Data Privacy Day 2017

My Basic Privacy Link List

I am not a digital privacy expert. I like to think I’m knowledgeable and aware, especially given the kind of work I do, but keeping up with digital privacy is a full time job, sometimes more. I rely on help.

Here are a few of the resources I use to keep up to date on data privacy issues. They’re not in any particular order, but all are useful. All link to more specific tools and resources. I am not going to endorse any specifically, but there is enough below to get started with your own research.

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Inauguration Day

My How Time Flies

It feels like we just went through Election Day. The day after, I wrote a post congratulating our new President Elect, and moved on with life as usual the last couple of months. I have watched news and social media erupt as our President Elect has stormed through the transition process. I have watched with disappointment the confirmation hearings of his appointees. I have listened to friends express fear, anger, and sorrow at the upcoming change in the leadership of our country and our world.

Mostly, I’ve seen many people react to Trump’s election the same way I saw Republicans react to Obama’s in 2008 and 2012. Here we are, eight years later, and the fears Republicans held have proven to be false. Obama was their boogeyman, the personification of a world no longer theirs, yet after eight years of holding the Presidency, Obama has not taken their guns, their homes, their right to vote, their freedom, or their pride of being Americans.

The more things change…

Many would point out to me how this election is different. Trump and the Congressional GOP, rather than inspiring to give us better healthcare, social equality, and a bigger voice in our own futures, seem to be more interested in undoing anything Obama has done the last eight years and reversing social policy established over the last seventy years, back to the New Deal. Making America Great Again, to many of us, is a battle cry to reverse US policy to times when many of us were disenfranchised, when we didn’t have a voice in our destiny, when some of us had to hide the deepest aspects of our humanity.

While I hesitate to compare the fears today we express to the fears expressed by Republicans over the last eight years, I believe, whether founded or unfounded, these fears come from a common place in our minds. What many of us now have in common with Obama detracters is a fear that the world is shifting under our feet, that the fundamental rights and privileges we currently enjoy are about to change. Do you remember how irrational the fears of others seemed if you were an Obama supporter eight years ago? Do you recall how we responded to the obstructionist posture they have taken on every policy direction Obama has taken the last eight years, whether they would have agreed with someone else having the same position?

We need to be careful in our response to fear. We should not fall to the lesser parts of our nature to lash in anger, but respond in ways consistent to our values.

How should we respond to fear?

I think we have reason to fear. I think we have reason to be watchful, to be protective of the hard fought social progress we have achieved over the course of the last century. While the President is one of those who endanger that progress, he is not a lone person at the heart of the battle. To focus on one man is to give more credit than any one person is due, no matter their exhuberance.

Our true battle is one against values of inequality, the irrational fears we hold against others not like ourselves. To have equality is to have empathy, to look at someone different than ourselves and see commonality, to see the ways we are alike, and not allow the ways we are different to drive a wedge between us. To respond in the same manner to Trump as those who responded to Obama is to continue to focus on the differences. The last eight years hasn’t brought us any closer together. The people who blame Obama for that are as wrong as we would be for blaming Trump if we’re no closer together in another eight years.

Our responsibility of hope

Over the last 15 years, I changed both religion and political party affiliation. A big reason for both was fear. I looked at my world view, I looked at the people around me, and I saw people filled with fear. I saw how fear ruled their lives, how it altered their ability to see the world in a rational way, and how it separated themselves from others who really weren’t that different. I saw people looking at hope as if it were something not acheivable in this world, something to look forward to in the next. This was why I left my former religion, or perhaps why others in my former religion left me.

We rallied behind Barack Obama because he had the “Audacity of Hope”. Trump’s supporters have rallied behind him in their hope that he will “Make America Great Again”. Two different dreams, two different visions of our future, yet still appealing to the same place in the hearts and minds of supporters of either man.

Our hope should not end with the inauguration today. Our hope for a better world doesn’t live or die with the Presidency, or the Congress, or law. Hope needs to shine brighter in times when our potential is the least. When things aren’t going our way. It should be in hope, and not fear, that we act.

The speech which propelled Obama’s political career to national prominence was his keynote at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In it, he said:

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!

Our responsibility is to choose our actions out of hope for the future, out of progress, out of making America a great place to live for our families, our communities, and for all Americans, all people within our borders. So before we take up the tactics and policies of our opponents the last eight years, let’s consider how we stay true to ourselves and act out of our hope rather than our fear.

Things I do when I should be writing.

I should be writing

I enjoy writing. Whether for pleasure or work, I enjoy taking a blank page and putting words on it. There are few feelings of satisfaction for me compared to taking a blank page and forming structure from ideas.

I think the best way of improving any skill is by doing it. Reason would hold that to become a better writer, I should be writing more. Apart from this blog, I have business and technical writing at work, various personal projects and internet correspondence, and a handwritten journal I update occasionally.

Instead of writing, most days I end up:

Best option: Reading

If writing is the best way to become a better writer, reading is a close second. I read books, magazines, articles, anything about anything. I enjoy reading, and through reading learning about the world, imaging new worlds, and considering different perspectives. Even in the wildest fantasy fiction, we experience characters which present a different view of their world than what we would have. We are put in positions to build empathy and respect for characters, although fictional, which may affect how we empathize and respect those in the real world.

If I cannot write, I think I should read, and even some times I can write, I should still read instead.

Statistically probably option: Sleeping

Clocking in at six to eight hours of every 24 hour cycle, can’t rule out sleeping as something I should be doing instead of writing.

Sad but true option: Thinking of what to write

This is when I’m waylaid by my own jackassery. Maybe I need one of those writing prompt idea books. Ultimately, I think my goal in writing is to write the book I want to read. Right now, I can think of two non-fiction writing projects I could take on and a series of three to four fiction works. Why I haven’t so much committed an outline to paper is my own doing. Maybe this is the year I get motivated.

The I’m human too option: Maintaining basic hygiene

Everyone poops. Isn’t that a book?

The just like crack option: Consuming other media

Television. YouTube. Movies. Wacky internet videos. All of these things contribute to distract, calling out for precious neurons to interconnect and process, taking away from more productive tasks. As I sit here watching Rick and Morty I know my own focus is not where it should be, but hell, the point of this post is to get the juices flowing again.

Option gotta pay the bills: I’m working

Writing isn’t my day job. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’d ever want it to be my day job. I like having an office, working with other people on the type of things I work on. I’m not sure the idea of the lone writer, or even the collaborative writer meeting up in coffee shops is my cup of tea.

Nothing else to do? Write away

Which is where I am tonight, looking at a blog I started months ago which is woefully short of content. This is my jumping point to get back on the horse. Now when I’m doing those other things I am probably doing when I’m not writing, I hope to recall this post and remind myself I should be writing, then get to it.