I roll my own dice
Nov07

I roll my own dice

I’m what some call a “leaner” — a freethinking citizen who regularly votes with the Republican Party.   Why? Well, it’s the party that aligns most closely to my mostly conservative beliefs. But, I reserve the right to vote my way rather than be swayed by the allure of partisanship.   I vote for who’s best for America; I define myself as the way I’m registered: “Independent.”   One definition of that word is: “free from outside control; not depending on another’s [save one’s] authority.”   I am accountable to none but God and voting based on issues is most important.   I am pro-life. That’s why I detest abortion, which a majority of democrats advocate as choice and the death penalty, which many republicans view as justice.   It’s a common misconception that Independents are centrists. According to Linda Killian, author of The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents, several independent camps exist.   1) Millennials who lean toward libertarian ideals on economic and social issues 2) Conservative Tea-partiers 3) America First democrats, formerly known as Reagan democrats 4) Swing vote suburbanites and more.   What makes independents strong is their ability to compromise. It’s important to remember compromise and conviction hold different denotations and connotations.   Democratic societies function optimally when two or more reach agreements. Continue to fight for what you believe, work toward that end goal, but at the same time, realize government is a man-made, flawed invention that will never achieve perfection or complete morality.   It’s of great benefit to realize both parties have contributed positively to our nation. When was the last time you heard Bill O’ Reilly applaud a democrat or Wolf Blitzer applaud a republican?   It’s been that way for a while now. Partisanship has turned politics into sport.   If you were a liberal democrat in the 1980s, you would’ve sworn on your deathbed that inflation rose under President Reagan. It appreciably fell.   Republicans are no better. In 1996, most Republicans would have shot you for saying something like “Man, President Clinton really is rounding up that deficit. It’s been shrinking steadily.” True statement but they’d have none of that.   Independents are a force to be reckoned with. It’s time we all look to compromise, vote for whom and what we know is right and not let special interest money bind our...

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War film causes ‘Fury’ in box office
Nov07

War film causes ‘Fury’ in box office

A white-saddled horse escorts a German officer through a corpse-littered battlefield. Silhouettes of burning tanks trace along the morning light. David Ayer’s opening scene of Fury invites us to April 1945.   The Allied Forces advance further into Germany as the final months of World War II come upon them. Part of that effort includes the film’s focus: the crew of a M4A3E8 Sherman tank, which was given the name “Fury.”   While it displays the brutal realities of World War II, most of the movie details the bonding of the crew.   “One thing that made it stand above other war movies is the fact that it showed how the soldiers act during war,” junior business management major Troy Robinson said. “War is not a fun place to be in, and they really showed how it effects the soldiers.”   Fury’s commander, Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) leads his diverse group: Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Grady “Coon Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Pena) through swaths of German ground and SS troops.   History major Joshua Hosack said he marveled at the accuracy of one scene in which the Fury crew is joined by two Stuart tanks from another American platoon in a fight against a much stronger German Tiger tank.   These Tiger tanks were the pennacle beings of Axis firepower, showing off their dominance first in North Africa — occasionally Wardaddy refers to his time fighting Axis troops in Africa.   Movie-goers find themselves perplexed at this dynamic character. He is certainly cold; he is a veteran of the war, despiser of all things Nazi and a ruthless killer. Yet somehow, the film allows the Pitt character to prove himself a noble leader. His one source of pride is keeping his crew alive despite insurmountable odds.   “World War II was an emotional time and place,” Senior Christian Studies major Rusty Pregeant said. “The attitudes that the actors portrayed and the setting showed that.”   It isn’t Collier’s point of view that tells the story. The film is a right of passage for young clerk, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). He receives orders to join the Fury crew as assistance driver. Ellison soon finds out why, as Collier hands him a rag and a bucket of hot water. The seat where the previous assistant sat is covered in blood and body parts.   Ayer leaves us wondering whether or not this tank will be the crew’s guard or grave.   “I am trained to type 60 words a minute, not trained to machine gun dead bodies,” Ellison complains on his first outing....

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Americans: Virus victims or victors
Oct23

Americans: Virus victims or victors

Thomas Eric Duncan’s heart rate plummeted into the 40s. Time of death: 7:51 a.m. He was the first Ebola victim on U.S. soil.   Within a week, two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses, two of about 70 caring for Duncan during his time there, were confirmed to have the virus.   The fight is on. Is America ready?   President Barack Obama said Sept. 16 that the chances of Ebola reaching the U.S. were “extremely low.”   Wrong.   There’s no full-proof plan to combat Ebola.   America is unprepared, not only for Ebola, but other viruses as well.   The 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak proves poor anticipation by our nation’s public health officials. Press reports of Mexico’s “late flu season,” should have sounded an alarm. Yet, H1N1 had already crossed our borders before action was taken.   There’s also enterovirus D68. Medical professionals deem it a medical mystery. EV-D68 has spread across 46 states and the District of Colombia. It has affected nearly 700 people and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed EV-D68 has claimed five lives so far. Some believe the virus causes paralysis, but the CDC has found no evidence to prove this theory. EV-D68 has affected more Americans than Ebola, and we are still scratching our heads over this once ‘rare’ virus.   The United States isn’t only to blame. The World Health Organization shows itself as more interested in politics than aid. Just last month, the group failed to recognize Ebola’s death agenda. Their major health concern: electronic cigarettes.   For America to emerge victorious in the fight against pandemics, we must look inward. Why have we not developed a vaccine to counter Ebola in humans when the National Institutes of Health announced the development of a vaccine proven to prevent the virus’ infection in monkeys in the year 2000?   Arthur L. Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Lagone Medical Center, wrote in an opinion for NBC news that “if you live in … any developed country you do not have to worry about Ebola.”   He went on to write: “Medical authorities know that it is very hard to transmit Ebola, that those most at risk live in nations that lack gloves and moon suits and quarantine facilities and that it is the brave doctors and nurses who treat patients with Ebola in resource-poor conditions that are at the greater risk.”   Then why did the two nurses contract the virus? Will an investigation show breaches in CDC protocols?   What if she complied with all protocol and used her “resources” correctly?   The United...

