SocraticGadfly: 3/11/12 - 3/18/12

March 17, 2012

#SteveJobs is still dead, but #Apple ...

Brainwashing Apple marketing is alive and well! Giving people an old iPad 2, telling them it's the new one, and they believe you was a great prank. I could probably put a rattlesnake's rattle inside an iPhone, claim it was some new Siri feature, and at least a few would believe me.

 I can't wait for the resurrection of Apple TV. Apple will "lock" how you can change your remote control settings and tell you it's for your own good.

And, on threads on blog stories like this, some Appleholics start reminding me of Paulistsas, Ron Paul-istas, that is. Some Apple users simply refuse to admit the company is punking them, not the Gizmodo or other tech blogger folks.

Roger Cohen misfires on #StopKony

Usually, he's much more insightful than in this column. But, he gives a pass to Jason Russell and Invisible Children. This is the worst he can say, at bottom line:
On balance I back Russell over his armchair critics. He’s put his boots on the ground and he’s doing something. Gross simplification of Africa is nothing new. It’s the poor, disease-ravaged, war-torn continent where every complicated war is about control of diamonds, right? The reduction of Uganda’s many problems to Kony abusing children is not much different from the reduction of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a fight for mineral riches. So, Russell works in a well-established genre, even if he pushes it. 
Exploiting his child in the video, coming late to the party, or oversimplifying Africa are the half of it. Cohen totally misses that Russell's group is a right-wing anti-gay Christian outfit using the video in part as an evangelism tool. He could and should have done better research.

And, a day later, it looks like Nick Kristof misses the same issues.

UPDATE, March 17: As many people have no doubt heard, Russell had some sort of mental meltdown. Of course, the LA Times, and I'll bet other mainstream media, (conveniently?) fail to mention that said meltdown included this fine fundamentalist Christian masturbating in public. Somehow, I doubt we'll get a follow-up from either columnist.

March 14, 2012

Who were the Earps?

In a good new book, we see that Wyatt Earp was neither saint nor thug, but a complex, ego-driven man at the heart of an ultimately explosive situation in Tombstone, Arizona.

The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral--And How It Changed the American WestThe Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral--And How It Changed the American West by Jeff Guinn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a realistic interpretation of the "shootout at the O.K. Corral" (which didn't happen there), and the events and people leading up to it, and afterward.

Serious western history aficionados know that nobody involved here was a saint. That said, some recent revision has attempted to make Wyatt Earp into a thug, and he wasn't that either.

Guinn does a good job of showing that Earp, before Tombstone, rarely fired his gun, rather using the gun butt or barrel to control drovers in Dodge City and elsewhere.

As for the "showdown," he says that, while a variety of tensions had been building, it was Ike Clanton's alcohol-fueled bragging that was the trigger.

Beyond both the Earps and Clantons were GOP/Democrat party politics, cattle rustling vs. respectability, stage robbers vs. Wells Fargo and more.

Even some earlier histories of the fight have failed to catch the full complexity.

Guinn also shows how Earp family ego was behind events. A family that had moved across the Midwest, then the West, for multiple generations, yet generally failed to attain the level of recognition family patriarchs believed it deserved, was a major issue.

View all my reviews
Beyond the scope of the book, I can also add that Tombstone, Ariz., today is a HUGE tourist trap. Compare that to Lincoln, N.M., of Billy the Kid fame, a New Mexico state historical park where you're not being pricew-gouged around every O.K. Corral corner.

March 13, 2012

#Allergies - another climate change fallout?

Sounds like it could be indeed in much of the middle latitudes of the eastern half of the U.S., if what's happening in D.C. this year is reflective.

Increase average winter temperatures by 2-3 in an area that has a mild winter with a great mix of trees and flowers, then have some of them adjust more, and more quickly, to climate change than others. Presto - a four-month "spring" allergy season.

We're talking Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, etc. Any place with a mild winter, lots of both evergreen and deciduous trees, and lots of flowers.

In a place like Texas, it's likely to make less difference, but, who knows for sure? If the central part of the state cycles more rapidly between drier and wetter years, that could affect allergies for sure.

March 12, 2012

The dark side of the Net at #SXSW - exploitation

Making homeless people into mobile 4G hotspots at the interactive-world's spinoff of Austin's famed South by Southwest film festival? Then, talking about a reality show that could be based on that? Yep, all true. And VERY sick and exploitative. And, the company doing this isn't backing off, at least not so far. Rather, it's spinning, spinning, spinning on its corporate PR blog.

And, I don't care if it's an interactive documentary rather than a reality show. It's still a "freak show" that's ultimately being peddled, one which will likely do little long-term good for the "human hotspots" or for homelessness in general. And, claiming this is a modern update of a "Street Newspaper" doesn't wash. They're being paid to be hotspots, not to write stories on mobile devices.

And, even if they were?

My rough estimate is 1/3 of people are homeless through the economy, 1/3 through addiction/alcohol, and 1/3 through mental health, with the last two overlapping with "dual diagnosis" people. A schizophrenic homeless person certainly isn't going to churn out newspaper stories! Even less, online versions thereof.

If BBH REALLY wanted to make a difference, it would give each homeless person a 1968 Memphis garbage strike "I Am a Man" placard as part of this.

Bad move, Bud Selig

Contra people like Yahoo's Steve Henson, everything about MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's expansion of the playoffs just seems wrong. The extra team, alone, seems to make baseball more and more "just another sport." The one-game play-in between teams 4 and 5, after the 162-game season, amkes it too arbitrary. (When previous play-ins have been done, I've always liked the NL doing a 2-of-3, vs. the AL single game system.)

I say, let's go back to two divisions per league and let both wildcards come from the same division. If you want to have four playoff teams, rather than even fewer, that's the best way. It also addresses "unbalanced schedule" issues. Or, do the Bob Costas idea, with three divisions, no wild card, and a first-round bye for the best division winner.

Here's somebody who totally agrees, and is scathing about Selig. Sheehan is right about baseball becoming more and more "just another sport."

Call it the "Texas Management Commission"

What good is the Texas Workforce Commission, beyond unemployment issues, if it officially does not accept or investigate complains against management? Of course, I've been in Texas long enough, I should have known better.

Anybody have any other suggestions or recourse short of talking to a lawyer?