Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Excellent Album with a Great Sound

If you are looking for an excellent album with a great sound try The City Harmonic.  They have become one of my favorite bands. 

You can watch their official video for their song I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home) at the link below.  
http://www.youtube.com/thecityharmonic

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

But It Doesn't Affect Me! Really? Read this!


I can't tell you how many young people say and think, "But It Doesn't Affect Me!"  It is the number one issue all parents and teachers must confront, which is why I wrote the book for parents, teachers, and teens by they same name.  My book, "But It Doesn't Affect Me" answers every excuse to prove that our entertainment choices DO affect us.  These examples from last week's Grammy Awards prove the obvious.   We are influenced by our entertainment choices.  

Adele’s six Grammys translated into an immediate spike of 95% of her album 21, which spent its 20th week at No. 1 with sales of 237,000 units. Sales projections for this week, the first full week since the Grammys, indicate that the British singer is on track to sell between 500,000 and 600,000 additional copies. Other beneficiaries of post-Grammy love? Katy Perry and Bon Iver. Perry's bitter post divorce song, "Part of Me," which she performed during the telecast and released the next day is likely to sell 400,000 to 420,000 units in its first full week. Bon Iver's sales, after he won Best New Artist, are up 121%.

Finally, never underestimate the value of good Super Bowl exposure. Chevrolet featured Fun's song (feat. Janelle Mondae),"We Are Young" in one of its commercials, resulting in a 338% surge in sales for the track last week, propelling it from No. 41 to No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart. billboard.com, 2/15-17/12; latimes.com 2/13/12; usatoday.com 2/14/12 Reported in Plugged In 2/20/12.

To better understand the influence of the media on today's youth and to equip yourself to answer your teen's excuses order Al's Book But It Doesn't Affect Me! today!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Student’s Facebook Photos Stolen and Posted to Pornographic Site

This article is from a site all parents should use called Facecrooks.com.  I depend on them for help with Internet privacy and safety.  - Al Menconi, President Al Menconi Ministries
If you think your child’s privacy settings on Facebook really don’t matter – think again.
The FBI is investigating an incident where pictures of teen girls were taken from Facebook and placed on a pornographic website. The victim’s ages range from 14-17 years old.
The good news is that the photos showed the girls fully clothed – the bad news is that some of their personal information was included on the site. Imagine seeing your child’s photo on a pornographic website with their name and high school posted beside it.  To make matters worse, child pornography was also discovered on theMassachusettsbased web site.
The teens didn’t have their privacy settings configured properly, and Facebook’s design makes it very easy for photos to be downloaded. All you have to do is right click on an image, and you are given the option to save it. Flickr and other photo sharing sites have disabled this feature, and there have been calls on Facebook to do the same.
Also remember that Timeline cover photos and profile pics are public, and this can’t be changed. For maximum privacy, don’t upload real photographs of yourself or your family – use clip art, your favorite outdoor scene or another image of some kind.
Authorities are unsure if any laws have been broken, and if anything can be done to get the pictures removed.
Have you done a privacy audit on your child’s Facebook account?

Recommended Resources

BitDefender Safego is a Facebook application you can install that will scan your News Feed and help keep you safe from scams like this.
PRIVATE WiFi® is a Personal VPN that encrypts everything you send and receive. Don’t access Facebook from a public WiFi hotspot without it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Act of Valor, a review by Al Menconi

Act of Valor
By Al Menconi, Al Menconi Ministries, AlMenconi.com, February 9, 2012

I can sum up the review of Act of Valor in one word.  WOW!  That was the most intense, exciting, and interesting film I have seen in a while. Before I finish my review, I must offer two caveats.
  1. It earned its R-rating because of the killing and intense action scenes.
  2. There were a few profane words that would make it R-rated. 

I normally don’t attend R-rated films, nor do I recommend them.  The last R-rated film I watched and reviewed was The Passion of Christ.  Of course I’m not putting Act of Valor in the same league as The Passion but I am recommending Act of Valor with the above cautions.

Before the credits and title came on the screen, the film started with the two directors, Scott Waugh and Mike McCoy, coming on the screen and speaking directly to the audience.  I hope they keep that segment in the public film as it gave the viewer a different perspective of what to expect. 

