Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"We become what we understand."

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it." -Samuel Johnson, renowned English author, journalist, essayist

                    As frustrating as it may seem numbing ourselves to national newscasts, pouring over political pundits or dissecting horrendous hash tags our country has been diagnosed with dangerous levels of misinformation exposure. With an overload of altered photo social media posts, spastic random Tweets, vlogs, blogs, countdowns, metrics, expert panels, power boards and of course the most distressing of all- the "unofficial"  poll, we are bombarded with seemingly meaningless words we haven't had time to process or reflect upon. How do we know what we're reading or hearing is factual? Information isn't knowledge.
      Obviously, everything we hear or read isn't true. It's terribly important that we understand where to find the facts and who we can trust. It's even more important that we teach young adults to discriminate information for themselves. Even some of the most respected resources for political facts may be inaccurate or exaggerated. It's important for all of us to research and question especially during a historic election cycle.  Political candidates should be held responsible for any erroneous remarks or inflammatory rhetoric spewed when denying scientific evidence or verifiable medical facts. The next leader of the free world  shouldn't be ignorant of immigration laws, climate change, human reproduction, economics or international policy. In order for American voters to make informed choices requires educated citizens who know the truth about the same subjects.

 Below are website links to recommended nonpartisan, nonprofit fact checking organizations and important research centers.



Pew Research Center

Guttmacher Institute 

Friday, May 27, 2016

" Something bigger than oneself "

              For those we have loved, 
                         those we have lost 
                                    and those we have never met.


                         We are One.
                         I am a part of you.
                         You are a part of me.

                         You are the heart of me who never returned
                         courageous and brave  standing on a battleship
                         silently waving good-bye to everything and 
                         everyone you ever loved.

                         You are the haunting shadow of the past
                         who chose passion over quiet resistance
                         who chose noble warrior over gentle stillness.

                          You are the memory that lives in me
                          selflessly flying missions on the untamed wind
                          mapping out the intricacies of our future freedom.
                          You are a part of me cut open, wounds bleeding
                          heart beating out of your chest with fear
                          swallowing tears and moving forward into
                          the unknown darkness.

                          We are One
                          I am a part of you
                          You are a part of me
                          We will never glimpse the beauty of the
                          Universe in each others eyes yet
                          every atom we share of our Truth and
                          our Legacy gives me the strength to fight for
                          Our peace.


   "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
                                                                                               - Joseph Campbell


Saturday, May 21, 2016

" How fun-raising is changing our world."

Red Nose Day raised over 23 million dollars last year helping to change the lives of children and families in the US and around the world.

             Hosted by comedian, actor, writer and director Craig Ferguson, the 2016 Red Nose Day festivities will air live Thursday, May 26th at 9PM EST on NBC http://www.nbc.com/. The star studded special not only features celebrities such as musician John Legend, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Kendrick and comedian Michael Che but gives us an inspiring glimpse of what fun-raising actually provides for children and families across the United States and around the world. Donations distribute meals for children in homeless shelters, medicines to treat pneumonia, anti-malaria nets to protect babies, books for students learning to read and so much more. For additional information and fun-raising ideas check out the official Red Nose Day website.  

     The Red Nose Day Fund is a program of Comic Relief Inchttp://comicrelief.org/

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Every child deserves a safe childhood."

   In 2015 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement with over 13,700 cases of missing children.

            The entire month of May is National Missing Children's Month with May 25th designated  International Missing Children's Day. Statistics in the United States and worldwide are staggering but there has been a notable expansion in the information and tips provided to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.org/ncmec in the past few years. NCMEC is the leading nonprofit organization in the country working with families, family service professionals and law enforcement since being established in 1984. In 2015 the Cyber Tipline http://www.missingkids.org/cybertipline which the US Congress authorized NCMEC to oversee has received 4.4 million reports relating to child sex trafficking, child sexual molestation, apparent child abuse images and online enticement or what is currently termed "sextortion". The FBI  clarifies https://www.fbi.gov/news/videos/what-is-sextortion/view  sextortion as a serious felony of sexual exploitation or coercion where by images of a child or an adult are used to blackmail a victim to obtain sexual favors or money.  A crime of our digital age, social media predators have become more rampant with a child's increased use of unsupervised online technology.
         Raising further awareness in 2016 the NCMEC has created  Rock One Sock, a campaign to remind us all that each day there is an estimated 2,185 children reported missing in the United States alone. Across the world, children are the most vulnerable to sex trafficking and sexual abuse. If you have information which may lead to the capture or conviction of child traffickers or those involved in child exploitation please contact the NCMEC or the Cyber Tipline. (video above courtesy of YouTube)

