PJ Lifestyle

PJM Lifestyle

The Fundamental Reason Why Anna Should Dump Josh Duggar

Monday, August 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This past weekend, the Duggars’ pastor, Ronnie Floyd, preached a sermon about Josh. Go figure. In it the pastor, who previously defended the eldest Duggar’s molestation of his sisters with the statement, “things like [the scandal] have happened before and will happen again,” explained that Josh’s infidelities via the Ashley Madison website were the result of a “sexual epidemic” in the country. “Sexual epidemic” is an absurd phrase, as absurd as the notion that molestation can be chalked off as an action, like infidelity, that happens every day. Babies are born every day. Just ask the Duggars. Are they perpetrators of a baby epidemic as well?

But, I digress. The pastor’s poor verbiage is only symptomatic of the real problem at hand, something I’ll dub the “fundamentalist epidemic” that we’re all vulnerable to, religious and secular alike. Anna Duggar recently stated that she’s taking part of the blame for her husband’s cheating ways. Why? Because her fundamentalist church has taught her that she didn’t put out enough, so her husband had to seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere. For the record, when a spouse pursues sexual fulfillment outside the bonds of marriage, that’s grounds for divorce. You don’t just get to go get your jollies on and come home to your wife and kids. If your wife legitimately isn’t satisfying your needs, you divorce her and move on. You don’t establish multiple accounts with a kinky cheater’s website while your wife is at home tending to your brood. I guess Anna’s pastor missed that line in the Bible.

Anna Duggar’s fundamentalist views have done nothing more than inflame feminist fundamentalists who point to her as yet another example of how the Bible holds women back. This is as equally absurd a notion as Duggar’s.  If you want to have a real debate over a wife’s Biblical responsibilities to her husband, start with the fact that a Biblical marriage is a legally binding contractual affair with provisions that protect both partners equally and provide for a wife’s financial future in case of divorce. The Bible doesn’t force a wife to be her husband’s sex slave. Yet, what the Bible actually states about marriage and adultery and divorce doesn’t even surface in the debate. Why? Because it is easier to argue opinions – that is, man-made fundamentals – instead of facts.

But, if we focused on the facts, the story would be null and void. And this is juicy stuff. Sex always is. Not because it is an epidemic in and of itself as Pastor Ronnie would like us to believe, but because human depravity is an epidemic inherent from birth. Didn’t he read his Bible? Christians believe in redemption as a Biblical fact. But, in this instance, even redemption is subject to the romantic whims of the human mind. So-called advocates of Biblical marriage and “redemption” believe Anna is right to try to save her marriage. The Bible says otherwise, but that wouldn’t make for as good a story. Romantics have fueled the success of bodice-rippers for centuries; Josh and Anna are just the latest stars in the genre, this time with a Christian twist.

The Duggars set out to be a shining example of fundamentalist Christian living. In the end, they only managed to exemplify the fact that fundamentalism, in all forms, sells. The Bible instructs, “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” The media thrive on this concept, waiting to pounce on the sin because sin is an attractive justification to our depraved souls. After all, as Pastor Ronnie said, it’s happened before and it will happen again. That’s one fundamental you can count on.

An Open Letter to Anna Duggar

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Satanic Temple of Detroit Mocks God in Bizarre Ritual at Planned Parenthood Protest

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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The Satanic Temple of Detroit staged a pair of bizarre, God-mocking rituals outside Planned Parenthood clinics in Detroit and Ferndale, Michigan, on Saturday in support of abortion on demand. The group was there to “interrupt” the anti-Planned Parenthood protests in those two cities, which were part of a movement of hundreds of organized protests across the country on Saturday in the wake of recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s horrific brutality against unborn babies as well as the sale of their body parts for profit .

 

Two women, hands bound and kneeling in front of fake clergymen, gasped while they were fake waterboarded with fake breast milk (because nothing says “stop the patriarchy” like pouring cow’s milk all over yourself or something).

The Satanists recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Catholic Hail Mary prayer while holding up an American flag emblazoned with the Satanic Temple’s logo and a sign that read,  “AMERICA IS NOT A THEOCRACY. END FORCED MOTHERHOOD.”

Part of me wants to laugh at the silliness of this stunt. Seriously, they’re pouring gallons of perfectly good milk over the heads of women to simulate waterboarding (which I assume they believe is torture) in order to encourage people to support Planned Parenthood, an organization that has no qualms about torturing unborn children who feel incredible pain when they’re torn, limb from limb, and their skulls are crushed by forceps.  It’s a stunt only someone who majored in women’s studies at Liberal U. can comprehend, I think. 

But the truth is, I can’t laugh. After watching this video, some Bible verses keep running through my head and I’m profoundly sad and frightened for these really lost and confused individuals.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1 ESV)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7 ESV)

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12 ESV)

The Bible teaches that individuals can only get away with mocking and being disobedient to God for so long. Someday all of the people who participated in this protest will have to stand before a just and holy God  – as we all will — and explain their actions to Him. If their answer isn’t, “My sin has been covered by the righteousness of Jesus,” it’s going to be a long, torturous eternity.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

If I had the opportunity to sit down with members of the Satanic Temple of Detroit, that’s the conversation I’d want to have with them. I’d tell them that God loved them enough to send his son to die for them and that he offers forgiveness and everlasting life to all who repent and put their trust in Him. Even Satanists who repent and put their trust in Him. Because the truth is, their hatred for God is at the root of their worship of abortion. Until that is confronted and dealt with, there is no hope of moralizing them into having compassion for unborn babies.

Planned Parenthood Blasts Music That ‘Sounds Like It Came From Hell’ at Peaceful Protesters

Planned Parenthood Blasts Music That ‘Sounds Like It Came From Hell’ at Peaceful Protesters

 

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Can We Have a Grown Up Conversation About Spanking?

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

spanking flow chart

I lost some friends this past week. They weren’t real friends, just the Facebook variety. I ended up blocking them after a debate over spanking spiraled out of control. Lines were crossed, and acquaintances were ended.

The conversation started when someone posted the above flowchart. As you can see, it guides parents through the decision to spank their children. If your children are old enough to understand reason, the chart directs you to simply reason with them. If your children are not old enough to understand reason, the chart claims that spanking won’t help.

There are a handful of problems with that rationale, most stemming from the ludicrous unspoken assumption that “using reason” reliably gets children (or anyone) to behave properly. I responded with a simple question. If a child is either incapable of reason or unresponsive to it, do they get to run roughshod over their parents?

