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The 10 Deadliest Femmes Fatales of Ancient Greece and Rome

Monday, August 18th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

These days, everyone’s remembering the riveting beauty and power of Lauren Bacall, who created some of Hollywood’s most ruthlessly desirable women (remember Young Man with a Horn?) In my list last week, I commemorated Rome’s studliest heroes — a who’s who of men of valor from the ancient world. But now it’s ladies’ night: the women of Greek and Roman myth and history knew better than anyone how to seduce, deceive, and sometimes outright slaughter their way to unassailable wealth and power. To pay tribute to some of Bacall’s more insidious roles, here are 10 of classical history’s deadliest femmes fatales, listed — in descending order this time — along with the emasculated puddles of broken manhood they left behind. 

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The 10 Most Badass Roman War Heroes

Monday, August 11th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

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Before Ancient Rome was a titanic empire, it was a collection of huts, a tribe of outlaws, and a few unshakable ideals — courage, virtue, and duty. The defense of those ideals inspired some of the greatest war stories and acts of heroism ever written down. Here are the 10 most badass heroes, ranked in ascending order, from Rome’s legendary history and historical legends.

10. Romulus

The legendary founder who gave his name to Rome also carved out the city’s place in blisteringly hostile territory. Etruscans to the North, Samnites to the East, and Latins to the South: Italy was no safe place for a little village made of mud and bricks to stake its claim. Romulus led his ragtag team of rejects and outlaws against the peninsula’s fiercest tribal armies, saving Rome from being annexed or enslaved. But he had an erratic, unheroic temper that kept him from making it higher on this list — legend has it he murdered his brother in a violent rage.

(Livy 1; Dionysius, Roman Antiquities 1-2)

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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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11 Star-Spangled Super Women

Friday, July 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

11. Wonder Woman

Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth.  Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.

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13 Jewish Women Who Changed the World

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

13. Bess Myerson

Recognizing a woman who appears to have parlayed her Miss America recognition into a minor-league acting gig may not seem logical, until you realize that Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America, paved an uphill path for diversity in the pageant circuit. She was told by one Miss America exec that she ought to change her name to something “more gentile” and refused. Pageant sponsors refused to hire her as a spokeswoman and certain sites with racial restrictions refused to have her visit as Miss America. This was of no consequence to Miss Myerson, who was the first Miss America to win an academic scholarship. The racism she confronted was motivation for a lifetime’s work with organizations like the ADL, NAACP, and Urban League. She would go on to co-found The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York and make boundless contributions to the city’s art community. Along with becoming a television personality, Myerson received several presidential appointments in the 1960s and ’70s and would receive two honorary doctorates.

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The 10 Most Amazing Automotive Collaborations

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

1. Citroën SM

In 1961, Citroën began development on a vehicle called “Project S.”  By 1968, Citroën had acquired Maserati and, subsequently, all of their high-performance technology. French and Italian forces combined, resulting in the Citroën SM which contained a Maserati V6 and a Citroën suspension. The SM’s speed, power, dynamic styling, and ingenious technical features were extremely innovative for the time. The SM even set a land speed record in 1987 at the Bonneville Salt Flats!

The SM might not have been wildly popular, but it definitely deserves a place on this list.

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The 10 Most Underrated TV Comedies of All Time

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. Sullivan and Son

This working class comedy executive-produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley is fraught with all the non-PC ethnic and sexual humor you’d hear in a working class, Irish-Korean, middle-American bar like the one in the show. Created by Korean American actor/comedian Steve Byrne and Cheers writer Rob Long, the TBS sitcom reminds you that some jokes are still OK to crack. The stellar cast features Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and comic genius Brian Doyle-Murray, along with Christine Ebersole and Owen Benjamin, who portray the drop-dead hysterical mother-son dependent duo Carol and Owen Walsh. 

