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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On the Uber-Coolness of the iPad (Updated)

You all know I want an iPad. You all know I sold my soul to Apple a long time ago. Most of you forgive me for that, and I appreciate your indulgence. Makes me feel loved.

What I want you to know, though, is that the iPad lust that fills my geeky little heart isn’t just about my love of all things shiny and Apple and “i” related; I see in the iPad what might be the world’s ultimate entertainment device. And I love nothing more than being entertained (and a Boddington’s Pub Ale in the magical foaming can is one of my favorite forms of entertainment, in case you were wondering what to get me for Zomby Appreciation Day).

I see utility in the iPad; I see it running some convenient apps that will let me make presentations and stay in touch when traveling without necessitating carrying a clunky laptop, half-assed netbook, or my not-yet-paid off expensive laptop. I’ve not yet met a netbook that I enjoy using, I generally travel either with my cheap laptop running Ubuntu (vacations and the like) or the expensive laptop (traveling for work to non-exotic locales). So, I see it bringing some usefulness into my life in that direction, but that really isn’t the point.

When people compare the iPad to a netbook, I can’t help but think they are really missing the point. When they compare it to any of the current crop of e-readers, I think they are closer (because I think it competes for the same dollars) but not quite there. When they compare them to portable game systems, I think they are close but thinking too small.

I have to buy a work computer, so the iPad doesn’t compete directly with that. It simply can’t do the things that I need from a work computer--but, then, neither can a netbook, an e-reader, or a portable gaming machine. The iPad isn’t competing for the work computer money for most of us. What it is competing for is that next tier money that could conceivably go into any number of products. Why buy an Touch or a Kindle or a PSP when your iPad can outdo the grand majority of the features of the others? And while it is more expensive than any one of those individual products, it doesn’t look terribly expensive when you think of the devices that it might replace in your life.

But don’t stop there.

For me, the iPad also competes for the money that I might otherwise put into a new set top gaming system or even a new TV because, ultimately, it has more usefulness to me as an entertainment device than the others do. I love the Xbox 360. It’s an amazing gaming platform and some of the games on it are phenomenal. Having grown up with Pong, I’m still staggered by what gaming devices have become. But if it came down to choosing between a new Xbox and a new iPad, I would choose the iPad. I’m sure it won’t be a spectacular gaming device, but, for all my Xbox love, I only spend a few hours a month playing on the thing. The rest of the time it acts as a glorified DVD player. The iPad I would likely use on a daily basis for any number of tasks.

And while the iPad won’t compete for my magazine, newspaper, and book money, I’m hoping that it will change the way that I consume all of the above. I would prefer to keep the majority of my reading material on a device like the iPad--I’ll still enjoy real books, but right now the books and magazines tend to pile up until I can get to reading them. Can the iPad help me de-clutter my life? I might be engaged in wishful thinking on that point. Most of my reading is smaller magazines and a few (expensive) foreign publications that are unlikely to be offered for subscription on an iPad any time soon. But I have high hopes for the future.

I also tend to travel with a few books and a handful of magazines to help me pass time in airports and on airplanes--something that I won’t need to do with an iPad in tow. For that matter, if the airport bookstore is closed, I’ll go online and download something to read wherever I happen to be.

For me, the iPad will replace the need for the Kindle that i had been thinking about, free me of one Linux laptop that I will probably give or sell cheap, become my near-perfect travel companion, and be far more convenient for surfing, reading, and playing than my current crop of electronic entertainment devices. I want it not only for what it can do and for what I imagine it can do, but for what I know developers will surprise me with over time.

This little bit of mental meandering is brought to you by the letter B and the letter G (with an assist from Jerry D).

Update:
Read the PC Magazine review. An even handed review from Walter Mossberg. David Pogue’s review is not all flowers and rainbows, but it might just be the smartest of the bunch.

Speaking of Offshore Drilling (Because We Were, You Know)

This is what I am getting from this MarketWatch piece by Jim Jelter.

The progressive left won’t like it. It won’t work, though. And it’s really just a bribe to bring a few Republicans over to the cap-and-trade bill.

Which sounds close to what I was suggesting yesterday, although I think that the drilling is likely to be more successful than Mr. Jelter intimates. The real question in my mind is how many Republicans will this buy in support of cap-and-trade?

It’s good politics on the president’s part because it leaves Republicans a little less room to maneuver and the people that will be most upset aren’t the people that will turn an election. Rahm Emanuel was probably right about that, although I’m sure it hurt some egos on that side of the fence.

The question in my mind is what it will buy him in public support for his other priorities.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blame Sama

My blog “sounds” significantly different from the SamaBlog.




Wild.

