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Misleading the People, Abuse of Power and the Bible

Misleading the People, Abuse of Power and the Bible 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

The media, social and mainstream thrive on two things — 1. Shock Value and 2. Virality.

I read an article recently about a church in Georgia that posted a sign out front. It states “Homosexuality is a death worthy crime. – Leviticus 20:13”

I was taken aback to see something like that posted. I consider myself a Christian in faith, though I am not religious, but was nonetheless aghast at such a statement. I have many dear friends of mine that are LGBT and of course my first instinct is to get upset or angry at what this pastor posted. To me, it bothers me from several aspects. First, it is this type of mentality that causes many people to dislike those that are religious. To me, my faith is a very personal thing. I wouldn’t dream of cramming it down anyone’s throat and frankly my faith is nobody’s business but mine. It is my opinion that people who use such statements are using it for nothing more than to express their outrageous arrogance and an attempt to stab at one group or another in their own zealot hatred (and perhaps fear).

Digging deeper into the story, the pastor states that the Bible does not condone homosexuality and that the laws of God clearly state that homosexuals must die under god’s law.

What Leviticus 20:13 actually states is:

“If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (NIV)

There are many such statements in the bible (especially the Old Testament) which have laws to live by;

“If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him.” Leviticus 20:9 (NIV)


“You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” Leviticus 19:19 (NIV)

OK, I happen to agree with the 20:9 statements, though “death” seems just a tad extreme. As for the 19:19, well I don’t know what to say about that. I know some farmers who would be pretty upset at having to limit their fields to one type of seed and some clothing designers who would be seriously troubled at having to limit their garments to one type of material.
Let’s take this in its actual context though; The bible was written from 1,400 B.C. to 500 B.C. (Old Testament – aka: Torah), then you have the New Testament which was written from about 60 A.D. with James and completed around the late 90 A.D. with Revelation.
The (abbreviated) bare bones of the history of the bible:


    1. The book is almost two thousand years out of date.
    2. It was written in a time where we had clans and groups of people traveling and small villages of lawlessness. They needed a set of laws that could hold a level of humanity and civility to them.
    3. Christianity did not really gain traction until Constantine, an emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 A.D. saw the benefits of the religion as a way to control the populace. To give his people laws ordained by none other than God himself gave Constantine the ability to literally strike the fear of God in his people.
    4. The Bible consists of sixty six books, canonized and collected by the church of Rome around 144 A.D.. They began sifted through hundreds of Hebrew scrolls and written text. It wasn’t until the fourth century that Augustine and Jerome’s cannon contained all of the books now contained in the Old and New Testament. Many people believe that it was the Council of Nicea (held in 325 A.D.) that determined which books should make up the bible, but that is not the case.
    5. Jesus never said one word about homosexuality (according to the Bible).


All of this being said, I think it would help to bring a lot more people to the Bible if we could somehow integrate modern canons, but under whose authority could this even be done? We are forced to adhere to and interpret ancient texts that relate and don’t relate to today’s modern world.

It is my opinion that far too many self-proclaimed “Christians” take the Bible at face value, with no room for interpretation with regards modern culture and society.

In the Bible it also states:

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)


“Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” (John 21:6)

Many people interpret those two statements as a calling to bring people to the church. Perhaps it is, then again, perhaps it is exactly what it sounds like, Jesus teaching people a lesson with no more symbolism than the raw text of what is being said? The reality is, no one will ever really know what the true intended meaning is but those who wrote the text. All we can do is interpret, interpret, interpret.
My church, Netcast Church out of Beverly, MA believes in social acceptance but letting scripture guide us. It is my opinion, that if Christians have any hope of bringing people to their faith, they must be accepting of people regardless of their choices and love them nonetheless. Christianity is not about cramming a bible down someone’s throat or shoving a cross into someone’s head. It’s about caring about one another (even when you don’t want to) in the hopes that you might get through to them and lead them in a better direction. And keep in mind, sometimes that better direction is not a direction you would agree with or that the Bible would agree with, but that’s okay. We should love our neighbors and respect that they will believe what they want to believe and love them regardless, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, we all make our own choices. It’s what free will is about.

This pastor in Georgia is not trying to convert or pull in anyone; he is trying to keep the zealots he currently has, which is a sad misuse of the title of “pastor”.

I just wish that more people will choose to use the adage “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” – when trying to get through to people concerning their faith.

Source: Huffington Post

Email Spoofing: Explained (and How to Protect Yourself)

Email Spoofing: Explained (and How to Protect Yourself) 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Recently a co-worker asked me “Why do people even bother to spoof my email address?”

First, for those of you joining me that have no idea what the term spoofing means – let us examine that.

