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    • Ferguson and the brokenness of America’s “Justice” System
      There isn’t much to say that others haven’t, but let’s go through it anyway: There was never any chance that Darren Wilson would be charged; the prosecutor acted as defense attorney, not as prosecutor; A grand jury, for all intents and purposes does what the prosecutor tells it to; Doing the announcement at 8pm at [...]
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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.

Things that drive me crazy

In no particular order:

1.) An unchargeable iPhone.  Yep, completely unchargeable.  Thanks for the helpful suggestions you are about to give me.  Be assured that I tried ALL of them (as confirmed by the apple store genius).  Still no charge.

2a.) Having to go to the mall on Black Friday to visit the genius bar at the apple store to diagnose problem with dead iPhone.  It was a logic board problem. (I know what some of you are thinking.  Don’t go there.)  They gave me a “new” iPhone.  It charges.  I am happy.  But still don’t like to go to the mall on Black Friday.

2b) Predatory parking at the mall on Black Friday.  Aggressively blocking other cars from snatching the parking spot you have been hunting for 20 minutes.  Realizing that population density and forced competition for resources in New Jersey have changed one’s personality and not for the better.

2c) Having the reception person at the apple store tell me that it is really inconvenient to have a broken iPhone on Black Friday.  No shit, Sherlock.

3.) The “check oil” light indicator on the dashboard.  No, there are no oil stains on the driveway.  I don’t know where the oil is going.  It’s just going.  I am most seriously displeased.

4.) The companies that will not give you a quote for materials and have no prices for their products on their websites.  When you “chat” with a representative, the *first* thing they want to know is your name, email and address, “In case we get disconnected”. uh-huh.  It couldn’t be to run a credit check and on the spot market research to see how much money can be extracted from the prospective customer, right?  The thing I have noticed about NJ contractors is that they have a dollar figure in mind. YOU may only want to know how much a door costs.  THEY want to get $3000 out of you.  The door may cost $989.95 but they are going to charge you $3000 for it.  The extra $2000 is for the labor.  Oh, sure, it won’t take more than 2 guys more than 4 hours but you will still have to pay $2000 for the labor.  That’s just the way it is.  Be forewarned, those of you who are being forced to move to New Jersey.

Is anyone else seeing something similar to this?  You can’t get an absolute price for your new AC unit, sliding patio door or any other item you need to get a quote for?  The contractor won’t break down the price for you into materials and labor?  Why isn’t there a law for this?  It seems to me that prices are disappearing rapidly and there’s no way to know if you are paying what your neighbor paid or whether you are getting first class or economy goods and services.

5.) Rand Paul.

6.) People who like Rand Paul and Libertarians in general.

Friday: Unfinished business

For a long time now, I’ve been thinking that feminists dropped the ball after they won Roe v. Wade.  Everyone took it down a notch and went back to whatever it was they were doing.  The ERA officially died in 1982.  I was at Point Park in Pittsburgh at a rally the day it happened.  It was important and it was no doubt a very bad thing when it died.  But I was young and stupid and I thought at least we have Roe and cheap, plentiful oral contraceptives.

And that’s where we fell into a trap.  The right wing had us just where they wanted us.  Instead of protecting us, Roe has been used as a political hammer by both parties and as a result, its no longer the protection it was assumed it was.  I say assumed because it never was supposed to be a proxy for true equality.

Today, Louise Trubek, one of the plaintiffs in an earlier contraception case in Connecticut pre-Griswold, seems to agree that we lost the plot in her post in the NYTimes:

Why are issues that the courts decided so long ago still unresolved? Maybe it is time to recognize that law alone is not enough to effect social change. It must be linked to social activism on behalf of women’s rights.

[…]

We can celebrate Griswold, Roe and all the cases that stemmed from the Poe litigation. They are important landmarks in American jurisprudence. But as I look back I am dismayed by how few of the issues I was fighting for at the time of Poe are resolved. To be sure, we have important rights and more legal privacy. But we still have not provided all the support women need to combine rewarding careers and healthy families. Planned Parenthood is under siege and poor women who are seeking comprehensive reproductive care are still at risk. Presidential candidates can get away with saying that all contraception should be outlawed. Comprehensive child care services are difficult to locate, and fully financed family and medical leave is still controversial.

In short, we won the legal battle but not the war. Women are still not guaranteed control over their lives, because the necessary social supports were never secure. The initial goal of Griswold was to help women — and even though the precedent has helped with same-sex marriage laws, those initial needs, especially of poor women, have been left largely unmet.

The universal coverage plan outlined in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a good step forward, and we should do all we can to ensure it. Perhaps if activism had been linked to the lawsuits, the aims I fought for would have been secured, and we would be spared the spectacle of Republican candidates threatening, yet again, a woman’s right to control her own fertility.

She’s right.  After we won Roe, we just assumed that social equality would follow on its own.  But that was never going to happen if the activists stopped being active.  I blame my own generation for this.  We straddled the gap between the end of the baby boom and the Gen Xers.  We were children during the activist days and too busy breaking new ground in college and careers to pay any attention to what was happening to our rights.  It was hard enough to get some professor to notice us or some supervisor to recognize our achievements to go out after work and organize.  But without that activism and organization, our accomplishments were illusory.  There was no permanent change in the culture except these two flimsy supreme court rulings.  That is all we had.  And as the right wing started to chip away at them, we didn’t get alarmed enough.  Now the right has almost got its way even with the rulings in place and our rights and equality looks like a matrix of swiss cheese.

