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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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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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

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

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

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

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Fear and Loathing in White Guy-ville

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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City folk have always looked on their country neighbors with superstition. According to John Podhoretz at the Weekly Standard, this suspicion has carried a clearly political bent since the days of W. His evidence: Scary white dudes, like Walter White (Breaking Bad) and Bill Henrickson (Big Love) from middle America invading your TVs.

“In Difficult Men, Brett Martin’s book about the remarkable writer-producers who brought television to new cultural heights, Martin notes that there was something explicitly political at work in the early days of what he calls television’s “Third Golden Age.” Americans “on the losing side” of the 2000 election, Martin writes, “were left groping to come to terms with the Beast lurking in their own body politic.” As it happened, “that side happened to track very closely with the viewerships of networks like AMC, FX, and HBO: coastal, liberal, educated, ‘blue state.’ And what the Third Golden Age brought them was a humanized red state. .  .  . This was the ascendant Right being presented to the disempowered Left—as if to reassure it that those in charge were still recognizably human.”

…It’s the depiction of the worlds in which they live that is so striking, even more so in the series that have come along since the body politic’s shift to the left, beginning in 2006. The canvas on which these characters are brought to three-dimensional life isn’t a “humanized red state” at all, but rather the red state of liberal horror fantasy.”

Podhoretz concludes: “Still, rich Hollywood folk making mincemeat out of poor rural folk is another element of the ongoing American culture war that should not go unremarked.”

Fair enough, although any critical studies grad could tell you that whitey from the sticks, especially them man-folks, have been derided for a long time among the educated liberal elites who fill television’s coveted writers’ rooms. Educated liberal elites, mind you, who are primarily white dudes.

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Our Bodies, Our Only Sense of Self

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The MSM’s latest fetish, college girls-turned-porn stars for tuition money, smacks of the rotten legacy of second-wave feminism’s “our bodies, our selves” mantra. Take the story of Belle Knox, a Duke University fresh-girl forced to do porn for the tuition money. While her sleaze-bag of an agent attempts to milk her 15 minutes with stories of a poor girl turned out by multimillionaire parents (a story she later changed when chatting with Piers Morgan), Belle Knox views herself as anything but a victim.

The 18-year-old appeared on front pages across the globe and sat down with Piers Morgan for a CNN interview using only her stage name and claiming that she was not ashamed of what she was doing and, in fact, felt ‘empowered’ by her career.

I’m not being exploited. I love what I’m doing and I’m safe,’ insists the women’s studies major.

Women’s studies major. Good thing she’s in porn, considering her future career choices at this point don’t rise far above McDonald’s worker (and we all know how poorly they’re paid). Seriously, though, paying for your women’s studies degree by doing porn? Has anyone stopped being sucked in by the rich-girl lifestyle to consider that glaring irony? Or the fact that her women’s studies major has justified her career choice?

She told her student newspaper in an interview last week: ‘My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was five-years-old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.

‘The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.’

The vapid meanderings of Belle Knox illustrate the very scary impact of the second-wave feminist notion that our bodies really are our selves. Beyond our physicality, we have nothing left, no brain, no feeling, to “lose” or invest in a sexual encounter.

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Student Survival Tactic: Think Big

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Most folks first became aware of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he dared to speak out against Obamacare in front of the architect himself at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Carson about 20 years earlier when my mother handed me his book Think Big. At the time, I was an above-average student who struggled in the public school environment. Despite being intellectually acceptable (but economically unqualified) for entrance into a prestigious private school, my own public institution refused to allow me to skip a grade because they felt I’d suffer socially.

As if being the #1 nerd in the room qualified me to be crowned Prom Queen.

An outcast, I’d spend most of my time feigning illness or sick with stress, looking for a reason – any reason – to get out of going to school. I knew my mother was right; I couldn’t run away forever. But, I didn’t have a reason to care enough to face my battles. What I needed then is what so many young people need now: A perspective greater than their own. They need to learn how to Think Big.

And so my mother encouraged me to encounter the story of Ben Carson, a young African American boy from the projects who rose out of the ghetto mindset by seeking a perspective greater than his own:

“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”

Carson’s illiterate mother required her 2 sons to turn into her 2 book reports a week. This practice turned Carson into a habitual reader, classical music listener, and Jeopardy! aficionado. His love of learning and imaginative fascination with science developed into the desire to become a neurosurgeon:

First, we cannot overload the human brain. This divinely created brain has fourteen billion cells. If used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over. Second, not only can we not overload our brain – we also know that our brain retains everything. I often use saying that “The brain acquires everything that we encounter.”

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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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An Open Letter to Grandparents of Homeschooled Kids

Monday, November 18th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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Dear Grandparents,

We know you were surprised when we decided to homeschool your grandchildren. We were the first in the family to ever consider doing something so preposterous and it’s understandable that you would have doubts and suspicions about our ability to educate our children at home, without the help of the government schools. After all, generations of children in our family have attended public schools and they turned out just fine — well for the most part (except for the ones who didn’t). You wonder if we think the education that we received was somehow inferior or harmful. You hear us complaining about the dangers of public schools and you think perhaps we are judging you for the decisions you made as parents. We recognize that you might feel a bit hurt or defensive about our decisions.