Spoofing is defined as:

1. imitate (something) while exaggerating its characteristic features for comic effect.
2. hoax or trick (someone).

Origin: late 19th century English comedian Arthur Roberts.

In the context of computers, to spoof one’s email address means that the sender is acting as if the email is coming from someone it is not.

How someone (or something) sends an email made to look like it comes from somewhere or somewhere it does not, is a little more technical to explain. So, if you don’t like tech talk, then skip to the next section “Why is my email address being spoofed?”

How are they spoofing me?

Spoofing email addresses is rather easy. All a person needs to spoof an email address is an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server (a server that can send email) and the appropriate email software. Most website hosting services will even provide an SMTP server in their hosting package. It is also possible to send email from your own computer if you load an SMTP server on it, however most ISPs will block port 25 (which is required to send out email).

Many of the available free SMTP servers will allow you to show a different “from” address than the actual registered domain that the email is transmitting from. However, to the recipient of said message, they will see that it actually came from the address you specified.

Now, there are special checks in place (and more being put into place) to prevent exactly this problem. One is called SPF or “Sender Policy Framework” which was developed by Meng Weng Wong in 2003. Basically, each time an email is sent, the receiving server compares the IP of the origin with the IP listed in the SPF record with the appropriate domain.

EXAMPLE 1: So, for example, let’s say someone tried to spoof Bill Gates (billgates@microsoft.com):
They would send an email on his behalf > the recipient server would then talk back to microsoft.com and say “Hey, I have an email that is coming from stating that it was sent from billgates@microsoft.com.” > microsoft.com would then tell the recipient server, “No, sorry, it should be coming from” and the message would never get delivered.

Why is my email address being spoofed?

Two basic reasons people (and machines) spoof:

1. Malicious: To cause useless internet traffic – ultimately hoping to bog down servers or bring them to a halt.

2. Because you were unlucky enough to have clicked the wrong thing at the wrong time.

There is only one reason that people (and all of this was at some point, created by people) take the time to code, program and create things like viruses, spoofing, spamming and malware. It is for no other reason than the fact that they can do it. They are bored, or are getting paid by others that want to cause havoc on the Internet. Think about what I show in “Example 1” above. At the end of that example I state that the message doesn’t get delivered. So where does that email go? Well, it sits around in holding bins called queues, sometimes weeks, trying to get delivered. Multiply that by the billions of emails that are transmitted daily and one can imagine how much damage could be done with spam, and spoofing.

Don’t get me wrong, I too at times wish the Internet wasn’t around and miss the days of yesteryear. We have too much information at our fingertips and not enough human hearts controlling it (but that’s a topic for another time). However, the Internet is part of our life, good or bad.

How did they get my email address?

I have been working in Information Technology for almost twenty years and I’ve seen it all. The two biggest problems that cause people to get listed on spoofing databases (lists of email addresses for spoofing) are:

1. People click a link in a phishing email and freely submit their email address (unbeknownst) to the list.

2. People send forwards (such as today’s latest funny) to mass groups of people, exposing their email address and everyone else’s. All you need is for one of those receiving email boxes to have a scraper in it (something that pulls all the email addresses it can find and adds it to a list).

How can I protect myself from being spoofed?

• Use your spam filters. Nearly every free (and paid) email service has spam filters and junk boxes. If something goes to your junk mail, don’t simply unblock it. Investigate the email, even if it looks like it’s coming from someone you know. Make sure that it really did come from that person and that they intended to send it to you.

• Never click an unexpected link or download an unfamiliar attachment. Nearly all major companies (such as banks) have policies in place that require that if they need you to click a link to their site, they will include some sort of identifying information such as your name or last four digits of an account number. Pay special attention to that. Too many people see a generic email that simply says “Your account has been compromised, click here to validate.” No legitimate bank or institution will ever send that. They would say “Dear Jason, We believe your account has been compromised, please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

• Learn to read email message headers and check domain names and IP addresses. Nearly all email programs will let you float your mouse over an email address (or link in an email). What you see pop up should be identical to what you are floating over. If it is something different, then it is probably spam or phishing for information.
Source: Huffington Post

Guns and Children — Don’t Be Ignorant

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Last month I wrote an article discussing guns, gun bans and the concept that business bans or restrictions on guns offer a safe haven for killers in “Gun Bans a Safe Haven for Killers”.

During my research and discussion for this article, questions regarding children and guns came up and it was a topic I badly wanted to discuss, but did not feel that was the appropriate article to go into any detail.

Gun Safety and Children

I am a father to young children and also an educator of parents with a teaching focus of protecting children online. My compassion for children runs deep and having been raised around guns and being taught the dangers of guns at a young age, I believe that it’s critical to educate children on gun safety.

