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Articles to Ponder on a Friday

Greetings from New Orleans!  A number of you/us are here this weekend to meet at Redstate Gathering 2013.  I hope to see some of you at some point over the weekend.  Yesterday my wife and I spent some time out in the (very hot and humid) French Quarter, enjoying the food and drink and witnessing our first “second line” procession as part of Rep. Lindy Boggs’ funeral.  Very interesting.

Several of us have discussed the idea of putting out a regular diary simply consisting of some interesting article/blog links that we’ve run across during the last week or so.  I’m taking the first crack at it.  My colleagues may choose to use a different format, so as we go, this may morph into something else.  Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

Yes, Threats to Religious Liberty Happen Here

In a (not-so-shocking) development, turns out TX Senator Ted Cruz and many others were right – the creeping adoption of gay marriage is resulting in harm to religious liberty from those who do not accept it as a legitimate and moral act. Cruz stated “If you look at other nations that have gone down the road toward gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced,” he said. “It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach Biblical truths on marriage. That has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government.”

Key point in the article:

Indeed, for many supporters of redefining marriage, such infringements on religious liberty are not flaws but virtues of the movement.

Citizens must insist that the government respect those who continue to stand for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. When he “evolved” on the issue last year, President Obama insisted that the debate about marriage was a legitimate one, that there were reasonable people of good will on both sides.

Supporters of marriage as we’ve always understood it (a male-female union) “are not coming at it from a mean-spirited perspective,” Obama explained in an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC. “They’re coming at it because they care about families.” He added that “a bunch of ’em are friends of mine . . . people who I deeply respect.”

But in a growing number of incidents, government has not respected these Americans. To counter this, we must insist that government not discriminate against those who hold to the historic definition of marriage. Policy should prohibit the government or anyone who receives taxpayers’ dollars from discriminating in employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting against those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Obama was right. Too bad he doesn’t care.

A Message to Trayvon Martin Sympathizers

There are a couple of notable points about this article: 1) It’s written by an African-American, and 2) It appeared on the Huffington Post. Oh, and 3) it’s spot on target.

To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago without even a blurb. Trayvon isn’t in the mainstream news for any reason other than ratings and profit. The news coverage on the Zimmerman case almost implies that the killing of this young black man is somehow an anomaly and I resent that.

In this country, if it isn’t streamlined through mainstream media and pop culture, it doesn’t seem to warrant national debate. Our “government” continues to wreak havoc on our civil liberties and there is little to no protest from the black community because of media diversion tactics that keep such pertinent issues out of mainstream media. But if Jay-Z or Rihanna were to make mention of it, we’d suddenly be jolted out of our sugar comas and protesting on freeways.

And this:

If we really wanted to ensure Trayvon Martin’s killing was not in vain, we’d stop perpetuating negative images that are now synonymous with black men in America. We’d stop rapping about selling drugs and killing niggas. The next time we saw a man beating a woman, we’d call for help or break it up, but one thing we would not do is stand by with our cellphones out — yelling WORLDSTAR! Instead of rewarding kids for memorization, we’d reward them for independent and critical thinking.

We’d spend less time subconsciously repeating lyrics about death and murder and more time understanding why we are so willing to twerk to songs that bemean women and boast of having things we cannot afford. We’d set examples of self-love for our youth by honoring our own hair, skin and eye color. We’d stop spending money on designer gear that we should be spending on our physical and psychological health. We’d seek information outside the corporate owned-media that manipulates us. We’d stop letting television babysit our kids and we’d quit regurgitating pundits we haven’t come up with on our own.

Education, introspection, self-love and excellence are the only ways to overcome the wrath of ignorance. So before going back to popping molly and getting Turnt Up, I urge you to consider the implications of your actions. Your child’s life may depend on it.

Tough to not quote the entire thing.

The Missouri Table: A Response to Ethical Foodies From a ‘Factory Farmer

This one struck me originally because of “Missouri” in the title. But after reading it, it hit home because for years I’ve been pointing out how ridiculous it is to condemn technologies such as GM because of the millions upon millions of people that are being fed through the advances in agricultural technology.

Today’s battles are waged over genetically modified seeds, gestation crates for raising pigs, and the size of chicken cages for the egg industry. One wonders, though, whether agricultural methods can ever truly measure up to what is demanded. If labeling turns out to be insufficient and genetically modified food is no longer marketable, the gimlet eye of the “food enforcers” will choose another target. Will they really declare victory if gestation crates disappear and pigs are allowed to fight in pens? Can those of us in farming ever hope to fully satisfy the demands of writers such as Pollan and Reichl, who have developed their own extremely lucrative industry over the past several decades? Is their success truly the start of a mass movement, or is it necessary to their success that people who eat “ethically” have the rest of the country to look down upon?

