Wednesday, June 30, 2010

iTunes 7????

I got this error message on my phone yesterday while trying to download the new iMovie app.

Isn't iTunes 7 about three years old now? I'm pretty sure the current version is 9.2. This is a very un-Apple error message.

[edit: as I read this again this morning, I realized that what the message is saying is that the terminology in iTunes 7 is different than in later versions. But since when does Apple care about support for legacy software, especially two full versions ago? And let's not forget that this error came on an iPhone running iOS4, which doesn't even support the original iPhone (iTunes 7 was the first version to support the iPhone). Granted, iOS4 does run on the iPhone 3G. But if iOS4 is smart enough to know to turn off certain features for the 3G, then shouldn't it also know which version of iTunes you're synching to?

At the very least, the error message is poorly written. A couple of well-placed quotation marks could have made this a lot more clear.]

The worst taste in the world

Beverly cola tastes like the inside of Death's cat's litterbox during a heat wave in the sahara.

Sometimes, no matter where you are - you just gotta get rid of your cell phone.

Places such as the Atlanta Zoo:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Was THIS Close to Meeting Rush

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Rush, Canada's most successful rock band, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Friday, appropriately in front of the Musicians Institute on Hollywood Boulevard.

If we had gone to California for a family reunion, we would have been right there (my niece, Keely, posted a photo of her on Facebook yesterday of her at Hepburn's star on the walk) and I would've gotten to see Rush get their star. It's not quite enough to make me wish that we had spent the extra money to go to California, but its close.

But for the record, I don't think Rush should've gotten a star on the walk. I'd much prefer for them to finally be admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My big idea, stolen

About 10 years ago, I had an idea while on a twelve hour road trip to Kansas of opening a chain of nap spots where people could stop for an hour or two to rest and recharge before continuing on their way. I thought the idea could work in a lot if different ways and places - in malls (for those weary from shopping), in rest stops and storefronts along the interstate and in airports (for weary travelers). Then, in a stunning turn of events, I this in the Atlanta airport over the weekend:

I never could figure out how to keep my rent-a-room-by-the-hour idea from being abused and, let's say... sanitary.

Best of luck to them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Destructo's Financial Regulation System

From the NY Times:

Nearly two years after the American financial
system teetered on the verge of collapse, congressional
negotiators reached agreement early Friday morning to
reconcile competing versions of the biggest overhaul of
financial regulations since the Great Depression.

Don't spend more than you make.

Problem solved.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Flat Edges

One of the things some people are griping about regarding the new iPhone's design is the flat edges on the sides. However, it's one of the things that I'm going to love, and here's why:

I frequently try to set up a video camera in a corner somewhere and just shoot some footage of my kids playing or a family meal. I know everyday stuff like that is going to be gold someday. But with my old iPhone, the rounded edges made setting up the camera really, really difficult. I had the same problem while trying to take a shot of myself with my phone a few weeks ago when I climbed a mountain in Colorado. I usually end up rigging something up using stuff from wherever I am to lean the phone against - toys, a stapler, an orange, rocks - you name it. And nine times out of ten the phone would slip and fall over halfway through or as soon as I hit the shutter button on the screen.

But with flat edges? No problem. Set the phone on it's side (any side) and... It. Just. Works.

4 Generations of iPhone

What do you do when you get a new iPhone 4? You take photos of it, of course!

I grabbed my Gen 1, Matt's 3G, Mark's 3G S and my new iPhone 4 and took a few 4-generation family shots.

You're welcome.





iMad 4.0

The new poster for Mad Men season 4 was released yesterday, and I finally have a new date to count down to: July 25.

Anyone up for a Mad Men marathon in July?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And..... Scene!

This has got to be one of the most blatant, egregious examples of fakery I've ever seen in professional sports.

Thanks to Matt for sharing...

Watching the Miley Trainwreck in Slow Motion

From the Washington Post:

If Miley Cyrus's career can be measured in Britney Years, she is now in Phase Two, after the teasing but wholesome debut but before The Era Of K-Fed. With her adolescence and starmaking vehicle "Hannah Montana" both coming to an end, the 17-year-old Cyrus must ready herself for adulthood, and "Can't Be Tamed," her third solo disc, is the declaration of independence that years of "Behind the Music" specials have taught us it must be.

