It’s my turn for the #trending column this Sunday. In order to write a less impassioned but more informed piece, I did a TON of research earlier this week . I wanted to make everything I found available to readers who were interested as it wasn’t as easy as you might think to find information from both sides of the aisle on this hotbed issue.
First, I’ll give you a little taste of my column:
Monday, I learned via Twitter that state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, proposed a bill mandating ultrasounds for women seeking to have an abortion. Many clinics already perform ultrasounds to gauge the gestational age of the fetus, but Tracy’s bill proposes a detailed ultrasound that, if the patient refuses to view, will be described to her in detail.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of Feb. 1, eight states have laws requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, but what is the purpose? Proponents claim that women who can see and hear the fetus will refuse to go through with the procedure. This logic is often shrouded in the phrase “informed consent.” In that spirit, I sought to become as informed as possible.
It’s easy to find arguments that feed whichever rhetoric you choose to espouse. With automatic filters in major search engines, it is difficult to find balanced results from which one might truly become informed. Thankfully, I have DuckDuckGo to rely on — a search engine which doesn’t track or filter bubble.
— I started by reading the text of the bill itself and breaking down what each section of the bill meant.
— This article from The American Independent was one of the first resources I found. It led me to several of the following articles, studies and data.
— 1983 article in the “New England Journal of Medicine” by that anti-abortionists like to quote to “prove” that ultrasounds deter women from having abortions. The study spoke with two women whose ultimate response was “I believe it is human.”
— I was trying to find information on what year ultrasounds became a part of standard care in obstetrics and gynecology to see if there was any intrinsic value to the Fletcher and Evans paper of 1983. After a couple of hours searching, this was the closest I could find: NIH study from 1979 stating that they still don’t recommend routine use of ultrasounds.
— Jeanne Monahan wrote a (short) paper on ultrasound policy that looks staggeringly similar to many of the legislative movements over the last few years. Included in the footnotes of her report are studies, articles and other related links.
— If you’ve read my ramblings on Tumblr before, you’re aware of my obsession with infographics. This article from Remapping Debate had some good information on the legislative movement in 2012 to circumvent Roe v. Wade with laws such as the pre-abortion ultrasound. Included, was a colorful state-by-state infographic showing the varying strictness of abortion laws in our nation.
Using that graphic and the “Requirements for Utlrasound” document below, I studied other states which have enacted similar laws.
— I found several good resources at the Guttmacher Institute:
— The Washington Post did an article in 2010 on the abortion rates in countries with universal healthcare.
— Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health conducted a study that I very much wanted to read, but it was only offered for pay, so I had to settle for a summary and several slides in a PowerPoint presentation.
I found this study very interesting — it changed my mind in a small part of this issue.
— Finally, the Tennessean did a phenomenal project last year called “Abortion in Tennessee.” Extraordinary reporting.
Ever since the 2010 documentary “Catfish” was released, I’ve been fascinated by this idea of elaborate Internet dating hoaxes. The notion that someone would dedicate so much time to building a fake life and extensive fake network of friends and family, and use it to deceive others — frankly, it blew my mind.
So when the Manti Te’o scandal came to light last week, I grew equally as fascinated. Not only was the story so bizarre and, at this point still somewhat mysterious, but it’s happened so publicly. The bottom line is questions must be answered.
In case you’ve never heard of the term, here’s a little about its origin.
(Filmmakers Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost and Nev Schulman, from left.)
The term “catfish” comes from a 2010 documentary film of the same name, in which a young New Yorker named Nev Schulman has an online relationship with a woman on Facebook that turns out to be much different than it appears. It’s hard to say much more without giving away the ending.
I saw this in theaters when it came out, and it made me think. I’d definitely recommend it. But it didn’t stop there — the film spawned a TV show that debuted recently on MTV. It has a similar premise: People who have developed online relationships seek to learn more about their purported lovers, often discovering unexpected realities.
The Manti Te’o tie-in
I’m pretty sure the world did a collective “HUH?!” when a Jan. 16 Deadspin article came out, saying that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend — the one who allegedly died of leukemia the same day his grandmother died, and who was at the center of many, many news stories — never existed in the first place.
(Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o after the Nov. 12 game.)
The article revealed that it was all an elaborate hoax. It asserted that Lennay Kekua, the college girl whom Te’o had talked very publicly about and whom he told the world he loved, was a complete fabrication. The details in the story seemed to indicate there was a very complicated web of lies behind this hoax.
It was, and continues to be, largely a mystery. Details are still coming out; reports are still being investigated. But, to me, it indicates something even bigger: Te’o is insisting he’s been “catfished.”
Hitting close to home
Of course, whenever I take on a topic for a column, I try to find some kind of local, East Tennessee tie-in. I want to help make issues relatable for our readers. So it seemed a bit too good to be true when I saw this tweet by Cami Webb:
Cami Webb, a Gatlinburg native and UT grad currently living in Orlando, had been contacted out of the blue by Christopher Waldron, a student at Syracuse. Waldron alerted her that someone was using her photos to do some “catfishing” of their own.
“So this Te’o thing got me thinking. There’s been this drop dead beautiful girl flirting with me on Facebook. Profile is pretty sketch and no one knows her. I did a reverse picture search and this person is using your pictures. It’s odd but I knew something was up. Name is Venessa Beckwith in Oswego, NY… Who does not exist,” Waldron wrote to Webb.
Webb was startled by the random email.
“I initially was shocked, and then felt taken advantage of. This person was using my images to apparently flirt with random guys on the Internet. Even more discomforting was that the profile had been up since 2011. It makes me wonder if there are other imposters out there that I may very well never find,” Webb told me.
She proceeded to message “Venessa” and report “her” to Facebook, in addition to enlisting the help of her friends to also report the profile. Although she never received a response from “Venessa,” she did hear back from Facebook days later.
