January 28, 2010

Andrew Evaluates Yesterday's Momentous Events

On the iPad:

Please, everybody, for the love of God, stop making pantyliner jokes. If ever there was evidence that Facetwittertube has infantilised the masses — or at least made more socially acceptable the sort of stupid potty humour that used to only be okay in private — it's that people can't see Apple's new product without giggling over the menstrual cycle. Did anybody make this kind of joke when IBM/Lenovo released the ThinkPad? Do people sit in Asian restaurants snickering about the pad thai? Was anyone that entertained by Natalie Portman's Padmé Amidala from the Star Wars prequels? (Answer: no. Nothing about those movies was entertaining in the slightest.) Quite apart from anything else, it's such an obvious gag that it isn't even that funny to begin with. FFS.

Anyway, I have to say that I'm fairly nonplussed by the iPad. I read one tech commentator describing it as a useful blend of smartphone, Kindle and laptop, which I guess I agree with — but those three things on their own each do their respective jobs much better than the iPad does any of them, so why would you want one if you already had even two of the others? Smartphones let you, you know, make phonecalls; Kindles let you download e-reader content without WiFi or a monthly fee; and laptops have bigger screens and can actually run real applications (Jobs made a joke about buying the iPad keyboard dock for when you want to "write War and Peace", but who's going to do that in a slimmed-down version of Pages, for God's sake?).

I can sort of see it as a neat replacement for newspapers/magazines, but frankly I'm not sure I'm willing to pay $500 for a "newspaper" that I'd feel nervous about reading on the subway; and I can sort of see it as a neat replacement for, say, a paper notepad, except there doesn't seem to be any accommodation for inputting text longhand (no, I wouldn't want to write War and Peace that way, but it would be nice to be able to scribble quick notes without having to call up a keyboard, or even just cross stuff off a list with a swipe). So what's the point?

On the State of the Union:

Fucker can give a good speech. Also, unlike during his campaign, I actually did kind of perceive some substance beneath the good speech, which was nice. But I question how much extra traction it will actually give him on any of his initiatives.

Taking the Republicans to task on their stubbornness might have been a nice soundbite for frustrated liberals, and likewise with his promise to meet with the GOP leadership once a month, but I suspect both will just alter the rhetorical stance any naysayers need to take to defend their positions ("I'm not blocking the bill out of partisanship, I'm blocking it because I genuinely believe it takes the country in the wrong direction"; "I suggested alternatives to the president but he wasn't interested in pursuing them").

Considering the overall gun-sticking tone of the speech, I was also a little disappointed he didn't actually stick to his guns more on healthcare. It's fine to make jokes about the healthcare bill being political poison, and full of gravitas to admit that he didn't do a good enough job explaining the philosophy behind his vision for healthcare — but so why not take ten **&£!!ing minutes to EXPLAIN THAT PHILOSOPHY BETTER?! This is the biggest audience you'll have all year, and the best opportunity to directly reach the electorate, so why not swallow some of that political poison you're apparently so nonchalant about and set out your healthcare beliefs and a plan for achieving them? "Take another look at the plan we've proposed"? How much wishy-washier can you get?

Still, what do I care? I'm going to move back to my socialist utopia eventually, anyway, and get all the free healthcare I need. Take that, Mitch McConnell!

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