Responding to the recent Supreme Court ruling mandating that marriage licenses in all 50 states be issued to same-sex couples, Christian pastor Jesse Johnson warns that the American church will soon be confronted by persecution. It may not entail the sort of physical danger faced by many believers in other parts of the world. But it will encroach upon believers’ freedom of expression.
Johnson sees a silver lining, however, that believers will place their hope in God rather than the political system. Writing at Worldview Weekend, he observes:
For too long I’ve heard “if you don’t get out there and vote, the trajectory of our country is going to lead to gay marriage!” Well, that happened, and there is not another vote to undo it (and as California’s Prop 8 showed, even if there was a vote to undo it, it wouldn’t count anyway). We have reached the limits of democracy, and there is no democratic way back.
Instead we put our hope in Christ as the one who reigns over judges and kings.
Johnson clarifies the nature of that hope, as detailed in scripture:
Do you realize that the Bible does not promise you that your church will have a tax-exempt status, that your college will be accredited, or that the government will pay young pastors to preach the gospel to her soldiers. But the Bible does promise us that God is sovereign, and that the nation’s raging will not overthrow him.
As the personal and legal cost of adhering to Christian doctrine rises, will encouragement be found in political victories? Or, is Johnson right? Have we reached the limits of democracy?
That’s the second time in less than a week a military site in the Metropolitan area has jumped to high alert. Right before the 4th of July there was a report of shots fired at the Washington Navy Yard prompting a massive law enforcement response.
Not only were authorities right to rush to the report of shooters at a public place. The rest of us ought to take this stuff seriously as well. Tragedies happen. Here is the advice I dispensed in my book Surviving the End.
If you suspect that you are trapped in the middle of these scenarios, you must be prepared to act if you plan to survive. You can’t be a passive bystander. The FBI has a pretty good video explaining what to do. Here is a simple summary of the best advice.
Don’t panic. Remember the basics of survival—faith, health, and good common sense. If you are armed with these things, you are as equipped as anyone to deal with the situation. Have trust and confidence in your own judgment.
Take cover. You don’t want to be out in the open where an assailant has a line-of-sight to you. If you are in the proximity of an incident, the safest bet might be to get to a secure location (just like Dick Cheney)—a room with brick or block walls, the fewer windows the better (pull down the shades or close the curtains if there are windows), and a solid door that you can lock. Barricade the access points with whatever is available. Stay calm and quiet (take precautions like putting cell phones on vibrate). Stay out of sight.
Contact for help. Hopefully you can call, text, email, or safely signal to someone for help. We have already talked about the importance of knowing how to make an effective 911 call or use an emergency app on your digital device. In an active-shooter scenario, you won’t just be asking for help, but you’ll be sharing critical information that may help authorities at the scene. You should be prepared to share: a) your specific location, b) the number of people with you and their conditions (i.e. injuries), and c) critical information about the assailants—numbers, description including race and gender, physical features (height, weight, facial hair, glasses), clothing, types of weapons they are using and their current activities (e.g., have you heard explosions or gunshots?).
Treat the injured. Remember the advice about being an expert at first aid. You might have to put that into practice—stemming blood loss or treating for shock.
Evacuate. You want to evacuate when it is safe. Hopefully, the authorities will arrive and establish safe corridors for passage, directing where and when to go. Most likely, if you are trapped in the middle of an active shooter scenario, you will be escorted out of the danger area by law enforcement personnel. You should cooperate with safety or security officials and follow their directions explicitly.
Fight back. If you are trapped and can’t escape, take the battle to your assailant. Fight back with whatever you have. Your only chance of survival is to incapacitate or deter your would-be murderer.
And then I added this one.
Get a gun. You know what’s weird? Go through all the advice from FEMA, the Red Cross and so on. Did you find any information about arming yourself as a means of protecting your home and hearth? Me neither. How dumb is that? Being armed is a perfectly appropriate response for everyday Americans concerned about the safety of themselves and their family—not just for an active-shooter scenario, but any of the disaster situations that threaten the life and property of your loved ones.
What happened to “equal rights”? What turned feminism into a shrill, rancorous movement that hounds men for a plethora of claimed sexual crimes, harps on female moral superiority, and seeks to rid the world of masculine energy, competitive drive, and frank humor?
Did rape crisis feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, who saw all sex as rape and presumed all men guilty, ruin what was otherwise a reasonable, egalitarian program for reform?
Or was the strain of man-blaming always there?
