PJ Lifestyle

PJM Lifestyle

This Is Amazing: Blind Pregnant Mom ‘Sees’ Her Unborn Baby for the First Time with 3D Printing

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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Tatiana Guerra, who lost her sight at age 17, was able to “see” her 20-week unborn baby through the miracle of 3D printing. The 30-year-old mother asked, “What does his face look like, doctor?” during a 3D ultrasound and she listened carefully as the doctor described her baby’s features. But then he surprised her by “printing” a 3D image of her baby and handing it to her, wrapped in a tiny blanket.

The video (actually an ad for Huggies diapers) captures her precious, emotional reaction to “seeing” her unborn baby for the first time — with her hands.

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The Avengers Pose the Greatest Argument Against Government Control: Motherhood

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Spoiler alert!

Don’t let the contemporary feminists fool you with their whining about Black Widow’s lack of star power. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow had the most powerful dialogue in the new release, Avengers: Age of Ultron. For the first time, movie audiences learn of her past as a Soviet agent trained from childhood. They also learn the most devastating aspect of being raised to kill: forced sterilization framed as a graduation rite of passage.

“It’s supposed to make it easier for you to kill,” she explains wistfully. The psychology behind training a school full of girls to become Soviet agents? Their biological mothering instincts must be destroyed if they are to be efficient and effective servants of the State. Now, Natasha the Black Widow can only celebrate vicariously as friends give birth to children and name them in her honor. The State may have marred her biology, but the permanent scars are in her mind and her heart.

Contemporary feminists complain that Black Widow is the mother of the group, but never bother asking why, because their politics force them to be completely out of touch with statistical reality. Despite the vociferous demands for increased access to birth control methods ranging from condoms to abortions, 96% of women ages 18-40 still express a desire to have a child. Why, then, do they demand the State have greater control over their reproductive rights? As the case of the Black Widow illustrates, a demand for control is a contradiction in terms with potentially deadly results.

Also read: 

Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoilers Review

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Hollywood Reporter Uses Natalie Portman to ‘Sh*t on Israel’

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In the wake of the right-wing victory in Israel’s most recent elections, a number of famous Israeli artists made news in the Jewish blogosphere for their anti-Netanyahu tirades. Apparently the Hollywood Reporter caught on to the trend and attempted to manifest it on this side of the ocean with Israeli-American star Natalie Portman.

One huge problem surfaces at the beginning of the interview. She’s not as bold as her Israeli counterparts. Despite her Harvard education and worldly upbringing, she manages to sound equal parts informed and ignorant on a variety of topics ranging from Israeli politics to French socialism. The confusion is intentional. This is how Hollywood actors get away with “being political” without saying anything politically relevant that could later come back to bite them. Appearing informed while remaining vulnerable is how best to win your audience, as Portman illustrates throughout:

She sits, ramrod straight, plunking her iPhone in the middle of the table and hit­ting “record” before she has said a word, as if challenging me to quote her with razor-sharp accuracy — which, I must admit, casts a pall over our conversation.

…On life with her husband, French ballet dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, 37, whom she met on the set of Black Swan in 2010 and married in 2012: “The disappointments are always in myself…”

…she’s been fearless in proclaiming her Jewishness, even though she now lives in a country where anti-Semitism is terrifyingly on the rise. I ask if Portman feels nervous about being Jewish in Paris. “Yes,” she says, “but I’d feel nervous being a black man in this country. I’d feel nervous being a Muslim in many places.”

[On Paris:] “I feel like this country has a lot of religion and a lot of freedom around that; and there, the religion is almost like love. Love and intellectualism is their sort of way.”

And the grand poobah of her collection of double-edged lingo: While she made it clear that she is “very much against Netanyahu,” she quickly clarified that she didn’t want her opinions to be used to “sh*t on Israel.” That was the beginning and the end of it. So much for “sounding off.”

I once celebrated a hardcore Israeli Leftist’s (pardon, the term is “Labor Zionist” which translates best into American English as “Socialist”) 60th birthday party by being growled at repeatedly by the party boy himself that, in no uncertain terms, I needed to “change my politics” as guests looked on in awkward confusion. The guy literally ruined his surprise party for me in the name of Labor Zionism. Portman’s problem? She lost her teeth when she left her homeland. J Street has no problem “sh*tting” on Israel at this point and they’re a bunch of American Jews in suits. The most controversial thing about this interview? A pot-stirring headline employed the same anti-Semitic ethos for which Hollywood has become all too well known.

So, Portman, so much for not being used to “sh*t on Israel.” Did you really think the folks in Tinseltown would give a crap about your little Israeli movie?

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Proposed Ohio Law Would Ban Abortions on Babies with Down Syndrome

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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Years ago a friend described to me her daughter-in-law’s “noble” decision to abort a child with Down syndrome. “That baby was a monster,” my friend told me in a grave voice, as if a living human child could ever be a “monster.” The words have stuck with me all these years and I am reminded of them every time someone talks about protecting the most vulnerable among us — unborn babies with disabilities.

