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The Top Ten Books
People Lie About Reading

The Federalist, by Ben Domenech

Original Article

Posted By:earlybird, 1/17/2014 11:15:59 AM

Have you ever lied about reading a book? Maybe you didn’t want to seem stupid in front of someone you respected. Maybe you rationalized it by reasoning that you had a familiarity with the book, or knew who the author was, or what the story was about, or had glanced at its Wikipedia page. Or maybe you had tried to read the book, even bought it and set it by your bed for months unopened, hoping that it would impart what was in it merely via proximity (if that worked, please email me). There’s a great poem by Joseph Bottum

The poem is fun.

And there´s a list...


Post Reply  

Reply 1 - Posted by: Rather Read, 1/17/2014 11:24:28 AM     (No. 9695645)

I´ve read several books on the list: Tale of Two Cities, 1984, Moby Dick and The Prince. I´ve had the chance to read Ulysses several times, but life is too short.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: Calvinesq, 1/17/2014 11:37:54 AM     (No. 9695674)

Brings to mind that old Jimmy Durante song:

"I´ll never forget the day I read a book.
It was contagious, seventy pages.
There were pictures here and there,
So it wasn´t hard to bear,
The day I read a book.

It´s a shame I don´t recall the name of the book.
It wasn´t a history. I know because it had no plot.
It wasn´t a mystery, because nobody there got shot.
The day I read a book? I can´t remember when,
But one o´ these days, I´m gonna do it again. Yes sir. But one o´ these days, I´m gonna do it again!"

Cracks me up every time.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: SoCalGal, 1/17/2014 11:39:31 AM     (No. 9695678)

From an article linked in this one, a tidbit with which to impress your friends:

The printer Aldus Manutius created what Mr. Manguel calls ´´the most beautiful books ever made.´´ One of his greatest creations was a series of ´´exquisite little books that were the first pocket books of the classics.´´ Printed in Greek and Latin, they were published when ´´the ancients were read very much as contemporary, and the discovery of a new essay by Cicero was as fashionable or as interesting as Tom Wolfe.´´ Knowing the market, Manutius sized the books with the ´´intention that they would be read by everybody.´´ (Snip)´The aristocracy of the time, he says, ´´would buy them and put them on the shelf.´´

And not only the aristocracy. The 1535 ´´Price List of the Whores of Venice,´´ a racy catalog that detailed the services each woman would perform, includes, Mr. Manguel says, an entry for one Lucrezia Squarcia, a prostitute who, according to the guide, was ´´always with a pocket book of Petrarch, Virgil and sometimes even Homer.´´

The price guide went on to say that Lucrezia only pretended to love poetry.But in the desire to impress, perhaps there is a little Lucrezia Squarcia in all of us.


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Reply 4 - Posted by: BaseballFan, 1/17/2014 11:40:04 AM     (No. 9695680)

Well, I feel good about having read the top four on his list. But my tastes run more to biographies and history.

FTA: Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville: Politicians are the worst about this, quoting and misquoting the writings of the Tocqueville without ever bothering to actually read this essential work. But politicians do this a lot – with The Federalist Papers and The Constitution, too.

BRAVO, Mr. Domenech !!

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Reply 5 - Posted by: StormCnter, 1/17/2014 11:44:06 AM     (No. 9695688)

Every Texas tenth grader was exposed to A Tale of Two Cities. In my class, we read it, watched the movie and then wrote and produced our own stage version.

Moby Dick is another that most of us read during high school. The rest of that list doesn´t interest me, so I´ve never fibbed about reading them.

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Reply 6 - Posted by: LadyVet, 1/17/2014 11:52:34 AM     (No. 9695711)

The Bible is the one that most people lie about reading. They also quote from it in a pretentious manner and put their hand on it to swear an oath of office. Then they toss it aside and the security detail and clean-up crew have to try to find it to return it to the library or museum.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: Heraclitus, 1/17/2014 11:52:40 AM     (No. 9695712)

A couple of months ago an article was posted about having the courage to NOT finish reading a book! I´ve got "current events" books which fit that category.

