• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Niles on The Narcissism Epidemic
    katiebird on Be Brave, Scotland
    riverdaughter on Be Brave, Scotland
    katiebird on Be Brave, Scotland
    Mr Mike on Be Brave, Scotland
    Sweet Sue on Be Brave, Scotland
    Sweet Sue on Be Brave, Scotland
    Sweet Sue on Be Brave, Scotland
    katiebird on Be Brave, Scotland
    Propertius on Be Brave, Scotland
    Propertius on Be Brave, Scotland
    Sweet Sue on Be Brave, Scotland
    paper doll on Be Brave, Scotland
    Monster from the Id on The Origins of Cruelty- anothe…
    Sweet Sue on Be Brave, Scotland
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    September 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    282930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Looks like Scottish Independence is a “No”
      The calls are coming in. Assuming they are correct, I think this vote is a mistake, and I note that having been given a clean vote to leave and a chance to live their own values, but having given in to fear; for me, at least, Scottish complaints about privatization of the NHS and other [...]
  • Top Posts

The Book Book

So, apple has a new watch and Kansas City has a new Ikea.  The new Ikea opened on Wednesday.  I think it’s just a stone’s throw away from Katiebird’s house.  Some of my favorite Ikea products in no particular order are:

1.) Lack tables

2.) Kallax shelving unit (you can’t have too many)

3.) Chocolate

4.) Cinnamon buns

5.) Curtains (they’re all pretty good and affordable)

But did you know they also came out with a new product with the latest technology?  Check it out below.

 

That video reminded me of the Medieval Helpdesk (video from Norway):

Can I just say one thing?: Podcasts

This is a new series about things that are immensely irritating for no good reason.  

I am a podcast fan.  Mostly, I like podcasts on history, language, history of science and cultural trendiology stuff.  When I got my first iPhone, I was ecstatic because I could download podcasts through iTunes and every time I synched my phone, the podcast would magically refresh and I would get a brand new set of stuff to listen to.  

Then, someone at apple had the bright idea to disconnect podcasts from iTunes.  Why this decision was made is beyond me.  Usually, I’m pretty tolerant of interface and design changes.  Sure, many people bitch about how things used to be better and make themselves a pain in the ass but most users adapt within a few days to a week.  That’s how it should be.  We need to be able to adapt.  

So, I didn’t particularly like the new setup where the podcasts were separate but I was determined to adapt.  Give it a couple of weeks and I would never know the difference.

But along with separating the podcasts from iTunes, apple forced users to download a new podcast app.  It was a baaaaad app, oh best beloveds.  It really was.  Steve Jobs is going to haunt that developer for eternity.  For one thing, it didn’t sync well with the podcast downloads.  I had to go back into iTunes on multiple occasions to try to troubleshoot why a particular podcast didn’t download to the iPhone.  And then there was the weird skipping bug.  Right in the middle of the podcasts, the feed would start to skip every 10 words or so.  It was maddening.  So, I looked for a different podcast app and found one but it came with a whole new set of problems, specifically, it downloaded every episode and was difficult to maintain.  

Then the podcast app/iTunes interface was “improved!”.  Over several upgrades, it has gotten marginally better but it has never gotten back to the state of utility that it had when it was fully integrated in iTunes.  In fact, it’s weird that on the laptop, podcasts are still integrated into iTunes but on the iPhone they’re not.  They still don’t sync flawlessly like they did before and I frequently have to go into the app or iTunes and tweak the settings.  Sometimes, I will get three episodes to load, listen to them and then find that neither the app or iTunes will update the subscription any further.  I have to do manual refresh.  This happens a lot. And for some subscriptions, Fresh Air, for example, the podcast episodes never delete themselves as they’re supposed to, requiring me to manually delete many of the same podcasts over and over again.

The latest “feature” is that the podcasts update themselves on iTunes but not on the iPhone.  There’s no option to refresh the podcast on the iPhone so I have to manually delete the podcast and resubscribe to get the newest episode.  

