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Monday, October 31, 2011

A MEANS TO AN END

"The sky is falling! You must create a world government made up of enlightened people like me!"

Overpopulation myth
Supposedly today, the seven billionth baby has been born, increasing our world population over that number. As expected the usual suspects are trotting out all the same old overpopulation lines they've been using since before the planet had one billion people living on it, warning that we're doomed soon, very soon, if we don't do what they command.

And what do they command? Well, as Steven Den Beste notes at Powerline:
...a benevolent world dictatorship of the enlightened elite, and mass transfer of wealth from rich nations to poor nations.

That’s what they want to do about global warming. It’s what they wanted to do about overpopulation. It’s what they wanted to do about endangered species.

Its always the same answer, to every crisis they claim. Always the same basic solution: give me world power to establish a socialist redistribution scheme. Global cooling, starvation, lack of fresh water, acid rain, uneven tire wear, you name it.

One almost gets the impression that the alleged crisis isn't really the point at all. That it is just a means to an end.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Compare
The Tea Party movement and the #OWS guys have a lot of original complaints and concerns in common. We both are annoyed at bailouts of huge corporations, we both are angry at the way government ignores us, we both are frustrated by cronyism between the mega rich and government, and we both have taken to the streets.

The Tea Party took to the streets in response to the bailouts and stimulus. We'd had enough, after decades of tooth-grinding frustration and anger at the federal government, finally the final straw was reached. The catalyst, the trigger for the Tea Party was CNBC's Rick Santelli having a rant on TV about abuse of power, government arrogance, and misuse of funds. That set us off.

What I want to know is: what was the trigger for the occupy movement? What set them off? Why at that point did they decide to camp all around America? What was their final straw? Because there was nothing that happened in culture or news to trigger it. So what made this start? And who? Because no one in the news seems to want to ask that.

REFORMATION DAY

"How can an unrighteous man be made right with God?"

Today is Reformation Day. This is the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg door, consisting primarily of objections to the theology and practice of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the day which the Protestant Reformation - one of the most important and most downplayed movements in human history - took place.

Because of the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance was able to flower, science, art, industry, and culture was able to grow and move away from the medieval period, and the whole world changed. The Protestant Reformation was primarily focused on a basic dilemma: God is perfect and demands perfect righteousness, and humans are innately sinful. How can this possibly be reconciled?

The reformers studied scripture and understood that this could only happen through the doing and dying of the incarnate Christ, both man and God. By his doing and dying, through his perfect life lived in our place and his sacrificial death for our sins God brings us justice and righteousness through mercy and love. There is no other way.

Oh, yeah, there's some masquerade going on involving candies and pumpkins too. Maybe during all that you can consider the reformation, too.

WOWPARK

"I've got the best deals, anywhere!"
-A Goblin Merchant

China isn't real concerned about copyright laws. Businesses there make knockoffs of products to get rich off established brands, they make pirated copies of entertainment media, and even more blatant, they make entire theme parks out of copyrighted materials.

World of Warcraft is vastly popular in China, with more than half of the eleven million WoW subscriptions coming from that nation. At as much as $14.99 a month, that's a nice income. To cash in on this interest, China has a whole World of Warcraft and Starcraft amusement park - unlicensed and in violation of copyright, naturally.


Blizzard, the company that puts out these games doesn't seem terribly upset, as they keep doing special China-only promotions and items put in the game.


Some say that the upcoming Mists of Pandaren expansion is targeted at Chinese customers, with its heavily asian and Panda-based setting.


The park's decor and themes are clearly ripped off from these two games but some of the imagery is subtly different with a more Chinese cultural feel.


The park is called "Joyland" and it is divided up into “Terrain of Magic” and “Universe of Starship,” which is WoW and Starcraft, respectively.


All these images and the news come from Unreality magazine, which has many more images. China is a "most favored nation" when it comes to US Trade policy.Every president for three decades has maintained this in the face of blatant Chinese hostility and human rights abuses.

Quote of the Day

"This is liberalism’s real strength. It is no longer susceptible to reductio ad absurdium arguments. Before you can come up with a comical take on their worldview, some college professor has already written an article advancing the idea."
-Ann Coulter on the satire horizon

Friday, October 28, 2011

THE BULLY PULPIT

"Oh noes!"

OK I can't get my Wordpress login to work at Big Hollywood so I can't comment there, and I have this bully pulpit to make my case so here goes. John Nolte in general writes well and has interesting points about movies and entertainment from a conservative perspective on the Big Hollywood site. But I've noticed something about him: he hates Netflix.

He's posted repeatedly, a dozen times or more about how bad Netflix is for raising prices, how stupid they are for doing this and annoying customers, for thinking about splitting off the DVD mail and direct to TV, on and on. He never brings up Netflix without attacking it with scathing, contemptuous terms. I figured maybe he was just upset and burnt because of the price increase, but then there's this post today:
In case you haven’t figured it out already, one of the pleasures of Redbox is that it is both a way to see the latest offerings from Hollywood and a way stick your finger in Hollywood’s eye at the same time. A two-fer, if you will. And who doesn’t love a two-fer?

I don’t hate Hollywood (my hate is all burned up by the mainstream media), but I also don’t like it very much; therefore 20 cents seems like a small price to pay to support the enemy of my enemy.
So he doesn't actually have a problem with a company rising its prices, he even defends it and points out its a small price to pay to somehow poke Hollywood in the eye by buying their product through Redbox.

And that smacks to me of less a principled stand than just brand loyalty. Netflix and Rebox do the same thing: give you at home viewing of film content. Both raised their prices (Redbox by 20%, 60%). One is defended as a fair price to pay, the other continually attacked as outrageously gouging for charging you 19 bucks a month for unlimited movies and entertainment 24 hours a day.

Consider: to use Redbox as much as you can Netflix, you would end up spending much more. The average movie is around 100 minutes long. You can only really watch movies about 14 hours a day, presuming no work and time off for food, sleep, and bathing. And since few people would sit like a zombie and watch that much, lets cut it back to around 8 as a realistic maximum. That means roughly 5 full length movies a day on average, or $6 a day for Redbox.

That means over a full month, you'd end up paying around $180 for Redbox. Assuming you turn them back in on time, or you pay $1.00 a day for late fees - unless that's gone up to $1.20 also.

So Netflix is a tenth as expensive as Redbox for the same content. Which begs the question: what's Nolte's problem? Because he mocks people who complain about Redbox fees going up and attacks Netflix in scathing terms for the price increases - and he's not the only one at Big Hollywood who does so. Why?

THE FUTURE OF CINEMA

"OK, so, she's a dog."