Beyond our initial decision to homeschool, you interact with our children and realize that they’re “different.” Perhaps they’re more mature than their peers and they don’t understand current pop culture references. You wonder how they’ll ever make friends or interact in the “real world” if they can’t even name a single Kardashian and they don’t know how to “twerk.” Or you have concerns that they’re not “socialized” because they don’t get to spend six hours a day, five days a week in a school classroom. And what about the prom?

You question whether there is any way we can provide for the academic needs of your grandchildren. How can we possibly duplicate the myriad of experiences our children would receive in the public schools? After all, the schools have millions of dollars to spend on faculty and state-of-the art facilities. We have a 3-bedroom home — and we can barely manage to keep the bathrooms clean! How absurd to think we can provide these kids with a 21st-century education.

We understand that it doesn’t seem right that our 9-year-old isn’t reading yet and the 10-year-old is doing algebra. And how can we manage to educate them when we’re running around town all day or letting the kids run wild in the backyard? Surely, we must be doing something wrong.

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Technology & the Vertical Caveat in Generational Theory

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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When I turned 16 I had a choice: A Sweet Sixteen Party or a trip to London. Unlike the rest of my peers I chose the latter. Not for the Spice Girls, but for the Beatles. I had spent the past year and a half papering my walls with photocopies my Dad would make on his lunch hour from books I’d checked out of the library. While most of my fellow classmates were crying along with Jewel, I was blasting the likes of The Supremes, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and the Mamas and the Papas. Backstreet Boys versus NSYNC lunchroom arguments baffled me as I tried to explain to my friends how Yoko Ono busted up my favorite boy band of all time.

Thanks to Brad Pitt I was beginning to think I had some kind of mental Benjamin Button syndrome until the other week when I came across the Pew Center’s “How Millennial Are You?” quiz (h/t Becky Graebner). Technically I fall into David Swindle’s Millennial-X’er Blend generation, but according to the  Pew Center, I’m a Baby Boomer verging on Generation X.

No wonder I tend to gravitate towards my elders, especially when it comes to entertainment. Of course, being Jewish, I blame it all on my Mother. At 7 our first video rental was the Amy Irving film Crossing Delancey. Years later I married a good Jewish boy with curly hair and New York roots, and I still have a thing for Peter Riegert. Unlike fellow high schoolers obsessed with Ross and Rachel, my teen years were defined by Rupert Holmes‘s much under noticed classic Remember WENN, a dramedy set at a Pittsburgh radio station in the days before World War II. I scoffed at fellow film students in college who balked at the idea of watching anything in black and white.  The other day, when I found out that Jason Alexander would be performing live in my neck of the woods, I scrambled online to get tickets. I am a middle-aged woman stuck in a Gen X/Millennial body.  How did this happen?

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Compassion and Idiot Compassion

Sunday, August 25th, 2013 - by Charlie Martin

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About eight years ago, I had to take my 18 year old Siamese, Vashti, to the vet for what I knew was her last time. She had lymphoma, and I’d been taking care of her as she failed slowly, until finally I was feeding her baby food with an irrigation syringe. Still, she’d always seemed grateful; she purred, however faintly, when I petted her, and she woulld sleep for hours on her special sheepskin rug, which I kept in my lap. But one morning I looked at her, and I heard her say, as clearly as if she’d spoken in words, that she was ready. So we went to the vet, and I held her, and as the vet was putting the needle into her vein, she died peacefully, before the vet even gave the injection.

Afterward, there were people who scolded me for waiting so long; and there were people, New Age hipsters, who said that as a Buddhist I should not have taken her to the vet, shouldn’t have participated in killing another sentient being. And I wondered myself if I’d waited too long, out of selfishness — but Vashti wasn’t just my cat, she was like my familiar, and you could make a good case that she’d been the only really successful relationship with a female of any species I’d ever had.

In any case, I was no longer uncertain after she’d died, because I was sure that I’d done as Vashti had wanted.

So last week we talked about metta, “good will” or “lovingkindness”, one of the virtues exhibited by the Buddha that we try to learn to recognize in ourselves through metta practice. If you’ll remember, in metta practice, you try to invoke that feeling of metta in yourself, and then direct it toward yourself and toward others, even people toward whom you feel hatred and anger.

Metta has another virtue, karuna or “compassion”, with which it is paired. Metta is wishing good to others; karuna is understanding the suffering of others. Buddha, when he was Enlightened, could have chosen simply to reside in nirvana, but because of his feelings of metta and karuna chose to teach the Way of Liberation instead. The two things together are really the basis of Buddhist notions of morals: your good will to others goes along with your recognition that the other person is really, at heart, another person like yourself, and so you try to avoid causing suffering and try to help them also avoid suffering.