 For more details regarding Rock One Sock visit the official site  http://rockonesock.org/  or check out #RockONESock  on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Changing the way we view animals."

"If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another human for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?"
- Peter Singer, author, philosopher, professor

            With so much information and outstanding streaming content available online it's almost impossible to keep up. One important film you don't want to miss making its theatrical debut on May 25th is Unlocking the Cage  http://www.unlockingthecagethefilm.com/ . The anticipated documentary directed by Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker was a highly praised Official Selection of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival  https://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival  (video trailer above courtesy of YouTube)
         Unlocking the Cage follows pioneering lawyer Steven Wise and his legal team from The Nonhuman Rights Project  http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/ through the filing of a groundbreaking series of lawsuits protecting animal rights. In fact The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the US fighting for confirmed legal rights for species other than human.
         Unlocking the Cage premieres at Film Forum http://filmforum.org/ in New York City on Wednesday, May 25th. Check the official film site above for additional dates in your own area. For more information regarding the unprecedented work of The Nonhuman Rights Project follow this link http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/

Saturday, May 7, 2016

" Your life is a musical."

"Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together."- Anais Nin, essayist

             Mother's Day reminds me of the music my mother loved. Music is tied to our memories in an intensely primal way. Think about it. There are songs that recall every moment and major life event. Imagine birthday celebrations, graduations, weddings, holidays, television shows, movies or sporting events without music. Life without music is the outline of a drawing without color. As children there are soothing lullabies and nursery rhymes we equate with motherhood.  As adults we create nostalgia by listening or performing dance songs and love ballads of the past. Our music should grow with us until we die. The very expression of our lives is punctuated with harmony and melody.
      Neurological studies performed on the brain indicate human beings are hardwired to interpret and physically react to music. Music stimulates numerous parts of the entire frontal and temporal lobes when sounds are processed. Songs that make us feel happy activate the same reward/pleasure centers in our brains releasing dopamine. Similar stimulation arises when we have great sex, ingest certain drugs or devour a delicious slice of decadent chocolate cake. Music arouses our emotions. When our emotions are stimulated we may perceive joy, sadness or even anger but we are feeling something. This is why music holds such incredible power. Being aware of our feelings allows us to identify and gain more control over them. According to music therapy researchers individuals who allow themselves to feel intense emotional release seem to have a greater capacity for empathy. Cognitive empathy is strongly associated with understanding others.and music is a universal bonding experience. In fact, every culture on the planet creates music. When we shed tears or feel overwhelmed by musical composition we are deeply engaged in our emotional experience. We are sharing our humanity at the highest level. We are alive with the sound of music

Sources: Live Science http://www.livescience.com/
Journal of Music Therapy http://www.musictherapy.org/research/pubs/

Happy Mother's Day to my beautiful sister's, our families & all mother's around the world.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Nothing happens until something moves."

"The universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space."
                           - Carl Sagan (from Contact) astronomer, author


                       On May 2nd another significant discovery in the field of astronomy was announced by international researchers including those representing The University of Liege of Belgium and MIT in the UShttps://whereis.mit.edu/   Three planets the size of Earth were found orbiting what is known as an ultracool dwarf star. The planets were detected 40 light years away using TRAPPIST a 60 centimeter telescope based in Chile. Belgian scientists designed TRAPPIST to monitor dwarf stars at infrared wavelengths and searches for planets around them. One particular planet is named TRAPPIST 1. Due to their relatively close proximity researchers in decades to come may be able to determine what atmospheric conditions exist and whether the planets are habitable. Read detailed research information here:  http://www.nature.com/index.html or
 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature17448.html and check out the brief video above.