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How Long Can You Shelter Your Children from LGBT?

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In the above clip, Fox News’ Todd Starnes laments an incident in Maine where a primary school teacher taught five-year-olds about transgenderism. The kids were read a book called I Am Jazz about a boy who believes himself to be a girl.

Starnes properly rails against the school district’s disregard for parental rights. The nature of most public education is such that parents retain little control over offensive curriculum, certainly relative to a private model where business could be taken elsewhere.

That said, let’s take the public/private debate out of it and just consider the question of transgenderism itself. Surely, children are going to learn about such things at some point. We may prefer they be exposed at a point later than five-years-old, and that’s fair. But is it possible in this day and age to shelter our children completely from topics like homosexuality and transgenderism?

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An Arizona Family Was Shocked to Find This Note Stuffed in Their Mailbox

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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(HT: reddit)

The pint-sized subject of this note is clearly headed for a life of crime. The neighbor charged that the small child was:

  • Running free in his backyard
  • Laughing
  • Giggling
  • Carrying on without end

My advice to this neighbor: Get out and get some fresh air — maybe even engage in a little “carrying on” yourself. I bet your dogs will thank you for it!

How would you respond to the busybody neighbor?

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The 5 Greatest Dad Beers in America

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Jeremy Swindle

1. Bud Heavy

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Whether you just finished mowing the lawn or your favorite sportsball team is losing the big game, Budweiser always hits the spot.

 

2. Colt 45

Why listen to me when Lando Calrissian, the real captain of the Millenium Falcon, will tell you that Colt 45 works every time?

 

3. Hamm’s

When you’re going for sheer volume, accept no substitutes. Hamm’ is the smoothest of all Dad Beers.

 

4. Olde English 800

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The king of all 40s would still be at the top of the game if only they hadn’t put it in a plastic bottle. Dads don’t drink plastic beer.

 

5. Coors Banquet

Coors Banquet makes the list for the reason that it tastes so great even the biggest rookie can drink it warm.

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A&E’s Neighbors With Benefits Pulled After 2 Episodes: Has Our Morality Grown Back?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

In case you missed it, A&E launched a new series titled Neighbors With Benefits on March 22. The reality show about a neighborhood of spouse-swapping couples only aired two of its scheduled nine seasons before getting the ax.

Maybe A&E is starting to get it. The reason for the success of the hit Duck Dynasty is not that it is a counterculture freak show. The family’s appeal lies as much in their wholesome family-centered lifestyle as it does in their non-conforming looks and disregard for a politically correct culture.

Neighbors With Benefits presented a totally opposite lifestyle. It suggested that living by a canine code of sexual conduct is actually good for a marriage.

Could this cancelation be an indicator that America’s taste for perversion has finally induced nausea?

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Nymphing the Green Weenie: Husband & Wife Fly Fishing Adventures On the Fabled Gunpowder River

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Audie Cockings

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Nymphing sounds naughty. Perhaps because it is. Teasing a rainbow trout out from under a boulder with flashy fake bait can be at once titillating, nerve-racking, frustrating, and exhilarating when the mission is indeed a success. The drive to feed is a universal pillar among survival instincts. A satisfying rush on par with few other basic human functions. Besides, what’s more sexy than a big, goofy human in monstrous green overalls?

The husband and I hadn’t been on a date for over three months so when a business friend introduced him to fly fishing on a recent trip out west, he came home and suggested we get a babysitter and a private lesson.

This is where our geography comes in handy. We live five miles from the famed blue ribbon Gunpowder River in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Anglers from near and afar boast her bounties of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

To get started, we booked a lesson for Friday, March 27th, the day before trout season opened, then secured my fishing license with trout stamp online. The morning of, we met Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis guide at Great Feathers Fly Shop. The four hour lesson for two came in at just under $300 and included instruction, technique critique, waders, and all other necessary gear. We followed Rob to the site and after a quick glance at the GPS, realized we were stationed pretty darn close to our own backyard.

We parked by a wader washing station, a near promise of munificent waters. But first things first: Rob showed me proper form, tucking the dominant elbow into the waist, using the forearm as a lever of sorts, pumping the fly rod with kinetic energy to be dispatched upon casting. The rod is ideally restricted to “ten and two” position as the line forms the sequential overhead arc in front of and behind the angler before the rod is pointed at the intended spot and finally released.

After 10 decent practice casts in a clearing, Rob determined that I was sufficiently prepared to begin and into the damp wilderness we went.

The “path” was a hilly forested expanse dotted with girthy, felled trees railroading our passage, their exposed, nutrient-rich interiors akin to coffee grinds. Next was less-navigable outcroppings blanketed in Kelly green moss and pale-hued fungi, increasingly more dense as we made our way down to the river. A quarter mile in, the crunch of leaves, twigs, and remnant ice underfoot gave way to spongy vegetation. We trekked alongside what seemed a shallow creek only to turn a corner revealing a top-50 fly fishing destination… The feverish rush of tail waters on the fabled Gunpowder River.

