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The Battle Against Israel’s Orthodox Patriarchy

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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I didn’t fully appreciate how spiritually free I am as an American woman until I set foot on an El Al plane.

“Do you speak Hebrew?” the fretting woman in front of me asked.

“No, not really.”

“It’s okay, I speak English,” she hurriedly replied, obviously looking for a friendly face. “These Orthodox,” she motioned to the people sitting next to her, “they don’t like sitting next to women.”

“Well, that’s their problem.” My response was pointed, matter-of-fact, American.

She smiled as if a light bulb went off in her head. “You’re right!” Her expression grew cloudy. “But what if I take off my sweater? They won’t like that I expose my shoulders with my tank top.”

Again, I simply replied, “That’s their problem.”

She smiled, empowered. Removing her sweater, she took her seat and stood her ground.

And at that moment I thanked God I was raised in pluralistic America, and realized, oddly enough, that the Holy Land was giving me my first chance to practice the Biblical feminism I’ve preached.

Israel is a Western nation in that women have equal rights by law. Israel is also a confluence of religious and ethnic cultural attitudes, not all of which are friendly to women. Two days into our trip to Jerusalem, a family member who also happens to be a retired journalist explained the latest story to hit the nightly news. A man accused of spousal abuse was released to return home. Later that evening, police found his wife had been shot dead. The husband confessed to the murder. Apparently, domestic violence and death is a relatively small but significant problem in Israel. When I asked my former journalist why, he pointed to the influence of Middle Eastern (both Arabic and radical Islamic) patriarchal culture as the primary source.

Yet, even religious Jews in Israel (and around the world), despite their insular nature, are far from immune to sexual abuse. Sex scandals among the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) show up frequently on the evening news. In this case it’s not the Arab/Muslim influence, but perverted behaviors that arise from Rabbinic abuse of Biblical teachings. How do you expect a man to relate to a woman sexually when he’s not even allowed to look her in the eye?

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Hand to Mouth Accidentally Confirms Stereotypes About Poverty

Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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I put off writing this for as long as I could.

I told myself I still had the same headache I had yesterday.

And hey, there’s an Auction Hunter marathon on, and…

Then the irony hit me:

This had been my idea, to write a response to Hand to Mouthauthor Linda Tirado’s viral internet “Why I’m poor” post-turned-book.

And that one of the reasons I’m not poor anymore is because I work even when I don’t feel like it, and it feels like a summer day even though it’s the end of September, and…

So here goes:

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The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II

Friday, September 19th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Click here to start reading Part I of this list-letter to the CEO of Liberty Island with ideas for his team of creative counter-culture writers drawn from my years practicing “pop culture polytheism,” the worship of the images in mass media today.

Dear Adam Bellow,

As this series of films continues I’ll expand the opening index to include links to each of the films that have come before it. Here are links to the first titles I discussed, establishing the paradigm of celebrating both mainstream, big budget films and also more obscure titles that more traditionally conjure up the idea of counter-culture:

50. Disinformation: The Complete Series

49. Maybe Logic: The Lives and Ideas of Robert Anton Wilson

48. Yellow Submarine 

47. Dark City

46. By Brakhage, An Anthology: Window Water Baby Moving

45. Dog Star Man

44. Mothlight

43. The Dante Quartet

42. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

41. The Two Towers

40. Return of the King

39. Dick

38. The Avengers

37. Watchmen

I was nervous when publishing the first installment of this series, knowing that I was leaping off into the unknown again and certainly not going as detailed as I’ll need to when explaining these ideas in my book someday. A few commenters pushed back, with criticisms I anticipated — too long, all over the place, titles insufficiently “counter-culture” — and that are partially justified:

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How do I defend such a broad understanding of “counter-culture” that the term can include both experimental shorts with moth wings taped to the film and hundred-million-dollar blockbusters? The fourth title from my list of ”23 Books for Counter-Culture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards” remains my favorite definition and general history:

 

4. Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House by Ken Goffman and Dan Joy

Publication Date: September 13, 2005
Official Description:

As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. At times it moves deep below the surface of things, a stealth mode of being all but invisible to the dominant paradigm; at other times it’s in plain sight, challenging the status quo; and at still other times it erupts in a fiery burst of creative–or destructive–energy to change the world forever.

But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history’s great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.

