combat the problems of our modern world.

We’re living in a paradox. We’re connected — perhaps more so than ever before — but we also, by choice or not, spend much of our time alone. The family continues to disintegrate. We maintain friendships through Facebook and the phone, but we recoil when we meet someone new. We prefer to stay attached to our devices, because they can help us avoid the awkwardness of genuine interaction.

And this is not a new problem. Many of us are trapped by romantic notions of individualism, forgetting that human beings are defined by their friendships and associations. I should know. Since graduation, I’ve worked as a freelance writer. And I’ve spent much of my time plopped on my couch, typing away on the laptop. Sometimes, during the day, my only interaction with others can come from social media.

It’s something I must stop.

I need to get out during the day — whether that means I go get coffee and introduce myself to someone new, head into the city and catch a show, or go to the mall. Anything will help. After all, stories come from lived experience. Locking yourself away and expecting to pen the next brilliant novel or essay or poem is crazy — which is why so many of the Romantic-era literati literally went insane.

But it’s not just me. Too many of us prefer to spend the evening locked inside, racking up the points on Candy Crush or clicking away on Tumblr or zoning out on Netflix. But why not head out with friends to a bar and drink until you’re giddy and then step outside and watch the stars shine as you stumble toward a cab? Why not get a group together and go hiking in the early morning so you can hear the birds sing and see the sun spill a kaleidoscope of colors across the sky as it makes its way higher, higher?

Why not go bowling?

The Dude abides.

thedude

Read bullet | Comments »

The Silver Bullet to Kill Conspiracism

Friday, November 1st, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

*Language Warning*

This is Week 4 of Season 3 in my new 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and the news cycle’s most interesting headlines.

Just because someone embraces a conspiracy theory it does not mean they are by nature a paranoid conspiracist across the board. I think veteran Republican political operative Roger Stone falls into this category. Normally he writes about men’s fashion and what a horrible person Eliot Spitzer is — subjects I very much appreciate. I also share his enthusiasm for the spirit — if not the policies and morals of — Richard Nixon. It’s tremendously badass that Stone got Nixon’s face tattooed on his back. I think if I ever had a Hangover-style escapade in Las Vegas and woke up with a tattoo it would be something comparable. Though I’d want Nixon’s immortal quote, the most badass ever uttered by a President, accompanying it:

So does that statement also apply to the vice President too?

Stone has a new book out this month with a surprising subject that he wrote about today at PJ Lifestyle: his thesis that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was orchestrated by Lyndon Johnson and the CIA.

I decided to publish Stone’s review comparing the new Kennedy movie with his LBJ-centric theory in order to provide a third perspective, the one I’ve come to embrace, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa’s.

How can we tell who was really behind Kennedy’s assassination? Maybe we should look at who was doing the most work to blame Johnson, the CIA, and right-wing American nationalists while obscuring Lee Harvey Oswald’s and Jack Ruby’s Communist connections.

I’ll just let Pacepa and his co-author Professor Ronald Rychlak tell the rest of the story. For the convenience of others in rebutting this Communist conspiracy theory, I’ve decided to make the excerpts a single image. Feel free to share these valuable, hidden facts and do read Disinformation to learn much, much more that will transform how you understand history, culture, and politics:PacepaJFK

*****

See my previous link-round up from this week, of stories outside PJM: The 21 Most Evil News Stories from October

******

PJ Media Story Round Up

PJM Stories Thursday and Friday

Roger L. Simon: God, Lies, and Obama

Which bounces us back to the first factor — that religiously based moral code. Moral codes are almost all religiously based, even to agnostics, and Obama is not immune to this. These codes are imbued in early childhood, by the family and environment.

I suspect that Obama’s core belief — his key religious value, if you will — is an American form of taqiyya — the Muslim dictate that it is permissible to lie to non-believers for the preservation of Islam. He believes in left-wing taqiyya. (Ironically,taqiyya is largely Shiite and Obama wishes to negotiate with Shiite Iran, masters of the lie.)

Now I do not think for a second that Obama is a Muslim any more than I think he is a Christian. He is a typical postmodern agnostic who only goes to church — and then rarely — for political purposes. But he grew up in the Islamic world in the midst of the psychological climate of taqiyya, with preservation of the group taking precedence over even the hint of democracy. And that climate harmonized completely with his other influences — anti-imperialism augmented by Alinksyite methods, themselves anti-democratic.

He never had a moral basis for honesty. Lying, from the Choom Gang through Reverend Wright and beyond, was his lifestyle. And he had the consolation that he was lying for a better good. No one ever told him otherwise. If that goes on for long enough, you lose contact with truth. It becomes almost a non-existent phenomenon, an irrelevancy.

