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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

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


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

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

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

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


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

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


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

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

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

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

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

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.

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

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

trust

Here’s the last post in my series.

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

3. Trust No One (Not Even Yourself)

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

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

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

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

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

“These people are not your friends.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pilot Episode, Scarecrow & Mrs. King (1983)

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

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

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

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

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

wizardofozoff

So, which one is Jack Bauer?

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Imagine No Taxes

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

chains_broken11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bugs In Love Battle a Blackbird in Black and White

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

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Will Binge Watching Change How We Tell Stories on TV?

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

buffy_paper_big

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

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

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

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

Lost-season1

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

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

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

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

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

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The New Charlotte’s Web Medicine

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

My home state of Colorado is a guinea pig for the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. Other states are observing closely to see if they should move down the path towards legalization.

There’s plenty of bad news to go around. Police in other states are pulling over Colorado drivers with no justification other than the green license plate. (We’re all stoners now, I guess.) A college student named Levy Thamba fell to his death from a high balcony during spring break after eating a marijuana cookie. And last week a Denver man who ate pot-infused candy became incoherent and paranoid and shot his wife to death.

Is there good news? Turns out there is. Colorado Springs is the source of the Charlotte’s Web strain of medical marijuana that has sent parents with gravely ill children flocking to the city for treatment.

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The strain was developed by Joel Stanley and his brothers in their Colorado Springs medical marijuana facility. They’d read that marijuana strains that are high in a chemical called CBD can help to shrink tumors and prevent seizures. The chemical in marijuana that gets users high is called THC, and since it has an adverse affect on seizures the Stanley’s bred it out of the plant.

Their first patient, 5 year old Charlotte Figis, was so affected by a genetic seizure condition called Dravet’s Syndrome that she was not expected to live much longer. Today, she’s almost seizure free. The Stanley brothers named the strain after their first little patient, and it’s showing the world what medical uses marijuana can offer.

Today there are nearly a hundred families with gravely ill children who have relocated to Colorado Springs, purchasing a treatment for their children that would have landed them in prison just a few years ago. Medical marijuana is well known to help in the treatment of nausea in cancer and AIDs patients, but the strains now being investigated may uncover new lifesaving medicines such as Charlotte’s Web.

The recreational use of marijuana is proving to be the problem it was predicted to be, but while the stoners fill the headlines the researchers in medical marijuana are quietly making amazing advances in the treatment of illnesses. That’s some very good news indeed.

****

Image via CNN Health.

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Battling for the Conservative Soul

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

randjesusgop

See Part I here

See Part II here

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: What Is “The Right” Anyway?: Part III, concluding a discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the distinctions within the right-wing coalition. Can we sort out our differences? If so, how?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(10:32 minutes long; 10.11 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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Sunrise at the Washington Monument

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another submission from Mark Baird.

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

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

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

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

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

A Capitol Dome Sunrise 

Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin

Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac

4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms

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By Request: Jeff Healey Band, ‘Blue Jean Blues’

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Michael Wudtke sent in this request with the following comment: “I saw Jeff and his band in Berlin and this was phenomenal!” Here’s the late Jeff Healey and his band with “Blue Jean Blues.”

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The Normal Way Godless Men Treat Women

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Click here for Part 1

Lisa De Pasquale's memoir is extraordinary... Time to take a break to give #maura #siberianhusky her morning run but I'm eager to finish ASAP.

From Sunday at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg responded to my opening in this series with “Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet” and concluded thoughtfully:

Why aren’t these women loving these men the way they ought to be loving themselves, with respect and honor?

Perhaps that question is the answer to the many you pose about righteousness in America’s religious and political spheres. When we succumb to idols of any kind we become altruistic in our worship, disrespecting ourselves as much as those with whom we interact. Walter and I do agree on the concept that faith is, first and foremost, a relationship with God that is as mutually satisfying as a marriage. When we lose that context to religious, political, or pop culture opinion, we are forced to become ascetics, because no matter how hard you believe, nor how ardently you defend, you will never win the full favor, attention, or love of the idol you worship. It is a thing, an idea, a person so far removed from you that you are forced to be nothing more than its conquered slave. That is the way Ryan the Preacher treated Lisa, and she responded the way any slave would: “…all I wanted was to be wanted.”

