Another horrifying example of our toxic culture. 60% of teens face 'sexting' pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as 'pretty normal' by youngsters
ChildLine poll of 500 children showed the extent of sexting culture in schools. A majority of children had been asked for explicit pictures. Half of children had received 'sexts' and 40 per cent had taken them. 15 per cent of those who took pictures sent them to total strangers.
I'm with Lewis C.K. when it comes to cellphones for kids.
Good for parents, good for kids. Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior
A regular bedtime schedule is unquestionably helpful for parents, but a new study has found it that it may be even more beneficial for their children.
After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were……The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.
Another reason to breastfeed. Health risk: formula milk has '100 times more aluminium than breast'
Formula baby milk can contain 100 times more aluminum than breast milk, which could pose risks to health, researchers have warned after a new study.
"Aluminum can also produce anaemia in individuals, which is not then helped by giving people more iron.
"How may this aluminum be impacting on the immediate and long-term health of the baby - these are questions that are still unanswered.
There's a very good chance that some of this aluminum is coming from the packaging and an equal chance it is in the ingredients. Processing is also likely to be a source."
Consider seriously music lessons for your kids. NYT Is Music the Key to Success?
Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.”
Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.”
For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas.
Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.
I am a big fan of Breaking Bad, so I'm looking forward to the final season which begins on Sunday. Curiously, I've been unable to watch any of the last season again because the series makes me so uncomfortable. This article explains why.
Why We Need Breaking Bad Watching Walt's slow slide off the moral cliff might just inoculate us against what TV usually teaches.
I think Breaking Bad is a great show because it rejects this line of thinking, because its running time is a five-season rebuttal to the idea that there are choices that matter and choices that don't. Walt's pride at a dinner table is ultimately as important to the villain he becomes as his murder, his lying as corruptive as his violence. In Gilligan's eyes, there's no differentiating between Walt's pride and his rage and his enviousness and his determination to succeed at all costs, to be the Kingpin, the only one. Telling the story of how Walt chose to become the villain takes every minute of all 67 episodes aired so far.
Walter is us. And that is a dangerous message, and it hurts. It hurts to be awakened to choices you didn't know you were failing to make, or making poorly. It is always, always easier to deny choice than to accept it, to want to brush things off until it's really important
A Harvard film scholar has revealed in terrifying detail how Hollywood was at the whim of the Nazis throughout the 1930s - censoring films and dropping others in a sinister collaboration with Hitler.
In one particularly extreme case, one non-Jewish MGM executive divorced his Jewish wife at the demand of Germany's Propaganda Ministry - and she ended up in a concentration camp
In his new book, Ben Urwand has revealed how studios including MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox failed to stand up to Hitler and painted his regime as heroic and desirable.
'I want to bring out a hidden episode in Hollywood history and an episode that has not been reported accurately,' the Harvard scholar said.
Although other film historians dispute it, Urwand said studio chiefs were happy to work with Nazi censors to change or cancel productions so that they could keep access to the German film market. From 1932, Nazi laws meant studios could have their licenses revoked if they produced films, shown in Germany or abroad, that were considered offensive to Germans. Urwand believes that filmmakers not only wanted to continue working during the build up to the war, they also thought Hitler may win the war and wanted to safeguard the future of their businesses.
In his book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler, which has been excerpted in the Hollywood Reporter, in Urwand said that Hollywood was happy to bow to Hitler's demands.
For example, when All Quiet on the Western Front was released in December 1930, Joseph Goebbels told protesters to set off stink bombs and release mice in the movie theaters. It caused such disruptions throughout theaters that the films were stopped and it was eventually banned from the country, due to how Germans felt they had been depicted.
In the mid-1930s, relationships between studios and prominent Nazis grew and Paramount hired a manager for its German branch, Paul Thiefes, who was a member of the Nazi party. It was at the time that the head of MGM in Germany, Frits Strengholt, divorced his Jewish wife at the request of the Propaganda Ministry.
They paid attention to workers too; German composers dubbed music originally created by Jewish musicians, while names were slashed from credits if they had dealt with anti-Nazi films in the past.