A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and featured in the New York Times found that approximately 92% of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated. We worry that children are in danger from guns on the streets, drugs, biking accidents, vaccinations, too much sugar and any number of things that can be harmful. But nothing comes close to this. No child is more at risk in our society than those tiny babies with Down syndrome.

Ohio could be the second state in the nation to pass a law banning abortions on babies diagnosed with Down syndrome if the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act becomes law. Sponsored by state Representatives Dave Hall and Sarah LaTourette (daughter of former congressman Steve LaTourette), the bill would prohibit a person from “performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion because of a test result indicating Down Syndrome in an unborn child or a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome in an unborn child.” The bill received its first legislative hearing this week before the Ohio House Committee on Community and Family Advancement.

It’s rare to see a child with Down syndrome these days. Compared to their prevalence in our society before abortion on demand became legal, they’ve practically been eradicated as a population. We’ve so devalued the lives of these children that we call them “monsters” and end their lives before they begin — for their own good — and it’s heralded as a noble decision. If the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act becomes law, Ohio will become a leader in the fight to protect them, saying that unborn children cannot be denied life simply because they have a disability.

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Will We Ever See Robin in Another Batman Film?

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

It can be difficult to recall, particularly for those under the age of 30. But there was a time when mention of Batman evoked more laughs than reverence or awe, a time when the dominant cultural touchstone for the character was the 1960′s television show featuring Adam West as The Caped Crusader.

In those days, Batman came in a package deal with his teenage sidekick Robin. It was only after Frank Miller re-imagined the character as The Dark Knight, and after Tim Burton delivered his brooding and bloodied version to the big screen, that Robin was left by the wayside. The Boy Wonder’s popularity wasn’t bolstered by his subsequent appearances in the Joel Schumacher directed sequels Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

That said, could Robin work in a modern Batman film? AMC Movie News editor-in-chief John Campea offers insights in the clip above. In short, it could be done, but not without significant revisions to the classic portrayal of the character. You can’t have a grown man dragging a teenage kid into mortal danger. But you could have a variation on the relationship that fits with the gritty new DC Cinematic Universe.

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Stop Blaming Women for America’s Marriage Dilemma

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Anti-feminist Suzanne Venker went on a tirade about millennials who don’t marry. The problem, of course, are those women who give the milk away for free or let the man pick up the check at dinner. Seriously. If her rage isn’t stereotypical enough, check out the rom-com reasoning she quotes from Dr. Helen:

Men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family…They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.

Smart? Smart is noting that 70% of men ages 18-24 visit porn sites in a typical month. (Thirty percent of those monthly viewers are women.) Men don’t need to pay for dinner when they can pay for the milk (or get it for free!) with no consequences, STDs, pregnancy, or relationships.

The stat that sparked Venker’s rant is the one showing the number of never-married adults age 25 has doubled since 1960. What else has doubled since then? The percentage of college graduates. Whine all you want about women in the workforce, the economic reality (thanks to those obnoxious hippie Boomers) is that women today have to work, married or not. The fact that the unemployment rate nearly doubled from 1960 – 2010 didn’t seem to cross Venker’s mind, either. Unless you can swing a reality TV show in your youth, get “loaned” a house from mom and dad upon marriage, and cash in on those photo shoots and residuals when you start popping out babies, you’re at a loss for a serious, reliable income without some kind of post-high school education.

Severnty-five percent of millennials still want to get married and the majority still want to have children, statistics that effectively blow Venker’s claim out of the water. Want to beat the ethos of contemporary feminism? Your chief complaint needs to be a lot better than “Waaa, it’s not the 1950s any more!”

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Suddenly, It’s All About Sex in Space

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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Rape, sex and fisticuffs in space are only some of the musings about what awaits us out there. If that was the strangest story, it might not merit much attention, but it is not.

There is talk of NASA trying to emulate Hollywoodpreventing an asteroid from ending all life on earth.

And that’s not all. There is Mars One, a non-profit organization promoting a “one way mission to Mars” in 2026.

At least one candidate wants to have the first baby on the Red Planet. Bad news. Some scientists are saying sex, romance and Mars don’t mix.

A bigger question than “who wants to blast-off with who” is asking “why do we care?”

Following the debacle of Vietnam, we just kind of gave up on Kennedy’s vision of Camelot in space.

America pretty much lost interest in the space race when we won it.  Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969. Then our attitude pretty much became “been there, done that.”

After that our interest in space was, at best, episodic. Everybody paid attention to the Challenger disaster in 1986. The Apollo 13 movie in 1995  may have pulled a bigger audience than the original moon mission in 1970.

Now, all of sudden, we all want to be lost in space again.

In part, that may be because others are making a big deal about making manned space flights, including China, India, and Japan. Maybe we are jealous?

Also we are seeing some unprecedented developments in private sector commercial space efforts. Maybe we think we can make a buck?

Certainly space is back in our imagination. Why else would Disney be interested in cranking out new Star Wars movies other than to cash in on our new lust to go to (and, I guess, lust in) space?