Waugh and McCoy wanted to put the audience in the boots of the Navy SEALs, and give them an authentic visceral experience that would take action films to a new level.  They accomplished their goal!  I have NEVER seen a movie like this.  While it did show bloody “kill shots,” they weren’t gruesome nor did they show gratuitous violence that is so prevalent in R-rated films and on some TV crime shows.     

What Act of Valor did show was eight active duty SEALs and on missions compiled from actual US Navy SEAL missions. The result is a pulse-pounding entertainment that never lets you go.  It was filmed in such a way – they must have had mini cameras on their helmets – that I actually felt like I was part of the rescue team.  I knew I was safely seated in the theater, but a number of times I found myself tense and holding my breath in anticipation of an encounter with the enemy. 

I won’t spoil the story but the action sure seemed real with all the side stories connecting into a “ripped from the headlines” story that seemed all too believable.  I can’t tell you the number of times I sucked in my breath and exhaled with an “Oh wow!” 

Not only did it show a very believable inner sanctum of the SEALs, it showed how they interacted with and were supported by their families. They were real family men who have a job to protect and rescue Americans in this war on terrorism.  This is the first “war” movie since John Wayne died that made me proud to be an American. 

Someone asked me if Act of Valor was “balanced.” I don’t really know what she meant by balanced, but it seems that when our national news agencies mention war they are careful to be politically correct so as to not offend “the enemy.”  If you are looking for that type of balance, this ain’t the movie for you.  It is pro American and it identifies the enemy and kills them before they able to kill the innocent.    In fact, the reality of this story is likely to encourage the viewer to become more politically aware. 

I know many of my readers will criticize me for recommending a R-rated movie, but I believe the “take away” is worth it.  This is NOT the normal R-rated movie.  I wouldn’t recommend it for preteens but if your teens have played war video games, they have seen much more violence and profanity than this movie shows.  If you don’t want to see killing in time of war, do not attend this movie.  You are free to choose.  And this movie shows how the Navy SEALs are helping America maintain that freedom to choose. 
Official Trailer for Act of Valor

Monday, February 13, 2012

Facebook Parenting:For The Troubled Teen

Al's Response:

Wow! I sure didn't expect the above responses. 

I'd like to throw in my two cents. 

Yes, the child is WRONG. But I also believe the father's response was WRONG. The real question is how to restore the relationship. Not how can the parents "get even."

Parents should NEVER respond in anger NO MATTER THE PROBLEM - as it will only drive the child further away. Unless the father attempts to heal this relationship soon, he will lose his daughter. There will come a day when he wished he had a better relationship with his daughter and it may be too late. 

I have to agree with Annie (above), this problem is not new. The father should have confronted the child about her attitude way before it got this bad. He should have discussed and set reasonable guidelines with his daughter about chores, facebook, etc. He should have discussed reasonable expectations and reasonable discipline if the daughter was unable to follow reasonable guidelines. If the daughter is unable to stay within reasonable guidelines, the father should Immediately lovingly confront the daughter to bring her back into acceptable guidelines. 

Yes, I would have taken the computer away for a time and ask the daughter why she chose to lose the computer. The daughter MUST REALIZE the discipline came because she made a bad choice, not because I am being mean. Be sure to use a non angry, low key, soft voice. How you say what you say is important. 

The father was obviously HURT by the daughter. He should have let her know that she hurt him. 
It would take time but I would give the daughter the opportunity to regain my trust. 

This father was so hurt by the daughter that he was willing to symbolically "kill the daughter" and therefore destroy the relationship. All parents go through some degree of pain brought on by their child, but before responding in anger like this father ask yourself if you are willing to destroy all hopes of a relationship with your child? 

I can remember times when I felt like out of control and had to go to my bedroom and cool down before I could discipline my daughters. 

Parents should NEVER give up on being a parent like this father did. Shooting the computer may have allowed him to vent his anger, but did it move him closer to resolving this relationship? I only made it worse. 

I am willing to bet his daughter is presently making plans to "runaway" from home into the arms of a man who will show her "love." If she doesn't leave physically, she has already "left" mentally and emotionally. And the first chance she can she will try to "get even" probably in the arms of a man who is looking for a girl who wants to "get even" with her father. 

We should try to treat our children in the same way God treats us. He doesn't hold grudges or get even. He disciplines us because He loves us. 

