24 Hours Later, or, The Blog-and-Bag Conundrum

Now that we’ve had a night to sleep on it, and (hopefully) finish up with the bad menstruation shtick brought on by the name**, it’s time to take another look at the iPad. Having contemplated and considered, I have some additional thoughts.

* The common thread among those who have seen and touched and used the iPad is that “you won’t truly understand until you handle it; words and specs and YouTube video doesn’t do justice to the experience of using it.” My regard for Stephen Fry is such that I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this front.

* Everyone seems to think that $499 is not a bad price to pay at the entry level for this thing. That’s as may be – no one has ever accused me of having a good sense of the value of money one way or the other, and I will agonize for literally months over a $20 Nerf gun but think nothing of donking off $20 worth of coffee and soda in a day – but my comparisons are to things like a $299 netbook, or $199 iPod Touch, or $200-something Kindle 2 that comes with free lifetime wireless access. Against that, $500 is kind of steep no matter how you slice it.

* I played around with a Dell Mini 10 running Windows XP this afternoon. I think the search indexing was running some of the time, which didn’t help, but the general feel was: OH. DEAR. GOD. SO. SLOW. I wonder if it would be any better with Xubuntu on it instead. The keyboard on the Mini 10 is the best I’ve seen yet on a netbook, and even pwns the keyboard on some of Dell’s full-sized small-business offerings (Vostro 1520, I’m looking at you…and contemplating using the bathroom) but if that’s as fast as it gets…maybe the fundamental problem is that things like the iDevices or the Kindle have a purpose-built Device OS rather than a full-size Computing OS (such as Windows, etc), and as such can run their own apps and things faster on less powerful hardware than trying to coax Windows performance out of an Atom N270. (God help you if you try to watch QuickTime movies on that thing…)

* The thing I always come back to is…blogging. You wouldn’t ever want to blog on an iPhone. Twitter, Tumblr, sure – but nothing over 100 words. Looking at the Kindle, I’m not sure you’d want to blog on it even if you could – the keyboard is made for a long session with a surgeon about the damage you’ve done to the ligaments and tendons in your thumbs. And looking at the iPad, I still don’t see how typing on a flat glass screen is going to work. This brings me to the next point…

* Devices like the iPhone/iPod Touch/Kindle/smartphones generally – they are meant for consumption, not creation. You read on them, you surf on them, you do a little communicating on them, but you don’t use them to hammer out the Great American Novel*** or design your website or handle your taxes. For all their weakness and lack of power, netbooks actually give you some small opportunity to produce; if the iPad turns out to be unsuitable for same (iWork or no iWork), it really will be consigned to the Kindle/overgrown iPod Touch category.

* What do we do with these devices, anyway, aside from using them like you would a $20 prepaid phone? Let’s see…reading blogs and RSS feeds. Reading big amounts of text. Following Twitter and Facebook. Checking in with Foursquare or Gowalla. Checking out ball scores and train schedules. Buying movie tickets, checking the bank balance, reading Texts From Last Night (DON’T YOU DARE JUDGE ME), reading and replying to the email…which begs the question: can’t you do all of this in a browser?

With that question asked, the next one has to be: what about Google? After all, Android is a device-agnostic OS, and if the iPhone OS can be scaled up to tablet size, you have to think Android could as well. More to the point, Google has the Chrome OS, which is basically a browser and enough Linux kernel underneath to drive the accompanying hardware, and there’s no reason THAT couldn’t be turned into a web-tablet sort of format as well. It might not be as elegant as the iPad, but then, if elegance were everything – or anything – Windows would have died in the crib. Windows 7 is the best version of the OS ever and it still isn’t as elegant as System 7 was in 1993, but every version of Windows has been “good enough.” I think Google could easily turn out a “good enough” web tablet and come in well under $500, if they have a mind to do it…

* With that question asked, we turn to the big one for me: the form factor. See, my current PDA is a “Rite in the Rain ™ All-Weather Field Book” which is a 5×7 water-resistant notebook. I can stuff it in the hip pocket of my jeans and roll out just fine, and it’s a hell of a lot easier to dump notes and thoughts and quick ideas and fax numbers with a ballpoint pen than to launch Notes or Evernote or what have you and peck it out on the keyboard.