Gun ownership is not just a right under the Constitution, it is also a responsibility. It’s our charge to ensure that those who own guns are taught not only the safety necessary to protect themselves, but also the knowledge of how to make certain children understand the realities and dangers of guns.

As a child, I was never allowed to touch a gun unless my parents were with me. I knew exactly where they were kept. I even knew where the ammo was stored, but not once did I ever think of touching them. I knew guns posed a danger. I realized what guns were capable of and that they could mean the difference between life and death–in good ways (protecting yourself) and bad (killing another accidentally). My father would even mention that we shouldn’t even point toy guns at other children, in keeping with the consistency of his “gun” safety teaching.

When I did handle guns, my father had three strict rules:

  • Never have the chamber loaded unless ready to shoot.
  • Never point a gun at another person unless your intent is to kill.
  • Never point a loaded gun anywhere but the ground, in the air or at a target.

My father has taught children for years about gun safety, explaining the power that accompanies holding a gun, the inherent dangers and the fact that guns should only be held by those trained to wield them.

Ignorance Kills – Guns Don’t

Few things upset me as much as hearing people say, “Guns kill people.” They might as well step out into a crowd with a megaphone and announce, “Hello. I’m ignorant.”

Not once in my life have I ever seen or heard of a gun jumping off a table, aiming itself at a person and tripping its own hammer.

Are guns dangerous? Yes. Are knives dangerous? Yes. Are cross bows dangerous? Yes. Are cars dangerous? Yes.

Every single one of these is both a tool and a weapon and should be respected as such. But no single weapon kills a person unless the person behind that weapon either has the intent to kill or is ignorant. Sadly, I do believe that a greater number of fatal gun accidents are due to ignorance than due to intent. Ignorance is our number one problem when it comes to all weapons–ignorance of how they work, ignorance of how to protect our children from their inherent dangers, and ignorance of use and purpose.

Resist the urge to be an ignorant parent who dismisses guns entirely in stating, “I don’t believe in guns” or “I won’t allow my child near guns.” The reality is, your child will end up around guns someday. The right to own a gun is a constitutional right and isn’t going away. That being a given, I encourage you to either educate your children on gun safety or move out of the country.

Please consider the fact that teaching your children to be safe and understand guns doesn’t mean that you need to own one or even approve of owning them in general. Your teaching them gun safety does mean that you are a responsible parent. The last thing you want is for your child to be in a gun owner’s house with a parent who has refused to teach their own children safe gun practices, thus putting your own child at risk of being injured or killed–only because you were negligent in instructing your child about gun safety.

What can we do to ensure that our children are safe?

Too many people expect the government to make laws and set rules in place that will protect their children and take away the responsibility that they have as an American to educate their own children for.

William H. Taft said:

We are all imperfect. We cannot expect perfect government.

It is our responsibility as parents to create and follow guidelines that will teach our children and make a safer world for them to live in. Ultimately it is we the parents that are responsible for our children, not our government.

Follow these simple rules religiously; what I call the T.A.F.T.T. rules:

Tell your children that you own a gun. Hiding it and not telling them that it’s in the house is a recipe for disaster.
Alert an adult if they see a child near or touching a gun and always leave immediately.
Fear guns. Explain the real dangers to your children that guns pose. A strong fear should be put into them (especially young children) regarding guns.
Take your children shooting as they get older (pre-teen and teen). They need to understand the reality of guns and how to properly handle them.
Treat your guns as you would treat your car. Both can save a life or take it away.
Source: Huffington Post

Money Is Evil and Wrinkles Are Blessings

Money Is Evil and Wrinkles Are Blessings 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

If money is the root of all evil, then contempt and jealousy is the tree that blossoms from it. Not that I believe money in itself is the root of evil, but that people’s desire, quest for, obsession with and what they compromise to get it, is often what we see as “evil.” We relate and assume it is the money, when in fact it is how people use and or abuse money. It is no different than drugs, alcohol or sex.

I know someone that is obsessive about holding on to every fraction of every cent that they can. They are always concerned with how big their ‘nest egg’ is to the extent that they fail to enjoy the amazing things that are before them.

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that savings are a very important and critical part of our lives. We have no way of knowing when we will lose our job, when a tragedy might strike or when we will need funds to buy a house, buy a car or help our children with school. But, hoarding money and holding on to it with an iron fist does not allow you to enjoy life.

When you pass from this world, will your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews say “I’m sad to see them go, but at least they died rich”? I suppose there are those that might say that, but at the end of the day as your body lies in its coffin or it lies next to the incinerator waiting to be turned to ash — that money, all of those savings — will be worthless if you haven’t lived your life.