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The Terrors of the Minivan! Why Popular Culture Wages War Against Large Families

Monday, August 19th, 2013 - by Bonnie Ramthun

I’m one of Them. I’m a mom who has more than two children. Every day I climb behind the wheel of a minivan, load my kids into the back and drive to places that I need to be because I’m the mother of four kids and if I’m not dropping off at a violin lesson I’m picking up from a sleepover or swim practice or, perhaps, as a refreshing change of pace, taking a trip to the emergency room.  Parents like me are the butt of jokes and the subject of ridicule in popular culture.  Paul Nardizzi nails the minivan angst in this clip from Comedy Central.

Written from the point of view of the depressed father, we’re treated to images of a hideously unattractive mother and hordes of screaming children driving in an aquarium-like minivan.  I found it terribly offensive, right after I finished laughing myself into hiccups.

The minivan symbolizes a family too large to fit into a sedan, and that means more than two children.  Large families are ridiculed in our society, made the object of punch-lines and stereotypes, and sometimes that ridicule spills over into malevolence and hatred. Don’t think so? Let’s take a look.

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How to Shift Your Broken Paradigm in 3 Simple Steps

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Real change in life is hard. In fact, it’s so hard it seldom happens without a major paradigm shift.

Life changing events can range from a death in the family to a health crisis to a job loss. However, too often, we don’t realize that we do have some say in how our circumstances change us.

We can’t stop tragedy. What we can do is use the force of it to generate the power needed to alter our circumstances for the better. There are some things that are so entrenched in our lives that it takes the energy of a crisis to give us the strength to correct it.

Health issues easily fall into that category. For example, a treadmill doesn’t look so much like an instrument of torture after a heart attack scare.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a crisis to change our lives. As human beings we hold the unique power to shape our future. We alone have the ability to envision a life beyond our current reality.

What’s even more amazing– we can create that vision.

Pick an area of your life you want to change. Is it your health? What about your career? Or your relationship with your spouse or children. All of these seemingly fixed areas of life are subject to change at any given moment.

Why not be your own catalyst for change?

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Save Our Celebrities!

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 - by Andrew Klavan
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With everything going on in the news these days — I mean, didn’t Jennifer Aniston recently get a haircut or something? — this seems like a goofy thing to get annoyed about, but I have to confess it got to me. I saw this originally on Big Hollywood: Tom Cruise’s ex-wife Katie Holmes was walking with her 7-year-old daughter Suri and they were surrounded by paparazzi. And Suri both rightly and kind of cutely was telling these photog thugs to get out of her way and one of them — a grown man — started calling the child names! Another more human photographer tries to remonstrate with this lowlife — but the guy insists he’s in the right! Watch the video — I’m not making this up. The pap doubles down, explaining that no, the 7-year-old actually deserves to be catcalled and by golly he’s just the he-man to do the job! So help me, I’ll retire to Bedlam.

Hey, no one can accuse this blog of being soft on celebrities, but I’ve never subscribed to this idea that just because someone desires to win renown he therefore sacrifices every ounce of his privacy. I know we can’t really restrict the actions of photographers without compromising our First Amendment rights, but is it too much to ask we be allowed to tie them up in canvas sacks and toss them into the Hudson River? Or maybe with Eric Holder re-examining Stand Your Ground laws (for some reason), we might look into extending the meaning of self-defense to include confrontations between the rich and famous and these annoying lens-termites. We could even make special categories for those particularly afflicted. For instance, whereas someone like Tom Hanks — not usually hunted by swarms of paps — could only open fire on one when actually being hounded, someone like Angelina Jolie would be allowed to break into a photographer’s home, creep into his bedroom and smother him in his sleep without facing any legal consequences.

All right, I said it was silly. But really, how far do you have to sink before you start screaming insults at children? Yuck-o.

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Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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The Return of the Primitive

Friday, May 24th, 2013 - by Ed Driscoll

In his introduction to The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, the 1999 update of Ayn Rand’s early 1970s anthology originally entitled The New Left, Peter Schwartz, the editor of the new edition wrote:

Primitive, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means: “Of or belonging to the first age, period or stage; pertaining to early times …” With respect to human development, primitivism is a pre-rational stage. It is a stage in which man lives in fearful awe of a universe he cannot understand. The primitive man does not grasp the law of causality. He does not comprehend the fact that the world is governed by natural laws and that nature can be ruled by any man who discovers those laws. To a primitive, there is only a mysterious supernatural. Sunshine, darkness, rainfall, drought, the clap of thunder, the hooting of a spotted owl— all are inexplicable, portentous, and sacrosanct to him. To this non-conceptual mentality, man is metaphysically subordinate to nature, which is never to be commanded, only meekly obeyed.

This is the state of mind to which the environmentalists want us to revert.

