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10/5/11

RIP Steve Jobs

Not much to say but that a visionary man is gone, and that I wrote and published this blog entry on my iPhone.

Filed under General, News, Tech, Unfinished Thoughts (and tagged with , , ) on October 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm
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8/24/11

iPads, cash, and the U.S. government

I have absolutely no need for an iPad. Where it would fit between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro is a very small space indeed. However, being an Apple fanboy in general, I just read this article about the iPad’s total domination of the tablet market. One paragraph really stood out.

With its cash reserves — I’m sure you’d seen the reports than indicate Apple has more cash than our own government and now we learn Apple is more valuable than the 32 biggest euro banks combined — Apple could outlast all of them without breaking a ledger page sweat.

Oh. No, I hadn’t seen those reports. Indeed, CNN says:

According to the latest statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s less than what Steve Jobs has lying around.

Tech juggernaut Apple had a whopping $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June, according to its last earnings report. Unlike the U.S. government, which is scrambling to avoid defaulting on its debt, Apple takes in more money than it spends.

“We don’t let the cash burn a hole in the pocket or make stupid acquisitions,” CEO Jobs said last fall. “We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry because we think there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.”

Offering Uncle Sam a short-term loan is probably not one of them.

Probably not, indeed. But the imaginative CNN writer offered another possibility in the lede: “Maybe the cash-strapped U.S. government should start selling iPads.”

Sorry, that’s all wrong. That would be silly! The reverse is a much better idea: Maybe Apple should take over all the operations of the U.S. government. Apple couldn’t do much worse, could they? I have more faith in Steve Jobs than I do in Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court combined, and my wild guess is that a majority of Americans do, too.

Should I start a petition drive? (No. No, I shouldn’t.)

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), I Hate Politics, News, Tech (and tagged with , , , , ) on August 24, 2011 at 10:49 am
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8/12/11

Hello WordCamp visitors

You may notice that I seldom post on this blog. Recently acquired fans have raved about the content, however, so perhaps I will be inspired to post more. Usually what happens at WordCamp is that I post a couple of live blogs and then let the site slowly wither throughout the year, until I start writing a really long comment on SFGate or something, after which I realize “this belongs on the blog!” and post it here.

Strangely or not, I do similar things to plants; plus points for consistency, I suppose.

Apparently more than 20,000 people make a living with WordPress, according to the (very general) presentation I’m in right now. Including this site, I have four WordPress sites in production that I built (and sometimes designed): the CLCV Education Fund, the Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival (in Oakland September 3, 9, and 10!), the San Francisco Improv Festival (didn’t design but coded the theme — their opening night is next Thursday!), and the one you’re on right now.

Got any questions about design, or creating custom themes, or installing WordPress? Let me know.

Filed under Life, Tech (and tagged with , ) on August 12, 2011 at 9:49 am
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7/20/11

Just now

Ten minutes ago, I woke up from a doze slipped into while reading and taking off my shoes. Both legs stretched out in front of me, I awoke with my right foot entirely asleep, as both feet rested on the seat of a folding chair. When I gingerly started lowering my feet to finish removing my shoes — I had gotten as far as untying the right one — I imagined with a mixture of horror and detached fascination (as I have numerous times in the past) that if I had put all my weight on my foot while it was in that state, I could have easily (if unintentionally) snapped my ankle in half.

I’m fine — actually, pretty great at the moment. Not much to share here, but thought I’d stop by after not having done so in more than three months. With only four blog entries in more than seven months this calendar year, it seems this site is headed for a slow extinction (the whimper kind, not the bang kind, apparently). But, we’ll see.

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), Fluff, Life, Unfinished Thoughts on July 20, 2011 at 12:52 am
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4/6/11

The art of getting bumped

Neat (via the New York Times):

[A]irlines continue to cut capacity in an effort to keep up with rising fuel prices, leaving fewer seats for passengers…. [T]here are some travelers who see the flight crunch as a lucrative opportunity. Among them is Ben Schlappig. The 20-year-old senior at the University of Florida said he earned “well over $10,000” in flight vouchers in the last three years by strategically booking flights that were likely to be oversold in the hopes of being bumped.

If you subscribe to the credo that there’s “nothing new under the sun,” then this is exactly the kind of pursuit you’d expect from young Americans who possess entrepreneurial spirit. There are many worse ways one could devise to maximize one’s benefit by exploiting some aspect of a system.

It’s refreshing to me to see a reversal in the trend of corporations destroying our society, even such an insignificant one. So, thank you, Mr. Schlappig, for doing the legwork. Perhaps others will gain from your pioneering ways.

