iPhone Day


iPhone Day 2014 has dawned anew. The eighth annual mass-demonstration of orgasmic consumerism that will result in another unprecedented transference of wealth from millions to just a few.

As usual, there is a large dosage of animus:

It may be my imagination, but this “haters gonna hate” thing seems to ratchet up with each successive launch. What I don’t get is why. Does a large portion of the population ridicule another for standing in line for Rolling Stones tickets? Or to get into a great breakfast spot on a Saturday morning? Or for Transformers 16? OK, maybe for the Transformers.

Bloomberg reported:

At Apple’s store on Fifth Avenue in New York, police officers put up barricades as the line stretched more than 10 blocks and the crowd cheered continuously for the 15 minutes before the phones officially went on sale.

I used to be that guy in line, but I’m not anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m older now (though I’d hate to think so), but I’m content ordering my phone like a civilized person and having it delivered to me, even if that means I’m not one of the first on the planet to post to Facebook from its virgin touchscreen.

I’d wait at the Apple store with hundreds or thousands of others. This is more social event than product launch. You do this to be with your tribe. Not unlike going to a collegiate sporting event. You all get to discuss the phone and the company and how long you’ve been an Apple customer (extra cred awarded for having owned a Mac from the years during Steve’s exile). It’s a warm and comforting thing, really.

Maybe that’s what the haters hate on. They have nothing like this. Their tribe (assuming the vast majority of them are non-Apple users) is significantly weaker. There is no binding energy in their brand affiliation. No embrace of kindred spirits. Perhaps they’re jealous.

To be sure, there must be a large number of people in the Apple Store line who were previously not Apple users. I remember what it was like in 1998 to use a Mac. We were few and very far between. So a large percentage of these cheering fans (and fans they are) must be converts. Know what they say about former smokers being the most virulently anti-smoking people there are? I bet it’s the same for Apple fans. Former Galaxy and Dell users cheer and sit on the cold Fall pavement with as much if not more excitement as someone who’s first Apple product was beige with a built-in screen.

In the last few years I waited, I did so at the AT&T store. There were fewer people and the phones were just the same. I lost the tribal element. These were more goal-oriented business-like folk who wanted to get in and get out and get on. I’d hear the Apple crowd chanting (yes, chanting) at the other end of the mall and feel a little sorry. For myself. For leaving their happy embrace. For being efficient rather than ecstatic.

So today, I’ll look at the throngs of hopeful iPhone buyers sitting in New York or Chicago or Sydney or London while waiting for my AT&T shipping notification email. I miss them. I’m happy for them. But it’s nice not to have to get up hours before dawn and sit in the dark. Alas.

Relative nightmare

Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota Jeff Johnson, in response to the decision of Preferred One to leave the state’s health insurance marketplace MNsure, said yesterday,

Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again.

This is, to be clear, the same “nightmare process” all consumers of heath insurance have to go through at some point (like, when they change jobs or their employer changes plans). It’s the same “nightmare” my company asked our employees to endure several times over the years we’ve owned it as we faced double-digit date increases on top of double-digit rate increases, all in search of a lower cost solution. It’s the same “nightmare” that was allowed to live following the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Does it suck? Yes. It is especially unique? No. It’s a feature built-in to the American health care system.

real “nightmare” would be having a family member with a chronic illness and not being able to get insurance. Or getting into an accident or discovering cancer without having access to affordable, effective insurance. Both those issues are largely resolved under the ACA.

Sounds like Preferred One made a business bet and lost. Happens all the time. Good thing there’s a marketplace where those affected can go and get new insurance.

Wife, no. Kids? Sure.

According to Harris, two-thirds of Americans beat their children. I’m actually shocked the number is that high. I mean, I often feel guilty just yelling at my kids. I can’t imagine doing to them what I recall was done to me when I was a kid.

I recall my dad using his belt on me. One time in particular I recall very specifically. Not what caused him to do it, though. Only that it happened. I also recall being disciplined with a paddle in grade school by the principal. There was a group of three or four of us involved in whatever it was that caused it. Again, I only remember the result, not what precipitated it.

You don’t beat other people. Period. At first, my thinking about Adrian Peterson was that breaking the skin as he apparently did (and admits to) was the line too far, but the more I think about it the more I realize the appropriate thought is that you should never strike your kids for any reason whatsoever. How is it possible that we’re in a place in our societal development where striking one’s spouse just once regardless of injury or consequence is never acceptable but there are those who would actively defend stuffing a bunch of leaves in a kid’s mouth and whipping them until they bleed?

It’s not as though there aren’t consequences for the child. According to Slate:

Spanking can increase a child’s risk of aggression, antisocial behavior, and mental health disorders later in life. It slows cognitive development and decreases language skills. Spanking may not leave outward signs of injury. But the mental scars it inflicts can last a lifetime.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are allowing Peterson to come back and play. Said Zygi:

At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action.

Not good enough. He sounds like he’s saying this is purely a legal matter. That if Peterson isn’t convicted, then everything’s cool. That’s bullshit. Abuse is abuse. Hitting a family member should result in the same treatment regardless of their height, age, or gender.

I don’t know if I can stomach watching the Vikings play. Deactivating him was the right thing to do. Keeping him deactivated is the only appropriate course of action.

