Gary Johnson

As some may know by now, I am a libertarian (though I am not officially part of the Libertarian Party because of long-standing personal principles that require my continued independence). Last night I made the short trip over to Duke University and had the great pleasure of hearing Gary Johnson speak at a seminar addressing ignored policy issues. Though my heart is still with Dr. Paul, he has more than earned his retirement and I respect his decision. Since, Gary Johnson has really stepped up as a potential new leader of the Liberty Movement. His background speaks for itself and he is carrying on with a platform very similar to Dr. Paul’s.

Johnson followed up behind four other great speakers (including Barbara Howe, the Libertarian Party candidate for North Carolina Governor) who spoke on everything from marijuana legalization to non-interventionism to freedom of speech. (While I don’t personally condone marijuana, I can’t find any reasonable argument against the Libertarian stance, mainly because it actually uses portions of my own principles.) Now, Johnson has had my support since Dr. Paul’s own party buried him with every dirty, unconscionable trick they could muster, but he really earned my praise tonight as he said nearly word for word what I’ve been railing about for years:

“We’re on a forty university and campus tour: I’m doing twenty, Judge Jim Gray is doing twenty. Why are we out talking to college students? Why are we out talking to young people? Because you all are getting screwed. I’m going to retire, I’m going to have healthcare, but you have to work and you will never retire and you’re not going to have healthcare, because there is no paying this off – none whatsoever. And then President Obama’s healthcare plan…let’s see, that’s a plan that’s dependent on healthy people having to pay for insurance for those who aren’t so healthy. That’s a burden that falls on young people who are healthy. You’re graduating from college with a home mortgage without a home… And then the worst of all: you all are the ones that are going overseas, you all are the ones putting your lives on the line, you all are the ones that are dying for all of this or you’re coming back hurt in ways that we are going to have to care for you for the rest of your lives – we have that obligation and we need to meet that obligation.”

Watch the entire speech:

Thank you, Gary Johnson. You have my vote.

Learn more about Gary Johnson: http://www.garyjohnson2012.com

Radical

I’ve been told that I’m “radical.” And indeed, from many of today’s hopelessly entrenched perspectives, I am. But here’s my problem: when did encouraging independence of the mind, putting God-given Reason above faith, demanding strict adherence to the Constitution, seeking our natural individual Liberty, fighting to keep my right to what I have earned, securing safety and a future for myself and my progeny, never becoming complacent with the status quo, and pursuing truth at all costs become “radical?” If these principles make me a “radical,” then I will wear the badge proudly.

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“Il Trovatore”

Today I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining the opera chorus in North Carolina Opera’s upcoming production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore. This will be a semi-staged production, sung in Italian with English supertitles. Even though I quite like opera, this will actually be my first experience working with it, so I’m quite excited.

The two performances are as follows (click for tickets):

27 April 2012 – Progress Energy Center, Raleigh, NC
29 April 2012 – Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill, NC

As an NC State student, I’m afraid I’ll have to do some purification rituals after the second performance, though.

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, The Fight Continues

“Tech companies and users teamed up. Tens of millions of people who make the Internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms. The free network defended itself.” –Fight for the Future

Congratulations! We dealt a heavy blow to SOPA and PIPA yesterday! There are currently 64 supporters to 108 opponents. Tens of thousands of websites staged some form of protest, encouraging their visitors to learn about the threat and contact Congress. Traditionally-neutral sites like Wikipedia and WordPress broke from their rules to defend themselves. Google, alone, had over 7 million names added to their petition. Mozilla reached over 40 million people with their message against censorship. Twitter users mentioned the bills over 4 million times. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, alone, had over 1 million messages to Congress sent through their system. Congressional websites were crippled most of the day from overwhelming traffic.

It cost the entertainment industry, who has vehemently opposed every technological advance from the VCR to streaming content, almost $100 million to get these bills where they are. In response, the tech community, in one day, used the full might of the Internet to ensure it’s own future. The direct monetary cost? Negligible.

Without a doubt, some elements of these bills have been exaggerated. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that when governments are given a micron, they’ll simply give themselves the entire kilometer when you look away. (Yeah, yeah… engineers… 🙂 ) Better yet, these politicians who are determining the fate of the free network have no clue as to how it actually works. They have been put to shame numerous times by engineers and experts who understand the harm such legislation can do.

