Saturday, November 12, 2011

JoePa: A King Dethroned.

For our first assignment for our Report Writing class, we were instructed to write a position paper that answered the following question: Should Joe Paterno be fired?

The following is my response:

Question: Should Joe Paterno be fired?
Joe Paterno. The name rings a different meaning depending on who you talk to. For most, he’s the man that has coached 45 seasons at Penn State, dating back to the height of the Vietnam War era. For the sake of perspective, the year he started was the same year that the Miranda Rights were birthed, and one could purchase gas for 32 cents per gallon. Recently though, the name Paterno brings about an attitude of disgust and anger for people. This is due to the recent resurfacing of the Sandusky scandal in which Penn State’s former defensive coordinator was arrested on 40 counts of sexual abuse on eight boys spanning over 15 years.

Where Paterno gets caught up in this mess finds us nine years ago where he was informed of these happenings by Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant who witnessed the abuse. Instead of taking this information directly to the police, Paterno notified Penn State’s athletic director about what had transpired. Flash-forward to current day, 2011, and Paterno’s god-like status has been instantly tarnished by his mistake.

But was this error grounds for “JoePa’s” termination? As I’ve followed the story, I can honestly say that I am torn on this answer. On the one hand, I can respect the school’s decision to uphold discipline, defend their name, and set an example for future employees of the University. Taking no action on a person who knowingly failed to directly inform the police of his findings would have been a huge mistake – especially when the subject of sodomizing young boys is on the headlines. That said, Paterno didn’t keep the news completely hidden. I’ve always respected the man, and I can only assume he did what he thought was right at the time. Today, he attempted to do the same by announcing his retirement to rectify his error. In my mind, this is a respectable move - Paterno retires as a coach who has done more on the football field as a coach than most ever will, but also retires as a human being recognizing his mistake with full intent to take responsibility while stepping out of the spotlight.

I am still interested in what will further take place with the story, but for now, my opinion is that Paterno should have been able to leave a chapter of his life that consumed 45 years of it with some sense of dignity and respect.

I welcome your input, opinions, and debate.

-joelEo out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The verdict on my verdict about the verdict is in.

We have a greatly flawed judicial system. I just wanted to get that out there right off the bat.

We had a pretty good discussion about the Casey Anthony trial/verdict today in class, and some good points were made. Let's start by looking at some of the facts.

1. What mother on the face of the planet would even WANT to cover up her child's "accidental death"? If a child drowns (as Casey claims she did), wouldn't the first move be to call 911? It seems a bit odd to just bag up the body and try and stage it as a homicide. NO mother who's child accidentally drowned would simply bag it up to rot, and wait a month before doing anything about it.

2. Proof that chloroform was purchased by Casey herself, was found on her computer.

3. If your child dies, would it be very appropriate to go out partying that same night?

4. This might be the most critical point. If you're facing either potential life in prison, or even the death penalty, wouldn't you DEMAND to take the stand and defend yourself? She already lied to the police and her defense attorney was fully aware of this. They knew that if she did take the stand, the prosecution would tear her apart.

Pop culture and the media's influence in today's society is just sad. Somewhere along the line immediate physical evidence and DNA samples has surpassed common sense. I think we have shows (like CSI) that flood people's minds to thank for that. Our modern society has this skewed perception that "if there's no DNA, gosh darn it, there's no case". I find it hard to fathom that these 4 points can be so quickly thrown out simply because the case wasn't presented in a "CSI-like" fashion.

An innocent child was murdered and there were 12 people who were somehow incapable of using common sense to bring the killer to justice. Having 12 people picked at random to decide the fate of someone they know nothing about is a horrible idea in my opinion. We need a total revamp of the judicial system. I'm not sure how, but the current state in which the courts are run is a joke.

Do I think think she did it? Absolutely.

The hardest thing for me to learn in all of this (especially from the perspective of the field I will soon be entering), is once you've brought your case to court, it's out of your hands. I can work as hard as I can to present the facts to the court. After that, the actors (the PA & the DA) take stage and woo the audience with their smoke and mirrors. Justice doesn't seem to be at the heart of the courtroom anymore. There never was any interest from the defense or prosecution for Casey or her daughter, it was all about putting on an act for a dozen strangers. The game was played, and the defense made better moves.

3 weeks later, a woman walks and shows the world that people can be easily manipulated - that if you play your cards just right, you can get away with murdering your own child.

In the end, life goes on. We keep doing our jobs and say "hey, hopefully we'll get the next one". But is this really the attitude we should have towards justice? In the end, NOBODY wins, because a 2 year old has died and NO ONE is held accountable for it.

End rant.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fruit of our labor

The past 2 years have proven to be an amazing experience on the music front. As I've said before, I've found myself growing/evolving into a position musically where I am comfortable singing/playing/performing for individuals beyond myself. I am blessed to be one part of a three man band that has been working hard at taking original pieces of work and finally putting them down as tracks.