Maybe a little (age-appropriate) discussion of sex and violence isn’t bad. After all, as soon as humans started thinking seriously about going into the great beyond, Hollywood started making films of fighting and wooing there–like Cat-Women of the Moon.

We should be capitalizing on a renewed interest in space to inspire a new generation to study, learn, invent, create and dream.

Whatever it takes to get America thinking big and bold again works for me.

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Boba Fett to Get Stand-Alone Film in 2018

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Director Josh Trank was set to direct the second stand-alone Star Wars Anthology film. Trank announced over the weekend that he is leaving the project.

Now we learn that the film in question will feature “an origin story” of the infamous bounty hunter Boba Fett. Readers may wonder how that will work, since we’ve already seen Fett’s origin in the prequel films. The crew over at AMC Movie Talk relate their confusion over the announcement in the clip above.

Up until this point, Disney’s reign over Lucasfilm has yielded promising signals. The recent trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was widely well-received. News of the first stand-alone film, titled Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One and starring Felicity Jones, has also been well-received. The departure of Trank under questionable circumstances coupled with a confusing premise for the second stand-alone film shows the first cracks in Disney’s facade.

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Confirmed: Indiana Jones Will Return

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Along with a bevy of casting details and new photos from the set Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a new Vanity Fair article confirms that a sixth Indiana Jones film will eventually be produced by the now Disney-owned Lucasfilm. Producer Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas heir under Disney’s watch, indicated that a sequel will happen.

Unfortunately, little is known beyond that. Will Harrison Ford return? Will the role be recast and the franchise rebooted? According to Kennedy, there is no script as of yet. So perhaps the creatives at Lucasfilm haven’t yet decided which route to take. Here’s hoping they choose wisely.

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Lambert and Stamp: The Men Who Made The Who

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Ed Driscoll

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In 1979, The Who, at the peak of their career, released the documentary summing up the band’s first 15 years, The Kids Are Alright. As veteran rock critic Dave Marsh wrote in his 1983 biography of the group, Before I Get Old, published to coincide with the band’s “first” farewell tour that year:

Kids is one of the most anarchic documentaries ever assembled, running two hours without a shred of narration and with not so much as a subtitle identifying characters or dates. Kids was the perfect cult item, and Who fans flocked to it. Hardly anyone else did, however, so even though it remained a staple of the midnight movie circuit, part of every kid’s introduction to the verities of the Rock of Ages, the film had little impact outside of the Who’s cult. The Kids Are Alright is, nevertheless, one of the great rock and roll movies, capturing all of the Who’s sass and humor and taking the wind out of the band’s pomposity at each and every opportunity.

Naturally, Keith Moon stole The Kids Are Alright, which became a summation of his career as the Who’s anarchic drummer, who passed away nine months before its release, choking on an overdose of the pills he was prescribed to battle his alcoholism.

This year, filmmaker James D. Cooper released Lambert & Stamp, a documentary about the Who’s first managers, a film that can be thought of as the liner notes to The Kids Are Alright. If you’re a fan of the band, you owe it to yourself to see this film while it’s in the theaters (I saw it last night at a sparsely attended showing at the Camera 3 in San Jose), to get a sense of two men who did so much to shape the group in the 1960s. How much you know about the Who will shape how much you enjoy this new documentary, which is built around a lengthy series of interviews with Chris Stamp (1942-2012), the younger brother of veteran actor Terence Stamp (Superman II, Wall Street, The Limey), who also appears in the film, along with Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Daltrey’s wife Heather, and other Who insiders.

Instant Party

The Who were one of the most unlikely of bands; Pete Townshend, art school devotee and later follower of Sufi mystic and guru Meher Baba, was essentially the timekeeper of the group, even though he was the rhythm guitarist. Keith Moon’s anarchic surf-music-inspired drumming provided brilliant percussive colors; but keeping time was not his metier; he was not a man in search of a simple backbeat on the 2 and 4. With his fluid single-note runs, John Entwistle was in many ways the band’s lead guitarist, despite being the bassist. And Daltrey, the founder and nominally the frontman of the group, was forced to fight for attention as singer as his three innovative sidemen roared away alongside him. Somehow it worked — brilliantly — in spite of themselves.

Similarly, Lambert and Stamp were the most unlikely of rock managers. They hadn’t really planned to be managers at all. Kit Lambert (1935-1981) was the son of composer/conductor Constant Lambert, who sought to make a name for himself in the shadow of his famous father, who died, as Wikipedia notes, in 1951 “two days short of his forty-sixth birthday, of pneumonia and undiagnosed diabetes complicated by acute alcoholism.”

Britain didn’t legalize homosexuality until 1967; the upper-class Lambert was very much gay during that era. And the handsome, modish Stamp was equally aggressively heterosexual and working class, the son of a tugboat captain. The two originally didn’t want to be managers; after meeting while both were working at Shepperton Studios in the early 1960s, they were looking for the perfect rock group to feature in a documentary on the exploding British rock scene in the wake of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, when they stumbled into the Railway Hotel in Harrow where the Who were playing Motown songs to an overpacked room crammed mostly with hundreds of young Mod men. As the documentary explains, Lambert and Stamp were instantly convinced they had found the perfect group for their film; the band was instantly convinced they were the authorities, about to close down the gig as a fire hazard. While they did shoot some early footage of the group, Lambert and Stamp decided instead they’d rather be Brian Epstein than filmmakers, and quickly began managing the group.