It was overcast, breezy, rainy and about 45 degrees out — perfect fishing conditions according to Rob as the fish won’t be “lethargic from heat or too much sun… They like it cold.”

He said, grinning: “Despite the rain, the water is pretty clear, so the fish can concentrate on eating, not just staying alive.” Rob explained how the fish filtered out murky sediment which is inherently hard on their gills. The Prettyboy Dam stationed upstream helps regulate the flow of the Gunpowder River unlike other Chesapeake Bay tributaries where rain run-off can create unfavorable fishing conditions.

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Practicing casting technique with Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis fly fishing instructor.

Even after a casting lesson, a quick study in knots, flies, and suiting up, we still had three hours left to let loose on unsuspecting Oncorhynchus mykiss. I planted my grippy steel shank boots on a boulder the size of Rhode Island, tallying a few arcs before sinking my neon pink foam “redworm” into tender water straddled by rapids and shoreline. This is where oversight came in handy… I wouldn’t have known where to land my fly had Rob not been very specific about where to place it. Namely, the deeper, cooler, slower moving pools that exhibit model rest areas for congregating trout.

Here’s where my prior fishing experience severely boogered up my attempt at setting the hook. It’s exceedingly hard to unlearn something, especially when that one something is so deeply inherent. You see, fishing is in my blood. My father’s family has been in Southern Maryland for three hundred years, all fishing blues and rock, requiring a quick jerk to set the hook and a brawny pair of guns to reel the catch in. Not so much the case in fly fishing. I needed to stop bullying the line and ease up as I lost three fish by getting antsy after a nibble. The most difficult part of fly fishing is keeping cool, and cool is not something I’m particularly good at.

So who got on the board first? The husband. He caught a lovely little rainbow trout then released it.  Meanwhile, I got a whole lot more of the big goose egg. I would have been irritated had I not been so happy for him. It’s a joke in our family that he’s a terrible fisherman.

But Friday’s small victory may just redeem him with my father and uncles after all…

Fly fishing is a sport where patience prevails. It is one of the few sports accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of age or sex. As a matter of fact, a notable authority on the sport is an elderly woman half my size, Joan Wulff, who cast at 161 feet in her heyday. She still teaches technique at the school bearing her name.

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Tenkara “Soto” rod… Notice no reel.

After two hours of wholly unsuccessful loose line management, Rob offered me a try with his Tenkara rod. The rod was telescopic, increasing in lengths up to thirteen feet. No reel necessary. It was light, effortless. Casting was thoroughly natural, intuitive. Better control of the fly and easier handling quickly sold me on the simplistic Tenkara. I could switch hands, work tighter spots along tree lines, and easily tease the trout with a submerged “nymph” or a “dry” fly on surface water. Attempting to mimic natural movement of live insects yielding in the current seemed more probable with the lighter, more agile rod.

As with nearly every sport, gear can be expensive. Initially I ordered a pair of Simms Vapor wading boots and an Orvis women’s stocking foot waders, an investment of nearly $500, just to send them back, instead settling on a pair of boot foot men’s Hodgeman waders that I got on clearance for under $50.  As for rods, there are pre-owned deals to be had on eBay, or consider the Orvis Encounter series rod and reel package that has excellent reviews and is well priced at $159. All you will need are some tackle and nippers. Even more affordable is the Tenkara rod, the ultra light system that breaks down to the size of a mailing tube, easily and safely transported to any locale across the globe. Rob reported he was going after shad using his Tenkara rod. I’m anxious to hear how that went.

It’s only been a few days and I’m itching to get my waders back in the river.

I snapped up the last Tenkara “Sato” rod at Great Feathers and got a small tackle box  of line, stoneflies, midges, San Juan worms, and “Green Weenies.”

The boss and I settled on a standing date, one Friday morning a month, to fish together deep in that ravine just five miles from our home. We’ve got fishing “go bags” at the ready complete with waders, gear, snacks and water bottles. Now all we need for some good nymphing, is each other.

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A view upstream on the Gunpowder River. Me with the Tenkara rod (freezing my can off!)

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How Is This Not Kidnapping? ‘Free-Range Children’ Picked Up by Cops Again

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
Photo Credit:  Scott Davidson -  Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Scott Davidson – Wikimedia Commons

From WNEW in Washington:

The Montgomery County parents who let their children walk around their Silver Spring neighborhood alone are being investigated again after authorities found the two kids at a park on Sunday.

Police say officers responded to a call to check on children without an adult at a Silver Spring park Sunday afternoon and took the children to Child Protective Services.

Meanwhile, the children’s mother, Danielle Meitiv, says they began searching for her 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, who were expected home at 6 p.m. She says they didn’t learn where the children were until 8 p.m.