The fight is far from over! The House and Senate still intend to vote in the coming weeks, and they’ll be quick to make superficial changes to soothe less adamant opponents. Keep it up, my friends!

, Time to Take a Stand

Hello all! Today, we approach a dangerous precipice. The U.S. Congress is soon to vote on legislation that would give the U.S. government the power to take down, without due process, websites accused of copyright infringement and the freedom to heavily fine supposed violators. According to the entertainment industry, such power is necessary to combat “rampant piracy.” However, this is not the way. SOPA and PIPA can only hurt our economy and strangle the free innovation the Internet has made possible. Today, I join Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and thousands of others in an open protest of this grotesque demonstration of purchased legislation. From 8am to 8pm on 18 January, my sites will go dark. If you too value the Internet as the invaluable resource it is today, please join me in writing or calling your representatives in opposition to these bills.

To learn more about these bills: https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

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NCSU Choral Collage Concert

As you may know, I’ve been a part of North Carolina State University’s State Chorale for seven semesters now. In that time I’ve had the privilege of presenting some fantastic music with a very talented group of singers.

This semester, on 1 November 2011 at 7:00pm in Stewart Theater (NCSU Campus) we will be joining our fellow NCSU choirs – the Singing Statesmen and Vox Accalia – as a mass choir of nearly one hundred voices with the Raleigh Civic Symphony to present Felix Mendelssohn’s Psalm 115 and John Corigliano’s “Fern Hill”.

Today I am pleased to announce that I have been honored with the baritone solo in the Mendelssohn piece, meaning it’s just the orchestra and I through the entire third movement. We can always use a boost to our egos, right? Needless to say, I’m very humbled by my selection. Unfortunately, with the addition of the “The Masque of the Red Death”, this means I have 12 significant solo roles over the course of just three weeks! Yes, I’m frightened.

This is going to be a great concert, so if you’re in the area the evening of 1 November, stop by and say “hello”!

Is it really fiction?

“Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
-Marcel Proust

Recently I’ve been reflecting on how we can unconsciously make such strong connections to works of fiction. We know the story isn’t real, but somewhere in there we have found a little bit of ourselves. Sometimes it’s a character’s reflection of ourselves, our past revisiting us in a new form, or perhaps even a story we long for for ourselves. Probably the most common of these connections is that between ourselves and a character. We tell ourselves that they’re not real, and yet when they’re happy, we smile with them; when they sorrow, we share their tears; when they grieve, we mourn the loss of a friend; when they achieve great things, we feel a little taller; and when they break with their conscience, we experience guilt.

We want the best for this person we’ve grown attached to, and we often find ourselves unable to stop reading. And when we’ve found a little bit of ourselves in a character, we wait with bated breath to find out how their story will end, hoping to uncover a little hope for our own lives down the road. Such is my case. My logic and reason scream at me to ignore this emotional nonsense as I usually do, but these cries go unheeded. Why, I cannot explain. I deeply believe in the power of the mind, but there seem to be times when something strikes a resounding chord within us that no tricks of the mind can dampen.

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“The Masque of the Red Death”

I am pleased to announce that I will be returning to sing with the orchestra at Carolina Ballet‘s The Masque of the Red Death. This short ballet is a prelude to the bigger attraction, Dracula. Both of these shows were great last year, so I highly recommend them. Tickets go on sale to the public 15 August 2011.

For more information, visit http://www.carolinaballet.com/dracula.html.

Steam, Steel, and Heat

Forgive me, O. Winston Link, for playing on your book title for my own humble artistry.

For well over a decade now, I have made a short journey to Denton, NC every year around the week of July 4. What could possibly be out in the middle of nowhere in Denton, you ask? Tractors. And after you’ve seen those, more tractors. This is the Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion.

Threshing

(Click to enlarge.)

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Last Shuttle

In honor of our last shuttle launch:

“‎You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares.”
Contact

“May we continue to explore and push beyond the limits of what we thought was possible. May we change our legacy from one of destruction to one of achievement. May we remain united as humanity, not just in times of despair and triumph. May we leave our nightmares behind and may we continue to dream.”

-Christopher Nowlan