I never got an answer. Instead, I was attacked by a lurking herd of demagogues, each anxious to assert their moral superiority by condemning corporal punishment. The attacks came in two broad categories. First, any type or amount of spanking was conflated with child abuse. This precludes any debate. If any type or amount of spanking is child abuse, then that’s that. There’s nothing else to say on the matter. It’s fine if you believe that. But if you’re going to invite debate on the question of spanking, then you can’t use your conclusion as the premise. The whole debate occurs around whether spanking is child abuse. Simply stating that it is does not demonstrate that it is.

The second broad category of attack, and the reason I found myself quickly blocking several of my “friends” on Facebook, was a moral equivalence drawn between spanking children and spousal abuse. “Do you hit your wife when she disagrees with you?”

Such a question in the context of a spanking debate demonstrates the futility of further association. Children are not adults. Parental relationships are not non-parental relationships. Someone who needs that explained to them isn’t the kind of person I want to know socially.

Be that as it may, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that the parental relationship requires explanation. The capacity to apply reason and knowledge to the production of life-fulfilling values distinguishes adults from children. Left to their own devices, children may be able to forage for a short time, but lack the foresight and experience to reliably make sustainable decisions. That is why they need adult custodians, parental figures who take responsibility for them.

As the custodian of a child, you sit in the driver’s seat of their life. You think on their behalf, make decisions on their behalf, and pursue their long-term happiness by substituting your judgment for theirs. Put another way, you have authority over them. You get to tell them what to do. Importantly, this authority does not exist to serve you, but to serve them. Your goal as a parent is to bring your children up in such a way that they develop the capacity to act rationally and sustain themselves.

This is not the same kind of relationship you have with your spouse. It’s not the same kind of relationship you have with other people’s children. It’s not the same kind of relationship you have with any other human being. It is the parental relationship, and it is unique.

Next: Why loving parents spank…

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Planned Parenthood Blasts Music That ‘Sounds Like It Came From Hell’ at Peaceful Protesters

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 - by Megan Fox
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I went to the Planned Parenthood protest in Aurora, IL, on August 22, 2015, and while the huge crowd was heartening, something happened that I still can’t believe. Recently I wrote about the lame “Funny or Die” video that made fun of our outrage over Planned Parenthood tearing babies limb from limb and selling the parts to the highest bidder. But those are comedians, so we expect them to be crass and outrageous. What we don’t expect is for Planned Parenthood, whose representatives have been caught gorging themselves on salad and wine while they talk about crushing the bodies of the unborn for profit, to join in on the merrymaking. One would think they would be sobered by the scandal. One would think they would be careful not to seem callous or ghoulish in the face of accusations of crimes against humanity that have been likened to slavery, cannibalism, and the Holocaust.

One would be wrong.

While standing within the sound of priests and monks praying the rosary in calming rhythm, another sound came out of the abortion mill in front of us, this one hellish. Planned Parenthood piped discordant, eerie horror music out of speakers hidden somewhere on the building (leading me to surmise they had them installed when the place was built for just an occasion like this!).

This is their idea of a sick joke.

We know they are delivering live, whole babies (who are kicking!) and cutting their faces off to extract brains — and they know WE know it. So what do they do? They broadcast their depravity in surround sound. Horror-movie madness is what this is. When will thinking people stand up and see the horror show Planned Parenthood really is? They know they’re killing babies. You know they’re killing babies. The difference is they think it’s funny.

America, you need to get off your couches and stop this revolting corporation from profiting off the blood of our children right now. Get a grip and get in the fight. 

May God have mercy on us all.

 

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More: 

Ben Shapiro vs Planned Parenthood

by Andrew Klavan

 

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Militant Atheists Are Going After College Football Coaches

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Mark Richt

They’re at it again. Those super-tolerant folks at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are going after Christian believers who share their faith with others. This time, their target is college football and the coaches who use their belief in Jesus Christ as a springboard to improving the lives of their players.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has issued a report entitled “Pray to Play” in which they outline the…um…abuses from coaches at 25 different universities. Some of the alleged dastardly deeds these coaches engage in include hiring chaplains to pray with student athletes, baptizing players who are new believers, and raising funds for Christian charities. (Where’s my fainting couch?) If you’re a Christian, I’d urge you not to read this report, unless you want your blood pressure to go up.

I first became aware of this attack on Christian coaches when I found out that Mark Richt, the head coach at my alma mater, the University of Georgia, is part of this list of coaches under attack. Coach Richt is beloved by most true Georgia Bulldog fans (not the ones who call for his dismissal when we only win ten games in a season) for his honest approach to faith and for being a positive role model for his players and for the community at large.

But to the atheist busybodies, Coach Richt is a terrible man because one of the chaplains for the UGA Athletic Association is his brother-in-law, Kevin “Chappy” Hines.

Kevin “Chappy” Hynes, UGA’s chaplain and brother-in-law to head coach Mark Richt, is on a mission to win souls, FFRF charges. Championships are great, but souls are better: “Our message at Georgia doesn’t change, and that’s to preach Christ and Him crucified, it’s to win championships for the state of Georgia and win souls for the Kingdom of God, so we’re going to continue down that path.” He also “tr[ies] to get these guys plugged in to church…”

Hynes admits he seeks to convert non-Christians. “I tell people … that come to Georgia that are not Christians and allow me to speak in their lives, I encourage them to walk with Jesus,” Hynes said. “I encourage them to get into Bible study. I encourage them to get in the Word. I encourage them to memorize Scripture.” Hynes regularly prays with players.

Here’s a newsflash to the Godless Gestapo: Hynes wants to convert people to Christianity because that’s what Jesus charged His followers to do. Disciples are supposed to make disciples. In the words of Jesus:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

But wait, there’s more. The Georgia Bulldogs’ in-state rivals, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, don’t escape the wrath of the hopeless haters either. The FFRF aim their guns at the Yellow Jackets’ chaplain Derrick Moore:

Chaplain Derrick Moore is treated like a member of the coaching staff of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, leading pre-game prayers that blend football with religion, FFRF charges. His prayer before a 2011 game against Clemson begins: “As we get ready to go into attack mode, God, be with these boys.” At the conclusion of the prayer, Moore wields his signature sledgehammer.

[...]

Chaplain Derrick Moore was paid $7,500 under his chaplain contract for the 2014 football season. His first task under the contract is to: “Provide Spiritual and Personal Development for Student Athletes (primarily the football program).” Moore has contracts with Georgia Tech dating back to at least 2011. According to school records, Georgia Tech paid him more than $14,000 in 2011 and 2012. Based on those school records, it appears that Georgia Tech has paid him more than $43,000 total.

