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Air Apparent

I've been reading lots and lots and lots of commentary about the new Mac Air, and they always seem to go along the theme of, "I don't want to like it, and it has all these issues, but I somehow can't help myself and now I'm so happy."

Apple has this amazing ability to infuse people with the opposite of buyer's remorse.

The funniest write-up, as so often is the case, comes from Guy Kawasaki, the title pretty much sums it up: Into Thin Air: How I Spent $5,000 on Air and Made Fifty-Year Old Women Swoon

The thing that has gotten almost no write-up, however, is Apple's new "One to One" service. Most people that write about technology on the Interwebs love hardware, especially the latest, skinniest, most powerful, whatever. I love all that stuff, too, but for this post I'm trying to look at the bigger picture.

Most folks actually don't care about technology. Most folks just use the IT department in their corporation to provide them the tools they need to do their job, even if they grumble about it.

Of course, the world is changing fast, and the number of people who work for big organizations continues to drop. We are becoming a free-agent nation.

What Apple has figured out is that free agents want an IT department, too. And what they want is not just some kind of service plan to fix the hardware if it breaks, what they want is someone who will show them how to use the tools to do the stuff they want to do. But nobody likes paying by the hour for that.

So, the really genius thing that Apple has done is said, "OK, we'll be your full service IT staff for $99 a year. You can use us as often as you like, just make an appointment."

Of course, then people are coming into the stores more often, buying more stuff, etc., but I think the genius of this product from Apple is that the company has decided it wants to be the single-source IT vendor to the Free-Agent Nation. Brilliant.

Ummm, don't they have that backwards?

Wired informs us that human-made clocks are now more precise than the rotation of the earth around the sun.

International Atomic Time — kept by ultraprecise clocks — is gradually out-pacing astronomical time, which is determined by our planet's rotation. (Earth's spin is slowing — what a drag.) So in 1972, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service began adding occasional leap seconds. They've done it 23 times, most recently adding an extra "one-Mississippi" on December 31, 2005.

I'm sorry, but doesn't this just mean that all the scientists agreed to a system of time that just wasn't accurate, and now they are having to fix it up?

Now there's a legacy software problem for you. Programmers just love to tell you it's all the previous programmers' fault that the software doesn't work. Now they are blaming God for making the earth rotate around the sun imprecisely?

Mmmmm. Fast Food

I should make a category called "I love the Internet."



A guy in West Virginia has taken it on himself to compare the fast food photos from ads, and the food itself.

Really funny, go look for sure. (Also funny is the Alli Side Effects page.)

The best part of the internet, though, is that he has some Google ad blocks on his fast food page, and because of the keywords, some of the same outfits lampooned on that page are helping to sponsor the lampooner.

Ahhh. The Internet and America. I love 'em.

Super Fat Tuesday

So much has been written about the last couple of days, but there's a few bits I haven't seen:

  • Super Tuesday was also Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. My caucus, like all the rest around the country, was packed, and while I didn't see anyone munching chocolate bars, I did see a woman dressed up in what looked like a bridesmaid dress. Was she going out to celebrate after, or is that just how people dress for these things?
  • I've always thought that Ash Wednesday fell on a Wednesday because Lent is meant to be 40 days, just as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting. So, on leap years shouldn't we have Ash Thursday?
  • (Actually, ignore the previous item. Once I started writing that I realized that while it makes for a good punchline, it's just silly. Lent ends on Easter Sunday. Five weeks of Lent is 5X7=35, plus the five days including Wednesday before that. The extra day just pushes Easter out a day on the calendar, but not in the schedule of the church. I should have figured that there wouldn't be a problem because our calendar was instituted by Pope Gregory.)
  • It's a little hard to tell from this clip, but watch Tim Russert on the Today Show sometime, he really just barely combs his hair. I love it.

  • Nobody has really talked about this much, but what struck me about Tuesday's results is how much variation there was between states. I mean, we are all Americans, so how can two states as similar as New Jersey and Delaware have a totally different outcome between Obama and Clinton?
  • All politics is local. That's the answer to the previous question.
  • From a management perspective, it would be exhilarating to be working on a campaign and look at the results from Tuesday, figure out what the message was, who the voters were, etc., and then somehow figure out from that how to get wins in other states.

  • 200 years hence

    By way of Rod Dreher I just read, well... skimmed, a post about what from our post-1950 culture will survive 200 years from now.

    It's an interesting intellectual idea, but the guy that Rod linked to droned on forever and nominated a bunch of stuff that sounds like some sort of weird Currents State of the Arts Review 100-level class at a private college somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

    There really is only one answer to that question: Tom Wolfe. He is much derided now, just as Charles Dickens was much derided in his day, but no one person illustrates what our society is going through more clearly than Wolfe. I'm already looking forward to his book about Miami, and schoolchildren who bio-download that work just after Tale of Two Cities in the year 2208 will enjoy it, too.

    Starbucks Refuses to Give Coffee to People With Only One Kidney!!!!!

    Remember back in those carefree days of the Internet when you would get an email from an aunt or someone warning you about the dangers of having a drink at a hotel bar because you'll wake up with a kidney missing? And you would smile knowing that it was just one of those fake things that someone writes up because they enjoy seeing things they dream up spread around the world.

    Then you found Snopes, and you knew that the same Internet that brought you the hoax could also be the end of the hoax emails.

    Well, what happens when the hoaxes become true?

    The racket involved illegally removing kidneys from poor labourers and transplanting them to rich recipients, many of them from foreign countries, for huge sums of money.

    In most cases, the victims were paid paltry sums and many did not even know that one of their kidneys had been taken away.

    Around 600 kidney transplants were reportedly performed in the last nine years.

    There's no mention of drinking something in a hotel bar, but still.

    Maybe Mikey really did die from eating Pop Rocks and drinking a Coke!

    Oh, here's the Starbuck's item, in case the headline confused you.

    Little Goebbels?

    So, someone from Team Clinton said Obama's use of a picture of a middle class family was just as outrageous as the image of Nazis in Skokie, Ill.

    Ummm. Middle class families - Nazis. Nice work. A key advisor on the all-important health care issue becomes as irrelevant as some lurker in the message boards of a site. He becomes the essence of Godwin's Law.

    It brought to mind for me Colorado's own Ward Churchill, who managed to get himself fired from a tenured job because he called the 9/11 victims "Little Eichmanns."

    Here comes a theory you won't read about anywhere else...

    I think the reason that Ward Churchill created such a fuss, and got fired, is that he called those victims "Little Eichmanns" and not just Nazis. If he had done that, he would have fallen into Godwin's Law and been ignored.

    What's the difference? Specificity.

    In the excellent book Made to Stick, the authors point out that specificity is important to making ideas that "stick."

    Calling someone a Nazi, as Godwin's Law illustrates, has become so generic as to become nearly meaningless. "Little Eichmanns" was sticky.