Countercultural pundit and cyberguru R. U. Sirius brilliantly sets the record straight in this colorful, anecdotal, and wide-ranging study based on ideas developed by the late Timothy Leary with Dan Joy. With a distinctive mix of scholarly erudition and gonzo passion, Sirius and Joy identify the distinguishing characteristics of countercultures, delving into history and myth to establish beyond doubt that, for all their surface differences, countercultures share important underlying principles: individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and a belief in the possibility of personal and social transformation.

Ranging from the Socratic counterculture of ancient Athens and the outsider movements of Judaism, which left indelible marks on Western culture, to the Taoist, Sufi, and Zen Buddhist countercultures, which were equally influential in the East, to the famous countercultural moments of the last century–Paris in the twenties, Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, Tropicalismo, women’s liberation, punk rock–to the cutting-edge countercultures of the twenty-first century, which combine science, art, music, technology, politics, and religion in astonishing (and sometimes disturbing) new ways, Counterculture Through the Ages is an indispensable guidebook to where we’ve been . . . and where we’re going.

Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:

The key insight in reconciling counterculture and conservatism comes when we define the term historically, beyond just the caricature of the 60s hippie counterculture.

A counterculture is just any group of people who choose to reject some aspect of a dominant culture and then live peacefully in opposition to it. The Jews were a counterculture. So were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. So were the Christians in ancient Rome. So were the Pilgrims. And the Transcendentalists. And the Mormons.

Counterculture Through the Ages presents an alternative way of understanding the West: what if “Western Civilization” was actually just the compilation of all the best countercultural ideas that worked? What if Western Civilization wasn’t really about places or people or things but about a process to understand ourselves, one another, and our purpose in the world? And how do we figure out what that purpose is?

So yes, I admit it — my list was a mess, and so it shall be going forward. (I can only un-messify Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson and their basis in Kabbalah and Tarot so much! Learning how to jump from mess to mess is kind of the point. God hides in the spaces between the letters and in the connections between the cards, in the invisible gap between my mind and yours.) Counter-culture is messy — it’s a big muck mixing and gurgling together. But that’s no excuse. I’ll employ the new media tool highlighted in the last segment in an effort to cut down on the word count in this and future installments. Here’s a basic start, as I’ve progressed through writing the list I’ve begun exploring new ways to utilize Instagram, Hyperlapse and other tools:

(I will try to improve the handwriting in future hyperlapses. Over the course of this list I experiment with a number of different configurations improving on that early one. I think for the next round I’ll pick up a white board and dry erase markers…)

In trying to define Western Civilization in broad we have to confront that WE are a mess. Americanism, the idea of the West — we are a mess of conflicting ethnic, religious, and philosophical traditions all crammed together.

But we must overcome our primitive tribal nature. Unfortunately some of film’s most glorified filmmakers rose to prominence through glamorizing and glorifying their tribal identity, building whole careers on mythologizing their tribe, obscuring the ugly truth of their primitive ideologies. The next three titles on the list are by filmmakers I once idolized, though now look at with skepticism. However, each still has a film in their canon that runs counter to their usual output and offer useful lessons for counter-culture crusaders.

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‘They Were Teenage Boys, and Their Alleged Assailants Were Female Employees Tasked With Looking Out For Their Well-Being.’

Saturday, September 6th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Slate:

So, what has been going on at Woodland Hills? A 2010 investigation by the Tennessean found a series of allegations that had gone largely uninvestigated and unpunished by authorities. One of the facilities’ kitchen employees, the newspaper discovered, had reportedly given a 17-year-old boy chlamydia, and later lived with a different male juvenile who she had been accused of abusing while he was in the facility. The woman was cleared in four separate state investigations despite failing a lie detector test. She was ultimately convicted only after she turned herself in to police. In another case uncovered by the paper, a different female guard went on to marry a former inmate after he was released from the facility. The woman kept her job even after her marriage came to light.

Such incidents are sadly common inside our juvenile justice system. In the most recent federal survey of detained juveniles, nearly 8 percent of respondents reported being sexually victimized by a staff member at least once in the previous 12 months. For those who reported being abused, two things proved overwhelmingly true, as they were in Woodland Hills: They were teenage boys, and their alleged assailants were female employees tasked with looking out for their well-being. Nine in 10 of those who reported being victimized were males reporting incidents with female staff. Women, meanwhile, typically make up less than half of a juvenile facility’s staff….