If primitive man regards the world as unknowable, how does he decide what to believe and how to act? Since such knowledge is not innate, where does primitive man turn for guidance? To his tribe. It is membership in a collective that infuses such a person with his sole sense of identity. The tribe’s edicts thus become his unquestioned absolutes, and the tribe’s welfare becomes his fundamental value.

This is the state of mind to which the multiculturalists want us to revert. They hold that the basic unit of existence is the tribe, which they define by the crudest, most primitive, most anti-conceptual criteria (such as skin color). They consequently reject the view that the achievements of Western— i.e., individualistic— civilization represent a way of life superior to that of savage tribalism.

Both environmentalism and multiculturalism wish to destroy the values of a rational, industrial age. Both are scions of the New Left, zealously carrying on its campaign of sacrificing progress to primitivism.

In addition to the shocking Islamic terrorist attack yesterday in London, a troika of pop culture-related stories making the rounds today remind us that reprimitivization is well on its way.

First up,  “Movement to Normalize Pedophilia Finds Its Poster Girl,” Stacy McCain writes in the American Spectator:

In January, Rush Limbaugh warned that there was “an effort under way to normalize pedophilia,” and was ridiculed by liberals (including CNN’s Soledad O’Brien) for saying so. But now liberals have joined a crusade that, if successful, would effectively legalize sex with 14-year-olds in Florida.

The case involves Kaitlyn Ashley Hunt, an 18-year-old in Sebastian, Florida, who was arrested in February after admitting that she had a lesbian affair with a 14-year high-school freshman. (Click here to read the affidavit in Hunt’s arrest.) It is a felony in Florida to have sex with 14-year-olds. Hunt was expelled from Sebastian High School — where she and the younger girl had sex in a restroom stall — and charged with two counts of “felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child.” The charges could put Hunt in prison for up to 15 years. Prosecutors have offered Hunt a plea bargain that would spare her jail time, but her supporters have organized an online crusade to have her let off scot-free — in effect, nullifying Florida’s law, which sets the age of consent at 16.

Using the slogan “Stop the Hate, Free Kate” (the Twitter hashtag is #FreeKate) this social-media campaign has attracted the support of liberals including Chris Hayes of MSNBC, Daily Kos, Think Progress and the gay-rights group Equality Florida. Undoubtedly, part of the appeal of the case is that Hunt is a petite attractive green-eyed blonde. One critic wondered on Twitter how long activists have “been waiting for a properly photogenic poster child of the correct gender to come along?”

Portraying Hunt as the victim of prejudice, her supporters claim she was only prosecuted because she is homosexual and because the parents of the unnamed 14-year-old are “bigoted religious zealots,” as Hunt’s mother said in a poorly written Facebook post. The apparent public-relations strategy was described by Matthew Philbin of Newsbusters: “If you can play the gay card, you immediately trigger knee-jerk support from the liberal media and homosexual activists anxious to topple any and all rules regarding sex.”

Meanwhile, giant cable television conglomerate Viacom must be especially proud of MTV today: “Trashy Former Pop Star Drinks Her Own Urine on MTV in Ratings Stunt,” Ace writes:

If you had questions about whether Ke$ha was a classy lady– questions that really ought not to persist, given that she really spells her name that way, “Ke$ha” — consider them now resolved.

Some are using this provocation as a justification for renewing the calls for a-la-carte cable subscriptions. “Some” are, in this case, correct.

Anyone who now has cable pays for MTV. Cable companies negotiate a flat payment to a station for carrying it. MTV also collects revenues from advertising, but a major source of its revenue is the automatic “tax” MTV imposes on your cable bill every month. You have no way to avoid paying for MTV– except for cancelling the service altogether.

Monopolies are generally not permitted to “bundle” services together. And local cable companies are usually monopolies, or, at best, have but one competitor– and as all of them have instituted this bundling practice and will not stop the practice no matter how much the public clamors for it, the monopolies (or duopolies) at least appear to be in collusion on this point.

And finally, while Robert Redford’s boyish shock of tousled hair and studio system hauteur hides a multitude of sins, his own primitivist mindset is lurking just under the surface, easily found:

Robert Redford today accused the US of losing its way in the years since the second world war. Speaking at the press conference for his new film All Is Lost at the Cannes film festival.

“Certain things have got lost,” said Redford. “Our belief system had holes punched in it by scandals that occurred, whether it was Watergate, the quiz show scandal, or Iran-Contra; it’s still going on…Beneath all the propaganda is a big grey area, another America that doesn’t get any attention; I decided to make that the subject of my films.”

Redford, now 76, also had critical words for the US’s never-ending drive for economic and technological development, which he considers has been a damaging force.

“We are in a dire situation; the planet is speaking with a very loud voice. In the US we call it Manifest Destiny, where we keep pushing and developing, never mind what you destroy in your wake, whether its Native American culture or the natural environment.

“I’ve also seen the relentless pace of technological increase. It’s getting faster and faster; and it fascinates me to ask: how long will it go on before it burns out.”