David Solway: Only a God Can Save Us Now

Rodrigo Sermeno: Changes in Security Clearance System Coming After Navy Yard Shooting, Snowden

Bill Straub: Budget Talks Open: Sequestration Likely to Go, Entitlement Reform Faces Uphill Climb

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa: Lenin, Stalin, Ceausescu, Obama: How Marxist Leaders Conceal Their Pasts

No, glasnost is not a misprint or a typo. During the years I was at the top of the KGB community, glasnost was the code name for an ultra-secret intelligence tool of the KGB’s ultra-secret black “science” of dezinformatsiya. Its task was to transform the country into a monument to its leader, and to portray that leader as god himself.

Every glasnost I have ever known had the overriding task of concealing a ruler’s past by giving him a new political identity. Stalin’s glasnost concealed his horrific assassination of some 24 million people by portraying him as an earthly god, with his icon prominently displayed all around the country. Khrushchev’s glasnost was aimed at building a peaceful international façade for the man who shifted the KGB’s political assassinations over to the West. That was proved by the West German Supreme Court in October 1962, during the public trial of Bogdan Stashinsky, a KGB officer who had been decorated by Khrushchev himself for having assassinated Soviet enemies living in the West.[vii] Gorbachev, who had been a KGB informant when he was studying at Moscow State University,[viii] tasked his glasnost to lead attention away from his KGB past by portraying him as a magician who displayed a flirtatious “Miss KGB” to Western correspondents and pledged to transform the Soviet Union into a “Marxist society of free people.”[ix]

In 2008, when Senator Obama was running for president, his tax policies and voting records showed him as “the hardest-left candidate ever nominated for president of the United States.”[x] Remember? Running as a socialist, however, meant sailing in uncharted waters, and the senator decided to conceal his socialist image by presenting himself as a contemporary Reagan.[xi] After he was elected, President Obama further portrayed himself either as a present-day Lincoln[xii] or a new Teddy Roosevelt.[xiii]

Bridget Johnson: Paul Resolution Demands to Know Why NSA Spied on Pope Francis

Bryan Preston: The Emmanuel Goldstein-ing of Ted Cruz

Jack Dunphy: A Cop’s Worst Nightmare

More links on the next page…

Read bullet | Comments »

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse in a Hardware Store

Thursday, October 31st, 2013 - by Builder Bob

*Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment and exercising-your-inner-MacGyver purposes only.  The weapons in this article are potentially dangerous and should only be used on the living dead or surplus pumpkins.*

All

I have an obsession with everything Zombie-related. I love The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead – hell, I think I’m the only one who liked World War Z (I’ve always wanted a Macro zombie movie that focuses on the global ramifications of a worldwide outbreak instead of focusing on a small group of survivors). Now I know that there is no likelihood of the dead reanimating, but I think it’s a great mental exercise to prepare yourself for a disaster situation. On slow days at work I often wonder what I would do if a zombie outbreak occurred at work and I was stuck with only my bug-out bag and pistol that I leave secured in my car, while the heavy artillery is locked in a safe at home 35 miles away.

So you’ve survived the initial outbreak and are looking for a secure location to hole up for awhile and ride out the worst of it.  You find a hardware store that is defensible, probably close to a grocery and drug store, and chock-full of goodies to aid in your survival. The only problem is that uncreative looters have taken the most apparent weapons: machetes, hatchets, crowbars, and hammers. But you haven’t survived this long without some ingenuity. It’s time to build up an arsenal for you and your small band of post-apocalyptic warriors.

Steel Bar Stock Machete

A machete is a great tool for dismembering the undead hordes. While this homemade version may not be as graceful as Michonne’s katana, it will definitely get the job done

Supplies: 24″ x 2″ x 1/8″ piece of steel bar stock, Angle grinder or metal file,  Dremel with metal grinding cone, jigsaw or hacksaw with a metal cutting blade, honing stone,  5gal paint stir stick, duct tape, black spray paint

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

How to Build the World’s Manliest Paper Towel Holder…

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Builder Bob

When I start a new project I often dive in head first and make a big mess in the process. Paint splatters, sawdust, motor oil, spilled glue, calf’s blood, dismembered limbs–you know the usual workshop messes. So after I’m done digging wells and building hospitals for the underprivileged in Africa, I need a bunch of paper towels to clean up the aftermath of my construction destruction.

Sure I could just buy a cheap plastic paper towel holder for my workshop and  be done with it, or I could build an everlasting testament of testosterone for my man cave. Using 3/4″ iron pipe and some rust preventative you can build a beefy bar for your towels that will one day be discovered by future archeologist, inspire them to power down their construction bots, rediscover their masculinity, build something awesome, and stop making babies in the lab and start making them the old fashion way, thus reintroducing genetic diversity to the world and saving the future of mankind.

So for the sake of humanity I need everyone to to build their own beacon of badassery, to ensure they are found for future generations.  Here’s how you do it.

