Friday, January 29, 2016

" We must examine our conscience when we allow animals to suffer."

"The man who kills the animals today is the man who kills the people who gets in his way tomorrow."- Dian Fossey, American scientist, anthropologist

        The owners of a Hoke Country, North Carolina no-kill animal shelter will face multiple animal cruelty charges. On Wednesday, January 27th a search warrant was served on Havens-Friends for Life following numerous public complaints. Linden Spear, 59 and Stephen Joseph Spear, 67 have been under investigation since reports of animal neglect by local visitors and other agencies began to surface. Details ranged from open wounds, malnutrition and lack of food or drinking water. The shelter housed over 600 animals  270 dogs, 250 cats, 40 horses and pigs making this one of the largest rescue operations in ASPCA history. The outdoor shelter had no protection from snow or rain where animals were left to roam outside or forced to live in filthy overcrowded wire cages. Many animals were suffering from upper respiratory distress and starvation. The entire ASPCA rescue mission video can be seen here at their official website.

     As an animal lover allowing animals to needlessly suffer is incomprehensible when all of us have an obligation to protect our domesticated pets as well as those in the wild. Neglect is just as much a part of animal cruelty as violent abuse. Neglect is knowingly allowing an animal to die slowly from starvation, exposure or disease. As human beings we need to enact more measures to control the pet population with spaying and neutering programs and eliminating puppy mills forever. Euthanasia isn't something animal shelters want to perform but given the alternative which is life locked in cages or constant physical suffering we need to choose what's best for an animal. Neglect, starvation, leaving pets outside to freeze and other forms of cruel abuse is a slow, agonizing, painful death for any animal. As a society with the means to do so, we have to do better.

Monday, January 25, 2016

" Our constitutional right without restriction."

"Voting is like alchemy- taking an abstract value and breathing life into it."
- Sharon Salzberg, American author

                    Voter suppression.- if  some state governments can't find a way to eliminate rights they will find a way to make exercising your rights more difficult.  Take for example the 288 restrictions created by lawmakers from 2011 to 2015 imposing greater hardship on a women's right to a safe and legal abortion. Roe v. Wade ensures protection of a woman's legal right to control her own reproduction. It's a  human right that  many conservative lawmakers want to restrict so much it has become an emotional and economic burden for the majority of women. In Texas lawmakers have devised so many restrictions some woman may be forced to drive over 300 miles or be required to wait days in order to receive medical attention to exercise their legal right. Economic and emotional hardship is almost no right at all, as lawmakers intended. See research and statistics here :(

              The right to vote in the United States is the most fundamental right we have guaranteed by our constitution. Those eligible to vote should have every barrier removed in order for their voice to be heard and counted yet once again restrictions are being placed on many citizens based on their state, district and skin color. State leaders are needlessly imposing restrictions on citizens voting rights with over 30 states adding roadblocks to the polls. At one time the state of North Carolina  making headlines again for questionable voter restrictions had one of the lowest voter turn out rates in the country. In just a few years after civil rights groups expanded measures such as same-day registration and provisional ballots for African-American and Latino voters the turn out peaked at 68% in 2012.

     The Voting Rights Act which is discussed in the video above (courtesy YouTube, Young Turks) complicates matters especially since federal approval isn't needed before states enact more obstacles for voters. Not all state lawmakers want to suppress or impede voters by any means. In fact many state and federal representatives are constantly fighting for the protection of our voting rights. Be sure to research your state and find out what you can do to make voting as uncomplicated and convenient as it should be for every single eligible US citizen.

      Check information regarding your state:
      Residents of Ohio :

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body."

"No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body."- Margaret Sanger, activist , nurse, writer.

                 Out of 534 members of the United States Congress only 104 are women. In the United States there is a 1 to 1 ratio of men to women. The majority of laws regarding women's reproductive health care are written by men. Can we proudly call ourselves the " land of the free and the home of brave " when half of the populations rights are constantly under attack? When women emphatically state there is a  "war on women" in this country it's the truth and men need to listen. As citizens we all need to understand  there are some conservative state representatives and law makers in Washington DC trying to deny  or restrict a women's right to control her own body. Mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends and wives economic future and right to privacy are being eroded by a group of men who have never experienced tampons and pads taxed as a luxury item, a menstrual cycle, birth control pills, pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion which is legal in every state. Imagine if women had the right to restrict a man's right to food, masturbation or sex?  There would be protests and rioting in the streets. Birth control would be free and over the counter at every local convenience store. But women continue to face increasingly restrictive legislation by men who will never experience what a women experiences with her own body. Land of the free and home of the brave? "No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body"- Margaret Sanger. Why do women have to keep fighting against men to keep their own reproductive rights?
             The most important measures women can take for themselves and other women is ensuring they vote. Make sure every women you know votes. Vote to empower our sister's, mothers, girlfriends and daughters now and in the future. Encourage men to support women by voting for representative's who help not hurt women emotionally, medically, socially and economically which in turn hurts us all.  Vote for strong representatives who will take a stand and fight to protect women's reproductive rights. Find out how your state representatives are voting on key legislation. Many men and women in the US aren't paying attention to what law makers are doing until it's too late. Below are links to a few outstanding organizations who help protect, educate and serve women, men and children in the United States and around the world.