In “The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015,” PJM’s Susan Goldberg suggests that the suffrage activists of the nineteenth century had it right: these were God-fearing women who loved men and wanted to take their fair share of the world’s work, ridding themselves of the privileges and liabilities of traditional femininity.
Goldberg writes compellingly of what happened to the feminist movement when it lost God and put Woman/the Goddess in God’s stead.
But it is worth noting that even amongst those good-hearted evangelical ladies who campaigned for the abolition of slavery, the promotion of temperance, and all-round godly living—many of whom would not have called themselves feminist—the seeds of the present movement’s ills were being sown.
For always in the heart of the women’s movement, as in all well-meaning movements for reform, was the poison of utopianism, the dream of social perfection and the concomitant hatred of what seems to stand in its way. In declaring what women could offer the world, the suffragists inevitably flirted with the idea of female moral superiority, from which we can draw a straight line to the male-exterminationist fantasies of modern feminism.
This phenomenon started when Amy Bluel lost her father. He committed suicide after years of battling a serious depression. After his death, Amy decided that more attention should be paid to people who are struggling with depression and who have suicidal tendencies. Although it’s a very negative subject, she wanted to do it in a positive manner.
That’s why she came up with a semicolon tattoo.
Later, she asked other people to do the same. The goal of the project was to raise awareness for depression — which is a serious psychological issue many people suffer from — and to help depressed people by making them understand that they’re not alone.
The tattoo symbolizes a beautiful, hopeful thought: a semicolon is used because it means that the author wants the sentence to continue. Of course, the author symbolizes the person himself (or herself), while the “sentence” represents his or her life. Where there is life, there’s hope.
In the years since (Amy’s father took his own life in 2013, after which she founded Project Semicolon), an increasing number of people have put the tattoos on their wrists, thereby announcing they understand what it’s like to suffer from depression… while at the same time making clear that there’s still hope — for themselves and their loved ones.
It’s amazingly beautiful and I hope that many more people will follow in Amy’s footsteps. Although I’m actually not into tattoos myself, I’m seriously considering getting this one (we all have family members, relatives, or friends who have had to struggle with depression, or perhaps we even suffer from it ourselves).
Anticipating the latest installment of the Terminator franchise, I again watched the original. Born from a fever induced nightmare suffered by writer/director James Cameron, the 1984 film follows a machine sent from a dystopian future to murder the mother of an unborn resistance leader. It’s a simple and well-executed concept that plays out like a horror film. Despite its much-imitated conventions and dated style, The Terminator endures as essential viewing for any film fan.
Terminator Genisys, which opened number three at the box office behind two films which have been in theaters for weeks, goes to great lengths to recreate iconic imagery from the original. A handful of scenes are recreated shot for shot, and the portrayal of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger works far better here than it did inTerminator Salvation. That said, as the film continues, it proceeds to obliterate the continuity and tone of its progenitor, leaving us to wonder whether the recreated scenes were sincere homage or twisted mockery.
Genisys is an infuriatingly horrible film. I walked away angry at those who made it, disgusted at those who marketed it, and dismayed by the apparent demise of the franchise.
To start, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the movie. Every major plot point is given away in the marketing, blunting any impact those moments may have otherwise had. I’m not sure I would have liked Genisys if it wasn’t spoiled by its own trailers. But I may have at least been distracted from the overall mess.
The franchise has always suffered from continuity issues. The narrative paradoxes inherent to time travel require a greater than average suspension of disbelief. Even so, Genisys seems to shrug off any responsibility to set or abide by plausible rules. It offers no coherent story, shoehorning a preconceived set of action beats into a hodgepodge of poorly executed fan service.
To call Genisys a retread would be too complimentary. Had it merely done what previous installments did, it would have worked on some level. Instead, Genisys views like a $155 million fan film written by a Fifty Shades of Grey caliber hack.
As a fan of the earlier films, the most disappointing aspect of Genisys is its failure to deliver on any of its potential. The film teases several intriguing concepts and evokes some titillating ideas. I found myself holding out hope that some twist might eventually bring everything together. Alas, the trajectory I imagined proved more entertaining than the actual film.
In his July 3 article for PJ Media Lifestyle, “Christians Owe Gays a Particular Apology,” Christian brother Walter Hudson makes three true and extremely important claims about how American Christians have approached same-sex marriage (SSM) and responded to SCOTUS’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Concurrently he makes several claims with which I cannot agree. In some cases this is because my perceptions and experiences have differed vastly from his, even though we are both Christian American heterosexual men. In other cases, I fail to square his claims with the biblical scriptures, which (I presume) we both regard as authoritative.