The children were eventually returned to their parents, but not until 10:30 p.m. that night. Their mother wrote this on her Facebook page:

The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car, telling them they would drive them home. They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours. We finally got home at 11pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.

Despite the fact that violent crime — including crime against children — has been declining for decades, hysterical, sensationalized media coverage in the 24-hour news cycle makes it seem like every community is a crime-infested ghetto with hundreds of predators roaming the streets looking for unsupervised children to rape, kidnap, and murder. Parents who reject the false “danger everywhere!” narrative and allow their children to walk down the street or play in the park without a parent hovering nearby are judged as neglectful. What used to be considered normal parenting — letting kids play outside without supervision — is now cause for removal of children from the home.

Here’s the problem: Parents like the Meitivs, who reject helicopter parenting and allow their children a little more freedom, are taking a different kind of risk. While statistically their children are going to return home from the park unmolested by murderers and rapists, nothing can protect them from the busybodies who call the police to report an unaccompanied child and the resulting interactions with police and county social workers who are going to be looking for reasons to teach these parents a lesson about their “free-range” parenting style.

When we were homeschooling, we were advised to never let the “authorities” into our home without a warrant. If the police or social workers ever showed up at our door (say as the result of a bogus complaint from a busybody neighbor) we should allow them to have a glimpse of the kids so they could see that they were alive and not in any obvious distress, but unless the authorities had a warrant, they should not be permitted to come into our home and should never, ever be allowed to talk to our children. While it may sound a little extreme and possibly paranoid, the advice came at a time when homeschooling was still viewed as a fringe movement and parents were being dragged into court on truancy charges — or worse — because they chose to remove their children from public school. Part of the advice was to always be polite and never confrontational. We were warned that county social workers had a great deal of power and could destroy a family that didn’t cooperate with their edicts. “You don’t want to go there,” we were told.

The thought that social workers can pluck a child out of his home for not attending government schools or that police can grab a child off the street for the crime of playing in a park without a parent is truly astounding — and terrifying. Once a child falls down that rabbit hole of the child welfare system, his life will never be the same. It could be days, weeks — even months — before he returns home and in the meantime, he will be subjected to terrifying interviews, rides in police cars, and being moved around from place to place while the authorities investigate every nook and cranny of his parents’ lives to determine whether they’re more qualified to raise their own child than the state.

Parents need to think long and hard before they challenge government authority with their children. You may be able to hire a good lawyer and prevail in the end — and you may be absolutely, completely morally right in your parental decisions — but at what cost? It’s a backwards system where the “authorities” have all the power at the front end. The children are held as little hostages until the parents agree to attend state-approved parenting classes or they promise to be helicopter parents who never again let their little darlings out of their sight.

It’s an ingenious way to keep you in line, isn’t it?

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Is the Second Income Worth the Work?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

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In Fall of 2013, I took a full-time job for the first time since my children were born. With the kids in high school and college and mostly independent, I felt ready to take on a new challenge and the extra money would be nice. This year was the first year we had to file for taxes for a full year, however, and we were shocked. My modest income had pushed us into a higher tax bracket. The end result was that even though my husband and I had claimed no deductions and were putting the maximum to taxes each month, we nonetheless owed nearly a third of my annual income in extra taxes. I will be working most of the rest of this year to pay for the privilege of working.

In modern America, the two-income family is almost an expectation. However, unless it’s a job you really aspired for, you and your spouse might want to take a little time and do the math. Sometimes, that second job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be financially.

Two Income Trap

Interestingly, the articles I found concerning the costs of working outside the home[KF1]  list the expense of moving to a higher tax bracket as the #1 expense. In one mother’s example[KF2] , it cut her monthly salary by an additional $500/month. (This is after she’s already paid taxes on her salary.) Then, there are the transportation costs, which are still large despite the slight decrease in gas prices. If you have younger children, child care will take a big chunk of your paycheck.

Then there are the expenses that occur because you are away from home, such as lunches with colleagues, and maybe an increase in take-out dinners. Personally, cooking is not my forte, and once I started working, we gave in more easily to take out from nicer restaurants. Some women may find they don’t have the energy to keep up the house, so a regular housekeeper is added to the expense list. (Though some may agree it’s totally worth it!)

Finally, you need to add the incidentals: seasonal gifts, office activities, wardrobe needs and dry cleaning. One writer mentioned that she had to start purchasing disposable diapers whereas at home, she’d used cloth. These small things add up.

One other consideration: Are you setting yourself up for the two-income trap? This is where your family, used to the increased income, spends the increased income. Please note that this is different from both parents having to work to keep food on the table. Rather, it’s the temptation to say you can afford the bigger house, the newer car, the fancy vacation… every time. Be honest with yourself: Do you need it or do you want it? And if you want it, is it worth 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year away from home?

