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PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

shutterstock_140335888In ranking these articles over the past few months I’ve blended a number of different factors: popularity, significance of the subject matter, creativity of the arguments, originality of concept, and I’ve limited myself to only a handful of personal bias.

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Kyle Smith: 10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

45. John Boot: 5 Actors With Careers That Are Collapsing

44. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

43. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

42. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

41. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

40. Leslie Loftis: The 5 Most Under-appreciated Female Heroes

39. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

38. Chris Queen: 5 Underrated Disney World Attractions You Shouldn’t Skip

37. John Boot: 5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

36. Bonnie Ramthun: 3 Reasons Why Teens Today Can’t Find Jobs

35. Kyle Smith: 5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

34. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

33. John Boot: The 4 Big Lies That Ruined The X-Men Movie Franchise

32. Chris Yogerst: 5 Secrets For Thriving In A World When Everything Happens NOW

31. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

 

30. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

29. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

28. Kathy Shaidle: Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

27. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

26. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

25. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

24. Kathy Shaidle: How to Go Galt: 5 Controversial Tips For Enjoying America’s Coming Collapse

23. Paula Bolyard: 7 Bad Reasons to Send Your Teens to Public Schools

22. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

21. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

20. John Boot: 6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

19. Chris Queen: 10 Books Every Disney Fan Should Read

18. J. Christian Adams: How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

17. Paula Bolyard: 5 Reasons To Remain Optimistic That We Haven’t Lost America Yet

16. Kathy Shaidle: 6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

15. Dave Swindle: Don’t Forget These 10 Morally Blind Responses to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad

14. Robert Spencer: 5 Ways Reza Aslan Lies About Christianity

13. Walter Hudson: How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

12. John Boot: 5 Destructive Ideas Matt Damon Devotes His Movies To Promoting

11. Bryan Preston: The 10 Most Amazing Eateries in Austin, TX

10. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

9. Walter Hudson: 5 Ideas You Need to Escape Poverty

8. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

7. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

6. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

5. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

4. R.J. Moeller: Dostoevsky’s 6 Nightmare Prophecies That Came True in the 20th Century

3. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

2. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

1. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa: 11 Reasons To Reject JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

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Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Kyle Smith, Becky Graebner, Paula Bolyard, John Boot, Charlie Martin, Megan Fox, Leslie Loftis, Chris Queen, Bonnie Ramthun, Walter Hudson, Kathy Shaidle, Susan L.M. Goldberg…

This list offers an introduction to some of these writers’ strongest pieces but this is just the tip of the iceberg. They have each thrived in non-list format as well. In the coming weekends at PJ Lifestyle I’ll begin unveiling some of the greatest hits collections and themed article compilations of these and PJ’s other all-star writers. My hope is that these future collections can showcase clearly what I believe sincerely: the team of writers that I’m blessed to work with every day is the most talented, innovative, and exciting online. I want to see my friends succeed and more people all around the world come to recognize the extraordinary insights their articles provide.

So please check back with us at PJ Lifestyle on the weekends for more surprises…

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image courtesy shutterstock /  Dirk Ercken

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The 5 Most Overrated Sports Movies

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

5. Draft Day (2014)

It’s currently at 57 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not highly rated. But it is highly amazing that anyone at all liked this football-illiterate soap about a Cleveland Browns general manager (a sullen-looking Kevin Costner) simultaneously having girlfriend problems (with Jennifer Garner, who plays his team’s salary-cap guru), dead-dad problems and personnel problems on the biggest day of year for general managers.

Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) trades three first-round draft picks at the annual NFL draft of top college prospects in order to move up six spots and select the hottest college quarterback in years. But then he worries he’s made the wrong decision because of a rumor that none of the jock’s teammates attended his twenty-first birthday party. Also he gets jittery because of a game in which the QB got sacked four times, though even a non-expert looking at the tape can see how the sacks were entirely the fault of poor blocking by the offensive line, not the quarterback.

In short, no one who knows anything about football can take this film seriously, and the romance between Costner’s character and Garner, is flat and tepid. Their arc? They’re having difficulties because he’s not very nice to her. But then he decides to be nice. The end.

