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You like me! Of course, you probably don't know me very well.

Archive for September, 2010

you want a piece of me?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

In comments yesterday, my father raised an interesting point.

I heard on the NPR this morning that the state of Colorado will, as of tomorrow, be taking cotton swab DNA samples from people arrested for felonies. The ACLU is fighting it. On the one hand it seems logical to take these samples to see if Joe-Ax-Murderer is also the guy who knocked over and stole your granny’s purse. He is, as a felon, already required to allow himself to be photographed and fingerprinted…. is DNA that much different?
I think (as do the authorities) that many cases will be solved because, let’s face it, criminals are generally involved in more than one crime. There is also the idea that the first time criminal WILL NOT allow themselves to ever do anything again because we’ve got their DNA. Sounds like a winning situation for society.
What says you?

Several European countries have been keeping such databases for some time now, starting as early as 1995. Three years ago, they started to share that information. Now, if you’re arrested for rape in England, you may end up standing trial for a murder you committed in France ten years ago.

Sounds like a not horrible plan, right? A step up from fingerprints, but the same general ladder?

My original reaction is sure, let’s do it. After all, I’m not going to do anything wrong, so it won’t affect me. Only bad guys will have their DNA collected, and bad guys are – well, bad guys. Anything we can do to bring those suckers in, amirite?

The problem is, this is a slippery slope, y’all. Let’s say that this is a rousing success. Criminals are being thrown in jail left and right with irrefutable evidence.

Then? Let’s say that it occurs to someone that since the general public obviously wants these people in jail, they won’t mind providing samples of their OWN DNA for exclusionary purposes. Research purposes. To discourage future misbehavior.

OR, what if my brother is the prime suspect in some murder, but they don’t have enough evidence to arrest him, and therefore can’t get his DNA – and then someone points out that I donated blood last week, and a mitochondrial match would be enough for a warrant? Yeah, I know, it’s a little CSI, but you hear what I’m saying. One of the facts of DNA is that it doesn’t point to just the person it belongs to – it points to their relatives as well. As we get better and smarter, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that having DNA on file will be the same as having a social security number – something that’s expected, even required, and a serious pain in the ass to avoid.

Why would I want to avoid it? I’m not going to do anything wrong, but I’m not sure that means the government should be allowed to know everything about me. Thoughts?

a reasonable expectation

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

As a general rule, when you go outside, you’ve temporarily forfeited your right to personal privacy. If you’re walking down the street on your cell phone, talking about the affair you’re having, you have no true recourse if someone hears you and informs your spouse. If you throw bank documents into your trash and then put your trash on your curb, you have given other people permission to go through it and sift out things that might be of interest.

I’m not necessarily stating that I embrace this concept. No part of me wants my neighbors sifting through my financial aid paperwork, for example. (My prevention technique is repeated layers of coffee grounds. Enough of them and even the most dedicated sifter will give up and go home. Crockett’s much-less-interesting-but-slightly-more-effective technique is shredding everything.)

The point, I think, is that if you want something to remain a secret, you need to keep it under your control. Don’t want someone to know you were at a certain bar? Wear a hat and a fake mustache, because there will be people there, and some of them might know you, or have camera phones and an itchy tweet thumb. I’ve tweeted images that had strangers in them more than once, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Don’t want love letters falling into the wrong hands? For heaven’s sake, either keep them yourself or burn/shred/coffee soak them.

Can we apply the same rules to privacy on the web? If you don’t want everyone knowing something, can you keep it in an email instead of putting it on a facebook wall? If you want your opinions to stay yours, can you just avoid becoming a blogger?

The public internet has become a place that has no reasonable expectation of privacy. That’s sort of the point.

Is that ok? I don’t know. Do you think so?

where I invade other people’s privacy

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I wasn’t kidding about it being privacy week, in case you were wondering.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my office mate at work. I used a clever pseudonym (Rochester, the city she’s from – I know, my creativity knows no bounds). Not a lot of people that I work with here read my blog (that I know of).  I was vague when referring to her problems.


I still put her ass out on the internet without her permission.

I write about Crockett all the time. He knew I was a blogger when we started dating, and I do occasionally give him a heads up when something really personal (fights or whatever) is going to show up, but in general he’s on the internet whether he likes it or not.

A few weeks ago when I wrote about how not everyone wants to sleep with everyone, I used a specific example of someone I recently met. He recognized himself and emailed me (to assure me that he in fact did not want to get into my pants, precisely as I suspected).

The theme here is this: if you know me, none of these people are in fact anonymous. While my adorable nicknames prevent someone from googling them and ending up here, they do not in fact prevent Chewbacca (who sits upstairs) from coming down here to see who my office mate is. They do not prevent the people who know Crockett from knowing the inside of his head.

Am I violating their privacy in any major way? Should I stop? If I can’t write about the people I meet, what can I write about?

It’s privacy week on emmanation!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Last week I had to finalize my paperwork for my research assistantship.

