Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple
Many medical papers nowadays have such complex statistics that not one in a hundred doctors understands them fully, and the rest have merely to hope or take it on trust that the authors’ conclusions really do follow from their data. I am afraid I hold to the rather crude view that, if results involving large numbers of patients need involved and sophisticated statistical manipulation to yield a positive outcome, they probably are not very important clinically, however statistically significant they may be. Clear-cut results are not very common these days.
I therefore rejoiced to see in a recent edition of the Lancet the report of an experiment so conclusive that it hardly needed statistical confirmation to prove it. The experiment was a double-blind trial of the desensitization of children with an allergy to peanuts by means of oral immunotherapy (OIT).
Ninety-nine children aged between 7 and 12 with proven allergy to peanuts were divided into two groups: those who, unbeknown to them, received small but increasing doses of peanut protein mixed into their food over a period of six months, and those who did not. At the end of that period, 62 percent of the treated group, but none of the untreated, tolerated a challenge of 1400 milligrams of peanut allergy. The children who had had the OIT were 25 times less sensitive than those who had not. When the control group who had not had it were given it, they too became less sensitive.
The authors also demonstrated that the quality of life of the desensitized children improved because they became less anxious that any food might ambush them, as it were, and cause an allergic reaction. Anyone who has seen an allergic reaction to peanuts (or other nuts) will understand this. Since the number of food products that bear the warning “may contain peanuts” is ever-increasing – peanuts seem almost as ubiquitous in our environment as rock music – the world must appear a dangerous place to those with the allergy.
The article I wound up reading, “The Pram in the Hall,” revealed more about its author, Shane Jones, than it did about writing or parenthood. Jones is admittedly image-obsessed, and that’s evident when he spends most of this article talking not about the unique challenges parenthood poses to writing, but about the challenges it poses to his carefully cultivated personal and professional image.
He writes, “In our culture, fatherhood means baggy khakis and cars with side-impact airbags—it’s something of a joke.”
I don’t see how that’s something of a joke — I just see a comfortable man in a safe car. And people in the book world aren’t known for their glamorous good looks and fashion sense, either, so I’m not sure how any of that is a threat to his career. Have you been to a publishing trade show lately? Clint and Stacey would have a heart attack.
And as excited as I want to be, all I can do is fight through each day trying not to vomit in my purse or fall asleep while driving. It’s great. Most people wait until the second trimester to tell people, but in my case there’s no waiting because I can’t make up countless lies about why I can’t get out of bed, why I quit singing at church, why I dropped out of kickboxing, and why I have been basically out of life for the last month and a half. I’m one of those unfortunate people that gets ill and stays ill for about six out of the nine months of pregnancy. Everyone has heard “eat small meals more often” and “keep crackers nearby,” but what happens when those don’t work? If you’re anything like me, you need some tips that you might not have heard elsewhere.
1. Fruit is your friend
There are a two reasons for this:
It’s sweet and tastes refreshing and citrus fruit especially has a scent that is not noxious to your new bloodhound nose.
It feels okay coming back up.
Unfortunately, with most things I eat I have to ask myself, “what is this going to feel like on the way back up?” I learned that the hard way during pregnancy number 1 when I ate something heavy and it hadn’t digested before it came racing back up on me. The last thing you want when you have your head in a toilet is to also injure your throat in the process. Think soft fruit, watermelon, pineapple, grapefruit, grapes, fruit yogurt… it’s gross to think about but this is now my life (and I’m sure some of you are having the same problem.) Fruit is also high in nutrients that are good for you and the baby and it’s easy to eat with no preparation time.
2. Healthy shmealthy
All the pregnancy magazines and advice columns go on and on about getting the proper nutrients. Well, that would be great if I could choke them down without projectile vomiting! Thanks for that totally useless advice! We all know moms suffer from guilt naturally so when you’re pregnant you’re terrified you’re going to ingest the wrong thing or not enough of the right thing and…right on cue… there the media is to make you feel like crap!
My baby is going to have three heads because I couldn’t eat spinach! Forget that.
Don’t even read those magazines. Nutrition is important and you can focus on it after you get out of the “morning sickness” stage (which is really all-day-long sickness.) During first trimester Hell, simply eat what tastes good, if you can find anything. Even if it’s boxed macaroni and cheese or chocolate shakes for breakfast. Whatever you can keep down is great, not to mention a great excuse to blow that diet and eat whatever the heck you want for a few weeks. If you can’t do it when you’re sick as a dog and miserable, when can you? I’ve been making banana shakes in the morning with frozen bananas, milk and chocolate powder. They’re awesome. Try it.
This Christmas, my brother and I were stumped. My gift ideas for our dad had fallen through, and I’d run out of gardening stuff to give him. (He’s the kind of guy who only really needs a trowel and a bucket — and after feeling clever, giving him a wrap-around-the-bucket trowel carrier last year, I realized I’d exhausted the only possibility in that field.)
But then I saw my dad pick up the guitar I’d brought home with me, and realized that he remembered more from when he played 30 years ago, than I’d learned in nine months of studious* practicing. My brother and I impulsively bought him a guitar just before the holiday overtook us.