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45 of PJ Lifestyle’s Best List Articles from 2013

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See the introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Kyle Smith: 10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

45. John Boot: 5 Actors With Careers That Are Collapsing

44. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

43. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

42. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

41. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

40. Leslie Loftis: The 5 Most Under-appreciated Female Heroes

39. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

38. Chris Queen: 5 Underrated Disney World Attractions You Shouldn’t Skip

37. John Boot: 5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

36. Bonnie Ramthun: 3 Reasons Why Teens Today Can’t Find Jobs

35. Kyle Smith: 5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

34. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

33. John Boot: The 4 Big Lies That Ruined The X-Men Movie Franchise

32. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

31. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

30. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

29. Kathy Shaidle: Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

28. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

27. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

26. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

25. Kathy Shaidle: How to Go Galt: 5 Controversial Tips For Enjoying America’s Coming Collapse

24. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

23. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

22. John Boot: 6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

21. J. Christian Adams: How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

20. Paula Bolyard: 5 Reasons To Remain Optimistic That We Haven’t Lost America Yet

19. Kathy Shaidle: 6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

18. Robert Spencer: 5 Ways Reza Aslan Lies About Christianity

17. Walter Hudson: How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

16. John Boot: 5 Destructive Ideas Matt Damon Devotes His Movies To Promoting

15. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

14. Walter Hudson: 5 Ideas You Need to Escape Poverty

13. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

12. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

11. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

10. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

9. R.J. Moeller: 6 Wars of the 20th Century Dostoevsky Predicted

8. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

7. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

6. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa: 11 Reasons To Reject JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…? Next weekend.

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5 Actors With Careers That Are Collapsing

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013 as “5 Movie Stars Whose Careers Are in Trouble.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Even in Hollywood, you have to deliver results if you want to remain employed. Every year stars fall off the A-list — ask circa 2009 Nicolas Cage about that — and find themselves in a shame spiral of B-movies, supporting roles, and eventually television (sorry, Robin Williams, who will be appearing in the CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, and as the dad, no less). Who is about to fall off the top of the perch?

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1. Tom Cruise

The success of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol less than two years ago gave his stock a bump, but apparently it was the stunts that were the star of that movie. In the three consecutive flops he’s made since — Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher and the aptly-named Oblivion – audiences didn’t even show up on opening weekend out of curiosity. Before Protocol, don’t forget, no one showed up for Knight and Day, Valkyrie or Lions for Lambs, either. Cruise is 51 years old, his boyish charm is finally gone, and he isn’t an action hero anymore. Audiences see him as their weird dad. He should give up on trying to rule the multiplex and start nosing around for more interesting roles like the one he had in Magnolia. Not that he’s fond of Paul Thomas Anderson anymore after Anderson made fun of scientology in The Master.

Next up: Fighting aliens next summer in All You Need Is Kill. Sure.

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The 4 Big Lies That Ruined The X-Men Movie Franchise

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in in July of 2013 as “How 4 Loony Leftist Lies Ruined the X-Men Movies.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Six movies into the X-Men series, it’s clear that this is the superhero franchise with the most overt and unapologetic leftist sympathies. As the series continues with The Wolverine, let’s review some of the most outrageously politicized elements of the saga. Here are the top four loony leftist lies that sneaked into the X-Men movies.

1. Animal rights trump human rights.

The Wolverine begins with the title figure (Hugh Jackman) living like a caveman in the lonely Yukon, where he can’t stop himself from fighting for justice and righting wrongs. He comes across a grizzly bear that’s been fatally wounded with what turns out to be a poison arrow. This kind of hunting may be poor sportsmanship and it may be illegal, but what Wolverine does is far worse: He finds the hunter in a bar, slaps him around and rams one of the man’s own poison arrows into the man’s hand, leaving him to die. Rough justice? No, that’s just murder. Sorry, X-Men, but hunters are not evil and a bear’s life and a man’s are not equivalents.

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6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in two parts in February of 2013 as “6 Classic Recordings That Have No Business Existing.” It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.

Today, when every computer ships with GarageBand-type software, sour notes can be sweetened with Auto Tune, and radio stations broadcast focus-grouped computerized playlists, there seems to be no room for the serendipity — – or sheer incompetence and confusion — that helped create some of the greatest records of all time.

For instance, the ultimate irony of the urban legend that “Louie, Louie” is a “dirty” song (there’s a whole book about it) is that today you can just about make out what the FBI(!) couldn’t back in 1963:

The Kingsmen drummer’s frustrated “f-word” at around the 0:55 mark.

What you can’t hear are the backstories: the flukes, accidents, misunderstandings, coincidences, white lies, and willpower that wrenched classic songs from crazy recording sessions.

What you know about a particular recording can change the way it sounds.

If you’re my age, you’ve heard Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” about 10,000 times, which may be 9,999 times more than you ever wanted.

But you may not realize that lead singer Brad Delp “actually hits those high notes; there’s nothing electronic helping him.”

