To the ones who showed up

Regardless of our religious beliefs, Easter / springtime is a time to celebrate newness of life, a time of hope, and at the very least, a time to look forward to a break from studying.

This week in our Man on the Street report, we looked at how we see dwindling class sizes and students who are simply missing in action as we near the end of the semester. Our survey brought several ideas about what the causes of this are.

In contrast, on our front page this week we have the story of Sue Pedigo, a woman who showed up, weathered the storms, faced the adversity and never stopped trying for 48 long years. Continue reading

Like it or not, the race is on for 5G

On April 4, Channel 5 reported that Governor Bill Lee was in no hurry to roll out 5G in Tennessee.

Whether you are excited about being able to stream movies on your phone while sitting in a driverless car or not, people simply do not want 5G installed near their homes. Residents in Bellevue were concerned when it was revealed that a large pole that had mysteriously appeared in front of their home was a 5G cell tower. They wanted to know about long-term health effects. Neighbors received no advance notice of a tower installed on Hwy 70 in front of an apartment complex either. Continue reading

Socialism is back in vogue

Most Vol State students weren’t around in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, and people said that socialism was dead. But just 28 years later, socialism has become a popular concept again, with a reported 57% Americans having a favorable impression of socialism and only 47% favoring capitalism. But according to a New York Post editorial, “Democratic socialists don’t seem to embrace the classic definition of socialism, that being government control of the means of production – which has traditionally meant nationalizing whole industries.” Continue reading

Egging video goes viral on social media

In an example of how social media has largely replaced conventional news in our time, a video of an Australian teen egging Australian senator Fraser Anning went viral this past week. The teen was allegedly outraged by the senator’s reaction to the Christchurch, New Zealand mass shooting.

Anning had released a statement Friday calling Islam “the religious equivalent of fascism,” and blaming immigration policies for the attack.

The video shows the teen approaching Anning while he is speaking to reporters and hitting him on the back of the head with an egg while filming the whole thing with his phone. The senator responded by hurling around and punching the young man in the face. In the video, his aids surrounded the boy and not-so-gently subdued him. Continue reading

Facebook and Instagram Go Down During Indictment

Many Facebook and Instagram users were forced to “unplug” for 14 hours Wednesday as the world’s largest social media network experienced their biggest outage ever. Facebook turned to Twitter to explain the massive partial outage of its apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. Hashtag #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown were trending on Twitter throughout the day. Facebook came out Thursday saying that their outage was due to a “server configuration change.”

If the outage gave people a glimpse of just how “addicted” they are to social media, the shades went back down as soon as their apps were restored.

The outage comes at a time when Facebook is being indicted for illegally sharing user’s information. According to the New York Times, criminal investigations are being made into data deals that Facebook made with some of the world’s largest tech companies, and a grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices who entered into partnerships with Facebook. In doing so they gained broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of users.

Facebook’s reputation for sharing users data without consent has played a large role in its waning popularity. If you have a Facebook account, you can go to “settings” and download all the data that has been gathered about you. But prepare to be shocked, because not only is there record of every photo you uploaded, every item you posted and every post you liked, but all your deleted friends, denied friend requests and searches are stored too. If you use Messenger on your phone, Facebook has your phone’s entire address book uploaded. The social network giant is being accused of selling user’s private information for ad targeting, but it is hard to see how all the information being gathered is useful to that end.

In face of this, it should be noted that the connections between science, technology and the military are well established. All apps function through a myriad of electronic devices and nearly all the technology in those devices can be traced to a single source, the US Department of Defense. In her book “The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking the Public vs. Private Sector Myths,” Economist Mariana Mazzucato used Apple as an example to show that the technological breakthroughs behind devices like iPod, iPhone and iPad were exclusively funded by government agencies. The U.S. Navy invested in the development of GPS technology, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded Siri. All this makes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s promises to increase privacy on his apps seem a little thin.

Most people are aware that the information they share on social media is being used for marketing, even for spying on them, but they are not terribly concerned. It is considered a necessary evil, practically unavoidable in our technologically advancing world.

Events in China should arguably raise concern to a more realistic level. China is fast at work to implement a system of surveillance where private companies, together with government, sift through citizen’s social media and online data to produce a “citizen score.” Citizens are to be monitored by surveillance cameras under the guise of incentive for “good” behavior and improving public safety. According to the website, The Atlantic, “[China] is perfecting a vast network of digital espionage as a means of social control—with implications for democracies worldwide.”
Meanwhile, we continue to share with friends on our social networks, nervously hoping that any foreseen dangers will never materialize. Continue reading