This page is meant to make you think, laugh, cry, get angry...etc. If it hits a nerve, maybe that nerve needs to be looked at a little closer. Have a great day!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Action for the Homeless

There are enough vacant houses in the nation to house all the people who don't have homes.  Why do we still have people in this country whose basic needs aren't met?

Check out this article about people who aren't willing to sit silently while our fellow human beings are treated unfairly.

I think it speaks for itself.  Feel free to leave your comments.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Facebook Is Now Tracking Your Phone Calls

I just got a notification that I can update my Facebook app on my phone.  I went to the update and, for once, read what the update is all about.  Here is what my update says under the "phone calls" section, which is the section to be updated:

"NEW: Read phone state and identity

Allows the application to access the phone features of the device. An application with this permission can determine the phone number and serial number of this phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like."

Here's my question: Why in the hell does Facebook need to track my phone calls?

Short answer: THEY DON'T.

There is absolutely no reason that Facebook would need to know who I am on the phone with.  No reason that Facebook needs to know the serial number for my phone.  No reason to detect if I am on the phone.  My phone number is an OPTIONAL thing to put in my profile.

I WILL NOT be allowing this update, or any future one I am sure.  If this makes it so that I can't use Facebook on my phone, so be it.  I have a computer and don't need to social network from my phone.

Here is how to find out if you installed this update(on an Android device):
Go to your PlayStore, hit your menu button, select "my apps", select Facebook, you should be able to view the permissions you have granted to the app.

I do not know how to view from an iPhone since I don't have one.  If you do, please post in the comments so iPhone users can check theirs.

Did you know about this?  Did you install the latest update?  Do you check your updates to see what permissions the app is asking for?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hippos United - Save Our Schools

This post was written my my hubby.  You can see the original post here.  You may remember my recent-ish post about our school system asking for your help.  Well, this is the progression so far:

A year and a half ago my wife and I decided to leave the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay Area. It had become so hard for a young family to make a life there. I have two daughters, now 10 and 6, and we wanted to find a place that would afford us better opportunity for security and stability.

A hippo statue covered with dragonfly designs, in Hutto Texas.
                                        One of many Hutto Hippos (Photo: Diane Turner / Flickr).

We moved to the charming city of Hutto, TX a year ago. Hutto is a small town of about 17,000 people located just north-northeast of Austin. We settled into a rented house in a subdivision full of young couples raising children, started making friends, and began our new life. We gladly donned the moniker of Hippo. Now, we get some funny looks from folks outside Hutto about that, so let me explain:

In 1915 a circus train stopped here in Hutto to take on passengers, mail, water and coal. While circus workers were tending to their animals a hippopotamus escaped from a railcar and lumbered over to Cottonwood Creek, near the rail line. The locals looked on and laughed while circus workers made multiple unsuccessful attempts to corral the hippo back to the train. A report was sent out by the Depot Agent to the local communities along the rail line in either direction: ‘STOP TRAINS, HIPPO LOOSE IN HUTTO’. The hippo was eventually prodded out of the muddy creek and back into the railcar and departed Hutto for good. It never left our hearts and minds, though. Soon after, the hippo became the official mascot of the Hutto School, and its image began showing up on school communications in 1923.
There are hippos everywhere you look in town, from business signage to statues on lawns and in front of businesses. Hutto’s citizens are all Hippos. Our children are Hippos. Being a Hippo is a proud tradition. Right now Hippos need help. From the beginning of the 2010 school year through the end of the 2012 school year the Hutto Independent School District (HISD) has cut a total of $4.3 million* from their maintenance and operations budget. This was prompted by State reductions in the public education budget. All department and campus budgets suffered a 10% cut. Veteran’s Hill Elementary was closed permanently, resulting in the loss of 70 jobs. Through these actions and reductions in energy consumption Hutto will be able to end the 2011-2012 school year (ends August 31st) with a very, very small budget surplus. The cuts aren’t over, though. The coming 2012-2013 school year will be subjected to another round of funding cuts from the state, as well as continued growth of the student population. An anticipated $1.2 million budget shortfall demanded action from our School Board.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Games

I got a message on my Facebook the other day.  It was one of those "do this and don't tell anyone cause it's just for women because it's about breast cancer awareness" messages.  I have a few problems with this.

1) MEN GET BREAST CANCER TOO- Yes, women are FAR more likely to get breast cancer then men are, but men can get it too.  Why in the hell would you exclude someone who could be at risk of a disease from awareness about the disease? Source.

2) JUST BECAUSE IT WORKED ONCE, DOESN'T MEAN IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN- Yes, one time people got on the news because they played the stupid color game or something like that on FB.  No, it will not happen again.  That ship has sailed.  Those 15 minutes are over. 

