Monday, December 14, 2015

The Taboo of Interfaith Marriage

 Interfaith marriage occurs when partners who identify with different religious groups marry. Although this seems like a common occurrence today, it was highly frowned upon in the early-mid 1900s. Many religions rejected the validity of these marriages back then, such as Jews and Catholics. Jewish rabbis would often refuse to marry interfaith couples unless the non-Jewish spouse converted and raised their children Jewish. This made it really difficult for couples of different religions to find someone to marry them. Catholics had similar close minded beliefs during this time period. This is largely due to the bible mentioning that these types of marriages shouldn't be permitted, causing priests to refuse to marry interfaith couples.

In addition to the churches forbidding interfaith marriage, families often did as well. Some went as far as disowning their child for being in an interracial marriage as it was considered a blasphemous taboo. This was due to clashing religious beliefs and the question of what religion their children were going to be. Jews who participated in interfaith marriage “in the 1950’s often faced strong sanction from their families”( A combination of religious reasons and disapproval from family caused interracial marriage to be strictly taboo.

My great great grandparents, Nellie and Carl, entered into an interfaith marriage in 1939. Nellie was a Catholic immigrant from Sicily and Carl was Jewish entrepreneur. They desperately wanted to marry but feared the religious stigma surrounding interfaith marriages. In order to avoid any unwarranted religious backlash they decided to elope in Iowa. It took them a long time to find someone to marry them but they eventually found someone in Iowa, so they traveled there from Rockford, IL. They didn't tell anyone about their marriage until years later, when it was more acceptable. Eventually they had two kids, and raised them Jewish. 

Their marriage exemplifies social non-conformity because they did the opposite of society's expectations. They did not conform to the social pressures to marry someone from their own religion and went against the standard behaviors of the time. Not only was this a brave and admirable act of love, it was an undeniable act of nonconformity. When people decide to push against the current of modern belief is when true progress is made. Those who conform become faceless statistics, those who challenge conformity change the world

Nellie and Carl in the early 2000's

Read about current views on interfaith marriage:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Flaws in the United States Prison System

The United States prison system is extremely flawed, leading to a gross overpopulation. To reduce the amount of people, sentences should be lowered for petty crimes and nonviolent drug offenses. Due to Ronald Reagan's “war on drugs”, prison sentences for drug offenses are excessively long and borderline ridiculous. If a person receives a trafficking charge along with 2 separate drug charges of any kind they receive life in prison. Around 50% of all the prisoners in the US are incarcerated for these nonviolent charges, making us the country with the highest amount of people in jail. So, reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenses would significantly lower the number of people in prison. This would have an extremely positive effect on the country, as the taxes that were previously used for prisons could be used to provide higher education to poorer parts of the nation. This would help to further reduce the amount of prisoners as well, due to the fact that people who didn't complete high school account for 41% of American inmates.
            In addition, the living conditions in prisons should also be addressed. Prisons should not only punish, they should also “repair” the prisoner to make them suitable to be a productive individual in the outside world. This should include education, rehabilitation, and work skills. Allowing the prisoner to pursue a job or career after their release, rather than going back to a life of crime. Since only a small amount of prisons offer this, 68% of prisoners return to jail, and I believe reforms like this could reduce that number significantly.

read more here

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ben Carson controversy

Recently controversial allegations concerning presidential candidate, Ben Carson have been made by the media. The media dug into his childhood and uncovered events that could possibly harm his campaign. It has been reported that the candidate had anger problems in the past, even including a failed attempt to stab a kid at school. But as time went on, he learned how to keep his anger under control and eventually became a successful surgeon. His anger issues  shouldn't be a problem, since they are under control and no recent evidence has suggested that they are still present. 

Is it really fair to look into his past like this?

The media went so far as to interview his old classmates to find out his information. This is extremely invasive and unfair. This brings up the question of why the media is doing this, and what their motive is. Ben Carson seems to believe that the media doesn't want him to become president and is therefore ruining his campaign and painting a negative picture of him. In a press conference he stated that “There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find ways to tarnish me because they've been looking through everything, they have been talking to everybody I've ever known, everybody I've ever seen”. Everyone has things they are not proud of, but they definitely don't define the type of person they are. By the media constantly bombarding him with questions concerning the validity of what he says about his pasts and the events of his past he is unable to showcase his ideas for the country, which is what the elections are about. The media should solely focus on what his ideas are for the future of and the type of person he is now. 

