Literacy In America

The advanced potential of technology, along with its mainstream function of being able to access information at any given time, has now overturned the way readers have access to books. Having the potential to access publications from the comfort of your own home at any given time of the day or night may be the main contributing factor as to why consumers have elected to invest in the purchasing of an e-book reader as opposed to spending money on transportation costs to their local bookstore. More recently, local and large chain bookstores have reported an enormous drop in sales since technology has introduced a more convenient way to read by way of the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Amazon Kindle, the Pandigial Reader, and the Sony Reader. While e-book sales have increased over the years in the United States, the U.S. adult literacy rates have decreased.

Literacy has a major impact on the functional ability of a country. However, statistics reveal a sad truth concerning the readers residing in the United States: approximately 32 million Americans cannot read. According to a study performed by The Organization for Economic Adult Literacy, the United States ranked 16 out of 23 countries. 1 out of 3 American adults cannot read properly, meaning either they do not fully understand the material they have read or they cannot analyze the information they have read correctly. Oddly, 33% of American adults, or 1 out of 4 Americans, own an e-reader of some sort. As the number of e-books sold has increased by 43% over the past 5 years, over 10 million e-books have been sold thus far yet this does not indicate there is hope for an increase in American literacy rates.

One possible explanation as to the awkward imbalance in statistics when comparing the number of e-reader and e-book sales to literacy rates is the decline of available bookstores where physical books may be purchased. When assessing the literacy rates, approximately 1 in 3 adults scored low in problem solving abilities within a technical environment. Not every reader is computer literate. In bookstores, customers can readily ask for assistance if needed when searching for a specific topic or publication. With e-readers, the reader is pretty much on their own. Since the sales of e-books has risen over the past 10 years, bookstores have been forced to shut down due to their low sales volume. Their low sales volume is contributed to the rising number of readers who prefer to purchase e-books rather than the traditionally printed book, and not all adult educational development resources are available in electronic form.

With bookstores becoming extinct and electronic book sales increasing, there may still be hope for raising the literacy stats for American adults as long as the number of library locations does not decline in the process…

©2013 Learus Ohnine

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Veteran’s Day: We Will Never Forget

November poses as an extremely important month for a particular group of Americans who deserve an enormous amount of recognition. On this day, Veteran’s Day, there is no amount of gratitude too spectacular that can be expressed sincerely enough for protecting our nation’s freedom. As noble of an honor as it to be a Veteran, the title came with a hefty price. Some of these people are forever inevitably forced to live with the memories of the horrific traumatic visuals of death, gruesome scenes of mutilation, and unspeakable methods of torture they’ve encountered while trying to fight for their lives during times of war. Not only that, these very same unselfish heroic people were also fighting for the lives and freedom for individuals of whom they’ve never met, have never heard of, and will never see. Those who were fortunate enough to survive and return home, return with having to totally restructure their way of living due to the loss of their mobility while they watch various strangers, whom they have literally rescued, walk pass them with all their limbs still intact.

For this, each and every American citizen should acknowledge all Veterans, the living and the deceased, on every Veteran’s Day of every year in the month of November. Free and/or discounted meals are being offered exclusively to the military and ex-military community this Monday, November 11, 2013 at the following restaurants:

Applebee’s – free meal
Bar Louie – free meal
Bj’s Restaurant & Brewery – free meal
Bob Evans – free all-you-can-eat meal
California Pizza Kitchen – free meal
Carraba’s – free appetizer
Champps Americana – free meal
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse – free meal
Cheeseburger in Paradise – free meal
Chili’s – free meal
Denny’s – free all-you-can-eat meal
Einstein’s Bros Bagel – free bagel
Famous Dave’s – free or discount meal
Fox & Hound & Bailey’s Sports Grille – Free or discounted meal
Friendly’s – free breakfast & coffee
Golden Corral – free meal
HoneyBaked Stores – free meal (lunch)
Hooters – free meal
Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House – free meal
Hy-Vee – free breakfast
IKEA – free sandwich, hot dish, or entrée salad
Krispy Kreme – free doughnut & coffee
Little Caesars® – free crazy bread®
Lone Star Steakhouse – free entrée
LongHorn Steakhouse – free Texas Tonion and alcoholic beverage
Max & Erma’s – free meal
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants – free lunch or dinner
Menchi’s – free 6 oz. frozen yogurt
O’Charley’s – free entrée
On The Border – free meal
Outback Steakhouse – free Bloomin’ Onion & drink
Paciugo Gelato Caffe – free 12oz gelatte
Red Lobster – free appetizer
Red Robin – free Red’s Tavern Double & Bottomless Steak Fries
Ruby’s Diner – free Cinnamon Roll French Toast until 11:30am.
Shoney’s – free All-American Burger
Spaghetti Warehouse – buy one entrée, get one free
Sizzler Restaurant – free meal until 4pm.
Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes – buy one meal, get one free
Texas Corral – free meal
Texas Land & Cattle Steak House – free appetizer
Texas Roadhouse – free lunch
T.G.I. Friday’s – free lunch
The Olive Garden – free meal; 10% off family dining with a veteran
Tim Hortons – free donut
Tony Roma’s – free entrée
Twin Peaks – free meal
Uno Chicago Grill – free individual pizza
Village Inn – free breakfast item

Note: please call your local restaurant of choice listed above to confirm discounts, or check their websites for further details. Remember to bring your proof of military service for verification.