Thing is, if it were 8×10, I couldn’t do that. I would need a bag. And once you have a bag, you might as well have a laptop. The limiting form factor for me is the size of an inner jacket pocket; anything bigger than 5×7 is going to be problematic at best, especially over half an inch thick. I’m a guy. I hate carrying the bag if I don’t have to, and I have enough back issues that it’s a good idea if I don’t. (The murse is right out.) So something the size of the Kindle 2 is probably at the upper limit of what I could tote around with me. Which leads to the other problem: when I worked in DC, my normal loadout went something like: cell phone, pager, iPod, pipe, tobacco pouch, lighter, Leatherman… you get the idea. (Some years, add Blackberry to that. Pre-phone Blackberry, natch.) I don’t want to go around with the HURT-ting Bat Utility Belt, and adding a 5×7 tablet on top of an iPhone (or Nexus One, arguably) is a pain in the ass I don’t really need.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is “horses for courses.” You’re never going to do video chat or watch entire shows on Hulu with a smartphone – the processor and battery just aren’t there. You don’t want to try long-term web surfing on a Kindle (and you sure don’t want to pay per feed if you’re reading a hundred RSS feeds a day). And while a netbook might be a good compromise if you’re just running down South for a week and don’t want to drag your 15″ MBP, it’s the best of a bad lot for serious computing tasks.

Add it all together, and the iPad still isn’t for me as currently constituted. The sex appeal may be off the chart, and I reserve the right to be amazed in person when it finally hits the local Apple Store, but right now, if I was starting from scratch, I think the choice would still be iPhone 3GS + white plastic MacBook, rather than stringing together some combination of iMac + iPad + phone or what have you. Even the netbook is a tough thing to justify. That said, right now my computing environment consists of a 15″ MBP that belongs to my employer (and don’t think my private account isn’t FileVaulted and passworded to a fare-thee-well) and a long-term-loaner pre-production iMac that may or may not be circling the drain…the only thing that’s legit mine is my iPhone 3G. So right now, I have $75 on account and another $150 in wellness bonus**** coming from work next month…and while I’m not close to running out and buying anything, I have to say I’m in the market. But for what?

** Although “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Marketing” may be the greatest joke of all time.

*** RIP to JD Salinger, who has the same problem as Harper Lee or the makers of Avenue Q: what do you do when your first work is among the greatest things ever written? In Ms. Lee’s case, you hang it up and walk away on top…and could you blame her?


Well that happened.

I have been hoping against hope that there would be no tablet, that the efforts of a million fanboys to wish a product into existence would flop. Instead we got what we got today – or rather, will get in a couple or three months. And it is…

…a ten-inch iPod Touch.

No, seriously. For $300, your 16 GB iPod Touch can be stretched to a 9.7″ diagonal screen with a HUGE bezel, where it will do…exactly what your current iPod Touch does, albeit with GPS and a compass. For an extra $130 and another couple weeks waiting, you can have one with 3G data…and play $30 a month for unlimited connectivity.

I haven’t been so disappointed in an Apple product…well, ever. The day the iPhone was announced, I was crestfallen at the release date, then resolved to have the money saved up by day one. The day the MacBook was released, I was in my boss’s office begging for the high-end black model. Today, I don’t really understand what this thing is good for.

Yes, it’s lighter than a notebook (or even a netbook) with good battery life. The display is a bit small for a notebook, but it certainly seems more than big enough for an iPhone-style interface. But in terms of what it gives you versus an iPhone or iPod Touch…well, you get a bigger screen, and if that’s something that works for you, then great. But there’s still no Flash or Java, so while web surfing might be easier to handle, the capability is not materially greater than what you’d get in an iPhone. There’s nothing offhand that suggests I’ll be able to use VPN and Apple Remote Desktop, although I’m sure a VNC app will appear somewhere. And it really doesn’t look like we’re going to see any sort of multitasking, or they probably would have said so.

Oh yes, and you have to try to multi-finger touch-type on a glass screen. Say hello to your new neck surgeon.

Here’s the fatal flaw: if you have an iPhone, you have 90% of this already. Do you really want to pay out double the money again, plus an extra $30 bill every month, just to do it on a larger screen?

And the dealbreaker for me: it is, as Phil Schiller famously mocked the netbook, too big to fit in your pocket. If you have to have a bag or something to carry it in, you may as well just have a 10″ netbook – for half the cost. Pop Ubuntu Netbook Remix on there, and you’ll have a nice easy interface to your browser, your email client, the works. Or just wait six months, and Google will offer you a Chrome-based tablet instead.

Don’t get me wrong – if Apple were giving these things out for $99, I’d be all over it. I might even be persuaded to stump up for the data service. But my iPhone’s got 16 GB of storage right now and is bumping up against full – if I were to play, it would cost me a minimum of $600 right now before even taking the 3G premium into account (which is $130, plus $360 A YEAR. I can bear that expense on a phone because I’m paying for it anyway, but for a whole separate device? NO way).