Bill Donovan of the Catholic League comments in Hollywood and Hitler
Standing against the Hollywood moguls, Urwand says, was Joseph Breen, the Irish Catholic official who worked for, and eventually succeeded, Will Hays of the so-called Hays Office; the private association monitored Hollywood movies for objectionable fare. Looks like Breen’s commitment to decency trumped Hollywood’s commitment to cash. Breen was not a fan of the way Hollywood conducted itself, but he did not balk when asked by the two authors of the Hays Code, Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Father Daniel Lord, to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism in 1939.
When the Catholic League merely criticizes a movie, we are tagged a censor. When Hollywood studio chiefs cooperate with Chinese government agents by altering their films, they find ways to congratulate themselves. For example, Steven Soderbergh welcomes the input of Communist censors: “It’s fascinating to listen to people’s interpretation of your story.” He must have learned his obsequiousness from those who collaborated with Hitler.
Walter Russell Mead, When It Comes to Working, 74 is the New 65
Workers aged 60-74 now command better wages on average than workers 25-59, according to a new Brookings Institution study:
With innovations in health care it will become possible for workers to stay productively employed even later into life, as long as employers invest smartly and wisely in the physical health of their employees. This will be good for older Americans, because working is an essential part of a full human life and a key determinant of happiness. It will be good for younger workers as well; as the aging work force reshapes the economy, young and old alike will benefit from more flexible, service-based employment.
The demographic shifts we’re experiencing now present a huge policy challenge for the country in the short term, but in the long term they could be a source of strength for the US economy.
Singing for Old Folk A Search for Harmony
You may recall “Young@Heart,” the 2008 documentary about a Northampton, Mass., senior chorus of the same name. Going strong since 1982, the group rehearses twice a week, has released three CDs and has given concerts around the world, most recently in Belgium and Holland.
You might expect performers over age 73 — the minimum age — to stick with memory-fanning songs of their youth. But Young@Heart is currently working on tunes by Yo La Tengo and the Flaming Lips.
“It exercises the brain. You have to learn stuff,” the choir director Bob Cilman said. “People work hard to stay in and continue. It’s probably good for their health.”
There’s some evidence that he’s right. Choral singing has been shown to strengthen neural connections, fortify the immune system and reduce stress and depression. “It seems to tinker with the chemicals in the brain in just the right way to make people feel better,” said Stacy Horn, author of the new book “Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others.”
Opening this weekend is Unfinished Song with Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp and Gemma Atherton. NYT film critic Stephen Holden says, "It may be hokum, but it gets to you."
It's been 40 years since the movie The Exorcist, the scariest movie ever made, was released. It won 10 Academy awards and become one of the highest grossing movies of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide.
William Peter Blatty who wrote the book in 1971 and adapted it for screen, rewrote the book for its 40th anniversary and said, "The 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were inevitable -- plus one new character in a totally new very spooky scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for."
He was inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe. It began in Maryland, ended in St. Louis, and involved several Jesuits from Saint Louis University. Father Raymond J. Bishop, S.J. kept a day-by-day account of the exorcism. You can read his account here,
The young boy who was exorcised is still alive and living in the Washington, D.C. area. It's believed Robbie would be 77 today.
"He's had several children," Waide said. "He's moved back to the Washington D.C. area. He was non-Catholic, Lutheran nominally, but he became a Catholic. He was baptized during this whole episode."
It's been reported that Robbie named a son Michael. In the exorcism records, Robby tells the priests he was saved by St. Michael the Archangel.
In a priest's diary about the exorcism, this is the final footnote entry on page 29:
"Follow up: August 19, 1951. R and his father and mother visited the Brothers. R, now 16 is a fine young man. His father and mother also became Catholic, having received their first Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1950."
“The soldier is not respected because he is doomed to death, but because he is ready for death; and even ready for defeat.” G. K. Chesterton.
Boston Common is a sea of flags placed by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Civil War to the present.
Memorial Day is deeply personal—to me, as it is to any veteran, to any military family. It is a time of mixed emotion: solemn reflection and mourning, honor and admiration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
Let's remember on Memorial Day—and every other day, for that matter—that America did not become a nation without a fight…..It was not the Declaration of Independence that gave us freedom but the Continental Army. America was born from conflict, delivered by soldiers willing to pay with their blood the tremendous cost of freedom.