Now, there are a lot of math majors at Georgia Tech, and I’m pretty sure that all of them would tell you that Moore can’t live off  $7,500 a year alone, so I’ll wager a guess that Georgia Tech isn’t Moore’s primary source of income. And “prayers that blend football with religion”? Moore isn’t unusual there — he’s a red-blooded Southern boy!

The FFRF actually sent letters to the Georgia Tech players “to inform them of their constitutional rights.” I can’t help but point out, all rivalries aside, that the Tech players’ rights include the right to practice religion if they want to.

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The 10 Most Underrated Beatles Songs

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 - by J. Christian Adams

The influence of the Beatles on the culture of the 20th century, and beyond, is second to none. Even 50 years after most Beatles songs were released, dozens continue to play daily in every United States radio market, on television, and in movies. Anyone who doubts the extent of the cultural impact of the Beatles should read this Daniel Levitin piece in the Guardian. He provides a haunting image of a world most of us will never see:

One hundred years from now Beatles songs may be so well known that every child will learn them as nursery rhymes, and most people will have forgotten who wrote them. They will have become sufficiently entrenched in popular culture that it will seem as if they’ve always existed, like Oh Susannah, This Land Is Your Land, and Frère Jacques.

There will simply never be another Beatles. The Beatles arrived in that 40-year window when electronic media encircled the globe and allowed an act to penetrate every corner of world culture, but also arrived before the fragmentation of culture that the internet has caused.

“Hey Jude,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Love Me Do,” and “Let It Be” surely top the list of tunes universally recognized and with cultural longevity as extensive as anything ever produced. But what Beatles songs are underrated and rarely heard? People forget about how small the Beatles catalog is. Essentially thirteen stand-alone albums of original material exist, in addition to some single compilations, remasters and outtake anthologies. Of those thirteen albums, there are great underrated songs we rarely, if ever, hear. Scott Greenstein, are you listening?

Note, nothing appears below from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band because nothing about that album could be considered underrated.

10. “And Your Bird Can Sing” (Revolver, 1966)

The swirling guitar duel between McCartney and Harrison sounded like little else in 1966.

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4 Takes Explaining Why Spy Movies Move Us

Friday, August 21st, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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There is a hot new spy movie coming to a theater near you.  In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks will go from winning World War II to whipping the Cold War. Odds are the film will do very well—in part because the nation that loves liberty also appreciates a little espionage.

Nothing says more about us and spies than our love affair with the movies.  Hollywood reflects both our lust for winning (even if that requires a little under-the-table spying on our part) and our fears that others are out to get us.

Nothing brought out these conflicting passions more than the Edward Snowden affair. In part the public fascination with Snowden’s revelations “panders to our dark desire to peer into the ugly side of intelligence work.”

Indeed, the debate over how to bring Snowden’s story to the silver screen shows bipolar American tastes are when it comes spies who are us.

All this spy stuff must be particularly unnerving to millennials. After all, they were supposed to grow in a post-Cold War world where nobody had any enemies.

But, now they are finding themselves like the unsettled generation that went to the movies in the 1960s-seeing spies all over the place.

Back in the 1960s even as everything seemed to be falling apart, spy movies were mostly escapist fare—all sex, tech, and cool.

Over the years, however, Hollywood has also exposed us to the serious side of spying.

Contemporary audiences are finding themselves broad-sided with both serious films, like the forthcoming Bridge of Spies from Steven Spielberg, and very unserious movies, like the soon to be released Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.

Get used to it.

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Christianity and Social Networks: A Lesson from China

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Tyler O'Neil

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Friendships Trump Arguments When it Comes to Conversion

That street preacher may not convert you — but your best friend will. Perhaps contrary to popular opinion, people rarely actually convert based on rhetoric or arguments. Social science hints that social networks, more than persuasive pastors or even good arguments, explain the phenomenon of choosing a faith.

Baylor University sociology professor and author of 20 books Rodney Stark argues that converts are most attracted not to religious ideas, but by social connections with believers in their new religion. After conversion, new believers say they were satisfied by true doctrine, but the actual process involves social deviance and social conformity. This applies to all religions, and helps explain the growth of Christianity in particular. When it comes to evangelism, making friends can be more important than making arguments.

In his new book A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China, Stark presents surprising findings of a new study on the growth of Christianity in China — Chinese Christians are many times more likely to convert if their friends or family already believed in Jesus Christ. Preachers are much less effective at getting new people in the door.

Explaining Conversion Does Not Minimize the Power of Faith

Stark, a Christian who has written numerous books on the truths and power of Christianity, does not seek to minimize faith (Christian or otherwise) in this explanation of conversion — rather, he seeks to explain how the actual process works. His book The Rise of Christianity uses social science to better understand the reasons behind the explosive growth of faith in Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire.

For a long time, historians have struggled to understand how the small group of Christians after Jesus’ ascension — the book of Acts puts the numbers at 120 and 5,000 — eventually outnumbered all other faiths in the Roman Empire (estimated population 60 million).

Using estimates from historical sources, Stark found that a growth from 1,000 Christians in 40 A.D. to 33 million Christians in 350 A.D. required a growth rate of 40 percent per decade. While this growth seemed miraculous to Christians at the time and historians afterward, it can also be explained through the expansion of social networks.

Early Christians also did something Pagans often did not — they cared for the sick and dying. In the ancient world, when a Pagan realized deadly plague spread from person to person, he usually fled the big city. Even the famous physician Galen left the city of Rome when the plague struck. Many people would die, not from the plague, but because they could not care for themselves — they died of thirst or hunger.

Christians, by ministering to the sick, often got sick themselves, but kept people from dying of these secondary causes. Stark studies two plagues that hit the Roman Empire in the 160s and 250s A.D., and concludes that when Christians cared for the sick, they had a better survival rate and formed relationships which helped the faith grow. As more Pagans died, the surviving non-Christians developed more Christian friendships.

No Really, Why Did You Become a “Moony?”

Zeroing in on a deviant religious group, the American branch of the Korean-based Unification Church — widely known as “Moonies” — Stark sought to scientifically record the process of religious conversion. When Stark and his research partner John Lofland found the Moonies, they had not yet converted a single stranger.

The movement’s American founder, Miss Kim, tried to spread the message of her faith — an unorthodox approach to Christianity widely deemed heretical — through press releases, radio spots, and renting halls for public meetings, but each of these efforts failed. Instead, the first few converts were old friends or relatives of members who visited the young church in San Francisco. As the movement grew, they began to convert people who previously had “no use for church at all,” and did not already have religious social ties.