Now my dad has added a songbook of classics and is asking me to send him tabs for more current songs that he could play along with me when I visit home. My parents often remind me I’m their conduit to the hottest new music, while I try hard to pick PG-50 tunes for them.
Ben Shapiro is the newest of my friends to join the parenthood club. I’m so thrilled for him and his wife. They’re going to love that little girl so much and just create the most extraordinary human being.
For most of my life I was agnostic on the parenthood question — it was largely a reflection of an agnosticism about, well, everything. A child was such a permanent decision, a no-going-back choice in which one decided that another’s life would come before your own.
What changed? What caused the light switch to flip over from the wobbly, maybe-kids-some-day, to YES, I have a responsibility and a need to become a parent? Finding the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with was only step one. There was another big change that had to happen:
I don’t hate myself anymore.
I think that’s what was really at the heart of not wanting to have children. People who see themselves as a broken ball of neuroses don’t want to compound their misery by spawning miniature versions of themselves who will likely be even worse than they are.
But now I know better than on January 29, 2004 when I was a postmodern progressive undergraduate writing columns praising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. I know that there’s no reason to ever hate yourself because we’re all capable of transforming ourselves. We’re not hardwired or stuck with anything about ourselves. All problems have their solutions and we can become happier, more productive, better people if that is what we choose.
I want to raise sons and daughters someday who can know that from the beginning — that they are smart enough and strong enough to solve any problem they encounter themselves and they do not need to vote for some emotion-manipulating demagogue to pass a program like Obamacare so they can be free.
I wish I’d seen this classic Disney cartoon “Chicken Little” over and over again as a kid instead of ninja turtle toy commercials disguised as entertainment. I wasted so much of my 20s dealing with one fox after another:
In light of pop star Justin Bieber’s unfolding meltdown, Miley Cyrus’s father is desperately trying to milk his 15 minutes out of the whole situation. Bieber’s exploits are tabloid and bandwidth fodder (why else would I be writing about him?), and Cyrus wants a piece of the pie, which led to this hilarious quote:
“A lot of people do ask me for parenting advice,” Billy told Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson, at the Grammys when she asked what advice he would give the troubled teen star.
I won’t even bother sharing with you what the advice was. Would anyone want their child to turn out like Miley? Sure, she’s famous and wealthy, but she also suggestively licks metal while half naked and put the word “twerk” into the phrase of 2013.
While writing about the epidemic of vaccine refusers and the link between this horrible parenting decision and ex-Playboy Bunny Jenny McCarthy I came across this incredibly depressing statistic: 24 percent of American parents trust celebrities for parenting advice.
So there you have it. The beginning of the end of Western Civilization. When we all start dying of whooping cough or venereal diseases caught while sitting half naked on wrecking balls, we can all look back at this moment and know why.
The source of an argument says nothing of its validity or truth. You need not be a woman to present a truth about abortion, or a drug user to present a truth about drug policy, or a parent to present a truth about child-rearing. Insisting otherwise, criticizing an argument based upon who makes it, commits ad hominem. Nevertheless, when someone opines on a topic they have no experience with whatsoever, it remains wise to temper exuberance with humility.
Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing, why on earth are we settling for average?
If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?
One wonders how Glass’s own mother might regard that assessment. Perhaps all children owe their mothers an apology for being born. After all, as Glass presents it, motherhood trespasses upon a woman’s potential greatness.
I want to have a shower for a woman when she backpacks on her own through Asia, gets a promotion, or lands a dream job not when she stays inside the box and does the house and kids thing which is the path of least resistance.
Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back.
Imagine the heights to which women might ascend if they abandoned the insignificant work of nurturing the next generation.
A proposed ballot initiative in Colorado would require couples to undergo 10 hours of pre-wedding marriage education before they can legally tie the knot.
The measure, proposed by the California-based group Kids Against Divorce, would then require people who are marrying for a second time to clock 20 hours of counseling, 30 hours for a third marriage and so on, the Denver Post reported.
Kids Against Divorce? The name of this phony-balony group might as well be “For the Children!™”
I’m reminded of anti-drunk driving laws. A laudable effort, to be sure, but an entire quasi-private industry has grown up around the laws. Instead of paying your fines and doing your community service, offenders also have to endure hours of “support” lessons. It’s a state-mandated industry for otherwise unemployable lefties.
If this thing becomes a part of the state constitution, we’ll have another quasi-private industry for pre-marriage counseling.
And I’d honestly rather live in sin than pay any money to these charlatans.
Monday, January 27th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
Second wave feminism, popularized in the 1960′s, is a rich white girl’s game. Just ask Betty Friedan, or better yet, Wendy Davis.
PBS’s 1964 featured commentary on the then-nascent women’s movement that would become known as Second Wave Feminism. The segment contains clips of commercials advertising household products marketed to women to make their lives easier in the home juxtaposed by Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan’s response to these technological innovations: Women were increasingly bored.
Clips from a Friedan interview (what a miserable looking hag) reveal a perspective fueled by stereotypical thinking. Describing “the problem that has no name” she explains, “it’s not being anybody in themselves, really…” detailing that these women lack role models; even the women on TV are nothing more than ”mindless little drudge[s]…whose greatest thrill is to get that kitchen sink pure white…”. Embracing Freudian psychology, Friedan dismissed the roles of wife and mother as useless, even detrimental in light of the now-disputed Alfred Kinsey’s quack theory that “parasitical mother-love” made men gay.
