Apt for today’s protest of fail

Today a mass demonstration took place in London as thousands of students (+ hangers-on) marched against the rise of tuition fees proposed by the Coalition Government.

Violence ensued as a minority of the protesters burned (their own) placards, smashed windows and attacked riot police.

A huge fail for the organisers, the movement and the students who will be affected by the fees rise.

I have never resorted to violence in a protest. Never. And why? Because I believe wholeheartedly in the power of non-violence (Ahimsa) to drive a message forward. The results of today’s protest are deeply, deeply disappointing. The right to protest does *NOT* extend to the right to violence.

* N.B. I don’t advocate thumping the chumps

That last sentence is key. The right to protest does not extend to the right to violence.


Yojimbo 3 is out! And look…Yojimbo for iPAD!

Link: Yojimbo 3 is out! And look…Yojimbo for iPAD!

Truly awesome. Rather than explain why Yojimbo is awesome, I’ll point you to Shawn Blanc’s review of Yojimbo.

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.

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.

Looking down the way in Denver’s Art Museum District

A life Jimmy! You know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waitin’ for moments that’ll never come.

We have seen this movie many times before since the 1960s. Liberals personalize everything, fetishize presidential power, and turn against their own every time some progress starts to be made. They do not stick with the patient work of building responsible public agencies, electing better Congressional representatives, and building movements across many localities. They quickly give up on yet another President and hand the country back to a right wing —- that has become more and more extreme and selfishly rapacious.

In 2010, it is time for progressives and liberals to wake up and grow up. No, Obama is not perfect, and he and his administration make some mistakes. But they are moving in the right direction on many fronts in the face of almost insuperable obstacles. They are facing multiple, constantly emerging crises with a federal government that has been systematically denigrated and torn apart for decades. They do not have a Congress willing to vote for even basically sensible things in many areas. And they face determined, well-funded opponents. They need friendly criticism from the left —- and they certainly need social movements to elect better Congresses and press Congressional representatives. But they do not need childish hysteria of the kind Olbermann is dishing out — or unrealistic demands of the sort that Maureen Dowd and Huff Post are pushing.

Theda Skocpol (via southpol, catbus, and squashed)

I’ll totally grant the Administration their record of accomplishment. I’d be more sympathetic to Theda’s viewpoint if Obama didn’t insist in finding a common ground with a Republican Party that has no interest in that common ground, or in taking the politics out of politics.

That eternal search for a Goldilocks-like middle – on display again today, when he talked about immigration reform – is endlessly frustrating.