Monday, November 30, 2009

A new Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll (January 2010) asks if "you could confidently explain what exactly the public option is to someone who didn't know?"

Keep in mind that the public option is one of the 5 biggest issues in the country right now--and has been such for several months going.

A whopping 66% of respondents said "no" to that question.

One of my favorite movies has a fictional President claim that "America is advanced citizenship".

Well, what happens when the citizenry decides to punt on its responsibilities?

Does America--"the land of the free"-- cease to exist?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just wonderin'

So it appears that President Obama is going to send more troops to Afghanistan. I applaud the decision...although I do reserve judgement on the "strategy" until I get a better chance to digest it.

Anyhow, the point of this post is this: not too long ago several voices on the left bluntly stated that if Obama sends more troops, VP Biden should resign. Biden,of course, has not been supportive of increased troop presence in Afghanistan, and let us not forget that HE is the one with all the foreign-policy expertise, blah blah blah. The logic on the left was that if Obama would ignore Biden's input on this very important decision, then why have him one heartbeat away from the Presidency?

First of all, I'm glad Obama is ignoring Biden on this issue. The VP's counsel is is almost always the case on these issues. Biden has a long history of wrong-footing big military issues, Afghanistan being just another example of his poor understanding of the world in which we live.

But to the larger point raised by the left: why is Biden still our VP? He's the key overseer of the stimulus efforts, and by now everybody knows how ludicrous the governments claims have been in this arena. Also, there's millions and maybe even billions of stimulus dollars that are unaccounted for--that goes straight to Biden. Throw in his poor counsel on a major policy topic where American and Afghan lives are at stake, add into the mix his penchant for putting his foot in his mouth while the microphone is still turned on...and you have to wonder:

How much longer will we be able to mess with Joe?

Secondary wonder: will any member of the press ask these kinds of questions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is this the droid I've been looking for? (UPDATED)

Earlier this week, I bought a Motorola Droid. For the uninitiated, that means I bought a new smartphone, or a combination phone and personal data device. I have spent the last couple days getting used to the device, and today I will finally post some thoughts on it.

First of all, this is a fun gadget. I love being able to access YouTube and to watch all those videos on the go. Also, just tonight I took the google star map out for a spin, and it is great! I'm sure there are other great apps available that I hope to find over the next days and weeks.

The phone uses the Android OS, and if you're looking for a lengthy discussion of that system here, you'll be disappointed. My knowledge of Android is this: there were earlier versions; the droid uses v2.0; and the system is pretty quick. I don't know how powerful the OS is because I haven't really taken it through the paces, but so far I haven't been left wanting.

The hardware is a tad bulky by current market standards. The incorporation of a qwerty keyboard means an increase to the form factor over some competitors, including the Droid Eris, which is another new phone offered for Verizon customers. Still, this phone feels good in my hands.

It should be noted that my prior phone was a Palm Treo 680. I've spent the last several years looking for a smaller smartphone--only to find myself taken with a phone that is noticeably bigger than the Treo. The Treo is much thicker, however, and the droid doesn't feel as bulky as what I'm used to. That doesn't mean you won't find it to feel "big", though.

While I'm comparing Treos to droids, I have to point out one big difference between the two: single-hand texting. It's pretty easy to go one-handed with the treo, but it's a non-starter on the droid. I know, not a show-stopper or anything--but it is worth mentioning. Also, the treo's default phone app is much more intuitive than is the droid's, and the screen of the treo is easier to use in sunlight. In fact, the droid's phone app screen is almost unuseable in direct sunlight--a situation that I hope to remedy soon.

But the droid is the new car in the driveway, and it provides great bang for its buck. Yes, single-hand texting is gone the way of the do-do--but in its place is the aforementioned sliding qwerty keyboard and a dual-aspect virtual keyboard. Several reviews have panned the hardware's keyboard, and I will join their chorus. I just couldn't get the thing to type right, so it is already relegated to back-up mode. The virtual keyboards fare much better--in fact, I am writing this on the landscape-oriented virtual keyboard.

The droid is an excellent internet device. I am able to surf my favorite sites with only minor inconveniences brought on due to the device's size. Surfing speeds when on the 3G network are excellent. I am able to do just about everything I used to do on my desktop, to include check e-mails, check out facebook, and blog. Did I mention that I'm writing this post on the droid? Just thought I'd throw that in there.

The camera on the droid has received a lot of attention, too--with a fairly even split of likes and dislikes. I am in the like column--but I'll be upfront in telling you that the droid is only a good alternative to a real camera rather than a primary device for capturing photographic memories. The pics I'll post with this article were taken with the droid in good lighting conditions and using the zoom feature (the pics were taken from about 60 yards off the playing field). The camera does have a flash, but it hasn't been very practical for me.

The battery is sufficient for a couple hours of use--if you set up the display for lower battery consumption modes.
In sum: I do like the droid. . .but I can't help but wonder if the Eris by HTC is a better option. There are some bells and whistles that you get for springing the extra dough on the droid (qwerty keyboard, built-in google maps), but the eris provides the big benefits of the droid--big screen, android OS (although right now the eris is running v1.6), and the 3G network. All of that in a smaller handset at a smaller price. . .yes, the eris is worth checking out. And if that doesn't answer your bell, try the droid. I bet you'll like it!

UPDATE: I decided to follow my own advice, and one week to the day after I got the droid, I turned it in and brought home an Eris. So far, there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right choice. The selling points for the droid over the Eris are really only twofold: the on-board keyboard and the upgraded version of the Android OS. Well, I never did get to liking the droid's keyboard (and trust me, I tried), and the 1.5 OS is treating me just fine. There are some apps that I used on the droid that I haven't been able to utilize on the Eris (Camera Magic most notably), but everything else is great. Smaller form factor, less expensive, and just about as capable--yes, the Eris is the right one for me.

UPDATE x 2: I like the Eris so much I just got one for Mrs. Otranews. Verizon has a sweet deal going on right now that I just had to take the plunge for her. This is a great phone!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

John's tent

In the wake of the happenings in New York's 23rd district, there has been--and will continue to be--a lot of discussion about the GOP "tent". Surely there has got to be some common ideas that can unite the party going forward, right?

So today, I present "John's tent", wherein I will write what I think should be the principles that unite the party that contains conservatives. . .and stands in loyal opposition to the current crop of Congressional leadership:

1) The Federal government will never render as illegal the public expression of the belief in God;

2) The primary responsibility of the United States Congress is to protect citizens from overreach of the Executive Branch and to curb any legislative influence from the Supreme Court;

3) Taxes are a necessary evil; taking those taxes and redistributing the money to the pockets of other citizens is an unnecessary and un-American evil;

4) With the exception of crimes against the country (espionage, sedition, and the like), the Federal government is not the right level of government to govern personal behavior;

5) A citizen's single vote, cast free of duress and counted as is intended by the voter, is the cornerstone of the future of this republic, and its value must be protected

. . .and that's about it. Thoughts?

UPDATE: oh, and one more:

6) That a citizen that willingly signs a contract and is current on his/her responsibilities of that contract should not be fearful of unwanted government alteration of said contract