Long story short (too late): it’s an interesting idea, but right now, at the current price points, the marginal utility for me is nonexistent. I just wonder how many other people will find a reason to give it a whirl anyway.


When I was in high school, it seemed like nobody was really interested in professional sports. College, obviously, with the Tide and Auburn, and the Scholars’ Bowl team had a strange affinity for the Detroit Pistons of the late 80s as role models, but by and large, the rank and file of the school seemed solidly disinterested in athletics for money.


For some reason, I know not why, there were Saints fans. More than a few.

Similarly, in 1993, Fox took over the NFC contract and the Birmingham affiliate, Channel 21, had a contest to select Birmingham’s Unofficial Official NFL Team. Given the time, you would think Dallas. Or the Redskins, traditionally the team of the South for forty years pre-television. Or maybe Green Bay, home of Don Hutson and Bart Starr. Or hell, maybe Atlanta for proximity.

Nope. It was the Saints.

My best friend from high school moved to New Orleans circa 1996, and jumped in with both feet. Team Black Swan East was based there for years, and are fully immersed. Even people from the Crescent City who live here, who I didn’t think would be into sports that much, were Twittering things like “can’t stand still can’t stand still can’t stand still” for the entire fourth quarter and dressing their children (okay, child) in black and gold and speculating that tickets for the Super Bowl are worth liquidating the college fund and jetting to Miami.

Look, I realize I am a Redskins fan until I die and cannot be saved. I do not claim to have so much as a green card in Who Dat Nation – maybe a 2-week visa, if I get enough Sazerac down me. But for the first time in I have no idea how long, I have a legit rooting interest in the Super Bowl – and would, even if Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Dolts weren’t in the picture.

Get Seth Green on the line. It’s time…


I’m going to spaz right out now.

The House is currently 256-178 in favor of the Dems. The Senate is 58-41 in favor of the Dems. (Lieberman isn’t a Democrat, even if he claims to caucus with them.) So let’s review…

78 seat majority in the House. 17 seat majority in the Senate. A President with the biggest margin of victory for any Democrat in over three decades.

WHY THE FUCKING FUCK ARE WE PLAYING DEFENSE? The Democrats should be on a reign of terror right now. Cap-and-trade, bank re-regulation, health insurance reform, all the shit that needs to get done – it should all be a fucking cakewalk at this point. If Sam Rayburn or Tip O’Neill were still running things, the Republicans would be hunched in a corner begging “Not in the face!”

Instead, we get Nancy Pelosi – who has been the best of a bad lot – and Harry Reid, who I will not call a complete pussy because I wouldn’t sully the good name of pussy. And now, based on one reversal, ONE seat lost, everyone has decided that it’s time to throw in the towel and run for the hills. No pushing through what’s already been passed. No declaring that the filibuster isn’t a license to stop everything and blowing it up the way the Republicans threatened. No whipping the membership into lining up behind the party’s signature issues and hammering the agenda through.

The Republicans say the Democrats in Congress are a bunch of weak-ass chickenshits. Now the Democratic faithful in the electorate are accusing the Democrats in Congress of being a bunch of weak-ass chickenshits. And you know why? BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS ARE A BUNCH OF WEAK ASS CHICKENSHITS.

Grow some balls or go the fuck home. This is just the most embarrassing goddamn thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m from Alabama.

Development of the night

Senator Evan Bayh (Dumb Fuck-Indiana), already angling to take over leadership of the Senate Bottom Committee from Holy Joe Likud and Ben Nelson, is out there claiming that the loss in Massachusetts means that the Democrats have overreached and “just the furthest left elements of the Dem party [are] attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country.”

Right: listen up, you fucking coward: the Democrats MADE their common cause with ‘independents and moderates.’ The entire goddamn bill was held hostage to the will of Lieberman and Nelson (and to a lesser extent, Lincoln and Landrieu and Snowe), none of whom are going to be getting money from Daily Kos readers in the near future. In fact, the reason this health care bullshit is even still going on is because the whole thing was given to six Senators from one-cow-one-vote states somewhere in tumbleweed country for a whole goddamn month in August, when at least three of them (all sporting an R) knew full well they were going to agree to nothing. In fact, every single person who pays attention to politics in this country knew that there were no Republican votes to be had, because the GOP’s whole gameplan for the last year has been “No On Everything.”

So this health care package represents what it took to win all 60 Democrats, including your dumb ass. That’s right, you fucking chickenshit, you already voted for this bill. And now it looks like you’re going to be spared having to vote again, because the only hope is for the House to pass exactly what the Senate passed, so you’re spared the necessity of having to risk your neck again. But guess what: you’re already tarred and feathered. You’re going to get the full brunt of the Republican assault, no matter how much you quail and retreat and offer up your anus.