The stereotypes upon which Friedan based her claim revels in the kind of ignorance common among upper middle class white women who could afford to be bored at home. Women composed over 1/3 of the workforce in 1960; contrary to Friedan’s audience, 19 million women were active in the labor force in 1964. When commenting on why black women by and large never read Friedan’s book, Michelle Bernard observed that most black women “…believed that Friedan’s work spoke only to a privileged class of white women who had nothing better to do than whine about how difficult life was as a stay at home mother.”
It becomes obvious reading The Feminine Mystique that Friedan never intended to market to an audience of working women who would’ve appreciated the technological innovations entering the home. Friedan loaded her book with (now disputed) academic citations that would only have been recognizable by her fellow Smith College graduates and their educated, upper-class compatriots. This nomeklatura-style intellectualism comes as no surprise when Friedan’s communist past and Marxist agenda is taken into account:
“…under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a political activist and professional propagandist for the Communist left for a quarter of a century before the publication of “The Feminist Mystique” launched the modern women’s movement.
…Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer. Her famous description of America’s suburban family household as “a comfortable concentration camp” in “The Feminine Mystique” therefore had more to do with her Marxist hatred for America than with any of her actual experience as a housewife or mother. (Her husband, Carl, also a leftist, once complained that his wife “was in the world during the whole marriage,” had a full-time maid and “seldom was a wife and a mother”).”
The other day I was texting with a brand-new mother friend and she told me “This is hard. I’m pretty freaked out.”
Most pregnant women spend months reading about childbirth: what it feels like, how to deal with the pain, how long it might take, and everything in between. What the recovery is like post-partum is often treated like an afterthought; they treat the childbirth experience like the war when in fact, it’s only just the opening salvo. Childbirth lasts at most a day or two, but the most difficult of the post-partum recovery time lasts days and weeks.
These are the top ten things nobody tells you about your recovery after you have a baby.
1. Breast-feeding isn’t easy at first, and it certainly isn’t magical.
If you stick with it, breast feeding is the ideal way to feed your child in almost all circumstances: it’s free, readily available, nutritious and as an added bonus, nursing helps speed along weight loss. Unfortunately, the majority of women give up within a few weeks, and for good reason. It’s hard. I gave birth naturally, and despite that I have to say that the first two weeks of breast feeding were more painful than childbirth. I screamed, I cried, I dreaded nursing.
Unfortunately, I was doing so up to every other hour, so I dreaded basically every waking moment until I called a lactation consultant to help deal with the pain that I was experiencing every time I nursed. My number one piece of advice since that experience that I give to expecting mothers is to pick out a lactation consultant before you give birth and before you may need her services. You don’t want to be Googling on your phone after five days of no sleep through your and your baby’s tears.
2. You Will Bleed. A lot. For a long time.
The hospital sends you home with pads so thick you may as well be wearing adult diapers. You will take more than you think you need and then end up buying more when that hospital stockpile runs out. You will find yourself on Google searching “hemorrhage post-partum” and “how long will I bleed after childbirth?” several dozen times.
You will call your doctor or midwife and insist that this isn’t normal, that there must be something wrong. In all likelihood there isn’t (that shouldn’t stop you from calling, though), you just really weren’t expecting to lose what feels like all of the blood in your body in the weeks after giving birth.
The Wendy Davis coverage grows tired already. She is just another example of the feminist myth, a woman other women want to follow but who is becoming politically radioactive for not conforming to the narrative — in this instance, that women can do it all on their own. As usual, marriage and an extra income prove their worth to ambition.
The American electorate forgives many things, but not lies. Declaring your back story off limits works a bit like taking the Fifth in court. Everyone assumes you have something to hide. Add on her campaign’s secondary offense of insensitivity to disabled persons—Greg Abbot cannot walk a mile in her shoes as he is a paraplegic—and while Wendy Davis runs might continue for years depending on how hard her defenders and the press try to camouflage her back story manipulations, she is not a reasonably viable political candidate for elected high office anymore. (Think John Edwards or John Kerry.)
But something about the Wendy Davis coverage has caught my interest. The Austin-American Statesman published a how-I-got-scooped-by-the-Dallas-Morning-Newsarticle. I noticed a few commenters asked about Jeff Davis, her second and ex-husband.
Perhaps I’m spending too much time reading blogs and articles about child-men who refuse to partner with their wives or girlfriends or take on the duties of fatherhood, but Jeff Davis sounds like the kind of man modern women want. He prioritized her career needs, first by putting her through law school and then by taking custody of their daughter after the divorce so that she could realize her professional ambitions. He seems like a step-up-and-take-responsibility kind of guy. Women lament a dearth of these kinds of guys, either as partners for women or role models for boys.
Once upon a time Disney captured my heart. As an artistic little girl, Disney stirred my creative spirit. Sadly, Disney didn’t do that for my children. Then along came Pixar, and picked up the torch–now it’s time to give it back.