An excerpt from page 23:

"He hit me so hard I actually saw stars." - Lisa De Pasquale, in an excerpt from page 23 of Finding Mr. Righteous on her alcoholic, atheist boyfriend Chris...

Dear Lisa and Susan,

I think among the many accomplishments of Finding Mr. Righteous is its portrayal of Chris the Atheist. The passage from page 23 above highlights a number of intertwined phenomena – a sadomasochistic sexual nature, atheist theology, an inability to control emotions, substance abuse, idolizing women’s bodies, and so often the critical piece at root, the lack of a father figure and the corresponding failure to grow up in a nuclear family. In another passage from the book Chris’s destructive tendencies are made more explicit as he discusses the self-inflicted scars on his arms.

Reading these passages reminded me of my own secular dating time during my undergraduate years – a period I don’t like to dredge out from the memory banks all that often because it’s just still too shameful and embarrassing. The experience from this passage isn’t that uncommon and it shouldn’t necessarily be understood as exclusively a men’s issue. (I certainly don’t believe that men are just innately violent.) It goes the other way too. I dated a number of secular, progressive, and feminist women in college who in some ways resembled Chris. Gender isn’t the issue — beliefs, ideology, and the experiences underlying them are what make people hurt one another.

Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.

Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. Throughout the story of Chris we see one attempt after another to find something to distract from the unresolved demons inside him. The twin cocktail of sex and violence at the same time, heated up by alcohol and Dionysian emotion, is among the most effective throughout history for annihilating the pain of being an individual. There’s a name for this practice beyond just “atheism” and in my research I think Camille Paglia defines it best in her many books of essays, criticism, and literary analysis, summarized in the lead essay in Vamps and Tramps: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality. From page 45:

“Men who kill the women they love have reverted to Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a magic fountain of cosmic creativity.”

"Men who kill the women they love have reverted to #Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a #magic fountain of #cosmic creativity." - Camille Paglia, page 45 of Vamps and Tramps, "No Law in the Arena" essay.

So the position I take: Chris was just being a normal, secular teenage boy, the way mother nature created him. This is just how nature operates…

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What Is an ‘Urban Naked Zone’?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

First the Bavarians gave the world great beer. Now this:

Munich has legalized public nudity and has also declared 6 “urban naked zones”.

The urban naked areas allow naturists to strip off and show their bums and other bits without risking arrest, the Mirror reported.

However, these nudist spots are not fenced off or hidden away.

Say what you want, but Oktoberfest just got a lot more interesting.

Germany calls its outdoor pedestrian shopping areas Fußgängerzone — literally, foot-goer-zone. Makes you wonder what they’ll call their nudity areas.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Sadist Vs. Narcissist

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Richard Fernandez

The danger in the Ukraine crisis was always that the Ukrainians — or some faction therein — would fight the Russians, escalating the crisis.  Resistance from Obama was not in the cards. CNN quoted David Frum as saying that Obama had in effect gave Putin the “green light” to carve up Ukraine.

Obama’s admirers think so too, though they put it differently. Ronan Farrow has advised the president to do nothing as Russia advances. “So, President Obama waiting and exercising caution isn’t necessarily sitting on his hands. It may be the caution that we need right now.”

Farrow’s right. Obama’s not sitting on his hands. He’s waving Putin through. The effect is the same.

Even Obama’s former diplomatic appointees can see what’s happening. James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in the Obama administration, implored NATO to send troops to the Ukraine because nothing else would be believed. He said, “The best way to send Putin a tough message and possibly deflect a Russian campaign against more vulnerable NATO states is to back up our commitment to the sanctity of NATO territory with ground troops, the only military deployment that can make such commitments unequivocal.”

