Getting Personal- My Lil Girl

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Harper Rae Sloan

On March, 19, 2011 I celebrated my 21st birthday. Four days before that I celebrated my daughters 6 month birthday.

 I don’t think many people see me as a dad. Coming from the guy who blogs about boozing on his birthday I suppose I don’t fit the fatherly mold. But as surprised as you may be, I am the father of the world’s only perfect 6 month old. Sorry if this blog runs into a bragging session.

 In my short time as a father I have learned a few basic, but important things. Put diapers on tight, loose diapers tend leak. The doctor recommended ratio for formula is 1 scoop for every one ounce of water. Never, ever wake a sleeping baby. Small house dogs will attack dirty diapers. Double travel and packing times. Never get caught without a binky. Extra clothing always comes in handy.

 All of the above-mentioned things might make life a bit more convenient, but I have also learned some more intangible lessons.

 Friday and Saturday nights at home have become more important than tipping back cold ones with friends. I’m not the most important person in the world anymore. Being a good role model actually means something now. And I’m not as tough as I hought I was, little girls will do that to you.

 Being a dad has opened my eyes so many things. Things most people won’t understand unless they have had the privilege of being a dad. In an instant your perception is completely alerted, your priorities are totally realigned. I read in a baby book that when you have your first child, you head into the hospital with two people and leave with three completely new people. It couldn’t be truer.

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West Bank Story

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They say great things come in small packages. The same stands true for short films. Great films come in 20 minuet masterpieces.

 At the corner of West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet there is a hidden, Oscar winning gem. West Bank Story, a politically based musical which sheds light on the unrest in the West Bank, is worth every bit of praise its received.

 The short film uses two eating establishments pitted against each other in the West Bank. The Hummus  Hut and the Kosher King., The Hummus Hut serves the area’s Muslims and of course the Kosher King feeding the Jews. Sticking with the real-life struggle between the two religious groups, the short film shows a young Jewish man and young Muslim women entering into a forbidden relationship.

 This should sound familiar. Director and writer Ari Sandel uses this well known tale of a forbidden love to show the current struggle in the West Bank. This out-of-the-box idea brings both entertainment and political commentary. The message is important and easy to understand and, yet it’s not a bore to sit and watch.

 The 2005 Oscar winning short works exceptionally well because it’s a short production. The message is short and to the point. This politically charged production could have drug and lost it’s effectiveness but Sandel did nothing  of that sort.

 I look forward to this crew bringing us more 20 minuet masterpieces.

Bale, Wahlberg Deliver Realalistic Perfomance in The Fighter

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They called him the pride of Lowell, Mass. Dickey Ward, an Irish boxer know mostly for his 70’s boxing career and knock down of boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. His brother Mickey, Dickeys protégé, know for his 80’s welter weight world title.

 Dickeys straggle with drugs and the law and Mickey’s fight to keep his focus while engaging in a new and exciting love affair makes for a well acted film, worthy of praise.

 The Fighter portrays the streets of Lowell as a city devastated by the economy filled with hard knocks and alcoholic. The Ward brothers are the products of a hard upbringing, every experience crafting their skill with hardened knuckles and a relentless work ethic.

 The two road workers are Lowell celebrities, untouchable city idols. But there is a darker side to the fame. Dickey ahs fallen into a life of drugs where he’ll do anything to fuel his addiction. A HBO camera crew follows dickey where ever he goes, originally it’s thought the crew id filming a documentary on Ward for his previous knock down of Sugar ray Leonard.  But we find out the camera crew has a much different idea.

 Christian Bale, who plays Dickey, delivers a nearly flawless performance as he takes on the role of a retired boxer turn crack addict. It’s impressive to see someone who could have no prior exposure to the world of hard drugs pull off such a realistic portrayal.

 The same can be said for Mark Wahlberg, playing Mickey. I can’t say I was every around the streets of Lowell Mass. In the 1980’s but I completely believe that I would have encountered the same attitude from the people as the attitude portrayed by Wahlberg. It was so much more than an acting performance from Wahlberg. He really took on the character and played it perfectly.

 The story line is as impressive as the actors who carried it out. Based of the true story of the Ward family, the story shows us the struggle between families and drugs. It was interesting to see how far down Dickey had fallen and Mickey’s attempt to take a different path. It’s believable that Mickey could have really experienced a deep inner struggle between bettering his boxing career while still being a loyal brother. It’s a struggle I think many people experience.

  The Fighter exposes audiences to the cutthroat lifestyles lived by the Ward brothers. Wahlberg and Bale gives us a five star performance allowing us to really see how things were on the streets of Lowell in the 1980’s.

Column 2: What Would We Do?

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It’s been weeks since devastation hit the shores of northern Japan, and the images of a country tattered and beaten, continue to flood our TV sets. Aside from the rising death toll, and millions upon millions of dollars in structural damage, the scariest of problems still remains.