Movie Theater
Next year's movies look to be the usual mix of remakes, sequels, and Hollywood trash with a scant few gems. Its odd that most of the original content coming out in American cinema is comic book content. Like many people I wondered for years why Hollywood didn't tap into comic books more, given their vast content and storyboarded, cinematic excitement. Well, they've really begun to.

Here are some of the upcoming movies for 2012 and later this year.
  • A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas. Really? I guess they make money.
  • The Muppets. I've heard nothing good about this from the original muppets people.
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. LaCarre's book, a remake. I've never been a big fan of his stuff.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The last one was fun, but not Sherlock Holmes. Raping the source material.
  • The Adventures of Tintin. I really want to see this because I love Tintin.
  • Ghostbusters III. No Bill Murray? Yeah, pass on this one, especially after II.
  • Godzilla (again). I have never liked any of these movies.
  • Riddick. Didn't care for the other two in this series, supposedly this finishes the trilogy.
  • Piranha 3D. What can you say? It will probably make money, for some reason.
  • Underworld: Awakening. This series just never did anything for me.
  • Beauty and the Beast 3D. Hey Lion King re-release made them a mint. It wasn't the 3D that did it but that's what they'll think.
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Supposed to be darker and less goofy.
  • John Carter. I really hope they get this right, what a great franchise possibility.
  • Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Not interested.
  • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Part of the "remake fairy tales all gritty and adult" that the Alice in Wonderland remake started.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman. See above.
  • Jack the Giant Killer. See above.
  • Dorothy of Oz. Well, why not. Great stories if they could only follow the book closer. She'll probably know martial arts and battle zombies.
  • 21 Jump Street. This launched Johnny Depp's career on the fledgling Fox network. Maybe it won't suck... yeah sure.
  • Snow White 3D. See Beauty and the Beast above, but this one is hard to watch, very dated.
  • Clash of the Titans 2. The first really didn't justify a sequel.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: cute concept for a single image, but a film? Maybe.
  • The Amazing Spider-man. Pass. Rebooting already? Without the brilliant direction of Sam Raimi? No.
  • The Dark Knight Rises. I sure hope this one is as good as the first two. Nolan has yet to disappoint me.
  • The Avengers. Lots of build up but it looks cheesy in the pictures I've seen. Lets hope not, Marvel has a lot riding on it.
  • Battleship. Uh, sure. How about "Chutes and Ladders" next!
  • Men In Black III. Well I liked the two previous ones and this has the whole cast.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation. How did this get greenlighted after the bomb the previous movie was?
  • The Bourne Legacy. I'm not sure I really care, given how this franchise has raped spy action thrillers. They all think they have to be Bourne now.
  • Total Recall. If they do this right, it could be brilliant science fiction. I don't trust them to do it right.
  • The Expendables 2. Well it should be plenty entertaining; unfortunately a stunt man died while filming in Bulgaria.
  • Dredd. This time maybe they can get Judge Dredd right, instead of that abomination with Stallone and Assante.
  • Taken 2. Well I guess we should have expected this.
  • James Bond 23, possibly called "Red Sky at Night." Given that Daniel Craig talks about how this is more character and emotive than the previous ones, I'm not encouraged. At least Q is back. Rumor has it Albert Finney will replace Judi Densch as M. That would be great, she never worked in the part for me.
  • The Hobbit, part one (An Unexpected Journey). Pass.
  • Django Unchained. Only if Tarantino has been forced to obey an editor to cut down his painfully long talky scenes. The man needs editing, badly.
  • World War Z. Ooh. Zombies. How original.
  • Atlas Shrugs 2. Didn't see the first, but I hope it does well.
There's also a scattering of horror movie 3D releases and junk like the next Twilight film. Not a lot I'm really looking forward to, but then there's a bunch of titles I didn't recognize so maybe there are some gems I haven't heard of. If I owned a movie company I'd release for Netflix at the same time as theaters, charging them as much as I could.

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Whether the old-fashioned virtues can be reinstilled in time to save the nation and who will do it remains an open question."

Governor Perry is going to sit out a few Republican debates, likely because he doesn't do very well in them but also because of his stated reason: there's too many. Its ridiculous, there's a debate every few days. Too many debates = saturation, boredom, disinterest. And since almost every one of the debates is held by groups and institutions hostile to Republicans, they seem more a way to attack and harm them than showcase them. I'd pick and choose too, were I a candidate.

Steven Spielberg spoke about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull recently. In essence he said the refrigerator nuking was cool, and it was all Lucas' fault about the aliens:
"I sympathize with people who didn't like the MacGuffin because I never liked the MacGuffin. George and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin. I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings.
Yeah, that makes sense. Mister fixated on gray, big-eyed aliens and extraterrestrial landings on earth, Mister Close Encounters and Taken miniseries wasn't the one who insisted on gray big eyed aliens in a space ship. Right. Hey guys? You lost your mojo, especially Lucas. Retire.

Occupiers illegally squatting in a New York Park with zero city resistance or condemnation have decided they don't care for feeding and aiding people who contribute nothing and merely want to live off their efforts. Putting aside the hypocrisy of freeloaders who want to live off the productivity of others being angry at freeloaders who want to live off their productivity, an Instapundit commenter put it best:
Tragic. The horses are tired of working for the cats, who don’t contribute anything, and have taken their case to the pigs. Let me know if they get this resolved before the farmer comes back.
Occupiers are more equal than others.

Others have written about this but it bears repeating and spreading around. If you want one example of the difference of coverage based on bias and calumny between the Tea Party rallies and the Occupy rallies, here it is:
Remember when the Tea Party was in Arizona and that one guy lawfully carried an AR-15 in a sling on his shoulder? Remember how it made the news and how the beltway crowd was really freaking the Hell out? Remember how MSNBC used selective editing to make it look like it was a disheveled white guy when it was really done by a clean cut black guy? And the media went into OMG!!!111 mode?

Funny story. Turns out, there’s a bunch of guys at Occupy Phoenix wearing camo, tactical gear and carrying around AR-15s and I haven’t heard a peep about it in the press.
That's because the press just knew the Tea Party was a batch of scary radicals out to destroy everything they held dear, while the Occupiers must be protected, promoted, and their problems downplayed - or ignored, such as armed neo-nazi white supremacists showing up to show solidarity and protect them from the police. These guys actually are all that the press claimed the Tea Party is, and they're ignored. For more on this theme, check out James O'Keefe's latest video coup of leftist journalism profs explaining how leftist bias works and how the New York times carefully crafts a narrative.

