I'm not a huge fan of Glenn Beck, but I really appreciated this discussion about the Common Core. The Common Core will dictate what every student in the United States should know at the end of each grade from Kindergarten through 12th grade. In this YouTube segment, it is implied that Bill Gates (Microsoft), Yahoo, and Google are dumping millions of dollars into funding for the Common Core Initiative so that students will be educated in the ways of working for Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and the like.
Students, under the direction of teachers who have been taught everything they need to know to prepare students for work in technology related fields, will be funneled into huge corporations as employees that push power to the higher ranks. This will ensure that competition in the form of new upstarts will cease, and these already powerful corporations will become more powerful, and are guaranteed that power for years to come.
This scares the hell out of me. Topics like this have been written about by authors for centuries, and the books they produce have been labeled as dystopian fiction. This isn't fictional, this is real. Welcome to the United Corporations of America.
Further reading: Common Core Initiative Page, Wikipedia Common Core Page
The following are the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards (the ones I care about) announced by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, on Thursday. For some strange reason, she was joined by "Hunger Games" actor Chris Hemsworth. Weird. I wonder who he had to screw to get that spot... Anyway, The Academy Awards will air live on ABC on March 2, starting at 7 p.m. ET. Share your picks in the comments.
CNN Coverage | Official Oscar Site
"People can do heroin for 10, 20, 30 years and then they get 5-12 days of treatment...that is inhumane." ―Chris Herren
I do agree that treatment of addiction in America is severely lacking. It's mostly the result of the misplacement of the responsibility governing models and standards of treatment into the hands of people who don't understand addiction. Into the hands of people who think that addiction can be swept under the rug, and the responsibility of government and the health care industry fulfilled by shuffling addicts into week or two-week long inpatient treatment centers, followed by a few weeks of outpatient therapy.
The result has been that the addict goes in and out of treatment facilities, and eventually learns how to manipulate the system well enough to extend their drug career and their lives well past the average life expectancy of a street junkie. The system is broken.
I was lucky enough to find a treatment plan that worked for me, having now been sober for almost two years. I have a treatment team that was able to address not only the addiction, but the mental health aspect of my addict brain. People often use drugs as a means to self-medicate underlying mental health problems that are sometimes temporary, but most often permanent.
I haven't seen this film yet, but the research I have done has lead me to believe that it will address these issues and more. It's about time a film like this was made. I'm really excited to see it.
Related website: Many Faces One Voice & The Anonymous People
Last night, I was watching documentaries on Netflix with my boyfriend Corey. One of them was called "Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream," which features clips of Ayn Rand speaking about her vision of Laissez Faire Capitalism. This brought me into research mode, wanting to find out a little more about the Ayn Rand Institute. I have loved Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" for years, but I never knew that ARI was a political powerhouse. On my quest, I came across an article George Saunders had written for the New Yorker called "I Was Ayn Rand's Lover."
I had known about Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden from reading her many biographies, in particular "The Passion of Ayn Rand." It creeped me out quite a bit back then, but now to see that she prowled on more than one innocent young man left me with a sour taste. If you know Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism, you wouldn't be too surprised that Nathaniel Branden was a target on her radar. To hear Saunders recount his having essentially been "raped" by her was a little off-putting to say the least, but his developing jealousy over Ayn having set her eyes on a young Paul Ryan disturbed me. It wasn't his feelings of jealousy that disturbed me, rather her voracious appetite for bedding young men in late puberty is what was particularly disturbing.
So, we now know of three men in their late teens who were successfully pursued by Ayn Rand. There are probably plenty more, but my interest stops there. Seeing Paul Ryan run wild with Ayn's version of Laissez Faire Capitalism as it pertains to our present day economy was like being punched in the gut by Ayn Rand herself. All of her theories sound good as just that -- a theory, but when put into practice as Paul Ryan has done as a congressman, they are truly frightening. I don't know what plagues me more: the affairs with young boys, or being disillusioned by Paul Ryan's crazy plans for American prosperity.
To understand what I'm talking about, you'll have to do a little research. Most of it can be done by watching the "Park Avenue" documentary, reading "Atlas Shrugged," "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (also a film), and then reading George Saunder's New Yorker piece (which is very well-written, I might add). It amounts to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, I'll bet, because that's what I'm feeling right now. It can all be summed up in one word: UGH!
