Local News Opinion

About Home Based Businesses

by Michael Davis

Tom asked:

“Can anyone recommend a legitimate home based business that you can actually live on?”


Hi Tom,

Technology is making it easier every day for a lot of people to work from home. Personally, I run a graphic design business. 10 years ago we had an office in San Diego, clients in San Diego and employees from San Diego. Now, with broadband Internet so widely available we closed the office, have clients all over the country and designers from Baltimore to Buenos Aires.

The easiest way is to create a business where you work with your brain, not your hands. It’s much easier to be home based or even mobile. However, there are a lot of people who have created product based businesses that outsource production and fulfillment.

Finally, don’t get stuck thinking you need to pick ONE business to support yourself. While I make the majority of our income from my design business, I also make money doing photography, Mac consulting, some investments and of course Family Hack. I really enjoy the variety too. It makes life interesting and I’m always learning new things.

Of course, technology doesn’t always have to play a part. Last year, a friend of mine lost his SysAdmin job. Instead of looking for another job, he and his wife decided to make a change. They moved to a less expensive house about 30 minutes outside of town. It sits on several acres that they’ve turned into a “farmette”. They grow their own produce, and raise chickens (and eggs) for sale at the farmers markets. They also opened a dance studio nearby that teaches kids and adults. You can see more info at Sweet Dog Farm and Dance Barn.

Good Luck,

Tom replied with:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the response. Although I’m still employed with a solid company I’m looking for ways to transition to a home based business. As a first timer I have found it difficult to work through the legitimate vs sites that just want you to fund something that may or may not work….


Hi Tom,

I agree. The filtering is tough. There is so much get rich BS in the work at home industry. You might want to read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. There is a fair amount of hyperbole, but also some good info on how to set up businesses that are scalable and less location based. Don’t let the title put you off, It’s just for marketing. The book isn’t about getting lazy. It’s about working smart.

Another idea is to start a business that can use your “solid company” as a first client/customer. I did that when I first started. I worked in a corporate art department. I left only after I knew they would be my first client. It was essentially the same job. The only difference was I did it from home, they weren’t locked in to paying me and I invoiced instead of getting a paycheck. In return I got the freedom and over the next couple of years added new clients.

Being inside the company gives you great access to seeing what they might need. If you can find a way to fill that need you can create a new business for yourself with very little risk. You essentially have a deal before you leap….

read the full article and many other related articles at Family Hack

Local News Opinion

Military-Industrial Complex Protested

by David Swanson

SO, HERE WE ARE, 50 years and 8 months tomorrow from the day on which President Dwight Eisenhower, on his way out of office, warned: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

I don’t think we’re here to propose Eisenhower or anyone else as a perfect model of all virtues. But what he said that day 50 years ago, in a very flawed and imperfect speech, was one of the most prescient predictions and potentially valuable warnings ever offered on the face of this earth. I say potentially because we have yet to heed it.

Yesterday the Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia Meredith Woo posted on her blog that our new war in Libya was admirable and Jeffersonian. In fact, she compared it to Jefferson’s war in the same location, which she held up as “a pristine example” of a “just war.”

In her descriptions of that long ago war and the current one she devoted not one word to the killing, maiming, or traumatizing of innocent people. She made no case for the necessity of either war, except to claim that the first one was fought in self-defense several thousand miles away against a band of pirates who had never approached U.S. shores and whom Woo scornfully mocked as unworthy adversaries. Woo’s entire case is that our Libyan wars have not yet been as bad as our Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Well those are sure high standards! What a proud UVA alumnus I am today! And wouldn’t it have been nice to see a little opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars from UVA’s administration prior to this cheerful celebration of the Libya War as not being as bad as the other ones, which — by the way — are still raging?

This past Sunday the Charlottesville Daily Progress printed a column called “A Stimulus Package Conservatives Could Support,” but there was nothing conservative, and nothing Eisenhower would have tolerated, in the column. I tried to find some points in this column that I could say the author got right, but the best I could come up with was this: giving her the benefit of the doubt, I suspect that the author, Amity Shlaes, spelled her own name correctly.

