Poetry: The Creation…

James Weldon Johnson‘s (1871 – 1938) poem, The Creation, is a childhood favorite of mine.  This beautiful piece is a rendition of the Old Testament’s story of the creation of the world from the “Book of Genesis” (from the Bible and Torah).

The creation - Carla Franklin
And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I’m lonely,
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God himself stepped down —
And the sun was on His right hand,
And the moon was on His left;
The stars were clustered about His head,
And the earth was under His feet.
And God walked, and where He trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then He stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And He spat out the seven seas;
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around His shoulder.

Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And He said, “Bring forth! Bring forth!”
And quicker than God could drop His hand.
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, “That’s good!”….click here to continue reading

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The case against Go Daddy that may help end Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

Recently, I did an interview with Dame Magazine regarding a landmark revenge porn lawsuit against Go Daddy.  The complaint alleges that the website hosting provider was a complicit and willing partner in harassing and victimizing dozens of women online, including the young plaintiff named Holly Jacobs.

Go Daddy Revenge PornGo Daddy refused to remove nude images and personal identifying information about the women from its servers.  The images and information was posted without the victim’s consent on Texxxan.com, a “revenge porn” website hosted by Go Daddy dedicated to humiliating and emotionally blackmailing women.  The photos that were posted to Texxxan.com, without the victims’ permission, were generally uploaded by jaded ex-boyfriends and husbands with the sole intention of harassing, menacing and causing harm to the victim’s professional reputations.  Texxxan.com and other “revenge porn” sites would often then require a “fee”  from victims in order to remove the photos and personal information.   These sites also enjoyed a significant income stream from “click advertising”.

Sounds a lot like blackmail, exploitation and coercion, right?  Well it is.  Revenge porn is the new scourge of the internet.  Why isn’t Go Daddy required to remove these images immediately? Because of a loop hole in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996, which was written to protect interactive computer service providers, like You Tube, Yahoo and Facebook and others from the acts of 3rd party users who post content to their sites.  Unlike YouTube, Facebook and even Google, Go Daddy is generally unwilling to address activities on its servers that clearly victimize people, and violate federal and state laws.  Why doesn’t Go Daddy want to remove revenge porn and other criminal and defamatory materials from their servers?  From my perspective, its because the company doesn’t care about people.  Go Daddy is a privately corporation and part of a private equity portfolio that is only focused on maximizing profits for its shareholders, not with being responsible corporate citizens.  Much like an oil company that fouls the water and land with petroleum in an effort to make 200% more profit, Go Daddy is more interested in profiting from sites like Texxxan.com than doing the right thing.

Holly Jacobs

Holly Jacobs, brave survivor of Revenge Porn

Revenge porn is a form of criminal stalking, which is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.   According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).  Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.  Moreover, women are at greater risk than men for stalking victimization. In 2012, the risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.

Cyber stalkerLet’s be clear, it is not only immoral, but illegal to post nude and intimate photos or video of individuals (generally women) without their permission, on websites and blogs dedicated to humiliating, harassing and drawing unwanted attention to the victims.  This is especially true when the images are accompanied by personal identifying information (name, address, employers, family details, etc) about the victims to ensure the target of this malicious act is clearly identified and maximum damage is done.  Victims with money and resources are forced to go to civil court and, at great expense, obtain court orders against web hosting companies like Go Daddy in order to compel them to remove the photos.  Some victims actually pay-off these sites (hosted by companies like Go Daddy)  in order to remove this images quickly and hopefully minimize the damage.  However, photos typically pop-up on other sites in the future as victims work to remove them, like a sick, online version of Whac-A-Mole.  This ongoing pattern of “pop-up revenge porn” keeps victims in a constant state of panic and uncertainty over their online reputation and personal safety.  It also becomes expensive when companies like Go Daddy unethically refuse to remove photos and defamatory materials.

Harassers use shame and fear of rejection by family and friends, and loss of job opportunities against victims.  They know that the world is full of “busy bodies” who would rather judge a victim for being shown nude on the internet, against her will, instead of focusing on the sick sociopath who posted the images. By refusing to remove illegal materials from its servers, Go Daddy has proven that it is just as complicit in stalking, harassment and defaming women, like Holly Jacobs, as any criminal off the street.  I really hope Holly wins.  She would be setting an important precedent that would benefit women and future generations to come.

Urban Gourmet: Fiddleheads & Ramps from the farmers market

Having easy access to fresh, locally grown vegetables through various farmers markets around the city is one of the best things about living in New York City.  Fiddleheads and Ramps are in season and pair well with fingerling potatoes and fresh, free range eggs for an amazing weekend brunch.   I made Fiddleheads today as a bunch sidedish, and will be eating them at least once a week until they are out of season (in a few weeks). Below is my simple and easy recipe for sautéed Fiddleheads.

