Monday, March 27, 2017

Facebook: Your Life For Sale

Now that I have your attention...

Facebook can be a great way to communicate stuff: you can check your TRIO Facebook page for announcements, activities we have scheduled, scholarships, assignments, and interesting items. It can be used to ask others questions about deadlines, times to show up for events, pass along information.

But what about when you use it to 'talk' to your friends? Is it really necessary?

How often do you check Facebook? Five times a day? All day long?  It's easy, it's relaxing, it's fun...

And it can be a source of such anxiety!!

People got along without it for a very long time: Facebook was invented in 2004, which may be close to the year you were it hasn't been around that long. It started as a way for college 'nerds' to rate girls in their college: A place where they had posted pictures of female students that they gathered from sorority membership rolls. It was, you see, a Book of Faces. Male students could log on and 'rate' how attractive they felt these women were.

Sexist much??


And then, because the people who invented it became very aware how popular it was, how many people they could involve, it morphed until it finally became what it is now: a social media site where everyone and their dogs (and that's not an exaggeration) have pages at Facebook. It's handy to touch bases with people we know who live far away or who are traveling. We can share pictures and talk via Instant Messenger. In turn, Facebook bombards you with ads, inviting you to click and maybe buy something. This is how Facebook makes money: It is so popular, advertisers will pay top dollar to post their products on your page. Harmless, right?

Well... wait a minute.

Facebook also uses your data in these ways:
  • To track what you buy online
  • To track where you have 'gone' online, not only to FB--for 90 days at a time
  • Things you post at FB that you call 'Public' are viewable to anyone: your profile picture and cover photo, your name, gender, and networks: all available through a search engine such as Google or Bing.
  • Tagged photos of you can use that facial recognition to identify you in pictures not on FB
  • Some of your personal data is shared with the government (The National Security Administration) even if you are not a criminal.
  • Whatever information you give FB, they keep forever, whether you leave FB or not.
Things to think about:
  • Any picture you post, embarrassing or not, is there for many people to see and perhaps use against you.
  • You have Facebook friends---and so do your friends, their friends, and friends of friends. Things you post can be seen by complete strangers. Try to keep that in mind with your posts and pictures.
  • When you apply for a job, employers do check to see if you're on social media, and whether you post things they think are inappropriate, before they consider hiring you. Fair or not, they do this.
  • Colleges will also check to see how you conduct yourself on social media. Admissions and scholarships might be affected by what they see.
Read what happened when someone tried an experiment: He clicked "Like" on everything he saw on Facebook for two days-only two days:

People have allowed Facebook to get so important to them that they completely forget how to really interact with people. Staring at your phone as you walk is not an indication of being connected. Do you ever make phone calls anymore? Talk to people, really conduct a conversation? It is much different than typing a text message which may not even make sense, thanks to Autocorrect. Take a step back and think about your interactions on Facebook (and other social media):

  • Do you 'check in' constantly? Don't you care that someone knows where you are practically 24/7?.
  • Do you feel 'bad' if you don't have over a certain number of Facebook 'Friends'? There are actually people who are upset that you can 'only' list 5,000 people. This is, apparently, the way people feel like they're popular.
  • If you think about it, though, out of the people you are 'Facebook Friends' many do you really know, and how many have you actually met in real life? How many do you think of as close pals? And be honest, here. I'm going to guess that most of us actually know less than 25 people, really know them....and are close friends with possibly 4.
  • What could be the danger of 'friending' everyone you ever encounter, plus friends of friends you don't really know? Some people do.
  • Do you post videos you find interesting or amusing? Do you ever click on videos someone else has posted? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel bad if nobody 'likes', comments, or shares something you have posted? Do you wonder what was wrong with it/wrong with you?
  • Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone on your page, or in Messenger? How did that turn out? Did you find that meanings were misconstrued? That there was unintentional offending? Did you and your Facebook friend figure it out and make up?
  • Or did you have to make that decision about un-friending?
  • Why or why not did you un-friend someone, and what did that mean to you? Are you now also not friends in real life? Was it a serious situation? Has someone un-friended you? How did it feel? If you were involved in un-friending, did you then block the person, too? Why or why not?

  • I have three points to make here: First, re-consider how much time you spend on Facebook. Try going without it for two days, then three, then a week, and see if you really crave it that much. Either way, think about why that is. A balance of real-life contact with people being your most frequent way to interact plus a few minutes here and there on Facebook could be a really good thing. Imagine not feeling like you "have" to check it on and off That it is not the first thing you do in the morning, even before you have breakfast....and the last thing, last minute, before you go to bed. What if, rather than a daily habit, you checked in once every few days when you had nothing better to do? Here's a challenge: Don't even look at social media first thing in the morning. Wait. Like until mid-morning or at noon. Could you stand it?