Interestingly Jeffrey doesn’t see Ukraine as an end-point of Putin’s plots but a way station to other “more vulnerable NATO states”. And he is anxious to prevent the action from shifting Westwards, may because he knows the stuff Brussels is made of.

The “fragile” EU, having expanded its remit East, now claims it is too fragile to resist Putin now that he’s on the counteroffensive. An article in Bloomberg says, “the U.S. readiness to impose new economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine is offset by the European Union’s reluctance to introduce stronger measures that could threaten its already fragile economic recovery.”

Translation. They won’t even back serious sanctions. The soft-power superpower that is the EU has looked into its arsenal of diplomatic demarches and human rights declarations and found — nothing. So now they want Obama to ante up the lead in stopping Vlad.  They’ll bring up the rear, maybe tomorrow. But Obama needs the EU in the van, with its greater market share of Russian goods.  We have the classic tableau.

Alphonse: After you monsieur.

Gaston: No, no. After you.

Alphonse: But I insist. After you.

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What Do the Words ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ Mean To You?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

"The problem of the last 20 years is that people think that 'liberal' and 'conservative' mean something." - Camille Paglia in 1991, page 250 of Sex, Art, and American Culture

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A Cute Kitty Inspires Pluto to Listen to His Inner Demon

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

From Jaynie 1 commenting on yesterday’s cartoon:

The pirate attack on the teeny little mermaid was nasty indeed.My suggestion, not Silly Symphony, is Disney’s Lend a Paw (1941 I think) in which Pluto is coached by his devil self and his angel self whether to “save that kitty!”

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How the Ft. Hood Massacre Could’ve Been Prevented

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Robert Spencer

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The Following has been excerpted from Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In by New York Times Best-Selling author Robert Spencer:

During his trial, prosecutors showed that several days before his attack, and even just a few hours before he started shooting, Hasan searched the internet for “jihad” and specifically for articles about Islamic jihadists and Muslim clerics calling for jihad attacks on Americans.

Yet despite these abundant indications that Hasan was engaged in act of Islamic jihad akin to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, albeit on a smaller scale, the Defense Department has classified Hasan’s shootings not as a terrorist act, but as “workplace violence.”

Hasan himself contradicted this classification at his trial, when he pointedly registered his agreement with the prosecution’s contention that, unlike some others who had opened fire in public places, he hadn’t just suddenly snapped or been overcome by an overwhelming paroxysm of rage: “I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn’t done under the heat of sudden passion. There was adequate provocation, that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war.”

Nonetheless, the U.S. government has so far continued to ignore repeated requests from the victims’ families to reclassify the killings and make the victims eligible for the Purple Heart and benefits that are normally accorded to combatants killed or injured in the line of duty.

The disconnect from obvious reality has grown ever wider. The Obama administration’s official unwillingness to face the full reality of the Islamic jihad is all-pervasive, affecting both foreign and domestic policy. Echoed in the mainstream media, it has contributed to an atmosphere in which, during Barack Obama’s second term, Americans are arguably less safe and less informed about the threat they face than ever before. Those who are informed about the threat, or who find themselves confronted by it in one form or another, are often intimidated into silence by the politically correct backlash that is sure to come against them if they dare to speak out.

Nidal Hasan’s own coworkers during his tenure as an army psychiatrist were subject to that intimidation, and their choices illustrate show how deadly effective it is. Although Hasan’s jihadist tendencies were well known, clearly fear that they would be accused of “Islamophobia” prevented his army superiors from acting upon signs of his incipient jihadist tendencies. Instead, they kept promoting him. The AP reported in January 2010 that “a Defense Department review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, has found the doctors overseeing Maj. Nidal Hasan’s medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his strident views on Islam and his inappropriate behavior, yet continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks.”