Stress of Being a Working Mom

In addition to the financials, you should give some consideration to the non-financial costs of the two-income family. These include stress on both spouses as they share more greatly in the housework (or argue about it or let it slide) and the guilt of missing moments in a child’s life. (Which is an issue for dads, although it’s talked about more with moms). It means less time and energy for indulging hobbies, doing things yourself, and relaxing. It also means being part of the rat race with all the interpersonal conflicts, competition and unique stresses.

When you take on a job after having been a full-time homemaker, you are not trading jobs, but rather adding a new job on top of the one you already have. True, you may cut or share a lot of your at-home duties, but the responsibility never goes away.

Cutting to two incomes

At the end of the day, whether you can or should become a two-income family is your choice. There are certainly advantages to working outside the home. You get to interact with a wider range of adults, do work that may be more intellectually stimulating or is emotionally rewarding in a way different from that of parenting. And if one spouse loses his or her job, you still have one income to sustain you.

My husband and I ran the math, and we’re still net positive enough to justify my continuing to work. More importantly, however, I like my job. The work is interesting, and I’m learning things that will help me in the future. My coworkers are delightful. In the 18 months I’ve worked there, there have only been a handful of times I’ve not awakened excited to go to the office, and those times usually had something to do with what was going on at home. However, having done the math, I would feel comfortable quitting if our home situation warranted it. I’m simply not making that much after expenses.

The two-income family is becoming the norm of American life, but it may not be the best bet for every family – emotionally or financially. Before you join the rat race, take some time to figure out the expenses vs. the income so you can decide if the cheese is really worth it.

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Does a Podcast Have to be About Sex to be Feminist?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Salon’s resident feminist Jenny Kutner chronicled her top 7 feminist podcasts that are “way sexier than Serial“. A spin-off of This American LifeSerial is a non-fiction podcast that harkens back to the golden era of radio, sourcing material from old headlines to generate serial tales of true life criminal investigations. It’s as remarkable as any other product of the entertainment industry in that it’s managed to put a slight twist on a tried and true endeavor. But feminist? Not particularly. And neither are Kutner’s alternatives.

Sexy, yes. Six out of the seven essentially discuss only sex. The seventh, Crybabies, is a podcast hosted by two women who get weepy. A lot. As in “let’s listen to this Adele song and cry”. It’s strange that a contemporary feminist would cite a crying female podcast as a feminist totem given all that angry bra-burning for which they’re supposedly famous. Isn’t crying contradictory to their anti-biology trend?

In any case, why does a podcast have to be about sex in order to be considered feminist? Are buzz words like “frank and funny” or “deep and interesting” enough to justify discussions about orgasms, phone sex and drag queens as being feminist? What’s the alternative for women looking to embrace their empowerment outside the bedroom?

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Getting Divorced in New York? Serve the Papers on Facebook

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It may be the coldest possible way to do it. The ruling may nevertheless prove appropriate in some cases. From the Wall Street Journal:

Previously, if you couldn’t find a defendant, you had to leave the notice at a last-known address or publish it in a newspaper, and there was no guarantee the defendant would know about it…

In that context, getting served via Facebook may actually be an improvement. Besides, does the news really sting less served any other way?

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When These Guys Refused to Color Easter Eggs with Their Mom, She Had a Big Surprise for Them

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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An Ohio mom, whose college-aged sons and their friends refused to participate in the family’s annual Easter egg coloring festivities, decided to decorate the eggs without the guys — and to send a message in the process. Instead of traditional eggs, the clever mom wrote the names of the guys on the eggs and then added girlie messages like:

  • “I love OPI nail polish”
  • “I dot my i’s with hearts”
  • “I love shoes” and
  • “Let’s bedazzle our shirts”

Not exactly Pinterest-worthy, but I know a lot of moms who will want to tuck this idea away for next Easter. Brilliant.

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Australian Kelpies: Coolest Dogs Ever?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

I was strolling through my parents’ village yesterday, when I suddenly saw a very sweet, active, and beautiful dog that I didn’t recognize. My mother told me that it was an Australian Kelpie. We spoke to its owner, while playing with the dog, and learned that they’re very active (they’re used as sheep dogs in Australia, apparently), but also extraordinarily obedient, loyal and kind-hearted.

Now, I’m a labrador guy myself, but I truly fell in love with this wonderful dog. What do you guys think? Here’s some information about Kelpies, and here are two photos I made of this wonderful, extremely social dog.

And:

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Rich Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Cheap Abortion

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Pervi Patel, an Indiana woman, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for not having a proper abortion.

According to the Chicago Tribune Patel opted for the convenience of abortifacient drugs from China, rather than seeking the assistance of a doctor. When the infant was born premature and still alive, the new mother left him on the floor to die, and then threw the baby in a trash can.

Judge Elizabeth Hurley took a moment to scold Patel for her actions at sentencing.

