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12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?

12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.

“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.

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5 Reasons Megan Fox’s Heart Isn’t in Acting Anymore

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Megan Fox
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I knew this day would come. I’ve been wondering when I would feel compelled to write about the “other” Megan Fox who is a part of my daily life whether I want her to be or not. Grocery store checkout girls gasp and giggle at the sight of my credit card, AT&T phone operators in India ask trepidatiously if I’m really HER. Several times a day, I hear, “Megan Fox? Like the movie star!” Why yes. Yes I am. I’m becoming like that poor guy named Donald Trump who is not Donald Trump but gets reservations anywhere he wants while disappointing countless hostesses. It’s mostly tiresome but sometimes funny. Recently, Fox (the other one) made the news for speaking truthfully about the state of her heart when it comes to making movies when she has small children at home:

“I’ve never been an extraordinarily ambitious girl or career-oriented, but especially once I got pregnant with my first son and now [having] my second, it’s so hard to be a working mom especially when your heart is not in your work, when your heart is with your family.”

Megan Fox is experiencing what most mothers feel the moment they set eyes on their tiny new child. Suddenly, everything else becomes less important, even when you’re a big time movie star. Regardless of what faux feminists tell women that they can “have it all” or they should never give up the rat race and press ahead by hiring nannies and using daycare, Fox isn’t falling for it, and neither do most of us. This is not to say there aren’t countless women who have to work who would rather not. They are in the same category as Fox. Necessity demands they work but deep down, here are the reasons they’d prefer not to.

5. Your giggling baby.

You never know what’s going to set them off. You don’t want to miss it when it happens.

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10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…

Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.

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VIDEO: Are We Not Men?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

A character in my novel Man And Wife points out that it’s difficult to talk about manhood because an essential part of manhood is not talking about it. But that didn’t stop me from joining a panel with my friends at BOND during their annual Father’s Day Conference on Fatherhood and Men. With the fearless and humorous preacher Jesse Lee Peterson leading the discussion, the 45-minutes or so absolutely zipped by. Here it is for your delectation and delight:

By the way, if you click on the Jesse Lee Peterson link, you’ll find my City Journal profile of him, the anti-Jesse Jackson. If you click on Man And Wife, you’ll have something absolutely great to read for the weekend! Is this blog a resource or what?

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10 Frozen Costumes Sure to Delight Your Child and Available NOW!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 - by Megan Fox
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This is the reality when searching for Frozen merchandise. Great work, Disney.

Walt Disney’s Frozen is a huge hit and is causing some serious angst among mothers (like me) who are frantically trying to find Elsa and Anna costumes for their little girls. Normally, The Disney Store would be stocked with dresses and merchandise in preparation for a new release. For some reason, the brains in marketing dropped the ball on Frozen and there are now empty shelves where merchandise should be.

The most coveted items are the costumes. Disney makes these for around $50 each. You’ve all seen them: shiny, itchy ball gowns for little girls to play pretend. At some point, Disney stopped making quality items and outsourced everything to China where everything is cheaply manufactured with hideous material that falls apart within a year of playing. Up until now, we’ve all just put up with it and accepted that we must buy these costumes so our daughters can have their fantasy play.

It is a lot of fun to watch them pretend in these get-ups, but I started to realize they are seriously not worth the money when my oldest daughter, Kit, was visiting Walt Disney World for the first time. She had just visited the Bibbity Boppity Boo Salon where they give the children a princess makeover and do their hair and nails and give them a princess costume and a photo shoot, for the bargain price of $200 per child. (I did NOT pay for this. My parents decided they had to have this for their grandchildren. For the record, I objected to this foolish expenditure but grandparents are entitled to do what they want.)

Kit was beyond thrilled. She chose a Jasmine costume for her makeover and she looked adorable with a pink hair piece and crazy nails. However, within 10 minutes of leaving the air conditioned salon she began to sweat profusely in the Florida sun. By the time we reached the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland she was ready for her cotton shorts and teeshirt back. Her fantasy of wandering the parks in her costume ended there. Whose bright idea was this to make these things out of non-breathable polyester and non-washable acrylic?

As she got older, she began to stop dressing up, claiming she itched too bad and the costumes were uncomfortable. Who could blame her? They feel like scouring pads. Her little sister, Kat, still loves to dress up and it is she that sent me on the hunt for the elusive Elsa costume.