Her idea for improving our economy is to increase military spending, including in particular through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

DARPA is the same agency that has moved on from mechanical killer elephants and telepathic warfare to exploding frisbees, cyborg wasps, and Captain America no-meals and no-sleep soldiers, as well as far more useful things that could have been developed outside the military, like the internet and GPS. But DARPA has 240 employees. Let’s double it. Heck, let’s triple it. We’ve still got statistically the exact same unemployment rate we started with. Or let’s add a half a million employees to the military, as Shlaes proposes. If we could afford to do that, we could afford to add many more employees elsewhere, because the military is the least efficient way to create jobs. In fact, we could scale back military spending to a level higher than 10 years ago, put that money into non-military industries and tax cuts, and see a net gain of 30 million jobs, even after finding new jobs for everyone who lost one in the military industrial complex. We could have full employment and it wouldn’t cost us a dime. That fact only seems startling if we lose touch with how much we’re spending on the military and what a waste it is.

But Shlaes has other arguments. First of all, the military knows how to manage youth, she says. But does it? The leading cause of death in the U.S. military right now is suicide. I understand that once you’re dead you’re no longer unemployed, but surely that can’t be what Shlaes had in mind as a solution to youth unemployment. We tried to bring to this conference a young widow of a soldier whose pleas for help after seven tours in our current wars went unanswered by the military. He took his life, and his wife publicly described the lengthy process that had led to that tragedy. She was then so viciously harassed that she canceled her conference participation and went into hiding. I suppose that’s one way to manage young people.

Secondly, Shlaes argues, the military is already on all the campuses. That’s certainly true in Charlottesville. Recruiting offices are already open everywhere, she explains. True enough. The military can spend tons of money quickly, she assures us. Well, that’s as true as anything could be. But it doesn’t change the fact that you could have many more jobs just as quickly by other means. Feeding the military industrial complex because it’s large and hungry is how Congress Members think; it’s not how we need to think.

Oh, but it’s not large, says Shlaes. It’s only 5 percent of gross domestic product, less than President Reagan managed, and less than during Vietnam, Korea, or World War II.

But think about this argument. If the country becomes wealthier (I know it doesn’t seem wealthier, but 400 billionaires have as much money as half the country; there’s wealth, it’s just concentrated), Anyway, as I was saying, if a country becomes wealthier it should spend more money, at a steady percentage of GDP, on its military, not because it needs to, but because it can, and because — even though almost anything else would produce more jobs — this will produce some jobs.

Shlaes’ statistics are debatable as well. Chris Hellman recently compiled all the U.S. national security spending through various departments, including the so-called “intelligence” agencies, Homeland Security, etc., and arrived at $1.2 trillion per year. According to the National Priorities Project we’re dumping 59% of discretionary spending into the military each year. According to the St. Petersburg Times this week, U.S. troops are in 148 countries. We could cut 80% of this madness and still be the world’s top military spender. In the process we could avoid all of the damage we are going to hear about during this conference not only to our economy, but also in terms of weapons proliferation, foreign relations, civil liberties, the natural environment, the rule of law, and — lest we forget — the killing of large numbers of human beings.

Shlaes asserts without argument that an ever larger military deters wars. Eisenhower warned, and the evidence is extensive, that a larger military creates wars. And that larger military is all over Charlottesville and Virginia. The Daily Progress, which does a far better than average job of covering peace advocacy, nonetheless willingly prints propaganda for the military industrial complex. It also carries a lot of advertisements for the military industrial complex. And those advertisements are purchased with our tax dollars, funneled through the Congress, into the Pentagon, and on over to so-called private corporations taking no-bid, uncompeted contracts to enjoy what for some are booming economic times. BAE Systems, which often runs a green full-page ad in the Daily Progress, paid a $400 million fine last year to the U.S. government to settle charges of having bribed Saudi Arabia to buy its weapons. The U.S. government, however, continued dumping billions into BAE.

Charlottesville, as many of you may know, is home to the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), now north of town but previously downtown in what became the SNL Financial building. The new location for the center also accommodates units of the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency and the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The University of Virginia has built a research park next door.