Gee Bob, who gets to decide that technological progress will now officially be concluded? As Virginia Postrel told C-Span’s Brian Lamb in 1999 when promoting The Future and its Enemies:

The Khmer Rouge sought to start over at year zero, and to sort of create the kind of society that very civilized, humane greens write about as though it were an ideal. I mean, people who would never consider genocide*. But I argue that if you want to know what that would take, look at Cambodia: to empty the cities and turn everyone into peasants again. Even in a less developed country, let alone in someplace like the United States, that these sort of static utopian fantasies are just that.

Incidentally, that fawning profile of Redford appeared (but of course!) in the UK Guardian under the headline, “Robert Redford on America: ‘Certain things have got lost.’” Well, that can happen when elderly Hollywood multimillionaires make films condoning terrorism, which are in turn approved by a former presidential aide, on the morning show that’s aired nationwide on a TV network owned by the Disney Corporation.

In his 2oo6 book Our Culture, What’s Left Of It, Theodore Dalrymple wrote:

Having spent a considerable proportion of my professional career in Third World countries in which the implementation of abstract ideas and ideals has made bad situations incomparably worse, and the rest of my career among the very extensive British underclass, whose disastrous notions about how to live derive ultimately from the unrealistic, self-indulgent, and often fatuous ideas of social critics, I have come to regard intellectual and artistic life as being of incalculable practical importance and effect. John Maynard Keynes wrote, in a famous passage in The Economic Consequences of the Peace, that practical men might not have much time for theoretical considerations, but in fact the world is governed by little else than the outdated or defunct ideas of economists and social philosophers. I agree: except that I would now add novelists, playwrights, film directors, journalists, artists, and even pop singers. They are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, and we ought to pay close attention to what they say and how they say it.

Especially when the first thought is turn away from the daily horrors our pop culture seems to bring forth in ever-greater numbers.
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Cross-posted from Ed Driscoll’s Blog

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Take a Whine Appreciation Class

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg
Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!

Dear Bad Advice,

My friend is absolutely driving me up the wall! She complains about everything. I know not a lot of things are going great for her in her life right now, but I wish she had a better attitude. If I tell her to have a better attitude when she’s complaining about things, she gets mad and storms off. How do I handle her? She’s fun and a great friend most of the time, but her complaining is getting on my last nerve.

- Not a whine appreciator

This is going to sound like bad advice, but quit complaining about your complaining friend.

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Stop Expecting Your Friends to Show Common Decency

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 - by Hannah Sternberg

Mindy feels you.

Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column!

Hello Bad Advice readers! This week I got a question that I’ve heard many times from friends, mostly millennials, who get the classic “I’m not really standing you up because I texted you five minutes ahead of time” line from their friends. As we emerge from social hibernation this spring, take heed: all your friends are jerks. Get used to it.

Dear Bad Advice,

Have you ever had a friend that seems to always bail on plans? Not only do they bail, but do they wait to the very last possible minute to not-so-gracefully bow out?

A close friend of mine is almost ALWAYS doing this to me and it absolutely drives me nuts!  Now, I hate double-standards, but are they necessary when it comes to teaching people a lesson?

Is it wrong for me to give her a taste of her own medicine a few times by doing the same exact thing she repeatedly does to me? Or, is this too childish?

I should note that I hate confrontation and yes, I admit to being a bit passive aggressive sometimes to avoid it.

- Fed Up with Being Stood Up

This is going to sound like bad advice, but stop expecting your friends to show up for things. If they don’t give a crap about you, don’t give a crap about them.

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Walt Disney’s Fascinating Political Journey

Friday, May 3rd, 2013 - by Chris Queen

Walt & Lillian Disney with Richard Nixon and his family at Disneyland, 1959

We tend to think of Hollywood as a bastion of leftism, and rightly so. Books like Ron Radosh’s Red Star Over Hollywood demonstrate the deep-seated left-wing dominance of the entertainment industry. Even with the leftism prevalent in Hollywood’s Golden Age, many unabashed conservatives found success without compromising their principles, including one of the most creative minds in the business — Walt Disney.

Several biographers and writers that I’ve read have tried to declare that Walt Disney was apolitical, but I find this conclusion not to be true. Diane Disney Miller once said that her father was “kind of a strange figure” politically, and Walt admitted his own political naiveté:

A long time ago, I found out that I knew nothing whatsoever about this game of politics and since then I’ve preferred to keep silent about the entire matter rather than see my name attached to any statement that was not my own.

But plenty of people surrounding Walt Disney knew the truth: that he was conservative to his core. Ward Kimball, one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” said that Walt’s right-leaning politics made him uncomfortable and that politics drove a rift in their friendship in Disney’s later years. Radical writer Maurice Rapf, who worked on several Disney films, including Song of the South, said, “He was very conservative except in one particular — he was a very strong environmentalist.” However, Walt Disney’s conservatism did not manifest itself until after he had been a businessman for several years.

