Discourse.net http://www.discourse.net On the fringes of the public sphere Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:38:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Valde Mirum http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/valde-mirum/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/valde-mirum/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 20:38:59 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24362 This is soooo weird: Krebs on Security, Lorem Ipsum: Of Good & Evil, Google & China.

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Ferguson’s Backstory http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/fergusons-backstory/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/fergusons-backstory/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 02:57:12 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24359 Continue reading ]]> Amazing Whitepaper by ArchCity Defenders, a legal aid organization representing indigent defendants in the St. Louis metropolitan area, on how Ferguson police/prosecutors/judiciary are in league to milk poor defendants of large fines on the basis of petty offenses.

Among the shocking bits — yes it’s still possible to be shocked — are

  • Plea bargains offered to defendants rich enough to hire lawyers, but not to pro se defendants
  • the systematic closing of courtrooms to the public,
  • prohibiting defendants from bringing their children to court (and in at least one case charging the defendant for child neglect for leaving the child outside)
  • starting trials 30 minutes before time on summons and locking doors to court five minutes after the official hour, “a practice that could easily lead a defendant arriving even slightly late to receive an additional charge for failure to appear.”

There’s actually a lot more – well worth a read. Note in particular that Ferguson was one of only three municipalities in the greater St. Louis metro area singled out by Arch City Defenders for a particularly abusive practices; this is not business as usual but nor is it an isolated phenomenon.

(Spotted via Daily Kos).

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Jotwell Needs a Student Editor http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/jotwell-needs-a-student-editor-2/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/jotwell-needs-a-student-editor-2/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:39:52 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24356 Continue reading ]]> Apologies, blog readers, but this announcement is for UM Law 2L and 3L students only:

Jotwell, the online journal of reviews of recent faculty scholarship relating to the law, needs a third student editor. The ideal candidate will be organized, a careful editor, and enjoy reading legal scholarship. The workload typically runs 7-10 hours per week (maybe a little more right at the start), and is paid at the law school’s research assistant scale, which in most cases is $13/hr. Jotwell uses WordPress to publish, but it is easy to learn, so no experience needed.

If you are interested, please email me your c.v. (aka “your résumé”) and a copy (unofficial is fine) of your transcript. If you have a non-legal writing sample, please include that too.

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In Which I Try to Decode ‘Resort Casual’ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/in-which-i-try-to-decode-resort-casual/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/in-which-i-try-to-decode-resort-casual/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:05:26 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24350 Continue reading ]]> Our law school hosts an annual welcome event for incoming students. The dress code was “business casual.” I know how to do that. This year, for the first time, it’s a brunch. The invite from the Dean’s Office says the dress code is “resort casual”.

Eh?

Oh well, that’s why we have Google.

The first link — to couples.com — has a box around it, so I’m assuming it is sponsored, although it doesn’t say so (naughty Google). The next link is to USA Today’s What Is Resort Casual Wear?. Ok, that’s a bit MOR but let’s roll with it:

The phrase “resort casual wear” causes anxiety in many a cruise attendee with its seemingly oxymoronic nature. Is it casual? Is it formal? What kind of shoes can I wear? How long should my skirt be? While the exact rules may vary by specific resort or cruise, simply imagine that you are going to a country club with your grandmother.

As one commonly does?

Men’s Wear

Country clubs naturally conjure up visions of polo shirts, khaki pants and loafers, and these items are 100 percent appropriate for resort casual wear. Collared shirts are a must, whether polo shirts or button-downs. Although there is little limitation in terms of color or pattern, use your judgment and avoid oversized logos or text. Although khakis or linen pants are a nature resort casual choice for day wear, slacks are a smart choice for dinners and other evening events. Avoid sandals and other shoes that shoe more bare foot than a loafer or boat shoe would.

Not all that helpful. Back to Google, which offers some illustrative images:

0001

Somehow, I’m not finding that helpful either.

Guess I’m just going to assume it means jacket and no tie.

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I Would Never Lose My Sunglasses Again? http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/i-would-never-lose-my-sunglasses-again/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/i-would-never-lose-my-sunglasses-again/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 03:02:06 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24346 Continue reading ]]> If these Tile bluetooth tell-your-phone where it last was things worked for Android, which they don’t, I would put one in my sunglasses case.

That said, they seem a bit pricey? $20/year/tracker?

I’d buy the stock if it were available, though.

(Wait a minute: the “use other people’s participation to track your lost stuff” aspect might be a real privacy nightmare once the government starts subpoenaing the records.)