For Grown-Up Miley to live, Teen Pop Miley must die, and her/its demise is explicitly detailed in "Robot," Cyrus's lament about the existential misery of life as a Disney-bot: "I need to breathe/I'm not your robot/Stop telling me I'm part of this big machine/I'm breaking free," she informs her captors.

Free to do what, Cyrus doesn't say, but like any female pop singer from 15 to 45, it must necessarily involve Lady Gaga: "Tamed" has been so thoroughly Gaga-fied, so faux electro-disco-fied, Cyrus seems to have merely traded one overlord for another.

Mark my words: her career is over. First, parents who have watched other pop sensations such as Britney Spears have learned their lesson and aren't going to let their little ones listen to Miley's new stuff because of the dark rabbit hole she seems to be descending down willingly. Next, older kids who grew up on Hannah Montana are reaching the age where they wouldn't be caught dead wearing a Hannah Montana t-shirt or listening to her "kid" music. And guess what, Miley? There ain't no other Hannah. You're it, forever. And your face - solo album or not - will always be associated with Hannah Montana. For better or for worse.

What Miley should be doing is releasing self-produced pop songs, but without the "eff you, I'll show you I'm an adult now and what I'm capable of" edge. It's that particular edge that people - myself included - are having so much trouble swallowing.

But apparently when you're a teenage pop star, it's pretty important for you to run as far away from your wholesome image as possible, take your clothes off and slut it up a little. It's endearing, really and it makes people really respect you for your music and realize you have a lot of talent. Oh, wait. No. Just the opposite, actually.

Farewell, Miley. See you on Celebrity Apprentice in a few years...

I Wet Myself This Morning

From my Inbox:

Dear Apple Store Customer,

You recently received a Shipment Notification email from Apple advising you that your iPhone has shipped.

This email is to confirm that your delivery will occur on June 23rd. Although Apple and FedEx tracking information may currently indicate a later date, you can check the FedEx website the morning of the June 23rd to track your package to your doorstep.

In the event that you will not be available to accept delivery on June 23rd, it may be more convenient to use our pre-sign delivery option by visiting our Order Status website at


The Apple Store Team

Matt, if this is a sick joke... thanks.

Monday, June 21, 2010

China To Overtake U.S. in Manufacturing

From the Financial Times:

The US remained the world’s biggest manufacturing nation by output last year, but is poised to relinquish this slot in 2011 to China – thus ending a 110-year run as the number one country in factory production.

I'm actually surprised. I've assumed for awhile now that China manufactures a whole lot more than the United States. Everything comes from China.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anyone Want to Bet Me on This?

Regarding the new Smurfs movie I posted about a few days ago...

Anyone want to bet that the following phrase will be used at sometime during the film:

"Go Smurf yourself!"

And if it is, then it will perfectly illustrate my point about how far movies and creativity (and family values) in films and television have fallen in twenty years.

Toy Story 3

Kayci's birthday party on Friday was a Toy Story movie party. We had a party at the theater and saw Toy Story 3 on its first day of release. Kayci has been pumpedmfor almost a year, ever since she found outnthat Toy Story 3 was coming out on her birthday. I, on the other hand was excited just by the fact that there would be a Toy Story 3.

Toy Story was a groundbreaking film, and I remember going to see it in the theater with my college roommate, Johnny. It was mind-blowing, not only because it was the first full-length animated feature, but because the story and the animation are just so good. 

Toy Story 2 also has a lot of great memories surrounding it for me.  When it came out in 1999, it was a fun period in my life.  We were relative newlyweds still learning how to be adults and learning about life and each other. Kristi wanted Woody and Jessie dolls, so I had a lot of fun finding them and ordering them on ebay for Christmas.

Toy Story 2 had some genuinely sad moments,  such as Jessie's flashback to her old owner.  It still moves me. But it has nothing on the emotion in Toy Story 3. 

Toy Story 3 is a much darker film than the others, dealing with much heavier themes. Toy Story was a buddy picture and dealt with themes such as trust and redemption.  Toy Story 2 was about loyalty and deciding for yourself what your path will be. But Toy Story 3 deals mostly with age and facing one's own mortality.

Andy is preparing to go to college and must decide what he wants to do with his favorite childhood toys, which have been shut up in a toy chest for years. And one striking thing is that only the majors are left. Bo Peep, Etch, RC and other familiar secondary characters from the previous films are all gone - given away or sold in yard sales over the years. Woody calls a staff meeting, similar to the way he does in the first film, and wonders where all the toys are.  One of the other toys explains "we're all that are left."