The dead did not wish to be martyred. They no doubt longed to return to their homes and families. But they believed in the "glorious cause," something far greater than themselves. Despite knowing the dangers before them, they followed Gen. Washington into the fray even when victory seemed hopeless and the cause all but lost.
Not because they have secured our ability to seek our individual good, but because they have given their lives in pursuit of a common, intrinsic, and greater good.
The sacrifice is felt most deeply by the women and families left behind. Amy Mixon kneels before grave of her husband Kelly who was killed by an IED in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Henry Steele Commager called it "the one great song to come out of the Civil War, the one great song ever written in America". writes Mark Steyn
Whether or not that's true, most of us understand it has a depth and a power beyond most formal national songs. When John F Kennedy was assassinated, Judy Garland insisted on singing it on her TV show – the producers weren't happy about it, and one sneered that nobody would give a damn about Kennedy in a month's time. But it's an extraordinary performance. Little more than a year later, it was played at the state funeral of Winston Churchill at St Paul's Cathedral. Among those singing it was the Queen. She sang it again in public, again at St Paul's, for the second time in her life at the service of remembrance in London three days after September 11th 2001. That day, she also broke with precedent and for the first time sang another country's national anthem – "The Star-Spangled Banner". But it was Julia Ward Howe's words that echoed most powerfully that morning as they have done since she wrote them in her bedroom in Washington 140 years earlier:
As He died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.
The US Army Chorus sings at the White House in 2008 before President Bush and Pope Benedict on his visit to the U.S.
Anne Hathaway lost 25 lbs by eating oatmeal paste to look "near death" for her role as the factory worker turned prostitute Fantine in the upcoming, much anticipated movie Les Miserables.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz has some remarkable photographs of the cast which you can see here - They may be miserable, but they are stunning.
Incredible Dolphin Birth at Dolphin Quest Hawaii YouTube
The video below features the amazing 25,000-acre (40 square miles) Fair Oaks Dairy Farm in Indiana, where 32,000 dairy cows produce 2.5 million pounds of milk every day, which is enough milk from that one farm for all of the people in Chicago and Indianapolis (8 million residents). The herd of dairy cattle is so large that more than 80 calves are born every day, and the public is allowed to watch the births in a special glass-walled theater, as well as tour the entire facility. All of the farm’s energy is generated from the cow manure that is collected, processed and turned into methane, which then powers 100 percent of the farm’s electricity.
A Love Story in 22 Pictures. True love indeed, bring your kleenex.
The young Filipina who stepped up to a Karaoke machine in a Singapore grocery store and became an internet sensation.
Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg
Song of the earth. The sound of radio waves in the earth's magnetosphere sounds a lot like birds chirping in a dawn chorus.
Puncturing the notion of 'You didn't build that' brilliantly.
Every two years, a huge floral carpet is laid out on the Grand Place in Brussels
It takes just four hours with everyone pitching in.
Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.
Winners of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012 The one below is by Ken Bower. But you really have to go to the link to see winners in all their glory.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Tom Hussey's series on Reflections
Father Barron comments on "The Dark Knight Rises" and the problem of evil. Evil is solved by the great heroic self-sacrificing act of love on the part of a savior. The Christ archetype, he argues, haunts the Western culture even in a secular age. Bruce Wayne is an icon of Christ.
It's not just another day, not just another year. It's the gift of a new year. May you enjoy it to the full and be grateful for it all.
This is just wonderful.
Psychology Today reports Porn numbs body’s response to sexual pleasure
Robinson explains that the brain can become desensitized to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that activates the body’s reaction to sexual pleasure, through the kind of over-stimulation readily available via the internet’s porn culture.
The article cites one recovered porn addict who lays down three facts that other addicts should be aware of: “1. This is 100% fixable; 2. It will likely be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done; 3. If you ever want a normal sex life again, you kinda don’t have another choice.”
Simcha Fisher in Pornography Addiction, Documented, points to the award-winning documentary, Out of Darkness, by Sean Finnegan that features stories of people who escaped from the prison-like world of pornography.
Judith Reisman, a world-renowned authority on the fraudulent world of popular sex science, gives her testimony, which is both academic and personal. Her own daughter was raped at the age of 10. She searched frantically for guidance, but got the same advice from everyone. They told her, “Well, children are sexual beings from birth” and “Your daughter was probably sending out vibes that she wanted it.”
