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It used to be that champions of privacy on the Internet were often treated as paranoid, or somehow against technological progress. Who were they to stand in the way of the New Economy, or viral dancing-baby videos or inspiring photos of unlikely animal friends? The fact that big tech companies were making it harder and harder to keep our data private, and even refusing to delete it when we tried to take it off the Internet, was deemed nothing to get too worked up about in the great social media expansion.

That attitude is shifting quickly, however. As Madeleine Turner describes in this week’s cover story, people seem to have a growing mistrust of sharing information online—the kind of thing you’d expect after huge data-breach scandals everywhere, from Target to Ashley Madison to the federal government.

But what if your privacy could be invaded without even a hack? That reality, it turns out, is already here, and the new trend Turner writes about toward profiling users based on their social media information represents a significant turning point. Companies are no longer satisfied with predicting your behavior based on what you’ve done online, now they want to know what you’re like. The most unnerving thing is that by using an algorithm, they can. Maybe it’s time for all of us to look a little closer at our privacy settings.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


letters

 

 

 

Get It Right

As part of the continued dialogue re: our potential new national monument: on face value, protecting a valued open space is a terrific notion. Who could be against that? However, this potential designation comes with its own set of considerations and possible problems. Among them are: What do we want from a national monument? Is this space to have as its primary goal open and free access to people? What is the consideration for the local residents?—and I’m referencing the flora and fauna.

Frans Lanting has spoken at a recent Bonny Doon residents meeting to “go slow,” that “we have the chance to get this right.” Some of the local opposition has been derided as simple NIMBY-ism. Yet a national monument designation will advertise our North Coast both nationally and internationally as wildlands worth visiting. Will an influx of new visitors impact the recognition of our North Coast as the “Slow Coast?” Will Highway 1 and even Westside Santa Cruz, Mission Street, specifically, become overloaded and gridlocked with traffic? These are all legitimate questions that should be addressed.

If the designation happens, the management plan would then need to be created and discussed before implementation. Bureau of Land Management, the chief stakeholder for either a national monument or a simpler BLM open space, has implemented limited access plans for other wild lands in their jurisdiction. Rick Cooper, BLM Hollister coordinator for Cotoni-Coast Dairies, in answer to a question, said that river rafting, among other areas, fell into this BLM limited-access designation. The Nature Conservancy, the Federal Wilderness backpacking quota system, various Land Trusts (including our local one) have limited-access wildlands. Internationally, this is becoming more and more the norm in attempts to try to keep areas from becoming “loved to death.”

Could something like this address my concerns listed here, while also speaking to the legitimate opposition from other concerned parties? Could this be part of a smart pathway to “getting it right?”   

John Balawejder, Live Oak

Lunch Blocks

With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies—and lunches.

In past years, USDA had used our nation’s schools as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, one-third of children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. New guidelines mandated by President Barack Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. A survey released last month shows the guidelines supported by 86 percent of Americans.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, and San Diego have implemented Meatless Monday.

Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.

As parents, we need to work with school cafeteria managers and our own children to encourage the availability and consumption of healthy, plant-based school foods. Entering “vegetarian options in schools” provides lots of good resources.

Preston Daniels, Santa Cruz

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photo contest

photo-contest

YOU OTTER KNOW A sea otter in the kelp beds off West Cliff. Photograph by Terri Nelson.

 



good work

TALE OF A WHALE

The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is looking for docents who can inspire people of all ages about the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants. The center, located at the Long Marine Lab on the Westside, has put out a call for volunteer exhibit guides. The four-session training starts Sept. 25; visit seymourcenter.ucsc.edu, or call 459-3854 for more information.

 

good idea

 

SMILE FILE

A new Dientes clinic, which held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 25, is now open in Watsonville. A federal grant available under the Affordable Care Act funded the new facility, which includes five medical exam rooms, four dental operatories, a small lab, counseling space and a meeting room. Dientes has a goal of serving 40,000 people annually in five years. 

 

quote

“The question isn’t ‘what do we want to know about people?’ It’s ‘what do people want to tell about themselves?’” — Mark Zuckerberg

 

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