I guess that what's hard about the third installment is that the toys all know that they're done and past their prime. There is a very keen awareness that they're about to go into mothballs for years and years with the hopefulness that they can maybe be one day useful again when Andy or Molly has kids.

We've all been through this with our toys, only - just as in the first Toy Story - we've never really thought of the ramifications from their perspective. That's what makes Toy Story 3 hard to watch. We've all thrown away beloved toys or watched them sold in garage sales or buried them in the backyard, never to be unearthed again. It can be tough enough to let those things go, especially when years later - with the distance and maturity of age - we wish we had them back. But to see our toys actually yearning, longing to be played with, even just held again, is tough.

The end of the film is enough to make you cry. I won't give away the ending, other than to say that it accurately captures an emotion that we all must go through at some point at our lives if we are introspective enough to let ourselves recognize what it is. We all must grow up and move on.

This film, 15 years after the original, is interesting in that it has aged and grown and speaks to different audiences in very different ways. I imagine a fifteen-year-old who saw the original Toy Story in 1995. That person is thirty now and is starting to wrestle with the passing of their youth and their journey into maturity. For me, at age 35 (and forty looming closer than I'd like) it illustrates very clearly issues I've been wrestling with in my own life with the gradual realization that I may be past my prime physically, but fighting it every step of the way and not wanting to give in to the realization that I am getting older. and for an older generation who may be watching this movie with their grandkids, I imagine that the theme for them is the gradual loss of friends and family and the realization that the end is nearing, yet struggling with the nagging feeling that they still have life and usefulness in them yet, if only they could tap into it.

Death and obsolescence is certainly a big part of this film. But it's treated in a very subtle way that, thankfully, little kids probably won't pick up on. But it's there in spades. [spoiler alert] And even though our heroes survive to the end of the film, we're forced to deal with their destruction. And in that moment, a very important life lesson is taught. At the end, when everything else is done, what matters most is your friends and family and the ones you love. Those people around you will give you strength and peace and comfort.

Toy Story 3 is a great film, but I have to be honest: I'm not in an incredible hurry to go back to the theater to see it anytime soon. 

Happy Fathers Day... To Me?

I got this notice in my inbox this morning...

2010-06-20 05:27:48 -0500

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reward Loyalty

From O2 (The mobile carrier that sells the iPhone in England):

iPhone stock will be extremely limited in the UK at launch and not everybody who wants one will be able to get one straight away. We want to make sure that our existing customers get priority so until at least the end of July, only existing O2 customers will be able to get an iPhone 4 from us.

There's a company that gets it. Reward the people who have gotten you there and focus on new customers second. That's quite a contrast to AT&T who, as I've said before, seems to have the motto "we've already got their money and they're locked into contracts. Let's bend them over at every opportunity so we can and focus only on new customers."

Treat your existing customers right and you'll have customers for life.

Kudos to you, O2.

Friday, June 18, 2010

If You Only Watch One Thing Today... Watch This.


Obama goes on national television and proclaims that he's going to "kick ass"...

And yet they wondered why we were leery of what he might say to our kids last fall in their schools.

You stay classy, Obama. FAIL.

An Actual, Working Light Saber

From National Post:

Star Wars fans rejoice: someone has finally succeeded in creating a working lightsaber. And it can be yours for only US$197.97.

Hong Kong company Wicked Lasers has manufactured “the most dangerous laser ever created,” a lightsaber with a blue beam that can burn retinas and set skin on fire.

The Spyder III Pro Arctic features a 1 watt laser the company warns is the most powerful portable laser available. The beam is a thousand times more powerful than sunlight on skin and the manufacturer warns it could cause cancer.

I can get in a lot of trouble with this. I want one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Well, That's ONE Way to Make AT&T Sound Like They Aren't Complete Screwups...

How's this for a headline (in USA Today)?

AT&T quits taking iPhone 4 orders due to high demand

Uh, no. To quit selling something that is in high demand makes you an idiot. To have to quit selling something because you can't handle the sales traffic, even though you're a technology company... well, that makes you an idiot, too.

Kudos, also, to USA Today for completely misrepresenting the iPhone/AT&T/Apple situation:

AT&T suspended iPhone 4 orders Wednesday after demand overwhelmed inventory.

Wrong. AT&T stopped taking iPhone pre-orders because it already sold its allotted first-day shipment from Apple and because they couldn't be bothered to, you know, just keep track of who ordered what and send them an iPhone when they get more stock.