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The 7 Revolutionary Silly Symphony Cartoons That Won Oscars In the 1930s

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

From 1929 through 1939 the Walt Disney studio released 75 short cartoons in the Silly Symphony series. Starting in March I began watching and featuring them all at PJ Lifestyle to learn more about the culture, history, and technology of the period. It’s really neat to see how the series evolved from beginning to end as Disney utilized it as a kind of experimental laboratory for testing new ideas that would later make it into the feature films. Fantasia – which has become one of my absolute favorite films in recent years, I’ll often have it on in the background while writing — can be understood as the ultimate Silly Symphony. So many of the themes and techniques developed over the decade would find their greatest expression there (a subject that I’ll write about more soon.)

I’ve scheduled the last two Silly Symphony cartoons for tomorrow and Friday. Now that I’ve seen them all I’ll be organizing them into a few lists and collections to highlight the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fascinating. And starting on Monday the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature will take a break from Disney and turn to another company and its standard bearer: Fleischer studios and Betty Boop.

But to start, so others can start to see the fascinating pattern of advancement over the decade, here’s a collection of the 7 Silly Symphony cartoons that won Oscars, along with some remarks on each. 

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The 10 Greatest Formula 1 Racers of All Time

Saturday, June 14th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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This list is an amalgamation of the winning-est, most iconic, and most talented Formula One drivers to ever live. I purposefully left off drivers who are currently active because their history is still being written.

10. Mario Andretti

Mr. Andretti is an icon in the United States’ race world—and rightfully so.  With wins in NASCAR, IndyCar, the World Sportscar Championship, and Formula One, Andretti is one of the most successful Americans in his sport.

Andretti moved from Italy to the United States when he was 15 years old.  Having already been bitten by the racing bug while in Italy, Mario and his brother Aldo continued racing on dirt tracks near their home in Pennsylvania.   Andretti came to F1 in 1968 and held the pole at his debut race, the 1968 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.  He was active in F1 for fifteen years, eventually winning the 1978 championship.  Out of 128 starts, he had 12 wins and 18 poles.

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The 10 Most Cringe-Worthy TV Flops

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

We’ve all heard of the horrors of Cop Rock and Manimal, but after receiving a reader tip on one of their worst TV shows of all time, I did some digging and uncovered these utterly classic samples of bad television that would make great material for Joel McHale or the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

10. Bucky and Pepito (1959)

Produced by Sam Singer, “The Ed Wood of Animation,” Bucky and Pepito was a typical story of an “ambitious” white cowboy and his “lazy” (literally, they sing about it in the theme song) Mexican buddy trolling the old west on a zero budget. According to Toonopedia, “Cartoon historian Harry McCracken once said the pair ‘set a standard for awfulness that no contemporary TV cartoon has managed to surpass. They were great at what they did, which was being bad.’” Thanks to Bucky and Pepito, cartoonists have debated creating a Sam Singer Award for truly bad animation.

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10 of the Most Ultra Rare Automobiles in the World

Sunday, June 8th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner
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1. Ferrari 250 GTO

I admitted in my Ferrari post that this is one of my favorite cars of all time.  I mean, just look at it!

This GT car was produced in two distinctly styled bodies from 1962 to 1964.  The ’62 and ’63 GTOs were Sergio Scaglietti designed and produced and came to be known as “series I.”  In 1964, a limited number of GTOs were produced by Scaglietti, but fitted with a body designed by Pininfarina.  This styling was subsequently known as “series II.”  In all, thirty-six GTOs were produced.

This car is not simply famous for its Ferrari good looks or small production numbers, but for its dominance on the track.  The 250 GTO had several successes: winning the GT category at Le Mans in 1962 and 1963, winning the Nurburgring 1000 km in 1963 and 1964, and taking the Tour de France in 1963 and 1964 (just to name a few).

To many car collectors, the 250 GTO has become akin to the “Holy Grail.” In 2012, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that was specifically built for Stirling Moss reportedly sold for $35 million.

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The 10 Most Iconic American Muscle Cars

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

Promotional Shot Of 1964 Ford Mustang

1. Ford Mustang

Where does one even start when talking about the Ford Mustang?  This car has become the embodiment of America’s love affair with speed and muscle.  This iconic Ford instigated the creation of the “pony car” classification of automobiles and prompted competing car manufacturers to crank out America’s other favorite muscle cars.  For Ford, the Mustang was (and continues to be) a smash hit.

