Monthly Archives: January 2008

Why I Went to See Obama Even Though I am Old(er)

I went to see Barack Obama last night. Yeah, I know I’m a middle-aged
white woman, and I should either be for a Republican because I’m in
business or Hillary because I am independent thinker. But I spent three
hours in lines, bored while waiting, and then in rapture listening to a
politican talk last night. And that guy was Barack Obama. Young,
energetic, optimistic, idealistic. I sorely needed that. <a href=””>Some video I
took with my little Flip-TV device is here.

Like everyone who grew up in the Sixties, I know where I was when I
heard the news about Kennedy’s assassination. I was at the top of 30
Rockefeller Plaza, ironically now the home of NBC News, then the
headquarters of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer was a large
client of J. Walter Thompson, the ad agency I was working for in New
York, and I was delivering a package to them. (Remember, although I was
an Ivy League grad, I was a girl, so –yes–I was a messenger and a
typist.)

I was a new voter (the voting age was 21 then), and I wasn’t able to
cast my first vote ever for John F. Kennedy in 1960. I was just at the
age when I could start to vote in the 1964 election. And then Kennedy
was assassinated, and I never registered to vote until Bruce Babbitt
became Governor of Arizona and thought of running for president. I am a
friend of his and of his wonderful wife, Hattie, and she shamed me into
becoming part of a system I had given up on during the horrible years
with all the assassinations and Watergate and VietNam.

Over the years I have voted, I have taught my children to vote, and my
foster children. But I still didn’t have much faith in the system,
especially in the past eight years, when it seemed to fall apart so
completely for the middle class. I rarely voted enthusiastically (except
in local politics, where I’ve really admired people like Janet
Napolitano.) Over the years I’ve gotten more post-partisan, realizing
that there’s something fundamentally wrong with this Republican/Democrat
thing in such a complex world, and even coming to believe that
government is rarely a solution for anything.

Several years ago, realizing I wasn’t and R or a D, I re-registered as
an I. So if you think I am on one side or another of this thing we call
politics, you are wrong. I’ve been accused of being a liberal, and
accused of being a libertarian. I’m not, I’m a human being.

Anyway, I went to see Obama to find out what all the fuss was about.
And I found out what it is about. It’s about hope. It’s about people who
brought their children and their parents in wheelchairs, because they
think someone finally understands that Americans care less about
someone’s stand on one trivial issue than they do about someone’s
attitude toward life. Obama is trying to be the change he wants to see
in the world. He’s not perfect at it, because all the cards are stacked
against him. It’s hard to personify union when we are so divided, hard
to personify oneness when our entire political system is based on
duality.

But I feel I must at least see for myself when someone is trying so
hard, and last night I did. He’s not Ghandi, but he’s not Cheney,
either. He’s not cynical, he’s young, and maybe, just maybe, he can get
government doing what it should: very little, but that on behalf of
children, the elderly, and national security. Maybe he won’t hand out
$600 stimulus packages that cost us more than they help. And maybe he
can find a way to fix health care and education so that our country has
a future.

I’m not asking anyone to suppport Obama, because I’m still ultimately
apolitical. I didn’t volunteer, and I’m not jumping on a bandwagon. But
I’m such a sucker for optimism and hope that I feel like we are in th
Sixties again and I am young and the country has a chance.

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And the Crowd Goes Wild

Barack Obama is greeted by Arizonans, who are mostly white and conservative, but who turned out in droves to see him tonight.

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Mobile post sent by hardaway using Utterz Replies.  mp3

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A Million Unlocked iPhones Tell the Story

Photo_11

Here I am with my locked iPhone. Yesterday I had a meeting with a bright young entrepreneur who asked me how I liked the iPhone, and I told him I liked the phone, but I hated the network. And in truth, AT&T is a pain in the butt. Sometimes the phone coverage just fades away, leaving me with a “Call failed” signal and no bars. In fact, sometimes to get the bars back, I have to turn the phone off and turn it on again. And this is in the middle of the fifth alrgest city in the country, Phoenix, not in the boonies. And then there’s the data network, which is not 3G, and the fact that when you switch to wi-fi, the battery life sucks. I also, can’t play back my voicemails; if Imiss hearing them the first time, they are not playable, although they aren’t there on the phone. And I’m told that’s a network problem (I have called tech support at AT&T about this and gone through all the iPhone experts).

So my young friend showed me HIS iPhone, and told me he unlocked it and had it running on TMobile. No, he doesn’t have the neat fibrillating icons that I have, but I bet he gets much better phone service.

I told him I was too chicken to unlock my phone, because I do sync it to my compputer and I don’t want it to be bricked one day when Jobs updates the firmware again.

And then I read Duncan Riley’s posr this morning. and he says there are a million unlocked iPhones, which accounts for the “numbers gap” between the number of phones Apple says it has sold and the number of phones AT&T says it has activated.

That means about a third of the iPhone buyers are pissed enough at Steve Jobs for making this AT&T deal to take big chances with a $500 item. Very interesting.

Moral: You can’t always manipulate people into doing precisely what you want them to do, even if you are Apple.

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Continuous Partial Attention

Bill Clinton talked on the phone while receiving his famous blow job from Monica Lewinsky, which was the beginning of the nightmare of infinite connectivity.

This fact, originally from the Starr Report released during Clinton’s impeachment, was recalled to me as I was laying in bed, petting a dog, watching “Meet the Press,” and reading an article from the new Atlantic website. The article, which originally appeared in November (when they still charged for content), is written by a novelist. Which means it is very, very well-written. And very convincing.

The article uses a novelist’s eye for detail to explain how multi-tasking nearly cost him his life. did cost him a girlfriend, and at the very least, caused him to miss a cheap ticket to San Francisco. It’s larded with quotations like this one:

To do two things at once is to do neither.
—Publilius Syrus, Roman slave, first century B.C.

and it makes the point that we are killing ourselves through continuous partial attention, which he calls multi-tasking.

Apparently, neuroscience doesn’t support the fact that its possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. Or at least, it says 2000 tries are necessary before two things done at the same time are both done well.

But texting teenagers are certainly past those 2000 tries, and Blackberrying corporate types are as well. So continuous partial attention is here to stay.

I suspect we will have to get used to blog posts with typos and near misses at intersections. I post with typos all the time, and I used to be an English professor. If anyone would have told me I would ever hit “publish” without proofreading, because I was watching TV while writing, I would have fiercely denied it. The same way I would have denied that I would ever talk on a telephone in a ladies’ room. Or read ANYTHING while driving. But we live in a new world, and I don’t think novelists or neuroscience will be able to drag us back to the time when people looked into each others’ eyes when they spoke, rather than at their Blackberries.

Sure enough, Hillary was out of South Carolina on her way to Tennessee by the time Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary. She probably learned about continuous partial attention from her husband.

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