— NEA (@NEAToday) February 6, 2015
In high schools across America, from small country farm towns to bustling cities, I have seen quite a bit of the high school landscape. In the turmoil of Common Core ideological wars and stories like this award-winning teacher jumping ship earlier this month, it can seem daunting to send our kids to public school. It’s daunting to work there, too. Teachers are riding out big swings in educational reform while moms and dads just want a happy well-adjusted student. During my ten years in, I did not have children of my own. I do now. And here are the notes I would want from the other side if I were a parent of a public high schooler today:
1. You are still in charge.
As a parent, you’ve chosen the vehicle to get your child to 12th grade, so you oversee the process along the way. And with free k-12 public school online and university model part-time high schools, you are not locked into any standard. (Here’s what I do.) No, Common Core has not taken over everything everywhere. Don’t let anyone boss you into a picture of what your kid’s education has to look like. You still have those keys. (And this OHS “Online High School” attender will certainly broaden your definitions of high school through a few confessions of her own.)
— Samantha Smith (@SamPinkSmith) January 22, 2015
2. Don’t be afraid of “paying extra” to customize what isn’t working.
Remember, teachers must aim at the middle, which means they are going too fast for the slower processors, and too slow for the fast processors. There’s nothing the teacher can do about that. But you can do a lot about that. And you should. The teacher will not have the time or emotional investment to initiate, but she is capable of tailoring more than she will ever admit. Yes, it is a little bit of legwork and back-and-forth communication, but this is not barbed wire you are getting through; it’s an email. You’re opening conversations that can lead to compromise.
3. Don’t misinterpret the pushback.
If a blank stare or a little resistance can get someone to solve their own problems and save them from more headache and heartache, then wow, what a skill to develop! Graciously bypass this defense mechanism (rudeness) and set up a meeting or ask for someone else to speak to you about it. They don’t know how serious you are, if you are just venting, or indeed impossible; just as you don’t know what they are made of. Frankly, these adults are overrun with unique situations, and their brain and heart spaces are limited, so a little pushback of your own may be in order. (A little.)
4. Be the helicopter parent when needed.
By high school age, a hands-off approach may suit most of the time, so you may feel like you are poking through a mysterious membrane to dig through files and floorboards and defenses, but you are not invading your child’s space, embarrassing him, or being too overbearing. You are entering his very real world which is in need of very real adult supervision. Not because you have the power to force him to do something, but because you have the power to see things that he cannot see and give wisdom that he does not have. And when that teacher sees you humbly doing the unthinkable, she may pretend not to notice, but she will know you are literally saving your child in a system that cannot afford to customize swimming lessons for those still treading water in the deep.
— ☀️WakeUpIts6am☀️ (@WakeUpIts6am) February 12, 2015
5. Your words are more powerful than you know.
While leaning on standard phrases about department policies and school policies, teachers are closing the door, tweaking the details of assignments as they see fit. With no outside voices coming in, these dictatorships that can get quite overgrown. Maybe you are the first to raise the flag on an issue, and maybe you won’t win the argument, but something will change. And at the very least, she’ll be on her toes when it comes to you.
6. Go face to face.
Your very presence injects the human element. She is dealing with a sterile name and grade on a list. And that’s the way she wants it. She may “call the shots” and be difficult to disarm, but she (like you) can’t see all sides of an issue. And she has to listen to you. (She can probably give insight about your child that you may not see for yourself.) And if you both want the same thing–to teach skills with responsibility for working toward mastery–then the discussion of how to go about it will be an interpretative dance that can’t be done via email. She’ll meet you with a compromise…. though she will have trouble admitting it. Unless it makes for a compelling selfie.
7. Know the laws (and your guidance counselor).
Extra days, extra time, you name it, somebody has an Individualized Education Plan for it. The rest of life will be lived by new laws, but while you’re there, there are plenty that protect the child and his needs for accommodation. How about that student who needed to come 30 minutes late every day due to morning anxiety? Just enough time for her Starbucks run which she proudly brought into class. IEP certified. Frankly, no one knows what’s going inside your child’s life and your house, and it’s no one’s right to know or judge. But a parent must lead the intervention if your details won’t fit on the EZ form.
8. Put your child over your reputation.
Yes, you will become known as the parent who complains. Yes, your child may become known as the one with problem parents. Yes, they will talk about you and the situation during lunch with their coworkers. But while they are on the battlefield trying to stamp out ignorance, you are on your child’s side, trying to stamp out unjust treatment. I have had many an awkward discussion with many an embarrassed parent, but teachers put their reputation on the line daily as they give what they can to a broken system they can’t fix. So in coming to the table, a high five is more in order. Welcome to the club.
9. Don’t let the teacher fool you.
With as many learning styles as teaching styles as curriculum styles, who is to say why Junior is failing? That teacher just isn’t 100% sure. In that pressured world of details and deadlines, some stacks and essays get thrown away. (Gasp!) Meaning, sometimes peace trumps justice. So be sure of what you are asking for. It’s looking good already.
10. Don’t forget the wildcard.
Remember, in this deck, there are always surprises. Brace yourself for the moment you learn that teacher is privately going through a divorce. Or chemotherapy. Or hasn’t cared for yeaaaaaars. Or that the history teacher might have a crush on your daughter. And, similarly, don’t forget that sometimes the wildcard is you.
So get in the game and represent your family well, never apologizing for your CEO role in the education of your child. Though the communication burden is on you (no matter their promises) it’ll be worth any mess it may create. Our children are always going to be worth the strain of questioning and reinventing the path as we know it.
To read more on where I ended up, you can visit my education blog here.
image illustrations via shutterstock / Monkey Business Images
Let her walk uncovered down a Saudi street and come back and tell us how about feminism in Islam. pic.twitter.com/yz57JlCX8R
— Tommy Robinson (@TRobinsonNewEra) February 5, 2015
Owen Jones opines in the UK Guardian that women are “taken less seriously than men” and, as a result, the “pandemic of violence against women will continue.” Coming on the heels of the famed Arquette faux pas at the Oscars, his essay easily reads as more of the same old “War on Women” schtick, and to a great extent it is. However, his opening argument is worth noting for what it does say and for what Jones does not. Somehow, like most contemporary feminists with a platform, he manages to acknowledge the grotesque abuses of women living in Islamic cultures while completely refusing to point out that radicalized Islam is the number one serious threat to women across the globe.
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) February 21, 2015
Jones begins by recounting the story of Özgecan Aslan a 20-year-old Turkish college student who was tortured, raped and murdered, her body then burned as evidence, by a bus driver.
Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment, objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it down. Before assessing how men can best speak out in support of women, it’s worth looking at the scale of gender oppression. The statistics reveal what looks like a campaign of terror. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of women globally have suffered violence from a partner or sexual violence from another man. The UN estimates that about 133 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation, and believes that nearly all of the 4.5 million people “forced into sexual exploitation” are girls and women.
He stops there, short of pointing out that the WHO statistics cited clearly show that the greatest threat of violence against women exists in primarily Islamic countries. While he mentions female genital mutilation, he again neglects to tie in the fact that FGM is most commonly practiced in Muslim countries and among extremist Islamic cultures.
Jones bases his argument in a story of a Muslim girl tortured and murdered by a man in a Muslim country that is growing more religious by the day, only to devolve into the same demeaning politically correct tropes of contemporary gender feminism. He finds it ironic that men dare to call themselves feminists and decides “…men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change.” Change what? Their gender? For Jones, as it is for so many other feminist activists, it is easier to just throw a blanket of blame onto men than to confront the source of evil that exacts a real “campaign of terror” against women: radical Islam.
What’s worse, Jones doesn’t hesitate to make his case for women all about gay men. In yet another ironic twist, after accusing men of co-opting the feminist movement for their own egotistical needs, he uses gender feminist theory to defend a tangent on gay rights:
And while men are not oppressed by men’s oppression of women, some are certainly damaged by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia. Men who do not conform to this stereotype – by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify women, not punching other men enough – risk being abused as unmanly. “Stop being such a woman,” or “Stop being such a poof.” Not only does that leave many men struggling with mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50.
If gender stereotypes are a cause of male suicide, they only have gender feminists to blame. Wait – wasn’t this supposed to be an argument in favor of feminism and the female voice?
A recent study on the impact of parental favoritism on their children is finally getting the attention it deserves. While it might seem like a truism to say that parental favoritism can harm children, a study by Brigham Young University professor Alex Jensen found that favoritism, even when it’s just perceived preferential treatment, can lead children who feel less favored to use alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
Professionals in this field of family psychology refer to this as parents’ differential treatment (PDT). The very existence of a common acronym for this family dynamic points up just how impactful something we might accept as just so might be for the development of children.
Substance Abuse Increases among Children Who Perceive Parental Favoritism
According to the study, in families where preferential treatment is more dramatic, “the less favored child was 3.5 times more likely to use any of these substances.” Jensen further clarifies this last point, saying, “It wasn’t just that they were more likely to use any substances, it also escalated.” That is to say, disconnected children who smoke are more likely to try alcohol and drugs as well. Even without the study one can easily comprehend how children who feel that their parents treat them and their siblings differently might find themselves disaffected enough to follow a solemn path toward what the study describes as “delinquency and substance use.”
