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Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge, Part 1: The Mask of Marxism

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Editor’s Note: See the introduction to this series here: Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…

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“Seen through the perspective of history, Marxism was actually such a raw, ill-defined and malleable philosophy that one could make of it whatever one wished.”

- Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

For Lenin, Marxism was a tool to enact his own version of the Russian autocracy his Communist Party claimed to destroy. Lenin exercised his autocratic power in much the same way as the Czars: through his own secret police, the Cheka. “Lenin’s new political police was the fastest expanding Soviet organization after the Revolution: it had started out with only 23 men, but within a couple of years it had numbered over 200,000 employees.”

Stalin, who had grown up under the watchful eye of the Czar’s secret police, was so acculturated to the concept that he embraced it with full fervor, crafting Lenin’s brigade into the GPU, a secret police force answerable only to Stalin himself. The GPU deported Trotsky. Re-christened the OGPU, it weeded out Lenin’s Bolshevik party. Then, re-named the NKVD, the secret police force liquidated the Red Army and Supreme Military Council. 3 name changes and 7 million lives later, the NKVD (later to be re-named ”KGB”) secured a firm stranglehold on Soviet Russia. Yet Stalin, adored by his people, remained above the fray, the “Little Father” to his people, thanks to the disinformation campaign mounted and executed by the intelligence wing of the NKVD.

The malleability of Marxism explains why, despite mounds of physical evidence, Marxist ideology is still ardently defended by those who claim to be Marxists, but who haven’t had the “privilege” of living under Marxist rule. An architectural plan can look great on paper to an unskilled eye. The most ardent voices who speak out against Marxist regimes are the ones who’ve had the unfortunate experience of living under them. They’re the skilled eyes who can easily tell that the blueprints will generate a crumbling structure.

If acculturation is the key to an individual’s interpretation of Marx, it is easy to understand why Marxism is so popular among the young upper-classes who have never struggled, nor suffered economically. It’s easy to be a Marxist when you’ve got the latest smartphone and can Tweet out your wants, needs, and location of the nearest FedEx where you can pick them up. It becomes harder to defend the philosophy when you’re living under the autocratic ruler who you empowered, whose government and economy have rendered technology unaffordable and/or unaccessible, and who has stripped your town of its grain and redistributed it to more productive, and therefore more worthy, citizens.

So, what of this side of the globe where Marxism walked down the yellow brick road of liberalism? How have intellectual Wizards manipulated Marxism to acculturate the American mind leftward? Stay tuned for the next seed of knowledge from Pacepa.

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We’re All Minorities Now

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson
Anyone can find themselves alone against the world.

Anyone can find themselves alone against the world.

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: Presenting to a Tea Party group in Minnesota, Minority Liberty Alliance president Walter Hudson explains why every human being can rightfully claim minority status.

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(19:42 minutes long; 18.98 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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The Sun Rises Over The Spot Where Martin Luther King, Jr. Made History

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
I Have A Dream Sunrise (1)

I am always amazed to watch so many people walk over and not even notice this marker on the steps of the Lincoln Memoral where Martin Luther King gave his “Dream” speach. — Mark Baird

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms

An Awe-Inspiring Blue and Pink Sunset at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

A Soothing Orange And Blue Sunset at the Lincoln Memorial

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By Request: Shriekback, ‘All Lined Up’

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Here’s a request from Nina Smith, who writes, “Nobody but me seems to remember this, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world without it. It’s not available in digital form for love or money; I still play my 30+ year-old vinyl copy!” Check out “All Lined Up” by Shriekback.

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A Soothing Orange And Blue Sunset at the Lincoln Memorial

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
DC Sunset Lincoln

Another great photo from Mark Baird from our nation’s capital.

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms

An Awe-Inspiring Blue and Pink Sunset at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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Israeli Women, Part 4: Great Ladies of Hebrew Song

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

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Editor’s Note: Please check out the previous installments of this ongoing series. 

Israeli Women, Part 1: Ace Pilots Reporting for Duty

Israeli Women, Part 2: Island of Progress in a Dark Sea

Israeli Women, Part 3: The Jews’ Iron Lady, Golda Meir

Songs have played a huge role in Israeli nation-building. With Jews immigrating to the land from all over the world, an incredibly diverse mix of influences had to be sifted into the musical melting pot. And yet, even in pioneering days well before the declaration of statehood in 1948, songs of distinct, unmistakable Israeli (or what came to be called Israeli) character started emerging.