Disney has reclaimed my heart with their newest animation Frozen. It’s well on its way into the hearts of an entire generation.
Simply put, Frozen got it right.
Not because it’s nominated for 2 Oscars. In fact, its already scored 18 wins with a running total of 32 nominations. Honestly, that’s nice and I’m thrilled for the creatives behind it. They deserve the recognition. But for us parents, that really doesn’t matter in the least.
Frozen won a place in my family’s Hall of Fame because it does what fairy tales are supposed to do. It reveals real life truths to children through the safety and beauty of a well-crafted story. In Frozen, Disney goes one better by telling it in brilliant animation laced with innocent humor and perfect timing.
Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, “Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction. (c) Disney
Personally, had I read that summary, I most likely wouldn’t have given the film a chance. That description is not the story I saw. While that might be the official summary it looks like it was crafted by someone that only watched movie trailers.
“We’re talking about football here, and a lot of people took it further than football,” Sherman said. “I was on a football field showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected and immature, but this is a football field. I wasn’t committing any crimes and doing anything illegal. I was showing passion after a football game.” — Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
Our family’s first foray into youth sports didn’t go quite as planned. The female coach who had volunteered to coach our son’s T-ball team told the children on the first day that the players who didn’t get dirty would get candy at the end of the game. A few parents took this well-meaning (but misguided) mother aside and explained to her a few things about the nature of boys and something about the physical properties of baseball and dirt and informed her that their sons would not be participating in her little “clean game” nonsense. This was our introduction to the ubiquitous drama that permeates youth sports leagues.
My husband and I spent a lot of years coaching youth sports as our sons grew up — baseball, soccer, basketball — mostly because we were the only parents who didn’t drop-and-run. We weren’t savvy enough in the early years to realize that you are by default the U4 soccer coach if you’re the only parent left on the field five minutes after practice is scheduled to begin (other parents, making a beeline to the parking lot, shouted to us, “The whistle and cones are in the blue crate! We’ll see you in an hour. Good luck!”)
We always believed it was important for our boys to participate in team sports, not only for physical fitness reasons, but because they were of the male gender and we thought that participating in sports would be a good way for them to learn to control and channel the aggression that is inherent to their maleness.
Last year I started experimenting with Instagram. Inspired by PJM columnist Zombie I decided to create an account to A) confuse the hell out of people, B) stir up trouble, and C) explore the truth of what people believe in the world today without the baggage of my existing politically incorrect identity clouding how they addressed me.
As with Zombie, with “Thoth and Ma’at Married” people can’t even tell if I’m a man or woman — the handle includes the names of both male and female Egyptian deities of writing (and thus serves as my stealth so-con way of promoting marriage too). They likewise can’t tell at first glance what my religion, politics, or philosophy are. I use the account to engage with people all across the spectrum of cultures and ideas to try to learn more about where their values come from and how they think. On January 10, one of the atheists that I follow posted a photo in which he asked for anyone to ask him his opinion about anything. I asked which side he supported in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here’s the exchange that followed and the revealing admission from an atheist about where he really learned right from wrong in our pop culture-dominated world today:
So he simultaneously admits he knows nothing but expresses his preset ideological opinion that the governments are driven by money and the militaries by primitivism.
Here’s when I drop my counterculture conservative provocation, defining the evil in the issue and then seeing how he or any of his followers choose to react to the facts:
Did my provocation catch any fish? Yes, two revealing responses. The first a somewhat innocent, naive idealist, and the second doubting my facts.
One thing that I’ve learned in these exchanges over the years is to try to cut to the key points you want to make. Don’t go on and on. Just give the link and state your idea. Over-writing is a sign that you’re not confident in what you’re saying.
Here’s where I pose the question that really matters to me for my research and writing: if you’re an atheist, from where do you get your values? I then offer a number of possibilities. Usually I’ll try to throw out five or six, here just three:
Sounds like a good punk rock song title, doesn’t it? “Let Me Stab to Be Corrected.” This is a much more cordial exchange than many that I have with more hostile secularists. But then again, with this particular meme it allowed for more of a thoughtful discussion. Perhaps I should start experimenting with using “Ask My Opinion” and “Ask Anything” type images to fish for more interesting questions…
I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to remind atheists that there are multiple ways of reading the Bible is to start talking about Maimonides. See Douglas Rushkoff’s Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism for the accessible introduction that turned me on to the Rambam not just as a Jewish theologian, but as a foundational thinker of Western civilization and one of the inspirers of the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and the founding of America.
And here’s where I got the kind of off-hand, not-even-thinking-about-it, honest admission that I look for when engaging in these kinds of exchanges:
It’s hard for me to pinpoint with as much precision as @isaac_of_portage just which specific pop culture properties most influenced my values and understanding of good and evil. There are just so many from Star Wars to Super Mario to the Disney canon which shaped my childhood and initial adolescence much more than the irregular church attendance in mushy Methodism.
