Saturday, May 15, 2010

Etacts the Email and Social Networking Message Organizer Looks Like a Potential Blockbuster Application

Thursday Bram at the WebWorkerDaily in Etacts: Get Your Email Under Control identifies some advantages of Etacts from which we have selected the following:
"Etacts offers a dashboard that points out what emails you’ve recently received but haven’t replied to, singling out any emails that seem more important based on the frequency of your conversations with a particular email address....

If you’re interested in streamlining your email even further, Etacts offers tools for sending emails without switching back to Gmail. You can create message templates, send multiple emails at once — not the same emails to different people, but multiple emails in one screen — and track who has responded to your emails."
We are definitely going to try Etacts. Read Bram's full posting here.

Venture Capitalists back Etacts Inc. whose Etacts Gmail Plug-In Aims to become a Unified Box for Messages

At the Wall Street Journal blog Venture Capital Dispatch, Tomio Geron in Newly Seeded Etacts Seeking Holy Grail Of The Unified Inbox writes about the e-mail information glut and the proliferation of social networking messages from various network providers that, inter alia:
"A new start-up, Etacts Inc., is attempting to unify all these messages into one place, focusing on people who have to stay in touch with contacts for their jobs....

Etacts' Gmail plug-in organizes email, providing recent conversations with a contact and basic information about the sender through sites such as LinkedIn. Etacts also brings in messages from social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter."

The U.S. Census 2010 is in Progress by the Bureau of Census: Questions Asked : Law : Tips : Comparison to European Union EU Census 2011 : Privacy Rights : Human Races : Ehtnicity

The United States Census 2010 -- with April 1, 2010 as the day of reference -- is underway. Here are the 10 Questions Asked:
  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?

    [LawPundit Comment: Question 1 should read: Head Count of people in a residential dwelling: How many people resided in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010? This is the main question of the census, whose primary purpose is to obtain a head count of the people living in the United States and each of the 50 States, which is important for the provision of health services, the building of roads and highways, the election of Congressional representatives, Presidential voting (electors) and government funding of all kinds.
    People living at or staying in a place on a temporary residential basis should also be included in this count, e.g. students living away from home, migrant workers, immigrants, etc., whereas relatives and friends just staying (visiting) on April 1 are of course excluded.

  2. Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? Asked since 1880. We ask this question to help identify people who may have been excluded in the count provided in Question 1. We use the information to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have incomplete or missing information.

    [LawPundit comment: This is a stupidly framed question. The Bureau of Census should get some professional writers to edit this questionnaire in 2020 and should drop this confusingly repetitive question!  Obviously, if anyone had friends or relatives staying for a week, for example, and including, April 1, 2010, but who live elsewhere, such guests are not intended by this question. What they are trying to get at must be things like migrant workers "staying" at a place, students renting, people living together on a short-term basis, etc. which looks like it could be discriminatory. Question 1 is all-encompassing and Question 2 is not needed.]

  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent? Asked since 1890. Homeownership rates serve as an indicator of the nation's economy. The data are also used to administer housing programs and to inform planning decisions.

    [Question 3 should read: Nature of the Residential Dwelling: Is this house, apartment or mobile home owned, mortgaged, rented or occupied without rent?]

  4. What is your telephone number? We ask for a phone number in case we need to contact a respondent when a form is returned with incomplete or missing information.

  5. Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1's name? Listing the name of each person in the household helps the respondent to include all members, particularly in large households where a respondent may forget who was counted and who was not. Also, names are needed if additional information about an individual must be obtained to complete the census form. Federal law protects the confidentiality of personal information, including names.

    [LawPundit Comment: Question 5 is already a deviation from questions 1 and 2 where the discussion is about people "living" and "staying" at a particular residence, while here the discussion is only about "living here". The least one can ask about a document that goes out to millions of people is that it be consistent. Question 5 should read: List of residents of this house, apartment or mobile home. What are the names, gender (i.e. male or female), date of birth, and the race of persons who reside here?There is no reason to have a separate question for separate items on this list, which just unnecessarily irritates the person filling out the form.]

