The State of My Mind

Gotta keep moving forward…


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February 20, 2012 · 10:06 pm

American Travel Dignity Act – “Enough is Enough!”

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New TSA “Enhanced” Pat-Downs / When Did the U.S. Become a Police State?

Remember when all those ‘patriotic’ folks told you that the reason those religious fundamentalist terrorists were targeting us here in the good old US of A was that they hated our freedom?

Well, I suppose that we needn’t worry about THAT anymore, because we are losing that freedom every day, a little bit at a time. When did America become a police state?

I decided about a week ago to buy tickets to go see my parents in Florida. Air travel has become progressively more annoying over the last nine years, and like everyone else, I just put up with it. It’s my opinion there is no way any of this nonsense makes any of us safer, either. Gosh, remember when terrorists had to go to the trouble of taking flight lessons in order to use airplanes like missiles to destroy buildings and kill innocent people? Now, they have only to get a job at the TSA! Once they get the job, they are exempt from security scans and can bring anything they like on the plane.

Back to my upcoming flight – here’s what really pushed me over the edge. I like to wear dresses and skirts. When I travel for business, I wear a suit with a narrow skirt. Even when I go casual, I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing a cotton dress and bare legs, so I can wear flip flops that are comfortable and easy to remove for those security checks. Looks like those days are over. New TSA policies have gone into effect and skirts are now considered “bulky” attire and will often trigger a mandatory so called ‘enhanced’ pat-down.

Go ahead and google “TSA, skirt” to get an idea of what happens next. (I’ll wait.) Did you know that a TSA agent can lift my skirt, or even insist that I remove it, in order to be able to frisk me over, in front of, and between my thighs? I am serious. What amounts to a sexual assault also includes open handed touching of my buttocks as well as my breasts! If you’re a man, the TSA agent can ‘handle’ your genitals in a similar degrading manner. It is criminal for a policeman to do any of these things, but according to our government, it’s perfectly all right for a TSA thug to grope me in an airport.

What is your recourse? Um, you don’t have any. You can decide not to fly. (As if buying an airline ticket is justification for stripping us (literally) of our constitutional rights!) Believe me, after this trip, I will not be flying anywhere unless these ridiculous procedures are ended.

What are we, sheep? When does this stop?

And those body scanners – yes, the ones that are funneling millions of dollars into Michael Chertoff’s bank account – how about those? If you don’t already know, Chertoff is a former Secretary of United States Homeland Security under former President Bush, and he did a great job selling our government on these machines. Gee, I wonder if he did that so that he could make lots and lots of money? Ya think? Follow the money!

Not only are the scanners the equivalent of a strip search, we have been lied to about their capability of storing and sending those images after they are captured as well as about the amount of harmful radiation they emit. Oh, I am just supposed to trust the TSA about them? Yes, ma’am, just do as you are told, spread your legs and put your hands up.

So what can we do? Please contact your elected representatives – it’s very easy to do online. Google “Contact my Senator, Congressman, Representative” and you will be directed to a page which will ask you for your geographic info and a form will self populate for you. Tell the people whose salaries we pay that we will not tolerate this. Ask them to support Ron Paul’s American Traveler Dignity Act, HR 6416. While I have never been a supporter of Ron Paul, I applaud him for the stand he has taken on this issue.

He has stated that the American people have become too submissive. These procedures are absurd and need to be stopped. None of us would allow anyone else to subject us to this treatment, so why would we allow government employees to do so? We are not being made safer by any of this – that is a LIE. We are doing the wrong thing. Groping people at airports does not solve any problems. Putting a lock on the cockpit door and giving pilots a gun is a smart move. But accepting the notion that we should all be treated like cattle in the name of feeling “safer” is a mistake.

I know it’s been oft repeated, especially lately, but Ben Franklin sure said a mouthful:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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Paranoia Can Destroy Ya or What’s All This I’m Hearing About The Social Graph?

OK, so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. To tell you the truth, I’ve been getting a little bit antsy about being here at all. Just when I was getting all comfy about social media like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Buzzd and even blogging, and feeling like I basically knew my way around the online landscape, I found myself getting weird little twinges from time to time. So what was wrong with being open and easy to locate on the web? Wasn’t it just a basic human need to feel connected to everyone else? It’s natural, right?

Natural? What’s natural about it?

Have you reviewed your privacy settings on Facebook lately? Maybe you’d better. And have you heard the term “Open Graph” yet? It’s the idea that we can all be connected online through our social connections. Facebook started out by telling us it was a portal for us all to connect to our friends. Well, it’s looking more and more as if Facebook is making some very aggressive moves to do a whole lot more than connect people to each other. Facebook now has the ability to amass a whole lot of personal data involving not only how you are connected to other people, but about how we are connected to things, tastes, activities, likes, dislikes, buying patterns, places — in short, everything. It’s making me nervous. It’s one thing to post a review about something on a website. But what if every time you did anything online, Facebook could tap into that?