The White House and Democrats in general are trying very hard to sell congress as "Republican controlled." Since Republicans only control 1/6th (a half of 1/3rd) of the federal government this is an outrageous, absurd lie, but it worked before, apparently. A goodly chunk of people, including most Obama voters polled, believed that Republicans controlled congress in 2008 when they held neither house. If they can get people to blame Republicans for their misery, the Democrats think they will do better in 2012. Its only a question of how ignorant and gullible the American people are.

Inflation rolls on, with the Consumer Price Index up 3.9%. Despite being continually redefined to attempt to conceal inflation for decades, the numbers keep going up - one wonders what they would look like with the definition used during the Roosevelt administration. But that's not the bad news, according to Steve Horowitz at the Mercatus Center:
Specifically, year-to-year increases for three areas in particular might be cause for concern: Finished goods are up almost 7%, intermediate goods are up 10.5%, and crude goods are up nearly 21%.
In other words, its costing businesses more and more to produce the goods you buy. And while they're using every trick they can to try to keep prices down (ever wonder why the stuff you buy keeps getting smaller packages?), that can't go on forever.

Previously I've mentioned this, but here's a specific example of how the Tea Party is treated differently by left leaning city and state governments than the Occupy movement in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
The tea party group is sending Jones an invoice for the charges incurred for the Tax Day rallies it has held at the plaza the past three years, arguing that the Occupy Wall Street offshoot group squatting there has been using the park illegally and free of charge since Oct. 15.
...
Owens said her group has shelled out about $10,000 for the three rallies held there, including a rental fee for use of the park, various permits and other expenses.
...
"The city of Richmond is allowing Occupy Richmond to blatantly break the law day after day while forcing other groups to strictly comply," a news release from the tea party group said.
Its not just the Tea Party that had to pay of course. I disagree with reimbursement of the Tea Party, its not unreasonable of them to pay for services and so on. But the city should be held responsible for not charging the Occupiers and letting them violate health, safety, and park ordinances without consequence.

Walter Williams asks a good question in a recent column:
Who Poses the Greater Threat?

Bill Gates is the world's richest person, but what kind of power does he have over you? Can he force your kid to go to a school you do not want him to attend? Can he deny you the right to braid hair in your home for a living? It turns out that a local politician, who might deny us the right to earn a living and dictates which school our kid attends, has far greater power over our lives than any rich person. Rich people can gain power over us, but to do so, they must get permission from our elected representatives at the federal, state or local levels.
Indeed, and while rich people buy things, hire people, and invest, helping the economy and creating jobs for all, the government is essentially parasitic, taking away and interfering. To a certain degree that's good and necessary but the federal, state, and local governments of the US have gone far beyond that point in the name of doing good for others.

England is proposing something radical and extreme for its employers: allow them to fire unproductive workers. I know, I know, crazy talk.
Under current regulations, workers are allowed to “coast along” and employers are left fearful of expanding because new staff may prove “unknown quantities” who are impossible to sack, the report says.

The radical recommendation to scrap the concept of unfair dismissal is made by Adrian Beecroft, a venture capitalist, in a report commissioned by David Cameron.
Radical. Few examples of how bad things have gotten in the UK can equal this story and the news paper response. It is deemed radical to allow employers to fire lousy workers.

Exhibit 481037 of how efficient and terrific the government runs things: there was a site that allowed people to search for federal government jobs, run by Monster.com. The federal government decided they should be running that site, so they took it over with USAJobs.gov. Take it away, Wall Street Journal:
But 18 months ago the "smart" Obama Office of Personnel Management decided the federal government could do a better job of running USAJobs.gov. It spent some $6 million developing a new in-house version of the site, promising to improve the job-search experience. It unveiled its creation two weeks ago. It's a monster all right.

The volume of requests instantly crushed government servers, slowed the system and locked out thousands of applicants. Naturally, the site has a Facebook page. Naturally, the comment queue is boiling over.
They want to run your health care. And pretty much everything else in your life, for that matter.

While I've never had any evidence, I have long suspected those burly gymnastics coaches were a bit more friendly with their little wards than was proper. All those kisses and hugs and close stares made me a bit uncomfortable, and now we have evidence of at least one who went too far. SCATS is a gymnastics club who has turned out some of the finest professional gymnasts in the world. The coach, Don Peters, has been accused of sexual molestation and activity with at least three of his gymnast including Doe Yamashiro, as young as 16 years old.

Michael Moore is a proven liar and he's known for mistreating his workers, but he's rarely been so boldly bald faced about his lies as recently on CNN when he absolutely refused to admit that he's rich and part of the hated 1% he claims to fight against. Moore is everything his movies attacks, especially his last one that was a screed against capitalism while earning Moore hundreds of thousands of dollars as a capitalist.

Governor Kitzhaber met with Occupy Salem and talked to them. I've been by the group a few times, there's like 20 people there, in the daytime. If they're like England's occupy groups, most of them go home at night and sleep in warm beds, which sort of negates the whole occupy effect. Kitzhaber is a hapless lefty, and he thought the group was doing a really good thing while illegally camping on the capitol mall, and then said that this is exactly what the park was meant for. Funny, that's not what the law says. The city has kindly provided tape barriers and port-a-potties for the occupiers at the expense of residents.

Smoking pot has long been known to aggravate schizophrenia, and there is evidence that it can bring the onset of this awful mental illness. A recent study suggests that as little as one joint can cause it - maybe Reverend Jim's tale on the TV show Taxi wasn't so silly after all. Pot smokers really want to downplay how bad this stuff is for you but its really not safe to ingest, even putting aside deliberately sucking burning material into your lungs.

Doug Ross ran down what's happened in the middle east since President Obama took office. Its not good:
  • Tunisia democratic elections in this once-peaceful Mediterranean state have installed an Islamist party.
  • Libya - With dictator Muammar Gaddafi the vacuum is being filled by Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, who declared the nation to be Sharia controlled. Obama militarily assisted the rebels.
  • Egypt - Again, Mubarak is gone and radical Muslims are taking over. Obama praised the rebels.
  • Syria - An effort to depose Bashar Al-Assad was met by the slaughter of at least 3,000 civilians. Obama said little.
  • Iran - A similar attempt to revolt against the government was brutally crushed. Obama condemned both sides.
  • Iraq - Obama has announced the withdrawal of all troops by the 2012 election, deliberately blowing any chance of a permanent base to protect from Iran.
  • Israel - Ordered by Obama to withdraw to the point that allows its enemies strategic positions to attack it.
Ross calls this the Obama Caliphate. The whole south and east Mediterranean ring is becoming Islamic.

Rajat K Gupta was one of the most respected, well-paid, and trusted financial advisers in the world. He's been busted for insider trading, working out special deals with another disgraced hedge fun investor Raj Rajaratnam. I'm sure their both being Indians is coincidental. Walter Russel Meade notes this is part of a wearying pattern all too often among boomers, but I have a different response.