The Zionist enterprise was not an easy one, beset with economic hardship and violent attacks, and songs were a huge morale-booster. Public sing-a-longs, often with dancing, were a staple of life in the rural settlements and also became part of the general culture. Songs ran the gamut of human experience, but love for the restored land, and heroism and mourning connected to wars and battles, were common themes especially on the collective level. Songs using biblical motifs and passages were also very popular.

Women have been among Israel’s greatest creators and performers of songs. Here I can only offer a few examples from dozens of worthy cases.

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The Difference Between Happiness and Joy

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Last week here at PJ Lifestyle, we saw a lively debate over the difference between altruism and giving out of love — particularly in a Judeo-Christian context. My colleagues Walter Hudson and Susan L. M. Goldberg eloquently shared their thoughts on the nature of altruism in a series of compelling posts:

April 6: Altruism Has No Place In Christianity

April 8: Altruism In Religion’s Free Market

April 9: Love And Altruism Prove Opposite

Walter, Susan, our editor David Swindle, and I continued the discussion on Facebook, which morphed into a bigger exploration of faith and religion. At one point, Susan brought up the notion we often hear from secularists that “God doesn’t want us to be happy.” I replied:

I don’t think God wants us to be happy, either. He wants us to be filled with joy. Happiness is temporal and circumstantial, while joy is sustained.

There’s a clear difference between happiness and joy. Circumstances and relationships determine our happiness. An ice cream cone can make you happy. A great comedy can make you happy. An upbeat song (even that ubiquitous Pharrell Williams tune) can make you happy. But happiness is transitory and momentary — and ultimately external. Psychologist Sandra A. Brown writes (particularly in the context of relationships):

Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. Happiness is connected to your hope for a relationship or your hope for a future with someone….

Happiness is future oriented and it puts all its eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness.

And happiness can disappear as quickly as it comes. The same people who make us happy one moment can hurt us or let us down the next. That great meal you ate can give you unbearable heartburn. You can grow tired of the songs, films, and shows you once loved. A storm can ruin that perfect trip to the beach. The happiness we seek can often disappear without warning.

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Have You Done Enough for God This Easter?

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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On Saturday I made what my Polish family calls “yellow.” It’s a sweet egg custard concoction that I remember my grandmother making every Easter when we visited. She always prepared the “yellow” the day before Easter and it would hang overnight, suspended between two kitchen chairs, wrapped in a cheesecloth, dripping excess moisture so the cheesy blob of yellow would be firm for Easter dinner the next day (the consistency of the finished product is somewhere between that of pudding and cream cheese).

No one in my family even likes “yellow.” I’m not sure why I made it — probably out of a sense of tradition and also for the feeling of accomplishment I get from creating something that required a bit of effort. Perhaps for the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing my part to contribute to my family’s Easter dinner.

When I was making the “yellow” that no one will likely even eat on Sunday, I was thinking about how we try to do that with God. Sometimes, we do things out of a sense of tradition. We “inherit” a faith from our parents and continue to perform the traditions out of either a sense of duty or a desire to honor our family’s heritage.

Other times, we approach God with something in our hands — confident that we have accomplished something that will please Him. If we work hard enough and put enough effort into our faith (or our good works), God will appreciate our effort and approve of us.

As I was stirring the custard on the stove (for a full 40 minutes!) I thought about my own propensity for doing both of those things — both my reliance on faith traditions and my smug assurance that my “doing” is what makes me right before God.

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By Request: Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers, ‘I’m Seventeen’

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Here’s a request from Bill Lawrence. Enjoy “I’m Seventeen” by Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers.

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An Awe-Inspiring Blue and Pink Sunset at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
DC Sunset Jefferson Memorial

Another winner from Mark Baird’s collection.

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms

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3 Times I Was Framed for Murder – And How You Can Be, Too

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by Robert Spencer

Aslanthreat

Have you ever been blamed for a murder? Speak out against jihad terror, and you probably will be. It has happened to me three times (so far):

3. Reza Aslan blames me for murder of Muslim woman in California.

Last Thursday in El Cajon, California, an Iraqi Muslim named Kassim Alhimidi was found guilty of murdering his wife, Shaima Alawadi, after she had told him that she wanted a divorce.