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Get a Job!!!! (Parent blog)

Chart above (taken from shows the percentage of teens employed from 2000 to July 2015. The good news is that employment rate appears to have based at 25% after dropping from 35% during the 2008 financial crisis.  That said,  we are no where near the teen employment levels of 2000 despite the fact current US employment is running near its lowest level since pre-Lehman. 

High School years are an interesting time of transition as children make the transformation to adulthood.  As teens they begin to build upon their natural talents and improve their skill set as they set goals for the future. These days it’s common for the Generation Y’ers to hold off taking a job until college or even after they earn their degree. Why is it that teens before could hold a part time job, engage in sports, earn good grades and do chores around the house but today’s teen’s don’t seem to be able to handle the stress.  I hear all the non-sense or excuses that “Oh my kid is in all 4 level classes” or “plays a sport” and can’t work. Is this behavior creating a “give me” type of entitled society?  What happened to teaching kids to be self sufficient? Teaching them to cook, do their own laundry, and solve their own problems?  Well, kids in my generation didn’t seem to have a problem entering the workforce in High School.  Nowadays, It’s pretty typical for recent college grads to take a year off to “find themselves ” I honestly don’t really comprehend what that means.  To me its just a way to delay responsibility.  Getting a low paying job teaches humility, which can be a very good thing for a child that has been told he or she is “special” since birth. Holding a job in their High School years will teach them basic skills of handling cash, delegating tasks, customer service, responsibly and punctuality.  It’s also a great way to start networking and potentially get post-graduate job leads from co-workers, customers and supervisors.   Additionally, it will enable them to differentiate themselves on college applications and avoid the Catch-22 many recent college grads run into where in order to get hired they need to have some type of work experience. 

By: Brian Liebovich

Physician assisted suicide

Physician assisted suicide is when a mentally capable terminally ill patient chooses to terminate their life via lethal substance with the help of a medical professional. I believe this should be legal because it allows patients with terminal illnesses to escape months of endless pain that would eventually lead to their death. By prescribing a lethal medication to these patients it gives them the option to end their lives with dignity and peace. Currently this is only legal in five states and more are becoming more accepting of this law, this is largely due to Death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard. 

Brittany Maynard was a 29 year old with stage 4 Glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant brain tumor, was given 6 months due to her tumors size. During these months she learned through research that she would experience morphine-resistant pain, as well as personality and cognitive changes. Since she didn't want this situation for her family, she began to research death with dignity, which is an option for mentally capable patients with 6 months to live or less to use medical aid in death. After her research she was inspired to be an advocate for the organization. Eventually she then got the pills, not because she wanted to die, but as an option if her life becomes unbearable. This choice to end her life allowed her to have a sense of peace, rather than a painful one and enjoy life while having a safety net. 

If someone has no chance of long-term survival they should have the right to peacefully die when they choose. If someone has no quality left in their lives because of an illness like this, they shouldn't have to continue to suffer for extended periods of time waiting to die. Therefore, physician assisted should be legalized. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Situation of Legalization

The legalization of marijuana would be beneficial to Americans nationwide. These benefits extend to tax deductions and extensive medical uses. The fact that it is illegal is baffling due to there being no deaths from over dosage compared to the 2.5 million deaths a year caused by alcohol. Also, it is proven to have less harmful side effects than tobacco and alcohol, which unlike marijuana are highly addictive. 

By legalizing it, the 7.7 million dollars in tax payer money that previously went towards enforcing marijuana laws and prohibition could go to a more urgent cause. This includes food stamps and tax deductions. In addition to the 7.7 million, a tax would most likely be placed on purchasing marijuana in legal dispensaries, which would add up to around 6.2 billion annually if taxed liked tobacco. Since dispensaries would be open, people would refrain from illegally purchasing it, and therefore it would become unprofitable for the people who were previously selling it. As a result, the substance would be taken off the street, making it hard for kids to purchase it. 

In addition to tax deductions, marijuana has been proven to alleviate a lot of medical ailments. The largest being cancer. The effects of chemotherapy can be debilitating, due to the various side-effects such as vomiting and nausea. Marijuana greatly reduces these effects, making it possible for the people suffering from this disease to lead as normal of a life as possible. Recent studies even show that the THC found in cannabis can assist in terminating the cancer. These studies show that cannabis can play a role in slowing the growth of cancerous cells, and even killing some of these cells. By allowing patients suffering from cancer to use cannabis, their quality of life will improve significantly.