“When asked why they converted, Moonies invariably noted the irresistible appeal of the Divine Principles (the group’s scripture), suggesting that only the blind could reject such obvious and powerful truths,” Stark recalled.

“But Lofland and I knew better because we had met them well before they had learned to appreciate the doctrines, before they had learned how to testify to their faith, back when they were not seeking faith at all.” He particularly remembered one future convert who once told Stark “he was puzzled that such nice people could get so worked up about ‘some guy in Korea’ who claimed to be the Lord of the Second Advent. Then, one day, he got worked up about this guy too.”

Stark and Lofland realized that “the only ones who joined were those whose interpersonal attachments to members overbalanced their attachments to nonmembers.” In other words, once one man’s circle of friends and family became more Moony than non-Moony, he also opted for the new faith.

“Becoming a Moonie today is an act of deviance, as was becoming a Christian in the first century. Such conversions violate norms defining legitimate religious affiliations and identities,” Stark explained. From this, he developed a theory: “Conversion to new, deviant religious groups occur when, other things being equal, people have or develop stronger attachments to members of the group than they have to nonmembers.”

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College Football Star Publishes Children’s Book

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Auburn Georgia Football

If you’re like me, you’re counting down the days until college football starts. Nothing compares to Saturdays in the fall and the tailgating, pageantry, and traditions that go along with college football season — especially here in the South.

I’ve written in the past about how the South does college football best, and I devoted an entire chapter in my new book Football, Faith, & Flannery O’Connor: A Love Letter To The South about how Southerners go crazy for college football — and plenty of other sports.

As young men all over the country get ready to take the field in the golden light of autumn afternoons, one player from my alma mater, the University of Georgia, is gearing up for a unique challenge (one with which I can identify). Bulldogs wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has cultivated a reputation as a fast, agile player who has overcome injuries, but his latest passion has taken a relatively newfound love for reading to the next level. On August 29, Mitchell will become a published author with the release of his children’s book The Magician’s Hat.

Reading hasn’t always been something Mitchell has been fond or proud of. When he started at UGA, he could only read at a junior high level. He had not read a complete book, not even a children’s book.

However, he doesn’t blame his family or his upbringing as a reason for his struggles with reading as a child and as a teenager. He is still proud of how his upbringing has shaped him.

Mitchell read his first children’s book when he got to college, and he now collects and reads different types of books. Mitchell now reads two to three books at time. His favorite series is “The Hunger Games,” while his favorite book is “The Glass Castle.”

When he began reading in college, he dove in head first and devoured every book he could get his hands on. The time on his hands after a 2013 injury led him to read even more voraciously. And a trip to an Athens bookstore led to a conversation that changed his life.

It was in the best seller section of a Barnes & Noble in this college town that Kathy Rackley found a novel story of her own — a young man by the name of Malcolm Mitchell.

“I mean a chance encounter in a bookstore, how wonderful is that?” said Kathy. She had no idea who Mitchell was. “None whatsoever.”

And Malcolm didn’t tell her. “I knew they were going to find out,” Mitchell said. “But I wasn’t going to say it.”

Fact is, Rackley may have been the only one in Athens who didn’t know the name Malcolm Mitchell. Number 26 for the University of Georgia Bulldogs was one of the top recruits in the country a few years ago. He’s Georgia royalty.

And presumably, if Rackley had known that, she wouldn’t have stood in that Barnes & Noble talking his ear off about the book club she had just joined.

“I mean he like stepped back and he said ‘You did? You did?’ and he said, ‘Can I join your book club?’” Rackley recalled.

“And I said, ‘I don’t know if you want to join mine. We’re all 40-, 50-, and 60-year-old women.’”

But Mitchell was undeterred. So now, one of the top wide-receivers in the country has been meeting monthly with his book club lady friends.

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Original Batgirl Actress Dead at 78

Thursday, August 20th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

She may have been the first female superhero on television. Certainly, she was a pioneer. Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in the classic 1960′s Batman television show, awakening male libido in teenage viewers over several generations. Craig also played a green Orion slave girl in an episode of Star Trek, another iconic role from the era. She passed away on Monday. From Variety:

She had been suffering from breast cancer that metastasized to her liver…

Her guest appearances on TV include “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Mod Squad” and “The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis.”

She also starred in two movies opposite Elvis Presley, “It Happened at the World’s Fair” and “Kissin’ Cousins.”

Batgirl was introduced in Batman’s second season in an effort to expand the show’s appeal. Subsequent onscreen iterations of the character have been sparse, and none as memorable as Craig’s original portrayal.

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Zorro to Ride Through Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

A script has been percolating in Hollywood that re-imagines the legend of Zorro with a dystopian spin. The Hollywood Report claims the project has now been greenlit for a 2016 production. Collider expounds:

Reborn takes place in the near future and moves the mythic hero into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where he takes on tyrants. The project has been percolating for years, most recently at 20th Century Fox where Gael Garcia Bernal signed on to star with a script by Glenn Gers, Lee Shipman, and Brian McGreevy.

Obviously that iteration never came to pass, and it’s unclear in what shape the script for Zorro Reborn is in at the moment, but it’s possible the success of Mad Max: Fury Road spurred folks to think there’s success to be found in a post-apocalyptic spin on Zorro. Sobini CEO Mark Amin is producing the film and seems fairly bullish on this recent development, so we’ll see if Zorro Reborn actually does get in front of cameras next year or if this is yet another false start.

While the concept has promise, here’s hoping they come up with a better title.

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Abrams on New Star Wars: ‘Telling a Solid Story’

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

In a newly released video from Variety, featuring interviews with the cast and crew of the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams offers insight into his creative approach. “We really focused on how do we tell a story and incorporate what people know in a way that won’t feel like we’re just doing call backs for the sake of it. It’s not about a best-of. It’s really about telling a solid story. We were really lucky to have the whole cast do such an extraordinary job.”

Actors John Boyega and Daisy Ridley, who portray two of the new central characters in the saga, speak of their characters’ unconventional relationship. From Boyega: “What we know so far is that their worlds collide in some way that is very important to the balance of the galaxy. These characters, who don’t have similar backgrounds, come together to be part of an adventure. That’s our connection.”

The first poster for the new film was unveiled at Disney’s D23 convention over the weekend, revealing that Boyega’s Finn will at some point wield a blue-bladed lightsaber. The Force Awakens lands on December 18th.

