Image illustration via Shutterstock /conrado
Unless you’ve been living in a bunker for the last week, you’ve probably seen the controversial GoDaddy ad where the lost puppy returns home only to find out he’s been sold online. The ad has been pulled from the Super Bowl lineup and the online version was removed after vocal protests by PETA and other animal rights groups. Now viewers are waiting with eager anticipation to see the replacement ad (which will no doubt feature a large-breasted, scantily clad woman who is not talking about the product GoDaddy actually sells).
“This was not a stunt,” a representative for GoDaddy told FOX411.
That might be a credible statement if GoDaddy’s entire marketing strategy wasn’t built on controversial ad campaigns.
GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons explained in an interview with Inc.com how his company’s strategy originated:
“I decided to advertise nationally, and the Super Bowl was coming up. I thought, That would be a hell of a debut, but how do I get a bunch of drunk people’s attention? If we explained what we do, we’d be dead in the water,” he said. “So then I thought, be outrageous. It doesn’t take Harvard Business School to figure that one out.”
He said the scantily clad GoDaddy girl was his idea. He told the ad agency, “I want a really well-endowed, good-looking gal in a tight T-shirt, with our name right across her breasts.”
GoDaddy bought two slots that first year, but because of the uproar, the network pulled the second one. “I was doing interviews for days,” Parsons said. “The media called the ad inappropriate, which got even more traffic to our site. Our market share shot up to 25 percent, and my mother’s very proud that I’ve established a standard for indecency in broadcasting.”
Every time I see a story like this I’m reminded of a book by Ryan Holiday called Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. In the book Holiday, the former director of marketing for American Apparel (a rather liberal-leaning guy), describes how he would intentionally create provocative ads designed to generate controversy and outrage.
“If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites,” he wrote in the book.
He described the time he ran a series of completely nude ads featuring a porn star on a couple of low-budget websites.
“A naked woman with visible pubic hair + a major U.S. retailer + blogs = a massive online story,” Holiday wrote.
Predictably, the ads were picked up by Nerve, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Jezebel, Refinery29, NBC New York, Fleshbot, the Portland Mercury and others.
“Some blogs wrote about it in anger, some wrote about it in disgust, and others loved it and wanted more. The important part was that they wrote about it at all,” Holiday said. “It ended up being seen millions of times, and almost none of those views was on the original site where we paid for the ads to run.”
He said he had “substantial data” to back up the fact that “chatter” over such controversial stories resulted in increased sales. He claims his guerrilla marketing tactics rocketed online sales at American Apparel from forty million dollars a year to sixty million in three years.
And so we have two examples of how viral marketing works and how public opinion is manipulated for profit.
Fair enough, you might say. It’s the word we live in and besides — go capitalism!
And you’d have a point. Questionable (and sometimes outright dishonest) sales tactics have been in use for as long as people have been trading. Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware and all of that. If you’re the type of person who chooses your web hosting company based upon the breast sizes of the models in the commercials, more power to you. I wouldn’t want my business associated with a company like that, but it’s a free county.
This isn’t really hurting anyone, is it?
Unfortunately, the same tactics used to propel a brand into the national spotlight can also be used to destroy someone’s life.
Holiday describes the phenomenon of online “degradation ceremonies” in his book:
Their purpose is to allow the public to single out and denounce one of its members. To lower their status or expel them from the group. To collectively take out our anger at them by stripping them of their dignity. It is a we-versus-you scenario with deep biological roots. By the end of it the disgraced person’s status is cemented as “not one of us.” Everything about them is torn down and rewritten.
You may remember the congressional staffer who dared to write something critical about the Obama daughters on her personal Facebook page. The young woman wrote about Sasha and Malia’s eye-rolling at the White House turkey pardoning ceremony and criticized what the first daughters were wearing at an official event. One of her Facebook “friends” leaked the post to someone who knew exactly what to do with it.
The story (which I’m not going to link to because I don’t want to give it more air) went viral. You couldn’t open up Facebook or any website that covers news (or even entertainment) without seeing her picture and reading about what a terrible person she was. The young woman quickly apologized for her Facebook post and resigned from her job, but that wasn’t enough to quell the rage of the mob. The broadcast networks devoted an astonishing 14 minutes over two days to this non-story about a mid-level congressional staffer’s personal Facebook post. The Smoking Gun ran a story about an alleged arrest when she was 17 years old (but neglected to provide any documentation, which calls into question the veracity of the story). There were allegations that Obama staffers were complicit in pushing the story out.
The young woman criticized the first daughters — and by proxy, the president — and she needed to be destroyed.
Holiday described in his book how the process works. He said that blogs (by which he means all online publishers) level accusations on behalf of an outraged public. “If you don’t feel shame, then we will make you feel shame,” Holiday says. “The onlookers delight in the destruction and pain.”
Another recent example is the young woman who became a Twitter sensation after posing with a Bible and a gun in front of a Chick-fil-A. A blogger (who claims to be a conservative and who I won’t bother to link to) thought it would be a great idea to expose a moral failure in her life from a few years ago. The blogger bragged on Twitter that he had outed her and exposed her sins to the public. (A week later the same blogger attacked conservative talk radio host and Blaze contributor Dana Loesch, which is ill-advised, at best).
Blogs lock onto targets for whatever frivolous reason, which makes sense, since they often played a role in creating the victim’s celebrity in the first place, usually under equally frivolous pretenses. You used to have to be a national hero before you got the privilege of the media and the public turning on you. You had to be a president or a millionaire or an artist. Now we tear people down just as we’ve begun to build them up. … First we celebrate them, then we turn to snark, and then, finally to merciless decimation. No wonder only morons and narcissists enter the public sphere.
These days, anyone can become a target and a victim, whether because of a craven quest for page views or because of a more sinister motive — a deliberate attempt at character assassination. Your risk increases exponentially if you do anything that puts you in the public eye (especially if you’re a conservative), but there are plenty of examples of people who were leading perfectly normal lives and became overnight viral YouTube sensations because they woke up one day and said or did something stupid (or brilliant, or controversial, or funny). Suddenly, through no real fault of their own, they’re famous and they’re a target.
And there’s not a thing you can really do to prevent this from happening to you, except for perhaps unplugging completely and heading for the bunker. And even that won’t really protect you (but at least you won’t have to endure the public humiliation).
Now that the pixel dust has (mostly) settled, we can begin trying to glean some lessons from the sudden crack up of The New Republic.
Since its inception 100 years ago, TNR has positioned itself as the journal of American liberalism, when that word was still synonymous with patriotism, freedom and even a hawkish foreign policy.
The magazine cheer-led for Stalin longer than was seemly and opposed the Vietnam War. However, it was also critical of the New Left’s excesses and, under contentious editor Martin Peretz, became largely pro-Israel.
It may have been “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One” during the Clinton administration but that didn’t prevent TNR from being highly critical of his (and Hillary’s) policies.
So it wouldn’t be entirely fair or accurate to describe The New Republic as a “liberal” magazine, although that’s what a lot of conservative commentators have been doing since this week’s Chernobyl-level meltdown.
In a magazine landscape in which The Nation is unmistakeably far-left, and National Review and the Weekly Standard are clearly “right wing,” The New Republic sometimes seemed… confused — a reflection of the particular passions of whoever happened to be editor at the time.
And many of those editors over the years have been quite young.
That’s why it’s likely that the prospect of having a 28-year-old owner didn’t immediately strike fear into the hearts of New Republic stakeholders.
Networks are adjusting to the changed world of how people watch their programs: hours or weeks later on DVR, online or on-demand. But the industry’s financial structure hasn’t caught up yet, so viewers who watch when a program is first aired – once the only way to watch – are considered more valuable.
That’s why Fox is putting on a live production of “Grease” and NBC is remaking “The Music Man.” Fox is recreating an Evel Knievel motorcycle jump. ABC touts its Oscars telecast and other awards shows. NBC locked up Olympics rights through 2032, and CBS won a bidding war to show NFL football on Thursday night.
