MonthMarch 2012

We are moving backwards

I have heard too much and I can’t remain silent any longer. I am not a political person. I do not protest. I do not demonstrate. I am not occupying anything but a chair at my work place and a bed in my apartment. When a friend shared her thoughts this morning, I decided it was time for this good man to stop doing nothing.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke

Women’s Rights

We made so many positive strides in this country towards equality. Women have struggled for equality, the right to vote, and the right to make equal wages. Now there is a War on Women in this country.

There have been repeated attacks on Planned Parenthood. Rush Limbaugh’s slut comment fanned the flames.

This comic puts it very succinctly. Women want to have the same rights as men. They are not second class citizens which exist solely to serve the men of the world.

African-American Rights

African-Americans have been on the same road towards equality. Their long road started many years ago.

Rosa Parks began was a lightening rod for a bus boycott that changed minds and changes lives. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech that forever changed the world.

For all the good done and legislation from the 1960s, there is still a very long road ahead. When Rodney King was attacked and beaten in 1991, to the Cincinnati Riots in 2001 are just instances in a long history or racial violence in the United States.

Events like the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin proves there is still a very long way to go on their road to freedom.

Gay Rights

This brings us to homosexuality. I don’t understand why this is such a problem. We have not come very far at all.

It took people like Matthew Shepherd, and Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project to bring attention to the issue of inequality and start the wheels in motion for support and legislation to make things right.

Same-sex marriage is an ongoing struggle with states slowly coming around in support of something that never should have been unsupported.

The military repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell earlier this year. But legislation doesn’t change people. President Obama has declared a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in addition to ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but has stopped short of fully supporting gay marriage.

Ever since the beginning of the struggle for same-sex marriage to be legalized, marriage between a man and a woman been said to be under attack. I don’t even understand how that makes sense. How does people of the same gender being married have anything to do with the marriage of other men to women? It goes so far as the newly formed National Organization for Marriage is trying to drive a wedge between blacks and gays. This is the same group behind the Dump Starbucks campaign because, according to the site,

On January 24th, 2012, Starbucks issued a memorandum declaring that same-sex marriage ‘is core to who we are and what we value as a company.

Will they go after Ben & Jerry’s next for their relaunch HUBBY HUBBY as Apple-y Ever After in support of marriage equality.

It is not all bad news. Recently, more than half of Americans support marriage for everyone. There is still a long road ahead for equality for everyone.

Rights are not a finite resource.

There is not a finite amount of human rights to go around. Granting equality to everyone is not going to diminish the rights of anyone else.

White men are not going to be any less free if Black men have rights. Men won’t be any less free is women have rights. Straight people won’t be any less free is gay people have rights.

There is plenty to go around. We are not going to run out if we allow everyone the same rights under the law and in our country.

Those who oppose equal rights for everyone tries to frame the conversation to their advantage. You know what the difference between same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage is? Absolutely nothing?

You know what the difference between gay marriage and… what, ungay marriage? Is that why nearly 50% of ungay marriages fail?

Marriage is just marriage. There is no difference.

What do straight people lose in their marriage by allowing gay people to marry? Absolutely nothing.

If you’re so afraid for your own marriage that other people getting the ability to marry, then your marriage is in trouble and that is no one’s fault but your own.

The only people who should be concerned about a marriage are the two people in the marriage. Marriage is between two people. marriage is also a lot of hard work, communication and acceptance. There are also legal benefits that come with marriage being denied to hard working citizens.

I don’t understand what is so wrong with preventing other people from being married? Can’t they have the same chance to ruin half of their marriages as well? Can’t they be with loved ones in hospitals or dictate what happens in the wake of their spouse’s death? What is so wrong with extending these rights to everyone?