The attitude that these boys bear some blame, however small, is dangerous in a vacuum. It’s downright reckless when we know that 90 percent of reported incidents involve male juveniles and female guards. “That minimizing of a serious crime is really contributing to the crisis,” says Stannow, “and we are talking about a crisis here.”

The common theme with most woman on boy sex seems to be that whether the teen is being abused in a juvenile facility or is a 14-year-old forced to pay child support to the grown woman who committed statutory rape against him, somehow he is always to blame.

****

image via shutterstock / Gts

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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.

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10 Ways to Have a Child on the Cheap

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

Raising kids these days isn’t cheap. New calculations from the USDA estimate that for the average family in America, it costs $245,340 to raise a baby. Parents will tell you many things about raising kids — that it’s exhausting, life-affirming, fun and often overwhelming — but they will never tell you it’s cheap. Even the most careful savers won’t make it off easy, but with some flexibility and an eye on your bottom line, it’s possible to minimize the cost of having a baby in your house tremendously. Here’s where to begin:

Celebrating #worldbreastfeedingweek with this picture of nursing my babe a few weeks ago at a rest stop in Upstate NY.

(Photo: Author breastfeeding at a reststop on a road trip with my daughter)

1. Breastfeed and minimize formula purchasing

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or fun, but few can deny that it can save big bucks in formula costs. Babies need either breastmilk or formula for the first year of life, and formula costs can really add up over time. If your baby has a sensitive stomach, specialized formulas can cost even more. I’m a big breastfeeding advocate, as I’ve written previously here at PJ Media, and cost is a big reason why. Because I breastfeed, I have fewer costs associated with feeding my baby, no formula and fewer bottles, and no bottled water.

If you’ve found a brand of formula you like, ask for free samples and coupons from friends, your pediatrician and from the companies themselves. While I exclusively breastfeed, I like to keep a canister around our apartment in case I get hit by a bus. I asked my pediatrician, who gave me several, and I also wrote messages on social media to several formula companies, who also gave me free samples. Keeping formula in the house is a known “booby-trap,” which is what breastfeeding activists have indicated can get in the way of a healthy and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship. Despite this, my morbid need to always be prepared led me to keep it in the house regardless. I knew I was determined not to use it, and over ten months into my daughter’s life, I haven’t ever opened a canister.

Pumping can be a chore, and while breastfeeding can save money, that often comes at the cost of a mother’s time, especially if she’s working. Even if full-time pumping isn’t possible, keeping up a woman’s breast-milk supply can minimize formula costs, if it’s impossible to totally eliminate the need to buy formula. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing, and any feeding that can be made with breast milk instead of formula can help save a family money.

Insurance companies and FSAs (I get into that more later in the post…) can also help ease the cost of breastfeeding and pumping. Most insurance companies, as part of their increasingly expensive plans, offer breast pumps to anyone interested in ordering one. Contact your insurance company to see how to go about ordering one through them at no additional cost. Breast pumps aren’t “free”; they have been mandated to be covered by ObamaCare, which has increased insurance premiums across the board. While a breast pump through your insurance company isn’t “free” in the traditional sense, it does come at no cost to the mother. If your insurance company for some reason doesn’t offer a breast pump, or the pumps they do cover aren’t what you’re looking for, look into if your or your husband’s office has an FSA plan available. An FSA can pay for many costs related to childrearing, including a breast pump and some basic supplies (extra valves, tubing, etc).

If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, there are plenty of resources available to help ease any trouble you may be having. La Leche League is a wonderful resource, and most of the leaders are certified lactation consultants. They can help for free during meetings, and many will come to your house (sometimes at a cost) to help one-on-one. Even if they do charge for their services, getting off on the right foot with breastfeeding from the start, even if it costs several hundred dollars, can save many more hundreds of dollars down the line. The hospital you delivered at should also have nurses and perhaps even a hotline to help you address breastfeeding issues as well. If you do have to pay for a lactation consultant, inquire with your insurance company if they cover it. If not, this is another example of where an FSA can come in handy.

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Beyonce’s 10 Worst, Anti-Woman Songs

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Also check out Leslie Loftis’ analysis of Beyonce’s performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards here.

10. “Bow Down/I Been On”

The Church of Bey has clearly gone to the pop goddess’s head. A critic at New Wave Feminism writes:

Aside from repeatedly yelling “bow down bitches”, the song also contains lyrics such as “I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it , don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches”. Apparently, Beyoncé thought the appropriate response for young women who admired her and looked up to her was to call them misogynistic slurs and demand they genuflect in her presence.