Two Sides of the Coin
My father and step-mother are not wealthy. They are simple farmers, but they are the richest people I have ever known. With weathered skin and wrinkles here and there, they welcome anyone they meet with open arms. They bend over backwards for the man they have never met, not because they hope to get something in return, but because it’s the right thing to do. In turn, people do things for them, fix a fence, help bale hay, feed the horses.

When my children visit them, they do not say, “I like Grandma and Grandpa because they buy me things.” In fact, I asked my son why he loves his grandma and grandpa so much. His reply was, “Because Grandma reads to me and because Grandpa plays with me.”

Could they afford to do more? Yes, of course, and they do things like take them to the zoo, take them to a local cave and take them canoeing. The things they choose to do with them aren’t inexpensive because they don’t have the money, it’s because the quality of what they are doing is more important than the cost.

I have an acquaintance I know who lives just outside of Phoenix. He owns a very profitable automotive software company. He has two children, who he rarely sees, has had several plastic surgeries and could no doubt be mistaken for being in his thirties, despite the fact he is in his fifties. When he does see his children, he takes them out in his private jet to California so that he can take them to a theater or to a posh restaurant where he will spend $400 on a meal with them. This same man has everyone at his beck and call, but take away his money and no one would do anything for him, because he treats others with contempt and has an attitude of entitlement.

Two extremes perhaps, but extremes speak volumes. One buys the affection of others, while the other earns it.

Reality and Perspective
There are of course a million shades of gray between these two examples. However, I notice frequently that they still follow suit with either buying or earning. Those that buy, feel that they are entitled to a higher level of society and respect than those that earn, whereas those that earn do not feel they are entitled to anything but gain a deeper respect from those around them.

I live in a fairly affluent community. No, I am not one of the affluent members, but I have many friends who are. There is a large Jewish community and a large Catholic community within the neighboring towns, two more strangely divided groups which themselves have divided subgroups.

Both the Jewish and the Catholics in my community (and I’m sure others around the world) have those that are considered ‘high society members’. People who hire someone to do everything for them and expect their children to have better treatment than the other children, simply because they have a higher ‘standing’ from an economic perspective. Then you have the polar opposites; those that are strong in their faith and cast aside monetary possessions for the greater good of their faith in God.

Am I generalizing? Yes, and no. The members of the community, whether they want to admit it or not, do indeed fall into these generalizations. Not because they strive to meet one objective or another in being as I described, but more because of who they socialize with. A middle-class, stay-at home-mom socializes with other stay-at-home moms who have wealthy husbands. The middle-class mother wants to fit in, wants to live the life that she sees her friends living and thus starts to change her home, her car and her possessions — losing sight of what was most important and what made her more wealthy than all her friends; her children and the joy that they had in the time that they spent with her.

Our Fundamental Values
What makes America special? What makes the UK, Japan and many other modernized countries distinct? It is the affluence of these societies. But, has our affluence caused us to somehow mitigate the importance of family, friendship, love and relationships?

I have been working on editing a book called Money and the Human Condition for a good friend of mine. In the book he states:

We dream and fantasize about having wealth. Not only do we desire wealth but we are also impatient in our quest for wealth. Instant gratification seems to be in our genes. This is why state lotteries are so successful or why casinos can be such big money makers. And this in spite of the fact that every person that has ever stepped foot in a casino or ever bought a lottery ticket knows unequivocally that the vast majority of people lose and that their odds are extremely slim of winning. So why do we do it?

Why do we do it? Because we have been taught that the dollar is what gives us self-worth. But it’s wrong, so wrong. Go home tonight and hug your spouse, your kids, your parents, your grandparents, your cat, your dog or even your friends. Because those are what make you rich… that is where your true wealth lies.
Source: Huffington Post

MMOs and MMORG — Control Your Kids Online Gaming

MMOs and MMORG — Control Your Kids Online Gaming 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

I have a strict policy in my house. No MMO games, or rather — no MMOs that are actually enabled online.

I know, some of you parents and grandparents are saying, “What? What’s an MMO?”

MMO or MMOG (which also falls under MMORPG) stands for Massive Multiplayer Online, Massive Multiplayer Online Game and Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, respectively. In a nutshell, it just means you are connecting with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other people out there playing the same game. In this type of game, you can normally see each other in some form of virtual construct and help, attack or conquer each other.

Most of it is pretty benign and fun. However, as with any form of interaction (online or in person), there are those who choose to use it for malicious purposes — purposes like bullying, using profanity, stalking or preying on the innocent.

My children are currently under the age of 10, so it’s relatively easy to put a parental ban on these kinds of games. Many people have asked me, “What kind of MMO games could there really be for children out there?”

