All posts by KristieXIXR

Internet detectives

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Internet community came together via sites such as Twitter, 4chan and Reddit to scour video recordings and pictures to try to aid investigators in finding the identity of the bombers. They searched for suspicious people in the videos taken before and immediately after the bombs went off. They magnified pictures to try to find people with backpacks that matched the description of the backpacks the FBI believed held the bombs. One Internet user believed he had reconstructed the scene using pictures to the degree that he knew where one of the bombs went off within an error of two meters. Continue reading Internet detectives

Representatives in North Carolina want official state religion

This week, two North Carolina Republican representatives submitted a resolution to make Christianity the official religion of the state. Their argument is that North Carolina doesn’t respect Federal court rulings regarding the establishment of religion in state, public schools or other governmental functions. They want to protect people like the county commissioners in Rowan who end their public meetings with “In Jesus’ name, amen” from the scrutiny and lawsuits of non-Christians. They claim they are “… not starting a religion. We’re supporting … freedom of speech … ”

I personally don’t care if the county commissioners of Rowan, North Carolina, chose to end their meetings with a reference to Jesus. However, one of their residents took issue with it and decided to file

The state of North Carolina on a map. Image from Greenwich Mean Time.
The state of North Carolina on a map. Image from Greenwich Mean Time.

a lawsuit. Continue reading Representatives in North Carolina want official state religion

Quadfest: Nothing but trouble

I will be plain: I don’t like Quadfest. People come from all over Virginia to party in our little college town for a weekend and then leave. In their wake, they leave behind broken windows, damaged property, burned dumpsters and a soiled reputation. Those who are willing (or gullible) enough to open their houses to social activities find their homes quickly flooded by people they don’t know and soon after they are answering a knock on the door from the cops.

I’m not against partying and having a good time, but what irks me about Quadfest is that the point isn’t inter-collegiate interaction or camaraderie, but a school versus school drinking match. Inevitably this leads to masses of out-of-town kids wandering our streets drunk out of their minds. The police write hundreds of tickets, a lot of people spend the night in the drunk tank and the pictures of the aftermath make Radford University look horrible. Continue reading Quadfest: Nothing but trouble

Why I don’t have a Facebook

During my senior year of high school I made the decision to delete my Facebook. I rarely used it, and I was tired of the constant barrage of social drama, spamming, fishing for compliments and crudely articulated arguments about “current events.” Two years later, I could not be happier with my decision. I don’t feel the need to monitor the exploits of my friends and family via social media. Continue reading Why I don’t have a Facebook

Homeless man who returned ring receives large donation

Every now and then my faith in humanity gets restored.

A homeless man named Billy Ray Harris was asking for change under an overpass in Missouri when a woman named Sarah Darling decided to give him the contents of her coin purse. Darling had forgotten that earlier in the day she had put her diamond wedding ring in that coin purse because it was giving her a rash. The next day, she realized that she had accidentally dropped the ring in Harris’s cup. In a panic she drove back to where he had been sitting but to no avail. She came back the day after and was fortunate enough to find Billy Ray. She asked him about the ring and he replied that he had kept it for her and he returned it with no questions asked. Continue reading Homeless man who returned ring receives large donation

Iceland considers banning Internet porn

The government of Iceland recently announced that it’s studying ways to ban Internet pornography in their country. They have set the precedent to be able to do so because printed pornography has been banned there for many years and strip clubs were banned two years ago. The reasoning behind these bans is that these institutions exploit women and threaten the mental health of children.

Having freedom of speech so engraved in my mind because of American culture, it’s difficult for me to fathom that a modern government would have the audacity to try to ban such a form of expression, even if some find it objectionable. I understand there are circumstances where women are taken advantage of or even coerced into participation, and I acknowledge that it’s certainly possible children who are exposed to pornography may develop negative side effects. However, just because bad things could happen ought not to be the litmus test for what is acceptable and what is not. Continue reading Iceland considers banning Internet porn

Contemporary tyranny

A report issued by the Open Society Justice Initiative revealed that more than 50 countries have participated in a program where the CIA sends suspected terrorist subjects to other countries to be interrogated and sometimes tortured. Some of these suspects reportedly ended up at CIA “black sites,” which are secret prisons operated by the CIA in foreign countries. There’s even an account of a suspected terrorist being held aboard a Navy ship for over two months. In total more than 130 specific suspects have been interrogated through this process known as “rendition.”

