All posts by Bev Forsman

About Bev Forsman

I am fascinated by what the world reveals, and I see life circumstances as windows of wisdom. I have held and continue to nurture a life-long interest in the human condition. In addition to introspection, curiosity, and wonder, I list the following credentials: parent, grandparent, life-partner, daughter, sister, aunt, wedding officiant, and Dharma Transmission.

Optimize Your Hyperlinks

You’ve been writing with passion, right? Do you want to provide your audience with upfront and helpful information when you provide links? Do you want to attract an audience? Forethought and strategy in the creation of hyperlinks can provide your readers with useful tools and can attract traffic to your site. Quiz: On which link would you rather click?

  1. Weather and meteorological events are predicted and reported with an entertaining spin in Kenny Blumenfeld’s blog, Weather and BS!
  2. Weather and meteorological events are predicted and reported with an entertaining spin in Kenny Blumenfield’s blog, Weather and BS!: http://www.kennyblumenfeld.com

A second comparison: On which link would you rather click?

  1. Since our readings covered the value of including a media page on a company’s website, let’s check on the latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld on his media page.
  2. Since our readings covered the value of including a media page on a company’s website, let’s check on the latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld on his media page: http://www.kennyblumenfeld.com/p/media.html

The verdict I think most would agree that links embedded in the flow of a sentence are more attractive than looking at a string of

  • colons
  • slashes
  • dubbyas and 
  • .coms or .orgs or .edus

especially if the URLs are extremely long, filled with seemingly endless strings of

  • numbers
  • ampersands
  • equal signs and 
  • question marks

In addition to the benefit that keyword links are cleaner than URL links, the keyword links in each example demonstrate the bonus of a secondary notation or Graphical User Interface (GUI) called a tooltip. Rest or “hover” your mouse over the links in the keyword links of each comparison and additional information will be displayed. Get in the mind of your audience In the first comparison, Weather and BS! includes a tooltip with the URL. Some of the readers in your audience may want to know where their click will send them before clicking on it. Would you want to know? In the second comparison, the tooltip for latest news about Kenny Blumenfeld displays the name of the website and the title of its internal page. I set it up this way to inform the reader that the linked phrase has a source, but I also wanted the tooltip to be descriptive. Since, your browser window should have a status bar at the bottom (or the option to turn it on) your readers can look there for the URL if they need to. Customize your links in any combination of keywords, phrases, URLs, and site name. The aim is to provide easy-to-read content in a way that makes sense to your audience. … And to attract an audience, right? Search engine optimization (SEO) findmeOne of the most important benefits of assigning a link to keyword phrase is its search-ability factor. Search engine algorithms are designed to recognize keyword phrases. If you want search engines to find your website and rank it high enough so that people will find it, you will want to put some thought into your links. Make the effort. Court Tuttle designed an SEO case study that showed a URL link (one that included a key phrase) ranked lower than the hyperlinked word, “here.” Ok. So how is it done? We are using WordPress for these assignments, so I will limit the instructions to the method offered through the toolbar. The following instructions will work whether you are in “visual” or “text” mode.

  • highlight the word or phrase you would like to link to another page, or website
  • click on the “Insert/edit link” icon
  • within the pop-up window, copy/paste the URL address of your link into the URL fieldWP Insert Link
  • type your tooltip phrase in the “Title” box
  • (optional) if you want the linked page to open in a new tab or window, click the checkbox to activate that command
  • click “Add Link” at the bottom of the window (or “Update” if you are editing an already established link)

The few extra keystrokes are worth it

  • Create tooltips to help your readers navigate to the information you’ve worked so carefully to provide.
  • Use keywords for your hyperlinks. Doing so will make your content easier on the eye, which means your entries are more readable, and it may improve your SEO to put you in a position to attract visitors to your site.

Let me know how it works for you!

Fiber Optic Internet At Last

When I first heard that high-speed fiber optic internet was to be available for a good price to residents in south Minneapolis, I was excited and intrigued. When I found out that the company offering this service was neither Comcast nor CenturyLink, I was completely on board.