One of the more remarkable vocal pyrotechnics on an album where Delp’s singing gives Scholz’s guitar work a run for its money is on the passage where Delp’s ever-rising tenor rides into the first notes of the signature guitar solo, a move Boylan says was planned and executed flawlessly on virtually the first take.

You may also not know that Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007.

Now, give that 1976 recording one more listen.

See if it sounds… different.

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35 of My Favorite PJ Lifestyle Listicles From Last Year (Ranked In Order)

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See the introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Kyle Smith: 10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

45. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

44. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

43. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

42. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

41. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

40. John Boot: 5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

39. Kyle Smith: 5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

38. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

37. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

36. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

35. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

34. Kathy Shaidle: Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

33. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

32. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

31. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

30. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

29. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

28. John Boot: 6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

27. J. Christian Adams: How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

26. Robert Spencer: 5 Ways Reza Aslan Lies About Christianity

25. Walter Hudson: How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

24. John Boot: 5 Destructive Ideas Matt Damon Devotes His Movies To Promoting

23. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

22. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

21. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

20. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

19. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

18. R.J. Moeller: 6 Wars of the 20th Century Dostoevsky Predicted

17. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

16. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

15.-1 ????? To be determined in the next 3 weeks…

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5 Movies Shamelessly Ripped Off by Divergent

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by John Boot

This week’s derivative new dial-a-blockbuster is Divergent, which stars Shailene Woodley (George Clooney’s teen daughter in The Descendants) as a teen girl living in post-apocalyptic Chicago, where the remains of society have amicably organized into five factions in order to survive against an unseen enemy outside the walls of the city. Watching the movie, which is based on a novel that sold when its author Veronica Roth was 21, is like browsing the shelves at the video store, because almost everything in it seems like something you’ve seen done better elsewhere. Here’s a partial list of films that Divergent ripped off/was influenced by:

1. The Breakfast Club and teen movies in general.

Divergent (as you’d expect of such as young author) is firmly anchored in a high-school conception of society, which is divided into brains (called “Erudites”), student-government nerds (“Abnegation”), jocks (“Dauntless”), special-needs kids who play in the dirt (“Amity”) and chronic truth-tellers (“Candor”). In Roth’s conception, what matters most is finding a clique to belong to because the untouchables of her society are the lost souls wandering the perimeter who have no “faction” at all.

Question: Who thinks about cliques as anything but a dumb high-school thing, much less an organizing principle for humanity?

Divergent even gives each clique its own limited color palette, with the brainiacs using cool blues, the jockish Dauntless in tight, athletic black gear and the rustic, gentle Amity in autumnal hues suggesting harvest time.

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30 Provocative Lists On Everything From Culture to History to Family to Terrible TV Shows

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See the introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Kyle Smith: 10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

45. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

44. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

43. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

42. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

41. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

40. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

39. John Boot: 5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

38. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

37. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

36. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

35. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

34. Kathy Shaidle: Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

33. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

32. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

31. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

30. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

29. J. Christian Adams: How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

28. Walter Hudson: How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

27. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

26. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

25. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

24. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

23. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

22. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

21. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

….

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5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months… Click here to see the top 25 so far and to voice your favorites in the comments.

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Why does the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire excite today’s kids so much? Maybe because it plays to their childish views, which in many cases are interwoven with the central thinking of liberalism. Here are five reasons why childish liberals love The Hunger Games.

1) By spoofing yet glamorizing the media, it pretends you can have your cake and eat it too.

The Hunger Games thinks it’s a vicious satire of media-obsessed culture, particularly reality TV shows such as Survivor, which the movies literalize by imagining kids from around the country being brought to the decadent Capitol City to fight each other to the death for the amusement of TV watchers. But that satire has to be lost on the audience, which is attracted to the films for such spectacles as heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) riding a chariot into an arena filled with thousands of screaming fans in an amazing dress that lights on fire for extra wow. Media-saturated kids walk out of the film picturing themselves being treated as superstars for no reason except being randomly selected in a lottery.

What does all this have to do with politics? Liberals who, for instance, keep proposing minimum wage increases or tariffs to keep out foreign competition are forever blasting things that in reality they love and couldn’t live without, like cheap laborers to redo their fancy kitchens or mow their lawns.

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10 Controversial Medical Questions Answered by Dr. Dalrymple

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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Editor’s Note: Dr. Theodore Dalrymple has been contributing thoughtful pieces on medicine, culture, and politics to PJ Media for a number of years. This is the beginning of an attempt to collect and organize some of his writings on similar subjects. Here is an assortment of 10 articles weighing in on perpetual medical controversies.