Before Alhimidi was arrested, this murder was widely reported as an “Islamophobic hate crime”: a note was found by Alawadi’s body that read, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” Leftists and Islamic supremacists made a great deal of this, claiming that the murder was the work of an “Islamophobe” who hated Shaima Alawadi for wearing a hijab. They even staged a campaign, “One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi.”

Reza Aslan, the celebrated author of Zealot, bashed out a sub-literate tweet blaming Pamela Geller and me for the murder: “If a 32 year old veiled mother is a terrorist than [sic] so am I you Islamophobic fucks Gellar [sic] Spencer et. [sic] al. Come find me.” When Alhimidi was arrested and it became clear that this was not an “Islamophobic hate crime” at all, I asked Aslan for a retraction and an apology, whereupon he showed yet again what a classy and mature individual he is, tweeting: “You owe me an apology for that beard you sexy walrus.”

In any case, the whole “hate crime” aspect of Shaima Alawadi’s murder was staged to deflect attention from the real murderer. Now that it has been definitively established that the murder was an Islamic honor killing, will the Leftists and Islamic supremacists who made so much of the hate crime now stage “One Million Hijabs Against Honor Killing”? Somehow I doubt it.

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Where Was Jesus on Saturday Between His Death and Resurrection?

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Crossway has a great video series on the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — the event Christians around the world will celebrate on Sunday. Filmed in conjunction with Crossway’s book The Final Days of Jesus, the short videos feature theologians and biblical scholars presenting the historical and theological meaning of the events surrounding Easter.

Holy Week, Day 7: Saturday features interviews with New Testament scholars Andreas Köstenberger and Douglas Moo. Dr. Köstenberger explores the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial as well as first century burial customs. Dr. Moo explains where he believes Jesus was on the Saturday before the resurrection, referring to 1 Peter 3 which talks about Christ preaching to spirits in prison.

Dr. Moo says, “Traditionally, a lot of people have thought [1 Peter 3] refers to Jesus between his death and resurrection, going to Hades, proclaiming the victory he had won, even perhaps proclaiming the gospel to people who had died so they would have a chance to respond to the grace of God in Christ.”

Allowing that it’s a complicated and controversial issue, Moo said he believes that instead the 1 Peter 3 passage is talking about Jesus at his ascension, “proclaiming his victory over evil spiritual beings.” According to Moo, that is how most contemporary scholars are interpreting that text. “If that’s true,” says Moo, “then we don’t really have any New Testament evidence that Jesus went to Hades or went to Hell between his death and resurrection.”

Moo said that the best guess is that Jesus was in the presence of the Father on Saturday.

“He tells the thief on the cross that he would be together with him in paradise that day,” said Moo. “And our best guess — and it’s not much more than that — is that Jesus was indeed in the presence of the Father before his body was raised on Easter Sunday morning. “

Do you agree with Dr. Moo or do you believe Jesus was somewhere else on Saturday?

Watch the rest of the videos in the series here:

The Final Days of Jesus: Monday

The Final Days of Jesus: Tuesday

The Final Days of Jesus: Wednesday

The Final Days of Jesus: Thursday

The Final Days of Jesus: Friday

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10 Thought-Provoking Podcasts With Walter Hudson

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Editor’s Note: A goal for weekends this year has been to start highlighting and promoting some of PJ Lifestyle’s tremendously talented writers. See this collection here of our Top 50 List Articles of 2013 to get a broad overview.

Now we’re going to begin focusing more on individual writers. The first in this series is my friend Walter Hudson, a gifted jack-of-all-trades writer-podcaster-political-activist-culture-warrior who continually challenges and inspires me. I included five of Walter’s list articles in the top 50 list but there are many more pieces of his in other styles and mediums those who are new to his work should read. In addition to these five I’ll select five more that showcase some of his core themes for volume one of his greatest hits collection. But to get started, I invite you to check out these installments of Walter’s addictive podcast that were featured the past two weeks at PJ Lifestyle.

Get caught up each weekend on the podcasts you may have missed as these expanding compilations grow when new episodes are recorded and released. Over the coming weeks Walter is going to continue to build on and explore these and more themes in his own monologues and in dialogues with more guests. If you have any feedback or ideas for subjects you’d like Walter to explore please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Dave Swindle

1. ‘Shelter In Place’ or Lay Down and Die?

