Fight CISPA and protect the 4th amendment

Fight CISPA and protect the 4th amendment

Click to find out how you can join today’s protest. Contact your senators and sign the petition. If you live outside the U.S, there is an international petition to protect the internet from us.


Why It’s Important To Remember and Pray After Tragedy

candle for prayer

image by Bangin via Creative Commons

In our age of social media, news floods our computers and phones as much as it has flooded the television and radio for as long as we remember.

An acquaintance made a post on Facebook saying that she really didn’t care about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. I’m deeply saddened by her attitude, but I also recognize that she has been desensitized, and what is essentially copied and pasted by everyone has much less meaning to someone who already doesn’t care.

But it made me think. Why do we make those comments on Facebook or Twitter? I think most people do feel genuine sympathy for the victims and want to express it. I imagine that there are a few who just say something out of a vague fear that if they don’t, people will wonder what is wrong with them. (You didn’t repost that picture of a candle? Don’t you caaaare!?) There are some who are careful to focus on the positive, such as on the good work of the first responders. However you respond personally, here are a few of my thoughts on why it is important. (I tried writing this as kind of non-partisan, but failed, so these are obviously my beliefs.)

  1. It’s important to remember our mortality. This life we have is short and can be gone in a moment. I believe that there is an afterlife, an eternal heaven and hell. There is an instinct in many of us at these moments to want to hold your loved ones close. It’s a perfect time to thank the Lord for your family and friends. I only have one friend who works in the Boston area, so one of the first things I did was check for a Tweet, then breathe a small prayer of thanks for his life. For those of us who know the Lord, it’s also a reminder that we have people in our lives who need to hear about Him.
  2. It’s important to remember the helpers. There is a lovely quote from Fred Rogers about “the helpers.” I’d be surprised if you haven’t already seen it via social media this week. In addition to prayers of thanks, it’s important to pray for everyone in the area. Many lives have been irrevocably changed, and some lives were lost. The victims, their families, and the first responders—so many people need prayer right now.
  3. It’s important to hold accountable those responsible. Obviously, no number of Facebook posts will help find the evil ones who are responsible for this tragedy, but showing support for the law and the nation are still important. As the months go on, people in our government will have to make decisions about how to treat the perpetrators; those people need our prayers, too. I read one comment that said we need to be forgiving. My response is that individuals should be forgiving, but governments need to protect people from war criminals. Terrorists must know that America punishes those who kill on our soil.
  4. It is important to not mis-place blame. Whoever is found to blame for this, there are some things we know: it was the act of a few, they are to blame, those who support them are to blame, others who belong to the same race or religion are not. Our righteous anger should extend only as far as genuine blame and never be used as an excuse for racism or fear-mongering. We don’t like it when the actions of a few are used to paint us with one brush; we must not do the same to others. The vast majority of people are horrified by these kinds of things and realize that we are humans first, and despite constant efforts to cheapen life, most hold it precious.

So, those are my non-professional opinions. I hope you take a few moments to pray today.

TableTop Day at Codex Comics

Today, Rod and I went to Codex Comics and Collectables in Ebensburg, PA for International TableTop Day. It’s always fun to meet new people who enjoy the same things you do. We played some new games and taught people one of our favorites. In lieu of of an abundance of words is a collection of pictures. Check them out on my Facebook page. I’ll be doing a write-up for the Geek Girl Project soon.

Playing Castle Panic on TableTop Day

In the end, we defended the last tower bravely. (Castle Panic, image credit: Allie O’Neal)

My Journey of Good Friday Music

I love the music of the cross. Our Savior, bleeding and dying for us, is the focal point of history, the fulfillment of Passover, and the payment for our sin. When we sing of the cross, we’re singing of Jesus’ love for us. It’s no wonder that there are so many songs about it; it’s the most important thing for us to remember.

My Journey of Good Friday Music

credit: Allie O’Neal

When I was in kindergarten, my favorite songs were “Jesus Loves Me,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” Our church had a large, rugged-looking cross in the foyer. I can’t say that I understood all of the words. I didn’t know what an emblem was, and I had only seen little, plastic trophies for memorizing scripture; I wasn’t even saved yet, but my heart was open, and though I didn’t fully understand, the thought of exchanging the cross for a crown sounded amazing.

I took my first voice lessons when I was eleven. We each sang a hymn for our recital, and mine was “Were You There?” My favorite part of that song was when I sang, “I feel like shouting glory, glory, glory!” The song is Jesus’ death and resurrection tied up in one powerful thought. I found a couple of versions of the song on YouTube. This one is a girl, about the same age I was when I performed it for the first time. The second one is performed by Johnny Cash… just ’cause. Neither of them shout glory. It makes me wish I had a vlog, because I’d shout glory for you. When I was in college, one of our professors sang it as a spiritual, the way it was written, and though I can’t wrack my brain for her name, I’ll never forget her singing it.