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Only an Expert http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/only-an-expert/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/only-an-expert/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 19:03:56 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24343 Still very relevant today, Laurie Anderson’s Only an Expert (2010):

Warning: There are some pretty ugly, violent, and horrible images in this video. Brought to you by experts.

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They’re Breaking Out the Champagne http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/theyre-breaking-out-the-champagne/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/theyre-breaking-out-the-champagne/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 03:40:32 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24340 Continue reading ]]> University of Miami President Donna Shalala is probably doing the Presidential equivalent of the victory dance today: U.M. is not listed among the Princeton Review’s 20 top party schools — and the University of Florida is.

That means we’ve found the sweet spot between Bacchanalia and infamy.

The only thing that might dampen the celebration is that #11 on the list is “Miami University.” That’s actually Miami (Ohio) University — but lots of people might be confused.

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The Curious Case of Al Jazeera’s Absence From HTC Blinkfeed http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/the-curious-case-of-al-jazeeras-absence-from-htc-blinkfeed/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/the-curious-case-of-al-jazeeras-absence-from-htc-blinkfeed/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 02:50:19 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24337 Continue reading ]]> TL/DR: Why is al Jazeera’s feed absent from HTC’s Blinkfeed? It’s a mystery.

After writing up my review of the HTC One (M8) the other day, I thought maybe I ought to give Blinkfeed a try.

For those of you who don’t have an HTC phone — and it’s a somewhat specialist taste if reports of declining market share are to believed — Blinkfeed is an HTC-curated/controlled news feed (now available to all Android users). It provides an elegant magazine-like interface made up of user-selected content from among the news sources provided by HTC, and also from one’s social media. Most of the major social media choices you would expect seem to be on the available list, but the provision of news sources is somewhat erratic. There is something from just about every part of the globe, but often not much; there are two wire services, and Huffington Post but no US newspapers. If the US choices are rather spotty in news, they are somewhat heavier in sports and entertainment and various other web-based frills. Many of the news feeds on offer seem rather heavy on gorgeous photos, particularly of landscapes and animals, which I think skews the content of the feed somewhat…although as my test is only a couple of days old it might also reflect that August is the silly season for many news media.

The good news is that Blinkfeed’s options include news from many regions in their home language, so I can get the French news is in French, which I like. And even though you get other languages by changing your “edition,” which isn’t totally intuitive, it’s possible to meld feeds from different languages, so I don’t have to have my US news in French just to get the French news in French.

The bad news is that Blinkfeed is a closed system: I can’t add an RSS feed of my choice, an option that would have made Blinkfeed actually useful.

But, at least, though I, there’s Al Jazeera. Given all the turmoil in the Middle East at present, I thought it would be useful part of my media diet. Except, at least for the last three days, there isn’t any Al Jazeera in my feed. And when I go to the al Jazeera button all it says is “NO CONTENT Pull down to refresh.” Swiping down just repeats the update/nothing-happens cycle.

A Google search got me nowhere. There are plenty of links in which HTC brags about all the content deals it has signed. (I’m guessing people pay HTC for the privilege of being in their sandbox, which is why it’s such an anemic little sandbox.) And even some about HTC adding al Jazeera. But there’s nothing I can find in which HTC says it has dropped al Jazeera.

So I called it in to HTC customer support. I’d had a very good experience with them the last time I called, and no good deed goes unpunished. The support guy I got was understandably skeptical at first. He had me remove everything else from my feed. He had me reboot the phone. No change. Finally he put me on hold for a long static-filled wait. When he came back he explained he’d “gone to the lab” and gotten one of their HTC One (M8) test models, and replicated my problem.

The good news: he now totally believed me.

The bad news: he didn’t have any better ideas than I did about what to do about it.

Apparently, there’s nothing on the HTC internal system about them dropping al Jazeera. No one on the floor at the help center had heard anything like that. So all he could suggest is that I call back tomorrow during regular business hours and ask to be escalated — apparently the escalation team doesn’t work late at night.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll find out if this is a case of broken RSS (or whatever) feed, or a case of political censorship. Right now it’s just a bug report.

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Don’t Just Get Mad: Do Something http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/dont-just-get-mad-do-something/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/08/dont-just-get-mad-do-something/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 15:26:51 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24333 Continue reading ]]> My brother has a good strong item up about what should happen in light of yesterday’s revelations that CIA Director John O. Brennan lied to Congress about his agency’s spying on Senate investigators:
So if you’re the president, you fire everyone who lies. Starting with John Brennan.

I agree Brennan should go. But it rankles that we’re still stuck in a world where the coverup is punished more than the crime — and that the underlying war crime here, torture, has not been punished at all.

