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Arizona legislature emanates ignorance, prejudice

In National News, Opinion, State News, Uncategorized on February 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm

DIH LOGOArizona has done it again. The overwhelming level of prejudice and stupidity emanating from the state’s lawmakers seems to have no limit. On February 20th, the Arizona state legislature managed to push through a bill that would make it legal for businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the basis of, “religious freedom.” Proponents of the bill say that it provides business owners with the right to manage their establishments according to their own religious values.

Apparently the desert heat has affected their memories. This certainly has the familiar ring of southern life prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960s when signs read, “Whites Only” at every restaurant and water fountain. Open, hateful discrimination was touted as religious or moral freedom back then as well.

It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking this was a good idea and how in all that is holy did these people manage to get elected in the first place? If Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is already known for her racist positions, signs this bill into law, she is setting a sickening precedent, pushing back more than 100 years of civil rights progress in this country.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. (AP Photo)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. (AP Photo)

The day after the bill passed, Brewer was in Washington for the governors’ summit and told CNN, “I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with. But I don’t know that it needs to be statutory.”

“In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or whatever, I’m not interested,” Brewer continued. “That’s America. That’s freedom.” Clearly, she is all in favor of freedom so long as it’s not extended to people of whom she and her legislative thugs disapprove.

For those who don’t see a problem with giving these folks the legal right to limit service based on this kind of ignorance, imagine the shoe on the other foot for a moment. What if someone passed a law stating a business could refuse service to Christians, again, on the basis of religious or moral freedom? The religious right would literally lose their minds. Of course, this isn’t the first time this kind of law has been passed in a democratic society.

In early Nazi Germany, the eradication of Jews began with laws like this, allowing open discrimination and eventual persecution. In America, minorities and women have only recently emerged from a 200-year limitation of civil rights, often enforced in the name of religious morality, and the fight is still going on in many respects.

In theory, everyone is protected from this kind of legislation, at least on the federal level, by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It says, in part, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

It’s just a guess, but if it passes, Arizona’s law would most likely be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court at first challenge. Even to the layperson it seems to openly violate the 14th and would be determined to be unconstitutional. The problem is that the argument shouldn’t have to go that far for people to see that the bill is unethical.

At last report, Governor Brewer was seeking the counsel of her advisors in order to make up her mind whether to sign the bill into law. Hopefully one of her close cronies is a constitutional law attorney or, at the very least, someone who is not so blatantly ignorant and prejudiced. And if, for some bizarre reason, there are Christians out there who feel this law is just, remember this: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Mathew 7:12. One can only hope.

 

Gery L. Deer is editor of The Jamestown Comet.com an independent columnist and contributor to WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program. More at gerydeer.com

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You can avoid a visit from creditors.

In Economy, Local News, Opinion, Uncategorized on February 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

knockRecently, the credit card company, Capital One, came under attack for contract language that would allow them to show up a customer’s workplace or home, without warning and at any time. The creditor’s contractual fine print came was the topic of an LA Times article on February 18, that ignited a firestorm of consumer anger. According to the column, the contract states that customers can be contacted by mail, phone, email, or by “personal visit” at home or their place of employment.

A statement released by Capital One insists the language exists mainly to permit recovery of large items like boats, jet skis, and so on, through repossession. Without inclusion of the proper wording they would have little legal ground to stand on should the debtor renege on the agreement, adding that they are reviewing the language following consumer feedback.

CCOddly, this is not a new method for creditors. Most mortgage loan servicing companies already send local contractors out to knock on the door of customers who are behind in their payments. Generally showing up in personal vehicles and loitering around the neighborhood until just the right moment, these paid agents ambush the homeowner demanding a payment or insisting they contact the company immediately, or else.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about these practices because, somewhere in the miles of paperwork, the borrower signed an agreement allowing this to happen. Whether it’s a home, a car, a boat or a hunting cabin, virtually every large purchase contract has some kind of repossession language included. But with unsecured debt, like credit cards, consumers have a false sense of security and an unrealistic expectation of the consequences.

In an effort to force credit companies to behave more fairly towards customers and help control consumer debt, the Obama administration passed the Credit Card Act of 2009. Among its many fee and rate hike regulations, it also states that the creditor must provide a clear disclosure of terms before a customer opens an account. While the language was made simpler, there was still a ton of information and what the bill couldn’t do was to force people to actually read the documentation provided by the credit card company.

For consumers, the best way to avoid these kinds of problems is to simply steer clear of using credit cards in the first place. But if you’re already in over your head, it might be time to speak to someone about debt management options. Consumer credit counseling agencies can assist in reducing payments and interest and most are non-profit. Appointments are tough to get, however, and require as much documentation as possible regarding your creditors and income information.