“You, Miss Patel, are an educated woman of considerable means. If you wished to terminate your pregnancy safely and legally, you could have done so,” Hurley said. “You planned a course of action and took matters into your hands and chose not to go to a doctor.”

Apparently, Miss Patel will be serving time in prison, not for killing her baby–but for doing it on the cheap.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock, Gunter Nezhoda

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Woman Trades Baby Wishes for Open Marriage

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Robin Rinaldi wanted children more than anything. Instead of pursuing the journey of motherhood, she wound up experiencing what is being dubbed “feminist enlightenment” through sexual exploration, chronicled in her new book The Wild Oats Project:

When she was in her mid-30s and engaged to be married to a man several years older, Rinaldi, the author of a new book called “The Wild Oats Project,” entered premarital counseling with a quack named George. Rinaldi wanted kids, and her future husband did not.

…In fact, he had a vasectomy. And so Rinaldi decided that if she couldn’t have children, at least she should get to have a lot of sex with a lot of different men and women — and men and women together.

Yes, the logic escapes me, too — and I read the whole book. It seems to have something to do with the fact that both having children and having promiscuous sex are expressions of her “femininity.” Regardless, her husband apparently felt so guilty (or spineless) that he agreed to “open” their marriage for a year.

…Trying to suppress maternal desires in an effort to seem enlightened has the potential for disaster — as Rinaldi quickly learned.

Rinaldi’s conclusion: “I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.” Apparently she needed several men … and other women, for that matter. Which leads to the question, why did she “seethe” when she learned of friends’ pregnancies and dedicate her book to Ruby, the daughter she never had?

Is feminism still a movement focused on women’s equality, or has it become a narcissistic cult proffering temporal ego-satisfying sex in exchange for the eternal fulfillment of motherhood?

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Is Successful Feminism Capitalist Feminism?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, while a wife and a mother of a special needs child, pioneered an all-female staffed software company in England in the 1960s. Fascinated by technology, she also had a head for business. Possessing an interest in employing working mothers, her staff were able to work from home in a variety of capacities, including as coders and programmers. A self-made millionaire, Shirley turned many of her employees into millionaires as well by opening stock options to them at a time when that was a relatively unheard of benefit. 

Adopting the nickname “Steve” in order to get her foot in the door with male clients, she employed “extraordinary energy, self-belief and determination” in a pre-second wave feminist era. Shirley didn’t wait for bras to be burned or Gloria Steinem to appear in her bunny suit before taking charge. In fact, the UK’s Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, a direct result of the second wave feminist backlash, required that Shirley hire more men into what she was proud to make a nearly all-female company.

This pioneering businesswoman’s story flies in the face of second wave feminist tropes regarding female business owners, women in the workplace, equal pay and women in STEM. Which demands the question: If feminism seeks to be an empowering voice for women, what can it learn from the ideologies, like capitalism, that it chooses to berate or ignore?

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Now They’re Opening an Abortion ‘Spa’ in D.C.

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Now you can combine your abortion with your next spa treatment.

From the Washington Post:

With its natural wood floors and plush upholstery, Carafem aims to feel more like a spa than a medical clinic. But the slick ads set to go up in Metro stations across the Washington region leave nothing to doubt: “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”

The clinic, opening this week in tony Friendship Heights, specializes in the abortion pill and will be unique for its advertising. Its unabashed approach also reflects a new push to destigmatize the nation’s most controversial medical procedure by talking about it openly and unapologetically.

The people who run the abortuaries are losing the debate about the humanity of unborn children, thanks in part to 3D ultrasound, so now, they’re retooling their approach.

They don’t say if you’ll be able to get a facial and a pedi while you’re killing your unborn child, or whether the spa-like atmosphere will ease your conscience about the decision to end a human life, but no doubt they’re going to try. Playing soothing music in the background and setting up shop in a toney neighborhood isn’t going to change the reality of what’s actually happening there —  forcibly separating a human child from her mother’s womb.

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Why Jewish Women Scare Lena Dunham (and the Rest of Hollywood)

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Jewish women are fierce. We carry many arrows in our quiver including love for life, command of the situation, determined opinions, and freedom of expression. We are not lithe and unfettered. We do not “go with the flow.” We don’t wait until we are on our deathbeds to express our emotions, resolve hurt feelings, or pursue our passions.

Ultra-Orthodox men pray thanks to God that they were not created a woman. This is only because they don’t have ovaries enough to take on our mantle.We are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, prophetesses, administrators, investors, and the greatest security blanket men will ever know. But perhaps what shocks these religious men the most is that we regret none of it. This is why they need to hide behind sheets to protect themselves from their own animal lust for us, that is precisely how powerful we are. 

Thank God we are women; someone has to be in charge of this mess. And that is precisely why we are the objects of fear and scorn. Because what you cannot control, you try to contain and what you cannot contain you either love or hate with reckless abandon.

