Piracy: A Victimless Crime?

{Hey, Girlz! I recently wrote this essay about piracy for my writing class, and I thought I'd share it with y'all. Piracy really is a serious thing, and I do believe it goes against the Bible. I'd love to hear your two cents. Leave a comment! ☺}

CRASH! Shards of glass shoot across the floor as fast as bullets. An alarm lets out a piercing wail as a masked thief darts through the broken window and into the night with stolen items clutched in his hands. A police car soon follows, its flashing red and blue lights reflecting off of shop windows along the streets.

Although different people have different moral bases, many would agree that stealing is wrong. If someone took money or an item of value from you, it would only be natural for you to be upset and to call the police. Another crime that is also against the law but is taken very lightly and supported by many is what is known as piracy - the illegal downloading, copying, or distributing of a form of media that infringes on the item's copyright. This includes watching a movie online that you did not pay for, posting a copyrighted song for millions of people to download, or burning copies of CDs to give to your friends, to name a few examples. Although many people practice piracy regularly, I take an unpopular stance in saying that I believe it is wrong and is, in actuality, the same as stealing.

Piracy is seen in many eyes as a victimless crime that is easy and free. What many Americans don't realize is how much it really does cost - for our economy, and also for the people who make the media we download. Due to the piracy of sound recordings alone, our country's economy loses 12.5 billion dollars annually. On top of that staggering number, over seventy thousand jobs are lost, and 2.7 billion dollars are lost in U.S. worker earnings, to name a couple of examples. (Siwek)

Not only is our economy negatively affected when media is stolen through piracy; it also takes a drastic toll on the people who record, produce, and distribute music, games, and videos. All of the people involved in the creation of media put so much money, time, and effort into making things they hope will provide enjoyable entertainment for us. When a physical item or money is stolen from someone, it impacts the person and costs them something. The same is true with piracy. Even though it may seem “innocent” and “harmless,” it robs the people who created the media.

I asked some of my friends what their views on piracy were, and it was so interesting to see the differences and commonalities in their responses. One commonality between some of the responses was that the prices to buy movies and music are constantly being raised, and many people don't want to pay for something they can just get online for free. Even though I agree that media can be overpriced, there are far better alternatives to piracy that are legal and affordable. Movies and games can be rented for only a couple of dollars at Redbox. There are other stores where media can be rented or bought at a reasonable price. There are also programs for listening to music, such as Pandora and Spotify, that allow people to listen to music for free or for a small monthly price.

One surprising commonality between some of the responses I got was that my friends didn't agree with piracy, but they were convicted because they occasionally partake in piracy themselves. I am not pointing this out to judge or demean them, but simply to show that it is hard to understand why piracy is discouraged and illegal when there doesn't seem to be an immediate consequence. I think that when we look at the numbers of jobs lost and billions of dollars our economy has lost, however, it is evident that piracy really is more affective than we are aware of. Even if a person downloads just one song or movie and doesn't see it as a very big deal, every single thing downloaded contributes to the enormous amount of media pirated, which contributes to all of the lost money and jobs, among other things.

It is my hope that people would really take into consideration the damage that piracy can do and think twice before they illegally download something. There is a law against it for a reason, and even though people think that commercials and warnings against piracy are over-exaggerated, I believe it really is comparable to a thief stealing money or valuables. When we look at the big picture, it is evident that piracy truly is not a victimless crime.

Work Cited:
Siwek, Stephen E. “The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy.” The Institute for Policy Innovation. 2007. Web. 8 Feb. 2015.


I'm Back!

Wow. How was that for an inventive, groundbreaking title? Nonetheless, moving on...

Yes, 'tis true. I am back to the blogging world. It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I posted last. So, so much has happened and changed since then. I've changed. And with all the constant changing that's just a part of life, signing back into my blogging account and putting my fingers to the smooth keys is like visiting an old friend...an old friend that perhaps I don't know as well anymore, but that I'd like to get to know again. That was a weird sort of metaphor. Who knows if that even made an ounce of sense? Moving on. :)

Each time I'd think of my blog and want to post, I'd say, "I'll do it later." Now, I'm sure many of you can relate to that. I use that phrase all the time when referring to schoolwork. Teehee. But seriously, I want you guys to know that I truly care about each one of you, and I am so thankful to God for you. I feel really bad about just dropping off the face of the earth, and I desperately want to get back to this thing that I've felt for years that God is calling me to do - write encouragement for girls. A lovely young reader named Eve emailed me yesterday and told me she missed the blog, and that God has used it to encourage her. (Thank you, by the way, Eve! :)) Her email really reminded me why I wanted to start blogging in the first place and encouraged me to start doing it again.

Since it's been so long since we've had a chat, I want to update you on what's been going on in my life. I'd love to hear about your lives, too...what God's been doing in your lives and teaching you, prayer requests, anything! Leave a comment if you'd like!

Last summer, in July, I got the incredible opportunity to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica. It was a really neat experience, and many people gave their lives to Christ. We got to perform a drama that was narrated in Spanish and interact with lots of kids, which was my favorite part!

