The Home Front

Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Allred vs. Rush and All Men


Gloria Allred’s on the rampage again. This time she’s going after Rush Limbaugh for what he said about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke (even though he already apologized for his remarks, and even though some sponsors have already pulled their ads). And she may have found a way to do it.

Apparently there’s a 19th-century statute in Palm Beach County, Fla. — where Limbaugh lives — that stipulates that anyone who “speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity” is guilty of a misdemeanor. Since the statute was never repealed, it’s up to state attorney Michael McAuliffe to determine whether Limbaugh violated Section 836.04 by calling Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

I know it’s preposterous, and normally I’d write it off, too — except I know how feminists operate. The only thing worse than a feminist is a feminist lawyer. When Allred makes up her mind to get even with males in power, she’ll stop at nothing to make it happen.

“There are so many injustices against women,” says Allred, “that we have to be strong — to fight the rich, the powerful, the famous, the batterers, the killers, large corporations, government, the fathers who don’t support their children, and other wrongdoers: sexual harassers. . . . We meet power with power, strength with strength. And with a lot of hard work, and surprise tactics, we’ve been able to win hundreds of millions of dollars for victims. I’ve been doing this for 33 years, and hope to God that She gives me another 33.”

And there it is. Not Allred’s female God — that’s typical feminist speak — but the phrase “surprise tactics.” If digging up a 19th-century statute doesn’t qualify as a surprise tactic, I don’t know what does.

Fluke hasn’t contacted Allred yet, but based on her three-year history of trying to get Georgetown to change its policies, she may. No doubt Allred is sitting by the phone, trying to channel Fluke. “I don’t reach out to women, they reach out to me,” she says. “If [Sandra Fluke] did reach out to be,” she added, “obviously I’d respond.”

Of course you would, Ms. Allred. But before you do, make sure you decide what your defense is going to be. Are women really as strong as men, as you claim? Or are they fragile beings whose feelings are easily hurt? You can’t have it both ways. How is it your “I am woman, hear me roar” philosophy shifts so quickly to “I am woman, watch me cower”?

Kenneth Minogue noted this paradox in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. “Laws about sexual harassment impose penalties on employers who fail to protect female employees from their co-workers. But the presumption that women are so weak as to need protecting from rude male behavior was something feminism, with its emphasis on empowerment and equal status, seemed eager to attack. It is all marvelously absurd.”

Fess up, Ms. Allred. You don’t want justice for Fluke — you want men to suffer, pure and simple. You said Limbaugh should be “accountable” for his actions — that a financial blow from his sponsors is only “one price he has to pay.”

What’s the other? Castration?

That’s not hyperbole. When Katie Couric, another well-known feminist, interviewed a bride on The Today Show who’d been jilted at the altar, she jokingly asked the woman if she’d “considered castration as an option.” Too bad there’s no statute in New York that says anyone who “speaks of and concerning any man, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to him a want of sterility” will be subject to prosecution.

Feminists are the exact opposite of what they claim to be. They’re not strong — they’re pitifully weak.

— Suzanne Venker is co-author of the book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – and Men Can’t Say, and author of an upcoming book about modern marriage. Her website is

Recipe of the Day



Anthropologists Study the American Family


“Ooh, look! The alpha male is getting another beer. Quick, roll the tape!” WSJ:

Anthropologist Elinor Ochs and her colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles have studied family life as far away as Samoa and the Peruvian Amazon region, but for the last decade they have focused on a society closer to home: the American middle class.

Why do American children depend on their parents to do things for them that they are capable of doing for themselves? How do U.S. working parents’ views of “family time” affect their stress levels? These are just two of the questions that researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families, or CELF, are trying to answer in their work.

By studying families at home—or, as the scientists say, “in vivo”—rather than in a lab, they hope to better grasp how families with two working parents balance child care, household duties and career, and how this balance affects their health and well-being.

The center, which also includes sociologists, psychologists and archeologists, wants to understand “what the middle class thought, felt and what they did,” says Dr. Ochs. The researchers plan to publish two books this year on their work, and say they hope the findings may help families become closer and healthier.