This move was to stop the bleeding of yesterday's PR nightmare, pure and simple.

There is another matter...

From AppleInsider:
AT&T this week said it is looking into reports from customers who allegedly logged in to their online account and saw another person's name and information when attempting to preorder Apple's iPhone 4.

The situation is the second in less than a week involving security for AT&T. Last week, the wireless carrier acknowledged that a security flaw on its website made it possible for hackers to query the company's database and uncover the e-mail addresses of customers who had registered to use its mobile broadband service.

Andrei, you've lost another submarine?

Question of the Day

From /Film:

Has the world had their fill of Michael Cera?


The Smurfs Are Gonna Suck.

From /Film:

USA Today reveals how the film begins: The opening starts off in the Middle Ages, Gargamel discovers the Smurfs’ magical village and scatters them into the woods. Clumsy goes the wrong way into a forbidden grotto where a few other Smurfs follow, and because it’s a blue moon, there’s a magical portal that transports them to Central Park. Yeah, doesn’t make much sense… And instead of trying to eat the Smurfs, the movie Gargamel “simply wants to capture the Smurfs to serve as charms, whose mystical essence will make his inept magic more powerful — and dangerous.”

Why is it that every magical, mystical portal travels only to New York? I get the "fish out of water" scenario, but they're little blue creatures time traveling for crying out loud. The fish out of water angle would have worked anywhere in today's world - modern Europe, San Dimas, you name it.

This is like Enchanted redux. And to be honest, the whole "let's set them in the middle of New York City and let the hilarity ensue" angle is the one major thing I can't stand about that movie. And here we have The Smurfs, who are interesting in their own right, being thrown into a contrived plot device just because there are a lot of lazy writers out there.

The Smurfs should stay in the forest in the middle ages where they belong. The magic of the Smurfs draws directly from their quaint natural surroundings. Imagine them as tiny blue Ewoks. Take the Ewoks and put them in downtown Cleveland send you have the same stupid anachronism that limits the plot and forces them into the same kind of contrived situations that we've seen time after time.

I guess filmmakers today don't think that audiences can relate or be captivated by stories set in medieval times anymore or that there isn't the potential for good stories and action there. They're wrong.

July 2

As of this morning, the Apple store is showing a July 2 ship date for new iPhones. So unless you pay extra for Saturday delivery, no iPhone for you until July 5. And no capturing fireworks and editing the video to send to Grandma in stunning HD right on your phone.

Somebody over the weekend told me that they were going to switch to T-Mobile because they hated AT&T. "They've got stuff like the iPhone, right?" this person said. All I could do was laugh.

I loathe AT&T with a white-hot burning passion, but damn I love me some iPhone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Swipin' It Old School

From ComputerWorld:

Consumers who went to a local AT&T store also said they'd encountered problems trying to pre-order an Apple iPhone 4. "I just got back from the store and their computers are down," reported "frazzledrazz" on the AT&T support site. "They are using the old credit card imprinters.

This is not the first time that Apple, AT&T or other carrier partners have been unable to handle the crush of iPhone orders. Just last week, AT&T's account management site went dark for several hours after Apple announced that the service provider would waive contract requirements to allow more customers to upgrade to the new iPhone 4.

AT&T's servers couldn't even handle the traffic after an announcement. What a bunch of incompetent assclowns. Really instills confidence that they're prepared for the data demands of the future...

System Upgrade? SYSTEM UPGRADE!!!!????!!!

From AT&T's website this afternoon:

Hey, booger-eating morons at AT&T - you picked the wrong day to do a SYSTEM UPGRADE!!!!

I highly doubt that they're actually upgrading their systems today. However, if they actually are, then their error message should be more truthful: "Due to ridiculously high traffic to our web server from people trying to pre-order the phone that is our only saving grace and the thing that's keeping us in business against our competitors, we are unable to take your order or, well, do much of anything except sit on our thumbs right about now. Steve Jobs tried to warn us, but we told him we had it covered this time around. Our bad, Steve. Namaste.

Keep trying, though, suckers. It's not like you can get an iPhone 4 anywhere else. Woot!"

God, I hate AT&T.

It Ain't Easy

From Daily Tech:

...trying to order an iPhone 4 from Apple's website this morning has been an exercise in futility.

