Hiatus…Sorry About That!

Hey readers! Sorry about that ridiculously long hiatus I accidentally went on! I received a full time employment position and needed to learn how to balance that out with everything else in my life including a side part time job teaching dance! But fear not friends, I am still here and I intend to continue blogging! If you have been following my twitter or instagram, you can see that I have been plenty active in the Disney Parks community! I will be giving the world a blog dedicated purely to my Disney adventures shortly! Thanks for hanging in there if you did and if you didn’t I totally understand! I shall be posting a book review of a book I read ages ago later tonite, so stay tuned and keep Sifting Through Shelves!

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Freedom of Speech vs. Freedom of Action: What the First Amendment Actually Means

So, as student of history and hence a student of the US Constitution, one of the things that literally makes me hate the education that children are receiving and truly believe that people have lost the ability to synthesize information is the defense of a stupid or hateful comment with the first amendment of the Bill of Rights.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.gkVkgFxQ.dpuf

IMG_0023The first amendment is by far the most far reaching amendment and the most widely incorrectly cited. You can’t just say something awful and say “It’s free speech.” when someone tells you you’re being a moron. Free speech does not actually mean that you can say whatever you want without consequence. It means you have the right to say it, but it does not excuse you from the repercussions of that statement. For instance, the first amendment does not entitle you to say something racist at work and not be fired for it. Your employer has the right to fire you for slander of either the person you said it about or the company itself.

The first amendment also protects the rights of the press. Journalists who report the truth. The “press” should not really encompass the people who are ruining the lives of actors and artists for their own public gain. Just because the story makes money for your magazine, doesn’t mean it should be published. Do you think the founding fathers of America believed that the internet would be a thing when they were sitting in Independence Hall screaming at one another in the hot Philadelphia summer? Do you think they felt that it was necessary to ask themselves “How does this right work IMG_1819for the press when they want to slander the lives of famous people?” NO! BECAUSE NO ONE CARED! They, unlike people of today, realized that artists, politicians, and “famous” people are…people, fellow human beings. I’m not saying that people in the public eye should not be held accountable for their actions. EVERYONE SHOULD BE! AND IT’S NOT HAPPENING! Rights from the Constitution and its amendments can be employed in as much as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. I would say publishing nude photos of actresses because you hacked into their computer (whether in the cloud or otherwise) is infringing on their right to the pursuit of happiness, their right to privacy and is theft of their private property. I realize that the internet has truly changed the world and questions the rules in play. Just as I have the right to write this blog, someone has the right to say that I’m wrong if they think I am. We have the right to have the discussion but if that discussion leads to illegal action, that’s where we run into a serious problem.

I think the internet and social media have blurred the line between freedom of speech and freedom of action (which is not a fundamental right, you cannot simply do whatever you want, that would lead to anarchy and things like the Purge…tread carefully). Continuing with the use of the nude photo leak example, if you went to someone’s house and stole nude photos of them and published them in a magazine, that’s not freedom of the press, that’s theft and that journalist would be arrested for stealing and trespassing onto private property. So…what’s the difference between that and committing the same crime digitally. Just because it’s there and you want it, does not entitle you to take it. And with free speech, just because you think it doesn’t mean you should say it. You can, that’s a right provided to you by the government, AND ONLY THE GOVERNMENT, but it doesn’t protect you from the response and reactions of others.

IMG_1810I think this age of individualism is actually really dangerous and the internet has given us a mask to hide behind, our keyboards. You can do a lot of damage from behind those keyboards. You can spread hate and that’s not the intent of the right to free speech. The right to free speech should be used for good and to protect yourself and your ideas. Also, remember that private entities, not owned by the government, do actually have the ability to restrict what you say. For example, if you are found out to be sending hate mail on a website like tumblr, youtube, Facebook and twitter, your account can be deleted and you will be reported. We seem to have, as a culture, lost the ability to care about the greater good and are only out for the private good and not the public good. This is VERY BAD! While there are amazing organizations that are doing the right thing and joining together to promote the public good, there are a lot of stupid people who are only looking out for the interests of themselves as individuals. Where is that going to lead us?! It’s going to lead us down a seriously dangerous path and we will lose the collaborative spirit that made this country amazing in it’s early years. Look back in history, amazing things happen when people come together for the good of the public and sometimes that means sacrificing a small private want in order to accomplish something much more amazing.

Think before you open your mouth to speak or hit the keys on your keyboard, take five seconds to make sure that you are saying something worth saying. Don’t just speak to speak, say something with purpose. Say something educated and intelligent. Make sure you aren’t saying something inaccurate and stupid. Sometimes ranting in cathartic, sometimes it’s dangerous and inaccurate driven only by misunderstanding, hatred and anger. Just something to think about…keep sifting through shelves.

