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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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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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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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Guess Why This Michigan School Demolished Their Boys’ New Baseball Bleachers

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Parents of the Plymouth Wildcats had a hard time watching their high school boys play baseball through the chain-link fence that obstructed their view. So they took the traditional American approach to the problem–they worked hard, earned the money to buy raised-deck seating, and then pulled together and installed the seats for all to enjoy.

These parents fully expected the time and sweat they invested in making their own lives a little better would also become an inheritance for future parents to enjoy for many years to come. In the past, that would have been right, good and honorable.

That is no longer the case in an era where the morality of the elite rules the day. It was “not fair” to the girls.

In the process of dismantling a high school cheering section, the U.S. Department of Education has taught Michigan a real life lesson in the new American brand of social Marxism, one that young parents need to learn and understand well. We now have a higher order of right and wrong that is sanctioned by the state.

This sad state of affairs began when one useful idiot person complained to the U.S. Department of Education that it wasn’t fair that the boys had better seating than the girls. Did I mention that the parents of the boys also bought a new scoreboard? Apparently, that wasn’t fair either–and so it was thus decreed:

“As a resolution to the district’s violation of longstanding Title IX requirements to offer equal athletic opportunities to both boys and girls, the Department’s office of Civil Rights (OCR) accepted the district’s voluntary agreement to address this inequality by constructing necessary improvements to the softball field, or demolishing the baseball structure, or some combination of both. The final decision on how best to comply with the law was made by the district. OCR’s preference from the beginning, was for the district to construct a similar structure for the girls’ softball team.” – U.S. Department of Education spokesperson

Since the school claimed it had no funds for improvements, the girls’ team obviously doesn’t have parents willing to work for it, and the one who “cares” only wanted to whine–the new raised-seating area was demolished under the guise of fairness and equality.

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Fear and Loathing in White Guy-ville

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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City folk have always looked on their country neighbors with superstition. According to John Podhoretz at the Weekly Standard, this suspicion has carried a clearly political bent since the days of W. His evidence: Scary white dudes, like Walter White (Breaking Bad) and Bill Henrickson (Big Love) from middle America invading your TVs.

“In Difficult Men, Brett Martin’s book about the remarkable writer-producers who brought television to new cultural heights, Martin notes that there was something explicitly political at work in the early days of what he calls television’s “Third Golden Age.” Americans “on the losing side” of the 2000 election, Martin writes, “were left groping to come to terms with the Beast lurking in their own body politic.” As it happened, “that side happened to track very closely with the viewerships of networks like AMC, FX, and HBO: coastal, liberal, educated, ‘blue state.’ And what the Third Golden Age brought them was a humanized red state. .  .  . This was the ascendant Right being presented to the disempowered Left—as if to reassure it that those in charge were still recognizably human.”

…It’s the depiction of the worlds in which they live that is so striking, even more so in the series that have come along since the body politic’s shift to the left, beginning in 2006. The canvas on which these characters are brought to three-dimensional life isn’t a “humanized red state” at all, but rather the red state of liberal horror fantasy.”

Podhoretz concludes: “Still, rich Hollywood folk making mincemeat out of poor rural folk is another element of the ongoing American culture war that should not go unremarked.”

Fair enough, although any critical studies grad could tell you that whitey from the sticks, especially them man-folks, have been derided for a long time among the educated liberal elites who fill television’s coveted writers’ rooms. Educated liberal elites, mind you, who are primarily white dudes.

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If World War I Was a Bar Fight

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

WWI bar fightBack in 2012, the blog Face in the Blue published the excellent post, “In a Mass Knife Fight Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? I commented at the time that this would be a valuable history teaching tool, especially for young boys trapped in girl centered education. (And I did hear from my middle school history teacher who was sorry he never thought of such a lesson plan.)

Now there is another. From The Meta Picture comes “If WWI was a bar fight. It starts:

Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint. Austria demands that Serbia buy it a whole new suit because of the new beer stains on its trouser leg. Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view. Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit…

As we know, no one calmed down. The post continues and, just like the knife fight post, prompts some good history discussion in the comments as well as a few comments consistent with national stereotypes. I found it when one of my girlfriends, now a college history professor, posted a version of the picture captioned “The teacher who made this is a genius. This is by far the best way to learn about anything.” I wouldn’t go as far as best, but it certainly is a good way to learn. Read it all.