Sports usually gets little or no attention in network sales pitches to advertisers. Not this year. ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all gave sports a starring role. Why? Very few people DVR sports events.
ABC made the point explicit with a message on a wide video screen: “Your DVR can’t handle live.”
“We’re obsessed with trying to eventize everything we can – even episodes of our scripted shows,” said Robert Greenblatt, NBC’s entertainment chief.
“It’s about the urgency to view,” said Fox’s Kevin Reilly.
When Lucy and Desi went live to tape in the 1950s, the audience revolved around the celebrity’s schedule. Now, with the power of recording in the hands of the viewers, the networks are scrambling to get their celebrities ready for something TV actors haven’t needed to do in a long time: Go live.
Reality TV changed the way networks styled television in the early 2000s. Now, social media is changing the way networks market their product. Being a part of the “cultural conversation” is paramount; unfortunately, it also means a steady diet of imitation and near-naked chicks, as Bauder’s quick quiz illustrates:
Which of the following lines was NOT uttered at a network presentation last week:
A) “A lot of people called `Battlestar Galactica’ one of the best shows ever.”
B) “This series is `Game of Thrones’ meets `The Borgias’ meets `The Bible.’”
C) “We have two hours of bloody, sexy drama.”
D) “Some of our new shows will disappear before you even realize they’re on the air.”
If you answered anything other than D, then you have something to learn about the atmosphere of hype and hope that accompanies this week every year.
Can the Big Three really compete with streaming services like Netflix who are willing to invest in original programming and dish it out in an a la carte fashion? Or, will the thrill and nostalgia of live television force even the most radical of new service providers to push the Internet to its streaming capacity?
Recent surveys highlight the fact that seniors lag behind the younger generation in the adoption and usage of technology. Based on interviews with more than 1500 adults age 65 and over, Pew researchers found they could roughly divide senior citizens into two groups. The first group is “younger, more highly educated, or more affluent.” They are far more technologically connected and demonstrate more positive attitudes toward the benefits of the modern digital world. In fact, this group uses the internet at rates approaching — or even exceeding — the general population. The second group is “older, less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability.” They are less connected and more wary of the Brave New World of digital platforms. Internet use drops off dramatically after age 75.
Here are some other facts about seniors and technology use:
1. 59% of Seniors Use the Internet
In 2012, 59% of seniors were internet users, up six percentage points from the previous year. In 2014, 47% of seniors have a high-speed broadband connection at home and 77% have a cell phone (up from 69% in 2012). According to the Brookings Institute, seniors spend most of their time online communicating with friends, shopping, and searching for health information.
The first thing I thought when I saw this announcement of Lana Del Rey’s new single “West Coast” off her upcoming album Ultraviolence, was, “Oh, wow, she’s brunette now. I wonder where she’s going to go with that.”
I’ve written before about the importance of Lana Del Rey’s image in her music, and how that image has also inspired waves of internet hate. “Lana Del Rey appeals to good girls because she’s the quintessential romantic bad girl: sultry, pouty, with thin white tee shirts and tiny denim shorts, the kind of girl who’d be leaning up against her boyfriend’s hot rod in the school parking lot,” I wrote about her first album.
Why is Lady Gaga praised for her careful cultivation of an image, while Lana Del Rey is consistently derided for it? A few reasons. Gaga has proven herself a masterful performer, bringing her image to life. Del Rey’s live performances are frequently described by those who have attended as low-energy, somewhat awkward and unpolished. That creates the impression that her image is just that — an image, not a living force. Lana Del Rey’s persona exists in a photograph; Lady Gaga’s exists on a stage, in a taxi cab, on the street, on the catwalk.
I think there could be another factor at play, though. Lady Gaga’s image is built on high fashion, decadence, sophistication. Lana Del Rey claims a trailer trash origin story and a blue collar aesthetic. She infuses romance into seedy, rundown places and unlike Taylor Swift (another carefully cultivated pop-image with a blue collar, small town origin story — despite being the daughter of a banker), Del Rey doesn’t make them cute. In Swift’s high school fairytale, the tomboy falls in love with the football star and pines for him from the bleachers while he hangs out with his cheerleader girlfriend. In Del Rey’s fantasy high school, the heroine is getting pregnant under those bleachers, and the football player still doesn’t love her.
Maybe some people just prefer the glamour of a Lady Gaga (or the tamer glamour of a Taylor Swift) over Lana Del Rey’s trashy bad-girl image. Maybe some people resent that she claims a hard-knock reputation that she didn’t really “earn.” But maybe there’s another factor at play: Del Rey is singing about things people like to sweep under the rug. No, not in a big social-change way; it’s probably hardly intentional. But look at her early videos, which frequently starred tattooed model Bradley Soileau — he looks like the kind of guy you’d see in a parking lot, who’d make you want to get to your car a little faster. And then there’s the rumors (and derision) surrounding Del Rey’s supposed plastic surgery — sometimes I wonder if she wants people to wonder. Her songs are so often about the things women do to seem attractive and desirable in a world that expects flawless beauty. Del Rey would be far from the first singer to get plastic surgery to fit a popular image — but she would be one of the first mainstream artists who used it to make people feel uncomfortable about beauty standards.
I have to admit, “West Coast” doesn’t have me excited for the new album — it’s very repetitive, and it doesn’t have the drama of “Blue Jeans” or “Born to Die,” or the sweet sadness of “Video Games.” But I’m excited for the collaborations with The Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, and I’m interested in where Del Rey is going next.
Is it just me or are there others out there who feel like LinkedIn is really, really creepy? This week, after weeks of ignoring me, the social networking site sent me four consecutive emails: One from someone who wanted to connect with me, one suggestion of someone LinkedIn thinks I might like to connect with, a reminder that someone in my network was celebrating the first anniversary of his job (is LinkedIn sending people I know weird emails like this about me?) and a list of jobs that might be of interest to me. I’m puzzled by the sudden attention and of course, as always, I took the bait and end up on the LinkedIn site.
Once there, my first question is alway: Who are these people? I’m connected to 110 people, half of whom I do not know. I’m immediately taken back to that shameful night when, after my Ambien had begun to take effect but before I fell asleep I discovered an email from LinkedIn in my inbox asking me if I wanted to invite someone to link to me. Before I realized what was happening I fell into their trap and with one little tap on my phone I allowed LinkedIn to send an email to every blessed person in my address book inviting them to connect to me (if you were a victim of my middle-of-the-night Ambien-fueled spam, I am profoundly sorry!). (Note to self: Never, ever, ever reach for social media after you’ve taken an Ambien.)
Once I get past trying to figure out who all my connections are I’m immediately faced with this frightening pronouncement:
I have a love/hate relationship with knowing who creeped on my profile. On the one hand, I’m insanely curious and can’t resist knowing (in this case, my profile was viewed by an anonymous creeper, “Someone at Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law,” and a friend from my college days. I don’t know anyone at Ohio Northern University so I’m left to wonder (and worry!) about why a possible lawyer is checking out my profile. I’m also faced with the realization that I show up in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section of other people. Look, I’m just going to say it… I prefer to spy on people anonymously. This is way too much transparency for my comfort and so I’m mortified at the thought of viewing anyone’s profile under these circumstances.
And then, of course, LinkedIn tempts me by telling me I have shown up in “search results” — and they’ll tell me all about it (for a small monthly fee). Someone’s searching for me? Fourteen people have searched for me? What on earth are they looking for? So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but it’s just sitting there — taunting me, week after week. Maddening.
Every time I visit LinkedIn I’m unnerved and feel more than a little violated. Not enough, of course, to delete my profile and walk away, so I mostly just avoid thinking too much about it — usually I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. I only drop by when an email arrives in my inbox tempting me … teasing me about amazing secrets that could be revealed to me if I would only click on that magic blue link (and hand over my credit card number).