The Solution Is Simple: Show Your Children You Love Them More Often
One of the more fascinating, albeit alarming, findings of Jensen’s study was that the mere perception of favoritism affected children profoundly. Children who felt that their parents favored a sibling reacted more to their own perceptions of that disparity than to any actual disparity as such.
So if that’s the case, and given that it seems natural for children to believe that their parents treat them differently, or favor one sibling over another, what are we as parents to do? Jensen recommends this simple advice: “Show your love to your kids at a greater extent than you currently are…more warmth and less conflict is probably the best answer.”
There you have it. In order to ensure that our children do not have to confront the deleterious affects of feeling less favored, we just have to show them that we love them more often, and reduce the amount of conflict they experience in the home.
You can read the entire article from the Journal of Family Psychiatry here.
Disney cruise–two words that when linked together create an exotic, fun-filled vacation for the entire family.
My husband Mike has always wanted to go on a cruise. For our 25th wedding anniversary he wanted to sail away, just the two of us, into a sunset at sea. At the time we still had seven children living at home, so going anywhere alone together sounded like paradise.
But then, it seemed a shame not to celebrate the family we worked hard to create in those 25 years.
Having grown up in Riverside California, not far from DisneyLand, I wanted to share some of my best childhood memories with my own children. And so we did. We took a convoy of two vehicles overpacked with camping gear, children and expectations on a ten day adventure to Disney World’s Fort Wilderness. Without exaggeration, my children talked about that trip every day for the next two years. I promised them we would go back.
We never did.
Life hit us hard shortly after that trip. As we rolled with the punches, time refused to stop. The children continued to grow into adults. Not only did we not make it back to Disney, we never took another family vacation.
Last year, shortly after our last child announced her engagement, I remembered that promise left unkept. So I booked that cruise my husband always wanted, and made good on my promise all at once–we went on a Disney cruise.
Why on earth would a family of adults want to go on a Disney cruise you ask? The short answer is nobody does it like Disney.
A Disney cruise is more than just a ship with characters. Personally, I trust Disney to see to it that my family is safe, and well cared for as my family heads out to open sea.
Most of all, everything is steeped in the Disney tradition of making a magical time for each guest, with meticulous attention to every detail. From real time dinner conversations with Nemo’s Crush the sea turtle, to fireworks at sea, Disney Cruise Line made our last family vacation one the adults will be talking about for years.
Don’t wait until you’re facing an empty nest to give your family a dream vacation. Here’s how you can make a magical, exciting cruise to some far away tropical island affordable for your family.
For the last several weeks the mainstream media has been promoting the movie Fifty Shades of Grey as if their life depended on it. For NBC Universal, perhaps it does. As Roger Sterling on Mad Men said, “Hollywood isn’t happy unless things are extreme.”
After the Today show on NBC spent weeks building up the movie with exclusive clips, interviews and insight on its presumptive popularity, it’s no surprise that millions of women flocked to theaters over the three-day weekend.
However, I’m worried that men may think that Christian Grey is what women want.
A male friend emailed me:
The majority of women have spoken as to what they want out of a man. I’m not interested in competing with the character in 50 Shades because I actually have a conscience. Do the majority of women who are fans have a conscience? At this point I’m not convinced they do.
The worst lesson men could take from the movie’s temporary and forced success is to think it represents the real desires of women.
All of the attention the media is giving to Fifty Shades of Grey reminds me of the fervor for Sex and the City. For years women have been told by the media that it is cosmopolitan to consume sex-obsessed entertainment and pursue casual, and physically and emotionally dangerous sex.
Now that Fifty Shades of Grey has surpassed The Passion of the Christ’s opening weekend the media is drooling. Have women finally embraced the message Hollywood and the mainstream media have been feeding them?
Ultimately, I’m not worried about what women take away from Fifty Shades of Grey because it’s fantasy. Also, the media seem to leave out of their reporting on casual sex as entertainment and “mommy porn” that the endings [SPOILER] usually portray a traditional relationship. The women of Sex and the City ended up with significant others and all but one married. Would Fifty Shades of Grey be as popular if the female character lived the rest of her days as a sex slave? Women might imagine life with a billionaire in a helicopter, but not life in a dungeon as a kept woman.
There is one movie in theaters that tells an amazing love story. Speaking of Fifty, this movie recently became one of only 50 movies in history to surpass over $300 million in domestic ticket sales. This feat was done without the mainstream media begging the public to see it. That love story is American Sniper.
Though you wouldn’t know it by the coverage, American Sniper had far less blood-thirst than Fifty Shades of Grey and a much more realistic depiction of a romantic relationship that women and men should want to emulate. Though a majority of the movie is devoted to Chris Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, the story of Chris and Taya’s relationship is significant.
Chris ultimately decided to retire and focus on strengthening their marriage and raising their children. While Fifty Shades of Grey is about a transactional relationship, American Sniper is one of a love greater than oneself. It shows love for another person, love for country, and love for family.
In a recent interview with People, Taya Kyle said,
I miss him so much. I loved being in his arms. I loved holding his hand. But what I miss most about Chris is the feeling when he was in the room. He just changed the feeling whenever he walked in. I missed him even when he was just gone from the room.
Taya went on to say of Chris, “He was a man with a huge heart and charisma and kindness.”
— Jason (@Vision365) February 14, 2015
Last week social media jumped on the story of a woman who supposedly decided to have a late-term abortion specifically because she found out she was having a boy. Based on a near-anonymous comment posted on an Internet forum, the story is highly questionable at best. Nevertheless, both pro- and anti-abortion advocates pounced on the missive. The dialogue generated took on a life of its own, inspiring the following comment from feminist site Jezebel:
“The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it’s probably time for skepticism,” wrote Jezebel’s Anna Merlan.
How, exactly, does gendercide “fit our narrative” in the West, especially in relation to boys?
You’re reading a post for Preparedness Week, a weeklong series of blogs about disaster and emergency preparation inspired by the launch of Freedom Academy’s newest e-book, Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age of Terror by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. You can download the e-book exclusively at the PJ Store here.
People who go overboard to prepare for disaster scenarios are easy targets. I think back to 1999 during the whole Y2K scare, when the pastor of our church at the time held a seminar about what to stock up on when all the computers failed on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. I’ll never forget grown men arguing over who had the bigger food stash. My own personal stash consisted of two cans of green beans, and those cans helped me survive the crisis of what to serve with pork chops one day in January 2000.
National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers series brought the eccentricities of modern disaster preppers to light in an entertaining way, showing us what some otherwise normal Americans do to prepare for “when the s*** hits the fan,” as so many of them were apt to say. These folks could have been your neighbors, except unlike you they were also worried about implausible scenarios like the super-volcano underneath Yellowstone Park erupting and throwing New York City into chaos. We’re talking about people who make plans to live off bathtub water or stockpile liquor to use as barter — people whose endearing wackiness packs a perverse fascination.
But the reality is that we do have genuine threats to worry about and ways to prepare for the worst without going off the deep end. That’s the point national that security expert and my PJ Lifestyle colleague James Jay Carafano, PhD makes in his brand new book Surviving the End: A Practical Guide for Everyday Americans in the Age Of Terror. Nowhere in this book will you find advice on how to create the ideal liquor stockpile or how to “bug out” to the wilderness, and you won’t read about an eruption at Yellowstone Park. What you will find is sober-minded advice on how to prepare for real, plausible scenarios that threaten the American way of life.
Carafano writes not with a Chicken Little doomsday mentality but with an eye toward clear thinking and calm judgment in a crisis (and with just the right amount of humor). His solutions are not over the top or prohibitively expensive — rather, his ideas only require reasonable amounts of time and money. Most simply put, Carafano drills down his philosophy of preparedness to health, faith, family, and education.
In Surving the End, Carafano looks at five distinct threats: epidemic disease, nuclear explosions, terrorism in its may forms, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses), and cyber attacks. While each of these scenarios carry their own scariness, they’re all quite real and carry their own far-reaching consequences. With each threat, Carafano examines the potential danger and fallout (no pun intended) and looks at practical and reasonable ways to ensure safety and long-term survival in each situation.
One theme that emerges throughout the book is that we should be proactive as families and communities to prepare for the worst, rather than relying on the federal government to help us out in a crisis. While he admits that Uncle Sam does provide some good resources and gets responses right once in a while, Carafano goes to great lengths to point out the failure of federal authorities when both sides are in charge. Glaring recent examples like Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima nuclear disaster stand alongside historical records like the 1918 Swine Flu epidemic to warn all of us that governments rarely have the answers in a crisis.
Carafano’s recommendations in the book are always practical and doable. Some of them require investments of time and money, of course, but so do most worthwhile pursuits. Nothing the author suggests requires the odd leaps of faith that eccentric preppers promote. The fact that Carafano recommends so many well-researched and sensible responses to worst-case scenarios lends a genuine credibility to his writing. Surviving the End is no doomsday manual — it’s a guidebook for practical preparedness.