The medical uses of cannabis also helps with a variety of other diseases and disorders. Some of these include epilepsy, anxiety, Alzheimer's, PTSD and many more. The drug that is currently used to help control epileptic seizures has many side effects, including nausea and headaches. By allowing these patients to use cannabis, seizures can be prevented with a lessened amount of side effects. Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 18.1% of people above 18 years old, and most of these people have more than one disorder linked to anxiety. A very low dosage of marijuana would be required to reduce anxiety and heighten the users mood, so it wouldn't have a prominent long term effect. In places where medial marijuana is legal, such as New Mexico, PTSD is the number one reason people are able to get a license. This is due to the fact that marijuana plays a part in assisting the veterans and victims of horrible crimes with this disorder. This particular disorder doesn't have many drugs to help it and cannot be cured. Currently psychotherapy is the primary treatment, but this is expensive and not everyone can afford it. Overall, the low cost of marijuana combined with its medical benefits assists people with debilitating medical problems, making a strong argument for its legalization.

Read about more medical benefits here:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Copy Cat Infamy

Last week, 26 year old, Harper Mercer shot 9 people and injured several more at a community college in Oregon. The killer walked into school armed with several guns and ammunition, then proceeded to shoot people who said they were Christian. Mercer eventually met his fate in a shootout with the police. After investigating into Mercer's personal life, a blog he had written was discovered and it said that he longed for "the attention given to Vester Lee Flanagan after he shot a television reporter and cameraman". This shows that the sole reason for this shooting was for the couple days of fame where everyone would know his name.

        I believe that the shooters name should never be broadcasted to the public. I feel as though this will prevent more tragedies like this one from occurring. By showing the killers name and allowing them to become famous for it, the media could possibly cause another person to commit a horrible act to achieve the same fame. In addition, by showing Mercers name, his family will be alienated in their small community, as they were outed for owning guns and raising a killer. In the future, the perpetrator in devastating events should solely be identified by their first name or as "the killer". 

       Rather than talking about the killer and the horrible act they committed, I feel as though the heroes, victims, and survivors lives should be highlighted. For example; An army veteran named Chris Mintz charged at the shooter in an attempt to protect other students. As a result he was shot 7 times and has recently gone into surgery. An 18 year old victim named Anastasia, also had an incredibly brave story. After being shot in th back by Mercer she proceeded to play dead even after the shooter called out to her. This shows incredible bravery and intelligence, as she was able to remain calm during an awful situation and save herself from becoming a victim.  

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Media Malpractice

On August 1st, Blackhawks star, Patrick Kane, invited two women along with one other male friend to his house for a party. One of the women claimed that Kane followed her into a room and raped her. shortly after this alleged attack took place the women left kanes house and she had a rape kit performed on her at a nearby hospital. The way this was reported harmed the victim as well as the case. 

When this case was reported, the alleged victim's name was used. As a result "victim bashing" occurred. Victim bashing occurs when the public and or media challenges the integrity of the victim by questioning the authenticity of their accusations. Some believe that the victim purposely put herself In a precarious position on a premeditation basis with the intention of obtaining financial gain. This is at a very escalated scale for this women due to Patrick Kane's fame. This bad reporting has compromised the safety of the women and even the case. 

The rape kit that was performed on the women was anonymously delivered to her mother's house ripped and opened. Because of this the results of the rape kit were deemed contaminated and therefore unusable as evidence against Kane. I believe that the reason for this is because of how much attention the case got. Many people worked on this case as it included a famous person and this increased the risk of tampering and contamination. One of the police or medical examiners must have purposely did this to the rape kit either to make sure Kane wasn't convicted or to hide evidence that could have gotten him convicted.

