Monday, January 26, 2015

Be An Organ Donor

If someone told you that you could save a life, or improve the lives of several people, would you do it?

Consider being an organ donor.

How does a person become a donor?

  • Register with a State Donor Registry by going to  
  • Designate that you are a donor on your driver's license
  • Carry a signed donor card from
  • Put it in writing so that it is clear what you want
  • Tell your family of your wishes-if they don't know, the organs may not be donated
  • If you are under 18, you can tell your wishes to donate to your parents or guardians and they will pass that along if you should die
You can go into a DMV office any time and fill out a short form indicating that you want to donate your organs, or the next time your drivers license is up for renewal, fill it out then. Your license card will look like this:

Take a look at the waiting list for donors needed (gray line) and the number of actual donors (green line)....

  • Did you know that there are almost 124,000 people waiting for an organ to be donated?
  • 18 people will die every day because they didn't have a donor
  • There are 2500 heart transplants done every day, and it could be more if there were enough donors
  • One organ donor can save up to 8 lives
  • More than 100 million people have signed up to become donors
What can be donated??
Whole organs, such as the heart, kidney, liver, lungs, intestine, and pancreas: There is research taking place in Type 1 Diabetes that uses the pancreas.
Tissues, including bone, cartilage, cornea, fascia, heart valves, ligaments, pericardium (heart lining), tendons, veins, and skin for grafting are all needed.
Bone marrow and blood can be donated by living donors. Learn about it here:
 Here are some common myths about organ donation explained by the Mayo Clinic:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King: Who Was He?

We get a day off school on January 19 this year to take note of Martin Luther King's birthday.


Who was this man?

                                       MLK Memorial     Washington, D.C.

He was named Michael Luther King, Jr., at his birth  on 1-15-1929 in Georgia. His father's name was originally Michael Luther King, but he changed his first name to Martin after German Reformist Martin Luther. When Michael, Jr., was a teenager, he changed his name to Martin like his father.

You may have heard him referred to as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is because he earned a Ph.D, or Doctorate. Here are the degrees he earned:

Bachelor of Arts        Morehouse University
*Note: Martin Luther King, Jr., graduated from high school at the age of 15.

Bachelor of Divinity  Crozer Theological Seminary

Doctor of Philosophy   Boston University

Beginning his career, Dr. King was a Baptist Minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. His grandfather and father also served as ministers for that church. Ebenezer is still an active church today.

Dr. King was an activist for equal rights for African Americans. Later in his life, he also rallied against poverty in general and against the war in Vietnam.

In 1957, he spoke to a crowd of 15,000 people in Washington, D.C.

In 1961, he participated in a Freedom Ride, where people, both whites and blacks,  rode Greyhound buses through the south, where the freedom to do so was denied African Americans. It sounds like such a simple thing, but they encountered a good deal of violence as they rode from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. Someone even threw a bomb into one of the buses. Read about it here:

One of his non-violent protests staged in Birmingham, Alabama, made national news, ironically, because of the violent response of the police who tried to stop it.

The police response was to spray people with fire hoses--the force of this water knocked people over and injured them. The other was to sic their vicious dogs on the protesters.

Dr. King was arrested and served time in jail several times in his life: in 1960, 1962, twice in 1963, and 1967, for attempting to achieve equal rights for African Americans in the Deep South. He also worked in Chicago to end poverty.

These black people could be arrested for trying to eat a lunch counter designated for white people only. Yes, you read that right.

Signs like these were common throughout the South. Dr. King fought to obtain the equal rights that all people were entitled to.

What is a sit-in?  This was when a large group of people, in protest of unfair treatment of African-Americans, would arrive at a place of business and simply sit down. They were not a threat to anyone, they did not bear arms, they simply sat down and would not move, to show their solidarity. Police would typically move in and arrest them when they refused to move. In the case of the cafeteria, the people sat at the lunch counter and insisted on being served. Instead of enforcing that right, the police arrested the protesters.

Martin Luther King, Jr.,  was the first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He wrote seven books in his lifetime:

"Letter From Birmingham"                 1963
"Strength to Love"                               1963
"I Have a Dream"                                1963
"Why We Can't Wait"                         1964
"Where Do We Go From Here"          1967
"Stride Toward Freedom"                   1967
"Trumpet of Conscience"                    1968

And another six were printed using his papers and his story, after his death (posthumously)

 "Daddy King"                                      1980
"The Words of Martin Luther King"    1984
"Testament of Hope"                            1986
"Martin Luther King Companion"       1992
"Papers of Martin Luther King"           1992
"Knock at Midnight"                            1992

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his activism. Here is a history of Nobel Peace Prize winners:
                                                      Dr King accepts his Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered in Memphis on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.

After his death, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
                                          Presidential Medal of Freedom

                                          Congressional Gold Medal

Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday has been a national holiday since 1986, while it had been a state holiday in many states since 1971.

Possibly his best-known speech is the "I Have A Dream" speech. Here is the text:

What did Dr. King do to change the landscape of civil rights? Do we still have problems with it today? How could that be changed? Are there any leaders today who are similar to Dr. King?

Would you have the courage to do the things he did?

Monday, January 12, 2015

What is Charlie Hebdo, and Why Should I Care?