Aside from enjoying a complimentary meal, Veterans can also enjoy free or discounted services at the following companies and attractions:

Anheuser-Busch Parks – free admission for service member and up to 3 dependents

Bed, Bath & Beyond – 20% off entire purchase
Colonial Williamsburg – free admission
Car Washes – free car wash
Great Clips – free haircut
Home Depot – 10% discount (year around)
Historic Jamestowne – free admission
Joann Fabric & Craft Stores – 20% off entire purchase
Knotts Berry Farm – free admission
Lowe’s – 10% off entire purchase (year around)
Pro Football Hall of Fame – free admission
Sport Clips – free haircut
Walgreens – 15% off eligible store items; 20% off Walgreens brands

For those who do not qualify for the aforementioned discounts but will be out and about at any one of these locations on Monday, please show your appreciation and gratitude if you should happen to run into a Veteran, or anyone from the military community for that matter. Give them a handshake, tell them thank you, or simply stop and say hello. Do this not only every Veteran’s Day, but also on any given day of the year. By acknowledging our beloved Veterans, it is a symbolic way of expressing the context of the 9/11 slogan to them: “We Will Never Forget.”

©2013 Learus Ohnine

Atheistic America

When Colonial America was initially established, the majority of European settlers brought with them their strongly upheld religious beliefs in God with the intent to develop these thirteen territories into a Christian Nation. For this reason, very few challenged the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers in conjunction with their shared beliefs on how Colonial America should be governed. In a formal letter written by our Founding Fathers to the English King, better know as “The Declaration of Independence”, an attempt to repudiate from the idea that the power to govern the people comes from the term “God” as depicted in a biblical sense by radically differentiating this spiritual entity with the term “Divine Providence”, which is also a term commonly used in Deism practices.

Over the years, the religious identification of America has become remarkably questionable as the number of religiously diversified foreigners migrating into United States began to rise. According to a 2008 survey reported by the American Religious Identification System (ARIS), 34% out of 303,202,683 people who make up the American population considered themselves as having no religious affiliation. In 2012, that same percentage of Americans who claimed to have no religious affiliations, or were either Atheist or Agnostic, increased by 6%. Out of the approximate 20,000,000 Americans who fall under the non-religious category, an overwhelming 5,000,000 American citizens were accounted for as Atheists.

Numerous Atheist groups have continued to grow over the years, challenging traditional laws by petitioning for their rights to be upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court. By supporting their legal claims with the concept of “the separation of church and state” in order to make major changes to accommodate those of a non-religious affiliation, many Atheist have made drastic changes within America’s society in their attempts to convert the United States into an Atheistic country. In 1963, the American Atheist group was founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hare after she petitioned the United States Supreme Court to abolish state-mandated prayer and bible readings in public schools. In 2005, the Godless American Political Committee, or GAPAC, was founded in order to enforce the constitutional rights of the Atheist community to endorse political candidates, oppose Christmas being a federal holiday, and eliminating any mention of God on U.S. currency or in the Pledge of Allegiance. The most recent attempt by the Atheist community to eliminate anything representative of a religious nature is signified by their 2011 lawsuit claiming the 9/11 iconic cross-shaped steel beam display located in the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is a violating of their constitutional rights, stating the cross is “grossly offensive”.

However, with Kim Jong’s nuclear threats still held in “limbo” along with the recent events unfolding in Syria, would it be wise to kick God completely out of America and convert us into an Atheistic country at this point?

©2013 Learus Ohnine

How Far Is Too Far?

In light of the recent worldwide travel alert warnings of potential terrorist attacks issued by the U.S. State Department, issues surround the risks posed manly on the safety of Americans or its allies have, once again, become a major top concern. Seeing as the season is not over yet for vacationers and tourists, some have come to think just how far is considered too far to protect our country.

Take for instance the controversy over whether or not Edward Snowden, former employee for the National Security Agency, did the right thing by leaking classified information that should have been kept confidential as to how the United States finds out what goes on behind closed doors. Since this worldwide terrorist alert has been issued, many who viewed this as the United States engaging in unconstitutional behavior have changed from animosity to appreciation.

The events of September 11, 2001 have without a doubt left a serious impact on just how far terrorists will go to make a statement. With no holds barred as being their personal mission statement, it would seem feasible that we as Americans take the same stance by whatever means necessary to ensure we do not suffer the same catastrophic event ever again. But is that really possible?

Apparently, it is possible. Intelligence officials claim to have evidence supporting a possible terrorist attack to occur from now until the end of August, thereby putting embassies and public transportation systems on high alert. By announcing this recent finding, this let’s all terrorist groups know “we are on to them”, however, that does not guarantee their possible plan of attack will cease; they could change their strategy.

Should we protect our nation by any means necessary? Absolute, thanks to this so-called “infringement on our privacy” technique. We may not appreciate whatever those necessary means are, especially if it includes infringing on our privacy. If there was ever a choice to be made, many U.S. citizens can be rest assured nothing can ultimately replace their lives once lost if sacrificing their privacy means preserving it.

©2013 Learus Ohnine