2. Christianity’s Contribution to Progressive Politics

3. Who Owns Compassion in Politics?

4. Is Jeb Bush Right on Immigration?

5. Don’t Fear the Future (Interview with Bonnie Ramthun)

6. Making Racism Impotent

7. The Danger of Utopia

8. What Is ‘The Right’ Anyway? (Part 1 of a dialogue with Dave Swindle)

9. Anarchists Among Us (Part 2 with Dave Swindle)

10. Battling for the Conservative Soul (Part 3 concluding with Dave Swindle)

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3 Pro Secrets to Double Your Freelance Writing Income In 2 Years

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Editor’s Note: this article compiles parts 1-4 of Kathy’s “How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years” series that ran this week from Tuesday through Friday.

No one needs a reminder that it’s tax time.

We Canadians don’t have to file until April 30, but that doesn’t lessen the sting for those of us who actually work for a living — especially if, like me, you run your own business.

My accountant just gave me the “good news, bad news”:

The bad news is, I owe a low five-figure amount to the taxman right now. I’ll also have to cough up quarterly payments this year on top of that — something I normally don’t have to do.

That’s because — and this is where the good news comes in — as a freelance writer, I earned more in 2013 than I ever did before, even when I was working at a “normal” cubicle job.

In fact, last year’s revenues were almost double what I earned as a freelancer in 2011.

Throughout this week, I’ll try to explain (to you and myself) how I went from making an average to an above-average income.

Believe me, none of these “lessons” will be terribly earth-shattering.

I certainly can’t promise that they’re universally applicable, either, or will even still work for me in six weeks or six years.

That said, they may still provide some food for thought at a time of year when we’re all forced to review our own individual bottom lines.

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15 Creative Writers Constructing a New Counterculture at Liberty Island

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the fourth collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Each weekend we’ll expand this compilation to include the authors featured during the week. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

4. Ray Zacek: The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

5. Keith Korman: ‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

6. Abbey Clarke: A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

7. Jamie Wilson: A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

8. Clay Waters: ‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

9. Todd Seavey: ‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

10. Stephen McDonald: ‘Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

11. Pierre V. Comtois: Golfing on the Moon

12. Aaron Smith: ‘I Spell ‘Magicks’ With a ‘K’ to Both Confound Proofreaders and to Signify It’s Not a White-Bunny-Being-Pulled-Out-of-The-Hat Kind of Magic.’

13. Ken Lizzi: A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland

14. Ted Elrick: ‘When a Guy’s Got That Kind of Control, You Gotta Admire It.’

15. Frank J. Fleming: Who Murdered the Dinosaurs?

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The 10 Best Movies to Watch to Understand the Cold War

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 - by James Jay Carafano

The last bobsled had barely finished its run when Vladimir Putin pounced in Ukraine, snatching Crimea and massing troops for his next move.  The Russian “reset” was dead, as even its author, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, admitted.

Relations with Moscow look to get worse. That doesn’t necessarily mean that another Cold War will break out. But what if it does? Many Americans aren’t old enough to remember when the Iron Curtain was Moscow’s drapery of choice. It’s time for a refresher course.

Superpower rivalry started almost as soon as the “good” war, World War II, ended. Most Americans were indifferent, until the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. That really brought the Cold War home to Main Street.

Americans were worried that the invasion of South Korea was just the first skirmish in another global conflict. Having just saved the world a few years earlier, they weren’t excited about having to do it again, particularly since this time both sides had the atomic bomb.

The U.S. also had Hollywood, and Tinsel Town cranked up the cameras and marched off to the Cold War. Here are the 10 movies that give a very good feel for what that war was all about.

10. Invasion U.S.A.

This 1952 Cold War classic (not to be confused with the 1985 Chuck Norris epic in which he karate chops his way through transnational terrorists threatening the homeland) was one of the first films from a major studio to exploit emergent war hysteria. Columnist Hedda Hopper declared, “It will scare the pants off you.” At the time, she was probably right. In retrospect, the film, which cuts-and-pastes a lot of stock military footage, is pretty laughable. A great drinking game would be just pointing out all the scenes that don’t make sense, like when “enemy” paratroopers descend on Washington, D.C., jumping out of what are obviously U.S. military planes. Still, the film made its point. Americans couldn’t be indifferent to the menace from Moscow.

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Wire Method, ‘Keep On’

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Here’s a terrific song by an up-and-coming band from north Georgia. Not to name drop, but that’s my pastor’s son in the purple shirt… Enjoy “Keep On” by Wire Method.