I learned “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” in high school. I had spent third through eighth grades in a church that focused on praise music, and when I arrived at Alma Heights, I was exposed to so much good, old-fashioned songs and hymns of the faith. I loved learning a song that was from a time when a capella was the norm. I loved the richness of it.

I can’t remember if it was at Alma Heights or my freshman voice class that I learned “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” I do remember that, at the end, after “demands my soul, my life, my all,” my teacher added “shall have my soul, my life, my all.” When I was looking for a video of this song, I encountered it sung to many different melodies. Oh, so many old hymns are like that. The video I linked to is some teens singing it to a very difficult arrangement. Good for them!

Speaking of different melodies, “Alas, and Did my Savior Bleed” was the first hymn I fully wrote a new tune for. Alas, my destiny was not to be a composer.

Finally, “It Was for Me.” This may not be as well-known, because it’s not a hymn. It is a modern choral anthem about Jesus’ life and death. It’s also a song I learned singing in the choir in college. If you’re not familiar with it, watch the video. It has been on my mind a lot today, and sharing it with you is what inspired this blog post.

Well, for a bunch of songs about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, I sure talked about myself a lot. I hope it was a blessing despite me.



47 of the top 50 biggest movies of all times were VFX extravaganzas. Today I wondered what all the green boxes were about and took a peek into the VFX industry and why the artists that Hollywood depends on are being laid off by the hundreds. (Image is from VFX Solidarity International on Facebook.)

Blog Day 27

Writing on days I’ve already written is too much.  What did I write about? Well, since you asked, Studio JMS and Netflix announced a collaboration that made me pretty excited.  I love when I get to write news stories about something I’m personally looking forward to. I’ve been a fan of JMS since I first started watching Babylon 5.  Okay, time to stop rambling.

The Wonderful Witches of Oz

For someone trying to write a political blog, I sure am easy to side-track. While the Supreme Court was busy today, I was watching Oz the Great and Powerful.

The Wonderful Witches of Oz

Glinda movie poster for Oz the Great and Powerful (Image: Disney)

After watching it, I wondered how feminists had liked the movie. Unsurprisingly, the typical feminist reaction was negative. Also unsurprising is that I quite enjoyed it. (Spoilers ahead!)

The movie purports to be about this Oz fellow, but it really isn’t. It’s really about these three women. They are witches, each with an affinity for an aspect of nature: Fire (Theodora), Electricity (Evanora), and Water (Glinda). It made me wonder if there was a fourth witch somewhere with an affinity to earth or plant life, but I haven’t read many of the books to know if there is one or not.

The first witch we met was Theodora, and she was a disappointment. One of the feminist reviews I read complained that Theodora was Bella-esque in her reaction when she discovered Oz wasn’t in love with her. I have to agree a little, but I’m going to answer that by saying that she is not meant to be all that sympathetic, and she was tricked. Sorry, it is a fairy tale, and bad guys are allowed to be a little less than three-dimensional.

In contrast, I love Glinda. If I could summarize what I took away from her character in the movie, it’s that if good is going to triumph over evil, it won’t be because good is stronger. It will be because good has fought harder, loved more, and been smarter. (Do you hear that, Paladins? No lawful stupid here!) It’s easy to be bad. Selfishness is in our nature. To be good requires us to go against our nature and be selfless.

I must admit that even I rolled my eyes a little at the notion that there was some kind of prophecy that said a man had to come and settle the dispute between these three women, but in all fairness, it was two against one. Glinda needed someone on her side, and a clever man with steampunk-style magic worked very well. Glinda’s kingdom needed saving, and once she had a powerful ally, she did a lot of the hard work of saving it herself.

Glinda’s strengths were traditionally feminine. She was always shown to be in control of her powers, and she was not taken in by Oz’s charm. She didn’t know how to build fancy machines, but she knew the talents and abilities of her people like a strong leader should. She used her empathy and feminine wiles to convince Oz to stay and help. Her faith and hope inspired those things in those around her. She is a mother figure in many broad ways and one specific way, in relation to the little orphaned china girl.

I wish so much that little girl had a name, because she was one of the biggest heroes. She knew her weakness, but never let it stop her. She was clever and brave. Sure, she used tears to get her way once, and seriously, it’s not a habit any woman should cultivate, but it was only once, and it was well-timed. For the rest of the movie, she used the things that made her unique as a strength and saved Glinda’s life.

In the end, it came down to a duel, and Glinda stood alone. She proved that, though she encased herself in shiny trappings of beauty, her strength did not come from her appearance, but from her heart. Isn’t the heart of a woman a powerful thing!