This is why unlike most conservatives and libertarians, I am not unreservedly supportive and defensive about the free market and capitalism. As a commenter points out, the founding fathers knew this system would only work as long as citizens were virtuous; capitalism is essentially organized, institutionalized greed which is only sustainable and workable as long as people are ethical and virtuous to offset that greed.

Hard leftist Kevin Drum - he of the Drum Principle - recently admitted that the "stimulus" spending's positive effects (what little there was) for taxpayers was negated by rising gas prices. Now if only he'd admit that Obama's policies directly resulted in those higher prices.

Marc Morano compiled the various problems with human-caused global warming hysteria recently:
The Antarctic sea ice extent has been at or near record extent in the past few summers, the Arctic has rebounded in recent years since the low point in 2007, polar bears are thriving, sea level is not showing acceleration and is actually dropping, Cholera and Malaria are failing to follow global warming predictions, Mount Kilimanjaro melt fears are being made a mockery by gains in snow cover, global temperatures have been holding steady for a decade or more, deaths due to extreme weather are radically declining, global tropical cyclone activity is near historic lows, the frequency of major U.S. hurricanes has declined, the oceans are missing their predicted heat content, big tornados have dramatically declined since the 1970s, droughts are not historically unusual nor caused by mankind, there is no evidence we are currently having unusual weather, scandals continue to rock the climate fear movement, the UN IPCC has been exposed as being a hotbed of environmental activists and scientists continue to dissent at a rapid pace.
Other than that, though... teh consensus. Hard to believe scientists and laymen are turning against alarmist cant.

President Obama and the UK Government wanted 2011 to be the "year of the Electric Car" but like every year before it, inconceivably, people don't really want vastly over priced, under powered cars with short ranges, degrading incredibly expensive batteries, and long refuel times. As Richard Hall notes in The Independent, very few of the new best models have sold. The little electric car lot in my town got turned into a home and garden supply store.

However, there is good news for electric cars, according to the LA Times they are useful to auto dealers. People come into see one and drive off the lot with... a normal gas powered car. Given how awful the car market is right now, they need anything they can get.

Fluorescent lighting does ugly things to colors unless you get a nice full spectrum job like we have in the study to help avoid winter blues (whether that helps or not I really couldn't say). As an added bonus, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health notes that it appears that fluorescent lighting can lead to an increased chance of "eye diseases like cataracts and pterygia." They cost more, put out less light, release lead gas and might destroy your vision. But hey, they last slightly longer and use less energy. Good enough reason to compel people by Linkfederal law to purchase them, apparently.

Are you better off than you were four years ago? Not according to Ron Scherer at the Christian Science Monitor:
Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.
Most people beleive that America's standard of living is getting worse. They're right:
What has led to the most dramatic drop in the US standard of living since at least 1960? One factor is stagnant incomes: Real median income is down 9.8 percent since the start of the recession through this June, according to Sentier Research in Annapolis, Md., citing census bureau data. Another is falling net worth – think about the value of your home and, if you have one, your retirement portfolio. A third is rising consumer prices, with inflation eroding people's buying power by 3.25 percent since mid-2008.
If only President Obama had worked to help the economy instead of deliberately sabotage it with increased regulation, cost, and pressure on businesses.

According to a report from Al Nashra, President Obama's Muslim advisers are blocking Middle Eastern Christian access to the White House. If true, is this official Obama administration policy in action, or incompetence by the president and his advisers out of control?

Television has been big on homosexual characters for over a decade now, so much so that a study shows that nearly a quarter - 24% - of all TV shows feature at least one homosexual character. Given that the best information shows homosexuals make up about 3% of the human population, that seems excessive, to say the least. Almost as if people involved in the TV industry either are so surrounded by a disproportionate number of homosexuals or that they have an agenda to normalize homosexuals. Especially since they are always the good, funny, decent, and noble characters.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have announced next year's tentative schedule. Quickly, Democrats have condemned it for having only 6 working days in January and 14 more in February. They have a point: congressmen make an awful lot of money, wouldn't you love to get paid 6 figures for working 20 days in two months? Except... as Carin points out at Is This Blog On? the Democrats worked even less when they had control of congress.

And that's the Word Around the Net for October 29, 2011.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


I have some concerns about Herman Cain's ability to be president, but this is a pretty good satire on how the legacy media treats him.

Quote of the Day

“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,”
-Elizabeth Warren on OWS

Thursday, October 27, 2011

LOSING OUR SKELETON

"Good thing America is coming to save us. But it's funny she doesn't want to save herself!"

A while back, frequent commenter and sometime contributor Eric sent me an article about culture and barbarism by Rod Dreher of Crunchy Conservatism fame. Dreher notes:
For now, let me mention that Bellah demonstrates how religion has to be embedded within a community to teach morals (and indeed we learn morality from the stories our communities tell and the practices they enact; “practice is prior to belief and … belief is best understood as an expression of practice,” he writes. A religion that becomes disembodied from a community and its ritual practices become a philosophy, at best.
...
This — and you knew I was going to get to this — is the testimony of the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, whose book “After Virtue” argued that we are now living in a time of moral incoherence. The old stories and symbols no longer work, but we have replaced them with nothing. Every man is his own pope, which means anarchy. We are coasting on the accumulated moral habits of countless generations past, but this cannot hold indefinitely. If right and wrong are seen by society as being simply a matter of personal opinion — a stance MacIntyre calls “emotivist” — then society has arrived at a state of barbarism. The condition of barbarism, at least seen philosophically, is one of anarchy and rootlessness, in which one has no direction because one does not know where one comes from, and one does not perceive that there is any particular place to go.
Which is basically true; Christianity has been abandoned as the basis for ethical decisions and cultural framework in the west. Without that basic system of ethics, worldview, and law, western culture has been cut adrift in relativism and without foundation. There has been an attempt to replace the foundation of civilization with relativist leftist ideology, but it has no strength its self, like replacing someone's bones with Jell-O. Its very flexible and allows you to bend however you choose, but cannot hold up a civilization.

You would think this lack would only lead to a corrosion of basic shared ethical concerns - and it has - or that it would merely lead to the breakdown of law abiding behavior - and it has - but the truth is, this collapse of a shared worldview has had much more significant consequences. To illustrate this, I'll share a few stories I've collected over the last months.

Helen Pow writes in The Australian about the loss of traditional women's skills:
Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily, reported The Courier-Mail.

Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.
Meaningless? Even cause for celebration as women are liberated from their previous drudgery? Not exactly. It would be less of a problem if someone else was stepping up to fill that gap, but while men are learning to cook more, in general men are essentially lazy and irresponsible and tend to just not bother.