Though, as I mentioned in the exchange, seeing Schindler’s List in seventh grade — amidst the controversy of it being broadcast uncensored, commercial-free on NBC — did psychologically scar me somehow. But it’s a way that I needed to be scarred — it was one of the big beginning-to-wake-up-to-evil moments that would take a long time to process. Throughout my life in my obsessions with movies, books, comics, and video games, I understand that I’ve been influenced both for the good and the bad. Some pop culture properties derive from the foundational stories and myths of Western civilization, others are reinventions of the primitive, pre-modern death cults which one needs to understand in order to make much sense of the first five books of the Bible. (I’ve found from years of these kinds of exchanges that many secularists misinterpret the Bible to such an extent that they end up taking the side of the Egyptians and Canaanites, not realizing just what the ancient Hebrews were rebelling against — nature worship, human sacrifice and temple prostitution.)
So when I talk about Pop Culture Polytheism, I don’t do so with complete condemnation, because it is a religion that I have practiced to one degree or another all my life and still do to a lesser, more controlled extent today. Pop culture polytheists are those who use pop culture properties as substitutes – or supplements — to religion. You can be a Christian, Jew, Buddhist, secular humanist, etc. first and a pop culture polytheist second — many people are, more should be.
When pop culture is understood as a tool for us to better understand and engage with the world then it’s useful and valuable. When it’s held up as how we should model ourselves, when the figures dancing across the screen become like the gods on Mount Olympus, then we’ve got a problem. And that’s what we have to face and confront today. Pop culture polytheism can be a wonderful thing — my wife and I bond deeply over our shared Disney and Star Trek enthusiasms — but it is only a toolbox, not a foundation upon which to build a life. So in keeping with my third New Year’s resolution…
10 Headlines from Around the Web this Week
Starting With 6 Pop Culture Polytheist Idols of the Age
In November,Vanity Fair published Maureen Orth’s revisitation of the Allen-Farrow scandal, including the first-ever media interview with Dylan. The interview was a bombshell: Dylan (who now uses a different name) did not waver from the story she told at age 7 about Allen molesting and sexually assaulting her in the attic of her mother’s home in Connecticut, on Aug. 4, 1992. On her side is her brother, media-star-in-the-making Ronan Farrow. After Allen received a lifetime-achievement award at last Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony,Ronan tweeted, “Missed the Woody Allen tribute—did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
So what should an outside observer make of the Allen-Farrow debacle, two decades after the fact?
In his June 1993 ruling, Wilk also denied Allen any visitation rights with Dylan or his older adopted child with Farrow, 15-year-old Moses. In May 1994, in a hearing considering custody or increased visitation for Allen, the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court cited a “clear consensus” among psychiatric experts involved in the case that Allen’s “interest in Dylan was abnormally intense.”
Popular culture celebrates criminality — both on screen and off. Someday a lot of people are going to be very ashamed that they gave Allen the benefit of the doubt for all these years. I suspect that some day we’ll have a better idea of the full extent of the truth. If Allen is who his accusers claim he is then eventually more victims will emerge. And too many to be denied.
But will anybody care? They still listen to Michael Jackson songs, don’t they?
The high priorities of the leading third wave feminist publication today.
Last night The Wife and I watched the first two episodes of the new season. What struck me as very awkward during the sex scenes is that with the new short haircut and her insistence on displaying her body she honestly looks more boyish than feminine. So these supposedly heterosexual scenes end up having this creepy homoerotic undertone to them. Hannah doesn’t look or behave like a mature woman; in both instances she’s a teenage boy. I knew too many Hannahs in college. She unfortunately is a voice of a generation.
That’s really the nature of the show and of many secular millennial pop culture polytheists: today’s politically correct ideology has pushed girls to aspire to be more masculine and men to be more feminine. In a bigger expression it’s what we see in Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett making the big decisions while hapless, wimpy Barack Obama goes out to whine that his approval ratings are tanking because people just don’t like the idea of a black president.
Kayne’s answer to racism is the best answer of all time.
Kayne West presented another easy target for widespread mockery. A source told HollywoodLife.com that the eccentric rapper contemplated leaving the United States to escape racism. At least, that’s the paraphrase which made it to social media. “Kayne West Threatens to Leave U.S. Over Racism” reads the Issue Hawk headline.
That may be a bum rap, however. What West actually said expresses, however crudely, the only legitimate solution to racism. The quote from HollywoodLife.com:
Kanye’s brush with racist slurs made him realize it’s not the environment he ever wants his daughter to experience. ”He also said ‘sh*t like this makes me want to take Kim, Nori, and her whole family and move out of this country and go someplace small and quiet,’” the source explained.
Kanye reasoned, “‘We’ve got enough money to buy our own island or some sh*t. I’ll be damned if I raise my daughter around ignorance and flat-out blatant racism.’”
While critics focus on a perceived slight against America, they miss that West was not comparing the United States to another country. He expressed a desire to use his private means to isolate his family in an act of free association.
Giving him the maximum benefit of the doubt, West’s comment proves refreshing. Rather than place responsibility upon someone else to protect his daughter from racism, he contemplates a private solution of his own making.
Indeed, free association emerges as the only legitimate weapon against racism. Choosing your relationships, whom you deal with and whom you don’t, communicates your values and censures or affirms the values of others. A society of individuals free to choose their associations fosters a market where irrational attitudes about race fade into obscurity. Consider every example from slavery through Jim Crow to affirmative action, and note that institutional racism requires force to survive. Without force, under liberty, racism becomes impotent.