Ten years ago, the UCLA team recorded video for a week of nearly every moment at home in the lives of 32 Southern California families. They have been picking apart the footage ever since, scrutinizing behavior, comments and even their refrigerators’s contents for clues.

The rest here.

What’s Your International Women’s Day 2012 Theme?


That’s the question asked over at the International Women’s Day website (IWD). For them it’s:  connecting girls, inspiring futures . For the United Nations, the focus this year is on rural women; to end hunger and poverty. Even corporations such as Accenture and IBM have weighed in with their respective visions: 50:50 in the boardroom by 2020 and success in the globally integrated enterprise.

So what’s my theme? Putting our bodies and babies back together. As it relates to assisted reproductive technologies (ART), the United States is often referred to as the Wild West of fertility medicine, with California being called the reproductive tourist capital of the world. It is, after all, where Elton John and David Furnish came to have their son born via one woman’s egg and another woman’s womb two Christmases ago. Theresa Erickson, a California-based surrogacy lawyer was just sentenced to prison for her role in a three-ring baby-selling scam. And can you say Octomom? A recent case in Florida pits two lesbians in their fight for their child created through ART. One of the women gave her the egg, the other gave her womb. They have since split, with the birth mother fleeing to Australia with the child. Can even Solomon’s wisdom help decide who’s child this is? Will the courts be forced to split the baby so that half goes to the woman who contributed her genetic DNA and half goes to the woman who offered her hospitable womb? Woman-to-woman, we need to have a serious public conversation about our reproductive bodies and the babies we create. The dirty little secrets of the $6.5 billion dollar a year ART industry in the U.S. need to be exposed for what they are: exploitative to poor women, risky to the health of mother and child, commodification of our bodies and lacking in the dignity and the rights of the children created through financial transactions all under the guise of helping make dreams come true. For 2012, let’s begin to reconstruct our deconstructed bodies, and stop selling and sharing our bodies and our babies.

— Jennifer Lahl is president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture and writer, director, and producer of the award-winning Eggsploitation and Anonymous Father’s Day.

Headline of the Day


“Maryland Parents Forget Child, 3, at Chuck E Cheese, Find Out on TV News.”

Details here


Voting in Tenn. Is Less Dramatic than Voting in Penn.


Today, when I voted in Tennessee, I laughed as I remembered voting for George W. Bush in 2004.

I had taken my two kids to the lobby of the Benjamin Franklin House in Philadelphia. We had lived on the 17th floor of the building since moving there a year or so before, and I remember appreciating the convenience of just taking the elevator down and casting my vote.

How wrong I was. 

I approached the table, which had the people sitting with giant books of names. One of them asked me for my name and my phone number. It seemed a little off. I’d never voted in Pennsylvania before, but I wasn’t ready to hand over my phone number to some random poll monitor.

“Why do you need my phone number?” I asked.

The guy looked at his list skeptically, as if he was not going to let me vote.

“Well, I’m checking off who voted and I need to know whether I should call you later to make sure you made it to the polls.”

Alarm bells started going off in my head. Why would he need my number to not call me. And why would an election official be calling voters anyway?

“So, I’m voting right now,” I said, incredulously. “I’m here. You don’t need my number, not to call me, to make sure I did what I’m trying to do right now.”

Okay, so I was upset and wasn’t able to be clear in my protest.

“Listen,” he said. “I just want to make sure our people get out to vote.”

“Your people?”

He could tell by my Tennessee accent that I was probably not “his people.” Someone in the line behind me yelled out, “Why don’t you go back south and vote? I’m on my lunch break!”

“What do you mean, ‘your people?’” I asked. 

Philadelphia is notorious for voter intimidation, voter fraud, and other crazy voting mishaps. For example, in 2008, a University of Pennsylvania student filmed two black panthers standing outside a polling place carrying clubs, intimidating Republican poll watchers from entering their polling place.  (FoxNews later went to check out the scene.) On that day in 2006, news reports had emerged that some voting machines already had thousands of votes registered on them, even though the polls hadn’t opened yet.

I was completely undone, and the people in the line were sick of me holding up the process. “Who are you?” I demanded.