3) YOU ARE NOT SPREADING AWARENESS- If you are being super mysterious and putting code words up and then emailing your friends privately, how are you raising awareness?  What is this, some kind of secret society and only if you know the right people you get to be a part of the "awareness"?  Really?  How about doing something that actually raises awareness?  Go pass out pamphlets at the mall.  Make signs.  Get involved.  Which brings me to my last point.

4) EVEN THOUGH YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING, YOU'RE NOT- This is just a clever way to trick yourself into thinking you are actually helping.  You're not.  In fact, you're hurting.  The first time I got one of those messages, I read it and might even have played along.  After that, I have been thoroughly annoyed.  I'm not the only one.  I've seen a marked increase of people "leaving" those message threads.  You are not increasing awareness, you are increasing apathy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Vote Will Count

I hear a lot of people talking about the upcoming presidential election.  You know, who they are and are not going to vote for.  From what I hear, a lot of people don't want to vote for either main candidate, but feel like their vote is wasted if they don't.  I'm here to tell you that's not true.

To be honest, your vote really doesn't matter.  The way that the voting system was set up, you don't really make the decision on who is president.  The electoral college was put into place because the founders didn't want the people to make the wrong decision.  The electoral college is not bound by anything to vote the way their state did.  They usually do, but they don't have to.  Also, just to be clear, these people are anonymous so there really is no way to keep them accountable.  This is not a post about the outdated and unfair electoral college, though.

This post is about MY VOTE.  I have recently learned(through a couple of wonderful government classes this past semester) that a third party candidate can only receive public financing if the have received at least 5% of the country's vote in (I believe) at least 20 states.  Public financing makes a HUGE difference for third party candidates.  They have a very hard time raising money because most of them don't have the name recognition needed to find donors.  They don't get as many sponsors because we are essentially a two party country and no one thinks a third party candidate can win.

I voted for Obama in the 2008 election.  I was sucked in by his promises and fancy oration.  No more.  I refuse to listen to this man speak lie after lie.  He promised universal health care and then tried to pass something that would hurt more people that it would help.  He promised to end the war in Iraq and then only pulled most of our troops when they were threatened with prosecution for war crimes.  He promised to fix the economy and then gave the banks a ton more money to fuck over the American people with.  He killed innocent men, women, and children all over the world.  I will not vote for him again.

My vote will go to a third party candidate.  One who's positions I have researched.  One who's party platform I agree with.  One who needs that 5% so that they can have a chance in the next election.  This will take active research.  This will force me to take a more active role in my community and my country.  I am willing to do this.  I will Occupy The Vote in my own way.

I would like to encourage you to do the same thing.  You don't have to vote for one of the two main parties.  You don't have to vote for the lesser of two evils.  Your vote can count.
Blogging Scholarship
by YourLocalSecurity.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