Ray McGovern was just reminding me of the role the NGIC played in selling the Iraq War. When the experts at the Department of Energy refused to say that aluminum tubes in Iraq were for nuclear facilities, because they knew they could not possibly be and were almost certainly for rockets, and when the State Department’s people also refused to reach the “correct” conclusion, a couple of guys down here at NGIC were happy to oblige. Their names were George Norris and Robert Campus, and they received “performance awards” (cash) for the service. Colin Powell used their claims in his U.N. speech despite the warning of his own staff that they weren’t true. NGIC also hired MZM to assist with war lies for a good chunk of change, and MZM then gave a well-paid job to MZM’s deputy director Bill Rich Jr, and for good measure Bill Rich III too. MZM was far and away the top “contributor” to former Congressman Virgil Goode’s campaigns, and he got them a big contract in Martinsville before they went down in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Rich then picked up a job with a company called Sparta, which, like MZM, was conveniently located in the UVA research park.

There’s a Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center attached to UVA Law School as well. Then there’s the Virginia National Guard, which does tend to guard nations, just not this one.

Local want ads offer jobs “researching biological and chemical weapons” at Battelle Memorial Institute (located in the UVA Research Park). As you may know, researching such weapons is rarely if ever done without producing or at least possessing them. Other jobs are available producing all kinds of weaponry for all kinds of governments at Northrop Grumman. Then there’s Teksystems, Pragmatics, Wiser, and many others with fat Pentagon contracts. Employers also recruit here for jobs in Northern Virginia with Concurrent Technologies Corporation, Ogsystems, the Defense Logistics Agency, and many more.

From 2000 to 2010, 161 military contractors in Charlottesville pulled in $919,914,918 through 2,737 contracts from the federal government. Over $8 million of that went to Mr. Jefferson’s university, and three-quarters of that to the Darden Business School. And the trend is ever upward. The 161 contractors are found in various industries other than higher education, including nautical system and instrument manufacturing; blind and shade manufacturing; printed circuit assembly; real estate appraisers; engineering services; recreational sports centers; research and development in biotechnology; new car dealers; internet publishing; petroleum merchant wholesalers; and a 2006 contract with Pig Daddy’s BBQ.

Piedmont Virginia Community College, which has been good enough to allow our conference to rent its facilities tomorrow and Sunday, has a new program aimed at qualifying more students for military so-called intelligence work.

And Charlottesville is relatively military-free as areas of Virginia go. Were the state of Virginia to ban participation in wars of aggression, weapons sales to brutal dictatorships, and the manufacture of aggressive and illegal weapons, the Military Industrial Complex would be obliged to help itself to many billions of public dollars just to cover the cost of moving operations to the other 49 states or abroad.

I think Shepherd Johnson is here tonight. If you give him a ride through Virginia he’ll point out current and former, public and secret, military facilities behind just about every hill. With his help, I’ve compiled a list of highlights.

The Pentagon and all of its surrounding weapons corporation headquarters are in Virginia. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lives in Quarters Six at Fort Myer in Arlington. The Army and Air Force chiefs of staff live on “Generals Row,” also in Fort Myer.

Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base. NATO is there too. And until last month, so was the United States Joint Forces Command.

The Army maintains major commands in Virginia as well, including the United States Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, and the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis.

The Air Force has its Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base. Langley and Eustis combine to form the Joint Base Langley–Eustis.

The Port of Hampton Roads is a Sea Port of Embarkation (SPOE). Also in Tidewater, Va., is Lamberts Point at Norfolk. So are two large shipyards, found in Newport News (Northrop Grumman) and Portsmouth, there to service the aforementioned largest Naval Base in the world.

But the military is spread throughout the state. Out in Radford is a major munitions plant. Up in Warrenton are four military sites, at least one of them used by the CIA.

Let’s not forget the Navy. There are SEAL teams at Little Creek and (team 6) at Dam Neck. These are military forces operating at the secret command of the President.

In Peter’s Mountain near Gordonsville, is an AT&T site that many believe the military used to use and probably still does.

The Defense Intelligence Agency used to train “psychic spies” (men who’d stare at goats if they were smart enough to recognize one) at a place in Nelson county called the Monroe Institute.

The Army prepares for war in Virginia at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Fort Lee, Fort Monroe, Fort Myer, and Fort Story, the Navy at the Navy Amphibious Base Little Creek, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Oceana Naval Air Station (the cause of all that noise pollution in the air at Virginia Beach), and the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. Meanwhile, the Marines are based in Quantico, as is the FBI Academy.

