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Indiana religious freedom law can go both ways

In Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology on March 30, 2015 at 9:56 am

DIH LOGOA few years ago, I published an article on what is, in my opinion, one of the major problems with the heated debate over the legality of same-sex marriage. Most arguments seem to dance around the principal question of why the government has any authority to dictate who we marry in the first place. A state-mandated definition of marriage seems to be, again in my opinion, at the very least, a violation of the most basic of human rights.

Just as is the case for marriage, once again most people are missing the more serious issue with Indiana’s controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Everyone’s so focused on discrimination towards one group that they’ve overlooked the larger issue that this ill-conceived legislation has opened the door to every manner of state-enforced, religiously-based discrimination.

IMG_3317Having read the actual bill text (Indiana Senate Bill Numbers 568 and 101) I can tell you that it seems to me so open-ended, it seems to give people the right to discriminate against anyone they choose claiming only religious offense. Apparently, what the brilliant Indiana legislature didn’t take into account is that it works both ways. In other words, would they still uphold their law if a Christian is discriminated against by someone of another faith, say a Muslim or Jew?

Or, let me put it another way. Suppose a Christian man comes into a Jewish-owned shop. He removes his hat as he enters but, as a person of Jewish faith, the shopkeeper’s tradition is for men to keep the head covered at all times. Immediately offended, the shopkeeper refuses him service and asks him to leave citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yes, this is an exaggerated scenario. But, were it to happen, would the shopkeeper be protected for this bit of state-approved discrimination? My guess is the intolerance at the Indiana State House works only one direction.

Incidentally, I’ve never much liked the term “tolerance” with regard to social diversity. Instead, it would be nice if people made at least some small effort to understand other ways of life, although I realize that is probably an uphill climb. One place where the word does apply, however, is when people have to tolerate the ignorance and bigotry of others.

Despite differences in faith, race, ethnicity, choice of Apple over Microsoft, green over blue, whatever, it really is possible for people to disagree without prejudice. Every day I am exposed to people and concepts that don’t mesh with my view of life.

Regardless, I try to just accept that their way is different, let people be, and hope they are kind enough to do the same. Ignorance may be bliss for some people but will never further the cause of peace and goodwill.

Accepting the differences of others without fighting them to bend to my way of thinking doesn’t mean I’ve compromised my own beliefs. If anything, it reassures me that my choices are right for my life and helps me to encourage people be who they are, whether I agree with it or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have and voice strong opinions. But it’s not my place, nor anyone else’s, to implement it by denying someone the basic liberties granted by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – to say nothing of the first 10. And, in my amateur opinion, when the Indiana bill is finally challenged – and it will be – the 14th will undoubtedly be the machete that severs the snake’s head.

Until then, I offer a word of apology to my western neighbors in The Crossroads of America, the great State of Indiana. Your entire state is being hurt over this and that’s unfair. We all need to remember that, like everywhere else, kind people live and work in the Hoosier state and shouldn’t be labeled because of the stupidity of a few.

And to Indiana Governor Mike Pence I say this on behalf of myself and my fellow 21st Century business owners in the great Buckeye State of Ohio. We refuse service to you and those who authored and approved this bill because you are offensive to our belief in good character and common decency.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Jamestown IT specialist says cyber security begins with user

In Dayton Ohio News, Technology, Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Password protection is your first, best defense against cyber attack.

Jamestown, OH – According to Gery L. Deer of GLD Enterprises Communications in Jamestown, individual users must be more proactive to better protect personal, financial and business information from prying eyes, identity theft and asset loss. Apart from expensive security software, Deer suggested that the most effective defense may be, quite simply, better password management.

People of all ages now manage everything online from personal photos to bank records and, with all of that convenience, comes a certain level of risk. Statistics compiled by the Identity Theft Resource Center indicate there have been approximately 174 major data breaches in the first quarter of 2015, exposing more than 99 million records. (Report – http://www.idtheftcenter.org/images/breach/ITRCBreachStatsReport2015.pdf)

“It might come as a surprise to most cyber surfers that the individual user may actually hold the most powerful weapon in the war against hackers,” said Deer, who has worked in data management and IT since the mid-1990s.

“No matter what you’re doing on your computer or mobile devices, setting a secure password and changing it regularly will help keep things locked down,” Deer said. “Best of all, this single, most important preventative measure costs nothing.” He offers these beginning tips to help create highly secure passwords.