Walt Disney’s early exposure to politics came from his father, Elias, who was a Socialist — in particular, he followed the philosophy of J. A. Wayland. Wayland created a unique strain of Prairie Socialism in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Daniel J. Flynn, in his book A Conservative History of the American Left, tells of how Wayland “reached Americans with the message [of Socialism] that had been heretofore explained in a German, Yiddish, or Russian accent, but never with a Bible-belt twang.”

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Evolving on Guns: Considering the Morality of Gun Ownership Now That I Refuse to Be a Victim

Monday, April 29th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

Last week I wrote about my “evolution” on guns during the Boston manhunt:

In the middle of that night listening to the Boston police scanner, I evolved. I realized right then that if I were holed up in my house while a cold-blooded terrorist roamed my neighborhood, I wouldn’t want to be a sitting duck with only a deadbolt lock between me and an armed intruder. There are not enough police and they cannot come to my rescue quickly enough. They carry guns to protect themselves, not me. I knew at that instant if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed up at my door while I was “sheltered-in-place” and aimed a gun at my head and only one of us would live, I could pull the trigger.

Once I made the decision that I would not be a victim, I began to research my options for home protection. I plan to share the experience of choosing my first gun in a future post but first I’d like to deal with some of the moral implications of the decision to purchase, own — and potentially use — a gun.

I wrote about one of the reasons I refrained from owning a gun for many years:

The other thing holding me back was my belief that if you’re going to own a gun, you must be willing to shoot to kill…I searched my heart and realized that in the heat of the moment of an attack, I wasn’t sure what I would do with a gun in my hand. I knew that could be more dangerous than being unarmed; it wasn’t worth the risk.

A gun is an inanimate object and as such is morally neutral. Lying on a table, tucked under a mattress, or locked in a gun safe it cannot kill, inflict harm, or protect its owner. However, the fact that a gun is in one’s home creates the potential for both danger and protection depending on many variables, including the training, skill, and temperament of the residents of the home and the mental capacity and willingness of the gun owners to use the weapon, whether in self-defense or to inflict intentional harm.

While I understand that many who grew up around guns accept them as a normal part of life, for me, it’s a decision that requires serious introspection and moral evaluation. Though I passionately support the Second Amendment, I confess that I had never taken the time to earnestly contemplate its practical applications. Perhaps this is because I’ve mostly lived in safe, virtually crime-free neighborhoods and have never experienced violent crime. Whatever the reason, it’s not an excuse to jump into gun ownership without first embarking on this intellectual exercise.

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Is 25 the New 15?

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 - by Helen Smith

That’s the question asked in the 1st chapter of a book I am reading called Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. From the description:

Do you sometimes wonder how your teen is ever going to survive on his or her own as an adult? Does your high school junior seem oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead? Does your academically successful nineteen-year-old still expect you to “just take care of” even the most basic life tasks?

Welcome to the stunted world of the Endless Adolescence. Recent studies show that today’s teenagers are more anxious and stressed and less independent and motivated to grow up than ever before. Twenty-five is rapidly becoming the new fifteen for a generation suffering from a debilitating “failure to launch.” Now two preeminent clinical psychologists tell us why and chart a groundbreaking escape route for teens and parents.

Drawing on their extensive research and practice, Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen show that most teen problems are not hardwired into teens’ brains and hormones but grow instead out of a “Nurture Paradox” in which our efforts to support our teens by shielding them from the growth-spurring rigors and rewards of the adult world have backfired badly. With compelling examples and practical and profound suggestions, the authors outline a novel approach for producing dramatic leaps forward in teen maturity, including:

• Turn Consumers into Contributors Help teens experience adult maturity–its bumps and its joys–through the right kind of employment or volunteer activity.
• Feed Them with Feedback Let teens see and hear how the larger world perceives them. Shielding them from criticism–constructive or otherwise–will only leave them unequipped to deal with it when they get to the “real world.”
• Provide Adult Connections Even though they’ll deny it, teens desperately need to interact with adults (including parents) on a more mature level–and such interaction will help them blossom!
• Stretch the Teen Envelope Do fewer things for teens that they can do for themselves, and give them tasks just beyond their current level of competence and comfort.

The authors point out that even young people who appear to be succeeding by conventional standards wake up in their mid-twenties clueless about how to find a job, manage money, cook, or live on their own. They are educated but unable to care for themselves. “Twenty-five is now becoming the new fifteen.”

According to the authors, teens are living in a “bubble” that is undermining their development. They have their room at home, school, the shopping mall etc. but it,

“cuts them off from meaningful roles in the adult world, cuts them off from close day-to-day contact with adults, and it hyperexposes them to peer relationships, which become their primary socializing influences.”

The last chapter of the book points out that the staples of the Adulthood Diet are Challenge and Feedback. Teens don’t get much of it in their lives. We have done away with competition (too masculine, I suppose) and real-world feedback (kids need high self-esteem!) and therefore they never learn to master the larger world.