The NSA is in Chesapeake and just across the West Virginia line. The CIA is at Camp Peary, a.k.a. the Farm, right next to Colonial Williamsburg, where CIA warriors and foreign warriors are trained. The “intelligence community” may not have much intelligence or community, but it has a lot of Virginia real estate, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at Tyson’s Corner, right next to the National Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Center, which is not far from the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, which has additional offices in the Reston-Herndon area. Then there’s the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency in Springfield, and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) National Ground Intelligence Center here in Charlottesville (the command is headquartered at Fort Belvoir). The DIA is headquartered at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., but has an office building in Clarendon.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ so-called “intelligence” activity (and its prison for whistleblowers from Smedley Butler to Bradley Manning) is at Quantico. The Office of Naval Intelligence is located in Suitland, Md., but has a training center located at Dam Neck and known as the Navy Marine Maritime Intelligence Center. And over at Langley Air Force Base is the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing. The Virginia National Guard (emphasis on “National”) is located all over Virginia, including just down Avon Street. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is in Herndon.

Mount Weather in Northern Virginia is set up to host our federal government underground in times of emergency, as was its predecessor across the West Virginia line, the Greenbrier, which now offers tours of Congress’s potential second-home underground or let’s you rent the space out for parties with “a James Bond, M.A.S.H., or spy theme.”

The “private” military corporations in Virginia are legion. Down in Lynchburg, Areva manufactures fuel rods for nuclear reactors. Virginia is home to SAIC, Dyncorp, Mantech, MPRI, and CACI. Xe (Blackwater) is moving to Arlington from its location just across the North Carolina line, a location at which the Virginia Beach Police train, and from which many Blackwater employees commute to live in Virginia Beach. L3 Flight International Aviation is in Newport News. A company called American Type Culture Collection in Manassas supplied the biological materials for anthrax to Saddam Hussein. And then, of course, when it was clear Iraq had no more anthrax, the pretense that it did was somehow a justification to bomb a nation full of human beings, 99.9 percent of whom had never shaken hands with Donald Rumsfeld.

Then there’s Virginia’s congressional delegation, which splits its time between Virginia and D.C.

Eisenhower was talked out of saying “military industrial congressional complex,” but the meaning nonetheless came through. The Fifth District has flip-flopped between the two big political parties in the last two elections without the slightest impact on its representation in terms of war and military spending. In the midst of this hysterical debate over debt and deficits in Washington this summer the House passed a bigger military spending bill than ever, with almost no comment, and the Senate is working on passing it right now with no notice in the news and not a single outraged rally from the tea party.

We are drawn almost irresistibly to imagining that whatever harm all this military activity does to the world or to our future safety, at the very least it means jobs, it brings money into Virginia from Washington, D.C. And in fact, unlike many states, Virginia does get back more federal money than it puts in. But it puts in a heck of a lot, and gets it back in the least economically beneficial manner possible.

At you can find a number ticking ever upwards showing what the nation has spent thus far on its two largest current wars, both of which a majority of Americans have favored ending for some time now. The figure is now over $1.2 trillion. If you click on Virginia and then Charlottesville, you get $105 million as the amount in taxes that Charlottesville has paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That doesn’t include future costs of interest, veterans care, the impact on fuel prices, or lost opportunities.

But our wars are a small part of the $1.2 trillion we spend each year on the military. We’ve spent $1.2 trillion on these two wars over a decade, but we spend $1.2 trillion each and every year on the military. So, each year, Charlottesville dumps $105 million into the military industrial complex. Sure, it gets some of it back. But the City of Charlottesville has a budget of $130 million. I bet the mayor could think of some useful things that could be done with an extra $105 million or even a little bit of it. Federal funding for block grants and other programs is being cut all the time. Don’t let anybody tell you military spending is not a local issue. It would be hard to do worse, morally or economically, than handing that money over to the war machine.