What I found disturbed me.

Here they are selling Elsa costumes (the same cheap, Chinese manufactured garbage) that goes for $50 at the Disney Store for $225 by Amazon poachers. The comments are especially entertaining. This is because Disney didn’t have the foresight to have enough merchandise for the demand and now enterprising scalpers are pillaging the pockets of desperate parents. Since Kat’s birthday is in July, I want an Elsa costume to give her by then. Clearly, I am not going to find the Disney version in time. It occurred to me to search Etsy, a website where handcrafted items are sold, and what I found there has turned me off from cheap and itchy Disney costumes forever.

Here are the 10 best, most creative Frozen costumes on Etsy that you can buy right now with no waiting or supporting of stupid companies that don’t seem to care about customer service.

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3 Studies About Fatherhood that Will Shock You (But Shouldn’t)

Sunday, June 15th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Common law, case law, moves slowly. It basically crowd-sources notions of fairness and justice over time and turns them into rules. Normally this works well. But when the assumptions that informed the common law were faulty, then precedent drags positive change.

We can see this happening in child custody arrangements. The precedents set in the 1970s when the divorce rate rose were informed by Freudian attachment-theory studies in the post-war era on orphans, as they were the most commonly found victims of fractured families. As attachment theory developed, psychologists started studying mothers and young children. It seemed a logical first layer of detail to examine given the expectations that women took care of the children while men worked outside the home.

When the divorce rate rose in the ’70s and courts had to start declaring custody arrangements, the experts recommended primary mother care because they didn’t have data for anything else. From a 1992 “Origins of Attachment Theory” paper in Developmental Psychology:

Although we have made progress in examining mother-child attachment, much work needs to be done with respect to studying attachment in the microsystem of family relationships (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Despite studies by Belsky, Gilstrap, and Rovine (1984), Lamb (1978), and Parke and Tinsley (1987) that show fathers to be competent, if sometimes less than fully participant attachment figures, we still have much to learn regarding father attachment.

Formal studies of children in broken homes didn’t really start until the ’80s when there were children of divorce to study and a fierce need for relevant data. And the father and child arrangements that the data recommend look little like the modern arrangements formed under the inertia of legal precedent.

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Jane the Virgin: The CW’s Take on ‘Immaculate’ Conception

Sunday, June 1st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The CW is planning to add Jane the Virgin to its fall lineup. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, Jane the Virgin is about an intentionally virginal girl who is “accidentally artificially inseminated” by her OB-GYN:

Jane stars Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown) as a hard-working, devout Latina who is kind of hoping her boyfriend proposes — though she’s a little worried he’ll get down on one knee so she’ll finally agree to do the deed. When a mix-up at the OB-GYN leads to that artificial insemination plot line, Jane must choose whether to keep the baby — and whether to let the handsome father into her life.

Aside from containing a number of Spanish stereotypes, including the paranoid grandmother putting the fear of God into her pre-teen daughter (“Once you lose your virginity, you can never go back!“) to a cast of overtly sexualized Latinas, the show appears to be a platform for some long overdue, serious conversation regarding abortion. However, the show sounds eerily like one of the most famously influential and revered plot lines in the West’s repertoire, leaving one to wonder how a primarily Protestant audience might handle a story that’s been a hit in a Catholic country.

When it comes to the primarily pathetic representation of Latinas on television (does Sofia Vergara have to do it all?) at least Jane the Virgin appears to lack the typical trashiness of Devious Maids.

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The #1 Reason We Watch Call the Midwife

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This past Sunday, American audiences finally had their chance to wave goodbye to Nurse Jenny Lee, the lead character in the famed Masterpiece series Call the Midwife. However sad it may be, the departure of the show’s Hollywood-bound lead actress Jessica Raine was, ironically, in no way a traumatic one.

Most American shows die when their lead actor disappears. Dan Stevens’ untimely departure from Downton Abbey still enrages fans over a year later. Yet, while Nurse Jenny Lee will be a much missed character, fans are far from outraged at her departure. Perhaps this is because Call the Midwife was never just about Jennifer (Lee) Worth, but about the many lives she encountered and a profession that is finally being given the credit it so sorely deserves. But there is more to the massive success of what began as a 6-episode BBC show about nursing in mid-century London’s bombed-out East End than giving credit where credit is due.