Keith Moon brilliantly summed up the tone of the two men in the early days in his 1972 Rolling Stone interview:

Kit Lambert came to see us playing at the Railway ‘Otel in ‘Arrow. We had a meeting. We didn’t like each other at first, really. Kit and Chris. They went ’round together. And they were . . . are . . . as incongruous a team as we are. You got Chris on one hand [goes into unintelligible East London cockney]: “Oh well, f**k it, jus, jus whack ‘im in-a ‘ead, ‘it ‘im in ee balls an’ all.” And Kit says [slipping into a proper Oxonian]: “Well, I don’t agree, Chris; the thing is . . . the whole thing needs to be thought out in damned fine detail.” These people were perfect for us, because there’s me, bouncing about, full of pills, full of everything I could get me ‘ands on . . . and there’s Pete, very serious, never laughed, always cool, a grass-’ead. I was working at about ten times the speed Pete was. And Kit and Chris were like the epitome of what we were.

Lambert was a brilliant ideas man; he shaped The Who’s image as sharply-dressed mods, encouraged Townshend and Moon’s guitar and drum smashing, and hired a graphic artist to design The Who’s iconic “Maximum R&B” poster (a copy of which is hanging behind me in my home office as I write this). Lambert also moved Townshend into Lambert’s flat in the posh Belgravia section of London, giving the band a veneer of success far beyond what they were earning as working musicians. Meanwhile Stamp was largely funding the band’s early days via his work as a second assistant director on the Kirk Douglas WWII movie, The Heroes of Telemark.

Lambert fueled Townshend’s composing skills, convincing him to link together several short, incomplete songs into one nine minute number in 1966 called “A Quick One,” which the two called “their mini-opera,” and which Townshend credits for inspiring some of the ideas on Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles’ landmark concept album the following year. That album would go on to inspire the Who’s double album “rock opera,” Tommy, released in 1969.

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Three Ways to Write a Book When You Don’t Have Time for It

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by P. David Hornik

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Over the last six months I’ve written a book — even though my schedule didn’t seem to have room for it. It’s not the longest book in the world, but also not particularly short; if published it will come to maybe two hundred pages. Efforts to get it published are, of course, already underway.

But how did I write it if I didn’t have time for it? For that I can thank my favorite cafe here in Beersheva — along with a few principles I’ve mastered over the years. I know that many people harbor plans of writing a book, but have trouble getting to it. But even if you think you can’t do it, it may be that you can.

1. Write the book someplace other than where you work — like a cafe.

In my case, I work at home and do the bulk of my work on my PC. If I had tried to write my book in that same setting, the inner reaction would have been, “Oh come on, I’m supposed to do this too?”

But what about my cafe? It’s only ten minutes from here on foot. That means I can tell the always-lazy, always-recalcitrant guy who lives within me: “Come on, we’re taking a little walk. Yes, you’re going to do even more work — but a totally different kind of work. And you’re going to get treats!”

If, like most people, you work at some workplace, it may be that back in your home you can find some niche that’s quiet and pleasant enough to work on a book. Cafes, though, offer certain advantages. To me, it’s mainly that you can keep being alone, without being too alone. Having people around — people you don’t know, so that you don’t have to talk to them — provides a kind of support.

You’ve hit some kind of snag in the flow of your prose? Staring into the void? Look up, and be distracted by the people around you. You don’t have to sit there by yourself thinking “I can’t write. I’m never going to write again…” and all that junk.

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In Defense of Extremism

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Recall the moral clarity with which Barry Goldwater addressed the 1964 Republican National Convention:

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Goldwater understood that terms like extremism and moderation only matter in a defined context. Nowadays, the negative connotation of extremism is commonly taken for granted. No one bothers to ask: extreme in relation to what?

As candidates announce their runs for president left and right, the editorial board of the Minneapolis Star Tribune calls upon us to move “beyond ideology.”

Ideology, it seems, is reasserting itself in a world that less than a generation ago appeared headed toward pluralism, tolerance and pragmatism, all bolstered by an unprecedented flow of free information that promised to render extremism obsolete.

Why should we want to render extremism in defense of liberty obsolete? Why should we desire pragmatism in the pursuit of justice?

The Star Tribune op-ed offers its words without context, used more for rhetorical effect than for substantive communication. Its use of “ideology” seems to reference cultish political dogma, ignoring the fact that any given philosophy – even the conscientious choice to reject conscientious choice – is an ideology. There’s no escaping it. There’s nowhere “beyond ideology.” The very attempt to “render extremism obsolete” proves profoundly ideological.