1. Is obesity a disease or a moral failing?

2. Should an alcoholic be allowed a second liver transplant?

3. Are psychiatric disorders the same as physical diseases?

4. Do doctors turn their patients into drug addicts?

5. As life expectancy increases will the elderly become too much of a burden on society?

6. Is marijuana a medicine?

7. Is nutrition really that important for good health?

8. Is drug addiction really just like any other illness?

9. Are obese children victims of child abuse?

10. Should you vaccinate your kids?

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25 of My Favorite PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See the introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year — 3 on Saturdays, 2 on Sundays, followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

 

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

45. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

44. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

43. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

42. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

41. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

40. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

39. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

38. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

37. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

36. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

35. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

34. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

33. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

32. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

31. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

30. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

29. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

28. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

27. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

26. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

….

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20 Of the Best PJ Lifestyle Lists From 2013

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See last week’s introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year — 3 on Saturdays, 2 on Sundays, followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

 

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

46. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

45. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

44. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

43. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

42. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

41. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

40. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

39. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

38. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

37. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

36. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

35. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

34. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

33. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

32. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

31. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

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The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in three parts in April and May of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the count-down? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

The “Academy of the Overrated” scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1978) is meant to get us to hate Diane Keaton just before Woody Allen changes his mind and falls into bed with her.

Yes, as Mariel Hemingway’s character puts it, Keaton and her beau are “creeps” — but mostly because their “academy” inductees are so gauche, as is their decision to inflict their pretentious pillow talk onto hapless acquaintances on a public sidewalk.

Let’s face it:

Some artists really are overrated, especially today when words like “genius” and “classic” (and the current go-to empty-calorie adjective “iconic”) have been neutered by lazy, know-nothing writers.

First, we prick the inflated reputations of 5 rock and pop stars with XY chromosomes and little else to recommend them.

#5: Pink Floyd

Let’s tackle Roger Waters’ reputed antisemitism first, since it lets me put off having to actually talk about his dreadful “music” for a bit.

Waters made news most recently when New York City’s famous 92Y, under pressure by Jewish groups, cancelled his scheduled lecture.

I’m not a fan of anybody trying to get someone else’s public appearances cancelled, and not just because it’s happened to me.

What’s unusual about this particular instance, however, is that critics’ “accusations” against Waters are true.

Some will object that “anti-Zionism isn’t necessarily anti-Semitism” and if we existed on a pure and sterile plane of Platonic forms, they’d be right.

But here on planet Earth, anyone who’s engaged a rabid “anti-Zionist” in “conversation” knows that within moments, their opponent will slip up and spit out some slur upon “the Joooozzzz!!!”

I save myself time and simply assume that long-time anti-Zionists are Jew-haters, because life is too short and I have laundry and stuff to do.

I’ll leave you with this hilarious piece of evidence, then:

Those who grew up with Pink Floyd’s 1979 double album “The Wall” will remember it as the perfect antidote to the crueller aspects of teenage life. Chronicling the mental breakdown of a pop star, the rock opera rages against suffocating parents, tyrannical teachers and social conformism. The story concludes with the hero hauled before a nightmarish court, where everyone in his life testifies as an adversarial witness. Before the defendant can say a word in his own defense, the judge bellows a guilty verdict: “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible. There is no need for the jury to retire!”

I was reminded of this scene Saturday while attending a session in New York of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a self-appointed people’s court that has met periodically since 2009 to sit in judgment of Israel. (…)

Another reason to be reminded of “The Wall”: Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief lyricist, was a member of the jury.

I grew up trying to avoid The Wall.

It was ubiquitous in my steel mill home town — a whining drone blaring from every paneled suburban basement and tricked-out Chevy van.

But those of us who’d discovered punk wanted nothing to do with the overproduced bellows of millionaire dinosaurs like Pink Floyd.

We didn’t learn until decades later that Johnny Rotten himself was a secret fan, his band’s sartorial protestations to the contrary.

That doesn’t make Pink Floyd’s music any more palatable, however.

Had their efforts been presented matter of factly, I’d give them a pass.

But every Floyd album was held up by under-read, musically unsophisticated teenage boys as a deep, profound commentary on society (man!!!) as well as an example of superior performance and production.

They’d show off their stereo system using Dark Side of the Moon, sounding like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas:

“Check it out! One instrument comes out one speaker, and another instrument comes out the OTHER speaker!!”

Have you, now a sober adult, actually listened to Dark Side of the Moon lately?

Can you scrape off enough encrusted nostalgia to acknowledge that album’s sheer awfulness?

And while those Wizard of Oz weirdies aren’t Floyd’s fault, they’re not helping matters, either.