The first Mustang debuted at the New York World’s Fair in April of 1964.  It was originally equipped with a 260-cubic-inch (4.3L) V8 but was quickly upgraded to a 289-cubic-inch (4.7L) V8 in its first year.  By 1968, the Mustang was outfitted with a 302-cubic-inch (4.9L) V8.  The following year, Ford released several performance packages for the Mustang including the Boss 302, Mach 1, and Boss 429.  The speed and power had arrived.

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10 Female Racing Pioneers and Icons You Have Probably Never Heard Of

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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1. Helene (de Rothschild) van Zuylen

Ms. Van Zuylen is a name that many people  probably find unfamiliar. It is a shame because this adventurous French socialite is credited as being the first woman to compete in an international motor race.

Helene’s husband, Baron Etienne van Zuylen, was the president of the Automobile Club of France, and thus responsible for organizing the 1898 Paris-Amsterdam-Paris Trail, a 889-mile city-to-city race.  Helene participated (and finished) The Trail, becoming the first woman to ever compete in an international race.

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The Best Cartoon Made to Inspire Victory in World War II

Monday, May 26th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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Untold War Stories: My Family’s Secret Agent

Monday, May 26th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

John Phillip Sousa on 33 1/3 blasts from the Hi-Fi — yes, you heard right, “Hi-Fi” —  conducted by my flag-waving Grandfather, proudly standing at attention at 8 o’clock in the morning in the doorway of his open garage, wondering why it took us so long to get there. We may have been at the shore, but Memorial Day was not about a barbecue on the beach.

My grandparents lived down the street from my Great Uncle and Aunt. My Grandfather idolized my Great Uncle (his brother), naming his only son after his brother who had spent World War II as a gunner on a Navy ship in the Pacific. Having broken his back before the war, my Grandfather wasn’t able to get into the military during the conflict. Instead, he busied himself crafting knives to send to his buddies overseas (yes, they censored letters, but allowed knives to be carried through V-Mail) with the instructions “leave them in the enemy’s guts and I’ll make you a new one when you get home.”

My grandfather also played a key role in the war effort, one that goes overlooked when we take the time to honor the troops on Memorial Day. Recruited by the FBI in 1940, my grandfather and his father played a key role in the creation of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, the largest shell and bomb loading facility in operation during the war.

In the autumn of 1940, when a fairly isolationist population still dismissed the idea of entering into Europe’s conflict, my grandfather was pulled out of his job as a tool and die maker by two fairly typical FBI mugs. They strapped secret plans for a military facility, designed by Day & Zimmermann, Co., to his body and handed him a train ticket and a gun with the instructions, “Don’t be afraid to use it.” At the age of 23, my grandfather was the perfect cover: “If anyone asks, you’re on your way out west to go to college.” His job was simple: Escort his father, recruited by the government for his skills as a tool and die maker, to San Francisco to convene with a number of highly skilled Americans engaged to prepare America for war.

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Even the Pilgrims Needed a Few Good Men: ‘By the Sword Seek Peace’

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  Discover innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty IslandSee this collection of interviews and story excerpts from 22 of Liberty Island’s writers. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” An index of 8 more newly-released stories can be found here.

An Excerpt from “Ense Petit Placidam - “By the Sword Seek Peace”:

“Tarry awhile with me, Captain?”

The governor’s assistant, Isaac Allerton, and the native Hobamock had just unlatched the door and stepped outside, leaving the two leaders to their own counsel.

The governor put a hand on his old friend’s shoulder and inclined his head towards the ladder leading to the gun deck of the fortified meetinghouse. As they climbed, the afternoon sun of a late March day shone through the observation and gun ports, in contrast to the dark room below. The light reflected off the little soldier’s shiny metal cuirass, causing the governor to blink and look away until his eyes adjusted. The captain removed his morion helmet and leaned back upon the brass five-pounder, stroking the barrel with his gauntleted hand as if it were his favorite hound.

