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Freeman's Perspective: It's 460 AD in Rome: This Won't Be Fixed

Paul Rosenberg looks to the writings of Salvian, just before the fall of Rome, as a preview of coming "attractions" in our own culture. You might call this another take on the "Benedict Option."

"Even if this system doesn't crash for another century, everything done within it is a waste.

"It is fully corrupt, from top to bottom, and I don't believe there are any "good guys" inside, waiting for 'the right time.' It is OVER.

"I withdraw. I forsake them. I refuse to waste my energy on their politics. Humanity deserves better and I aim to do my part in building it.

"I will shed no tears when this system finally collapses - it will be a liberation.

"From here on, I'll build new things and will have nothing to do with the old....

"The good and productive people of this world deserve something better than the abusive dominators that seek to control their every move, and we are more than capable of building it. But we have to stop waiting for permission from the lords of the status quo - they will never give us permission to bypass their domination.

"We have to make our own decisions and simply start building something better. We are able, and this system is unworthy of our efforts.

"Now would be a very good time to start."

Why Children Are Abandoning Baseball - WSJ

As American grownups continue to find ways to wreck childhood fun....

"Other popular sports, including soccer and basketball, have suffered as youth sports participation in general has declined and become more specialized. A pervasive emphasis on performance over mere fun and exercise has driven many children to focus exclusively on one sport from an early age, making it harder for all sports to attract casual participants. But the decline of baseball as a community sport has been especially precipitous....

"But in poorer cities such as Newburgh, a viable, self-sufficient league is necessary to keep some children from abandoning the game. Many parents lack the means to easily transport them to and from neighboring towns.

"Beth DeGroat, whose 12-year-old son, Joshua, has been a Little Leaguer since tee ball, said she doesn't have a car. 'My son has a passion for the game," she said. "But it would be difficult for him to play anywhere else.'

"Roughly two-thirds of Newburgh's Little Leaguers are minorities. When youth baseball dries up in a place like this, it pushes the sport even further in the direction it has been headed for years: richer, whiter, smaller.

"While neighborhood games become increasingly scarce, year-round travel teams have never been more prevalent. The U.S. Specialty Sports Association, the dominant organizing body for travel baseball, said it has around 1.3 million players spread across 80,000 teams, more than double what it had 10 years ago. The company's website includes national rankings for teams in age groups that begin at '4 and under.'"

RELATED: Tim Keown, ESPN, on "travel ball" and the "youth sports industrial complex":

"The days of simply playing ball with your friends is over. It's a different world out there for the preteen athlete, with "Elite" and "Select" commonly turning up in the names of our youth sports teams and leagues. We're having tryouts for 10-and-under traveling baseball teams, and we've got 10-and-under basketball teams traveling the country playing against other fourth-graders at God knows what cost to the parents' bank accounts and the kids' psyches. All in the name of … what? Trophies? Exposure? A leg up on a college scholarship? The egos of the parents?...

""Travel ball," in this world, is meant as a synonym for "better ball." Parents say, "Oh, he plays travel ball," as a means of separating their kids from the riffraff who don't see fit to spend thousands of dollars to travel all over the place with their 9-year-olds. And if it's "year-round travel ball" -- a red flag across the orthopedic medical community for the dangers of repetitive overuse -- all the better. It's a status symbol, one promoted by parents and justified by the guys who collect tournament fees, and it's the main reason baseball in this country is widely becoming the province of wealthy suburbia...

"We're nearing the point in youth sports where we need to stop the "elite" and "select" madness because we're raising a generation with too much self-esteem. They can't handle failure because they've been conditioned to believe they're too good to fail. They're being placed on teams that identify them as better than their peers on the whim of either a parent/coach or a businessman/coach.

"Parents line up to have their kids try out for under-10 fall baseball teams, where tiny kids compete for the right to have their arms trashed by pitching in four different games over two days of a weekend tournament put on by a for-profit organization that gives teams 10 minutes between games to warm up....

"And then, five years down the line when Little Johnny decides to trade his bat and glove for a skateboard and a piercing, his parents can scream and yell about the travel ball coach who ruined baseball for their son by taking their money and not playing him. It's an overgeneralization, sure, but the whole operation has a way of surgically extracting the fun out of a sport at an age when fun is all it should be."