Yet these women aren't abandoning these skills out of a sense of liberation so much as a sense of not wanting to bother. In the rush to make a culture where women are more like men, feminists have succeeded with incredible totality. The problem is, what they've made women like is all the bad aspects of men. Irresponsibility, selfishness, laziness, and moral corruption that women used to be a force to correct and shape just as men's strengths helped shape and correct womens' weaknesses. No more. And especially women have picked up immature and irresponsible men's attitudes toward sex, as this article from Your Tango by Amanda Chantel illustrates:
A new study found that more than 25 percent of women are putting out within the first week of dating someone. So if you squeeze three dates into a week, then you're still on track; however, not many have the time or energy to go out on that many dates within a seven-day period. (See AskMen's "Women Are Easier Than Ever" for more details; the title should say it all.)

Whereas in the past men had to woo and pay for dinner after dinner to get some action, those days seem to be long gone. Men are doing very little to get the sexual gratification that decades ago would have cost them time and money. These days it's a completely different game all together. Researchers found that 30 percent of young men's relationships don't even involve an ounce of romance—no courting, no Sade, no candles, no standing outside of windows with boom boxes—just sex!
Disney Girl SlutWhy? Because instead of becoming more free, women just became less responsible and more ethically corrupt to match the worst aspects of men. Instead of demanding men be better, women demanded that they could be just as bad, or worse. And the age at which girls begin to act that way has been dropping more every year. What was once too young has become "well I was like her at that age, who am I to judge?" What was once an age considered unready and too unwise to engage in certain activity is now more permitted, shrugged at, and accepted. Jennifer Moses writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they've got under the party lights.

But for the most part, there isn't all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls.
...
In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with "sexting" among preteens, "hooking up" among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet. Varied sexual experiences?the more the better?are the current social norm.
ProstitotAnd as she points out, often their moms are helping out. They want their daughter to be pretty, to be liked, to be attractive to boys, so they're proud of their little skank. Which is likely why padded training bras for 7 year olds and bikinis for girls barely able to walk are a real, selling product. But its not just among women, and not just sexual mores where society is corroding.

It has become such a standard presumption that every child must go to college that the rest of education and life is beginning to be lost. A Golfpundit writes (courtesy Instapundit):
As a public school teacher, I’ve been saying for some time that the entire “No Child Left Behind – Every Kid Has To Go To College” mentality would have just this sort of negative, and unintended consequence. Public High school used to have big shop departments—woodshop, auto repair, plumbing, welding, etc. Now, the government’s emphasis on high-stakes academic tests in measuring school quality has resulted in reduction or elimination of non-academic classes. Students are being told that college is their only hope.

It all makes sense from the school’s point of view. Schools need students to buy into the college mentality so they will concentrate on the sort of knowledge and skills that will help them score well on standardized academic tests (in Michigan, that’s the ACT for high school students). Students scores on standardized tests determine whether a school is deemed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or is failing. Failing schools suffer a number of sanctions, none of which are pleasant for administrators or teachers.

College prep classes help schools meet AYP and avoid sanctions. Shop classes do not. So the shop classes have to go.
The result is that there's becoming a greater and greater shortage of electricians, carpenters, welders, machinists, and so on. The pay is fine, the kids are just pushed into other fields and their education in these areas is cut off. The presumption is that these areas of work are not good enough for our kids, that some work is improper and unwanted.

As this basic core culture of labor and production is lost, in its place we get another culture, of entertainment and amusements. Alicia Colon writes in the Irish Examiner:
Back in the sixties, a new phrase came into vogue- generation gap. It meant that my generation was so far removed from the previous one of our parents that there remained only a large fissure in our cultural styles. What it has actually come to mean is that my generation has a deficit of elegance and class and we've spawned a generation with lowbrow tastes.

How else to explain the celebrity of the denizens of cable programming such as The Jersey Shore or The Obnoxious Real Housewives of Various Cities? Are Bridezillas really that incredibly appalling and how did they ever get a man to propose?
She laments the corrosion of folk culture and its replacement with pop culture, where we idolize entertainers rather than people of accomplishment and sacrifice, where we replace tradition with what's deemed popular, and we replace class and style with crass and filthy. Lacking any foundation as a culture, we're trying to replace it with the trash and offal of others because its bright and varied and captures the senses, even if by stench and offense.

This tendency toward pop culture entertainment has gone beyond New Year's Day celebrations, and into what was once the highest and most respected offices of our society. Orrin Kerr writes at Volokh Conspiracy about how judges are starting to drop movie references into the footnotes and even body of decisions. This was once the place where the Bible and classic Greek writings were referred to. Now we get Forrest Gump and Billy Madison. This reflects a further corrosion of culture and education. I used to think judges were brilliant, well-educated men far better off than I was in their teaching. Now I realize the got the same crappy education I did.

In the process, adults are becoming so selfish, so self-focused, and so interested in their comfort, ease, wealth, and health that they are having fewer - or no - children. So far, America is still producing enough kids to grow the population, but the rate is slowing like Europe has (and now is dying out). Some areas, the rate is slowing faster than others, and it will come as no surprise that San Francisco is one.

Peggy Noonan recently wrote an article about someone coming to America without any previous knowledge of the place, looking around and seeing the culture as it stands, from Jersey Shore to New York City's 40%+ abortion rate and unwed childbirth rate. She points out that any objective observer would conclude that something is basically wrong with the country, something has gone horribly wrong.

And that something is the lack of traditional Judeo-Christian culture. Losing that has left the culture adrift, destroyed its maturity, and has us all slouching off to our own, selfish directions seeking amusements and distractions rather than facing the world around us. Hard decisions are, by definition, hard and without some ethical and objective - external - reason to make those decisions, people will tend not to. The modern leftist relativist ethic gives people no reason to make those hard decisions, and even supports avoiding them.

This isn't just the "safety net" which keeps growing larger and larger until its a smothering spiderweb of strands. That's bad enough by removing any incentive to produce or excel, by rewarding sloth and selfishness. It goes deeper than the welfare state, which is only a symptom of the real problem.

You can see the contrast by heading to any part of the nation - the bulk of the geography, but the minority of population - which is still mostly informed by that foundation of traditional ethics and virtues. The rural and small town parts of America still tend to have strong Christian ethics, strong traditional values, and a strong skeleton to build a society around. And in these places, you'll find people tend to not have the same tendencies as the big cities who have in their enlightenment abandoned their bones.

Each place is infected by original sin, but that corruption is kept in check only by a strong, objective, absolute set of standards which guide and shape decisions, growth, and culture. Lose those bones, and the culture loses its protection against infection and corruption of our basest natures.