Also: Pink Floyd’s album covers were singularly hideous.

When I scream “The Who are better than that stupid band you like,” I’m thinking about Pink Floyd first and foremost.

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18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With 49 states buried in snow and most schools in the northeastern U.S. looking at anywhere from 7-10 snow days to make up, our country is ready for a warm up of national proportions. Throw on your heat lamps, put on a bathing suit under that fleece, and cuddle up to these 18 (the number of chai or “life”) warm images of sun, beach and desert (sweet, hot desert) from Israel.

Waking up before sunrise - totally worth it! </p>
<p><a href=Just an abundance of #beauty. #HulaValley #Israel #freedom #River #Mountain #Green

Good morning! בוקר טוב! Bonne journee! Доброе утро! Всем прекрасного солнечного дня! #flowers #instaflowers #nature #4simply4 #ig_treasures

Flowers of the Negev Desert. Цветы пустыни Негев. #israel #ig_israel #gf_israel #e_srael #hapitria #allunique_pro #israeli_moments #Israel_PhotoGraphers #ig_treasures #4simply4 #nature #desert #negev #naturehippys #Naturehippys #ig_captures #ig_captures_nature #power_group #ihavenicepic #nature_uc #awesome_foto #floralfix #_nature_features #ig_diamondshotz

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15 Culture Lists You Don’t Want To Miss

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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See last week’s introduction to this new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle here: What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year — 3 on Saturdays, 2 on Sundays, followed by an update of this post with the newest rankings. Please let me know which lists you like and which subjects you want to see more of at PJ Lifestyle.

 

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

46. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

45. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

44. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

43. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

42. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

41. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

40. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

39. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

38. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

37. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

36. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

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What Are the Top 50 PJ Lifestyle ‘Listicles’ of 2013? Cast Your Votes!

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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What can I say? The infamous, all-powerful “listicle” is a FORCE OF NATURE.

In the online eco-system just promise a list of some sort in the headline and watch the clicks come in. Everyone online with a brain in their head does it whether they’re peddling political commentary or bikini slide shows.

There’s no big secret about why list articles are so popular and effective: they provide order to the chaos. Out of the seeming infinity of ideas, these particular items have been selected and put into this particular arrangement for your debate and amusement.

My favorite lists are the ones where the items are actually ranked in some logical order. Then it creates a whole extra level of debate and discussion: which item is best or worse? How do we weigh which we want to praise? What qualities do we want more of in the world and ourselves?

In the coming months at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to begin shifting toward a weekend list article emphasis. While during the week we’ll continue to feature many quick posts and articles on the subjects of the day, the slower pace of the weekends lends themselves to the longer lists. So on weekends in addition to brand new lists, I’m going to republish our best lists from last year and also article-compilations-turned-list-posts. (For example: check out this 9-part dissection of House of Cards from Becky Graebner, published last week compiling and reformatting her articles from last year.)

Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year — 3 on Saturdays, 2 on Sundays, followed by an update of this post here with the newest rankings. Of the 10 that I’ve republished so far, this seems like a good place to start to get the discussion going:

 

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

46. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

45. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

44. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

43. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

42. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

41. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

 

In ranking these articles that my friends and colleagues have written, I’m judging them in much the same way that I’d rank movies, books, hamburgers, or any other subjectively-quantifiable work. Obviously some articles will have inherent advantages based on the subject matter — Walter’s inspiring article on being a black conservative hits a bit harder than highlighting memorable comedies on Netflix. But that’s alright. Comedies, dramas, and fantasy epics all get nominated for best picture and judged together, so too it should be with our New Media genre of choice, the Mighty Listicle.

So what do you think? Which pieces do you like? What lists would you like to see in the future? What debates about everything from culture to entertainment to war and God need to be had through the magic of the list format?

How would you change my ranking of the articles? (Feel free to copy and paste and rearrange and if there are any from last year you want to petition for now is a good time to link to them. I’ve already assembled a list of my 50 favorites but there are certainly some I’m forgetting…)

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The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months. Click here to vote for your favorites in the comments.

As a reader, the mother of four children, and an author, I want my kids to love to read and to approach reading as joy and nourishment. The following five works of fiction do not encourage and inspire the love of reading in children. They’re terrible books for kids. If you make your children read these they will develop a loathing for reading that will last their whole lives and may possibly poison their very souls. Let’s see why.

Note: Minor spoilers.