Baptist Theological Seminary campus at Rüschlikon, Switzerland, now conference center

The Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue is on the grounds of Villa Bodmer in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, near the shores of Lake Zurich. The 40-room mansion was built by industrialist Karl Martin Leonhard Bodmer in the late 1920s. It was formerly home to the Baptist Theological Seminary, which purchased the estate for $240,000 in 1948 and began classes on the site in 1949. Mrs. Bates sang there in the early '80s as part of the University Baptist Church (Fayetteville, Ark.), collegiate choir, New Creations, and she and I walked around the campus and ate a picnic (tinned meat and fresh bread) in the car park during a trip to central Europe in September 1990. After defunding by the Southern Baptist Convention and the liberation of the former Warsaw Pact countries, both happening in 1991, the seminary changed its name to the International Baptist Theological Seminary and moved to Prague in 1997. The seminary's chapel remains on the site and is home to the International Baptist Church of Zurich.

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives has a collection of papers on the Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon, Switzerland.

How the Internet Became a Shame-Storm - Bloomberg View

From Megan McArdle's review of Jon Ronson's So You've Been Publicly Shamed

"Shame is, after all, a force for good as well as evil. A proper accounting of the problems with shame-storming has to convey that reality, as well as articulate how we might better balance the need to enforce some sort of social norms against the terrible harms, economic as well as emotional, that shame-storming can inflict....

"Shame is one way we enforced good behavior in small groups before there were laws or trading networks. It is a very powerful motivator, and it helps us to come together in large cooperative groups with high degrees of trust and sharing. A hatred of being shamed ourselves and a love of shaming others who have transgressed both literally helped to make us human....

"But as Lane suggests, shame doesn't just punish wrongdoers; it also turns us into our own moral enforcers. Once we've been shamed, we are strongly motivated to avoid doing the things that brought it on. Or at least, most of us are -- one of the hallmarks of sociopaths is that they don't feel shame or remorse. To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, shame is good. Shame is right. Shame works....

"In the small groups we evolved to live in, shame is tempered by love and forgiveness. People are shamed for some transgression, then they are restored to the group. Ultimately, the shamed person is not an enemy; he or she is someone you need and want to get along with. This is how you make up with your spouse after one or both of you has done or said something terrible....

"On the Internet, when all the social context is stripped away and you don't even have to look at the face of the person you're being mean to, shame loses its social, restorative function. Shame-storming isn't punishment. It's a weapon. And weapons aren't supposed to be used against people in your community; they're for strangers, people in some other group that you don't like very much....

"If we want shaming to be restorative -- to help us create and enforce better norms in a broad community -- then it needs to come paired with charity and forgiveness. Shame-storms rarely offer either; the shame is administered, then the storm drizzles away, leaving only a terrified victim and Google's memory of our momentary collective outrage. Without the mercy and restraint of the small community, it can too easily become nothing more than a particularly destructive way to pass an idle moment."

Pyromaniacs: Going to Take the Cake

F. X. Turk (grandson of a Hungarian kulak) says it's time to sweep away the euphemisms:

"That is actually what is on the table: being part of a celebration which calls sinful sexual unions holy.  If I refuse, I'm a kulak - part of the hated class who cannot be allowed to own property anymore, who cannot be allowed to buy or sell anymore, and who must be called out as immoral and as enemies of the new way of life.

"I am really not that concerned that gay people (at least superficially) say they want to be 'married'.  I am concerned that anyone who objects to the new moral definitions is clearly being called politically unfit for use."

The Left wages total war and then plays victim | Tim Carney | WashingtonExaminer.com

"After millennia of marriage being uncontroversially a union between one man and one woman, and after a decade of electorates in most states (and President Obama in 2008) upholding that traditional definition, the Left has used the courts to redefine the institution. People are fired for having taken the losing side. On college campuses, the current fights are about banning even the articulation of traditional views....

"Religious liberty is the terms of surrender the Right is requesting in the culture war. It is conservative America saying to the cultural and political elites, you have your gay marriage, your no-fault divorce, your obscene music and television, your indoctrinating public schools and your abortion-on-demand. May we please be allowed to not participate in these?

"But no. Tolerance isn't the goal. Religious conservatives must atone for their heretical views with acts of contrition: Bake me a cake, photograph my wedding, pay for my abortion and my contraception."

Ace of Spades HQ: The New Intolerance: We Are Now Required To Embrace Just About Everything, Except the Gutter Religion Christianity

The writer is an atheist, a fiscal and foreign policy conservative, not at all a social conservative. Bottom line: If you have a problem with religious freedom laws, you're probably a totalitarian leftist. Some excerpts:

"Because that's all the gay 'rights' activists are doing here -- they are forcing people who disagree with their political beliefs to endorse those political beliefs anyway, using the crushing power of the state to compel assent....

""This is not about serving gays, this is about acceding to gays' (and non-gay Gay Enthusiasts') demands that those who dissent with gay weddings nevertheless be forced to endorse them....