Last summer I learned that US Internet was installing optical fiber into the boulevards of streets very near near us, but there were no short-term plans for installation on our street. Over the winter months I checked the status of installation schedules for this summer, but found no information for Wentworth Avenue. Today’s news that US Internet is expanding fiber optic internet service in south Minneapolis made my day. I immediately checked the schedules on the US Internet site and discovered our street will have service sometime this summer.

What does this mean? Faster service for much lower cost. Though our household could stick with the same speed as we have now for less than half the price, we will upgrade to 100 Mbps upload and download speeds and pay $25 less per month than our slower service with Comcast. This chart from the US Internet website shows the savings.

Internet Fiber

In addition to the cost savings, I will be thrilled to break my association with a company that that has a penchant to reduce download speeds of content providers in order to extract extra fees as ransom.

A few months ago CenturyLink also announced a plan to install fiber optic internet in Minneapolis, but the 1 gigabit speed will be $109/month compared to US Internet’s $65/month.

What about customer service?

In Minneapolis, we’re familiar with the dismal customer service of our internet providers, including USI Wireless, which has a contract with the city of Minneapolis to provide residents with wireless internet for $19.95 a month.

USI Wireless is a subsidiary of US Internet. Having read the reviews for the wireless effort, my fingers are crossed for the fiber optics effort. Thus far, as I have been careful to note which service and which “company” is being reviewed, I have found only accolades.

Our household will be signed up for US Internet’s fiber optics internet service as soon as it’s available on our block. And, whatever your preference for ISP, maybe US Internet’s pricing structure will help bring internet costs down for everyone.

 

Dignity Granted by Survey?

Last fall I attended a rally in support of a protest over Washington’s NFL team name, “The Redskins.” I mentioned my attendance on my Facebook page and only two of my friends “liked” my post.

To be clear, I only have about 60 Facebook friends, but usually when I post something that reflects my values, I receive a dozen or so “likes.” I was disappointed—though not surprised—that posting my participation in the protest would garner less support than usual. It seemed to reflect the reactions to my stance on this issue in the “real world.” We, who are members of the mainstream American culture, can find it difficult to empathize with this issue. With the dominant narrative shaping opinion, matters of humanity and dignity can easily be overlooked.

Surveys

The majority of mainstream America, especially football fans, have expressed a strong desire to keep the team name the same. How do we know? Popular media outlets report on a multitude of surveys to let us know how unpopular a name-change would be. There is even a petition drive to keep the Washington “Redskins” name on MoveOn.org. It states that fans “are strongly against the name change,” and petition asserts three times that the Redskins name honors Native Americans.

But wait! Are the fans or team owners the best judge of which terms “honor” a group of people that are regularly disparaged by the larger culture?

Silencing a Legitimate Voice: A Parallel

I am not Native American. I have not experienced the stigmatized life that most Native Americans live. As a woman, however, I have experienced gender discrimination in varying forms for my entire life. I know when I am being heard and I know when my voice is being silenced.

The practice known as the catcall takes a variety of forms including one or more men calling out that a woman is sexy, whistling at her, or declaring by what method they would like to do her. The catcall is demeaning for most women.

If women were to point out that the catcall is offensive, would the media start a campaign featuring statistics of populations of men who wish to “flatter” women this way in order to legitimize the behavior?

Hopefully not in this day and age! Several decades ago, however, when women’s voices on this issue were finally becoming newsworthy, that is exactly what happened.

Amplifying a Less Relevant Voice

A survey conducted by WUSA9 and USA Today tallied more than 600 people over four days in September last year. Respondents were residents of D.C. and surrounding suburbs. “65 percent of all subjects responded they do not want the team to change its name.” The sample broke down as follows

  • 19% did not identify as sports fans
  • 53% were Washington fans
  • 28% were fans of another team

Sounds official doesn’t it? But these numbers are a distraction.

Rather than percentages of fan affiliation, let us look at the same study’s acknowledgment that “the majority … [found] the word ‘Redskins’ to be offensive in all or some context.”

Popular Opinion Can Justify Bias

Surveys such as these simply reveal a belief that the Native American view is not legitimate. Issues of dignity should not be left up to popular opinion. Especially if the opinions gathered are those who benefit from the imbalance.

