PJ Lifestyle

PJM Lifestyle

The Common Core Resistance Now Has a Song!

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

A bunch of moms in a garage band in Massachusetts have recorded a new version of the Beatles song “Revolution” to give voice to their opposition to Common Core. Dressed in jeans, anti-Common Core t-shirts, and tri-cornered hats, The Revolution Band sings that “politicians fear no retribution” and that “control and money’s is what it’s about.” They belt out, “Well, we have to tell the Feds, it’s not alright…” The third verse gets to the heart of the problem:

You’d have to change the Constitution
Well you know, you just spit on it instead
Teachers have no say in education
Well you know, schools should be state led

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to say, ”First, you win the argument, then you win the vote.”

These moms — and hundreds of thousands of others across the nation — are winning the argument that we need local control of education instead of the top-down, federally influenced behemoth that Common Core has become. They are making this argument in their local communities, in their state capitols, and in every nook and cranny of the internet. And their arguments are translating into votes and political influence — nearly every potential Republican presidential candidate has come out against Common Core (Governors Kasich and Bush being the stubborn holdouts).

Well done, ladies (and you too, drummer dad!). This is how you effectively “do” resistance in 2015.

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3 Reasons Why We Haven’t Conquered Space Yet, #3: Show Me the Money!

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Karina Fabian

An excursion to the New World cost a proverbial handful of jewels, but a trip to the Strange New World of space could cost as much as the GNP of a small nation. That’s more than most people or investors are willing to risk – and Kickstarters can only go so far. Space is an industry for the already rich.

Oh, but the potential for enormous profits! You’ll hear articles and magazines talk about how one platinum-rich asteroid or moon mine can bring in riches galore, but they can be misleading.

 

To 3He or Not to 3He: Helium-3 and Nuclear Power

Helium-3 is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. It’s potentially valuable for nuclear fusion, because you can combine it with Deuterium to create nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion, as opposed to nuclear fission, would be a clean and efficient form of energy – if we can make it work. (More on that later.) While deuterium is abundant enough in Earth’s oceans, helium-3 (or 3He) is nearly non-existent, and we don’t have an especially viable substitute. However, 3He is prevalent on the moon. Visionaries claim that the moon could provide clean energy and further mankind’s technological progress.

Unfortunately, with every great vision comes hard reality. The promises of 3He mining are challenged by the economic realities of extracting it and finding a market.

First, the abundance and effectiveness of helium-3 mining is questionable. As a standard, let’s use the Artemis project estimate that 25 tonnes of 3He (25,000 kilograms) could theoretically power the US for a single year. A recent paper by Ian A. Crawford of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of London looked over the studies done on the concentration of 3He on the moon, and found it’s concentration in the lunar regolith to be between 4 and 20 parts per billion, depending on where you mine. That means you need to mine 1000 kilograms of regolith to get a single gram of helium-3. Then, in order to harvest the 3He along with other solar-impacted isotopes, you need to heat the regolith to 600 degrees Celsius. This calls for a huge initial investment in infrastructure.

An additional challenge is the attitude about what form Earth energy industries should take. Politically and popularly, renewable energies are the favored direction. Nuclear energy, even the potentially clean and efficient nuclear fusion, is not renewable. Crawford himself describes helium-3 as a “fossil fuel” despite the fact that the sun continually generates it naturally. The astronomer-turned-planetary-scientist told Space News that the investment required and infrastructure needed is enormous and might better be used to develop “genuinely renewable energy sources on Earth.” This attitude could make it hard for space entrepreneurs to find investors, particularly if there’s no established market yet.

 

Nuclear fusion generators have been the holy grail of nuclear science since the 1960s. The idea of nuclear energy is that when certain atoms break apart (fission) or band together (fusion), they release great amounts of energy. If the energy can be harnessed, you have an effective source of energy. We can bust apart atoms easily, but fusing them takes more pressure and heat than we can effectively sustain without a huge investment of space, money and time – and we still don’t get a payoff worth the investment. As Steve Crowly, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy told Popular Mechanics in 2013: “For $25 billion, I could build you a working reactor. It would be big, and maybe not very reliable, but 25 years ago, we didn’t know we’d be able to make fusion work. Now, the only question is whether we’ll be able to make it affordable.”

Lockheed Martin said in October 2014 that is has had a breakthrough that will allow it to do just that – but physicists are skeptical in the absence of hard evidence, which the company has not yet provided.  Lock-Mart is using deuterium and tritium for its fusion, but it may provide a market for 3He, if it can prove its technology and if other companies can recreate it.

 

Flooding the Market with Rock: Will Asteroid Mining Bring a Boom or a Bust?

A more secure market comes with asteroid mining. Many asteroids contain useful and sometimes rare minerals that are already in use and demand here on earth, such as gold and platinum. Companies like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are looking at the most effective and cost effective way to mine asteroids. NASA has estimated the cost of a capture and return mission at $2.6 billion dollars. According to Asterank, a database of over 600,000 asteroids, the most cost effective asteroids bring a profit of $1.4 billion to $1.25 trillion. These are the kind of numbers that give enterpreneurs hope.

However, they assume a stable market for the metal in question. Historically, if you flood the market with a commodity, the price goes down. An article in the Economist notes that even a doubling of a supply of a mineral such as platinum might lower the price so much that the company no longer profits. And when one 150-mile asteroid can contain as much platinum as is mined on Earth in a year, it’s possible that the market might crash under the influx.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t do it, anyway, but companies need to carefully consider their economic models. They may not see the short-term massive profits that many people consider a lure.

 

So Why Do It?

We are no more doomed to being stuck on the Earth than the Old World was to remain on the shores of Europe and Asia. In some ways, we have an advantage: we know what’s out there, and we know the challenges. Space holds great benefits for humankind once we master its challenges and tap its resources.

“I believe that space travel will one day become as common as airline travel is today. I’m convinced, however, that the true future of space travel does not lie with government agencies — NASA is still obsessed with the idea that the primary purpose of the space program is science — but real progress will come from private companies competing to provide the ultimate adventure ride, and NASA will receive the trickle-down benefits.”  – Buzz Aldrin

As we can access space resources, we will see benefits. A supply of helium-3 will make fusion research much easier. Even if the market falls out on platinum or other rare elements, their newfound commonality will open the way for other uses, just as it did for aluminum. But even more, if we ever want to have a sustainable, growing manned presence outside our atmosphere, we need to have established access to these resources. Right now, the biggest expense for anything having to do with space is getting the materials off the Earth. If we can establish industry outside our gravity well, our space exploration can truly take off.