When all is said and done, Carafano has brought a new attitude to the arena of disaster prep — neither the quasi-Biblical urgency of a Glenn Beck nor the smug fatalism of reality show preppers, but a common-sense, can-do approach to readiness. And in the end, Carafano encourages us to realize that being sensibly prepared is the American way.
This guide has given you the best there is to offer of simple, practical, useful measures you can take to keep your loved ones safe. But there is another important message in the guide as well. We all will survive better if we pull together – not as mindless lemmings following Washington, but as free Americans who fight together for the future of freedom.
As terrible as the terrors we have talked about here are, they are no worse than the suffering at Valley Forge, the slaughter of Gettysburg, the crushing Great Depression, the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, or the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This generation of Americans is every bit as capable of besting the worst life has to offer. If we do that together, our odds are more than even.
You know, he’s right. I really only had to read this book for the sake of this review, but I’ve already begun making a list of things I want to do to become more prepared (including getting in shape — as if I needed another reason to remind me), and I’ll recommend that my loved ones do the same. For this kind of sober-minded preparation boils down to common sense, plain and simple.
Carafano suggests that we all become preppers, and if we take the advice we read in Surviving the End, we can do so. We won’t turn into the kind of weirdos who are ready to off the pets and high tail it out to the wilderness or move to a bunker with more canned food than a Super Walmart “when the s*** hits the fan,” but we’ll be the kind of people who embody the robust, enterprising American spirit that has made our nation so great. And we’ll do our part to help ensure that America survives just as much as our families survive.
The only thing more complicated than a relationship is parenthood. Samuel Forrest may know that better than most of us. What he didn’t know was that his newly adopted country of Armenia has commitment issues, and suffers from a Messiah complex.
Samuel and his new bride Ruzan entered the hospital together with the usual high expectations that accompany the birth of a new baby. They exited separately, heading for a divorce court to end their 18 month marriage, their personal agony going viral and the dark secret of Armenia held up to world-wide scrutiny.
One can only imagine that for Samuel this baby with a new wife held the promise of restoring everything he left behind in New Zealand: his home, the four children — one with Down Syndrome — and the church he grew up in. Excommunication by the Exclusive Brethren church for divorcing his first wife also carried the punishment of being shunned by his extended family. With nothing left for him in New Zealand he moved to Armenia.
Fast-forward to the moment all expectant parents live for, labor day. Apparently, their son’s birth required the couple’s separation and Ruzan was not fully conscious for the birth of Leo. She describes her first moments as awaking to “alarmed” faces around her:
My first question was about the whereabouts of my child. I remember the sad faces of my relatives and the doctors and the diagnosis that sounded like a verdict: “Your child was born with a Down Syndrome.” One can never imagine my feelings at that moment.
Hardly had I recovered from the first shock, when the doctor approached me and told me to voice my decision whether I was going to keep Leo or not. I had to make the most ruthless decision in my life within several hours. (DailyMail.com)
The evasive looks from doctors, the tear-stained faces of family, the calls of condolences — all weighed heavy on the new mother. Not only did she make the “ruthless” decision within several hours to not keep her baby and to send him to an orphanage, she also decided it without her husband.
Samuel didn’t play by the rules; instead, he cradled his son in his arms and fell in love. Then his wife informed him that she would divorce him if he kept the baby. Ruzan made good on her promise.
Alone, and needing to get his newborn son out of Armenia, Samuel started the GoFundMe campaign to “Bring Leo Home.” It has made ripples across oceans and cyberspace, garnering $497,645 in only 15 days.
On the surface, it looks like there are just two sides to this story.
But there is more at play here…
This year you could spend your Valentine’s Day in a theater full of middle-aged women oozing over a hot-bodied twenty-something whipping his blindfolded secretary to the point of striking blood in the name of “love.” Daytime television loves to play up to the Soccer Mom demographic (a title first dubbed to describe Clinton fans, ironically) seeking fantasy fulfillment in the form of sexual fiction. It was corny enough when shirtless Fabios graced the covers. Now that the most popular sex trilogy focuses on a woman who willingly allows herself to be sexually abused, is pop culture humoring those bored housewives too much?
While the majority of Fifty Shades fans are typical middle-aged marrieds dissatisfied with their partners (or even themselves), anywhere from 5-25% of Americans “show affinity” for BDSM (Bondage/Domination-Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) in the bedroom. On an issue that poses a particular sexual threat to women, feminists are split 50-50 between being against sexual abuse and for a narcissistic “if it feels good, do it” sexual ethos. Hence, a pervert who trolls Fanfiction.net (the original home of Hobbit-inspired Elvish/Dwarf porn) can turn her twisted sexual fantasies into an overnight sensation. After all, it’s all about love in the end. Or is it?
Porn? Playstation? ‘Pain-In-The-Ass’ Dates? What Are the REAL Reasons Millennial Men Aren’t Marrying?
I was in LA last month and stopped by the PJTV studios to do a roundtable discussion on Millennial men and marriage:
Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike discusses the state of the young American male with PJTV’s Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle and Matt Orr. Are men shunning marriage because of the economy, or do they have alternatives to marriage, like porn and easy sex? Could it be that women simply giving-up on the hopes of having a relationship with the current pool of men in America? Hear the answers.
Or maybe American men have given up hope on the current pool of women in America: as one of the panelists notes, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” Here is our discussion:
First there was the father that called the police to supervise as he spanked his 12 year-old daughter, then Megan Fox revealed how many parents are being arrested for allowing their children a bit of independence. A sobering thought emerged: parental authority is no longer trusted or honored.
Today’s parents feel the cultural sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
What we are seeing is a form of progressive parenting. The social current sweeping parents off their feet treats children like a class of oppressed people dominated by adults, then makes sure they are coddled and protected by the state from any would-be offense or danger.
Take spanking for example. It is legal. However, it’s now considered a moral crime. Letting a child play outside without the watchful eye of an adult is considered neglect and endangerment. While allowing children to become obnoxious brats without the ability interact with adults is now an acceptable norm.
Over at Parenting.com, the current wisdom is on display as “Creative” discipline. Tricks, apparently have replaced parental authority.
I call it ineffective manipulation.
Self-dubbed “meninists” have gone on defense after a Superbowl commercial inspired women to proclaim to the world the power of being #LikeAGirl. Ironically, the sexism inherent in their response pales in comparison to the gender bias expressed in defense of the commercial. Once again, gender feminists out themselves as a group bent on erasing gender, specifically female gender, from American culture. The problem is that they are so bloody brainwashed in indoctrination that they don’t even realize they’re doing it.
In an attempt to defend the pride a woman should take in acting #LikeAGirl, gender feminists only manage to uphold the notion that women are weak and oppressed and need public approval in order to be “empowered.” Moreover, in order to gain that much sought-after public approval, women must take on androgynous appearances, hobbies or careers that require them to leave their femininity at home under lock and key.
For a perfect example of how hysteria governs modern debates over complex issues, witness what happened yesterday morning to Governor Chris Christie. For the apparently unpardonable offense of offhandedly suggesting parents ought to have some freedom to decide how their kids are vaccinated, the governor’s political career was declared over. The instantaneous eruption from America’s self-deputized thought police had the governor — only hours later — meekly offering “clarification” of his earlier comments.
The debate over vaccines, itself nearing pandemic proportions in the U.S., is following a familiar pattern. People are either pro-science or anti-; in agreement with the “consensus” or crazy “conspiracists” and “deniers.” Much like the debate over global warming, there’s no room for middle ground; preaching prudence is basically blasphemous. And just as many are calling for climate “deniers” to be ostracized and even arrested, critics and parents who question the conventional wisdom on vaccines are likewise condemned as threats against civilization itself.
Like most everyone else, I am neither a doctor nor even a scientist. But I am smart enough to know there are perfectly valid reasons to question conventional wisdom.
Take the current controversy over measles. From the looks of my Twitter feed and the comments sections under just about any vaccine-related article, you’d think we were talking about the bubonic plague. In fact, measles, despite being highly contagious, isn’t particularly dangerous. So long as your immune system is in decent shape, you’ll be fine. In fact, you might actually want it, as exposure leads to lifetime immunity.
Measles is basically a fever with an accompanying rash. It’s true that in the 1800s, outbreaks caused tragically large numbers of children to die — but these were concentrated in orphanages and hospital wards (places where malnutrition was rampant). As the world prospered, affluence spread, and health improved, in the U.S. the chances of dying after contracting measles dropped to 1-2 percent by the 1930s. By the time a vaccine was introduced in 1963, deaths from measles were virtually nonexistent. Asthma, according to “Vital Statistics of the United States, 1963,” claimed 56 times as many lives.
