Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson, and Homosexuality: The Bigger Picture

Image via AP
What happened to Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Roberson isn't a First Amendment issue. It is an issue between him and his employer, A&E.

As anyone would know, I am an ardent defender of the First Amendment in its most broadest of interpretations. Any speech that is stifled for whatever reason is dangerous for all of us. That's why I have no problem with Robertson saying how he feels. He has that right and I dare anyone to take that away from him, because even though I may not agree with what he says, I will defend his right to say it--as I have numerous times before.

It is clear to remember that nobody was stifling Robertson's First Amendment rights. For a refresher, it reads: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Robertson works for a private company. They have policies in place, like any employer, they dictate conduct.

A&E is not Congress.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Westboro Baptist Christians are America's Best Christians

Source: (Americasroof)
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; blood shall be upon them.”

This is the common passage thrown about by some within the Christian community to justify their stance against homosexuality and gay marriage in America.

One group within that community, the Westboro Baptist Church, considered more of a cult than actual church, parades the passage around to funerals around the country, blaming the plights of America on the existence homosexuals.

The Westboro Baptist Church is the crazy uncle of the Christian community – the family member you avoid making eye contact with at Thanksgiving for fear of a long lecture about things no one really cares about anymore.

Christians try to distance themselves from that church, saying that they are not true Christians. But the Westboro Baptist Church is in actuality the face of good Christians in America.

There is a misconception amongst Christians that the words of Jesus and the word of the Bible are one in the same. They are not.

Read the rest and join the conversation at The Eastern Echo.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LED vs. LCD - What to buy?

Source: LGEPR
Choosing the TV that is right for you is hard. Staring blankly at a wall of TV acronyms as your corneas burn while you strain to see the minutest of differences between picture qualities to ensure you get the best of the best is exhausting. However, there is more to picking the right TV than just how it looks. You have to remember that how a TV looks in a store will be completely different from how it looks in your home, picture quality and all.  Even Best Buy’s cozy little TV paradise in the back of most of its stores isn’t a clear representation of what you will get when you get the TV home and set up.

Currently, there are two major contenders in the TV marketplace: LCD and LED. While marketed as two differing TVs to the consumer, in reality a LED TV is just another type of LCD unit. Going forward throughout this piece for clarity, they will be called LCD and LED respectively.

LCD, and subsequently LED TVs are unique machines. They are composed of two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. Within each pixel are three sub-pixels fitted with a blue, green, or a red color filter. To create a wide range of colors, varying voltages of electricity pass through each sub-pixel. These voltages adjust each sub-pixel intensity, and consequently the color intensity as well. This way, blue, green, and red light blend together in various intensities to produce a broad array of colors that then produce a picture.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Militarization of police costly in time, money and lives

There is an epidemic spreading across America today. It has lead to senseless killings and fear mongering in ways that would keep George Orwell up at night cowering beneath his bed sheets.

There is a proliferation of military-grade weaponry and tactics seeping throughout state and local police forces and SWAT teams – all in the name of security in the post 9/11 world. In an effort to combat “terrorism,” the police are arming themselves with weapons more at home in a war zone – bazookas, armored vehicles and even attack helicopters are finding their way into police arsenals.

These heavily militarized SWAT teams are conducting raids on simple drug offenders, minor criminals and others accused of petty offenses.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No More War

America, as a country, is exhausted by war. And not just the boots-on-the-ground type — a phrase I loathe and will explain why later – but everything about it: the rhetoric, the fear mongering, the clear ignorance to the will of the American people.

We are tired of it all.

President Obama said in his speech Tuesday night, “Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong.”

Yes, Mr. President, terrible things do happen across the globe, but terrible things happen here as well. Our country is in the middle of sequestration, a governmental tightening of the belt, and just the notion of spending untold millions to slap Syrian President Bashar al-Assad across the wrist is kicking the American people while they are already down.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Digital footprints may embarass or worse: US privacy and technology laws could land practically anyone in jail

Flickr, Casey Konstantín
We’ve all done questionably illegal things in our lives (allegedly), whether partaking in recreational drug use in college, sipping on alcohol in our parents’ basements well before reaching the legal drinking age, or other dubious acts we feel best left tucked away.

Whether in admittance or not, sometimes we leave digital footprints behind of these activities. Facebook messages, phone records, photos, tweets, texts, and immature YouTube videos can be collected, stored, mined in a database, and searched at the government’s convenience.

Though our activities may not be illegal, they most certainly can be embarrassing and, if left unchecked in the vastness of the Internet, can tarnish a reputation.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The death of religion in America

I was going to write today about the recent letters proclaiming America as a Judeo-Christian nation and the false notion the Founding Fathers Bible thumped their way to independence against a religiously oppressive monarchy with the hopes of establishing a religiously oppressive democracy.

Yeah, like that’s what they wanted.