Indeed, as their appeal to “pluralism, tolerance and pragmatism” develops, the editorial board’s own ideological goals emerge:

Screeds portraying government as a manifest evil are especially damaging because they taint even the most sensible government solutions. With national campaigns approaching, our fervent hope is that voters have grown weary of the threadbare recitations common to both parties and will instead demand pragmatic, creative and courageous approaches that bypass the tiresome interest groups…

We yearn for an agenda that matches the nation’s and the state’s actual problems: Creating a wider prosperity; building an infrastructure that works; forging a coherent, sophisticated foreign policy; fostering a truly effective system for education and training; reforming the corrupt financing of campaigns, and devising serious policies on climate and energy. We long for solutions based on hard evidence, not ideological correctness.

All this as if their laundry list were somehow “beyond ideology.” There’s nothing at all ideological about the green movement or education, is there?

To understand what the Star Tribune editorial board has done, we must recall Goldwater’s insight that appeals to moderation and accusations of extremism only matter in a defined context. We must first know: extreme in relation to what?

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Vanity Fair Reveals Further Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cast Details

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Annie Leibovitz continued her legacy of photographing the cast and crew of forthcoming Star Wars films, this time capturing images from the set of The Force Awakens released on May the Fourth. The new pics confirm previous speculation that the actor behind Kylo Ren’s evil mask is Girls star Adam Driver. Academy award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o posed while made up for motion capture, indicating that her character will be computer generated.

Additional reports from a forthcoming Vanity Fair piece reveal that actress Gwendoline Christie lurks behind another mask, that of the chrome-plated stormtrooper scene in the recent trailer. Her character will be called Captain Phasma.

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These Breathtaking 3-D Liquid Floors Transport You to Exotic Locations Without Leaving Home

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

A company in Dubai has created an innovative type of flooring that they say “fundamentally changes” the way we will think about what’s beneath our feet. The eye-catching floors, created by Imperial Interiors, are composed of a self-leveling screed which is covered by the 3-D image, followed by a transparent polymer and then finished with a protective lacquer.

Though they were originally used in large spaces like hotels and office buildings, the company says they are ideal for any room size, and in fact, can visually enlarge small spaces.

Here are some examples from the company’s Facebook page and from Talenthouse:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine walking into a room in your home and feeling like you’ve crossed the threshold into some exotic locale — like you’re taking a homecation every time you use the bathroom. (Considering all the time you spend in there, it might not be a bad investment!)

But I’m not so sure about this next one. There’s no way I’d want these guys peering up at me every time I’m having my “quiet time” (as we euphemistically refer to it at our house). It’s just a bridge too far for me.

 

 

Same with this one:

 

 

It’s a shame we have to go all the way to Dubai for these. Hopefully we’ll see them in the U.S. soon.

 

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Where’s my Village? The Growing Concern about Elder Care

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Leslie Loftis

From The Atlantic on how the elderly want to continue to stay in their homes as they age:

But shifting seniors to aging at home is going to require a much bigger commitment on the part of everyday Americans—like the Domino’s woman—to pitch in and help their aging neighbors thrive. It’s going to require neighbors to check in on one another all the time; it’s going to require college students to provide care to the aged and infirm; it’s going to require that everyone thinks more about the elderly people around them, and volunteer to take them grocery shopping or shuttle them to a doctor’s appointment. (Yes, including you.)

“Are there strategies that could be used in order for people to stay in their communities for as long as they can and not break the bank? The answer is yes,” said Lawrence Force, the director of the Center on Aging and Policy at Mount Saint Mary College and a proponent of this strategy, told me. “The only thing you have to change is the attitudinal perspective of what kind of supports are out there naturally already.”

The “attitudinal perspective” that needs to change isn’t about support, but about domesticity.

Once upon a time we did have multi-generational households and a strong sense of community. And I admit, then we also had a smaller proportion of the long-lived infirm as elderly medicine prior to World War II was more palliative than pro-active. But while I often see laments about the loss of the family and community village, modern life counsels against actually participating ourselves. Elderly care, like childrearing and homemaking, is domestic drudgery, work beneath anyone with an education. In fact, society often encourages universal higher education so that people don’t have to engage in domestic drudgery. Worse, elder care is domestic drudgery that doesn’t even have the sugar coating of cute kids or Pinterest perfect home decor. But as we eventually learn, we cannot put off the care of our elders indefinitely.

To some the “obvious” solution is to seek government support. Personally, I’m not a fan of the idea of seeking government money so that we can pretend the situation is all in hand. The elderly still end up in group care, only with the false comfort that the powers-that-be are taking care, allowing we, the young to go on about our merry lives. Care of elderly relatives requires advance planning and the willingness to think beyond any given moment, for both aging Boomers and their children.

But as a culture we focus on what works best for us right now. The Boomers did it and many flatly refuse to consider their changing needs. They taught Gen X to do it and we are too busy with our lives to take time out to care for the infirm. Eventually, Time has his way with our moment to moment decisions.

Hopefully The Atlantic‘s “Living and Dying at Home” article will inspire some community thought. At every stage of life we need the Burkean villages, not the Clintonian imposters.

 

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Danger, Will Robinson! Director Dumped from Star Wars Reboot

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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Josh Trank, slated to direct the second of the new Star Wars films from Disney, won’t be taking us to a galaxy far, far away after all. News reports declare he is out. At least one source claims Trank got trashed because he was, like with his forthcoming reboot of Fantastic Fourmoving away from the stock material and charting his own course.