In September, I started (gasp!) community college. (Cue Mike Wazowski: "I'm officially a college student!") College has definitely been time-consuming and challenging, but I really do enjoy it. I've been blessed with great teachers and classes all three terms, and I am learning a LOT. One of the classes I am taking that I am really enjoying is American Sign Language. I love it! College work has also been difficult, (and I am currently procrastinating right now :)) but I think it's been really great for me.

September-October was definitely stretching for me. My sister went away to attend college in another state, and I was so used to doing everything with her that the thought of me driving myself places, attending college classes as a high school junior, and just doing life without her physically here was daunting. Once I actually got out of my comfort zone and wasn't so self-focused, I really grew. I have gained a lot of confidence, and I'm no longer as afraid to just say hi to people, compliment strangers, or drive places. (Well, drive places I know specific directions to, that is ;)).

One thing that's changed in me as a person is that I now have a new passion: makeup. You'll probably be reading/seeing more about that on this blog in the weeks to follow. My sister showed me a Christian beauty guru on YouTube (Charisma Star TV for those of you who are interested), and since then I've been so fascinated with the art of makeup. I think it's so much fun to do, and it can bring out the features God already gave you. (You can also apply it in super fun, cakey ways to dress up as a character or something. There are so many options!)

Lately, I also have a new obsession. Well, let's not call it an obsession, because it's not that drastic. (For some of you readers who have been here a loooonnnng time, maybe you remember the old article "An Interest or an Obsession?" :) Comment below if you do!) It's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm not super into the movies or anything; I just think the characters are pretty sweet! (Especially Leonardo) Yes, I am a college student who loves TMNT and Hannah Montana. I joke with my friends that I'm actually five years old.  

I'm sure a lot of other things have happened that I'm forgetting to tell you, but there will be plenty of room for that in the many posts to come! I'm also considering giving this blog an updated "face lift," of sorts, so you may see a new design sometime soon. Oh! If you girls have any topics in mind that you're interested in or would like me to write on, please let me know! I'm really open to suggestions.

Love you Girlz very much, and miss you all. God bless you! Talk soon. :)

Lots of love,
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Washington, D.C. in Pictures

I got the amazing opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to represent Oregon at the VFW Voice of Democracy Speech/Essay Competition. It was great! I met a lot of neat people and went to some really cool places. What a great experience it was!

At the Lincoln Memorial.

I love these kids! (On the very right in black is my good friend Luke, who is also a Christian and photographer)

The gorgeous sunset God painted while we were on a boat cruise on the Potomac River.
While we were there, it snowed (a lot)! I was very happy. Haha!
I love these girls (Abby and Mary)! I loved hanging out with them in D.C.
 You know - just taking a picture with George Washington.
My fantastic, amazing roommate Amethyst! I love this girl so crazy much. We got really close in D.C., and I miss her so much.
What a great trip it was! I'm so thankful for this opportunity.


Something to Say

You haven't posted in so long...you're going to have to explain why.

Do you really think you should be encouraging people when you aren't doing well?

You haven't been in your Bible enough, or prayed enough. You've been messing up like crazy. You'd be a hypocrite to post a devotional for other girls.

These doubts (and ones similar to these) constantly run through my mind when I think about blogging, and how I've neglected it for the past three months. They nag at me, whispering the lie that I don't have anything to say...nothing worth reading, anyway.

And yet, something inside of me desperately holds onto this blog and longs to begin posting on here regularly again.

Things have been changing a lot in my life recently. I'm entering a new season of life...a season that is very different, and one that I don't feel entirely prepared for. I feel as though this season of life will involve a lot of change. But, though I do not necessarily like change or do particularly well with it, I think growth can certainly accompany it.

On my sister's birthday, we went to see the movie "Mom's Night Out." I had seen it once before and enjoyed it, but I really think the second time I watched it impacted me most. Even though the story was about mothers, I could relate to it. In one scene, when the main character was listening to some "words of wisdom" from a biker named Bones, I felt like the words were meant for me. The main character expressed through tears that she didn't feel good enough. Bones asked, "Good enough for who?" And she began to list multiple people in her life, as I did the same inwardly with people from my own life. Then Bones said, "Good enough for you." I could feel my own eyes watering at the thought. I've been trying to live up to my own unreachable standards, and I am never "good enough" for myself. As the characters onscreen continued to talk, the words spoke right to me.

God loves me...just for being me. He saved me by His grace, and I did nothing to deserve it, so why do I act like I have to do something or be something to "deserve" His love?

I sin...I am imperfect. But that doesn't change the fact that I do have something to say...something to share...something worth reading. God created me to be me - unique, genuine, beautiful me - and He gave me gifts and has a unique plan and purpose for my life.

It's the same for you. Don't think that you have to DO something or BE someone to earn God's love. He loves you so much, no matter what, and nothing can ever change that. (Romans 8:38-39)

Don't let the doubts and lies stop you from being the unique you that God created you to be. You have a story to tell...God's love to share. You have something to say.