Even now, visionary men and women are forging ahead to make the dream of conquering space a reality. They are pushing the boundaries of law as well as those of science. They will build new economic models along with technological ones. Unlike in Columbus’ day, however, it will take more than the sponsorship of a queen to make their mission a go. We need to offer our support, from letting our political leaders know space is a priority to joining in the economic challenges to accepting the risks involved in this dangerous adventure – and in instilling that sense of adventure in our children. Only then will we leave the home port of Earth and sail the starry skies.

And with any luck, there will be Dragons – at least, if Elon Musk has his way.

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image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Why Do All Men’s Colognes Smell the Same?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

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I used to be a cologne fanatic — I bought a lot of them — until a few years ago when I suddenly admitted to myself, after perhaps a few years’ worth of denial, that all men’s colognes were starting to smell the same. I got bored and stopped buying them.

Has anyone noticed this? There is no genuine variety. Somewhere around the Acqua Di Gio era, all manufacturers began top-loading their fragrances with overpowering citrus and other potent “fresh” scents. We’ve reached the point where there’s very little to distinguish between what a teenager douses himself with when he wants to pick up girls at Mike the quarterback’s keg party and what an adult wears to a wedding or romantic date. Must we all smell like we’re in the middle of Abercrombie & Fitch?

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image illustration via shutterstock /  

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The 5 Greatest Dad Beers in America

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Jeremy Swindle

1. Bud Heavy

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Whether you just finished mowing the lawn or your favorite sportsball team is losing the big game, Budweiser always hits the spot.

 

2. Colt 45

Why listen to me when Lando Calrissian, the real captain of the Millenium Falcon, will tell you that Colt 45 works every time?

 

3. Hamm’s

When you’re going for sheer volume, accept no substitutes. Hamm’ is the smoothest of all Dad Beers.

 

4. Olde English 800

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The king of all 40s would still be at the top of the game if only they hadn’t put it in a plastic bottle. Dads don’t drink plastic beer.

 

5. Coors Banquet

Coors Banquet makes the list for the reason that it tastes so great even the biggest rookie can drink it warm.

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Profit from a Glimpse of TomorrowLand

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

This featurette evoking the creative futurism of Walt Disney, which took one form in his Epcot Center and will take another in this year’s feature film Tomorrowland, reminds us how vast the entrepreneur’s vision truly was. He clung to an optimistic view of the future where urban planning would improve the quality of life for new generations.

When we consider such past visions of the future, like that of 2015 imagined in 1989’s Back to the Future, Part II, we clearly see how much they deviate from our modern reality.

Why is it so difficult to predict future developments, and what lesson should we take away from that observation? Technology futurist Daniel Burrus relates in the clip below how we tend to focus on the wrong things when predicting the future. He provides some insights into how to focus on the right things, and profit from it.

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You’re Definitely Going to Want to See These Adorable New Baby Gorillas from the Bronx Zoo

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Two baby gorillas made their first public appearance at the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday and they are unbelievably adorable. The furry infants, whose gender is yet to be determined, were born 48 hours apart in January and were introduced to the zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit this week.

The Bronx Zoo is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society and participates in a captive breeding program to preserve the genetic diversity of the critically endangered mammals. The zoo’s exhibit features the largest captive group on the continent and includes Ernie, the group’s 31-year-old alpha male, and more than 20 females, which mimics the typical living conditions in the wild.

Ernie is the father of both of the new babies, who were born to different mothers – Layla and Kumi, both 16 years old. Layla and Kumi will carry their babies everywhere until they’re around four months old (which is why the zoo doesn’t yet know their genders) and they will continue to nurse them until they are around 4 years- old.

 

 

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5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Stream The Prince of Egypt on Netflix

Thursday, April 16th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

Dear Dave,

Yesterday evening you suggested I watch The Prince of Egypt, in your opinion the best movie inspired by the book of Exodus. Although I didn’t have time then, I got to it this morning. It impressed me mightily.

The top 5 reasons why I loved it — and why everybody who reads this article should watch it if they haven’t already — are:

1. Moses never doubts God, only himself.

This is a vital lesson for believers of all kinds; you can doubt your own abilities, but never doubt the most high God, who created everything, and without whom nothing would be.

 

2. The Pharaoh (or Moses’ adopted brother) initially has a kind heart (at least towards those he holds dear), but is hardened by pride and a blind adherence to tradition.

It’s not a story about evil people, but about evil values. There’s a difference between the two — those who worship God should be aware of that and act accordingly, which also means they have to reason in favor of good values.

 

3. The story isn’t merely one of victory or redemption, it’s a tragedy at the same time.

Moses does what God orders him to do, but he’s not doing it in order to take revenge. He’s acting out of love — for his people, and even for his adopted brother, the crown prince who eventually becomes the new Pharaoh.

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You Are Living in the Twitter Dictatorship

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

It is far from the first time Twitter has taken to policing the Internet.

Recently Twitter deleted 10,000 accounts suspected of being linked to ISIS—in one day.

ISIS is fighting back—making death threats against Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

Twitter argues it is trying to be a good citizen online. But, does it makes sense to tee-off terrorists and Game of Thrones zealots in the same week? Probably. Otherwise the government will want to take over the job–then there could be a real information dictatorship.

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Was the Sinking of the Titanic 103 Years Ago a Conspiracy?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

The Titanic sank precisely 103 years ago today. A huge ship made out of iron and steel strikes an iceberg and therefore sinks—a fairly straightforward scenario, one would think. During a casual stroll through Wikipedia, however, I came across a page called “RMS Titanic alternative theories.” One of these theories concerns—of course!—the Federal Reserve:

Several of Titanic’s passengers including John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Isador Strauss, and George Dunton Widener were among the richest men in America. Some conspiracy theorists claim that these wealthy individuals were opposed to the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank and that financier J.P. Morgan saw the opportunity eliminate them by convincing them to sail with him on the maiden voyage of the new Titanic which was really the badly damaged Olympic that he planned sink in an insurance scam. As victims of a maritime disaster nobody would suspect that they had really been murdered to prevent them from opposing the Federal Reserve Act. In addition to Morgan, several of his close friends and associates are known to have cancelled their plans to sail on Titanic at the last minute, as did the wife of J. Bruce Ismay. Morgan also had several bronze statues he had planned to transport to America removed from the ship a few hours before she sailed leading to speculation that he knew her fate.

The writer of this passage provides no citations, but this sounded like something that members of the Ron Paul cult would believe. So I searched a bit more and found this 2013 post from—surprise!—The Daily Paul, titled “Did the Federal Reserve Sink the Titanic?”

Some people are just desperate to be rebels. In their quest to believe nothing, they’re willing to believe anything. Cynicism is the ultimate naiveté.