And then there are a few works of fiction, supposedly indisputably "important" which i have found not worth slogging through.

The list in the HuffPost link is a good and amusing one. "War and Peace" was pretty tedious, and i say that as a lover of Russian lit! But i got through it. Unlike almost all the other Russian works, i have not re-read W & P.

I now have the courage to "dis-hoard" myself and to donate books which allow myself not
to finish.

Maybe i have enough lifetime to re-read "The Brothers Karamazov" (Dostoevsky) and "The Pickwick Papers" (Dickens); Aristotle´s "The Politics" and "Nicomachean Ethics" and Plato´s "The Republic" (really ought to re-read this now that the Overseers are over-seeing us...)

But before the end of my life, there are many books i hope to re-read, some to read for the first time and a few others which i read joyously again and again (Homer, Greek tragedies for example), and of course, history, mostly ancient, and really really ancient, too.

And i will always enjoy reading fellow Ldotters´ Comments: often funny, encouraging and enlightening.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: joew9, 1/17/2014 11:59:31 AM     (No. 9695728)

#2 Thanks. That was excellent.
I found the song on youtube.

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Reply 9 - Posted by: Eheu Fugaces, 1/17/2014 12:05:51 PM     (No. 9695738)

Dear Messrs Domenech and Kinsley and Whoever: Actually reading "A la Recherché du Temps Perdu" (or at least 4 volumes of it), "War and Peace", "Crime and Punishment" and "Les Miserables" doesn´t mean someone is weird or lying: it simply means they´re a Pre-Baby Boomers.

Similarly, the whole of the Federalist Papers, and large segments of Adam Smith, John Locke, Herbert Spencer, etc. were required reading in high school -- and no, we´re not talking about an "elite private school", we´re talking about an ordinary High School.

True, "Ulysses" is universally acclaimed to be a Masterpiece by all who claim to know, but you couldn´t tell it from me; I found it completely unreadable except for the last page and a half. I firmly believe it was a giant leg-pull on the part of James Joyce. I also confess to finding the oeuvre of Ayn Rand heavy going, what with her weird and wooden characters spouting pages of political polemic, but then the poor woman was permanently scarred by having to live through the October Revolution as a teenager, and the communization of Russia as a college kid.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: cjjeepercreeper, 1/17/2014 12:09:03 PM     (No. 9695742)

Being a voracious reader of anything and everything I totally enjoyed this article. And yes, I have read several of the books on there, and attempted a couple others (for some reason I can´t make it through Atlas Shrugged). There is one book I would love to ask Ldotters if anyone has actually read it, I have tried numerous times--Being and Nothingness by Jean Paul Sartre. I was a Philosophy major and still can´t read it!

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Reply 11 - Posted by: deepthinker, 1/17/2014 12:12:24 PM     (No. 9695747)

Note to #7. Some years back, when I used a subway to commute to work, I found that reading a chapter of Pickwick Papers fit almost precisely into the duration of my trip. Like so much of Dickens, some is brilliant--and some is kind of plodding.

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Reply 12 - Posted by: lil dotty, 1/17/2014 12:18:29 PM     (No. 9695763)

Stepping into the character of Seinfeld´s George....´I saw the movies´

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Reply 13 - Posted by: squid, 1/17/2014 12:28:38 PM     (No. 9695783)

I have read about 6 of the books on the list. Recently I discovered https://librivox.org/

This organization records public domain books, from philosophy to pulp fiction. There are thousands of recordings. They are free to download.

During my morning or evening commute, I will listen. It is really nice

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Reply 14 - Posted by: old north state, 1/17/2014 12:35:48 PM     (No. 9695797)

I wouldn´t get too worked up about having read or not read books on a particular list. Times change. If you have read Steinbeck you have read pretty much everything Dickens had to say. Ulysses was a style experiment and if you don´t like the style, why put up with the impenetrability? The Art of War? Seemed like a collection of the obvious to me, but hey, just like the rest; a chacun son gout.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: BigGeorgeTX, 1/17/2014 1:03:33 PM     (No. 9695832)

I´m surprised The Bible isn´t on the list.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: choey, 1/17/2014 1:11:44 PM     (No. 9695841)

Have to agree with #9 on Ulysses. I got about 30 pages into it and then threw it in the trash. It´s completely unreadable. I did enjoy the Dickens stories though. Especially the names of his characters.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: tank, 1/17/2014 1:13:59 PM     (No. 9695846)

SLogged through many of those, including Atlas Shrugged and Foundation. Was on a kick a couple of years ago to read the ´´Classics,´´ but sort of petered out. I´d still like to pick up Ulysses, and I really should read Smith and DeToqueville, but I´m a sucker for sci-fi and crime novels.