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It’s Gotta Be Bad When the Dead Don’t Even Like You

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Fydrych

Elaine requests, “In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Hillary Clinton”.

One line tucked into the bottom of a rather extensive, surprisingly impressive obituary of a New Jersey woman who passed before her time has caught the national eye.

And they say everyone in New Jersey votes Democrat.

Elaine Fydrych was a lifelong actress who pursued the theater at the expense of a burgeoning stand-up career. But, as it turns out, she wound up getting the last laugh on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This “loving daughter,” “beloved wife” and “devoted mother” went out with a bang. While her childhood appearance on the Philadelphia kids’ show Chief Halftown may have only garnered her local success, she will forever be a national name after her obit hit the Internet.

Elaine’s last words have taken political activism to a newer, more impressive height. It isn’t every day someone despises a candidate enough to incorporate their failure into a dying request. Kudos to her family for having the guts to print it. Then again, they probably want to leave the haunting done by Elaine’s discontented spirit to the denizens of the South Jersey area who don’t take her advice. Or, perhaps, to Hillary’s tour bus. After all, spirits can travel right to the source.

Personally, I would’ve aimed for Sanders, Trump and Bush in that order before Hillary. But she’s as good a target as any. The feminist mafia’s inevitable assertion of Elaine’s lack of sisterhood spirit will take on an especially creepy undertone. I’m sure Steinem will pull out her Ouija Board to address Ms. Fydrych personally. My guess is her manicured hands will be directed to the letters “H-A” at least twice over.

Dear Ms. Elaine Fydrych, wherever you are (personally I believe it is quite heavenly in your locale), thank you for giving us all a good chuckle.

 

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A Thought Exercise on How President Trump’s Immigration Policy Might Work Out

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Mark Ellis

Donald Trump

Prologue

The precipitating moment comes when the Diente de Dragon cartel kidnaps a school bus full of Laredo, Texas, teens to hold for ransom against the release of trafficker-general Marco Malencio, captured one mile into Nuevo Leon after getting tipped-off about an impending Homeland Security sting.

When the bus-snatchers execute the bus driver, Special Operations forces moves in. Most children are saved, but seven perish during the assault.

After consultation with Vice President Ted Cruz and Defense Secretary John Bolton, President Donald Trump implements by executive order a mass-deportation edict, countervailing federal-court injunctions on his immigration policies.

In the weeks before Operation Repatriation takes effect, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants take Mitt Romney up on his 2012 offer and return to their homeland. Tenancy in entire apartment complexes is decimated. Smaller hordes head north, defying the deployment of National Guard troops along the border with Mexico.

There is upheaval in undocumented communities, as non-citizens contemplate the impossibility of economic survival. To seek public assistance of any kind — police protection, welfare, healthcare, or legal representation — is now tantamount to surrendering to deportation. Employers, newly constrained by law, begin double-and triple-checking immigration status for all hires.

There is a sudden, inexorable labor crunch in industries where illegal workers are most represented, and mass disruptions of certain market streams. A great emptying-out impacts the aged-care, janitorial, landscaping, food-service, construction, fast-food, and agricultural sectors, followed by a scramble to fill positions with U.S. citizens willing and able to do the work.

Large demonstrations and violent riots occur and escalate. Legal challenges are banished by Trump’s popular executive action, but that does not stop a cluster of entities–from the ACLU to La Raza—from throwing eleventh-hour Hail, Marys.

A wall from San Diego to Brownsville, armed with weapons and surveillance technology that has survived the American military’s sequester-driven dress-down, has gotten its final tweaks. Those returning to Mexico and points south, either voluntarily or in custody, pass checkpoints most had avoided on the way in.

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WATCH: Meet Atlas the Humanoid Robot

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

We may be a few years out from the dawn of our robot overlords. But we can get a good look at their immediate ancestors. Boston Dynamics has been working on impressive robotics for the past few years, producing four-legged dog-like monstrosities with creepy life-like agility.

More recently, they’ve upped the ante with humanoid robots capable of negotiating real world terrain. From The Daily Mail:

The Atlas robot created by Google-owned firm Boston Dynamics is a formidable figure at 6ft 2in tall and weighing in at 330lb.

The robot boasts 28 hydraulically actuated joints and stereo vision, and is one of the most advanced robots ever created.

At some point, we’ll likely see a convergence of this technology with advances in facial simulation and artificial intelligence, and the world’s first true android will be born.

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Can an App Foster Altruism in the Local Community?

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Two Israeli app creators have claimed to develop the solution to the growing disillusionment with the false pretenses of social media: Angels Nearby. According to the Times of Israel:

Among the tools Angels Nearby employs is a search engine that connects people based on the type of help needed (lifts, loans, housing or feeding newcomers to town, etc.), “trust level” (everyone, Facebook friends only, friends of friends), and location (within 15 minutes travel time, etc.). Users seeking assistance type in the kind of help they need – home, kids, travel, pets, etc., and then their specific need.

Favor recipients can connect with the appropriate people offering assistance, choosing them based on trust level (for example, helpers with higher point ratings are assumed to be more competent and trustworthy; users are expected to use common sense before handing over their address to a helper).

The system operates based mainly on the willingness of the users to answer a call for help. While users earn points by a ratings system, there is no financial reward for those involved. Only active for a few months, the app already has a few thousand users in Israel. But, can an app really become “the go-to resource for community assistance and connection” its creators claim it will be?

The app’s potential really lies in the context of the culture in which it is used. Israelis are famous for being extraordinarily helpful to their neighbors. Aliyah stories are loaded with accounts of relative strangers pitching in to help out wherever needed. Israeli college professors made news earlier this year with their willingness not only to welcome students’ children into the classroom, but to help soothe them during lectures. Is it any wonder that an app geared toward volunteers would quickly garner so many users in a culture geared towards helping others in need?

How would this app fair in your neck of the woods?

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Jewish Artist Banned from European Music Fest

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Formerly Orthodox, still Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu was denied the ability to perform at the Rototom Sunsplash music festival in Spain because he refused to endorse Palestinian statehood. According to the Times of Israel:

Festival organizers were driven by intense pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the reports said. Artists scheduled to perform at the event threatened to cancel their appearances if Matisyahu were to perform because he was “seen to represent Israel.”

The organizers gave Matisyahu an ultimatum, telling him if he would “sign such a declaration [publicly affirming his support for the Palestinians, he] can perform,” according to Spanish daily, El Pais (Spanish Link).

Although not Israeli, Matisyahu has visited and performed in the Jewish state multiple times.