“Well,” he eventually admitted, “I’m with And I just want to make sure the ballots are cast for the right person.”

In his opinion, the right person was John Kerry.

“Why are you here? Why are you behind this table? This table is for poll watchers. You aren’t supposed to be collecting data for!” I couldn’t help it, but my voice rose to a near yell. “You’re posing as a poll watcher!” I said.

By this time, everyone was pretty much over me. I got out my cell phone and called the police. The MoveOn guy, well, moved on. Of course, the election officials were aware that the activist was harassing voters beyond the barrier and collecting their information right there on the spot.

When the officers came, they took my report but looked as if they’d rather be doing anything else. Reluctantly, they filled out a form, I cast my vote, and I went up to my apartment and hid for the rest of the day.

When David came home from work, he walked through the lobby and decided to vote before he went up for dinner.

“David French,” he told them as they looked at their sheets and found his name and address.

“Oh, yes,” the election official said, “We met your lovely wife.”

Marriage, Class, and Social Justice


Do the 99 percent look different from the 1 percent when it comes to marriage? And does that matter?

The state of marriage in America? The last 100 years have seen some interesting demographic-trend lines with marriage: a significant dip around the time of the Great Depression and a very sharp and short-lived spike when the boys returned from World War II. But over the past 40 or so years, we have seen dramatic and sustained ahistorical changes. Let me offer a quick snapshot from various angles.

Overall, marriage has been declining steadily, with a drop of more than 50 percent since 1970. In 2010, only 20 percent of young American adults (aged 18–29) were married, while 59 percent were in 1960. The divorce rate started to rise dramatically in the mid-1960s and continued until it doubled by the mid-1980s, its apex. At that point, it stabilized at a very high level, thought it has even declined modestly at present. Overall, the percentage of divorced adults quadrupled since 1960. The number of children living with two married parents shrunk from 88 percent of all children in 1960 to 66 percent today. More than 41 percent of all children today are born to unmarried mothers, and this growth is seen most dramatically among later 20-, 30- and even 40-something women. Only 5 percent of American babies were born to unmarried moms in 1960. Nearly all the increase in unmarried child-bearing over the past ten years is from cohabiting mothers. Even the percentage of American households with children has declined from 49 percent in 1960 to 33 percent today while the overall number of American households has risen. But the largest growth trend is found among cohabitors, the number of shacking couples increasing 17-fold since 1960, with more than 60 percent of folks who marry today cohabiting in some form.

For those who think marriage is important, the leveling of the divorce rate — albeit at a very high level — is the only good news in the bunch. But there’s a relatively new angle on the marriage-in-America story that is a good-news/very-bad-news story. As Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute illustrates in his important new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, marriage rates are becoming dramatically and increasingly divided along class lines. In 1960, the poorly and moderately educated were only 10 percent less likely to be married than the college educated with both numbers quite high: 84 and 94 respectively. That parity largely held until 1978. Today, the two groups are separated by a 35 percent margin. According to the Brookings Institute, the strong rate of marriage among the highly educated, top-earning Americans has largely held constant and even seems to be increasing. That’s the good news. But marriage is sinking dramatically among low- and middle-class Americans, down from 84 percent to a minority of 48 percent today; a dramatic decline over the last 40 years. No indicators hint at a slowing. This stark trend line leads Murray to lament, “Marriage has become the fault line dividing America’s classes.”

But this concern about marriage and class is not new at all. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned his boss, Lyndon Johnson, and our nation with great passion that the hopes of the new landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act were not likely to be fully realized because the black family was dangerously fragile and continuing to weakening. On the first page of his infamous report — which was really the first shot fired in the culture war over the family — Moynihan warned, “so long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself” among black Americans. And this problem has indeed persisted, to point where the percentage of all married women in the U.S. is 50 percent (53 percent for white women), but tragically low at 29 percent for black women. This concerning disparity has led to such cultural-soul-searching books such as Stanford professor of family law Ralph Richard Banks’s Is Marriage for White People?, in which he contends that marriage recovery is essential for the socio-economic well-being of black Americans.

