— Glenn (@onhuronia) March 27, 2015
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.
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.
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!
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?
VIDEO: What’s More Sexist, Meghan Trainor Singing to Her Future Husband, or JCPenney’s Butt-Firming Jeans for Teens?
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.
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?
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?
image illustration via shutterstock / Ivan Cholakov
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?
The tale of Cinderella has been retold, directly or indirectly, countless times in recent years, but something just happened to it that I would not believe if I had not seen it.
The latest rendition, released in theaters this past weekend, tells the story with delightful charm, breathtaking beauty, squeaky-clean morality and — most surprising in this age of sly sarcasm — “without a hint of irony.”
That last phrase I stole from another princess film — Enchanted — which was, phrase notwithstanding, rich in irony (as well as terrific humor and great music).
With Cinderella (2015), director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have done the almost unimaginable. They’ve displayed sincere affection between a prince and a servant girl, without post-modern angst or politically correct messaging.
In a word, they made a “Disney movie” the likes of which I feared had faded to black with each year since Walt’s passing.
If there is any seemingly obligatory commentary about the role of women, gender equality, and the impossible dream of true love, it’s among the bitter on Twitter, not in the film.
Perhaps more shocking than the genuine and chaste love between the prince and Cinderella is the sincere respect, love and admiration between the prince and his father, the king, as the son struggles to balance his love for the mysterious maiden, with his desire to honor his father. Most men yearn for a such a relationship with their boys.
Fairy tales were meant to sweep us from our mundane lives, captivate our hearts, lift our spirits and make us dream again. This Cinderella does all of that better than anything I’ve seen since Beauty and the Beast (1991).
See Frank J. Fleming opening the discussion: “This Is Today’s Question: What Does It Mean To Be ‘Civilized’?” And Mark Ellis: “The Future of Civilized Society: One World,” And Aaron C. Smith: “Why Civilization Is a Gift to Bullies.”
Four TV seasons ago, NYC wunderkind Lena Dunham made a pop culture splash with her HBO comedy Girls. Combining offbeat characters, witty scripting, promiscuous sexuality, and typical coming-of-age tropes set in modern hipster Brooklyn, Girls became one of the most talked-about shows on TV and launched Dunham into an odd sort of stardom that positions her as the spokesgirl of her generation. With the collaboration of acclaimed screenwriter/filmmaker Judd Apatow, Girls managed to hit the same sweet spot that Apatow did in his most successful films like Knocked Up – sexually charged slapstick comedy with a heart.
For those of us who left our own coming-of-age stories back in the last century, Girls provided an accessible, if sometimes icky, view into the lives of millennials. But sometime recently, the ick factor has overcome the wittiness. Here’s a bit of dialog from earlier in Season 4, between a 20-something couple who has been dating for about 6 weeks (and have already moved in together):
Mimi-Rose: I can’t go for a run because I had an abortion yesterday. I can’t go for a run, or take a bath or use a tampon or have intercourse for about a week.
Adam: Huh. Are you? What?
Mimi-Rose: Yeah, there’s just a couple things I can’t do because I had an abortion yesterday.
Adam: Uh, was it mine?
Mimi-Rose: Yeah of course it was yours. I didn’t want to talk about it beforehand, I just wanted to do it. But I haven’t shared with boyfriends in the past and I wanted to be more open with you
Adam: You’re…trying to be open with me. How many abortions have you had?
Mimi-Rose: I’m not going to share that with you because that is private. I’m not going to ask you how many girls you’ve gotten pregnant.
Adam: None. It’s not private. I’ve gotten no girls pregnant except for you now. (Smashes dishes)
Now most rational human beings would expect that to be the end of the nascent relationship between our young Mimi-Rose and Adam. But the writers throw in a twist! By the end of the episode they are back together! This could actually have been an interesting development – a commentary on the co-dependence of two narcissistic, immature souls cast adrift by a culture than doesn’t teach the value of life, honesty, or responsibility.
Dunham, in her post-show commentary, makes it clear she intended no such lesson in humanity:
And I was like, Mimi-Rose is so independent, she’s a person who doesn’t need validation or support from any one to make decisions creatively , emotionally, romantically … and I also like the idea of showing someone who is getting an abortion and is not tortured by it.
Well, there you go.