Note: the original text appeared a few months ago at imgur.com, but the discussion at The Meta Picture is more substantive, so I used that version. Imgur also has “If Facebook existed during WWII“, another post I recommend.

*****

Image via The Meta Picture. 

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

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

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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.”

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A Baseball Mom’s Take on Richard Sherman’s NFL Postgame Rant

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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“We’re talking about football here, and a lot of people took it further than football,” Sherman said. “I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected and immature, but this is a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes and doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game.” — Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback

Our family’s first foray into youth sports didn’t go quite as planned. The female coach who had volunteered to coach our son’s T-ball team told the children on the first day that the players who didn’t get dirty would get candy at the end of the game. A few parents took this well-meaning (but misguided) mother aside and explained to her a few things about the nature of boys and something about the physical properties of  baseball and dirt and informed her that their sons would not be participating in her little “clean game” nonsense. This was our introduction to the ubiquitous drama that permeates youth sports leagues.

My husband and I spent a lot of years coaching youth sports as our sons grew up — baseball, soccer, basketball — mostly because we were the only parents who didn’t drop-and-run. We weren’t savvy enough in the early years to realize that you are by default the U4 soccer coach if you’re the only parent left on the field five minutes after practice is scheduled to begin (other parents, making a beeline to the parking lot, shouted to us, “The whistle and cones are in the blue crate! We’ll see you in an hour. Good luck!”)

We always believed it was important for our boys to participate in team sports, not only for physical fitness reasons, but because they were of the male gender and we thought that participating in sports would be a good way for them to learn to control and channel the aggression that is inherent to their maleness.

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Men: Act Like a Lady if You Want to Get a Job

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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It’s the economy, stupid.

So says Rachel Burger, who believes that the current economy is to blame for the demise of masculinity, not those darned feminists:

The reality is that the economy–that men themselves created–is far more to blame for the sorry state of American men. The Internet Age, along with global trade and the mass outsourcing of low-skill labor has brought forth in the West a people-based and knowledge-based economy which emphasizes social intelligence. Young women are now outpacing men across the board, from education to employment, and men should take a hint. If men want to pursue their roles as providers and achievers, they’re going to have to woman up.

It’s not the girls’ fault. “After all, it was men who invented the Internet, who created and sold mass-produced computers, who shipped jobs overseas and who even fashioned social media.” Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.

Burger’s is a thinly veiled response to Camille Paglia’s praise of the “modern economy as a male epic” published last month in Time. Unlike Paglia, Burger comes to the table lacking an understanding of the relationship between economy and gender. With a millennial’s narrow perspective on American history, Burger manages great insight into the post-dot-com world of social intelligence-based tech companies while completely skipping over the debacle of NAFTA with the grossly prejudicial term “low-skill labor.”

In that primordial decade known as the ’90s, America’s manual labor industry was eviscerated by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Seventeen years after the agreement was signed, studies showed a loss of 682,900 American jobs, 60% of which were lost in the manufacturing industry. That doesn’t include the jobs that would be necessary without the imports from NAFTA — a whopping 1.47 million. Those jobs, and the financial boost that would’ve come with them, sure would’ve come in handy in 2008 when, as a result of the recession, the U.S. lost 2.6 million jobs. Mexico, the nation that continues to profit from NAFTA, does not defame nor downplay the benefits of so-called “low-skill labor.”

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How 10-Year-Old Boys Learn to Slaughter Infidels in Syria

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 - by Robert Spencer

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The video is chilling: a jihadist from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda’s branch for those two countries, addresses a crowd of boys at a school in Syria, rallying them to jihad. The boys look to be about ten or twelve years old, and they eagerly participate in the lesson – which is all about how Muslims should wage war and slaughter infidels in order to defend Islam.

“The mujahideen are coming here, to Syria,” says the jihadist, telling the boys that they have come from “Egypt, from Chechnya, from Morocco, from the U.S., from Belgium, from China, from Russia, from Cameroon. … Who unites them?”

“Allah!,” the children dutifully reply.

The jihadist bats back a follow-up: “Why did they gather here?”

The boys aren’t stumped: “For the sake of Islam,” they answer readily.

That was what the jihadist wanted to hear, as he was ready to expand on the point – one gets the impression that he was asking the boys questions that they had been asked and answered many times before. “Islam,” he tells them, “unites everyone under one word, with no distinction between skin color, nationality, or anything. The entire Earth belongs to Allah. Islam elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.”