You might be surprised to know there are quite a few. IOS has tons of games in the app store that allow children to play with each other — Minecraft, Clash of Clans and Beach Bomb, just to name a few. As a rule, I always test the games my children want to play, before they play them, and it is not surprising that most game companies try and implement some form of interaction with other gamers online. It allows the gaming company to have an unpredictable element that keeps their players hooked and allows people to socialize.

Now I’m not saying I don’t allow my children to play with other children. I do. But that play is controlled. I have “LAN” parties for my kids and let them invite over multiple friends with their own iPads, Kindles, etc., and they get on my Wi-Fi and I isolate them to only the local network within my home. They have a blast — we order pizza and they get to play and create and attack their friends in the games, and I have control over who they are talking to, playing with and what they are doing with their time.

It may sound like I am a control freak, but I prefer to think of it as smart parenting. Here’s why.

I have had detailed discussions with the FBI and other state and local law enforcement, and if you have read my other two articles about online child safety (“Your Child: A Sheep Among the Wolves” and “How to Handle Your Child’s Social Media Disaster”) you will know that I always state it’s better to monitor than block. Kids want to play with their friends and want to socialize — and they should — but just as you’d want to know whose house they are visiting and how to reach them there, you should also want to know who they are playing with and who can reach them through their activities.

I understand that not everyone is as tech-savvy as I am, and there are parents who might not even know how to launch a game, much less play it. So here’s my advice to parents, when your child comes to you and says, “Mommy, can you install _________ ?” do the following:

  • Ask them why they want to play it. Most of the time, the answer will be, “I saw _________ playing it” or “I played it on ________ iPad”, etc., which is fine as long as you approve of said friend.
  • Research the game. Doing a simple search online will usually pull up a Wiki page, a vendor page or something that can tell you more details about the game.
  • If something doesn’t make sense or you don’t understand something, contact someone who might, or feel free to even contact me on my website. I’m always happy to help parents if I can.
  • Make sure that you have in-app purchases disabled (usually can be done in the settings of mobile devices). There’s nothing worse than having to dispute a charge on your credit card for “shark food” from some iTunes game.

Source: Huffington Post

Gun Bans a Safe Haven for Killers

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Recently Panera Bread released a notice that they will be banning guns within all their restaurants. Although I understand the concern behind this decision, I believe this is not truly being thought through to its logical conclusion.

Panera is not the first to make such a policy. They follow an appeal from Moms Demand Action, an organization that supports preventing child access to guns, something I happen to agree with. However, I do not agree with this Panera policy, or the Kroger and Target policies, which have also been pushed by Moms Demand Action. It is my opinion that these policies have been hastily thrown together in an attempt to prevent firearms from existing at locations where children may be.

This policy is something Starbucks already contemplated, but they decided instead on a statement that guns are “unwelcome” rather than stating that they are banned altogether, which speaks volumes about an organization that appears to have actually put thought into their policy.

Gun Control vs. Gun Bans

A ban on guns is not gun control. I am for gun control — that is, controlling who can have guns and who cannot. I do believe that individuals who own guns should go through a screening, licensure and perhaps even medical-history evaluation, but this is not the same as banning guns or preventing ownership of guns.

Alexander Hamilton once said, “The constitution shall never be construed … to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

Second Amendment Rights

“Peaceable citizens” is the key term here. We are maintaining a level of peace by providing knowledge that there are repercussions for certain actions. During the Cold War we never fired a nuclear weapon at Russia (though there were very close calls, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis), but it was not because we were “good guys.” It was because we knew that if we struck them, they had the power to retaliate. It was two sides possessing strength but respecting the other’s strength. As long as guns exist in the world, criminals will always have guns — but we law-abiding citizens have the power to choose whether we will hold our own strength against them.

Britain used to have strict gun laws in place for those who wanted to own handguns. Despite this, Michael Ryan killed 16 people and wounded another 14 people before shooting himself in the town of Hungerfold. Because the public and police were unarmed, Ryan was able to roam the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue.

This, along with a shooting spree by Thomas Hamilton in 1996, resulted in Britain banning guns with the Firearms Act of 1998. The effect was totally opposite to what the proponents of the act intended. Gun violence has soared to a point where some British police are now carrying guns for the first time due to gang-related gun violence.

Safe Haven for Terrorism

“When the law disarms good guys, bad guys rejoice.”
–Ted Nugent

Words to live by?

The CEO of Panera stated, “Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment….”