I would ask this father if his daughter knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is loved by him. If not, we have just discovered the root of the problem.

Friday, February 10, 2012

10 Worst TV Role Models


10 Worst TV Role Models 
In CommonSenseMedia by Sierra Filucci, on 02.06.12

What Are Kids Learning from TV Characters?
When it comes to sex, violence, drinking, bullying, and other sensitive topics, you want messages about right and wrong to come from you -- not, say, Snooki from Jersey Shore.
But surprisingly, Snooki might be more of an ally than you think. Talking about TV characters and their choices can be a great way to start conversations with your kids about their own behavior. We encourage you to get familiar with the characters kids are watching -- whether you love or hate them -- and sneak in a little parental direction between Snooki's visits to the bar.
1. Snooki, Jersey Shore
Not only is she not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but she drinks constantly and to excess. And while her drinking sometimes gets her arrested or leads to iffy sexual behavior, she gets lots of attention (and a big paycheck) for her antics.
Why it matters: Kids who watch shows with alcohol use are more likely to try drinking than those who don't.
What you can do: Use these moments to talk to your teens about drinking and whether they think the depictions on television are realistic. Take time to share your opinions -- and expectations -- about drinking. Be a good role model by not abusing alcohol in front of your kids.
2. Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen), Two and a Half Men
He is an alcoholic womanizer (who has since left the show, but can be seen in a bazillion reruns). And worse than that, the real-life Charlie got way too much attention for being a drug user and hanging out with prostitutes, all while flouting the idea that there was anything problematic with his behavior.
Why it matters: Adolescents who watch a lot of TV with sexual content are twice as likely to get pregnant or impregnate someone as kids who watch fewer of these shows. And treating alcohol overuse as a punchline sends a mixed message to teens who might be thinking of experimenting with alcohol.
What you can do: Watching shows that include the negative consequences of sex has been shown to be educational for teens. Talk about preventing unintended consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, respecting the opposite sex, and not taking decisions -- like having sex -- lightly. Additionally, talk about how drug and alcohol use has affected Sheen, from his appearance to his dignity to his relationship with family members.
3. Kim Kardashian, Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Her fame is based on ... not much. Aside from having a bodacious body and a knack for self-promotion, Kim and her sisters are the ultimate celebrity role models with nothing worth copying.
Why it matters: By middle school, kids are looking to their peers for a sense of what's socially acceptable or desirable. And celebrities, with their 24/7 presence in the media, become a gigantic super peer, whether you like it or not.
What you can do: Use celebrity news as a pathway to media literacy. Talk about how these stars make their money. Is it from making positive choices and living mild-mannered lifestyles? No. It's from getting attention for their misbehavior, their love lives, and, especially in the Kardashians' case, their physical appearance. Also, point out that stars like Kim K. get paid to promote products through Twitter, etc.
4. Goku and Gohan, Dragon Ball Z Kai
While the father and son team from this hugely popular anime series do put forward messages about loyalty and good triumphing over evil, they solve their problems with violence -- including hand-to-hand combat, superhuman powers, and guns. And their shows are marketed toward kids as young as 7, who are just learning to distinguish reality from fantasy.
Why it matters: Exposure to lots of media violence can increase antisocial activity and bullying and decrease empathy for victims of violence.
What you can do: Limit violent imagery in movies, television, and games, especially for younger kids. Explain the consequences of violent behavior, and teach conflict resolution so kids have a vocabulary to use when disputes arise.
5. Tyra Banks, America's Next Top Model
Though she talks a good game about appreciating different body types and encouraging positive behavior among her young recruits, she continues to reinforce ultra-thin physical standards and showcase backstabbing behavior on her show.
Why it matters: Girls are bombarded with messages about their appearance that reinforce unrealistic standards of thinness and beauty. Studies have shown that these messages have damaging effects on girls' self-esteem and can contribute to eating disorders and other extreme weight loss measures.
What you can do: Place less emphasis on how your teen looks than on what she can do. Show that you value her intelligence, creativity, and other traits that have nothing to do with looks. And expose the myths behind the supposed perfection of models and celebrities -- use Top Model as a jumping-off point to talk about how photos can be digitally altered to make women appear thinner or remove blemishes; talk about how stylists, make-up artists, lighting, and other special effects create the illusion of perfection.