The problem isn’t that the Democrats are too conservative, or too liberal, it’s that the people who need to sack up and fight? Don’t. Or won’t. Hell with it. Hell with all of them. Let’s lose down to, say 54 Democrats in the Senate, including that worthless catamite Harry Reid, and then let’s have some people who fight instead of sitting around weeping that they might get called names.

The enemy isn’t conservatism, or liberalism. The enemy is bullshit. And it’s time to take the fight to the bullshit – and the bullshitters.

Before the Armageddon cries commence…

…remember where things were a year ago. The Democrats had 59 seats in the Senate, which meant a filibuster-based shutdown of everything. If Martha Chokely does what’s expected of her, then the Democrats will find themselves with…59 seats. Plus some actual accomplishments made in the face of complete opposition, which is kind of impressive given how everything went.

This is the part where I point out that I called it. To be precise, I called it on September 7, 2008, at precisely 8:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time. It’s not that I really am just that good – well, I am, or at least I used to be – but it should have been obvious to anybody who paid attention for the last twenty years how this stuff would go. Lockstep obstruction from the Republicans, sanctimonious dithering from conservative Democrats, a White House unwilling to grab people by the balls and twist, and a press too fucking stupid to handle any issue more complex than who’s going to be on NBC at 11:35.

And right now, nothing pisses me off more than the wailing weeping hysterical liberals who have decided that Obama is just like Bush, that the whole health care package should be trashed, and that scrapping everything and starting over now will force everything to the left. The correct response is: fuck you, hippie – this is how it works. You fight like hell to get what you can, and you be grateful that the stars aligned long enough to break the worst Senate minority obstruction in the history of the body, and you take your half a loaf and come back tomorrow and start fighting again. And if you’re too pious and good and principled to accept that, well, I think the term of art is know your role and shut your hole.

Too many people think that there’s an end point, that at some point the victory is won and the sky fills with rainbows and the lion lies down with the lamb and the music swells and the credits roll and you’re finished. Maybe that happens when you die, but it doesn’t happen in the real world of politics. It’s a race uphill, in a driving storm, through an ocean of tar, with no finish line.

I can’t say it enough: politics is the art of the POSSIBLE. If you want dreams, go major in theatre.

Wow. I mean, fucking WOW.

I didn’t think I was physically capable of pity for Vols, but the unfurling Armageddon at Tennessee is making for all kinds of amazements. Lane Kiffin is choosing to take French leave of a program that hired him off a 5-15 record in the NFL (where Al Davis called him “a flat-out liar”) after a single 7-6 season where his signature victory was managing to only lose to Alabama by 2 points.

The immortal Spencer Hall has the full rundown here; the most shocking and appalling thing in all this to me is this:

1) There are Tennessee recruits on campus who enrolled early to be in spring practice.

2) Classes start tomorrow.

3) Despite being registered for classes, these players are not considered “enrolled” until classes start.

4) Ed Orgeron, the Kiffy assistant who is also going to USC, was calling around to these recruits during Kiffy’s “press conference,” telling them not to go to class tomorrow – that if they didn’t, they would not be enrolled, and they would be welcome to leave UT and head for scholarships at USC in the fall.

This is absolutely the most bewildering thing I have seen in thirty-seven years of college football fandom. Lane Kiffin’s total record as a head coach is 12-21: 5-15 with the Raiders and a poor 7-6 with UT. He also racked up not one, not two, but SEVEN self-reported NCAA recruiting violations, not counting the shenanigans surrounding the “Orange Pride” girls going across state lines to cheer for possible recruits. Nor counting the felony arrests connected with the Great Prius Caper. Nor counting the buffoonery of bragging about NCAA scrutiny, or leveling accusations against other programs that drew the wrath of the SEC authorities, or generally running his mouth in a fashion inconsistent with a coach who could best be described at this point in his career as anything but a “possibly promising mediocrity.” Lane Kiffin is a loudmouth douchebag who hasn’t demonstrated any particular aptitude for improving a football team. So why, why, WHY would the USC Trojans – staring down the barrel of an NCAA investigation that can no longer be ignored, one where Kiffin himself is potentially culpable with regard to the recruiting of Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight – why in the HELL would Mike Garrett even consider hiring this human ball of bullshit to run the football program in its hour of greatest peril?

There is absolutely no logic of any kind behind this decision. It defies all rational analysis. All we can say with certainly is as follows:

1) Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee for Southern California has the potential to be the ruination of both schools.

2) Between this fiasco, the basketball team’s Alcohol-Weed-Guns problem, and the imminent disaster in recruiting, Tennessee’s athletic director is on some thin motherfucking ice.