Questions to ponder:

  • Thinking this through, one needs to ask what “warmth” it offers customers, knowing that the immediate line of defense for neighbors, friends and family is not an option in an extreme situation?
  • Casting aside emotion, let’s think logically about this. What good comes from preventing people who can legally own guns — those who have passed federal, state and local licensure and are required to pass a gun-safety course — from bringing concealed firearms into a public building?
  • Are the violent people who walk in with the intent to shoot up a Panera Bread, a Walmart, a Target or a Kroger grocery store going to care what prohibitive gun policies are in place? And at the front end, will these intent-to-kill people have a license to carry to begin with?
  • In our legitimate desire to ward off disastrous gun violence, might we actually be preventing the only people who stand a chance at stopping said criminals from, at the very least, avoiding a worst-case scenario? Yes, the authorities can be called, and perhaps there would even be a police officer on site, but might people who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon be our first critical line of defense in such desperate situations?

Extremes on Both Sides

As much as I love my country, the United States is replete with extremes, which can drive most of us insane. We are a country with two political parties, whereas many other Westernized countries have multiple parties and never allow a single party to have a majority by itself.

One group would like to see guns outlawed completely — a pointless endeavor, as it will not prevent criminals who have no respect for the law from acquiring guns. We have another group that believes in ownership and feels that the laws are too tight to begin with for those who own guns legally. Then we have the rest of us, who would like to see some kind of happy medium. Ironically, those of us who would prefer a happy medium are the ones without much of a voice, because we do not choose to follow either extreme.

Ask yourself this question: If you were a criminal, had a bone to pick with society or were mentally unstable and wanted to snuff out as many innocent lives as possible, would you walk into a McDonald’s where there is no ban on guns and you might get shot, or would you set your sights on a Panera Bread, where you do not need to worry about resistance of any kind?
Source: Huffington Post

Then and Now: How 9/11 Changed the United States 13 Years Later

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As dusk swallowed the day on Oct. 15, 2001, I sat in the cockpit of the Piper Warrior I was planning to fly from Lawrence, Massachusetts, to Sanford, Maine. My plan was to perform “touch and gos,” basically maneuvers to practice takeoffs and landings. I had done my weight and balance, checked the weather, and found that there was a light crosswind but nothing that should adversely affect the flight. At the time I had about 120 hours logged as pilot in command and was looking forward to my first flight since before 9/11.

The planes for the school that I rented from, Beverly Flight Center, had been moved to Lawrence, as Beverly’s airport was within Boston’s Class C airspace, which was still under a lockdown due to the tragic events of Sept. 11.

I checked ATIS (the weather and information channel at the airport) and requested permission to taxi to the active runway. Taxiing just shy of the active runway, I stopped at the run-up area and checked all my flight systems and flight surfaces, as I had done many times before. I dialed in the tower on my radio and prepared to request clearance. That’s when my finger froze over the mic trigger. I looked down at my hand, and I was visibly shaking. I took my hand off the yoke, engine idling, and I realized that I was scared — scared to death to get back into the air. A flood of emotions came over me, and I looked at the runway, lights illuminating the beautiful track that would allow me to go wherever my plane could fly. For the first time since I had sat in the cockpit, the magic was gone; there was just sadness. A group of people had taken something that I loved more than anything — flight — and they had used it as a weapon, something to kill my own people, thousands of innocent lives, for one purpose: to put fear in the hearts of the people of my country and the world… and it had worked.

That was when I truly realized that nothing would ever be the same.

It would take me another three years before I would sit down and write “Feathers in the Wind” in my book Ruins of the Mind, a story about two fictitious people placed on Flight 11, where I take the reader through the detailed events based on transcripts I had obtained from the NTSB and interviews I had with people. As I was writing the piece, it got into my heart that these people weren’t just flight attendants, pilots or passengers. They were human, all part of the same species, all people who loved and had careers, families, children, parents, aunts, uncles and friends who cared so much about them. In those final moments, they were scared, alone and so disconnected from their reality that it must have seemed almost surreal.

Aftermath of 9-11

It was a wake-up call, not only for us as Americans but for those in many parts of the world. It forced us to open our eyes to a world that had been under our nose for so long, but we’d chosen to ignore it. The Middle East had faced these terrorist acts day in and day out, but it always seemed disconnected, disjointed and never spoken of very much in the United States. That would all change with the events of that Tuesday morning.

Thirteen years later, I believe we have once again become complacent with some issues. The media is once again only showing us what they want us to see rather than what is actually going on.

Here’s how our world has changed.

Then: Before 9/11

  • We could walk with our loved ones and friends to their gate and watch their planes depart.
  • We could show up minutes before a flight and run to make it.
  • We could walk freely into stadiums, courthouses and public arenas.
  • We could board planes without removing any clothing, shoes or belts.
  • Our bags were not searched with a fine-tooth comb by grumpy TSA agents.
  • We could carry normal bottles of shampoo instead of struggling to find a way to carry our favorite toiletries in quantities less than 3.4 ounces.
  • We could pull up to the curb and wait for passengers without being chased off by security.
  • We could show our children the cockpit of a big jet.
  • Few people had ever heard of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida.
  • It was easier to accept people regardless of their differences.