Do not skip this caveat: Mr. Hudson has not wronged me, and God willing, I will not wrong him in this reply. We have no private matter to resolve, or any need to confront one another personally of sin, as Jesus requires embattled or embittered believers to do (Matthew 5, 18). Non-Christians who read further will not see two Christians airing dirty laundry or arguing finer theological jargon, but two brothers agreeing that the gospel was and is the only salve for sinners’ wounds. But like many American Christians, we assess those wounds and their causes differently.
I agree with Mr. Hudson on a number of points which can be condensed into three:
All humans, regardless of quantity, quality, or specificity of sin, are born separated from a holy God and deserve his wrath (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Any Christian who has reviled someone else for sin while failing to repent of sin in his or her own life is guilty of hypocrisy and should repent (Matthew 7), certainly before God and possibly to the person he or she hypocritically judged.
The truest and deepest urgency for all Americans throughout the SSM debate has always been man’s need for the gospel (“good news”) that “while we were dead in our trespasses [i.e., sins], Christ died for us.”
I cannot agree, however, that “our whole side of the marriage debate has been a waste” because we “neglected to address a far more important issue—sin,” or that Christians have “singled out homosexuality,” or that in sharing the gospel the church failed to identify itself as the foremost conglomerate of sinners, for which Christians in general need to apologize to gays in general.
It may be that I belong to an exceptional church, and that the constant barrage of e-newsletters from conservative Christian organizations are a set wholly different than those Mr. Hudson receives, or that when I see so-called Christians wreaking un-Christ-like havoc I dismiss them as bonkers rather than regard them as the authentic, biblical Christians that constitute “the church.”
Or it may be that Christians don’t owe gays that particular kind of apology.
It’s been a week since the Supreme Court ruled that all states must issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. The initial social media eruption has simmered down. Regardless of our opinion, we have each had time to digest what has happened and consider how to move forward.
As a Christian who looks to the Bible for my definition of marriage, I’ve spent the past week considering how I should respond. I could write that this latest action by the Supreme Court heralds the end of federalism. But then I’d be ignoring the many ways in which federalism has already died. I could write that this is an irrevocable turning point in the degradation of American culture. But then I’d be pretending that our culture wasn’t already degraded. I could write that God will judge America for this slight against his will. But then I’d be ignoring the biblical nature of God’s judgments, which don’t typically come as floods and hurricanes, but in the giving over of people to their desires.
No. I would rather take this moment to apologize to the gay community and encourage my Christian brethren to do the same.
Why? Because I realize now that our whole side of the marriage debate has been a waste. Christians got so caught up in the political argument, how to define the institution of marriage in law, that we neglected to address a far more important issue — sin.
The gay marriage debate has, in a unique way, cast a spotlight upon the sins of Christian culture. The fact is: we Christians haven’t been treating all sins alike. We’ve singled out homosexuality as uniquely abhorrent in the eyes of God. It’s this doctrinal inequality, rather than any legal one, which ought to command our attention.
It’s easy to see why homosexuality has been the red-headed step-child among more socially acceptable sins. You don’t have to be a glutton to understand hunger. You don’t have to be a drunk to understand the appeal of drink. In this way, gluttony and drunkenness are relatable, even to those not prone to either. By contrast, it’s much more difficult for heterosexuals to relate to being gay. Because homosexuality is not as relatable, it has been easier to demonize. So we have.
There is more than one news report of a tragic accident in Germany. A technician died after being struck in the chest by an assembly robot. What does that tell us about a future where robots run around taking matters into their own metal hands?
This isn’t close to the first incident of unintentional robotic mayhem, where the machines came after us. Over four million, for example, have watched the You Tube video of a self-parking car demonstration gone horribly wrong.
There isn’t an Eddie Murphy classic I wouldn’t recommend watching — and by los clasicos, I mean Coming to America, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and even The Golden Child. But The Distinguished Gentleman, in which he plays a con artist who gets elected to Congress solely on name recognition, is a keeper for campaign season. First, the late Lane Smith plays majority leader Dick Dodge perfectly — he would seamlessly fit in on the Hill. Then there’s the thin, pretty much non-existent lines between the “cons” Murphy’s character pulls to move up in Congress and tactics used in real life. And his campaign victory speech is a classic mish-mash of tired campaign cliches — in a movie made 16 years before the 2008 campaign that, eh, used some of them.