3) The police guard outside Lane Kiffin’s house tonight is probably a sound move, although personally, if I were a Knoxville cop, I’d be wandering across the street to see if I heard an echo. Buy the ticket, take the ride…even if it comes on a rail.

Someone’s bitchin’, Lord, Kumbaya…

Well, here we go, predictable as the dawn, because these Texans have an excuse for everything. Let’s set this straight now, like a tin of Mister Dog, and maybe, they’ll shut the fuck up…

* “Alabama’s not really champions! There’s an asterisk because Colt McCoy barely played!”

Well, Texas would know all about asterisks, I suppose. But these things happen. Alabama suspended Andre Smith for the Sugar Bowl last year on account of NCAA allegations that turned out to be nothing, and without an NFL top-6 pick protecting the blind side, the QB got killed early and often in the first quarter. Nobody is saying Utah’s win deserves an asterisk – quite the contrary, it’s the one quality win the BCS busters can hang their hats on.**

More to the point, a sports show back in DC aptly pointed out this fact: Colt McCoy does not drop back into protection. He runs around like a donk in the backfield, and as a result got sacked eight times against Nebraska. Knowing that your offense and your QB’s style put him at risk, wouldn’t you make an effort to have something better than an 18-year-old freshman as the first backup option? And if that’s all you had, wouldn’t you take the opportunity to get him more than 30 live reps before, oh, THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?

Meanwhile, Greg McElroy played in a flak jacket to protect his cracked ribs (thus only 11 passes) and Rolando McClain took two IVs for hydration before the game and a third at halftime. You play the game as it unfolds, with the players on hand, for better or worse.

* “Alabama ran up the score!”

Alabama was leading 24-21 with 5 minutes to play. Then a wicked sack and turnover resulted in a quick TD. Then Texas obligingly gave the ball back again, deep in their own territory. With just under two minutes left, and Texas with a time out to burn.

Did Alabama throw the ball downfield? Nope. Did they pull out the Boise State bag of gimmicks? Nope. Did they go for the quick 3 to make sure a touchdown and a field goal wouldn’t be enough to beat them? Nope. They ran the ball up the middle, the simplest and most basic thing you can do to burn clock, with the backup running back. If Texas and their #1-ranked rushing defense couldn’t stop a freshman’s dive up the middle from turning into a touchdown run, I respectfully submit that it’s not Trent Richardson’s job to fall on the ball just so the Steers can go home with only a 10-point loss on their resume. Given that the “number one rushing defense in the country” let not one but two backs go over 100 yards

* “Well…well…Alabama’s a bunch of rednecks!

Really? The state of Texas wants to go down this path?

Here’s a hint for the burnt orange – quit your whining, go back home to UT-Asterisk with the rest of the hayseed hippies, slosh your Shiner, think long and hard about what you did, and maybe next time, before giving your coach a championship raise, make sure he’s won the fucking championship.

** Utah over Pitt in 2004 was a joke. Pitt didn’t deserve to be anywhere near a BCS bowl with an 8-3 record in the Big Least, as it certainly was at the time. Boise State over Chokelahoma was – do I need to remind everyone again? – a ONE POINT win, in DOUBLE OVERTIME, against the BCS’s own personal FAILboat team. And whenever BCS busters come up, nobody ever talks about how Hawai’i basically got vivisected by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. When people say “non-BCS teams deserve a chance!” what they mean is “We want Boise State to get full credit for playing a JV schedule!” And you know my solution: no automatic bids for conference champions. Problem solved.

Things To Remember When Living In Silicon Valley

1) For maximum safety, you should assume that anyone behind the wheel of a car is a solipsistic, self-absorbed cocksucker with no regard for human life, and drive or walk accordingly.

2) If your phone drops a 911 call twice within two minutes, you should start to consider changing your provider and/or handset.

3) If your first instinct is to open fire on a vehicle that almost runs you down in the street, you should probably not attempt to obtain a concealed-carry permit or a firearm.

Just FYI.

The Eve

No shit-talking here. It would be intellectually dishonest of me to present as some sort of born-again Alabama fan now, after all these years of dissociating myself from the state and the fandom. If I’m honest, the Crimson Tide have been my fourth football team at best since about 2000, behind the Redskins and Vandy and Cal. So as much as it does mean to me to beat Tennessee and Auburn, as much as this would have meant to me fifteen years ago – I can’t lie: I will be DVR’ing the game and attending a theology class on Thursday night.

It’s not my title to win. It’s theirs, if they will. There’s nothing I can do about it, so it’s best if I just leave it alone. I can’t decide whether that’s sad or sensible, but there it is.