Archive for the 'Current Issues' Category

We are Big Brother

I really enjoyed an article I read recently from a blogger/writer I follow, Mitch Joel, called “Each of us is becoming our very own Big Brother” (the title as published by the Vancouver Sun).  The idea is something I think we have all become aware of, without fully realizing the implications.  I believe the original fear was that technology would advance such that we would no longer have the freedom to have our actions and discussions be our own, and that our government and corporations would find a way to convince us that by watching us they would be better able to protect and serve us.  Of course this Orwellian story made us all nervous and watchful, but now that we are in the future, well past 1984, it turns out that all you had to do was give people the means to share their own activities with the world and they would be happy to do so.  So here we are in 2012 and most of what people are up to is being posted by themselves and often with the help of their friends.  I think many people buy into the idea that sharing their stories and logging their activites is really just an online journal, but I think it does turn out that we have started opening ourselves up to the world in a similar way we may have thought would happen only subversively by Big Brother.  I am quite fascinated by the ironic twist in this story.  I too wouldn’t have imagined that we as people might surpass the information gathering/sharing efforts of the government and corporations so much that social databases have become some of the greater sources of information on people than their own records.  I admit to contributing to the documentation of my own life online via social sites and this blog, but with the understanding that I should do my best to present my good side since many people might see it and judge me by it.  Ultimately a positive spin is the intention of the content everyone shares about themelves, and although somewhat biased we still tell a lot about ourselves with the post frequency, content, friends, and interactions with other posts.  Of course some less than desirable information may get out about us even without the help of government and corporations who end up abiding by our rules about what they can share about us.  We might be better censors of our posts if we think about how much we really want anyone to know about us.  There are many of us with less to hide than others, but ultimately we all have secrets.  So as much advice has already been given about this topic by others, I would just add my recommendation that we think about how we manage the dissemination of our personal information, keeping in mind that we have the right to remain silent and if we choose to give up that right, we are responsible for what we decide to say and reveal.  Good luck to everyone in this new world.  I personally enjoy this knowledge sharing to an extent but I also think some people should think about who they really are before they continue down the road of potential oversharing.

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Our Country and its Defenders

On Veteran’s Day it seems appropriate to post a few of my thoughts about our country and those who protect our freedom and try to help bring freedom to others around the world.  Despite the many flaws within our political and economic systems, our country is still one of the great democracies of the world, providing its citizens a relatively stable and safe place to live, with many personal freedoms.  This is truly a great thing, something that all U.S. citizens should be very appreciative of.  However as the saying goes, “freedom isn’t free”, and I want to make sure to point out who we owe respect to for our country continuing to be a great place to live. 

The true defenders of our freedoms are the veterans of the armed forces.  Yes, certainly war is an ugly thing and not something to be glamorized.  It is also something that you could argue could have been avoided potentially in some cases.  Regardless of whether you personally agreed with every conflict our country engaged in, which is not the fault of our military, the fact is that our soldiers did not have a choice but to do their best in whatever situation they were placed.  And for this reason, we need to show them the utmost respect for the many sacrifices they made to be the defenders of our freedoms and that of others.  Yes, you could also argue that we shouldn’t have stepped into the conflict of others, but that is another political debate that is irrelevant to the reality of our veterans.  These are real people who signed up to make sure that we could enjoy as much peace as possible within our country.  And many of them did not live to enjoy the peaceful times they helped secure.  That is truly unfortunate.  Those of us who never had to step into the soldier’s shoes, we should always be grateful for these men and women who died in and survived these conflicts on our behalf.  

Today I hope all living veterans are having a nice day off from their everyday duties and getting a chance to enjoy their freedom.  I’m sure there are other soldiers who must continue to do their duty despite what day it is, and I am grateful for their vigilance.  In any case, I hope we all remember to show our respect to those living and dead veterans for their role in ensuring the relatively peaceful lives we enjoy today.  Hey, soldiers can only do so much to fix the many challenges we face as a society.  In times of peace, it is really the responsibility of the rest of us to try to help make our society a little better as we go, in honor of those who secured this privilege for us.

I also want to make a personal remark about my father, Bill Hagins, who himself served 12 years in our Air Force.  I am very proud of his service and his efforts both in and out of the military to remind everyone how lucky we truly are to be living in this country and to just be living.  He has seen much tragedy and personally experienced much hardship in his military service and it reminds me that those who survived need even more of our support and love.  It couldn’t have been easy and I hope that everyone thinks a little bit more about what it might have been like if you had to be in their shoes.  I know I’m very grateful others were able to serve on my behalf.

No shoes tomorrow

I know, it sounds a bit drastic to me as well, but I agree with the premise that we should probably remind ourselves how others live so we can remember their plight.  So in this vein, many people, including myself, will not be wearing shoes tomorrow in support of those who would love to just have one pair of shoes to call their own.  Take a look at the website (click the image below) and join in the fun! 

No Shoes Day

Happy Veteran’s Day

I hope that all the veterans out there are having a great day.  Either off from work and having a nice relaxing day or at least getting some recognition from those around them.  They certainly deserve it.  I am personally not a natural soldier and thus have not volunteered to enter service, but I of course would happily serve if needed.  I personally would support the concept of having everyone required to put in a year or two like some countries do.  I think it would be a great thing.  I really take my hat off to those who entered service to help protect our freedoms because they felt that calling.  I believe they deserve the greatest respect in our society.  I truly value the freedom we enjoy in this country and understand that it is because of veterans that we have maintained it.  And special thanks to my dad who served many years himself.  Such a great example to me.

Election results

Wow, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the overall US election results, but I kind of was.  On one hand, I understand that the natural balance was somehow disrupted by the short period of time in which the Democrats ruled the US government and that many apparently felt that this was not right.  Obama was the result of years of built up annoyance with the previous establishment, and it appears the backlash has just come the other way.  On the other hand, I am surprised that so many people, including well educated and decent people, are able to blame the current economic and political situation on the current regime when in my opinion, it was clearly started long before.  It’s as if very few people understand how long it takes to fix big problems.  Now it seems we have just entered back into a balance of power between the conservatives and liberals, so I guess it’s not really so bad.  I understand that not everyone agrees with my own point of view on policies and so it makes sense that the party had to end some time.  I guess we’ll see if the parties can actually come to agreement about anything and actually make progress.  I have my doubts but I’m hopeful.

Upcoming election

Election day is coming up soon, although most of us mail it in well before then, either because its the way it works where you live or just out of convenience.  I don’t want to preach here about my political leanings to try to convert you to my way of thinking (although I’m happy to share if you ask), but I do want to encourage those who might not be planning to vote for whatever reason (inconvenience, apathy) to get out and vote.  Remember that it’s not cool to complain about how things work if you don’t voice your opinion by way of your vote.  So just do it and take the time to actually read that pamphlet that you get sent so you can understand the issues and the candidates before you vote.  You just might find a reason to be happy that you bothered.

Interesting weather this year

This has been an interesting winter in Seattle.  We have had quite an unusual showing of wind and snow that has caused us to have many more days indoors (and sometimes without power) than we typically have.  I myself was out of power for 4 days after our last big strorm in December.  That was pretty annoying.  And I hear that other places have had less winter than they usually get.  It seems that the weather is just getting more out of whack and I’m not sure how much of it is due to total randomness or due to environmental reactions.

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