After making a guest appearance on the dating contest show “Bachelorette,” Amy Schumer attracted a draft campaign to see her cast in a new season. ABC execs thought it was a good idea and extended an informal invitation on Twitter.
In a new interview with E! Online, Schumer indicates her interest in becoming the next Bachelorette, but only if three conditions are met. She wants a truck load of money, the freedom to be herself, and a different approach to finding the men:
The biggest hurdle for ABC to land Schumer? “The casting process would have to be different,” the Inside Amy Schumer creator and star says, hilariously mocking the show’s “weird” job descriptions. “It’s like, ‘former investment banker’?! They’re like, ‘flower enthusiast’? You’re like, ‘But what do you do? How come you could leave your life?’” she says. “I love when it’s like, ‘I have five kids at home but I just came here to follow my heart.’ It’s like maybe go take care of your kids? I would keep it very real. And I don’t know if it’s good for that show.”
“Inside Amy Schumer” is wrapping up its third season on Comedy Central.
Word is out that Tom Cruise will reprise his role as the reckless combat-ace Maverick in a Top Gun redo. This must end badly.
Cruise is long past the day when he could deliver a film performance worth watching. Recently, in Edge of Tomorrow and Oblivion, he delivered two back-to-back performances that were as lackluster and interchangeable as Legos.
And what exactly do we expect Maverick to do? The US Navy won’t be taking on the Chinese. That would be politically incorrect and threaten ticket sales on the mainland.
And, what exactly will Maverick be flying? The Navy’s F-18 Super Hornet is a fine aircraft, but its been around since the 1980s. That’s old and boring. The Navy’s new fighter the F-35 is still in trials.
They could always put Maverick in charge of a Navy unmanned fighter. Then he could fly combat missions from the ward room. That would be an age appropriate activity for a 52 years old fighter pilot.
To make matters worse, modern air-to-air combat doesn’t look anything like old-fashioned dog-fighting. Planes engage at long range with missiles. From a movie-watcher’s perspective, following a real air-to-air engagement would probably be pretty boring.
So with no enemy to fight, nothing to fly, and nothing to see it is hard to imagine how Hollywood is going to come up with much of a movie. Hopefully, the music will be good.
Dear America (and any of my international friends who may be reading this):
Since Friday, I’ve seen many opinions on the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage everywhere in the nation. From the viewpoint of social media, people have never been so divided over any single issue. In the light of these divisions, someone needs to speak some truths. That someone may as well be me, so here goes.
To those of you who oppose the Supreme Court’s decision: you will never win someone to your case by over-lamenting the ruling as the beginning of the decline of American civilization. Displays of anger and bile probably won’t change anyone’s mind, and neither will name calling — nobody likes a sore loser, no matter how high the stakes. As passionate as you may feel about the traditional definition of marriage, shrieks of indignation can come across to others as petulant or self-righteous. Many proponents of traditional marriage who claim to be followers of Jesus have behaved in less than Christlike fashion, and this is troubling as well.
To those of you who support the judgment of the Court: behaving like a sore winner is bad form. Plastering everything with rainbows comes across as a little too in-your-face, and it won’t bring people around to agreeing with you. (Especially the rainbow version of the American flag. Remember how the Confederate flag offended people? Yeah, this one does, too.) Refrain from using the word “hate” to characterize those who disagree with you. The fact is, most people who don’t agree with the verdict don’t harbor any hatred toward gays at all; they just see the definition of marriage as being one man and one woman. Oh, and you probably should lay off the word “hypocrite” too — for some reason it rubs people the wrong way when you call them hypocrites.
The vitriol on both sides not only divides, but it also deepens the hurt that results from that division. Each side raises the volume a little higher until everyone is shouting, while nobody is really getting a word in edgewise. All of us need to remember this one fact: not everybody is going to agree with you. The sooner we get used to that truth, the more civil I believe our disagreements can become.
We also need to remember that we live in a fallen world; that’s been the case long before the Supreme Court made any decisions. But, to borrow a phrase from a song on Zac Brown Band’s new album, “love is the remedy.”
Sunday, June 28th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien
Several months ago I wrote that, after years of being a couch potato, I decided to start working out. The accompanying photo (of me in the gym, for the first time after all these years of inactivity) said it all:
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that looks horrible. Well, true, but I can guarantee you that I felt even worse than I looked. I literally felt like I was dying three times during the workout and my personal trainer told me afterwards that he was seriously considering calling an ambulance because I looked like I would pass out. He wasn’t exaggerating: that’s exactly how I felt. I was exhausted and saw all kinds of strange spots in front of me; black and white. My vision was all blurred. I had to sit down for a 5 minutes break every now and then to prevent myself from falling down (and not getting up).
