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Lindsey Stone – Apology Posted for Actions at Tomb of Unknowns November 21, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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UPDATE- Lindsey Stone and her friend published the following apology.  

“We sincerely apologize for all the pain we have caused by posting the picture we took in Washington DC on Facebook. While posted on a public forum, the picture was intended only for our own amusement. We never meant any disrespect to any of the people nationwide who have served this country and defended our freedom so valiantly. It was meant merely as a visual pun, intending to depict the exact opposite of what the sign said, and had absolutely nothing to do with the location it was taken or the people represented there. We never meant to cause any harm or disrespect to anyone, particularly our men and women in uniform. We realize it was in incredibly poor taste, and are deeply sorry for the offense we have caused.

We also sincerely apologize to LIFE, Inc. It is an amazing organization that provides invaluable services to adults with learning and developmental disabilities. We are beyond remorseful that our actions have caused them such undue public scrutiny. The disrespect implied by our picture has nothing at all to do with LIFE’s mission statement or values. We regret having caused any suffering to the staff members, residents, families and friends.

Again, we very sincerely apologize to everyone who took offense to the photo. We realize that it was an ignorant and distasteful thing for us to do, but we truly meant no harm. We are deeply sorry.”

Lindsey Stone – Disrespecting the Tomb of the Unknowns November 20, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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Forgive this rant on this blog.  Several months ago, a person posted a video mocking Islam and it created issues that resulted in riots.  Yesterday we have a young woman named Lindsey Stone who works for LifeCapeCod posting a picture on the Internet of her disrespecting the Tomb of the Unknowns.    When taken to task for the posting her response was what one would expect of a self described “douchebag” (her words…not mine).  Here is her response.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa…wait.  This is just us being the douchebags that we are, challenging authority in general. Much like the pic posted the night before, of me smoking right next to a no smoking sign. OBVIOUSLY we meant NO disrespect to people that serve or have served our country.”  I find it particularly interesting that she is willing to act in such a disrespectful manner and the, when caught, disavow her behavior.  Protest is a great part of our country’s history.  Disrespectful, offensive behavior in front of memorials is deplorable.  Not only did Lindsey Stone disrespect a memorial she chose the one memorial dedicated to those brave men and women who were not identified and in turn whose own families have not had a chance to properly mourn their loved ones.  The Tomb of the Unknowns is a sacred memorial for those who have paid the ultimate price.  It is offensive for Ms. Stone to equate her behavior to that of “smoking next to a non smoking sign.”  She should be ashamed and her parents and friends should be ashamed.

“Here Rests In Honored Glory and American Solder Known But To God.”

Autocracy, Anocracy, & Democracy – “Verbal Masterba(bleep!)…” November 15, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Laws and Leglslation, Politics.
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Election season in the US is always interesting.  Passions run high and people are quick to proclaim their positions on government and politics.  Unfortunately, as many will likely agree, election season also gives voice to many who should probably remain silent.

Recently I was taken to task on Facebook and lectured on the concept of governance and democracy by a particularly obtuse and offensive individual.  When I attempted to explain that democracy should NOT be considered a strictly binary proposition and that the US was indeed a democracy, his attacks became personal and I was accused of (among other things) “verbal masturbation”.  According to this master of the English language: “Most folks like me would call your ideas verbal masturbation.  They sound good from the outside but are really kinda stupid”…he actually wrote: “Kinda”…somehow this person drew a line between my comments on democracy and his belief that the federal government would force parents to stand by while their 12 year old daughters got abortions without consent.  I am at a loss as to the logic… But…I digress.  Back to democracy!

To understand governance and democracy it is important to understand the concepts.  One great resource is the Polity IV project.  Democracy, while seemingly simple, can be a quite difficult concept to explain especially when considering the many different governments in the World.  The Polity project attempts to quantify and qualify governance and code them based upon their level of autocracy to democracy.