Biology & Equality

Gender is not a binary, yes/no system.
Biology doesn’t support gay marriage bans. Humans are not the only animals that exhibit homosexuality. The opposition is coming mainly from religion and the religious abandoning the Christian tenet of love thy brother and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When did it become in fashion to hate people who are different from us, just because they are different? It seems many of the people who lead the homophobic charge lead a very different life.

Equality for everyone

All people should have the same rights. The rights won’t run out if we pass them around. The rights won’t diminish or dilute when they’re extended to everyone.

In the end, we all just want what’s best for ourselves in our life. Why should the iconic kissing sailor from V-J Day in 1945 be any different from this kiss in 2011? Sailor and soldiers away at sea excited to embrace and kiss their loved one.

Equality does not start with national speeches or legislation. Equality starts with small, simple acts.

Patrick Rhone says it best,

It is about being able to have a seat on a bus.
It is about being able eat a sandwich at a counter.
It is about being able to enter a raffle so you can be the first one to kiss your girl…

Phrases To Strike From Your Speech: Don’t Be That Way & You Should [LINK]

You don’t get to tell people how to feel. In fact, you can’t tell them how to feel and have it make anything like a positive effect. Typically saying those things makes the people being told feel worse. How they feel is their reality. You telling them to “not be that way” isn’t helpful. And it shows that you aren’t empathetic. Their feelings may be out of sync with the situation. But those are their feelings. You and I don’t make matters any better by telling them, “Don’t be that way.”

via Phrases To Strike From Your Speech: Don’t Be That Way & You Should — First Today, Then Tomorrow.

This is important to remember. I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past but I try to remember that we can’t tell other people how to feel or what they should do. All we can do is listen, empathize, and offer advice **if asked for it.**

It’s that last part I struggle with most. I want to help and want to make things better. But sometimes people just need a sympathetic ear, not advice or a lecture.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole piece. It’s not long but it’s very important.

The Amazon eBook Cycle

It starts out innocently enough. I am reading a story about the boom in dystopian fiction for young readers. The story focuses mainly on the Hunger Games trilogy but also touches on a handful of other books and series.

Many of the books mentioned I have read but I am interested in some of the others so I take the logical progression of search the name, find the Amazon link and add it to my book wish list.

This is where Amazon gets you.

Most of the time, the book is $5 or $10 so I add it to the list for later. I figure when I am on the hunt for something new I’ll pick it up.

Only, today when I found The Knife of Never Letting Go I found the book was $1. Normally, it is $10 but today, it was a single dollar. I don’t know for how long or why but it was.

So I bought it.

This is how Amazon gets you. Ever since the Kindle and their iOS apps reignited my love of reading, I’ve added to my list of books to read. Sometimes I look for sales, other times I use the wonderful book-lending service Lende which I reviewed.

My list of books to read is growing out of control and every week I am adding more and more. I love to read and I love Amazon’s enabling of my reading but they need to stop the madness. I have too many books and there is no sign of stopping.

Is there such a thing as reader’s guilt?

Thank you, Writers

Thank you.

Thank you to all the writers who have written books, short stories, poems, novellas, and stories online and off.

Thank you to reaching into your souls and tearing out the words and ideas screaming, whispering, begging to be let out. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone.

Thank you for allowing me to take the fantastic voyage you’ve led me on. Thank you allowing me to tag along on the amazing stories and worlds you’ve created.

Growing up in a small town, my entertainment was books. I read voraciously and each week I was in some new far away place. I wandered through the world of tomorrow and yesterday. I sailed across oceans and traveled the stars. I lived in the shoes of the young and the old. I lived with humans and animals and being of all sorts.

Thank you for all you have written. Thank you for all you will write. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your tears. Thank you for your smiles and triumphs. Thank you for the sadness and misery. Thank you for all that you’ve shared with me. Thank you for taking me to places I could never visit on my own.

Thank you.

How much privacy is your pay check worth?