 When the massive earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan, Fukushima nuclear plant took a direct hit. The damages subsequently knocked out the plants ability to cool the nuclear reactors, which led to nuclear contamination now affecting a large area around the plant.

In a situation like this, I question what America would do if this catastrophe would have landed on American soil. In reviewing past natural disasters here in America, It can be slightly frustrating picturing this kind of disaster in America. The government was widely criticized in their handling of Katrina, the largest natural disaster in my lifetime.

 It seemed as if people were stranded for days and days with no one coming to their aide. Reports from the Sri Lanka Tsunami of 2005 claim that the 3rd world country suffered the worst losses due to their low economic standing. Reports say that the underdeveloped countries are not prepared to handle natural disasters on such a large scale.

So what’s the excuse for FEMA and their less than impressive efforts during Katrina? As one of the most economically developed countries I would hope a better rescue effort could have been mounted. And still, people in the city of New Orleans and other cities are still feeling the burden form Katrina.

If Japan were to handle this latest disaster like we have handled Katrina, how long will those people feel the after effects? Not to mention, there was no full-scale nuclear meltdown with Katrina.

Initial reports claimed that Japan was extremely ready for this type of activity. First responders were on the scene and prepared to handle the immensity of the situation. Preparation and readiness would not be the first words used to describe the rescue efforts during Katrina. I would hope that in future events the government would have a better plan than storing people in the Georgia Dome like their a bunch of animals. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this wasn’t the best of options.

What would America do with a full scale nuclear meltdown? It seems that over the course of history nuclear disasters have not been handled well. With reports surfacing about nuclear contamination spreading further and further pictures of the Chernobyl disaster come to mind. This disaster occured in an underdeveloped country with little to no training on how to deal with a large-scale disaster.

 The Japanese have been doing their very best to minimize the nuclear damage but it seems their efforts are continually falling short. When the best solution to their problem is dropping sea water into nuclear reactors, I’m not very confident that the situation is under control.

The Japanese have taken the necessary steps to fix their problems. The Japanese government is not too proud to call upon experts of other countries. Reports from Japan say that teams of multiple experts from many different countries are all working together in the effort to solve the nuclear meltdown.

 How would America react? Would we be too proud to call upon foreign allies for help? I would hope not. I would hope our government would do everything and anything in their power to address the problems at hand.

 The devastation in Japan is truly unfortunate. But lets take the opportunity to increase awareness and become more prepared on our own shores. I think it’s healthy to ask ourselves, “what would we do?”

Jay Sloan Won’t Forget his 21st, or Maybe he Will.

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  On Saturday I celebrated my 21st birthday. I celebrated it in the usual way a 21 year old would celebrate. I started with drinks and dinner, and then moved on to more drinks. Following that I was met with even more drinks. And I ended my night with drinks. Yes it’s true, I totally and completely drank more than my share. But it was inevitable. It was my right of passage. It was my brutal initiation into the realm of expensive booze and the Kearney bar scene.

In an attempt to salvage my grade in Dr. Hanson’s commentary and blogging class, I will do my bets to recant the events of that night. Not that it’s all that great of a story, but It will fulfill my obligation to blog on my spring break. Oh by the way, a majority of this blogging will be done at work, so if It seems as if I am losing my train of thought, it because I am.

Blake and Ryan and two very seasoned drinkers. If there was a major offered at UNK focusing on the science of drinking, I think my two older rowdy brothers would be scholars. At my right and my left the two cheered down every shot of alcohol I foolishly introduced to my body. Like a pack of high school cheerleaders, the two chanted my name in an uplifting manor when I found myself holding a wickedly awful shot of Jameson Whiskey or something along those lines.

The three of us began that hazy night at Lunbergs, downtown Kearney. Shots 1, 2 and 3 went down quite easily. Although I can only recall one the name of one of the shots, they all were somewhat tasteful. Shot 4 was another story. Irish Car Bomb, enough said.

And were on the move. Across 22nd street sat a little downtown Kearney jem folks know as Copperfields. The drinks began to flow much more freely at this fine establishment. Shots 5,6,7, and 8. I think this is the point where judgment became seriously impaired and vision a bit more blurry, my walk a bit more wobbled. But given the fact that there was no way I’d be getting behind the wheel of a vehicle I decided to continue on.

On to Cunningham’s Journal. As I recall it this is where things went epically downhill. Shots 9-17 and a half. I notice that these horrid shots are much easier to stomach once prior shots have taken their toll. I remember people eager to join in the festivities. I have a long list of thank you’s to write to all who contributed to my alcoholic demise. Funny how people will buy you drinks just because its your birthday.