Today it’s popular to argue that measles would be totally defeated were it not for the Jenny McCarthys of the world. The only problem is that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine does not actually immunize — as most people understand the word — against measles. The most we can expect is temporary protection. That’s because vaccines are injected directly into the body, bypassing the body’s natural immune response. “Most disease-causing organisms enter your body through the mucous membranes of your nose, mouth, pulmonary system or your digestive tract – not through an injection,” explains Dr. Joseph Mercola. “These mucous membranes have their own immune system, called the IgA immune system.”
Initially described as lifelong insurance, health officials realized in the ’70s, when an uptick in measles diagnoses occurred among vaccinated high-school students, that the vaccine should probably be administered more regularly. The CDC now advises receiving the vaccine at 12-15 months, 4-6 years, and again as an adult. The U.S. is also using its third version of a measles vaccine, after the first two proved ineffective.
Which should probably make it no surprise that many of the people catching measles today were vaccinated. Today’s measles cases are occurring in heavily vaccinated populations. When a 2006 outbreak among college students in the Midwest struck, the fact that most of the affected were vaccinated seemingly made no difference. When an outbreak of the mumps hit the NHL this year, many reflexively blamed “anti-vaxxers.” Almost no one reported that every affected player appears to have received the MMR vaccine. The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby received not only the initial MMR, but also a booster just before the Sochi Olympics. The director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Paul Offit, would only say “we know that the short-term effectiveness of the mumps vaccine is excellent.”
Still, none of this would suggest there’s any reason to avoid regular vaccines — were it not for side effects. And here comes another wrinkle: The MMR vaccine can itself give you measles. In 2013, measles began spreading in British Columbia after a two year-old girl contracted the virus from the vaccine, and then began spreading it to others. Though rare, there are other risks worth considering, too: According to the CDC, side effects to MMR can range from minor (fever, mild rash, swelling), to moderate (seizure, temporary low platelet count), to major (deafness, long-term seizures, permanent brain damage). Note that the latter two categories are worse than the disease itself. Perhaps a bigger problem is how these vaccines weaken the immune response among undernourished patients. “In developing countries, the use of high-titre vaccine at 4-6 months of age was associated with an unexpectedly high mortality in girls by the age of 2 years from infectious childhood illness,” a study reported in the British Medical Journal.
As recently as the 1970s, the CDC recommended children receive four vaccines. Today, per CDC protocol, children can receive around 40 shots between birth and the age of 6. What if that number grows to 100? 500? Will it always be unreasonable to ask, “Is all of this really necessary?”
Finally, this may come as a shock, but it’s actually possible for the government and the medical establishment to get things wrong. This year the CDC admitted its flu vaccine was created for the wrong strain — yet Americans are being instructed to get the shot anyway. Indeed, some parents are being threatened with having their children taken if they aren’t given this (almost certainly) useless flu vaccine. For more than a generation Americans were told to avoid as much as possible saturated fat, salt, and calories in general. More recent science shows that salt consumption has no causal relationship with blood pressure; eating healthy saturated fats like grass-fed butter is good for your heart, brain, and metabolism, and calories are actually a form of energy that gives us life.
Assigning responsibility for your children’s health and well-being to others — even “experts” — is precisely the opposite of parenting. Asking questions, educating yourself, soliciting more than one opinion: these aren’t the behaviors of people to be condemned and vilified. When someone insists you submit to the expertise of others, they’re actually asking you to stop thinking for yourself. And that’s a mistake. Vaccines, like so much of life, are more complex than a simple good-vs.-evil analysis affords. Universal solutions rarely work universally. Parents are right to do their homework.
Here’s Senator Rand Paul saying that most vaccines should be voluntary:
I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime between 1989 and 2015 “the village” lost its mind. It seems like every day there are reports of parents being arrested for simply letting their children play outside without hovering over them. The things parents are being arrested for are the exact same things that we were allowed to do when we were kids.
As a result, neighborhood streets are empty and parents are terrified to allow free, unsupervised play. These are not toddlers we are talking about but 8, 9, 10 and 11 year-olds who are being taught they have no right to play at the neighborhood parks without the ever watchful eyes of parents. Debra Harrell is one mother who bears the scars of the nanny state encroaching on her right to parent for allowing her 9 year old to play in the park instead of sit with her at work all day. Nicole Gainey is another mother who was arrested for letting her 7 year old go to the neighborhood park unsupervised. Tammy Cooper was arrested for letting her two children ride bikes outside of her home. She is suing and I hope she wins.
These are just a few of the ,any stories popping up all around the country as our culture nosedives into total acceptance of a surveillance state. Our children are suffering under unreasonable restrictions and we should be concerned about their ability to function independently as adults. And maybe that’s the purpose — to retard the development of dependent children into independent adults so that children go seamlessly from dependence on parents to dependence on an all-powerful government. We should fight this in our own homes and seek to produce highly independent and therefore inherently American citizens.
Here are 10 ways to do that:
10. Play on “dangerous” playground equipment
Has your park taken down all teeter-totters? Are merry-go-rounds a thing of the past? Build some in your backyard. Monkey bars look too high? Let them swing on them anyway. We are simply too concerned with the safety of children around things that really are not that unsafe. If Little Jimmy gets a broken arm, he’ll also get a memory of an itchy cast and friends who signed it and learning how to do stuff with his other hand along with all that extra attention from Mom. It’s not the end of the world.
Once upon a time, travel was really arduous. Some trips took days, months, and, in the case of Odysseus, years. In fact, the word “travel” is generally accepted as having its origin in “travail,” and according to Webster’s,
the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously).
Certainly a trip from Europe to the New World could take months whereas now it takes six to nine hours.
Many travelers might feel that travel should once again be called “travail.” Among other travails there are: long lines at ticket counters; delayed flights; long waits for luggage; airline seats that seem closer and closer to the seats in front; and waiting on the phone for a long time to speak to an airline representative (my husband Avi was on hold for fifty minutes to talk to someone at American Airlines). This is a far cry from the luxurious travel that going by air once was. Of course, there are no more complimentary airline meals anymore.
After 9/11, with the formation of the TSA, things became even worse. The lines were so long for TSA checkpoints at Newark on one trip that the door to the airline sleeve closed by the time we got to the plane. I’ve found that TSA agents are generally polite and agreeable in Milwaukee, but LAX is just the opposite.
Avi, who wears a prosthetic leg, now always has an attendant bring a wheelchair to take him through TSA checkpoints and to the plane. An LAX TSA agent, after patting Avi’s yarmulke down flat, then picked it up to see that nothing was under this thin covering. Then the agent took him away for 45 minutes. They not only X-rayed both legs, but also the wheelchair that belonged to the airport!
While waiting I saw two huge TSA female agents checking out what looked like a 90-year-old woman who was about four feet something.
We nearly didn’t make that plane either.
However the worst trip that Avi ever took was the one coming back home from Los Angeles on Monday, January 5, 2015, on American Airlines. He was to have arrived in Milwaukee at 6:10 pm after a flight from LAX to O’Hare, and then a connecting flight to Milwaukee. I flew on Southwest. We left at exactly the same time, 10:25 am from L.A. I arrived at 4:20, about five minutes late, for which the pilot apologized.
Avi arrived in Milwaukee at around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, seven and a half hours late! He’d been traveling — or travailing — for thirteen and a half hours, long enough to have gone to London from Los Angeles, instead of going to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I left a friend at the airport to pick him up. The friend kept checking the arrivals board. The arrival time was changed from 6:10 to seven something, then eight, and then… nothing. I called American and couldn’t get anyone. After leaving my number, someone finally called with no information at all.
When Avi finally got home at almost two in the morning, he told me about his horrendous trip:
When we landed in Chicago from Los Angeles, the stewardess asked people what their connections were. When I told her when my connection was, she said it was criminal to have scheduled me for just a half hour to make a plane which was on the other side of O’Hare. I didn’t even wait for a wheelchair but struggled off the plane; and since the sleeve was exposed to the air, it was extremely slippery and dangerous for me. I was afraid I’d fall. The agent in the terminal said the connecting flight was delayed an hour and I was able to be driven to the connecting flight’s gate.
The rest of the story would have been funny on Seinfeld, but it wasn’t for Avi and the rest of the American Airlines passengers:
We finally boarded the connection at least an hour and a half after the rescheduled time. After everybody was on the packed plane and seated, the pilot stated, “I need three things to take off: I need passengers, I need baggage, and I need fuel. So far I’ve got passengers.” We waited on the plane another hour, which made me now at O’Hare for three hours after landing. After loading the baggage and fuel, the pilot said: “Now the wings have to be de-iced.”
Ten or fifteen minutes later, he announced, “I’ve been down-checked by the FAA and since they couldn’t find another pilot the flight is canceled.”
That was at 9 p.m., three hours after we were supposed to have left!
Everyone got off the plane. We were still at O’Hare. The gate agent told us there were no more flights. Our only recourse was to take the airport bus to Milwaukee, and I wasn’t even sure I could make the last one. The building to get to the bus was far from the terminal I was now in, so I asked for a wheelchair. I waited for almost a half hour together with another lady in a wheelchair. Eventually one attendant came and managed to push both of us at once. We finally caught the very last bus to Milwaukee.