Was this necessary?  Whose bright idea was this?  Could someone fix this please?  

Next week: Siri needs an attitude adjustment.

Add your more notable non-improvement upgrade story below.

If the Netflix series House of Cards were for real…

Then now would be the time to buy Netflix

… and also Apple.  (you’d have to be blind to miss the connections)

You’d never want to step foot in the Capitol again because the muck is a foot deep and the scent would linger in the nostrils for an eternity.

You’d really come to hate people like Steny Hoyer.

You’d be on an IV drip of anxiolytics right after you were sworn in.  The game playing is a lot like many corporations where Wall Street values have permeated the working environment and  the obsession with screwing other people to save yourself trumps getting anything else done.

You’d see that lobbyists with money sugar are everywhere, like crack dealers.  They lurk at every party, every hotel, every rib joint.  Everytime you think you’ve kicked the habit, you find yourself in a situation where you need just one more hit to make it through the day.

You’d find that very powerful men can have wives who are smooth and cool and a little bit cruel but who are melting with compassion inside.  Or would be willing to use whatever’s inside to get what she wants, whichever comes first.

You’d soon realize that it’s not wise to be human and that, in the end, the politicians on the hill are no more concerned with what happens to working families and union people than the corporate overlords.   I mean, they really don’t give a s&*^.

But we know that this is just fiction because a.) no one defies their party to vote their conscience on a bill and b.)…

…no female journalists or female bloggers get that much access to what’s going on no matter who they’re sleeping with.  Only male bloggers become journalists on major papers and get access.  Female journalist/bloggers are almost invisible.

If it weren’t for that part, I’d almost believe it.

Saturday: The Retraction

I’m posting what turned out to be a lengthy comment to a post that lizpolaris wrote on Correntewire about the retraction Ira Glass was compelled to issue on a recent This American Life’s episode.  The episode featured a writer, Mike Daisey, who is performing a traveling monologue about his trip to China to investigate Foxconn, the factory that makes Apple products.  You can listen to the original episode here and the retraction here.

lizpolaris’s post puts Glass squarely in the duped journalist category, typical of NPR journalists over the past 10 years.  This has not been my experience after years and years of listening to Glass.  To the contrary, I find him to be a very responsible journalist.  In fact, I hear genuine skepticism in many of his shows.  For example, I don’t think Obama fooled him for a second.  Glass doesn’t come right out and say it, because that’s not his job, but he’s dropped a sufficient number of clues over the past several years.  Anyway, my point is, he’s reliable and rarely given to repeating lefty positions without thinking.  My daughter who just turned 16, has been listening faithfully to This American Life for the past 4 years and it’s one of the rare radio shows I approve of with few reservations.  Glass and his production team are one of the best around.

That doesn’t mean they’re perfect or don’t make mistakes.  This is one of those mistakes and it’s painful to listen to the retraction.  You can tell that Glass is upset, even though in the original episode, his natural skepticism already alerted this listener to feel that Daisey was “embellishing” at best.

Lizpolaris also seems to give a pass to Mike Daisey for his monologue show about Foxconn, the subject of the original episode and the retraction.  Glass should have known that Daisey wasn’t obligated to tell the truth, she says.  He’s an entertainer, sort of like Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, I guess.  The degree to which you excuse Mike Daisey’s lying on stage probably correlates to the degree to which you believe Apple and Foxconn are evil bastards.  Mebbe they are, mebbe they aren’t.  But whether they are or not, the truth is not served by an “entertainer” reinforcing the confirmation bias of his audience by telling them heartwrenching stories that turn out to be lies.

So, here’s my comment, which expresses my frustration at my own side of the political spectrum for accepting tabloid style “true stories” because they fit its worldview and how that tends to make some lefties less credible and, ultimately, less helpful to the people who need their informed advocacy:

Wait, are you blaming Glass?

