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Although I have made it abundantly clear that I will not be a candidate under any conceivable circumstances, the calls do not abate. Mostly the calls ask me to change my cell phone provider. But when my country calls I feel that I must answer, as long as it's not calling collect, and so, bowing to the public will, I here present my positions on the issues.

Me On the Arts

In a commercial that apparently is Microsoft's hail-mary play to make us forget about Vista, Jerry Seinfeld helps Bill Gates buy shoes. Computerworld's Preston Gralla immediately judged the ad "one of the worst, most pointless ads in history," suggesting that the company just give up before it embarrasses itself any further. Other reviewers were less kind. But in truth, all attempts to evaluate this enigmatic work of art are doomed to failure without knowledge of the genre to which it aspires. Art exists within a milieu.

Is this a Luis Bunuel-esque satire on consumerism and class privilege among the hyper-rich in the waning days of capitalism?

Or is it rather a tragically misguided attempt at Christopher Guest-style mockumentary?

Maybe it's an homage to those low-budget post-college-malaise mumblecore indies but with the ironic twist of a huge budget and a cast of past-their-shelf-life boomer celebrities? See, we just don't know.

I'm withholding judgment until I can get more context or a modest bribe.

Me On Privacy

GeoEye just launched a satellite that can spy on all of us down to 0.41 meter resolution. A quick trip to the slipstick tells me that this is about 16 inches. Whew. Meanwhile, O'Reilly Radar reports that Google and Microsoft are in a battle to spy on us all in increasing detail, creating terabyte databases of map details of our wheatfields, streets, rooftops, and bald spots.

For a while, I was convinced that this frantic mapping obsession was all a plot by the government to invade my privacy, and I felt the need to correct any impression that our leaders may have got that the invading forces would be greeted as liberators. But now I think it's all just research for Will Wright's next game.

Anyway, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Me On Freedom of Speech

Are booty burps protected speech? I can't lay my hand just now on The Collected Opinions of Justice Learned Hand, but I'm pretty sure he would have given his thumbs-up to Pull My Finger, an iPhone app that lets you pull various virtual fingers and hear an assortment of caboose calls. Apple, however, has laid its heavy thumb on the scale of justice and censored this exercise in fartvergnugen.

I say, let the wind break free!

Me On Technology

The kids at Google just remembered that they were supposed to have been working all these years on a secret plan to bankrupt Microsoft by replacing the desktop with a miracle product that is a combination Silverlight killer, Flash flusher, browser, application launcher, floor wax, and dessert topping. So they quickly wrote Chrome and released it to the wild.

The wild went wild, praising Chrome for its lack of features and its IP Manager-pleasing porn mode. It doesn't do much, reviewers effused, but what it doesn't do, it does fast. Plus it has porn mode.

Chrome may be a little spartan, but that doesn't mean it's boring. Type "about:crash" in the omnibox (addressbar to you old-timers) and Chrome will obediently crash. Does Vista have anything like that? Okay, but in Chrome, the crash is deliberate.

Some reviews of Chrome caution that the product is only in beta and shouldn't be judged by grown-up standards, but you and I know that no Google product is ever out of beta.

So that's where I stand on technology.

Me On the Economy

In these tough economic times, families are having a hard time making ends meet. Here are a few suggestions to improve your financial health:

  1. A folksy name like Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae is, strangely, not a guarantee of fiscal responsibility.
  2. Ebay shoppers aren't going to buy your jet. You'll do better to park it out by the road with a sign in the window.
  3. A Portland, Oregon family saw a $20,000 charge on their AT&T bill when their son sent 21 e-mails and photos back from Vancouver, BC. Don't do that.

Me On Healthcare

The economy may be in the crapper, civil liberties in an undisclosed location, the worldwide climate over the edge of some cataclysmic tipping point, and geopolitics high on suicide crank and fondling a nuclear trigger, but there is a smile on my face today. A study cited at Ars Technica finds that "heavy mental effort leads to much bigger meals."

My bulging belly is just evidence of how hard I've been thinking.

Thinking for you, my friends.

You're welcome.

Michael Swaine

Editor-at-Large

mike@swaine.com


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