Fighting for the right to sue gun manufacturers

The parents of Sandy Hook’s child victims want the right to sue the manufacturers of the guns that killed the kids. The gun industry is currently shielded from lawsuits by federal law.

They are attempting to sue the gun manufacturer, Remington; the wholesaler; and a local retailer for recklessness in providing the weapon to the consumer marketplace “with no conceivable use for it other than the mass killing of other human beings.”

The question of whether the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed is at issue because Congress, prodded by the gun lobby, in 2005 foolishly granted the gun industry nearly complete immunity from legal claims and damages from the criminal use of guns.

The Right to Sue the Gun Industry / By the Editorial Board / The New York Times

“Nancy Reagan, an Influential and Stylish First Lady, Dies at 94”


I had a little discussion with myself whether it was appropriate for the Times to use “stylish” so prominently in the headline to describe Reagan, who was so influential in her husband’s career and in setting the direction for the US in substantial ways.

Should the Times have focused so much on clothing for a woman who was much more than an empty dress?

I decided it’s a good headline in part because, as First Lady, her job was set style. That’s arguably the most important part of the job. Soon it might be the most important job of the First Husband.

And Nancy Reagan excelled at it. As a friend of mine said, the Reagans brought Hollywood glamor to the White House, and she was a leader in that.

Also, she herself preferred to be invisible. She wanted the light cast on Ronnie, not herself. So I think she’d be happy to see the headline focused so prominently on her sense of style.

I’ve had similar discussions about Marissa Mayer. Is it OK to write prominently about how she dresses? Many feminists say no – she’s the CEO of a billion-dollar-company, articles should focus on that.

But journalism often focuses on personal style of the people it writes about, and Mayer’s fashion sense is a big part of her personal style. It’s perfectly appropriate to write about that.

The feminist argument says, would you write about how a man in a similar position dresses?

Yes, we would and we do – most notably for Steve Jobs, who adopted a uniform of jeans and black mock turtlenecks in the final decade of his life. And Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wears $2,000 bespoke jeans and other foolishness, and that’s part of the coverage of him. 1

“Nancy Reagan, an Influential and Stylish First Lady, Dies at 94” / Lou Cannon / The New York Times

  1. It’s ridiculous and wrong to spend $2,000 on jeans. Sure, you can spend $2,000 for a suit or a dress, or even more, if you’ve got the money. But spending more than $100 on a pair of jeans is just conspicuous consumption and brands you as a fool.Some things are cheap and should always be cheap – that is their nature. Never spend more than $10 for a burger or $5 for a slice of pizza, no matter how rich you are.

    For that matter, while Jobs sensibly wore Levi’s, his mock turtlenecks cost hundreds of dollars each. I bought a few mock turtles for about $45 each – I bet they’re just as good as Jobs’s. A mock turtle is basically a T-shirt with long sleeves and a high collar.

Photo: The Reagans on a boat in 1964. Source.

What happens to journalists when there are no more journalism jobs?


As the newspaper industry dies, thousands of journalists are out of work.

Summer 2015, the West Coast: I’m chatting with a longtime friend, a great investigative reporter who was pushed out of a big-city daily. She’s managed to land a new, well-paying job — but it’s not in journalism. A mutual colleague told me that “it’s the most hated job she never wanted to do.” I insist that my friend needs to find a way back someday, because she has stunning reportorial talent. “I don’t remember that person,” she interrupts sharply.

Early fall 2015, a bar on the East Coast: An unemployed middle-aged writer whose work I’ve admired for decades agrees to meet for a drink. I buy the first round, he gets the second. In between we talk about editors and writers we know in common, about stories nailed and those that got away. Typical journo stuff. “So what do you want?” he asks finally. I explain that I’m seeking the human angle behind the news of thousands of downsized journalists. “Am I the lead to your story?” he asks, sizing me up, tensing.
I feel that I’m losing him. Thus a Hail Mary: “Are you depressed?” His fast retort: “Are you trying to piss me off?” He walks out, leaving a full beer on the table.

2009 to present, somewhere in the United States: An e-mail arrives with the subject “Journalist, with inquiry about homelessness.” The sender thanks me for my 1985 book on the traveling homeless — because he’s now one of them after losing a journalism job. “I’m riding my mt. bike west, temporarily camped out in Kingman [Arizona], and I have lived under many a bush and in a few hostels along the way. I am a homeless transient without any money. Three college degrees to boot…. So here I sit, at the public library computer, typing out my stories and thinking about what to do.” We keep in touch for a while. Recent attempts to contact him end in failure.

I failed as a daily newspaper reporter. I worked a few years at small community newspapers on Long Island and New Jersey. Nobody would hire me at a bigger paper, so I shifted gears to technology journalism, where they were hungry for people who could report and write fast and well. At the time it felt like a defeat, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Now, most of the people I worked with starting out in tech journalism have left the field. Some others are freelancing. I’m very fortunate to have a good job — for now at least.

What Happens to Journalists When No One Wants to Print Their Words Anymore? / Dale Maharidge / Moyers & Company

Forget standing desks. Try a $3,900 automatic reclining desk

The Altwork all-in-one computer workstation automatically adjusts to sitting, standing, reclining, or collaborating.

