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    Tue. November 24

    An Interview with Novelist Thomas Mallon

    Abby W. Schachter

    “I’m willing to stand in line for my freedom,” declares Anders Little in Finale, the newest novel by Thomas Mallon. Little is a mid-level bureaucrat at the National Security Council in this fictionalized account of the second year of President Reagan’s second term. As a believer in both President Reagan’s and former UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s anti-Communism, Little serves as the gay author’s spokesman by expressing Mallon’s own values—in this case, an understanding that people suffering under the totalitarian boot of the Soviet State deserved their freedom and civil liberties long before homosexuals in the United States. This is one reason reading Mallon’s political novels is so compelling and entertaining. He’s a great storyteller who isn’t a predictably knee-jerk liberal and he’s more interested in exploring complex human relations than he is about politics.

    When I interviewed Mallon by…

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    Books, Culture

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    Mon. November 23

    Does ‘Downton Abbey’ Have a Problem with Christians?

    Julia Dent

    As a history nerd, I find joy in pointing out historical inaccuracies in TV shows and movies (Vikings did NOT burn their dead in boats on the water). So I was impressed when the last few seasons of PBS’ Downton Abbey offered a reasonably accurate representation of the 1910s and 1920s, with its major events and newfangled inventions. But there is one major aspect of life the show left out: Christianity.

    As a recent article in the Telegraph noted, the exclusion was not accidental; the show’s producers purposely left Christianity out “for fear of alienating an increasingly atheistic public.” Alastair Bruce, the historical advisor to the show, said executives were ordered to omit religious themes. “We never see the beginning of a luncheon or a dinner, because no one was ever allowed to see a grace being said, and I would never allow them to sit down without having said…

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    Mon. November 23

    How Soon is Too Soon for a Mother to go Back to Work?

    Carrie Lukas

    A heart-broken mother whose infant son died on his first day at daycare is asking a poignant question: Why did she have to leave him so soon?

    Amber Scorah’s moving New York’s Times essay details the circumstances that led her to drop off her son Karl at a New York City daycare center when he was three months old. Her son’s health insurance was tied to her employer, which offered a relatively generous three-month paid leave benefit but had no provision for extending her absence further. Amber worried she wouldn’t be able to find another job if she quit her current, hard-won position, and the couple couldn’t make ends meet without her partner’s salary.

    The anguished mother explains that, of course, none of these sober financial considerations would have mattered if she had any inkling that her son’s life could be at stake. She…

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  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17:  Gwen Stefani debuts her newest single "Used To Love You" during her performance presented by MasterCard exclusively for its cardholders at Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center on October 17, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MasterCard)

    Mon. November 23

    Gwen Stefani: Another “Wronged” Celebrity Getting Her Revenge?

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Upon first hearing about pop music uber-couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale’s split (and despite the curse of celebrity marriage that insists that even the healthy ones eventually fail), I felt sad. Upon hearing rumors that Gavin Rossdale pulled another seemingly inevitable move in Celebrityland, namely, sleeping with the nanny, I felt even worse.

    But after being force-fed Gwen Stefani’s girl-power divorce anthem, which radio stations have been playing on an endless loop for weeks, I’ve had it.

    Is it now considered totally passé to show any sense of sobriety about a divorce? “I Used to Love You,” Stefani’s new song—was released with record speed. En route to do errands, I heard Ryan Seacrest interview a tearful Stefani on the radio. Before I even had a chance to find a space in the Target parking lot, I hear her crooning, “I don’t know why I used to love you,” about her…

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    Celebrities, Music

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    Fri. November 20

    Will Sex Strikes Solve Anything?

    Chelsea Samelson


    “Make love, not war.” We’ve heard this phrase for decades now from peace-loving hippies who see sex, love, and hugs as the answer to humanity’s never-ending problem of bloodshed and violence.

    One Chicago woman is putting a slight spin on the saying and promoting a message of her own: “Don’t make love in order to stop the war.” Meet April Lawson, the woman organizing a sex strike to stem Chicago’s shooting violence.

    Fed up with the increasing gang violence in her city that recently claimed the life of an innocent 9-year-old boy, Lawson hopes to organize and enlist thousands of Windy City wives and girlfriends to boycott the bedroom until their men put down their weapons. As she says, “You have to hit people where it hurts.” No peace? No pleasure.