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Red or blue: What will Texans do?
Oct23

Red or blue: What will Texans do?

Democrat: Wendy Davis; Republican: Greg Abbott. Davis’ birthplace: West Warwick, Rhode Island; Abbott’s birthplace: Wichita Falls, Texas. Davis fought trials as the product of divorced parents; Abbott was sentenced to life in a wheelchair after a jogging accident. Texas’ two candidates are worlds apart, but both offer Texas perseverance.   Announcing his candidacy for governor in July of 2013, Attorney General Greg Abbott told the Austin American-Statesman, “Some politicians talk about having a steel spine. I actually have one. I will use my steel spine to fight for Texas values every single day.”   Senior political science major Robbie Cuadros agrees with that statement.   “Gregg Abbott offers much of the same that current governor Rick Perry has,” he said. “More jobs, mostly from the oil industry, and he is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. These policies have helped make Texas a thriving economy and a desirable place to live.”   Republicans quickly judged Davis as an Obama cohort. One of her opponent’s advertisements showed a plaque reading “Governor Barack Obama, Texas,” as a voice-over alarmingly supposed, “Barack Obama as governor of Texas?”   “Abbott was smart to tie Wendy Davis to President Obama since his approval rating is at an all-time low, especially here in Texas,” Cuadros said.   With Election Day set for Nov. 4, political jabs from both campaigns have begun to intensify.   The Davis campaign was met with a barrage of criticism, even from some of her own supporters, for an ad attacking Abbott. It began with a shot of a wheelchair and proceeded to convict Abbott of hypocrisy for trying to limit the amount of damages plaintiffs can receive in personal injury lawsuits, when he himself won a multi-million dollar settlement from an insurance company.   Senior marketing major Ryan White has seen the occasional political punches both sides have given and taken in the campaigning process, but he said, “An effective leader can take jabs, but respond with truth.”   So far, both sides of the gubernatorial race have played the nasty game of politics.   “Overall, I think the American people are turned off by politics right now,” Cuadros said.   And with a state weary of politicians, especially those from Washington, it’s unlikely Texas will go blue.   Senior history major Joshua Hosack said, “I don’t think Texas will go with a democrat this year. I believe Texans, the majority of which are conservative, will stick to their guns and continue to vote so.”   That’s the general vibe on campus and around the state. The Fort Worth Star Telegram featured an article claiming Wendy Davis faces long...

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#UMHBRO14
Oct16

#UMHBRO14

A frigid wind dragged along the steps of Luther Memorial Saturday morning, October 4th, yet still, more than 300 students showed up to serve at Reaching Out 2014.   Lord knows it was a miracle I was one of em’. Saturday mornings, I’m usually in a state of comatose only the rapture can lift me out of. But my girlfriend, junior education major Savannah Davis wasn’t having any of that. My phone bu-zzzzzzzzzz-ed. It was time to go [insert sound of whip cracking here].   7:30 a.m. We just had to get a T-shirt. Savvy and I stood at the back while dedicated students materialized in front of Luther.   My roommate, senior physcology major Alex Aleman, stepped up to the microphone to lead us in prayer.   “We wanted students to have a direct impact on the community this year in a way they could see it,” he said. “It’s great that we got to work in Belton because this is our town.”   Aleman is the Director of Spiritual Life for Student Government Association, and “me and the chaplains are in charge of preparing the sites, finding a speaker and finding people to lead worship,” he said.   Senior Biblical Studies major Matt Boden, and fellow teammate of the acclaimed co-rec intramural football team known as “Jesus Jukes,” joined junior exercise science major Alexa Billington in leading worship.   Boden said leading worship at Reaching Out is unique.   “First,” he said, “It is so dang early. But the people who show up usually want to be there. That’s a breath of fresh air for someone in ministry to see.”   Students all around joined in a chorus of praise.   “Singing is just a very powerful form of worship,” Billington said, “and I know, for me, it’s what makes me feel like I’m connecting with God the most.”   “It’s just a beautiful thing to be able to sing to The Lord before the sun even comes out …” Boden added.   The only thing missing from Reaching Out’s pregame experience was Shawn Shannon’s “Big Watermelon!” warm-up. She was sick and dearly missed. But either way, it was time to serve. Savvy and I headed out to help clean up Nolan Creek.   We were joined on the trail by senior education major Kristen Cain, who also served at the Harris Community Center.   “We picked up large sticks and branches that were along the trail to clean up from the big storm Thursday night,” she said.   Our work replenished the creek’s appearance.   “God has shown me easy ways to serve in my community...

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