In an era of roughshod marketing tactics and semiotic overload, Call the Midwife, with its pure, heartfelt approach to the vicissitudes of life, is therapeutic television. We are a desensitized audience: No one cries when a pregnant mother is stabbed to death on Game of Thrones. Yet, everyone, including the burly guys on set, shed a tear at every birth on Call the Midwife. We are treated to an East End rife with chamber pots, not sexy chamber maids, and yet audiences are drawn to the show in droves. We love the midwives, even when they are dressed in habits and wimples; they are the ideal face of medicine, mother, and God in an era when we’ve been taught to doubt all three. Like a nurse checking our pulse, Call the Midwife reminds us that we are human after all, and perhaps not as sick as we’ve been led to believe.

And yet, while TV execs struggle with sex and violence in the name of Tweet power, they remain blind to Call the Midwife’s axiom for success: There is powerful endurance in simple truth. Call the Midwife will survive without the character of Jenny Lee because the show has embraced Jennifer Worth’s own mystical sense of timelessness. It is the stuff that fueled her memoirs of both London’s East End and her time as a nurse caring for the dying. Brilliantly captured in the season finale, this sense of the eternal in both life and death is what makes Call the Midwife a healing balm of a show and transcendental television in its finest form. Forget bloody battles and wild, nameless sex. Call the Midwife empowers its audience with the strength to face, not escape, life’s pressures, and the faith to believe that while “weeping may happen for a night, joy breaks forth in the morning.”

Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.

Jennifer Worth

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4 Reforms That Would Make Our Schools More Boy-Friendly

Monday, May 19th, 2014 - by Prager University

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Why The Nursing in Public Battle Isn’t Worth Fighting

Monday, May 12th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

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I admit it, I’m a “lactivist.” What is a lactivist, you ask? I’m someone who believes in the power of breastmilk, who thinks breast is best, who will grin and bear it through pain and difficulty in order to breastfeed my child. Unfortunately, those like me have earned a bad rap over the the course of the mommy wars. Those who fight in the mommy wars have one thing in common: these women believe the way that they raise their children is how all women should raise their children. The mommy wars started between women who went back to work versus those who decided to stay home, but has expanded to every realm of childbearing and rearing, with breastfeeding as one of the hottest topics. Many in the lactivist camp shame mothers who can’t, won’t or don’t breastfeed their children for a myriad of reasons, all of which are deeply personal. This is where we part ways. It takes a lot of energy to raise my daughter. I have none left over to worry about how other people choose to raise their children.

Several lactivism pages over the past few weeks are abuzz over the above image, which is part of a student advertising campaign at the University of North Texas. The students are promoting the passage of HB1706, a bill in the Texas legislature that will protect women from harassment and discrimination if and when they decide to nurse in public. I might lose my lactivist membership card for saying this, but this isn’t one of those motherhood issues I can get worked up about. Personally, I breastfeed in public, with and without a cover, depending on if I think my daughter will stand it, depending on how discreetly I can do it, depending on how hot it would make my daughter and I to put her under a scarf or blanket.

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Debunking the Jewish Mother Stereotype

Sunday, May 11th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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What is wrong with my children? Why won’t they let me completely immerse myself in their lives?!

Beverly Goldberg, The Goldbergs

Last week, my husband and I fell over laughing at the best line in the entire first season of ABC’s The GoldbergsJust renewed for a second season, the autobiographical series created by Adam F. Goldberg (no relation) features, in his own words, “the orginial sMother” Beverly Goldberg, archetype of Jewish moms the world over. In his comic genius (complemented by Wendi McLendon-Covey’s masterful performance) Goldberg has managed to take a figure much-maligned over the past few decades and craft her into a clan leader who is as lovable as she is obnoxious.  With her ballsy, brash bravado, Beverly is the living, breathing Jewishness in a show otherwise lacking in Jewish culture. For The Goldbergs, Jewish is not about kashrut, holidays or simchas; it is about a mother who smothers her children with equal parts love, confidence, and overprotection.