Sad — pathetic even — but I’ve got good news: in the months since (the photo was taken two months ago), a lot has changed. I’ve lost 10 kilograms (which is something like 22 pounds) in body weight, while I’ve gained some serious muscles. Click to the next page to see the photo I took yesterday…
There is a specter haunting RPGs… no, not Karl Marx: H.P. Lovecraft. I’m assuming that the people reading this aren’t going to be particularly familiar with the man and his work — or that he has had a remarkably profound influence on the horror genre since his death in 1937. And I mean profound: Lovecraft is to horror what JRR Tolkien is to high fantasy, and Heinlein was/is to science fiction. Which is to say, writers imitate him, learn from him, or reject him utterly; Lovecraft is many things in this field, but being ignored is rarely one of them.
This presence extends to video games, particularly RPGs. Off of the top of my head (and games that I’ve played): the Mass Effect series self-consciously evokes Lovecraft’s views of unknown, inimical aliens (as filtered, fairly blatantly, through the very Lovecraftian Ridley Scott Alien movie lens). Skyrim had an entire major-expansion DLC centered around Lovecraft’s vision of Forbidden Knowledge. Alan Wake (which is in my Steam library, but not yet played) apparently incorporates a goodly amount of Lovecraftian themes and shout-outs, while The Secret World MMORPG more or less name-drops Lovecraft at every opportunity in its first game “world.” Note that these are all games that evoke Lovecraftian themes, or reference his Cthulhu Mythos; over the last thirty years or so there have been a variety of games that are explicitly based on the Mythos itself. But we’re keeping this as simple as possible. Also: if you already know all of this, I’m sorry for going over old ground.
We sort of have to, because it is a testament to the raw power of HP Lovecraft’s style or ethos that his influence thrives among people who would have cordially, or angrily, despised the man in real life. It is pretty much de rigeur to preface all discussions of Lovecraft with the traditional “Yes, he was a quite awful racist” – and one of the old school racists, back when eugenics was not a dirty word and it was perfectly acceptable to condescend to Irishmen and Italians. Issues with race, issues with women (the extent of which is more hotly-debated), and a certain florid prose style that probably would have benefited if Lovecraft had gotten more physical exercise in; he’s not exactly a prime candidate for the Great Looming Figure of modern horror. So what gives? – And it can’t be just talent, which Lovecraft undeniably had. Talent doesn’t always ensure lasting fame.
Well, a large part of Lovecraft’s endurance is probably due to his approach to horror itself, which was spelled out in “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” This monograph is from 1927, but it was (and by derivation, still is) an influential way of looking at the horror genre in a systematic and organized fashion. Together with Stephen King’s invaluable Danse Macabre (more on that work later), the arguments in SHiL can be found, implicitly or explicitly, in a good deal of horror works. Certainly the essay’s thesis — “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” – is well-known, well-quoted, and (hopefully) well-evoked.
As to video games themselves — well, as King noted in Danse Macabre: there are three categories to this thing that we call “horror.” There’s the gross-out, which is more or less unthinking revulsion and visceral disgust; horror, which I at least define (King puts it slightly differently) as a physical fear reaction to a sudden event or entity; and terror, which is a very intellectual sort of dread and anticipatory fear. This is as reasonable a lens to view horror as is anything else: but it puts video games in a bit of a bind.
I like to have a prejudice overthrown from time to time: it helps to persuade me that my other prejudices are reasonable because I am a reasonable man who is open to the evidence. This is especially the case where the prejudice is one that I do not really care much about. I can give it up without much regret.
A paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine overthrew one such minor prejudice, namely that the more thoroughly a person was investigated for an occult cancer after suffering an unexpected deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolus (PE), the more likely that one would be found.
The association between spontaneous DVT and cancer has long been known. Its discoverer was Armand Trousseau, a great French physician of the middle of the nineteenth century, who noticed that people who suffered DVTs often had cancers such as that of the pancreas, in those days always diagnosed at post mortem. By a strange and tragic coincidence, Trousseau himself suffered a DVT and a few months later was dead – of pancreatic cancer. This is a story from medical history that, once heard, is never forgotten.
