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Imagine carrying a baby to term.  You’ve waited nine long months for this moment.  You’ve planned for her arrival, you’ve had the baby shower, and you’ve gone to all your prenatal appointments. All along you are told that you are progressing normally and your baby is healthy.Your delivery day comes and, at delivery, your doctor tells you your baby has a devastating abnormality.  A cardiac defect or a severe structural abnormality or chromosomal abnormality… something that was likely already detected early in your pregnancy.

You then discover that your doctor, acting under a state law, withheld this information from you… for fear you would seek an abortion.  

As physicians, when we enter our profession, we take an oath. Part of that oath is a promise to do no harm to our patients, to never lie or withhold information. We are not Gods and should not try to emulate them.

Which leads me to wonder why politicians think they are.

The idea that anyone could intentionally create such a law allowing physicians to ‘play god’ with another’s life … without being held accountable… simply for ‘religious’ reasons is anathema to me, and I hope, to you as well.

 But, as Dr. Megan Evans notes in her column for RH Reality Check:

Unfortunately, the Arizona legislation is working to make this nightmare a reality. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would prohibit any medical malpractice lawsuits against physicians who chose to withhold valuable information regarding their patient’s pregnancy that could lead her and her family to seek termination. Much to my chagrin, this type of legislation is already law in Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, Idaho, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, and is being discussed in Kansas.

Please! I urge you to read the entire article at the link, and I hope you are as horrified and ashamed as I am that this sort of abuse is being sanctioned under law. This needs to stop!

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The question that the courts are being asked to answer, in a suit brought by an employer against a former employee, is;

Does an employee who leaves a job that involves working with social media have the right to take his or her Twitter account and followers along?

 According to Ron Barnett, a writer for USA TODAY,

That’s the question at the heart of a case unfolding in U.S. District Court in Northern California. It pits Noah Kravitz, who worked as an editor and video blogger, against his former employer, PhoneDog, a Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based company that offers reviews, news and information about phones and related technology.

By the time Kravitz left PhoneDog in October 2010, he had amassed nearly 17,000 followers. PhoneDog says in the lawsuit those followers should be treated like a customer list, and therefore are its property. The company is asking that Kravitz pay $2.50 per follower per month for eight months, or a total of $340,000. In his answer filed last week, Kravitz argues that PhoneDog is overstating the account’s value and that Twitter is the legal owner of the account.

Eric Menhart, a Washington attorney specializing in cyberlaw says that, “unless there’s a written agreement, there’s no clear line that answers this question.”

This lawsuit has the potential to touch the lives of anyone who uses social media, especially if they use it not only to promote a a particular employer’s brand-name but to create valuable name recognition for themselves.

Rachael Horwitz of Twitter’s media relations office stated that “Twitter does not comment on individual users for privacy reasons.”

Note: It is generally accepted in employment practices that for any work performed for an employer that creates value for said employer while said employee is under an employment contract… that value is effectively owned by the employer.  


And So It Begins…

Ready and willing… or not, the New Year is upon us. The detritus of the past clings to us, stubbornly reminding us that although the New Year; with its promise of a new beginning, does not mean the end of all the threads of projects unfinished, relationships left unresolved, the hyenas baying at the gates or the woes that plague us in the dark of night.

Making A List, Checking It Twice

We make lists and resolve that we will do better ‘this year’. We avow to clean up the old messes before we start anew. We look at the pile of manuscripts collecting dust in the side drawer of our desk, the stack of rejection letters yellowing at the bottom of the inbox, the stacks of books lying idly about: some half-read and others ignored and collecting dust, the reminders of over-due bills and the collection of unfinished crafts projects and broken toys stuffed carelessly in boxes in the corner of the spare room.

… And then lunge ahead with reckless abandon like a child with a new toy on Christmas morning, to something new and shiny and exciting, all the while hoping and praying we won’t trip and fall as we leap over the past and into the future.

As Orson Wells once noted…

“Let us pray!”

A flash from my own past.

A scene from not all that long ago and yet it seems several lifetimes. Yet I find I can without thought bring this and many similar images to mind without having to close my eyes. I can still smell the stink of kerosene, JP4, WD40 and Carbon Tetrachloride and feel the hundreds of tiny vibrations that rippled through my body each time we took to the air.

My body remembers the aches from seemingly endless hours strapped into those ejection seats, my mind waring between praying I’d never have to pull that handle while at the same time praying the damn thing would work if I needed it to, and being thankful for a crew-chief who gave a damn about the airplane around us. 

Today is Veterans Day, a day we take to pause and remember those who went before us, to thank those who served with us, and to say Thank You to those who serve now.

Regardless of which branch of the armed forces you served in or currently serve, I wish you all safe skies, fair winds and following seas, and may we truly have peace on earth and goodwill to all.

There’s been a great hullabaloo about “the Battery Problem” with the new iPhone 4S. Lot’s of stink and griping about yet another lousy product from Apple.

Sadly, a lot of those making the noise are industry professionals who should know better, but don’t seem to care. Never mind the problems galore that devices using Google’s Android operating system, or Microsoft’s mobile device OS seem to routinely suffer.

It’s all about bashing one of the top technology companies in the world just because it’s Apple.

If anyone had really been paying attention to ‘the problem’ and not the symptom, it might have dawned on them that all devices currently running iOS 5.0 were being affected . Which means iPads, iPods and iPhones. Even those already owned and only recently upgraded to the new iOS version… were suddenly having the same problem!

Which means, folks, that the problem is not in the hardware. So can we stop griping about the battery… please?

Where the problem is… is in the power management routines in the Operating System… caused by the enabling of features in the hardware that until now had been purposely left  switched ‘off’… because the functions weren’t enabled in previous releases of iOS.

This is intelligent product life-cycle planning. Building in features and functions you know you want to include but not enabling functionality because you’re going to turn it and other features on in future releases of the operating system.

In my opinion, this is a nice bonus for the device owner as it certainly goes along way in proving the ROI on cost-of-ownership. It is not ‘ building a fat product full of useless technology’.

… unlike some products on the marketplace that obsolesce as soon as a ‘new and improved’ product is released because they don’t bother to think past now, or don’t give a damn about the cash-cow … I mean, the end-user.

As a systems engineer, I have first hand experience with just how touchy it can be to get it ‘just right’ … and it can go wrong so easily. With a major OS release there are thousands of potential problems that can come back to bite you.

Thankfully, the problem’s been found, the code’s been fixed and is being tested, and soon the symptom will go away. Apple does a fantastic job of it, thanks in part to it’s corporate culture, but also to the dedication of its engineers and designers to product quality.

And just a note to the whiners: I’ve run into power management issues on products from every manufacturer of laptop, notebook and mobile device manufactured over the past twenty plus years.

…and I expect to see more of them in the future.

I’ll tell you why later.

The Outer Alliance is a group of SF/F writers who have come together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. Made up of individuals of all walks of life, our goal is to educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.

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