Exploring The Legality Of Same Sex Marriage

There has been a lot of discussion lately about whether or not to allow gay marriage in the United States. In response to this debate, many states have passed constitutional amendments that redefine marriage as a union between a man and a woman, thereby excluding homosexuals from the right to marry. There are many arguments as to why people who are homosexual should not be allowed to marry and there are many arguments as to why they should. The problem that I have seen is that a lot, if not all, of these arguments are related to religion and morality. I have not seen many that address the actual legality of the issue. My question is this: why is there a debate about whether or not to allow homosexuals to marry? My goal is to explore why, given that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of The United States Of America says all people should be treated equal, there is even a question about the legality of gay marriage.
The most widely publicized case as of late is Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 came on the cusp of San Francisco's mayor granting marriage licenses to gay couples. Many people were upset by this. In response to San Francisco allowing gay marriage, some people drafted a measure that would amend the California Constitution to only allow marriage between one man and one woman. Proposition 8 was not lengthy like a lot of measures are. It was short and to the point of the people who wrote it. In California, anyone can put anything on the ballot. There are not many restrictions. Simply gain enough signatures and you can place something on the ballot for the people to vote on.
                           Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot by voters and stated simply:
                           “Section I. Title
                           This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage
                           Protection Act.
                           Section 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read:
                           Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
 I was living in California at the time that this proposition was on the ballot. The act was widely publicized as an educational protection1. Voters were told that if this proposition was not passed, schools would be forced to teach about and even promote being gay. Through my own research at the time, I remember finding that the idea that this proposition affected the educational system or curriculum stemmed from a previous proposition 8 that was about the educational system. I have been unable to duplicate this research at this time, but it seems, to me, that these two propositions were confused and intertwined in the 2008 elections. It is unclear whether or not this confusion was intentional, but Proposition 8 did pass.
Proposition 8 was immediately challenged by same sex couples who had been married during the time when the mayor of San Francisco had allowed same sex marriage. In Strauss v. Horton, the first few cases were brought to the Supreme Court in California. The California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, but allowed the previously granted marriages to stand based on what is called a grandfather clause(Strauss v. Horton). A grandfather clause says that actions before the ruling are still valid, and that the ruling will hold from the time of the decision forward.
California's Supreme Court Ruling on Proposition 8 was challenged in Perry v Schwarzenegger. In August of 2010, Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In his ruling Judge Vaughn Walker condemned the law stating, “Race
restrictions on marital partners were once common in most states but are now seen as archaic, shameful or even bizarre” (Perry v Schwarzenegger, pg 114). In saying this, he began the legal thought needed to, hopefully, eventually claim that homosexuals are part of a group that deserves special protections
because of past grievances committed against them. George Chauncy already agrees with this notion in his book, Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality.
Shortly after this ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker retired from the bench. When he retired, Judge Vaughn Walker came out to the nation and the world as a gay man2. Of course, Judge Vaughn Walker's decision was appealed. Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that since Judge Vaughn Walker is gay, he should have recused himself from the case. They pushed the notion that Judge Vaughn Walker had a vested interest in the ruling and, therefore, could not have made his decision from an unbiased position.
The appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker's decision is called Perry v. Brown because the governor of California changed. In his writing, Judge Reinhardt stated that there was no reason for the previous judge to recuse himself. The main issue in the Proposition 8 appeal, though, was whether or not California had a right to place this measure on the ballot in the first place. The question was regarding the legality of denying gays the right to marry their partners.
Judge Reinhardt, for the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in his writing of the majority opinion regarding the legality of Proposition 8, wrote, “We consider whether that amendment violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We conclude that it does” (Perry v. Brown, pg 4). Judge Reinhardt found that, at the very base of the issue, the practice of allowing the right to marry only to strait couples, was unconstitutional. The right to happiness is guaranteed in the Constitution. Denying certain people the right to marry based on their sexual orientation is unconstitutional because doing so denies people the right to pursue their own happiness.
Section one of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution states very clearly,
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens
of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”(Amendment 14,
Section 1, US Constitution). All people who live in this country legally are afforded the rights of citizens are should be treated as such. No state is allowed to make any laws that impede upon the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. This means that no state is allowed to make any law that counteracts any of the freedoms given by the Constitution of The United States of America.
Now, the Constitution does not specifically address the issue of gay marriage, but it does say, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”(Amendment 10, US Constitution). This means that any powers not specifically laid out to the central government, or reserved by the states, are granted to the people, including the right to marry. When you combine the text from the Fourteenth Amendment with the text from the Tenth Amendment you can clearly see that, according to the Constitution, there are no legal grounds to deny any right to any group of people.
Judge Reinhardt, in the same decision for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote:
                         Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen
                         the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to
                         officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of
                         opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for 'laws of
                         this sort' Romer v Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 633 (1996)3.
Judge Reinhardt basically said that there is no reason for Proposition 8 other than to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The Constitution of The United States of America does not condone or allow laws like this to be made in this country, even with the consent of the people. This case is, of
course, being brought to the Supreme Court for a final appeal.
More recently, or rather concurrently, there is the case of Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management. This case was filed after Karen Golinski tried to apply for medical benefits for her wife.
When her employer, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, denied her wife benefits Ms. Golinski filed a complaint against them. The employer cited the Defense Of Marriage Act as the justification for their decision. When their internal judge ruled that the employer could not deny benefits in this case, they outright refused to comply with the ruling. This blatant disrespect for their own in-house court's decision, and her rights as a US citizen, prompted Ms. Golinski to take the issue further.
On February 2, 2012, Judge Jeffery White found that the Defense of Marriage Act violated Ms. Golinski's Fifth Amendment right to equal protection under the law. In his decision, he wrote:
                           The Court finds that neither Congress' claimed legislative justifications nor any of
                           the proposed reasons proffered by BLAG constitute bases rationally related to any
                           of the alleged governmental interests. Further, after concluding that neither the law
                           nor the record can sustain any of the interests suggested, the Court, having tried on
                           its own, cannot conceive of any additional interests that DOMA might further4.
Judge Jeffery White found, in his court's review of the case and the justification(DOMA), there was not one piece of evidence that should allow Ms. Golinski's employer to deny her wife benefits. Furthermore, Judge White stated that DOMA itself has no justification for being law as it violates the Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Judge White's ruling, in my opinion, lays the groundwork and the constitutional framework to overturn DOMA at the national level.
I set out on this journey to find out why there is a question about the legality of gay marriage. What I have found is that there is none. All the evidence that I have been able to come up with refers to
DOMA for justification, however DOMA is in danger of being overturned because it violates the
United States Constitution. All the justification I have found for DOMA is grounded in the purposeful
spread of fear and ignorance and the infiltration of religion into our governmental decisions. The
justification for keeping gays and lesbians out of the institution of marriage seems to be purely religious. This country does not function to further religious enterprise. This country has a wall of separation between religion and government. Though we have allowed religion to play a vast part in government, at times, we have typically rectified those errors. I have faith that we will do so once again.
3 Perry v. Brown pg 5
4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act
 2008, California Marriage Protection Act, Section 2 Article 1
2008. What Is Prop 8. “http://www.whatisprop8.com/same-sex-marriage-will-be-taught-in-public-schools.html” 3/28/2012
2011. SF Weekly. “http://www.whatisprop8.com/same-sex-marriage-will-be-taught-in-public-schools.html” 3/28/2012
2012. Wikipedia. “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act” 3/28/2012
Chauncy, George. 2005. Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate Over Gay Equality, United States: Basic Books
The Constitution of The United States of America, Amendments to the Constitution, Article XIV
The Constitution of The United States of America, Amendments to the Constitution, Article X
Judge Vaughn Walker, Perry v Schwarzenegger, 2010
Strauss v. Horton, 2008
Sullivan, Andrew. 2004. Same Sex Marriage: Pro and Con, New York: Vintage Books
U.S. Congress, 1996, Defense of Marriage Act, 104th Congress, 2d session, H.R. 3396
United States Court of Appeals For The Ninth circuit, Perry v. Brown decision, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Didn't Sleep Last Night