Because that would be really weird if you haven’t listened to the original Apple story broadcast.

Daisy initially comes off as totally believable. He says he personally went to China and spoke to Foxconn employees. He tells all kinds of fantastic stories about the grueling conditions they work under. Then, Glass, to his credit, which you failed to mention, goes back to Apple and asks for a response. They don’t want to be interviewed on the radio but they provide him with information from their own inspections and admit that they had problems with the way that Foxconn was running the plant. There was definitely some fact checking about what Mike Daisey was saying and he was caught bending the truth in several places.

All in all, the original episode was very well produced and my impression of Daisey, *from that episode*, was that he had a strong confirmation bias that didn’t always gem with the truth. Glass did a very good job of figuring out what the facts were and how much of what Daisey said was factual.

Now, TAL comes out of Chicago Public Radio, not NPR. I’m not sure if CPR is part of Public Radio International but I do know that TAL has a partnership with NPR for Planet Money. So, there’s an incestuous relationship there but it’s not like TAL is an offshoot of All Things Considered.

Finally, I actually think that Ira Glass is doing a good thing here. He’s acting like a real journalist. He was proactive about checking his facts the first time and the first episode demonstrated his skepticism pretty well. He did *not* just accept Mike Daisey’s version of the story without question. He followed up. But that wasn’t good enough for Glass. He himself was not satisfied with his own work. If only more journalists would do this and risk looking foolish for not completely writing Daisey off.

But the biggest problem with your post is the problem I have with a lot of lefty positions (and I consider myself a lefty). It is not good enough to simply have a position on nuclear energy or labor in china or vaccines or genetically modified crops. Facts matter. They matter quite a bit. If you don’t have evidence to back up your claims or you just make shit up because it sells tickets and appeals to a particular point of view, that’s just plain bad. It’s disreputable, it’s unethical, it’s misleading and it is damaging to your credibility. It becomes a matter of faith. We just know they’re bad, we don’t need facts. How is that better than the right wing religious nuts?

For example, big pharma looks at the ignorant, uninformed ravings of the left when they write about stuff they know nothing about, and big pharma is fully justified in writing them off. The left comes off as unhinged because it is.What they believe from charlatans and lawyers, is not based on facts they have gathered without a preconceived notion. If you want to take on big pharma, you should ask people who worked there about big pharma because when you are armed with the facts and know where big pharma’s real weaknesses are, you can be a much more effective activist. [I've read a lot of tirades about big pharma that are fantasies but for some reason, the left steadfastly refused to interview the people who clarify their misperceptions.  To them. Big pharma is evil so the left can say anything it wants.  It doesn't matter if it's true.] I have looked at what lefties think of pharma and can tell you that you will never make a dent in their armor with the approach you’re taking because it’s mostly imagination fueled anger.

And in Daisey’s case, it’s particularly bad when you take your show on the road and try to pass it off as a fact to unsuspecting audience members who go to your gig seeking reinforcement of their point of view. You can bet that most of the people in that audience went to Daisey’s show prepared to absolutely LOATHE everything Apple does with a white hot passion.

(BTW, one of the things Glass points out during the original episode is that Apple is not the only company who contracts with Foxconn. Every major American hardware company does it. You have to wonder why it is that Apple, who has been inspecting Foxconn and insisted on changes, is singled out. Didja ask yourself that? My own theory is that there’s a tinge of envy here. Apple products are expensive and not everyone can afford them. Therefore, Apple must be taken down a notch.)

Daisey has actually damaged the case against Foxconn because now that we know he bends the truth to entertain his audience, nothing he says is credible. And Foxconn’s employees deserve better than this. They deserve a true activist and advocate, not a business man who is further exploiting their lives for his own personal gain.