If credit counseling is not an option, your next step may well be a personal bankruptcy. Jeremiah B. Webb is a bankruptcy attorney at the Xenia, Ohio firm of Wead, Anderson, Phipps and Aultman, LLC. He said people are often scared of their creditors and generally don’t understand the debt relief process.

“There are many myths surrounding bankruptcy,” Webb said, “beginning with a feeling of failure and that they’ll lose everything they have. Some people believe they can’t afford to file, but if you stop paying those minimum payments and put that money towards a reasonable attorney fee, you can hopefully wipe out that debt and relieve the stress.”

Although creditors publicly state that the door knocking method is a last resort, it leaves their debtors feeling frightened and constantly anxious. Usually, the inability to pay is out of the individual’s control and completely unintentional. Still, there is an underlying responsibility on the part of the consumer to do their best to avoid this kind of debt in the first place.

Credit card companies are ruthless and have no interest in excuses for non-payment. Their job is to make as much money as possible from you for as long as they can. But don’t be afraid. If you’re drowning in debt get help now, don’t give these people a reason to knock on your door. The only failure is to do nothing.

Gery L. Deer is editor of The Jamestown Comet.com, a self-syndicated columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program.

Star Trek Continues: Resurrecting an icon on the web.

In Local News on February 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

By Gery L. Deer

DEER IN HEADLINES – Special Edition

(1967) Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Capt. Kirk

(1967) Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Capt. Kirk

It’s been almost a half-century since actor William Shatner first took command of the Starship Enterprise on Gene Roddenberry’s “wagon train to the stars,” space opera called, Star Trek. The show set a new standard for science fiction television and became an unparalleled phenomenon; a mirror which reflected the social and political issues of the torrential 1960s disguised as a simple action adventure series.

Today, 6 television series ( TOS, the animated series, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise) and 12 big-budget feature films later, the human adventure continues on the internet with free, fan-produced episodes mirroring the original program. These low-budget, passion-driven productions vary in quality and professional look, but they are certainly keeping the Star Trek franchise alive and in its original form.

Fan made web series are not uncommon, generally produced with little or no money and volunteer crew. But what makes Star Trek different is the level to which fans and entertainment professionals have come together to recreate the Enterprise and its universe so … respectfully and in remarkable detail.

I just watched the most recent webisode of Star Trek Continues (STC), developed by a joint venture between Farragut Films, Dracogen Strategic Investments and producer Vic Mignogna. Continuing Captain Kirk’s original five-year mission aboard the USS Enterprise – cut short by network cancellation – STC’s production crew has recreated the look and feel of the original series, right down to the last Light-Bright-inspired, gumdrop control button.

There are other fan-based Star Trek reboots out there and I have been a fan of all of them. But, so far, Star Trek Continues has my greatest admiration; not because I dislike the other ones, but because of the overall production quality and desire to please the fans as much as themselves.

Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock and Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk

(2014) Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock and Vic Mignogna as Capt. Kirk

Many of these productions seem to pay homage to the original Star Trek, but take their own approach to it. I prefer STC because they’re not trying to ‘improve’ on the original. Technically, they’re using state-of-the-art production quality. But the application of that technology, at least from a layman’s point of view, seems to be tempered with a careful effort to make sure they don’t overshoot the personality of the original.

Additionally, each character is brought alive by the actor in his or her own manner, never trying to “spoof” or “parody” the original 1960s style. That’s a particular challenge for anyone sitting in William Shatner’s old captain’s chair given that his dramatic delivery of broken dialogue has always been fodder for ridicule. Fortunately, the actors taking up the gold, red and blue are doing it their way while fully representing the spirit of the characters.

Star Trek Continues Enterprise - 1701 bridge set. (Photo courtesy Star Trek Continues Official Facebook Page)

Star Trek Continues Enterprise – 1701 bridge set. (Photo courtesy Star Trek Continues Official Facebook Page)

Taking up the center seat as the unflappable Captain James Tiberius Kirk is actor Vic Mignogna, who, among other titles, is also the project’s executive producer. Todd Haberkorn dons the pointed ears as Mr. Spock and, for the first two voyages, Larry Nemecek joins the trio as curmudgeonly ship’s surgeon, Dr. Leonard McCoy.

Chris Doohan as "Scotty"

Chris Doohan as “Scotty”

As if in some parallel universe story, STC’s “Mr. Scott,” is portrayed by Chris Doohan, son of the late James Doohan (1920-2005), the actor who played the original Enterprise Chief Engineer. Doohan has had a little help with his dad’s accent but fans are grateful he took on the iconic roll his father made so beloved by millions – and the likeness is truly uncanny.