  6. What is Person 1's sex? Asked since 1790. Census data about sex are important because many federal programs must differentiate between males and females for funding, implementing and evaluating their programs. For instance, laws promoting equal employment opportunity for women require census data on sex. Also, sociologists, economists, and other researchers who analyze social and economic trends use the data.

    [LawPundit Comment: It may be news to people at the Census Bureau but the term "gender" has in recent years replaced "sex" as the term of art for the gender of a human being, at least at the highest legal levels, where former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, author of the court's famous diversity opinion, started using the term gender rather than sex to get away from the connotations which the word sex aroused. This may conflict with the -- inadequate -- style guide at the Economist. Sex is sex and in the current world also means straight, bisexual or gay. Using the term sex is just bad judgement in a questionnaire like this because "invasion of privacy" automatically then pops into the discussion. There is no reason to make this a separate question and it can be included in the list at current Question 5, which should be the last question on the Census Questionnaire.]


  7. What is Person 1's age and Date of Birth?  Asked since 1800. Federal, state, and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristics, such as forecasting the number of people eligible for Social Security or Medicare benefits. The data are widely used in planning and evaluating government programs and policies that provide funds or services for children, working-age adults, women of childbearing age, or the older population.

    [LawPundit Comment:
    There is no reason to make this a separate question and it can be included in the list at Question 5, which should be the last question on the Census Questionnaire.]

  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? Asked since 1970. The data collected in this question are needed by federal agencies to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions, such as under the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State and local governments may use the data to help plan and administer bilingual programs for people of Hispanic origin.

    [LawPundit Comment:
    Having a special question about whether someone is a Hispanic or not is clearly discriminatory and in our view unconstitutional on its face, even if it is intended for the Hispanic's benefit. Why are there no special Census questions for Asiatics, Native-Americans, or African-Americans? Again, there is no reason to make this a separate question and race generally can be included in the list at current Question 5, which should be the last question on the Census Questionnaire.]

  9. What is Person 1's race? Asked since 1790. Race is key to implementing many federal laws and is needed to monitor compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. State governments use the data to determine congressional, state and local voting districts. Race data are also used to assess fairness of employment practices, to monitor racial disparities in characteristics such as health and education and to plan and obtain funds for public services.

    [LawPundit Comment:
    In view of modern genetic findings about human haplotypes, the outdated concept of "race" is simply FACTUALLY wrong from the standpoint of genetics, and therefore it is surely unconstitutional on its face to use this concept as a defining parameter in the law. The correct concept for many so-called races is "ethnicity", which is a horse of a different color. Genetics tells us as follows (quoting from an article by Ritchie Witzig, MD, MPH, The Medicalization of Race: Scientific Legitimization of a Flawed Social Construct, at the Annals of Internal Medicine:
    "Blumenbach [2], the German anthropologist and anatomist, first used the word “race” in 1775 to classify humans into five divisions: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malay. Blumenbach also coined the term “Caucasian” because he believed that the Caucasus region of Asia Minor produced “the most beautiful race of men” [2]. Both von Linne and Blumenbach stated that humans are one species, and the latter remarked on the arbitrary nature of his proposed categories [2]. These men were products and producers of the prejudices of their era, but it is remarkable how similar the concept and categories of race remain today, even after it has been widely documented that phenotypic and biochemical variations do not correlate simply with genotypic differences [3-5]"
    The Wikipedia writes (with footnotes):
    "The term race or racial group usually refers to the categorization of humans into populations or ancestral groups on the basis of various sets of heritable characteristics.[1] The physical features commonly seen as indicating race are salient visual traits such as skin color, cranial or facial features and hair texture.[1][2] The term race may vary from country to country, changing according to specific cultures. For example, in the United States the term race is used in the description of individuals (e.g. white, black, etc.).
    Conceptions of race, as well as specific ways of grouping races, vary by culture and over time, and are often controversial for scientific as well as social and political reasons. The controversy ultimately revolves around whether or not the socially constructed and perpetuated beliefs regarding race are biologically warranted, and the degree to which differences in ability and achievement are a product of inherited "racial" (i.e., genetic) traits.[3][4]
    The term race is often used in taxonomy as a synonym for subspecies. In this sense, human races are said not to exist, as taxonomically all humans are classified as the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens.[5] Many scientists have pointed out that traditional definitions of race are imprecise, arbitrary, have many exceptions, and have many gradations, and that the numbers of races delineated vary according to the culture making the racial distinctions. Thus, those rejecting the notion of race typically do so on the grounds that such definitions and the categorizations that follow from them are contradicted by the results of genetic research.[6]
    Today many scientists study human genotypic and phenotypic variation using concepts such as "population" and "clinal gradation". Large parts of the academic community take the position that, while racial categories may be marked by sets of common phenotypic or genotypic traits, the popular idea of "race" is a social construct without base in scientific fact.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] Nonetheless, when divorced from its popular connotations, the concept of race may be useful. According to forensic anthropologist George W. Gill, blanket "race denial" not only contradicts biological evidence, but may stem from "politically motivated censorship" in the belief that "race promotes racism".[4]
    In the 20th century alone, race and racist ideologies were the motivation and basis for genocide of tens of millions of people, including but not limited to armenians, australian indigenous people, jews and tutsis.[15]"
    Nevertheless, whether one uses the concept of race positively or negatively, the concept is FACTUALLY wrong and the law can not be built on factually wrong concepts, nor should a census divide people into factually wrong races. The world has many ethnicities but no real races since mankind is ONE species homo sapiens. For example, the prevailing male haplotype among the Jews is shared as follows in the Middle East.
    "J2 (Y-DNA) - "The Phoenician Gene"
    From Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenician_gene (here excerpted)