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), Culture, Fluff, News, Travel on April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
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3/9/11

You’ve gone and done it this time, Wisconsin Republicans.

Wisconsin Solidarity
Wow, Wisconsin Republicans, very slick. Your crap plan to kill collective bargaining (and a whole lot of other things about Wisconsin government) basically had the votes. But instead of waiting out the Dems who fled the state, you had to go and create a committee that met in violation of state open meeting laws.

Wisconsin state politics has long featured some degree of blatant corruption and/or powermongering (Tommy Thompson, Chuck Chvala, Gary George, etc.), but Governor Scott Walker isn’t anywhere near as savvy as any of those guys were.

Convening the hastily formed committee was clearly an illegal act. What fools they are to choose not to play by the rules and completely give up the moral high ground, especially when everybody knows they had the votes to eventually win anyway. It was an overreach from the start.

From http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dls/OMPR/2010OMCG-PRO/2010_OML_Compliance_Guide.pdf (a guide to open meeting compliance from the WI attorney general in 2010) –

page 10:

The two most basic requirements of the open meetings law are that a governmental body:
(1) give advance public notice of each of its meetings, and
(2) conduct all of its business in open session, unless an exemption to the open session requirement applies.

and page 13:

The provision in Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3) requires that every public notice of a meeting be given at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting, unless “for good cause” such notice is “impossible or impractical.” If “good cause” exists, the notice should be given as soon as possible and must be given at least two hours in advance of the meeting. Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3).

No Wisconsin court decisions or Attorney General opinions discuss what constitutes “good cause” to provide less than twenty-four-hour notice of a meeting. This provision, like all other provisions of the open meetings law, must be construed in favor of providing the public with the fullest and most complete information about governmental affairs as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business.

Seriously, think about this for a second. What good cause could there possibly have been to create a committee and have it meet almost immediately? There is none. The Dems have been out of town for days, so the fact was that they just wanted to ram it through — that definitely doesn’t pass the “good cause” smell test (and if you argue that there was a good cause, think carefully about what your biases might be).

Maybe Michael Moore’s speech the other day spooked them.

Frankly, I’m amazed that this is happening in my home state. You know things are bad when even Wisconsinites finally decide enough is enough. To be honest, my (wacky and perhaps unrealistic) dream is that the next big progressive movement arises (again) in Wisconsin.

Filed under I Hate Politics, News, Wisconsin (and tagged with , , , , , , ) on March 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm
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1/9/11

One guy’s initial thoughts: What conditions precipitate the shooting of Congresspeople?

I started to post this as my status on Facebook, but it was getting long.

I hardly need to say that I’m sad and angry that people are shooting at Congressional representatives and judges and children. I’m certain that our country’s culture of violence and cavalier attitude towards human life has something to do with it. The media, which have conflated news and entertainment, and politicians (and by extension political parties), who are increasingly disconnected from reality, bear much responsibility for where we are today.

I’m not sure how we as a country and as a society are ever going to grow up. I’m not quite naïve enough to believe that violence can ever fully be eradicated, because it’s been with us for all of history. I am still idealistic enough, however, to think that working to stop it is worthwhile. I think that starts with thinking of the people around us not as enemies or competitors, but as our brothers and sisters, people who are in the same struggle to survive and thrive as we are.

It continues by recognizing that the people who set us against one another, who have created this climate, do it because they have something to gain at our expense. (From kumbaya to overly abstract, I know, I know.)

In these times, I can’t help but think of George Washington’s warning against political parties (emphasis mine, of course):

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

“Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

(Relevant portions are excerpted and explained in this only slightly dated column from Harper’s Magazine, and the full text is here).

I have to say that I favor the actions and tenets of one party over another. And I’m not saying they’re equally responsible for what happened yesterday — using obvious violent metaphors in political rhetoric is inexcusable. Both parties have to be part of the solution, though.

And I know there are good people in the media, and in politics (like this guy); I really don’t know what happens to them on the way to the top. Maybe most of the ones that make it to the top are the ones who are willing to do anything to get there.

Regardless, this is a point at which I would like to see our country’s “leaders” take some responsibility, admit their errors, and call for people to be calm. Unfortunately, I expect to be waiting for a while.

The main thing I’d like them to say, and the impression I want this essay to leave, is timeless: Let’s treat those around us the way we want to be treated. Not as enemies.

Filed under Culture, History, I Hate Politics, News on January 9, 2011 at 9:42 am
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