These events lead me to believe that in crimes involving celebrities, reporting should be minimal and the victim's name should not be released.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nazi Gold Train

Nazi gold train

The Nazi gold train is a legend claiming that the Nazis hid a train containing gold and other priceless artifacts. The train was rumored to be buried in Germany around 1945. For decades, treasure hunters have been scouring the Mountains of Germany looking for this treasure. These mountains used to be crawling with Nazi tunnels and is believed to be the final resting place of the trains. A recent discovered outlined in a recent CNBC article might just be the evidence needed to turn the legend into a fact. In mid-august it was confirmed that two treasure hunters had discovered a World War II era tunnel in the Owl Mountains. The treasure hunters used a deathbed confession given to them by a former Nazi soldier, and an old map from 1926 to aid them in the discovery. The popularity of the hoax caused images to be taken with ground penetrating radar. These pictures revealed what appears to be a train, but nothing inside can be seen. It had been said to house as much as 300 tons of gold along with other treasure, stolen from people in Eastern Europe. If this tunnel truly does house the lost riches of a brutal tyrant, it is sure to make a sizeable impression on the history of our generation.

What concerns me about this situation is that if they find the treasure, there would be lots of conflict trying to figure out how the money is distributed. Since items are in Poland, should the Polish government have control over it? What about the Jewish and other Europeans that the items were taken from? Many of the Nazis victims are dead and therefore cannot claim ownership and it would be difficult for the families of the victims to prove it belonged to there ancestors. Or should Germany have control over the treasure since it was in soldiers possession and at the time of the burial it was on German land? Also, there's a possibility of the trains containing traps set by the Germans. As the Nazis weren’t necessarily known for playing fair, traps are a very real possibility, which could harm the treasure hunters and military personal excavating the trains. Not to mention that the trains could have be carrying deceased prisoners along with the toxic gas used to massacre them. If the containers of gas ruptured at any point it would lead to many deaths among the excavators. There is no doubt that this is an amazing historical discovery, but there are also many downsides to finding the trains.
Image result for nazi gold train radar image

Monday, September 14, 2015

Consequentialist vs Categorial

                           Consequentialist vs Categorial

       When Joe killed Lark In the novel, "The Roundhouse" by Louise Erdrich, it was simply a last resort effort to seek justice on the man who tore his family apart. After the rape of his mother Joe's family was faced with horrible realization; the man who perpetrated this brutal act of violence still hung in the shadows. First, revenge was attempted to be sought through the law but, the legal system failed Joe and his family. Even after countless hours of sifting through court documents that related to his mother's case, enough incriminating evidence to convict Lark that Joe searched for tirelessly was never found. This forced him to resort to an alternate method of seeking justice; revenge. By eliminating Lark, Joe snuffed out the fear that had rested in the pit of his family's hearts for so many months. Even Larks sister, Linda finds justice in Joe's actions. Linda knows that her brothers corrupt nature led him to deserve a cold blooded death. She proved this by handing joe the screw from the gun that was used to kill Lark. She tells him to give it to her mother and to "keep this"(248). She knows about the murder but her empathy for Joe's family, as well,as her own sense of right and wrong, keeps her from revealing Joe's terrible secret.

      Joe proves that he is a consequentialist thinker by actually attempting to kill Lark. He has a desired result in his mind, and knows what he has to do to achieve that. Although he wasn't the one that took the fatal shot, he did try to. When he sees Lark in the golf course he "shot at the logo over his heart" (282). By aiming here he shows what he wants to happen and how he wishes for him to be dead. Louise Erdrich further proves this by having Joe take another shot. Although his nerves and lack of practice cause him to miss, his intentions to kill are shown.
     Like Joe I am also a consequentialist. Although I wouldn't go so far as murdering someone, I do believe that the morality of an act is located in the consequences. If a person commits a crime with the intention of harming another person or group of people, the victims and families of the victims deserve a form of retribution and a restored sense of safety. This sense of safety was forcefully taken from them by the perpetrator. So, they should have to take full responsibility in restoring it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Sexist Agenda of Donald Trump

The Sexist Agenda of Donald Trump

        Ever since Donald Trump has been in the presidential election he has made several negative and sexist comments towards and about women. Recently Trump took part in an interview with Megyn Kelly. In this interview she asked him some difficult questions and he responded by telling her that she had " blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her....wherever". The comment implies that he is thinking that Kelly is on her period due to how she was acting. This stems from the stereotype that women act in a certain way when they are on it. He has countered this assumption by saying that he meant that blood was coming out of her nose. The problem with that is that he wouldn't have been afraid or uncomfortable to say her nose, as there's not a taboo surrounding it. This is not the only  gender-driven comment that had been made by Trump.  During a debate he solely described women as "pigs". By using the word pigs he shows his sense of inferiority over women. He does not see women as equal to him as many others do in this day and age. He stands by his words and hasn't apologized for any of his comments.