“Doth Hobamock lie?” the governor asked.

“He doth not,” the captain answered.

“Doth the great sachem, the Massasoit lie?” The captain shook his head.

“How is it that you trust Hobamock to report to us in truth what the Massasoit told him? How do you know that the old fox has not laid a snare for us or his enemies? Both men despise the Massachusett.”

“We both know who lights these evil fires among the Massachusett, and it is not their sachem, Obtakiest. It is Wituwamat…He is a pniese, one of their magic warriors whom they say are invincible. I have seen the knives he and other pniese wear about their necks, taken from the French–knives that have killed French traders, English fishermen, and Massasoit’s people.”

“What course do you recommend?”

“Render unto me a commission to place Wituwamat’s head upon this parapet before the last frost melts, that it might be a warning and a terror to all of that disposition.”

“The yearly public court day is nigh. I will lay out the threat for the men of the plantation, but seek only a general authority for me, Allerton and yourself to do as we think fit. If blood be shed it will be upon our hands.”

The governor paused, and brought both hands to his temples, as if his head had begun to throb. “It is the Wessagussett men that have brought this down upon us. They steal victuals from the Massachusett, and treat with them duplicitously.”

“Far worse, there are some who have debased themselves to be servants among the Massachusett, selling their birthright as free Englishmen for handfuls of parched corn not worth even Esau’s pottage,” the captain added.

“Then why not send emissaries to the Massachusett, and make ourselves distinct from the men of Wessagussett?”

“That will waste time and endanger the emissaries. To them we are all Yengeese, as weak and dissolute as the men of Wessagussett. As we speak, they make canoes to attack us by both land and water.”

“Perhaps we can quickly gather up those of the Wessagussett men that are willing within the safety of these impalements,” the Governor suggested.

The captain waved his hand over the fenced-in village below them. “I designed these fortifications to withstand attack from a single tribe or a French raiding party. They will not stand against the combined nations of the Massachusett, the Narragansett, the Nauset and perhaps even some of the Massasoit’s Wampanoag. We will all perish, just as the three hundred did last year in Jamestown. Yet if I slay Wituwamat and a goodly portion of his band, their sachem may see the bad magic. If the sachem himself comes forth, I will slay him also as an example. But our purpose will be met in either case.”

“It is shameful that such blood must be shed for sheer want of Godliness among the Wessagussett men,” the governor lamented.

“They lack more than Godliness–they lack God-given wisdom, which instructs how to arrange our affairs so as to account for man’s fallen state, even here in the wilderness.”

“Seeking to replace Elder Brewster in his exhortations, are you?” The governor smiled, as if to welcome a different conversation.

“No. Let him preach the truth of scripture whilst you and I preach–and act–upon the interaction of the holy with the profane,” the captain answered. “You have strangers to your faith among you, yet there be good order in general. Why? What did you do when some expressed a desire for the unfettered freedom of the savage over well-ordered liberty, before we even set foot on this shore?”

“The Compact…” The governor began to see the captain’s point.

“Indeed…wherein we covenanted to ‘combine ourselves into a civil Body Politick’ and pledged submission and obedience to ‘just and equal laws.’ By such means were we saved from both the tyrant and the mob.”

The sun was sinking lower, and both men sensed it was time to conclude their business and return to their homes.

“How many men do you propose to take?”

“Eight…Good and stout of heart, and Hobamock, of course.”

“Eight?”

“I had considered two or three, but such a small number might presume too much upon Providence. Do you not agree?” The captain grinned from ear to ear.

“I do see that taking a multitude would leave this place defenseless. But what can eight men do in this circumstance?”

“More than a multitude, for my purposes. We are not opposing a regular army of Frenchmen, or the Spaniards I fought in the Low Countries. Did not the LORD winnow down Gideon’s host from 32,000 to 300 so the Midianites were confounded? A few good men–employing ruse, improvising and adapting to the tactics of the foe–will overcome and destroy as few of the natives as will suffice.”