So, it’s back to the trenches for us or our daughters will not have the privileges that we had in the 70s and 80s.  If we’re wondering why we get treated badly at work, it’s because the old boys club knows that there are things society can force women to do that can never be forced on men.  It makes us look weak and easy to run over.

It’s still a man’s world out there and we were stupid to think an abortion ruling was going to change that.

*******************

Craig Crawford has a great post on the fallout over Rush Limbaugh’s “Slut” broadcast.   If you missed this fecal vomit from Rush, here’s an excerpt:

[O]n his radio show today, Limbaugh showed no remorse and instead reveled in the attention. Referring to Fluke, Limbaugh demanded that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control:

LIMBAUGH: So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

 And here’s Rush’s followup.  He just can’t seem to stop himself.  This man needs help.  Or a stiletto shoe in his face.  I just can’t decide…

Craig has a handy list of sponsors that you can contact and includes this little tidbit:

The Rush-Romney Connection
Limbaugh’s daily radio show is syndicated by Premier Networks, which is owned byClear Channel, which is co-owned by Bain Capital.

Folks, you can’t make this up.

Yesterday, I wrote a response to a post by Sarah Lane on google+.  Sarah Lane is the bubbly tech blogger who’s a mainstay at Twit.tv.  I love Sarah Lane but I don’t like the idea that Carbonite is a sponsor of Twit AND Rush Limbaugh.  So, I wrote to ask her what she thought of that?  No answer yet but I’m hopeful.  I might try Gina Trapani next.  Or Leo Laporte, although Leo can come off as a sexist jerk himself on occasion.  In fact, I might just want to abstain from Twit and remove its app from my iphone and ipad until they have a word with their sponsor.  For sure, I am not using the Twit offer code from Carbonite until Carbonite disassociates itself from Rush.

ProFlowers also sponsors Rush.

Now would be a good time for Barack Obama to overcome his Mike Dukakis impression and stand up for women agains this evil bully.  It could be a twofer because Rush may push the nuclear option with a really vile racist remark and then we’ll see how far gone the American public truly is.  It’s one thing to think uncharitable, ignorant things, things you know are not socially acceptable.  It’s quite another thing to say them to the President of the United States.  Barack Obama might be an unprincipled schmoozer and a lousy president but that has nothing to do with his race (which is only a social construct anyway).

This is an opportunity for him to act like he’s got some backbone.  Someone needs to step in here and level Rush.  Maybe Hillary can lend Obama one of her balls.  Schedule a news conference and condemn him in the harshest terms.  Take a note from Bill Clinton’s evil cowards speech after the Oklahoma City bombing.  It’s the right thing to do and I guarantee that it won’t cost the election.  It’s not censoring Rush to tell him that his remarks are uncalled for, destructive and reflects badly on American values.  Call him out.  Do it now.

*****************

In science, it looks like you can teach stale eggs new tricks.  A new study in the journal Nature shows that human ova can be created from ovarian stem cells:

Previous research had suggested that a woman is born with all the egg cells she will ever have in her lifetime.

But in recent experiments, scientists discovered a new type of stem cell in the ovaries that—when grown in the lab—generates immature egg cells. The same immature cells isolated from adult mouse ovaries can turn into fertile eggs.

Stem cells, found in embryos and certain adult body tissues, have the potential to grow into many different types of cells.

(See “Liposuction Fat Turned Into Stem Cells, Study Says.”)

The finding reinforces the team’s previous experiments in mice, which had identified a new type of ovarian stem cell that renews a female mouse’s source of eggs throughout its fertile years.

That study, published in the journal Nature in 2004, was the “first to reach the conclusion that this long-held belief in our field—that young girls are given a bank account at birth that you can no longer deposit eggs to, just withdraw from—was no longer true,” said study leader Jonathan Tilly.

This is good news because if you can collect your stem cells early in your reproductive years and store them, there won’t be as much pressure to have kids before your expiration date.  You can have a backup plan and can get back to work doing something else, like research or starting your own business or writing books or something that requires your full attention.  Biology isn’t destiny until you’re ready.  It’s a good thing.

*****************

This is just cool.  Or disturbing, depending how you look at the idea of small flying objects:

*****************

Blame the user:

NEW YORK -(MarketWatch)- AT&T Inc. T +0.88% is taking a step closer to doing away with unlimited-mobile data-plans.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

AT&T has been trying to manage capacity on its network in the face of heavy data consumption by Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone users and a limited supply of wireless airwaves, or spectrum. The carrier is spending billions to build out a new fourth-generation mobile-broadband network that can handle more data traffic.

A spokesman said the new guidelines were necessary because of confusion among unlimited customers over when their download speeds would be slowed. He declined to say by how much the speeds would be decreased.

If you want to know why you’re losing the unlimited data plan on your iPhone, you can blame deregulation of the phone business years ago.  I guess when they decided to break up the monopolies to encourage competition, they never thought about whether they should require the phone companies to invest some of their ungodly profits into improving their data networks.  So, scarcity, like, you know, works in their favor.  They can make you slow down and use less and still charge you a fortune for crappy service.  I have ATT and I can barely get a signal in parts of central NJ and in NY City?  Fuggeddaboudit.  Covering the Occupy events in Zuccotti park was nearly impossible in real time and just drained the battery as the iphone uselessly pinged the sky looking for a signal.
Wherever Steve Jobs is, I’m betting he’s not amused.
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