That trip was a horror, too. The bus was first held up by a jackknifed truck on the highway, then slid around in the snow and nearly got stuck in the snow at one of the intermediate stops. The bus, which was supposed to have arrived at 12:30, finally pulled into the Milwaukee stop at almost 1:30.
The first thing I did the next day was to cancel my American Airlines credit card, and neither Avi nor I will ever fly American again.
What were your trips from hell?
Image illustration via shutterstock / ra2studio
— Project Pat Sajak (@ParisBurned) January 25, 2015
A few days ago a friend of mine who loves and lives vintage shared this gem from HuffPo showing a series of modern-day “pin-up” pics paired with the argument that “every body is gorgeous.” The pin-ups, all retro-themed, featured a varying number of body shapes and types in clever poses and even cleverer clothing designed to hint at sex. Because sex, good sex, ultimately relies on stimulating the human imagination. Bad sex, on the other hand, has everything to do with telling the mind what to think instead of letting it take the hint. Which is why sex today, quite frankly, stinks.
Play the body-positive feminist angle of the photos all you want. What really makes these photos awesome is that they are a reminder of a time when sex was a hint and women were in control of exactly how far they went with the nudge, the wink, the euphemism, and the nudity. Contemporary feminists love to argue that being completely naked in public is the ultimate proclamation of sexual power, because they cannot comprehend the unspoken language of sex. Anything that isn’t laid out clearly in a multi-part contract is somehow an inconclusive sexual assault. No wonder they love gays and lust after drag queens. These are the only demographics still allowed to speak the unspoken language of glamour and inference. The shaggy-haired, pantsuited crew wishes they could be that comfortable in a sparkling evening gown and heels.
The truth is, contemporary feminists don’t know how to handle the power that comes with the clothes. Naked they get. Naked comes with a contract and court protection. The resulting shock value, best left to celebrities on red carpets protected by the lens of the camera, is especially defended and praised. Second-wave theorists once decried cinema’s voyeuristic male gaze. Now they taunt it openly, flashing breasts and bottoms to the point of sheer boredom, arguing that familiarity with the naked figure will somehow both grant women ownership of their bodies and tame evil male lust. (Tell that one to the booming porn industry.)
No one is more adept at the naked game than Miley Cyrus, Disney’s good girl-gone-bad who has apparently decided to challenge Lena Dunham at her own flesh-revealing game. Her latest shoot for V magazine wasn’t a shoot, per se, as much as a catalog of naked Polaroids (the Insta-variety no doubt) snapped by a friend while on her latest tour. Compare her nude antics to original Disney bad girl Annette Funicello, who ignored Disney’s advice and dared to bare her navel in a two-piece for a series of bikini beach movies in the 1960s. Funicello’s legacy is that of teen sex symbol. Miley’s on the other hand is that of teen slut.
— Nora (@nora_da_xplora) November 1, 2014
In the Slut Walk era, Miley is just another bare-breasted woman in the crowd of feminists bent on denying psychology and biology through visual over-stimulation and court-protected denial of responsibility for inevitable consequences. As Camille Paglia so smartly comments to the pro-slut crowd:
Don’t call yourself a slut unless you are prepared to live and defend yourself like one. My creed is street-smart feminism, alert, wary, and militant—the harsh survival code of streetwalkers and drag queens. Sex is a force of nature, not just a social construct. Monsters stalk its midnight realm. Too many overprotected middle-class girls have a dangerously naive view of the world. They fail to see the animality and primitivism of sex, historically controlled by traditions of religion and morality now steadily dissolving in the West.
The sexual revolution won by my 1960s generation was a two-edged sword. Our liberation has burdened our successors with too many sexual choices too early. Their flesh-baring daily dress is a sex mime to whose arousing signals they seem blind. Only in a police state, and not even there, will women be totally safe on the streets. Honorable men do not rape. But protests and parades cannot create honor.
Contemporary feminism isn’t just about nudity. Its ancient, paganesque obsession with body image puts more demands on a woman’s body than the simple shedding of attire. Ancient Jews who desired to fit in with their Greek overlords painfully reversed their circumcisions. Today’s women go to great lengths to emasculate their otherwise feminine figures to do what, exactly? Pursue a level of strength biologically and psychologically associated with the male gender? Or carve a comfortable trans-niche of their own, not quite glam like the drag divas but not nearly as boring as the Hillaryesque powersuit crowd?
Whether it’s female body building or superhero chic, flat abs, four-packed and more, are now the ultimate pursuit in female happiness. Women once considered themselves liberated from the forced flat abs of the corset generation. Now they’re demanding their own bodies do the work of the whale bones. Cinched in tight, these picture-perfect bodies eliminate the belly pouch made famous in elegant female art for centuries. (The un-tightened belly pouch that also makes the round ligament pain common in an expanding pregnant belly easier to bear.) Goodbye, Botticelli’s bellies and all the promise of fertility within, hello flat abs and the emasculated figures that come with them.
Hyper-muscular demands on a feminine physique can have more than just an aesthetic effect on their womanhood:
A Norwegian population-based survey of nearly 4,000 women under 45 found a clear link between exercise intensity and fertility. Women who were active most days were more than three times more likely to have fertility problems than inactive women. And those who exercised to the point of exhaustion were more than twice as likely to be infertile than those who engaged in less strenuous activities, according to results published in Human Reproduction.
It is the great irony of flat abs and nude figures that women, who claim to possess a greater hold over their own sexuality, are in fact rendering themselves powerless over their own sex. Whether they are work-out freaks who reduce their chances of becoming mothers or women insisting that baring it all isn’t an invitation to a dangerous sexual encounter, contemporary feminism has crafted a cadre of goddesses willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of so-called liberation. The only thing they’ve been liberated from is the one thing they’re after: Being thought of as sexy.
How informed is informed? What is the psychological effect of being told of every last possible complication of a treatment? Do all people react the same way to information, or does their reaction depend upon such factors as their intelligence, level of education, and cultural presuppositions, and if so does the informing doctor have to take account of them, and if so how and to what degree? An orthopedic surgeon once told me that obtaining informed consent from patients now takes him so long that he had had to reduce the number of patients that he treats.
An article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine extols the ethical glories of informed consent without much attention to its limits, difficulties and disadvantages.
It starts by referring to a trial of the level of oxygen in the air given to premature babies, of whom very large numbers are born yearly. Back in the 1940s it was thought that air rich in oxygen would compensate for premature babies’ poor respiratory system, but early in the 1950s British doctors began to suspect, correctly, that these high levels of oxygen caused retinal damage leading to permanent blindness. Fifty years later, the optimal level of oxygen is still not known with certainty, and a trial was conducted that showed that while higher levels of oxygen caused an increased frequency of retinopathy, lower levels resulted in more deaths. The authors of the trial have been criticized because they allegedly did not inform the parents of the possibility that lower levels of oxygen might lead to decreased survival, which was reasonably foreseeable.
How reasonable does reasonability have to be? Many of the most serious consequences of a treatment are totally unexpected and not at all foreseeable (no one suspected that high levels of oxygen for premature babies would result in blindness, for example, and it took many years before this was realized). Ignorance is, after all, the main reason for conducting research.
But suppose parents of premature babies had been asked to participate in a trial in which their offspring were to be allocated randomly to an increased risk of blindness or an increased risk of death. Surely this frankness would have been cruel, all the more so as the precise risks could not have been known in advance. Parents would feel guilt alike if their babies died or were blind.
Now that the answer is known, more or less, parents can be asked to choose in the light of knowledge: but their informed consent will be agonizing because there is no correct answer. Personally, I would rather trust the doctor sufficiently to act in my best interests in the light of his knowledge and experience. So far in life I have not had reason to regret this attitude, though I am aware that it has its hazards also. But
…why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
And I have often thought what medical ethicists would have made of the pioneers of anesthesia. They did not seek the informed consent of their patients, in part, but only in part, because they hadn’t much information to give. What moral irresponsibility, giving potentially noxious and even fatal substances to unsuspecting experimental subjects without warning them of the dangers!
And there are even some medical ethicists who think we should not take advantage of knowledge gained unethically. All operations should henceforth be performed without anesthesia, therefore.
When one has indoor plumbing some things are simply better purchased with a wingman. Not the proverbial “wingman,” but an oversized, fortified male accompanying the said female in procurement of goods, minimizing her mocking for sheer amusement of purveyor staff.
In my experience these purchases include fast cars, Cuban cigars in Paris (Churchills not cigarillos), and high-end spirits. Never have I been so unabashedly snickered at as when inquiring about whiskey.
It all started four years ago. My husband was having a major birthday and I desired a distinctive offering. I thought about a really ripe Cabernet Franc (his favorite) but we already had enough garnet-hued libations in the basement. Collecting red wine involved more babysitting and added expense than initially anticipated. It’s an indulgence requiring quick consumption after opening as it begins to decline soon after. And wine has obstinate storage needs. If you have something special waiting to peak, it can easily become soured in less than ideal conditions.