And so Hasan rose through army ranks and did so with extraordinarily positive recommendations, even as he justified suicide bombing and spouted hatred for America while wearing its uniform. In an evaluation dated March 13, 2009, just short of eight months before his jihad attack, Hasan’s superiors wrote that he displayed “outstanding moral integrity” and praised his project topic for his master’s of public health degree: “the impact of beliefs and culture on views regarding military service during the Global War on Terror.” They even praised him specifically as a Muslim, in passages that their authors must have remembered with stinging regret after his jihad murders: one said that he should be put into a position “that allows others to learn from his perspectives” and declared that his “unique insights into the dimensions of Islam” and his “moral reasoning” could be of “great potential interest and strategic importance to the U.S. Army.” 

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Who Murdered the Dinosaurs?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the fifteenth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here and the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth here, here, and here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here, running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Frank J. Fleming is an author (Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything), political humor columnist (New York Post and PJ Media), and blogger (IMAO.us). Frank is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate and also works as an electrical and software engineer when he’s not writing. He lives in Idaho with his wife and two kids. Frank is the country’s leading advocate for nuking the moon.

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1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

The single greatest influence on my writing was probably the first ten seasons of The Simpsons, which taught me how to recognize and use wit. I think the show 24 helped me learn how to pace things; I have a short attention span, and I need things to happen constantly. For SF influence, I like Joss Whedon, as I lean more toward keeping things loose and fun than toward hard science fiction (and although I, like many others, am critical of his habit of killing off comic relief, I’ve found that it really is a great way to give a jolt to the reader). I wish I could claim more influence from writers so I don’t sound like a dullard. Lately I’ve enjoyed Brandon Sanderson (he keeps things fun and adventurous while also deathly serious) and George R.R. Martin (who is good at drawing you in and creating tension, even if he can be a little too description-heavy for me). I also read the Bible and hope to one day be able to come up with a relevant Bible quote for every situation as easily as I can a Simpsons quote.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’m a conservative who leans libertarian. In fact, depending on my mood, sometimes I fantasize about going without government at all. What’s that? Anarchist? But I associate that word with hippies who don’t like people having private property, so I guess I’m not that.

I write quite a bit of political humor, and I’ve found that bad political humor is making fun of everyone other than yourself, while good political humor is also attacking your own foibles. Which is to say I’ve written a lot of bad political humor, but every once in a while I think I write the good.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

I started listening to Rush Limbaugh when I was in junior high and was fascinated by seeing another side of issues than I had considered. I got political at a young age, though I am now of the opinion that it is hard to be a “true” conservative until you have a job and a family; it’s all theoretical until then. Lately my favorite commentators have been Jonah Goldberg of National Review and Allahpundit of Hot Air.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Idaho. For the most part, we get left alone here.

5.  What are your writing goals?

For decades now, during any idle moment in my day, story ideas swirl about in my head and continue developing and evolving and consuming me. I’ve found that the only way to get rid of them is to write them down. So I’d say my writing goal is to exorcise demons.

I also plan to keep writing political humor, as I don’t think there will ever be a dearth of things to make fun of there.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

I have a blog — IMAO.us — that I’ve kept active for more than a decade. I’m also very active on Twitter (to the point that I have to keep correcting my long-form writing, as I often Twitterize sentences, leaving out too many words), and can be found at @IMAO_ (don’t forget the underscore). I also have a Facebook page.

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I’m a very boring person with occasional bouts of adventurousness. For instance, I met my wife when I had a contest to find a t-shirt babe to help sell t-shirts on my blog, and for our first date, we hiked the Grand Canyon. That makes us sound like rather intense people, but most of the time we enjoy nothing more than a relaxing evening with a show worth binge-watching (I remember when we first discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watched the entire first season in one day — of course, that was before we had kids). I’m also an avid gamer — well, as avid as I can be while having a full-time job, writing every day, and being a husband and a father. So a few minutes here and there.

An Excerpt from Frank J. Fleming’s “Who Murdered the Dinosaurs?“:

Braeburn had worked many odd cases as a crime scene investigator. The clown that was set on fire and thrown off a building (eventually ruled self-defense). The time it was determined that the real killer was society. And the case of the health-conscious cannibal who only ate vegans.