A Response to John Green’s “I Hate Batman” video

 

So this is where I say…he’s right you know. And he is, Batman/Bruce Wayne is a fundamentally bad billionaire. I’m not going to repeat the entirety of the content of the video, you can watch it yourself.

I would like to point out that the origin story of Batman is where it all starts to go downhill for Batman. I’ve seen Batman Begins and I’ve read a lot of comics, Gotham is a seriously damaged city and the Wayne Family uses their money to try to help fix that damage, clearly not well enough though because the very crime that they are doing so much to stop at its core is what ends up killing the Wayne parental units in the first place. This makes Batman a seriously sad and damaged person. This is understandable, seeing ones parents shot dead in front of them would do bad things to a person psychologically. This is when therapy should have been an order. Seriously…MAD BAT PHOBIA…but I digress. There are all sorts of psychological problems in Gotham and mob affiliations and this is clearly leading to the crime ridden state that Gotham has found itself in. If the city took a turn toward ultimate decay after the Wayne parents were killed…the city had problems bigger than were being addressed. Meanwhile, Batman is using his new found wealth as an adult to go off an become a martial arts master, which was probably very therapeutic, clearly not therapeutic enough but still. He also could have definitely done this within the United States and did not need to fly to Asia for it.

Basically, as John said, what makes Batman a bad villain is that he uses his money to make himself technologically superior to others when he could be putting that money into the good of the city. Taking the entire crime ridden state of a city on on your own is never going to fix the city. You have to fix the problems that cause the crime and the psychosis in the city, not just punish the bad guys. You can’t just fight it, you have to fix it. The people of Gotham are clearly incredibly weak and damaged if they are willing to follow people like the Riddler, the Joker and the Penguin. Some of the other villains are just silly, but most are psychologically disturbed. He’s a bad hero. I’m not saying that Batman never did anything for charity, but he didn’t do quite enough. He’s a damaged individual with a grudge and nothing particularly special about him, except his wealth. He does a poor job of living up to his parents’ legacy. Is it his fault that in the years required for him to grow up, Gotham took a turn for the worst and turned into a crime ridden city of urban decay? Obviously not. But…he didn’t fix the problem when he definitely could have. Did the mob infiltration of the government of Gotham put it past the point of no return? Maybe it did. But…had Bruce Wayne gone to school for law and become involved in the politics of Gotham, he could have done significantly more good than he did as a vigilante. His last name was incredibly powerful and he essentially didn’t use that to his advantage.

I do want to elaborate on John’s contradiction to himself, Iron Man. In the beginning of his journey, Iron Man is only slightly better than Batman. His power stems from a device he uses to stay alive and he chooses to do mostly good with it. He shares it with the public within reason, once it begins being used for bad, that’s where Tony has a problem with sharing his technology. He does allow it to be used for the good of the public, but again within his control. The government basically employs Tony’s technology, at benefit to Tony’s bank account and the city of New York. He uses the Iron Man Suit to increase the power of the core and do good for the public. The public that Iron Man is protecting is also fundamentally different from the public of Gotham. The public of the Marvel Iron Man universe is not broken almost past the point of repair. It’s not full of completely off the handle psychos that can’t be stopped in their rampage of pointlessly killing people for fun. Most of Tony Stark’s villains are out to get Tony, not the public. I understand that some of Batman’s villains are out to get Batman himself, they do a lot of damage to Gotham itself in the process and some Marvel villains do the same. John Green points out that the greatest good comes from collaboration. In the case of the Iron Man saga, this is totally true. When a greater evil than Iron Man can handle attacks the people of Earth, collaboration of the members of the Avengers is what saves the world, not any one of the heroes on their own. (I should add that I do know that Batman joins the Justice League, though I’m not as familiar with his Justice League story). I realize that this is only the beginning of a long and complicated conversation about the root of evil action and how to combat that evil. Please, discuss among yourselves. I will keep the conversation going as I think the correlation between entertainment and why people like it is important. I think if we think of Batman as an ultimate good, we are a seriously misled people. Keep on sifting through shelves.

Aldi Food Markets

So this morning when I realized that it had been quite some time since I had gone food shopping and my cupboards were quite empty, I decided to make a financially savvy decision and head to my “local” Aldi Food Market. I say “local” because it’s almost 20 minutes away from my apartment as opposed to the Publix which is about 3 minutes away.