I love you ♥. Talk to you guys very soon :).



My Mom ♥

I want to tell you about a person.

She is caring. She is kind.

She is thoughtful. She is generous.

She is giving. She is selfless.

She always puts others before herself.

She always thinks about what she can do to help other people.

She kisses my forehead to check if I have a fever.

She scratches my back just how I like it.

She is honest.

She is godly.

She is modest.

She lets me do dramatic winged eyeliner even though I know she likes it simpler :).

She encourages me in my dreams and pursuits.

She uplifts me.

She is beautiful, inside and out.

She listens to my friend, school, and life drama.

She is patient.

She is very patient.

She is far more patient than me. :)

She is a hard worker.

She is dedicated.

She is funny.

She has a beautiful smile and laugh.

She is so many amazing things, put together in one amazing person that I am blessed to call Mom.

I love you, Mom. Happy birthday. ♥

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Idols Come in Different Forms

Lately, I've had an idol.

Not a literal, crafted golden cow that I kneel down and worship.


This idol is a small, rectangular box with a touchscreen and a round home button. I constantly entertain it throughout the day, checking it at incredibly small time intervals, hoping for a new notification or message.

Can you guess what my idol is?

Yep. It's my iPod.

I pretended to be unaware that I was becoming obsessed with it, promising myself that I wouldn't use it as much as I did the previous day, but the thoughts I pushed to the back of my mind telling me otherwise inched their way forward.

I was idolizing my iPod.

Is there anything wrong with owning an iPod? With checking Facebook and Instagram? With texting my friends? No.

When I spend more time on my iPod than I do with my Savior and doing things I used to enjoy (like photography, blogging, and journaling), it becomes an issue. When I stay up far too late at night so I can watch videos on YouTube and then read a Bible verse or two really quickly on a Bible app before conking out and call it "good" for the day, there's a problem.

In Exodus 20:3, God says: "You must not have any other god but me." (NLT)

My time with God and my relationship with Him should be the PRIORITY of my day (and my life). My iPod is not going to last. I'm sure that when I go to be with Jesus, I will NOT be thinking, "Man, I wish I could post a picture of this on Instagram." That is pathetic. I won't care about Instagram anymore - I will be in the presence of my Savior.

So, I've decided to do something about my idol. I'm going to be taking a break from my iPod for a while. Not sure how long...maybe a week, maybe more. I know it isn't wrong in and of itself to own an iPod, and it's not wrong to enjoy playing on it. But I have pushed it to the top position in my life, the position only GOD should occupy, and I have felt spiritually dry, not really growing. I'm here saying right now, no more. I want GOD to be my number one priority. He is THE most important, and everything else fades in His Light.

Idols come in many different forms. What's yours? Is there something in your life that God has been telling you to let go, but you resist (like me)?

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So, I Met Thor. {And Other Recent Happenings}

That's right - I got to meet Thor!

Okay, so it wasn't Chris Hemsworth in the flesh. But it was still pretty high up there on the DUDE THAT'S SO COOL scale. I got to go through the bifrost, travel to Asgard, and meet Thor, who was sporting some high heels and lots of shiny armor. I mean, talk about a cool experience, right? That's not the sort of thing you do every day!

So, a couple weeks ago, my family got to go to Disneyland! It was pretty fun. I'm definitely a Disney girl and still a little kid, and I thought it was great going on rides like Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland and meeting the characters :)! I don't care if people think I'm kiddish - what's wrong with that ;)?

While on our vacation, I went on an upside-down roller coaster for the first time (Screamin'). I had been scared to go at other amusement parks in the past, but I think I was finally ready.

It was so. Much. Fun.

Like, Girlz, roller coasters are so crazy fun! Sure, I got really dizzy and had trouble walking one of the nights (which probably wasn't just the roller coaster's fault since I had hardly eaten anything substantial that day, but still), but it was worth it. My sister Haley, the roller coaster junkie, has converted me.

While in the area, we also got to go to the Rainforest CafĂ© and eat lunch with the one and only Katie Leigh, the voice of Connie Kendall on Adventures in Odyssey! She was very kind, sweet, and funny, and she loves Jesus! It was great meeting this lovely lady.

While we were eating lunch one day at the Cheesecake Factory, I looked up and noticed that the Eye of Sauron was watching us...:P ;)!

Why, thank you, kind Storm Trooper.

You guys, Cars Land was so cool. SO cool. It was like Radiator Springs came right out of the movie.

I had a great time with my family, and I'm so thankful for them. I love them so much and am so glad I got to spend this time with them :). And I'm glad I got to meet Thor. Haha! :)

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Girlz of God Copyright Talia DeAndrea 2010, 2011, 2012. "Genuine," "Girlz of God," and "Tania's Faith" book excerpts Copyright Talia DeAndrea 2010, 2011, 2012. All pictures Copyright Talia DeAndrea, unless otherwise noted. Please do not steal or copy anything on this blog without my permission. Thank you :-).

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