*Strong Language Warning*
Girls has gone from a show in which kids grapple imperfectly with the curveballs of life to a piece of nihilistic agitprop that celebrates the odious as the heroic.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Dunham has jumped the shark from storyteller to propagandist; she’s become increasingly political in her public pronouncements over time, while her recent published memoir had to be “revised” after the original edition included an apparently made-up rape allegation. Until now, we were able to maintain the fiction that she’s a talented, if misguided, young woman who can at least weave together a good story with interesting characters.
Which brings us back to the Apatow connection. In celebrating the odd and offbeat in his films, Apatow never dipped into nihilism. His characters ultimately survive the consequences of their usually absurd actions through love and dedication, not through a triumph of the feminine will. His touch was apparent through the first seasons of the show, and elevated it into something worth talking about. No longer.
Apparently Apatow has left the creative side of the show entirely, abandoning it to become nothing more than a reflection of Dunham’s unpleasant worldview. It’s a shame, but one has to wonder – is this intentional? Is he deliberately giving us an unfiltered peek into the ugly side of millennials?
If so, maybe we should keep watching the show after all as a cautionary tale our future.
Biblical Hebrew names have been used since before this country was founded. Captain John Smith had a biblical name. The name John comes from the Hebrew name Yohanan, which means “G-d has been gracious.”
Many Historical U.S. Figures Have Had Biblical Names
Most of our presidents, with the notable exception of George Washington, had some form of biblical name. In addition to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, there was James Madison. James comes from the Hebrew name Ya’akov by way of the English translation of the New Testament. Ya’akov is otherwise known as Jacob, which means “he will impede or hold up.” Abraham Lincoln’s name was a direct biblical name: “father of a multitude.” John Kennedy was another Yohanan; James Buchanan and James Carter both had names that came from the Old Testament. How well known is the fact that President Warren G. Harding was really Warren Gamaliel, which in Hebrew is Gamliel or “G-d Has granted to me”? Of course the well-liked Dwight Eisenhower was Dwight David. David in Hebrew means “beloved.”
Two presidents of Yale, Ezra Styles and Noah Porter, had recognizable biblical names. Ezra means “help” and Noah “comfort.”
Those are just a few of the notables of our country who were given Hebrew names from the Bible. Many of us in everyday life have Hebrew names as well and don’t even realize it.
In the U.S., almost fifty percent of the most popular girls’ Hebrew names are either directly from Hebrew or derived from the Bible. Among boys, some of the most popular names in America are biblical names.
Here are some of the most popular girls’ names:
1. Mary from the Hebrew name Miriam or “bitter, bitterness.”
2. Elizabeth from the Hebrew Elisheva, “an oath to G-d.”
3. Maria, also derived from Miriam.
4. Susan from Shoshanah, which means “lily or rose.”
5. Margaret from Margalit, which is a pearl.
6. Ruth connotes “appearance”; she was the famous convert to Judaism and ancestor of King David.
7. Sharon, the name of a fertile plain in Israel.
8. Sarah means “princess”; she was the wife of Abraham.
9. Deborah is a honeybee (Hebrew Devorah), a judge in ancient Israel.
Then there are the boys’ names:
10 James, still as popular as two hundred years ago, heads the list (it was defined above).
11. John, also defined above, is next.
12 Michael, “who is like G-d?”
13. David, “beloved,” and the second king of Israel.
14. Joseph, “he will increase” (Yosef, in Hebrew).
15. Daniel, “G-d is my judge.”
If you’ve ever wondered what a bald eagle nest looks like from the inside, or how a bald eagle cares for her eggs, then check out this live bald eagle cam. Set up in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the cam can give you a rare glimpse into the lives of two majestic bald eagles during their breeding season.
According to the PA Gaming Commission, “The bald eagle’s history in Pennsylvania is a precarious one. Only 30 years ago, we had a mere three nests left in our entire state. With the help of the Canadian government, several agencies including the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought bald eagle chicks back to their states to reintroduce bald eagles to the Northeast. Today, Pennsylvania boasts more than 250 nests.”
If you’re looking for a great way to distract yourself for a few minutes, or just want to share a view of a beautiful bird with your children, follow the link and see what the bald eagles are up to now. You might even be lucky enough to be tuned in when a little eaglet hatches.
New research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at the “Origins of narcissism in children” and finds that “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.”