Thanks to Freud and Friedan, Jewish moms have taken a beating over the past few decades. Friedan used her own mother’s discontent with being a housewife as the impetus for her brutal criticisms of motherhood and housewifery, going so far as to describe the latter using Holocaust imagery. What Friedan failed to note early on was the antisemitic influence on her mother’s behavior. Not only was her educated mother forced to become a housewife the minute she married, she was also the victim of lifelong antisemitic prejudice. This attitude, something internalized by both mother and daughter, would later come out in brute force through Friedan’s feminist critiques of the Jewish mother. It was a position that Friedan would eventually come to regret. According to historian Joyce Antler:

…in later life [Friedan] has joined the modern aspirations of feminism with the popular emblems of her Jewish heritage, understanding that the myth of a controlling, aggressive Jewish mother has been as dangerous to the self-esteem of Jewish women (including her own) as the earlier “feminine mystique” was to all women.

The real-life Beverly Goldberg views her son’s television show as a “validation of everything she’s ever done.” I’d take her observation a step further; I believe Adam F. Goldberg’s seemingly simple, humorous portrayal of “the original sMother”  is a much-needed cultural validation of the Jewish mother figure at large. Beverly Goldberg may not have the zaftig figure of her televisual predecessor Molly, but she has a zaftig heart, one that infuses the kind of family love into a sitcom setting that hasn’t existed since the Huxtables went off the air. In the midst of intense cultural debates on the value and future of motherhood, Beverly Goldberg’s intense devotion, undivided attention, and proclivity for jaws-of-life hugs are refreshing.

Happy sMother’s Day to Jewish moms around the globe. Just please remember to let your kids come up for air once in a while.

bevgoldberglocket

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5 Essential Hacks for Camping with Children

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Camping season approaches, and spending time in the wilderness with your children is a joy but it can be a challenge too. Here are my five essential hacks for making sure the camping experience is a happy one for your family.

1) Bring Lots of Baby Wipes

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If your kids are out of diapers and you don’t think you need baby wipes any more, think again. Baby wipes aren’t just for diaper changes. The cooling, cleansing feel of a baby wipe makes all parts of a camping trip better. We pack three or four containers for each trip. In the morning, use baby wipes to clean faces and hands before breakfast. After breakfast, the tough wipes can clean out pots and pans so the food ends up in your trash bag and not on the ground near your campsite. Swish water in the pans after you’re done and they’re ready for the next meal. During the hot hours of the day, a baby wipe cools and refreshes the skin. At night, baby wipes clean sticky marshmallows off delicate fingers and faces. Which brings me to…

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Why Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Are Good Parents

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

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This is Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s young daughter, a mere 13-year old Willow, in bed with a 20-year-old shirtless man (Moises Arias, of Hannah Montana “fame”). The couple have told TMZ through their back channels that they’re okay with the image, trusting that their teenage daughter is mature enough to not cross any lines. The photo seems much more scandalous than it appears to be. Apparently Willow was in a room with several friends, including Arias, a longtime family friend of the Smiths. Arias happened to be shirtless, but it doesn’t appear there was any funny business taking place before or after the photo was taken. It was merely an “expression of art,” so she claims.

I’m a conservative woman and an Orthodox Jew, yet despite that, I am surprisingly in disagreement with FishWrapper‘s take on the scene:

Apparently, Willow and Moises here go way back: they’ve been close friends for a long time. So they probably hung out when Moises was 19 and Willow was 12, and when Moises was 18 and Willow was 11. … you get the creepy picture. And this has always been fine with Willow’s parents because they feel like Willow is totally mature enough to do basically whatever she wants. And that obviously includes inviting, for whatever reason, a 20-year-old shirtless adult man to lie with her in a bed, and that is awful.

Why is it so hard to just take care of your children? In what universe should any 13-year-old be granted the ability to make all of her own decisions? Maturity varies from child to child, of course, but that’s the whole point: she’s still, regardless of anything, a child. And this is simply unacceptable.

So, hey, Will and Jada, do you think you could do your children a favor and actually parent them? Maybe just a little. At least enough so that they won’t be subjected to atrocities like this.

Are they they worst parents in the world? Maybe, maybe not. However, it takes an incredible amount of self-restraint for the Smiths to react in public as they have. No matter how the Smiths may have felt about the image, they would have had the best publicity response by responding how most Americans have, with abject horror. Willow’s parents, being savvy media personalities, are well aware of how they could have best recovered their reputations as parents.

