Philosophy 101: If a murder is streamed live and isn’t watched or shared, does it have an impact?

This title, of course, is a spin on the everlasting Philosophy 101 questions of the tree: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it,  does it make a noise? Similarly, one can ask, if a murder is live streamed and nobody watches it, will it become a common occurrence, or have the impact that it seeks to have?  A lot has been said about the recent murder that occurred via a live stream on Facebook. What I have heard, from pundits and callers to radio shows, is that the blame seems to lie with the killer and/or Facebook, but I think the society that we live in,  ultimately, is to blame.

How could Facebook have done something to prevent this crime? Well, murder online may be new, but not unthinkable, the 2008 movie, Untraceable had a premise of viewership being the culprit of the murder taking place online. Sure, now that this happened, Facebook could establish changes, whether that’s a delay in displaying videos (like on award shows after Janet Jackson’s boob incident), or software, or some other “safeguard” against this type of thing. However, if Facebook makes it impossible to live stream a murder, what’s the guarantee, that Instagram, or Snapchat or any broadcasting platform will also be as prohibitive?

If we don’t watch it (which btw I did not watch it, I mainly listen to the radio for news and read newspapers) then it will not be as appealing to broadcast. My understanding is that even newscasts have shared almost every part of the video with the exception of the murder itself. Now, this means, not just the viewers, sitting on Facebook and those sharing it are to blame, but also news shows because they are also getting eyeballs and thereby profiting from this story.

What most astounded me is that not many people reported the crime to authorities (or flagged it) compared to the number of people that viewed it. This is not an isolated instance, the sexual assault that was live streamed in Chicago recently had 40 live views and also no reports to the police. Hmmm. Hello!!

This isn’t a new problem, it’s the old ‘bystander problem’ but now online. The bystander problem was first a subject of interest when in 1964 in NYC there was a half hour chase and then a stabbing of a young woman, Kitty Genovese. There were 38 bystanders who watched the assailant chase the girl and stab her on three occasions, and not one person reported it. Social Studies were conducted by Bibb Latane of Columbia University and John Darley of NYU, and ultimately they found that when people are in a group, responsibility is diffused – meaning you assume someone else will take the needed action to help.

I believe that if as individuals (since that’s how we make up society) we demanded more, do the right thing more (reported incidents) and put up with less crap (via our time, and money), things would change.

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“Three things are missing.”

“Three things are missing.

Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality of information. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features…they show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.

And the second?


Off hours, yes. But time to think? If you’re not driving a hundred miles an hour, at a clip where you can’t think of anything else but the danger, then you’re playing some game or sitting in some room where you can’t argue with the four-wall televisor. Why? The televisor is ‘real’. It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’…

Only if the third necessary thing could be given us. Number one, as I said, quality of information. Number two: leisure to digest it. And number three: the right to carry out action based on what we learn from the interaction of the first two. ”

“I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them. Ant then the Government, seeing how advantageous it was to have people reading only about passionate lips and the fist in the stomach, circled the situation with your fireaters.

While on our trip to Paris, I had some downtime to read. I read Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for the first time, and these two passages (well, the whole book really) reminded me of how important it is to read, digest and take action.

I have two preferred actions with information I seek and process, one is to write and share online which then genenerates online dialogue, the other is to discuss with individuals equally willing to engage.

This is the only way in which we can grow in a meaninful way. With that, I’ll just say, I’m hoping to get more reading, discussing, and writing done. Any recommendations for interesting books, or articles etc, please send them my way (via twitter @osum). Have you read anything recently that you’re still holding onto?

P.S. Needless to say, I very much enjoyed Farenheit 451 because it was a fun, quick, thoughtful piece. A week after reading this, I heard an episode on On Point on NPR about the current rise of readership and demand from publishers for speculative/dystopian fiction. This can be science fiction for some predictions for others.

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What’s the effect of all that marching? What comes next?

An organizer I met years ago asked on Facebook: “Radical and organizer friends: Is it significant that the movement forming against Trump isn’t about a specific cause or platform, but in opposition to an entire government? Should we give ourselves permission to pretend that today was much more radical (though NOT more effective) than it actually was?”

My response was an abbreviated version of the following: 

Marches-in my opinion are not effective. But the collective anxiety, anger, disapproval of Trumps policies (not the entire government) could only be physically manifested by well a manifestation or march. So, it speaks to how many people are active now. Sadly as you and I know from experience, everyone who voted for Obama 08 or believed in ‘Hope’, or marched on 1-21-17 didn’t stay and won’t stay involved in policy, details of the grind, calls to legislators on bills etc. Without ongoing collective meaningful action, things don’t change – but yesterday was a moment of doing something – anything with all those feelings.