So, here you have a conman putting on a medicine show and telling gullible people what they want to hear and using their religion against them and during the show, it’s *not* clear that Daisey isn’t being honest. That it’s all entertainment. And Glass is going to this guy and saying, “I’ve found out that you’re not being honest with me or your audience and I want you to come clean because you made us look like fools.” and for some reason that makes Glass look bad to you? How does that work? It’s not logical at all.
More likely, Glass suspected after he talked to Apple that Daisey was playing fast and loose with the truth (that’s sure what is sounded like to me) and after the first episode, he drilled down and put Daisey on the spot.

It is not Ok to mislead your audience. This is what Glass is saying. It wasn’t right for Glass to not do all of his homework thoroughly and it’s especially not right for Daisey to make his audience accept his point of view without question by passing it off as a fact based on what he claims is a personal trip to China for the purposes of an in-depth investigation.

Glass is doing you a favor. His reputation doesn’t suffer a bit. He’s going out of his way to be a proxy for you, the gullible listener, and showing what you must do to find the truth and hold people accountable for it.

Standing in the iPhone 4 line

So, about a month ago, a terrible thing happened. I dropped my iPhone in the toilet. I felt like I lost a part of myself. The damn earbuds were permanently inserted in my ears. What to do?
Well, since the new iPhone was about to be released, I thought I’d just buy a cheap temporary replacement and wait it out. I’ve been cold turkey for the past month. No, I a haven’t gotten over it yet.

Then, the day apple and ATT started taking orders, I was in the lab and couldn’t get to a computer to order one until ATT *stopped* taking orders because their system was overwhelmed. I went to the apple store to see if I could still get one on launch day. Nope. The orders are now backlogged until the end of July. But there was an eensy weensy chance I could still get one if I came to the store on launch dat and stood in the walk-in line.

Which is where I am. I have no hope. The lines are really long. Steve, I am so disappointed. I have sold a ton of ipads recently. I am a walking talking advertisement. And this is the thanks I get.

Sigh.

What are you doing this morning?

Field testing the iPad

Long time, no see, guys.  My work life has gotten interesting lately and I find myself back in the lab after 20 years.  And I just have to say that all in all, this has been a very good move for me.  I recommend it to any former lab rat who has found themselves behind a monitor for too long.  Technology has changed a great deal in two decades and learning and relearning new things makes work challenging and fun.  It’s the best of both worlds, really.  I still get to park my fat ass behind the computer for part of the day to play with models but my ass is getting smaller from running around the bench.  So, two thumbs up for the lab.

Now, I have a company lab notebook that’s all legal and stuff that I write things down in but when I was in the lab recently, I found that I wanted a notebook for jotting things down of a more general nature.  It’s mostly reminders, calculations and procedural stuff that could apply to any particular experiment, nothing proprietary.  I recently bought an iPad to semi replace my macbook that’s on it’s last legs so I thought I’d give it a try.  There have been other reviews of the iPad, most recently Anglachel’s.  But I think that the mistake that many people make about the iPad is that they concentrate too much on the hardware.  (If you find the device “too heavy”, you need to hit the gym)  To really understand how the iPad fits into the device spectrum, you have to think out of the box and focus on the apps.  And even though the apps developed for the iPad are still few in number compared to the iPhone, it’s in this area where motivated developers are going to make the iPad a truly revolutionary device.

For my purposes in the lab, the iPad is off to a good start but it could be amazing.  I prop it up using the apple cover in type mode (see pic above) and leave it on the bench, coming back to it now and then to make notations using the Notes app that comes with the iPad.   I can type through my nitrile gloves and my lab is mercifully free from most solvents so I’m not worried about corrosion.  The screen cleans up nicely with a kimwipe.  Nevertheless, a waterproof cover or thin film screen protectent is probably a good idea for people who want to take their iPad into the lab.   There’s an app for making stock solution dilutions and molarity calculations called LabCal.  It’s an iPhone app that runs on the iPad.  Although the iPad doesn’t come with a calculator, there are plenty of cheap calculator apps in the apps store.  I found a nice scientific calculator called Calc XT that has a nifty little scratch pad.  For reading general procedures, I mail the published documents to my email account and access the pdfs using GoodReader.  And for planning my work, I use Todo by Appigo.  These are the main tools I need everyday. I don’t have access to wifi or the 3G network in my area so my scribbles stay on the ipad.  Essentially, what I have is the equivalent of a little steno pad, folder and calculator but the notes are stored by date and everything I need is in one slim device.