In the place of sin and salvation, people are offered mistakes and government protections. Generation after generation now has been taught that there are only two real sins: hypocrisy and racism. And while hypocrisy is bad, avoiding all sense of it leads to destructive extremes. Consider the ad with the kid who is caught smoking pot, and yells "I learned it from you dad!!!" The presumption is that because the father is smoking pot, he cannot tell his son not to. To do so would be hypocritical, therefore it cannot be done.

Those moms who raise their girls to be little sluts engaged in that activity when they were young too, but kept it more private and secret. Now that little Meadow is growing up and wants to act out, mom thinks she can't say anything or she'd be... you guessed it. Kids engaging in self-destructive, wrong behavior are defended by people who when they were young did it too, and who are they to judge? I had long hair and a tattoo, branding yourself and getting metal lumps implanted in your forehead is just acting out, they're rebelling.

Old HippieThat's why, as you used to be able to trust women to be a moral foundation to steer men better, you used to be able to trust older people for their wisdom and learning to help avoid mistakes... and you can't any more. Those old people with white hair were hippies and hipsters in the past. They rejected all the things previous generation's elders learned and could pass on. They did all the things modern kids are doing and cannot bring themselves to judge.

So each successive generation hastens the decay and slide of the next. And there's no way out of this short of a total change of worldview, a revolution the likes of which we have rarely seen. A change in culture and ideas that would turn the world upside down. The 1960s started a head first rush down this slope, but we were on our way down it already by that point.

The shift in worldviews, of overall presumed and unquestioned philosophy, began in the late 1800s with thinkers such as Freud and Darwin who wanted to generate a structure for thought and understanding the world around us without needing God and faith. They failed, giving us new gods and faiths in their place, but they did succeed in slowly destroying the heritage and worldview which has built civilization over a thousand years of history.

That Judeo-Christian heritage did more than send people to church on Sundays and create blue laws. It gave society a structure from which to build everything and a reason behind all we did and why. Work was honorable and just regardless of its perceived menial or lofty character because it was service to God and our fellow man. Modesty protected young people and marriage both, creating a society which was focused less on sex and pleasure and more on productivity, honor, and truth.

In short, the worldview which has been abandoned for being restrictive, traditional, old fashioned and "like, a bummer, man" gave people a reason to do something other than what pleased and benefited them in the short term. It focused us outside ourselves and toward the future rather than inside and the now.

How does this get reversed? Only by a strong, absolute, external structure of truth, justice, beauty, and goodness which we generally agree upon or live our lives based upon without realizing it. Europe appears to be headed toward an Islamic one, with Muslims outbreeding native Europeans at a significant rate and Europe caving in constantly to appease these Muslims in the name of multiculturalism and fearing charges of Racism, the second big modern sin.

And that's what it will take. Modern man is stupid enough to pretend that a culture can exist without a shared set of moral concepts - a religion. That you can have any sort of society without a basic foundation of agreed upon structures to build it around. And that is simply not the case, it is impossible; it is chaos.

The Roman Empire was invaded repeatedly, finally falling apart completely in the end after Lombards, Huns, Vandals and several other barbarian forces tore it to pieces. Yet the collapse started long before that when Rome lost its virtue, its shared set of presuppositions that gave it strength and cohesion. It took Rome centuries to finally collapse. It will take far less time for America to do so; we're watching it happen before our eyes. Empires tend to collapse from within like a rotted tree whose core becomes so worthless the mighty redwood finally topples under its own unsustainable weight.

There's only one way to stop this, one way to reverse the collapse, but to even suggest it makes people think you're some kind of zealot, a crusader who'll burn witches and massacre unbelievers. The only change can come from within, as each person is individually transformed and begins to live for something and someone other than themselves.

TOLKIEN PAINTS

We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"
-Bilbo Baggins

Most people are unaware of this, but J.R.R. Tolkien illustrated his books. He painted for The Hobbit in particular, depicting various events. His hobbit holes are huge, with rounded interiors but fifteen feet in diameter, more than enough room for big people as well.


Well someone found some undiscovered art by Tolkien, and what has been released consists of several images of the Lonely Mountain, most in ink but one painted:

You can see he's evoking medieval art while giving it superior perspective and modeling in the process. I like his style a lot, particularly in ink. Geek Tyrant has more of the images, and they're part of a new book coming out about Hobbit art that Tolkien did.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Keep this in mind when you look for work and post on Facebook.

Quote of the Day

"Liberals use the word science exactly as they use the word constitutional. Both words are nothing more or less than a general statement of liberal approval, having nothing to do with either science or the Constitution."
-Ann Coulter using liberal to mean leftist.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HE LED THE WAY

"One of those men who was known by all as much for his humor, enthusiasm, and loyal friendship, as he was for his unparalleled skill and bravery under fire,'

'He is irreplaceable in our formation and in our hearts."

Sgt Kristoffer Domeij is one of the most decorated war heroes of the war on terror, having been awarded a purple heart, three bronze stars, a meritorious service metal, a joint commendation metal, an army commendation metal, an army achievement metal and several other prestigious awards. As a paratrooper and Army Ranger, Domeij saw a lot of action, heading back into the war fourteen tours.

Sargent Domeij was killed by a Taliban IED along with Lieutenant Ashley White and Private 1st Class Christopher A. Horns. Domeij's CEO said:
Sgt. Domeij was the prototypical special operations NCO... veteran of a decade of deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of combat missions.

His ability to employ fire support platforms made him a game changer on the battlefield — an operator who in real terms had the value of an entire strike force on the battlefield.
Since no one in Hollywood seems to think there are any heroic stories to tell in this decade-long war, we have to do what we can to pass on the stories ourselves.

Rest in peace, Sgt Domeij, and thank you and your family for your service. God bless them all and bring them home safe and sound.

HOT PRINCESSES

"How dare you? All of you! Standing around deciding my future. I am not a prize to be won!"
-Jasmine

In the past I wrote about Disney's Princes, pointing out how they are usually the more boyish, effeminate figure (at least, since 1960 or so). However, lets take a different look at the Disney girls. Who's hottest?

First off you have to discount some basic attractions. Other than Mulan, Tiana, and Pocahontas, they're all fabulously rich, and all of them have incredibly beautiful voices, especially in song. So you can't really pick any of them based on those criteria. So what about the individuals?

ArielARIEL: The Little Mermaid. Like most of these girls she seems awfully young, but she is very pretty and has a sweet attitude. Her biggest drawback is the fish part of her nature, which manifests in her offspring: do you want a mermaid daughter (Melody, in the direct to DVD sequel). She's got a pretty relentless and awful enemy with vast magical power as well, something that you don't want to have to deal with. I'd give her a 6.