Hence, Jewish women are constantly the brunt of jokes in the entertainment world. Whether it’s yet another good Jewish boy succumbing to shiksappeal or Lena Dunham berating her Jewish boyfriend’s mother, Hebrew women just can’t win.  Our intellect becomes neurosis, our love becomes smothering, our agility becomes goofiness, our sexiness our comedy. In Freudian terms we are the mother from which no man can escape. In pop culture terms we’re the JAP, Jewish American Princess, to whom guilty Jewish men are obligated to commit in misery forever. When God commanded circumcision we’re the ones who didn’t stand in the way and now we’re doomed to forever pay the price for our holy allegiance.

But, don’t be fooled for one second into thinking we’re slaves. Dunham blames her boyfriend’s failings on his mother’s supposed cultural weaknesses:

…he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates. …As a result of this dynamic, he expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life, and anything less than that makes him whiny and distant.

She offers the asinine complaint of feminism, the pagan belief that a woman cannot ever be truly independent because she is umbilically tethered to fostering life. It is a bizarre notion, one that makes no sense if we’re talking power and authority. A child cannot survive without its mother. Said mother not only nurtures and carries life within her body, she is the primary influence on that child from the moment they are born until the day they die. For better or worse, a mother’s relationship with her child has the greatest impact on their social, emotional and character development. Dunham acknowledges this concept in the negative only because she rejects her own womb as a burden instead of the greatest source of a woman’s power on earth.

Statistically Jewish women enjoy having children. Stereotypically, we have lovingly been dubbed “smothers.” Weaklings like Dunham who reject their womb power find humor in these stereotypes because their own egos are a poor substitute for the authority intrinsic to motherhood. They must constantly jab under the guise of humor in order to recharge their power source. Real women thrive on building up the ones they love. Lost women who have surrendered their biological power to political leadership are left seeking to offend. In the end, it is their only reward.

So if you ever wonder why feminists are stereotyped as bitter hags, look no further than the angst-ridden humor of Lena Dunham, feminism’s pop goddess who has sacrificed her wedding on the altar of gay marriage, her womb on the altar of Planned Parenthood. She has not chosen life, therefore death becomes her.

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Are We Enslaved by Politics This Passover?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Recently I engaged in an interesting Twitter conversation on the ability to confirm a religion’s biblical veracity. My editor, David Swindle, had been approached by Mormons a few days prior and was seeking out further explanation to understand how the Book of Mormon confirmed or contradicted the Word of God. The gentleman he engaged could not answer his question, so I stepped in with Deuteronomy 18:17-22: The Spirit of God does not contradict the Word of God. That is the test of any faith, religion, or spiritual leader claiming to represent the God of the Bible. God is One, He cannot contradict Himself. If a person claims to speak for God, their words better match His, plain and simple.

This concept has been tailored over time in Judaism due to the horrors of diasporas, invasions, and Temple destructions. The scholarly culture that began codifying the oral law that would become the Talmud eventually proclaimed themselves the inheritors of the gift of prophetic interpretation. In a bureaucratic coup, these ancestors of today’s rabbis took command of the prophetic role from God’s hands. Hence, today’s Judaism is informed by the concepts that the biblical manifestation of the prophet died with the second Temple, and the Talmud (Rabbinic oral law) is the equivalent of the Torah, leaving religious authority within the realm of the rabbis.

Yet, Torah teaches us that all human beings fail and that spiritual leaders schooled in this truth are held to a higher standard of behavior, because of their willful acknowledgement of and commitment to this truth. Knowing this, we are to be even more vigilant when it comes to scrutinizing our teachers and their teachings. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are free to judge each other in the process. Being human, we are far too susceptible to getting caught up in the cult of leader-worship, leaving us vulnerable to criticism when our leader fails.

Take, for example, the Forward’s Jay Michaelson questioning why adherents of disgraced Rabbi Barry Freundel didn’t come forward with their suspicions sooner:

How can some of our community’s leading (if self-appointed) cultural sages lionize and valorize someone who, in fact, they didn’t really know that well? …I also wonder what criteria we use to evaluate our spiritual leaders when a serial sex offender can sneak past them. …There are questions that should have been asked, suspicions that should have been raised. But the self-reinforcing loops of elite power — X likes him, X is powerful, therefore I should like him — blinded those entrusted to keep watch.

One of Freundel’s converts, Bethany Mandel, treats Michaelson’s observation as a criticism of her own ability to judge Freundel’s character, while illustrating that as a convert she was the one being judged in turn:

To be clear, Freundel had a great deal of power over us, but while he could sometimes be controlling and manipulative, he could also be our greatest defender. I will never forget the evening when my then-boyfriend and I agreed to host another couple for a meal…. Upon learning of my status as a convert-in-process, the couple refused to eat my food without hearing directly from the rabbi that it was safe according to the laws of kashrut. My then-boyfriend, a friend and the husband literally ran from Dupont Circle to Georgetown to knock on Freundel’s door to ask about the status of my food.

