R.I.P. Net Neutrality

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Well, to no one’s surprise, the FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai voted today to abolish Net Neutrality which was put into place in 2015, under the Obama administration. The vote of 3-2 was predictably along party lines with the Republicans deciding that the internet doesn’t need to be accessible, affordable, and open to everyone.

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 But don’t panic! Several states have already filed suit to stop this insane decision that will alllow internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast unlimited power to block websites, throttle services and censor online content. California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are just the first of what I’m sure will be many more states vowing to fight. In the meantime, Mr. Pai made an, um clever(?) video to illustrate the important things you’ll still be able to do, if at the end of the day the FCC’s vote is allowed to stand. As many of you know I’m not tech savvy so I can’t upload a link to the video, but here’s 5 things he includes:

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You can still Instagram your food.

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You’ll be able to binge watch your favorite shows.

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You can take selfies with your pets.

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You can shop for Christmas presents.

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AND, you can still be a member of your favorite fandom!

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Phew! Well I know I feel better!

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Sandy Hook Massacre ~ Five Years Later

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On December 14th, 2012, A gunman entered the Sandy Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 children and six adults, before killing himself. So what’s happened in the US since this horror? According to the Gun Violence Archive—a national database tracking incidents since 2013 in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) were shot generally at the same time and place—there’s been at least 1,576 mass shootings, resulting in the deaths of 1,788 people, and wounding 6,333. Just in 2017, there have been 331 mass shooting incidents. 3,094 teenagers (age 12-17)  have been killed and 694 children (age 0-11). I could share even more staggering numbers, but to be honest, I just can’t. Instead, I thought I’d share the following which I stumbled across online. If you are interested in more information, please visit:

http://www.gunviolencearchive.org

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20 children won’t have their first kiss. 20 children will not be trying to catch their first glimpse of Santa Claus this Christmas. 20 children won’t know what it feels like to graduate. 20 children won’t know how it feels to have their heart broken and become better after it. 20 children won’t go to prom. 20 children will never get married. 20 children will not be able to sneak out of bed to stay up late. 20 children won’t know what if feels like to be accepted to college. 20 children won’t know how it feels to turn 21 with their friends. 20 children will never be able to have children of their own. 20 children will never know how they made us all realize that we take life for granted.

I was unable to find out who wrote this, but I hope it makes everyone reading it think more about the gun violence epidemic in this country.

Whimsical Wednesday ~ Election Edition

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After losing the Alabama Senate race last night to Doug Jones, the ever gracious Roy Moore refused to concede, telling his supporters:

Realize when the vote is this close—that it’s not over. We also know that God is always in control.

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And it wasn’t long before J.K. Rowling, who was clearly thrilled at the results like so many of us, tweeted this gem:

Narrator’s voice: Roy was right. God was in control. What he didn’t realize was, She’s black.

OOH BURN!

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Alabama Senate Race Results

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In a stunning upset, Doug Jones became the first Democrat in twenty-five years, to win a Senate seat in the overwhelmingly red state of Alabama Tuesday night. I have to admit I did not see this coming. I mean, I hoped and I prayed, but I truly thought that perverted, racist, anti-Semitic, bigoted, homophobic little cockroach, Roy Moore was going to win. Yes, he had credible allegations of child molestation and sexual assault leveled against him, but even after these brave women came forward, his supporters either denied the accusations or even more unbelievably, said it didn’t matter even if they were true. 

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It’s nice to be reminded that good can still triumph over evil. Doug Jones is a former prosecutor who successfully put away two KKK members for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, which resulted in the deaths of four young black girls. He’s already stated that he will stand for certain ideals of the Democrats such as healthcare, but he’s also willing to reach across the aisle and work with his soon-to-be Republican colleagues.

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So, does this mean it’s the beginning of the end for Trump and his minions like Steve Bannon, who fully endorsed Moore? It’s too soon to say. But for the first time since last November, I feel the faint stirrings of hope for this country.

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For now though, it’s time for some of this:

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and this:

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and this:

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and a bit of this:

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 and this:

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Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope, American movie (1977)

Any Star Wars fans have to read this wonderful nostalgic look at a cinematic masterpiece. Thank you Michel for reminding me why I love this so much!

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There are some stories in this world that are kind of hard to believe. Take the Star Wars franchise for instance. No matter the fact if you love it or hate it, I think nobody can deny the fact that it’s incredibly popular and makes a ton of money. But did you know that director George Lucas had an incredibly hard time to even get a funding for the first movie in that galaxy far, far away? After writing a 13 page treatment for it, he went from studio to studio, but pretty much no one believed that this was a movie that would attract an audience. After getting declined numerous times, Lucas finally got a green light from 20th Century Fox. But he only got a very small budget with which to make the movie. After many hardships during filming, including suffering a near heart attack, Lucas managed to…

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The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2), by Katherine Arden ~ 5.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

352 Pages

Synopsis:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—-but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—-even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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I’m a little late to the Winternight Trilogy bandwagon. I think I’m one of the last YA Historical fantasy fans to have read the hugely popular The Bear and the Nightingale and I only picked it up when I was approved for The Girl in the Tower. Although I didn’t review the first book, I was utterly enchanted and my only complaint was that I found it a little slow in the beginning. The sequel is much more action packed, yet doesn’t lose any of the magic and charm of its predecessor.

The Girl in the Tower picks up exactly where the first story ended. Vasya, the heroine, has left her small medieval Russian village, where her life was in danger from her increasingly superstitious neighbors. She’s decided that she wants to see the world, and since it’s unheard of for a girl to be off exploring alone, she decides to disguise herself as a boy. While he doesn’t approve, her mysterious ally and protection Morozko the Frost Demon, aids her when he can. Unsurprisingly, Vasya stumbles across a sinister conspiracy once she reaches Moscow and it’s one that not only puts her own life in danger, but those of her family as well.