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden wasn’t the first to warn about the dangers of the government spying on American citizens through massive data collection programs. Several groups, including the ACLU, have been banging the drum about the issues of data privacy for many years.
The passage of the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 gave many Americans cause for concern about surveillance procedures used by the government to spy on potential terrorists — techniques that threaten to infringe upon the privacy of American citizens who have committed no crimes.
In 2004 the ACLU released a humourous video (it was originally a flash feature on their website) based loosely on an internet joke about privacy in the future. The script follows a guy just trying to order a pizza on his way home from work. Unfortunately for him, in Future World, ordering a simple “Double Meat Special” is a daunting, expensive task.
There will be a new $20.00 charge for this, sir. The system tells me that your medical records indicate that you have high blood pressure and extremely high cholesterol. Luckily, we have a new agreement with your national health care provider that allows us to sell you double meat pies as longs as you agree to waive all future claims of liability. You can sign the form when we deliver, but there is a fee for processing. The total is $67.00 even.
The girl at the pizza place convinces him to skip the pizza. She tells him it is in his best interest to go with the sprout sub combo with a side of tofu sticks and proceeds to scold him about his 42″ waist and maxed-out credit cards.
When this was released, most of us thought it was cute and we all chuckled (perhaps a bit nervously) about the premise, never imagining how prescient it was. The ACLU warned at the time,
Government programs and private-sector data collection are destroying our privacy, pushing us towards a 24-hour surveillance society. We are facing a flood of powerful new technologies that expand the potential for centralized monitoring, an executive branch aggressively seeking new powers to spy on citizens, a docile Congress and courts, as well as a cadre of mega-corporations that are willing to become extensions of the surveillance state. We confront the possibility of a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready for access by the authorities whenever they want.
In a 2003 report, “Surveillance-Industrial Complex,” the ACLU said, “The U.S. security establishment is rapidly increasing its ability to monitor average Americans by hiring or compelling private-sector corporations to provide billions of customer records.” The report said that “many people still do not understand the danger, do not grasp just how radical an increase in surveillance by both the government and the private sector is becoming possible.”
Nine years ago this video seemed like a conspiracy theory parody. As it turns out, the ACLU saw the writing on the wall and warned the American people about the coming surveillance society that we now see unfolding before our eyes.
George Will gave a good accounting of many of the objections to the Common Core Standards Initiative in his Washington Post column on Wednesday, pointing out that the standards spring from a top-down, big government approach to education that threatens to live on in perpetuity because the Common Core is tied to generous federal bribes — and threats that the bribes will go away if states don’t fall in line with Common Core.
But ontological and ideological arguments aside, Will does a fine job of explaining the organic rise of opposition to Common Core — an emerging pattern we’ve seen in recent years as the conservative movement has matured and learned to bypass traditional methods of influence. Will gives examples of “three healthy aspects of today’s politics” which, if applied correctly and used consistently, can lead to the defeat of the Common Core standards. Below are three strategies Will says are making a difference:
This is Week 2 of Season 3 in my new 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.
In the previous installment of this ongoing series I announced the next category of my favorite writers who I was going to introduce: my nine biggest New Media influences amongst nine of my PJ colleagues, both editors and columnists. Over the next few weeks I hope to explain why I appreciate the work of Ed Driscoll, Stephen Green, Glenn Reynolds, Helen Smith, J. Christian Adams, Richard Fernandez, Bryan Preston, Bridget Johnson, and the ever-mysterious Zombie.
I’m hoping to write about them in roughly that order. The first three are my main blogging influences who have most influenced my own approach to the medium. The remaining six are individuals doing very different but extraordinary things with the tools of New Media. I’ll explain why they’re on my #ReadEverythingTheyWrite list and why they should be on yours too.
First on the list is Ed Driscoll, PJM’s San Jose-based editor and prolific blogger-columnist. Foremost in the way Ed has influenced me is in his important work in founding PJ Lifestyle and launching it. And it was such a wonderful surprise when in spring of 2012 Ed offered to let me take over as PJ Lifestyle’s editor so he could focus on other PJ projects.
But Ed has provided many more influences. Here are four areas where I’ve borrowed from him and that I would encourage other New Media troublemakers to do as well…
1. The Greatest Juxtaposition Artist Online
What Ed does better than anyone else is artfully juxtapose excerpts from a variety of sources. Often times more than 75% of the words in an Ed post will be excerpts from elsewhere. And these pieces work so well. Ed’s versatility is in connecting the dots, often times going and comparing today’s news articles with stories from years past or from books. A few recent examples:
Sometimes when I look and see the old, “legacy” media continue its collapse I genuinely do think of we bloggers and New Media troublemakers as some kind of pirates or adventurers, hacking our way through a dying civilization. Ed with his precise cuts across media old and new has been carving his own path for years and it’s time others start to learn the methods he’s developed.
2. Ed’s Graphics Are Wonderful!
See a nice collection with commentary here: The Ed Gallery. I make images every now and then but don’t have Ed’s artistry.
3. Celebrate and Cherish Pop Culture (While You Chop It Apart, Of Course)
I take very seriously Ed’s commentaries and recommendations on culture, media, and their influence on politics. (This list of books was an influence.) There are very few other writers with a comparable breadth of both off-beat pop culture oddities and the ins-and-outs of the ideological wars of today’s political world. One who comes to mind is another writer who I’ll feature down the line in this series and who I know Ed appreciates too: Kathy Shaidle. They each come at the political-cultural nexus through similar Gen-Xer 70s centric modes, though with very different rhetorical weapons. (Kathy a Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! style kick, while Ed sneaks up with a Vulcan nerve pinch.)
Make a point to check out Ed’s Freedom Academy Book Club recommendations here.
4. Be Funny and Be Yourself
Ed is really funny. His writing has a kind of quirky, sly, high brow, winking fun to it.
From getting to work with Ed and spending time with him in the real world on occasion it seems like his blog really is genuinely an expression of his own style and personality.
There’s not many people online who are really able to do that and who can go across the whole spectrum of arts, culture, media, politics and also with wonderful personal pieces like this one. But Ed’s managed it for awhile now with his blog he’s created a perpetually, engaging, insightful New Media creation. I only hope that in the coming years more people can come to appreciate his unique take on culture, media, and politics.
[*Ed's also great hosting his web show!]
PJ Media Story Round Up
Monday and Tuesday Main Page PJM Stories
Andrew C. McCarthy: Jeb Bush Joins the Cruz Bashers — Suggests Surrender as ‘Common Ground’
The press fawns over Democrats who demagogue conservatives as “terrorists” and “hostage-takers,” and over Beltway Republicans who deride conservatives as “wacko-birds” and “tea party hobbits.” Obviously, political strife in modern America has nothing to do with a lack of civility. It owes, instead, to the lack of common ground – notthe inability to explore common ground but the non-existence of common ground.
We are not arguing here about the speed-limit on interstate highways or whether the ashy storm-petrel bird rates Endangered Species Act protection. With Obamacare, statists are trying, as President Obama has put it, to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Conservatives, by contrast, want to conserve the United States as constitutionally founded, which means preserving the individual and economic liberties that statists are effacing. There is no meaningful common ground between these polar opposites.
The statist side is enthusiastically championed by Democrats, and the conservative side by Republicans, albeit more reluctantly. Like the Democratic party, the GOP is run by Washington-oriented politicians and, thus, is more enamored of Washington-centered fiats than is the conservative base whose support Republicans need in order to be politically viable. In the vogue of establishment Republicans, Jeb Bush ostensibly directs his “Can’t we all just get along?” preachments at the Republican-Democrat divide. Clearly, though, as an all-but-formally-announced contender for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nod, he is more vexed by the widening disconnect between Republicans and conservatives.