This highlights the practical and dramatic importance of declining marriage rates for both race and class in America. Marriage is not just a personal, sentimental institution, giving folks something to feel good about at each year’s anniversary. It is a vital social elevator. The scholars at the National Marriage Project working from the University of Virginia explain in a recent report (page78), “Marriage is a wealth-generating institution.” The evidence is dramatic.

All other things being equal, the never-married generally experience a reduction in wealth of 75 percent compared to their continuously married peers. And it is not just the fact that because a couple has two sources of income, it increases in wealth. The nature of the relationship between them matters as well. Cohabitors generally have a 58 percent lower level of wealth than the married. And those who divorce and never remarry have a 72 percent lower rate. The National Marriage Project explains that this is not just because those with better financial prospects are more likely to marry, but that the “institution of marriage itself provides a wealth-generation bonus.”

Professor Bill Galston who served as President Clinton’s domestic-policy adviser and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute explained back in the mid-1980s that an American needs to do three things to avoid living in poverty. The first is to graduate at least from high school. The second is to marry before having a child. The third is to have your child after age 20. Only 8 percent of people who do these three things are poor, while 79 percent who don’t live in poverty. As such, our steeply declining marriage rate and dramatically increasing unmarried-child-bearing rate among blue-collar Americans bode very poorly for their likelihood of rising to a better class and neighborhood. A dramatic 54 percent of our least educated and 44 percent of moderately educated citizens currently have had babies out of wedlock while nearly none (6 percent) of the highly educated have done so.

As another senior Brookings scholar, Isabel Sawhill, noted, “The proliferation of single-parent households accounts for virtually all of the increase in child poverty since the early 1970s.” Our attention to the well-being of marriage among the various strata of society is not about mere traditionalism or empty moralism. Marriage is unarguably a central social-justice issue, a love-of-neighbor issue. No one can contend to help the poor and ignore this truth.

— Glenn T. Stanton is the director of family-formation studies at Focus on the Family and the author of The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage (Moody, 2011).

The Oreo Cookie’s Centennial


The Oreo cookie turns 100 today!

Celebrate this occasion by annoying a food nanny and feed these cream-filled confections to your children. I’ll certainly be offering them to my three boys — that is, after they eat their “illegal” lunch of turkey sandwiches, bananas, potato chips, and apple-juice boxes.

We Gunlocks are risk-takers!

More on The Lorax


I’ve been getting comments about my criticism of the new movie The Lorax, which apparently has a heavy-handed environmental/anti-capitalism message. (I’ve not seen it, but the official website asks for donations to the NEA, for goodness sake.) At the end of my previous article, I urge parents who are truly worried about their carbon footprints to stay home and rent a (different) movie.

Immediately, people responded to my admittedly snarky suggestion, including one from an old blogging friend:

I seem to recall another fellow named Tolkien who also occasionally preached against unbridled industrialization and poor environmental stewardship. Guess that stay-at-home movie won’t be Lord of the Rings!

In other words, if you want to criticize any film, book, or policy that elevates the earth (and its resources) over everything else, you must first also explain that you also love nature, believe in conservation, and want to keep the planet clean. Otherwise, you are lumped into the category of people who want to chop down Treebeard and his family.

So I was interested when I saw this article on the Drudge Report called, “‘The Lorax,’ cuddly cartoon agitprop the Unabomber would’ve loved.” It begins:

While the film’s marketing makes it look like a feel-good parable teaching responsible environmental stewardship, the reality is quite different. This isn’t a gentle sendup in which conservation triumphs over avarice and individual profit. It’s not George Bailey versus Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

And then

There is something about arguing with the premise of a children’s movie that makes one feel distinctly like an idiot, but the particulars here are important. “The Lorax” is relentless in propagandizing how the use of natural resources to create consumer products is inevitably catastrophic. There even is a song in which the Once-Ler defends his practices by invoking social Darwinism.

Big Hollywood agrees:

The Lorax would cause a commotion thanks to his bristly mustache alone. But DeVito makes his oddly urgent proclamations – “I speak for the trees” – the kind of battle cry modern tree huggers will call their own. He’s angry, not joyous, with an edge to his voice that would make him a fine candidate for an eco-terrorist academy.