Had he so desired, the jihadist could have pointed to Qur’anic sanction for the idea that Islam “elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.” The Muslim holy book tells believers to “fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden” even if they are of the “People of the Book,” that is, primarily Jews and Christians, “until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.” (9:29)

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What the International Gendercide Crisis Must Teach America About Abortion

Monday, October 14th, 2013 - by Paul Cooper

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One month ago my wife and I did something that would be illegal in some parts of the world. We had our third child, and for the third time we had a girl.

It was one of the most joy-filled moments of our lives, but for millions of parents, having even a second or sometimes a first daughter is an impossibility. In China, India, and other parts of the world, girls are unwanted. They are viewed as having no value to the government and little value in society or even to their own families. The result has been widespread gendercide, the systematic and deliberate destruction of girls, typically through abortion. Sometimes through infanticide.

Some estimates say the world is missing over 200 million girls thanks to the practice of gendercide. Most of those come from China and India, where they eliminate more girls every year than America has births.

Since 1979, China has had a one-child policy, and boys are the preferred of the two choices for mostly economical reasons. The government penalizes families monetarily for having more than one child and also takes part in forced abortion and forced sterilizations if the women don’t take care of it themselves. This obviously has created an unbalanced male population, and some of the side effects have been increased child abuse and sex trafficking.

In India the government officially frowns on gendercide, yet they turn a blind eye to it. They outlawed using ultrasounds to determine gender because it led to so many abortions of girls. However, they ignore that the practice still goes on.

One study of 8000 abortions in India, for example, showed that 7999 of the aborted babies were girls.

In India, the problem is plain economics for families. Arranged marriages work in a way where the parents of the bride have to pay a large dowry to the parents of the groom. Having boys creates wealth, while having girls diminishes it. The girls who do manage to live often are born into a family that rejects them. In fact, one of the most common names for girls in this situation in India is a Hindi name that means “unwanted.”

The once ignored problem of gendercide is just starting to get attention in media, culture, and even among a few politicians. In fact, a new documentary was recently released called It’s a Girl! that looks at sex-selective abortions and infanticide of girls in depth. The movie is a heartbreaking expose, painfully declaring that the three most deadly words in the world are “it’s a girl.”

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The film is sparking a growing conversation in America. The filmmaker has even screened the film to feminist and pro-choice groups in hopes of getting everyone unified against gendercide. But we should take this conversation a step further: we should be asking if the elimination of female babies in other nations can teach us about abortion right here in America.

By asking questions about the commonalities gendercide shares with abortion in America, we might all learn something. Following are five thought-provoking questions, the answers to which require pro-choice Americans to question how they can support abortion in America while being against gendercide elsewhere.

You may find the first question and quote along with it a bit disturbing.

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To Marry a Man

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 - by Leslie Loftis

Wedding Dance

A friend started a “where were you on 9/11″ thread. Of course, I remember. Everyone does. But I hadn’t looked closely at my memories in a while. I wasn’t in any position of consequence. My account didn’t seem worth examining. But today I remembered something, something I’d gotten so accustomed to I’d forgotten it was once new.

I had started volunteering for Orlando Sanchez for mayor as his scheduler a few weeks earlier. My husband and I were just shy of a year married and had gotten fed up with double law firm life. We hardly saw each other. He traveled and I had a pager for weekend duty. (I was a maritime attorney. Ships collide on the same schedule that babies arrive — whenever.) I had resumes out for in-house positions but didn’t want to be unemployed while looking, hence the political campaign, which suited me well.

That day Orlando’s schedule was easy in the morning and loaded in the afternoon. So I had a leisurely walk and arrived at HQ after nine. It was quiet. Political headquarters are never that quiet.

After going though messages, I found everyone in the meeting room around a TV.  The second plane had just hit.

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Small-Town Values and Two-Parent Families

Monday, August 5th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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We live in a small town, Doylestown, Ohio, population 3000, 1.88 sq. miles. Technically, we live outside the “Village” in Chippewa Township which brings the total area of our community to 36 sq. miles and swells the total population to 7000.  This weekend we celebrated our annual Rogues’ Hollow Festival, enjoying small town America at its finest. The weekend began with a parade and it seemed that anyone with a church, a civic group, or a tractor joined in — the sidewalk overflowed with senior citizens and young families with children scurrying to grab candy tossed from floats. There was great music, Lion’s BBQ chicken, corn dogs, and of course, funnel cakes. The weekend culminated in a Saturday night fireworks display.

