FEATURED REVIEW: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Welcome to our Featured Reviews! In this series, we’ll be highlighting book reviews by the S&L audience. If you want to submit a review, please check out the guidelines here! -Veronica

Review by Caro (?)

Freedom, like anything else, is relative.

Why I read this book

Last year (2013) I read my first book from Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, and loved it. The way she threw fiction elements while making a very impressive critique of society was amazing for me, and so I wanted to keep reading her work. The Handmaid’s Tale has been mentioned several times as an iconic part of her work and when I saw it on my recommended on Audible it was a no brainer to get myself a copy.

What the book is about

The book is set in a dystopian future, taking place mostly in what used to be Massachusetts. After a “terrorist” attack, a theocratic, Christian regime has taken over. Women have lost any right they might’ve had and all “sinners” (homosexuals, people who committed adultery, people of other faiths) have been either killed or “re educated” (are you cringing already?) . The story is told by a woman we learn to know as Offred, this implying that she is a possession of a man with Fred on his surname. Offred has been made a Handmaid which in this new country, more than servant, implies child bearer. It is explained through the book that due to chemical contamination, radiation and other factors, procreation has been in declined in the country, and hence the government have established that officials not only have a wife, but also access to women (the handmaids) that will carry their child, sort off surrogate mothers. After delivery, the child is given to the wife to raise. Offred’s destiny depends on her submission and her ability to bear children.

First impressions 

Listening to this book was hard, mostly because of the way women are treated, but also because you feel that this speculative work of fiction could easily take place again (references to other theocratic regimes are easily spotted, particularly Iran). Jumps from present to past are sometimes abrupt, but it carries a good feeling of how train of thought sometimes takes place and, in my case at least, makes the connection with the protagonist even deeper. That type of writing made me feel pain, angst and helplessness as Offred was feeling them too.

Final thoughts

Is hard for me to put into words my final thoughts. See, I have a lot of feelings when I think of this book, but they are not easy to put into paper, simply because they touch so deep. But let’s try.

I felt rage as a woman, at to how women were treated. I’ve read some other reviews saying “well this would never happen; oh our society would never let this happen to women”. And yet look at all the contraception legislation in the USA, most of the definitions are being taken by male politicians, and people are going with it.

I felt afraid of this being a plausible thing, maybe not right now where I am, but somewhere in the world there is right now a totalitarian movement, feeding, slowly maybe, and growing and getting more and more powerful. There are things that seem to happen suddenly when you are far away, but is just because you weren’t in site to see the tiny changes that carried a big one. And this applies to any type of changes, positive or negative, particularly since this label is so subjective. The critic about how money was not physical anymore hit a stroke in me. I never thought about how I rely on plastic more and more. Not on credit, but I use my debit card most of the time and hence my contact with physical money has been decreasing more and more.

I felt sad at the different situations Offred had to go through, leaving her past behind, having so many memories, so many loved ones that she lost, almost overnight.

I felt a bit frustrated at the end of the book, because I wanted more closure, but at the same time, the way the author rounds the whole thing up, made me “forgive” the not knowing.

I loved Claire Danes as a narrator. At first I thought her tone was a bit flat, but this was at very beginning when the character was just stating facts. As emotions surged, as different characters appeared, so did new tones, new inflictions in her voice that made me get more into the whole story.

Nobody dies of lack of sex, is lack of love we die from 

DTNS 2227 – A mighty solar wind

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comJonathan Strickland is on the show with an intriguing story about a way to combine solar AND wind to solve our energy woes. Plus Mozilla gets all creative with the net neutrality problem. Did they solve it?


Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org.


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
Today’s guest: Jon Strickland, host of FW:Thinking, co-host of Tech Stuff and writer for How Stuff Works ho


CNET reports Apple and Samsung have finally reached the end of one of their patent battles. A jury handed down a verdict Friday in San Jose California, ordering Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million and ordering Apple to pay Samsung $158,400. Apple had asked for $2.2 billion and Samsung wanted $6.2 million. Apple’s lawyers disputed one of the damages figures so the jury deliberated again Monday morning. The jury raised the award for one Samsung violation but also lowered the award for another leading to essentially the same $119.6 million decision. Some suspect that might not even cover Apple’s court costs.

CNET reports Amazon and Twitter have teamed up to make it easier to shop. Starting today Twitter users can link their account to an Amazon account. Once that’s done products can be added to an Amazon shopping cart by responding to any Tweet with an Amazon link and using the hashtag #AmazonCart or in the UK #AmazonBasket. No word on the terms of the deal though Amazon did say Twitter is not getting a cut of each purchase.