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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
She was warned.  But this indie writer couldn't keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

She was warned. But this indie writer couldn’t keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

No, no, no, this is not alluding to Glenn Reynold’s study of the education bubble.  What I’m talking about here are the various crazy making pitfalls that haunt the indie writer.

Mind you, it wasn’t all that easy to be a traditionally published author either.  This is Sarah, and I was traditionally published for over ten years before I first dipped toe into indie waters with a publishing company I control (Goldport Press) and the innards and numbers of which I could see moment to moment.

As … ah… interesting as my first publication experience was, I’m sure I must have driven my editor crazier than any other writer had driven her before.  I wanted to know moment to moment what they were doing to promote the book – turned out nothing, but she couldn’t tell me that, I guess – and also how the book was doing.  I don’t think she could tell me the latter if she wanted. Statements the traditional way involve some arcane sampling, a lot of relying on Nielsen’s, and, in the more scrupulously run places, a counting of what came in for which book. (In the big houses none of this is very accurate because the practices date back to the early century “estimated printruns” accounting.)

Anyway, they wouldn’t have any numbers for a good six months, maybe longer, and to ask for them must have driven the editor insane.

Fortunately in indie, at least with a company you control, or an editor who will put up with you asking often enough, there’s a lot of data coming in from the very first minute.

I discovered the fascination of checking my numbers when I first put up one of my backlist short stories. This is a short story whose rights had reverted to me, and I decided to see if it would sell – I forget what it was, but I THINK it was The Play and The Thing.

Anyway, I put it up, and started checking. Considering it made me $12 that first month, you may guess how slowly that ticker moved.  But I had to check and itemize the milestones.  “Ooh, ooh, first sale in England.”

Then I put up a lot more stories and there were still times of driving myself insane: for instance, when I had a freebie running, I kept checking to see how many I’d given away, and if it was budging the others at all.

It did make the other sales go up (I do put links to similar stories at the back of the book, mind.) Two years ago, from November through Jan. I was making $400 a month and kept checking to see it go up.

Then came the summer-of-sales-death, last year. Nothing moved. I mean, my income dipped down under $100 for a month.  And for a while there I thought it was going to be $12. I swear all the sales came in the last week.

Still, largely, I had it under control.  I made myself check only once a week.  Even then it was enough to worry me.  Take the month ONLY No Will but His sold until the twentieth.  I was wondering what the heck was wrong.

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

Until this month, when I put out Witchfinder, my first indie novel.  And then the checking every hour or so started.

It’s been okay – with minor hiccups – save for… after the fifteenth.  Honestly, if I weren’t also selling used books via Amazon (mostly the kids’ old textbooks but also some specialized research I bought years ago and will never touch again) I’d think there was something wrong with my books.  But no.  The sales on the used books dipped even lower than the ebook ones, and I had my first day (in two weeks, granted) of no sales, yesterday.

My husband says this is known of every businessman for the two weeks after taxes.  Who knew?

So – in the interest of saving you from going as crazy as I am, here are some rules for indie mind-space management.

1-      Yes, you could suddenly sell 100 copies in the next ten minutes.  But there’s nothing you can do to make them do so, and if you sell them or not, the result is the same without you watching the numbers.  Try to limit yourself to say early morning and late at night.

2-      Stop trying to interpret patterns in your sales.  That’s like reading tea leaves but less coherent.  Why is it that as I was doing a big push on Witchfinder, I suddenly started selling my little how-to booklet May You Write Interesting Books all across the outlets?  Who knows?  Maybe people read Witchfinder and it was wonderful and they want books on how to do that?  OTOH maybe a writers group with 40 people, somewhere in Kansas (or online and all over the country) discovered the booklet.  This stuff happens.  At any rate, I can’t influence it.

3-      Why does the first book in a series sell very well, the next sells okay, and the third one sells not at all.  Death of A Musketeer is a good seller every month; The Musketeer’s Seamstress sells pretty well; The Musketeer’s Apprentice sells not at all.  This puzzle is made more complex by the fact that the fourth book, The Musketeer’s Inheritance, is selling like crazy.  Yes, The Musketeer’s Apprentice has a bad review (for the Berkley version.  There was some… interesting editing).  But surely people who trust me with the other books would give it a chance?  Or did I go nuts and have a spelling mistake on the cover?  (It wouldn’t be the first time.)  If it does, I can’t see it, so maybe it is the fact that online selling, because of the huge market place involved (all the world) slips the bonds of logic to an extent.  It partakes the mechanics of a sand pile.  There might be a reason that grain moved and not that other, but the calculations would be infinitely complex.  As for knowing how to start an avalanche of sales; if anyone knew how, the big companies would be doing it.  So, stop checking the numbers and go write.

