The N Word (No NOT that N word)

Leave a comment

Writer’s warning:  the following blog post contains content that may be offensive to some people.  Especially to those who are part of Google Blogger or Facebook.

 

Let’s get naked.

 

No really, if you are part of Blogger or Facebook, you may be in trouble just saying it much less posting a picture of it.

 

A couple of weeks ago, my blog post was about an email that I received from Google that they were changing their policy regarding nude pictures in any of their blogs.  As I mentioned at that time, I never had any nude pictures in any of my blogs.  However, for some reason, just writing about it triggered some sort of notification from Google to send out an email to me regarding their policy change that they were going to make to their service.  I tried to justify how their system worked or how it might have worked.

 

Well, a few days later, I received the following email from Google:

 

Dear Blogger User,

This week, you received an email telling you about some changes we were
making to the Blogger Content Policy. In that email, we announced a change
to Blogger’s porn policy stating that blogs that distributed sexually
explicit images or graphic nudity would be made private.

We’ve received lots of feedback about making a policy change that impacts
longstanding blogs and the negative impact on individuals who post sexually
explicit content to express their identities.

We appreciate the feedback. Instead of making this change, we will be
maintaining our existing policies (http://www.blogger.com/content.g).

What this means for your blog:
Commercial porn will continue to be prohibited.
If you have pornographic or sexually explicit content on your blog, you
must turn on the adult content setting
(https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/86944?hl=en) so a warning will
show.

If you don’t have sexually explicit content on your blog and you’re
following the rest of the Blogger Content Policy
(http://www.blogger.com/content.g), you don’t need to make any changes to
your blog.

Thank you for your continued feedback,

The Blogger Team So, overall, Google backtracked their policy and decided to keep their existing policy in place.  However, I have yet to receive that email that says “Oops, your blog does not contain any graphic images so we made a mistake. We are extremely sorry for our mistake.  Forgive us please.” However, things with Facebook are much more wishy-washy.  They have updated their “Community Standards” with generalizations that could be interpreted in many different ways.  They don’t make clear what is really pornographic except to say that if it involves a minor then it is removed otherwise it may be more discretionary behavior.   Over the past few weeks, I have reported several graphically explicit images.  Some of them were deleted by Facebook, however, most were said not violate their “Community Standards”.  So, why are some deleted and others kept up?  I believe this has more to do with who is checking the pictures rather than general “Community Standards”..  in other words, the pictures taken down are more subjective than an overall takedown of all pictures. I believe that this should be an all-or-nothing policy:  either take down all nude images or leave them all up.  This would certainly create many problems, because everybody have different value systems. This brings me to another issue: just mentioning nudity can be a problem.  As one of my friends found out, she was reported to Facebook for just the mere mention of nudity, without any pictures involved.  Apparently, one of her friends has different standards than my friend does.  Since I never saw the post, I cannot say what this post said, but it may have offended someone on her friend’s list. So let’s see:  Blogger won’t let me talk about nudity and thinks I have it on my blog and Facebook will allow reports on just talking about nudity, but allows nudity at its own discretion. Do we see a multiple standards here?  What is offensive to some are ok to other people. Here are a couple of more examples of the past that may either offend people or maybe not even bother them. Example #1: A few months ago, the magazine “Paper” had a rather graphic pictorial of Kim Kardashian in its magazine.  Since this magazine had full body nudes of her, I would have expected that this would have been shrink-wrapped to protect anyone under 18 from picking up this magazine.  No such luck as this magazine had no wrapper whatsoever and the cover itself was rather graphic as well.   It might be said that these pictures are artistic in nature rather than pornographic, but this is more opinion and a matter of taste.  Still, it shows a full naked body and should have been wrapped no matter what. Example #2: A few years ago, the magazine “New York” ran a multi-page pictorial of actress Lindsay Lohan recreating the final photoshoot of Marilyn Monroe.  The cover along with the pictures inside was of a graphic nude nature, but like example #1 could also be considered art rather than nude.  Again, the magazine was readily available to anyone as this magazine was not shrink-wrapped either.   So here we have to graphic nude magazines, neither wrapped, and both readily available to any customer who wants to purchase them.  However, to some, these might be just considered art and not any type of pornography. Let’s review all this.  What is nudity and what is art is a subject to opinion.  However, I believe that if someone is nude in a picture it doesn’t belong in an unwrapped magazine nor does belong in an open space like Facebook or Google’s Blogger service. But everyone seems to blur the lines of what is ok and what is not acceptable.  It seems that what is acceptable is trash to others even if nudity is mentioned, not even shown. Overall, doesn’t all this violate people’s first amendment rights?  However, I can never picture the founding fathers taking nude selfies of themselves or people like Martha Washington winding up naked in the latest issue of “Common Sense”. If only the founding fathers saw the world today, they may have been writing a very different first amendment, but then again maybe they had that stuff back then, but it was never documented anywhere because they were embarrassed by it.   We will never know what those founding fathers did back then.   Maybe we are better off that way.