Now: After 9/11

  • We must plan to be at the airport at least an hour before a domestic flight, and two hours before an international flight.
  • The TSA was created with the mission to protect all passenger and freight transportation.
  • Solid bulletproof doors protect the cockpit of all commercial aircraft.
  • Only ticketed passengers may pass through security.
  • No liquids (with the exception of juices for children) are permitted through security.
  • Shoes must be taken off to be scanned at most airports worldwide.
  • The entire world has learned to beef up security, from phones to computers to buildings, to homes.
  • We can’t afford to be innocent anymore.
  • Postal workers now always ask, “Does this parcel contain anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous?” (as if a terrorist will chime up, “Why, yes, ma’am, there’s a bomb in there”).
  • According to Psychology Today, fears and anxiety have risen with a feeling of loss of safety and security.
  • Politicians and political activists have found the new fears to be a solid platform for attempting to take away the rights of American citizens in the name of security.
  • I believe this is the worst trait: We can’t help but look at everyone with a skeptical eye. Racial profiling has become commonplace, whether we want to admit it or not.

Source: Huffington Post

Casting Off Stereotypes: I Am More Than a Label

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It never occurred to me how emphatic the world was about slapping a label on each person until I was in my mid-20s and someone said to me, “Do you consider yourself a Christian?”

I know, you may not think being called a Christian is a label, but it is. It’s a word that describes what you believe in. The same applies to being gay or being poor. It’s a statement of who you are without actually getting to know you. The more I thought about all of it, the more I said to myself, “No, I am not a sum of my labels. I am someone unique, with my own views, perspectives and opinions. But to say that I am a word or that a word really describes me wouldn’t be accurate.”

Words that label peopl

I am socially liberal, but I am not a democrat. I am fiscally conservative but I am not a republican. I believe that people can have a physical attraction to either gender but have an emotional connection to a different gender and just because someone has millions of dollars, does not make them rich. Some of the richest people I know live in the worst parts of the world. They are the richest in my eyes because they have a loving family and know that it is family that is more valuable than all the money in the world. Does that make what you feel ‘rich’ is wrong or make my view on what rich is wrong? No, it’s just a different perspective is all. A word’s definition can be subjective and relative to one person’s perspective, life experiences or beliefs. It is for this very reason that I dislike labels.

I have a very good friend who considers himself bisexual. He describes himself as someone physically attracted to both genders, but he only has emotional relationships with women. He has had sexual encounters with both genders and enjoys both, but only loves women. Another person might say that he is not bisexual but straight with curious tendencies toward homosexuality. It’s all perspective.

Words that label peopl

Why do we feel the need to smack a word on someone that says this is what you are?

For one simple reason. We have a group of templates in our heads for each word; it is one way we can understand one another. It is also the only way that we know we can connect or disconnect with each other. I am a father and he is a father, so I know that I can relate to him on some level. A homophobic man hears the word gay and believes he has to turn the other way. But what does it really matter who people love as long as they love and are loved? There are too many people out there who don’t know what real love is.

But here is where things become disjointed. There are a lot more words that can describe me than simply one or two words. I am not just a father. I am a son. I am a geek, I am a writer, I am a network engineer, I am a man, I am a wood worker, I am an artist, I am your dream come true and I am also your worst nightmare. It’s all perspective, and it’s all very personal and independent. Just because you’re a father doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with you. It means that we have one thing we share. And just because I hear you say that you are a Christian, does not mean that we are the same. I have in fact met too many self-righteous Christians who have lost touch with what I believe being a Christian is about. To me, being a Christian is about loving God and loving God’s children. Too many people get hung up on the fire and brimstone and fail to see the bigger picture.

Because of all this conditioning that society and our social groups put upon us to be labeled, we begin to come up with our own labels for who we are and what we believe. I saw a show with Barbara Walters (20/20 perhaps, I can’t remember), where she said that we all have labels for ourselves. If we list our labels, the ones that we list first are higher priority. Interesting thought.

Do you feel it’s right for people to label one another, and are we really the sum of our labels? Are you willing to give your comments below or should I label you a chicken?
Source: Huffington Post

40 Years on the Fence

40 Years on the Fence 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

This week I turn 40 years old.

I will admit that last week, I was pretty down about the whole idea of leaving my 30s in my past.

“It’s just a number…” my friends told me, “Forty is the new 30.”

True, 40 is just a number, you’re only as old as you feel and people do a lot more at 40 than they used to: starting families, going to college, etc.