The Apple Store came online for pre-orders around 4am EST, but was quickly bombarded with requests. Many people trying to get an iPhone 4 were greeted with error messages or notices stating "Please wait while we access your AT&T account information."

After a few hours of errors and polite messages, Apple took the site down around 6am and put up its friendly "We'll be back soon" Post-it note. Since that time, it's been up and down for the past two and a half hours. Currently, the site is down yet again.

To add insult to injury, those looking to get their hands on a white iPhone 4 can't even pre-order it from Apple (or anywhere else). Apple apparently doesn't have enough stock to satisfy demand, so it's just going to make folks wait a while longer before its makes the white 16GB and 32GB SKUs available.

It's not always easy being a first-day adopter. See the hoops we must jump through sometimes? Sheesh.

The Story of My Morning

Trying to pre-Order the iPhone 4:

This morning at home I got as far as delivery options before the whole Apple Store went down. I can only imagine the traffic they (and AT&T) are getting today. My suspicion is that it's AT&T's site that is causing the issues because the Apple Store is really quick until you get to the "contacting AT&T" portion.

Once again, AT&T: FAIL.

The Hackers Are Hacked

From AppleInsider:

Disgruntled at having been characterized as 'malicious' by AT&T, the group of hackers who exploited a hole in the wireless operator's website last week have fired back by accusing both AT&T and Apple of acting irresponsibly in regard to iPad security.

Note to AT&T: Please don't poke the hackers. Nothing good can come of it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lesson for Libs

From the New York Times:

U.N. Security Council Adopts New Sanctions Against Iran Over Nuclear Program

Moving firmly away from the Obama administration's previous
emphasis on wooing Iran, the United States pushed through a
new round of United Nations sanctions against Iran on
Wednesday because of its nuclear program.

See?  We've been saying for years that trying to be nice to the bad guys wouldn't get them to ge good or hate us any less. We now have a liberal president who proved it. 

Cool feeling

You know what's a cool feeling? Finding out on the last day of your trip - on the way back to the airport - that your rental car has a moon roof.


The FaceTime introduction ad is one of the best ads I've ever seen.

Good advertising evokes emotion, impulse and reaction. This one does all that in a very beautiful, classy way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Tens of millions"

In yesterdays keynote, Steve Jobs went out of his way to say that
Apple would be shipping TENS OF MILLIONS of FaceTime video calling
enabled devices in 2010. And he repeated it.

Folks, I think he was trying to tell us that this fall that the iPod
touch is getting a camera and will have the ability to make video
calls over wifi. Ditto for the ipad next year.

What else wasn't introduced?

In addition to my list from yesterday of things that were rumored to
be introduced at WWDC (replacing Safari, which has since been
released), are these:

- free MobileMe
- new version of Final Cut

We know that at least one of these exists and is on the way because
Steve Jobs has spoken about the next version of Final Cut publicly.
The question is just when. My money is sometime in the next two weeks.

Oh, and since there's iMovie for iPhone now, I can't wait for iMovie
for the ipad. I really could have used that a couple of weeks ago when
putting together "Gavin and Kayci Go Camping.". But I suspect we won't
see that until the ipad gets a camera next year.

Whistle Pigs

I was right. According to Wikipedia, the animals I saw this morning on my mountain hike were, indeed, hoary marmots. Here's another shot I took of one this morning:

YoBama Jokes

I suffer under no illusion that the late night talk show hosts credited with these jokes actually made them - especially in the case of Letterman - but these are funny regardless:

The liberals are asking us to give Obama time.  We agree and think 25 to life would be appropriate.

--- Jay Leno

America needs Obama-care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask.

--- Jay Leno

Q: Have you heard about McDonald's' new Obama Value Meal?
A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

--- Conan O'Brien

Q: What does Barack Obama call lunch with a convicted felon?
A: A fund raiser.

--- Jay Leno

Q: What's the difference between Obama's cabinet and a penitentiary?
A: One is filled with tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to society.
The other is for housing prisoners.

--- David Letterman

Q: If Nancy Pelosi and Obama were on a boat in the middle of the ocean and it started to sink, who would be saved?
A: America!

--- Jimmy Fallon

Q: What's the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?
A: Bo has papers.

--- Jimmy Kimmel

Q: What was the most positive result of the "Cash for clunkers" program?
A: It took 95% of the Obama bumper stickers off the road.

-- David Letterman

Thanks to my grandma for sending them.