I’ve already included McCarthy on the list of major foreign policy influences for Conservatism 3.0 but it’s worth keeping in mind too that he’s also very effective on domestic policy and ideological combat.
Michael Walsh: Empowering the Eloi: 10 USC § 311
A phenomenal piece about why everyone able-bodied and of sound mind needs to own a gun and know how to use it.
Bryan Preston: How You and Your Family Can Escape Obamacare
The Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,600 pages and now hundreds of thousands of regulations. No one knows every single provision that is in the law, which Congress did not even bother to read before passing it. Among its most controversial provisions is the mandate forcing Americans to purchase health insurance or face fines from the IRS. Those fines can even take the form of wage garnishment. Americans who fail to comply and pay the fine can end up in jail.
There is, though, a provision buried in Obamacare that provides a way out of having to comply with the individual mandate.Pages 107 and 128 of Obamacare stipulate that members of “healthcare sharing ministries” are exempt from the individual mandate.
Healthcare sharing ministries are non-profit entities created to allow Christians to pay into a fund and then tap that fund when they need to pay medical expenses. So there’s one catch — you have to be meet the healthcare sharing group’s membership requirements to join, and as ministries they maintain that you must be a Christian regularly attending church before you can become a member.
Absolutely not. Obama is totally screwed. It turns out that in the long debate about whether Obama was malevolent or incompetent both sides were right but the latter is about to win out as Obamacare sinks like a lead weight to the bottom of the sea. Even if Obama and co. really do want to Cloward and Piven the crap out of the American people they’re too pathetic to do it. All these people know is perpetual campaigning. They’ve never run a business or implement anything comparable to a bureaucracy like Obamacare.
Bridget Johnson: Obamacare Site for Spanish Speakers Has Never Worked
David P. Goldman: Jay Z’s American Fascism
An extraordinary analysis of popular culture, economics, culture, politics, and religion. See my entry in this series for Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
Roger L. Simon: Rand Paul’s New Constitutional Amendment Should Be a Litmus Test for Who Stays in Congress
Roger hasn’t convinced me yet that this approach will be an effective strategy. And I’m pre-disposed to stand against anything Rand Paul does which may assist him in his efforts to continue duping Tea Partiers and conservatives to believe he isn’t a carbon copy of his palling-around-with-Holocaust-deniers poppy.
Bridget Johnson: New Alexander Bill to Require Weekly Obamacare Status Updates on Enrollment, Problems
Rodrigo Sermeno: Sticker Shock: Obamacare Increases Premiums in 42 States
Ed Driscoll: Abandon In Place
In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote:
What Orwell feared were those that would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us too much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would beoame a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As he remarked in Brave New World Revisited the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”.
Michael Ledeen: What Explains the Intensity of the Attacks on Cruz and Lee?
There is one possible line of productive attack: use the powers of the states to experiment with different kinds of solutions. Several states have stayed out of the Obamacare fiasco. Perhaps they will work out methods for better health care programs. The current mess provides hope, and there are state leaders who seem to get it.
At the same time, we need an all-out war against corruption, from NSA to IRS to Homeland Security to HHS. And corrupt leaders, whether elected or appointed, should be driven from office.
It’s a big fight, at home and abroad, and calls for civility (of the sort Jeb Bush and Karl Rove keep muttering) are entirely out of place. We need a raucous, no-holds-barred debate to clarify the tough, painful and risky policies we must embrace–and be ready to change over and over again when we discover their shortcomings–if we’re going to win.
And we must win.
We will win.
Victor Davis Hanson: The Democratic Disasters to Come
Roger L. Simon: Relax, GOP — Obamacare Will Defund Itself
With only a small penalty for abstaining, the numbers for signing up not only don’t add up — they’re absurd. Here’s one of the supposedly attractive deals: “One option available only to people under 30 is a so-called catastrophic policy that kicks in after a $6,350 annual deductible. In Monroe County, you can buy that policy on the New York State of Health exchange for as low as $131 a month for single coverage.”
Over fifteen hundred a year for a sixty-three hundred plus deductible? What healthy thirty year old would waste his or her money?
Who invented this plan? Certainly not Obama or Pelosi, neither of whom was paying close attention, I would bet. (Pelosi admitted she wasn’t. All Obama wanted was something to put his name next to, something that sounded vaguely “progressive.”)
Stephen Green: A Fifth of Doom
Michel Gurfienkel: Exodus: Migration of Jews Out of France Begins
Ed Driscoll: Oh, That Present-Tense Culture
America education system summed up in two sentences:
Questioner: What was Auschwitz?
American College Student: I don’t know.
As part of her effort to promote her new Holocaust-themed novel 94 Maidens, Philadelphia-area TV personality Rhonda Fink-Whitman dropped in on the campuses of Penn State and Philadelphia’s Temple University, and asked the local college kids what they knew about the Holocaust and World War II. And based on the answers she received, as typed up by the Blogosphere’s Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, the answer is: not much.
Questioner: What was the Holocaust?
American College Student: Um…I’m on the spot.
Questioner: Which country was Adolf Hitler the leader of?
American College Student: I think it’s Amsterdam?
Questioner: What was Auschwitz?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: What were the Nuremburg Trials?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: How many Jews were killed?
American College Student: Hundreds of thousands.
In other words: the Holocaust Deniers have conquered America’s higher educations.
Weekend PJM Stories
Claudia Rosett: Who Should Replace the Saudis at the UN Security Council?
Having won a seat for the first time on the United Nations Security Council, Saudi Arabia turned around a day later and rejected it, citing the Council’s double standards and failure to uphold international peace, justice and security.
As UN moments go, this is a classic — if only for its sheer absurdity. It is precisely because of the UN’s double standards that a country such as Saudi Arabia can win a seat on the Security Council in the first place — with 176 of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly voting yes. As as friend of mine puts it, the Saudi move smacks of Groucho Marx’s joke that he would never join any club that would accept him as a member.
Obviously, the real problem is not a sudden Saudi aversion to UN double standards per se. If it were, Saudi Arabia would not still be running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, in General Assembly elections to be held Nov. 12. As far as I’m aware, the Saudis — who with no evident concern about hypocrisy have served previously on the Human Rights Council – have not dropped their bid to reclaim a seat.
Rick Moran: Clashing Worldviews Roil the GOP
Tom Blumer: The L.A. Times’ Fiscal Fantasies
It’s quite obvious that the vast majority of Bush 43′s presidency was marked by modest growth in public debt as a percentage of GDP, and that things did not begin to get out of hand until the first full budget year after the Democratic Party took control of the House and Senate. Absolutely all of Barack Obama’s presidency has seen catastrophic growth in that percentage.
There is almost certainly no end in sight in debt-to-GDP growth, despite Lauter’s contention, presented as if factual, that “the debt will tick down slowly to around 71% of GDP in 2018.”
Lead PJM Stories on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
J. Christian Adams: Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Toxic Race Tour at Cornell University
These are not just nutty notions, they are dangerous notions. They attempt to undo and unravel the meaning of words. They defy the truth. Treating people without regard to race is deconstructed to mean racism. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia, except when it wasn’t.
Beware: these nutty and dangerous notions aren’t confined to places like Cornell or Crenshaw’s classroom in Los Angeles. They are en vogue among growing numbers of lawyers and those who hold power.
PJTV’s InstaVision: Golf, Writing and the Bhagavad Gita: The Legend of Steven Pressfield
Michael Walsh: Most Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Janine Turner: Ted Cruz – The Paul Revere of American Medical Care
Bridget Johnson: Republican Winners of the Shutdown Standoff
Stephen Green: Shutdown Autopsy
It’s true that the president acted unseemly in his sour victory speech Thursday morning, but he’s always had a knack for saying outrageous things in moderate tones — and he’ll get away with it this time, too. Obama had his soothing tone and his shutdown theater, and by that time the GOP had… what, exactly?