As the fireworks began, my husband and I ducked into an alley between two local businesses to get a better view. Occasional couples or groups of teens passed through as we watched the fireworks, and one unfortunate group walked through at the same time as the Village mayor and a Township trustee. For some odd reason, the mayor barked, “You kids! Get back there!” and pointed them back to the main street of the festival. The kids looked a bit startled, but mumbled their “OK”s and obediently headed back to the street.

I don’t know if the boys — they looked to be around 14-years old — knew that the man was the mayor or that he had no actual authority to order them back to the festival. But they did what they were told without question. The encounter took me back to my childhood, to the neighborhood I grew up in where everyone’s parents sort of did have the authority to discipline everyone else’s children. And if the neighbor’s parents saw you stepping out of line, you could be sure your parents (and all the other neighbors) would hear about it by the time the streetlights came on. Respect for the authority of your elders was unquestioned. My parents preached it and they modeled it as did most other adults in our community. Two-parent families were the norm; the first divorce sent shockwaves down the street. I remember hearing neighbors talking about it in hushed voices — divorce was still so uncommon then that it was scandalous.

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A School-Sponsored Toy Gun Exchange in California

Monday, June 10th, 2013 - by Rick Moran

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I don’t know exactly why the idea that a school is promoting a “toy gun exchange” bothers me. Perhaps it’s because it plays into the false meme that guns are bad, bad, bad and that children shouldn’t be playing with toy guns. Perhaps it’s the insufferable moralists who actually think that a kid trading in a toy gun is going to curb violence, or make the kid a better human being.

How many generations of boys grew up fighting outlaws or indians, or played “soldier” in the backyard?? Were they any more or less violent than this generation? How did it happen all of a sudden that toy guns promote violence, or are somehow bad for kids?

A school in Hayward, CA thinks it’s a grand idea:

Strobridge Elementary Principal Charles Hill maintains that children who play with toy guns may not take real guns seriously.

“Playing with toys guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun,” Hill said.

Huh? This horse’s ass is a principal? That statement brings to mind the song “Little Known Facts” that Lucy sings to her little brother Linus in the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown:

D’you see this tree?
It is a fir tree.
It’s called a fir tree
Because it gives us fur
For coats
And it also gives us wool
In the winter time

This is an elm tree
It’s very little
But it will grow up
Into a giant tree
an oak!
You can tell how old it is
By counting its leaves

Where’s old Lucy when we need her.

Enter Schroeder, the rationalist. Or, in this case, a gun rights advocate:

A gun rights advocate questioned the idea that playing with toy guns desensitizes children to real weapons.

“Having a group of children playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians is a normal part of growing up,” said Yih-Chau Chang, spokesman for Responsible Citizens of California, a group whose goal is to educate the public about the facts behind gun rights.

“While the intentions are obviously good on the part of the school administration, this doesn’t really educate children about guns or gun safety,” he said. “Guns are used in crimes, but they are more often used in defensive ways which prevent violent crime from occurring in the first place.”

Chang also questioned whether toys can look like real weapons.

“Toy manufacturers are forced to paint guns in bright colors, usually orange or yellow, that make it virtually impossible for an officer to mistake it for a real gun,” Chang said.

Not half as sexy as guns “desensitizing” kids so that when they grow up they want to shoot policemen, but it has the virtue of at least being rational.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on the school administration. They’re going to have a gun safety lesson as well as a fire safety lesson in conjunction with the toy gun exchange which is information most kids could use. But it’s attitudes like the one held by that principal — glorying in their own ignorance and being so smug in their supposed moral superiority — that really gets to me.

*****

Cross-posted from PJ Tatler 

image courtesy shutterstock /de2marco

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Banning Video Games Will Not Save Children’s Souls

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

Gun control emerged as the primary political battlefront in the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook murders. While the battle to retain our Second Amendment rights remains a superior consideration, statist nannies push on other fronts as well.

A former writer for the Huffington Post, Peter Brown Hoffmeister, claims to have broken ties with the publication after its refusal to publish a piece he submitted regarding the influence of violent video games on troubled teenage males. Self-publishing on his personal blog with the provocative title “On School Shooters – The Huffington Post Doesn’t Want You To Read This,” Hoffmeister reveals his own troubled past while building a case against certain games.

As a teacher, I’ve spent a lot of time this past week [December 27, 2012] thinking about the Newtown shooting, school shootings in general, their causes and possible preventions.

