Friday, June 26, 2015

Hurrah Hurrah, Yeah Whatever

I’m actually not in a celebratory mood today about the Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision. I can’t believe Roberts’ dissent:
Roberts wrote that the decision showed “disrespect” for the democratic process and that the American people should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to accept this huge social change. “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law,” Roberts wrote. “Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept"... “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits,” he wrote. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
Can’t his reasoning be applied to integration, interracial marriage and women’s suffrage? If the people want to continue debating whether a certain population has the same rights as everyone else, shouldn’t they be allowed to continue the debate indefinitely? As the current conflict over the Confederate Flag shows, many people would still be debating whether African Americans should have equal citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws as whites have. Allowed to continue indefinitely, that debate would still be going on, without the resolution provided by the ratification of the 14th Amendment. It’s kind of clear that the striking down of Prop 8 falls under “No state shall make or enforce any law,” so why does Roberts say that “the Constitution had nothing to do with it”? I’m bothered by that wording. I would’ve expected Roberts to break Conservative ranks with this ruling as he did with the ruling on Obamacare. Even I can see the applicability of “No state shall make or enforce any law” to this issue. So if the ruling had gone the other way, wouldn’t it affect all of the equal-protection interpretations of the 14th Amendment retroactively? I’m really at a loss for Roberts’ reasoning. I hope there’s a public reaction to it. I hope he’s questioned intensely by the media about his reasoning. But the celebration of the decision will probably drown out his dissent and he’ll never be called to question for his reasoning on this issue.

Scalia, of course, could be counted on to trivialize the entire issue by saying that the opening sentence of the opinion sounded like a fortune cookie. With Scalia’s focus on the Signers’ intent in his interpretations of the Constitution, I think he must even be uncomfortable with the fact that women can vote and he would probably prefer that, in population tabulating, an African American be counted as three-fifths of a person. Yes this is a straw-man argument, but if one follows his logic, how is it inappropriate? The Founding Fathers were racist chauvinists from today’s point of view. Applying their intent now produces anachronisms. Even Kennedy’s oral argument in April regarding the marriage issue is difficult to understand. “‘The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia,’ he said then, referencing the amount of time societies had considered marriage to be only between a man and a woman.” Even I, with my relatively feeble grasp of the law, can refute that reasoning with the argument that, at the time of Abolition, slavery had been an acceptable institution for millenia. If longevity proves the worth of an institution, entrepreneurs should feel free to set up slave auctions again, both online and brick-and-mortar. Why not? Follow the reasoning and that’s where it leads.

#Rachel #Maddow, if I shine a big searchlight up into the night sky that projects a silhouette of..umm... a big pair of glasses, would you come to our aid and explain Roberts’ dissent to us? We citizens would be very grateful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yo, Bezos!!! Fix your website!


I know you like playing with futuristic toys and all, but don't forget about the source of your wealth. Being a billionaire, you naturally don't spend much time shopping on Amazon, and so you don't know about the issues that ordinary users encounter. You must rely on reports from your QA people, who apparently tell you what you want to hear, and as a result problems that need fixing can go unfixed for years. An example is editing the customer's browsing history. Did you know that only one item at a time can be deleted from the browsing history? Every other site on the planet offers check boxes and the option to delete all selected items. If I want to delete several items near the bottom of a page, I can delete only one at a time, and after each item is deleted I am returned to the top of that page and have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to delete the next item, and so on. You try doing that with a dozen items without rolling your eyes! And if I don't want to go through the hassle of cleaning up my browsing history, my front page is filled with promoted items that I'm not interested in. When was the last time you edited your browsing history without administrator status? When was the last time you shopped for something on #Amazon as an ordinary customer with a different name and an ordinary account, just to see what the experience is like for the ordinary user? My guess is that it's been a while.

Here's another issue, if you're interested. When I go to the Men's Shop and click on, say, Shirts/Polos, and then sort by Price: Low to High, why does the category sometimes include women's underwear and kids' T-shirts? In Men's Polo Shirts? It changes all the time, of course. Currently, the category Men/Shirts/Polos sorted Low-to-High includes among the polo shirts an earmuff, a glitter sports headband, a Team USA pin, a short-sleeve hoodie, a pinstripe waist apron, polo stickers, tank tops, muscle shirts, boys' polo shirts, baseball caps, sweat pants, a bucket hat, breath-mints, a juniors' pullover top, a bib apron, a 3-pack of briefs, a flannel shirt, a women's vest apron, crew socks, and cycling masks. There must not be much oversight of retailers to ensure that they categorize their merchandise appropriately. Your results may vary. Similarly, clicking on Men/Pants/Casual/Low-to-High includes velcro cycling trouser protectors, suspenders, a Top Gun patch, a defrost timer, baseball caps, socks, women's underwear, men's garden clogs, cycling masks, a knit cap with pom, a wrist restraint, a girls' sweatshirt, a bucket hat, and a necktie, along with numerous shorts and dress slacks, which have their own categories and shouldn't be included here. Dress Shirts goes a little farther afield with baby girls' leg warmers, bead necklaces, iron-on appliques, fishing hooks, yoga socks, a beanie visor, women's mini-dresses, a body-shaper tank top, hip-hop baseball caps, mesh shorts, and a leather travel pouch. It's humorous now to see the anachronisms, but when I'm shopping for something specific, it's annoying to have to scroll through unrelated items. I understand that there may be thousands of retailers and millions of products on #Amazon, but there could be more control over where items end up in the databases than is apparent now.

From my point of view, it seems that the software running the site is creaking with age. I don't remember seeing many changes to the basic product page layout over the last several years. It's great that you've developed, among other products, the #Amazon #Echo and are "just getting started" on developing more products. But in view of that and your involvement in the Washington Post, Blue Origin and the Bilderberg Group, perhaps it's time to sell Amazon to someone who will focus on the individual user's experience.