Monday, December 29, 2014

"The Interview" and Censorship: What Do You Think??

Lately there's been a lot of discussion about the film "The Interview."

This movie, which is fiction of course, involves a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. This angered him, and so to retaliate, he had computer experts hack into the company that made the movie, Sony Pictures. They stole the log-in credentials of a computer systems administrator at Sony, logged into their computers, wiped out hard drives and stole personal data of Sony employees.

Eventually, feeling it was the best solution, Sony decided not to release the movie. However, within a few days, it changed its mind and did release it for on-demand viewing.

What do you think of this? Was it the right thing to do either to not release it, or to release it?

Does it depend on how much of a threat there is by a given country? If we give in to the opinion of another country do we negate our own Bill of Rights?

Essentially this is an issue of censorship. According to Webster's Dictionary, here is the definition of censorship:

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.

When we refer to our "First Amendment Rights" We are actually talking about the Bill of Rights in our country's Constitution. This is the part that refers to freedom of speech:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"Speech" does not only refer to what you might say, it also includes freedom of expression such as in motion pictures, photographs, sayings on T shirts, signs, or artwork. Notice the freedom of assembly: this means we are free to have demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, and gather to express our opinions.

These freedoms, however, do not include saying or publishing things that are harmful or threatening to others or are illegal, such as slander or pornography. It is not permitted to create a religion, for instance, that says killing people is permitted. Employers do have the right to limit or prohibit demonstrations by their employees on "company time," and any means of threatening our government or national security is not permitted. We have the right to hold a public demonstration, but not the right to incite violence while having the demonstration.

Essentially, by pulling the movie, Sony allowed another country (and its leader) to declare what was and was not allowed in our country. At the same time, Sony had to protect its employees from further harm.

Quoting President Obama on 12-19-14:"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said. "If somebody's able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don't like, or news reports they don't like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended."

Then Sony changed its mind, so to speak, and decided it would indeed release the film on pay per view.

There have been forms of censorship through the years in our own country, even though the Bill of Rights was drawn up in 1789 by James Madison. There have been communities that banned books, which will be addressed in another blog, but included Harry Potter, Sleeping Beauty, and even Where's Waldo books. Why? Is there an acceptable reason to ban a book, movie, or CD?

And speaking of movies, what about the Motion Picture Association of America's rating system? Is it a form of censorship to not allow people under a certain age to see a film? Is there value in having an 'explicit language' warning on a CD?

Here is the MPAA's discussion about censorship regarding its films:

Have a discussion about this with your friends or family. What do you think Sony should have done?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Carols

Here's a little Christmas gift from Triogenius to you...
Maybe Tree-o-genius this time...??

                                                ...and presents under the tree....

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
-1944, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, for the movie "Meet Me In St Louis"

By Christina Perry:

"The 12 Days of Christmas"
-This was first published in 1780 and possibly has French origins.

A mixed-up version:

"White Christmas"
-1940, Irving Berlin
This is the best-selling single of all time, selling 50 million copies as sung by Bing Crosby and over 150 million total (and counting)

Here's the version you hear in the movie "Home Alone"  by the Drifters

"Jingle Bell Rock"
-1957, Joseph Beale and James Boothe

"Frosty the Snowman"
-1950, Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson

"Silent Night"
-Lyrics by Joseph Mohr, 1816; Music by Franz Gruber

This was written by Germans. Here is the German version of the first verse:

1. Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute heilige Paar.
Holder Knab im lockigten Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

Sung by David Archuleta:

"Sleigh Ride"
-1948, Mitchell Parish and Leroy Anderson

House with synced lights:

"Deck the Halls"
-This was an old Welsh dancing song. The words were added later by John Hughes. It is thought that the "Fa la la la la" part was meant to be filled with words but it never happened.

Pets singing it:


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
-1949, Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson. They also wrote "Frosty the Snowman."
Punkish version:

"Winter Wonderland"
-1934, Felix Bernard & Richard Smith
With Mickey and Minnie Mouse:

"I'll Be Home For Christmas"
-1943, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent
This song was written from a WWII soldier's point of view'll%20be%20home%20for%20christmas%20soldiers&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=i'll%20be%20home%20for%20christmas%20soldiers&sc=1-35&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=A81BA0EB611857CFA74CA81BA0EB611857CFA74C

                              Have a wonderful winter break and holiday season!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Christmas Eve Truce of 1914

One hundred years ago this Christmas Eve, an extraordinary event happened. The war was World War I. The location was France, on the Western Front.