I for one wasn’t going to march because I don’t think marches are particularly effective. But then I saw a post around 9 am on my Facebook newsfeed originally posted by Andrew Mayzak and shared by Jennie Ekdahl. 

I decided to march after all for two reasons:

1. To show DJT that the numbers actively against his agenda are ‘yuge’ – since numbers really build or bust his ego.

2: For Hillary. In honor of her years of fighting for the very rights (and more) that are on the table agin and again.
The post read as follows:

“Can we talk about this for a minute?

This is a Yale-educated law professor, First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State who:
-Endured 25 years of smear campaigns
-Lost the Electoral College by 80,000 votes

-Won the popular vote by 3 million votes

-Attended her opponent’s inauguration 

-Received no handshake from Trump

-Was booed by the crowd when she appeared

And goddammit… LOOK at her. Polished and confident, wearing white for the Suffragettes, her husband taking *her* arm instead of the other way around.
Symbolism matters.

Perseverance matters. 
She matters.
This is the godmother of New America, a rational, pragmatic, imperfect human being who was born 50 years too early for her gender to be a non-issue in an election. 
While she missed the presidency, she arrived just in time to show us all, in unflinching terms, the deep undercurrent of sexist double standards in our society. 
And in doing so, she taught generations of girls and women that yes, you DO matter and yes, you CAN do anything.
This is Hillary Clinton.

Lastly, a lot of people are left wondering: Now what? 

Because there is no way to redirect all that action I suspect many if not most will return to what they were doing before – this time sinking their head underground even further – because no good news is coming anytime soon. 

I find that there are four alternatives for effective action which luckily are non-mutually exclusive:

1: Love more – seems corny but really it’s a hard thing to do – it’s choosing to react with love towards a neighbor when they are aggravating, annoying or irresponsible because we don’t know what’s the circumstance and we can only control our reaction and what we put out in the world. Maybe one person changing their attitude a day isn’t much but – 2.9 million might. That’s the same as the number of marchers yesterday. This may seem like the easiest option of the four but appearances can be deceiving.

2. Volunteer – whatever issue made you put on your shoes and give up a Saturday, find an organization in your city that works on that issue and volunteer. Most advocacy nonprofits do amazing work with little money and little staff and could accomplish SO much more with a sting volunteer force. Imagine a 2.9 million volunteer influx! 

The Santa Barbara Independent – our small town free paper – published a pull out catalog called ‘A Practical Guide to Action‘ which lists advocacy nonprofits by issue along with a small description and an info blurb. You can get online and find local organizations or if you live in a conservative area you can call national organizations and ask if they have small but local chapters. 

3. Donate – If you can’t give of your time, maybe you can donate. Recurring donations even small ones have a big impact on small organizations.

4. Engage in local politics. It’s not going to be pretty and it’s not easy. But just like with any other endeavor worth undertaking, it so satisfying. The american rating of Congress is at an all time high and everyone abhors career polititians – or at least pretends to then reelects incumbents over 65% of the time – so then the question is do you trust yourself to take better decisions? If so, join a board or a commission. If not, are there friends or family members that you would trust? Encourage them to get invilved and support their process. Get involved in local campaigns. You get to meet likeminded people that are passionate, you get to learn a lot about politics and the process, and you’ll learn to appreciate our elected officials a little more after all that. Remember Donald Trump is an anomaly, usually presidents don’t come out of nowhere, they come from congress or the senate who come from state office who come from city councils who come from…you guessed it: boards and commissions. 

So there ya have it. You decide what comes next!

I did see the Woman’s March website has these additional action steps for the first 100 days.

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2017 We Choose How To Respond to Trump

The election of Mr. Trump was a disappointment to say the least. Infuriating and frustrating often. 

While one response is to ignore it all and another is to fight it all and resist – I made a third choice. 

It seems unlikely I will successfully fight the forces that be – the president elect, the senate, the congress, the supremes. However, it’s also unlikely that I will hide and avoid reading about it. 

Instead, each time I read something infuriating, hateful, appalling, I will focus on doing something of good for my community. I will be of service in a way that eases the difficulties being brought by others. Maybe I can’t accomplish something on a grand scale but I can do a lot more that just yelling at the TV or arguing with people of different opinions. 

I will let each thoughtless Trump tweet and action be a reminder for me to do good in whichever way I can that day. 

“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

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President -Elect Trump. Election Night Reflections 11.8.16


“I can’t belive this,” is the most common text message I get from friends, and see on social media. Of course being from a California bubble, we are stunned. We can only have a Californian perspective. But how do we handle this surprise?