But this case had the potential to be something he’d never worked before–something no one had ever worked before.

 

He stood before a place of death. Old death. The university’s Department of Paleontology. Its exterior was cracked and the whole building was draped in shadows. Everything about it was ominous and foreboding, except for the poster of a cartoon stegosaurus welcoming visitors.

 

Devereux stood beside him, looking blonde and confused (that was sort of her thing). “If we’re here to investigate a killing, it’s probably from a really, really long time ago.”

 

“There is no statute of limitations on murder,” Braeburn said firmly.

 

“So…any idea why your dino friend wants a CSI?”

 

“No, but I owe him a favor.” Technically, Braeburn was off duty, so he wore his casual clothes–the exact same suit as his work clothes. He ran a hand through his short-cropped hair, which he cut every two weeks to keep from looking like a hippie. “You didn’t have to come.”

 

“I’m curious what this is about. It would be kind of neat to solve a dino-murder…though I’m going to guess a tyrannosaurus did it. Motive: hungry.” She giggled but then turned serious. “But if he has, like, an actual human body here, we should probably call that in.”

 

“Of course. I always do things by the book,” Braeburn said. “Except where the book says you have some discretion on following the book. Then sometimes I don’t do things by the book. But I usually do.”

 

Devereux furrowed her brow. “What book are you talking about?”

 

Braeburn didn’t respond and headed into the building.

 

“Does the book say anything about being courteous to your partner?” Devereux griped as she followed him in.

 

The building was as still and quiet as the bones of the creatures inside. They walked down a hallway until they found the office of Dr. Graham Smith. Braeburn knocked.

 

A bearded, nervous-looking man answered the door. The bags under his eyes indicated he had missed a few nights’ sleep. “Good, it’s you.”

 

He let the two investigators in and quickly closed the door. The cramped office was filled with boxes of files, and the desk was covered with photos and scribbled-on notepaper.

 

“This is my partner, Devereux,” Braeburn said, pointing at his partner, who was playing with a small, petrified skull, trying to get the jaw to move.

 

“That’s not a puppet,” Graham told her.

 

Devereux put the skull down. “Anything can be a puppet if you attach a stick to it.”

 

Graham just nodded and turned to Braeburn. “I didn’t know you were bringing anyone else,” Graham said, walking over to his desk. Braeburn followed. Graham leaned over and whispered, “She’s kind of attractive.”

 

Braeburn glanced at Devereux, who was making faces at the skull as if trying to provoke a reaction. She was dressed in a neat pantsuit and wearing just enough makeup and showing just enough cleavage to keep anyone from taking her too seriously. Braeburn shrugged. “Yeah, I guess so. What do you want us to look at?”

 

Graham gathered some files, set them on his desk and pulled out some photos, which he laid before Braeburn and Devereux. “We found a dig site about the same age as the meteor that is theorized to have killed the non-avian dinosaurs.”

 

Braeburn looked over the photos of bones embedded in rock. Typical paleontology stuff. “They look long dead.”

 

“Well…yeah,” Graham said. “Anyway, this find was remarkable, actually. We’re talking hundreds of dinosaur fossils–those most directly killed by the meteor that made their kind extinct such as triceratops and tyrannosaurus rex. These should be the ones that starved to death because of the meteor.”

 

“Sounds like quite a find. Perhaps one that someone…” Braeburn paused dramatically, “…would commit murder over.”

 

Graham looked taken aback. “Huh? No, not really. That’s not where this is going. Everyone in paleontology is friends. We don’t murder each other.”

 

“CSIs are supposed to be friends, too,” Devereux said. “But then one of them secretly replaces the bullet from a murder scene I’m investigating with a bullet from my gun. I’m running to my car to drive to the lake to dump the evidence when I see them all laughing at me.”

 

Graham raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

 

“The point is,” Braeburn said, “friends murder each other all the time.”

 

“I didn’t murder them,” Devereux added. “I thought about it–but I didn’t do it. Still, it’s pretty easy to see how ‘friends’ could kill each other.” Her eyes narrowed. “Really easy.”