If there’s a fourth question, it’s the one Republicans ought to be asking themselves right now.
“Why do we keep playing to Obama’s strengths?”
Roger Kimball: Remembering America
Tom Blumer: Obamacare’s Useful Idiots
PJTV’s Trifecta: Disaster! Embarrassing! Prominent Liberals Turn on Obamacare
Bryan Preston: Great News: Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Non-Essential’ Government Bureaucrats Are Back on the Job!
Claudia Rosett: Assad’s Nobel Peace Prize?
Ed Driscoll: Mystery Seventies Theater 3000
Bryan Preston: Surrender: House Will Take Up Senate Plan to End Standoff
Bridget Johnson: Houston Chronicle Editorial Board Says It Regrets Cruz Endorsement
Andrew C. McCarthy: In New Jersey Senate Race, Lonegan Fights the Odds … without Help from the GOP
Bryan Preston: The Hellspawn of Demon Pass, or Why We Are Where We Are
High-risk pools aren’t perfect. Neither is imposing mandates. States were working out their own solutions. But they couldn’t work out some solutions, such as allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines. They needed federal laws passed to allow that. Studies have found, and it makes economic sense, that allowing more competition by allowing plans to be sold across state lines would bring insurance prices down, making it more affordable, without government mandates or price controls. Those healthy young Americans who had the right not to buy insurance before Obamacare might even find it affordable enough to buy it, just in case they needed it.
In 1993, then First Lady Hillary Clinton devised a national plan similar to Obamacare. After many secretive meetings and a heated political debate, HillaryCare died in Congress. The American people still didn’t trust government to impose a single national health care system that would work.
PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page
Monday and Tuesday
Theodore Dalrymple: Was Sir Winston Churchill Right About Exercise?
Chris continues with his Smashing Pumpkins series much better than I would have. One of the joys of being an editor: don’t have time to write the story you want yourself? Just assign it to one of your friends who can do it better than you.
Charlie Martin: A Year of 13 Weeks
Having edited every single one of Charlie’s 13 Weeks post I’m so thrilled to see him reach one year in with his experiment and to see such fantastic results. The 13 Weeks Method works — hence why Rhonda, Sarah, and I have adopted it to our own self-improvement pursuits.
Wednesday – This Weekend
Andrew Klavan: This Is The End: What Movie Would Jesus Watch?
This movie is hilarious and morally encouraging. Make a point to see it.
Walter Hudson: After Shutdown, Be Careful Whom You Call a Hypocrite
Paula Bolyard: Must Dr. Jekyll Eliminate Mr. Hyde in the GOP?
Kathy Shaidle: ‘Comedy Gives Back’ Proves People Can Make a Difference — But Not the Way They Expected
John Boot: 5 Cool Things About Escape Plan
Walter Hudson: Does the Tea Party Just Want to Watch the World Burn?
Walter does such first-rate Tea Party coverage.
Just as Walter keeps PJ Lifestyle abreast of the Tea Party perspective, I’m glad to have Paul Cooper back to bring the Pro-Life worldview. He’s really influenced me on these issues of the past few years.
Kathy Shaidle: Keep Cat Stevens Out of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Builder Bob: How to Build a Picture Frame in 9 Easy Steps
Robert Spencer: Child Marriage Comes to Australia
Sarah Hoyt: Waiter, There’s a Government in My Beer!
New at PJ Lifestyle
Monday and Tuesday
Theodore Dalrymple: Should Doctors Relax the ‘Dead Donor Rule’ to Increase Organ Transplants?
Robert Spencer: Burned Alive for $47
Rhonda Robinson: Are You Worthy of Your Sufferings?
Rhonda’s new series exploring Victor Frankl is off to a great start.
Susan L.M. Goldberg: My 5 Favorite Ann Coulter Columns
Charlie Martin: Depression, Suffering, and Mindfulness
David is on such a roll with this new antisemitism series.
Susan L.M. Goldberg: The 2 Mitzvot That Can Restore Unity on the Right
Susan jumps in on the spiritual/theological/political dialogue that I’m having with Walter Hudson and Michael Lumish.
Walter Hudson: To Know God, We Must First Confess Not Knowing Much
Ed Driscoll: Barack Obama, Fabian Socialist
Rhonda Robinson: Is the Star of Bethlehem a Myth or Actual Astrological Event?
C. Blake Powers: Bunkers, Trenches, and Calvados, Oh My!
Stephen Green: Leave the Nikon, Take the iPhone
Sarah Hoyt: Reasons to Brave the Indie Publishing Jungle
Ed Driscoll: Two Redfords in One
C. Blake Powers: A Hollywood Dream Crushed at Normandy
Stephen Green: Not Coming Soon Enough to a Theater Near You
I’m not sure why I’m not as excited about the newest DiCaprio/Scorsese movie. Maybe because one can only remake Goodfellas so many times?
Chris Queen: Want a Quiet Island Getaway? Try Tristan da Cunha, World’s Most Remote Inhabited Island
Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin: The First Hit Is Free
Charlie Martin: Infinity: Big and Bigger
It’s great to have Chris back — this is such a funny, entertaining report of the odd things he saw one night on his recent Disney World trip.
Becky Graebner: 4 Safety Systems Steering us Closer to Autonomous Cars
Stephen Green: Driving You to Distraction
We’re living in a strange, matriarchal age when a co-ed is willing to have a frat boy pleasure her in full view of the public, film it, encourage him while he goes to work, and then later try to claim she was raped.
Helen Smith: The Soul Mate Myth: There is No One
Bryan Preston: Facebook’s Ad Algorithm Is A Poopy Head
Becky Graebner: The Baby Boomer and Millennial Blame Game
I dissent: it’s mostly the boomers’ fault but the Silent generation has poured a lot of gasoline on the fire too.
Glenn Reynolds: 68% of Americans Believe Degrees Aren’t Worth the Money
I have a habit of ranting nowadays to all who will listen that instead of getting a degree 18-year-olds should start a business.
Chris Queen: Hooked on Oreos?
Stephen Green: Don’t Be Evil or Whatevs
Sarah Hoyt: Can Google Make You Sick?
At some point I really do need to unplug from both Google and Facebook…
New at PJ Tatler
Chris Salcedo: Obama is Responsible for His Own Opposition
Resident Obama consistently calls for civility from his detractor. Hypocrisy doesn’t come close to describing Obama’s hollow calls for a softer tone. Obama and extreme liberals who now run his government and party have partaken in the most un-civil discourse in modern American politics. Conservatives and Tea Party members have been called, “hostage takers,” “people with bombs strapped to their chests,” “arsonists,” “terrorists,” “extremists,” “racists,” and “anarchists,” all because we disagree with liberal extremism. Obama called those who believe as I do, “enemies.” Proving he has no sense of fairness, not to mention shame, Obama insists he be treated with kid gloves after he’s drawn a response from those he just beat-up.
Stephen Kruiser: Baby Steps: Media Matters Upgrades IRS Targeting From ‘Manufactured Scandal’ To ‘Controversy’
Stephen Kruiser: Going Full Creepy: Oregon Wants To Track And Tax Drivers Per Mile
Chris Salcedo: The Last Time I Could Say, ‘Obama Is Right’
Stephen Kruiser: Show This to Your Lib Friends: ‘The Psychology Of Barack Obama’
Matt Vespa: So, When Is Chris Christie Switching Parties?
Stephen Kruiser: IBD Lists ‘Anecdotal’ Obamacare Jobs/Hours Cuts
J. Christian Adams: James O’Keefe Sues Main Justice for Defamation
Stephen Kruiser: Onion Open Thread: Bloomberg ‘Takes Care’ Of Homeless In NYC
Seton Motley: Negotiating with Yourself Doesn’t Work
Stephen Kruiser: Pro Tip: Don’t Be The Cop That Gets Caught In The Prostitution Sting
Colorado Ad Tells Bros ‘Don’t tap into your beer money to cover those medical bills.’ Tap Into Someone Else’s Money…
Poll: White House Blames ‘Volume,’ But Majority Believe Healthcare.gov’s Problems Hint at Broader Obamacare Problems
VIDEO Montage: Kathleen Sebelius’ Many Assured Assurances that the Obamacare Exchanges were ‘On Track’ to Launch on October 1
Former Obama Official Scolds America: ‘Back Off’ Opposing Obamacare, Forget Reagan or People May Die!