But there are a couple of additional apps that I’ve found lurking in the apps store that point the way to the future.  For example, the American Chemical Society has an app that allows the user to select a number of journals to browse.  Highlights and abstracts are delivered to the app and the full journal article can be accessed directly, provided the user has a subscription.  This would be a great way to deliver literature electronically.  Ordinarily, I print papers out from the pdfs because I don’t like reading them on a computer screen.  But on an iPad, literature has the feel of reading a printed document with all of the digital benefits.

Another app, iKinasePro, is a bit pricier but at $9.99 is still a steal.  It gives the user access to a curated database of kinases, along with published inhibitors, links to literature and patents, and a multitouch kinome tree.  But what really drew me to this app is that it features a molecular editor from Chemene that is similar to a ChemDraw widget.  The user can quickly draw a structure and do a

The Chemene Molecular Editor

substructure search of the database to find hits.  The app does require access to a wifi or 3G network, as does the ACS app.  The kinome diagram also doesn’t allow for the finer resolution multitouch, the user can only select certain groups of kinases.  But motivated developers {{hint, hint}} should be paying close attention to that editor because that’s the way we need to go with the electronic notebook app that I’m sure someone is going to make a killing on.

The mobile electronic notebook could be a godsend for labrats.  Imagine one app that does it all: records your steps, has a built in calculator, can calculate dilutions from stock solutions, can calculate the MW from the structure you draw, can fetch the synthetic pathway from the literature, can register your compound, and allow you to search for similar structures and their related activity and ADME data in the database.  Well, that’s just off the top of my head.  And if the lab pages are uploaded to a cloud server, there’s no reason to store anything on the iPad, making loss of proprietary data less likely.

Companies interested in protecting their proprietary information can get an enterprise version of the SDK.  Security of the local wifi and cloud server are out of my scope but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Ahhhh, there’s the rub.  In many of the companies that I’m familiar with, there is a ginormous bureacracy of Microsoft borgs who will tell you that resistance is useless and that you will be assimilated to the same stupid image that the accountants use.  Mobility, without a mouse or a keyboard?  In. Your. Dreams.  In Microsoft’s holey products, there is a lifetime of employment security for hives full of corporate drones hired to test and patch the version of IE that is already several years out of date and to stamp out proliferating viruses.  Apple products are verboten.  They’re too sleek and simple.  The macbooks run on linux (One helpdesk borg asked me how to spell linux when I needed help with my HP linux workstation.  Yep, it’s that bad.)  The iPad uses an iPhone OS but still, Apple make the borgs antsy.  Which is why we may never get iPads for the labs. I don’t think this is going to change unless the borgs are given ultimatums employment incentives to experiment with other platforms.

Too bad, because I think there is a lot of potential on both the development and the efficiency side of the mobility equation.  It would be a shame to see the modern lab, stripped down and uber frugal, hobbled by a Microsoft mentality.  But whatever the fate of iPad in the lab, it’s a handy device to have around.  Still, if you can’t use it in the lab,  you can go home and use it to rent a movie from Netflix and forget all about work.

Ahhhh….

Obama to focus on jobs? Right. If we’re lucky, maybe he’ll focus on Jobs’ tablet.

If ever there was a photo that captured the "professorial" Obama, RELATIONSHIPS BUILT ON SELF INTEREST is that photo. All that is missing are two bubbles to the left of CORP & BANKS that read "MEDIA" & "EMPTY SUITS."