The book instructs parents and adults in how to teach kids to grow up and be an adult in today’s modern world. That’s no small feat. But better late than never because twenty-five should never be the new fifteen.

*****

Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s Blog

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No More Music for Muslims: The Spiritual Journey of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 - by Robert Spencer

PJ Lifestyle Editor’s Note:

This is Part 11, the conclusion, of Volume 1 of Robert Spencer’s Jazz and Islam series. Yes — Volume 1 does imply the intent for Robert to return to this subject again in the future so we can someday produce a Volume 2. As the Islamic War Against Freedom has intensified and arisen again into the foreground of public consciousness, Robert and I have decided on a new cultural angle through which he will seek to illuminate each week’s dark, confusing stories of jihad terrorism. I won’t reveal the secret yet of just what Robert’s new focus will be. But perhaps this astounding article today revealing the troubled story of a lost young man who poisoned his mind with deadly ideas will provide a hint of what’s to come…

– David Swindle 

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who along with his brother Dzhokhar murdered three people and wounded nearly 200 more with twin bombs at the Boston Marathon, was a musician. John Curran, Tamerlan’s boxing coach, recalled: “He also played the piano very well.” The Lowell Sun reported that “Tsarnaev also studied music at a school in Russia and played piano and violin.”

As late as 2010, according to Gene McCarthy of the Somerville Boxing Club in Massachusetts, Tsarnaev was still playing:

“I brought him to the registration” for a boxing tournament, “and while he was waiting in line, he saw a piano and was playing classical music like it was Symphony Hall.”

However, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that “in the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.”

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Quiz! What’s Your TV Sitcom Family Lifestyle?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Throughout this series I’ve questioned where the line is drawn between reflecting and affecting when it comes to the media’s relationship with real life. Either way, the determining factor is relatability. You aren’t going to imitate something unless you can relate to it, and if you can’t relate to a show, chances are it isn’t anywhere near a reflection of who you are.

So, in the interest of all things entertainment, let’s take a simple quiz to determine your relatability factor when it comes to the portrayal of “traditional family” on television using two popular prime-time family-themed shows: Family Guy and The Middle.

Family Guy: The show is apathetic, even nihilistic at times, mocks the same politically correct values it thrives on, and typifies men and women in terms taught best in Gender Studies 101. The Middle is one of a handful of shows to make it to the air that depicted exactly what its title intimated: a middle -lass, middle-of-the-road family living in the middle of nowhere, America.  As working middle class as the Griffins, the Hecks are a family of five that mirrors the demographics of the Quahog clan: father, mother, two sons with a daughter in the middle.

So, what’s your relatability factor? And how does your relatability compare with the ratings? Take this simple five-question quiz to find out!

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7 Movies That Show You The Masculine Ideal

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 - by John Hawkins

Action movies are just as American as motherhood, apple pie, and capitalism. Movies like Unforgiven, Gladiator, Rooster Cogburn, Conan, Dirty Harry, Die Hard, The Dark Knight, High Noon, Man on Fire, Red Dawn, Tombstone, and True Grit speak to men in a primal language that transcends the story line on the screen. Men like these films because they capture qualities we’d like to think we have ourselves. We like the idea of being billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and fighting crime in our spare time, pointing a gun at a punk and asking him if he feels lucky, or responding to the question, “What is best in life?” with To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women! While there are dozens of deserving action movies, there are seven that are particularly good at revealing parts of the male psyche.

1) First Blood

John Rambo is a damaged character. His fighting in Vietnam left him with mental problems, made him ill-equipped to fit into society, and led to him ultimately having a difficult and lonely existence. However, there are two things about him that make the character click with men. The first is this:

Teasle: Are you telling me that 200 men against your boy is a no-win situation for us?
Trautman: You send that many, don’t forget one thing.
Teasle: What?
Trautman: A good supply of body bags.

Rambo doesn’t pick the fight, but when he is backed up against a wall, he is a one-man army. This theme is repeated over and over in action movies because it’s something men aspire to all the way down in their souls.

The other, more subtle thing that makes Rambo appealing is that he shares a grievance that most men have on some level or another: his sacrifices are largely unappreciated. He went through hell to do what had to be done, paid a terrible price for it, saw his suffering shrugged off by men unfit to say his name, and was left holding the bag. There are millions of men who feel the exact same way. They’ve provided, they’ve struggled, they’ve done things they didn’t want to do for other people, and, ultimately, they found that it wasn’t valued. That makes it easy to relate to a character like Rambo, even if you’re not planning to shoot at anybody with a machine gun.

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5 Controversial Ways to Enjoy the Decline of America

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle

Is America in decline?

I’ve been hearing the United States compared to the Roman Empire since around the 1970s, and I’m sure those apocalyptic sentiments were being expressed long before I was born.

However, it’s difficult to read and watch all the depressing stuff posted here on PJ Media and elsewhere and not conclude that, this time, it’s on.

America’s going Gibbon.