“First, consider the length of the password. Most websites and applications require an 8-character password with a maximum length of 16,” Deer suggests. “Password length is generally restricted to 8 or 16 characters, but the longer the password, the more secure it is.”

“We generally recommend that passwords contain at least 2 capital letters, 2 numbers and 1 non-alphanumeric characters or symbol (: #,+,(,*, etc.),” continued Deer. “Some programs and websites may not allow certain symbols, but most do, so it’s worth a try. For example, a password like, ‘Johns House’ could look like, Gon2+Hwz, and it would be very secure and tough to break.”

One of the most common mistakes is to use a password that creates a complete word, name, anagram or acronym. “No matter how innocuous it may seem,” Deer said, “passwords containing complete words, even spelled backwards, can be hacked by even the most basic password breaker.

In addition, Deer insists that passwords should be changed regularly, at a minimum of six month intervals, but the more often the better. “New passwords should never be too similar to the previous ones and it’s important never to use the same password for every account.”

As always, Deer recommended using caution when opening email from unknown sources and always sign out of accounts and turn the computer off when not in use, particularly when traveling with a laptop.

“When in doubt, disconnect the connection to the Internet,” Deer said. “Turn off the modem, router or wireless link. When the computer is off, there is no way of accessing the hard drive or connected networks.” For more information on securing personal accounts, contact GLD Enterprises Communications, online at gldenterprises.net or call 937-902-4857.

Old dogs and new tricks

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Local News, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Technology, Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 11:38 am

DIH LOGOSome people are of the mind that there is a certain age when learning something new is neither a priority nor even a possibility. As I approach a half-century on this earth, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that, at some point, people just stop learning.

Barring some kind of dementia or other mental disorder, it’s hard to understand why anyone would “choose” to be an old dog, totally uninterested in learning a new trick. In my lines of work, I am frequently exposed to innovative technology and new ideas and I’m expected to keep up or I don’t pay the mortgage.

I spend a considerable amount of time researching, learning new concepts or updating my skills in some way so I can stay relevant in a world that seems to change by the nanosecond. Part of that continuing education includes reading, networking with others and going to conferences and workshops. I just returned from one such conference that was, for me, one of the single best I have ever attended.

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a friend to speak at an upcoming technology event known as, “Dayton WordCamp,” a two-day series focused on the website content management system called “WordPress.” As with most tech, this event would be dominated by much younger, more advanced presenters.

Originally, I hesitated, feeling as if “at my age” (and technical level) I would have little to bring to the table. But, with a little effort I found a spot where I fit into the program nicely and agreed.

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton’s event is one of hundreds of WordCamps around the world, all presented for the benefit of those using WordPress as their website platform. Lovingly referred to by organizers as an “unconference,” the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, with most people wearing jeans and T-shirts.  One of the perks of speaking is the opportunity to attend the event as a spectator as well.

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was that I was not the oldest person in the room. Of roughly 120 attendees the bell curve probably favored the younger crowd, but there were plenty of people my age and older as well. Such diversity says something for both the reputations of the scheduled presenters and the usability of the software about which we had all come to learn.

As the first day’s session began my apprehension diminished and I began to settle into a comfortable atmosphere for learning. By the conclusion of day two, I was not only charged up to dive in and apply my newly-acquired information, but I wanted to find a way to be more involved in future sessions.

At this point, I have to give a shout out to my friend Dustin Hartzler and his fellow organizers, particularly Nathan Driver, who invited me to speak at the event while also allowing me to be a student as well (that’s not the norm at such functions). These folks gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge, allowing me to better serve my clients, plus I got to take a couple of days for myself, something for which I rarely have the opportunity.

In my experience, most people who have stopped learning have done so, in some manner, by choice. Learning is not just academic. Expanding your horizons at any age is not limited to taking college classes or immersing yourself in books for hours on end. You can attend free, hands-on workshops, watch “do it yourself” shows on television, or just dive in and try something on your own, learning as you go.

My point is that there is simply no reason any of us should be stagnant. Opportunities for growth exist in many areas of our lives and all we need to do is take the first step. What is important is that you get out there and try, whether your interest is gardening, motorcycles, computers, music, or maybe you want to try something new. Don’t be an old dog with no new tricks.

For more about WordCamp check out the Dayton WordPress Meetup – http://www.meetup.com/Dayton-WordPress/

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications.


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