This Bey Anthem doubles as the death knell of the sisterhood.

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Katy Perry Doesn’t Need a Man to Have a Baby

Friday, August 15th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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In “Yes, Katy Perry, Babies Need Daddies,” D.C. McAllister wrote about Katy Perry’s declaration to Rolling Stone that this is 2014 and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. But McAllister just touches the tip of the iceberg on both Perry and children’s need for fathers.

Perry is being more callous to her future child than the typical woman who realizes that she wants a baby, doesn’t happen to have a partner, and, therefore, for her convenience decides that she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. Perry left her marriage to Russell Brand a few short years ago because he was ready to have a baby and she wasn’t. From a piece I did in 2012 on pop rock and the hookup culture:

In her movie Part of Me, Katy Perry addresses her divorce, essentially stating the Love Myth. “I thought to myself, ‘When I find that person that’s going to be my life partner, I won’t ever have to choose [between my partner and my career].”

Before anyone thinks that this is just the silly and self-centered musings of a Hollywood starlet, this notion of easy love that never requires compromise passes for thoughtful feminist discourse these days.

Perry saw her husband’s desire to start a family as trying to force her to slow down her career when she didn’t want to. To be perfectly blunt, she chose her career over her marriage and her future child’s ability to have a father. She doesn’t have the typical excuse that she was unlucky in love and is now hearing the ticks of her biological clock pound in her ears.

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12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?

12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.

“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.

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10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…

Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.

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Reality TV’s 10 Biggest Lies About America

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. Americans are all obese.

From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.

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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.

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13 Jewish Women Who Changed the World

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

13. Bess Myerson

Recognizing a woman who appears to have parlayed her Miss America recognition into a minor-league acting gig may not seem logical, until you realize that Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, paved an uphill path for diversity in the pageant circuit. She was told by one Miss America exec that she ought to change her name to something “more gentile” and refused. Pageant sponsors refused to hire her as a spokeswoman and certain sites with racial restrictions refused to have her visit as Miss America. This was of no consequence to Miss Myerson, who was the first Miss America to win an academic scholarship. The racism she confronted was motivation for a lifetime’s work with organizations like the ADL, NAACP, and Urban League. She would go on to co-found The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and make boundless contributions to the city’s art community. Along with becoming a television personality, Myerson received several presidential appointments in the 1960s and ’70s and would receive two honorary doctorates.

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3 Studies About Fatherhood that Will Shock You (But Shouldn’t)

Sunday, June 15th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Common law, case law, moves slowly. It basically crowd-sources notions of fairness and justice over time and turns them into rules. Normally this works well. But when the assumptions that informed the common law were faulty, then precedent drags positive change.

We can see this happening in child custody arrangements. The precedents set in the 1970s when the divorce rate rose were informed by Freudian attachment-theory studies in the post-war era on orphans, as they were the most commonly found victims of fractured families. As attachment theory developed, psychologists started studying mothers and young children. It seemed a logical first layer of detail to examine given the expectations that women took care of the children while men worked outside the home.

When the divorce rate rose in the ’70s and courts had to start declaring custody arrangements, the experts recommended primary mother care because they didn’t have data for anything else. From a 1992 “Origins of Attachment Theory” paper in Developmental Psychology:

Although we have made progress in examining mother-child attachment, much work needs to be done with respect to studying attachment in the microsystem of family relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Despite studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) that show fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant attachment figures, we still have much to learn regarding father attachment.

Formal studies of children in broken homes didn’t really start until the ’80s when there were children of divorce to study and a fierce need for relevant data. And the father and child arrangements that the data recommend look little like the modern arrangements formed under the inertia of legal precedent.

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Teen Girl Goes Old School (1951) to Get Popular

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Bought the book in the morning. Finished it in the afternoon. Literally could not put it down.

That may sound odd when you learn that I’m a 52-year-old father of four and I’m talking about a nonfiction book written by a geeky teenaged girl about her efforts to become popular. But it’s weirder than that: I actually had to reach for the Kleenex more than a time or two.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekIn Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen, 15, lives and writes an engaging adventure — a social experiment, in which she tries to apply the lessons of “Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide,” which her Dad found in a thrift store. Maya manages to bring precocious insight into the human condition through a fun, often dramatic, personal story.