The documents I had to submit and forms I was required to fill out were, in no particular order:

  • I-9 Form:  Employment Eligibility Verification
  • Social Security Card
  • Worker’s Compensation Policy Form
  • Drug-Free Workplace Policy Form
  • EEO Gender & Ethnicity Voluntary Self-Disclosure Form
  • EEO Individuals with Disabilities & Veterans Voluntary Self-Disclosure Form
  • Emergency Contact Form
  • Social Security Form SSA-1945
  • Faculty Oath
  • W-4 Form:  Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
  • Electronic Deposit Form & Voided Check

That’s right, I was required to submit all of the above documents. Including the two that have ‘voluntary’ in the name. Also, without a checking account I literally would not be able to get paid. Plus, when was the last time that someone demanded to see your social security card? I had my passport, which I needed my card to get, but apparently that’s just not good enough?

One of my classes is focused on data – where it comes from and what you can do with it. It’s called Data Mining, and many of the readings we do involve statistics culled from semi-public data. My teacher is of the opinion that our privacy has been dramatically compromised by the promulgation of online societies and social media, and he doesn’t like it. He also acknowledges that it may be too late to do anything about it.

Crockett has been known to get up in arms when someone requires that he show ID for something like a credit card purchase. He doesn’t have ‘see ID’ on the card (although as far as I know that is in no way more than a suggestion) and he’s told me that as far as he knows, credit card companies actually do NOT allow a business to turn you away because you don’t have ID. He finds these and other baby steps into what he considers ‘his business’ to be an area in which we need to take a stand.

I haven’t traditionally been concerned with this kind of thing* – and now? Now I’m wondering if my teacher and Crockett are right. Maybe we should do something about it… and maybe it’s already too late.

*I blog and tweet and facebook, all under my real name. Clearly privacy isn’t one of my top ten worries in life.

no makeup week

Friday, September 24th, 2010

I’m a little late on this whole ‘makeup free week’ thing that’s sweeping our Internets. (Huffpo and Jezebel didn’t pick it up in time to start with her either, and they have vaginapower the likes of which I’ve never seen, so I don’t feel too badly about my tardiness.)

However, it’s an interesting idea, and I’m considering joining in. I’m sure she won’t begrudge me an offset start date, right?

Rachel of Rabbit Write, the mind behind the idea, says:

The philosophy is this. Make-up is great. It is a powerful tool, a way to express yourself, your mood and interior life. But, when you can’t go without something, it loses it’s spark.

To me it sounds like her point is that she wants to be using makeup to accessorize, and instead it’s been moved into the category of ‘defining’. As in, I can put on a scarf when it’s handy and appropriate, but I am certainly capable of leaving the house without one – and for her, makeup is no longer like that.

To discover if participation is worthwhile, I’m trying to establish what category makeup falls into for me.

My approach towards makeup changed when I quit working as a pastry chef. When I was in the kitchen, high temperatures and 5 am commutes and flour and sweat would have destroyed anything I put together, so I never bothered. When I started working at an office, I realized that makeup was something that some women did before they came in for the day. They put together an outfit, they blow-dried their hair, they did their makeup, and then they came to work. Never one to stand out, I started copying them – sometimes, when I remembered, and almost entirely with makeup that had been floating around my various bathrooms for enough years to make a mysophobe cringe.

I thought it looked fun! It wasn’t so much that I felt a responsibility to wear it (ask Queen B – my personal style when I rejoined corporate America was … experimental). It was more that I wanted to play. For me, then, makeup was art.

Now? Now I’m the grad student who, today, spent $100 at Sephora. Sure, it was mostly on moisturizer – but how on earth did I get from there to here?

I have two gorgeous girlfriends who are usually makeup free, and I asked them to weigh in on why that was, to see if they could help me sort this whole thing out.

Laura (this was on the phone, so I’m paraphrasing):

Usually I forget or don’t have time. I have a five minute face I can do, but it’s clear mascara, clear lip gloss, and blush. Since the blush is the only thing you can really see, I don’t feel like it makes that much of a difference.

Star, my dinbff (derby-IM-new-best-friend-forever):

It’s a fact of life that we judge things based on appearance. I have never been “into” makeup. My mom has never been “into” makeup. I try every couple of years to get into makeup but I always try to dive in head first and get all glam all the time. I have realized that is not the point. That is also not me. I am trying again, but I forget about it. When I do remember, I noteice that I still look and feel like me but just a more polished version.

I realized, talking to them, that I never forget makeup. Sometimes I don’t wear it – if I’m home alone and my only plans are the grocery store? I leave it off. I don’t keep any at Crockett’s house, so nights I spend there are inevitably followed by makeup free days. I’m always aware that I’m not wearing makeup, though.

I’m still torn, you guys. I see her point, and part of the reason I’m reluctant is that I don’t want to not wear it. Am I even sure people would notice? No. I’m love my skin tone and have never successfully matched it thank-you-italian-father, somehow lipstick and I have never bonded, and my cheeks are plenty rosy on their own thank-you-irish-mother. I wear eye makeup, period.

Maybe I’ll hop in the shower after posting this and forget to put makeup on afterwards?

Probably not.

What are your thoughts? Would you go a week without makeup? Is that a normal week for you?