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8 Reasons Why Breastfeeding Is Best for Moms Too

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

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A great deal has been written about the benefits for babies — that it’s easier on their stomachs, better for their brains, a boost for their immune system — but very little has been written on the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. In the United States only 16 percent of babies are still exclusively breastfed by six months, despite the recommendation of all pediatric associations that babies should be breastfed up to one year of age. After three months of age less than 40 percent of babies are still breastfed. The first three months of a child’s life are the most difficult for parents in every respect, including breastfeeding. New mothers are overwhelmed by the demands of their newborn, the initial pain and difficulty they may have nursing, the inconveniences associated with it including pumping in order to separate from the infant and leaking milk day and night. Why should new mothers stick with it when there’s baby formula conveniently located in every grocery and drug store? These are the reasons why breastfeeding is worth it for mothers too:

1. Schlepping:

Even though finding formula is convenient in any store in the United States, whenever parents go out, formula, bottles and often bottled water need to be added to the already heavy diaper bag. If you’re like me, adding yet another necessary item that can be forgotten to my bag is the last thing I want to do every time I leave home.

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Are The Childhood Heroes We’ve Created To Blame For America’s Demise?

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Editor’s Note: Check out the previous installments in Rhonda’s series on Ernest Becker’s ideas:

Part 1: What Makes You Human?

Part 2: George Clooney Didn’t ‘Save Puppies from Nazis’ In Monuments Men

Part 3: Is Self-Esteem a Social Construct Or the Soul’s Self-Awareness?

“Once upon a time there lived a little boy name Tom. He was brave, strong and he always obeyed his mommy…” and so each story would begin.

Every afternoon my little hero would meet a bear, a lion, go into the dark woods, or find a treasure. Each story led to a decision to be made, and our hero always chose what was right even when his faithful companion Little Bear (the scraggly teddy) did not. Every story would end the same–”because Tom always”…my voice would soften and fade as my own four-year-old Tommy would drift off to sleep.

When there are mountains of sand to conquer and frogs to capture, little boys find it hard to take time for a nap. However, I needed one desperately, so I made up wild stories to settle down my adventurous boy and feed his imagination. All in hopes of holding him still along enough for sleep to pin him down.

Until I read what Earnest Becker had to say about heroes, I hadn’t given those days of tale-spinning, or heroes for that matter, much thought.

Becker writes:

“Two centuries of modern anthropological work have accumulated a careful and detailed record of this natural genius of man: anthropologist found that there were any number of different patterns in which individuals could act, and in each pattern they possessed a sense of primary value in a world of meaning. As we said earlier, short of natural catastrophe, the only time life grinds to a halt or explodes in anarchy and chaos, is when a culture falls down on its job of constructing a meaningful hero-system for its members.” Ernest Becker, [Emphasis mine]

What stories do you tell your children?

Perhaps a more important question we, as parents need to ask, is what stories are the culture telling our children? What are the childhood heroes we, as a culture, are providing?

If in fact, Becker is correct and the only time life grinds to a halt or erupts in chaos is when the culture falls down on its job of constructing a hero system–we could be in more trouble than we thought. Although, I think we’ve always known it deep down–that’s why we are so disgusted with the likes of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. At one time they held the admiration of young children.

What if Cyrus and Bieber aren’t the problem? What if, it goes deeper than that?

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Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?

Monday, April 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Hiding the ugly face of Marxism has become a real science.

– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

We get it: Intellectuals who fall to the Left of the political spectrum dig Marx. Cultural critics like Ben Shapiro and Ben Stein have already made the excellent argument that academia is ideologically corrupted by said intellectuals, arguments that can be backed up by practically every conservative college graduate in the country. Now the focus has turned to public education, specifically the battle over Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCCS). You know what I’m talking about: Those crazy grammar assignments or math problems-cum-memes that pepper your Facebook and Twitter feed, usually accompanied by sarcastic comments like “Common Core is making me stupider.”

From a governmental point of view, Obama’s CCCS look like Bush’s No Child Left Behind on steroids: high-impact grant funding legislation that increases federal influence at the local level. Public school districts must report boatloads of data showing quantifiable achievements if they are to be rewarded with government funds. Many Americans doubt that a quality education can be quantified, but as Stalin was fond of saying: “Bureaucracy is the price we pay for impartiality.”