Ignorance of the cultural foundations of oppression breeds arrogance and affords ensured privilege and a sense of entitlement to the dominant group. In contrast, humanity is given the opportunity to evolve when empathy rises to the surface.

As humans, we learn from our past behavior and bring that knowledge into our current responses. Isn’t waking up to our transgressions an opportunity to learn empathy and step outside the confines of self-satisfaction?

The Argument for Origins 

One argument to support the idea of “honor” in the MoveOn.org petition drive is the oft-cited intent of George Preston Marshall, the team’s owner in 1932. It is said that he renamed the team the “Redskins in honor of his head coach, William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz, an American Indian. This was done to honor Native Americans not offend them.”

Here, we have the dominant culture asserting control over “the truth” again.

Setting the Record Straight

In the CBS Local article, How Many Americans Think “Redskins” is a Slur, Native American activist Suzan Shown Harjo gives us more to think about.

“Marshall had a reputation as a racist. He was the last NFL owner who refused to sign black players — the federal government forced him to integrate in 1962 by threatening to cancel the lease on his stadium. When he died in 1969, his will created a Redskins Foundation but stipulated that it never support ‘the principle of racial integration in any form.’

“And [Lone Star] Dietz, the namesake Redskin, may not have even been a real Indian. Dietz served jail time for charges that he falsely registered for the draft as an Indian in order to avoid service. According to an investigation by the Indian Country Today newspaper, he stole the identity of a missing Oglala Sioux man.”

Dignity for All

It can be difficult to let go of our understanding of how the world works. We have each invested in a foundation that we depend upon to know our place in the world. The foundation is reinforced by popular culture and reasserted by our belief that we mean no harm.

We have all, at one time or another, been hurt by those “who mean no harm.” Might we hope that they would be open-hearted enough to hear why it was so? Might we offer that same consideration to those who have had the courage to raise their voices?

By the way: The volunteers at MoveOn.org have placed a notice on the “Keep the Name” petition, stating that it doesn’t reflect the values of the MoveOn organization.

Crude Oil Derailment. Here?

One of my fellow classmates at Metro State is a man who works in a Twin Cities office for the Department of Homeland Security. He is part of a team that creates evacuation plans, food and water supply chains, and envisions where and how many emergency shelters would be needed should a disaster occur in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. As he described his job, one thing that he said took me by surprise.

A scenario that we have been working overtime on, is crude oil derailment. Routes with crude roll right through parts of the Twin Cities.

Growing Concerns
From the day I learned about the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), I had an ever-growing list of environmental concerns for the procedure. It hadn’t occurred to me, however, that train loads of this extracted oil was shipped long distances through numerous populated areas. Nor did I know that oil extracted by fracking was more explosive than regular crude.

Add Explosions to the List
Since the 2013 deadly explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, my awareness surrounding issues of crude oil transport has been steadily increasing. With yesterday’s news of another explosion, this time in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, I have been evermore convinced that a crude oil disaster could easily happen here, because a large number of oil trains pass through the Twin Cities.

Concern in Como
Residents of St. Paul’s Como neighborhood have long been concerned. Recently, they heard from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT). The department conducted a study to evaluate the risks of crude oil transport by rail, and the results included a recommendation to build a bridge that would separate traffic from the rail tracks. At a cost of $25 million, the neighborhood gave their support, though they and legislators hope the cost is paid for by the railroad.

Inching Toward Responsibility
A number of explosive derailments within the past year happened despite tank cars that exceeded the newest federal minimum requirements. Many people have lost their lives in these explosions. Environmental contamination affects the area as well. I wonder what it will take before the oil and rail industries take greater responsibility for the deadly risks they impose by their activities. It would be appropriate for them to absorb all costs for upgrades. Much, much more should be done to prevent them.

Guns: A Deterrent to Campus Rape?

Periodically it is reported that rapes of women on college campuses is common. This generates fear in women who are students and faculty, as well as their loved ones. According to an article published in The New York Times, “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape,” gun rights advocates hope to use this fear to push for the expansion of “conceal & carry” laws:

…this year, lawmakers in 10 states who are pushing bills that would permit the carrying of firearms on campus are hoping that the national spotlight on sexual assault will help them win passage of their measure. —The New York Times

The Rationale
There are two main assumptions about rape and safety that gun advocates use. Women are safer when they can protect themselves with a gun, and rapes occur outdoors or in parking garages; perpetrated by strangers. Both are untrue.

