Category Archives: regular

Why the new MacBook Air is going to be the MacBook

Because Apple doesn’t do complex. Let me elaborate.

When Steve Jobs took over in the late ’90s, the Apple ecosystem was horribly cluttered with Quadras, Performas and all manner of other beasties. Steve quickly slashed the offerings to a four part matrix: two professional-class machines, two consumer-class machines, desktops and laptops.

So the current ecosystem largely looks like this:

Pro Laptop: MacBook Pro

Pro Desktop: Mac Pro

Consumer Laptop: MacBook

Consumer Desktop: iMac

Now, the ecosystem’s become a bit cluttered again. Most folks (~99% or so) can really do everything with either an iMac or a MacBook. It’s clear that the Mac Pro and the MacBook Pro are essentially niche products. 

In addition, you’ve got the various iOS machines: the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad. Most notably, the iPad.

And all by its lonesome…the MacBook Air. It’s heavier than the iPad, but lighter than the MacBook, but more expensive than both. It’s a product orphan, and if there’s anything that Steve hates, it’s product orphans.

Now that the iPad is out, it makes no sense for the MacBook Air to exist in its current iteration. It doesn’t do anything better than either the iPad or the MacBook, and does things rather a bit worse – it processes slower than either, its battery life blows chunks, you get the visual.

So this Wednesday, I fully expect Steve to bin the MacBook Air and instead introduce a fully revamped MacBook which embodies much of the design philosophy of the MacBook Air, without its limitations, at the current price point of $999.

You heard it here first.

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Golden Week: time to buck up

Originally, I wasn’t going to watch President Obama’s rally. I have midterms this week for university, so I chose to go review Microeconomics. As it turned out, though, I was the only guy to show up for my exam review, which meant I found myself with time on my hands.

I caught the speech with members of the Ohio U College Democrats, who were appropriately and justly raucous during the speech. They’ve been working exceedingly hard at registering students and ramping up enthusiasm for the Democrats. 

[SIDEBAR: If you’re reading this, and you live in Ohio, remember that this week is dubbed “Golden Week”: you can register to vote and vote the same day! So do it. What are you waiting for…go! You can read this when you get back.]

Anyway, rather than give you a set piece, I’ll jot down assorted thoughts that came to my mind throughout the speech. 

Rally turnout: They got 26,500 people to attend a late-September rally on what must have been a cold Wisconsin night on a Tuesday. That’s not tiny – more than 10% of Madison’s population turned out to see the President. 

How do we know it was 26,500? Because the Madison Chief of Police gave that out as the estimate, and OFA kept saying it, over and over and over and over again. Seriously, it sounded a bit ridiculous: “Hey, did you hear? 26 thousand heard the President tonight! 26 thousand! That’s 26, with three zeroes! Dude…26,000! Twenty-six thousand, man…26,000!”

I get it, really, I do. All we hear about is this enthusiasm gap, and how it means that Democrats are doomed. So OFA had a vested interest in showing the world that President Obama still had what it took to get hearts racing again – which he did, kind of.

Speaking as a veteran of 2008 (and 2006 and 2004, for that matter), it was a bit puzzling to see them flog the crowd size so relentlessly. Obama drew 20,000 to Austin – in March of 2007. Drawing 26,500 to Madison should be a walk in the park. Hell, Kerry was drawing those numbers at the same time in 2004.

Frankly, it struck me as trying way too hard to drive a point in one fell swoop. It takes time to build the narrative; one middling rally in what should be friendly territory for Democrats isn’t going to set it. Which brings me to my next impression.

The speech: Obama’s speech, by and large, was a generic stump speech, all the way down to his oft-used car analogy (the 2010 version of the “Fired Up” story). Truthfully, it was uneven, but it hit its best point when he riffed on not giving up, because we’ve been through tougher times. That wasn’t the biggest problem, though.

The biggest problem is that we know what we’re against: we’re against giving the keys back to the Republicans. But what are Democrats for? In other words, why should Democrats be excited to vote in this election?

And the answer is…well…it’s hard to say, really. 

That’s the part that worries me the most: the lack of a positive agenda for the next two years. And while a lot of folks like to bash on Obama for this, truthfully, the blame lies on the Senate, more than anywhere else. You’ve got a caucus of obstreperous Senators that have basically neutered the Democratic agenda, for a variety of reasons.

The problem is that without significant, fundamental reforms of the Senate rules, moving any kind of Democratic agenda through the Senate is next-to-impossible. 

I suspect that’s why despite the high notes, Obama’s stump speech was so negative. He knows that anything he’s for is going to get negotiated to a fare-thee-well, so you might as well go for what’s in your power to address (Republicans bad! Bush bad!)

I just don’t know if that’s going to be enough to get everyone ready to go once more. We’ll see, I suppose. Not that it’ll keep me from working down the stretch, but it is something to keep in mind.

Dip, dip & dive: Brazil 3, Cote D’Ivoire 1

A thoroughly dominating performance by Brazil – at one point I fully expected that the Amarelo e Verde would hang 5 goals on an Ivorian side that was once thought to be a Cup contender.

That didn’t happen, obviously, but not for lack of trying. Brazil kept attacking and attacking – and likely would’ve done it, were it not for the fact that Les Elephants turned the last 10 minutes of the match into something akin to a rugby scrum – punctuated by likely the worst dive of the tournament. 

With only a few minutes left, Fadel Keita of Cote D’Ivoire got tapped lightly on the chest by Kaka’s arm. Keita then fell to the ground as if he were slain by a sniper, grabbing his face, frozen in a rictus of agony. Of course, nothing was wrong with him – but Keita’s Oscar-worthy performance caused the referee to give Kaka his second yellow card of the match, and thus be sent off.