 

Graham stared at her for a few moments. “So, once again, no one in paleontology is dead. That’s not why I asked you here.” He chuckled nervously. “In fact, the simple murder of a colleague would be much less disturbing.” He set down another picture, this one of colorful rock strata.

 

“As I said, the evidence we found was consistent with these dinosaurs dying at the same time as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. In fact, the rocks encasing the bones contain dust from the meteor throughout. Too much dust. I ran the scenario over and over trying to figure out how you’d end up with this kind of pattern and could come to one conclusion: it could only happen if the bones of already dead dinosaurs were buried in the dust of the meteor impact.”

 

Braeburn stroked his chin. He could tell the twist was coming. The twist was always his favorite part of each case. “So these dinosaurs didn’t die out due to the meteor; they died beforehand.”

 

“Exactly. We always assumed the non-avian dinosaurs died out in the extinction event, but because of the margin of error in radiometric dating, all we really knew was that they died out around the same time as the meteor. This evidence is telling us that their dying-off is unrelated to the mass extinction. This could blow away our current understanding of the extinction of dinosaurs.”

 

“And what was our current understanding?” Devereux asked. “They went off the gold standard?”

 

Graham stared at her. “No. A meteor.”

 

“So you’re sure these dinosaurs aren’t just an isolated few who died from other natural causes?” Braeburn asked.

 

“It’s hard to be sure,” Graham said, “but there are a lot of bodies in the dig…and there were other oddities as well. For instance, we have fossils of triceratops and tyrannosaurus rexes that look like they died at the same time–yet there are no marks on the bones to indicate they died fighting each other. It’s like something else came along and quickly killed them.”

 

“That’s quite a finding,” Braeburn said. “What do your colleagues think?”

 

“Well, this would be an extraordinary claim, so I wanted to make sure I had some extraordinary evidence before I made it. Which leads me to this.” Graham opened a desk drawer. His hands were shaking as he pulled out a piece of petrified amber. In the center of the amber–known among paleontologists as “yellow gold”–was a dark object.

 

Braeburn took a closer look. It was hard to see the details, but it looked almost like a bullet. “This is from the dig?”

 

“Yes. And it doesn’t look natural, does it.”

 

Devereux squinted at the amber. “You think someone shot the dinosaurs?”

 

“Here’s what I think.” Graham shifted in his chair. “I think maybe the dinosaurs didn’t go extinct from natural causes. Maybe they were…murdered.”

 

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

*****

image courtesy shutterstock / DM7

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British PM David Cameron Emphasizes the Importance of Christianity in Society

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard
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British Prime Minister David Cameron used his Easter message to talk about the significance of the holiday as he highlighted the role of Christianity in Britain and the plight of Christians in countries where they are persecuted.

He said the country should reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain. “All over the UK, every day, there are countless acts of kindness carried out by those who believe in and follow Christ,” Cameron said. “The heart of Christianity is to ‘love thy neighbour’ and millions do really live that out.” He mentioned prison ministries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters run by churches. He said he saw the same “spirit” during recent storm in his country. “They proved, yet again, that people’s faith motivates them to do good deeds,” he said.

Cameron also reflected on the plight of the persecuted church. “And as we celebrate Easter, let’s also think of those who are unable to do so, the Christians around the world who are ostracised, abused – even murdered – simply for the faith they follow,” Cameron said. “Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.”

He added that “Britain is committed to protecting and promoting that right, by standing up for Christians and other minorities, at home and abroad. Our hearts go out to them, especially at this special time of year” [emphasis added].

Cameron expounded on his Easter message in an article for the Anglican magazine, Church Times. Acknowledging that he is “not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith,” Cameron disagreed with those who said faith should not be discussed in this “secular age.” He said, “I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.”

Cameron focused on morality and social action, saying he is “not one for doctrinal purity.” But he said that people who advocate secular neutrality “fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code,” Cameron said.