What was the Western Front? Basically, anything west of Germany. Here is a map of what was considered the Western Front:

Note Ypres to the north, just a bit in from the northern coast 

The area in red is where the truce was observed, for the most part-almost to Ypres in the north and a bit beyond Neuve Chappelle to the south.

The great portion of the Western Front is many times referred to as "No Man's Land." That's the area between trenches where, if you ventured out, you would be shot and killed.

The men fighting were mainly from Great Britain, Germany, and India. They had dug trenches from which to fire at each other.

What is a trench? The best way to think of it is sort of like a tunnel with no roof:

Some trenches could fit only one or two men, some were wider. When poorly dug, or when rain soaked the ground, the trenches could collapse, making it even more miserable to exist in them.

As Christmas approached, the men received packages from home and even from their own armed services which contained treats such as tobacco or cigarettes, candies, sweets, and other treasures they hadn't had for a long time. Townspeople nearby sent blankets and warm clothing for the soldiers.

The Germans thought of a plan: Why not call a truce for a day to celebrate Christmas and take a break from the fighting? At some point they passed a chocolate cake to the British soldiers on the other side of the field with a note asking them for a ceasefire that night at 7:30. The plan was to light candles to indicate that they were all planning to do the same. Candles were placed on parapets of the trenches, and in some cases, small trees were decorated with candles as well.

What's a parapet?  It's the topmost edge of the trench. It might have stones or only sandbags on it. Here is a diagram:

At the appointed time, the German soldiers began singing songs and coming out of their trenches.

Soldiers shared their treats, tried to speak to one another, and sang songs, having a few hours' peace in the midst of their cold, relentless, awful duties.

The truce was observed for quite some distance up and down the front, despite some rumblings from officers who were not in the trenches, saying that fraternization with the enemy was not the intent of war. The protest was not forceful, though, and the celebration continued in some cases for a week, to Boxing Day, which is a week later and observed by the English. In some cases, soldiers took the opportunity to give each other haircuts. In some, the soldiers used the opportunity to bury their dead without fear of being shot at.

What do you think motivated these men to do such a thing? Do you think it could happen today? What if they simply refused to fight anymore?

Here is an excellent article that speaks of the 'romanticized' version of the truce as well as the realistic version:

A music video/Music by Bruce Guthro:

Monday, December 8, 2014

What do you think?? Answer Some Questions Please!

We'd really like your input to make our social media interaction with you better. Here's your chance to comment, ask questions, or make suggestions.

You can answer some or all of these questions by leaving a message on FB or at the bottom of this page where it says "comments" ..... or if you're in the mood for less questions, see the Survey Monkey link towards the bottom of this page---only 10 questions. Thanks for your take on things!!!

What blog did you especially like? Why?

What TYPE of blog do you like to read?

What would you like to ask me?

Do you take a look at the blog every week? If not, why not?

What draws you to a Triogenius post and makes you start to read it (at least start!!)?

What do you think of the way the blog looks? Would you change anything?

Have I written something you'd like me to write more about?

How important are pictures and illustrations in the blog?

How important are links? Do you often click on them and see what's there?


When do you read the blog?

Have you ever discussed a blog post with a friend? Which post?

Do you follow Upward Bound or SSS On Twitter?

How often do you look at our Twitter feeds? (@SSSARCC and @UpwardBoundARCC ) What would make you check more often?

Do you feel like you could comment on a blog or a tweet? If not, why not?

How often do you check the Facebook page for UB or SSS? What would you like to see there?

Would you feel comfortable commenting or liking a post from Triogenius on FB?

What is missing from social media from Upward Bound or SSS that should be added?

What special interest of yours would you like to see in the Triogenius blog?

Do you ever go to the UB or SSS website? Why or why not? Is it easy to navigate?

You can answer one or all of these in the "Comments" section below, or at FB.

Or, if you would rather, go to Survey Monkey using this link and answer fewer questions. There is no way for me to know whose answers I am reading, so say what you think!!

We want all our social media to be relevant, helpful, informative, and's your chance to help!

Thank you!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Toddlers: Thinking Outside the Lines

Lines? What lines? just go at that paper with your crayons or markers.. or even better, finger paints... and make colors. Somebody's gonna hang that sucker up and act like it's a Rembrandt. And they'll be right.