I was up almost all night last night.  "Why?" you ask?  I asked myself the same question.  I mean, after all, I was laying in bed, comfortable, had my eyes closed, and still could not sleep.  I need to tell you that sleep does not elude me very often.  I would like to say that sleep does not elude me at all, but of course I can't since it did last night.

Why was I awake almost all night?  Why, every time I closed my eyes, did they snap open?  Why were there horrible images in my head that I couldn't control?  I'll tell you.  Because I watched a video yesterday.  I watched a video yesterday that I knew I shouldn't watch when I watched it.  I knew it would be the thing that haunts me forever. 

The video I watched that kept me up was a video of Fullerton police killing a man.  I watched a video where the very people I have always been told are there to protect the citizens of this country, killed a citizen of this country.  After the incident he was in the hospital for 5 days before his family had to make the decision to pull the plug, but he never regained consciousness.  Make no mistake, they killed him.  His name was Kelly Thomas.

People will say that he resisted arrest.  Yes, yes he did.  He was flippant about putting his legs out in front of him and his hands on his knees.  People will say that he was on something(why wouldn't they?  The cops in the video said it).  No, no he wasn't.  The tox screen came out and the man was free of all drugs.  The call they responded to was a "loitering in public" call.  He had not been violent.  He had not bothered anyone.  He was simply sitting on a bench after the curfew.

The police officer to first engage Kelly Thomas threatened him with bodily harm.  The police officer that first engaged Kelly Thomas balled up his fist and said, "Do you see my fist?  I'm about to fuck you up with it."  You can hear it on the recording.  Then, the police officer to first engage Kelly Thomas hit him in the back of the head.  Only then did Kelly Thomas stand up and truly defy orders.

Now, stop right there because as far as I am concerned, as soon as that police officer threatened Kelly Thomas with bodily harm he lost his standing as a police officer.  He became just like any other guy on the street.  He just happened to be wearing a uniform and a badge and a gun.

The first two officers wrestled Kelly Thomas to the ground.  Two more officers responded.  They joined the first two on the ground, on top of Kelly Thomas.  Then two more showed up and did the same thing.  During this time, they were almost all yelling commands at him.  Telling him to put his hands behind his back, tazing him and hitting him in the head when he didn't comply.  Let me ask you this: If you have 6 full grown men on top of you, can you move your arm?  I know I wouldn't be able to.

One officer was giving commands while tazing Kelly Thomas.  Those tazers are designed to incapacitate you.  Can you follow orders with electricity running through your body?  I wouldn't be able to.

They didn't notice when Kelly Thomas lost his ability to think rationally.  No one noticed when Kelly Thomas began yelling for his daddy to help him.

No one noticed all the blood on the pavement that was coming from his head and face.

No one noticed when his voice changed because he was bleeding out.

No one noticed that they were killing him.

That is why I couldn't sleep last night.  Because I watched the Fullerton Police kill Kelly Thomas.