I’ve realized now that I find just Wendy Davis’s name alone stomach-turning. She’s made herself synonymous with third trimester abortion and
revealed reminded the practice to be among the central rites of today’s neo-ancient Canaanite modern Democratic Party.
Obama: ‘When We Disagree, We Don’t Have To Suggest that the Other Side Doesn’t Love this Country.’ But Calling them Terrorists is Cool.
VIDEO — Obama Includes Attack on Bloggers, Talk Radio and the First Amendment in His Shutdown Touchdown Dance
Chuck DeVore: GOP May Have ‘Lost’ the Shutdown Battle, But Can Still Win the War to Repeal Obamacare
Bryan quoting from a friend of a friend:
The compromise bill ending the shutdown only funds the government until January 15, 2014 and only gives enough room on the debt limit until February 7, 2014.
This is not the full year’s budget Pres. Obama and Sen. Reid wanted. And, it is not the full trillion dollars in new debt authority.
This is big.
What is means is that Americans get to kick the tires on ObamaCare and its nearly-impossible to sign up for exchanges for another three months before the federal government funding fight may be refought – if Sen. Cruz and like-minded allies chose to do so.
There do remain a couple of outstanding issues. We’re still on track to spend enough to land us in bankruptcy. The National Park Service unmasked itself as a brownshirted outfit that was a little too happy to lock old people in hotels and barrycade parking spots on the GW Parkway at their liege’s whim. Who knew that under those stiff-brimmed hats lurked the snarling face of raw statism? Like the IRS, the NPS needs to be cleaned out.
And Obamacare is a horrendous mess. It’s actually in full-blown crisis, though much of its crisis is a product of design. Sebelius needs to be fired, but that was true for her lawbreaking and for the abortifacient mandate. Now it’s just more true, because she’s a hacktastic flop who is such a failure that she can’t even properly manage failure.
So how do you beat them? In the Republicans’ case, the divisions within their ranks didn’t help. “Wacko bird” didn’t help. Peter King spending more time assaulting Republicans than Democrats didn’t help. It also didn’t help to rant “you support Obamacare!” if you didn’t happen to agree with the strategy to stop Obamacare. A divided force will just about always lose to a unified force. The Republicans failed to divide the Democrats, while they went into the fight divided themselves.
If we really took the president’s and Robinson’s logic to its full extent, the laws as they existed at the moment the United States was founded would still all remain the law of the land forever. All of them. Only landowners could vote. No female suffrage. And once a law was passed, it could not be repealed or changed in any way whatsoever until the end of time. Is that what Robinson wants, or is he just being dishonest?
With all due respect to the president and his man at the Post, their “Obamacare is here so get used to it!” command is idiotic. I mean, really, truly and deeply and profoundly idiotic. It’s unworthy of a president and doesn’t belong in serious, adult conversation.
Bryan does such a great job of hitting hard.
A longtime House stenographer was pulled off the House floor last night during the debt-deal vote after walking to the dais the president uses for State of the Union speeches and yelling about Freemasons.
Todd Zwillich of Public Radio International captured the full audio of the woman, included at the end of the C-SPAN video clip.
“Do not be deceived. God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand,” the stenographer, identified as Dianne Reidy, yelled into the microphone. “He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked — don’t touch me — He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here, is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been… it would not have been… No. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons… and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.”
From PJM’s Breaking News Columnists
As a citizen, it’s somewhat difficult to get in compliance with the law, when the agency in charge of enforcing it doesn’t necessarily know what parts of the law it will be told to enforce, or which parts might be safely ignored. It’s even more difficult to stay in compliance when those goalposts, once shifted, might be shifted again just because a web site started working better. Or perhaps worse.
Delaying the individual mandate is only evil when Republicans want to do it.
Monday and Tuesday
As ad man (and Mad Men series advisor) Jerry Della Femina wrote over 40 years ago in his classic book on advertising,From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War, “There is a great deal of advertising that’s better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster. There have been cases where the product had to come up to the advertising but when the product fails to do that, the advertiser will eventually run into a lot of trouble.” Or to quote a commenter at Hot Air, “You owe Ron Popeil an apology. At least he delivered the goods.”
Closing Book Excerpt
Stay tuned for link recommendations from around the web in the next installment of this series. I think I’m going to start alternating between PJM round-ups and around-the-web round-ups…
Get to Know Everyone on the #ReadEverythingTheyWrite List!
16 of My Favorite Writers And Most Important Intellectual Influences:
6 On Foreign Policy:
- Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- Tuesday, August 6 on Andrew C. McCarthy: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions to Conquer Us from Within
- Wednesday, August 7 on Barry Rubin: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder
- Thursday, August 8 on Claudia Rosett: The United Nations is a Corrupt Failure That Does Not Unite Nations
- Friday, August 9 on David P. Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
- Tuesday, August 13 on Victor Davis Hanson: The Price We Pay for Our Ignorance of Military History Is Dead Americans
4 On Culture:
- Wednesday, August 14: 3 Weapons to Win the Culture War Courtesy of Roger Kimball
- Monday, August 19: How to End the Fake Fight Between Social Conservatives and Libertarians With Andrew Klavan’s Wonderful Writing
- Wednesday, August 21: Michael Walsh Names the Founder of the Criminal Organization Destroying America for Two Centuries…
- Sunday, August 24: The Most Valuable Writing Advice Roger L. Simon Gave Me…
5 On History:
- Tuesday, August 27: Ron Radosh: The Most Valuable Historian Exposing Marxism’s Long War Against America
- Thursday, September 5 on Ion Mihai Pacepa: How the Soviets Seeded Antisemitism Around the World and the Price We Pay with Syria Today
- Friday, October 11: The KGB’s War To Destroy the God of Israel
- Wednesday, September 11 on James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus and their essential book America 3.0: On 9/11 and Benghazi’s Anniversary, We End Conservative Pessimism and Right-Wing Apocalypticism
- Tuesday, October 9 on Robert Spencer’s Vital Role in Creating Conservatism 3.0
1 On New Media:
- Wednesday, October 16 on Prager University: ‘There’s Nothing Just About Nature. Nature Is Only About Survival.’
images courtesy shuttertsock / Jeff Cameron Collingwood
This chapter in Rushkoff’s book is perfectly subtitled “the short forever.” In the previous section I gave my own personal example of trying to get everything accomplished in an unrealistically short amount of time. When we try to accomplish such impossible tasks we fall victim to another form of Present Shock.
This weight on every action – this highly leveraged sense of the moment – hints at another form of present shock that is operating in more ways and places than we may suspect. We’ll call this temporal compression overwinding – the effort to squish really big timescales into much smaller or nonexistent ones.
We’ve seen this regularly, and most of us suffer or have suffered from overwinding. A great example is how cleaning out your inbox can give you a “clean feeling.” However, how important is this really? Is it worth the time spent? And what are we actually cleaning? Most working professionals get enough legitimate email and junk messages to spend all day, every day dealing only with email. The problem is that email is a communication tool and most of us have jobs that require actions outside of the email loop. To fight overwinding, spend a minimal amount of time in your inbox. Reply to what needs attention, ignore the rest and get on with your day.
Do you understand how media works? If not, it might control you. Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff’s last book, Program or Be Programmed, took on this question about media and our comprehension of it. Without a working knowledge of how information systems work, Rushkoff argues, we run the risk of being easily duped. This is a common problem and one that is easily battled with a drive towards media literacy, something I teach my students about in undergraduate mass communication courses. The battle does not end here, however, because even if we have a strong grasp of media systems we are not immune to yet another pitfall.