With non-belief rising in America, and elsewhere in the developed world, religious indoctrination will have to give way to such things as secular humanism, atheists and atheism, the acceptance of homosexuals and their lifestyles, and treating women as equals, especially when pertaining to their reproductive rights.

Friday, June 21, 2013

From PRISM to Prison: How America's surveillance state can land you in jail

As the PRISM scandal continues to unravel with new pieces of information being leaked, it is clear that there is a surveillance issue in America today. We’re led to believe that the prying into the lives of Americans is all in the name of national security—a noble and just cause. Yet, with inadequate and possibly negligent oversight by the FISA court, according to The Guardian, who is to say the program is under control?

Its defenders say that only metadata is being collected while the implicated Internet companies are denying involvement with sly words and an ounce of consumer trust.

Regardless of what information the government is collecting on its citizens, the idea that one’s privacy can so easily be breeched is haunting. It is warrantless, with no oversight other than a rampant executive branch. PRISM alone can be quite unsettling; there are other avenues the government can use to prosecute anyone they want.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

We are living in a surveillance state

From the Verizon scandal a few days ago to new reports stating of massive Internet surveillance by the US government, can American’s be assured that any shreds of remaining privacy be salvaged?

In a program called PRISM, the NSA reportedly has access to the servers of sites like, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Apple (all of which are currently denying any knowledge or involvement with the PRISM program. In a presentation, which can be seen here, PRISM is said to give the NSA access to email, video and voice chat, photos, secure data, file transfers and more.

NBC News (via The Verge) is adding to the conversation with a report saying the NSA has been extensively collecting the phone calls of every American for the last seven years.

From the trends on Twitter, this will not go away quietly.

This, of course, brings us to a junction in American politics. There are many questions that need asked and the need for many more answers. We cannot let this injustice and invasion of privacy go unchallenged today.  Regardless of the answers given by the government about the success of the surveillance program, without proper transparency and explanation, the American people will continue to distrust Washington.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NSA is collecting your phone calls

As it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone, The Guardian from across the pond has revealed the NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans. Of course, no thanks to The New York Times.

While the information collected does not contain the contents of the call, location data, phone numbers, and other telephone metadata are being collected and stored.

It’s not clear if this is limited to Verizon, or if other mobile carriers in the US have been subjected to such intrusions in personal privacy—something the courts continue to erode away.

This will reignite the conversation on governmental intrusion on privacy in America. Without warrant, the government continues to collect and store information about its citizens for reasons shielded by blanket terms of tyranny. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Banned!

“Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”
― Mark Twain




Censorship.

I came across an article on The Friendly Atheist about Glen Ellyn School District 41 and its ban on The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

A handful of parents have raised concerns that the material covered in the book to be too mature for 8th grade students. Thinking that homosexuality, rape, and sex are absent themes from teenagers is myopic--parents cannot continue to live in a fantasy land.

Parenting and being a parent are not one in the same. To think that a book that covers unconventional topics be eliminated from the hands of those who need it because a parent finds the material distasteful is by no means a logical reason for its removal.

What's most discerning is that there is still a push to ban books that a handful find obscene or distasteful. In today's age of instant gratification of any bit of media one desires, to think a book tackling issues teens deal with on a daily base is in the crosshairs shows how far we still have to go before speech is truly free.

“History proves there is no better advertisement for a book than to condemn it for obscenity.” ― Holbrook Jackson

I hope this happens with the students of Glen Ellyn School District 41.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gender Portrayals in the Media


Like all good spats these days, this one started on social media. Though social media has given us a great ability to communicate ideas to people we never would have encountered otherwise—ignorance and the Internet do go hand-in-hand.

The issue arose from the video below:



The video is right in that the portrayal of women in the media is not entirely positive—and marketing does have a hold on the conversation of “what is gender?”

The issue of misrepresentation of men is there as well, and that is a growing issue. It was briefly touched on in the trailer (full disclosure; I have not seen the entirety of the film. I’m currently seeking out a copy).  But to understand the issue, one does not need the video.

Movies like Magic Mike and the Twilight series (OMG Taylor Lautner/Robert Pattinson is so HOTT!) show that there is a similarity between the dichotomy of male and female audiences feel about how their genders are portrayed, whether it is TV, movies, music, books, or elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Same-sex marriage will previal


This is a Daily Telegram response to this letter. Here is the published letter.

To the editor,

In response to Ken Nichols’ letter Mar. 24 in The Daily Telegram:

My, oh my, what bigotry do we have here? As an American Mr. Nichols can preach, pray and believe in whatever fairy tale he chooses to dictate the sick morality of his life, but to push his perceived supreme belief and lifestyle onto others in a country founded upon religious freedom simply disgusts me.

What surprises me about his argument is his assumption that being American and being Christian are synonymous — they aren’t and thinking so is just narrow minded and, in actuality, faux nationalism. “Christians” transform into “us” as his argument continues and befuddles the Christian religion like a cheap buffet, picking and choosing the delicious juicy bits — though delicious and juicy are subjective.