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‘It’s Like Scientology Minus the Aliens!’ & 5 More Reasons to Go Gluten Free Even if You’re Already Healthy

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Michael T. Hamilton

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Thinking about taking the GF plunge? Here are 6 reasons you should kick gluten for a month, even if no one is making you.

1. You’ll Think Before Eating That Thing You’re Holding

Think of your crunchiest, most granola, all-natural, all-organic, grass-fed, grass-fed Kobe, nitrate-free, hormone-free, non-GMO, never-came-close-to-processing, we-could-eat-our-clothes-if-we-had-to friend.

That’s not me—at least, not yet. Since kicking gluten, I’ve broken several promises I once made to my wheat-eating former self. And they say if it quacks like a duck. . . .

There’s a lot of new quacking at my house lately. It takes the form of triple-checking every label—not only for FDA-regulated allergens, but for sneakier ingredients that may have touched microscopic traces of wheat en route to my pantry. Why not just look for a certified GF label, indicating that a product regularly tests for less than 20 parts gluten per million? Unlike folks with life-threatening sensitivities, I am confident that the occasional 21st ppm won’t poison me, which grants me a slightly bigger shopping cart.

Either way, whether kicking gluten out of love or fear, you’ll be likelier to think an extra five seconds about what you’re eating.

2. People Will Ask Why You’re So Cool

For every person you annoy with your gluten freedom, there are two who are dying to meet you. You’d think that waiters and waitresses would be bored with us by now. They’re not. After all, you may be the 100th GF they’ve met, but there’s a good chance you’re the first they’ve served that week.

In my experience, literally half the servers who pick up your GF vibes will grow visibly excited—so much that if you’re really hungry, you’re hosed. Every trip to your table between now and when you leave them a fat GF tip will include questions about how your body reacts to breadcrumbs, stories about their friend’s epi-pen/anaphylaxis show-stopper, or awkwardly audible speculations about what’s causing their own maladies. Drink it in, GF apprentice. All these are for you.

 

3. You’ll Make New Friends Without Even Trying

Last week I visited a local brew store to attempt a mostly legal swap of some non-GF craft beer for cider that doesn’t taste like a Riesling. The former was a gift from friends who apparently don’t read PJ Lifestyle (or, more probably, need an invitation to dinner). The managers declined my offer but rewarded me with a rundown of their none-too-shabby GF offerings. Better yet, both of these lads have GF-girlfriends, so they’re immersed in the scene. The kicker: two days after dropping my incredibly sleek business card on one of these guys, I earned an email from his girlfriend that clued me in to 16 hip local restaurants, niche grocers, and GF brands to try.

It’s uncanny how frequently and randomly this can happen—a little like Scientology a la Going Clear. Here you are, walking around with a physical or emotional “ruin” (i.e., your gluten tragedy). And there they are—your soon-to-be friends—conveniently standing around the corner, waiting to help you find and repair your ruin. How? By purging your molecular chemistry of those nasty “body thetans,” i.e., thousands of extra souls lingering inside you after an ancient alien attack. In our case, these are wheat granules.

What are friends for?

 

4. You’ll Discover New Restaurants (& New Ways to Order at Old Ones)

Observe: “Do you have a sweet, gluten-free, yellow cornmeal patty topped with steak, Cotija cheese, creamy cilantro sauce, and habanero and serrano salsa? Oh, you do? I’ll have that.”

 

5. You’ll Shop and Cook More Creatively

My wife is like a gorgeous, shorter version of Julia Child who has the option not to speak in her falsetto. Creativity, audaciousness, moxie—these live in our kitchen and are constantly reincarnated in her dishes. Throw a GF lemon at such a chef, and you’ll get limoncello. It’s like watching Chopped, minus the weirdness, plus entrees you actually want to eat. So it’s like watching Iron Chef.

 

6. Your Skin Will Feel Closer to Your Bones

That’s the best description I can offer friends (and strangers) who ask whether I “lost a bunch of weight” or “gained a ton of energy” or “feel so much better” now that I’ve broken up with gluten—all things I was promised would happen. Did I lose five pounds in two weeks despite eating more meat than a caveman and dairy than a baby? Sure. Do I feel healthier? Let’s go with that. Do I think faster? Possibly. Am I funnier? Obviously. But truth be told, at first I felt cheated. “Going off gluten totally changed my life,” I had heard.

Is that true of me? I’m still deciding.

The fact is I totally changed my life to go off gluten. Maybe I was listening poorly, distracted by the psychedelic facial expressions and wild gesticulations that accompany GF diehard testimonies, but I thought kicking gluten would be like burning two weeks’ pay on Keno or Powerball before landing the big one. It’s more like two weeks of orientation at your new job, followed by quiet growth that impresses you once a month when you look over your shoulder.

In other words, it’s like real life. Who shouldn’t try that?

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A&E’s Neighbors With Benefits Pulled After 2 Episodes: Has Our Morality Grown Back?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

In case you missed it, A&E launched a new series titled Neighbors With Benefits on March 22. The reality show about a neighborhood of spouse-swapping couples only aired two of its scheduled nine seasons before getting the ax.

Maybe A&E is starting to get it. The reason for the success of the hit Duck Dynasty is not that it is a counterculture freak show. The family’s appeal lies as much in their wholesome family-centered lifestyle as it does in their non-conforming looks and disregard for a politically correct culture.

Neighbors With Benefits presented a totally opposite lifestyle. It suggested that living by a canine code of sexual conduct is actually good for a marriage.

Could this cancelation be an indicator that America’s taste for perversion has finally induced nausea?

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Nymphing the Green Weenie: Husband & Wife Fly Fishing Adventures On the Fabled Gunpowder River

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 - by Audie Cockings

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Nymphing sounds naughty. Perhaps because it is. Teasing a rainbow trout out from under a boulder with flashy fake bait can be at once titillating, nerve-racking, frustrating, and exhilarating when the mission is indeed a success. The drive to feed is a universal pillar among survival instincts. A satisfying rush on par with few other basic human functions. Besides, what’s more sexy than a big, goofy human in monstrous green overalls?

The husband and I hadn’t been on a date for over three months so when a business friend introduced him to fly fishing on a recent trip out west, he came home and suggested we get a babysitter and a private lesson.

This is where our geography comes in handy. We live five miles from the famed blue ribbon Gunpowder River in northern Baltimore County, Maryland. Anglers from near and afar boast her bounties of brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

To get started, we booked a lesson for Friday, March 27th, the day before trout season opened, then secured my fishing license with trout stamp online. The morning of, we met Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis guide at Great Feathers Fly Shop. The four hour lesson for two came in at just under $300 and included instruction, technique critique, waders, and all other necessary gear. We followed Rob to the site and after a quick glance at the GPS, realized we were stationed pretty darn close to our own backyard.