That morning, Abigail, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney was Walt’s older brother and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, posted: “I hadn’t heard a word about this Meryl Streep/Walt Disney flap till this morning. Funny how no one mentioned it to me…. Like I was living in some kind of information bubble and nobody wanted to hurt my feelings or something. But if anyone is going to have mixed feelings about a cultural icon, wouldn’t it be a member of the family??? More than anyone else???
“And if you are going to have mixed feelings about a family member (and we all do) take it from me, you really need to be as honest as possible about those feelings, or else you are going to lead yourself into many a blind alley in life!! … Anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C’mon he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay ‘with your own kind’ at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the ‘King of the Jungle’ number wasn’t proof enough!! How much more information do you need? But damn, he was hella good at making films and his work has made billions of people happy. There’s no denying it. So there ya go. Mixed feelings up the wazoo.”
(Let’s face it, nothing lends credibility to your statement quite like the use of hella and wazoo.) But she wasn’t done.
Abigail posted again 10 hours later: “I feel I have to clarify. I LOVED what Meryl Streep said. I know he was a man of his times and I can forgive him, but Saving Mr Banks was a brazen attempt by the company to make a saint out of the man. A devil he was not. Nor an angel. That’s the point and if you read ALL her remarks you’ll know that’s exactly what she was getting at. She said exactly what I said about how in spite of it all, his vision was amazing and he brought joy to so many around the world. So I say Brava Meryl. I don’t believe in bashing for bashing’s sake but whenever we see a misplaced attempt at hagiography we need to speak our minds!”
Wow, this was painful. The oldest of the Gosselin twins, Mady and Cara of Jon & Kate Plus 8 fame, publicly humiliated their mother on national television this morning. While I normally would never cheer such behavior, Kate deserved it for clearly dragging her daughters onto TV, where they spent their entire childhoods, to force them to proclaim that they loved being reality TV stars and would happily become ones again.
The New York Post’s headline for the trainwreck, “Kate Gosselin’s Twins Freeze Up on ‘Today’ Show” doesn’t do the moment justice. They clearly didn’t freeze up in a moment of panic; there was genuine and palpable hostility between the daughters and their mother. Growing up in front of cameras may not have been the healthiest of environments, but it certainly acclimated the girls to the spotlight. The 13 year-old twins were asked to lie on national television about the impact of having their childhoods, and later their parents’ very messy divorce, play out in public. To their credit, they refused to bite. The Post lays out just how tense the moment was:
“This is their chance to talk. This is the most wordless I’ve heard them all morning,” red-faced mom Kate Gosselin said.
“I don’t want to speak for them. But Mady go ahead, sort of the things that you said in the magazine – that years later, they’re fine. Go for it Mady.”
Mady responded: “No, you just said it.”
The Gosselin girls spoke to People magazine earlier this month, explaining that their parents’ decision to put them TV wasn’t a damaging experience.
But given the chance to repeat that line, Cara and Mady went virtually silent.
Savannah Gunthrie asked the girls how their family, bruised and battered by divorce, was doing. It was this question the teenagers refused to answer. Later in the segment Mady did speak up, rather unconvincingly, about the damage (or lack thereof) that being reality TV stars did to their upbringing. Given which questions the girls refused to answer, and which they did, it appears that they may not lay the blame for their childhoods at reality TV’s doorstep. Having family vacations televised probably wasn’t quite as damaging as watching, along with the rest of the country, as their parents divorced and then galavanted across tabloid pages with their new flames.
Spoiler alert for the December and January episodes below!
Many shows on TV offer viewers an escape from reality — shows featuring highbrow families living in ornate castles or series’ where immaculately dressed crime investigators pick their way around gruesome crime scenes in stiletto heels. And there’s always the option to tune in to a scripted “reality” show that bears no resemblance to reality.
NBC’s Parenthood is no such escapist fare. Now in its fifth season, the series tells the story of the Braverman family of Berkeley, California — Zeke and Camille, their four children and assorted grandchildren. The show alternates between funny, quirky, awkward, poignant, and brutally honest. Kristina Braverman’s battle with breast cancer last season was incredibly raw and painful, but laced with enough humor to make it bearable. (Monica Potter, who plays Kristina, was absolutely robbed of a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Series by Jacqueline Bisset.) The show deals sensitively (and at the same time humorously) with a range of life issues common to many families: teenage rebellion, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, marital strains, childbirth, problems at school, the empty nest. Parenthood does it in a way that makes viewers say, “I could totally see someone in my family doing that.”
Perhaps the most acclaimed story line of the series surrounds Max Braverman and his struggles with Asperger’s syndrome. When the show debuted in 2010, actor Max Burkholder played 8-year-old Max Braverman, who had not yet been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Burkholder has brilliantly “grown up” with his character, who is now a high school student. If you know a family that has been touched with an autism spectrum disorder, you’ll see them in this family, even if the details are not exactly the same — fear, frustration, exhaustion, giftedness, surprises, and social isolation are all common issues for these families.