It has been found that about 10 per cent of people have diagnosable cancer within a year of having had a DVT or PE. So it seems to stand to reason that if people who suffer such events are investigated up hill and down dale immediately afterwards, some cancers will be caught earlier and treated, and therefore survival will be increased.
Some Canadian researchers tested this hypothesis. They randomly divided 854 patients with either DVT or PE into two groups: those who were tested for cancer by simple methods such as physical examination, blood tests and chest x-ray, and those who, in addition to all these, had CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis. They were then followed up for a year to see whether there was any difference in outcome.
Ever since the improbable news dropped that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures had struck a deal to include Spider-Man in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe, questions have swirled regarding how the two studios would interact. Who has final say regarding how the character is used? Can we expect other Marvel characters to appear in stand-alone Spider-Man films?
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige shed some light on those questions in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
After Civil War, how much will Marvel be involved in Sony’s Spider-Man movie?
FEIGE Well, we’re producing it for Sony. It’s exciting, and we’re treating it like we treat all of our films. To try to make the best version now of Spider-Man and a version of Spider-Man that inhabits this universe that we’ve created. We’re in lockstep with [Sony Motion Picture Group chairman] Tom Rothman and [producer] Amy Pascal at every turn.
So some of your Marvel characters will show up in the Sony Spider-Manmovies?
FEIGE Specifics of the story aside, the agreement that has been made between Sony and Marvel is that we could do that.
Do you risk giving up any of your autonomy by working with Sony?
FEIGE Without getting into the contracts, it’s definitely a Sony picture, produced by Marvel Studios. We’ve been working with each other for a number of months now. It’s been just as healthy as any of our internal discussions. We just look at it as having additional team members. We wouldn’t want to do it if we couldn’t do it in the way we’ve done all the other movies, and I think that’s what Sony wants from us.
From these comments, one might assume that Sony is effectively yielding creative control to Marvel. That would certainly make sense, as Marvel’s track record of success certainly eclipses Sony’s efforts with the now twice rebooted Spider-Man.
Thursday, June 25th, 2015 - by Michael van der Galien
In what must be one of the strangest decisions in recent years, a Texas grand jury returned a “no-bill” in a case against a veterinarian who killed an innocent cat who happened to walk into the wrong garden — namely, hers.
After having heard the evidence in the case, the grand jury ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. This while the woman actually posted a picture of the dead cat on her Facebook account and bragged about taking it down with a bow and arrow.
A 13-year-old boy named Christian attended last week’s Orange County Board of Education meeting and elegantly smacked down the federal takeover of local education standards, telling the board, “You are not educating my generation.”
Instead Christian said, “There needs to be more of us being taught rich, content based curriculum. Being taught how to think, not what to think.”
During the three minutes allotted to him at the board meeting the articulate young man accused the board of “selling us via our information to big data businesses, keeping track of our every mistake.” He also said said the board looks the other way when students and parents are bullied by teachers and administrators. “You are not protecting us.”
David Whitley, a parent who has been at the forefront of the battle against Common Core in Orange County, told PJ Media this week, “Students that opted out [of Common Core tests] in some districts have been treated very badly.” He said some have had senior privileges, like parking, revoked when they’ve opted out, while students who take the tests are rewarded with raffle tickets. “Why are principles punishing or rewarding kids based on the tests?” he asked.
Christian went on to say in the video, “If the Orange County Board of Education — a supposedly conservative board — is not willing to protect the next generation, then who will?”
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next,” he said, quoting Abraham Lincoln. “The architects of Common Core know exactly what they’re doing. America is not just another country on the globe. She is and should be proud of being the greatest and the brightest, so people have hope when looking at her.”
“I implore you to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. How about some real social justice? You are supposed to leave us a country better than you received it. This is not what you are doing,” Christian said. “Stand up for us and our country. Too many leaders in this country aren’t leading and are throwing away our future.”
Christian ended with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 - by Arlene Becker Zarmi
Image via Shutterstock
How many of us, at one time or another, have felt a little down? Perhaps you’ve been passed over for a promotion, or worse, been part of your company’s downsizing program. Or perhaps a breakup, a lost election, or simply some of life’s daily difficulties have made you feel a bit melancholy.
There are a number of ways to beat these blues. Most of them are inexpensive, and even healthy
and beneficial to your future lifestyle. Try any one of these — or all of them — as soon as you feel the blues coming on.
20. Head for the gym.
It’s well documented that working out stimulates the hormones responsible for good feelings in your body. If you don’t belong to a gym, then try jogging, or walking rapidly outside, weather permitting. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll be improving your health and body. A gym is also a good place to be when you’re feeling down because it’s generally a place where you can be social and meet people, sometimes even making new friends.