First…let’s understand democracy.  Wikipedia states that Democracy:

“… is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.” 

At its core, democracy is principle of government by the people.  So why the confusion and what is the relevance of the Polity IV study?  Good questions!

Democracy, as described by the Polity study, is defined by three factors.  Each democratic government may implement these in different ways.  Democracy requires the “…existence of Processes and Institutions through which citizens can 1) affect their government 2) constrain the power exercised by the executive and 3) guarantee civil liberties.”  (BTW: You can read this in Dr. Heather Mark’s Dissertation found here.)

There are numerous forms and styles of democratic governments.  There are direct democracies in which citizens take part in the process directly.  There are representative democracies (like the US) where the citizens vote for representatives who then represent the interests of their constituents.  Each of these general types of government then have sub-types.  The US is a Presidential Republic, the UK is a Parliamentary Republic, and so on.  It is much like dogs.  All Rottweillers are dogs but not all dogs are Rottweillers.  So is a Poodle more of a dog than a German Shepard?  It is this type of question that the Polity study addresses.  The Polity study ranks each form of government based upon the ‘democratization’ of the government.   Countries can be more autocratic or more democratic.  All governments will find themselves somewhere on the spectrum.  Governments with a score of +6 to +10 are counted as democracies, with the higher scores representing more democratic governments.  A perfect 10 is reserved for those that are absolutely democratic.  Those who range from a -5 to a +5 are considered Anocracies. As Polity states: “Anocracies are a middling category rather than a distinct form of governance. They are countries whose governments are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic but, rather, combine an, often, incoherent mix of democratic and autocratic traits and practices.” Those with a score -6 to a -10 are Autocratic with a -10 representing complete autocracy.

All governments will fall somewhere in the spectrum. Simply because the United States is a Presidential Republic does NOT mean we are NOT a democracy any more than the ugly dog down the street is NOT a dog because it does not look like my rugged, handsome, purebred Rottweiller (he is good looking but not very smart, sad to say…and still pees in the house!).  While the US System of democracy is implemented one way, the UK system is implemented another way.  There are benefits and drawbacks to each but each IS a democratic system of government.

Update on GlobalRiskInfo.com – Facebook, SPJ May 7, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in News.
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I realized that I was getting quite a few readers from Facebook so I took the plunge an have set up a Facebook page for GlobalRiskInfo.com.  If you are so inclined, please take a spin over to my page on Facebook.

In addition, since I talk enough about ethical journalism, I thought it prudent to put my money where my big mouth is.  I am proud to say that I joined, and was accepted into the Society of Professional Journalists.    Now we are cooking with fire!  Watch out cuz here comes my Pulitzer prize!! ;)

UPDATE “Just Say No!”- to Facebook Login Request for Employment March 23, 2012

Posted by Chris Mark in Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy.
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UPDATE: Kudos to Facebook for weighing in on this subject.  Facebook says that not only is the practice wrong, but it is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.  Echoing what I (and others) have said, logging into someone’s FB page could expose the employer to a lawsuit.  “(W)e don’t think it’s right the thing to do,” she said. “But it also may cause problems for the employers that they are not anticipating. For example, if an employer sees on Facebook that someone is a member of a protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) that employer may open themselves up to claims of discrimination if they don’t hire that person.”

I find myself posting on this subject occasionally because a neighbor, friend or other person will inform me that during an interview or application they were asked to provide their Facebook or other ‘social media’ login.  This topic seems to arise again, and again and was again highlighted on msnbc.com.  So, for those who are asking or saying: “Chris, if you have nothing to worry about, then why do you care?”  Valid question.  Let me answer.  First, if you are looking for a job, as a responsible professional person you should take care to not post inflammatory, racist, hateful or other items on your social media.  If you are a proud member of a hate group, you may want to keep that info private.   Pictures of you doing drugs, or being arrested in New Orleans is also probably a bad idea.  (more…)

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