A good example was the much-anticipated 2004 Merryvale Profile finally opened on our anniversary last month–an utter disappointment. The bottle had been too close to the radiant heat floor and consequently the cork dried out, allowing air to filter through. We took a sip and puckered up, promptly committing the remaining tainted wine to the crock that houses my French Mother. What a waste.
My husband is incredibly difficult to buy for and rarely gets excited about anything—the only downside to his even keel. Before he was into wine, he really enjoyed whiskey, which was at the time absent from the liquor cabinet. I began my internet search for a spirit to parallel a major birthday for such a man and came across the annual “spirit” awards (as in alcohol, not cheerleaders).
The mentioned imported whiskeys (spelled “whiskies” in Scotland, Canada and Japan) were the Scotch and Irish bottlings, Canadian and, surprisingly, some Japanese. There were several standouts, but no solitary bottle that prompted a Hallelujah. So I headed to the American offerings in which one bourbon (we’ll get to a whiskey/bourbon comparison in a sec) won seven notable awards in 2010 and a score of 97 points by Wine Enthusiast. That bottle was the 20-year Pappy Van Winkle, referred to by loyal devotees as “Pappy.”
That solitary distilled spirit commandeered recommendations and reviews from every possible venue: lowly college kids that accidentally found a bottle hiding in the local liquor store to chefs in Manhattan to bourbon gurus in Kentucky. The 20-year Pappy seemed the overwhelmingly obvious choice, and I was relieved to find my husband’s soon-to-be birthday gift.
Then came the crushing reality. I was tremendously naïve regarding process acquisition of the illusive “Pappy.” There were thousands of folks (generally men) on wait lists across the country trying to land a bottle, and no respectable liquor store in Maryland was willing to sell to some girl wanna-be whiskey connoisseur sans wingman. The fact that shipping alcohol to Maryland was illegal at the time only upped the ante.
Three weeks later the exchange took place. Within arm’s reach was not one, but two bottles of Pappy Van Winkle in trademark velvet bottle sleeves. I had managed to talk an unnamed someone out of both a 15-year and a 20-year Pappy for the agreed price of $500. My blue-collar background objected via inner dialogue but was snuffed out the second I cradled that plain brown box in my arms. I had closed on a Hail Mary, securing honorary sainthood among future generations of American wives.
Finally the day came. He opened the box, at once astonished. After putting his jaw back into place, he snapped a photo with his iPhone and off it went to his brother in Dallas, who’d been trying to get his hands on any bottle (or even just an ounce) of Pappy Van Winkle for well over a year.
That first Pappy procurement swiftly launched me into the “Wifee Hall of Fame” (his words, not mine). I’ve never seen a tough guy act so dorky. He texted photos of himself posing with his Pappy to nearly every drinking buddy he’s ever had. But my victorious endowment also created a problem… He was hooked. The limited supply of Pappy merely tickled the scratch of increasing consumer demand in the following years.
I again called all the liquor stores who might obtain an allocation, usually one case or less, in late November. After booking my parents’ babysitting services for Pappy allocation day, the hubby and I hit every liquor store (like Bonnie and Clyde) that was expecting at least six bottles. We went in each location separately as there was a one-bottle limit per person. At the end of the day we had four new bottles. The following year we obtained another four bottles to add to our modest collection (see exhibit B below). Pappy allocation day had become a standing date between us… like a treasure hunt for grown-ups with OCD.
This past November, we were down to eight bottles and hoped to pick up two or three more. But the UPS trucks had all arrived at liquor stores with lines forming outside and the few bottles sent to each location sold immediately upon arrival. Didn’t even make it to the shelves. Other stores that were expecting a modest delivery got the big goose egg and were consequently pretty pissed off. Despite five well-managed attempts, we went home empty handed (sigh).
A few hours after returning home defeated, one of my husband’s employees called with intel regarding someone who might sell us a bottle of the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. When my dedicated spouse arrived at the nondescript liquor store, the 80-something owner looked him up and down, asked him a few questions and made small talk. After all, the guy wasn’t about to sell Van Winkle to a jerk (or worse, an unworthy palate). Luckily, my husband passed the interview. They had bonded over a mutual interest, hockey.
The older fellow then discreetly disclosed that he had rye in the back. My husband followed him to a room of what seemed to be boxes full of easily attainable American whiskeys. But the contents of the boxes did not correspond with their entry-level housing.
Not only did my husband secure a Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, he also came home with a unique bottling of Colonel E.H. Taylor, and the humdinger… the 18-year Sazarac Rye that I’d been trying to get a hold of for two years (see exhibit A). The Sazarac Rye had been the second most absurd request I made at local liquor stores. And it is absolutely delicious! Not nearly as angry as the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye because the smooth toffee-like Sazarac had another five years to mellow into an uber-refined gentleman.
So, here’s a quick education on American whiskey and bourbon. There are actually laws that specify what they can be made of, what they are aged in, the temp of the fluid when entering the barrels, and how high the alcohol content must be for each. It’s a lot of info, but Maker’s Mark generated a great visual that presents the basics in a rather unconfusing manner. I wish I would have found this back in 2010:
An unforeseen bonus to our rather tantric Pappy fixation is that it has only increased in value, nearly three-hundred percent. And, it keeps for ages, unlike the red wine stewing on our heated floors.
The Pappy purchased and opened several years ago is just as enjoyable, if not more so. And the best part? I get between twenty and twenty-five servings per bottle, under $15 for a 1oz. pour of 23-year Pappy, the brand’s flagship. In contrast, our big reds cost more per pour, offering only six servings per bottle. Buck for buck, our whiskey is by far a superior value for initial investment.
We’ve still got four ounces left of that first 20-year bottle I bought back in 2010. Those last well-loved milliliters will be finishing a long distinguished life in form of a bourbon cake in the next few weeks. I realize this is spiritual heresy, so feel free to protest should you feel led.
America isn’t going to slide to mediocrity. Nope, it’s going to be pushed down the hill by a group of whiny Gladys Kravitz types.
They’re going after our children.
Take the case of Michael Anderson and the girls’ basketball team he coaches in Arroyo, California. Coach Anderson recently led his team to a 161-2 victory over Bloomington High School.
That’s not a typo.
This was even with putting in the benchwarmers.
Once upon a time, Coach Anderson and his team would be heroes.
This week, Coach Anderson got a two-game suspension. Bloomington’s coach whined about the lack of ethics in the loss.
Yeah. Lack of ethics.
Again, not a typo.
Winning in a huge fashion is not ethical.
This hits a bit close to home. My brother-in-law coached his son’s Pop Warner football team. And they won. No matter what he did, they won.
A threatened suspension.
Some people just laugh and scoff at the stupidity. After all, these are just kids’ games, right?
At the same time youth and teen sports leagues are engaging in their Jihad on winning really big victories, parents are being investigated for a horrid form of neglect: letting their kids walk to the park.
Indeed, the parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, practice what is called “free range parenting.” It has a name, air quotes and even its own TV show, World’s Worst Parent. The title comes from the name its host, Lenore Skenazy, got called when people learned that she allowed her 9 year old to ride the subway alone.
You know a cultural movement has hit its stride when it gets a reality TV show.
But what the hell has happened to society when a kid walking around is a thing and not just a kid walking around?
So we now live in a nexus of people who want to raise children never to risk any psychic or physical danger. They are bubble-wrapped, physically and mentally.
This is going to turn out great.
We don’t want kids to play sports and run around outside just to give adults some breathing space by getting them out of the house. It’s not even just about getting them to move and do something that doesn’t involve the word “box” or station.”
Don’t get me wrong. “Me time” and ending the epidemic of school-yard butter balls is important. Someday I’m going to retire and I want the next generation of workers to be fit and productive so I can lay around at the beach.
Here’s the thing, though. The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed workers that we will simply soak to fund Social Security and Medicare require the guts and motive to succeed. Since we’re going to be yoking these kids with the burden of having two workers supporting every one retired layabout like myself, these beasts of burden can’t just be mediocre.
America’s dying social program will need field-tearing, smoke-snorting studs under the yoke. Any lesser beasts will get stuck in the field or be too scared to even go on it without adult supervision and fifteen forms signed in triplicate.
Are we going to get these studs by teaching them to win but not by much? Or perhaps the hard chargers of the future will have Mommy and Daddy hanging around in their cubicles.
Heck no. But parents everywhere will be protected from empty-nest syndrome because their pampered little princes and princesses will still be hanging out in the basement smoking weed and playing vids.
Our kids deserve to dream big and live big. And we want them to have the gumption to get onto the playing field on their own.
The Society for a Perfect World types also overlook the fact that losing a game and having adventures are actually an important part of life. The time to get knocked in the dirt or get into a little trouble is when you’re a kid. The stakes aren’t important but the lessons carry through life.
A real childhood tempers the soul, like fire does steel. Good steel is hard but not brittle. A child who does things for himself, tries new things, will not be brittle. Better that they get used to the fact that the world is a harsh and unforgiving place when the stakes are low.