Nations with less wealth than ours have higher standards of living, life expectancies, infant survival rates, education levels, vacation days, retirement security, and progress toward green energy. There’s no technological reason we can’t run everything in this country on clean energy. There’s no law of physics preventing us from providing free top-quality education for all who want it from pre-school through college. There’s no medical reason we can’t have universal health coverage. What’s standing in the way is a broken political system, and what is breaking it is in large part the military industrial complex. We’ll be discussing alternatives on Sunday. And we’ll be organizing efforts to change things, including

read the original article at Pacific Free Press


The Kevin Alfred Strom Case

Kevin Alfred Strom (pictured) — the Charlottesville man who’s accused of being a racist and who pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in a politically tinged case in which his main accuser was cop-follower/blogger estranged spouse Elisha Strom (herself now convicted of obstruction of justice) — staunchly maintains his innocence. What should the community’s attitude be to him? — Ed.

by D. Peter Maus

I’M GOING TO BE CAUTIOUS about addressing the politics, here, because I often find Kevin Strom’s politics to be uncomfortable, but he’s made a point that’s not altogether out of line. And raises legitimate questions about what actually happened, here.

Convicted upon the facts, perhaps. Convicted on the evidence, perhaps. And the truth is that only Kevin really knows what actually happened when the authorities came calling.

But, child porn is one of today’s hot button issues. Like heroin in the 50’s and cocaine in the 70’s, child porn is one of those issues that generally gets a pass when questions are raised about procedure in law enforcement. But, like heroin and cocaine, child porn has been made very easy to convict on. In fact, one need not even know one is in possession to be convicted. Hidden in clauses of bills like DMCA, are items making the reception, even if unsolicited or unknown, of child porn an actionable, criminal offense.

In that light, it’s very much like heroin and cocaine: Plant an item, try in the press, convict on the evidence.

Especially easy, when the target is politically hot, as is Kevin Strom.

There are few better ways to destroy someone in this culture than to attach their name to something like child porn. And that, alone, should raise questions when it happens to a politically charged citizen. Who benefits from the diminution of a politically charged citizen, unless it is someone who is politically invested?

Consider also, that we no longer accept the completed sentence as ‘payment in full’ for an offense in this society. No longer does the convict get a clean start, and an opportunity to rebuild their life after it’s been leveled by the legal system. No longer does the past get to be the past. Today, we have websites, we have registries, we have notices that there are convicts living among us. None more reviled than the child molester, or the ‘sex offender.’ And they are tarred for all time with that epithet.

Even if they are not actually guilty.

You think that doesn’t happen?

Just an example: Half of the people on death row in Illinois were proven to have been innocent when the evidence could be more coolly and more accurately examined. Let me repeat. Half of the people on death row in Illinois were proven to have been wrongly convicted.

Does anyone think that can’t happen in any other state?

Anyone think that can’t happen with those accused of sex crimes?

ESPECIALLY when there is a politically charged component to someone’s life?

Then consider this: Even the judge in Kevin’s case said the prosecutors were out of line and dismissed the bulk of actions as flimsy abuses of process. He even acknowledged that Federal agents were prosecuting what was, in fact, a local matter. But, Kevin’s politics stabbed at the heart of the Federal Government. If that’s not a coincidence, it needs to be proven.

And the single count upon which he was convicted was based on a confession extorted against threats of the horrors of a life in a federal prison as a sex crime convict.

Consider also, that he has sole custody of his children. Something a judge would not permit were he actually believed guilty of a sex crime.

And he has ready access to Internet traffic. Something that also would not be permitted, were he believed to be guilty.

These things must be considered when evaluating the conviction against Kevin’s rebuttal. But, as a culture, we don’t. Because ‘child porn’ is attached to the matter.

The entire Constitution of the United States was written by men with an innate distrust of the power of government, and the fear of the abuses of men overwhelmed by power. They specifically prohibited the creation of propaganda organs of government to bamboozle the public with false witness, and guaranteed a free press to protect themselves from such an abomination. (Which we have since voluntarily abrogated, apparently.) They were men who’d experienced first hand the horrors of power. And they created a legal system designed to protect the innocent, and protect the falsely accused, by remaining institutionally skeptical, and questioning everything said about someone, putting in place safeguards to protect the human rights of the accused against legal abuses, and allowing for the true recovery of one’s life after conviction. So that once sentence is served, the prosecution ends. Unless provoked by a next offense.