Did you ever wish you could go back to high school knowing what you do now about human nature? Maya actually does it, but as a middle-schooler willing to test out principles of grooming, attire and attitude tailored for 1951. And she doesn’t update them. She lives out the vintage popularity guide as written.

Maya: Before

Maya Van Wagenen before she wrote (and lived) “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek.”

How could paleolithic advice about makeup, girdles and etiquette survive the onslaught of feminism and political correctness? Quite well actually — surprisingly well. But ultimately, what Maya learns has little to do with superficial attractiveness. It really gets at the core of why some people seem to naturally attract friends, and have more fun, while others live lives of quiet desperation.

It’s easy to understand why this book, out since April 15, has already been optioned for a movie. I hope that the studio realizes that this is much more than a story of teenage angst — that it has broad appeal, and deep meaning.

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Debunking the Jewish Mother Stereotype

Sunday, May 11th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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What is wrong with my children? Why won’t they let me completely immerse myself in their lives?!

Beverly Goldberg, The Goldbergs

Last week, my husband and I fell over laughing at the best line in the entire first season of ABC’s The GoldbergsJust renewed for a second season, the autobiographical series created by Adam F. Goldberg (no relation) features, in his own words, “the orginial sMother” Beverly Goldberg, archetype of Jewish moms the world over. In his comic genius (complemented by Wendi McLendon-Covey’s masterful performance) Goldberg has managed to take a figure much-maligned over the past few decades and craft her into a clan leader who is as lovable as she is obnoxious.  With her ballsy, brash bravado, Beverly is the living, breathing Jewishness in a show otherwise lacking in Jewish culture. For The Goldbergs, Jewish is not about kashrut, holidays or simchas; it is about a mother who smothers her children with equal parts love, confidence, and overprotection.

Thanks to Freud and Friedan, Jewish moms have taken a beating over the past few decades. Friedan used her own mother’s discontent with being a housewife as the impetus for her brutal criticisms of motherhood and housewifery, going so far as to describe the latter using Holocaust imagery. What Friedan failed to note early on was the antisemitic influence on her mother’s behavior. Not only was her educated mother forced to become a housewife the minute she married, she was also the victim of lifelong antisemitic prejudice. This attitude, something internalized by both mother and daughter, would later come out in brute force through Friedan’s feminist critiques of the Jewish mother. It was a position that Friedan would eventually come to regret. According to historian Joyce Antler:

…in later life [Friedan] has joined the modern aspirations of feminism with the popular emblems of her Jewish heritage, understanding that the myth of a controlling, aggressive Jewish mother has been as dangerous to the self-esteem of Jewish women (including her own) as the earlier “feminine mystique” was to all women.

The real-life Beverly Goldberg views her son’s television show as a “validation of everything she’s ever done.” I’d take her observation a step further; I believe Adam F. Goldberg’s seemingly simple, humorous portrayal of “the original sMother”  is a much-needed cultural validation of the Jewish mother figure at large. Beverly Goldberg may not have the zaftig figure of her televisual predecessor Molly, but she has a zaftig heart, one that infuses the kind of family love into a sitcom setting that hasn’t existed since the Huxtables went off the air. In the midst of intense cultural debates on the value and future of motherhood, Beverly Goldberg’s intense devotion, undivided attention, and proclivity for jaws-of-life hugs are refreshing.

Happy sMother’s Day to Jewish moms around the globe. Just please remember to let your kids come up for air once in a while.

bevgoldberglocket

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5 Essential Hacks for Camping with Children

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Camping season approaches, and spending time in the wilderness with your children is a joy but it can be a challenge too. Here are my five essential hacks for making sure the camping experience is a happy one for your family.

1) Bring Lots of Baby Wipes

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If your kids are out of diapers and you don’t think you need baby wipes any more, think again. Baby wipes aren’t just for diaper changes. The cooling, cleansing feel of a baby wipe makes all parts of a camping trip better. We pack three or four containers for each trip. In the morning, use baby wipes to clean faces and hands before breakfast. After breakfast, the tough wipes can clean out pots and pans so the food ends up in your trash bag and not on the ground near your campsite. Swish water in the pans after you’re done and they’re ready for the next meal. During the hot hours of the day, a baby wipe cools and refreshes the skin. At night, baby wipes clean sticky marshmallows off delicate fingers and faces. Which brings me to…

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Matt Walsh Demonstrates Why Christians Need Biblical Feminism

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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In an entry titled, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend” published on his popular Matt Walsh Blog in April, the conservative Christian commentator concluded that Christian “women (and men)” needed to stop identifying with feminism because the movement is essentially all about abortion.

