Thursday, May 26, 2005

Intel CEO: Want Security? Buy a Mac

New Intel CEO Paul Otellini told Wall Street Journal tech writer Walter Mossberg that "[h]e spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's computer. And when further pressed about whether a mainstream computer user in search of immediate safety from security woes ought to buy Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC, he said, 'If you want to fix it tomorrow, maybe you should buy something else.'" This should be earth shattering news in the computing world.

GOP Concentrating Power in the Executive?

The Washington Post has a rather interesting article on steps the GOP has taken to establish the primacy of the Executive Branch and more specifically, the chief executive. Comparing the structure to a corporation with a powerful CEO (the President) and a compliant Board of Directors (Congress), the article sweeps across initiatives to limit debate of policy in the legislature, minimize legislative oversight and establish political fiefdoms in the executive agencies. The article goes on to talk about the fact that the next battleground will be the courts, and the threat of the Nuclear Option will prevent future filibusters of judicial candidates.

What's somewhat intriguing is that the criticism of the current Republican efforts in the article are almost all drawn from retired Republican legislators:
"Every president grabs for more power. What's different it seems to me is the acquiescence of Congress," said former representative Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), a government scholar at the Aspen Institute.
"Anybody with a brain knew once Republicans got their hand on the wheels . . . there was going to be punishment" because they felt silenced and slighted when Democrats were in control, said former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.). "It's unfortunate."
"I would remind my friends that you may one day be in the minority and you won't want to be [run] roughshod over," said former minority leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.), who served in the House for 38 years, 14 as leader.
I wish I had longer to ponder and post about this article, as I think it is a pretty profound one. But I guess my main thought is what will the American public, and libertarian-leaning Republicans, think of this apparent power grab.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Motorola Demoes iTunes Phone

The Unofficial Apple Weblog reports that Motorola demoed the much-rumored iPod/Cell Phone at the D3 conference in San Diego. I wonder how long before this thing comes to market.

Renting is Better than Buying

One of the problems with renting, goes the conventional wisdom, is that, after taxes, it is more expensive to rent than to buy. However, right now, the housing bubble is turning conventional wisdom on it's head. The story linked in The Housing Bubble Blog asks "why buy a home when you can rent for half the cost? ... [W]ith home prices soaring and rents staying flat -- and with the Federal Reserve expressing concern last week over signs of a national housing bubble -- there may be some good economic reasons to consider renting instead of buying."

Revenge of the Sith -- First Thoughts

I was satisfied with Revenge of the Sith. It was certainly the best of the three prequels, and that by a long shot. It was probably better than A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, too. George Lucas toned down the cheesiness present in the first two prequels considerably. Sure, there were a couple of things that made me cringe, including the last scene with Vader and the Emperor, but all in all, the movie was appreciably more grown up. I guess that's more appropriate, in keeping with the themes of this installment, but I wish all three of the prequels would have been equally no-nonsense.

One thing I can't get out of my head (and why I'm posting even though it is nearly 1 AM and I have to go to work tomorrow) is how overtly political Episode III is. Emperor Palpatine has consolidated power in the Executive (USA PATRIOT Act?), has a blinded, fawning legislature (Congress?), controls the courts (see the current dustup in the Senate) and is engaging in a trumped up war to shore up his popular support and "bring peace" to the galaxy (Iraq, duh). Darth Vader even tells Obi Wan "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." And finally, Obi Wan tells Vader that his absolutist worldview will lead to death and destruction. I really have a hard time coming to any other conclusion that Lucas had this all on his mind while writing the movie.