Some books propose possible ways to avert this catastrophe.

Aaron Clarey’s Enjoy the Decline isn’t one of them.

As his subtitle suggests, this book is about “accepting and living with the death of the United States.”

It’s full of counterintuitive, amusing, and sometimes infuriating advice:

What country should I move to?

What should I pack in a bug-out bag?

Why don’t black people go to national parks?

This book features something to offend everyone.

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How Modern Life Transforms Men into Wussies

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 - by John Hawkins

Most people think Marv is crazy, but I don’t believe that. I’m no shrink and I’m not saying I’ve got Marv all figured out or anything, but “crazy” just doesn’t explain him. Not to me. Sometimes I think he’s retarded, a big, brutal kid who never learned the ground rules about how people are supposed to act around each other. But that doesn’t have the right ring to it either. No, it’s more like there’s nothing wrong with Marv, nothing at all — except that he had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He’d have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman Arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him. They’d have tossed him girls like Nancy, back then. — Sin City

Manly Activity

Ever watched a classic action flick? Of course you have. Movies like Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lethal Weapon, First Blood, and 300 have become fixtures in the American psyche. All these movies feature either a lone man or a small group fighting in a desperate, violent struggle and yet, somehow, coming out on top. Throughout most of America’s history, the average man could more easily relate to the experiences in those movies the way someone who shoots hoops at the park could relate to watching an NBA game. Sure, they might not have been able to do what they were seeing on the screen, but they were well-acquainted with violence. Either they had inflicted it, suffered it, or seen it up close and personal. We’re a nation that was birthed in a bloody revolution, where feuds and dueling were frequent occurrences, where intermittent battles with Indians occurred until the twenties, where roughly twenty percent of the male population served in WWII, and where fist fights and brawling were relatively common.

Today?

The average man may have seen hundreds of thousands of murders on his TV screen and committed tens of thousands more playing video games, but he has also probably never struck another human being in anger in his entire adult lifetime. In other words, he may be captivated by the imagery he sees at the movies, but he goes home knowing that he will never even live out a pale imitation of what he’s just seen.

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Memes Interruptus: Cheerful, Grateful Passengers Defy MSM ‘Cruise from Hell’ Narrative

Monday, February 18th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

I admit to being fascinated by the Carnival Cruise ship drama (Twitter hashtags—no kidding—#poopboat and #poopship) as we watched the disabled behemoth limp back to Mobile on Thursday with 4000 crew and passengers in a floating soup of raw sewage and onion sandwiches.

As low-information travelers, our family has been on no less than three Carnival cruises, so I know a little about the culture of those ships. It’s an odd mix of senior citizens, families with young children, and the people who purchase the unlimited liquor cards. The seniors play bingo, the children romp around Camp Carnival, and the fun folks with the unlimited liquor cards spend their nights grinding in the disco and their mornings with their heads hanging in the suction-operated toilets. The ship carries a group of people who would never under normal circumstances choose to spend time together crammed onto an opulent miniature city for a week, staged by a crew that works slavishly to serve the needs and the whims of the passengers 24-7.

Suddenly last week, thousands of people who packed their bags for fine dining, magic shows,  and romps on the beach found themselves in survival mode. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better reality-show script: grandparents celebrating their 50th anniversary, recent college grads on their honeymoon, a homeschooling family from Waco, football buddies from New Orleans. Who would survive the Sludge Boat?

DRUDGE screamed terrifying headlines about the misery in the Gulf:

FLOATING PETRI DISH LIMPS TO PORT
SLEEPING WITH LIFE VESTS FEARING CAPSIZE
HOARD ON BOARD
PASSENGERS FIGHT OVER FOOD

The stories from the Carnival Triumph early Thursday made it sound like a third world county:

Conditions on board a cruise ship stranded in the Gulf of Mexico have deteriorated dramatically, reportedly leaving passengers fighting over food and the vessel caked in urine and raw sewage. Passengers on board the US cruise ship Carnival Triumph, which has been stranded since Sunday after an engine fire, are using mobile phones to convey tales of carpets soaked in urine and passengers sleeping in tents on deck.

Food supplies are said to be running low, with passengers forced to queue for hours for cold onion and cucumber sandwiches, and there are also reports of fights breaking out as groups of “savages” fight over the dwindling supplies.

Speaking to CNN, passenger Ann Barlow said: “It’s disgusting. It’s the worst thing ever”, while her husband Toby told the news channel there is “sewage running down the walls and floors”, with passengers asked to defecate in plastic bags and urinate in showers due to their being only five working toilets between 4,200 people.”

It seemed that every news outlet in the country sent reporters to meet the ill-fated cruise ship in Mobile, no doubt expecting to see horrific scenes of human carnage as medics wheeled feces-caked passengers off the ship. It was clear in the lead-up to the ship’s arrival in Mobile that they fully expected to be greeted by angry, disgruntled passengers looking for lawyers. The media prepared us all day for how bad this would be as they followed the ship into port.

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