We parked by a wader washing station, a near promise of munificent waters. But first things first: Rob showed me proper form, tucking the dominant elbow into the waist, using the forearm as a lever of sorts, pumping the fly rod with kinetic energy to be dispatched upon casting. The rod is ideally restricted to “ten and two” position as the line forms the sequential overhead arc in front of and behind the angler before the rod is pointed at the intended spot and finally released.

After 10 decent practice casts in a clearing, Rob determined that I was sufficiently prepared to begin and into the damp wilderness we went.

The “path” was a hilly forested expanse dotted with girthy, felled trees railroading our passage, their exposed, nutrient-rich interiors akin to coffee grinds. Next was less-navigable outcroppings blanketed in Kelly green moss and pale-hued fungi, increasingly more dense as we made our way down to the river. A quarter mile in, the crunch of leaves, twigs, and remnant ice underfoot gave way to spongy vegetation. We trekked alongside what seemed a shallow creek only to turn a corner revealing a top-50 fly fishing destination… The feverish rush of tail waters on the fabled Gunpowder River.

It was overcast, breezy, rainy and about 45 degrees out — perfect fishing conditions according to Rob as the fish won’t be “lethargic from heat or too much sun… They like it cold.”

He said, grinning: “Despite the rain, the water is pretty clear, so the fish can concentrate on eating, not just staying alive.” Rob explained how the fish filtered out murky sediment which is inherently hard on their gills. The Prettyboy Dam stationed upstream helps regulate the flow of the Gunpowder River unlike other Chesapeake Bay tributaries where rain run-off can create unfavorable fishing conditions.

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Practicing casting technique with Rob Lepczyk, a certified Orvis fly fishing instructor.

Even after a casting lesson, a quick study in knots, flies, and suiting up, we still had three hours left to let loose on unsuspecting Oncorhynchus mykiss. I planted my grippy steel shank boots on a boulder the size of Rhode Island, tallying a few arcs before sinking my neon pink foam “redworm” into tender water straddled by rapids and shoreline. This is where oversight came in handy… I wouldn’t have known where to land my fly had Rob not been very specific about where to place it. Namely, the deeper, cooler, slower moving pools that exhibit model rest areas for congregating trout.

Here’s where my prior fishing experience severely boogered up my attempt at setting the hook. It’s exceedingly hard to unlearn something, especially when that one something is so deeply inherent. You see, fishing is in my blood. My father’s family has been in Southern Maryland for three hundred years, all fishing blues and rock, requiring a quick jerk to set the hook and a brawny pair of guns to reel the catch in. Not so much the case in fly fishing. I needed to stop bullying the line and ease up as I lost three fish by getting antsy after a nibble. The most difficult part of fly fishing is keeping cool, and cool is not something I’m particularly good at.

So who got on the board first? The husband. He caught a lovely little rainbow trout then released it.  Meanwhile, I got a whole lot more of the big goose egg. I would have been irritated had I not been so happy for him. It’s a joke in our family that he’s a terrible fisherman.

But Friday’s small victory may just redeem him with my father and uncles after all…

Fly fishing is a sport where patience prevails. It is one of the few sports accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of age or sex. As a matter of fact, a notable authority on the sport is an elderly woman half my size, Joan Wulff, who cast at 161 feet in her heyday. She still teaches technique at the school bearing her name.

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Tenkara “Soto” rod… Notice no reel.

After two hours of wholly unsuccessful loose line management, Rob offered me a try with his Tenkara rod. The rod was telescopic, increasing in lengths up to thirteen feet. No reel necessary. It was light, effortless. Casting was thoroughly natural, intuitive. Better control of the fly and easier handling quickly sold me on the simplistic Tenkara. I could switch hands, work tighter spots along tree lines, and easily tease the trout with a submerged “nymph” or a “dry” fly on surface water. Attempting to mimic natural movement of live insects yielding in the current seemed more probable with the lighter, more agile rod.

As with nearly every sport, gear can be expensive. Initially I ordered a pair of Simms Vapor wading boots and an Orvis women’s stocking foot waders, an investment of nearly $500, just to send them back, instead settling on a pair of boot foot men’s Hodgeman waders that I got on clearance for under $50.  As for rods, there are pre-owned deals to be had on eBay, or consider the Orvis Encounter series rod and reel package that has excellent reviews and is well priced at $159. All you will need are some tackle and nippers. Even more affordable is the Tenkara rod, the ultra light system that breaks down to the size of a mailing tube, easily and safely transported to any locale across the globe. Rob reported he was going after shad using his Tenkara rod. I’m anxious to hear how that went.

It’s only been a few days and I’m itching to get my waders back in the river.

I snapped up the last Tenkara “Sato” rod at Great Feathers and got a small tackle box  of line, stoneflies, midges, San Juan worms, and “Green Weenies.”

The boss and I settled on a standing date, one Friday morning a month, to fish together deep in that ravine just five miles from our home. We’ve got fishing “go bags” at the ready complete with waders, gear, snacks and water bottles. Now all we need for some good nymphing, is each other.

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A view upstream on the Gunpowder River. Me with the Tenkara rod (freezing my can off!)

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5 Rules To Avoid Becoming a Boring Writer

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Frank J. Fleming

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The human brain: 20 billion neurons, many firing at the same time. It constantly takes in visual, audio and other sensory input while also pulling up memories from throughout the brain’s entire life. It is constantly active, unpredictable, and chaotic. And as a writer, it is your enemy. Because you have to constrain this monster and keep it focused on you.

My subject today is holding the reader’s interest, and hopefully you’re still with me. You have this great idea for an article or a story, but how do you make sure you can grab a reader by his fidgety little brain and make him stay with you for the entire journey? For that, every paragraph needs to be carefully constructed.

Now, this sentence is not a particularly strong opening for a paragraph. This sentence following it doesn’t particularly add anything. And we’re three sentences in and still haven’t gotten to the point, while this is also somewhat of a long, rambling sentence, much longer than it needs to be. At this point we’re just meandering. This final sentence is anticlimactic and does nothing to interest anyone in reading the next paragraph.

See, that was a bad paragraph. That’s how you don’t want to write. You have to remember you are fighting a war of attrition; each sentence, readers could be dropping like incriminating hard drives at the IRS. So I’m going to give you some tips to help keep your writing from being boring. This is a rather broad subject — it’s a bit different writing an article like this versus writing a whole book or a novel.