However, I´ve read almost everything Steinbeck wrote, most of Mark Twain. And came to the realization the other day while reading the fly leaf in my latest book, that I´ve read everything Elmore Leonard ever wrote. Well, except ´´Raylan,´´ but I´m currently five chapters in.

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Reply 18 - Posted by: Hazymac, 1/17/2014 1:37:50 PM     (No. 9695881)

Anyone of faith should read the Bible, not only to implant its words into the spirit, but to be able to recognize biblical allusions in our speech and reading. Purely as literature, the Bible is a treasure trove. If one has the tenacity to spend a few minutes a day reading it over one year, getting through it isn´t too tough. There are plenty of yearly reading plans online. Reading it in its entirety between January and May of 1996 has paid me many dividends. I hope to read it all again.

The Art of War is, IMO, the second most important book ever written, and is brief enough to read in a couple of hours. Ostensibly about military strategy, Sun Tzu´s timeless book is actually about how to interact with other people.

Long ago I read Ayn Rand´s Anthem, and bought Atlas Shrugged, but haven´t gotten around to reading the final nine hundred pages or so. Ah, well.

William Faulkner had his wife read Joyce´s Ulysses during their honeymoon. (That must have been a fun honeymoon!) The book is difficult, but Joyce´s sometimes elusive genius makes it worth the effort. Joyce´s impenetrable Finnegan´s Wake is also on my bookshelf. Although I have made several efforts to get inside it (and it inside me), those efforts were of no avail. I guess I´m just not smart enough. Maybe nobody is.

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Reply 19 - Posted by: StormCnter, 1/17/2014 1:40:11 PM     (No. 9695887)

"Reading it in its entirety between January and May of 1996 has paid me many dividends."

But admit it, you skipped the begats, as did the rest of us.

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Reply 20 - Posted by: mindyourbubble, 1/17/2014 1:47:34 PM     (No. 9695903)

I was surprised that "The Divine Comedy" was not on the list.
I´m on about my 30th try.
Usually by the time I reach Canto VII of Purgatory, the book gathers another 5 or so years of dust. I always start at the beginning because I remember little of what I had read in the past.

There is a book out now named "The singularity hypothesis" Amnon H. Eden (Editor). An idea that at some time in the future something will occur which will cause a step-function event that will cause a permanent change of the world and its people, flora and fauna.(I guess)

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Reply 21 - Posted by: Teleologicus, 1/17/2014 2:07:03 PM     (No. 9695918)

#18 -

Joyce´s elusive genius has thus far eluded me - and since I have had no difficulties comprehending or appreciating any of the other works that used to be widely praised and recommended by the bien-pensant, I have at last concluded that this is not my problem at all, but the author´s. But all who like the Joycean mode are welcome to it. There is more than enough to go around, and with plenty left over to spare.

And though I am probably largely in sympathy with Ayn Rand´s politics, I have never gotten past the first fifty pages of any of her novels. If there are more detestable, more nauseatingly narcissistic characters in literature than her protagonists, I haven´t found them. Her fictional people give her a philosophy a bad name. How fans can abide them is a mystery.

Left off the list is Milton´s "Paradise Lost," of which Dr. Johnson famously and candidly observed that "none ever wished it longer than it is."

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Reply 22 - Posted by: Hazymac, 1/17/2014 2:12:25 PM     (No. 9695921)

Re #19: In 1995 my pastor, speaking about the worthy habit of reading scripture, told the congregation not to skip the geneological lists because we could get healed on the begats. That idea stuck in my mind, and in my spirit, as if it had been fused there by a divine fire. So I can truly say that I have read the Bible (KJV) in its entirety. Really. And I hope to do it again.