Think of the classic American story: The Bad News Bears. They start out as a motley group of misfits, losers in every sense of the word. But in their humiliation, they strive and rise to greatness.
Would the Bears have pulled themselves together if they hadn’t been allowed to be losers? What if they hadn’t even been allowed to walk to the park?
More importantly, what if Bill Gates hadn’t decided to take the risk of leaving school and starting Microsoft? Or if Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t done the same?
Imagine, a world where the Winklevoss twins developed Facebook!
The point is our economy needs people willing to walk the tight rope without a net. And our society needs to recognize that those brave souls will, as a result of their courage, reap massively outsize rewards
And, if that’s not enough, it’s for the children.
Recently the New York Times ran a blog post titled “Skipping School for Vacation: Good for Families, or Bad for Students?” Whatever the opposite of burying the lede is, the Times did it. In the first two paragraphs they recount one mother’s recent run-in with her local educational authorities:
In the article “Taking My Kid Out of School for a Family Vacation Shouldn’t Be ‘Illegal,’” Jeanne Sager recounts the time she took her daughter out of school for a family vacation, and the school responded by labeling those absences “illegal.” Ms. Sager wrote, “I hate my kid’s school and the state education department for making me feel ashamed of spending time with my daughter,” adding, “I think there’s something to be said for education outside of the classroom, and certainly something to be said for the value of family time.”
While the label “illegal” does not confer any actual legal implications in Jeanne Sager’s case, plenty of school districts do employ the term in its literal sense. Some states give schools the authority to impose fines for truancy, and others allow parents to be charged with misdemeanors if truancy becomes chronic. In Britain and the Netherlands, truant officers are posted at airports and train stations to ensure parents don’t attempt to take children on vacation during the school term.
The Times goes on to explain the pros and cons of taking kids out of school for family vacations, based on the perspectives of teachers and parents, completely ignoring the troublesome practice of declaring vacations “illegal.” It is the latest, perhaps inevitable development in the ever-expanding limits on how parents are “allowed” to parent.
Of all of the words in the English language that grate on me most as a parent, it’s the word “allowed.” I first heard it with regard to childbirth. I was told by my OB that I was not “allowed” to eat in labor, without anything resembling a convincing reason. In the book Expecting Better, economist Emily Oster breaks down pregnancy myths and prevailing wisdom, tackling the issue of eating during labor:
The basic fear is gastric aspiration, and it’s related to why you shouldn’t eat, in general, before any operation. If you are under general anesthesia and you vomit, it is possible to inhale your stomach contents into the lungs and suffocate. Pregnant women may be at more risk than the general population for this. In general, this definitely is dangerous, but you might be wondering why this is an issue in labor. Even if you have a C-section, aren’t you usually awake? So wouldn’t you know if you were vomiting? Is this still an issue?
To figure out the origin of this restriction, we actually have to go back to a time (the first half of the twentieth century) when C-sections were typically performed under a general anesthetic. The source of the ban on food during labor is a 1946 paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors reported that of 44,016 pregnancies at the Lying-In Hospital in New York from 1932 to 1945, there were 66 incidents of gastric aspiration and 2 deaths from suffocation. The authors suggested withholding food during labor.2 Fast-forward 64 years: a lot has changed about labor and medical practice in general. C-sections are now performed with local anesthesia 90 percent of the time, so you are typically not asleep. Moreover, even if you are under general anesthesia, our understanding of how that works has improved a lot. The estimated risk of maternal death from aspiration is 2 in 10 million births, or 0.0002 percent.3 Yes, maternal mortality is terrifying. But to put this in perspective: this cause accounts for only 0.2 percent of maternal deaths in the United States, mostly among very high-risk women. The perhaps scary truth is that you’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the hospital than from this cause. In a review article from 2009, researchers looked at almost 12,000 women who ate and drank what they wanted during labor. Even though some of these women did need emergency C-sections (one of the few times when you might be under a general anesthesia), there were no problems reported associated with aspiration. This is true even for the 22 percent of women who ate solid food.4 And yet the ban on food remains.
I took my business elsewhere three weeks before my due date, switching my care provider to a midwife who didn’t “allow” or “disallow” anything; she left me to deliver my child in the way in which I saw fit, as long as it was medically safe.
We’ve been hearing the word “allowed” with regard to parenting decisions a lot recently. Parents in Maryland were investigated by Child Protective Services for letting their children walk home from a nearby park; apparently they were not “allowed” to do so. Another parent recently confessed to the blog Free Range Kids that she too had faced the wrath of CPS in Maryland, and now has a misdemeanor on her record, in addition to six months’ probation. Her crime? She left her ten year old and baby in her car for a ten-minute run into the grocery store, another parenting decision a mother apparently wasn’t “allowed” to make. These kinds of stories are becoming increasingly common.
Parents, schools, and caregivers are taking these stories to heart, deciding against giving children a measure of independence out of fear. According to Free Range Kids, there’s little reason to fear. Crime of all sorts is lower now than it was in previous generations.
When the parents in Maryland found themselves the target of a CPS investigation, many of my fellow parents commented on Facebook that they had contacted their local police department to find out at what age they allow (there’s that word again) parents to leave their children home alone and at what age the state allows children to walk alone.
Schools tell parents they are not “allowed” to have their children leave school without an adult escort, leaving families to hire babysitters or curtail their workdays to walk their kids a few blocks home from school.
Contra the officers of the state, there should be only one party in a position to “allow” children to be home alone or to walk alone for time periods and distances that have always, until now, been considered reasonable: the parents. Society might be trying to take away parents’ ability to parent, but that doesn’t mean that parents should surrender their rights willingly.
Just as I did not need to be “allowed” by my OB to labor in my own safe manner (proven to be safe by statistics), I do not intend to let the public school system determine if it’s “legal” to take family vacations or when a child is permitted to walk alone in their neighborhood. Nor should the police be involved in cases of reasonable parental discretion.
If a school does not “allow” my family to make basic child-rearing decisions, there are alternatives. As for the legal crackdown on parenting decisions, I will not allow them to shape how I parent. I refuse to raise my children in an illogical and unnecessary cloud of fear. And I should not even have to dignify with a response the suggestion that my family vacation is “illegal.”
When my son was a baby I wrote an article about traveling to Israel with him. I wrote that “I prepared for the trip like a general preparing for an invasion.” I took tons of disposable diapers as they weren’t so available in Israel at the time, cans of formula, and an assortment of other items. Well, disposable diapers are available all over the world now so that wouldn’t be a problem, but if you are traveling with kids, be they babies or teens, be prepared! Here are some tips you might find useful.
1. Traveling By Car
Traveling by car is the easiest way to take along everything you can think of to make the trip more palatable to your offspring and easier for you and all the adults. For babies, obviously bring enough formula, juices, and diapers, as well as toys to keep them amused, if they are beyond the stage where their hands and feet are enough to keep them occupied. Take changes of clothes for wetting or other such accidents, and a small pillow and blankets.
Toddlers and kids from three to six present the impatience problem. “When are we going to get there?” is often a refrain before you’re even out of the driveway. First of all, get the little ones psyched up and excited about whereever you are going and never mention that any trip will be longer than “soon.” Have any child that’s able to walk pack his or her own backpack. In fact, this is a great time to get a child a new backpack or little suitcase just for trips. Have the child put in all of his or her favorite toys, coloring books, books, paper, crayons, and a pencil or pen. Paper and crayons are essential. They can keep kids busy for hours. Favorite blankets — but small ones just for trips — and tiny pillows are also essential so if they fall asleep they’ll be comfortable.
For all trips an emergency medical stash is important. Buy a plastic lunch box and have it contain children’s aspirin, Tylenol, children’s cough medicine, cute bandages, neosporin, and a digital thermometer. Also carry extra prescriptions if your children are on any medications. I once stayed at a very posh Beverly Hills hotel which didn’t even have a thermometer — the hotel’s limousine had to take me to Walgreens just to purchase one.
2. Keeping Them Amused On A Car Trip
For most kids, up to a certain age, counting cars of different colors and the number of trucks, signs, shopping centers, and things that are similar is great for passing the time. Here is where the pen and paper come in handy. If they are old enough, they can also write down each time they see something they are counting. Even a four or five year old can make marks for each time a car, truck or other counted item appears. Watching for speed-limit signs is also a great way to learn numbers. Buy inexpensive binoculars for kids to watch life along the road and through cities as well. If two children are a bit older, then card games and even pocket chess are stable enough to play. Older kids can read the books they brought and even younger non-readers will love looking at pictures. Ask kids to draw what they see on the road as well.
For teens, they’ll keep themselves busy texting (or complaining). If it’s a trip between sessions in school, you might suggest that older children bring special assignments to get ahead in class.
Bring a road map to have older kids follow where they are. They can mark up the map as they pass a place listed on it.