Last month, Disney launched its effort to take over the Star Wars universe by making a big deal out of dumping  “digital” versions of the old films on the Internet. This sure looked like an effort to cash in on the mythology created by George Lucas in the original 1977 film rather than bring audiences something  fresh.  The release of the trailer for the first new Disney film, slated for later this year,  just confirmed that Disney looks like it wants to play it safe – and just cash the check.

When the world’s greatest “imagineers”  go all risk averse, that’s bad for the company. Walt Disney once said, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.”

Apparently, that virtue is lost on the suits.

Sure, letting directors run loose might crash and burn like the Death Star, but it would have been worth the risk.

Disney is passing up the opportunity to inspire a new generation with the vision to think bold. Instead, audiences will get to go where everyone has gone before.

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Quit Negging America into Self-Destruction

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

NSFW: Language

In the second season premiere of HBO’s pro-guy, pro-small business, pro-capitalist genius of a counterculture conservative comedy Silicon Valley, the guys once again incorporate a sexual metaphor into their business strategy: negging. Negging is a method by which you insult someone in order to get your sexual desires fulfilled. Twisted? Yes. A functional strategy in a certain sphere of sexual culture? Absolutely.

And it works on the Internet as well.

Before you dismiss those who neg as perverts, keep in mind that negative, provocative, reactionary content drives the majority of clicks on the Internet. Case in point, my colleague Robert Wargas’s latest commentary: How Long Does America Have? His primary evidence that we’re in self-destruct? Baltimore riots, yet another media-fed frenzy that would die down if mothers like this one were more connected to their children than they are to the endless stream of panic-consciousness coming through mainstream and social media outlets.

Those riots, like the ones that turned Ferguson into Gaza, thrive off negging (what Ed Driscoll ironically refers to as “riot porn“). As does Wargas’s second piece of evidence involving Christian bakers, the gay mafia and a crowdsourcing site who my colleague Paula Boylard referred to as “jackbooted fascists” who “won’t be happy until all Christians are in ghettos.” So, a crowdfunding site cut off a fundraiser for someone you support. Whatever happened to bypassing the website and sending them a check directly? But the point of the thing isn’t to give the couple financial support, it’s the negging, feeding the idea that someone hates someone else and therefore the country is obviously going down in flames.

Why are Millennials “the poorest generation in 25 years”? Because their parents neg them, of course. According to S.E. Smith, “everyone loves to hate on millennials” and they have the Internet quotes to prove it. Millennials aren’t just despised on the Internet, they’re despised because of their attachment to the Internet. When analysts aren’t ragging on websites, parents are ragging on their Millennial kids for wasting too much time online. So much for the value of social networking.

Thanks to the relentless negging on the Internet there are entire movements devoted to disconnecting from virtual reality. Often referred to as “slow” movements (i.e. slow foodslow fashion) they’re usually dismissed as hippie garbage until they’re given more scientific twists, as in the new Positive Psychology, or spiritual ones as in the case of the mindfulness movement. Apps have been created to help you join in the social media detox craze.

Think they’re crazy? The rates of ADHD diagnoses among children ages 4-17 have gone up a steady 5% every year from 2003 to 2011. A full 20% of the US college population now has ADHD. The simple math tells you that these kids were born into the Internet age, and its more than the speed that boggles their minds. “Impulsivity” and “depression” plague them as well. Surfing the net at fiber optic speeds, it’s easy to figure out why: Even the most popular kitty is a grumpy one.

According to Urban Dictionary, negging consists of “low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” In other words, work hard enough to make someone feel worthless and eventually they’ll not only believe you, they’ll become dependent upon you for emotional support. Key word being “dependent,” a.k.a. everything a Constitution-loving, Declaration of Independence-touting American should work at great lengths to avoid. The “distended orgy” of which Wargas writes does exist …on the Internet. And gleefully so! The question is, if we stop feeding the beast will it cease to be a threat to our civilization? That would require the opposite of disconnect. It would mean connecting for a cause greater than negging one another on. And perhaps that is our greatest challenge of all.

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What Has Made Adulthood So Damned Scary?

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

First it was adult preschool. Now it’s adult summer camp:

Now you’re an adult and your life is all work and emails and commuting. And booze, which is a good addition. But Camp No Counselors wants to get that summer camp feeling back in your life. You and your friends can take a long weekend to the woods of Albany to travel back in time, with water sports, color wars, a talent show and other favorite parts of your childhood camp memories—but with the added benefits of dance parties with live DJs, co-ed cabins and alcohol at every turn. It’s gonna get weird.

Millennials may be poor overall, but the ones who can afford a vacation are mocking the accusation of immaturity by embracing the rejuvenile ethos to the hilt. Camp No Counselors isn’t the only business capitalizing on the summer camp for millennials trend. Time Out New York lists six camps in the region specializing in everything from glamping to zombie survival preparation. Could summer camp be for millennials what Caribbean beach resorts were for Gen-X? Granted, Sandals was all about growing up and getting laid. Summer camp, on the other hand, could easily be seen as a twenty-something’s attempt to grab onto the last vestiges of youth, which leads to the question: What has made adulthood so damned scary?