One caller to a radio show I appeared on recently desribed the people who patronize fast food restaurants as “sheeple.” That kind of derision leads me to believe that the caller will only feel good about himself if he believes I eat hamburgers several times a month at a place with cheesy uniforms and kid’s meals. I’m happy to oblige, but it is hard for me to take him seriously. He’s not as interested in making the world better as he is in feeling superior to people who can’t afford to eat the diet he believes necessary to living an ethical and sustainable life. He’s not nearly as concerned about the future of the planet as he is at being noticed, approvingly, by the kind of people who worry about the proper way to boil lentils, raise a few heritage pigs in their backyard, and are always available to be interviewed by NPR and the New York Review of Books.

Folks, Monsanto isn’t the enemy. Poverty and hunger is.

The Eye of Sauron Is the Modern Surveillance State

Continuing the theme of referencing articles from sites that normally don’t sympathize with conservatives, I bring you this one from Slate.com. This one’s pretty good because of its use of Tolkien/LOTR as the point of illustration, and because it doesn’t go too overboard on editorializing from the left.

Tolkien’s most potent and intimidating image of centralized surveillance, the Eye of Sauron atop a tower, taking in the whole world, has resonated with those who are paranoid about government monitoring. But it’s Sauron’s vulnerability that has the most relevance for America today. Consider the basic premise of Tolkien’s trilogy: a small group of dedicated subversives willing to sacrifice their lives slips in under the surveillance system of a great power, blends in with an alien population, and delivers a devastating blow to the heart of its empire, leaving its security forces in disarray and its populace terrified. Even a tower or two crumbles to dust. Far from being covert, much of this operation is conducted in plain sight, with the great power aware of its enemies’ existence, if not their intent. Given its prescience about modern-day terrorism, Tolkien’s vision offers at least three lessons for present-day America.

Read the rest. It’s good.

10 Ways to Save Barnes & Noble

My grandfather was an English professor. He loved books, and he conveyed that love to me, and, I suppose via DNA to my son as well, as he wound up majoring in English. When I was a kid, we always went to bookstores, and B&N was one of them. It saddens me to see the downhill slide of bookstores, with the shuttering of Borders and the endangered state of B&N. This piece has some good thoughts about how they might be saved.

#1. Just be a bookstore.
Rather than trying to reinvent yourself, you should “focus on something truly radical: being a bookstore.”
- James Surowiecki, The New Yorker

#2. Cultivate your ‘secret sauce’: the serendipitous experience of discovery.
Add opportunity for discovery by using more tables than bookshelves. “Physical discovery is the secret sauce of retailing and publishing.”
- Simon Lipskar, Writers House, Wall Street Journal

Create “a special mix of smart curation and easy browsing” with new-arrival bookshelves and interesting sections, to build the serendipitous experience.
- Virginia Postrel, Bloomberg

#3. Hire happy, friendly nerds.
Hire people “with the express intention of making them booksellers, not team members or employees who aren’t excited about what they’re selling.”
- Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

#4. Create more ‘destination activities.’
Create an environment that people want to visit: “That means more destination activities, such as book groups, author readings.”
- Gerald Storch, Target, Inc., Wall Street Journal

Be sure to click through to the article, as each of the 10 suggestions has links to articles that support them. Oh, and support your local bookstore!

Is ‘Duck Dynasty’ Losing One of Its Big Stars?

From the pop culture files, it seems there have been rumors that Phil Robertson might be leaving Duck Dynasty (one of my favorite shows, next to the BBC version of “Top Gear”). Thankfully, that doesn’t look imminent.

But fans can breath a sigh of relief.

“There is no set time for Dad to leave,” Alan Robertson, Phil’s oldest son who will be joining the family on camera this season, told TheBlaze in an email. “He just meant that he can’t see himself doing the show for as long as all of us ‘young bucks’ (his affectionate term for his boys).

“There are no plans for anyone to leave Duck Dynasty anytime soon,” the elder Robertson, who’s also a pastor, added. “We do appreciate the love for the Robertson family out there and are looking forward to a great upcoming season and [those] beyond that will include Mom and Dad.”

Duck Dynasty is a great show … a combination of humor, family values and faith. Like most reality series, it could well develop into a more staged, fake-y show than it started as. But with the apparent strength of the faith and family of the Robertsons, I’m hoping it’ll hold on for a long time to come.

That’s it for this week, folks. Back to the Redstate Gathering!

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