Vasya has quickly become one of my favorite YA protagonists. Fiercely courageous and loyal, she struggles to find her true self in a world where women have no say regarding their roles in a paternalistic society. Adding to her woes is how different she is from the other subservient members of her gender. She can see and converse with horses and the magical creatures who are slowly fading as Christianity takes a firmer foothold. She’s viewed with suspicion and fear, even by members of her own family. Despite this, she possesses more moral integrity in her little finger than any of those who judge her. Accompanied by her faithful horse Solovey, she takes so many risks, yet always follows her heart. Between the two books, Vasya evolves from this awkward child who is unsure of her place in the world, to an independent, strong young woman, determined to not let herself be forced into the typical female role of this time period. 

The relationship between Vasya and Morozko also continues to grow. But getting in the way of their developing romance are the secrets the Frost Demon stubbornly keeps from the suspicious Vasya. It’s a tricky relationship between an immortal who’s not used to answering to anyone and this young human girl who holds him accountable for his actions. I love the two of them together and I hope there’s even more shared scenes in the final book. 

The world building is simply exquisite. It’s incredibly detailed yet this doesn’t get in the way of the action. Katherine Arden perfectly blends 14th century Russian history with fairytale figures. Even the everyday life of the peasants, military, and nobility are brought realistically to life. Everything is set against a vividly drawn snowy landscape which is beautiful yet adds to the dangerous atmosphere.

The Girl in the Tower is a sumptuous literary feast for the eyes and soul. The only reason why I’m not giving this 5 stars is because Vasya refuses to do one particular thing in regards to her disguise and although I feel like I may be nitpicking, it bothered me because it didn’t seem to be in keeping with her character. Otherwise I cannot recommend both books highly enough for older teens and adults. I cannot wait for the conclusion, The Winter Witch, which is set to be released August 14th, 2018.

Pieces of you* (graphic)

This is such an intense and powerful poem written by Lee that when I got to the end I was left rather stunned.

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Do you ever look back on your reasons and motives
for regrettable things that you’ve done?
For thinking that you’re such a generous soul
When you toss a few coins to a bum?

Have you flinched when you passed by that face you thought ugly
Or that person you judged as “retarded”?
And moved away quickly, secure in the knowing
They safely could be disregarded.

And you say that your friends, some are black, some are Jewish
And you think yourself prejudice free
But you still fail to value, on Twitter and Facebook
Any similar pictures you see

The slow, the deformed, and the people with Down’s
They’re such an insult to your vanity
You’re scared half to death, and you shamefully think
That they’re all on the verge of insanity

The faggot, the fairy, the butch and the queer
Your phobia’s surely not lacking
You’re “straight”, and you’re “normal”…

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Keaton Jones ~ A Plea For Help

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When Kimberly Jones picked up her 11-year-old son, Keaton, from his school in Knoxville, Tennessee one day last week, he had an unusual request. He asked her to record a video of him in the car.

You see, Keaton was leaving school early, and not for the first time. He was afraid to have lunch at school because classmates had poured milk on him and stuffed food in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he tearfully says in the video. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends. Why do they bully? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” at this point he’s sobbing. He adds: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

Keaton’s mom posted the video on Facebook last Friday, pleading with parents to talk to their children about bullying. By Sunday night, the video had been viewed 20 million times, and that was just on Facebook. Thousands of people including celebrities also responded on social media, saying that they too had been victims of bullying and urged Keaton to stay strong. 

The public outcry against bullying seems to wax and wane. There have been many well-publicized cases in recent years where bullying has been so vicious that the victims killed themselves.

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Just last month 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis, from Colorado, hung herself two weeks after a video of a fight with an alleged bully was posted online. It was the first altercation this previously happy little girl had gotten into and it happened after she confronted her tormentor.

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Also last month, Toni Rivers, an 11-year-old girl from South Carolina, fatally shot herself after being bullied for months. The day she shot herself she told five of her friends “that she just couldn’t do this anymore, and she was going home and she was killing herself,” her aunt, Maria Peterson told reporters. Young Toni was found still alive by her sister, but passed away three days later. 

These are just two examples of what is now referred to as “Bullycide”. How tragic is it that we now have an official term for this? 

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The CDC recently reported that the suicide rate for children between the ages of 10 – 14, more than doubled from 2007 – 2014. Suicide in this age group now leads motor vehicle accidents as the cause of death. And the higher rates of suicide among school children are found during the fall and spring, but not the summer. 

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So, what can we, as adults do to stop this epidemic? Here’s just a few suggestions from https://www.stopbullying.gov

1. Talk to your children about bullying. Make sure they understand what bullying is and how to safely stand up to it. 

2. Check in with children. Listen to any concerns or complaints they have about school. Make sure you know who their friends are.

3. Encouraging children to do what they love in regards to special activities and hobbies can not only help them make friends, but also boost their self-confidence.

4. Be a role model and treat others in person and online with respect and kindness.

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Since I began writing this post a few hours ago (Sorry. I had to take breaks because of a migraine), several online sites including TMZ, Vibe, and the UK Daily Mail, are reporting that Kimberly Jones has written racist posts on her now shutdown Facebook page and is soliciting donations via PayPal. I hope this isn’t true, but regardless, her actions shouldn’t take away from her son’s very real pain. Nor should it take away from the public discussion about what we can do to better protect our children. We as a society need to do better.

 

 

 

International Human Rights Day

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Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~