“Will you go by land or water?” the governor asked, as they descended to the meeting house below.

“We will take the shallop. This will be good training for those chosen. There are entirely too many whose physick doth appear soft and womanly. We should remedy that by and by. I have been considering more drill for all of them. We are in a new land, wherein we must preserve a force in readiness to act at a moment’s notice. By land or sea. We know not whence the next danger may come, be it from savages, Frenchmen, Spaniards, or rogue Englishmen under no flag or law.”

Dusk was beginning to fall as the two men exited the meetinghouse.

“Go with God to your hearth, William.”

“The peace of God go also with you,” the governor answered, as they parted for the evening–each to his own supper.

Continue Reading at Liberty Island

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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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What Exciting New Technology Led to Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 - by Don Sucher

Starting in the mid-1950s a new musical style appeared on the scene called “Rock and Roll.” Many predicted, and others hoped, that it would prove to be a proverbial “flash in the pan” that would quickly burn out and disappear. But now, some sixty years later, we can say that it has done neither. As Danny and The Juniors prophetically sang way back in 1958, “Rock and Roll is here to stay.”

Much has been written, and more will no doubt yet be written, about how this upstart music came to be.  About its relationship to The Blues, Country and other existing musical styles. About how the change in demographics that occurred when the post-WWII generation started to come of age resulted in the birth of something new: A “youth culture.”

But in comparison, very little is written about another change that was fundamental to this new style of music: The new and emerging technologies that would go on to shape the sound of Rock and Roll. And more than anything else this change can be described in just three words: The Electric Guitar

In truth it must be said that during its infancy Rock’s driving beat was less than fully dependent on the sound of the guitar. As often that “beat” was created by an upright bass and a boogie-woogie style piano working along with a set of drums. And back on the earliest recordings Rock instrumental solos, too, were often performed on a horn – most commonly a Tenor Saxophone. But in a short time that changed and it was the guitar– the electric guitar– that came to take the lead role in performing all these musical functions.

A sterling example of this already happening can be heard as early as 1954’s hit song “Rock Around the Clock” as recorded by Bill Haley and his Comets.

Initially the makeup of Haley’s band changed from one recording and live gig to the next. At times it included a piano, at other times an accordion. The sound of the saxophone often was prominent as occasionally was that of the “steel guitar” – an instrument common to the band’s roots in both country and so-called “rockabilly” music. But fundamental to the group’s sound was Bill himself — and his electric guitar

Interestingly the electric guitars one sees being used on these very early “rock” performances don’t look like “Rock and Roll” guitars at all, and in fact they were not. They were more typically electrified versions of the so-called “arch top” guitars that had earlier come into vogue during the Swing and Big Band eras. But in truth the “Rock guitar” as we see it in our mind’s eye today was already in existence. It was being played, not by Rock and Roll musicians, but by those playing “Country” music. The maker of those guitars was a then small company located in Fullerton, California; a company that had been started by a local radio repair technician whose name — Leo Fender – would go on to become the stuff of legend And that guitar was called the “Stratocaster.”Strat

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How Did Disney’s Mae West Bird Caricature Compare With Real Life?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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10 Quotes on Faith and Freedom from Eric Metaxas’ Hillsdale Commencement Address

Sunday, May 18th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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We had the honor of attending our son’s graduation from Hillsdale College last week on a picture-perfect May day with chairs lined up in tight rows on the east lawn of the beautiful campus. In addition to the joy of watching our eldest son walk across the stage to receive his diploma, we were blessed to hear the insightful commencement address from author Eric Metaxas. In addition to sharing stories from his youth and his faith journey, Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spydiscussed at length the connection between faith, virtue, and freedom. You’ll find the video of the speech at the end of this post.

Here are ten incisive quotes from Metaxas’ address, “The Role of Faith in the Story of Liberty”:

1. Real faith is never something that can be forced by the state.

Real faith is never something that can be forced by the state. It’s something that either be encouraged and smiled upon or discouraged and frowned-upon. Or, simply crushed, as it has been in every Communist country…Religious freedom, which was at the very heart of the Founders’ vision for America, cannot be compromised without all our liberties being compromised and America as we know her being redefined into non-existence.