Reuters notes that over the past year Apple has hired a half dozen promintent experts in biomedicine, the latest moving over to Apple two weeks ago. Apple is reportedly recruiting other medical professionals as well. Much of the hiring is apparently around sensor technology. Most people suspect it’s related to a wearable device. Apple has trademarked the name iWatch in Japan, though apparently Swatch is not too happy with that name being taken by Apple.

TechCrunch reports Oculus responded to allegations by ZeniMax that John Carmack violated his non-disclosure agreement after he left ZeniMax-owned iD software, which he founded, to go work for Oculus on VR technology. Oculus repeated Carmack’s claim that ZeniMax shelved their own VR projects which led to Carmack’s departure. Oculus stressed ZeniMax never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus products.

GigaOm reports EvLEaks has pictures of a smaller version of the HTC One M8 called the One Mini 2. The Mini 2 does not look to have the second sensor that measures depth during photo-taking. It also has only one LED flash. Otherwise if the leaked picture is accurate, and EvLeaks has a good track record, the Mini2 looks just like the M8 only smaller.

News From You

Our top story on the SubReddit was submitted by MikePKennedy. Engadget reports teams competing at Harvard, Cambridge and California found that pumping blood from young mice into older ones led to the elderly mice developing more blood vessels in the vein, demonstrating clearer thinking and faster running. Harvard researchers subsequently isolated a protein called GDF11, which helped both the operation of hearts and brains. Before your steal your younger friends and family’s blood, remember that you are not a mouse.

spsheridan posted the Next Web article about John McAfee launching a secure messaging app called Chadder.  Produced by McAfee’s Future Tense Private Systems, the app aims to be like Wickr and others encrypting messages so only the recipient can read them. Chadder is in beta but available for Android and Windows Phone. 

cincyhuffster pointed out the GigaOm report on Mozilla’s effort to help the FCC fix the Net Neutrality problem. One solution has been to reclassify ISPs as telecommomunications providers, often referred to as Title II classification. The idea is politically impossible. ISP’s were classified as Information providers in the early 200s partly because they host email and storage, or did in large numbers back then. Mozilla’s clever plan is to leave ISP’s as information providers when managing their own systems, but classify any inbound traffic from content providers as telecommunications. IN other words split it in two. Mozilla hopes to influence the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking the FCC will deliver on May 15th.

tekkyn00b and MrAnthrpology both submitted reports of Target’s CEO resigning in the wake of the Target data breach. The Verge reports Gregg Steinhafel will step down as CEO, President and Chairman of the company and give up his seat on the board of directors. Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan is expected to take over as president until a successor can be found. Target’s former head of technology, Beth Jacob, resigned in March.

Spsheridan submitted the GigaOm report on a blog post from Internet transit provider Level 3, accusing 5 US ISPs and one European one of using market powers to interfere with traffic flow. Level 3 says it has saturated ports with 12 of its 51 peers. Six of those peers are in the process of cooperating on upgrades to alleviate congestion. The other six are doing nothing and Level 3 says they are also networks with dominant or exclusive market share in their local market. 

Discussion Section Links: Solar Wind!



Pick of the Day:  Video DownloadHelper

Hey Tom, Fascinated Video Size Guy here. Got a pick for the show that will also solve the confusion for the YouTube video download. My pick is Video DownloadHelper. It’s a free add-on for Firefox and it gives you the ability to download any video on YouTube and other video sites. But wait there’s more!!!! YouTube always stores multiple versions of videos so YT and it’s users can adjust the quality to best match their connection speeds and needs. VDH adds a button that allows you to simply choose which version of the YT video you want to download. I’ve used VDH for many years and can recommend it highly to anyone looking to download YT videos, especially people who produce a daily tech news shows :) Love the show, Fascinated Video Size Guy

Tuesday’s guest: Allison Sheridan, podfeet.com

Current Geek 15: It’s 2am somewhere right now

Today, on CurrentGeek, Comicbook day stuff is ahead of us this weekend, that big Starwars photo is rad, the legendary cache of buried carts, new COD game with interesting people in it, more dumb ways to die, Hobbits everywhere, Comixology mess still a mess, Facebook cares about piracy, 3D printers are gonna be cheap in the future, which letters get read in congress and MORE!

DTNS 2226 – Uh-OAuth

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comDarren Kitchen is on the show to help us understand why we shouldn’t freak out about the OAuth flaw, and what Apple, Google and Facebook are really doing to protect their users from government data requests.


Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org.