5.) The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Steinbeck The Red Pony

This is a set of four short stories set in the western United States and an excellent example of John Steinbeck’s famously spare, elegant prose. Beautifully written, with underlying themes of death and redemption, we can all agree that this is a classic. Did I mention the gruesome death of the title character, the beloved red pony? No? Want to watch your children sob in heartbreak and then continue on to read the next three stories with increasing puzzlement and despair as the complicated themes go over their heads and they must endure the agonizing death of another beloved horse? The Red Pony will not give your children a desire to read for pleasure. Just because a novel features a child doesn’t mean that the work is appropriate for them.

Yes, children should be exposed to stories of heartbreak, loss, and redemption, but there are much better novels than Steinbeck’s to share with your child. Hand over Old Yeller by Fred Gipson, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, or Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Each of these books will make your child cry, but in the end will fill them with joy.

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5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - by John Boot

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in May of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

As a general rule, it’s all fine and good for a comedian to be funny-looking. Zach Galifianakis is not only funny-looking, he’s hilarious-looking: He could be the lonely love child of Chewbacca and Rosie O’Donnell. But Zach G’s big problem is that, after four years in the spotlight as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after comedy stars, he still has nothing else going for him but the way he looks.

Here are five reasons it’s time to stick a fork in this meatball of an actor.

1) He Keeps Doing the Same Shtick.

Galifianakis is forever playing the same strange, foolhardy egomaniac whether in the three Hangover movies, Due Date,or The Campaign. In the completely unnecessary sequel The Hangover Part III he takes over starring duties as Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms step aside. But a little of Zach goes a long way.

Among his big moments are the one where the dudes are looking at a doll house modeled after the real house they’re about to break into to steal $20 million worth of gold and Galifianakis says, “We’re not gonna break into this house, right? This house is too small.” No one is that stupid, sorry.

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10 Reasons Why Camille Paglia Is the Champion of the Feminist Right

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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She is an unabashed liberal. In a culture increasingly governed by Marxist Nomenklatura masking itself as “liberal”, conservatives should be bold enough to reclaim that much maligned political descriptor as one of our own. We are, after all, the ideological descendants of classical liberals, making the outspoken once Liberal Democrat, now Libertarian Camille Paglia the perfect match for contemporary politically conservative feminists.

Can’t possibly imagine the lady who, even when she smiles, gives you a look that says, “I know you’re full of s**t,” could possibly fit in the ranks of the right wing? Here are 10 reasons why you need to throw out the stereotypical baby with your lukewarm bathwater thinking and get hot for the fast-talking, heavy thinking, pop culture-loving Camille Paglia.

10. Paglia embraces the idea of electing public leaders with military experience.

“The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

9. Paglia is Pro-Individual, Pro-Manual Trade, Pro-Free Market.

“We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter [manual trades] without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

8. Paglia is Pro-Capitalist and Anti-Socialist.

“…it is capitalism that ended the stranglehold of the hereditary aristocracies, raised the standard of living for most of the world and enabled the emancipation of women. The routine defamation of capitalism by armchair leftists in academe and the mainstream media has cut young artists and thinkers off from the authentic cultural energies of our time.”

“In my view, comparing the evidence of the 20th century, that socialism in a nation ultimately does lead to economic stagnation and eventually of the creative impulse, in terms of new technology and other things.”

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The 10 Best Conservative Columnists of 2013

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 - by Dave Swindle

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This is Week 12 of Season 3 in my 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and the news cycle’s most interesting headlines. This Top 10 list is the series’ climax for this year, a project I’ve been planning since first asking the question December 5, 2012.

What is the future of conservatism? Which voices should define the priorities of the movement in the coming decades? Who are its most skilled proponents today? How should the movement evolve to face the threats most endangering America?

This list is my effort to advocate for both my favorite writers contributing to answering these questions and the ideas they champion.

5 quick ground rules first:

- I’m being strict with the “columnist” title – no bloggers, journalists, or feature writers. A “columnist” is one who writes a 700-1400+ word polemical article on a regular basis for an established publication or syndication.

- I’m likewise being strict with the “conservative” title – other various right-of-center ideologies (neoconservatism, libertarianism, Christian theocrats, and paleo-con conspiracists) warrant their own lists. (Which perhaps they might get next year as I continue mapping out today’s most important ideological advocates in the contests of politics, ideas, and culture…)

[UPDATE: Confused why some of your favorites aren't on this list? See: 3 Basic Differences Between Conservatism and Neoconservatism]

- In selecting these individuals, I am including them and the ideas they champion in what I’m calling Conservatism 3.0. This isn’t just a stand-alone list, it’s part of the bigger, ongoing project of my attempt to encourage ideological debate and dialogue. The columnists on this list each write books too and I’m adding their titles to my reading lists at the Freedom Academy Book Club. In next year’s installment of my “radical reading regimen” I’ll blog through their titles too.