Which brings to mind Pacepa’s remark:

After the Kremlin expelled Romania’s King and declared the country a Popular Republic, the new government nationalized the school system, and decided to create its own type of intellectual — the “new man”.

Romania had its intellectuals before the Revolution. Most fled to Western Europe with death sentences hanging over their heads, still more wound up in gulags, and yet others elected to support the communist regime. A new generation of intellectuals would grow up behind the Iron Curtain, cultivating a subculture all their own filled with bootleg records and western media. They’d take menial bureaucratic jobs that would give them enough time to think and write – secretly of course – and maintain the culture their government denied them. Today’s Russian intellectuals have inherited the complacency of their parents’ generation, willing to “make do” as the government clamps down on free speech. It would seem, as Pacepa puts it, that their “vital arteries [have] been calcified by 70 years of disinformation and dismal feudalism.”

The harsh reality is that most citizens of the former Soviet Union do not know how to defend freedom because they’ve been educated to live without it. As the Wizard so kindly explained, the Scarecrow didn’t need a brain; he needed his intelligence to be quantified through a degree conferred by an authoritative source. This doesn’t mean that public education is a sham; on the contrary, this should illustrate how powerful an education can be in the hands of the educators as well as the minds of the educated.

We’ve discussed Marxist influences in our contemporary culture, but do we have the courage to confront Marxism in our daily discourse? Stay tuned for the next installment of Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge.

cowardlylion

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How Did We Survive Childhood Before the ’90s Safety Nannies Came Along?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

When our first son was born in 1991 we were told to lay him on his tummy at naptime — never, ever on his back because it would increase his risk of choking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By the time our second child came along in 1994 the experts had decided that parents should never, ever let their children sleep on their stomachs because it increased the risk of choking and SIDS. A month after he was born the experts told us that we needed to buy a wedge that forced our son to sleep on his side. This would prevent choking and lower the risk of SIDS. Thus was our introduction to our generation’s obsession with hypervigilant parenting.

We were instructed to bathe our kids in Purell and to sterilize everything that touched our bubble children. We were also told to instruct them about inappropriate touch from the moment they exited the womb. Instead of letting our children explore the neighborhood, entertaining themselves in the great outdoors, parents were encouraged to prop their children up in front of Dora the Explorer so they could vicariously experience her adventures in the safety of their playrooms (while munching on organic peanut-free multi-grain crackers and drinking hormone-free organic milk). Good parenting also demanded scheduling and supervising every minute of a child’s day.

This video is a nostalgic reminder of the freedom children have lost over the years.

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3 Lessons Feces-Hurling, Gay, German Radicals Can Teach American Parents

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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LifesiteNews.com reported on March 28:

As parents in Germany have protested a new pro-homosexual “sexual diversity” curriculum in their schools, homosexual activists have attacked them by hurling feces and destroying their property, according to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, which documents anti-Christian incidents in Europe.”

“Protesters were physically attacked and it was felt that the police failed to protect the parents’ basic right of assembly,” said a statement from the Observatory describing incidents at recent rallies in Baden-Württemberg and Cologne.”

“They were spit at, eggs were thrown, and little bags with feces or color. Cables of loud speakers were torn out,” the organization says. “Pages were ripped out of the bible and used to wipe backsides, then formed into a ball and thrown at the parents.”

H/T Prof.lw

Not so long ago, this story would induce little more than a shoulder shrug and a bit of pity for the poor folks living in such a place.

That is Germany–not America right? I’m safely tucked in the Bible belt. Besides, we have enough problems of our own–why worry about what’s going on in another country?

At some point, it’s wise to step out of our own house and check to see if our foundation has eroded. Now is that time. A steady drip over time becomes part of the landscape hardly noticeable, then it erodes more than you can imagine right under your nose.

This incident, although in Germany, is worth looking at a little more closely. Not just because of the shocking depravity of the acts involved, what is more important is to understand the plight of the parents. It’s a good reminder to check our own foundations and compare what is currently happening in our schools to the rights of parents.

Our similarities might surprise you.

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A Conservative and Libertarian Fiction Writing Contest

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Government-approved bedtime reading….