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HBO’s Silicon Valley Mocks Sexism in the Tech World

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Season 2 of the already-renewed HBO series finds the Pied Piper start up funded and ready to hire. Two of the employees, Dinesh and Gilfoyle, recommend a coder they met through a local tech network: Carla Walton. Jared, the business nerd, immediately jumps at the chance for Pied Piper to “diversify” by hiring a woman. The rest of the guys balk: “We’re all in agreement that we should hire the most qualified candidate.” Mike Judge-patented hilarity ensues.

“It’s like now we’re the Beatles and we just need Yoko,” Jared brightens.

“Dude, that is like the worst metaphor ever.”

But it’s the perfect one for affirmative action hiring. Jared goes about creating a harassment policy and forcing embarrassed company head Richard to review it in a “group meeting”. Adding yet another layer of humor to the plotline, new (female) hire Carla uses the affirmative action game to crack a few jokes of her own. “I have a friend named Kunti,” she details, “If I can’t call Kunti “Kunti” then I’m not going to want to have Kunti over at all, which I feel like kind of violates my rights… as a woman.”

Are the critics dubbing Carla’s actions “subverting the male-dominated system” missing the point? Was Carla mocking hi-tech’s lack of female employees, or the affirmative action demands to hire based on gender? Will the tech world, let alone HR at large, actually get Judge’s point when it comes to hiring based on qualifications, not demographics? How long will it take before the GamerGate chicks are up in arms?

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Suicide Squad: Has DC Gone Too Dark?

Monday, May 4th, 2015 - by Walter Hudson

Here’s your first look at the cast of the forthcoming Suicide Squad, the third film in the developing DC Comics cinematic universe scheduled to follow next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Styled by director David Ayer as “The Dirty Dozen with supervillains,” Suicide Squad will feature a gallery of B-list rogues who most moviegoers have probably never heard of.

The big name characters are Batman villains Joker and Harley Quinn, played by Jared Leto and Margot Robbie respectively. Deadshot, a lesser known Batman foil, will be played by Will Smith.

In the wake of Leto’s controversial reveal as a tattooed Joker, this new cast photo seems to confirm what might be termed a punk rock aesthetic. It’s certainly darker and less evocative of a comic book than the current run of Marvel films. From what we’ve seen so far, has it gone too dark?

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Princess Leia: The Hidden in Plain Sight and Left There Heroine

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 - by Leslie Loftis

LeiaLightsaberHandoff

The second trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally sparked some excitement for me. I still wonder why the Force needed to “awaken” as supposedly that’s what it did at the end of Return of the Jedi, but still, fan girl glutton for punishment that I am, I want to be excited about this new movie. And so I will grasp at anything that gives me hope. And I’m not alone. From Fan Girls Going Rogue, comes this analysis of Princess Leia in Salon:

But I have always felt, keenly, that Leia was shortchanged by that original trilogy. Her story of torture at the hands of the man who turns out to be her biological father is conveniently backgrounded; her trauma at seeing her planet blow up, at the hands of her father, is similarly ignored. Leia has a story that is never told—a princess who turns out to be adopted, who chooses to make her life about resistance instead of acquiescence. When Luke first meets Leia, she is making flirtatious wisecracks in a prison cell, following her life’s total devastation, to a man wearing a Stormtrooper’s uniform. There is so much written there that is never given voice, a story of a woman who is at the very end of her rope.

I concur with the qualification that Leia didn’t start out as an afterthought.

The characters’ backstory and strengths were often left unstated in the first two movies. This was one of the things that made Star Wars and Empire great. They effectively implied character, most notoriously in the Han Shot First debacle.

When George Lucas decided that Han shooting Greedo before Greedo could fire made beloved Han too harsh, fans wailed because it is the small moments, often the ones that pass without comment that allow us to define a character.  The original scene in the cantina told us volumes about Han’s character. It said that he wasn’t a straight up nice guy. He was decisive, calculating.  He looked out for himself, perhaps to a fault. And he wasn’t stupid. What idiot would let the baddie take the first shot at close range? Beyond changing Han’s character, the edit also flattened his character arc.  The more you make him warm and fuzzy at the beginning, the less it pulls at your emotions when he comes barreling in to shoot Vader off Luke’s tail. We expect second-shot, nice Han to join the fight over the Death Star.  (We might wonder if he will miss the shot, so I guess we should be thankful that some dramatic tension remains.)

The same holds for all of the Leia moments. But unlike Han and Luke, her story never closes. Like Saraiya at Salon, this has bothered me for years. I wrote it up in an underrated heroines piece here a few years ago:

The anonymous twin sister of Luke Skywalker and daughter of Darth Vader, Princess Leia is a young Galactic senator dedicated to ridding the Star Wars universe of intergalactic imperialism.