4-      You are human.  I keep telling people this in hopes they’ll make me believe it. There will be mistakes.  Some typos will escape you.  For instance, I know there are five typos in Witchfinder because I’ve got that many lists with at least one valid typo.  The others (curiously, usually five, also) were only things people thought were typos.  (Guys, the subjunctive is not a typo.  Main publishing houses decided to eliminate it in copyediting about ten years ago because “it’s old fashioned.”  That’s like saying the possessive is old-fashioned.  It reads strange to you because you haven’t seen it, but this ex-English-teacher (ESL) begs you to look it up and reacquaint yourself with it.)  That many typos – and more – escape the big publishers.  Take a deep breath and stop cowering.  My worst snafu was when my glasses weren’t working and I missed a row of “ghost” text, (the title, misspelled and upside down) on my cover of Something Worse Hereafter.  (And yes, that cover is a crime against humanity or at least humanity’s eyes.  I’m redoing the old ones as I have time. It was all cutting edge at the time!) Oh, that was fun.  Also, no one said anything until a fan asked me what that meant.)  You know what, I survived it.  You are human, not a machine, and your errors are probably not worse than things big publishing houses have done.

5-      Not to say you should put stuff out and never look again.  One of the best things about indies is that we can be flexible and fast, like the English ships against the Armada.  Lacking formidable size, we have adaptability.  Keep your ear to the ground.  Form connections.  Learn if your cover style is out of date, or if your pricing has fallen out of sinc with trends.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to goose sales.  But don’t change your cover every day or your price every week.  Take a deep breath.  Set yourself a time, like every three months, and do it then.

6-      Write the next book.  Even if you are the best salesperson in the world, the best way to sell a book is to write the next one.  That way you have many more chances one of them will take off, and when it does, you might start an unstoppable avalanche of sales.  At least there will be a chance.  So, shut up and go write!


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates. A novella of a galaxy returned to the explorers after civilization has collapsed, again.


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

tro·phy ['trō-fē] tar·get [ˈtär-gət] – A uniquely high value individual captured and used by an enemy as leverage for political, military or other strategic purposes

Deep in the jungle of French Guiana, a once anonymous soldier of the French Foreign Legion mysteriously disappears. Days later, word reaches his younger brother, Prince Erik Rohde, second in line to the Danish throne. Doubting the government’s capabilities and questioning the Prime Minister’s sincerity, Erik turns to the world’s top mercenary, Fadi Khaldun, to rescue his brother.

Fadi Khaldun is a former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past. In his new life as a hired gun, clients contract Fadi to rescue hostages, avenge the deaths of loved ones and destroy terrorist and organized crime rings in the deadliest conflict zones on the planet. Now he embarks on his most high profile and dangerous job yet to rescue the crown prince of Denmark. From the jungles of South America to the mountains of South East Asia, Fadi meticulously hunts the prince’s kidnappers while enemies at the highest level of government conspire against him.


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

Bled white by corrupt politicians, the country has bottomed out.

Each day is an effort to survive with the meager remnants of what’s left.

When Sophie Cook is found dazed after a brutal assault by local thugs, she is considered an outsider in the town she must now call home. Only with the help of Wolf Harndon, can she get by.

Life is hard, almost impossible. In Wolf, Sophie sees compassion. In Sophie, Wolf sees a future he didn’t believe existed.

Peace is a fantasy as long as the Russells continue their raids. Wolf is tasked with stopping them. That’s when the war begins and the losses start.

Wolf and Sophie have no idea that even with nothing, there is still so much to lose.

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

A compelling legal novel by the best selling author of “An Involuntary Spy”. Brent Marks had paid his dues as a lawyer, having taken his share of divorces and drunk driving cases over his 20 year career, but had finally reached a place in his life where he could take on cases of social importance. What he least expected was for April Marsh’s predatory lending case against the big banks for wrongful foreclosure on her parent’s home to turn into a murder investigation. April’s mother was murdered. Her father was beaten within an inch of his life, and she believes their predatory lender is to blame. Are banks really that above the law?


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 4)

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Here’s the last post in my series.