Still, I have a few general tips, and I think I know what I’m talking about. I’m from the MTV generation; I grew up watching those music videos and saying, “Come on. How long are these stupid songs? What else is on?” So I don’t have much of an attention span. I just stopped to chase a squirrel between the previous sentence and this one. And I have turned this power of having a low attention span into making my writing more interesting.

 

TIPS FOR HOLDING YOUR READER’S ATTENTION:

 

1. Write a list.

See what I’m doing here? I’m breaking this article into nice little bite-sized chunks. A lot of people these days — me included — will see a big block of text, and their eyes will glaze over. But now you’re looking at this list with the bold headings not too far apart, and it all seems manageable. You can’t really break up a whole novel that way (well, you can go ahead and try, it’s a free country), but the equivalent is having a lot of short chapters so the reader feels constant forward progress. It’s like leading a donkey with a carrot on a stick; you don’t want that carrot to seem too unattainably far.

So, in summary, readers are asses.

 

2. Start strong.

Let me tell you a story. One day I was talking to Bill Whittle, and he said a good way to start an article and hook the reader is with a personal story that relates to the theme of the article. Now, I never usually have any good personal stories, so I just make stuff up. The important thing is to start with something that convinces the reader to keep reading.

Look at how I started this article. Did I begin this by saying, “I’m going to talk about holding the reader’s interest”? No. Instead I wrote a bunch of nonsense about the brain I got off Wikipedia. And you were like, “Why is he talking about this? I must read on, for I am intrigued!”

You need to get your hooks into the reader in the first paragraph — preferably the first sentence. It doesn’t matter if it’s a thousand-word article or a novel. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Great opener; you want an explanation of that right away. You are hooked.

Actually, I never did read that novel. What’s it about?

 

3. End with a hook.

You got the reader reading, and just as the interest starts to fade, you get another hook in them and keep pulling them along. This is more applicable to novels, but even in a short article you can end a paragraph or section with a question or something that begs to be answered in the continued reading.

For novels, though, never just let a chapter quietly end. Someone unexpected shows up, a character gets shot, the moon gets nuked — something exciting happens that makes the reader want to continue. He’ll be like, “I’ll go to sleep when I finish this chapter,” and you’ll say to him, “No, you bastard, you’re staying right here, because you have to know what happens next.” One of my favorite reviews of Superego was by someone who said she read the whole novel in one night.

That’s what a good writer does: ruin people and their sleep. To do that, you need to keep the reader’s attention from fading with the use of constant hooks. And you won’t believe what I tell you to do in the next section.

 

4. Use humor.

This one is a particular favorite of mine. If you want to keep the reader entertained and develop a rapport, use humor. I feel like I should put a joke in here to illustrate that, but now I suddenly feel all this pressure to be funny, and I can’t think of anything.

 

 

5. Cut.

You want to keep someone’s attention? Demand as little of it as possible. So if you have some sentences in your writing that you don’t absolutely need, get rid of them.

This is hard. I am not good at this. Look at this piece — it’s already way too long. I’m always saying, “Yeah, that part isn’t really necessary, but it has a joke in it that I like.” I can never tell if I’m making a piece more focused or just reducing the humor/entertainment value of it. But if you get good at cutting, you’ll be great. If you can have a story that moves quickly without a lot of fat, many other sins can be forgiven. It’s just that when you approach your piece of writing with knife in hand and it looks at you with its puppy dog eyes, you just don’t want to cut the poor thing. But you have to. For its own good.

[Editor's Note: OK, Frank, I'll start helping you out with this more... You usually could be more focused if you wanted to but your jokes are so consistently funny that it would be criminal to chop them. And we all know you don't know anything about lawbreaking...]

 

 

****

So that’s my little bit of advice on holding a reader’s attention. Are you still with me? If you are, go out there and write something really gripping. I won’t necessarily read it, though — getting someone to try reading your stuff in the first place is a completely different challenge. If I figure that one out, I’ll pass that knowledge along.

****

Image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Wonder Woman Loses Director: Was She Hired for the Wrong Reasons?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Not long after it was announced that Warner Bros. and DC Comics would be producing a Wonder Woman feature film starring Gal Gadot in the title role, the studio made clear their intention to hire a female director for the project. In November, they secured Michelle MacLaren, whose credits including episodes of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul.

Now, MacLaren has departed the project over “creative differences.” AMC Movie News editor-and-chief John Campea expresses his concern in the above clip.

Adding to his observations: was MacLaren hired first and foremost because of her gender? Could these “creative differences” have been avoided had the creative vision taken precedence from day one?

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Forget Small Wars! Pentagon Invading Entire Internet

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

DARPA, the military home for mad scientists, doesn’t think humans can think big enough for future wars. The agency is building a machine that can process 2.5 quintillion bytes (that’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeroes) and predict the future. FYI: that’s how much information is created each day—about what would fit on 57.5 billion iPads.

The science shop famous for “out-there” projects (like building a real-life Terminator) has tried grappling “big data” before. Congress shut down the controversial Total Information Awareness (TIA) Project.

DARPA’s latest lab experiment raises all kinds of questions. Is it possible? Will the project (like TIA) get derailed over privacy problems? Does the Pentagon have any choice?

How else is it going to stay ahead in the information war?  If the military can’t out-compete enemies in cyberspace, it will lose wars — and there will be no freedom left to protect.

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What’s the Best New York Movie?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

I just learned by accident that the actor Paul Sorvino turned 76 on April 13. You’ll recall that Mr. Sorvino played the role of the mob boss “Paulie” in Goodfellas, the classic New York gangster movie released in 1990. Seeing this news, and reflecting on the 25th birthday of Goodfellas itself, I have to ask myself: Is Goodfellas the greatest New York movie ever made?

I will doubtless get pushback on this for all kinds of good reasons. Maybe you think the best New York movie is Taxi Driver, or When Harry Met Sally, or The French Connection. Those are all fine choices, to be sure. Or maybe you don’t think there is such thing as “the best New York movie.” I admit the question presupposes its own importance.

But I bring it up because casual conversation is full of such unanswerable questions as “what’s your favorite movie?” In fact, I was asked this recently… twice. I always find myself answering Goodfellas. It has become a reflex. I generally trust my reflexes.

Maybe it’s because I’m from New York and half Italian, and despite the fact that my Italian heritage includes no mob connections, I can still see flickers of my past in the way the characters talk, act, and eat. How many people’s favorite movies are merely those which remind them of their childhoods?

In any case, there are fewer movies with better dialogue than Goodfellas. (Perhaps The Last Boy Scout?) And New York retains a certain mythical quality for everyone, including those who hail from its streets. It’s a city simultaneously full of immense beauty and ugliness. What better way to represent this duality than the mob, which is itself a bizarre combination of opulence and violence?