  • The second point is, be aware of how much you are sharing and the fact that virtually anyone can learn about you, whether it's complete strangers or the Facebook people through data sharing, for marketing or other reasons. Keep in mind that 'friends of friends of friends' can be looking at your page or your posts. Is that OK with you? If not, go to Privacy Settings and tweak it until it is secure enough to suit you. How much do you want to share with the entire internet? Assume everything you ever post is out there-be very cautious what pictures you share as well. Be restrictive about how much is viewable on your profile page: Do not make everything you post 'Public.' You can even alter your name a bit so you are harder to find in search, and you can block people so they can't even tell if you're on Facebook at all. You are allowed to do that, to protect yourself. Your 'Blocked' list should have a number of names on it, just to be on the safe side.

  • My third point is connected to the first point: Your Facebook page is nothing more than that. It is a social media site, a program if you will, on your computer(s). It is not the measure of your popularity. It is not a must. It is not a need. Do you have friends in real life that are not even on Facebook? Are you less friends with them because of that? No. I didn't think so. And what does your page look like? Do you like the posts your 'friends' post, do you simply not care about some of them, and do some of them actually tick you off? Why are you still allowing them to be in your Friends list then? You 'own' your Facebook page. If you want to, you can do a number of things to control what it looks like: Hide things you don't like. Move someone from Close Friend to Friend to Acquaintance. Un-follow someone to see no more of his/her posts. Put that person on your Restricted list if you don't want them to see anything you post. If you don't know how to do these things, they're found in the Help section of Facebook. Or, again, just do a search online.

It's. Just. Facebook. Don't give it more power than it ought to have.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Amendment Rights, Part 2: Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press  is worded like this in the Constitution, September 25, 1789:

This is the entire First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If we're only talking about the freedom of the press, here is some food for thought:

"The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs."

Read the entire excellent essay here:!/amendments/1/essays/140/freedom-of-speech-and-of-the-press

The words 'Diffusion' and 'ready communication of thoughts' is still a valid way to say it. Today, this sharing is magnified greatly by the use of the phone, internet, television, and social media. These things also make it almost impossible to monitor every thing that's shared, from artwork and music to readable information. While the First Amendment intends to allow expression without censorship, there are those who seek to suppress these freedoms, to compel others to agree with their concept of 'appropriate'.

Definition of Censorship: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security

The question is, who has decided they are unacceptable? The First Amendment is put in place to uphold your freedom but also to limit it, so that certain communication is blocked. What do you think of any kind of censorship? Is there danger in not having censorship? Is there danger in having it?



Freedom of the press, the right to "Gather, publish, and distribute ideas without government restriction." means:
  • Published written work: Books, magazines, flyers, posters, signs, advertising
  • Music such as CDs
  • Art
  • Research (medicine, science)
  • Again, this freedom includes the right to not have your work censored.
  • Censoring, definition: the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security
Journalists can refuse to disclose their sources. This confidentiality can protect the informant from being harassed (or worse)

Here is a judge's decision to a challenge to the disclosure rule:

Justice Stewart's dissent in Branzburg urged the Court to find that a qualified journalistic privilege exists unless the government is able to show three things: (1) Probable Cause to believe that the journalist possesses information that is clearly relevant; (2) an inability to obtain the material by less intrusive means; and (3) a compelling interest that overrides First Amendment interests.


This post is about Freedom of the Press in the United States. Check out this map giving areas of the world and where they also have it, and where they do not:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Microblog: Minnesota Companies: Cargill

Cargill is a Minnesota-based company that produces foods, grains, feeds for animals, and services that relate to agriculture:
  • Seeds and grains trading and distribution
  • Palm oil
  • Foods and beverages
  • Food service
  • Animal nutrition
  • Bio-agricultural industry, including fuels
  • Meat and Poultry/food safety
  • Energy
  • Personal care products
  • Transportation
  • Pharmaceuticals

Started in 1865 by William W. Cargill, the owner of a grain warehouse in Iowa, today Cargill's headquarters are in Minnesota, but they have offices all over the world in 70 countries: here is a list of them: . Cargill has people working with Aquaculture, for healthy fish to eat as well as harvesting fish oil. Canola oil is another product Cargill helps produce. They also educate farmers worldwide to grow the best crops and feed their animals in the best way.
Cargill is the producer of Truvia, a naturally based sweetened substitute for sugar. They also produce shortening, corn syrup, sugar, and pectin (used in making jams and jellies).
If you are interested in a career with Cargill, you can look here for current opportunities: They have internships as well as careers for people who are newly-graduated, and those who have some experience in their fields as well.

Here are some careers available with Cargill:
  • Engineer
  • Computer Technologist
  • Data Analyst
  • Software engineer
  • Land Management
  • Accountant
  • Biologist
  • Nurse
  • Lab Assistant
  • Food Safety
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing

Monday, March 13, 2017

International Womens Month

International Womens Day was Wednesday, March 8, 2017, but the whole month is a good time to reflect on women, women's rights, and progress we have and have not made towards the equal rights and treatment of women.