Embracing the stereotypical liberal definition of feminism as a movement dedicated to starting and waging the War on Women, Walsh discussed the feminist fight for equality:

This is a pretty convincing indication that feminism has, at the very least, outlived its good. There is nothing surprising about that, because feminism, unlike Christianity, is a human construct. It’s an ideology. It’s a political theory. It’s a label. It is not eternal, it is not perfect (there’s the understatement of the decade), and it is not indispensable.

Feminism, like ‘liberalism,’ like ‘conservativism,’ like the Republican Party, like the Democrat Party, is a finite thing that exists and serves a certain purpose in a certain set of circumstances. When the times change, and the circumstances change, it will either die or its purpose will change.

Walsh then dug into medieval history, noting that women were given “equal standing” in certain English trade guilds in the Middle Ages, contrary to the following:

“The fact that guilds seldom permitted women to become masters did in the end relegate them to the least-skilled and certainly least-remunerative aspects of the trade”. This statement shows that the fact that women were not openly admitted to the professional guilds led to the downfall of the woman’s status as a worker during this time period. Since “[m]ale masters displayed no eagerness to train young women, and with few or no women recognized as masters, the guilds did contribute to the narrowing opportunity for women”.

Along with neglecting these facts, Walsh also did not note that neither the Christian Church, nor political leaders who identified with Christianity, demanded that equal professional or political rights be given to women (let alone non-Christians) on either side of the Atlantic.

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Are The Childhood Heroes We’ve Created To Blame For America’s Demise?

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Editor’s Note: Check out the previous installments in Rhonda’s series on Ernest Becker’s ideas:

Part 1: What Makes You Human?

Part 2: George Clooney Didn’t ‘Save Puppies from Nazis’ In Monuments Men

Part 3: Is Self-Esteem a Social Construct Or the Soul’s Self-Awareness?

“Once upon a time there lived a little boy name Tom. He was brave, strong and he always obeyed his mommy…” and so each story would begin.

Every afternoon my little hero would meet a bear, a lion, go into the dark woods, or find a treasure. Each story led to a decision to be made, and our hero always chose what was right even when his faithful companion Little Bear (the scraggly teddy) did not. Every story would end the same–”because Tom always”…my voice would soften and fade as my own four-year-old Tommy would drift off to sleep.

When there are mountains of sand to conquer and frogs to capture, little boys find it hard to take time for a nap. However, I needed one desperately, so I made up wild stories to settle down my adventurous boy and feed his imagination. All in hopes of holding him still along enough for sleep to pin him down.

Until I read what Earnest Becker had to say about heroes, I hadn’t given those days of tale-spinning, or heroes for that matter, much thought.

Becker writes:

“Two centuries of modern anthropological work have accumulated a careful and detailed record of this natural genius of man: anthropologist found that there were any number of different patterns in which individuals could act, and in each pattern they possessed a sense of primary value in a world of meaning. As we said earlier, short of natural catastrophe, the only time life grinds to a halt or explodes in anarchy and chaos, is when a culture falls down on its job of constructing a meaningful hero-system for its members.” Ernest Becker, [Emphasis mine]

What stories do you tell your children?

Perhaps a more important question we, as parents need to ask, is what stories are the culture telling our children? What are the childhood heroes we, as a culture, are providing?

If in fact, Becker is correct and the only time life grinds to a halt or erupts in chaos is when the culture falls down on its job of constructing a hero system–we could be in more trouble than we thought. Although, I think we’ve always known it deep down–that’s why we are so disgusted with the likes of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. At one time they held the admiration of young children.

What if Cyrus and Bieber aren’t the problem? What if, it goes deeper than that?

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Parents Begin Hormone Therapy on 9-Year-Old ‘Transgender’ Boy

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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“It just comes down to love. I mean, if you love your child then you should do anything in the world for your child. And it’s as simple and as pure as that.”

This is not parental love. This is misguided, tragic indulgence. It’s as simple and pure as that. Parental love prepares a child for adulthood–momentary happiness has little to do with it.