Horrified, she searched for the source of these ideas. “I know a party line when I hear it,” she says cannily, in the film. Her research led her to Alfred Kinsey as the impetus for the sexual revolution, and she now works to expose what she sees as both his shoddy and perverse research and the damage done by his influence.\
Another expert, psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, also offers insight which is both professional and personal. An experienced family therapist, he was baffled at the increase in young patients who were narcissistic and desperately lonely, suffering great emotional pain. Fitzgibbons found a common thread: His patients all sought “a temporary lift of spirits” through pornography. “It’s the temptation of the lonely,” he says in the documentary, but these young people “have no idea how to have a friendship.”
You can see a trailer at Anteroom Pictures. On the same page are links to the The Pink Cross Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that reaches out to adult industry workers to offer healing from porn and The Porn Effect.
established to expose the reality of porn for what it is; a weak and whimpering counterfeit of love which is emasculating men, degrading women and destroying marriages.
Dustin Farrell has made astonishingly beautiful time-lapse videos of the American West that you must see. I can not embed them.
You can see Landscapes Volume Two on Vimeo here and learn how he did them.
I found out about him from this article in the Daily Mail Astonishing photographs in time-lapse video which capture the American landscapes as you've never seen them before
His Twitter followers described the photographs as 'breathtaking', 'spectacular' and 'stunning'. One wrote: 'Name your superlative. Just brilliant.'
I love movies and for years would see 2 or 3 a week. When Netflix first appeared I was ecstatic because I could see all the movies that I had missed over the years.
But these days there are fewer and fewer movies I even want to see. Somehow movies today don't move me. They just don't matter. I couldn't put my finger on it but John Podhoretz did in Say, What?
Movies make plenty of noise, but don’t speak to us.
audiences no longer engage with them as they once did. They do not expect to be drawn in—and they aren’t. The movies they have been trained to attend for decades are contrivances, amusement park rides, seemingly designed to be disposable, forgettable, pointless.
David Clemens follows on Colleges' Lost Love of Film
Movies used to matter a great deal, as did film criticism; films were anticipated events (a new Fellini!) and they established cultural milestones (2001: A Space Odyssey); films found and shaped the zeitgeist (La Dolce Vita, Blow-Up, The Graduate). Critical responses, too, were eagerly awaited. I learned more about close analysis and criticism from reading Pauline Kael, John Simon, and Stanley Kauffmann than I ever learned in grad school English.
Why even mention box office bonanzas such as Titanic, Mama Mia, Sex and the City, Avatar? Nothing but soap opera and melodrama.
Instead of offering joy, suffering, passion, or anything else remotely human, academics and universities first embalm, then inter, the arts whose beating heart should afford students a personal awakening to what Kauffman calls “the increments of their cultural life.”
Academicizing produces cataloguers, historians, theorists, careerists, and docents. In such a climate, can film art in college be saved or is the visual future just YouTube and TEDTalks? Andrew, a former student, told me that after watching Au Hasard Balthazar, he was so moved that he was unable to speak for two days. Perhaps his reaction is a key to how higher education might better approach all the arts: select for the humane and aesthetic, in film, in books, in painting. Set aside theorizing, historicizing and deconstructing, those three offensives in the academy’s war against beauty and transcendence. Return to film viewing as an experience rather than an occasion for didacticism. When using film, just let students watch and absorb.
From the New York Times, A Director's Many Battles to Make Her Movie
Sonia Nassery Cole knew that shooting a movie on location in Afghanistan could get her killed. The most vivid reminder came a few weeks before filming, she said, when militants located her leading actress and cut off both of her feet.
But Ms. Cole, an Afghan expatriate with a flair for the dramatic and a history of not taking no for an answer, had her mind made up. Unable to find another actress to take the part — the film is overtly critical of the Taliban — Ms. Cole, 45, decided to play the role herself.
“Come hell, come shine, I was going to make this movie,” said Ms. Cole, a novice filmmaker whose primary job is running the Afghanistan World Foundation, a charity focused on refugees and women’s rights.
Before the film wrapped production last fall in Kabul, Ms. Cole survived a bomb blast that shattered the windows of her hotel, machine gun fire and grim telephone threats warning her to go home.