It’s scary now to think that I ever had anything in common with school shooters.  I don’t enjoy admitting that.  But I did have a lot in common with them. I was angry, had access to guns, felt ostracized, and didn’t make friends easily. I engaged in violence and wrote about killing people in my notes to peers.

But there is one significant difference between me at 16 and 17 years of age and most high school shooters: I didn’t play violent video games.

But Jeff Weise did. He played thousands of first-person shooter hours before he shot and killed nine people at and near his Red Lake, Minn., school, before killing himself.

And according to neighbors and friends, Clackamas shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts played a lot of video games before he armed himself with a semi-automatic AR-15 and went on a rampage at the Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon last week.

Also, by now, it is common knowledge that Adam Lanza, who murdered 20 children and six women in video-game style, spent many, many hours playing “Call of Duty.”  In essence, Lanza – and all of these shooters – practiced on-screen to prepare for shooting in real-life.

Hoffmeister ends his retrospective with a call for government action. He encourages readers to “support the bill introduced… by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, directing the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent games and programs lead children to act aggressively.”

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Here Is A Powerful Prayer Exercise Even For Those Who Do Not Pray Or Are Non-Believers

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 - by Myra Adams

Anyone on a faith walk will eventually ask the question, “How do I pray?”

Except for the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, there is no easy answer, for prayer is a very personal and personalized pursuit.

And, as with all pursuits, practice is the key to success and prayer is no different.

You will soon discover the more you pray, the more you will find answers to difficult questions, along with mental or physical healing from various maladies, protection for you or your loved ones and comfort from any number of storms that happen to be raging in your life.

Whatever the current state of your prayer life, even if you do not have one, or practice no faith at all, here is a powerful “prayer exercise” that you should find very beneficial.

Back in 1990 I first experienced this exercise in a group while attending a prayer seminar at my church. During the course of the exercise, the answer to a personal spiritual question that had been plaguing me for 15 years was instantly revealed.

Thus, I immediately became a huge believer in this prayer exercise and since have shared it with many others over the years. You too might find some answers but only if you are truly honest and unafraid to ask or face the most difficult questions or issues in your past or present circumstances.

So without further ado, here is the exercise.

Jesus is visiting your neighborhood. He is going house to house and will be at your door in five minutes.

Will you let him in?

What will you say to Him when he appears at your door?

What is He going to ask you?

What questions are you going to ask Him?

Are there any rooms in your home that you do not want him to see?

Any closets, drawers, photos, or computer files that you want to hide from Him?

Pray about these questions for five minutes.

(Five minutes passes)

Knock, knock Jesus has arrived.

Greet Him at the door or ask Him to go away.

If you invite Him in, visualize actually letting him in the door of your home or apartment as you would any guest.

You may even offer Him something to drink or eat.

Just let the visit unfold.

Perhaps you might want to take him on a tour of your home. Or ask him to sit down as you begin chatting in your most comfortable space.

Remember to discuss the questions or issues you identified in the first part of the exercise.

His visit can last as long as you want because, as the Bible says: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

However, in my group prayer seminar His visit lasted about 10 minutes.

After that time, the prayer leader asked our group if anyone was willing to share their experience of “Jesus’ visit.” Many did, but I was still in shock from His most perfect answer to my question, so I remained uncharacteristically silent.

This exercise is effective in a group setting or when one is alone. Adults, teenagers or even children can be enthralled by this 15 minute “visit with Jesus,” if participants take it seriously and deal with sometimes difficult personal issues honestly.

For a different twist, you could even visualize Jesus walking around your office building for five minutes visiting others before He shows up at YOUR office.

Even though it has been 23 years since I was first introduced to this prayer exercise, my experience was so enlightening it was imprinted on my heart and soul forever.

Do not be surprised if you have similar results. This exercise is extremely powerful because it presents Jesus as someone who you can communicate with in a two-way conversation.

And, after all isn’t that what prayer is anyway, a conversation with God?

Finally, this week on a country music station I heard the song, If I Could Have A Beer With Jesus for the first time. This song by Thomas Rhett reminded me of my 1990 prayer seminar experience and that is the reason why you just read what you read.