Parental love sees beyond what a child currently wants, or thinks he wants, and gives him what he needs. What this child needs is unconditional love and a chance for his brain to mature and his body to fully develop.

It’s far beyond the comprehension of a child to see himself as an adult. To a child of nine, eighteen is a lifetime away. Neither Keat nor his parents can fathom what his life will be like as an adult. The physical and mental consequences of a chemically altered body through puberty cannot be fully understood and weighed.

What if Keat had Body Integrity Identity Disorder? The same feelings of being born wrong exist. A person with this disorder believes he or she would be happier without the appendages they were born with. Would these parents still be good parents by indulging this disorder with amputation before puberty?

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HBO Green Lights Men & Capitalism

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Warning: Not Safe for Work (profanity)

In his new HBO series Silicon Valley, Mike Judge turns his cutting sarcasm on the wunderkind of Silicon Valley, issuing awesome commentary on 21st century masculinity.

Thomas Middleditch portrays Richard Hendricks, a developer who creates a miracle algorithm with revolutionary file compression capabilities. He is the anti-Don Draper: a skinny, nervous twenty-something dressed in cargo pants and a hoodie; Hendricks is the lost member of the Big Bang Theory click. He lives with two other computer geeks in “the incubator,” a house owned by the overtly obnoxious yet humorous Erlich Bachmann (hysterically portrayed by T.J. Miller), whose app, Aviato, has turned him into one of the many tech venture capitalists in Palo Alto. 

Hendricks turns down a 10 million dollar offer from his tech guru boss Gavin Belson, owner of the fictional Google-ripoff “Hooli,” who is anxious to purchase the miracle algorithm. Instead, Hendricks elects to accept eccentric investor Peter Gregory’s offer of $200,000 for 5% of his start-up company, Pied Piper. It’s the best argument for capitalism and small business being made on television today. In electing to start his own business instead of running with the cash, Hendricks inspires his fellow nerds and is forced into maturity. Within the first three episodes he transitions from panic attacks to developing a business plan and entering his first series of negotiations.

With his 1999 hit Office Space, Judge issued a powerful statement about the death of masculinity in the corporate world. With Silicon Valley, his declaration is refined into a statement about how the free market can be used to empower men — primarily nerdy white guys and the Asians who hang with them. In the first episode, Hendricks declares:

Look guys, for thousands of years, guys like us have gotten the sh*t kicked out of us. But now, for the first time, we are living in an era where we can be in charge and build empires. We could be the Vikings of our day.

Judge also takes sharp jabs at the men who propagate corporate culture. Hooli’s Gavin Belson is a “global”-minded laughable yuppie with a Messiah complex who is “committed to social justice” and keeps a “guru” around to remind him how wonderful and unique he is. “If we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller,” he proclaims as he races to compete with Pied Piper’s formidable nerds.

It will be interesting to see how women are treated within the show. In episode 3, Bachmann (who wears a shirt that reads “I know H.T.M.L.: How To Meet Ladies”) orders up an exotic dancer as a “gift” to reward the Pied Piper crew. The guys retreat to the kitchen, anxious to avoid an awkward scene. The one guy who she manages to trap declares his love for her, and is later found hanging out at the dancer’s home… playing video games with her children.

The series is peppered with Judge’s raunchy humor, but unlike Family Guy it is relatively sparse and works to advance instead of interrupt the story. The Big Bang Theory may have ushered in the era of the nerd, but Silicon Valley is taking America’s love affair with geeky guys and masculinity to a newer, deeper, and much-needed level of respect.

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Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?

Monday, April 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Hiding the ugly face of Marxism has become a real science.

– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

We get it: Intellectuals who fall to the Left of the political spectrum dig Marx. Cultural critics like Ben Shapiro and Ben Stein have already made the excellent argument that academia is ideologically corrupted by said intellectuals, arguments that can be backed up by practically every conservative college graduate in the country. Now the focus has turned to public education, specifically the battle over Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCCS). You know what I’m talking about: Those crazy grammar assignments or math problems-cum-memes that pepper your Facebook and Twitter feed, usually accompanied by sarcastic comments like “Common Core is making me stupider.”

From a governmental point of view, Obama’s CCCS look like Bush’s No Child Left Behind on steroids: high-impact grant funding legislation that increases federal influence at the local level. Public school districts must report boatloads of data showing quantifiable achievements if they are to be rewarded with government funds. Many Americans doubt that a quality education can be quantified, but as Stalin was fond of saying: “Bureaucracy is the price we pay for impartiality.”