But with the little bit of common sense I still had I mad the call to call it quits. Against the better judgment of my two brothers I made my grand exit from the bars blowing kisses to random people like I was Princess Diana. I slowly and meticulously navigated my way to the awaiting sober ride home. The ride is a complete blur and the walk from the car to the couch a blur as well. With my shoes on and my newly purchased outfit still on I slumped into my brothers leather couch and drifted off into a very deep slumber.

The following morning I awoke with the headache from hell. My stomach had been through the ringer and was paying me back for every shot I had taken. Rising from the couch felt like it took me an hour. My mouth was as dry as a desert. I made my way to the kitchen for some water.

I thought back on my night, very glad it was over. I had dreaded the night for so long and it was such a relief to have it done and over with. I also realized how overrated the bars were. I was so excite to finally be 21 and now I felt it was kind of a funny excitement. It was just a bunch of booze and loud music. From what I remember I really didn’t like it as much as expected.

I think I am just more of a soft white wine guy opposed to a crazy shot taking fool.

Sloan: WBC Intentionaly Inflicts Emotional Distress

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The recent Supreme Court case which swung in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church was the latest challenge to the first amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Court voted in favor of the WBC 8-1.

The case, Syder v. Phelps, came after the father of a fallen marine felt he was harassed by Fred Phelps and his gang. Phelps picketed outside the funeral of the dead soldier shouting obscenities and other hurtful messages.

There are many very similar cases which have previously challenged the right to free speech. The 1969 court case of Brandenburg v. Ohio is a prime example of how extreme speech can be protected under the right to free speech. The 1969 case included a Klu Klux Klan leader who invited a local television reporter to cover the Klan’s rally. The message delivered by Klansman was indeed hurtful and was very similar to the noxious remarks made by the WBS.

The Supreme Court ruled that though the speech was obscene and hurtful, it wasn’t directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.

In the more recent WBC case, Roberts held that the distasteful message cannot influence the message: “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

We live in a country where no matter how ridiculous or extreme you may be your rights will always be intact. But who is paying the price for that never-ending freedom?

The very people who defend those rights are the ones who are paying the price. The fallen men and women who have given their lives for the very people who now shout obscene remarks at their funerals are the ones who suffer from our first amendment right to free speech.

I have to say that as a technically thinking person there is no doubt that the actions taken by the Phelps gang is protected under the right to free speech, but as a realistic and emotionally minded being, I think it ought to be constitutionally wrong.

The job of the Supreme Court justices is to interpret the constitution and uphold a quality of life for all citizens of America. I am strongly in favor of federally outlawing the Phelps family from staging these heinous protests. I believe the actions of the WBC are infringing on the rights of the dead soldiers and their families.

The father of the slain marine sued the small Kansas based church on the grounds of harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The stage on which the Phelps choose to hold their protest is indeed a intentional infliction of emotional distress.

I believe the WBC has every right to have their message herd, as sick and distasteful as it is, they do have the right to be heard, but the broadcast of their message should not come at the expense of  emotional unstable family members.

Draft: Column 1

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By definition, the Supreme Court of the United States has the responsibility of upholding and interpreting the Constitution. In regards to the ruling of the Westboro Baptist Church case, our honorable Supreme Court fell well short of their job.

 The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the heinous protest conducted by the Phelps clan was protected by their first amendment right to free speech. I have disrespectful disagree with their ruling.

 I can say that I am an avid believe that any form of censorship or hindrance of free speech is wrong. But please keep in kind the words form another famous Supreme Court ruling, “your right to swing your arms stops at my nose.”

 Thus meaning; you have the right to do, or say whatever it is you want, until it infringes on my own rights. I can’t speak for the people directly affected by the protest of the Westboro Baptist Church, mainly because their all dead but ask the families and I bet they’ll tell you they have had their rights stepped on and drug through the mud.

 I afore-mentioned those men and women effected by the ridiculous behavior of the WBC, hose men and women are among the most honored and respected people of this country. These soldiers who have mad the ultimate sacrifice for our country have been totally and completely betrayed by the Supreme Court and the American justice system.

 I think it’s ironic that the very rights these brave men and women died for are now being used against them. Really, the Supreme Court can’t see that these people have the right to a peaceful send off as much as the Phelps family ahs the right to spread their hateful and at many times message?

 I believe that we have an obligation to protect these people like they have protected us. We will have totally failed in honoring the legacy of these soldiers if we do not stop the WBC from using the funereal of these men and women as their stage.

 I think the Supreme Court needs to take a much more realistic approach to their interpretation of the constitution. I think it’s widely agreed that the means of protest of the WBC is completely unethical, which I know does not always mean it’s unconstitutional.  But can we please understand that common sense should be seriously regarded here.

I think the Supreme Court has an obligation to uphold a quality of life for the citizen of this country, a quality of life which does not end with one’s death. A quality of life which allows everyman to be respectful and peacefully laid to rest.

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