My morning on top of the world

This morning I woke up early - again - and decided to go ahead and get up and head up into the mountains. It would just be wrong to be in Denver and not climb a mountain, right?

So I got in the car and started driving.  Initially, the weather was really, really ugly and I thought the trip would be a bust.  But as I got higher up into the mountains the weather got better and better, so I kept on going.

My original destination was going to be Breckenridge, but I determined that there was no way I could make it there and look around and have enough time to get back for the first session at my conference. So I called an audible and found a road that looked promising and just took it.  Before I knew it, l was at Loveland Pass at the Continental Divide.  So i decided to get out and hike.

The air was still pretty cool and my ears and hands got cold pretty quickly. And I was really out of breath.  The sun was just starting to peek over the top of the mountain behind me, and soon it started to warm up.

So I kept climbing, stopping to take photos along the way.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and I kept wishing Kristi and the kids could share this with me.  So when I got to a little rise, I. Got a couple of bars on my phone, so I called them.  That made the experience.  Of course, the signal was weak, so we kept getting cut off.  

And I kept climbing.  Along the way, there were little streams of melted snow running down the mountain.  I cupped my hands and drank some, and it was cold and amazing.  Finally, after crossing through a patch of snow that was blocking the path, I reached the top of the ridge and saw more incredible snow-covered mountains on the other side.  It was breathtaking (or maybe it was the altitude).

I spent about twenty minute on top of the mountain looking around and taking pictures. I collected some rocks to take back to Kristi, which has been a tradition ever since we were dating. Then I headed back.

Along the way I kinda lost the trail and forged a little bit of my own.  But I was headed in the right direction, so I knew I'd be okay. Along the way, I happened to look up and saw something watching me from the top of a boulder.  It was small, about the size of a cat, and furry.  I was able to get pretty close before he moved.  And as I climbed up the hill toward the animal, I noticed another one, a little larger. They didn't seem to be too concerned with me, and actually let me get within a few feet. I think they were hoary marmuts, but I'll have to research that later. Anyway, from where I had climbed to, I could see that trail and that I wasn't on it.

As I headed back down toward the trail along a cliff, a cloud climbed up the side of the mountain and enveloped me. Kayci and i were just having a conversation the other day about what it would be like to be inside a cloud, so I made a little video for her with my phone.  I'll post that later if I remember.

Anyway, I headed back down to the car, hopped in and booked it back to Denver.  I got back just in time for my first session at 9:00. And I was a happy, happy James.

Here are a few of the photos I took:

Monday, June 7, 2010

What we didn't see

Lots of cool new stuff from Apple today during the keynote. I find it tersting what was rumored, but what we didn't see:

"magic trackpad"
Safari 5
Apple TV refresh
Verizon iPhone
Mac OS 10.7

Quote of the day

"People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs."

Thanks to Matt. 

Only Hearing What They Want To

From the NY Times:

The reception that Representative Frank Kratovil Jr., a Democrat, received here one night last week as he faced a small group of constituents was far more pleasant than his encounters during a Congressional recess last summer.

Then, he was hanged in effigy by protesters. This time, a round of applause was followed by a glass of chilled wine, a plate of crackers and crudités as he mingled with an invitation-only audience at the Point Breeze Credit Union, a vastly different scene than last year’s wide-open televised free-for-alls.

The sentiment that fueled the rage during those Congressional forums is still alive in the electorate. But the opportunities for voters to openly express their displeasure, or angrily vent as video cameras roll, have been harder to come by in this election year.

If the time-honored tradition of the political meeting is not quite dead, it seems to be teetering closer to extinction. Of the 255 Democrats who make up the majority in the House, only a handful held town-hall-style forums as legislators spent last week at home in their districts.

It was no scheduling accident.

With images of overheated, finger-waving crowds still seared into their minds from the discontent of last August, many Democrats heeded the advice of party leaders and tried to avoid unscripted question-and-answer sessions. The recommendations were clear: hold events in controlled settings — a bank or credit union, for example — or tour local businesses or participate in community service projects.

This is unconscionable. I don't know which is worse - the fact that the Democrats have a coordinated top-down effort to actively ignore their constituents (and then brag about it) or the fact that the lefties in their districts are applauding them for doing it (see the comments on the linked article). If the shoe were on the other foot - if it were the Republicans pull in this kind of crap - there would be people chaining themselves to mailboxes and protesters marching in the street and all over the news.

