Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple's new product

Wednesday, January 27, 2010, will be a great day in the history of the human race. It should, of course, be immediately obvious to everyone what I am talking about, but in case there's anybody out there who doesn't know: today is the day that Apple is introducing its revolutionary new product.

And there is only one explanation that could justify the astonishing amount of hype and excitement. Apple is actually going to introduce consumer technology from the future.

Think of it. Steve Jobs has made contact with time travelers from the 22nd century. They have given him samples of their wondrous futuristic technology, which Jobs and his team of engineers have used to create the product that they will introduce today.

Oh, I'm sure that even now, at the eleventh hour, some nay-sayers will say that I've got the facts wrong. But I'm ready for their objections.

Objection: Apple couldn't possibly introduce technology from the 22nd century into the year 2010! That would change the course of history, leading to a different 22nd century from the one in which the technology was developed! It's a temporal paradox!

Response: Time travel doesn't work like it does on Star Trek, you silly person. In real life, when you travel in time, what you're actually doing is traveling to a universe identical to this one but a certain number of years behind (or ahead). Once you're there, you can kill your grandfather, assassinate Hitler, or sell iPods to ancient Romans, secure in the knowledge that you're not creating any paradoxes.

Objection: But even if I travel back to the 19th century and give a bright young engineer the secret of the iPhone, he's not going to be able to get rich off of it. The manufacture of modern technology requires an entire industry to already be in place. How is my 19th-century engineer going to replicate the parts that were mass-produced in high-tech factories in 21st-century Taiwan and China? Similarly, an iPhone in a world without Internet or cell phone reception would be pretty boring. Surely Steve Jobs will have similar problems trying to sell us 22nd-century technology?

Response: Ah, but Steve Jobs didn't meet his first person from the future just last week! What happens today is the culmination of years and years of Apple engineers working in tandem with tech guys from the 22nd century. They've been building factories that are capable of mass-producing 22nd-century technology.

Objection: You really think they'd be able to keep all that secret?

Response: Oh, only a few people know that Apple's new technology is from the 22nd century. Everybody else in the company just thinks Steve Jobs and his engineers are a bunch of geniuses. And they've been introducing 22nd-century design principles very gradually. Do you really think the MacBook Air and the late-generation iPods aren't influenced by the future?

Objection: Okay, okay, but maybe it's not people from the future. Maybe Steve's been talking to aliens! Maybe the new product he's introducing today is chock full of alien technology!

Response: Aliens? From outer space? Now you're just being crazy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

He's an American. Deal and move on

Gary Younge in the Guardian discusses opposition to President Obama in economically depressed parts of America. His article leads off with:

One year after his election, Barack Obama's approval rating is lower at this stage than for any US president since Eisenhower. So why has the optimism surrounding his victory disappeared so suddenly?

But that's a bit misleading. Younge doesn't so much discuss people who were optimistic about Obama but have lost the faith. Instead he mostly talks about those elements of society who never gave him a chance in the first place. And the people he quotes keep coming back to the issue of race. But they dress it up all nice, not explicitly mentioning race but implying Obama's a Muslim or somehow not American.

Usually I'm annoyed when I hear things like "People who oppose Barack Obama just oppose him because he's black." Not only do I think there are plenty of people who oppose him from both the left and the right who aren't racist, but tarring people who disagree with you with the broad "racist" brush is a way of shutting out viewpoints that differ from yours. You don't like the guy I voted for? Then you're a bad person and I don't have to listen to you.

But come on. Would there be a "birther" movement if the President were Al Gore or John Kerry or John Edwards or Hillary Clinton? Would people be muttering "(s)he's not even a real American"? Would people reflexively be calling the President a Muslim?[1]

No, of course not. Part of it is Obama's skin color. But I think a big part of it is also his name. A lot of people can't get over his name. Hussein. Barack Hussein Obama. B. Hussein Obama. And quite frankly, attacking him based on his name is racist too. His name is his heritage.

Here's what I'd like to see.

Who are seen as leaders in right-wing anti-Obama "tea party" movements? Palin? Scott Brown? Beck? Limbaugh? Let's have somebody actually show some leadership.

I'd like to see a prominent somebody that these tea-party guys respect forcefully repudiate all of the race-based anti-Obama crap. I want to see them loudly and unequivocally say that the idea Obama was born in Kenya is nutty, that calling him a Muslim is just mindless name-calling, that implying he's less "American" because he's B. Hussein Obama is simply unacceptable.

That would be leadership. And if right-wing opposition to Obama and his agenda really is based on his economic agenda, fears of a huge national debt, and opposition to expanded government programs, then denouncing the nasty race-based rhetoric wouldn't weaken or compromise their message one bit.

Once again, if Beck or Palin or Limbaugh or Brown said this loudly and forcefully, that would be leadership.

[1] Actual American Muslims, take note: They're trying to insult President Obama by comparing him to you. But no need for you to take offense. Of course.