Center for Reproductive Rights


Lady Parts Justice

Planned Parenthood

Emily's List


Saturday, January 16, 2016

"The things that matter."

 "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."
- Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

            As a  public elementary school fourth grader the thought never entered my head that I should  hate, change or disrespect my best friend Jane Ann because she attended one of the four Catholic schools in our small Northeastern Ohio town. Our neighborhood playmates occasionally teased her about high knee socks, drab uniforms, abusive nun stories, rosaries and the intimidating portrait of Jesus hanging above her bed. We had yet to be exposed to intentional contempt. Along with a dozen or so children on our block we rode our bikes, played street football and acted out scenes from the musical Grease on backyard picnic tables. The only thing we argued about was who would play Danny or Sandy next. We were different sizes, colors and shapes but we didn't care.
           Years later Jane Ann moved to another city. Adolescence slowly matured to teenager. Right in the middle of a semester a young man from a local Catholic school transferred to our public junior high. He was bullied for being gay. Even his teachers reminded him he was going to hell. Heaven and Hell was and still is a foreign concept to me. In my mind he wasn't a sinner who would spend eternity in a fiery pit of torturous demons. He was a young kid like any young kid except he was getting the shit kicked out of him for being "different".  I was a quiet, diplomatic introvert who tried to get along with everyone. He was loud, straight forward, creative and made me laugh so immediately I adored him. We listened to the same music. We loved art, animals and movies. We wrote silly, slutty notes to each other in study hall. We were band geeks. We were best friends.
      During high school some students continued to taunt him but he knew who had his back. One of our teachers felt ridiculed after my friend challenged him on the answer to an open question. The class was really enjoying the exchange. Both sides offered up valid commentary. We were captivated by the thoughtful ideas flying back and forth like an intense intellectual ping pong match. The debate became so heated our teacher completely lost his composure screaming, "Go to hell you smart ass little faggot." in front of the entire class. Frozen in time, our collective gasp. My friend grabbed his book bag, walked out into the hallway and waited for me until the bell rang. Without a word, side by side we walked to the office where my friend asked the secretary's permission to use the phone. He called his parents to tell them what happened.
      "They're on their way." he reassured. Tears filled my eyes as I imagined the pain he might be  feeling. "That teacher is an asshole." I sobbed.
       " You are so freaking sensitive. You need to toughen up." he laughed.
       " You don't deserve to be treated like this." I said snapping back." And yes, I'm sensitive. Tough shit. That's why we're still friends."
         Smiling, he looked directly into my eyes, "Yeah, I know." he whispered.hugging me,
       "  I love you too."

Sunday, January 10, 2016

" The deep secrets within us."

"We think we are seeing the world just fine until it's called to our attention that we're not."
- David Eagleman, neuroscientist, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

                Neuroscientists on the forefront of fascinating discoveries in their field understand there is so much information about the human brain that's been uncovered but much more remains unknown. A few years ago NOVA, one of the most watched science series in America featured the documentary " How Does the Brain Work?" hosted by the worlds favorite personal astrophysicist, Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson for PBS.  This may have been your initial introduction to a pioneering neuroscientist who runs the Laboratory of Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine, David Eagleman.
             If you happened to miss "The Brain with David Eagleman" a series which aired on PBS October 14 to November 18th, 2015  you can now check out clips of the series on the PBS website or even order the complete DVD. Eagleman is one of the neuroscientists featured in the documentary above, author of  The Brain: The Story of You and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.  

           Our brains shape our own reality. Our brains should boggle our minds. Brains are as unique as our own fingerprints yet still one of the greatest mysteries of nature.  Research in neuroscience is still in its infancy but will prove to be one the most important areas of study in our future especially as it applies to psychology and cognitive sciences. Despite what we scroll through on Facebook and Twitter each day, human beings are actually quite endlessly amazing.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

"The important thing is not to stop questioning."

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day."- Albert Einstein from the memoirs of William Miller, editor quoted in Life magazine, May 2, 1955.

         How does it work? Why did that happen? Who created this machine? When did that start? How do I find out? Could I do that too? The barrage of questions we aimed at parents,siblings and teachers when we were children seemed mysterious and infinite. The questions we have as adults haven't lessened or disappeared. We are born complex inquisitive creatures who despite our need for security crave fun and spontaneity. Getting lost in thought or lost in an adventure is one of the greatest aspects of being alive. We want to know the answers to things whether they prove productive, useful or even beneficial to humanity. Before our easy access to the internet kids jumped on their Schwinns for a ride to the local library or checked out a stack of books each week from school. Now the majority of Americans have the ultimate library at their fingertips 24/7. With so much information online it can be intimidating and confusing especially when you're trying to discover the most reliable sources of factual information. If a love of learning rivals or equals your weekend Netflix  binge watching addiction there is a subscription streaming service to check out - CuriosityStream, video on demand.

     CuriosityStream is the brain child of John S.Hendricks, Founder of the Discovery Channel. CuriosityStream's  content is divided into four main categories Science, Technology, Civilization and Human Spirit. CuriosityStudios has produced several short-form original documentaries and features such as Destination Pluto featuring Alan Stearn and A Curious World. CuriosityStream has acquired incredible programs featuring world renowned theoretical physicists, Michio Kaku and Jim Al-Khalili. Enjoy the introduction video previews above.

     Get a free preview of Curiosity Stream at their website :