By the time we're adults, most of us have figured out the difference between the kind of behavior that would get us booked on a reality show and the kind of behavior that leads to healthy, productive lives. But kids and teens are still figuring out who they are. And they're using television -- at least partly -- as a barometer of what's socially acceptable.
Talking about TV characters and their choices can be a great way to start conversations with your kids about their own behavior. Are your kids absorbing messages from any of these characters?
6. All the Housewives, Real Housewives of Orange County, Beverly Hills, New York City, New Jersey, etc.
These materialistic drama queens are poor role models for many, many reasons. But we particularly dislike the way they constantly gang up against each other and form mean-girl alliances.
Why it matters: Being mean to others is so much easier in today's 24/7 digital world. Between social media, texting, and email, being a cyberbully has never been so easy.
What you can do: Encourage kids to think before they post. And remind them not to say anything online that they wouldn't say face to face. And if they've been bullied -- online or otherwise -- teach them how to respond.
7. Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Gossip Girl
Backstabbing and always out to be queen bee, Blair is the ultimate mean girl ... with a killer wardrobe.
Why it matters: Blair's fashionable ways and runway style make her a key target for young viewers to look up to. And when kids who visit the Gossip Girl website can buy the clothes right off the backs of their favorite characters, Blair and her prep school buddies become covert salespeople targeting a key demographic -- your teens.
What you can do: Arm kids with the critical thinking skills to help them see through the hype and understand when they're being marketed to. Kids hate to feel manipulated, and when they understand that underneath promotions, free downloads, movie websites, or apps is plain and simple advertising, they'll be warier.
8. Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), Weeds
She makes consistently terrible parenting decisions, getting her sons caught up in a world of drug dealing, crime, and violence.
Why it matters: Outrageous -- not to mention illegal -- parenting behavior sends a message that abandoning responsibility is the only option when life gets overwhelming.
What you can do: You'd probably never miss a soccer game or back-to-school night, but do you know the ESRB ratings of your kids' favorite video games? Do you let your little kids surf the web unsupervised? Did you know that your Wii can surf the web or that your kid has a MySpace page? Get involved in your kids' digital life so that you can make informed media choices.
9. Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Shortcake Bitty Berry Adventures
OK, she's not actually that bad. But her character has morphed from a cute, plump kid in baggy jeans to a svelte tween with a glamorous hairdo. What's up with that? On top of that, she and her berry-named friends tend to needs lots of reassurance for every decision they make, and their vocations tend toward the stereotypical (food, dance, hair-care).
Why it matters: Girls are increasingly being sexualized in the media at a younger age, leading to a limited sense of self.
What you can do: Watch out for stereotypes in TV shows and other media, and point out when girls are rewarded for their looks and boys for their strength. Teach kids to question these messages and reinforce behaviors that don't emphasize their looks.
10. Candace (Ashley Tisdale), Phineas and Ferb 
Her primary motivations are pleasing her boyfriend and getting her brothers in trouble. All while being a screechy, whiny stereotype of a girl.
Why it matters: In the media, women are still too often relegated to the roles of love interest, sex object, selfless saint, or nitpicky nag -- despite overwhelming real-world evidence to the contrary. When kids see characters portrayed that way over and over, it reinforces gender stereotypes.
What you can do: Talk to your kids about strong female role models who've achieved success through hard work, intelligence, discipline, or business savvy. These can be everyday heroes -- like your child's teacher -- or famous women your family admires or even a strong female character on television.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Top Ten Predictions for 2012


               Top 10 Predictions for 2012
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
2. Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth.
3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
4. God will still honor the praises of His people.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
8. There will still be room at the Cross.
9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

Isn't it great to remember WHO is really in control? And that "the Word of the Lord endures forever."
                                                (1 Peter 1:25)

Social media girls get sad

brand - e.biz

Social media girls get sad
January 31st, 2012 by admin
Girls can ‘ruin their girlhood’ by spending too much time on social networks. The new Stanford University study looks at data from girls between the ages of eight and 12 – all subscribers to Discovery Girls magazine – who spend considerable time using social media and finds that they are likely to be less happy than their less-networked peers.
Multitasking and spending many hours watching videos and using online communication is linked to certain negative experiences, such as feeling less socially success, having more friends whom parents perceive as bad influences and sleeping less, the research finds.
Clifford Nass, the Stanford professor of communication leading the study, says he was looking into how social media might create impediments to face-to-face interaction, which teaches kids how to read body language and facial clues.
“Humans are built to notice these cues – the quavering in your voice, perspiration, body posture, raise of an eyebrow, a faint smile or frown,” he explains. “Social media leaves the conversation two-dimensional. If I’m not with you face to face, I don’t get these things. Or, if I’m face to face with you and I’m also texting, I’m not going to notice them.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sex, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Are Your Kids Watching?