If you haven't been paying attention, we'll fill you in: On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, gunmen went to the offices of a newspaper in France called Charlie Hebdo and shot and killed 12 people.

Why these victims? They were artists who drew political cartoons. A political cartoon is created to make a statement about something happening recently, to express an opinion and incite discussion. It is a matter of ink put on paper, nothing more or less. It is meant to shock sometimes, to make people laugh, to realize the stupidity of situations.

Like this:

What do you think this means???
Is there ever an excuse to be so livid about a simple cartoon that you feel compelled to kill the person or people who drew it and published it?

And this, in response to the killings:

                                       It says, Why? Is this a bomb? A Kalashnikov (rifle)? a grenade?

Here is a timeline of the events:

The shooters, apparently, are terrorists who claimed during the shootings to be members of Al Qaeda.

The big question, of course, is: Why?

The terrorists informed the world that they were angry at the newspaper for publishing pictures or cartoons of Mohammed, their religious prophet.

What do you think of this?

There are legalities--the issues of whether one country has something similar to our Bill of Rights First Amendment, Freedom of Speech and the Press (See Triogenius from 12-19 and 1-5) but I think we would agree that killing someone because of a difference in philosophy, is beyond reason.

There are a number of things to debate: Is Al-Qaeda a religion? Is it political? Or does it simply fall into one category: Terrorism? In any case, does it justify killing people you don't agree with?

Jon Stewart says we are part of "Team Civilization" and we're not backing down:

Ever read "Mad" Magazine? Here is one of its editors with his take on the Charlie Hebdo killings:

As we see already, Charlie Hebdo is not closing up shop. In fact, it will be reopening Wednesday, and the presses will be rolling once again.  The expectation is that it will sell more than ever before, if only due to people buying it in support of their right to publish and defiance of terrorists who tried to stop it.

Typically, what is forbidden is usually the thing people want to do more than ever. Examples:

  • When liquor was banned during Prohibition, did it stop production of liquor? No. People concocted their own recipes and made it at home.

  • When the Bible was first published in smaller sized books, and especially in languages other than Latin, people did not avoid having their own copies. They bought the little versions and hid them away, holding secret meetings to discuss the Gospel, which was forbidden: Only religious leaders were supposed to know what was actually in the Bible.

  • So-called banned books became best-sellers.

                                "The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword"     -Edward Bulwer-Lytton 
 Notice how people are not only leaving flowers and candles, but pens and markers.

In French, "I Am Charlie" *


How do we show our unity with France, and indeed with the world, after an event like this?


Because I have First Amendment Rights, I'll express my thoughts right here:

  • We don't recognize terrorists as reasonable and understandable, because there is no reason and no understanding to murder.
  • The best way to say, "You aren't going to win," is to continue to draw, speak, write, and express any opinion you might have about anything.
  • We mourn with the French, and we share their outrage. We express our support, and we assure them the world does not agree with terrorists.
  • We speak out, loud and clear, on any issue that is important to us.
  • We also respect others if they disagree. Disagreements can lead to discussion. Discussion leads to understanding. Sometimes daring a discussion can be a very good thing.
Other cartoonists share their feelings about what happened:

*Note: The name of the newspaper was created by using Charlie for Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon written by Minnesotan Charles Schultz. "Hebdo" means weekly, as it is published weekly.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Don't Read These Books

Did you know that there have been books that were banned?

What that means is, a book was published, someone found it offensive, and declared that it should not be available, either for sale or in public libraries. It happens to this day both in other countries and in the U.S. There have even been gatherings where people piled the books up and set them on fire. These were typically religious extremists, but other groups have decided that some books were not fit to be available and burned those as well.

You might be surprised to see what some of them were, and why they were banned. Such as:

"Fahrenheit 451," by Ray Bradbury
Oddly, this book included references to burning books.

'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain
This book used the derogatory "N" word, which is highly offensive and enough in this instance to ban the book.

"The Catcher In The Rye" by J.D. Salinger
It is all about teenage angst (longing and confusion)

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
This book was thought to promote white supremacy and also used the "N" word

"The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
The book was banned for using 'vulgar' language.


"Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank
It was banned because it was depressing. Seriously??

And check out some banned books that will probably surprise you more:

  • the "Harry Potter" series, because it promoted sorcery and wizardry
  • The Bible (still banned in North Korea)
  • The Quran
  • "Little Red Riding Hood" because she had wine in her basket
  • "Sleeping Beauty" which was thought to promote witchcraft and magic
  • "Harriet the Spy" by Louise Fitzgerald, for teaching children to spy, back-talk, and curse
  • "Where's Waldo" by Marvin Handford, because in one book there is a partially-exposed woman's breast. And--so what if there is?
  • "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, because it was anti-slavery
  • "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Remarque-banned for insulting the Nazis in WWII

As well as more recently written books---
  • "The Hunger Games"
  • "Gossip Girl"
  • "Twilight"
  • "Captain Underpants"

Why?? Here is a source of banned books and the 'reasons' they were banned:

Have you already read some of these books?  Let's hope so!!

Another list of banned books:

Do you think some books should be banned? By whom? Why? What effect does forbidding something usually have?

*See also last week's post about the First Amendment and Censorship*