Keep Watching Both Hands…

I suspect that the bump in popularity from this particular bit of news (providing it turns out to be true) will have a much more favorable effect on President Obama’s poll numbers than the hard-fought health care bill did--and it’s one of those wild things that might actually find significant bipartisan support.

The Obama administration is expected to announce by Wednesday its updated plan for oil and natural gas drilling in U.S. waters, including whether to allow exploration for the first time along the U.S. East Coast.

The plan could pave the way for a significant new domestic source of energy, helping to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports and boost supplies of natural gas used to displace coal in power plants as the country works to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he wanted to release the updated drilling plan by the end of March.

This is smart politics, though, like former President Clinton co-opting welfare reform. While it could alienate the progressive left (I still know people who refuse to forgive Clinton for welfare reform), it could provide significant cover from attacks from the center and right. Which cover he will use, of course, either to work on immigration reform or a cap-and-trade bill.

Call it a hunch.

But, as is often said, the devil is in the details. Until we know precisely what the proposal is (and what the cost will be--because everything has a cost), it’s too early to start praising this proposal. In politics, as in magic acts, what we see is just an illusion designed to keep us from what’s happening in the background. Keep your eyes on both hands and a tight grip on your wallet.

Tweeted Wisdom (The Patrick Ruffini Edition)

“We should not allow Obama to frame anything that spends more money as ‘deficit reduction.’”

Feel free to let me know how you would categorize about a trillion dollars of new spending (and about half a trillion in new taxes and fees).

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Life of Zomby, Part 1

Can you guess the era? Can you guess the place? I’ll tell you this much, as a young Zomby, I had the opportunity to see a part of the world that many Americans never will and, likely, have little desire to experience.


image

I have, indeed, lived a blessed life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wow.

Like so much of the technology that surrounds us without us even noticing either the complexity or the way it changes our lives, things like this would have sounded like science fiction to me when I was in high school. We live in a world of wonders; some of them are entirely natural, but many have been given to us by smart, creative, dedicated people like the folks that were working on that particular trial.

I am awed by them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Can Still be Funny

Funny stuff and a funny site.

HOW WILL HEALTH-CARE REFORM AFFECT YOU?

YOU WILL NOT die. Your health-insurance company is now obliged to keep you alive forever.

If you have a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or clumsiness, your name will be entered in the Pre-Existing Conditions Registry, and you are eligible for free ice cream.

Read the rest. Then check out the rest of the site.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Headline Reads: “Malawi gay couple face full trial”

The story is bad enough: two gay men are facing a trial in Malawi for the simple act of engaging in homosexual acts. “Homosexual acts carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.”

What bugged me most wasn’t the story, though. I suppose I’ve become somewhat numb to the plight of gays in some parts of the world; not that I accept it or think that it’s in any way right, but that I know how the story goes and I’m no longer shocked.

What bugged me most was the picture. There are jeering, mocking faces surrounding the two gay men and I realize that I can’t imagine ever doing anything that would expose me to so much public ridicule or shame--and they are experiencing it for nothing more than living openly as gay men.

Sad, sad story.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ah, the Little Joys of Netflix

Late Sunday night, working on ads for a few magazines based in Australia, answering emails from our counterparts in Shanghai, and watching News Radio streaming through the Xbox 360.

News Radio still stands out as one of the funniest, most engaging sitcoms of all time. The writing, the comedic timing, the personalities are all stunningly good. I still miss Phil Hartman, I still have a crush on Maura Teirney, Steven Root’s Jimmy James is something close to perfect, and I still think Dave Foley is the best thing by far to come out of Kids in the Hall. Maybe the only good thing to come out of Kids in the Hall, come to think of it.

And I’m watching it streaming through my Xbox while trying to catch up on work. Isn’t technology amazing?

The only sad part is that I own the first three seasons on DVD, but I’m apparently too lazy to go upstairs and get them out…

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Beautiful Pharaoh

A great little article from Shawn Macomber.

“But Aapep, why did you not show the pharaoh as he is, slender and with abs like a board of washing?”

Why, indeed.

And From the Left

I don’t agree with much I read at FireDogLake, but I do agree with Jane Hamsher on this: the health care reform bill is bad legislation and it will hurt more people than it helps.

Read her post.

Well. That Will Be Good for Job Growth.

I know that some people think that I, being the Republican that I am, oppose this health care reform package because I hate poor people (or words to that effect). This ignores the fact that I am poor people, that my wife and I already pay a pretty good amount for our health care plans and might well see our direct costs reduced by the plan, and that I don’t, in fact, hate poor people.

What I fear is that government doesn’t do much well, efficiently, or within budget. I fear the tax increases, the cost burdens that will be faced by the states, and the relentless drive toward the Federal government regulating our lives in new and exciting ways. I would suggest these are all reasonable worries.