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Carla’s Farm fresh Sautéed Fiddleheads

Ingredients:

1/4lbs of Fiddleheads
4 cups of Water
3 Tbs of organic Butter
3 medium Shallot bulbs, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tbsp of smoked sea salt
1/4 tbsp of freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove any brown/yellow skin clinging to the Fiddleheads, then rinse thoroughly;
  2. Heat water in a small pot. Boil Fiddleheads in water for 3-5 mins.  Remove from water and drain on a paper towel;
  3. Melt butter in a frying pan over a medium flame;
  4. Add the 3 chopped Shallots and 4 minced garlic cloves to the pan.  Sauté for 3 mins, or until shallots turn transparent;
  5. Turn the flame up a bit, and add cleaned Fiddleheads to the pan;
  6. Sauté for 5-10 mins, until Fiddleheads turn dark green and frond start to get a bit crispy;
  7. Remove mixture from heat and drain on paper towel;
  8. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt and fresh pepper.
  9. Serve has a side dish

Friday Flashback: Run DMC and Aerosmith

#BackInTheDay, in the 1980s, before #autotune made the voices of the untalented tolerable…when MTV actually played music videos…and guys walked around with boom boxes that played tape cassettes  (a relic from the 80s)…and girls coiffed their hair into gravity defying sculptures…and Dynasty and Dallas rules the TV airwaves , the music was so much better.  This collaboration by Run DMC and Aerosmith is one of the BEST in the past 30 years.  This song united hip-hop heads, and hard rockers.  I miss good music.

Office style: Red & Leopard

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I love mixing patterns and styles. Red goes so well with leopard print.  My dress is by Catherine Malandrino and the pumps are Steve Madden.  This look shows how seamlessly pricier designer styles can be mixed with mid-priced labels.

Digital Spring Cleaning: 5 ways to tidy-up your social media life

ImageThere is a belief that a cluttered home reflects a cluttered state of mind, and disorganization in one’s life. Removing the junk from your surroundings and organizing your things can have a profound effect on your state of being. Some see this belief as part of the “Law of Attraction”, others base it on principles of Feng Shui. Either way, I believe these principles hold true for both the real and digital world. Spring cleaning is an annual practice through which we can not only de-clutter and reorganize our homes, but also clear the junk out of our social media life in order to bring more positive energy into our existence.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 67% of online adults in the United States use social networking sites. Moreover, 25% of the total time that Americans spend surfing the internet is focused in social networking and blogs, according to Neilsen. For adults aged 18 – 65+ who are actively go online, 67% are on Facebook, 20% have Twitter accounts, and 16% use LinkedIn. Living life online as an adult includes managing social networks, collecting friends and contacts, uploading photos, videos, and resumes, and actively updating status. As in the real world, a person’s social media life is prone disorganization and messiness if not periodically, and properly, maintained. I recommend an annual Spring Cleaning ritual to ensure that your social media life remains tidy and efficient, in order to reduce stress and bring more Zen into your life. As with spring cleaning for the home, I believe there are five principles that apply when cleaning the clutter from your social media life.

Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons

Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons

  1. Update your look: Stop posting that picture of you taken 15 years ago on LinkedIn or Facebook. Either the recruiter won’t recognize you when you go for that job interview, or the girl that you’ve been flirting with on Facebook will run from you thinking that you’re a stranger, if you attempt to meet her in person (this actually happened to a friend of mine, LOL). Invest money in getting new headshots to post to your online profiles. Also, take time to review and update your resume on your professional profiles to make sure that it reflects all of your recent accomplishments. You should actively update your professional profiles with changes in education or job status, because its easy to forget. Recruiters may be overlooking you for some great job opportunities because your job information is out of date.
  2. Get rid of things that you’ve out grown, and no longer fit: Culling my friends and contact lists is an essential house keeping activity that I perform at least once a year. Overtime you randomly add people that you barely know or with whom you no longer communicate to your social media profiles. Many of these people should no longer have access to your personal status, contact lists and/or photos. Just like that old pair of jeans from high school or college, in life, we often out grow friendships. Delete these people from your contact lists. Stop hoarding and collecting friends (who aren’t really your friends) in your social media life. You don’t really really have 1000+ friends (or even 500+). Its nothing personal, you’re just reducing the clutter.
  3. Sort and organize your Professional vs. nonprofessional items: Sort activities and people in your digital life according to their professional status in your life. Remember to maintain a professional boundary with co-workers and colleagues. Some people belong on your Google+, Twitter or Facebook friends list, others you may want to limit to LinkedIn. Not everyone who is an active participant in your life should have access to every thought, opinion or swimsuit photo that you have.
  4. Get extra storage for your all of your stuff: Invest in a Dropbox, Google Storage, Flickr or SnapFish account. Its worth it the money and set-up time. It offers a great way to backup files and data, in case your personal computer is stolen or the hard drive fails. It also provides a more secure and private method, compared to Facebook and Google+ for storing photos and videos.
  5. Make sure your that your belongings are protected: In the digital world, protecting your belongings means insuring that your privacy setting are turned on and up-to-date. Avoid over-sharing. Limit your status, family photos and personal thoughts to only those with whom you trust enough to share these details. Remove old pictures and/or change their visibility to people on your “Contacts List” who don’t need to see them.