Watch the entire "Park Avenue" documentary:
Barbara Branden (Nathaniel Branden's wife) on The Passion of Ayn Rand:
Angelo Merendino Documents His Wife's Fight with Cancer
My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer
by Angelo Merendino
The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”
A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”
Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫
Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”
With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls.
Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us.
Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.
“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino
Published on Mar 30, 2013
The thing Jen loved the most about my camera was when I would hold it at arm's length and make a photo of the two of us. This video is a collection of some of these photographs. Since Jen passed passed from breast cancer, in December of 2011, I have looked at these photographs a countless amount of times. I still struggle to believe that Jen is not here with me. A few years ago I was the drummer in a band called Jonka, a group started by husband and wife duo Jon and Annika. Of all the bands I played in this was Jen's favorite, she loved Jon's quirkiness and Annika's beautiful voice. Aside from the catchy 80's pop hooks and dance beats, Jonka's lyrics make me think. The song in this video, Ever After, could easily have been written for Jen and me and it has become my anthem over the last few months.
1 in 88 children have Autism, but Derek Roach is one in a million!
"More than 15,000 people participated in Philadelphia on November 2nd at Citizens Bank Park in what turned out to be a beautiful fall day. CBS 3 Evening News Anchors, Chris May and Jessica Dean, emceed a great event that featured longtime Autism advocate and Philadelphia City Councilman Dennis O’Brien, Nina Wall-Cote, the Director of the Bureau of Autism Services, Miss Pennsylvania, Jessica Billings, and of course the Phillie Phanatic. Families and friends from across the Philadelphia region enjoyed a day full of moon bounces, face painting, character photos, dancing and more at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies in South Philadelphia.
To date, the event raised more than $610,000 in support of Autism Speaks’ mission to fund research, increase awareness and family services and advocate for individuals with autism and their families."
After putting on our Team Derek t-shirts, and getting our faces painted with Autism awareness puzzle pieces, we set out on a walk around Citizens Bank Park with people on the sidelines cheering us on.
Wawa was on hand to energize the crowd with coffee and doughnuts, and several news anchors were there to say a few inspirational words. Derek, the little super hero in the picture to the right, was the biggest inspiration. He has such a wonderful personality, and is wise beyond his years. Liz and Terry, Derek's parents, were taken aback by the enormity of the crowd and the number of different team t-shirts. There were hundreds of different t-shirts designed to support each team, and the love and care put into them brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
The purpose of this walk wasn't to find a cure, but to raise funds for awareness and research for this fairly new diagnosis. There shouldn't be any kind of stigma attached to Autism, and the children who are diagnosed are proof of that: amazingly intelligent and unique individuals who are unaware that they're different from anyone else.
You may continue to donate to Autism Speaks on behalf of Derek on my official donation page: Donation Page of Nicholas Emeigh for Team Derek. I know that when he's old enough, Derek will appreciate it!
Photos of Team Derek at the 2013 Philadelphia Autism Speaks Walk
CBS Philly's Coverage of the Event
Autism Speaks to Washington
The "Greatest Love of All"
Shane and Tom had a love that I am envious of. Both come from small towns with closed minded townspeople, and both have a similar history of being closeted gay men before coming out and embracing their sexuality. When they found each other, they began a love story that ended in tragedy. Bridegroom - The Movie documents their adventures together, spreading love and a message of hope to all those who felt their sexuality was wrong. What happens in the end is truly unfair, but the way Shane handles the situation is inspiring. Everyone, not just gay people, should watch this movie.
From the Bridegroom movie website:
"BRIDEGROOM is a documentary directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship — a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will.
Don't Fear the Diagnosis
"1 week before the autism walk, my little buddy got an official PDD-NOS diagnosis. We all knew it was coming, and it's what we expected, but it has still been rough. I'm trying to look on the bright side of things because of all the possibilities and services and therapies that have opened up to him because he's on the spectrum. Derek is still Derek to me and I won't love him any less regardless of what's in his medical chart. He is still the sweet snuggly goofball that wears a cape 24/7 and loves to 'thpin' in the computer chair." —Liz Rouse, the blessed mommy of an Autistic child
✉ E-mail me with any questions, donations, or kind words. Everything will go directly to Liz and Derek.
Alonzo Clemons was born with many gifts, but society only saw his shortcomings. Mr. Clemons was institutionalized and deemed "bad" or "evil" by people who didn't even know him. This video shows a gifted artist who admits he has to work much harder than most to live a simple life.