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Related at PJ Lifestyle:

10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers is The Best Superhero Film

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An Open Letter to Jamie Foxx Explaining Why Black Pride Is Just As Evil As White Pride

Monday, December 10th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle


From Newsbusters, a transcript of the end of Saturday Night Live‘s lead monologue this weekend:

JAMIE FOXX: My name is Jamie Foxx. Give it up, give it up, New York City, Saturday Night Live. Come on, make some noise, man. New York City, New York City, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, it’s crazy. I’m black, and I’m dressed all black cause it’s good to be black. Black is the new white. I’m telling you, how black is this right here? Nice fly, I’m saying. You know how I know black is in right now? Cause the Nets moved to Brooklyn. How black is that? They got black jerseys, black court. I mean, how black is that? And Jay-z is the owner, a rapper. How black is that? And Jay-z only own about this much of the team. But he act like he own all of New York. How black is that?

And I got a movie coming out, “Django,” check it out. Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson. “Django Unchained” I play a slave. How black is that? And in the movie I had to wear chains. How whack is that? But don’t be worried about it because I get out the chains, I get free, I save my wife, and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that? And how black is that?

But I’m going to tell you right now, speaking of blackness, my President, President Obama is back up in the White House four more years. How black is that? And not only that, he’s so black, he was playing basketball during the Election Day. How black is that? But he was also late for his acceptance speech. Okay, all the white people, this is your turn – how black is that?

But he going to be extra black this next four years. He going to get everything black, and white people, don’t get nervous about that because he is mixed. Now the first four years was the white side of him, because I don’t know if you saw him on Ellen when he was dancing and everything. I don’t know what this is. That wasn’t President Obama, that was President Barry Gibb Obama. But the next four years he’s even changing his name from to President Barack Dikembe Mutombo Tupac Mandela Hussein Obama X. How black is that? And the next time you see him dancing on Ellen, he gonna be dancing like this.

 

“Long before quantum mechanics, the German philosopher Husserl said that all perception is gamble. Every type of bigotry, every type of racism, sexism, prejudice, every dogmatic ideology that allows people to kill other people with a clear conscience, every stupid cult, every superstition-ridden religion, every kind of ignorance in the world, are all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see, and then we believe our interpretation of it, but we don’t even know we’re making an interpretation most of the time.”

Robert Anton Wilson, Maybe Logic

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On the Rise: Islamists Scapegoating Children for Blasphemy

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 - by Teri Blumenfeld

The latest Muslim mob violence mobilized by religious clerics over the video Innocence of Muslims was indeed disturbing. However, the more troubling issue that merits true outrage is the uptick of Islamists targeting children with charges of desecration or blasphemy as a means to intimidate local non-Muslims.

The shocking October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani 14-year old girl, sparked worldwide outrage. Islamist militants came to her school and shot her in the head and neck for “promoting Western culture”; several of the girl’s classmates were injured in the attack. Al-Qaeda’s media arm publicized its reasoning for the need to kill Malala, claiming it was not her educational activism, but rather that she “had denounced jihad” and thus insulted Islam. Young Malala was airlifted to the UK for treatment, and for fear of further harm to her and her family.

The zealotry of these defenders of the Muslim faith extends to all who would defame their prophet, including young children. One would think that children, in some cases illiterate, could never be judged responsible for such heinous acts, punishable by death according to sharia (Islamic law) and Pakistan law under Section 295-C. Unfortunately, poor Malala is not alone in being a young child targeted for the crime of insulting Islam.

Perhaps October was “Defile the Quran month,” as a number of cases have appeared recently of non-Muslim children in Muslim countries accused of desecration or blasphemy against Islam.

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5 Reasons This Election Is Ward Cleaver vs. Eddie Haskell

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 - by Bookworm

For Americans over 40, Leave It To Beaver is an iconic television show, complete with archetypal American characters. Every week during its Eisenhower/Kennedy heyday, Americans watched a handful of naifs (Beaver and Wally Cleaver, and their innocent little friends) stumble into dangerous or embarrassing situations thanks to Eddie Haskell’s slick, dishonest machinations. Eddie, a skinny, duplicitous young man, was adept at ingratiating himself with adults when called upon to do so, but his main goal remained to upset the placid social order prevailing amongst Beaver-ville‘s young. When anarchy threatened, Beaver and Wally always knew that their mother June would express worry and dispense kisses, while their father, Ward, acting in a lovingly magisterial way, would impart wisdom, impose appropriate consequences, and generally restore sanity.

Although the show ran for only six seasons (1957-1963) and pre-dated the upheavals of the 1960s, decades of repeats ensured that it resonated in the American psyche. Generations of Americans have laughed with (and yes, sneered at) the tight little world of Beaver-ville, one predicated upon stable nuclear families: wise fathers, stay-at-home mothers, and grateful children.