Just about everyone has come across it, even if you don’t quite know what it is. That feeling you get when you sense there is never enough time and obligations are coming at you from every direction… that’s a piece of it. The good thing is we can fight back and Rushkoff has the tools we need to take control of our lives. In his latest book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Rushkoff addresses the problem with our “always-on” digital universe. Without a doubt, technology can lead to intellectual and psychological illness, usually in terms of addiction that can ultimately become destructive to every aspect of our life.
Benedict Cumberbatch is sexy. Not because of his hipster name or “geek is the new cool” look (those are merely a plus). Benedict Cumberbatch is sexy because he’s got the guts to redirect the limelight on more important news than the shooting of series 3 of the BBC’s Sherlock.
“Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important,” he scribbled on a piece of scratch paper before encountering the paparazzi loitering around the set of the internationally popular television show.
A few days after his manual Egypt “post,” Cumberbatch once again crafted the paparazzi into his own personal Instagram staff by telegraphing more hand-written messages: “Hard drives smashed, journalists detained at airports … Democracy? Schedule 7, prior restraint. Is this erosion of civil liberties winning the war on terror…? What do they not want you to know? And how did they get to know it? Does the exposure of their techniques cause a threat to their security or does it just cause them embarrassment?”
Britain’s Guardian newspaper took a typically classist view of Cumberbatch’s peaceful protest, most likely because the young actor openly criticized their handling of evidence in the Snowden case. Justifying their destruction of hard drives containing some of Snowden’s leaked documents, the Guardian responded by criticizing Cumberbatch for being a member of the “debased culture …the sort of people who might see the photos have such a lack of interest in anything else in the news that this is their only access to trenchant comment on the big news of the day.” To the newspaper snobs, “The signs hint – unintentionally, perhaps – that the world is divided into two discrete sets: people who already know about things such as Egypt and the Miranda case, and people who might be interested in set shots from the new Sherlock.”
In other words, that’s the snobby English hoi polloi way of saying, “You’re so bloody inferior. Now, if you please, ignore the large mess of poo we’re standing in thanks to this uncultured Mister Cumberbatch.”
An August 3rd editorial in the the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, “Notes of a native son, as President Obama addresses race,” referred to the murder of Trayvon Martin:
Obama wanted to explain to those Americans who have never been followed, suspected or singled out because of the color of their skins [sic] why those who have took [sic] the murder of an unarmed 17-year-old black high school student so personally and viscerally, [sic] The president was not criticizing the jury. “That’s how our system works,” he said.
[Plain Dealer Editor's note: This editorial was updated Aug. 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm to correct a grammatical error in the fourth paragraph.]
Sloppy editing and grammar crimes aside, the fact that the editors chose to use the word murder in reference to the charges for which George Zimmerman was acquitted by a jury of his peers demonstrates more than a lack of journalistic responsibility in their apparent quest to continue to stir up racial tensions in the community. It also exemplifies the reason the Plain Dealer and other so-called legacy media outlets barely have a pulse in the year 2013.
Unbalanced reporting is nothing new for the Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper. It has been long known for its partisan hackery, which reached a fevered pitch during the 2012 election. So it’s no surprise that the paper is in its death throes.
In addition to the layoffs, the paper ended its daily home delivery, switching to a 3-day delivery instead. The print version will now only be available at newsstands 7 days per week.
Last week brought to light a likely Democratic challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from actress-turned-politico Ashley Judd. The Daily Caller responded to the news with a jab at Judd’s character, pointing out how often she has been nude throughout her film career. This triggered a firestorm of indignation on the Left, with writers from The Raw Story, Salon, and Mother Jones among others lambasting conservative prudery.
While the Left’s objection appears to be informed by sexual licentiousness and a general obligation to feign offense at any suggestion of modesty as virtue, a legitimate critique can be made of the attempt to marginalize Judd’s candidacy. In several ways worth noting, making an issue of Judd’s on-screen nudity is a mistake.
First, let us concede that we live in the year 2013 amidst a generation separated from past chastity by a great cultural and technological divide. Naked women are not as shocking as they used to be, assuming they ever actually were. Granted, a higher-than-average standard ought to be applied to candidates for public office, and certainly to candidates for U.S. Senate. However, context matters. Judd acted in mainstream films. It’s not as though she made her career in pornography.
Activists on the Right ought to hold greater concern for the circumstances which make Judd’s potential candidacy viable. We live in a political culture where celebrity proves increasingly valuable. One of the greatest hurdles facing campaigns at any level is name recognition. If voters don’t know who a candidate is, they aren’t as inclined to vote for them. The campus paper for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, sources the work of political scientists in that area:
[Cindy] Kam and [Elizabeth] Zechmeister have shown, in a paper currently under consideration for publication, that brief exposure to a candidate’s name increases voter support by 13 percent, if voters know nothing else about the candidates.
No one should be shocked to learn that campaigns grow more expensive each cycle.
On Tuesday I turned 29. Apparently this is one of those “milestone” birthdays meant to suggest that now I’m really growing old and should start worrying or feeling worse about myself in some abstract way. Apparently when you’re 30 it means that the party decade is over and you should scrape the cheeto dust out of your navel, put some pants on, and finally grow up.
So be it. Growing old has never really bothered me. (Though I wish the hair wasn’t going so fast…) I’ve felt like a cranky old man trapped in a young person’s body since at least junior high. So how about this for an old-fashioned way to really put the last 362 days of the third decade of my life to use: actually writing out a plan for the year. Here’s what I’m going to try to do so that when the 30th birthday hits in 2014 I can look back and not feel too much embarrassment at another wasted year.
In December I declared my “7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal” and then began the process of integrating these general self-improvement goals into both my daily routine and the weekly schedule of my PJ Lifestyle blogging. I left them somewhat vague so over the course of the month more concrete goals could materialize. And here they are, revised from my original list but generalized so perhaps others might still find them useful to consider as potential additions to their own Lifestyle self-programming.
1. Family Life on Monday: Rediscover and Celebrate Your Family’s Origins.
On Monday this week I blogged an open letter to my wife informing her that the time had come to change directions with our Netflix diet. The number of Dexter/Battlestar Galactica-level cable shows on DVD had dried up and new releases offered little hope of consistent entertainment satisfaction. We had to start mining older regions of film and TV history — but could we agree on a path forward?
Turns out we still can. April selected the first option:
1. Watch the entire Criterion Collection. Maybe in order?
You’re always complaining (rightfully) that the past few years I’ve spent too much time on politics and don’t show you weird, artsy movies anymore. Well here’s the mother lode and now we should start exploring it.
April suggested we call it “The Criterion Challenge.” We’re going to attempt to watch as many as we can this year — and yes, as close to in the order of their release as we can. We started last night with my copy of The Seven Samurai (spine #2) and watched the first hour. I’d forgotten how entertaining a film it was — and was delighted when April got into it too.
In charting this new entertainment course for us, we’re really going back to the origins of our relationship. I never realized what a role my oddball movie tastes had for April. When we began dating seriously for a second time in the fall of 2006 (a few months after I’d graduated and she was starting her sophomore undergraduate year), I would drive up to Muncie from Indianapolis on weekends with different art movie DVDs to share with her.
But in the years since our marriage I’ve neglected this original film guide role. My movie obsession fell by the wayside to make way for political warfare and new media trouble-making. Now’s a good time to correct course as I seek to re-balance my life between the legs of culture, religion, and politics. (Instead of the ideological focus that it’s largely been for the last three years…)
And we’re both on the same page in why we’re watching this series of classic films — to further develop our own understanding of the visual arts. What makes a beautiful, powerful image? How does film tell stories and evoke feelings? April and I are going to explore these questions together and I’ll try and blog a few thoughts on each film. Also, keeping with the return to film, for our year off from Disney Land I’m going to make a point to explore the ideas that brought it into existence.