- I’m excluding writers that I edit. All of PJM’s columnists and freelancers have been going on a separate list of my favorite writers, which I’ve been accumulating over the last six months and you can read on the last page of this post. And as an extra mention I have to go out of my way to recommend Instapundit Glenn Reynolds’s USA Today columns too. Blogging isn’t the only medium that Glenn’s mastered.

I’m including excerpts from some of my favorite columns. Fair warning: this article today is over 13,000 words, highlighting some of the year’s best op/eds. (UPDATE: And apparently that means it’s too big for the view-as-single-page or print-this-post feature to work. I’m sorry. I assure you that was not intentional.) It’s really more of a free online e-book — a late Christmas present to all the readers, writers, activists, and patriots who have inspired and encouraged me in my own journey across the political spectrum…

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10. Ross Douthat

Back in 2009 the New York Times editorial page made the very rare great decision. They replaced corporatist neoconservative baby boomer William Kristol (born December 23, 1952) with cultural conservative millennial-leaning Gen-Xer Ross Douthat (born November 28, 1979.)

Gone was the D.C.-insider establishment man, symbolic of — and in some ways a contributor to — the Republican Party’s and conservatism’s failures todays, and in was a sunny National Review writer with a film critic background and religious interests to reinvent center-right arguments with a fresh, optimistic voice. A few highlights from this year, on Reza Aslan’s Jesus recycling, the celebration of tribal criminality in Breaking Bad, and lessons for the JFK cult:

August 3, “Return of the Jesus Wars“:

The fact that Aslan’s take on Jesus is not original doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. But it has the same problem that bedevils most of his competitors in the “real Jesus” industry. In the quest to make Jesus more comprehensible, it makes Christianity’s origins more mysterious.

Part of the lure of the New Testament is the complexity of its central character — the mix of gentleness and zeal, strident moralism and extraordinary compassion, the down-to-earth and the supernatural.

Most “real Jesus” efforts, though, assume that these complexities are accretions, to be whittled away to reach the historical core. Thus instead of a Jesus who contains multitudes, we get Jesus the nationalist or Jesus the apocalyptic prophet or Jesus the sage or Jesus the philosopher and so on down the list.

There’s enough gospel material to make any of these portraits credible. But they also tend to be rather, well, boring, and to raise the question of how a pedestrian figure — one zealot among many, one mystic in a Mediterranean full of them — inspired a global faith.

October 1, “Walter White’s Dream”:

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The knights on the conservative chessboard are writers, editors, bloggers, and activists capable of moving in creative and versatile directions.

The allure for Team Walt is not ultimately the pull of nihilism, or the harmless thrill of rooting for asupervillain. It’s the pull of an alternative moral code, neither liberal nor Judeo-Christian, with an internal logic all its own. As James Bowman wrote in The New Atlantis, embracing Walt doesn’t requiring embracing “individual savagery” and a world without moral rules. It just requires a return to “old rules” — to “the tribal, family-oriented society and the honor culture that actually did precede the Enlightenment’s commitment to universal values.”

Those rules seem cruel by the lights of both cosmopolitanism and Christianity, but they are not irrational or necessarily false. Their Darwinian logic is clear enough, and where the show takes place — in the shadow of cancer, the shadow of death — the kindlier alternatives can seem softheaded, pointless, naïve.

Nor can this tribal morality be refuted in a laboratory. Indeed, by making Walt a chemistry genius, the show offers an implicit rebuke to the persistent modern conceit that a scientific worldview logically implies liberalism, humanism and a widening circle of concern. On “Breaking Bad,” that worldview just makes Walt a better kingpin, and the beautiful equations of chemistry are deployed to addict, poison, decompose.

November 23, “Puddleglum and the Savage“:

What exhausts skeptics of the Kennedy cult, both its elegiac and paranoid forms, is the way it makes a saint out of a reckless adulterer, a Camelot out of a sordid political operation, a world-historical figure out of a president whose fate was tragic but whose record was not terribly impressive.

But in many ways the impulses driving the Kennedy nostalgists are the same ones animating Lewis’s Puddleglum and Huxley’s Savage — the desire for grace and beauty, for icons and heroes, for a high-stakes dimension to human affairs that a consumerist, materialist civilization can flatten and exclude.

And one can believe J.F.K. is a poor vessel for these desires, and presidential politics the wrong place to satisfy them, without wishing they would disappear.

“It is a serious thing,” Lewis wrote, describing the implications of his religious worldview, “to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship.”