Perhaps the scenario is a fairy tale that never reflected the majority of American families, but it’s a lovely fairy-tale, one that promises lasting security for the child who can escape the bad boy’s enticements and embrace the elders’ wisdom. It presents an America as we wish it would be, although we’d be glad to update its monochromatic cast.  In the 21st century, Beaver’s neighborhood would have different races, colors, and creeds, and it would probably be home to a conservative gay couple down the block, raising an adopted orphan from China.

What’s so satisfying about Leave It To Beaver is that it presents a time-tested way of ordering the world: it trusts maturity. Even the best-intentioned young people lack the wisdom and knowledge to cope with instability, danger, dishonesty, and disorder. Their innocence and naivete mean that they’ll too easily trust demagogues and make foolish, hurtful, and potentially harmful mistakes.

What kept the show from being a tragedy, and turned it into an amusing morality tale, was that week in and week out, the grown-ups in the room were able to sort out the child’s chaotic world. Sadly, real life isn’t like that. Too often, naive voters put their faith in demagogues and there is no rescue. This election, though, there’s still a chance that Ward Cleaver’s political stand-in can win the vote and save the day.

From the moment Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican candidate, this election took on the trappings of a contest between Ward Cleaver (played by Mitt Romney) and Eddie Haskell (played by Barack Obama). The comparison was easy at a superficial level:  Romney bears an almost uncanny resemblance to Ward Cleaver, complete with commanding height, combed-back black hair, square jaw, and fatherly meme. Obama, too, is Eddie Haskell’s double since he shares the youthful face, lanky body, and manipulative, hustler’s demeanor.

If one digs beneath the superficial similarities, it’s uncanny how Mitt and Obama still stay close to the Ward and Eddie characters. Let me count the ways…

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The Judge Dredd Guide to Parenting

Monday, October 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

In Mega-City One, there is one constant: Judge Joseph Dredd.

Cloned from the first chief judge, Eustace Fargo, Dredd’s growth was artificially accelerated. After his brain was electronically implanted with all the appropriate information he would need, he was “born” at age five, just in time to enter the Academy of Law.

Called the toughest school on Earth, it takes fifteen years to make it through the Academy. Judge Dredd was fast-tracked.

He made it through in thirteen.

He is by far the most famous street judge in Mega-City One, known for his unshakable devotion to the law and the swift and brutal punishment he brings to anyone who violates it.

What can he teach us about being a good parent?

I can think of five things.

Photo Credit:  Boyce Duprey

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Why the Negative Titles for Books on Men?

Saturday, September 15th, 2012 - by Helen Smith

I saw that Hanna Rosin has a new book out entitled The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. I have to say that I really dislike and find distasteful the derogatory titles that these new books on men seem to find acceptable. Do authors lately ever have a title that makes men sound good, or decent or even likable? Are there any that don’t include women in the title or refer to how men relate to women? Just asking.

Seriously, titles like Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys or Save the Males: Why Men Matter Why Women Should Care or even Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind give the reader negative images of men that lead them to believe that men have no agency — that is, they are not autonomous, independent beings who deserve better, but rather immature characters who can’t hack it in the current system.

I am sick of these titles and wonder why anyone would buy a book that is geared toward men as failures. Certainly, few men are reading these books as most publishers only want books about men for women and therefore, take those books that make women feel good and make men look like losers for their female customers only.

If male, would you buy a book  entitled The End of Men?

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Related at PJ Lifestyle on Rosin:

‘Feminist Progress Right Now Largely Depends on the Existence of the Hookup Culture.’

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Which President Would Win in a Hunger Games-Style Brawl?

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

My children are back in school, and I am able to return to my school day routine of reading The Transom after my older set get on the bus and my twins get dressed and make their beds. Admittedly, I don’t always make it to the end of the newsletter in one sitting, but the end is the best part. After the wonky political and economic news summaries, The Transom has an interesting links section, a slightly more serious version of Debby Witt’s Odd Links at The Corner.

This gem recently greeted me: “In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every President, Who Would Win and Why?”  Perhaps because I have an eight-year-old son who took to the discussion like a moth to a flame when I discussed it with his uncle and father over dinner, this struck me as a very promising history lesson plan… one that the PC/we-need-feminized-men guardians would never allow.