When I was a little kid, one of  my favorite stories was Alexander Pushkin’s “The Fisherman and His Wife.” It was about a magic fish caught by a poor fisherman who granted all kinds of wishes in return for the fisherman letting it go. This fisherman had a super greedy wife who didn’t know when to stop, either. Kind of like a Ruth Madoff/Leona Helmsley type. The moral of the tale was not to be too greedy, lest you get nothing at all.  Too bad it didn’t work that way for Ruth or Leona. I am hoping, however, that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg may absorb the lesson before he finishes taking over the world.

I suppose it’s wrong to blame him. Didn’t our mothers warn us not to put anything in writing we wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper? But, wait a minute. Does anyone still read newspapers anymore? Being a Luddite is beginning to look a whole lot more attractive…

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Twitter Hacked by Iranian Cyber Army?

What the sam hill is going on? I’m home from an extraordinary day spent at three (count ’em, three!) networking events on Long Island, happily posting away on one of my Twitter accounts (not the @2dreamit one) when a message, red on a black background comes up:

Very interesting. Meanwhile, the site is inaccessible to me so I use SocialScope, my favorite Blackberry social media app, to do a quick search and find a few other posts on Twitter having been hacked. (By the way, the best aspect of Twitter happens to be this real-time search feature. I see this as the jewel of the platform. Anyway…)

Will Facebook be next?

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Social Media and Self Censorship

A lot of us are drawn to social media due to what I believe is a shared human need – the need to connect with others. So if I’m to be found here on this blog, and on Twitter and such, why wouldn’t I feel free to open up and tell the world what’s on my mind?

Let me tell you a story. I have been on a few job interviews lately and one of them was with a well known not-for-profit entity that is associated with a particular religion. My recent background is in digital advertising sales, so an interview with a non profit is slightly discordant to begin with, but nothing I couldn’t manage. Here’s the rub: I went home and wanted to ‘tweet’ a link to a newspaper editorial, and then stopped myself cold. How would that piece ‘play’ to my prospective employer? (Not that my interviewer would necessarily even know what Twitter IS, but you never know.)

That’s just one example. How about this one: I politely decline an invitation to something I have absolutely NO interest in by apologizing and saying that I’m already booked that night. Then I have to go and note my calendar NOT to go to Facebook that night and post an update like “Watching Goodfellas for the 65th time and eating pizza – good times!”

I’m home sick with a cold and as I follow the health care reform bill, I have thoughts I consider sharing, but then decide not to. During the last presidential election, I watched heated debates take place all over various social media channels, and I stayed on the sidelines. It looked like most were just preaching to their own particular choirs anyway. And when there were the inevitable clashes, the results were usually horribly polarizing.

People used to say that there were three topics you needed to avoid in polite company – politics, sex and religion. It seems like when I am faced with this whole self censorship battle, the reason is generally traceable back to one of these topics. But I have never been one to shrink away from any kind of battle, so why does this one seem more difficult?

Does anyone else out there struggle with this or am I being silly?

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How Do You Know If You’re Ready or Not?

Change is wrenching, isn’t it?

One of my all time favorite American novelists, F. Scott Fitzgerald opined: “There are no second acts in American lives.” I have to respectfully disagree. I’ve been through at least three acts so far, and I think I can still shake out at least one more.

Becoming a parent definitely splits your life into ‘before’ and ‘after’ acts. If you go through a major career change, or even totally re-invent yourself, I’d say that counts for an act as well. The most difficult part of making big changes in one’s life, it seems to me, is getting beyond that moment after you look, but before you actually leap. How do you know if you’re ready or not?

When I was a child, my Dad gave me his blueprint for making any kind of decision. He favored the time honored method of making a list of pros and cons, and then evaluating the list in order to make the best possible choice. Good as far as it goes, I suppose. But what about that emotional ‘X-factor’ — that feeling of creeping doubt that seems to freeze you in place at the precise moment you need to take some decisive action to put your plan into play? I’ve actually come to think of this moment as a kind of ‘psychic threshold.’ Either you stay where you are, on your side of the door, or you throw it open and leap into the darkness. This requires great faith — in yourself , in your abilities and in your assessment of the challenges that await you.

At this juncture, is it a good idea to consider the implications of possible failure? Perhaps not. Or better yet, what if you didn’t classify unwished-for results as failure? What if you decided that whatever happened, the result meant you’d acquired knowledge?

This summer, I’m in the process of readying myself for change. I’m writing myself another ‘act’ and trying to see around every corner, which of course, I can’t. I’ll have to remember that no matter how it goes, I’m going to learn a few new things, and in the end, that’s how we grow, right?

Leaping into the darkness yet again — frightening, yes. But always exhilarating!

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