Jason Katims, the show’s creator, has a son on the autism spectrum, so the scenes reflect the realities of life with a child who sees the world on a completely different plane than the rest of us. Katmis told Mari-Jane Williams at the Washington Post that he wasn’t sure they would be able to do the story line justice. He also had concerns about his son’s privacy, but he said the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Katmis explained that he wanted to convey both the challenges and the triumphs of life with a child like Max:
It’s not only the challenges but also the unexpected beauty of it, and we definitely felt it was important to explore that. It really makes you focus on what’s important. You just want them to have friends and be happy and be in a place where they are seen and heard. That’s what you should want for any kid. As parents you really share the triumphs, even when they’re just small moments, even when they’re things that nobody else would even notice. Those moments, when they happen, of him being successful, or progressing, or showing love, I feel like they are much more cherished moments.
We’ve all seen the type, or maybe we’ve been it at one time or another. You know the one — the teenager who spends hours in front of video games, seeming to alienate himself from the real world for hours on end. Now imagine if you or your teen lived that lifestyle for many years, refusing all contact with the outside world, dependent on parents for everything. Welcome to the world of the hikikomori.
Over the last couple of decades, a new phenomenon has emerged in Japan — the emergence of the hikikomori (“withdrawn”). Psychiatrist Tamaki Saito discovered the phenomenon in the early 1990s, and he has pioneered treatment of these young men.
[Saito] was struck by the number of parents who sought his help with children who had quit school and hidden themselves away for months and sometimes years at a time. These young people were often from middle-class families, they were almost always male, and the average age for their withdrawal was 15.
It might sound like straightforward teenage laziness. Why not stay in your room while your parents wait on you? But Saito says sufferers are paralyzed by profound social fears.
“They are tormented in the mind,” he says. “They want to go out in the world, they want to make friends or lovers, but they can’t.”
The Japanese government has estimated the number of hikikomori at between 200,000 and 700,000, but Saito believe the number could exceed one million. What makes these teens and young men withdraw from society?
The trigger for a boy retreating to his bedroom might be comparatively slight – poor grades or a broken heart, for example – but the withdrawal itself can become a source of trauma. And powerful social forces can conspire to keep him there.
One such force is sekentei, a person’s reputation in the community and the pressure he or she feels to impress others. The longer hikikomori remain apart from society, the more aware they become of their social failure…
A second social factor is the amae - dependence – that characterizes Japanese family relationships.
Hikikomori are different from another Japanese subgroup — the otaku (“geeks” or “nerds”). Otaku, like many American teens, immerse themselves in video games or cartoons/anime, but they associate with peers outside the home. Hikikomori remain reclusive for months or years.
Mr. Cuomo also said he wanted to pay top teachers performance bonuses and announced plans for a $2 billion bond referendum in the fall that, if passed by voters, would be used to upgrade public schools and provide them better equipment.
The governor spent a fair bit of time talking about education, as Mr. de Blasio looked on. The mayor has made universal prekindergarten classes a priority, promising to pay for the program with a tax on city residents earning $500,000 or more, an issue he pressed in comments to reporters.
Mr. Cuomo affirmed the state’s commitment to early childhood education, and made a promise to deliver full-day prekindergarten, but he did not say how much it would cost.
After the speech, Mr. de Blasio, who needs legislative approval for his proposed tax increase, praised the governor for presenting what he called “a progressive, proactive agenda for the future of our state,” and called the governor’s goal of expanding prekindergarten statewide “a fantastic statement.”
I mentioned a few weeks ago that de Blasio was excited about a meeting with The Idiot King where the progressive preschool push was talked about a lot.
It really is the linchpin of their ambitious agenda, one that aims to mold voters sympathetic to them before they’re even allowed to vote.
Progressives will trot out study after study to prove to you that your child will never learn to write his name without sticking the pen in his eye if you don’t get him to a preschool STAT. (One wonders how all of the scientists who got us to the moon were able to do so without the benefit of having gone to preschool.) It’s all garbage, of course, but it’s purposeful garbage. The sooner they can get your kids out of your hands and into those of a government employee who will say anything for a pension, the better.
And how do they get them there? Simple: continually make the tax burden on average parents so overwhelming that both have no choice but to work. Daycare too pricey you say? Hey-the governor just said he’s going to pay for preschool.
What did you find the first time you Googled your own name?
I found a few Amazon reviews for Mary Poppins on VHS and the new Limp Bizkit CD. Embarassing, yes, but I had no one to blame but myself. What will children growing up in the age of social media find about themselves when they first enter their names into a search engine? If their parents have active accounts like most Americans do, they will likely find everything, as will anyone else. Videos of first steps on YouTube, complaints about tantrums as status updates on Facebook, maybe even their mother’s live tweets during labor.
If you discovered that every personal detail was freely available on the internet for anyone to read; including potential dates, employers, college admissions officers, it’s likely you’d feel violated at best and furious at worst. This is the realization a generation of kids growing up in the age of social media can look forward to.
Parents seem to forget their children will not always be children and one day, they will decide what they would have wanted posted about them online. Children are not pets, they do not belong to their parents, they will become individuals and will not always be extensions of their parents. It might surprise parents who they become.