After much blood, sweat, tears, strained vocal chords, ...and editing, we finally have something released we feel is good enough for a demo. If you head on over to our band's Facebook page you can experience 4 of our songs firsthand. We welcome your feedback and critiques. Keep in mind that these have been recorded with the very basic of tools.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

8 Million Dollar Big Bird

Today, our class FINALLY got out of the classroom and went on our first field trip. Destination? The Maryland State Police Aviation Division. These guys do everything from helicopter rescue to nation wide convict pick ups. One of our instructors, Mr. Smith, is a retired Maryland State Police Trooper, so he took us to this subdivision of his old stomping grounds.

Take a look:

 (Prior to the facility being used for what it's used for now, they used to manufacture planes here for WWII - these are some of those planes.)

 (Though we never got a chance to thoroughly tour this thing, this tuck/bus/rv was intimidating. It's used for hostage situations and things of that nature. EVERYthing they need is in there. As they said, it's a police station on wheels.)

(In the maintenance hangar, this was one of the three helicopters they were working on. This puppy was stripped down quite a bit!)

(Just some light reading, i.e. the helicopter manuals. I didn't see any "Helicopters For Dummies" book in there.)

(We got the chance to see the insides of the 8 million dollar "Trooper 1". Beyond awesome.)

(The ten of us with Mr. Smith)

One of the pictures I CAN'T show you is of one of the returning planes that had in its custody a convict that they had just picked up from Atlanta, GA. They taxied and parked the little plane in the hangar while we were in it and told us that the guy they captured would be getting off that plane. Sure enough, a man bound in shackles and cuffs was escorted off the plane and would eventually be taken to prison ...but not before brought by within a couple feet of where we were. Win.

Monday, January 24, 2011

And I am flight...

Today was a Monday.

Monday's are the start of a new week, and a day that most people dread. Not so much for me. In addition to loving school (what?!?), Monday's are usually the day that Jason Landis, Jonathan Gray, and myself (a.k.a. The Quickening) get together and create/record music.

We're in the recording process now, and are working hard with what little time we have together during the week to lay down a demo. As of this writing, we have six original songs with a seventh on the way. It amazes me how God can take three individuals, each with different tastes and talents, and blend them into something unique. We each bring something different and fresh to the table each week, and as the weeks go on, I get more and more excited at the potential of this band.

Music has always been an intricate part of my life. I grew up with parents who exposed me to it in different forms at an early age, and was blessed that those parents shared a genuine interest in the music I listened to as my tastes varied as I grew. I only seriously started playing guitar at the age of 13, and have yet to put the instrument down. God gave me a gift in playing the guitar, and it's a gift that I've been aware of for awhile.

But it wasn't until recently that I grasped the reality that God gave me a voice as well. I've always been a closet singer. I love(d) to sing, but only ever in the company of myself (usually enclosed in a car). It was only 2 years ago that I started slowly emerging from my shell and displaying the full force of my vocals to Jason, Jonathan, and on occasion Elizabeth (Jason's wife). I was always expecting a disapproving reaction, but received acceptance instead. Fast forward to a few months ago when our band played our first show. The nerves were there, as I would be singing in front of 30+ people I had never met, but I was actually ready.

It wound up being one of the most freeing moments of my life.

I loved it, and now can't get enough of it. There's nothing quite like belting out the lyrics to songs you helped write into a microphone as you're laying down you're track of you're song. It's a dream that's slowly, but finally coming true.

2010's resolution was to perform publicly. I did it twice.

I'm pulling for a bigger venue, and a little more publicity this year.

I want to be heard. I want The Quickening to be more than just a interesting idea that only my family and close friends know about. I want God to take our band, turn it into a firework, and set it off with the spark of extreme ambition.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

4 Years Ago...

Happy 4 years to my beautiful wife and best friend

I love you Sara.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


In our continuing search for a new church home, Sara, Isaac, and I went to Connect this morning. The part of the service we stayed for (Isaac lost it by 11:15), was really something awesome, and reminded me of what church should be about.

This is a church that is roughly 30 members strong and meets on the third floor above the Prince St. Cafe in Lancaster city. It's not a big church by any means, and certainly doesn't sport the bells and whistles in the building where it meets - but this experience reminded me that a church is not a building. Church is a group of believers who gather together in fellowship to worship our Creator. Where they meet is irrelevant.

I just find it interesting that I can gain more from a service that meets in a room above a popular cafe, than I can inside a "church". It seems when you tear down the walls of a material structure and strip away the distractions of what churches these days seem to think we need, is when God gets put in the spotlight.

Keep it simple. I don't need the noise.

-joelEo out.