I for one am given to thinking so that I may process my feelings.

First the facts, it seems Democrats no longer have a path to the presidency. Hillary Clinton has now called to concede the race to President-Elect Trump. Republicans have won the senate majority hitting the required 51 Senators, Republicans have maintained the control of Congress with the necessary 218+ Congress members, thereby effectively winning the Supreme Court.

What happened? So far there’s a lot of theories and there will be more Monday morning quarter backing  tomorrow, Wednesday, but ultimately we learned America is more sexist and more racist than we expected. It turns out the story is that women didn’t vote for Hillary in the numbers expected, Latinos didn’t show up to the polls in droves and Blacks weren’t even close to the electorate of the Obama elections. So there ya have it. Why did each of these groups vote as such, is an even deeper question, where the blame game will no doubt dominate in the following weeks. Ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility – no scapegoating allowed. I heard commentators say Latinos didn’t vote because they didn’t feel invested in – I for one, as a Latina feel like that’s a cop-out – its your future, you put in the investment. Ultimately if you’re as stunned as I am,  America isn’t what you thought it was. [Updated at 6:06 am on Wed] I should have my Political Science Degree revoked – but so do all Political Scientists, and our professors. This election does not follow any existing pattern, and if the average person couldn’t see it coming, it’s because there was no long term warning in the history of America before Donald Trump appeared on the scene. Also, as someone who has worked and volunteered on political campaigns since 2006 in countless races, it’s unthinkable to believe that despite outraising him and outspending him on TV, and more than doubleing the ground game through well established systems, that Hillary would not result triumphant.One more thought – which you will not hear on any network or on the media, but if we are to share blame they should take responsibility for the billions of dollars worth of free media that they provided to Mr. Trump to line their own pockets through viewership, and ads revenue.]

What will happen? Answering the first question leads us to the second. If America and American voters aren’t who you thought they were, then who is America and who is this American electorate that made this happen? These Americans are fearful, hateful, resentful, largely uneducated, and liars – because this type of electoral surprise occurs when people lie to pollsters. Why do they lie to pollsters? Because they’re afraid to be identified as the aforementioned type of Americans. America will now have a leader that is a bully, that sets an example that hate, tantrums, yelling is not only acceptable but clearly a winning strategy. Denying obvious truths repeatedly is the way that Donald ran his campaign and the way he will run his administration. I don’t for one minute doubt that this victory will embolden the bigots, the sexists, the racists, and the haters. I fear for LGBTQ friends, for bold women who will be made to cower, for the undocumented individuals that I know, that I work with and that I am friends with. I fear for disabled individuals. I fear for the children who will grow up in this hostile environment. And although military families tend to be and vote Republican, I fear for them too because a President that does not understand diplomacy will put our men and women in the military in harm’s way.

What didn’t happen? As a long time Hillary supporter, the kind that passionately tried persuading democrats in the 08 primary election this is a particular hurtful thought. We didn’t elect the first woman president! We didn’t break the glass ceiling. We didn’t elect the MOST qualified presidential candidate (man or woman) who has devoted her ENTIRE life to public service – even while in college when she was a Republican. We didn’t believe in her experience.  We didn’t believe in ourselves that we could make a difference, we didn’t believe we were worth the time to vote, or to take this election seriously. Even worse, we didn’t believe in each other to move forward together. We didn’t believe in the best that is within us. We didn’t believe that maybe women ARE equally capable and deserving as men. We didn’t believe in the character of hard-working immigrants to just like any of us.

I am angry about what happened. I am fearful about what will happen and I am heartbroken about what didn’t happen.

So much is out of our control and I have learned  from W. Mitchell, that “it is not what happens to us, but how we respond to it” that matters. For now I don’t know what that will be for me, but I hope it’s in a positive way, in a loving way, and in a way that can make a small difference.

(Tweet me at @osum)



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Questions I can’t answer: How much did you weight at birth?

– How much did you weight at birth?
– Do you have an identical twin?
– Do you have any biological brothers or sisters?

– Did your mother have problems with allergies while she was pregnant with you?
– Did your mother smoke while she was pregnant with you?
– For how long did your mother breastfeed you? Your best guess is fine.

– Do you know anything about the ancestral origins, such as birthplace or ethnicity, of these biological relatives? Please check the ones for whom you do.