In a statement on Facebook, Rototom organizers said that the move was linked to “the festival’s sensitivity to Palestine, its people and the occupation of its territory by Israel.”

The front page of the Valencia-based festival’s website features a two-and-a-half hour video on pro-Palestinian activists holding Palestinian flags and decrying Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip.

Did you catch that? Matisyahu is Jewish, not Israeli. In other words, this wasn’t just about Israel, the pressure coming from the BDS movement targets Jews regardless of their nationality. The Spanish connotation, in this instance, adds the cherry to the creepy sundae. When flamingly liberal Jews like Jeffrey Goldberg observe, “In Spain, Jews are apparently still made to profess beliefs they don’t have,” you know there’s a serious problem.

In a statement responding to the incident, Matisyahu wrote in part, “Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements. Were any of the other artists scheduled to perform asked to make political statements in order to perform?”

John Podhoretz remarked, “There will be more of these loyalty oaths demanded of Jews–loyalties to anti-Zionism.”

Americans, by and large, tend to ignore the European music scene. After all, we’re the influencers of their pop culture. And it isn’t as if the Spice Girls were going to re-unite on this stage. Although this seems like a relative blip in music news, the ramifications are huge when it comes to the pushback against the BDS movement. Finally, overwhelming evidence exists that BDS isn’t just an Israel thing, isn’t just a movement against religious radicals in the desert. BDS is an anti-Semitic movement that targets Jews outright. Once again, Europe is caving to the fascists. Pray America does not.

 

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You Won’t Believe What My Son Was Called for Saying He Loves America and Supports the Police

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

The same bullies who booed Martin O’Malley off the stage at the Netroots convention a few weeks ago for saying “all lives matter” and the mob that shoved the elderly socialist Bernie Sanders off the stage for basically being too white (I guess?) are now spreading their hateful tentacles into my family. Last week my 21-year-old son was called a racist, a terrorist, and was compared to a Jew who was defending the German Gestapo, simply because of some comments he made on Facebook in response to this tweet:

My son said a bunch of (apparently) hateful, racist things like:

I ran into this tweet the other day and it frightened me. The fact that people are even willing to say this makes me sick to my stomach. The police are human…they make mistakes. Yes, their mistakes have typically worse consequences, but do you think an officer is proud or happy when he has to shoot a suspect? He has to live with that for the rest of his/her life.

(How could I have raised such a monster?)

He also made this (allegedly) terror-inducing comment:

How is this bringing peace and awareness to your cause? Shutting down speeches, cities, and highways all in the name of “justice”? Striking fear into the hearts of our police and getting whatever you want because the police are afraid to make arrests? How is this fair to the country, having people running around abolishing anything orderly and screaming for their cause? This movement, if it keeps going the way it is, will make for a downward spiral for the country. Cities will be shut down, the police will have no authority over criminals. I mean, do you realize what you’re fighting for? Essentially the only way to stop police killings is to destroy the police.

He added, “This may not always be a fair country, but it’s the one I love.”

Horrifying, isn’t it? (You can blame either the eleven years he was homeschooled or the two years he went to public school, depending upon whether or not you agree with him.)

Some guy my son doesn’t even know — a Ferguson protester who lives in Indianapolis…and teaches public school — responded to my son’s Facebook comment and basically told him that he’d better learn his place (his place is to sit down and shut up).

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I especially like the “racists who look like YOU” part. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be so proud that the movement he led to ensure people would be judged by the content of their character is now dominated by activists who believe only “black lives matter” and that people should be judged solely by the color of their skin.

Of course, this bothers me as a mother because I know my son is not a racist (nor is he a terrorist or a Gestapo sympathizer in case anyone is keeping track). But it also bothers me as an American. My son wasn’t being rude or disrespectful. He wasn’t using foul language or calling anyone names. He was calling for dialogue and understanding. Instead of a dialogue, this Facebook stranger (who has a picture on his Facebook page of that roasted pig wearing a cop hat) hurled epithets at my son and told him to shut up. That kind of rhetoric (if it can even be called that) does nothing to promote understanding or build bridges between people who disagree. It only brings about division and anger and ensures that these wounds will continue to fester. In a democratic society — as in a healthy adult relationship — “be quiet and listen” only works when both sides willingly agree to those terms and they take turns listening to one another. When one side forcefully imposes that standard on the other — and especially if the reason for doing so is because of something immutable like skin color — the result is a very unbalanced relationship — and, as we’re seeing, an egregiously unhealthy country.

 

 

 

 

 

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How Times Change, and Time Changes, the Longer You Live

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton

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A single trip into rural Pennsylvania to visit my grandmother in her retirement home, situated in the middle of Amish country between shops, diners, and churches with names like Dutch-Way, Kum Esse (“Come Eat”), and Friedens (“Peace”) Lutheran, may take 84 hours round trip. If Grandma, a 93-year-old paragon of elegance, is feeling well the whole time, we are fortunate to spend 14 of those hours with her over four days. (We wear her out.) The remaining 80 may divide as follows:

  • 20 hours – The main drive from Dayton to Pennsylvania and back, including drawn-out stops for meals, gas, and bathroom situations for children ages 4 months through 5 years.
  • 24 hours – Sleeping.
  • 5 hours – Driving to Hershey to ride the free Chocolate World ride at least twice, then to lunch at Troeg’s Brewery, then back to our “cottage” near Grandma’s.
  • 2 hours – standing at headstones, including my grandfather’s, in three or four area cemeteries.

That leaves 21 hours, an average of 5.25 hours per day, or 10.5 hours per non-travel day, to soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of Amish country however our hearts desire. For instance:

  • 1 hour – Playing on railroad tracks until trains force us off.
  • 7 hours – Detour to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and Sonny’s Famous Steaks.
  • 4 hours – Detour to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg and Hunt’s Battlefield Fries.

There are still nine hours left, but don’t ask me how we use them. If you haven’t noticed, time multiplies like loaves and fishes for a non-native visiting one’s elders in Pennsylvania (a process that Pennsylvania native John Updike described in his short story “The Other Side of the Street”).

Nowadays total trip time spent with my grandmother is less than 14 percent, down from 64 percent 20 years ago when she and my grandfather would visit us, or 48 percent when we would visit them. In those days we shared literally every waking moment. A major reason for the drop is that the number of waking moments are fewer. She needs more sleep, and when she wakes, mundane tasks like pill-sorting, pill-taking, dressing for daytime, then dressing for dinner, and writing letters exhaust (but do not depress) her.