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This 5th Grade Singapore Math Problem Has Some Experts Stumped. Can You Solve It?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

download

 

This problem from the Singapore Math series was posted on Facebook by Singapore TV personality Kenneth Kong. He wrote, “This question causes a debate with my wife …. and its a P5 question.” The Singapore Math curriculum is used by the country of Singapore with enormous success (their students are usually ranked at or near the top in international rankings). P5 is roughly the equivalent of 5th grade math in the U.S., but this question is actually from the recent Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiad, which is given to the top 40% of students in the country.

So, are you smarter than a 5th grade Singapore Math Olympiad student? (You can find the answer here.)

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How Is This Not Kidnapping? ‘Free-Range Children’ Picked Up by Cops Again

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
Photo Credit:  Scott Davidson -  Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Scott Davidson – Wikimedia Commons

From WNEW in Washington:

The Montgomery County parents who let their children walk around their Silver Spring neighborhood alone are being investigated again after authorities found the two kids at a park on Sunday.

Police say officers responded to a call to check on children without an adult at a Silver Spring park Sunday afternoon and took the children to Child Protective Services.

Meanwhile, the children’s mother, Danielle Meitiv, says they began searching for her 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, who were expected home at 6 p.m. She says they didn’t learn where the children were until 8 p.m.

The children were eventually returned to their parents, but not until 10:30 p.m. that night. Their mother wrote this on her Facebook page:

The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car, telling them they would drive them home. They kept the kids trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before dropping them at the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours. We finally got home at 11pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified.

Despite the fact that violent crime — including crime against children — has been declining for decades, hysterical, sensationalized media coverage in the 24-hour news cycle makes it seem like every community is a crime-infested ghetto with hundreds of predators roaming the streets looking for unsupervised children to rape, kidnap, and murder. Parents who reject the false “danger everywhere!” narrative and allow their children to walk down the street or play in the park without a parent hovering nearby are judged as neglectful. What used to be considered normal parenting — letting kids play outside without supervision — is now cause for removal of children from the home.

Here’s the problem: Parents like the Meitivs, who reject helicopter parenting and allow their children a little more freedom, are taking a different kind of risk. While statistically their children are going to return home from the park unmolested by murderers and rapists, nothing can protect them from the busybodies who call the police to report an unaccompanied child and the resulting interactions with police and county social workers who are going to be looking for reasons to teach these parents a lesson about their “free-range” parenting style.

When we were homeschooling, we were advised to never let the “authorities” into our home without a warrant. If the police or social workers ever showed up at our door (say as the result of a bogus complaint from a busybody neighbor) we should allow them to have a glimpse of the kids so they could see that they were alive and not in any obvious distress, but unless the authorities had a warrant, they should not be permitted to come into our home and should never, ever be allowed to talk to our children. While it may sound a little extreme and possibly paranoid, the advice came at a time when homeschooling was still viewed as a fringe movement and parents were being dragged into court on truancy charges — or worse — because they chose to remove their children from public school. Part of the advice was to always be polite and never confrontational. We were warned that county social workers had a great deal of power and could destroy a family that didn’t cooperate with their edicts. “You don’t want to go there,” we were told.

The thought that social workers can pluck a child out of his home for not attending government schools or that police can grab a child off the street for the crime of playing in a park without a parent is truly astounding — and terrifying. Once a child falls down that rabbit hole of the child welfare system, his life will never be the same. It could be days, weeks — even months — before he returns home and in the meantime, he will be subjected to terrifying interviews, rides in police cars, and being moved around from place to place while the authorities investigate every nook and cranny of his parents’ lives to determine whether they’re more qualified to raise their own child than the state.

Parents need to think long and hard before they challenge government authority with their children. You may be able to hire a good lawyer and prevail in the end — and you may be absolutely, completely morally right in your parental decisions — but at what cost? It’s a backwards system where the “authorities” have all the power at the front end. The children are held as little hostages until the parents agree to attend state-approved parenting classes or they promise to be helicopter parents who never again let their little darlings out of their sight.

It’s an ingenious way to keep you in line, isn’t it?

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Should Christians & Jews Fear a Muslim Majority?

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Should this projected demographic shift worry non-Muslims?

Some controversial research suggests that an increase in the percentage of the Muslim population in a country correlates to increasingly aggressive rights-violating behavior from that population. Taken at face value, the numbers present a concern.

However, for Christians and Jews in particular, it would help to remember that minority status does not necessarily translate to domination. The early church was a minority from its conception and remained so for centuries.

Plus, when Christians look at their shared heritage with the Jews, scripture demonstrates that God reveals his sovereignty most dramatically when His people appear to be on the ropes. If a time of persecution approaches, we would do well to retain our faith – not in birthrates and conversions – but in God alone.

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Is This Book Really ‘the Best Account of the Whole of the Human Experience’?

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

To my brother Jeremy,

I know I’ve already sent too many book titles to start sorting through and deciding what you like and what you don’t. But now here’s another to add to the pile. I’m going to try to grab this at the library this afternoon:

If you could have dinner with any three historians (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

William H. McNeill, the world historian (born 1917): because he has the largest vision of the human condition. Bernard Lewis, the Middle East historian (born 1916): because he knows best the region I study. Richard Pipes, the Russian historian (born 1923): because I have known and learned from him all my life.

What books are you reading now?

Pierre van Paassen, Days of Our Years (1939) and Rodney Stark, How the West Won (2014).

What is your favorite history book?

McNeill’s The Rise of the West (1963), the best account of the whole of the human experience.​

I haven’t read any McNeill yet, but I’m very inclined to dig in because Pipes is one of the historians who has influenced me the most. His focus is the Middle East, but I’d encourage you to start first with his book on conspiracy theories and their accompanying ideology, Conspiracism. You’d probably find that the most interesting and applicable to your explorations in popular culture. Conspiracy themes have often been popularized throughout movies and TV and Pipes’ book can be very helpful for picking up on some of the more obscure ones.

Best wishes, bro, thanks for your great, fun writing,

Dave

P.S. A discussion prompt and challenge for all of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island’s contributors: if you could pick 10 history books for every American to read what would they be? If every American family was provided by the federal government with the 10 best books to understand America and Western Civilization what would they be in your estimation? (Top 5? Or a top 20?)

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When Salon Went Hunting for Christian Terrorists…

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Robert Spencer

shutterstock_147717923

Ever heard of the Army of God? Or Concerned Christians? As far as Salon and other leftist media outlets are concerned, they’re just as lethal as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda – and the only reason why you haven’t heard of them but have heard of the Islamic terror groups is because of the mainstream media’s deeply ingrained “Islamophobia.”