Despite the obvious benefits, a nation dedicated to good works will not pull Christianity back from the brink of extinction in the UK. Only authentic, committed faith can do that. But a government that recognizes the role of faith in society can allow churches to organically flourish by eliminating government interference and discouraging cultural marginalization. Whether or not Cameron is a man of true faith, he seems to recognize the need for Christianity to return to the United Kingdom.

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Anarchists Among Us

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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See Part I here

On today’s Fightin Words podcast: What Is “The Right” Anyway?: Part II, continuing a discussion with PJ Media associate editor David Swindle on the importance of accurately navigating ideological territory, we consider whether anarchy is “right-wing?”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(14:37 minutes long; 14.03 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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2 Gettysburg Battlefield Sunrises

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

Two more great photos from Mark Baird. First, the Mississippi State Memorial:

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Louisiana State Memorial:

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

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

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

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

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

States that we still need to get: Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wasghington, West Virginia, Wyoming

Alabama

Great Colors In the Alabama Sky At Sunrise in Cullman

Alaska

The Sun Rises Over a Town in the Alaskan Mountains

Arizona

An Encouraging Sunrise While Driving in Arizona

Arkansas

3 Invigorating Sunrise Shots From the Shores of the Arkansas River

California

Another Superb Sunrise Over Silicon Valley

The Sun Rises Over the Fog In Silicon Valley

A Huge, Colorful Sunrise over San Francisco

A Good Morning Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

The Sunrise Illuminates The Path By the Beach In Cambria, California

The Last Socal Sunrise of 2013

3 California Sunrises – San Diego – Santa Cruz – San Francisco

These 3 Photos Fail to Do Justice For This Morning’s Southern California Sunrise

Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple

A Subtle Sunrise From The San Fernando Valley This Morning

A Colorful Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

A Golden Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

Today’s San Fernando Valley Sunrise

3 Shots of the San Fernando Valley Sunrise This Morning

The Sun Rises Over San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Colorado

Stunning Shots of Sunlight Escape the Clouds In Roxborough Park

A Purple, Pink, and Gold Colorado Sunrise

Which of These 3 Colorado Sunrises Is the Best?

Garden of the Gods at Dawn

Colorado Sunrise Vodkapundit Style

An Orange Sunrise from Boulder, CO

Connecticut

Sunrise Over the Snow in New England

A Connecticut Church’s Stained Glass Sunrise

Delaware
Florida

3 Fantastic Photos of Yesterday Morning’s Florida Sunrise Courtesy of Myra Adams

The Sun Rises Over the Sea In Florida

A Heavenly Sunset in Cedar Key, Florida

Sunrise at a Damaged Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

3 Florida Beach Sunrises

Florida Sunset With 3 Dogs (All Sunsets Are Better With Dogs)

Georgia

Many Colors Over The Sky In Yesterday’s Sunrise Over Atlanta, Georgia

How the Sun Starts the Day in Covington, GA

Another Beautiful North Georgia Sunrise

Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois

Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday

Indiana
Iowa
Kansas

An Artsy Kansas Sunrise

Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine

2 New England Sunsets

Maryland
Massachusetts

A Powerful Pink Sunrise From Framingham, MA

Michigan

Detroit Ice Fishing Sunrise

An Ice Fishing Sunrise From North of Detroit to Start Your Weekend

Sunrise on Lake St. Clair, Just Outside Detroit

Minnesota
Mississippi

An Overwhelming Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Missouri
Montana
Nebraska

A Truly Triumphant Sunrise From Nebraska

Nevada
New Hampshire

A New Hampshire Sunrise Shot Through The ‘Glass Wall’

New Jersey
New Mexico

Which State Has the Superior Sunrises? 2 From New Mexico Vs 2 From Colorado

New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio

It’s 3 Below In Newark, Ohio And The Sun Shoots Up Like a Shining Column of Light

‘Flying at 6500′ Msl Over Zanesville, OH in My Cessna 182 Heading South’