Today’s advice sounds pretty harsh, but I prefer the word “realistic”:

3. Trust No One (Not Even Yourself)

Seconds from now, that editor who gives you all those juicy assignments will be fired, or promoted to management, or sent to rehab.

That new client who seemed so easy to work with (and so flush with cash) will turn out to be stark raving mad.

The company you’ve worked with for years will go bankrupt. Or their office will go up in flames.

Not all these things have happened to me, but enough have that I never count on people, and circumstances, to stay in stasis.

An older, wiser writer told me recently, after I finished whining about my shabby treatment at the hands of a longtime colleague:

“These people are not your friends.”

The people you work for, and with, prioritize their own financial and personal well-being — as they should.

And those are the sane ones. You will also work for, and with, individuals who are unstable and untrustworthy.

(Although, if you learn to listen to — and obey — your gut, you’ll be able to keep most of them out of your life.)

(That is: ”Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”)

Diversify. Don’t spend money before you get it. A promise is not a contract.

Accept more work than you think you can handle, because at least one of those gigs will implode.

(And if it doesn’t, you’ll discover you were capable of working harder than you thought…)

Don’t trust yourself, either. I hate my “clown car calendar” and my copious Post-It Notes and noisy alerts.

I hate having to write down even the dumbest, most obvious idea because if I don’t I’ll forget it seconds later.

That said, I hate myself a lot more when I can’t extract that brilliant sentence from my brain when I need it.

Newsflash: We’re all human. Your clients will let you down.

And you probably aren’t the effortlessly organized dynamo with the photographic memory you pretend to be.

If you accept your own limitations, and other peoples’, you may actually find yourself enjoying more success than you ever thought possible.

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

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Pilot Episode, Scarecrow & Mrs. King (1983)

I dig spy movies. TV shows, too. Most kids growing up in the last decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall have fond memories of their first TV heroine being Jem or She-Ra. Mine was Amanda King. At 8 years old I wanted to partner up with an ultra-cool spy like Scarecrow (code named as a member of the Oz Network - as in Wizard of) and take down the Evil Empire in our midst. So, of course, when my editor Dave Swindle approached me with the opportunity to partner up with KGB defector Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa for a little intelligence gathering, how could I refuse?

Pacepa’s latest book, Disinformation reads like a Russian epic. The chronicle of facts detailing the Soviet disinformation campaign that disarmed American intellectual, political and academic circles over the course of the 20th century should be a must-read in any conservative’s common core. Having relied on it heavily for my PJ Lifestyle series on the Intellectual Love Affair with Marxism, I finished the book wanting to understand exactly where America is at on the road to socialism, and if the facts fit, why so many conservative outlets hesitated to give Pacepa’s book the time of day. So, I began my interview with 15 questions; a few weeks later Pacepa sent me a 12 page reply to the first question on the list. Tolstoy would’ve been proud. ”I’m out of touch with this generation… you speak their language,” he commented rather poetically. He also gave me an assignment: to decode his knowledge into what the Dude would call “the parlance of our times.”

Like Jay Carney, I have an affinity for the Soviet spectrum. Unlike Jay Carney, the goal of my interest is to avoid becoming a citizen of the next socialist empire to tear apart the globe. So, in the interest of achieving that goal, I seek out primary sources who can give me real information on the warning signs that appear within a culture whose political and popular leadership are driving them dangerously close to the brink of socialism with the goal of autocracy in mind.

The prophet said, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” God has designed a path; we choose to walk down it and eventually realize what we’ve been preparing for all along. My path began in front of a TV and wound up here, in front of a screen that connects millions today with seemingly ancient truths. I invite you now to walk this yellow brick road with me as we study Pacepa’s seeds of truth and, perhaps, get a chance to plant a few of our own so that we can all find the rest we so desperately need.

Editor’s Note: “Part 1: The Mask of Marxism” is scheduled for Monday at 8:00 PST.

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So, which one is Jack Bauer?

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Imagine No Taxes

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On Tax Day, I dared to wonder what happiness I might pursue with the money I earn but never see. I asked readers to join me in the exercise and imagine what they might do with the money they lost to taxes last year. Reader Mike Mahoney added this insightful comment:

I would probably wind up spending it on protection, roads, litigation services. If one looks at tax receipts and the portion of the budget that is enumerated as a power to do things in the constitution you’ll note a similarity. The rest is all done on borrowed money. So, if I didn’t pay taxes I would still pay.