As if the Feds haven’t done enough, now they have taken to telling Grandma that she only truly loves the little ones if she feeds them healthy snacks. After all, nothing says “Granny loves you!” like a big helping of “applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.” Worse, they’ve turned bedtime into an opportunity for government propaganda, enlisting Grandma in the effort to push the latest “approved” dietary standards with a special tale aimed just at the kiddies.

This cheesy effort deserves to be either ignored or ridiculed; so of course, we’ve chosen the latter course. That brings us to announce Liberty Island’s second writing contest: “Can You Write a Better Bedtime Story than the USDA?”

We’re looking for short pieces, 400-1000 words long, which demonstrate your total mastery of the form of a Federally-approved children’s book. Draw inspiration from our first writing contest, “Can You Write Better than Maureen Dowd?” The winning entries will be collected and published on Liberty Island.

Entries are due by April 30th. Email Submissions@LibertyIslandMag.com with “Nanny Contest” in the subject line.

So channel your inner First Lady, and remember–it takes a village to grow an organic vegetable garden in the White House yard. Or something.

*****

Also check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more about Liberty Island: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.”

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Is Your Child a Stealth Dyslexic?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Do you have a highly intelligent child who struggles with writing and spelling? A child who, despite good scores on standardized tests, is performing below his “potential”?  If so, you may be the parent of a “stealth dyslexic.” According to learning experts, dyslexia manifests itself in a variety of ways beyond the most common form where individuals reverse letters and have difficulty learning to read. Indeed, stealth dyslexics often learn to read quite easily because of their outstanding memories and ability to compensate for their deficits.  But because of this, their learning disability is often not detected until later in life.

According to school psychologist Jim Forgan,  ”These highly intelligent or gifted children compensate for their dyslexia because they learn to rely upon their outstanding memory, keen intuition, and general smarts to work around their reading weaknesses.” Stealth dyslexia often goes undetected until the child is in third grade or older. “Your child may have stealth dyslexia if they are very smart and can read but don’t enjoy reading and rarely read for pleasure. Many of these children don’t read for pleasure because it’s laborious and mentally exhausting,” says Forgan.

Teachers often think that these obviously smart kids are lazy, inattentive or “not applying themselves” because they have precocious verbal skills and many, in fact, have high verbal IQs. According to the Davidson Institute, there is often a huge gap between the child’s verbal skills and the ability to read and write, especially as the student progresses to more difficult assignments in the middle school years. The Davidson Institute says that children with stealth dyslexia tend to exhibit some of the following characteristics:

1. Difficulties with word processing and written output.

2. Reading skills that appear to fall within the normal or even superior range for children their age, at least on silent reading comprehension.

3. Difficulty remembering how to form individual letters (resulting in oddly formed letters, reversals, inversions, and irregular spacing.

4. Difficulty remembering the sequence of letters or even sounds in a word.

5. Difficulties with sensory-motor dyspraxia, or motor coordination problems resulting in handwriting problems.

6. An enormous gap between oral and written expression.

7. Spelling errors in children’s written output that are far out of character with their general language, working memory, or attention skills.

8. Persistent difficulties with word-for-word reading skills, resulting in subtle word substitutions or word skips; which can result in significant functional problems, especially on tests.  This occurs despite the appearance of age-appropriate reading comprehension on classroom assignments or standardized tests.

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Conservatives Should Be Defending the Mets’ Daniel Murphy

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

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I’m never one to tell anyone to divorce their spouse. I’m a big fan of marriage. With that being said: I really hope Boomer Esiason’s wife takes a long, hard look at the man she’s married to.

The controversy started when Mets second basement Daniel Murphy asked for a mere three days paternity leave to join his wife who recently gave birth to their son in Florida. The three days is written into his collective bargaining contract, and while it is technically allowed, apparently few fathers in major league sports take advantage of any paternity leave. On a morning radio show today Boomer Esiason, explained to his morning show cohost Craig Carton, how he would’ve handled the situation:

“Bottom line, that’s not me. I wouldn’t do that. Quite frankly, I would have said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life.’”