Ratchet or Refined: Old School Paper Weekly Planners

20130502-035746.jpgDear 1993, you left something behind. Perhaps space and time folded at some point over the past month, creating a “worm hole” like something out of Dr. Who or Star Trek (the “Next Generation” series of course) through which this relic fell into 2013. However it happened, I cannot figure out why paper planners are still being sold in this day. I mean, given the progressive evolution of phones and other technologies over the past 20 years, it was surprising to see this in the aisle of my local office supply store last week.

Who uses even uses a paper planner nowadays? My 87 year old granddad has a planner, but he uses it to write down phone numbers (don’t ask why he won’t use an address book…long story). But outside of those who are Octogenarians or older, who still uses a planner? Smartphones are all encompassing communication/entertainment/organizing tools. They make up over 80% of the mobile market in the US. Online and e-mail calendar tools like Google Calendar and Outlook are available to those who are still have flip phones.

Some people are traditionalists though. Like those who avoid Kindles and other e-Readers, instead preferring to turn the pages of a real book. Maybe these are the people who by paper weekly planners. Or perhaps, Staples keeps them around for the 70, 80 and 90+ year olds like my grand dad.

So, as I stood inside the office supply store last week, stunned, but amused by this paper weekly planner, I asked myself…is this ratchet or refined?

Techno Fashionista: Houndstooth swing dress in the office

Houndstooth fashion - Carla Franklin
Houndstooth and boots- Carla Franklin

Certain classic patterns never go out of style. Houndstooth is one of these patterns. I coupled this Houndstooth dress that I picked up at a vintage boutique in Tribeca with a cute pair of knee-high boots by Charles David. I accented the a patent leather belt. Fun look for the office.

Fresh gel manicure to brighten a #TechnoFashionista’s day…

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I love how amazing brightly colored nails look on me. Especially with a splash of glittery bling on my ring finger for added “dramatic effect”. Color gel manicures are my favorites, because I can achieve a glossy effect that looks fresh for 2 weeks straight without chipping.

Why unlawful social media behavior can get you sued

Social Media Lawsuit - Carla FranklinToday, more than 50% of Americans have at least one active social media account.  Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform with over 1 Billion active users each month.  Twitter continues to grow as an important digital information outlet with over 140 million active users posting 340 million Tweets a day.  Tumblr, Pintrest, Group Me, YouTube, LinkedIn and Word Press are other key players in the untamed Wild West of human digital life.  So it comes as no surprise that there are outlaws in the online Wild West, committing crime and using social platforms with malicious intent.  There always are criminals in every new frontier who prey on victims.  Luckily, the use of social media evidence is becoming a recognized standard in courtrooms nationwide.

Social Media Finger Print - Carla FranklinSocial media evidence is increasingly being used to win verdicts on behalf of Plaintiffs in both civil and criminal suits.  This trend demonstrates a positive, albeit slow, progression by the judicial system to recognize relevance that social media plays not only in everyday life, but also in criminal and civil offenses across the United States.   When ever a new technology emerges for providing evidence of criminal behavior, there is a “lagging effect” on the side of law enforcement and the court system to understand and recoginze its validity.  This was true of DNA evidence, which first emerged as a solid legal tool  in the 1980s, but took 10+ years to become a recognized standard by police and the courts.

As an anti-cyber abuse advocate, and a survivor of cyberharassment, I’ve seen first hand how law enforcement, attorneys and judges struggle with social media evidence in cases of harassment, stalking, defamation and invasion of privacy.  Arguments arise regarding First Amendment and Privacy rights.  Courts have had discomfort dealing with postings, and their impact on case law.  How does one distinguish between as satire, or the right to comment on “public figures“, vs. defamation in the digital world?   In the past, the judiciary often minimized the damage of online harassment and defamation online.  Thankfully this is changing.  The growing use of digital media as a primary platform for information and communication make crimes like cyberbullying, cyberharassment, online defamation and revenge porn even more damaging than those committed offline.  My philosophy is that if it’s illegal for an individual to engage in certain illegal behavior in person, by mail or over the phone, then he/sh should NOT be allowed to do it online…where the audience is larger, the rate of “misinformation dissemination” is faster, and it is harder to undo bad behavior.  Nationwide, judges, DAs and police are starting to adopt the same philosophy.

A recent article entitled, “Authentication and Access for Social Media Evidence“, written by lawyers from the firm of Jenner and Block, outlines the two main criteria that social media evidence must meet to be admissible in court:

  1. It must meet basic standards of Authentication.  This means, the user account must tie back to a specific user based on the “preponderance of evidence” in civil cases, or “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases.
  2. Accessibility. It must be stored and be accessible via typical methods of discovery.  This means that if I subpoena Facebook for information on an alleged online stalker, the company’s legal or security team  should be able to retrieve and provide me with an official record of the activity.