Look, I get that Cote D’Ivoire was frustrated and angry to be losing 3-1 to Brazil. That said, there’s no excuse for their actions on the field today. You have to keep cool, man.

World Cup: Day 5

We continued marching on through the opening matches, going from the easiest group in the Cup – Group F – to the hardest group, known as the “Group of Death”: Group G.

Slovakia 1, New Zealand 1

New Zealand’s All-Whites were, essentially, just happy to be here. The country’s only previous World Cup appearance came in 1982, where they lost three straight games by a combined score of 12-2. While I still don’t expect them to move on to the second round, they didn’t embarrass themselves playing against Slovakia (making its maiden appearance). They went to half-time even at 0-0, and while they conceded a goal early in the second half, they managed to stay in it – until lightning struck in the shape of Wilson Reid. So, they have a well-earned point in the group, and likely one of the few highlights of their campaign.

Portugal 0, Cote D’Ivoire 0

UGHHHH. YCCCCHHH.

Yeah, that’s about as eloquent as I’m going to get about this match. Just a dreary, grim, soul-crushing display of everything that’s negative about soccer. This match had two highlights, if you can call them that – Cristiano Ronaldo barely missing a long strike off the post midway through the first half, and Didier Drogba missing a shot in stoppage time. 

Other than that, nothing. I’m not kidding – ESPN play-by-play man Ian Darke just ripped the Portuguese at the end of the first half. The match was best summed up by my Portuguese cousin, who IM’ed me to say that he thought Portugal was so bad, he was thinking of passing as Brazilian.

Cote D’Ivoire was better, and dominated the match in my opinion, but if either play the way they did against North Korea, I’m not sure that the North Koreans don’t beat them. I’m not kidding.

Brazil 2, North Korea 1

You’ve already read my take on North Korea (hint: I think the leadership’s evil, and it’s a tragic story all around). Now to the game.

Going in, I think everyone expected Brazil to just shellack the North Koreans. More to the point: after a first four days notable only for the preponderance of scoreless draws, I think everyone desperately needed the Seleçao to score often, and stylishly. 

Thanks to a stifling, splendid North Korean defense, they didn’t do that. But the two times they did score, they did so with panache – particularly the second time. 

However, where other sides might have wilted, the North Koreans stood fast – and in the 89th minute, pulled one goal back, with one of the better goals I’ve seen in this World Cup. 

Given the North Korean defensive prowess, and their willingness to attack in a disciplined manner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them stun Portugal or the Ivory Coast. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the second place finisher was North Korea, after the stink bomb of a game that Portugal and Cote D’Ivoire laid earlier.

North Korea: Not Your Quirky, Lovable, Wacky Rogue State

I’m going to take a break from soccer-blogging to talk about North Korea a second. This isn’t a slam on the players, who showed a magnificent amount of heart today in losing to Brazil, the world’s top-ranked side, 2-1. 

No, what I’m criticizing is stuff like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Look, I know that it’s the hip thing to do to roll your eyes and mock North Korean propaganda, or make mock-serious pronouncements about life or death. I get it. It’s one of the ways that we have of dealing with raw, unadulterated evil. 

Because, like it or not, bombastic proclamations of national greatness aside, that’s what we’re dealing with when it comes to North Korea: evil embodied by a state government.

And this is what it looks like:

(image courtesy ScrapeTV)

(image courtesy Daily Mail)

And it’s reflected in headlines like this:

That’s North Korea for you – definitely not your quirky, lovable, quaint Ruritanian throwback state. 

So, when you make light of North Korea, remember that that’s what you’re mocking. After having lived a year in South Korea, I can’t join in the mockery – if only because it’s a giant humanitarian disaster waiting to happen.

Go to Newsweek.com right now!

and type in the Konami code using your arrow keys on your keyboard:

UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A ENTER

It’s kinda awesome.

Germany 4, Australia 0

My short take: Utter destruction.

This isn’t die Mannschaft (the team) we’re used to; today, they were more akin to die Attentäter (the assassins). Apart from a just-missed chance by the Socceroos early on, the Australians just weren’t in it. Two goals in the first half – the first could’ve been fairly called off-sides, but wasn’t – set the tone.

By the time that Tim Cahill was sent off with a straight red card, it was all over. Two more goals were scored, but in all fairness, Australia was lucky to get off 4-0 – Germany really should’ve won 7-0 or 8-0. They were that close on that many opportunities.

I’ll eat crow: I predicted a 1-1 draw, thinking that the Australians’ age and experience would tell against the youth of the Germans. I was grievously wrong. After three days, Germany is by far the best team I’ve seen so far. Whomever finishes second in Group C (the Americans’ group) will face them in the round of 16 – and after watching Ghana, Serbia, and Australia, I’d be stunned if the Germans don’t win Group D.

That makes beating Slovenia and Algeria by multiple goals imperative for the U.S., if they’re to have any hope of making a run in this cup. The same goes for England, especially given their difficulties in goal, which go beyond Robert Green – it’s not like either of his replacements are better than him. That’s what made Saturday’s 1-1 draw so frustrating for both teams – England should’ve beaten the U.S., but once the second half was coming to a close, Bob Bradley should’ve sent in someone like Herculez Gomez instead of Stuart Holden, in order to gainsay a win.

Either way, we’ll hopefully be seeing some attacking soccer from both teams the next time out. They really can’t afford anything else.