So it seems that there’s more to this movie than bright colors, great-looking characters, and an admonition not to litter. But, I’ll go ahead and say it. I do love trees. In fact, my dad worked his entire life in the paper-making business, using trees (America’s best renewable resource) to put food on the table and send me to college. 

As Sarah Palin might say, thanks, Mr. Tree, for taking one for the team.

End of the World Watch: Snooki’s Pregnancy


I don’t want another MTV show on pregnancy. Page Six:

With their pint-size cash cow Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi pregnant, frantic MTV producers are scrambling to change direction on their new “Jersey Shore” spinoff, sources say.

Once-hard-partying Snooki and her castmate Jenni “JWoww” Farley are shooting their new series in Jersey City. But with a Snook in the oven, the show’s plot has been forced to take a sudden turn.

“Plans for the direction of the spinoff have changed,” said a source. “Instead of partying, it will now show a whole new side to Snooki.”

The source added that MTV hopes the development could turn into another ratings boon as the roly-poly reality star tackles motherhood. “It will definitely give MTV ratings,” the source said. Another insider said the show is taping scenes in which Snooki drops the “bombshell” news to her “Jersey Shore” pals that she’s carrying a mini-guido while the others “try and look surprised.”

Dubious Environmental and Anti-Capitalist Message in The Lorax


Parents, as you think about which movie to see this weekend, here’s the scoop about The Lorax from Rebecca Cusey:

The story follows Ted (voice of Zac Efron) as he tries to impress Audrey (voice of Taylor Swift) by finding the elusive creature called the Lorax (voice of Danny DeVito). The Lorax is a bit cranky because all his trees have been taken. John said the movie was good in its creation, funny and well-made, enjoyable. However, he cautioned that it carries a strong environmental message that becomes downright anti-business. It’s as if there’s no middle ground, he said, between liking trees and businesses wanting all trees to be destroyed. It sets up a false choice. Parents should be aware that the movie carries this message.

In fact, The Lorax movie’s official website encourages kids to change their Facebook profile pictures to help save the trees, to “go green,” and to participate in the National Education Association’s “Read with the Trees” program. (Notably, they have a donation button so that Lorax fans can contribute to the NEA as well.)  They also helpfully include education plans for teachers to use with their students, including one which helps students understand that “individual choices contribute to climate change. Students will learn the role that carbon-containing greenhouse gases play in the changing climate and calculate their own carbon footprints.”

Hum…maybe staying home with an online rental this weekend will help reduce your family’s carbon footprint.

Relationship Tweets from the World’s Oldest Living Married Couple


How long have you been married? Well, meet Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, aged 104 and 101 respectively, who recently began tweeting. For Valentine’s Day, they teamed up with Twitter to give relationship advice. I guess, after 85 years of marriage, we should probably listen:

1. What made you realize that you could spend the rest of your lives together? Were you scared at all?

H & Z: With each day that passed, our relationship was more solid and secure. Divorce was NEVER an option — or even a thought.

2. How did you know your spouse was the right one for you?

We grew up together & were best friends before we married. A friend is for life — our marriage has lasted a lifetime

3. Is there anything you would do differently after more than 80 years of marriage?

We wouldn’t change a thing. There’s no secret to our marriage, we just did what was needed for each other & our family.

4. What is your advice to someone who is trying to keep the faith that Mr. Right is really out there?

Zelmyra: Mine was just around the corner! He is never too far away, so keep the faith — when you meet him, you’ll know.

5. What was the best piece of marriage advice you ever received?

Respect, support & communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest & true. Love each other with ALL of your heart

6. What are the most important attributes of a good spouse?

Zelmyra: A hard worker & good provider. The 1920s were hard, but Herbert wanted & provided the best for us. I married a good man!