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Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 5: The Drug of Disinformation

Monday, May 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Introduction to Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…

Part 1: The Mask of Marxism

Part 2: Getting to the Heart of Social Justice

Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?

Part 4: Are Conservatives Cowards?

“The August 1991 coup in Moscow collapsed three days after it had started, providing the ultimate, ironic proof that nothing, not even a coup, could succeed any more in a society whose vital arteries had been calcified by 70 years of disinformation and dismal feudalism. The main loser was the Communist Party.”

– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Both the Democrat and Republican parties have been disinformed by Marxism. The Liberal wing of the Democrat Party has been duped into putting their faith in Marxism’s many forms (socialism, economic determinism, progressivism), while the Republican Party has legitimized Marxism as a form of party politics instead of a murderous, atheistic religion that empowers despots. The Conservative movement, by and large, is slow to recognize Marxism’s true nature, because we are a nation that has been drugged by Disinformation. Pacepa continues:

At the end of the 2001 summit meeting held in Slovenia, President George W. Bush said: “I looked the man [Putin] in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” Unfortunately, even President Bush was deceived by disinformation. Putin consolidated Russia into an intelligence dictatorship, not a democracy. During the Cold War, the KGB was a state within a state. Under Putin, the KGB, rechristened the FSB, is the state. Three years after Putin enthroned himself in the Kremlin, some 6,000 former officers of the KGB—that organization responsible for having slaughtered at least 20 million people in the Soviet Union alone—were running Russia’s federal and local governments.

…Is it too far-fetched to suggest that this new Russia calls up the hypothetical image of a postwar Germany being run by former Gestapo officers, who reinstate Hitler’s “Deutschland Über Alles” as national anthem, call the demise of Nazi Germany a “national tragedy on an enormous scale,” and invade a neighboring country, perhaps Poland, the way Hitler set off World War II?

That is the secret power of disinformation.

Pacepa share these thoughts with me mere weeks before the Ukranian revolution and secession of the Crimea to Putin’s Russia. Disinformation is wielding its power on the American homefront as well. In his critique of Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, David Brooks embraces Piketty’s idea of a tax on the wealthy’s investment capital in order to create intellectual equality among the classes:

Think of how much more affordable fine art would be. Think of how much more equal the upper class would be.

His musings aren’t that far off from those of Russian intellectuals, who are “making do” with their government’s clampdown on free media and the right to protest. In exchange for their rights, these Russians whose intellectual arteries have been “calcified by disinformation” are being doted upon by their increasingly despotic government:

All sorts of entertainment is being lavished on Russia’s hipsters. Their favorite public parks have splashy, beautifully designed restaurants and clubs, comfortable biking areas and luxurious places to chill. Sanctions or not, Fedoseyev’s friends can still dine out at restaurants full of expats, take shopping trips to Milan, or buy their electronic gadgets online. Fashion Week this weekend was another party blooming with charming models and celebrities; the usual hipsters clubs, Solianka, Simachev, Oldich Dress and Drink or Strelka, felt as cuddly and crowded as ever.

To paraphrase Brooks, it would seem that the fine art is quite affordable in Russia these days. Like junkies seeking a quick fix, Russian intellectuals pursue disinformation at the expense of their freedom. Is Brooks suggesting we do the same, or have we already succumbed to the addiction? In either case, what we need to know now is: What is the antidote to disinformation?

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10 Modern Technologies We Lived Without in Primitive, Pre-Millennial America

Monday, May 5th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

While the 1970s are known for some terrifying fashions and the human indignity of the Disco Era, the decade (with some assists from the previous generation) also gave us some amazing technological advancements that many of us take for granted today. Here are ten that changed the world:

1. Microwave Ovens

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Before the 1970s, our only option for heating up leftover pizza was the conventional oven and we didn’t have the luxury of 4-minute microwave popcorn (gross as it is). Though the “Radarange” was first sold in the United States in 1947, it wasn’t until the ovens became affordable for the average family that “microwaves” became common in American homes (even if they didn’t live up to their promises of delicious layer cakes and scrumptious roasts in 30 minutes). In addition to the high prices, many Americans were afraid of radiation associated with microwave ovens. I remember my dad refusing to purchase what he called a “radar burger” at a concession stand in the early ’70s. In 1971, only 1% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave. By 1986, roughly 25% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave oven, with the number soaring to 90% of American households by 1997.