This video shows us that we must not herd all challenged individuals into an institution, thinking it's what's best for them. Alonzo is proof that anyone can live the American Dream if they are willing to work for it, and not everyone who needs help is "bad," "damaged," or "evil."
> See the artistic talent of Alonzo Clemons on his website. <
Do you know what N.A.R.T.H. stands for? It stands for National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality, also known as an organization that tries to cure gay people of their gayness.
When will people realize that being gay is something you're born with? The man in the picture, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, is a medical doctor practicing in therapy for "ex-gay" patients. For the filming of the video to follow, they were unable to contact any of Dr. Nicolosi's patients who had been successfully "cured," but did speak with one man who was gay and proud.
To think the practice of "curing" homosexuality exists is frightening. On the dawn of gay marriage being legalized almost nation-wide, the archaic thinking required of heterosexuals to believe that homosexuality can be treated is congruent to thinking someone can be cured of their heterosexuality. Please take a look at the video below, and spread the word. This type of treatment should be put to a stop. The fact that it hasn't means there's a market for it, which means that there are lost homosexuals out there who have been taught to believe that they are wrong for feeling the way they do. That has got to be a painful existence.
Award-Winning Journalist and Commentator Bill Moyers gets right to the heart of what the shutdown and debt ceiling threats are all about. He's right on, and it's very scary. Will the republicans really let us default? Is this the end of democracy? Should we all leave the country and emigrate to Canada? I'm seriously thinking about it, and thank God I'm a Democrat. Here's what Bill Moyers says in the "about" section of the video on YouTube, video to follow:
"This week's government shutdown has consequences for all of us, costing an estimated $300 million each day that the government is closed for business. Many Americans have voiced their frustrations with the fallout from the shutdown on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hash tag #DearCongress. Here, Bill Moyers shares his own frustrations, admonishing the Republican Party for holding the country hostage via an irrational "ransom list" of demands — while sabotaging democracy in the process. "When the President refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum," Bill says. "Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship." He goes on to tell us where the "reckless ambition" of the Republicans could lead us."
Listen, I understand the importance of the government shutdown and the roll-out of Obama Care, but that feeling of urgency is secondary to the most important things in my life. I have been blessed with the most amazing friends, family, therapist, and doctors a person could ever have. While I know it is imperative that we settle this impasse in government funding of the Affordable Care Act, I have a treatment team which includes my amazing therapist Nancy, who I can depend on to take good care of me despite the government being shuttered and all the problems surrounding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.
My therapist would never let me go without care, neither would my doctors, friends, or family. I don't depend on the government to take care of me. I depend on my support system. I just feel so sorry for those Americans who have no one to depend on to take care of them should their health insurance or assistance be interrupted because of the government hullabaloo. I feel even sorrier for those people who have no one to advocate for them, ensuring they receive continued treatment--the best treatment for them--come hell or high water. It is so unfortunate that those people happen to be the most vulnerable: the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill, the addicts, and the minorities.
Many would argue that they work long and hard to receive the health care that they have, but they are the ones who have it and never use it except for the routine check-up. My best advice for those in need of care, in any capacity, is to seek out community assistance and treatment. Most counties, and definitely those in Pennsylvania, have set aside funds to help members of their community in need of treatment and medical assistance. Community or county assistance is among the best resources in the country because they are invested in making sure that members of their immediate communities are well taken care of. Local constituents may also be of help, because they, just like the county, want to ensure that their communities aren't plagued by vagrants and crime. Safe, clean communities ensure these constituents will be re-elected time and time again.
Please, please e-mail me if you need help. I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and would be more than happy to help anyone local to me. Even if you aren't local, I'll help you as much as I can by doing research, making calls, or whatever else you may need. I want to help you just like I was helped when I was in need. I lay awake at night thinking of all the people in the world who die on the streets or alone in their homes because they have no one to care about them. I am here to tell you that I care. If you have a loved one that you'd like to help, but don't know where to begin, let me know. You have my word that I will do anything and everything I can to help. No matter who you are.