Read the rest of their advice here, which includes a tweet about their faith. (H/T What She Said)

The La Leche League Shames Father For (Gasp!) Feeding His Kids


I was an accidental breastfeeding zealot. I nursed my first baby for 18 months solely because she’d never take what breastfeeding advocates call “foreign nipples” (bottles and pacifiers), which might’ve caused a very serious case of “nipple confusion” (when babies can’t easily switch from breast to bottle).  But when I had my second child, he was immediately whisked away to intensive care after he developed profound breathing problems. Not only could I not breastfeed him, I couldn’t even hold him. Realizing I wasn’t able to comfort my new son — who was crying when he wasn’t panting for air — I broke down and asked for what is perfectly acceptable in the South, but considered gauche in the upstate New York “baby friendly” hospital in which I gave birth: a pacifier. The nurse refused this basic comfort, explaining the baby could be confused by foreign nipples.

Frustrated by her draconian adherence to these “baby-friendly” rules, my husband slammed his fist down. “In our family, we don’t believe in nipple confusion. We practice nipple diversity!”

A cry for diversity sounds strange coming from a conservative lawyer and his right-wing wife, but that’s what nannyism reduced us to. One size does not fit all, and not all babies — or parents — are the same. But don’t tell this to activists in New Zealand.

Breastfeeding activists in New Zealand raised so much of a stink over an ad featuring a dad bottle-feeding his baby that the New Zealand government actually decided to edit the image above out of the ad. While the government’s decision could be viewed as a victory for La Leche League, which protested the ad, some observers have concluded that the decision is a sad day for dads. If a father is going to be involved in the feeding of his new baby, it’s only going to happen through a bottle.

To make this incident even stranger, this ad had nothing to do with breastfeeding. Instead, it was an anti-smoking campaign featuring a rugby player named Piri Weepu, who doesn’t smoke because of his children. 

Piri, here’s a message from the La Leche League: Stop helping your wife feed your kids.

Breastfeeding advocacy frequently feels a little unbalanced, doesn’t it? It also frequently feels too much like scolding. 

I ended up nursing two of my three kids — my last one was adopted as a toddler, so I didn’t have that special bonding time with her. Consequently, I understand the joys of breastfeeding and the sorrows of being unable to breastfeed. Should the government add to the disappointment of mothers who can’t? And should activists who furiously advocate for a mother’s right to breastfeed in public (from Wal-Mart to the church pew) throw a fit over a magazine image of a loving father feeding his own child? Should activists who recently protested Facebook’s policy of prohibiting photos of breastfeeding mommas then turn around and demand censorship of photos of dads feeding their children?

Click through to see the image that the New Zealand government deemed too offensive to show. But be warned. It depicts a loving father and there’s not a naked breast in sight.

Act of Valor Review: A Warrior Manifesto that Rejects Your Pity


What movie are you going to see this weekend? Act of Valor is (predictably?) receiving poor reviews — currently at 20 percent on RottenTomatoes, the critics are calling it a recruitment film. (Note: They don’t consider this a positive thing.) So, what’s the problem with it?  Rebecca Cusey answers:

The problem is not with the new “Act of Valor” movie that opens today. It’s a rousing manifesto. The problem is with some players in Hollywood and a segment of the American public who consider modern American soldiers something to be pitied rather than admired.

They respect the soldier in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Global War on Terror, just not what they do. There is an unspoken feeling that the American troops have been duped into something unsavory, as if looking for a better life or free education, they signed up and found themselves in an icky – if not downright dishonorable – war.

In “Act of Valor,” the soldiers speak for themselves and their message is loud and clear: We know exactly what we are doing. We consider it worthwhile. We consider it an honor.

Read the rest here. And if you go see the film, eat some popcorn for me! We’re snuggling up here at home, trying to clear out our very long queue of recorded television shows. (Note: we have two more episodes of Homeland to watch! Anyone else watching this? Don’t give the ending away.)

Reasonable Parents Reject The Bachelor on Hometown Date


Fans of The Bachelor know how easily parents of the love-stricken girls give their marital blessing to a complete stranger on the famous “hometown dates.”

Not Kacie Boguskie’s parents. In what might be a first, her conservative Christian parents met her potential husband . . . and said no. Read how they handled the awkward meal they shared with “the bachelor” in their Tennessee home in this article entitled “Father Knows Best.”

The Scale of the Universe


The next time you find yourself telling the kids, “Hey, you’re not the center of the universe,” you can use this nifty website to show them exactly what you mean.