I arrived at Aldi and realized that due to the fact that I don’t carry cash on my person, I did not have the quarter necessary to rent a cart…so I had to carry all the things I was intending on purchasing, which made for a very sad looking version of myself constantly dropping things. But I thought to myself, “hey, live and learn, bring a quarter next time”. By about 30 minutes in, I had acquired enough food that I needed to check out or I was literally going to drop everything and look like a fool. So I approach the checkout and I got everything on the belt and scanned and the gentleman at the checkout asked how I wanted to pay, as I wasn’t getting paid until Thursday and this was a Tuesday, I said credit. He said they could only take debit or cash…this is where I kinda mentally lost it. I had driven out of my way to go to a store marketed to people on a budget and I couldn’t use my credit card. This was baffling to me. I later found out it was because of credit card fees charged to the store for each credit transaction but I was still seriously frustrated and “hangry” (a term for being angry because you are hungry, a symptom of my low blood sugar). What made me even more annoyed was that if I had attempted to use food stamps, which I am not on, I could have paid with those… I have good enough credit to have a credit card but I can’t use it because I’m on a tight budget. The paradox was just too much for me to handle in my hypoglycemic rage. He asked if I had a debit card. I said, “Yes I do, but I need the money to pay my rent this month. I guess I will be going to Publix after all.” And with that I left the store empty handed. I said I knew I had used a card there before, it must have been my debit card, I guess. Now I know part of my irritated state at the store was caused by the fact that it had been too long since I had eaten, but none the less, I was annoyed. I did end up going to Publix, “where shopping is a pleasure”. And it was, the people were all very nice and the manager walked me and my groceries out to my car, but I still ended up spending 2x as much as I had wanted to in order to fill my cabinets. I was majorly conflicted. I guess now I know that I can’t use a credit card at Aldi and I have to bring a quarter in order to use a cart and I have to have my own bags if I don’t want to pay for them. (This I agree with, as I think people use WAY too much plastic to transport their groceries and I usually have my own bags anyway, the quarter for the cart is to keep them out of the parking lot, which I also understand now, I just wish I had known). I just wanted to make all of this known to other people who are on a tight budget so that the next time you go to Aldi, you don’t get caught off guard like I was and have the same terribly unpleasant experience.

Was this a serious case of first world problems just piling up to make for a bad experience? Yes, but nonetheless, I was annoyed. Next time you go to Aldi, you better go with the knowledge that with the cheap prices, comes providing your own bag, temporarily paying for your cart and using cash or debit. I’ll step down from my soapbox now and put my life back in perspective, I was able to get food and eat that day, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m doing just fine.  Keep sifting through shelves!

It’s a Small World

 

Sun collage It's a small world

I will always defend the truth in this song. It was written by the Sherman brothers for the 1964 World’s Fair and it rings with truth now as it did then. The world is, if it could be, smaller now than it was then. Social media has made connection with everyone who uses it instantaneous. The distance between myself and friends in the UK is nothing with Twitter, Instagram and Skype. The oceans only divide us physically and everyone sees the same sun, moon and stars, but what makes people amazing is how we can all see the same thing so differently. This point is made fabulously in the It’s a Small World attraction by showing a different representation of the sun in every area of the world that your boat goes through. With every day the world gets smaller. It was massive when we had to travel it on foot, it was huge when we had to travel it by train, carriage, car and boat. Now that there are planes and the internet, we can get anywhere we want in as little as the time it takes to Skype a friend, turn on a Youtube video, log in to Twitter or Facebook or the length of a plane ride. I could hop on a plane now and be in Japan by tomorrow if I wanted to. This used to be impossible less than a century ago. Think about that for a second. The world is a paradox, it’s so big that some of us only hope we get to see a fraction of it, yet it’s so small in that we can travel it in an instant from the comfort of our own homes. As the Sherman brothers said, this song is a prayer for peace. It’s a small world, and it gets smaller every day, coexistence and peace and harmony are crucial and yet still seem to evade us. I can only hope that eventually, the prayer for peace is answered with harmony between the people of this very small and ever shrinking world.

“It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears

It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears.

There’s so much that we share

That it’s time we’re aware

It’s a small world after all

It’s a small world after all (3x)

It’s a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun

And a smile means friendship to everyone

Though the mountains are wide

And the oceans divide

It’s a small world after all…”

Keep sifting through shelves, it’s one of the best ways to explore the small world, after all.

 

The Term Genocide and the Israeli Conflict

This article will probably make a lot of people incredibly angry, I may lose followers, I’m ok with that. I would like to address the recent treatment of all of the Jewish people and the media portrayal of the conflict over the Gaza Strip. Now, I’m not even remotely going to pretend I have all of the facts here, it’s a lot to keep up with. What I do know, is that no matter how you feel about the conflict, the current treatment of the Jewish people on social media is appalling. I’m not talking about what is going on in the Gaza Strip, that’s a complicated issue that goes back thousands of years, see the link of the timeline below, and has only gotten hotter as time goes on. What I am here to address is the huge current wave of anti-semitism that seems to have taken over social media.

