June 26, 2013

I was skimming the dissents in today’s Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA earlier (here’s a PDF). This passage stuck out to me. Justice Alito doesn’t seem to see what the big deal is:

In any event, §3 of DOMA, in my view, does not encroach on the prerogatives of the States, assuming of course that the many federal statutes affected by DOMA have not already done so. Section 3 does not prevent any State from recognizing same-sex marriage or from extending to same-sex couples any right, privilege, benefit, or obligation stemming from state law. All that §3 does is to define a class of persons to whom federal law extends certain special benefits and upon whom federal law imposes certain special burdens. In these provisions, Congress used marital status as a way of defining this class–in part, I assume, because it viewed marriage as a valuable institution to be fostered and in part because it viewed married couples as comprising a unique type of economic unit that merits special regulatory treatment. Assuming that Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the laws affected by §3, Congress has the power to define the category of persons to whom those laws apply.

See? It was all just a wacky misunderstanding! It wasn’t the Defense of Marriage Act, it was the Definition of Marriage Act! Congress simply wanted to define of a category of persons for the fun of it, no harmful motivations whatsoever. Wherever did people get the silly idea that a federal law specifically defining marriage as between a man and a woman might prevent states from legalizing same-sex marriage??

Another thing: in his dissent, Justice Scalia does the ol’ rhetorical trick of crossing out words and injecting replacement words to prove a point:

Scalia DOMA dissent

Is this normal for a legal opinion? I have no idea.

June 25, 2013

I’ve been keeping tabs on all the potential Google Reader replacements out there, hedging my bets. Here are my thoughts:

  • AOL Reader – It’s usable and seems pretty well-featured, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to hide the sidebar which is kind of a big deal to me. Plus, the fact it doesn’t have “Huff Post” in the name doesn’t bode well for its long-term prospects.
  • Digg Reader – Not out yet, but I’m hopeful it will be good. For the first time ever, Digg might serve a useful purpose. Will update this when I get access.
  • UPDATE (6/26/2013): It had a nice little loading animation as it imported my feeds. The design is sparse, maybe a little too sparse. There’s no way to hide the sidebar as of yet.
  • Feedly – Until recently it existed as a weird, awful browser plugin that stuck its dumb logo everywhere. They finally added a normal website version that is good but it appears to autoplay YouTube videos (what the hell?). The sidebar auto-hides which is fantastic but it also has a huge left margin that sorta defeats the purpose.
  • Feedspot – It’s good if a little clunkily designed. You have to specifically make your subscriptions private, which is weird. Sharing seems to be an “all or nothing” proposition.
  • Netvibes – A decent personalized portal I used to use a few years ago that also has a “Reader” view. It always seemed so bloated and slow compared to My Yahoo! and iGoogle. I’m putting it in the “maybe” pile.
  • NewsBlur – You have to pay an annual fee for it, no thanks
  • Skimr – Different from the typical Google Reader model in that it basically just lets you skim headlines. Nice and simple unlike River2, which I couldn’t get to work.
  • The Old Reader – It’s good and has old-style sharing features, but I sorta hate the design and it seems a little slow (I haven’t used it much but I’m already sick of the green Pac-Man icon). There doesn’t appear to be a way to hide the sidebar.
June 23, 2013
Chelsea Clinton talks to Geico's gecko

Good riddance to NBC’s Rock Center. I watched it a few times and it was mostly awful. Early on they had in-studio interviews with Jon Stewart and Tina Fey and it was striking how awkward Brian Williams can be when he’s the interviewer and not the interviewee.

Other things I remember:

  • An alarmist story about how sitting is bad for you. It was like a Mirkin-era Simpsons joke come to life.
  • A folksy Ted Koppel piece bemoaning how cable news channels have grown so partisan and gee isn’t that a shame. No new insights or anything, just a big waste of time. They played clips of Lawrence O’Donnell “yelling,” which has nowhere near the same effect as Keith Olbermann.
  • A story about Apple where Williams kept going on about latest dopey Samsung commercial that made fun of Apple (because no company has ever done that before) and how devastating it was and speculated whether this means Apple is no longer “cool.” He even asked CEO Tim Cook about it, as if he gives a damn.
  • A really obnoxious promo-masquerading-as-story about the hot new NBC sitcom 1600 Penn, which premiered earlier that night, featuring the Not Jonah Hill guy talking with senior nepotism correspondent Jenna Bush.

June 20, 2013

So, is a decade old today… no big deal, really…

June 18, 2013
June 16, 2013

Tech News Rumor Insider, March 31, 2012:
A spokesperson confirmed to TNRI that Windows Phone 7 users may finally be recieving a calculator app

The Verge, June 16, 2013:
Microsoft is also adding a number of new built-in apps, including Calculator,

June 14, 2013
For your Emmy consideration: PEOPLE SCREAMING


(P.S. I’m using my Flickr account a bit more since I don’t have to worry about storage limits now)

June 10, 2013


A gaggle of GOOGLERS stand trembling before an EXECUTIVE’s desk.


Sir… the people still aren’t happy about our complicity in the PRISM program.


(opening a binder full of charts)

Mindshare is down across the board, account activations have decreased 3 percent, we’re seeing an influx of –

A hand holding a cigar gestures for him to stop talking.


(in an Alex Rocco-esque voice)

Can it, egghead.

He takes a puff and slowly exhales as he contemplates his options. The Googlers obviously don’t like the smoke, but dare not say anything about it. He stands up and looks out the window at the Android statues below.


We need something big. Something that can get us back into people’s good graces. A little razzle-dazzle to win over the rubes.

There’s only one card left to play.


You don’t mean…?



We see his face for the first time as he turns to the Googlers. He looks like a grizzled newspaper editor from a 1930’s movie, with the delirious grin of a gambler with nothing left to lose.


Put up the Maurice Sendak Google Doodle.


But, sir! It’s not ready for public consumption y-




Yes, sir! / Right away! / I’m on it!

The Googlers spring into action and scramble out of the office.

The executive sits back down at his desk and opens a bottom drawer. He pulls out some LEGO® brand bricks and starts playing with them.

June 2, 2013
June 1, 2013

And so begins the final month of Google Reader… we’ve met a audioterrible fate, haven’t we?…