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Reply 23 - Posted by: JHHolliday, 1/17/2014 2:27:57 PM     (No. 9695948)

Speaking of books that I couldn´t finish...I bout Hawkings´ ´A Brief History of Time. I read somewhere that it was the most half-read book ever published so I was determined to finish it. I punished myself and finished it but the last half might as well have been printed in Sanskrit for all I understood. Completely unintelligible to a normal brain.

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Reply 24 - Posted by: Annalucia, 1/17/2014 2:39:39 PM     (No. 9695968)

I had to read "The Tale of Two Cities" in high school, and I´ve read Alexis de Toqueville on my own. I got about halfway through "Ulysses" - it was a hard slog, then one day I said to myself, "Why am I doing this?" closed the book and never picked it up again.

To the commenter having trouble with the Divine Comedy: try Dorothy Sayers´ translation. It´s out in Penguin and is wonderfully readable.

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Reply 25 - Posted by: MysteryLover, 1/17/2014 3:39:53 PM     (No. 9696017)

I´ve read most , but not all of the authors list. Enjoyed #22´s comment about reading the begats in the Bible. Sam´s Club has the ESV Daily Reading Bible which portions the Bible text into 365 daily readings. For me, it´s a marvelous way to read all the Bible in one year.

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Reply 26 - Posted by: mitzi, 1/17/2014 4:10:18 PM     (No. 9696048)

I didn´t read and have no intention of reading:

Art of War
The Wealth of Nations
Democracy in America
Origin of Species

I started Atlas Shrugged many times ... just couldn´t get into it. The paperback copy is in the bookcase. But, I´ve read several other Ayn Rand. Anthem is my favorite. Read that one a couple of times.

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Reply 27 - Posted by: ColonialAmerican1623, 1/18/2014 12:28:54 AM     (No. 9696485)

Just grateful he didn´t include Zippy´s books.

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Reply 28 - Posted by: dcbroome, 1/18/2014 8:44:31 AM     (No. 9696704)

I recommend reading "We the People" by Ayn Rand. Story is set in communist Russia and is haunting. One of those books that has stuck with me.

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Reply 29 - Posted by: mitzi, 1/18/2014 9:01:41 AM     (No. 9696730)

In recent months, three people have recommended Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson. I just started ready it a couple of days ago.

It´s been called apocalyptic fiction. It was written more than 100 years ago. It reads like it was written yesterday. There is a free Kindle download at Amazon.

The blurb at Amazon says:

In this profound and prescient novel, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson gives us an imaginative foretelling of the end of the world. All stories, Aristotle said, have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but most ends are relative, the terminus of this chain of acts or that. But what of the end that terminates all human action as we know it, the end of time itself, the Second Coming? Since this novel appeared in 1906, many others have been devoted to nuclear disaster, destructive comets, and other hair-raising possibilities. What sets Benson’s story apart and makes it as readable today as when it was written is the Catholic and biblical context that provides the ultimate meaning.

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Reply 30 - Posted by: dcbroome, 1/18/2014 9:11:11 AM     (No. 9696740)

I meant "We the Living" in my above post. Whoops!

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Reply 31 - Posted by: zoidberg, 1/18/2014 9:16:31 AM     (No. 9696748)

Joyce´s talent as a writer is apparent if you read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

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Reply 32 - Posted by: mnwxyz, 1/18/2014 9:45:54 AM     (No. 9696790)

I tried to read Ulysses twice-- really TRIED, mind you. Couldn´t do it. It´s amusing to think that teenage boys once sought out Ulysses on the theory that it must be HOT-- like Dangerous Liaisons or Fanny Hill.

My own nominations for "books people lie about having read" would be anything written by Nietzsche or Kierkegaard. No, you didn´t read that impenetrable snoozefest! You´re lyin´.

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Reply 33 - Posted by: strike3, 1/18/2014 10:08:23 AM     (No. 9696834)

Egad, I´ve completed 7 of the 10. I need to get a life.