Plus, fans of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” program will recognize the young man piloting the Starship Enterprise as none other than Grant Imahara, who has taken on the part of Mr. Sulu. Of course, it wouldn’t be Star Trek without a compliment of disposable red shirts. Fear not, Trekkors, STC has more than you can shake a phaser at, including Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama), who is the first red shirt to take one for the team in their premier episode.

Effects for Star Trek Continues are done through state of the art computer imaging based on the original models. Here is their version of the Enterprise.

Effects for Star Trek Continues are done through state of the art computer imaging based on the original models. Here is their version of the Enterprise.

Along with the nostalgic look, fan shows also try hard to meet the intellectual standards of Star Trek’s original run. Gene Rodenberry once said, “There are smart people out there on the other side of the television tube,” and he was right.

But back then, he wanted to deal with difficult topics at a time when television was still portraying Leave It to Beaver as “normal” life in America. Star Trek Continues is keeping to the creator’s original intent. In their second episode, titled, “Lolani,” for example, Kirk and company deal with the issues of slavery, human (or in this case, alien) trafficking and gender equality.

It’s tough to get those types of stories past the network overseers even today. Fortunately, however, a few “enterprising” fans have found a way to once again go boldly where no one has gone before and engage the minds of the viewer without insulting their intelligence.

Like its reconstituted web series counterparts, Star Trek Continues might simply be the dream of a bunch of Trekkie nerds who just want to dress up in pointed ears and sit in the big chair (being one of them, I can empathize). But with thought-provoking, original stories, top of the line acting and professional production, the program is, in my amateur opinion, far better than most of what Hollywood is producing for television today. If you have a chance, I highly recommend it.

Here are some links to Star Trek Continues as well as other Star Trek fan productions.

Star Trek Continues – http://startrekcontinues.com/

Star Trek Phase II (New Voyages) – http://startreknewvoyages.com/

Starship Farragut – http://www.starshipfarragut.com/

 

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Author’s Note: I want to thank Alex P. Michaels, from the Official Star Trek Continues FB page for correcting me on the number of Star Trek TV series there were in all. I originally had 4 listed, yet forgot about DS9 and the animated series; odd since I loved that show as a child and still watch it occasionally on Netflix. Thanks again.

Local writers read in Beatnik Cafe at Books and Co. Feb 14

In Books, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 6:02 pm

WOWA_VAL_BEATNIK_POSTERBeavercreek, OH – Beginning at 7 pm on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th, author members of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) will take the microphone at Books & Co. to present their popular, “Beatnik Café” event. Titled “Sweet Fire of Love,” the event features writers from all genres will perform through short works of fiction and poetry. The event is free and open to the public.

The live reading pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960′s, but with a more modern style. Reading aloud from original work, each writer will take the stage for 10 to 12 minutes, dazzling audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what.

WOWA_Beatnik_Dec_2013_4Greene County native, Gery L. Deer is the co-founder and executive director of the organization. A professional freelance journalist, editorial columnist and commercial writer, he started WOWA in October of 2008. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” he says.

“Annual workshops are held all around the country, with two of the most well-known right here in the Miami Valley. But for most writers to thrive that type of support needs to come on a more regular basis,” Deer says. “Our group consists of professional writers and editors, college professors and everyone is ready and willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

WOWA Logo 2Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive. Details at the group’s website, http://www.westernohiowriters.org.

Watch the video interview with co-founder, Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s, LIVING DAYTON program …

October 2013 marked the organization’s fifth anniversary and these talented scribes definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Handcar Press (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly, free, public presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Commercial WritingBooks & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Follow the WOWA on Facebook and Twitter.

Xenia design firm receives Best of Houzz 2014 award

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Home Improvement, Local News, Uncategorized on February 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm
Xenia business owner Nancy Gentry of Your Space Your Sanctuary  (Photo by Mark Bealer)

Xenia business owner Nancy Gentry of Your Space Your Sanctuary (Photo by Mark Bealer)

Xenia, Ohio – The interior design firm, Your Space Your Sanctuary, LLC, has been awarded “Best of Houzz” by Houzz, a leading online platform for home remodeling and design. The Xenia, Ohio firm was chosen among the top-rated building, remodeling and design professionals based on an annual survey and analysis of more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

Houzz.com provides people with an easy access to design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews for home remodeling and design. The Best of Houzz award is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design.

Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Design Awards are chosen based on the most popular of more than 230 million professional images saved by Houzz.com users to personal idea books, similar to Pinterest.