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HTC One (M8) Review http://www.discourse.net/2014/07/htc-one-m8-review/ http://www.discourse.net/2014/07/htc-one-m8-review/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:30:36 +0000 http://www.discourse.net/?p=24328 Continue reading ]]> Tl/dr: I like this phone. I’ve had this phone for about two months and it has met or exceeded my expectations in just about every respect.

I got the HTC One (M8) instead of the Samsung S5 primarily because my carrier — which I didn’t particularly want to change — offered a 32GB version of the phone, and only a 16GB version of the S5. Having hit the 2GB limit of my previous phone early and often, I didn’t want that to happen again. Also the S5 was reputed to have more phone junk on it; not that the M8 has none, but it’s easy to ignore. The other major advantage of the S5, a superior camera, wasn’t as important to me, although it might be to some people.

Here’s what I wanted from the phone:

First, it has to be a world phone (check).

Second, it has to be a good at making phone calls, with decent range (no problem so far, although I probably haven’t stressed it), and very good sound quality. The M8′s sound quality as a phone is good, certainly good enough, but I wouldn’t call it excellent. Oddly, the speakerphone is substantially better than the regular phone: it is excellent. Indeed its ability to play music and videos (neither of which is or was a requirement for me) is amazing. In fact, however, I mostly use earphones when I listen to podcasts.

Third, my phone has to have an SD card slot (very check: this one takes up to 128G cards!) so I can store my podcasts on it.

Fourth, I want lots of memory so I can download lots of apps. I haven’t historically played games on my phone, but I like calendaring and note-taking apps in particular, and productivity apps and weather and travel-related apps in general. Travel is the main time I’m likely to be far from a proper computer, so I need good substitutes.

Fifth, I’d like it to be fast, because I’m impatient. This phone feels fast.

Sixth, I wanted enough battery to get me through the day. On wifi the battery does great and on days when I’m primarily in areas with wifi I can end the day with over 50% of the charge left. Days that involve a lot of moving around off wifi chew more juice. How much varies. I have yet to actually run out of battery in a day, but I did come close once. The battery is not removable, which is not ideal. It does charge quickly though. Keep in mind that while I might use the phone’s apps a fair amount, I’m not playing videos which perhaps might drain battery on a different pattern.

Seventh, I don’t want a bad camera, but I don’t need state of the art. Check.

Lastly, I don’t have a Mac, and am used to Androids, so I pretty much ignored the iPhone options.

That’s it. Everything else is bonus.

For example, the phone’s voice recognition is dog-on-hind-legs good, which is to say a bit erratic. But the android ecosystem is coming up with interesting apps to take advantage of it, notably Commandr.

Google Now has promise, although I don’t make use of most of it’s features because I turned off most of the tracking and personalization.

Skype over wifi is of surprisingly good voice and image quality – much better than my old phone which basically couldn’t do it.

I do have two small complaints. First, the headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone, which I find awkward when I carry it in my shirt pocket, and at other times too. Second, due to a bug in the Android operating system, I can only connect to secure wireless when the lock screen is on. Neither of these is major.

I did have a temporary problem that I thought might be a deal killer: for a while I had a flashing bar at the bottom of my screen. It turned out to be caused by a misbehaving alternate keyboard app I had downloaded. HTC customer support helped me diagnose the problem by telling that I had to reboot the phone after erasing suspect apps, just deleting them would not be enough. (In contrast, the folks at Verizon gave me only bad advice as to how to solve the problem, suggesting I should do a factory reset as my first option.)

And, the phone’s generous screen size (although it is thinnish and light for its size) is a mixed blessing, although one it shares with its close competitors. The screen is very vivid and the real estate is nice to have. But it’s a handful, and so for most things that require interaction the phone can’t be operated with just one hand. Plus it sticks out of my shirt pocket a bit, which I was told is not an ideal fashion statement — advice I admit I ignored.

I killed the Blinkfeed screen within minutes of turning on the phone. This much-touted method of combining news, social media and updates never had any appeal for me. It seemed like a great way to run down the battery, though.

And of course the phone, like most modern smart phones, is a privacy disaster and a security issue waiting to happen. I would never put any banking or financial app or info on it. And it’s appalling how many apps feel entitled to trawl my address book, or record my location. Maybe my next phone will be a Blackphone.

Still, it’s useful, it’s fast, the screen is pretty, if you get the 32GB version it has a ton of memory plus the ability to expand a lot more with a micro SD card, and it works well as a phone. Plus I got a deal. So I like it.

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