If this sounds absurd, it’s only because it is. The mainstream media, especially organs like Salon that are even more leftist than the others, are always avid to exonerate Islam and establish the claim that Christianity is just as likely to incite its adherents to violence as Islam is. To try to do this, they have to resort to increasingly desperate stratagems, in an effort to convince you that these nefarious Christian terrorists are all over the place, and you would know that, except for the evil right-wing media’s constant Islamophobic ranting. So it is with Alex Henderson’s “6 modern-day Christian terrorist groups our media conveniently ignores,” which Salon reprinted from Alertnet on last Tuesday.

It’s all about the vile Right, you see: “In the minds of far-right Republicans,” Henderson writes,

Obama committed the ultimate sin by daring to mention that Christianity has a dark side and citing the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as two examples from the distant past. Obama wasn’t attacking Christianity on the whole but rather, was making the point that just as not all Christians can be held responsible for the horrors of the Inquisition, not all Muslims can be blamed for the violent extremism of ISIS (the Islamic State, Iraq and Syria), the Taliban, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. But Obama certainly didn’t need to look 800 or 900 years in the past to find examples of extreme Christianists committing atrocities. Violent Christianists are a reality in different parts of the world—including the United States—and the fact that the mainstream media don’t give them as much coverage as ISIS or Boko Haram doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

No group has a monopoly on evil, and certainly Christians have in history committed terrible atrocities in the name of their religion. The difference is that the Christian perpetrators of these atrocities did not and could not justify them by pointing to exhortations to such violence in Christian texts and teachings, while Islamic jihadis can and do justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims by pointing to Islamic texts and teachings exhorting the believers to be violent.

Salon, nonetheless, is determined to obscure that fact and prop up some “Christian terrorist groups” that Americans ought to be as wary of as they are of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Yet none of these groups enjoy anything like the broad support among Christians that the Islamic State or al-Qaeda have among Muslims — have 25,000 Christians traveled from all over the world to join the Army of God? Nor does any sect of Christianity teach that Christians have a duty to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers.

What’s more, almost all of the violence listed in Salon as having been committed by these Christian groups took place many years ago, suggesting that these groups are more or less moribund today — which, unfortunately, cannot be said of the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. And even if all these violent acts had actually been committed recently by Bible-quoting Christians with the full approval of numerous Christian clerics and churches (which is not even close to being true), they still don’t add up to anything remotely comparable to the 25,000+ acts of jihad violence that Muslims have committed since 9/11.

Henderson’s first Christian terrorist group is the “Army of God,” which he describes as “a network of violent Christianists that has been active since the early 1980s.” According to Henderson, “the Army of God openly promotes killing abortion providers.” He then lists a handful of these killings and other acts of violence by the Army of God, mostly in the 1990s and none more recent than 2009. Then he adds:

Although primarily an anti-abortion organization, the Army of God also has a history of promoting violence against gays.

No Christian sect teaches that it is right to kill abortionists or gays. And as the Army of God has apparently not killed any since 2009, it seems to have been effectively neutralized.

Henderson’s next Christian terrorist group is “Eastern Lightning, a.k.a. the Church of the Almighty God,” which was “founded in Henan Province, China in 1990.” Henderson informs us that “Eastern Lightning believes that the world is coming to an end, and in the meantime, its duty is to slay as many demons as possible. While most Christianists have an extremely patriarchal viewpoint (much like their Islamist counterparts) and consider women inferior to men, Eastern Lightning believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in the form of a Chinese woman.” Despite this oddly feminine emphasis, however,

they are quite capable of violence against women: in May 2014, for example, members of the cult beat a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan to death in a McDonalds in Zhaoyuan, China when she refused to give them her phone number.

I never heard of this group before, and it sounds very strange: with its Jesus-is-coming-back-as-a-Chinese-woman thing, it is hardly anything close to mainstream Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Also, Jesus never says anything in the Gospels about beating women to death if they refuse to hand over their phone numbers.

Does Salon really seriously think that this gang of psychopathic thugs is equivalent to an organized international network of dedicated jihadis such as al-Qaeda?

Henderson follows this odd group with the inevitable reference to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the most commonly referenced group by those who try to claim that Christianity is just as likely to incite its adherents to violence as Islam. “The LRA, according to Human Rights Watch,” says Henderson,

has committed thousands of killings and kidnappings—and along the way, its terrorism spread from Uganda to parts of the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. The word “jihadist” is seldom used in connection with the LRA, but in fact, the LRA’s tactics are not unlike those of ISIS or Boko Haram. And the governments Kony hopes to establish in Sub-Saharan Africa would implement a Christianist equivalent of Islamic Sharia law.

In reality, the Lord’s Resistance Army is funded by Sudanese jihadis, and reflects a Christian theology that is held by no Christian sect anywhere — in stark contrast to the undeniable fact that all the mainstream sects of Islam and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers.

Henderson then introduces us to the “National Liberation Front of Tripura,” which, he says, is “a paramilitary Christianist movement that hopes to secede from India and establish a Christian fundamentalist government in Tripura.” He says this group perpetrates violence against Hindus, but offers no examples more recent than 2003.

Another neutralized group.

Then comes the Phineas Priesthood, which is, if Henderson’s description is accurate, a white supremacist group. Yet no sect of Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, teaches the supremacy of any race.

In fact, Christianity teaches that all people are made in God’s image and are equal in dignity before God. Islam does not.

Salon’s last group of Christian terrorists is the Concerned Christians. “In 1999,” says Henderson, “Israeli officials arrested 14 members of the Concerned Christians in Jerusalem and deported them from Israel because they suspected them of plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims.” After that there was apparently nothing until 2014, “when Adam Everett Livix, a Christianist from Texas, was arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.” Harming his own case, Henderson adds that

in 2008, Denver’s KUSA-TV (an NBC affiliate) reported that members of the Concerned Citizens had gone into hiding and that Miller [the group’s founder] hadn’t been seen in ten years.

Here again, Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians should blow up the holy places of other religions. It doesn’t teach “slay the non-Christians wherever you find them” (cf. Qur’an 9:5) or fight them “until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (Qur’an 9:29) It doesn’t teach that non-Christians are “the most vile of created beings” (Qur’an 98:6).

All of the groups Henderson describes are eccentric, marginal sects, with nothing remotely comparable to the following that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have among Muslims. Accordingly, there is no real equivalence between them and jihad groups. Probably even Salon knows that. But it continues to do all it can to try to ensure that you don’t.