    Time of origin: 18500 (+/- 3500) thousand years ago.
    Place of origin: Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Turkey & Iran), or the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Israel & Jordan) or Anatolia (Turkey) or Zagros mountains (Iran)
    Ancestor: J, Defining mutations: M172
    Typical members: Iraqis 29.7%, Lebanese 29.5%, Syrians 29%, Sephardic Jews 29%, Kurds 28.4%, Turks 27.9%, Georgians 26.7%, Iranians 23.3%, Ashkenazi Jews 23.2%, Greeks 22.8%, Tajiks 18.4%, Italians 19.3%, North Indians 7.8% viz. 19.8%, Pakistanis 14.7%, South Arabia (Oman, Yemen, UAE) 9.7%."
    There is no reason to make this a separate question on the Census Questionnaire and race generally can be included in the list at current Question 5, which should be the last question on the Census Questionnaire.]

  10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else? This is another question we ask in order to ensure response accuracy and completeness and to contact respondents whose forms have incomplete or missing information."

    [LawPundit Comment:
    As written, this question is unconstitutional on its face since it is no business of the Bureau of Census what people do with their time. In Germany, one can, for example, legitimately inquire whether someone has a 2nd residence, either domestically or abroad, in which case the question then has to do with property as domicile and as such then does not infringe a person's privacy rights. Also in America, it would for census purposes probably be permitted to ask whether a person has a 2nd (or more) residence(s), in order to avoid census duplication and in order not to have false facts for government funding, voting, etc. -- but for those reasons only. Asking whether someone sometimes stays somewhere else is a privacy rights violation of the first order, especially since the person in question may be a person other than the one filling out the census.]
Even so, the expansive privacy rights that people demand in the USA should be compared to Europe. Here are the questions that will be asked in the upcoming 2011 Census in the European Union:
"The topics which are specified by the Regulation cover:
  • Place of usual residence
  • Size of locality of usual residence (urban/rural)
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Economic activity status
  • Occupation
  • Industry
  • Employment status
  • Workplace
  • Educational attainment
  • Country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Ever resided abroad and year of entry into country
  • Place of usual residence 1 year before census
  • Relationship within household
  • Status within household
  • Status within family
  • Type of housing arrangement
  • Tenure status of household
  • Type of household
  • Size of household
  • Type of family
  • Size of family
  • Type of living quarters
  • Type of ownership
  • Location of living quarters
  • Occupancy status
  • Floor space/Number of rooms
  • Density standard of accommodation
  • Housing amenities (water supply, toilet facilities, bathing facilities, type of heating)
  • Type of dwelling
  • Period of construction"
For the United States, as written at the Wikipedia:
"The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution.[1] The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats (congressional apportionment), electoral votes, and government program funding.[2] Some states or local jurisdictions also conduct local censuses. The census is performed by the United States Census Bureau. "
It is generally advantageous to participate in the Census because the data is depersonalized and is used for larger purposes, as written above, e.g. to determine how many Representatives a State may send to Congress, how large a voice a State has in the Presidential elections (the head count determines the number of electors), and how much and what kind of government funding a region can obtain.