But wait, what if my child really is the smartest at math in his class, or the best soccer player on her team, or the fastest fourth grader in the school? Is this study of narcissism in children suggesting that I hold back from praising my child’s skills, or areas in which he or she is genuinely exceptional? Well, based on the study, it seems that part of the answer is in the difference between narcissism and self-esteem. According to The Ohio State University communication and psychology professor Brad Bushman, who co-authored the study, “People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others.” In other words, yes, by all means, we should praise and love our children, but we should be cautious when it comes to “overvaluing” our children and telling them things that make them believe they are “more special than other children” or that they “deserve something extra in life.”
This study was based on surveys of 565 Dutch children (aged 7-11 when the study began) and their parents. As one might expect, the study found that when parents overvalued their children, they would often claim that their child knew more than a child possibly could — even about fabricated information. I wonder if that’s because these parents felt that if they claimed their children knew more than other children, that would mean that they are also superior examples of parents. What better way to sustain one’s own impulse toward overvaluation than by elevating the intellectual stature of our progeny — it’s like narcissism by proxy.
But let’s get back to that key distinction between narcissism and healthy self-esteem. It turns out that even in children with a natural predilection toward narcissism (it isn’t all nurture, after all), if parents show them more warmth and affection rather than overvaluation, it can help curtail that tendency toward narcissism. Perhaps if this study gains enough attention, and more children get warmth and affection along with positive encouragement, we’ll see fewer teenagers (and adults) walking in beautiful places taking selfies instead of appreciating what’s in front of them.
Last year the UK police refused to respond to video footage of doctors agreeing to perform sex-selective abortions that target female babies, claiming that prosecution would “not be in the public interest.” In response to law enforcement’s blind eye, MK Fiona Bruce presented an amendment before Parliament that would ban gendercide in the UK. Originally received with an overwhelmingly positive response, the amendment failed to become law this past week ironically thanks to the seemingly pro-feminist protests of the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress. The language and nature of their protests against this amendment act as yet another illustration of how contemporary feminist ethos, in this case motivated by demented multiculturalism, is actively working against the cause of women’s equality across the globe.
This afternoon, MPs are considering following Fiona Bruce into restricting abortion rights and giving foetuses more rights than people.
— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) February 23, 2015
Breitbart London reports that the protest against the amendment was spearheaded by Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who referenced the language of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in a letter to Labour party representatives. In the letter she claims that banning sex-selective abortions would lead to “troubling consequences” such as a limitation on abortions for “gender specific abnormalities.” She also opposed the amendment’s use of the term “unborn child” as “children” are granted more legal protection in the UK than “foetuses.”
Her pro-choice defense was so stereotypical it garnered criticisms dubbing it “at best ludicrous misinformation, and at worse pernicious scare mongering.” As to the “gender specific abnormalities” claim, the law contained a caveat permitting abortions for medical reasons, regardless of gender. For advocates of the amendment, Cooper’s preferential treatment of the word “foetus” over “unborn child” turned her argument into a pro-choice one, plain and simple. If only it were that easy.
The real perniciousness came in documents circulated by the TUC regarding the gendercide amendment that stated:
“The amendment does not attempt to address the root causes of deeply entrenched gender discrimination but rather has divided communities.” It also said that banning sex selective abortions might leave women vulnerable to domestic abuse.
Sex-selective abortion is rooted in specific cultural beliefs. That’s right: Stop everything and sound the multiculturalist alarm bells, lest we step on anyone’s toes, child, foetus or otherwise. In a 2012 report titled “Why do feminists ignore gendercide,” the Heritage Foundation details:
“Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted social biases and stereotypes about gender,” a representative of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum said in congressional testimony. “Gender inequity cannot be solved by banning abortion.”
Jonathan V. Last, who writes about cultural and political issues, begs to differ. The choice is clear, he argued last summer in the Wall Street Journal. “Restrict abortion,” Last wrote, “or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls and the calamities that are likely to come with it.”
— Stop Gendercide Now (@SGNIreland) January 27, 2014
In case you missed it, Curt Schilling was not impressed with someone harassing his daughter via Twitter and so he decided to do something about it. Here’s how he introduced the situation on his blog:
I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.
If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.
My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.
Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.
Understandably, the former MLB pitcher was proud of his daughter’s achievement, and probably never imagined that sharing that pride publicly with his daughter via Twitter would invite the ugly comments of two textbook Internet trolls. We won’t repeat the offensive Tweets here, but suffice it to say that Schilling was well within his rights to be outraged and offended that anyone would say the things that were said to his daughter via Twitter.