We’ve gotten away from all of that. We try in the press. The government forms alliances with media (Google has an office in the White House, for Christ’s sake). We empower one class against the other. (In Florida, a man is automatically removed from his home on charges of spousal abuse, even if the accusation is made anonymously by phone from out of state by someone who’s never met either party. Conviction is also nearly automatic. And this is becoming the standard across the States.) We persecute at whim. We prosecute for unpopularity of language. We erase protections from abuse, and presumptions of innocence. We register released offenders. And we persecute in perpetuity.

And we do it without the skepticism that the Founding Fathers specifically codified into the structure of the Nation. The skepticism that ensures the protection of the rights of the accused. The skepticism that ensures the pursuit of the absolute truth.

That, alone, should raise questions that deserve answers about every conviction, every accusation, every interview of a citizen whose politics stand in opposition to the Government.

It is our right to dissent. Guaranteed by the Constitution. It is our right to oppose. It’s how we keep the government honest. To limit the power of what Paine termed ‘a necessary evil.’

And, yet….

Again, Kevin, alone, knows what the truth really is. But in the case of one so politically charged, we should all be skeptical of what is said about him. It may, indeed be true. But in a case where politics figure so prominently in the irregular pursuit of citizen, we must remain skeptical.

We owe that to everyone so accused. We owe that to the intent of the Founding Fathers. We owe it to The Truth.


Baking Charlottesville (A Great Real Estate Market?)

Charlottesville, Virginia was recently voted the number one place to live in the Unites States by two formidable publications: USA Today and Frommer’s Travel. Follow this perfect recipe on how a small city was able to earn these formidable accolades.

How does a small city of 60,000 people earn the respect as the number one place to live and work in the country? It’s the Charlottesville real estate market! It’s hot…hot…hot.

Charlottesville, Virginia real estate has been rocketing ever since it earned these accolades last spring.

“The emails are coming in from all over the country,” adds Toby Beavers, an internet savvy realtor and webmaster of

“They all want to know what’s so great about Charlottesville real estate. Very few know a thing about the Charlottesville area real estate market…o r even Virginia.”


Taking Back Abstinence

(An excerpt from an editorial in the Daily Princetonian by Charlottesville native Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Cristina Stanojevich. See link to full article below.)

“YOU’RE not religious. Why should you be abstinent?”

Or: “Abstinence is just for conservatives. You probably also think gay people shouldn’t get married.”

Or, even better: “Abstinence is just an excuse because you’re not getting any.”

At various points during our Princeton careers, we’ve both had periods of abstinence and heard these pieces of wisdom. We both have had sex before marriage (assuming we do marry); one of us doesn’t have sex outside of committed relationships, and the other has spent part of her college career with the active decision to abstain. Abstinence, for both of us, was an important personal choice. It was temporary, but it allowed us to respect our bodies and our boundaries and to make sure that when we did have sex, it was the sex we wanted to be having.

Abstinence seemed logical and not particularly unusual. But our friends were still confused about and sometimes antagonistic toward our terminology. Our use of the word “abstinence” to describe our decisions was often the launching point for a series of assumptions about our political beliefs, our ethical values and our religious traditions. And when we tried to separate abstinence from chastity, we got blank stares.

Abstinence is at the center of a storm of controversy over our campus sexual ethic, but we all seem to be surprisingly ignorant about the different forms it can take. For example, abstinence and chastity are not synonymous. Celibacy, a word that is often invoked somewhat confusedly in these conversations, has even less to do with abstinence. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, chastity is “purity from unlawful intercourse,” while celibacy is the “state of living unmarried.” Both of these ethics imply a moral choice, a view of some forms of sex as categorically impure.

By contrast, abstinence doesn’t need to be connected to sex — you can abstain from doing anything, for any reason. It’s a simple “no” — without moral implications. You can be abstinent for a weekend. You can be abstinent after being in a sexual relationship. You can choose to be abstinent at any point in your life. As a college student, you can be abstinent knowing that you will probably have sex before marriage.

Read full editorial

Featured Articles Opinion

‘The Hour,’ Famous Cocktail Guide, Is Reissued

IN days of yore, American men were expected to have opinions about drink. A signature cocktail, and how to mix it, mattered. It was part of the male identity, like the ability to grill meat or change a carburetor.