Will a Gun Solve the Problem?
Most rapes are committed by people the victims know. This is true especially on college campuses. For instance, a couple strikes up a conversation, they become amorous and at some point non-consensual sex takes place for any of these typical reasons

  • the man was mistaken about the woman’s interest in the first place
  • the woman has changed her mind
  • the woman has a limit for how far she will go
  • the woman has passed out, or is confused because of binge drinking

In any of these cases the man proceeds without consent. This is rape. How will a gun help in this situation?

  • while already in a struggle would a woman be able to get away from an embrace to get her gun?
  • if the gun were on her person, couldn’t it be turned on her once she pulls it out in such close proximity?
  • if either is under the influence of alcohol, couldn’t a deadly mistake be made?

Most rapes occur indoors and are committed by men who have befriended their victims.

Some surveys have found that most college presidents and faculty members oppose allowing firearms on campus. Among students, 67 percent of men and 86 percent of women dislike the concept. —The New York Times

What do you think?

 

Right Under Our Noses

My sociology class on homelessness began with the familiar self-introductions. I said a few words about myself, my major, and my after-graduation career goal, which is to help bring awareness to a huge and growing problem, human trafficking, especially of children. Afterward, a classmate sought me out saying she’d done a lot of research on trafficking. “Let’s stay in touch,” she said.

Her 16-year-old daughter had been a victim.

Human trafficking: Right under our noses
The problem is huge, but people are largely unaware. The video by the Department of Homeland security is one that brings attention to the issue’s invisibility.

DHS Blue Campaign Against Human Trafficking

The DHS Blue Campaign is centered around the victims who have been duped by traffickers into traveling to the U.S. under the pretext of realizing the American Dream. Once here, the immigrants’ passports are seized and they are put to work as slaves. 75% are sold to the sex industry, half are children.

My classmate worked exhaustively for more than a year-and-a-half to get her daughter back, with little help from authorities. Persistence and luck brought reunion, but their story is rare. Only 1% of victims are rescued.

The number who are enslaved (human trafficking) is staggering. So much so that it’s difficult to fathom. So campaigns have begun with two approaches.

  • to bring awareness such as in the Blue Campaign, and
  • to appeal for action to save just one.

The A21 Campaign in Europe has a series of videos to educate the public and a theme that invites us to act: Just Save One.

A21 Campaign: Natalia’s Story

Just Save One
You may be related to someone who has lost a family member to this industry. Know what to look for. Just save one.

Minnesota Efforts
Two organizations in Minnesota are working to put an end to trafficking of women and girls in the state.

  • Breaking Free, helps provides safe harbor and temporary housing, and tools for continued freedom for women who have escaped.
  • MN Girls Are Not For Sale is an awareness campaign funded by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

In addition to bringing awareness forward, both organizations provide information, resources, and advocacy. They have been successful in changing laws to ensure prostitutes are classified as victims. They support efforts to increase the arrests and prosecution of pimps and johns.

Changing attitudes
Even so, cultural attitudes are slow to change. According to an ABC Nightline special “Hidden America”, in “one year one precinct in New York City charged 400 women with prostitution, but only 10 pimps or johns.” Prostitution is often seen as as a public nuisance rather than the face of a human rights problem.

A common misconception is that prostitutes are independent and can make a lot of money. That is rare. Most prostitutes (adults and children) are controlled, manipulated, and abused by pimps. As mentioned in “Hidden America” documentary, “They are not criminals, but hostages walking among us.”

Remember my classmate? You might think her daughter’s story was an isolated or unusual case. In 2003, Minneapolis, Minnesota was identified by the FBI as one of 13 cities with a large concentration of child prostitution enterprises. Yes, here in the U.S., young people are coerced in a variety of ways, right in public, right under our noses.

  • Recruiters know how to spot a runaway looking for a night’s shelter
  • A teenager answers an online ad for a “job opening”
  • An addict is just looking for a quick high
  • A “friend” introduces another friend to a guy…

Take notice of the people around you.

Suspect trafficking? Contact authorities.

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