Perhaps it is unremarkable that the total time with Grandma has diminished over the years, considering that her children, granchildren, and great-grandchildren live at least one state away and have their own families to raise. Time does not pause for each generation to assume the role of its predecessor.

What is remarkable is that the decrease in time spent with Grandma that I have outlined above has nothing to do with our families growing up, or living so many miles away, or the younger generations getting too busy.

On the contrary, our time with her is receding in precisely the same moments that we have dropped everything to gain more of it. Her sunset is the limiting factor, not our sunrises or high noons. Were we to spend a month with her, we would scarcely see her more. It is as if time itself were a puppet regime capable of granting its citizens free play within its walls, while secretly taking orders from a far-off emperor: death.

Death itself is a puppet regime that will one day be dethroned–“And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die”–a fact that makes our dwindling fraction of time with my grandmother not only appropriate but, strangely, uplifting.

On this subject, I recently wrote to my grandmother that on a prior visit to her, before my grandfather died, Grandpa told me he wanted to stand on the balcony to get some air.  The sun that he could barely see was setting and the flag that he had served was flapping below us, and after some talk about the sun and the flag , I said, “Grandpa, is it sad to be old?”

“No,” he said.  “As you get old, the body and mind get ready. It’s how God made them. It isn’t sad.” And we went in for pie.

 

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By 2030 China Could Have 294.6 Million Christians–Nearly Equaling Population of U.S.!

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by Tyler O'Neil
This new book from Templeton Press tells the fascinating story of the explosion of Christianity in China. Credit: Templeton Press

This new book from Templeton Press tells the fascinating story of the explosion of Christianity in China. Credit: Templeton Press

Are we seeing China transform from a mission field to a bastion of Christianity? Faith in Jesus Christ has spread like wildfire in the world’s most populous country — and A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China puts this remarkable trend in concrete numbers.

Missionary work in the Far East goes back over 1,000 years, but in the 1930s Americans thought it was a lost cause. Intellectuals mocked the reported millions of Chinese believers as “Rice Christians” – people desperate for the social services the Church provided, but likely to abandon faith in Jesus as soon as the missionaries left.

History tells a different story, however, and authors Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang have the data to prove it. As Stark told PJ Media in a phone interview, “When it became legal or safe to be revealed as a Christian, the ‘Rice Christians’ hadn’t quit, but had multiplied by a factor of three.” In another stunning twist, the more educated are more likely to become Christian.

Faith by the Numbers

Christianity — and religion in general — is still taboo in China. In the 1950s, the Communist government outlawed religion, persecuted faiths, and turned a blind eye when mobs destroyed churches and traditional temples. Because of this recent history, people are hesitant to declare their faith openly.

“Secularists love to brag that three quarters of Chinese are atheists,” Stark said, but a comprehensive 2007 study on religion in China showed that no less than 72 percent of Chinese had “venerated ancestral spirits by their graves” in the past year (p. 6). “You and I would say people who pray to the gods are engaged in religious activity,” Stark quipped.

In China, however, only official members of certain Buddhist temples or Christian churches are considered “religious.” Many Chinese express belief in Jesus but do not identify as religious or Christian in this institutional sense.

Christians, in particular, because of the threat of persecution, have a tendency to be wary of surveyors and claim that they are not Christian. Stark and Wang collected the names of house-church members across China, and gave them to the same company which performed the 2007 survey. 9 percent of these church members blatantly said they were not Christians. A full 62 percent refused to be interviewed (in the original study, only 38 percent of those polled declined to answer questions).

Since the results of such polls are “very much understated,” Stark and Wang had to estimate the number of Christians in China. Their work showed a 7 percent annual increase from 1980 to the present. In 1980, there were approximately 10 million Christians in China. In 2007, there were 61.1 million.

In China, dozens of churches open every week. By 2030, they estimated, there will be 294.6 million Christians — nearly the entire population of the United States.

Purified by Fire

But the story of Christianity in China is hardly one of easy, steady growth. There was a great deal of persecution, and Stark compared it to the persecution under the Roman Empire.

Stark and Wang tell the story of Wang Zhiming, an ordained pastor who was brutally executed in a stadium in 1973. His death sparked a riot, but his suffering was not in vain. When he was arrested in 1969, there were an estimated 3,000 Christians in his native city, Wuding. By 1980, the number had reached 12,000 (p.60).

Peter Joseph Fan Xueyan was ordained in Rome and became bishop of Baoding. In 1958, he was arrested for remaining loyal to the Pope and sent to a forced labor camp. After a series of releases, re-arrests, and further torture, police dumped a plastic bag holding Bishop Fan’s frozen body in front of a family member’s home. Although officials said he died of pneumonia, the body had broken bones and other injuries which indicate extensive torture.

While the government imposed martial law to prevent people from attending Bishop Fan’s funeral, at least 10,000 paid their respects (p. 55).

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Live Video: Watch PJM Writer Max Steinberg Make His DFS Picks, And Maybe You’ll Win $1,000 Like I Just Did. Yes Really.

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by David Steinberg

Watch golf? Know anything about golf? I don’t.

But I know PJ Media writer Max Steinberg just made the final table at the World Series of Poker, and I know his co-bloggers at DailyFantasyWinners.com have made hundreds of thousands applying their statistical research skill to playing daily fantasy sports.

So I looked here at their picks for last weekend’s PGA Championship, spent five minutes doing exactly what they recommended, and now I’m off to surprise my wife with something from Saks.

Max is running a livestream with tonight’s picks right now (2:15 p.m EST). You can also start the video from the beginning whenever you want. Watch here:

Watch live video from DailyFantasyWinners on www.twitch.tv

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What Do You Think of This Black Lives Matter Meme?

Monday, August 17th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

alldreamsmatter

For over a year now, we’ve been hearing the mantra that “black lives matter.” Many have responded by saying that all lives matter, whether black or not. Black Lives Matter activists insist that special attention needs to be paid to black lives right now.

The above meme compares that debate to the rhetoric of the Civil Rights era. What if, when Martin Luther King articulated his dream, whites responded by saying “all dreams matter?” Wouldn’t that sentiment miss the point?

Perhaps. Then again, King’s dream encompassed all people and inspired unity. Can the same be said of Black Lives Matter?

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11 Tricks Humanities Majors Need to Survive in the Real World

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton

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Across America, college students are resigning their summer internships to return to studying a field of their choice that may–or may not–lead to gainful employment right out of the gate.

Recently my college, having discovered that I have cobbled my English major into a not-terrible career, invited me to sit on a panel to advise current English majors on how to be less unemployed.