In short, Esiason would have told his wife to undergo major and medically unnecessary abdominal surgery in order to avoid three days of missed work. The surgery would make her recovery exponentially more difficult and painful and would complicate future pregnancies. Esiason isn’t a doctor or soldier, he’s a retired NFL quarterback who is under the unfortunate impression that what he does matters enough to put his wife through a painful and unnecessary medical ordeal in order to save himself the flack now hitting Murphy.

Unfortunately for Murphy’s wife, the c-section was necessary, and Murphy flew down to spend time with his wife and newborn son for several days while she recovered. To his credit, he pushed back against criticism, as did his manager Terry Collins.

While Mike Francesa, another radio host, used the situation as an opportunity to rail against paternity leave — declaring it obsolete and unnecessary — we should be cheering paternity-leave policies like that of the MLB and question why it’s only three days long. While discussing the controversy Murphy explained why taking the paternity leave was important to his family,

“We had a really cool occasion yesterday morning, about 3 o’clock. We had our first panic session,” Murphy said. “It was dark. She tried to change a diaper — couldn’t do it. I came in. It was just the three of us at 3 o’clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to. I wanted to scream and cry, but I don’t think that’s publicly acceptable, so I let him do it.”

We always hear from conservatives how important it is for fathers to be in the picture. It’s time for the men of the conservative movement who overwhelm Twitter with their sports talk during every big game to put their money where their mouths are and come to Murphy’s defense. Murphy took advantage of paternal leave that is written into his contract for a reason; he used the time to signal to his wife and child that they are his number one priority, despite his high-powered career. That declaration should be met with praise, not mocking or scorn.

Photo credit: AP/Evan Vucci

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Governments’ Desperate Efforts to Encourage Childbirth

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.

In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”

Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.

Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.

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The Girls Season Finale: Second-Guessing Steinem Feminists

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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If there’s one refreshing thing to be said of the season finale of Girls, it’s that Lena Dunham is not a stereotypical feminist after all.

The series finale of Girls opens with Hannah bumping into Adam’s looney sister who is now living with her equally nutty downstairs neighbor, Laird. Newly returned from a hippie commune, the pair are expecting their first child. Hannah asks and is granted permission to touch Caroline’s womb, which she does so with an expression of both doubt and awe. In the next scene, Hannah walks into her own apartment and she touches her own womb in absent-minded contemplation. She is then quickly distracted by an acceptance letter to graduate school in Iowa.

In her typical selfish fashion, Hannah presents her grad school acceptance to Adam minutes before his Broadway premiere. If it wasn’t so sweetly presented you’d think it was a vengeful move. Consequently, Adam feels that his performance has been thrown off. As a result, their relationship goes into full meltdown at the stage door after the show. Adam is outraged that Hannah presented her success to him before he went live: “Why can’t anything ever be easy with you?” he questions angrily.

The well played plot point mirrored Shoshanna’s own struggle at Ray’s rejection. “If memory serves, you’re the one who jettisoned me a while ago,” Ray comments before Shoshanna interjects, ”I want you back,” explaining, “I made a mistake…this entire year of freedom was just f-ing stupid…you make me want to be the best version of myself, and I just want to pretend that I was never not your girlfriend before.” “You pushed me forward in a lot of ways and I’m eternally grateful for that,” Ray explains before finishing with, “but right now, we’re in two different places with very, very, very different goals.”

In the post-episode commentary, Dunham focused on the idea that “relationships aren’t easy,” but the full impact is smarter than that: The episode that begins with the announcement of a pregnancy ends with Hannah’s excited expectations for what Iowa may bring. Embracing second wave feminist legacy, Dunham’s pregnancy metaphor introduces the next battle in the Children versus Career war, questioning the point of male/female sexual relationships.

Rupert Holmes once penned a beautiful line regarding two characters parting in the series Remember WENN: “This is what happens to love when people are in love.” Love is more than a sexual high, a status symbol, or a comfort zone. Love is required work, firstly on the part of one’s self. In their me-driven environment, second wave feminists created the idea that a romantic relationship, not unlike a commune, is nothing more than the temporal cohabitation of two individuals with shared interests. That ideology gave birth to the “Selfie Generation” of which Hannah Horvath is Queen.

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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”

Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.

What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.

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Men achieve fertility at 12 years old and can father children all the way to 96. Women have a narrow fertility window of around 16 to 40. That’s a fertility gap of up to fifty years!

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