It was in this spirit that the literary critic Bernard DeVoto wrote a curious book, “The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto.” First published in 1948, it has long been regarded as a classic, one of the first attempts to formulate a philosophy of the cocktail. It has been out of print for decades, but Tin House Books has just reissued it, and now, modern readers can recapture that moment from the middle of last century, when calibrating a martini was theology, not mixology.

Mr. DeVoto, a Mark Twain scholar and the longtime resident of the “Easy Chair” column in Harper’s, lays down the law in words of fire, banishing all manner of mixed drinks to outer darkness, lamenting the perversion of national taste during Prohibition and flailing away indiscriminately at just about any target crossing his sightlines.

Strait is the gate and narrow is the way to Mr. DeVoto’s magic cocktail kingdom. He abhors rum, because rum drinks require fruit juice, pure poison to any cocktail. Public enemy number one, in this regard, is the Bronx, a mixture of gin , vermouth and orange juice that, for Mr. DeVoto, ushered in the Orange Blossom and its ilk, so prominent during Prohibition.

So the Bronx is out. And so, astonishingly, is the Manhattan — “an offense against piety” because it has vermouth. “With dry vermouth it is disreputable, with sweet vermouth disgusting.” The daiquiri he dismisses as “a regressive fantasy.” Hot drinks are verboten. Scotch is an abomination. The list goes on and on.

In fact, Mr. DeVoto shrinks the cocktail universe to two drinks: “a slug of whiskey” and the martini. The first, of course, is not even a mixed drink. The second he surrounds with more caveats and fine-print instructions than a car-repair manual.

First, no olives or onions or orange bitters. The martini can be shaken or stirred, but no ice particles should enter the drink. The strainer must be perforated, not encircled by a coiled wire. Only American gin is permissible. The drink should not be premixed and stored in a refrigerator, lest “the fragile tie of ecstasy” be snapped. You may hum, but not whistle, as you make the drink, which must be consumed in the city, for it is essentially an urban cocktail. In a spasm of gender generosity, Mr. DeVoto states outright that there is no reason why a woman cannot mix a proper martini.

And the proportions? Mr. DeVoto, mortal enemy of sweet drinks, calls for a ratio of 3.7 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, with an upper limit of just over four to one. This is not a dry martini by modern standards, but in his day, when a half-and-half martini was common, this rates as arid. The finishing touch is two drops of lemon oil squeezed from a piece of rind, which may be deposited in the drink as long as it has no pith.

Mr. DeVoto’s text is part Fourth of July oration, part sermon, part St. Crispin’s Day speech. It is written in the mock-heroic style favored by writers for The American Mercury — see Herbert Asbury’s extended introduction to Jerry Thomas ’s “Bon Vivant’s Companion” — and two-fisted drink columnists like Esquire’s Murdock Pemberton. It can be hard to take.

“This is the violet hour,” Mr. DeVoto writes of that magic moment, 6 p.m., alluded to in the title. It is “the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.”

A little of this goes a long way. But when he emerges from the empurpled shades, Mr. DeVoto does deliver some very funny send-ups of cocktail recipes in cookbooks (still pertinent) and the “laff-riot” accessories that filled suburban home bars — the nudie bottle stoppers, the signs reading “Danger — Hangover Under Construction.”

Yes, he bans 90 percent of drink culture as we know it. But someone has to hold up standards. As he says when banishing punch, “Well, you asked for a ruling.”


Eliot’s The Waste Land

by O. Strom

MODERNISM is defined as “a modern artistic or literary philosophy and practice; especially a self-conscious break with the past and a search for new forms of expression.”

A supreme example of modernism (and its founding text for that matter) is T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

The Waste Land shows how imagism transitioned into modernism and created a portrait of a failed modern society. Eliot considered his contemporary society to be hypocritical and to have moved so far away from its spiritual and cultural roots as to have lost all moral value.

The poem is full of broken, disjointed and otherwise unrelated slices of imagery that come together to form a disjunctive anti-narrative. The motif of sight and vision is as central to the poem as it is to modernism; the omnipresent character Tiresias acting as a unifying theme (Tiresias was a blind prophet of Greek mythology). The reader is thrown into uncertainty, unable to see anything but a heap of ruined images. The narrator, however, promises to show the reader a different meaning; that is, how to make sense out of dislocation and fragmentation. This construction of an exclusive meaning is vital to modernism. The poem shifts between satire and prophecy, and is dedicated to his fellow poet, friend and masterful editor, Ezra Pound.