On my drive home from south-central Michigan, my car broke down in the Ohio grasslands five miles north of rural Paulding, Ohio (population: 3,544).

So listen up, kids: forget everything I said. I made most of it up anyway. Here’s how it really works.

11. Ride Fiction As Far As You Can Before Ditching It. 

Let’s assume you learned somewhere between Homer and Billy Collins that solving real-world problems begins with confronting reality. But unlike your classmates who will soon hold STEM jobs and own two Hondas to your inherited Buick, you understand that reality is more fluid than fact. (Think about it: The Odyssey isn’t factual—but it is true).

So if the facts are telling you to have a mechanic check out your sporadic electrical surges and power failures before a 200-mile trip—who cares? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have miles to go before you sleep. Drive on.

10. Build Momentum Before Crossing Railroad Tracks. 

This isn’t a metaphor. There are actual railroad tracks carrying fast trains like the ones you never should have read about in Atlas Shrugged. Some of these move over ground uphill of you. If you get stuck on them while Ayn Rand is approaching, you will die. So drive up to them with enough speed to hurtle your fledgling vessel across them.

9Block Country Road Intersections. 

Eventually your car will stop functioning. When it does, don’t embarrass yourself. When was the last time you thought, “I’d like to help that idiot flailing his arms six inches from a speeding vehicle?” Never. The trick is to roll or push your dying car to a T-intersection consisting of the highway and a country road leading God-knows where. Travelers seeing you will think, “No idiot would stop there unless he had to.” They will infer—for the moment–that you are neither an idiot nor a Truman Capote psychopath, and pull over.

8. Get (and Charge) a Powerful Smartphone. 

For your first few years living in relative poverty, you’ll console yourself that you studied literature because you, like Thoreau, didn’t want “to waste your life earning a living.” Congratulations. But before you hit 30 you’ll realize that (a) Thoreau left Walden after just two years, and that (b) Thoreau built his own cabin, with his two hands, for like $8. What can you build, other than loan interest? Nothing. So, poor as you are, you can’t afford to forego a decent smartphone. A good one empowers you to do anything. It’s like a liberal arts education, only cheaper. Just remember to charge it. When all the mechanics have closed for the day, you will need at least 2 percent battery life for #7.

7Hitchhike. 

Suppose a Good Samaritan comes along. He wears a General Motors shirt, and he appreciates the irony that he works the line but cannot fix your car. Instead, he helps push your car across the highway to a nearby driveway, yelling, “Not yet, dawg, there’s a semi!” Use your dying phone to search for hotels, which he swears you will not find in Paulding. Your smartphone will prove him wrong. Once you book a room, ask him to drive you to the B & B you found, which he won’t believe exists until he drops you off there—half a mile down the street from his own house.

6. Join a Labor Union. 

Do what it takes to avoid getting tossed from his vehicle:

“Where is it you’re coming from?”

“Visiting my college.”

“Ohhh. Your college. Right. You’re lucky I stopped. I never do this.”

“Me either.”

“What is it you do?”

“I was a teacher, then a political consultant. Now I guess I’m a writer.”

“Political. Democrat?” [Hopefully.]

“Nope.” [Silence.]

“I knew I should have left you back there.”

“Probably.”

“I’m unionized.”

“My wife’s uncle worked for GM. He had a union.

“Hmmm.” [Shaking his head; decelerates.]

“Also my brother-in-law’s dad. He was a GM man in Michigan all his career.”

“Detroit?” [Hopefully.]

“Flint.” [Hopefully.]

“Ohhh, yeah, Flint. Big GM plant up that way. [Accelerates.] You’re alright.”

You are indeed.

Continue reading #5: Pray for God to Drop Money Down from the Sky…

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Would You Want to Know Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack in the Next Five Years?

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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Being mortal, we are all under sentence of death, but the execution of the sentence is more imminent in some of us than in others. People who suffer from angina, for example, are aware that they could suffer a fatal heart attack at any time; and even if human beings can accommodate themselves to most situations, the awareness of the threat in the back of one’s mind must be disconcerting, to say the least.

Would we wish to know our statistical risk of death in the next five years? I suppose we vary in this as in everything else: there is no hard and fast rule.

The question went through my mind as I read a paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors took a defined group of patients – those with stable angina and type II diabetes – and measured their troponin levels. Troponin is an enzyme that is found in the blood when the heart muscle is damaged by infarction, but with a new technique it is possible to measure much slighter increases in the level than previously.

The authors found that, of 2285 patients who came within the study, the 897 who had slightly raised levels of troponin had nearly twice the risk of fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke within the next five years compared with those who did not have a raised level. This increased risk persisted after adjustment for as many relevant variables as they could think of, so the relationship is probably a real one and not merely a statistical artifact. 27.1 per cent of patients with raised troponin levels suffered fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke in the succeeding five years compared with 12.9 per cent of those with normal troponin levels.

The authors assigned their patients at random to normal medical treatment or to such medical treatment plus angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft. What they found was that the additional treatment made no difference to the outcome. In other words, it was useless except from the economic point of view of those carrying it out. However, they did find that the risk of fatal or non-fatal heart attack and stroke was considerably increased in the small percentage of patients whose troponin levels rose by more than 25 per cent during the study.

Perhaps one day the knowledge of an increased 5-year risk of fatal or nonfatal heart attack or stroke will become useful, for progress is constantly being made.  But if you were a patient with stable angina and Type II diabetes, would you want to know that your risk of fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke in the next five years was 29.1 per cent rather than 12.9 per cent? What would you do with this information if you had it? If the figures were 100 per cent and 1 per cent respectively, they might be of some use, for many of us want to settle our affairs before we die; but, apart from increasing our level of anxiety slightly, what use to us are the figures? Of course, if we fell into the 12.9 per cent risk group, we might feel slightly better, for, regrettably, it is a comfort to us to know that others are worse off than we.

There was a curious omission in the paper, as in many other papers of this type. Initially, 2368 patients were recruited but only 2285 of them ‘were successfully analyzed for troponin concentrations.’ Why were the other 83 (3.6 per cent) not successfully analysed? Were their samples lost in transit, put in the wrong bottles, mislabeled, etc.? If this is what happens during trials, with all their elaborate checks and a plethora of staff, what happens in normal circumstances? This is an important point, for it means that the benefits to be expected from medical practice in normal circumstances are thereby slightly overestimated by comparison with the benefits found in trials.

 Image via Shutterstock

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