FamilyTreeNow and privacy

Many people are concerned about how a so-called genealogy site called FamilyTreeNow.com makes anyone’s name, current and former addresses, and age available online. What’s important to note, however, is that this information has always been out there, available to just about anyone. As the Fortune article below points out, the United States has piss-poor privacy protections. If any good can come from stalker-friendly sites like FamilyTreeNow, it’s that they might spur citizen outrage and greater regulation on who can know what.

The cynic in me bets it will never happen. The nosiness of governments and the corporate plutocracy knows no bounds.

People began scrambling this week to erase their name from an obscure website called Family Tree Now after discovering a remarkable amount of personal information on the site—including age, home addresses (current and past) and names of family members and loved ones.

A friend called my attention to the site earlier this week after finding it contained detailed and accurate records about both her and mother. All you have to do is put in your name and state. I tried it out too and it immediately showed places I lived as well the name of a former partner. It’s pretty unsettling.

Source: Family Tree Now Discloses Personal Data That’s Hard to Remove | Fortune.com

Cheap Thoughts: Rethinking sidewalks

An unusable sidewalk


On my way back from dropping the kids off from school last week, I waited at a Hargett Street intersection while a man in a motorized wheelchair passed by me, riding in the street. I wondered why this man chose not to ride on the sidewalk, which seemed much safer. He had no lights nor reflectors and seemed an easy target for an inattentive driver.

I’ve also seen several disabled people in wheelchairs riding in Johnson Street between Glenwood and Boylan Avenues, probably residents of Glenwood Towers. Why do they choose to ride in the road when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk right there?
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Police pay letter to the editor

I sent this letter to the editor to the N&O last week when I saw the paper was recirculating the video Jill Knight shot of Hallie and Travis pounding our neighborhood officer, Officer Boyd, with snowballs. This past fall, Officer Boyd broke the news to me that he was leaving and announced his replacement at the November 21st East CAC meeting. I am sorry to see Raleigh lose such a talented officer and wanted to do something about it.

It was bittersweet to see the N&O reshare Jill Knight’s video of my kids pummeling Raleigh Police Officer J.D. Boyd in a snowball fight. Sadly, there will be no rematch: Officer Boyd has quietly left RPD for another area police department. Unfortunately, he is one of many.

Retaining first responders with deep knowledge of the areas and people they serve is critical to our safety. It’s time for the City of Raleigh to offer truly competitive pay and benefits for our men and women in uniform.

The N&O hasn’t run it yet and I don’t know if I am thankful for that or not. With this week’s dismal snow and ice only now melting around the city, few people would’ve seen it had it been run. But will it see the light of day? Who knows? I hope so, though, because I think city leaders need to hear it.

The paper might also not be thrilled with me for loudly tweeting that they missed four days’ worth of deliveries to me to start off the year. I did get my paper the day but have been paperless due to the storm up until today. I hope the N&O and I are still BFFs, though, because I think what they do is important.

Getting my head back into the game

Returning to Earth. Or Atlanta. Close enough.

I spent New Year’s day worshiping the Porcelain God but not because I’d celebrated on New Year’s Eve. No, my body has a way of freaking out all on its own and opted to do so a day after we returned from our trip to Spain. For the next two days, I felt disinclined to lift my head from the couch or bed save for the inevitable Call To Prayer. what a way to be welcomed home! If there’s a positive note in this episode, at least I waited until our vacation was over to get sick.
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Spain, Part II

After a restless night, still not used to the time change, we awoke to start the day with a free walking tour of Madrid through New Tour. We met at Plaza Mayor and joined the English-version of the tour, led by our tour guide, Ramon Amoros.

Ramon, our Madrid tour guide

Ramon is a twenty-four year old Argentinian who has lived in Madrid for ten years, first coming to Madrid to study as an illustrator. When the Spanish economy tanked, he considered moving to Berlin but chose to stay in Spain. His brother suggested he take the tour guide gig and he has been doing it now for two years. He speaks fluent English and could easily pass as American. Leading tours is his only job and he is very good at it: a very smart, funny guy. His illustrations are quite impressive, too.
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Madrid bans half of cars from roads to fight air pollution | World news | The Guardian

Madrid’s city council has implemented restrictions on cars in an effort to combat persistent smog. While battling smog is a good thing, the measure does not restrict mopeds and motorcycles, which cause more smog than cars do and seem to me to be far more prevalent in the city.

Madrid has ordered half of most private cars off the roads on Thursday to tackle worsening air pollution, a first in Spain.

The restrictions will operate between 6.30am and 9pm. The city council said in a statement: “vehicles with even-number registration plates will be allowed to drive around on even-number days and cars with odd-number registration plates on odd-number days.”

The measure is activated when levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere go above 200 microgrammes per cubic metre in at least two measuring stations for two days running, and if the air is unlikely to clear imminently.

Source: Madrid bans half of cars from roads to fight air pollution | World news | The Guardian

Spain, Part I

At the end of a long journey on the way to Madrid.

I am writing this on one of Spain’s impressive high-speed trains, leaving Barcelona for Seville at 275 kph. It is 9:52 AM CET. We are on the home stretch of our trip to Spain, having spent the first four days in Madrid and the next four in Barcelona. After this six-hour-long train trip we will have a few days in Seville before returning to Madrid for the night.

Spain has been a wonderful experience, in spite of our not really speaking the language. We’ve soaked up the culture and the sights and walked many kilometers around the streets of Madrid and Barcelona. Now we head to what many call the most beautiful, most Spanish city: Seville.

Our trip began midafternoon on 21 December when we arrived at RDU for our flight. A lengthy wait at the Delta counter was rewarded with all four of us getting TSA Pre-flight status and bypassing the long, holiday security lines. Soon we were seated on our Boeing 757-200S for the long trip across the Atlantic.

I had my reservations about being crammed into a 757 for such a long flight but there were two things in our favor. First, it was a red-eye flight so my body would be somewhat used to being still. Second, the family had four seats right next to each other (1+3, right side). Kelly said up-front that she didn’t want the middle seat so I volunteered for it. Surprisingly, it was very comfortable. I got up once to use the lavatory and then used my travel pillow to get a few winks in here and there. Before I knew it we were cruising over the dark, sleeping hills of Ireland on our way to Paris.
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