Here’s what Schilling first posted about the incident on his own Twitter feed:
https://t.co/6V4Ql8gd0e There are repercussions to your actions in the real world
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) March 1, 2015
While it might have been one of the first things he said publicly about the incident, it also happens to summarize the directed, serious nature of his response to it all. Rather than just getting angry and responding to the culprits directly in a form of a flame war, Schilling opted instead to ask for help from his Twitter followers:
Any of you good internet sleuths? If so scroll to the bottom and have at it. https://t.co/6V4Ql8gd0e
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) March 2, 2015
He even received a response from a Twitter employee:
— Tim Abraham (@timabe) March 3, 2015
As it turns out, though, Schilling was being modest. He says on his blog that he’s been using computers since 1981 and that he’s not unfamiliar with the pitfalls of social media sites like Twitter. It’s not all that surprising, then, that he not only took in the names of the two miscreants who were harassing his daughter, he shared their information on his website:
“The Sports Guru”? Ya he’s a DJ named Adam Nagel (DJ is a bit strong since he’s on the air for 1 hour a week) on Brookdale Student Radio at Brookdale Community College. How do you think that place feels about this stud representing their school? You don’t think this isn’t going to be a nice compilation that will show up every single time this idiot is googled the rest of his life? What happens when a potential woman he’s after googles and reads this?
The other clown? He’s VP of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University. I gotta believe if Theta Xi is cool with a VP of one of their chapters acting like this I’d prefer to have no one I know in it. Also, does anyone attending Montclair State University have a student handbook? If so can you pass it along because I am pretty sure there are about 90 violations in this idiots tweets.
I stopped because the rest was more of the same. And while these, to me as a dad, are just stupid and vile in ways you can’t fathom, they aren’t alone.
There have been personal tweets, texts and emails to more than one party in all this.
In other words, he was making sure that there would be real-world repercussions to their online actions. And there have been consequences. The Sports Guru has been suspended by his school and is now being investigated by the police and the clown from Montclair State University, Sean MacDonald, has been fired from his job with the Yankees. You can follow Schilling’s updates on further repercussions either by following him on Twitter or visiting his blog.
There’s a subset of Jewish culture that has so much money to blow on their kids that celebrations like Bar Mitzvahs turn into outrageous, television-worthy affairs. If you want the full story in the form of a cute, thoughtful comedy, check out Keeping Up with the Steins. If you want to skip straight to the awkward horror of the real-life version, watch the video above, posted by the UK Jewish News with the one line comment:
Usually, we’d write something here, but we are a little speechless.
A recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, looked at the “Physician Response to Parental Requests to Spread out the Recommended Vaccine Schedule.” According to their findings, when parents request that a pediatrician “spread out” the recommended vaccine schedule for their children, doctors often comply.
The epidemiologic studies revealed that while many of the doctors acknowledge that agreeing to a different vaccine schedule puts the children at risk for contracting preventable diseases, they nonetheless accede to the parents’ requests.
The study also found that, despite the big measles news at Disneyland this past winter, only 2-3 percent of parents refuse to have their children vaccinated. That being said, the number of parents asking doctors to deviate from the recommended vaccination schedule seems to be growing.
The vaccine schedule that most pediatricians follow is recommended by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommended immunizations, which you can download here, include vaccines that prevent: Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Hib, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis , Flu, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Polio, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Rubella and Tetanus.
While the measles outbreak at Disneyland garnered the most attention, the CDC notes that “the United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 644 case from 27 state reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).” That’s the most cases reported since measles was thought to have been eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. Since January 1, 2015, there have been 170 people with measles in 17 states.
Why are some parents asking doctors to alter the vaccination schedule for their kids?
Some parents simply seem to believe that their children won’t get a disease that requires a vaccination, while other express concerns about complications. This seems to be a growing trend, as the study found that the number of doctors who agreed to change a vaccine schedule based on the concerns or requests of the parents has doubled from 13 percent tin 2009 to almost 40 percent today.
As a parent, and someone who had a terrible case of pertussis (whooping cough) just a few years ago, I would add that it seems like it’s easy to become complacent and assume that something like measles or even pertussis cannot affect us simply because we have not been witness to their harmful effects. In fact, as I was typing this article, I was surprised to find that the word pertussis was not recognized by my version of Word, and I had to add it to my dictionary.
— 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.)
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.