How can we live in a representative republic when our representatives only want to hear the things that don't challenge them or make them uncomfortable in any way.

This kind of crap is the reason that November is going to be utterly devastating to the Democrats. And rightly so.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

HOW Now, Brown Cow

This afternoon I'm headed out to Denver for the HOW design conference. Ever since I heard about this conference a couple of years ago, I've been aching to go. Imagine thousands of designers all in one place talking about design and branding and typography and technology. [Note to self: change pants.] It's going to be awesome.

And in the perfect storm of cool things, while we're all there, WWDC is going on out on San Francisco with a Steve Jobs keynote. Now imaging thousands of designers talking about the new iPhone, too. Destructo likey.

I'm going to really, really miss my family while I'm there because it's summer and the funnest time of year. But I'm looking forward to going to Denver to get my geek on a little, also. And in a stunning turn of events, I also get to see my Aunt Peggy, who lives in Denver, during my stay.

So if Destructoville is a little light for the next few days, or if it's a little bit "designy," then please forgive me. I won't be able to help it.

And if anyone reading this is going to HOW also, be sure to look for me. I'll be the one in jeans with a t-shirt on (probably either black or gray) with tennis shoes. I'm sure you won't be able to miss me. [that's a design joke]

I'm so excited.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stories from Grandma

I just got this story in an e-mail from my grandma:

When we lived in Mesquite, TX. I was 33 years old and had a hysterectomy. I had a pretty rough time but no one would tell me how sick I was. I called from my room and asked about the patient was in room 406 and that I was a relative. The nurse on the desk gave me a detailed report and asked me my name so that she could tell the patient who had called. I had the pleasure of telling her that I was the patient and couldn't get any information from my nurse. She became very quiet and then started laughing. She said it was the first time anyone had ever done that.

This is where I get it, folks.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quote of the Day...

"...the Disney star’s image has taken a slight turn for the Lohan..."

Margaret Lyons in Entertainment

'Furious' Obama heading to Gulf for spill update

From the AP:

Determined to project both command and compassion, President Barack Obama is returning to the Louisiana coast for a fresh look...

You know the best way to project command and compassion? Be commanding and compassionate. Let your actions speak for themselves.

That's the problem with Obama - he needs to quit trying to look like he's doing something and, you know, actually do something. He's in a hole and he's trying to image his way out of it.

Why, exactly, must Obama travel to the Gulf for an update? It's not as if he can't get right on the phone (or any cable news network) and find out exactly what's going on up to the minute. No, he needs to appear to be doing something, as any good savior must.

WTF, Miley?

From the NY Daily News:

Miley Cyrus simulates lesbian lip lock in 'Britain's Got Talent' performance

Miley Cyrus is not that innocent. Taking a cue from fellow ex-Disney star Britney Spears, the "Hannah Montana" star simulated a girl-on-girl kiss with a female backup dancer during her Thursday night performance on "Britain's Got Talent."

Unlike Spears, however, who famously lip locked with Madonna at the 2003 MTV Awards, Miley stopped short of actually kissing the dancer - the two only thrust their lips toward one another.

The fake lesbian kiss occurred during the 17-year-old's performance of her new single "Can't Be Tamed." The lip lock was part of an edgy show in which Miley danced onstage in a black corset and ripped fishnet stockings.

Cyrus is currently in the middle of a European promotional tour for her upcoming album, "Can't Be Tamed," which is due to be released later this month.

On the tour, the one-time squeeky-clean star has been shocking audiences with her racy performances. Last weekend, audiences were taken aback when she appeared on stage in a skin-tight leotard.

Last month, a video of Miley dirty dancing in a bar with a 44-year-old movie producer surfaced online.

And just like that, Miley is done in the Destructo household. Don't say you weren't warned, Miley.

Three for the price of none


If you live in the northern hemisphere, go out any night this week an hour or so after sunset and look at the western sky to catch a planetary triple play starring Venus, Saturn and Mars.

The first thing skywatchers will see — weather permitting — is the brilliant planet Venus, slightly north of west, in the constellation Gemini. Look for Gemini's twin first magnitude stars, Pollux and Castor, just above Venus.

As the sky gets darker, the planet Mars can be spotted to Venus' left as it appears in the constellation Leo very close to the bright, first magnitude star Regulus. Further still to the left will be Saturn shining in the western part of the constellation Virgo.