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Reply 34 - Posted by: ramona, 1/19/2014 10:00:22 AM     (No. 9697748)

Thanks, OP, for the post, and to all the rest of you for your contributions on this thread.

I never "got" Greek mythology - even child-friendly versions turned me off. Then a few years ago I read C. S. Lewis´ "Til We Have Faces." Oh My! This is the story of Cupid and Psyche, so magnificently told. I loved the Narnia stories - the stories more than the writing - but in "Faces" I discovered the intellectual and literary genius of Lewis.

Ramona (the Pest)


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Daily Caller, by Alex Pappas    Original Article
Posted By: StormCnter- 4/15/2014 5:22:51 AM     Post Reply
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson says the White House wanted him to apologize for “offending” President Obama after he famously delivered a conservative message at the National Prayer Breakfast last year. Carson, the former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recalls the events surrounding his 2013 speech in his new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future. The Daily Caller obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set for release May 20. “He did not appear to be hostile or angry,” Carson writes of Obama, “but within a matter of minutes after the conclusion of

Obama Generation Losing
Interest in Obama

44 replie(s)
Wall Street Journal, by James Freeman    Original Article
Posted By: Desert Fox- 4/14/2014 4:23:09 PM     Post Reply
President Obama inspired a generation of young people to support his historic election in 2008. And in 2012, despite the struggles of his first term, Mr. Obama still managed to win the support of a full 60% of voters age 18-29. But the man who once dreamed of being a transformative leader in the Reagan mold is inspiring few of those young people to follow his lead. "For all the talk about the movement that elected Mr. Obama, the more notable movement of Obama supporters has been away from politics. It appears that few of the young people who voted

Why You Should Be Sympathetic
Toward Cliven Bundy

44 replie(s)
Powerline, by John Hinderaker    Original Article
Posted By: Toledo- 4/15/2014 8:40:58 AM     Post Reply
On Saturday, I wrote about the standoff at Bundy Ranch. That post drew a remarkable amount of traffic, even though, as I wrote then, I had not quite decided what to make of the story. Since then, I have continued to study the facts and have drawn some conclusions. Here they are. First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can

Chelsea Clinton no longer
ruling out politics

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The Hill (Washington DC), by Judy Katz    Original Article
Posted By: JoniTx- 4/14/2014 11:57:36 AM     Post Reply
Chelsea Clinton says when people ask her these days whether she wants to go into politics, her answer isn’t an automatic “no.” The 34-year-old former first daughter told Fast Company in an interview published Monday, “for so long the answer was just a visceral no. Not because I had made any conscientious, deliberate decision, but since people had been asking for as long as literally I could remember, it was no." Now, the only child of former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explains, "I live in a city and a state and a country where I

Glaring limits of the Civil Rights
Act: We need to redistribute wealth

34 replie(s)
Salon Magazine, by Matt Bruenig    Original Article
Posted By: KarenJ1- 4/14/2014 7:20:41 PM     Post Reply
Although the Civil Rights Act, the landmark legislation which just reached its 50th anniversary, made great strides in desegregating the economy, economic discrimination is still widespread, and anti-discrimination legislation alone can never rectify the economic damage inflicted upon blacks by slavery and our Jim Crow apartheid regime. The Civil Rights Act was a mild reform, all things considered, but one conservatives fought with vigor and one many conservatives are still bitter about to this day. When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the primary purpose was to root out discrimination in public accommodations (like hotels and movie theaters)

White is not right: Campus admins ask
for help weeding out white people

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Daily Caller, by Robby Soave    Original Article
Posted By: KarenJ1- 4/15/2014 7:47:18 PM     Post Reply
Western Washington University sent a questionnaire to students asking them for advice on how the administration could succeed at making sure that in future years, “we are not as white as we are today.” The question notes that WWU’s racial make up does not perfectly reflect the nation at large, and asks students to consider strategies that other universities have used to focus on skin color as the paramount indicator of a student-applicant’s worth. The president of WWU has stated that his explicit goal is to reduce the white population on campus, according to Campus Reform. “I’ve said before and I’ll say it