Sex, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Are Your Kids Watching?
There's only one thing that can upstage Tom Brady throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass: a supermodel getting her naked body painted by Jillian Michaels. That's what Internet domain registrar GoDaddy.com will be treating audiences to in its Super Bowl ads this year. With more than 100 million viewers on game day, advertisers are willing to do just about anything to get attention. (Would you have ever heard of GoDaddy otherwise?)
The Super Bowl represents a moment when families sit down and watch TV together. We're pretty much a captive audience and can be surprised by just about anything that happens during the live game -- including the ads.
Ads impact children
America pays almost as much attention to Super Bowl ads as we do the fumble on the 3-yard line. It's become a national sport to rate the ads the next day -- in the office and in the schoolyard. This year NBC, the network hosting the Super Bowl, is planning 18 hours of Super Bowl coverage on programs including the Today Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. That's a lot of commercials.
As adults, we may be evaluating an ad's humor or creativity, but the impact on kids can be quite different. Remember the Budweiser frogs? So do kids. A study by the Center on Alcohol Advertising showed that 9- to 11-year-old kids had higher recall (73%) of the Budweiser frogs' slogan than the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (39%). And kids knew what the frogs were selling: 81% identified beer as the product promoted by the frogs.
Beer, junk food, and more supermodels
Although the content of Super Bowl ads tends to be a closely guarded secret, the big advertisers are announced far in advance of the game. This year, social media is a huge part of many companies' marketing efforts. GoDaddy is running racier versions of their "leaked" TV commercials online, and Doritos invites viewers to choose which ad will ultimately appear on TV.
Some of the 2012 ads will be age appropriate for young kids, but a lot of them won't. Keeping with tradition, there will be plenty of beer commercials from Anheuser-Busch. Which is fine for grown-ups. But alcohol messaging needs to be managed with kids, since the simple truth is that they're powerfully influenced by alcohol branding. There will also be plenty of junk food ads and more supermodels promoting products ranging from cars to flowers. Be on the lookout, too, for ads promoting NBC shows and new movies, which may not all be age appropriate for your kids.
Be prepared to talk with your kids
Ads have a huge impact on our kids. Of course, some ads are entertaining -- even innovative -- but viewing them with a critical eye means that kids will have more freedom of choice about which messages they choose to listen to ... and which they don't. So here are some suggestions for ad-proofing yours:
Kids under 7 may not understand that an ad's purpose is to sell them a product rather than entertain them. You can point out that the ads they see during the Super Bowl are really meant for grown-ups. Ask them what they think the ads are selling. Sometimes they won't even know. And hit the mute button for alcohol ads or spots with violent content. Neither are age-appropriate.
Share some facts. The food and beverage industry spends more than $10 billion targeting children and youths though TV ads, coupons, contests, public relations promotions, and packaging. And 80% of the TV commercials are for fast food, candy, cereal, and toys.
Give your kids some ad-proofing decoder tips: Ask them who they think created the ad and why they're sending the messages they are. Who makes money from the ads? What tricks do your kids think the advertisers used to make them want to buy the products being promoted? Does an ad use a favorite celebrity? Does it have some feelings associated with the product -- like happiness? What isn't the ad telling them? No sign of nutritional information? Alcohol illegal for people under age 21? The featured video game costs a mint?
Distinguish fantasy from reality. How many calories are in that jumbo burger and soda and those extra-large fries? How many hours of exercise would it take to burn those calories off?
If your kids are too young to understand the ad, hit that mute button. Whether it's a Viagra commercial, a political ad, or anything else that feels uncomfortable, you may have to have a conversation you weren't expecting. If your kids are old enough to talk about the issues, make sure that they're learning about your perspective and values from you, not getting secondhand opinions from the media or uninformed kids on the playground.