Badge_LargeWinners receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. The badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area listed on the site.

For owner Nancy Gentry, interior design began as a second career.  Following a lifelong passion for design, she returned to school to complete an interior design degree and opened Your Space Your Sanctuary in 2009. “My firm was born from the premise that every space should be a sanctuary,” Nancy said. “We help our clients create a place for inspiration, a space to relax and renew.”

One of the completed designs by Nancy Gentry.

One of the completed designs by Nancy Gentry.

“We’re delighted to recognize Nancy among our ‘Best Of’ professionals for customer satisfaction as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of home building, remodeling and design professionals, empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision.”

Users on Houzz can identify top-rated professionals like Nancy Gentry and determine whose work best fits project aspirations. They can also contact professionals directly through the Houzz platform, to ask questions about their work and review responses to questions from others.

According to Nancy, collaboration and communication are key components to professional success and her association with Houzz provides an ideal platform. “Your Space, Your Sanctuary takes pride in partnering with a team of professionals for every project and together, we create solid design solutions for happy clients,” she said.

“I’m glad our work has provided so much inspiration to others looking to harmonize their own space.” For more information contact Nancy Gentry at Your Space Your Sanctuary by calling (937) 545-1565 or see photos and reviews online at http://www.houzz.com/pro/nancy-pollack-gentry/your-space-your-sanctuary.

Never go shopping while having a stroke.

In Health, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle on February 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm

DIH LOGOPresented for your consideration, a middle aged man somewhere in America who awakens one seemingly normal morning to discover his right arm has become a lifeless dead-weight, movable but numb. Puzzled, he pays little attention and goes to the kitchen for coffee but abandons the attempt when his hand is too weak to hold the cup. Strangely, he pulls on his coat and makes his way out the door to his car where he drives to the grocery store. Soon, he realizes that the right side of his face feels heavy and tingling, like it’s sliding off his skull and eventually goes numb.

He tries to speak, but his words are garbled and slow, as if he’d just had a root canal and a face full of Novocain. Somehow he makes it home, but after consulting WebMD.com, he finally accepts that something is seriously wrong. He dials 9-1-1 and struggles his way through mush-mouthing the word, “help,” followed shortly by the pulsing strobes and screeching sirens of an ambulance.

No, this wasn’t some bizarre trip through an episode of The Twilight Zone. Instead, it was a reasonably accurate account of what happened to my friend Jim Karns just a few days ago when he experienced what turned out to be a series of very dangerous strokes.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Maybe so, but, oddly enough, this is not an uncommon story. While he was having coffee, surfing the web and doing his shopping, Jim’s brain cells were being eradicated by a shotgun blast of tiny blood clots which cut off life-sustaining oxygen.

It’s certainly funny to think now about all the silly things Jim was doing instead of calling for help, but a stroke is certainly no laughing matter. Many stroke victims don’t even realize what is happening because symptoms may be so mild as to go virtually unnoticed.

Stroke Risk Chart  (Courtesy The Huffington Post)

Stroke Risk Chart (Courtesy The Huffington Post)

Every year nearly 800,000 Americans fall victim to some type of stroke, a sort of “brain attack,” which happens when a restriction of blood flow kills off vital cells. Symptoms can occur one at a time or simultaneously, depending on the type and severity of the stroke.

In Jim’s case, he experienced numbness and weakness in his face and right arm but his legs were unaffected. A bass singer with what most describe as a strong radio voice, during the attack his speech was slow, frail and garbled and he had trouble closing his right eye.

According to experts people experience a combination of symptoms during a stroke including numbness, confusion or trouble understanding other people, impaired vision, difficulty walking, dizziness, or a severe headache that comes on for no apparent reason.

Jim Karn, Magician, performer, electronics technician.

Jim Karn, Magician, performer, electronics technician.

Fortunately, Jim is recovering remarkably well and I would say the best lesson to be learned from his incident is to act immediately. Coffee and the grocery store can wait, and don’t waste time looking up your symptoms online before taking action. It’s thoroughly frightening to think that a person could be driving or doing something equally as dangerous while these things are happening.

Most importantly, never ignore the warning signs of a stroke and call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. If you are around someone who is experiencing some of these symptoms, take charge and call for help right away, even if the individual protests or says the symptoms have subsided.

The best defense against stroke is to try to avoid one, so know your risks. Women, the elderly, African-Americans, those seriously overweight and people with a family history of stroke are at the greatest risk. As always, eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise and get regular checkups to help stack the odds in your favor. To learn more about the prevention and symptoms of strokes, see your doctor or visit The American Stroke Association online at www.strokeassociation.org.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist from Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com