One of the amazing things about having babies is watching them grow up into and form unique personalities, some of which we mold, but some they form themselves. My mother wasn’t successful in her attempts to raise me into a liberal Catholic, pro-choice woman, or a Ralph Nader voter. I am instead, thanks to the beauty of free will, a pro-life, politically conservative Orthodox Jew. My daughter will also choose the road she wants to walk when she grows up, not my husband or I.
Apparently we are experiencing a weather event of epic proportions. The headlines on Drudge tonight screamed:
CHICAGO SMASHES RECORDS…
COLDEST AIR IN 20 YEARS…
‘Exposed skin may freeze in less than five minutes’…
Power Demand Soars… Texas grid pushed to edge… Indianapolis Mayor Bans Driving…
JETBLUE To Halt All Flights To, From Boston, NY, NJ…
AMERICAN AIRLINES Cancels Flights Over Frozen Fuel Supply, Cold Employees…
Immediate mockery by nearly every Ohioan over the age of forty began on Facebook:
Well I see all the public schools in my area have already WIMPED OUT and cancelled school for the next two days because of . . . snow and ice and cold temperatures. Heavens. I guess the poor little dumplings can’t take it. Is everyone going to cancel work too because it’s so cold?
I can’t believe they cancelled already when the temps are still ok and not one flake has fallen. Hello Wussy USA!!!
My wife rode the bus from the time she and her sisters were in elementary school. If there were one or two foot snow drifts. . .if they could get the buses out of the barns. . .they went to school. Parents can walk or drive their kids. We are turning our kids into wimps nowadays.
I delivered newspapers when in snowstorms many times. I think the real problem is that parents want their kids to be protected every minute from the time they leave home. They probably have a greater chance of getting shot in school than getting frostbite but that is another issue.
I’m only 20. But even I know things have happened a lot worse than what we have now. It’s sad to see that we’ve come so far just to be so annoyingly weak.
My personal reaction to the wall-to-wall news coverage of this “dangerous weather event” has been something along the lines of “seriously?”
Why all this derision — even hostility — simply because the schools and some businesses wanted the public to stay home for a couple of days until this cold weather blew over?
Quite simply, Ohioans of a certain age remember January 26, 1978, the day the Great Blizzard of ’78, also known as the White Hurricane, also known as the Cleveland Superbomb, descended upon Ohio.
I spotted this on a Facebook site styling itself “The Other 98%.” Dear Lord, I hope that’s not true.
What is wrong with this t-shirt? Besides everything? Let’s just list a few items:
1.) This father is abdicating his responsibility to put boundaries around his dating-age daughter until she’s mature enough to make good decisions on her own. We don’t let our toddlers alone near swimming pools and we shouldn’t let our teenage daughters and sons make their own dating rules. They will make bad ones because they don’t know any better yet. This is called “parenting.”
2.) By declaring that his daughter makes the rules and he is not responsible for her, he is signaling to every male predator out there that his daughter is available for victimization. Or as Barney Stinson says on How I Met Your Mother, “How would we get strippers if girls didn’t have lousy daddies?” This father is advertising his daughter to bad men. Boy Scouts will not be asking this teenage girl out on dates. Her fifty-year-old married schoolteacher will be.
3.) Feminist Father. Feminist? This word might have meant something brave and honest fifty years ago, but is now irrevocably associated with abortion on demand up to and including infanticide after birth, hatred of marriage and men, and a whiny victim status that desires complete equality with men unless they can’t compete, and then the rules should be changed. This is what this father calls himself, and he is evidently encouraging this attitude in his daughter. (Are you surprised he could even father a child?)
4.) The fact that this meme even exists is both pathetic and disturbing. Are such men so emasculated, so morally adrift, that they would actually wear such a thing?
Let’s hope it’s just a meme, and not an actual t-shirt. If I saw a man wearing it, he’d end up crying like a little girl, and nobody wants to see that.
Every parent has heard it — that dreadful lament of “I’m bored!”
Although it’s usually accompanied by dramatizations of actual pain, few parents have patience for it. Even fewer view it as something to be concerned about. That could be a deadly mistake.
I certainly didn’t view it as more than an annoyance. My children learned very quickly and early on that to complain of boredom was a bad idea. At least expressing it to me, that is. The first time those words would come out of a child’s mouth, I simply replied, “Oh that’s great. I have plenty of work for you to do. If you don’t know how to fill your time wisely, I will happily fill it for you.”
You would be amazed at how fast a child can figure out something else to do besides extra chores. One full dose of work instantly cures childhood boredom.
What about children who are never taught what to do with boredom? What do they grow into?
This week’s reading of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning brought to light what could be the answer to a problem not yet conceived of at the time of its writing. Frankl explains,
The existential vacuum is a widespread phenomenon of the twentieth century…man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do; sometimes he does not even know what he wishes to do. Instead, he either wishes to do what other people wish him to do (conformism) or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism). ….
The existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom.
In most cases, when children announce their boredom, parents give them placebos rather than cures. They think it is not really a problem at all. By dismissing the issue as unimportant, the parent takes the path of least resistance and too often offers entertainment as a cure. (This is evidenced by the large sums of money willingly paid for gaming systems.)
However, if Frankl is correct, and it is a real issue, then we are in essence training our children to seek amusement rather than meaning. This could have deadly consequences.