Did you know? As late as the mid 1800s....

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
  • Women were not allowed to vote
  • Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
  • Married women had no property rights
  • Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
  • Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
  • Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
  • Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
  • Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
  • With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
  • Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men
  •         -Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1848

    The question of whether women were citizens of the United States is subject to discussion, since their rights clearly were not the same as men and they did not have the right to vote until 1920.
    Another argument against expansion of citizenship rights has been that “natural law” or “religious law” should supersede claims for political rights. Women, it was argued through the early 20th century, should not be given the right to vote because it was seen as “unnatural” and against the intentions of God. One young woman worker on strike during the winter of 1909-10 for higher pay and safer working conditions was arrested and dragged before a judge who, sentencing her to jail time, informed her that she was “on strike against God and Nature.” Similar arguments have been made more recently against extending employment and marriage rights to gay people.
    -Anneliese Orleck, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

    • Women have served in the military in countries all over the world, defending their countries alongside men.
    • Currently about 15% of all people serving in our military, or more than 165,000, are women.
    • Here are some facts about women in the United States military:
    In case you thought the struggle for women was over many years ago, consider:
    In the 1970s, which is not even 50 years ago:
    • Women still were not paid the same for men doing the exact same job. Why? The excuse was, men were usually the primary breadwinner in the family and thus merited more pay.
    • Women were expected to wear dresses to work. Once there was a slight relaxation of this common expectation, pants could be worn, but only in the form of a pants suit with a particular type of blouse. The clothing of a woman was much more important than that of a man.
    • Even women in more professional careers were expected to make coffee for meetings simply because they were women. 
    • If a woman got married, she was expected to quit her job to stay home and run her household.
    • If a woman stayed working after marriage, she was certainly expected to quit her job once she became pregnant. It was assumed she would be staying home with her child.
    • Women who returned to work after having a baby, having someone else care for the child, were looked down upon.
    • If a woman's husband was offered a job in another city, it was assumed she would then be leaving with him: There was no discussion about what she wanted or whether it was good for her career.

    • Women in traditionally male careers were not to be trusted, such as a woman doctor, attorney, engineer. There was thoughts of: Why get a degree when you're just going to get married and stay home anyway? In fact, even completing a high school diploma was considered a waste for girls until the 1950s or so.
    • In some jobs, the employer could (and did) give a pregnant woman different duties so that she wouldn't be seen by the public once she started to 'show.'
    • Also in terms of pregnancy, young women who became pregnant outside of marriage were often sent away to have their babies and give them up; friends were told the girl had gone on a trip or to live with someone several states away for a while, and in some cases their parents disowned them altogether, 'kicked them out.' There was no punishment for the father of the baby.
    • Girls wore dresses to school, not pants and certainly not jeans.
    • Protests were common, with women demanding equal pay and respect. But women who participated were thought of as radical.
    • Women who voiced their opinions, whether at home, at work, or in public, were 'troublemakers.'
    The U.S. Dept of Labor statistics on women in the workforce may surprise you:


    Monday, March 6, 2017

    It's Not the Destination, It's The Journey

    It's Spring Break for ARCC students. We thought about how many ways there are to travel, and this is what we found:

    Technically, the shortest flight in a commercial airplane takes 47 seconds. This is a small 'private' plane, and travels between two islands in Scotland:

    In our area, a flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee takes 53 minutes.On the other end of the spectrum, flying nonstop from Chicago to Hong Kong takes 15.5 hours.

    Train: Here are some epic trips you can take in exotic countries; you'll have to take a plane to get there, however:
    And a list of interesting train journeys in the U.S.:

    Automobiles: It would cost you about $604.00 to drive your car from New York to Los Angeles based on 2774 miles, 25 miles per gallon, and gas costing $2.70 a gallon. This is just driving, not stopping to spend a night in a motel/hotel, and not for meals. It also doesn't factor in the chance you could have car trouble or a flat tire along the way. It would take roughly 42 hours to drive this trip.

    Hot Air Balloon: The pictures alone are breathtaking....

    Bus: Maybe you'd rather keep your feet on the ground. Check to see where you can go by bus:

    Taxi: Want to go to the airport or get home from the airport? You can hire a taxi:

    Limo: Feeling luxe? Hire a limo to take you there in style.

    You can hire a Pedicab in New York City for $3-7 per minute...

    Rickshaw: Read a blog about someone who 'hired' a rickshaw that took him a long way in insufferable heat and was paid $1.60 for that work.

    Ship: The cost of a 'luxury' cruise might be $500-$1,000, per person, but there's more expense than that.

    Spaceship: $500 Million, but that probably includes freeze-dried stew and untethered drinks galore. Why so much? Because: It is rocket science.

    This one costs $0, and depends solely (see what I did there) on your choice of footwear and how often you feel the need to replace it.