You can eat just one bite of everything on your plate and survive, no matter what your parents tell you.

You can also eat the same exact thing for about a year, every day, and you'll survive.

Fancy clothes are completely pointless.

These are not, however, to be confused with dress-up clothes. Dress-up clothes rule.

The severity of the owie is opposite to the amount of very loud crying you should do, i.e. a scratch nobody can find is worth at least 20 solid minutes of tearful rebuke to the miserable grain of sand that did it to you. Stitches? No big deal. You get ice cream and a hug and you forget about it within the hour.

The floor makes a much better play surface than a table. You might even find a random M & M or a Cheerio you can eat. Your parents will be horrified for some unknown reason.

Grownups will tell you that you can't fly. You should still give it a try.

Build a fort with the sofa at least once a week. Maybe, once a day. If you have a flashlight to use in the fort, well.... Best. Fort. Ever..!

You can be someone different every day, and we're not talking about a teacher or a chemical engineer. No, no...we're talking a lumberjack, a crane operator, a rock star, a pig, dinosaur, dog, or a fairy. Or a dump truck. Not someone who drives it, the actual dump truck.

And if there is a road being built close to your house and you have a marvelous mom, she will pack a picnic lunch and the two of you will go visit. She will let you watch with your mouth hanging open for an hour or two while she reads.

You can get up every morning knowing you will definitely have fun: it's your job. You will create most of it yourself, and everything you do is an adventure. Most of the stuff you do, you have never done before. Because you're not yet 6 years old. You haven't lived long enough to do much stuff.

The songs you make up are all completely awesome. You sing them at the top of your lungs and no two versions are ever the same. You will likely forget all of them by this afternoon.

Socks are highly overrated.

It is almost impossible for you to choose your favorite holiday: The one where you dress up in a costume and go out with a bag and people throw candy in it, no questions asked....or the one where you get presents just because you exist in the world. A very, very tough choice-especially since some of those gifts include socks and fancy clothes.

You are unabashedly fond of hugs: receiving them or giving them, to anyone--including complete strangers, and people who don't share your enthusiasm, and especially to dogs. Any size dog, any time.

You don't quite understand why your parent or parents have to go to that Work thing. They never look all that happy when they leave nor when they get home. Why do they do it, then?

If you absolutely, positively, have to, you take a nap. While you will usually fight it, the moment you lay down, you will fall fast asleep, and sleep well. When you wake up, after a little transition time, you'll be off and running full bore once again.

Socks? Who needs socks? 
There is no middle ground when it comes to bugs: You are either fascinated by them, or you are convinced they will devour  you in one gulp, especially the tiniest ones. If you are terrified of them, Dad's the one to take care of the problem.

However, you will have no issue whatsoever with songs or books about bugs.

Frogs, on the other hand, now frogs....these are to be coveted and sought out by all children. Not sure if this has to do with the kind you kiss and it turns into a prince, but it might.

If you are very lucky and your mom lets you have a goldfish, you will overfeed it and ignore it in equal amounts, and when it dies, you will be inconsolable.

When you are little, you fight having a bath with all your might, usually because you are very busy slaying dragons or hiding from your sister. However, once you get in the bath, you don't ever want to get out, no matter how cold you are: you have transferred to playing with plastic bowls and cups and singing "We All Live In a Yellow Sunk-a-reen."

Which reminds me: blowing bubbles rocks!!!

When your mom/dad/brother/sister/dog is sad, you will offer your most favorite toy to them so they will feel better. They will look at you in complete awe and will feel better immediately. For some reason, though, they might cry a little.

You will do all these things and act this way because your imagination is still limitless. It doesn't occur to you to stop dreaming up all kinds of stuff nobody else thinks of. What fun would that be?

You have the ability to make time stand still. This, however, will only last a few years, so take advantage of it while you can.

And when you've become that most odd and rather sad of things, a Grownup, take a few minutes every day to channel your inner toddler. You'll enjoy your life a whole lot more.

Puff, the Magic Dragon.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life Lessons from Rain Man

1. Just because you don't understand a person's behavior doesn't mean he's not "in there."

Raymond ("Rain Man") had problems with emotions and with having a typical relationship. But, he also showed great concern about his brother Charlie almost drowning as a child.