It is obviously a serious mistake, from this perspective, to deify someone prematurely or naively, as too many of Kennedy’s admirers have done.

 ”To deify someone prematurely or naively…” – in continuing on this list, picking writers, activists, and thinkers who have influenced my thinking for years, I want to emphasize that this is not a list of conservative heroes. These are not the gods of right-wing writing circa 2013, but rather something more mundane: a chessboard. Both in specific arguments and in tactics they each simply model the methods for how to do battle.

Douthat is a knight. His approach of leading with deeper discussions of religion and culture then eschewing cliche ideological talking points is a great way to begin the discussion with skeptical or even hostile non-conservative friends and family. As the dialogue gets deeper into specifics — as you make progress in provoking others to rattle their chains in Plato’s cage by taking politically incorrect ideas seriously — it’s time to get focused on the facts about the nature of the enemies who most threaten our ability to have these free debates about God and life. I suspect that over the coming years more will make the journey from Left to Right as I and many other post-9/11 conservatives did: through recognizing the nature of the jihad declared against us and then responding in the same way that previous generations vanquished Nazism and fascism.

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Next: 2 Voices for a hawkish foreign policy.

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6 Warnings I Would Send My Younger Self

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson

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Who has two thumbs and loves Back to the Future? This guy! Replete with such cornball humor, and stimulating the imagination to ponder mysteries of the universe like temporal displacement and women, the ’80s popcorn adventures hold up to this day.

As 2015 nears, boasting a movie release schedule packed with blockbuster franchises – everything from the next Star Wars to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World – it saddens me to realize we won’t also see a revisiting of the Back to the Future universe. You may recall that 2015 was the year that Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled to in the second film. That year will also mark the 30th anniversary of the franchise. A second volume of films centering around the disparity between 2015 as we will know it and the one encountered by Marty as a teenager carries a lot of potential. If only screenwriter Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis were reading.

Much of the fun in Back to the Future emerges from a clash of generations, how things change over time — and how they stay the same. The second film in the series addresses what might happen if you went back in time and told your younger self how to be successful. Marty McFly plots to take a sports almanac from 2015 back to 1985 so he can place bets on foreseen outcomes. When the book falls into the hands of an elderly and villainous Biff Tannen, he executes the same plan to disastrous effect.

Sure, sending your younger self stock tips or sports scores may be an underhanded way to achieve your best life now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t less scandalous messages you could send which might produce a better result. Here are 6 warnings I would send my younger self.

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The Top 5 Christmas Season Traditions At Walt Disney World

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 - by Chris Queen

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Walt Disney World possesses its own brand of magic 365 days a year, but from early November to shortly after the New Year, the World becomes something much more magical as the whole resort takes on the air of Christmas.

The holidays really are a special time to visit Walt Disney World. Sure, prices go up during this “peak” season and at times the crowds go up just as much, but it’s worth the extra saving to be able to experience the parks and resorts in their full Christmas regalia.

At night, Cinderella Castle transforms into a wintry ice castle. Each park and resort boasts its own unique tree, and the decorations match the theme of each land and attraction. World of Disney in Downtown Disney is the perfect place for gift shopping, while at World Showcase in Epcot, each nation features storytellers who share that country’s holiday traditions.

Above everything else, five events and experiences stand out. These traditions make a November or December vacation to Walt Disney World one the whole family will remember forever.

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5 Reasons Why Thor Is a Second-Rate Superhero Franchise

Friday, November 8th, 2013 - by John Boot

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It’s been all of six months since the last so-so Marvel superhero movie, and yet here comes another weak entry: Thor: The Dark World. Despite the hype, this one is easily skippable. Here are six reasons why the Thor franchise is strictly B-list.

1) A hammer? Seriously?

Thor’s all-powerful weapon “mjolnir” is simply and literally a blunt instrument. What else can you do with a hammer except smash things with it? It’s not like flying, or the ability to cast webs out of your palms: It doesn’t open up a world of possibility.

A hammer is such a short extension of reach and force that Thor might as well just punch enemies in the face. And when he winds up the hammer by swinging it in super-fast circles he just looks as ridiculous as a character from an old Warner Brothers cartoon.

Superhero weapons are supposed to be deeply marinated in myth, not in cheap jokes, and yet you can tell from Thor: The Dark World exactly how seriously the writers take this supposed all-powerful item when Thor, on a visit to Earth, simply hangs the object on an ordinary coat rack. Isn’t the hammer supposed to be so heavy only Thor can lift it? Why doesn’t it rip the coat rack off the wall and maybe smash through the floor below it? 

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