The style is similar to a dramatic monologue like that found in some of Eliot’s earlier work such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The poem is full of historical allusions including quotes and famous short sayings in foreign languages (Latin, Greek, Italian, German, etc.)

It is written in five parts:

  1. The Burial of the Dead
  2. A Game of Chess
  3. The Fire Sermon
  4. Death by Water
  5. What the Thunder Said

These five parts are a meditation on the state of Western civilization, especially concerning the sense of despair, waste, and ineffectiveness of the post-World War I era; the poem blends descriptions of contemporary life with literary allusions and quotations, religious symbolism, and references to ancient and medieval cultures and mythologies, vegetation and fertility rites, as well as Eastern religions and philosophies; the poem emphasizes themes of barrenness and wretchedness and portrays a dying society, but the ending suggests hope of redemption through concepts and images grounded on the synthesis of Christian and Eastern (Hindu/Buddhist/Taoist) spirituality. Although it is debated as to whether Eliot wrote the poem as a collection of five separate poems or one long one in five “parts.”

The tone reflects the experiences of a man who lived through World War I. It is best summarized in the poem itself, and in part of the dedication to Ezra Pound, “For once I saw with my own eyes the Cumean Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her, ‘Sibyl, what do you want?’ she answered, ‘I want to die.’” (a Latin and Greek epigraph from The Satyricon of Petronius).

The poem begins with its most famous line, “April is the cruellest month, breeding  Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing  Memory and desire, stirring  Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding  A little life with dried tubers.” The poem describes the world as dead, dying, full of shadows and suffering. “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” and “…A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,  And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,  And the dry stone no sound of water. Only  There is shadow under this red rock,…”

The poem ends with “Shantih shantih shantih,” a Sanskrit mantra. Interestingly enough, Eliot had studied Indian philosophy and Sanskrit at Harvard University about ten years prior to publishing this poem.

The poem has many speakers of undefined quantity, each making seemingly true but conflicting statements. This creates a paradox of sorts. This is a modernist theme along the lines of this: Each individual has a unique identity, yet they are able to connect to each other, albeit only temporarily. However, as seen in events such as the Great War, human society is often extremely defective. The title itself, The Waste Land, (although originally titled He do the Policemen in Different Voices which is a reference to a Dickens novel) is a metaphor for the worth of modern culture.

“The Burial of the Dead” serves as the title of Eliot’s first section and is an allusion to the Book of Common Prayer, the prayer book of the Church of England — and several other biblical allusions. The second section of “The Burial of the Dead” shifts from the voice of the powerless Marie and becomes the voice of the narrator. The first twelve lines of this section include three Old Testament allusions, and the narrator finds himself in a summer drought that has transformed the land into a desert. He is referred to as the “Son of man,” a title common in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes applied to denote any man — i.e. son of man = human — but sometimes also used to single out a specific man, for example Ezekiel, who was called upon by God to warn Israel to repent of their idolatry. It is also a title used in the New Testament, notably by Jesus when referring to himself, speaking of his coming death and apocalyptic return, or when making prophetic predictions of judgment to come (e.g. Gospel of Mark 10:32-34, Gospel of Matthew 20:17-19; Gospel of Luke 18:31-34 and Mark 8:38-9:1, Matthew 16:27-28, Luke 9:26-27, etc.).

In Ezekiel, God finally tells the prophet that Israel will not change; therefore, their altars will be desolate, images broken, and their cities will lay in waste. In the book of Ecclesiastes, God warns the Jewish people that they should remember the days of their youth, for in their old age “fears shall be in the way” and “then shall the dust return to the earth as it was” (Authorized King James Version, Ezekiel 6:4, Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). One critic, Gish, analyzes these allusions by writing, “Dead land, broken images, fear and dust, all take on the significance of human failure” (50). After such a depressing sequence of events, the narrator is offered shelter under a mysterious “red rock” which is an allusion to Isaiah’s reference to the coming Messiah who will be “as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:2).