Raymond uses familiar habits to make himself comfortable. He writes things in his notebook. He's upset when he can't watch his TV shows. Raymond has a very hard time being touched. Do these things make him out of touch? We don't think so.

2. You can only be self-centered for so long before someone gets your attention.


Charlie, the younger brother, begins the film as a self-important, arrogant, money-hungry car dealer. When he realizes he has an older brother, even though they can't have a traditional relationship, Charlie allows Raymond into his heart and finds that he genuinely cares for him.

3. Do the right thing.

Charlie begins by bitterly insisting he ought to have half their father's estate. As he realizes that Raymond cannot possibly provide for himself, Charlie becomes protective and concerned, and realizes it's not as much about the money but about his brother's welfare.

4. Qantas is the world's safest airline.

5. K-mart sucks.

6. You should tell your father you don't like rose bushes if you don't want to inherit them.

Who knows why their father left only rose bushes to the younger son? Was it symbolic-roses and thorns? It seemed like a deliberate slight because Charlie had cut off a relationship with his father--or vice versa? Clearly this was much deeper than rose bushes, but because they did not have a relationship, there was no way Charlie was going to inherit much from his father.

7. Choose Your Battles.

...According to Raymond, the syrup should definitely be on the table first. And so...just put the syrup on the table first. Serve the cheese puffs with toothpicks. Have pizza on Mondays. What's the difference, in the grand scheme of life?

8. Even someone who seems like he barely functions 'normally'  has a heart. And feelings. And compassion.

This applies to both Raymond and Charlie. Charlie is so self-absorbed that he is almost not 'normal.'

9.  Taking a road trip can cause bonding you never really planned on.

Charlie more or less 'kidnaps' his brother to demand his share of the money. As they travel, though, Charlie decides he feels compassion for his brother and wants him to be cared for. His role becomes as a parent to Raymond.

10. There are different ways that people can touch your heart.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Why You Should Not Worry About Ebola: A Reality Check

The news is bombarding us with stories about the Ebola problem.....but let's take a deep breath and get real: The actual danger is infinitesimal to us.



Ebola has really only been prevalent in African countries, and concentrated in these: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and a few cases in Nigeria--four small countries on the eastern coast of the continent. There is no, or practically no, ebola in the entire rest of the continent.

A teacher in Kentucky resigned due to backlash after returning from visiting Kenya. Clearly, there was no danger of his having contracted Ebola.

And, sadly, the state of health care in these countries is pretty grim. Health care in the US and other developed countries is much, much, better.

Crowded hospital: notice people sleeping on the floor. How clean is it?
Is this your idea of a safe and sanitary medical facility?

Even in Africa, a person is more likely to die from Malaria, syphilis, Tuberculosis, diarrhea, or AIDS.

                 Lack of knowledge of basic hygiene, or an inability to maintain it, leads to much more disease than in a more developed country. Imagine living this way. It's a wonder anyone survives.

Since we know there is some risk, our hospital and airport personnel have received training to prevent the spread of the disease. Are these people flawless in their detection? No, but the chance of them missing it is fairly small.


It is easy to detect and to isolate those who have it.

The food you eat won't be affected; it spreads by sharing bodily fluids

There is a low death rate for Ebola when treated properly.

                 Doctors Without Borders try to help people, even when they need to be treated outdoors.

The disease is not airborne: You can't catch it if an infected person sneezes close to you, for example.

So, what do we do to be protected?
  • Remember that people entering the US from affected countries are all being checked before they are released into the country, and don't be too concerned about it

  • If someone has the symptoms of Ebola, especially if they have recently traveled to the affected countries, that person will be carefully monitored and admitted to a hospital if necessary.

  • Hospitals have specific measures they are or will be taking if they have need to: they know how to protect their workers and other patients. Don't be afraid to go to a hospital because of a fear of Ebola.

  • Simply washing hands will help to prevent the spread of Ebola--and other diseases, too.
I might add: Get a flu shot!! Many more people die or have serious illness with flu than will ever have with Ebola.

Here are some examples of ways you might die that are far more likely than from Ebola: Ebola kills one in about 309 Million people:

  • Spider bite
  • Earthquake
  • Bee sting
  • Boating accident
  • Falling out of bed
For a longer list, go to:

It's fine to be aware of it, but don't let worrying about Ebola make you overly anxious.