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s guest: Darren Kitchen, hak5.org


Our top story on the subreddit was submitted by Beatmaster80 and tekkyn00b. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are all updating their policies to expand the notification they give users when a government agency requests their personal data. Yahoo announced a similar policy in July, and Twitter has always done so. Users would not be notified if a court order prevents it or if there is imminent risk of physical harm to a potential crime victim. The policies will have no effect on NSA data collection or National Security Letters both of which are required to remain secret by law.

bmorales submitted a CNET story about Nanyang Technolohical University student Wang Jing uncovering a flaw in OAuth and OpenID that could be used to steal a login token from services like Facebook or Google, when using those services to login to a third party site. The token could then be used to retrieve data from Google or Facebook. Mashable’s Christina Warren has an excellent writeup of the issue. It’s not a weakness in OAuth at all but caused by a weak implementation on the third-party website’s side, which could be mitigated by certain practices on the side of Facebook or Google. Also, the attack requires you to click a suspicious link AND choose to then login with a service. So no. This is not another Heartbleed.

The Next Web reports Microsoft’s Windows Phone manager, Joe Belfiore held a Reddit AMA today where he said Windows Phone will get a file manager by the end of the month, hopefully. The app will let you create new folders, move files from one folder to another, and search within folders.

Ars Technica reports on a system called Large Emergency Event Digital Information Repository, meant to let citizens upload videos and photos to help police investigations and disaster response. Amazon Web Services has teamed with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on the project. Santa Barbara, CA authorities are the first to use the system and are calling on the public to upload images taken of a riot last month at the Isla Vista community near the University of California at Santa Barbara. Apps for LEEDIR are available for iOS and Android. 

The Verge reports the next Call of Duty game, Advanced Warfare, will launch on November 4th, and star Kevin Spacey as head of a private military corporation that has launched an attack on the US. The first trailer showed up on the official Call of Duty YouTube page late last night. 

Macrumors reports Apple is expanding its iTunes Match service to Japan. The service, which costs ¥3,980 per year, lets iTunes users match their library with cloud versions of the songs for quick storage, which can then be accessed from any Apple device.  

News From You

KAPT_Kipper posted a GigaOm story that a class action complaint has been filed against Google, alleging secret deals force Samsung and others to use the Google search engine on mobile devices, creating a search monopoly, which in turn makes devices cost more. The crux of the complaint is that Google offers Mobile Application Distribution Agreements, which require device makers to make Google the default search engine if they want to include Google’s other mobile apps like YouTube and the Google Play app store. Google told GigaOm by email “Anyone can use Android without Google and anyone can use Google without Android. 

metalfreak sent in the PC World story about the Attorney General for the US state of Washington filing a lawsuit against a company that raised $25,000 on Kickstarter but failed to deliver its product, a retro-horror playing-card deck called Asylum. The project funded in October 2012 and has yet to deliver any rewards. Kickstarter’s terms of use requires creators to fulfill all rewards of their projects or refund backers. The complaint, filed in King County Superior Court, seeks restitution for consumers and as much as $2,000 per violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

Beatmaster80 pointed us to the Record story that Lila Tretikov has been named Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia among other projects. Outgoing director Sue Gardner will end her term on June 1. Tretikov was previously chief product officer at SugarCRM. Tretikov’s personal background growing up in the Soviet Union and her experience with open-source engineering seem to be the main reasons she got the job.

KAPT_Kipper posted an ITWorld story that Sony has developed magnetic tape that stores data at 148 gigabits per square inch, 74 times the density of standard tapes. That could mean 185 TB tape cartridges. Current LTO-6 cartridges can handle up to 2.5 TB. Tape is still used for long-term data storage. The Tape Storage Council industry group reports tape capacity shipments grew by 13 percent in 2012 and were projected to grow by 26 percent last year.

Pootinky pointed to a a slashdot posting about a Vanderbilt University graduate student, working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who has discovered a way to create three-atom-thick nanowires capable of linking transistors and other components. It’s a step toward devices that could be as thin as paper.

Discussion Section Links:  New Security Flaw discovered






Pick of the Day:  Dogeforsale.com via Luke Olsen

Looking to get into some Dogecoins before the DogeCar takes the track at Talladega this weekend. Not sure how to how to navigate crypto exchanges? Have no fear dogeforsale.com is here. Its a site where users can buy and sell Dogecoins with paypal, google wallet, debit cards, etc. The site is a basic escrow service, it holds the coins during the transaction. Get Dogecoins fast and securely. much speed very secure. DISCLAIMER: I’m a seller on the site “SkyJedi” 

Good cause of the day: Podcamp Nashville

PodCamp Nashville happening May 17 in Nashville, TN is one of the last and largest Podcamps in the country. They are in need of sponsors and patrons or will have to cut out major parts of the event or cancel. For as little at $100 you can become of friend of this event the has been so vital to the Nashville creative community. This Friday is a deadline that they need to make a $2500 payment for the event. If you or a company you many know would like to help out Podcamp Nashville please visit: http://bit.ly/pcn14friend

Len Peralta was on assignment today :( So Jennie did some 8th grade-level fear-based art: What’s A Poor Normal To Do

Monday’s guest: Jon Strickland

DTNS 2225 – Thieving little thief

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comDenise Howell is on the show today and we’ll touch on Foursquare splitting, what Hulu’s model should be, and how you can tell the FCC what you think of their net neutrality stance.


Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from Archive.org.


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from thepolarcat.com for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes
Today’s guest: Denise Howell, of This Week in Law


TechCrunch reports Foursquare will split its app into two. The original FourSquare app will no longer have a check-in function but focus on discovery, exploration and recommendations. It will use geolocation to track where you go and how long you stay. The other app, called Swarm, will have the traditional check-in feature with a heat-map and the ability to see nearby friends. Swarm will also have a messaging feature. 

Boy Genius Report, which seems to have a never-ending supply of Amazon smartphone leaks, has another Amazon smartphone leak. This time it’s a picture of the phone, NOT hidden in a case. Instead multiple sources have verified to BGR that they have a real image of the design of the front and back of the yet-to-be-officially-acknowledged phone. Amazon is widely expected to launch the phone in Q3.

TechCrunch reports snapchat added two new features today. A traditional chat like interface lets you talk in text in realtime. You know like text messaging. The other feature lets you make a video call from that text chat screen. You’ll have to keep your finger on the screen to keep the video active, although the call will stay live. When you leave a call or chat and swipe back to the main screen your chat history disappears in typical snapchat fashion. The update should arrive for iOS and Android later today.

Microsoft has released patches for all supported version of Internet Explorer to fix a nasty zero-day vulnerability that could allow attackers to get full user permissions over a PC. In a surprise move, Microsoft issued patches for users of Windows XP. Microsoft officially stopped supporting the 12-year-old XP in April. 

News From You

Spsheridan submitted our top story on the subreddit. BGR passed along a WSJ story that big tech companies like Google, Netflix and Yahoo, “say they are considering mobilizing a grass-roots campaign to rally public opinion around the idea that the Internet’s pipes should be equally open for all.” Last week FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler admitted he will propose Open Internet rules that would allow for “commercially reasonable” prioritization of certain Internet traffic.

tekkyn00b posted all the T-Mobile stories from Android Central today. For one T-Mobile USA has acquired 700 MHz spectrum from Verizon, which will help improve LTE coverage. T-Mobile also published its Q1 earnings reports. The good news, is the company added 2.4 million customers, bringing it close to third place Sprint. The bad news, it lost $20 million because of the costs of acquiring all those new customers. Still long-term that bet should pay off. IN adition Recode reports T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter and marketing chief Mike Sievert say a potential merger with Sprint would only allow them to become more disruptive. Like an un-carrier on steroids, Carter’s words. 

habichuelacondulce submitted the CNET story that AT&T has raised the possibility of acquiring DirecTV according to sources talking to the Wall Street Journal. Apparently AT&T started flirting with DirecTV in February in response to the potential Comcast TimeWarner Cable merger. Of course AT&T has allegedly flirted with Dish Network before as well. Are they serious or just a tease? They’ll never tell. Until they file with the SEC then they’ll be legally required to tell. 

Spsheridan spotted the Ars Technica story about Google Now for Android helping you remember where you parked, automatically. You don’t even have to yell “remember where we parked!” or anything. Using Android’s Activity Recognition System to detect when you go from driving to stopping then walking, Google Now notes the GPS location of the stopping part. Of course if you’re in a multi-level garage you still need to remember what floor you’re on. 

MikePKennedy submitted the Verge story that Amazon has admitted it has been offering same-day delivery service to San Francisco, Dallas, since earlier this year. Don’t you feel better not hiding that anymore Amazon? Other same-day markets also got their deadlines pushed a little later in the day. So you folks in Indianapolis now have until 11:30 AM not that ungodly 7 AM deadline you’ve suffered under up until now. Although there’s bad news fro Las Vegas which is losing its same day service. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose your same-day service, Vegas. And New Yorkers now have to make their orders 30 minutes earlier to qualify. Stop yer whining New Yorkers just get up earlier and order!

Beatmaster80 pointed us at the Ars Technica story about Zenimax Media, the parent company of Id Software and John Carmack’s old employer, alleging that Carmack is a thieving little thief. Actually Zenimax alleges that technology Carmack developed while he was still at Zenimax was the genesis of what would eventually become the Oculus Rift development kit. Carmack left Zenimax-owned id in November. Carmack tweeted, “No work I have ever done has been patented. Zenimax owns the code that I wrote, but they don’t own VR.”

Discussion Section Links:  Net Neutrality




Pick of the Day:  Waze

Friday’s guest: Darren Kitchen of hak5.org