What a 17 Degree Ohio Sunset Looks Like

Oklahoma

A Wonderful Blue & Orange Sunrise Creeps Over the Oklahoma Grasses

Oregon

A Beautifully Composed Portland Oregon Sunrise Photograph

Pennsylvania
Rhode Island

A Colorful Rhode Island Sunrise

South Carolina

5 Instagram Sunrises From Around the World

South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas

An Optimistic Sunrise Over Dallas

Sunrise From Galveston Island, Texas

Utah
Vermont
Virginia

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

Charlottesville, VA: When the Morning Sun Gets Under the Clouds and Lights Them Up

Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

3 Artsy Sunrise Photos From Milwaukee

Wyoming

Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)

What Does a Sunrise Look Like on Mars?

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One Hit Wonders By Request: Dave Brubeck, ‘Take Five’

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight

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Here’s another terrific request from Mark Mazer. I’ve always been fascinated by songs in different time signatures, and here’s a classic example – “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck.

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 3)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Yesterday, as part of my series about how I doubled my freelance writing income over the course of about 24 months, I advised you to “Always Say ‘Yes’ (Except Sometimes).”

Today’s tip is also somewhat contradictory:

2. Be Prepared (But Not Too Much)

A while back, a fellow writer asked me to look over the outline/proposal/project scope thingie he’d just prepared for a client.

The client had hired my friend to write the copy for a ten page website.

My friend’s outline was… 40 pages long.

Whereas I’ve written the copy for 40 page websites, and the outline was five pages long. Maybe.

And I only create outlines (or whatever you want to call them) if a client asks me to (and I can’t talk them out of it.)

Otherwise I never write outlines. I’ve never had a business plan.

I do not make to-do lists. I avoid face to face meetings whenever possible.

Don’t get me wrong: My day, and therefore my week, is planned hour by hour, because my regular daily/weekly work routine rarely changes.

(As I said yesterday, my calendar looks like a clown car, and sounds like one too, thanks to the loud honking noises that remind menopausal me about my deadlines, even ones that have fallen on the same day of the week for years.)

However, my idea of “being prepared” involves, say, having two working computers (and mice and keyboards) at hand, at all times. And a LOT of batteries.

(And toilet paper and cat food, so I don’t have to interrupt my work day to restock those and other non-work-related necessities.)

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Is Self-Esteem a Social Construct Or the Soul’s Self-Awareness?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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I worried about my son’s inability to read. He seemed far behind other second-graders. When I brought my concerns to his teacher, she brushed my fears aside. ”He is the highest in his reading group.” With her assurance, sprinkled with condescension that hinted education is best left to professionals, my parental instincts were put aside. After all, what parent argues with a teacher who insists a mother should be proud of her child’s hard work and dedication?

Imagine my surprise when at the end of the year, the decision was made to hold the boy back and repeat the grade. The reason? You guessed it–reading. When I pushed-back, reminding Mrs. Professionaleducator of her own words of assurance, she added one small detail previously left out. He was indeed at the top of his reading group–the lowest group in the class.

When he reached the top, she did not advance him to the next level for fear of hurting his self-esteem. He would no longer be the top dog. He would be at the bottom in the new group–with better readers. He would have to struggle to climb back to the top. For this reason alone, the preservation of the boy’s self-esteem, that he was not pushed to the next reading level.

He was reading somewhere around the 1.3 grade level at the end of the second grade. His prized self-esteem, was artificially inflated–something that was quickly and properly adjusted with the news he would not be advancing to the third grade with his friends.

For years, I chalked this experience up to the fact that his teacher just didn’t know my son. If she had, she would have known that putting him at the bottom would have challenged him to climb to the top. His competitive spirit and almost untamable drive would have propelled him over each obstacle put in front of him. Instead, she gave him a dunce cap and told him it was a crown, and rewarded him with a false sense of accomplishment as a foot-rest.

This week’s reading of Ernest Becker’s Birth and Death of Meaning reminded me of that first encounter with an esteem-puffer disguised as an educator. Becker made me rethink how self-esteem is actually built.

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