I love this letter, and can absolutely forgive the misspellings, grammar and punctuation mistakes because this grandfather is an inspiration to all men everywhere. It just gives me this good feeling that the country and its ideals are moving in the right direction. Here's my favorite part:
"The only intelligent thing I heard you saying in all this was that "you didn't raise your son to be gay." Of course you didn't. He was born this way and didn't choose it any more than he being left-handed. You, however, have made a choice of being hurtful, narrow-minded, and backward. So, while we are in the business of disowning our children, I think I'll take this moment to say goodbye to you. I now have a fabulous (as the gays put it) grandson to raise, and I don't have time for a heart-less B-word of a daughter."
How can you top that? He actually wrote that he has "a fabulous grandson to raise." My heart melted, and I laughed out loud at the same time. I can just imagine my dad saying something like that. If only he would. Grandson, if you're reading this, you are the luckiest guy on earth to have a grandfather as cool and supportive as he is. I'm jealous.
I was talking with my dad this afternoon about Obama Care, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, and in talking, we both realized we know little to nothing about how this HUGE reform is going to affect us. I was really curious so I began researching and came across this cute little cartoon that very simply explains how everything in the Act pertains to each person in American society: the employee, the retiree, the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. It's very straight forward, and very effective in explaining the Affordable Care Act so that anyone can understand it.
Here is the link to the official HealthCare.gov website, and you can go here to see how and when changes will take effect in your home state. I understand it's an issue that's in hot debate, but if we don't get ready for it, as they say in the video, we'll be left out in the cold. I hope this helps. Here's the video:
A struggling mother of twins asked her kids to write their Christmas lists early so she could scrimp and save enough money to buy them what they really wanted. She was shocked and touched by the letter her 8-year-old son Ryan wrote to Santa Claus.
He told Santa that he had wanted a few toys and electronics, but that he had changed his mind. His twin sister, Amber, had been the target of bullying for some time now. Attacks on her weight, appearance, and disabilities were too much for her to bear, and she told her mom that she wished she would die to escape the torment. As her twin, Ryan shared Amber's distress in a way that only twins can.
I've included the video here for you to watch, so I won't spoil it for you by commenting further. Just know that it is truly inspiring, touching, and worth spending 6 minutes on. Enjoy.
Toni Morrison's Work "The Bluest Eye" is Called Pornographic by Ohio Board of Education President Debe Terhar
"Toni Morrison’s debut novel The Bluest Eye is a widely acknowledged masterpiece. Its literary reputation, however, has done little to placate wannabe censors who have tried to discredit and even ban the book from schools, citing depictions of incest and child molestation as “pornographic” and “totally inappropriate” for students.
Click here to send a petition letter to Debe Terhar and Mark Smith of The Ohio Board of Education, and the ACLU. This is the best and easiest way to let your voice be heard. Don't let great works of literature be banned from the classroom. These works are invaluable, and students are being robbed of the exposure to these works. Fight against it by sending your message to the people who matter.
UPDATE 09/27/13: Toni Morrison won! "The Bluest Eye" will stay on the curriculum! Read more here.
"Imagine using the biggest speech of your life to talk about your deepest inner struggles. That's exactly what the soldier here does as he's given the Medal of Honor."
How courageous is Ty Carter? I struggle with PTSD myself, and I know it's not easy to talk about. My trauma is similar to Ty's in that they stem from watching a loved one die in an awful way. So, I can appreciate what courage it took to not only admit it, but to so eloquently describe his trauma so that others living with PTSD know they're not alone is heroic. He is a two time hero in my book. Thanks, Ty Carter.
What is PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Well, the National Library of Medicine defines it very simply as "a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you have gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death." I can assure you it's much more complex than that. The disorder involves reliving the traumatic event in detail over and over, especially at night or when you're trying to relax. It is a vision that consumes you so wholly that you sometimes feel that it's really happening all over again, and all the while you're terrified that it will happen again in the future under different circumstances. It involves paralyzing fear while enduring vivid hallucinations of the event, sometimes rendering us either almost comatose or actively participating in the hallucination of the traumatic event to the horror of those around us. Suicidal thoughts and ideations are common, but we all live life just like anyone without PTSD, and we hide it well to the public.
If someone you love has PTSD, The National Center for PTSD has advice here. Gently asking the victim how they're feeling about the trauma and if they'd like to talk about it, on a regular basis, is so helpful. Therapy is best, though. The National Center for PTSD can be very helpful, but seeking regional resources might be the best route to take if you need to help a loved one with PTSD into treatment. Treatment saved my life.
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