This sky map shows how to spot all three planets as they appear across a 71-degree angle in the night sky.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

News Flash: Raising Prices Reduces Demand

From Cafe Hayek:

Suppose Uncle Sam orders you to raise by 41 percent the price you charge for subscriptions to your newspaper. Would you be surprised to find a subsequent fall in the number of subscribers? If you assigned a reporter to investigate the reasons for this decline in subscriptions, would you be impressed if that reporter files a story offering several possible explanations for the fall in subscriptions without, however, once mentioning the mandated 41 percent price hike?

Unless you answered “yes” to this last question, I wonder why you published Mickey Meece’s report on today’s record high teenage unemployment rate (“Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens,” June 1). Between 2007 and 2009, Uncle Sam ordered teenage workers (who are mostly unskilled) to raise the price they charge for their labor services by 41 percent. (That is, the federal minimum-wage rose from $5.15 per hour in 2007 to its current level of $7.25 in 2009 – a 41 percent increase.)

Does it not strike you as more than passing strange for your reporter – assigned to help explain why teenagers today have an increasingly difficult time finding jobs – to ignore the fact that these teenagers are ordered by government to raise significantly the wages that they charge their employers?

See also my rant from yesterday regarding digital downloads and iPad magazine apps.

Thanks to Matt.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gavin and Kayci Go Camping

The sequel to last year's wildly popular Gavin and Kayci Go to Sonic.

Why does digital cost so much?

From AdAge:

iPad editions and subscription offers for Bonnier siblings Popular Photography and Sound & Vision will arrive later in June, followed by TransWorld Skateboarding and Islands in August.

But consumers who think iPad editions should cost no more than print editions and perhaps should cost less -- given all the money publishers save on paper, printing and distribution -- are going to be disappointed. IPad subscriptions to Popular Science, Popular Photography and Sound & Vision will cost at least twice as much as they do in print.

A year's worth of Popular Science in print, for example, runs you $12 if you order through the magazine's website and $10 if you find it on Amazon. A year on the iPad, however, will cost you $29.95. That's 83¢ a print issue through Amazon, but $2.50 an iPad issue.

Bonnier's subscriptions and pricing strategy will have company fairly shortly. Time Inc. CEO Anne Moore said last week that Time magazine iPad subscriptions are "coming soon." And she didn't sound any more interested in discount pricing than Bonnier. "It's becoming increasingly clear customers will pay for trusted, quality content," she said in remarks at a Time Warner investors day.

Readers won't see it that way, but they'll need to adjust their expectations, said Andrew Degenholtz, president at ValueMags, a magazine-subscription marketer. "They're thinking, 'We're not knocking down any trees, there's no ink being used, and there's no truck being used to deliver it,'" he said. "But there are significant editorial costs, creative costs and research-and-development and production costs," he said.

Bullshit. They're already spending those costs in developing the print edition. The only additional costs they incur are to pay programmers and designers to turn it into a digital edition. And in the case of the Wired magazine app, they're exporting directly from the same original InDesign files that the print version is created with.

I've long wondered why digital downloads aren't significantly cheaper than buying a CD in the store. After all, there are no material costs to buy, no shipping costs, no packaging costs, etc. All that must be done is to create a digital file master for download. Instead of an album costing $10 (or more) on iTunes, it should only cost, maybe $4 or $5. We've always been told that record companies and artists only make pennies per album sold anyway, right? Remove the overhead, drop the price and watch the profits roll in. There are lots of albums I would buy if they were cheaper. I just don't value them at anywhere near $10.

The same should work for magazines as well. You want to increase your readership? Release an iPad edition that is cheaper than your print edition. The world is going digital, and eventually your magazine will go completely digital as well. But it seems that once again, these companies don't seem to understand a thing about their readership. Someone should tell whatever bonehead is making the pricing decisions that if they continue to force readers to "adjust their expectations" it just pisses off the people they depend on to make their money. There's only so many times readers will take a good kick to the ribs (or the wallet) before they go somewhere else, especially if they don't feel as if they're getting their money's worth.

In this age of magazines folding left and right, you'd think that they would understand that a little better. People aren't stopping reading magazines just because. There are reasons people stop subscribing: too many ads, not enough content, not enough good content, price is too high or better options elsewhere.

Astros Lose to Freaking Washington Nationals 14-4

From the Houston Chronicle:

Bizarre, for lack of a better word, would not begin to describe what transpired for the Astros on Monday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

Shameful. It's like losing to the Alief Little League team.