AuroraAURORA: The Sleeping Beauty. She doesn't have much personality and has been so sheltered she's baffled by basic life. She does have protection from her fairy godmothers but they are a bit silly and easily confused and might use their magic to do something awful to you just for making Aurora cry. Although she is very beautiful, she's got a lot of baggage. I'd give her a 5.

BelleBELLE: Assuming Beast is out of the way and wouldn't rip your head off, Belle is quite beautiful and seems the most stable of the bunch. She's intelligent, educated, and thoughtful, but she does seem to be a bit willful and unpleasant when she dislikes someone. Still, she's a pretty good catch, I'd give her an 8. Assuming Beast is out of the picture, otherwise a 6 because of a rampaging monster after you for stealing his love.

CinderellaCINDERELLA: Cinderella is quite lovely and charming, but her status as a princess is due to her marrying a prince, which makes her not as wealthy as others in this list. That lowers her value somewhat, but not much because its her we're rating, not her money. Cinderella has a fairy godmother, but this one seems a lot more wise and stable than the ones protecting Aurora, and she also seems to be dutiful and hard working. A solid 8, especially considering her lack of enemies.

JasmineJASMINE: Lovely and interesting, but a bit strong-willed and independent. She might grow out of insisting on having her own way constantly... but she might not. Her status as a middle eastern princess is handy, given the vast wealth involved, but the safety and status as a middle eastern ruler is less than significant. Particularly at the time in question, they tended to not survive long. And do you really want a guy who's best friend is an all powerful genie as your rival? 7.

MulanMULAN: She's more humble and kind than most here, and she's spirited, which is always a bonus. Her martial arts are sort of unnerving, as she was able to hold her own in combat with male soldiers and she has a dragon as a pet, which makes arguments dangerous, to say the least. Mulan was very independent as well, but mostly because it was forced on her, and she seems like a good hearted girl. An 8.

PocahontasPOCAHONTAS: I haven't seen this movie, so I can't really judge the personality of the character but she doesn't really appeal to me and from what I understand the movie is heavy on evil white men and noble Native Americans, which could be taken two ways. Either you take it literally and she'd be a wonderful human being, or you can take it as activist propaganda which would make her grating and lecturing. I'd give her a 6.

RapunzelRAPUNZEL: Another one I haven't seen, "Tangled." She is depicted as "feisty" in the ads and reviews, which translates to "trouble" when you're in a relationship. I would be concerned with her hair, which would take half the day to wash, comb, and control, and she appears to be able to use it like Medusa from Marvel Comics which could be interesting in bed. She's pretty but very odd. 6.

Snow WhiteSNOW WHITE: Not as cute as the rest, and obnoxiously sappy and saccharine. She's sweeter than a pile of Chocolate Frosted Choco-bombs and her tendency to burst into song every ten minutes, accompanied by flocks of forest animals is a bit more than I could handle. Sorry Snow White, you're hurt by the style and dating of your cartoon which is nearly unwatchable these days. You just get a 5.

TianaTIANA: Very pretty and a great cook, plus she's ambitious and hard working. She seems to deal well with very odd circumstances and gets along well with just about everyone, although her dedication to work might keep her away from home for most of the day. Tiana's only real enemy in The Princess and the Frog was the Voodoo man who got sucked into hell, so he's not an issue. An 8.

There were other Disney girls, of course. The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio of course, and then there were the non-human ones like Duchess the cat (Aristocats), Lady (Lady and the Tramp) and Faline the doe for Bambi. Yeah, Bambi was the stag - a boy - somehow that ended up a girl's name. The problem is they're non human so they're out of the running entirely. And the Blue Fairy is a supernatural being who'd have no interest in you whatsoever. Then there's Tinkerbell who, while very attractive, is lethal in her jealousy and acts like a spoiled brat constantly so she doesn't really figure in at all.

For other hot cartoon girls, consult a previous frivolous and shameless post on the topic.

*UPDATE: I watched Tangled last night and while it was a fun movie, and Rapunzel is a little sweetheart, she seems to be about 13 years old, much younger than the age of these other girls (other than Ariel). On the other hand her hair glows when she sings in a beautiful golden way and she can heal people with it, which is amazing, so I'd give her a 6 still, and when she grows up if she's still the same girl, an 8.

DEPRESSION SURVIVAL KIT - 6

Say, brother, you wouldn't have a dime about you, would you?
-Brother Can You Spare A Dime

The world we live in as of this writing is steeped in entertainment, excitement, distractions, and pleasures. All around us we are continually wrapped in entertainment, such that even the work we do includes distractions and interest such as personal music players, phones with fun applications, and laptops with games. There's an advertisement for some product I can't recall (actually I rarely remember the product someone advertises, only the funny ad) where these dorks in an office celebrate a deal by playing idiotic aps on their cell phones.

Almost every single new modification of previous inventions or new invention is for the purpose of entertainment. Someone perfects the laser and we make DVDs. Someone crafts powerful computers and we turn them into phones and console games. The dominant industry of America appears to be making ourselves and others happy.

Neil Postman wrote in 1985 that we're amusing ourselves to death, and he is more right every decade than the previous one.

Yet if we've taken amusements and entertainment too far as a culture, in the past people had far too few moments of leisure and escape from grinding labor. As usual, the pendulum tends to swing far past the proper medium to either alternating extreme.

In the medieval period, surviving took up so much of an adult's time and energy they had virtually no time to rest. Sundays were set aside for a specific period of rest for a few hours at church, and holy days were an escape from labor (the origin of our word holiday) such as Easter and Christmas. Harvest time usually came with a festival which people enjoyed as a rare day off.

This grinding labor for weeks and months at a time (imagine working from Christmas until Easter with only a few hours off a week for church, sunup to sundown) was compounded by the fact that there were virtually no conveniences.

If you wanted water, you had to draw it from the well or nearby creek. If you wanted food you had to prepare it over fire from scratch; no mixes, no boxes, no ready made stuff. If you wanted flour, you had to grind it yourself or trade for it with something you had made or prepared. If you wanted heat you had to build your own fire from wood you cut. If you wanted a blanket, you had to weave it yourself. All aspects of life were the result of hard, personal labor either producing what you use or something you could trade for finished goods.

This kind of lifestyle is very corrosive to the human spirit, and its why the 4th of the 10 commandments orders a day free of labor as possible in every week. Not to restrict your activities, but to spare you the misery of continual, grinding labor. Leisure is very critical to sanity and human productivity. Everyone needs time off to rest and recover, and entertainment to escape the wearying troubles of life.