Here’s another one: job growth.

Caterpillar Inc. said the health-care overhaul legislation being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives would increase the company’s health-care costs by more than $100 million in the first year alone.

In a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Caterpillar urged lawmakers to vote against the plan “because of the substantial cost burdens it would place on our shareholders, employees and retirees.”
Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction machinery manufacturer by sales, said it’s particularly opposed to provisions in the bill that would expand Medicare taxes and mandate insurance coverage. The legislation would require nearly all companies to provide health insurance for their employees or face large fines.

The Peoria-based company said these provisions would increase its insurance costs by at least 20 percent, or more than $100 million, just in the first year of the health-care overhaul program.

The direct effect of having to spend that much more on health care, of course, is less money available for investment, development, research and hiring. It also makes it harder for a company to want to hire new full time employees by making the long term commitment even more onerous.

It’s obvious, but I feel like I have to say it: profit is not a bad word and a company has to make a profit to survive. Without that profit, there are no jobs, there is no company, and there are no taxes paid. For that matter, when it becomes too costly to do business here, will they simply move their operations somewhere else? Somewhere more friendly to businesses? Certainly that’s never happened before.

Read the rest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rep. Perlmutter, Are You Listening?

This is the email I just sent to Ed Perlmutter.

I wanted to let you know that I, along with many of your constituents, oppose both this current version of health care reform and the maneuvers being used to push it through. This is not what democracy--even a representative democracy--should look like.

While I do support responsible health care reform, this is not the way to achieve that goal.

I pledge to you this: I will not vote for any elected official who votes for this health care reform bill.

Thank you.

I have no idea how many of these things they read. I have no idea if they are truly listening, but I do hope that our representatives are listening. While I know that many of my friends occupy the opposite political space on health care reform, and I hope that they are playing their part in our system, but I hope like hell that this thing dies.

For some of the reasons why, read this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rep. Markey, Are You Listening?

I only ask because I wonder if you knew how many of your constituents plan to vote against you if you vote for this health care bill.

58 percent of likely voters in a poll conducted in Colorado’s 4th District will likely vote against Congresswoman Betsy Markey if she votes for Barack Obama’s health care takeover bill this week. The poll was commissioned by Americans for Limited Government (ALG).
[...]
“These results are hardly surprising,” said ALG President Bill Wilson.  “Congresswoman Markey voted against the government takeover of health care in November, and her constituents are watching to see if she will hold the line.”

58 percent voters said they would be less likely to vote for Congresswoman Markey in November if she voted for the bill, which is projected to cost $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented.  Only 38 percent would be more likely to vote for her.

Of those, 71 percent of Independent, unaffiliated voters said they would be less likely to vote for Congresswoman Markey if she voted for the bill.  Only 24 percent said they would be more likely.

See the survey results here.

And here’s another poll with interesting results for incumbents who might support this particular bill. (PDF)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time Out for Art

Do you like photography? I mean, do you like the artistry of photographs? Then I think you’ll like Joey Lawrence.


The photo I’ve chosen to appropriate isn’t his most striking picture, but it shows something that I enjoyed in his work: his eye to bring people and environment into harmony with each other. Notice how the color and the forms of the cloth play so perfectly against the flow and color of the rocks as the subject stands there perfectly relaxed. It feels very natural, but the composition is gorgeous.

Some of his work is strikingly odd, but always involving and compelling.

Beautiful stuff.

No Greater Love Hath a Man Than This…

...That he Savage Garden songs for his favorite sports team.



What?

Raisin Bran ad: “With two scoops of raisins harvested at the peak of sweetness...”

Where the hell are these mythical raisin orchards? For that matter, how do you tell when a raisin is ripe? Or is Raisin Bran just a little more French than I had thought?

Ponder, my friends, ponder.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ryan Frazier for Congress

Congressman Perlmutter, my representative, probably isn’t worried much about my vote. I didn’t vote for him in the last election and I was unlikely to vote for him in the upcoming election. When Ryan Frazier, a local politician who I interviewed a few years ago, declared for the race, the chance of me voting Perlmutter became zero.

But for anyone who is still pondering their vote, here’s what Frazier would bring us: a definite no vote on bad health care reform, a smart man who knows his constituents, a vet who served his country with honor, and an unapologetic conservative who will work hard to do what’s right for us. All of that would be good enough for me, but he’s also a hell of a nice guy who has shown, at the local level, the ability to be a good representative.

If you’d like to learn more about him, this would be a good place to start.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bad Bets R’ Us

Giant Lego folk rising from the earth to enslave us.

And I had to go and put all my money on Zombies.

Darn.

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