Apparently, in the NFL, you’re out if you coldcock your wife but are OK if you make your child bleed. So take it out on your kids.



One of the arguments against stronger gun control laws groups like the National Rifle Association like to put out there is that we, as a population, need our firearms to protect ourselves from tyranny. Just like the Minutemen, presumably. 

A couple questions.

First, how are the events and the actions of the police in Ferguson not tyrannical? I’m no expert having never lived under tyranny, but I’m guessing it looks a lot like what’s above. Put those guys in red coats and imagine they’re in Boston Common and not suburban St. Louis (that the black dude’s black is actually historically accurate) and maybe you’ll think so, too.

Nice rideSecond, we as an untrained and unarmored population are going to defend themselves against the militarized SWAT teams of today? Let alone the National Guard or the regular Army? These guys are equipped for Mogadishu, not Main Street. 

Bonus questions: Where’s the NRA in all this? Where’s the concern for our liberties being crushed under the boot of ruthless authority? What happened to our First Amendment rights to assumable and speak? 

Final question. Where the fuck is the outrage? 

The thing that never happened and probably wouldn’t have mattered even if it did

Audio has been released of Bill Clinton telling a group of Australian politicians that he had a chance, while in office, to kill Osama Bin Laden — recorded September 10, 2001. Said the former president…

I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.

The thing that never happened and probably wouldn’t have mattered even if it did

All-Star ruminations

rainbow believer

Why the hell does this game determine World Series home-field advantage? It’s a joke of a game and it’s not played to win (even when it “counts”). I will look past the fact that Clayton Kershaw didn’t start for the National League because maybe, if you squint your eyes and cock your head and take a half-dozen shots and wear a red uniform, you could make an argument that he’s not the most dominant pitcher in the MLB right this specific moment, but to pull him after a single inning of 1-2-3 work if you’re trying to win is crazy. Same for Greinke. Really good and and even better inning than Kersh’s and only up there for three outs. Insanity.

I don’t have a problem with the fans picking the team. I don’t have a problem with every team getting representation. Because, even so, that leaves you with a couple of pretty awesome f’n baseball teams. More than enough to have a hell of a game. IF YOU’RE TRYING TO WIN. Which, of course, they aren’t. Clearly.

Home-field advantage should go to the team with the best record in the regular season, just as it is during the playoffs. Either that or the team with the best playoff record. Something based on actual accomplishment rather than making sure as many guys as possible get to be seen by their hometown fans on the TV.

Regarding the Home Run Derby, I think they should stop messing with the number of outs each guy gets and restrict them to 20 pitches. You could have twice the number of guys participate and it would last just as long and it would be more exciting. Knowing that each pitch really mattered would add drama to each thrown. Also, just have it be the HR leaders from each league. No picking. No politics. Should Yasiel Puig have been there? No, probably not. He hasn’t hit a homer since May. How about the top ten from each league, twenty pitches a piece? Sounds pretty fun to me. Probably more fun than how we do it now.

Drained by guzzling clickbait

Damn you, pot!

The NBC News homepage has the above headline telling us that poor, parched California is being sucked dry by marijuana growers. The headline on the story is even worse:

Water-Guzzling Pot Plants Draining Drought-Wracked California

Having spent the first twenty-one years of my life in California and experiencing the nasty drought of 1976-77 (and the general rarity of water that comes with the Californian climate), I do commiserate with my home state and try to keep up on its water woes. But come on, NBC.

Drained by guzzling clickbait

The myth of choice

Yesterday, the Supreme Court did one thing right by refusing to hear the appeal of a California ban on “conversion therapy.” In the accompanying New York Times article, there was this…

Some conservative and religious groups continue to argue that sexuality is not innate and that a person could change his or her sexual orientation.

I could say something like, “anyone who knows anyone who’s gay knows that ‘choice’ with regard to sexuality is ridiculous,” but really, anyone should know that choice is a myth. All you have to do to prove this is to “choose” to have sex with someone opposite your preference. You know, for science.

I think this choice myth is rooted in the bisexual experience but also in a simplification of what human sexuality is.

The myth of choice

The aliens of Facebook

The more I think about this secret Facebook psych test the more I’m disturbed by it. And not in the outrage de jour kind of way, either. Facebook is a company with nearly a billion daily users and no compunction regarding screwing with their emotional state. What does it say about a company that would do such a thing with apparently no idea normal non-Facebook employees would be horrified by it? Reading their reaction to the outrage, it seems as though they’re truly blindsided by it. Unbelievable. 

Every successful corporation has a kind of cultural DNA that motivates their actions. Facebook’s DNA is truly and deeply screwed up. It’s like the company is run by a group of aliens who only somewhat understand how humans work and only have that insight based on analyzing social graph data. 

This episode raises all kinds of questions for me. How big is too big in social media? Who will ensure companies like Facebook are acting in an ethical manner? How can misuse of their power to influence us (either by them or third parties) be safeguarded against? 

I guess, in a way, it’s a good thing Facebook stumbled face-first into this pile of horseshit in the innocently and socially clueless way they did. Now we know what can be done to us by them. How will we respond? And when I say “we” I mean everyone since that’s approximately Facebook’s user base. Every damned one.