I have one HUGE question to those who are calling Jewish people (those in the USA and abroad) Nazis (which is about the worst thing you can call them), committers of genocide and other insults that are just as bad. Really, check instagram and twitter if you don’t believe me. My question is…what do the American or European Jewish people have to do with the conflict in Israel? They aren’t there, they aren’t the ones involved in the war, and whether or not you agree with Israel or Palestine, the Jewish people in America aren’t committing any kind of crime, yet they are taking brutal bullying over the whole situation. I know several people of Jewish descent who feel unsafe in their own skin because of the protests and hashtags taking over the internet. One of them believes that the world would like to once again try to annihilate her people because of something she isn’t even remotely involved in.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but make it an educated one. If the hashtags and protests were about people of Asian descent, African American descent, Native American descent or the like, everyone would be condemning the people hosting the protests and allowing the racial slurs to escape their keyboards, there would be no tolerance for it and the people posting them would be reported immediately and be held accountable for their racist commentary. I know these protests have happened in the past, I’m not denying that.  I’m not saying at all that racism towards the other people I mentioned isn’t still alive and well, and that disgusts me, I’m just saying, the fact that some of these protests are allowed to continue is baffling to me.

Now to address calling the Jewish people Nazis. Seriously, are people really this stupid? The Nazis committed systematic mass genocide sweeping across Europe, I don’t think the Jewish people living in Europe and the United States (I’m not saying that the  Jewish people of Israel are either, but here, I’m just talking about those in the USA and Europe) are committing such acts. It’s as cruel as can be to compare someone of Jewish descent to the group who systematically wiped out over 6 million of their people. If you wouldn’t call a Native American a Jacksonian and you wouldn’t call an African American a Slave Driver or a member of the KKK and you wouldn’t call someone of Russian descent, Stalin or a Communist…why in the name of all that is historically sane would you call a Jewish person a Nazi?! Just as there are still members of the KKK alive and well, there are still a group of people called NeoNazis alive and well. I really cannot understand what people are thinking when they attack those who literally have nothing to do with the battle over the Gaza Strip. It’s not right or sane to call anyone a Nazi outside of speaking of the events of the Holocaust and WWII, but it’s especially cruel to call someone of Jewish descent a Nazi. All you need to do is read a book about the Holocaust or go to the museum in Washington DC to realize why this is more wrong than people seem to imagine.

One more thing I want to address is the use of the word genocide in regards to the Gaza conflict. It’s not genocide. I spent a fair amount of time in my college career studying the various genocides that have occurred throughout history (which was my major) so I don’t speak about it lightly. You will never hear me using the term outside of its intended context. My genocide studies professor defined genocide as follows “mass, systematic, killing of people by the govt. because of their group membership” (keep in mind that the man has his doctoral degree and was a professor of Genocide Studies and Russian History among other things at my university). Dictionary.com defines it as such “the deliberate and systematic extermination of national, racial, political, or cultural group.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genocide). Now, from what I’ve read, Israel is not invading the Palestinian state and systematically exterminating all of it’s people. What Hitler did to the Jewish people during the Holocaust was genocide, what happened in Rwanda was genocide, what happened to the Armenian people, was genocide. What’s happening in the Gaza strip…is war. It’s tragic and I’m not pointing fingers and saying that either side is right because I don’t have enough information for that, but they are at war, there’s no mass extinction of a particular group of people happening. They aren’t being rounded up and taken to death camps or systematically starved out. If you can give me facts to prove that the textbook definition of genocide is happening, feel free to put them in the comments below, but until then, I stand my ground. 

There are several hashtags that say “hitler was right” or “down with Israel”. I fail to see how defacing American and European synagogues is going to have any effect on the conflict over Gaza…they aren’t involved, so leave them out of it. They aren’t part of the Israeli government or the American government. So before you pick up your sign and join the world wide protests or take to your keyboards and try to start a new anti-jewish hashtag, do your research, remember how many innocent people you are hurting with your words and remember that the majority of the people who see your twitter post have nothing to do with this conflict. War sucks, I know, I’ve spent a lot of my time studying it and its effects. I don’t pretend to know how bad, since I have been lucky enough to have never been in a country torn apart by it. I have loaded the area below with links, one that proves that the Nazi party is alive and functional, two about the explosion of anti-semitism recently, one about the creation of the state of Israel, one about whether or not the Gaza Strip conflict is a genocide, one that outlines the conflict time line, and a few others. Please read them. Don’t be the kind of person who spreads hate over social media. Social media can be used for good in so many ways, but lately, I hear far more about it being used to spread tragedy and hate.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/09/4280988/two-men-sought-in-fatal-shooting.html

http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-43137-blood-bucket-challenge.html

http://www.americannaziparty.com/about/

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/13/4287481/europes-frightening-explosion.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/03/europe-anti-semitism-rallies_n_5758580.html

http://www.answers.com/Q/Is_the_Israeli-Palestinian_Conflict_a_genocide

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/israel-genocide/

http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000635

http://www.answers.com/Q/Why_was_Israel_created_after_World_War_II