This is an excellent example of the type of discussion that would engage young boys (and old ones based on the comment threads) but send experts and some moms into frets of whether it promotes aggression. Boys can’t even talk about theoretical fighting. When the boys get bored, rather than face that boredom is one of aggression’s main fuel sources, we drug them and congratulate ourselves that the little girls are doing so well.

I will grant that a knife fight is a bit harsh for a school lesson, but the game is easily modified to a survival island scenario, like Christ White posted. Both posts and comments are chock full of intriguing — and highly memorable — assertions. Think of the research possibilities!

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The Sex Bots Have Arrived

Monday, August 6th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

Last month Dr. Helen blogged about the development of sex-robots.

Now Susannah Breslin — the most talented journalist writing about pornography today — has a fascinating report on an industry in transformation.

Via The Porn Convention – Forbes:

Fixx is the market research manager for the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network, an online adult company that bills itself on its website as “THE #1 ADULT VIDEO ON DEMAND THEATER IN THE WORLD!” Among other properties, AEBN owns PornoTube, an X-rated YouTube, and xPeeps, an adult webcam site that encourages users to “xpose yourself.” It also produces the product Fixx is hawking.

I stick my finger into the rubbery, flesh-colored slit on the side of a plastic grey peanut the size of a very large loaf of bread. This is RealTouch, an “award-winning male masturbator” designed by a former NASA engineer that syncs with adult movies to simulate sex for the male with which it is interacting through your computer’s USB port. The device retails for $325, and the package includes 120 RealTouch VOD minutes, anti-bacterial cleaner, and a 90-day limited warranty.

More recently, the company has begun marketing the RealTouch JoyStick, the lingam to the RealTouch’s yoni, which is to say it looks like a dildo. Available only to adult webcam models at this time, the joystick serves as a remote control for the RealTouch device, enabling users in remote locations to have “True Internet Sex™!”

Per Fixx’s instruction, Savannah Steele, a busty blonde porn star in a lab coat, moves the joystick, and the mechanism tightens around my finger and increases speed.

“It feels like having sex with a robot,” I announce. I extract my finger and wipe it off with a wet wipe from the box on the table.

Earlier this year I reviewed Doug Rushkoff’s graphic novel A.D.D Adolescent Demo Division. The sci-fi vision of a near-future with hyper media-savvy youth. He predicted this development and also the response many Millennials will have:

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5 Ways Parents Can Transform Their Wild Boys into Mature Men

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 - by Rhonda Robinson

His wasn’t the first brilliant plan to end in the emergency room.

The two boys had a problem they needed to solve. You see, there was an opossum on their farm and the boys had to capture it.

I’m not real clear just why, other than that’s just the way of things in a boy’s mind — opossums were made for trapping.

Nonetheless, the two set about their adventure by Googling “how to make a opossum trap.”

The contraption that inspired them consisted of a heavy rock, a rope, and a high tree branch — constructed and powered solely by two 11-year-old boys. It’s really not hard to see how this plan landed one of them in the emergency room to have his collar bone X-rayed.

Just as the mother of the chief architect was about to remind him that this was exactly why boys should put on clean underwear and socks every day, the triage nurse walked in.

“What brings you in today?”

“Well, you see, there’s this opossum on our farm.…”

For the next ten minutes the hospital air filled with the dreams and designs that ultimately knocked the starch right out of the young trapper.

Trying to keep a straight face, the nurse simply smiled and said the doctor would be in soon.

Apparently the boy’s adventure made the rounds ahead of the doctor. It wasn’t long before a stream of hospital staff including the janitor “needed” to hear the story.

At last the doctor entered the room. The gray-haired gentlemen pulled up a stool, leaned forward, and began listening intently.

“So tell me what happened.”

Once again the tale began:

Well, you see, there’s this opossum….

The doctor asked many questions; he seemed mostly interested in the construction of the trap. Shaking his head with a grin, he ordered the X-rays.

When the results came in, he returned with an announcement:

Well, boys, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board.

Your collar bone isn’t broken, just bruised. But I want you to know you made my day just to know that there are still boys that act like boys.

What do you think he meant when he said he was glad there are still boys that act like boys?

I think his idea of a boy is a bit old-fashioned. He remembers when boys were allowed to be a bit dangerous, adventurous, and industrious — before they were feminized.

Here are five ways parents can capture their boy’s heart, douse it with character, and send a real man out to conquer his own world.

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