Supplies Needed:

Supplies

Supplies

Instructions:

1. The first step is to secure the fender washers to the end cap and base so the paper towels don’t move around or slide off the bar.  I used a combination of E6000 automotive glue–which works great on metal–on the contact surface of the washer and cap. Then I wrapped a bead of JB weld epoxy putty around the outside. The last step is overkill for the amount of stress put on this project, but hey, if you’re building something to survive the apocalypse why not?  Make sure you clean any glue over run out of the pipe threads before it has a chance to set, otherwise you will have a hard time fitting the pieces together later. Clamp the parts overnight to let the glue and epoxy cure fully.

2. I advise coating the iron pipe with a protective finish to prevent rust. Either a clear acrylic finish or rust-inhibiting spray paint (black is the only acceptable manly color). Tape off the thread areas of the pipe before you spray or it could interfere with joining the pieces.

Read bullet | Comments »

How to Be a Kick-Ass Female Customer at an Auto Repair Shop

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 - by Becky Graebner
f62f92d63dc9c2f27f6f2d3bce5041d8

No More “Woe is Me! I Paid too Much!”

I got a text from a friend last week regarding her Volkswagen Jetta: “Why is my oil change going to cost me $98?!”

My reply: “Look it up.”

I never did find out why my friend’s Jetta was quoted for a $98 oil change, but her surprise at the high quote did remind me of an article I read in The Atlantic a few months ago.  This article touched on a study that showed women are sometimes overcharged by auto repair shops.  Apparently, most repair shops believe women know less about cars and repairs and, if they are not proven wrong (by the female customer), they will charge the lady more.

Was my friend getting ripped off because she was female? Perhaps–but also, maybe not.

Obviously, not all repair shops overcharge (women OR men), so don’t get me wrong that I’m hating on my buddies at Pennzoil.  However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re being treated fairly whenever you’re out and about—and especially when you’re taking care of an expensive purchase like a car.  It pays to be informed and to be bold — literally.

Here are some tips:

Own that Auto Shop

Women who defy stereotype come out ahead. — The Atlantic

You’re the customer and you’re in charge of the transaction.  If you don’t like what Business X is telling you, you have the option of leaving and trying your luck someplace else.  When you walk into that waiting room or pull into that garage bay, own it.  You’re here because you want to tune up your car. Don’t act meek. You’re in charge.  Be friendly and strike up a conversation with your attendant.  It doesn’t hurt to make the transaction personal.  If you’re relaxed and friendly, they’re more likely to like you—and probably less likely to tack on an additional $15 to your bill because of your gender or lack of know-how.

Case in point: Whenever I go to into a Jiffy Lube or Pennzoil, I always like to hang out in the garage while they do the tune-up or oil change.  (Not only do I get to see exactly what they are doing–I find it interesting–but I also like chatting.)  The workers don’t usually mind–and I think they like giving me the blow-by-blow account of my car’s tune-up.  By being engaged, I come off as informed and less likely to fall for any suggested, unnecessary repairs/parts replacement.

Read bullet | 28 Comments »

Waiter, There’s a Government in My Beer!

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Government officials -- proceed with care!  We had an entire revolution over tea!

Government officials — proceed with care! We had an entire revolution over tea!

Now this just turns this small-l libertarian into a raging uppercase Libertarian.

The shutdown theater has blocked our veterans from their monuments, allowed thuggish park rangers to terrorize visitors to Yellowstone, and even caused park rangers to block lanes of a highway to stop people from pulling over to look at Mount Rushmore.

But enough is enough and this is going too far!

According to the Washington Times:

The government agency in charge of approving new breweries, recipes and labels is on furlough, leaving in limbo the ability of suds-makers to get their brews on store shelves.

And that means beer connoisseurs who like to constantly try out new samples may have to make do with the presently approved stocks.

“My dream, this is six years in the making, is to open this brewery,” said Mike Brenner, a beer maker who was hoping to open his brewery business in Milwaukee by December, The Washington Post reported. But that’s all on hold because of the government shutdown — and the delay may cost him big, to the tune of about $8,000 each month.

“I can’t get started because people are fighting over this or that in Washington,” he said. “This is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.”

The agency in charge of processing his application is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

In my more radical moments, I’ve been known to agitate for the abolition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (You only think that no good arguments can be made for that. And you can only think that if you believe that only the government saves us from individual larceny and dishonesty. And, as my colleague, fellow Baen author Michael Z. Williamson, is fond of saying, that name should belong to a convenience store, not a federal bureau.)

It’s not something we normally make a big point of, though, because it takes too long to explain.

But now they’ve gone too far. They’re delaying the beer!

I have two observations: government involvement in beer regulation is a bridge too far, and if you believe that government regulation of beer is essential, you certainly cannot consider it a non-essential service.

Either way, it’s time to get the government out of our beer!

Read bullet | 11 Comments »