*****

image illustration via shutterstock /  

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The Case Against Freedom, Part IV: You Didn’t Build That

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Robert Kuttner, professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School and senior fellow of the think tank Demos, believes that libertarians suffer from a delusion. He claims that the market is incompetent to price certain problems, and must be tightly controlled by government to prevent excess and abuse.

In a piece written for The American Prospect, where he serves as co-founder and co-editor, Kuttner submits examples which he believes demonstrate market failure. We rebutted his analysis in parts one and two of this series. Unsurprisingly, Kuttner’s assertions arise from a Marxist worldview wherein natural disparities in both wealth and knowledge require government activism to equalize “power.” We explored a couple of the fatal flaws of that perspective in part three.

Now we turn from Kuttner’s critique of the market to his reverence for government. Where the market fails, Kuttner argues, government boasts great accomplishments:

Government can invent things that markets never would have imagined. Apple has created wonders, but it has piggybacked on government investment in advanced semiconductors and the Internet. America’s biotech industry’s success was reliant on massive government investment in the Human Genome Project and other basic research. Later in the special report in the magazine’s Winter issue, Fred Block’s piece describes the indispensable government role in innovation. Commercial broadcasters were disinvesting in radio as a serious medium of news, public affairs, culture, and humor, when along came public radio, partly underwritten by government and partly by listener-subscribers. NPR demonstrated that ingenious and high-quality noncommercial programming could attract an audience that for-profit companies did not know was there.

This echoes the sentiment of a government-adoring MSNBC promo featuring Rachel Maddow at the Hover Dam, claiming the private sector could never build it. Perhaps, but that hardly stands as justification for the means by which it was built.

The pyramids may never have been built without slaves. That doesn’t justify slavery. Nor do modern monuments to “the public good” or “national greatness” justify the theft utilized to construct them. That’s the best argument against Kuttner’s point, the moral argument. A thief doesn’t get to cite “the good” he did with stolen money as a justification for stealing.

Beyond that, we ought to question the value of these so-called public goods. If indeed, as Maddow asserts, the private sector never would have built the Hoover Dam, then perhaps the Hoover Dam should never have been built.

When we say that the private sector “can’t” do something, we’re really saying that it won’t.

We recognize, in other words, that the public good in question has insufficient value to warrant private investment. More to the point, it does not adequately serve those who pay for it.

Therefore, when we claim government must produce some good which the market “can’t,” we’re really saying that people should be forced to pay for something which does not serve them. There’s no getting around this point. Statists like Kuttner don’t even try. Instead, they argue that those stolen from to produce public goods deserve to be victimized on account of their “privilege.” The whole point of public goods is to benefit those who don’t pay for them at the expense of those who do.

The NPR example demonstrates this redistributive motive. Kuttner claims that the public radio audience eluded private sector investors. That’s an odd way of looking at the interaction. Is it really any surprise that an audience exists for free stuff? If investors were willing to throw their money away on a private venture that looked like public broadcasting, there would undoubtedly be an audience for it. But that audience wouldn’t be sufficient to make the venture commercially successful. In that light, what Kuttner is actually saying is that the NPR audience benefits from the theft integral to NPR’s production. Again, this fails as a moral justification.

It’s the height of arrogance to assume that technological developments like the internet or scientific research would not occur without government.

We have no way of measuring what hasn’t happened as a result of government interference in the market, no way to know the precise opportunity cost of resources seized, productivity displaced, or innovation prohibited. Even so, we can stand on the certainty of human nature and economic law, which suggests that people do not die of atrophy without government prodding them to action. Populations only starve when enslaved.

Despite its many immoral excesses, government retains a legitimate function. Kuttner comes close to articulating that role:

…The market itself is a creature of government. As Karl Polanyi famously wrote in a seeming oxymoron, “laissez-faire was planned.” Markets could not exist without states defining the terms of property ownership and commerce, creating money, enforcing contracts, protecting patents and trademarks, and providing basic public institutions. A Robinson Crusoe world never existed. So the real issue is not whether government “intrudes” on the market—the capitalist system is impossible without government. The practical question is whose interests the state serves.

The proper answer to that practical question is: the individual.

Government exists to protect individual rights. It does so by wielding a monopoly on force in retaliation against those who initiate force, applying due process according to objective law.

Kuttner postures as if government’s role in the market is some sort of revelation to libertarians. But this is a strawman. No one but the most ardent anarchists believe government has no role to play in the market. Indeed, a market cannot truly exist without government to ensure that individual rights are preserved and transactions occur by consent rather than coercion or fraud. Of course, by definition, that also precludes government from violating rights. You can’t rationally claim, as Kuttner attempts to, that government must violate rights to “protect” the market.

Next time, we’ll get into Kuttner’s naked contempt for freedom as such. The only thing more stunning than his wholesale rejection of self-ownership is the extent to which our culture embraces his anti-libertarian worldview.

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65-Year-Old Mom Pregnant with Quadruplets: Amazingly Beautiful or Extremely Egotistical?

Sunday, April 12th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien

A 65-year-old German lady has told German newspaper Bild that she’s expecting quadruplets. This news story is the talk of the day in Europe. There are those who believe it’s a reason to celebrate, while others have a slightly different opinion. See, for instance, this tweet from a Dutch Twitter user:

Translation:

“A women of 65 years old pregnant with quadruplets. This is loathsome. Incredibly egotistical.”

Her argument is that the mother is a) too old to take care of one new baby let alone four, and b) that she’s basically nearing the end of her life, thereby making it very likely that her children will lose their mother at a very young age.

As far as I’m concerned, this is nothing to be ashamed of, let alone to find “loathsome.” People are healthier than ever before and become older because of it. If this German lady wants to have seventeen kids, why shouldn’t she? She could live on for another 30 or even 40 years. Should she, then, be deprived of family bliss just because some folks consider her to be “too old”? What nonsense.

I want five children myself; I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than a big, happy family. Just watch this video and tell me this isn’t exactly what you want:

If I want that for myself, I’m not going to deprive another of having that feeling of happiness either — no matter what her age.

What do you think? Is the soon-to-be-mother of quadruplets extremely egotistical, or is this actually a beautiful, heartwarming story?

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Behold ‘Cinnamon Bun Mode’: 3 Pics Reveal Our Siberian Husky’s Overwhelming Cuteness

Saturday, April 11th, 2015 - by Dave Swindle

The #SiberianHusky is in "Cinnamon Bun Mode"

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

We love her so much. #Maura #SiberianHusky #cute #dogstagram #dogsleeping

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

We call this "cinnamon bun mode." #siberianhusky #cute #dog #maura

A photo posted by Thoth, Ma'at & Husky Familiar (@thothandmaatmarried) on

Related: perhaps a hairstyle due for a comeback?

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