This dangerous cycle of judgment and blame makes us all victims of one another instead of family, friends, or event compatriots. We become so caught up in the opinions of others, whether they be rabbis or fellow Jews, that we lose sight of who God is and our true purpose in being a part of the Jewish world.

In the wake of Israel’s elections we are being baited once again by this cycle of judgment and blame. Rabbis now feel compelled to preach politics from the bench to congregants pressured to question their allegiance to the concluding line of the Passover Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem!” Instead of finding unity in our eternal freedom as Jews, we’re squabbling over political leaders who will come and go. Instead of taking joy in one another, we’re seeking authoritative approval of our political opinions. Instead of rejoicing in our freedom, we are being bound by the threat of destruction. And when we succumb to the fear we transition from freedom to slavery. This victimhood propels our judgment of and separation from one another.

The rabbinic claim to prophecy should motivate us as a community to engage with the Word of God firsthand, not with the goal of disproving one another, but with the aim of being the people God has chosen us to be. When it comes to religious leadership, it is our prerogative to “trust, but verify.” We cannot be blamed for the failings of others. But we are answerable to God for our own actions, and judging one another is not in His playbook.

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How Many More Children Must Die from a Mutant Strain of Malaria?

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 - by Theodore Dalrymple

I am slightly ashamed of how much I liked Burma when I visited it nearly a third of a century ago. What a delight it was to go to a country in which there had been no progress for 40 years! Of course it was a xenophobic, klepto-socialist, Buddho-Marxist military dictatorship run by the shadowy, sinister and corrupt General Ne Win, and so, in theory, I should have hated it. Instead, I loved it and wished I could have stayed.

Since then there has probably been some progress, no doubt to the detriment of the country’s charm. Burma (now Myanmar) is slowly rejoining the rest of the world, and one consequence of this will be the more rapid advance of treatment-resistant malaria.

A recent paper in the Lancet examined the proportion of patients in Burma with malaria in whom the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, was resistant to what is now the mainstay of treatment, artemisinin, a derivative of a herbal remedy known for hundreds of years to Chinese medicine. The results are not reassuring.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the global eradication of malaria was envisaged by the WHO, and it looked for a time as if it might even be achieved. The means employed to eradicate it was insecticide that killed the mosquitoes that transmitted the malarial parasites, but a combination of pressure from environmentalists who were worried about the effects of DDT on the ecosystem and mosquito resistance to insecticides led to a recrudescence of the disease.

At the same time, unfortunately, resistance to antimalarial drugs emerged. Control of malaria, not its eradication, became the goal; an insect and a protozoan had defeated the best efforts of mankind. And this is no small matter: the last time resistance to a mainstay of treatment for malaria, chloroquine, emerged in South-East Asia, millions of people died as a result in Africa for lack of an alternative treatment.

What most surprised me about this paper was the method the authors used to determine the prevalence of resistance to artemisinin in the malarial parasites of Burma: for I remember the days when such prevalence was measured by the crude clinical method of giving patients chloroquine and estimating how many of them failed to get better.

The genetic mutations that make the parasite resistant to artemisinin have been recognized. The authors were able to estimate the percentage of patients with malarial parasites that had mutations associated with drug resistance. Nearly 40 percent of their sample had such mutations, and in a province nearest to India the figure was nearly half. The prospects for the geographical spread of resistance are therefore high.

Nor is this all. Artemisinin resistance was first recognized in Cambodia 10 years ago but the mutations in Burma were different, suggesting that resistance can arise spontaneously in different places at the same time. From the evolutionary point of view, this is not altogether surprising: selection pressure to develop resistance to artemisinin exists wherever the drug is widely used.

One way of reducing the spread of resistance is the use in treatment of malaria of more than one antimalarial drug at a time, but this will only retard the spread, not prevent it altogether. As with tuberculosis, it is likely that parasites resistant to all known drugs will emerge. The authors of the paper end on a pessimistic note:

The pace at which the geographical extent of artemisinin resistance is spreading is faster than the rate at which control and elimination measures are being developed and instituted, or new drugs being introduced.

In other words, deaths from malaria will increase rather than continue to decrease, which is what we have come to think of as the normal evolution of a disease.

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[WATCH] This Astonishing Ultrasound Video Proves That Unborn Babies Just Want to Have Fun

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Researchers say that babies as young as one or two days old have a definite sense of rhythm and they can detect changes in a musical beat, even when they’re sleeping.

But Baby Cardinal, an obvious overachiever at only 14-weeks gestation, was caught on ultrasound clapping along to music in his mother’s womb!

His mother, Jen Cardinal, wrote in a note accompanying the amazing video she posted on YouTube, “At our 14 week ultrasound our baby was clapping, so I sang a song with our doctor as my husband filmed.”