I think the reality is, however, that so many things changed in my 30s, I really felt like I never had time to adapt to being 30. After talking to many trusted friends, family and colleagues, I have found that this mid-life point is much more than a number.

Our instincts are to look at all the things we haven’t accomplished in life, think about where we expected to be at this point in life. I’m as guilty as everyone else. I stood there on the edge of this birthday and thought, “What do I have to show for where I am?”

The reality is, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what we have accomplished by the age of 40 or what we haven’t. Does it make you (or me) less or more of a person to look at our accomplishments or failures and tally them up? No. It doesn’t.

What matters is this — regardless of your age:

  • Who’s lives have you touched and how?
  • What dreams do you have and how will you achieve them?
  • What can you do today that will make the end of your day worthwhile?
  • Assume that you might be gone tomorrow for good (morbid I know, but it’s true) and do something today that counts for you or for someone you care about.
  • Do what you love today and go to sleep tonight knowing that you accomplished something.
  • Love those that love you back.
  • Don’t forget those who have been there for you.
  • Don’t ever forget where you come from but don’t let it be a roadblock for you either.
  • Learn something today. It doesn’t have to be something big, but find a way to grow, everyday.
  • Understand that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes, but being selfless is just as important.
  • Know that the past is the past and you can only move forward through forgiveness
  • Learn from your mistakes but don’t dwell on them.

I have a (pilot) friend who was killed in a tragic plane accident in 2010 at the age of 30 while trying to help someone. He wasn’t a good friend, just an acquaintance who I flew with several times, both as an instructor and as my co-pilot. Basically, he was hit in the head by a spinning propeller. It was a horrible accident and his life was cut short far too early, but that’s not the point of where I’m going here.

The point is, he was doing something he loved, right up until the moment he died. How many people can say they are doing the same thing? How many people simply exist day to day without thinking about how much this single day counts?

Can I say that I make every day count? No, of course not. I’m only human.

Have I made mistakes in my life? More than I can count. Or, perhaps more than I want to count.
Do I exist day to day without thinking about how much today counts? Yes, too often.

I think in turning 40, perhaps it is forcing me to take a step back. Not to look at 40 years that have passed, but rather 14,600 days that have passed — 14,600 days to make myself either a better person, a worse person or a person that can make a difference in someone else’s life. Each day is a chance, an opportunity to move forward and keep breathing, or a chance to slide back and bury yourself in the days that have passed. But nothing can be done to take those days back, only today and tomorrow can be different.

What will you do today… this day, that you can go to sleep tonight, knowing that today was worth your time?
Source: Huffington Post

Your Ducking Conversations Censored

Your Ducking Conversations Censored 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

All of us who have iOS (and a filthy mouth) and text, email or otherwise chat know how irritating it can be to have your colorful metaphors changed to “ducking,” “shot” and “Damon” and so on through the censorship of Apple.

Unfortunately the situation often presents itself when you are already frustrated and trying to express your frustration to a friend when your iPhone or iPad decides that it will help you express yourself with its (not so) wonderful auto-correct features.

The iOS is programmed in such a way that not only does it try to auto-correct profanity, but it also censors “hot-button” words such as “ammo,” “bullet,” “rape” and “abortion.” If you don’t spell them exactly right, then you won’t get any recommendations on correct spelling.

Get typing fast in an email and you could end up misspelling or completely changing the meaning of what you intend to type. For example, I frequently sign off on an email with “Warm Regards” or “Kind Regards” to which iOS recently decided to change to “Warm Retards.” Thank goodness I frequently re-read what I type before sending or I could have gotten some very strange looks from the recipient.

Here are some amusing texts that I’ve encountered resulting from auto correct madness:

  • Intending to say “I love you” to my father, I instead say, “I blog you.”
  • A friend sends me a text telling me: “I hate this ducking car, it never works right. I’ll be by as soon as I can.”
  • To which I reply: “No”, then say “MP” then finally get out what I want to say “NP” (meaning, no problem)
  • A friend of mine sent someone a text that read “but thread” when they meant to say “butt head”
  • Someone texts me to let me know they are dropping someone off but instead says “Chopping her off, but will be by soon.”
  • Going to a dinner party, someone means to say they’ll bring Italian Bread, but instead says they will be bringing over “Taliban Bread.”
  • Girl sends a text to her friend intending to say “I rode my beachcruiser to work today”, but instead says “I rode my grandchildren to work today.”

So, is there any good way to teach your phone how to let you talk right? No, not really, aside from being more careful when typing.

I’ve read several articles that recommend adding contacts with words that you want it to auto-correct for. It seems like a great idea, until you go to look through your contacts and find it peppered with a profanity parade.

What are some of your amusing auto-corrects?
Source: Huffington Post

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