I’ve been seeing more and more stories about job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords

and I thought it might have only been a poor choice by a single company. But judging by this story, it has been commonplace to ask interviewees for their Facebook credentials in job interviews. This is purportedly to check for gang affiliations, illegal activity or anything that could “damage the image of the employer” during the process of vetting the applicant.

I think this is a dirty trick against desperate people in a bad economy.

Vetting Candidates

I understand where the companies are coming from. Interviewing is difficult. The process of whittling down hundreds or thousands of applicants to a manageable number to phone screen is maddening. To further get a list of people to interview in person is even more difficult. Even after multiple interviews, the employer is still hiring an unknown person and hoping for the best. This is also why probationary periods exist for new hires.
There is no guarantee the person will be a good fit, is trustworthy and is worth the time and energy invested to hire them. Vetting candidates is hard, time-consuming work. However, it needs to be done legally and ethically. If you play games to hire people, you won’t always get the best employee but you will get the best game player.

Expectations of Privacy

There is no expectation of privacy on corporate networks. This should not extend into personal lives.

When you’re at work, you are on company time and company equipment. Don’t expect anything you do to be private. This is not to say that anyone in IT is watching your browsing habits or reading your email. They have far better things to do and are way too busy to be randomly poking around mailboxes and file servers.

Some employers employ monitoring software in addition to the nannyware to block access to social networks, video game sites and pornography. These are the things you’ve seen. Though, behind the scenes there can be software tracking the amount of time you’re spending on various sites or places you’re visiting on the web.

There is a huge difference between monitoring the activity of employees while at work and prying into the personal lives of potential employees. I can understand the desire of an employer to see what they’re getting when they hire. But what they’re asking is for akin to asking for a copy of your house key, car key and bank PIN.

Think of all the things sitting in your email account. How many accounts are tied to that email? Where are your password reset emails sent? Where are your bank statements sent? How many passwords to other systems are sitting inside your email at this very moment.

Now give your email password to a stranger. This is the same as providing your Facebook password to a stranger on the street.

It doesn’t stop there

Access to a Facebook account doesn’t stop with the personal messages, pictures, notes and information within Facebook. Having access to your Facebook account also grants this unknown person access to any site you’ve used Facebook to login to.

Login to your Facebook account and go to Account Settings, then Apps, or use this link to see the applications connected to your account. If your account is anything like mine, that’s a pretty long list. By granting access to Facebook, you’ve also potentially granted access to all of these applications as well.

Optional

Employers are calling the request for passwords optional. They are not requiring applicants to turn over their passwords. However, if a Facebook password stands between feeding your family and your privacy, you’re going to feed your family.

There is a long list of things which can’t legally be asked in interviews including what religion do you practice, what social organizations do you belong to, how old are you, are you married, do you have kids, what do your parents do for a living, do you smoke or drink, do you use illegal drugs, how much do you weigh, how far is your commute, and have you ever been arrested?

There are a lot of areas off limits to interviewers and a lot of ways to bend those rules to get the information desired.

Social networks are not covered in the list because they are relatively new inventions. There are two states looking to make it illegal to discriminate against job applications who refuse to turn over passwords to their social media account. Maryland and Illinois have both introduced bills to do so.

Even though it may be legal for an employer to ask for passwords in order to vet the applicant, handing over those credentials is not.

Illegal

In addition to it being a violation of the terms of use for any social media web site to provide credentials to another person.

The Department of Justice regards it as a federal crime to enter a social networking site in violation of the terms of service, but during recent congressional testimony, the agency said such violations would not be prosecuted.

So while it remains a violation of the terms of the web site, and a federal crime, the Department of Justice has agreed to look the other way on employers asking for your personal passwords. This should be all I need to say about the practice.

Economic times are hard for everyone. Companies need good people and people need to put food on their table, keep a roof over their heads and support themselves and their families.

It is wrong for companies to rely on immoral and illegal means to filter out applicants. While this practice is in use for now, it leads down a dangerous road. How far is too far? How much privacy is a pay check worth?