In the ultrasound video you can clearly see the tiny baby clapping his (or her?) hands together as his parents sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.”

Amazing that he’s able to do this just 3 1/2 months after he was conceived!

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You’ll Be Shocked to See What They Are Paying Babysitters These Days

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to the Care.com 2015 Babysitter Survey, the national average babysitter rate is $13.44 per hour, up 28% from the 2009 rate of $10.50. This is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and higher than the nation-leading $9.50 per hour that the District of Columbia mandates.

Care.com, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care,” surveyed 1000 of their members and combined that with their own internal data to determine the going rate, which varied from a high of $16.55 in San Francisco, to a low of $11.31 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor and global parenting expert at Care.com, said, “It’s a babysitter’s market where sitters can not only determine their hourly rate, but they can also expect an annual raise and even a tip.”

Apparently, it wasn’t a babysitter’s market when I used to charge $1.00 per hour (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). In addition to babysitting, I always tidied up the house and washed any dishes that were left in the sink. The only hope for making more than ten bucks for an evening’s work was if the dad who drove me home opened his wallet and realized that he didn’t have anything smaller than a ten-dollar bill.

Two questions for our readers today:

1) How much do you pay your babysitters?

2) How much did you charge when you were a babysitter?

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VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You have to admit the retro stylings of YouTube star Meghan Trainor make for some catchy little tunes. But in her latest video, Dear Future Husband, the siren dons pinup-wear while scrubbing the floor of a 50′s kitchen and warning her husband he’d better compliment her every day and buy her jewelry. Contemporary feminists are in an uproar over the classic imagery, but does Trainor have a better grip on the inherent power of her sexuality than the teenage girls who feel the need to buy “butt-enhancing jeans” at JCPenney?

The national department store catalog includes:

The “YMI Wanna Betta Butt Skinny Jeggings” boasts: “With a slight lift and shift and contouring seams, our wanna betta butt skinny jeggings hug you in just the right places to give you a firmer, more flattering look.”

Rewind Smoothie Super Stretch Booty Buddy Skinny Jeans” features “rear-end-enhancing structure” designed to “augment your jean collection — and your backside” and comes in an acid wash finish.

Penney’s isn’t alone. Several online stores including Modaxpress, Hourglass Angel, and even Amazon offer butt enhancing denim to a teenage crowd. Where’s the feminist outrage over a wardrobe enhancement specifically targeted to those vulnerable teen girls suffering all those dreaded body-image issues? Perhaps they’re too busy in Trainor’s kitchen arguing over who gets to make the pie.

 

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VIDEO: Would You Get ‘Married at First Sight’?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

A&E’s “docuseries” Married at First Sight had its second season premiere last night. The theory: arranged marriage cultures have a radically lower divorce rate than non-arranged marriage cultures. Therefore, a group of four experts (a psychologist, a sexologist, a sociologist and a spiritual advisor) conduct thorough testing to match up couples who will literally meet each other at the altar.

With a 66% success rate in its first season, the matchmaking panel appears to have a lower divorce rate than America at large. In the era of Tinder-generated fruitless casual sex, is trusting your romantic future to a pre-arranged scenario a logical alternative to a series of dead-end one night stands?

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Presbyterians Approve Gay Marriage: Forward-Looking or Surrender to a Culture Gone Wild?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

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The Presbyterian Church has once again confirmed its progressive reputation:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a “commitment between two people,” becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

Is this a sign that Presbyterians are forward-looking and profoundly modern, or are they selling out? Opinion polls show that 55 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage. No church can survive when it ignores the wishes and ideas of the culture at large. Gay marriage is going to be legalized nationwide eventually, as the culture is moving in that direction. Might as well get on board now rather than wait and be accused of being out of touch.

On the other hand, many devoted Christians rightfully argue that the Bible clearly states that a marriage is an arrangement between a man and a woman. They’ll claim they’ve got Genesis to back them up if they believe in a literal interpretation of Christianity’s holy book:

Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

What do you think? Are the Presbyterians right and should other churches follow suit, or are they selling out their religion in a desperate attempt to stay relevant in today’s society?

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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VIDEO: What Lena Dunham Doesn’t Want to Know About Sex

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls, Hannah’s father came out of the closet.

Blah, blah, blah, right? At least until the end of the episode when Hannah confronts her father and says, gay or straight, she doesn’t want to know about his sex life.

Wait a minute? Is there something slightly traditionalist about Ms. Dunham after all?

No kid in her right mind wants to consider that her parents have sex. Yet for Ms. Dunham, who grew up around a considerable amount of father-generated sexual art, scripting a character who makes such a pedestrian proclamation is actually out of the ordinary.

Where is the line drawn in the progressive mind when it comes to loved ones and their sexual exploits? Could it be that the Queen of Sharing doesn’t want to share so much after all? Or is it more like others aren’t allowed to share as much as she does?

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