Seasoned, gray-haired generals take instruction from her not because of her physical prowess or her political position, which has no more force as neither her world nor the Galactic Senate exists any longer, but because of her smarts, endurance, dedication, and sacrifice. She possesses super powers, but she doesn’t know that she has them, much less how to use them. Furthermore, while Lucas kept it vague to maintain his PG rating, the floating needle, a lovers’ kiss, a disgusting lick, and a metal bikini all hint at rites of passage or horrible violations. Lucas did not exempt her from the vulnerabilities of womanhood.

She endures and overcomes these challenges of state and sex without tapping into anything more than her own courage. Princess Leia should hold a more vaunted place in the heroine pantheon considering the iconic popularity of Star Wars. I used to think she didn’t get her due praise because Lucas did not understand her character, admitting in one of the many “making of” shows that when he was writing the final confrontation between Luke and Vader he had not yet worked out “the significance of the sister.” I’ve also suspected that Carrie Fisher playing Leia while in the bowels of heroin addiction hampered her ability to bring much power to the part by Return of the Jedi. Neither helped the character, but I think if she punched Han or sliced Jabba up rather than strangling him, we’d have more respect for her.

Lucas didn’t bother to close her story. The Extended Universe tried, but unlike many fans, I thought they failed. There were a few exceptions, Death Star, Tatooine Ghost, and the more recent Razor’s Edge. The nadir was The Courtship of Princess Leia, a truly awful bit of storytelling. But usually, the authors turned Leia into a modern everywoman who just happens to be in space. That is merely a setting change and far, far less interesting than an examination of how the rules of the far, far away galaxy effect a heroic soul.

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The Downton/Star Wars Mash-Up You Have to See

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Actor Rob James-Collier plays the evil butler Thomas on Downton Abbey, but in real life he must be quite the sweetie. He wrote and shot an entire Downton/Star Wars mashup on his iPhone in order to raise money for MS research. Episode One is available for free, but to watch more you have to donate to his cause at evilbutler.com.

What makes the idea so genius, apart from it being a mash-up of two mega-hits produced by a big star? Quite frankly, it’s funny. It’s also a bit nostalgic for us Gen-X/Millennial crossovers who spent their weekends making camcorder movies with friends. To his credit, James-Collier made the most of his pocket digital technology, even being sure to hold the camera correctly to avoid that awful Apple-trademarked rectangle framing that drives any film aficionado mad. Be sure to watch for the occasional boom mic or PA dropping into frame. The off-camera giggles are a great reminder that Thomas is really a fun guy after all. And, in the end, it’s quite the cute handcrafted production, offering fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the sets and the actors spoofing a beloved pop culture sensation, just like one of us.

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Forget Mom & Kid Time, It’s All About Me-Time

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

My PJ colleague Rhonda Robinson recently covered a study that concluded the quantity of a mother’s time with her children doesn’t have any real impact on their “academic and developmental outcome.” Quality time, not quantity time, is what matters. How much quality time is needed? The researchers only concluded that when the kids interfered with mom’s work schedule, causing her to stress out, the situation was bad for everyone.

The one area where science agrees that mother-child bonding on a 24/7/365 level is important is during fetal development. What a mother eats, breathes, hears, says, and feels directly impacts her child’s chances for living a successful, long life. And in the era of self-centered late in life parenting by-the-book, what’s more important than birthing a scientifically perfect child?

 

 

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If Only Al Sharpton’s Mother Gave Him a Good Smack Upside the Head

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

My colleagues Paula Boylard and Michael Walsh have declared Baltimore’s Mother of the Year, Toya Graham, a “bad parent” for slapping her rioting teenager upside the head. The essence of their argument: had she raised him better from the beginning, with good, solid biblical values, he wouldn’t have been there in the first place. That’s taking Bible-thumping to a new, bizarre level.

Scripture instructs, “Raise a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.” Notice the stage missing in the middle: young adulthood. At some point the child takes the values you raised them with and tests them against what the rest of the world is saying. Some do it the way the young man in Baltimore did, by throwing on a mask, joining a violent mob and wreaking havoc on a city, threatening lives in the process. Others, perhaps raised in a more religious environment, develop covert addictions to Internet pornography or drugs. Most just paint their nails black for a semester and go goth. In any case, these young adults are all in the same boat of questioning and testing the values they were raised with in order to determine if they are true. Hence, the Bible instructs they will return to the truth “when they are old”er and wiser, thanks to all the mistakes they’ve made.

The Mother of the Year’s son was in the process of committing violent acts that could have caused bodily harm to innocent people. Why doesn’t that justify a slap to the head? Experts from a wide range of fields have concluded that what this mother did potentially spared her son from a life of crime.

This is especially ironic given Paula’s opinion regarding the unfair prosecution of free-range parents by social services. Most of the teens participating in the Baltimore riots are the product of free-range parenting. So if we’re going to argue over 10 year olds being unsupervised in parks, this situation leads to the question: Should this mother not have allowed her 16 year old to ever leave her sight? Or is the difference simply that the 10 year old is growing up in a white suburb, far away from the threatening influence of ghetto culture?

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