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Mexico’s Best and Brightest Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in America

Monday, May 5th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Imagine a new country suddenly emerging somewhere in the world, a country based on America’s old Constitution and nothing more. This new country has no taxes, a strong military, a free and open press, and a limited government.

Would you pack your bags? Let’s head out for the Atlantis of Atlas Shrugged, or Sarah Hoyt’s Eden colony in Darkship Thieves, or Heinlein’s lunar base in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. We’d miss our old home and feel sorrow over leaving our old country, but to be free of the increasing weight of totalitarian government? Color me gone, and my family too. We did it once, generations ago, when we got on a boat and headed to America. We could do it again.

This is why Mexico is a failed state. Rebels who object to a government unwilling to preserve individual liberty and protect private property have an Atlantis shimmering and beckoning on the horizon. They’ve packed their bags and moved here, some legally and some illegally. Some have died in the deserts of the American Southwest, murdered by coyotes or succumbing to thirst, willing to die to gain freedom.

Left behind are the people who either engage in corruption themselves or have no energy to fight it. Consider Michoacan, Mexico. Almost half the state’s population lives in the United States. Those left behind endure passively as corrupt government officials make deals with drug cartels and refuse to protect people’s safety or private property. Their rebel for liberty, their Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin, isn’t around. He’s moved to America.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory in 1862 of a small, ill-equipped Mexican force over the powerful French army at the Battle of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City. It took another five years before Mexico gained independence, but the 5th of May is celebrated as the symbol of Mexican freedom. Today’s rebels should fight to free Mexico and turn her back into a vibrant and wonderful country, but I can understand how the lure of freedom in their neighbor to the North is too much.

Because if you had a free country to emigrate to, would you stick around here and fight it out, or would you pack your bags?

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Images courtesy of Shutterstock:  Bilha Golan, Iurii

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Matt Walsh Demonstrates Why Christians Need Biblical Feminism

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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In an entry titled, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend” published on his popular Matt Walsh Blog in April, the conservative Christian commentator concluded that Christian “women (and men)” needed to stop identifying with feminism because the movement is essentially all about abortion.

Embracing the stereotypical liberal definition of feminism as a movement dedicated to starting and waging the War on Women, Walsh discussed the feminist fight for equality:

This is a pretty convincing indication that feminism has, at the very least, outlived its good. There is nothing surprising about that, because feminism, unlike Christianity, is a human construct. It’s an ideology. It’s a political theory. It’s a label. It is not eternal, it is not perfect (there’s the understatement of the decade), and it is not indispensable.

Feminism, like ‘liberalism,’ like ‘conservativism,’ like the Republican Party, like the Democrat Party, is a finite thing that exists and serves a certain purpose in a certain set of circumstances. When the times change, and the circumstances change, it will either die or its purpose will change.

Walsh then dug into medieval history, noting that women were given “equal standing” in certain English trade guilds in the Middle Ages, contrary to the following:

“The fact that guilds seldom permitted women to become masters did in the end relegate them to the least-skilled and certainly least-remunerative aspects of the trade”. This statement shows that the fact that women were not openly admitted to the professional guilds led to the downfall of the woman’s status as a worker during this time period. Since “[m]ale masters displayed no eagerness to train young women, and with few or no women recognized as masters, the guilds did contribute to the narrowing opportunity for women”.

Along with neglecting these facts, Walsh also did not note that neither the Christian Church, nor political leaders who identified with Christianity, demanded that equal professional or political rights be given to women (let alone non-Christians) on either side of the Atlantic.

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