I’m torn between the principle of the matter and my gut reaction. The utilitarian in me can appreciate the pressing need to obtain information to prevent another terrorist attack. Torturing one to save hundreds is easy math. However, after considering the implications of these actions, I conclude that abducting/exporting suspected terrorists to far away countries like Kazakhstan, Romania or Zimbabwe to torture them is not a good thing for our country or our world. Continue reading Contemporary tyranny

Boy Scouts consider changing ban on homosexuality

Last semester I wrote an article about a young man named Ryan Andresen who was denied his Eagle Scout Award after he came forward about his homosexuality. The Boy Scouts of America have a long standing policy of excluding openly homosexual boys and male leaders from participating in scouting.

That policy may now be changing. After six months of public pressure from inside and outside the organization, the national office is meeting to discuss abandoning its exclusionary policy toward homosexuality. It seems the conclusion is foregone and the official announcement is expected soon. It’s expected that the national office will be abandoning the explicit exclusion of gay boys and leaders from troops. Continue reading Boy Scouts consider changing ban on homosexuality

Modern day piracy: Steal from the rich and give to the …?

Online piracy has been featured in the media spotlight recently via the exploits of the notorious Kim
Dotcom, the creator of Megaupload. In its heyday, the site was one of the most popular on the internet.
The idea behind Megaupload was that users could store files on servers that could be accessed by
anyone on the Internet. This business model yielded tens of millions of dollars in advertising profits
primarily due to the popularity of the content being transmitted on the site — copyrighted material that
is. Continue reading Modern day piracy: Steal from the rich and give to the …?

Price gouging: Heartless or helpful?

In the wake of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, supply chains are often disrupted, keeping adequate levels of essential items like batteries, water, generators and gasoline from reaching those affected. After “Superstorm Sandy,” this is the case for New Jersey, where there are reports of rising prices on these essential items. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, warned businesses about the repercussions of engaging in such activities and vowed to take decisive legal action against those engaging in such practices. Continue reading Price gouging: Heartless or helpful?

Death by energy drink: Who is truly at fault?

Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old girl from Hagerstown, Maryland, died of cardiac arrest some time after consuming two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in a 24 hour period, her parents claim. They have since filed a lawsuit against the energy drink company alleging negligence lead to her wrongful death. The family attorney issued a statement contending that Fournier “died of caffeine toxicity in the setting of a cardiac arrhythmia,” and also mention she had an “underlying mild heart condition, not unlike 10 percent of the population.” Continue reading Death by energy drink: Who is truly at fault?

Emerging trend: The small house movement

The past few years have seen the expansion of a growing trend in housing construction: the small house movement. Also called “tiny houses” or “micro-houses,” these structures feature the essentials of life in footprints that range between about 800 to little more than 100 square feet. They first became commercially viable options for housing after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when architect Marianne Cusato developed her “Katrina Cottages” as low square foot alternatives to FEMA trailers. Continue reading Emerging trend: The small house movement

So not fly: Should a gay Boy Scout be denied his Eagle Award?

Ryan Andresen has been denied the opportunity to attain the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scout, because he recently came out as being gay. Andresen has already completed all of the requirements, including his Eagle Scout project: a tolerance wall to protest against bullying. The scoutmaster of the troop informed Andresen and his family that he would be unable to receive his Eagle Scout rank because of Boy Scouts of America policy. Continue reading So not fly: Should a gay Boy Scout be denied his Eagle Award?

Atheist billboards cause stir

Logo from

In anticipation of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Democratic National Convention, American Atheists bought two large billboards outside the city to comment on the religions of the two presidential candidates. The billboards featured derisive characterizations of Christianity and Mormonism juxtaposed with the slogan: “Atheism: Simply Reasonable.” Certainly the billboards were meant to be provocative and start conversation, but they were met by a force which I doubt the group expected. Continue reading Atheist billboards cause stir

The false dichotomy of American politics

As the Republican primaries continue their slow crawl toward Tampa, and President Barack Obama is oiling up his re-election campaign, I believe now is a good time to take stock of the current condition of politics in America.

Turn on the 24-hour news cycle and it will demonstrate what I believe to be the fundamental problem with our political system. Namely, the mentality of the electorate that there are only two viable possibilities: Republican or Democrat; left or right.

How can only two choices adequately represent all the beliefs and principles of this great and diverse nation? Therein lies the false dichotomy that is our two-party system; as a voter it would seem that you are either one or the other, with no gray area or alternative positions to be had. Continue reading The false dichotomy of American politics