3. Snacks On The Trip?
Have kids pack snacks the night before. Try to steer them to healthy snacks like baby carrots, celery sticks, and fruit. For little kids, always cut up fruit, like apples, as they will most likely not finish them. If they want something chewy, then try to get something as healthy as possible. Little bottles of water and healthy juices are great. Carry along some powdered milk so that you can replenish the supply with bottled water if you aren’t able to get more milk along the way. Yogurts travel very well and up to 24 hours without refrigeration. Carry along a manual can opener and some cans of tuna or salmon. Healthy crackers (check for no hydrogenated oil etc.) are always good. Carry plastic cutlery — it’s easy to use and throw away when done. Don’t forget to give kids plastic bags for garbage and carry a big one to toss everything afterwards.
4. Plane Travel Tips?
Special backpacks and suitcases are also important here, filled with the same kinds of toys, crayons, books, and paper and pencils that you take for automobile travel. Here, because of the TSA, what you take in your medicine kit may be limited. You can still take a thermometer, but any liquid medications have to be three ounces or under. You can take fruit, snack bars, tuna and maybe salmon pouches, but you won’t be able to take bottled water, yogurts, or juices. These you’ll have to purchase once you’re through the TSA checkpoint. You can carry powdered milk and snacks like bars and crackers.
Books, card games, crayons, and paper are still handy here to keep kids busy. A small blanket and small pillow are also great if there’s room for them. If it’s your children’s first airplane trip and experience with TSA, it would be a good idea to talk to them about both experiences so that they won’t be apprehensive about either.
5. Cruise Tips?
Even here it’s a good idea to bring something to color with so that your child can keep busy at a table which may be peopled with strangers. Most cruise lines have children’s programs and an infirmary so a medical kit may not be necessary, though a thermometer might still be a good idea so that you can check if it’s even necessary to take the child to the ship’s infirmary. Even though food is provided, healthy snacks of fruit may be great to have
In all cases, when traveling with kids it is essential to keep them busy, busy, busy. Keeping them busy will make your travels, by whatever means, smooth and pleasant.
Arthur Chu wrote a wandering epithet over at Salon on “bitter nerd” Scott Aaronson’s rant against feminism. Aaronson’s complaints as detailed in Chu’s piece are far from new. As a graduate teaching assistant I had many male students (rather nerdy types) walk out of film theory classes declaring they were “horrible people” and “secret rapists” because they were born male. In the wake of the campus rape lies of 2014, who can blame these guys for believing feminism is conducting its own War Against Men:
This is not a debate about gender roles. It is not about economics or the esoterica of hateful radicals in an ivory tower. This is a war, an ideological campaign to smear all men as moral monsters. It is not a war against “patriarchy” or some imagined evil rich guy. This is a war on men as such – of all races and social classes. It is a war against your brothers, sons, fathers, friends and relatives. And right now, the bad guys and girls are winning.
— s.a.d. anne geddes (@zannekamp) November 19, 2014
“…[H]ow could [Aaronson] be targeted by books written by second-wave feminists when he was a toddler?” Chu asks incredulously. Camille Paglia answers Chu in her book Vamps and Tramps, and most recently in her Time magazine piece on the overblown campus rape epidemic. Second-wave feminists believe themselves to be superior human beings through a pseudo-science that negates biology, psychology and religion in favor of a sterile view of the world as a grand social order which must be maintained and controlled through Marxist politics. To put it rather simply, the second wave threw out biology and psychology and mocked God, making a target of every man like Scott who reads feminist literature only to walk away convinced that he’s an inherent rapist because he was born male. As Paglia explains:
The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.
Paglia details that Marxist feminists “…simplistically project outward onto a mythical ‘patriarchy’ their own inner conflicts and moral ambiguities.” Men have no such external myth on which to blame what Chu calls “internal demons” which is why for men these moral struggles are easily chalked off as “slippery things.” Chu writes
I do know that what could help women… is to find the guys who are doing bad things to her and stop those guys from doing that. That’s why feminism is more focused on women’s issues than men’s, because women’s issues are the things happening out in the world where we can do something about them.
This absurdity is an outgrowth of the second wave’s politicization of male rape. Female rape, highly eroticized in the ’70s, was legitimized by the feminist movement as sexual fantasy only to become an illicit crime when acted out by a male counterpart. Paglia notes, “…the illicit is always highly charged,” which is why the issue of campus rape has become the most highly charged issue of feminism today. This also explains why rape has become the source for such incredible moral ambiguity and why men, the mythical figures onto which the moral ambiguities of the female sex are projected, are increasingly blamed for women’s bad sexual decision-making.
The story of Molly Morris and Corey Mock is nothing new to the campus rape scene. Having met on Tinder, a social media app designed to fulfill hook-up scenarios, Mock pursued classmate Morris, who played hard to get until agreeing to a breakfast date. Morris took Mock up on his invitation to a party, but wound up not arriving until 2 a.m., only to find a bunch of male wrestlers with few female faces in the crowd. Partaking in plenty of booze, Morris implies she was drugged and woke up the next day naked in bed with Mock. She decided not to go to the police because “she was not emotionally ready to enter a criminal justice system that would scrutinize her life and choices.”
Her’s is a pathetic excuse that permits the consequences of her bad decision-making to be projected onto the mythical patriarchy represented by Mock and the criminal justice system. When Morris finally did approach their university’s administration Mock was found innocent, then guilty, then granted a stay and finally expelled from the school in what amounted to a politically motivated public relations debacle. Mock’s side of the story is only given by his father via the comment field at the end. He explicitly details his son’s sexual encounter to make it clear that it was, indeed, consensual. After explaining what happened to his son, he concludes, “Morally and ethically I want to say, don’t have sex until you get married. We all know that would be naive.”
— David Mastio (@DavidMastio) September 23, 2014
Would it? The reality is that abstinence has become the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid being falsely accused of sexual assault. That reality check highlights the long-forgotten intrinsic value of abstinence culture. The moralists who promoted that antiquated agenda understood that the allure of sexuality and the power of sex needed to be contextualized through marriage so societal order could be maintained. When society rejected marriage culture, it implicitly accepted the second-wave feminist alternative. Hence, every man is a rapist and every woman a victim.
Paglia argues that “rape will not be understood until we revive the old concept of the barbaric, the uncivilized.” Likewise, the problem of campus rape – that is, second-wave feminism’s grotesque predilection for falsely accusing male sex partners of assault in an attempt to soothe their own wounded pride and troubled souls – will not cease until moral order, built on a solid biological and psychological understanding of the individual and an acceptance of moral responsibility on the part of both parties, is restored.
This Little Girl Just Schooled Tesco Over A Sexist Sign Because “Anybody Can Like Superheroes” http://t.co/Gp9rGmNvlA
— Natalie Brown (@Natalie_Brown) January 11, 2015
When you’re constantly relying on a third party to define your sexuality, you’re inevitably going to write yourself onto the sidelines of social activism, which is precisely what contemporary feminism is currently doing. With its insane Marxist belief that biological “sex” and “gender” are two separate entities that do not overlap or influence each other, contemporary feminism has bought into postmodern subjectivity. Issues are left to be parsed in terms of value judgments rendered by individuals on the basis of sheer whim. This includes defining what it means to be a woman.
It’s bad enough when contemporary feminists attack shopping malls for categorizing “boys” versus “girls” clothing. The complaint is always the same: “My daughter wanted a superhero shirt that was unavailable in the girls’ department!” Pants were unavailable in the girls’ department 100 years ago. Women wore them anyway. Instead of raising independent thinkers, contemporary feminists raise dependent complainers who derive their entire sense of gender identity from a store’s marketing department. This is the dark side of allowing society to define your gender. Suddenly a generation of women is convinced they have male tendencies because they have a penchant for Superman. It couldn’t be that they want to wear his logo because they find him strong, appealing, or — God-forbid — attractive. Because his logo is sported in the boys’ department only, it must mean any little girl who wants to wear his shirt is obviously a trannie.
“You can’t spank me, that’s abuse!” was the response of a Florida man’s 12-year-old daughter shortly after he grabbed the paddle (I’m taking some creative license with her quote, but I don’t think I’m far off). So this dad did what was, apparently, a relatively common thing in Florida: he called the police to come supervise the paddling, which ultimately passed their inspection. The incident that occurred on December, 29, 2014, has received an unusual amount of media attention. Perhaps it’s the unwelcome notion of government intervention in parental affairs, or the outrage that so many kids think consequences don’t apply to them. When it comes to spanking, it’s probably time to establish what constitutes a child thinking twice in their bedroom versus a parent thinking twice behind bars.
The legal wording on what is allowed in our country regarding domestic corporal punishment is done on a state-by-state basis, and the descriptions can be as verbose as several paragraphs to as vague as one sentence. Thirty states contain the phrase “reasonable and appropriate” in their laws when referring to the severity of the discipline. Twelve states prohibit “physical harm,” four prohibit “reckless injury,” three prohibit “excessive or serious injury,” and just one state, Delaware, outlaws all forms of corporal punishment (this legislation was passed in 2012). Whether it’s a red state or a blue state, the legislation is basically the same (with the exception of Delaware). The only concrete definitions address whether or not corporal punishment is allowed in schools, for which our country is split roughly 50-50.