“They (told me they) didn’t find anything wrong with the profile. Turns out she did end up deleting all my photos — which is all I really wanted,” Webb said.
How to spot a ‘catfish’
Just because some people have been duped by fake online profiles doesn’t mean it isn’t OK to engage with people you don’t know online. It does, however, mean you should be more cautious.
When I asked Waldron about his experience with “Venessa” and tracking down Webb, here’s what he told me:
“It was just common sense. There was not much info on the profile, vague answers, and let’s face it, models don’t send Facebook messages to strangers for dates. … Back in the summer, I knew it was a fake profile so I did not pay much attention to it. It was when the Te’o news broke when I said ‘hmm…’ “
Waldron did a reverse image search, which led him to Webb. His advice to others?
“I just think people should pay attention to red flags and bad excuses, like they can’t meet for coffee because their cat got run over for the fifth week in a row, etc.”
Tools to help
The unfortunate truth is that these kinds of Internet dating hoaxes are more common than you might think, which is why it’s important to understand the best ways to guard against it.
“As long as we continue to be lax with our online presence, impersonation will happen,” Webb cautions.
Here are some of the best tips and tools to combat both online identity theft and being duped by a fraud.
Ah, it’s my favorite time in Tumblrville: time to announce Knoxville’s latest placement on a national list.
(In case you’ve somehow managed to miss our fixation on lists, you can browse past entries here. As it turns out Knoxville is the proud owner of many odd and varied titles.)
But this time Knoxville has been named one of the happiest cities in which to work. According to Forbes, Knoxville earned a score of 4.02 out of 5 total points in a list compiled by CareerBliss.
(Downtown Knoxville and Fort Loudoun Lake are seen Oct. 26, 2012. Photo by
Paul Efird/News Sentinel.)
This list — 10 happiest and 10 unhappiest cities — “is based on analysis of more than 36,000 independent employee reviews between Nov. 2011 and Nov. 2012.”
Employees all over the country were asked to evaluate ten factors that affect workplace happiness. Those include one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work done does on a daily basis.
Rounding out the top 5 happiest cities:
And the top unhappiest cities:
To read the complete lists and for a breakdown of Knoxville’s score, check out the post on Forbes.com.
According to a press release from IHOP, the eatery will be giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes on Tuesday, Feb. 5th.
The free flapjacks serve a dual purpose: celebrate National Pancake Day and hopefully raise $3 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
In this week’s #trending column, I decided to tackle a topic I’ve seen quite a bit of lately: New Year’s resolutions and technology.
All across my Facebook feed, I’ve seen declarations from friends that in 2013, they will quit or cut back their social media and smartphone usage.
That’s all well and good, friends, but for me, it’s not a realistic goal. In fact, my job requires me to use social media, my iPhone and iPad. So instead of swearing them off, I’ve found helpful ways to embrace these devices.
(Photo by Associated Press)
I’ve scoured the web for recommendations and pulled out some of my favorite mobile and Web apps that can help users stay on track to accomplish their goals for the new year. Here is my list of some of the top picks. (And by the way, all these options are free.)
Note: Some of the following appeared in my column, but I’ve also included runner-up selections and additional categories.
(Photo by Associated Press)
(Photo by Associated Press)
Frankly, I could go on and on. I’ve heard so many great ideas for self-improvement when polling friends and colleagues about their New Year’s resolutions. And when searching for apps, there’s certainly been no shortage.
So start here. Maybe some of your goals align with the ones listed here; maybe not. But use technology as your ally, and figure out ways to better yourself with some of these helpful tools.
When I was a kid, my sister and I had a chore list posted in our kitchen. It would have a column for chores, one for price, and one for initials.
The way it worked was that one of us would walk up and, for example, find the line that said “Vacuum living room….$1” and we’d initial and date beside it where we had done it.
We were allowed to pick and choose what we did, with the only caveat being that every chore on the list had to be done each week or else my parents would start assigning them.
So, if I (or my sister) wanted to do every single thing on the list - or none of them - we could do so, as long as we’d worked it out with the other one.
In that way, we earned some spending money, learned the value OF that money, and had our first taste of working under a contract.
Now, more decades later than she or I would want to admit, parental contracts with kids have apparently taken on a new form.
The question isn’t whether or not my parents (no way, no how) or I (now that I’m a parent; also, no way… for now) would have ever allowed one of us to have a phone as a child, the question is the changing nature of the parent-child relationship.
Janell Burley Hofman, to the delight of parents and the angst of teens everywhere, decided to get her 13-year-old son an iPhone for Christmas.
Whereas most of us are tied into contracts with less-than-personable phone companies, Gregory, her son, is tied into an unbreakable one with his mom.
Among other things, she sets the non-negotiable use of the phone, but does so in a way that is more about promoting responsibility than just being an overseer.
Her blog on the contract has become an Internet sensation, prompting a number of people to ponder the ins and outs of the deal, as well as debate topics ranging from whether a 13-year-old needs an iPhone to the nature of parent-child relationships in the 21st century.
So, to put not so fine a point on it, what are your thoughts?
While checking our year-end stats, I looked at what fared well on our YouTube channel.
Here is a list provided by YouTube that shows the ten most viewed videos on our channel in 2012:
1. Carolina Chocolate Drops performing “Hit ‘Em Up Style”
2. Carolina Chocolate Drops “Cornbread and Butterbeans”
3. Letalvis Cobbins’ testimony from the stand
4. Documentary: The murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom
5. Shake and Bake: The new method to make meth
6. Comedy Central’s Workaholics goof around
7. Outlaws leader tells his side of the story
8. Walking with Dinosaurs
9. George Thomas’ trial - Day two
10. Dolly Parton talks about her marriage