    Her idea has made national news, but it’s not exactly new. She may have…

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  • Image for Need a Nonjudgmental Hug or Your Laundry Folded? Try Rent-a-Mom

    Fri. November 20

    Need a Nonjudgmental Hug or Your Laundry Folded? Try Rent-a-Mom

    Ashley E. McGuire

    Are you in need of a mom? There’s an app for that. At least, there will be soon. Nina Keneally is a New York-based entrepreneur specializing in . . . motherhood. Her business model? Renting herself out as a mom by the hour.

    Her company, Need a Mom, advertises that clients can rent a mom by the hour to do everything from ironing a shirt to baking a pie; rent-a-moms can review a resume or come over to watch a movie when you just don’t to be alone. All of this, she says, she will do without, “question[ing] your lifestyle choice . . . keep[ing] you on the phone for 45 minutes talking about the neighbor’s cat or your uncle’s gout” or “ask[ing] you to be in a selfie with her.” As she puts it on her website, you can call her “When you need a mom, just not your mom.”

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    Culture, Tech

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    Fri. November 20

    Is Kidz Bop Crypto-Conservative?

    Mark Tapson


    Billboard magazine just announced its first Greatest of All Time rankings, a collection of the bestselling songs, albums, and artists in music history. Curiously, at number four of the Most Billboard 200 Top 10 Albums by Artist list—below the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and The Beatles, but ahead of Bob Dylan, Madonna, and Elton John—is Kidz Bop Kids, a group of, well, kids that has racked up 22 top 10 debuts since 2001. That is the fourth-highest rank of any artist in history. The group also holds the title for the most Top 10 debuts of any artist this century.

    If you’re not the parent of a child under the age of 12, or under 12 yourself, you may be asking, who or what are the Kidz Bop Kids?

    Kidz Bop is a brand of compilation albums—30 thus far—featuring kids on the cusp of their teenage years performing kid-friendly versions of contemporary radio hits…

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    Thu. November 19

    The Media’s Snob Problem: Trump’s Gold Palace and Carson’s Jesus Painting

    Charlotte Hays

    If Architectural Digest had a political team, the houses of two front-runner Republican presidential hopefuls could not be receiving more scrutiny. Unfortunately, the media interest in their houses is prurient and snobbish.

    One can easily understand that Donald Trump’s faux Versailles perched high above Manhattan in Trump Tower or Dr. Ben Carson’s palatial, gold leaf encrusted, column-filled country house in Maryland isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But why such malicious glee over decor? What is going on here?

    The headline for a Daily Beast article that “takes us inside” the dwellings of the Republican candidates blared, “Donald Trump Loves Gold, Ben Carson Loves Jesus,” (a reference to the by-now-infamous portrait of Dr. Carson with Christ). The Democratic candidates have yet to receive similar vetting from the decor police.

    Scanning the Internet for pictures, I am disappointed to find that I can’t visit either of Mrs. Clinton’s…

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    Celebrities, Culture

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    Thu. November 19

    Feminists Want to Ban Negotiation – Because it “Disempowers” Women

    Carrie Lukas

    You might assume that a women’s empowerment seminar—one that teaches women negotiation skills and how to negotiate a higher salary—would be applauded by just about everyone, but especially those on the Left who long for women to earn more and match men in terms of economic power.  But you would be mistaken.  In this era of cracking down on free speech and government regulation of just about every aspect of life, why bother with the arduous process of skill building and individual empowerment?  Far easier to just ban anything that stands in the way of the Left’s idea of equality.

    That’s the take away from Nora Caplan-Bricker’s article in Slate, which describes how a negotiation-skills training seminar in Boston might backfire on women.  The problem is that women and men are perceived differently when they negotiate.  Researchers conducted a study in 2005 in which people were shown…

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    Wed. November 18

    The Narcissism of Foodie Culture

    R. J. Moeller

    For as long as people have been taking pictures of their food and posting them to Instagram, we’ve had no lack of critics of the practice. And the critics are still right: It’s annoying to scroll through endless images of your friend’s brilliant salad or your girlfriend’s organic chicken triumph. It often feels like Instagram foodie people imagine what the photo of their perfect food will look like and then plan their diet accordingly, rather than the other way around. There are even how-to guides offering advice on lighting and styling of your food pictures, to which I can only respond: Isn’t the point to eat the food, not just photograph it?

    And yet, the onslaught of perfectly filtered images of glistening Brussels sprouts and artisanal cheeses continues. Even rappers are getting into the act; 2 Chainz regularly posts not-quite-artfully arranged images of the healthy…

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    Culture, Movies