Which brings to mind Pacepa’s remark:

After the Kremlin expelled Romania’s King and declared the country a Popular Republic, the new government nationalized the school system, and decided to create its own type of intellectual — the “new man”.

Romania had its intellectuals before the Revolution. Most fled to Western Europe with death sentences hanging over their heads, still more wound up in gulags, and yet others elected to support the communist regime. A new generation of intellectuals would grow up behind the Iron Curtain, cultivating a subculture all their own filled with bootleg records and western media. They’d take menial bureaucratic jobs that would give them enough time to think and write – secretly of course – and maintain the culture their government denied them. Today’s Russian intellectuals have inherited the complacency of their parents’ generation, willing to “make do” as the government clamps down on free speech. It would seem, as Pacepa puts it, that their “vital arteries [have] been calcified by 70 years of disinformation and dismal feudalism.”

The harsh reality is that most citizens of the former Soviet Union do not know how to defend freedom because they’ve been educated to live without it. As the Wizard so kindly explained, the Scarecrow didn’t need a brain; he needed his intelligence to be quantified through a degree conferred by an authoritative source. This doesn’t mean that public education is a sham; on the contrary, this should illustrate how powerful an education can be in the hands of the educators as well as the minds of the educated.

We’ve discussed Marxist influences in our contemporary culture, but do we have the courage to confront Marxism in our daily discourse? Stay tuned for the next installment of Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge.

cowardlylion

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The New Charlotte’s Web Medicine

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

My home state of Colorado is a guinea pig for the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Other states are observing closely to see if they should move down the path towards legalization.

There’s plenty of bad news to go around. Police in other states are pulling over Colorado drivers with no justification other than the green license plate. (We’re all stoners now, I guess.) A college student named Levy Thamba fell to his death from a high balcony during spring break after eating a marijuana cookie. And last week a Denver man who ate pot-infused candy became incoherent and paranoid and shot his wife to death.

Is there good news? Turns out there is. Colorado Springs is the source of the Charlotte’s Web strain of medical marijuana that has sent parents with gravely ill children flocking to the city for treatment.

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The strain was developed by Joel Stanley and his brothers in their Colorado Springs medical marijuana facility. They’d read that marijuana strains that are high in a chemical called CBD can help to shrink tumors and prevent seizures. The chemical in marijuana that gets users high is called THC, and since it has an adverse affect on seizures the Stanley’s bred it out of the plant.

Their first patient, 5 year old Charlotte Figis, was so affected by a genetic seizure condition called Dravet’s Syndrome that she was not expected to live much longer. Today, she’s almost seizure free. The Stanley brothers named the strain after their first little patient, and it’s showing the world what medical uses marijuana can offer.

Today there are nearly a hundred families with gravely ill children who have relocated to Colorado Springs, purchasing a treatment for their children that would have landed them in prison just a few years ago. Medical marijuana is well known to help in the treatment of nausea in cancer and AIDs patients, but the strains now being investigated may uncover new lifesaving medicines such as Charlotte’s Web.

The recreational use of marijuana is proving to be the problem it was predicted to be, but while the stoners fill the headlines the researchers in medical marijuana are quietly making amazing advances in the treatment of illnesses. That’s some very good news indeed.

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Image via CNN Health.

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VIDEO: What Do Today’s Kids Think Of…The Walkman?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We’ve seen to many changes in technology over the last generation or so that some of the greatest innovations from the childhood of a Generation X-er (like me) are completely obsolete today. For example, my nieces have been aware of what “listening to records” is for a long time because I have a record player at my house. But a couple of years ago, when the oldest of the girls, now 9, saw a record outside the sleeve for the first time, she said, “Wow! That’s a big CD!”

It’s fascinating to see kids react to older technology. The Fine Bros., who have created some of the funniest videos anywhere with the React Series on YouTube, have tackled that topic with their latest video, “Kids React To Walkmans.”

Of course the kids’ reactions are priceless. One girl immediately thinks she’s looking at a phone, while another, when she can’t figure out how to use it, exclaims, “I feel so judged right now!” The kids “ooh” and “ah” at the cassettes and laugh at the headphones — “My grandpa has some of these!” To a man – er, to a child – all of them prefer today’s digital technology to the old school cassette player. Then again, who wouldn’t? Check it out for yourself:

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