19. Head for a body of water.
Even if it’ only an indoor pool or a fountain, just sit and look at the water and “veg” out. Water has a soothing effect on people. Moving water is the best, with lapping waves, or flowing in a fountain, but even sitting by a pool is relaxing.
18. If you have a dog or cat, just sit and stroke your pet.
Stroking pets can lower blood pressure, ease stress, and generally relax people. Special pets are brought into nursing homes for just this effect. If you don’t have your own pet, see if you can borrow a friend’s. If not, try visiting a pet store. If this won’t work, visit the zoo and enjoy the antics of the monkeys and other animals. Those living in Southern California or Washington, D.C., are fortunate, as they can enjoy watching the adorable pandas at the zoos there.
17. Treat yourself to some sweets.
If you love ice cream, buy yourself a pint of the flavor you love the best and pig out on it. Or you can enjoy a hot fudge sundae smothered in hot fudge, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. If pies, cheese cake, cookies, or cakes are your favorites, enjoy those. Mmmmmmm fantastic!
You’ll find that not only will you do some good for someone else, but this will get you out of yourself and you’ll appreciate what you do have.
15. Make a list of all the positive things in your life.
This way, whatever you have had happen that got you into your blue funk will seem to be minimized and even inconsequential to your life.
14. Visit a spa.
Find either an overnight place or one of the many day spas located in nearly every city. Get a massage, it will make you feel fantastic. One really delightful feel-good treatment is a foot massage. Sticking your feet into the special foot apparatus and having the moving warm water stimulate your feet is heavenly. Having a foot massage and choosing your favorite nail polish color will override any other great decisions you may have to make, if only for that time period.
13. Have fun by becoming a child again.
Slide down a slide in a park. Go to a theme park where you can ride your favorite rides and check out the fun attractions. Enjoy as many slides in a water park as you want to.
12. See a funny movie.
Check out something from Netflix, or even go to a funny movie at a theater. Even better, go to a theater with a friend.
11. Take a soothing, hot bubble bath.
The more bubbles the better! Place scented candles in the bathroom and lower the lights if you can. Scent your water as well. Turn on soft music for a completely relaxing aura. You can even purchase CDs with the sounds of lapping waves for the occasion. Soak until your body feels rubbery and your mind is totally relaxed.
10. Clean your house or apartment.
Cleaning your living space is not only soothing, but is something that you have control over. It can give you a feeling of accomplishment and you’ll see and enjoy the benefits of your work immediately.
In the wake of nine racially motivated murders in South Carolina, attention has focused on displays of the Confederate battle flag. Many retailers have pulled Confederate flags from their inventory. A bipartisan group of politicians and public figures have called for the removal of the flag from South Carolina’s capitol grounds.
To some, the flag represents a noble Southern heritage. To others, it evokes a vile history of racial violence. As a black libertarian, I see in the Confederate flag interwoven tragedies which echo through history.
The first tragedy is the most obvious, the one most cited, the one fueling the current debate. The Confederate flag reminds us of a time when human beings were bought and sold as chattel, when the rights of individuals were denied based on the color of their skin. The institution of slavery cannot be washed from Confederate symbolism. For that reason, it remains reasonable to question why anyone would want to associate themselves with that symbol.
The second tragedy is amplified by its obscurity, the fact that few seem to recognize or appreciate it. The original constitutional vision of the American republic took form in a compact between the several states, where they granted enumerated powers to a federal government and established a first of its kind dual-sovereignty. The ultimate check on federal authority was the capacity of the states to withdraw from the compact. Among the many causalities of the Civil War was this original vision of dual-sovereignty. Today, we pledge allegiance to a union “indivisible,” affirming the supreme authority of the federal government to dictate law among the states. We can argue whether the states retain certain powers in theory. But in practice, the feds call the shots in far more ways than the Founding Fathers ever envisioned. That’s largely a product of the Civil War.
Therefore, when I look at the Confederate battle flag as a black libertarian, I see tragedy for all parties concerned. I see the history of racism and human indignity which motivates the current debate. But I also see the loss of state sovereignty which compromised the Founding Fathers’ vision for republican government. To the extent people choose to fly the Confederate flag in honor of that latter heritage, I can’t fault them.
That said, let’s be clear why state sovereignty was lost. It was lost because the southern states delegitimized it.