Starts at a low, low $3,900. Sure, you could buy a desk for $100 at Ikea IF YOU’RE AN ANIMAL.

Here’s how it works (I’ve cued the video to start at 1:56 because the first two minutes are just blah blah blah):

And here’s the desk in full reclining position:


Your choice of ways to die: Long and slow from heart disease and other complications brought on by a sedentary lifestyle, or fast and ugly as a hundred pounds of computer equipment crashes down on your face.

‘Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out

The Guardian asked Trump voters to write in and explain themselves.

Trump’s supporters are more interesting than the man himself. And they’re not going away.

A white male early retiree, age 62, tells the Guardian he can’t get hired because he’s too old and white. He says:

Trump is a wake up call. A president Trump could be as bad as Hitler, but if he shocks some good people in both the Republican and Democratic parties into realizing that they are ignoring legitimate concerns of a seizable minority, then let him have his four years.

Many Trump supporters seem motivated less by support for Trump than by a desire to burn it all down. These Trump supporters don’t like him,  but they like that he came along at the right time with matches and gasoline.

I’m sympathetic to the desire to burn it all down. But it’s a terrible idea. If your house has a leaky roof, crappy heat, lousy plumbing, and is infested by rats and cockroaches … at least you have a house.

I don’t get the outrage about “political correctness.” I’m just not seeing evidence of a  progressive witch-hunt that’s demonizing conservatives. Not buying it. Some guy getting a green checkmark removed from his name on Twitter is not being persecuted.

Political correctness may be a problem on some college campuses. But that’s a local problem, not a national problem.

‘Not even my wife knows’: secret Donald Trump voters speak out / Amber Jamieson / The Guardian



“Suspiciously adorable” baby & breastfeeding mother denied entrance to Mobile World Congress

Security at Mobile World Congress is notoriously tough to get through — they require passports, pre-registration and several checkpoints. This is in part because the show is massive and theft is common, as are people trying to sneak in without paying. This year’s show was no different — in fact, security was so tough a suspiciously adorable five-month old baby was denied entrance with her breastfeeding mother.

GSMA Catches Flack for MWC Babygate / Sarah Thomas / Light Reading

Cory Doctorow: “I need to confess something: ‘Whuffie’ would make a terrible currency”


Cory’s first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003), postulated a world “in which all society’s scarcities, even death and energy have been overcome, and where conflicts over resources – notably, who gets to run Walt Dis­ney World and what they get to do there – are apportioned using a virtual currency called ‘Whuffie,’” Doctorow explains. It’s a form of reputation economy – people who are respected have more Whuffie and therefore more wealth.

The characters in the novel generally love Whuffie, even though it’s destroying them.

Whuffie has all the problems of money, and then a bunch more that are unique to it. In Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, we see how Whuffie – despite its claims to being ‘‘meritocratic’’ – ends up pooling up around sociopathic jerks who know how to flatter, cajole, or terrorize their way to the top. Once you have a lot of Whuffie – once a lot of people hold you to be reputable – other people bend over backwards to give you opportunities to do things that make you even more reputable, putting you in a position where you can speechify, lead, drive the golden spike, and generally take credit for everything that goes well, while blaming all the screw-ups on lesser mortals.

Doesn’t sound a lot different from money in the real world, particular on the upper tier of the economy, where people can fail their way from one lucrative catastrophe to another.

Cory Doctorow: Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse in Reputation Economies  / Locus

Internet of Things vendors are ignoring security at everyone’s peril – researcher

IoT vendors are still not paying attention to basic security, even after we’ve seen hacks on insulin pumps, moving vehicles, nannycams, and WiFi Barbies, according to Aaron Lint, research director for Arxan Technologies.

It was five years ago that a security expert hacked an insulin pump produced by Medtronic Minimed to demonstrate how grievously dangerous it could be to crank out connected products without much thought to security.

Awareness of that event might have been expected to compel some IoT device developers to be somewhat more conscious of product security, but no. According to Aaron Lint, Arxan Technologies Inc. research director, “we found the vast majority — more than a half, more than three-quarters — of devices actually don’t do anything whatsoever to protect themselves against the types of attacks we protect against.”

Five years after demonstrating how easy it would be to shock diabetics into comas, hackers demonstrated how easy it is to take over a moving vehicle. About the same time, the FDA, working with a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a warning that a specific medical infusion pump was at risk for being hacked, and should be disconnected, if possible. (See Network Security Is a Bad Joke)

Shortly after that, there was a rash of hacks of nannycams by people who chose to use their computer skills to terrify very young children. Shortly after that, it was revealed to be fairly easy to hijack a WiFi Barbie.

And just because the average readers of Light Reading don’t play with WiFi Barbies, don’t think you’re safe.

App-Layer Security Still Sorely Lacking / Brian Santo / Light Reading

HPE’s Whitman Sees ‘Inexorable March’ to Public Cloud

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman sees an “inexorable march” from data center apps to the public cloud, with hybrid as an interim step along the way.

Corporate IT sees “almost universal acceptance that their environments will be hybrid,” Whitman said, speaking on Hewlett Packard Enterprise ‘s first-quarter 2016 earnings call Thursday.

HPE’s Whitman Sees ‘Inexorable March’ to Public Cloud / me / Light Reading