– Have any of your first-degree biological relatives (i.e., parents, children, siblings) been diagnosed with type II diabetes?
– Have any of your first-degree biological relatives (e.g., children, parents, siblings) had a heart attack?
– Has your biological father/mother had any of these? (list of medical conditions follow)

IMG_0519Most of the time I don’t even remember that I was adopted in Mexico in a closed adoption (meaning there is no available information about my birth parents or family).

Because of this, I finally decided to do the 23 and me DNA, Ethnicity and Carrier Status reports for $200. Just a couple weekends ago I sent in a little tube, a bunch of spit. It was gross.

Now I’ll wait for many weeks to find out more about myself. Unfortunately, this test won’t answer any of the questions that stumped me, but I’m hopeful to at least learn about important carrier status details.


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blogpost 2016.jpg

First, a confession. I have misplaced my New Years resolution book. There are about 6 years of insight in the darned miniature notebook and I’m fearing it’s lost forever, although I maintain the slightest bit of hope that I will find it as well as 6 years worth of lessons learned. Great news, between draft one and revision one, my notebook was found. It was actually started in 2005 and now holds 10 years worth of introspection.

Reflections on 2015

2015 was crazy for me but also good. I spent it far from home. Although I never thought I would leave Santa Barbara, circumstances were such, that we left town to try somewhere new. We moved to Campbell, a suburb of San Jose where my liberal self jumped through many hoops — the most I’ve ever jumped through for a job, to become the Government Relations Manager for the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. In truth I loved it.  My pragmatic progressive attitude makes me believe that Dems need to take business and the business of prosperity back into our language, platform, and dominion.

We connected with one of Mark’s friends and her family and I really appreciated the time spent with them and a few other acquaintances but alas, we found ourselves coming home two or three weekends amounts to visit family and friends, so when our lease ran out, we decided we needed to be back home.

While I loved my job with the Chamber, it was only part time and rents up there were far pricier than even Santa Barbara’s rental market. In the rest of the time when I wasn’t working, I got certified for medical interpreting. When we moved back I jumped right into medical interpreting in North Santa Barbara County. I had a short stint working for Dream Foundation as a Marketing and Events Coordinator. While they hired me for my social media expertise what they really needed was an intern that they could pay a lot less money that would handle their social media as directed. I did through my month-long stay at Dream Foundation learn about the presence of death. People would write in requests for first visits to the beach, comfortable blankets, outings with their loved ones and so many other things that I personally take for granted. Becoming aware of death made me so much more thankful to be alive and for the way in which I enjoy those in my life.

At the end of November, I completed a project that had been in the works for a while. I recorded a course at called Social Media for Non-Profits which will be available online in January of 2016. is owned by LinkedIn and is a leading online learning platform. Originally I wrote a course and pitched it as a book to publishing houses that had previously published books in the online marketing space. That’s how I connected with Matt Wagner, now my agent. Matt  said he thought it would work well as a course, and he pitched it to in the Spring. Recording the course was fun and maybe something I would like to try again in the future.

I continue doing medical interpreting which is a very rewarding job. (A word about interpreting: interpreting is oral consecutive language facilitation while translating is in written form) I am however looking for either full-time work that could be challenging or engaging with benefits or opportunities for fun projects. One thing we know about me is that my worse enemy is boredom.

On a personal note, I enjoyed time spent alone with my husband and our dog Mabel for our first year together. We made an adventure out of each weekend spent away from SB and explored Santa Cruz, San Franciso and surrounding areas. Before our year was up we went away to Puerto Rico and a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon and had a blast! We are beginning to brainstorm our upcoming adventures for 2016.

Lastly in 2015, I returned to running. After a 20-month-break from running, this last AugustI trained for my 10th half-marathon. Not surprisingly, I found out that I still love running! And in 2015 I lost almost 30 lbs by mainly fixing poor eating habits, drinking more agua and walking my 10k steps a day or more.

2015 was a year of excellent lessons that I intend to build upon.

2016 Resolutions

So far, I have only been ale to identify a couple of resolutions for 2016 that I can share, butI’m sure by New Year’s I’ll have more thoroughly developed goals.

1. I intend to connect with acquaintances and friends on a deeper level. I have almost 3k Facebook friends. Some of these Friends, I would love to re-connect with. Others, I would love to get to know better and frankly some, I would love to disconnect from. I intend to call people up, make time for coffee or whatever. If there’s one lesson I received repeatedly in 2015 is that the most important thing we havens not tangible but rather intangible. Our most valuable treasures are friendships and family and colleagues. We’re all in this together – and like the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

2. In 2016, I intend to read more books and interesting articles. There is no shortage of excellent things to read, comment and reflect upon and it builds analytical skills and communication skills.

That’s it for me, how about for you?

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