Atlanta Braves flooded with Hank
Aaron hate mail: He’s a ‘s*****g’

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Washington Times (D.C.), by Cheryl K. Chumley    Original Article
Posted By: JoniTx- 4/15/2014 3:23:19 PM     Post Reply
Hank Aaron’s recent comments about the need for America to realize that racism is still very much alive and thriving — only now due to those who wear “neckties and starched shirts” rather than KKK hoods — has sparked an angry backlash and many fans are turning the tables, calling the baseball legend himself a racist. “Hank Aaron is a s*****g piece of [expletive] [racial slur],” one man said in an email to the Atlanta Braves’ front office, one of the teams Mr. Aaron used to play for, CBS News reported. “My old man instilled in my mind from a

If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown
Washington, what should you do?

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The Week, by Marc Ambinder    Original Article
Posted By: MissMolly- 4/15/2014 4:51:46 AM     Post Reply
Funny question in the headline, yes? But since President Obama worries more about the threat of terrorists´ improvised nuclear device going off in a major American city than anything Russia can throw at us, I was wondering if the government had deigned to share with us citizens any tips for, you know, surviving something their own intelligence points to as the likeliest unlikely Black Swan event. Well, no. And yes. No — very few people in Washington, D.C., who work for the government have any idea what they would do if a 10-kiloton nuclear device exploded at the intersection of 16th and K

Megyn Kelly and the
Sandberg Head Shaker

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American Thinker, by Richard F. Miniter    Original Article
Posted By: magnante- 4/15/2014 9:16:05 AM     Post Reply
Megyn Kelly’s "Kelly File" is a great news show. She’s incisive, informed and customarily handles the toughest guest with aplomb. But her lengthy interview of Facebook C.O.O. Sheryl Sandberg about her second book in the Lean In series Lean In: For Graduates was a head shaker. Amazing that she of all people allowed Sandberg to restring the same old, same old, shamed, and shopworn feminist myths about women and girls and then jangle it in front of her viewing audience like something new out of the box. Indeed Kelly all but genuflected in front of this woman. Kept her on thru

Obama taps gay bishop to wrap Easter
Prayer Breakfast with invocation

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Washington Times, by Cheryl K. Chumley    Original Article
Posted By: jackson- 4/15/2014 9:25:28 AM     Post Reply
When President Obama needed a preacher to fulfill the closing prayer duties at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, he turned to none other than the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop — who said he was as shocked as anyone at the appointment. The Right Rev. Gene Robinson said in a tweet, accompanied by a photo of Mr. Obama behind a podium at the event: “POTUS ‘preaches’ at the Easter prayer breakfast. Then, out of the blue, asks ME to close with prayer. OMG!” Newsmax said he also emphasized that the words he chose to close the breakfast

Obama Selects First Openly Gay
Episcopal Bishop to Lead Easter Prayer

27 replie(s)
Mediaite, by Andrew Kirell    Original Article
Posted By: JoniTx- 4/14/2014 12:46:05 PM     Post Reply
President Obama pulled a surprise move Monday at the White House’s Easter Prayer Breakfast when he selected Gene Robinson to lead the closing prayer. Robinson is famously known as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. Talking Points Memo’s Tom Kludt spotted the following tweet from Robinson, who was in attendance: (Tweet) Robinson, 66, became diocesan bishop of New Hampshire in March 2004. He retired in January 2013 and is currently a senior fellow at the progressive

Developing: Russian fighter jet buzzes
U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea

27 replie(s)
Associated Press, by Lolita C. Baldor    Original Article
Posted By: Desert Fox- 4/14/2014 12:49:12 PM     Post Reply
A Russian fighter jet made multiple, close-range passes near an American warship in the Black Sea for more than 90 minutes Saturday amid escalating tensions in the region, a U.S. military official said Monday. In the first public account of the incident, the official said the Russian Fencer flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, a Navy destroyer, at about 500 feet above sea level. Ship commanders considered the actions provocative and inconsistent with international agreements, prompting the ship to issue several radio queries and warnings. The fighter appeared to be unarmed and never was in danger of

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