 

Advertisements

A Tribute to Roger Snow

Leave a comment

Photo/Obituary Published by Maine Sunday Telegram

Photo/Obituary Published by Maine Sunday Telegram

There are very few teachers during my years in school that had such an impact in a couple of aspects of my life as Roger Snow did.  Posted above is his obituary as it appeared in the Maine Sunday Telegram this week.

 

His passion for his craft exceeded anything that I ever saw from anyone.

 

It is difficult to call him a real teacher because he traveled amongst the different schools here in South Portland, Maine to spread his talents of teaching others the fine art of music.

 

When I was in the 5th grade, I wanted to learn a musical instrument.  So my parents and I went to my cousin’s music shop to look for an instrument.  My thoughts were that I really didn’t want to have any instrument that I had to blow because I usually had a shortness of breath so this type of instrument was out of the question.

 

So my choices were limited to something like the piano or violin.  Since my parents could not afford a piano and it would be heavy to bring to school, I decided on the violin.  The violin that my parents purchased was new and it cost about $500.  After shelling out that much money for the instrument, they could not really afford to purchase a new case which would have set them back a couple more hundred.  So I ended up buying a used and sort of rough-looking case.  It didn’t look great and was a little discolored but it served its purpose.

 

I used a DYMO label maker to put a label with my name and address on the case so it could be returned if ever lost.  Ironically that label has lasted many years later.  Unfortunately, my violin career hasn’t lasted that long.

 

I was one of two people at my elementary school who were interested in playing the violin, me and a girl.  As it turned out, her affection for the instrument varied and she would not show up for the practice sessions set up by Mr. Snow, our teacher.

 

I practiced the violin for about an hour everyday trying to learn the notes and songs from the songbook which was provided to me.  The learning of the notes was extremely difficult for me as I could not read music that well.

 

However, Mr. Snow was persistent that I could learn to read the notes even if I had to write down every translation below the bars in the book.  That, unfortunately, is exactly what I had to do.  Mr. Snow did not care if I did that because he felt that it was the best way to learn.  Unfortunately for me, I did this all the time throughout my short but beneficial musical career.

 

My high point of my musical career came at the 6th grade Christmas school program.   The girl who was supposed to perform with me was no-show.  So a decision had to be made:  would I perform alone or not perform at all.

 

Mr. Snow came to the rescue.

He encouraged me to go out and face the audience and perform what I had long been practicing.  I could feel the sweat dripping down my back as all of a sudden I felt the tie I was wearing suddenly tightened like a noose around my neck.

 

So Mr. Snow and I walked out onto the gymnasium floor together, where we started performing together.  Shortly he would stop, leaving me to continue the songs by myself.  I was still nervous even though he was sitting beside me.  After performing my 3 Christmas songs, Mr. Snow prompted me to stand up and take a bow. The crowd had given me a standing ovation.  Nervously I held my instrument with bow in one hand and violin in the other and bent over like I was going to have a stroke or something worse.  At this point, I could not wait to leave the floor and go out into the entry way.  Mr. Snow congratulated me on a job well done and I watched the remainder of the show from in the back of the room.

 

This night was probably the high point in my entire musical career.  Correction, this was the high point as things sort of went downhill from here.  The girl never returned to violin class ever again after this particular night.  So I spent the rest of the year alone in this class.

 

When I got into junior high school (7th grade), I was not alone.  There was one other boy, Michael, and 3 girls in the violin class.  Michael was not a great student, but he excelled at the violin.  As a group, Michael led us when we needed help because he had been playing the violin for several years and was a couple of years older than the rest of us.  His passion along with the passion of Mr. Snow  made our time very enjoyable over the next year and we performed well together during all the junior high programs that we were invited to.

 

Then came 8th grade and for some reason Mr. Snow was removed from the South Portland school music department.  It was never known if he retired or if he was forced out of the department.  This was the worst thing that could have happened to us.