Yet the poorer you are, the less time and freedom you have for leisure. If you've been reading this series of posts on surviving an economic depression you will have noticed a regular theme that flows through each: you're going to have to work harder and take longer to accomplish everything. Cooking your own food, fixing your own possessions, carefully shopping to get raw materials to make what you need and so on all mean more time spent just surviving and less having fun.

And that is truly the basic meaning of wealth: you have to work less to survive. Eventually you don't have to work at all to survive and start working to have things and a lifestyle you prefer, because survival is totally presumed. And the richest don't have to lift a finger in any sort of labor whatsoever, able to take all their free time on leisure and entertainment. As it turns out, the pattern is sort of circular: after a certain point the more time you have on leisure the more corrosive it is for your soul and life as well, but that's another topic.

In an economic depression, you have little if any spare money to spend on entertainments and fun. And no matter how many goodies you have now, eventually they're going to wear out. How often do you replace your cell phone? How many times do you have to buy batteries? When you have no spare money, the next time you have to replace something is the time you don't get to.

Eventually that buffer you had from good times will be worn down and used up, and you'll be left with only what you can maintain with no money. This would particularly be true when you have to sell things to eat and move out of that home you can't afford any longer. So all those things you rely on now for entertainment: internet, cable TV, movies, nightclubs, golfing, etc will tend to go by the wayside one by one and you'll have to revert to a more simple lifestyle.

And a lack of money isn't the only restriction on your depression era amusements. Because you will have less time and energy to spare after work, your entertainment will have to reflect that as well. If you've used up 10 hours of the day simply surviving and eating, then you'll have only a few hours left for any other activity, and less energy to spend on it. So those pick up basketball games may be out of the question, and you can't afford to go to the gym.

Yet there is room for entertainment and amusement despite these restrictions. You'll just have to think smaller and cheaper.

Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free
-Rush, "The Spirit of Radio"

During the great depression, people were able to find a great deal of entertainment in the new wireless set in their home. It was somewhat expensive to buy one, but once you had it, the whole family could enjoy virtually free entertainments every evening after the day's labors and even during them. Radio shows such as The Lone Ranger, Inner Sanctum, and The Jack Benny Show brought hours of excitement and entertainment to people who had little else in life to smile about. These simple half-hour shows running from crime to romance to comedy and beyond entertained, educated, and distracted from life's difficulties for virtually no price other than a bit of effort to maintain the radio and the trickle of electrical power it took to maintain.

Perhaps the equivalent today would be Youtube and the internet, but these require very expensive devices and a continuous cost of internet coverage in addition to the electricity to run your computer. When you are struggling to find food and can't afford a house, your ISP suddenly looms large in cost, and may be unfeasible where you're living anyway. Like it or not, if you're so poor you lose your house and scratch to get enough food for yourself and your family, you're probably going to be doing without your computer, let alone the internet.

Things you've begun to abandon because of new technology may suddenly become more interesting and valuable. A discarded newspaper, an actual book, and magazines suddenly are more useful than they once were. Without the constantly updating instant information of the internet, newspapers are suddenly more useful. Without the batteries or when your Kindle wears out, you'll want books to read.

And while books aren't cheap, if cared for they can last for centuries. Those books you have on the shelf or bought to put on your coffee table to seem trendy or erudite now take on a new meaning. The old books you got from your parents to read but never did because they weren't cool enough now take on a new life. Curling up with a book can take you away from the troubles and fears of life for hours.

If you live in any sort of town, you probably have a library available to you. That's something you shouldn't ever take for granted. For a small price you can have a huge collection of books to borrow, and if you turn them in on time, there's no additional price. Checking out books isn't just easy and painless but browsing through the library can be entertainment in its self.

Remember hose old games you have in the attic collecting dust? They suddenly regain their value when the Playstation dies or you can't afford the electricity to run it very often, if at all. Monopoly was invented during the great depression, and its still as fun as it ever was. Those old board games not only have hours of great repeat entertainment value, but they bring families together face to face for genuine interaction and intimacy that other entertainments cannot. Think about it: Wii is fun with others, Movies are great even at home but you're all sitting side by side facing the entertainment instead of face to face over it.

Playing cards and the thousands of games they contain become more useful as well. You've probably wiled away hours with solitaire on your computer; guess what, the cards can do the same thing, if they take a bit more effort. These kind of games generally are cheaper and you probably have plenty already (if you're like our house, you have scores). These kinds of games only require people and light to see by.

Then there are the entertainments which require no props. Charades, storytelling, taking walks to see sights, visiting neighbors, sitting on the porch and chatting with people who pass by, all are totally free and require nothing but your attention and wits.

And if you have some energy after the day's work (and doing physical labor tends to build strength and endurance over time), you can always go down to the park and join a soccer game, a pick up baseball game, frisbee, tossing the pigskin around, even volleyball. The advantage of Soccer is that it only requires one ball and space (with some shoes to show where the goal is). Baseball requires a bit more equipment, but once its bought will last decades. There's a reason these sports were immensely popular in the past: nearly anyone can play and they don't require a huge amount of special gear.

Toys are a critical thing to consider as well. I read not long ago about the difference of youth decades ago and youth today. I can see it in my nieces and nephews; they have mountains of different toys. I grew up with a handful of blocks, Matchbox and Hotwheels cars, some Lincoln Logs, Lego, Tinker Toys, and clay. We made due with all those, the outdoors, paper, and our imaginations. We built clay men to sit in Tinkertoy seige equipment to attack castles made of blocks. We built Hotwheels tracks and Lego cars and all kinds of inventions out of those basic building blocks.

In short, the poorer you are, the more imagination you need, and kids hardly need help. It is an old joke but painfully true that the box a toy comes in is often more lasting a toy than what was in it. Sometimes I wonder if parents aren't buying the toys they wish they'd had when they were kids more than what their kids really want. But the truth is, these basic building blocks and simple toys that require input to create fun are far more beneficial to kids than premade plastic finished products. My Little Pony might make your daughter squeal with glee but Lego makes her think and grow.

Depression era kids have to get by with very little. They will have to deal with few, simple toys that are repaired rather than the latest zowie toy they saw on TV or the internet. They will have to create stories and scenarios in their minds rather than have a Nintendo DS spood feed it to them. And as a result they're going to be more thoughtful, more creative, more intellectually challenged and capable than kids who had it all given to them.

Entertainment is a critical part of life, but need not be contained in a plastic box with electricity running through it. In fact, some of the best entertainment has nothing to do with that. And in the end, like so often, economic hard times can have deeply lasting benefits that make up for its pain, fear, and sorrows.

*This is part of the Depression Era Survival Kit
**UPDATE: added a bit about libraries. Also see the comments for other suggestions, particularly music.