Monday Bookshelf and Blogging Focus: Research the life, work, and ideas of Walt Disney to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”
Before the advent of answering machines, and decades before mobile communications and social media, waiting by the phone for your man to call was an ancient mating tradition that single women of all ages thankfully will never again have to endure.
I was reminded of this dating ritual since we are on the cusp of celebrating what is traditionally known as the greatest date night of all, New Year’s Eve.
While wracking my brain thinking of a suitable baby boomer topic applicable to this holiday, it hit me… New Year’s Eve, 1971, when I was a high school sophomore and my boyfriend was a senior.
All that stands out about that evening was my having to wait by the phone for my boyfriend to call to tell me the time he was coming by to take me to a house party (where someone’s parents were out of town).
As 5 pm turned into 6 pm, turned into 7 pm, turned into 8 pm, I became extremely anxious, especially when my mother said, “Would it be so bad if you stayed home?” (Yea mom, how about the end of the world as I know it.)
When Mr. Considerate finally called at 8 pm the trauma ceased. But thinking back upon that 1971 New Year’s Eve, it was how waiting by the phone helped form five positive personality traits that women like me did not even realize we were developing. Eventually these five traits served baby boomer women extremely well as we made our way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s taking advantage of all the new career opportunities that the women’s movement afforded.
Here are the five personality traits aging baby boomer women learned while waiting by the phone.
When you were forced to accept someone else’s timetable you learned it was not just all about you. Waiting by the phone developed patience and was superb training for almost any career and life in general.
This feeling was experienced when you finally realized that he was not going to call after he said (or you assumed) he would. Learning to cope with rejection without feeling like a complete loser was an important life lesson. The key was to think about all your positive attributes that this man was obviously missing. Then move ahead and don’t look back. This concept was easily applied to the professional world, especially if you were a business owner or involved in sales of any kind. Women of a certain age who experienced sitting by the phone waiting for him to call learned how to be resilient in the face of rejection.
3. Self worth/Self esteem
You waited by the phone and he did call. High five! You were on top of your game. All your flirting skills worked and you were the master of the feminine universe. (But sometimes you discovered that he was not worth waiting for!)
Later in life this same initial exhilaration was experienced when you landed a new job or a new client/contract/project was won. But you never let it go to your head. One learned early on that you must never be cocky because rejection in love or life could be lurking right around the corner.
He called, (maybe even weeks after he said he would) and you refrained from telling him that he was an insensitive jerk. But since you were really glad to hear from him you said no such thing. Later in the business world this skill came in handy when “the customer was always right” even if he/she was not.
5. Playing the Game
Once while chatting with some guy friends in my high school classes they admitted to me that often they did not call a girl after they said they would because they did not want to appear “pussy whipped.” (Yes, that was the operative term at the time.) So from this conversation I learned that there was a lot of game playing going on when it came to the timing of “the call.”
As a result, my friends and I would discuss when it was time to stop waiting and time to start living. (However, flirting with his friends was always an appropriate response.) The lesson “stop waiting and start living” developed into positive personality traits that were applicable to many future life situations.
But alas, girls/women today don’t have to deal with any of this waiting by the phone. In fact, waiting is a thing of the past since now there is no stigma attached to calling a boy before he calls you. Girls today will call, text, tweet, Facebook, or email and if that does not get his attention they will have their friends call, text, email, Facebook or tweet. From what I have heard about today’s dating habits, “whatever it takes” to catch the attention of the man of the moment seems to be acceptable behavior.
This behavior is a result of both the instant communications revolution and the women’s movement which generally has made the girls/women of today much more aggressive than my friends or I ever were in high school and college.
Perhaps this more aggressive behavior is cultural “payback” for all the countless hours their baby boomer mothers and grandmothers spent waiting by the phone especially in the weeks leading up to important date nights like New Year’s Eve. For around that time whenever the phone rang, teenage girls and young women were conditioned into thinking, “It must be him, it must be him, please be him or I will die.”
Happy New Year’s everyone!
More on generations at PJ Lifestyle:
As post-election hangover sets in, we continue to witness incivility rolling like a tidal wave through this great nation. Much of this is due to the culture war, which grows more intense every day. One should wonder, is it worth fighting anymore? Or, has it already been won?
The answer lies in our ability to find reality amidst an amalgamation of data constantly coming at us through our television, computer, and smartphone screens from untrustworthy media outlets. A highly mediated and politicized culture has many challenges and it is up to us not to get sucked into the machine.
It is becoming more and more difficult to decipher the truth through a nonstop stream of information. Today we see an increase in what Daniel J. Boorstin referred to in 1961 as “pseudo events,” which are a close relative to propaganda. In The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America, Boorstin writes, “while a pseudo-event is an ambiguous truth, propaganda is an appealing falsehood.”
Ambiguous truths behind words like “forward” (to where?) and “hope” (for what?) and “change” (from what to where?) can easily join with propaganda that appeals to those eager for convenient falsehoods. Boorstin continues, “propaganda oversimplifies experience, pseudo events overcomplicate it.” The mess that is our current state of politics begins to make more sense when considering Boorstin’s model. What we have today is an oversimplification of rhetoric and an over-complication of hidden meanings.
Last night, Obama supporters again proved that they will hear what they want to hear. As the “binders full of women” comment gave Democratic women a hook for their assumption that Romney is bad for women in government, Obama’s comment about horses and bayonets launched an instant meme in which his supporters see what they want to see. This time, however, they are making fools of themselves.
If you were watching football or anything enjoyable last night, Romney was talking about the importance of maintaining our forces and lamented that we now had the smallest navy since 1916. Obama countered that Romney didn’t know much about the military, that this wasn’t a game of Battleship, that we had more than horses and bayonets these days. The left saw this as a zinger. Tweets about the obsoleteness of bayonets and horses started to flow. The left relished the idea that they were more military savvy than Romney. Alas, they were mistaken.
We still use bayonets. And horses. Remember when it seemed to take forever before we went into Afghanistan after 9/11? Special Forces had already gone in—on horseback—to ID and paint the targets for our attack. There is a lovely memorial going in at Ground Zero to commemorate these heroes. Bayonets can be seen in stock photos of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and in the Few, The Proud, The Marines commercials. In Great Britain one can still earn medals for proper use of a bayonet. (h/t @tobyharnden) In contention for the best comment of the night started by a mother of 2 Marines to Mona Charen: “Ambassador Stevens would have loved a horse or a bayonet or a Marine with either one.”
Obama was probably trying to say that in the modern era the number of ships isn’t as important as the kind of ships. If Obama hadn’t been aiming for a petty zinger, he might have been able to articulate that point. He didn’t, and his supporters ran with the horses and bayonets meme which exposes them as not only ignorant, but willfully ignorant of the military.
This year marks my 12th “blogversary.”
That’s right: Before Instapundit, before LittleGreenFootballs, even before PJ Media — I AM.
Inspired by proto-blogs RobotWisdom and PopCultureJunkMail, and powered by the free, easy-to-use Blogger platform, I originally set up something called RelapsedCatholic (now FiveFeetOfFury) as a swipe file/staging area for my Toronto Star religion column.
(Amusingly, Blogger itself started out as just a quick and dirty way for PyraLabs staffers to discuss the company’s “real” projects.)
My Toronto Star column is long gone, but my blog is still up. So are thousands of others.
But in those early days, I could complete my morning blog-reading rounds before finishing my first coffee.
One of those must-reads was the Drudge Report, of course. One Tuesday morning, at the top of its third column, Matt posted a tiny photo and a one-line “breaking” story: reports of a small plane hitting the World Trade Center.
“Not another Kennedy,” I tsked, remembering John Jr.’s death not long before.