After the whole thing downloads, take the time to run the cursor left (to descend from mankind, down to molecular/quark levels) and then all the way to the right (to soar up above mankind, to the solar/galactic/intergalactic levels).

This is great for children of all ages. In fact, I found myself sitting in awe as a mere move of the cursor could take me from the Milky Way to the Earth to Rhode Island to humans to ants to molecules and ever further. Oddly, there was no symbol representing the size of President Obama’s job-creation record, but perhaps it’s stretching the limits of technology to represent something so infinitesimal.

(h/t Rex)

Great or Greatest Dad Ever?


In case you’re not one of the 28 million people who have watched this on YouTube, here’s North Carolina father Tommy Jordan who — literally — shot his daughter’s laptop after he discovered disparaging remarks on her “wall.” Don’t worry: No people were endangered during his kinetic parenting:

Jordan recently defended his actions (and expressed regrets) to ABC. An excerpt:

The clip also led to both harsh criticism and showers of praise of Jordan, and ignited a debate about his in-your-face style of parenting.

In his response to ABC News Jordan, an IT worker from Albemarle, N.C., admits that the stress that he and his family have endured since the video went viral has been tough, particularly for his wife, and says that “because of that alone, I’d not do it again.”

Jordan also admits that the video of his response going viral in such a huge way is an example of “the punishment accidentally outweighing the crime.”

His entire email exchange with ABC is here.

How Target Found Out a Teen Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did


Forbes has an interesting piece that will make you think twice before sliding your debit card:

Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption patterns with retailers. And many of those retailers are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers.

Charles Duhigg outlines in the New York Times how Target tries to hook parents-to-be at that crucial moment before they turn into rampant — and loyal — buyers of all things pastel, plastic, and miniature. He talked to Target statistician Andrew Pole — before Target freaked out and cut off all communications — about the clues to a customer’s impending bundle of joy. Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. Using that, Pole looked at historical buying data for all the ladies who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past.

Many of us purchase soap and cotton balls. However, if we buy scent-free soap, jumbo bags of cotton balls, hand sanitizers, and washcloths, we might be ready to deliver a baby. In fact, their collection of information about their customers is so eerily accurate they’ve even had to camouflage their data so customers don’t feel as if they’ve been spied on. In one anecdote, a teenage girl started getting coupons for cribs and baby-related items. This understandably irritated her father, who stormed into Target demanding they stop encouraging his teenager to get pregnant.

Turns out, Target’s number crunchers knew more about what had been going on in his house than he did.

Read the rest here if you have the stomach for it.

Nancy French is the editor of the Patheos Faith and Family Portal, where this article first appeared.

Navy SEALS from Act of Valor: Hollywood Misrepresents Us


Unlike most Hollywood sets, the directors of the new movie Act of Valor used real bullets and live weaponry. Rebecca Cusey talks to co-director Mike “Mouse” McCoy about what it was like to highlight real (and usually secretive) Navy SEALS.

Women and Girls Taking Up Guns


I bought a new Ruger LC9 last week and finally got a chance to fire it this weekend. (Don’t judge me on my stance — that little thing had a kick!) Today, I came across this USA Today article showing I’m not alone:

There are pink guns. Pink ear protection. Pink shell pouches. For your car, don’t miss the pink “Pistol Packing Princess” sticker. And if you want to pack heat while lunching at your favorite tea room, a purse with a special pistol holster is de rigueur.

All of this is aimed at women who want to own a gun — for protection, for hunting or for sport shooting — a rapidly growing demographic. But don’t let all that girly pink fool you. Women in the United States, and Iowa, for example, take their firearms seriously.

Apparently, a new law in Iowa has made it easier to get a permit for anyone who meets criteria and passes a background check. This means that the number of people — of both genders — getting permits has gone through the roof:

In Polk County, where Des Moines is located, the number of women granted permits has outpaced those granted to men by more than two to one, skyrocketing more than 311% between 2010 and 2011.

Read the rest here

So, pistol-packing princesses, how do you discreetly carry your weapon? And how are you inculcating gun awareness in your kids?


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