A census is not a privacy invasion in principle or intent, as some always claim, but is a government tradition that reaches back thousands of years -- a census of the population was taken even in Biblical times:
"In Christianity, the Gospel of Luke connects the census with the birth of Jesus...."
In fact, the United States government is required by the Constitution to make a census of the population every ten years. Failure to answer the 10 questions in the 2010 Census -- or to answer them falsely -- is a violation of federal law and could lead to a fine as high as $5000. As written at The Foundry, the blog of the Heritage Foundation:
"In Article I, Section 2, the Constitution says that an “Enumeration” must be conducted every ten years “in such Manner as [Congress] shall by Law direct.” Congress has directed through a federal law that anyone who “refuses or willfully neglects…to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions” on the Census form can be fined $100 (13 U.S.C. § 221). If you deliberately give a false answer, you can be fined up to $500."
The fine can be levied separately per question with a maximum this year of 10 x $500. Paying the fine does not relieve anyone of the obligation to answer the questions subsequently. That is the law.

In fact, however, legal prosecutions are rare -- but there have been such prosecutions in egregious cases. The basic idea, however, is that the Census is not intended to rile people up or to invade their privacy, but rather to get valuable depersonalized statistical facts about the American population, facts which are necessary to run the government - regardless of which political party is in power. Just imagine building roads and not knowing how many cars and people such roads were intended to serve. Statistical data like this is essential for government.

Take a look at the last Census, taken in 2000, here.

The Census data provided is not connected to anyone's name in any way and is - rightly seen - a collection of general statistics that has no personal consequences.

Since only 72% of Americans returned their census forms by mail, an army of census takers has been underway since May 1, 2010 to personally get the required census information from the laggards.

From How to recognize a U.S. census taker :
"Seventy-two percent of American households mailed back their 2010 census forms in March and April, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With the mail-in phase of the census over, census takers fanned out across the nation starting on May 1 to count the rest.

Census takers, or "enumerators," will knock on the doors of about 48 million households through July 10 to follow up with residents who either didn't mail back their census form or didn't receive one. They will ask the same questions that are on the form."
The Bureau of Census writes:
"A census taker is a person from your community who is hired by the Census Bureau to make sure that your neighborhood gets represented as accurately as possible. The census taker's primary responsibility is to collect census information from residences. Most of these residences have not sent back their 2010 Census form.

* The Census Bureau provides the census taker with a binder containing all of the addresses that didn't send back a filled out census form.
* The census taker then visits all of those addresses and records the answers to the questions on the form.
* If no one answers at a particular residence, a census taker will visit a home up to three times and attempt to reach the household by phone three times. The census worker will leave a double-sided (English and Spanish) NOTICE of VISIT in the doorway that includes a phone number for the resident to schedule an appointment.

The census taker will ONLY ask the questions that appear on the census form.

Do I have to talk to the census taker?

Yes. Your participation in the 2010 Census is vital and required by law, (Section 221, of Title 13 of the U.S. Code). However, rather than rely on criminal charges, the Census Bureau is very successful in getting participation by explaining the importance of the questions we ask and how the information benefits our communities.

Your privacy and confidentiality is our priority:

The census taker who collects your information is sworn for life to protect your data under Federal Law Title 13. Those who violate the oath face criminal penalties: Under federal law, the penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both."

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