Three senior crew members — her cinematographer, a producer and a set designer — did just that, abandoning Ms. Cole in the middle of production.
“I know I broke her heart,” said Keith Smith, the cinematographer who left. “But I could feel death. I didn’t sign up for that.”
The movie she made is The Black Tulip, a tragic love story that will premier in Kabul this Thursday before it's off to the Sundance Film Festival.
The Times has a slideshow with some scenes from a movie I'm not going to miss. Courage like hers must be supported.
Normally, I see a lot of movies in the summer, but this year, there are so few I even want to see that I have to agree with Joe Queenan who calls it The Worst Movie Year Ever.
But it's been a boom year for movie reviewers with snark as the accompanying graphic to the piece shows.
Barbara Nicolsi blames the boomers
As cultural power brokers, the Boomers have stamped their downward spiral from stoned rebels to cynical whiners on many aspects of Hollywood's once great storytelling voice. Greedy for the power and control they have lusted for since they came of age, the Boomers created the factory model of blockbuster movies in which the pursuit of mega-dollars eliminated creative story choices again and again. They bequeath to an age desperately in need of hope and heroes, a storytelling industry that is shattered to its core in having forgotten how to weave a good tale. For decades Hollywood had the whole world sitting on its lap. The Boomer elites squandered that global audience in their one lifetime.
First is the effect on the gargantuan Boomer generation of a lifetime of listening to their own voices. The movies being created by and for the Boomers today are a very unentertaining mix of "Never regret! Life starts at 70!" and "Life is a cruel joke, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'" Movies like It's Complicated showcase a bunch of grey hairs still acting badly, swallowing their shame and ignoring their appropriate role as the wise mentors of the younger generations. The Dorian Greyish dark echo of this kind of story are movies like There Will Be Blood and the chillingly titled No Country for Old Men, in which the characters' lives of narcissism and greed devolve into cynicism and brutality.
If they would be saved, the Boomer Generation must be guided into repentance for the way they self-righteously sacrificed all others as they fled from the simple heroism of adult human life. The rigid eradication of tradition, the gross materialism, the unbridled license, the embarrassing promiscuity -- all always accompanied by shrill distortion and denial -- have left our society disconnected, bloated, poorly educated, unable to trust and simmering in resentment. If the Boomers don't begin to admit to the rest of us where they went wrong, we all risk losing any of the positive achievements the generation has contributed to human history. I see many of my Millennial Generation students clamoring to set back the clock to a day before the Sixties, when there were grown-ups.
In tune with the apocalyptic mood of our times, here's a new archeological find in Saudi Arabia that threatens to change the dynamics in the Mid East with consequences no one can imagine.
It may be the biggest archaeological discovery to date, but it is also the most dangerous
A quick look at what has been found easily explains all the fuss. Dr. Moller points out that the site at Nuweiba he identifies as the Red Sea crossing point has an underwater land bridge, upon which damaged  chariot parts and bones remain, engulfed in coral. The top of Jabal al-Lawz, the alleged real Mt. Sinai, is black , as if burned from the sky as described in Exodus 19:18, where it says “the Lord descended upon it in fire.” This feature sets it apart from all the other surrounding mountains which do not have darkened tops. The BASE Institute’s film shows Cornuke, who snuck onto the mountain, examining the rocks he cracked, observing that they are not merely black rocks and that only the outside had become darkened by whatever had occurred at the site. Moller has a photo of one of these rocks, which he identifies as “obsidian or volcanic glass, a mineral formed at high temperatures.”
Is Jabal al-Lawz the real Mt. Sinai where Moses encountered God?
One of the greatest — and most doubted — miracles of the Exodus is the story about God instructing Moses to hit a large rock with his rod, which resulted in a flow of water for the Hebrews to drink from. Near Jabal al-Lawz is a large rock, standing about 60 feet high, split  down the middle. The edges of the split and the rock underneath it have become smooth, as if a stream of water had poured forth from the rock, creating a river. Given the annual rainfall in Saudi Arabia and the fact that the erosion is only present on that rock and no other ones in the surrounding area, it’s hard to find a plausible explanation for this remarkable find.
Is this the rock Moses struck to bring forth water in the desert?
I'm certainly going to keep my eye out the new documentary, The Exodus Conspiracy .