 

His replacement wanted to transform Mr. Snow’s orchestra into the new head’s band.  What this meant was that the violin section would be history.  We had a choice: pick up a new instrument or leave altogether.  However, Michael would have none of that.  He led a protest to keep the violin section and keep the whole group as an orchestra.

 

Michael’s passion led to failure and unfortunately for the 5 of us, we were shown the door.  It took a few weeks before the final decision to oust us happen but when it did, Michael took it the worst.  He became so distraught over the whole situation that he dropped out of school and allegedly got hooked on drugs.  As far as I knew, he never went back to school becoming a victim of the ignorance of the school department.  I saw Michael a few years ago and he seemed to be off drugs and much more mellow, but he looked much different and appeared to finally be at peace with the world and himself.

 

However, the real question for those of us who cared was what happened to Mr. Snow.  Rumors circulated that he was fired; others said he was forced out, and others thought he just retired.  My violin ended up getting retired living in the storage space in my parent’s garage.  It has not been opened in many years so I don’t know the condition of the instrument, but I have no intention on selling it.

 

That question would always remain unanswered for me, but his disappearance would not be long as during high school in 10th grade he made reappearance in my life.

 

During my sophomore year in high school, when I had the first chance, I decided to take the driver’s education course offered in the school.  Since the course was held at the school, we all were sitting there on the first day anxious to find out who the teacher was.  To my surprise, and the surprise of others, the teacher was Mr. Snow, the music teacher who inspired my musical aspirations.

 

He was a great teacher of driver’s training, but when it came to actually getting behind the wheel of a car that became a different story for some.  I remember the car being a bright red Chrysler K car, a popular type of front-wheel drive car of its day.  The car clearly was labeled a driver’s education car with a big sticker on both front doors and on the trunk.  The label had the Chrysler logo on it with the words “STUDENT DRIVER” clearly written on it.

 

For me, it should have said “LOOKOUT CRAZY LOON ON BOARD”.  Given that Mr. Snow took out 4 students per day for their driving lesson, my day was always met with the same sort of sweat that haunted me years earlier at the solo Christmas concert back in elementary school.

 

My first time behind the wheel, the vehicle was parked near a cliff overlooking Sebago Lake.  Naturally, the first thing I did was to put the car into drive and almost sent the car over the cliff.  Thankfully, Mr. Snow had a brake pedal on his side of the car to stop me from making him, me and the others a stupid lesson on how not to drive and end all of our lives in a heartbeat.

 

Over the next few weeks, each of the four of us, were allowed about a half hour of drive time so we were together in the car for about 2 hours a week.  While everyone else in our group progressed rather well, I still struggled with the whole driving thing.

 

However, Mr. Snow was persistent in seeing me succeed as I did in music class.  When the course ended, everyone else was ready to take their driver’s test, but Mr. Snow did not want to see me fail.

 

Since he had the driver’s education car for another few weeks, he decided to give me additional lessons free to give me more time behind the wheel.  This extra time made a huge difference as this extra training along with the time my father gave me driving his car allowed me to pass my driver’s test in the first try.  I was extremely proud and happy that Mr. Snow did this much to help me succeed for a second time in my life.  Also, the Chrysler K car survived with all the bumpers and 4 wheels still on it.

 

He went above and beyond anyone in wanting to help me.  I think he would have done this for anyone who needed the help.  It was just part of his nature.  However, I believe that anyone who would do something without pay just shows his dedication to his craft.  He had the drive to make anyone succeed whether behind the wheel or behind a musical instrument.  (Writer’s note:  Sorry about that pun I could not resist.)

 

In the years that followed, I only saw Mr. Snow a couple of times when I worked at the mall.  He pretty much kept a fairly private life despite having such a talented existence.  Maybe that is why he was so great, he knew when to stay out of the limelight and let others get the glory.

 

But here in this blog post, I felt it was time that he got the glory that he long deserved.  Unfortunately, I had to write it as an obituary tribute rather than as a lifelong tribute to someone who always went that extra mile.  (Writer’s note:  Sorry about that one too.)

 

When I decided to write this, I wanted to find a current picture of Mr. Snow to put into this post, but I could not find one.  Since my old yearbooks were not accessible, the only picture that I have is an old picture of someone at the beginning of their career rather than the older white-haired gentleman that I knew all those years.  Either way, he had a long honorable life and always had my respect.

 

Rest in peace, Mr. Snow.  I know someone up there wants to hear you play one of your many instruments that you played so well.  You will never be forgotten especially every time I get behind the wheel of my car.  Just as long as I don’t ever find that cliff and forget which way to go.