"If a minority of bakers refuses services to gay weddings, what actual damage befalls gays? There are still many, many more bakers who will bake them their cakes. So what is the actual harm?

"They never answer this question -- they never ask it, so they couldn't answer it -- but the actual answer would be: 'The harm is finding out that someone disagrees with my Sacred Belief on gay marriage.'...

"What is being pursued here is not gays' right to have wedding cake. They have this, of course, and do not need the law's insistence to get it.

"What is being pursued here is hardcore gay-identity crusaders' insistence that no one has the right to disagree with them on their Sacred Belief, and that the law can and should be perverted into punishing ThoughtCrimes.

"What we are seeing here is the enforcement of a new religious code, one which puts "secular" leftist values at the center of religious dogma, and then uses the power of the state to punish heretics, apostates, and blasphemers.

"It is ugly, cruel, and stupid, as are most things the left wants."

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com

The harsh truths are delivered with foul language, but that just might be what it takes to reach its intended audience. Some expurgated highlights:

"Either you will go about the task of seeing to [the] needs [of others] by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold.

"Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness -- don't those things matter? Of course. As long as they result in you doing things for people that they can't get elsewhere....

"...I'm asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don't say that you're a nice guy -- that's the bare minimum.... Saying that you're a nice guy is like a restaurant whose only selling point is that the food doesn't make you sick. You're like a new movie whose title is This Movie Is in English, and its tagline is 'The actors are clearly visible.'...

"Because that's the step that gets skipped -- it's always 'How can I get a job?' and not 'How can I become the type of person employers want?' It's 'How can I get pretty girls to like me?' instead of 'How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?' See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality....

"...Because in my non-expert opinion, you don't hate yourself because you have low self-esteem, or because other people were mean to you. You hate yourself because you don't do anything. Not even you can just "love you for you" -- that's why you're miserable and sending me private messages asking me what I think you should do with your life.

"Do the math: How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own? Only one of those adds to your value as a human being....

"Being in the business I'm in, I know dozens of aspiring writers. They think of themselves as writers, they introduce themselves as writers at parties, they know that deep inside, they have the heart of a writer. The only thing they're missing is that minor final step, where they actually [-------] write things....

"How many of you are walking around right now saying, 'She/he would love me if she/he only knew what an interesting person I am!' Really? How do all of your interesting thoughts and ideas manifest themselves in the world? What do they cause you to do? If your dream girl or guy had a hidden camera that followed you around for a month, would they be impressed with what they saw? Remember, they can't read your mind -- they can only observe. Would they want to be a part of that life?...

"And so on. Remember, misery is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.

"Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created...."

He concludes by calling on his readers to pick a skill that would be valuable to others and work hard enough at it in 2015 to get good enough to impress others. "You have nothing to lose, and the world needs you."

Ace of Spades HQ: Fundamental Concepts - Why the Left Hates Families

Brief and unsopisticated, but fairly on point. "It's nothing more than a Utopian vision: Things aren't perfect now, but when WE are in charge of them, then we can make them perfect. The fact that perfection is impossible never enters their minds.... We have a preexisting social infrastructure as a nation, and if they mean to replace it with big government, the existing structure must be destroyed. Government must be the only answer to the question 'Who takes care of the people?'... The Progressive elite, the white upper and upper middle class, they don't practice what they preach. By and large, their lives are still structured around the traditional family.... They know that the family is the key to prosperity...." A point that he missed: Families (and larger-scale mediating institutions, too, like extended families, churches, neighborhoods, small towns) offer help in the context of standards of responsible behavior -- we'll bail you out, but we expect you to change the way you live so you won't need this kind of help again. The Lefty is content to help people who continue to wallow in irresponsibility, as long as they vote to keep him in power.

NUVO: Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros

An ER Doc takes competitive parents to task:

"I know, I know. Your family is different. You do all these things because your kid loves to compete, he loves the travel basketball, she loves the swim team, it's her life, it's what defines him. Part of that is certainly true but a big part of that isn't. Tens of thousands of families thrive in this setting, but I'm telling you, from what I've seen as a clinician, tens of thousands don't. It is a hidden scourge in society today, taxing and stressing husbands, wives, parents and children. We're denying children the opportunity to explore literally thousands of facets of interests because of the fear of the need to "specialize" in something early, and that by not doing this your child will somehow be just an average kid. How do we learn to rejoice in the average and celebrate as a whole society the exceptional? I'm not sure, but I know that this whole preoccupation is unhealthy, it is dysfunctional and is as bad as alcoholism, tobacco abuse, or any other types of dependency."