January 27th. Big news day.

We’ve got the State of the Union address of course, in which our obfuscator-in-chief will tell us he’s focusing on jobs while blowing smoke about freezing domestic spending. With all that hot and cold, the president may as well skip that pesky lip service on climate change.

If this is the O-ministration’s idea of getting in touch with its more populist side, pray tell what BHO and his advisers say about all us rubes behind our backs. Oh, that’s right. Once upon a time Obama told his fundraisers that small town Democratic primary voters who weren’t voting for him were too bitter and clingy and xenophobic to appreciate his magnificence. Nobody could have predicted that there was no there there. Certainly not any of the bitter clingy people who chose Hillary over him. Speaking of things announced in San Francisco…

Today is also the unveiling of Steve Jobs’ new Apple tablet. Maybe Obama should take notes. Change is not about changing the candy’s wrapper. Marketing is not enough. A brand that outlasts the trends needs to put out a product that works, and putting out good product requires leadership:

In Jobs’s favor is his track record creating popular, easy- to-use devices in product categories already crowded with competitors. Digital music players were on the market for more than three years before Apple introduced the iPod. It is now the U.S. market leader, with more than a 70 percent share, according to NPD Group Inc. In 2007, the iPhone entered a smartphone market dominated by Research In Motion Ltd., Palm Inc. and Motorola Inc. The iPhone was ranked No. 2 in smartphone sales in the U.S. behind RIM in the third quarter, NPD said.

“It takes somebody with leadership characteristics to ignite the market,” said Trip Hawkins, the founder of game maker Electronic Arts Inc. and one of the first 100 employees at Apple. “When Apple talks, consumers listen.”

[...]

“To fill high expectations, it has to be an awesome device,” said First Empire’s Obuchowski. “Not to disappoint anybody will be virtually impossible.”

Obama really ought to take note of that last part. He and his inner circle can keep saying that they are not going “small-bore like Clinton” all they want, but Obama promising people the moon, failing to deliver, and yet still trying to sell himself as all things to all people instead of trying to use what little capital he has left to start rebuilding trust– that is not the vision of a “transformational figure, looming large on history’s stage,” no matter how much the romantics around Obama want it to be. There is no pleasing everybody all of the time, especially not through the powers of speechifying alone. In that much reviled-by-DC “soap opera” called The Nineties we saw 22 million new jobs, a balanced budget, and a surplus. Bill Clinton did not please everybody, but he drew lines in the sand, governed competently in a hostile environment, showed people that government can work FOR the people, and left office with a 68% approval rating for it. Speaking of working for the people…

Tavis and Secretary Clinton walking through the Capitol Building on the way to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. (photo:"Tavis Smiley Reports")

Hillary is away in London and Paris for diplomatic talks from January 26th to the 29th, so she will not be at the SOTU to do the stand-up-and-clap theater. Lucky her, and I for one am glad I will be spared the sight of her clapping for Barack Hoover Obama’s domestic mess. Over on PBS, though, at 8/7 pm central, served up as the first installment of Tavis Smiley Reports is a one-on-one with Secretary Clinton. Lucky us! Tavis has this quote up from the interview featured on his website:

“I’m honored to serve…but it’s a 24/7 job, and I think at some point, I will be very happy to pass it on to someone else.” Secretary Clinton in a conversation with Tavis

It is a good thing Hillary’s interview will be airing BEFORE the SOTU instead of after. Otherwise, I might have been too sleepy to watch it in real time. Either from drinking every time Obama persists in the delusion that he’s a Washington outsider. Or, from the monotony of his voice going back and forth from prompter to prompter, like a set of windshield wipers, whilst the clothes with no emperor try their best to impersonate their hero Ronnie Raygun. We stupid bitter clingy low-info Clintonistas tried to sound the warning signal so many times during 2008, but progressives were too busy calling people raycist to pay attention to what was happening right in front of them:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 456 other followers