Aaron Dickson, who created “The Best First Date” — a video that’s been viewed over 12 million times — is back with a new creative effort. The name says it all and there’s nothing I can add except, “Grab some tissues — you’re going to need them!”
Pastor Dimas Salaberrios holds a bible as he leads a prayer at a sidewalk memorial in front of Emanuel AME Church for the shooting victims at the historic black church Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Barack Obama seems awfully disappointed by how Christians in Charleston have used the Charleston atrocity to glorify God from the pulpit of Emanuel AME Church instead of looking to his Bully Pulpit.
I would wager that he said more favorable things about the Brown and Martin families than those courageous relatives of the Charleston 9. And he expressed far more understanding about the reactions in Baltimore and Ferguson. Barack Obama never called rioting an “unimaginable” response to a justified police shooting; but that was his reaction to a call for Christian forgiveness.
In fact, the president got so pathetically desperate for attention this weekend that while people in Charleston were praising Jesus, he went on Marc Maron’s cult podcast and dropped an N-bomb.
There, THAT ought to get everybody’s attention!
However, it really didn’t. Even the president doing a professorial version of Snoop Dogg became a side issue, as the only speech that riveted the nation this week, about how we all ought to act as children of God, came from Rev. Norvell Goff of Emanuel AME Church.
But while Rev. Goff was assuring us that despite the darkness, because of the grace of God, “joy comes in the morning,” video was being released of the president of the United States in a Los Angeles garage assuring us that racism is in our DNA.
Ummmm, isn’t genetic destiny the basic message of… racists?
It’s something conservatives have inherently known, but can now back with scientific evidence. Conservatives tend to have greater self-control than liberals. At least that’s what a series of studies detailed in a paper published Monday suggest. The key, it would seem, is the conservative belief in free will and personal responsibility. The Los Angeles Times reports:
“Conservatives tend to believe they had a greater control over their outcomes, and that was predicting how they did on the test,” said Joshua Clarkson, a consumer psychologist at the University of Cincinnati and the lead author of the paper.
The results make sense. Someone who believes that they control their own outcomes will naturally seek the liberty to do so. Conversely, someone who believes that life drifts along currents of fate will naturally regard success as a product of “privilege.” If you’re not responsible for your own outcomes, you hold no responsibility to control them.
I know you have noticed the same thing I have in recent years: everybody’s attention span has gotten shorter.
This website offers some very interesting statistics on the subject. For example, the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, whereas it was 12 seconds in 2000. It seems certain that the vast increase in information availability and data variety amounts to an overwhelming increase in external stimulus. Many people — especially younger people who grew up without the handicap of only three TV networks, a phone hanging from the wall, and having to wait for the postman — have yet to develop that which, for us, was a side-effect of the times.
I refer to discipline: the ability to sustain an effort past the point of comfort, past the next whim, the next immediate impulse in a different direction.
I sit here in front of my desktop computer, struggling with the same problem that has shaped the past 20 years of Western culture: I must wait to check my e-mail and the Drudge Report until I finish these thoughts.
Dammit. No mail, and Ms. Dolezal identifies as black. I identify as distracted, too.
Despite my occasional failures, I have an advantage that lots of kids don’t have. The barbell has taught me some valuable lessons they have not yet had a chance to learn. Strength training makes your body stronger in many important ways. It makes muscles stronger, bones harder and denser, joints more stable, and the whole body tougher.
But it also strengthens the mind by giving it a task it must finish once started.
A set of heavy squats is an amazingly attention-dependent event. You take the bar out of the rack for five reps, and the set takes maybe 45 seconds to complete. If you have the discipline to even start the set in the first place, you’ll finish it, because the last rep is the most important rep of the set. So you’re committed to the 45 seconds, and during that time you cannot afford any distractions.
You take your grip, go under the bar, stand up with the weight, walk it back from the rack, set your stance, fix your gaze on the floor ahead of you, take a big breath, and start down. You follow the carefully scripted procedure for each of the five reps, trying for technical perfection and identical movement patterning every time. Your knees, hips, and back do precisely the same thing five times in a row. Focus is necessary, and focus is what you do.
If you don’t know how to focus, a set of five can be a difficult 45 seconds. So you learn to focus, because if you have the discipline to start the set in the first place, the necessary focus to finish it must be developed, along with the physical strength the work demands.
The heavier the weight gets, the more complete the focus must be. The two develop together, because they have to.
For those who lack focus, the process of developing the discipline to focus is an important part of strength training — maybe even more important than the quest for physical strength improvement that got you into the gym.