Mike lands a fair point. Government certainly provides a value. In the absence of particular government services, we would need to pursue alternatives, thus incurring expense.

Of course, in that case, we could choose to pay as we saw fit, and would benefit from the cost and quality controls of the market. Whether we would pay as much for the same services under a private model is an open question. (I think it safe to bet we’d pay significantly less.) However, we know the percentage of our income spent on such services would decrease as we earned more, instead of increasing as it does today. Market-driven prices are rarely progressive.

You don’t pay more for groceries or fuel just because you earn more. So why should you pay more for the services provided by government, particularly if you prove less likely to use them?

An unspoken assumption which may inform Mike’s comment is that a world without taxes means anarchy. But that’s not necessarily the case. Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute here briefly explains how government could raise revenue without coercive taxation:

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Imagine the effect such an arrangement would have upon our incentives to produce and improve the lives of ourselves and others through trade. The sky would be the limit.

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Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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Will Binge Watching Change How We Tell Stories on TV?

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

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Television has finally taken its place alongside film as a widely-acknowledged art form. For the last several decades, many shows have started telling the kind of complex, meaningful, well-crafted tales that are often found in film and literature. When Netflix and other streaming services transformed binge watching into a national pastime, TV critics and technology writers started asking how it would change the business model for shows. But another interesting trend is emerging: how it can transform storytelling.

As I’ve written before, I’ve been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning. While this show pre-dates streaming video, it was an instant cult classic, and fanboys and girls have been binge watching before binge watching was cool, with VHS and DVD sets. As I rediscover Whedon’s most popular and well-known series, I’m also seeing for the first time how cleverly it’s set up to reward two common fan activities: multiple viewings of a single episode, and binge watching. Whedon sets up jokes in the first season that are subtly paid out in the second and third; he rewards attention to detail with little Easter eggs for the careful watcher; and he takes a low-and-slow approach to character development, as Willow grows bolder, Spike grows more sympathetic, Buffy becomes more jaded, and much more. Plus, all of Whedon’s shows display an impressive attention to continuity, another way to reward fans for paying careful attention.

As binge watching becomes more and more popular, more shows are using the storytelling techniques Whedon’s been a master of all along. But other shows prove to be less perfectly suited to binge-watching. Every week for the last several months, I’ve also been watching Lost with family and friends. While the multiple storylines and nail-biting cliffhangers make it addictive enough to watch episode after episode in a row, other aspects of the storytelling are much better suited to spreading out, one episode per week. Many episodes retread the same ground, which is necessary when seven days pass between episodes; but it can get a little wearisome when you saw the same thing just a few minutes ago. Many fans have also complained about the lack of resolution in some of Lost‘s mysteries. From the level of outrage I remember when the show ended, maybe spreading it out didn’t help a lot, but I can see how it’s easier simply to forget some of the mysteries that go unresolved when the last time it was mentioned was months ago, instead of hours.

Binge watching is hard on inconsistency and repetition (without variation). It rewards attention to detail, subtle character development, and ironclad continuity. As binge watching continues to influence new shows (and change our perception of old ones) it will be fascinating to see how TV storytelling evolves in these directions.

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Did Flu Drug Companies Perpetuate a Billion Dolllar Scam Around the World?

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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One of the few laws of political science is that when governments make mistakes, they tend to be whoppers. Luckily for them, the public’s memory is short, and the outrage of today soon declines into the apathy of tomorrow.

From several articles published in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal, it appears that many governments around the world, including those of Britain and the US, may have made such a mistake in stockpiling billions of dollars’ worth of anti-flu medications, bought principally from Roche, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world as measured by capitalization.

First the governments overestimated the virulence of the new flu epidemic the drugs were supposed to counter, no doubt a forgivable mistake in the circumstances; but then it stockpiled the  supposedly anti-flu drugs on the basis of inadequate evidence. It took published studies at face value without apparently realizing that the drug companies had withheld a great deal of data – 150,000 pages of it, as it turned out. When, after what seems like a rear-guard action to prevent it, the drug companies released all the data, re-calculation showed that the drugs were not quite useless, but had practically no value from the public health point of view. At best they reduced the duration of symptoms by a few hours and in some cases prevented the development of symptomatic disease. But they also caused serious side effects, and neither prevented deaths nor serious complications nor the rate of hospitalization. They did not prevent the spread of the infection either.

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