It’s the little things

Here’s one very cool, unsung feature of the iPhone: when you receive a call from someone not in your address book, it naturally displays the number — but it also has the intelligence to tell where the call is from. I received a call from a number in area code 925 this morning; in the recent calls list, the iPhone helpfully noted under the number that it was from Pleasanton, California. Until now, I would always go to Google and input a number I didn’t recognize to find out where it came from.

It also notes not just how many times someone called, but lists the times of each call — i.e., “June 30, 1:15pm, 3:24pm, 5:15pm.”

These little hallmarks of Apple design — making something work like common sense would dictate and giving bits of information you didn’t even know you wanted — are why I am an Apple fan.

What a difference a day makes

It seems like just yesterday that the internet — blogs and mainstream media both — were abuzz and overloaded with stories about the iPhone. Rumors, speculation, loving, hating.
And today, there is a blissful silence, a collective pause, a relaxing quietude as, I assume, all those bloggers are blissfully stroking the surface of their phone.

Somewhere in Africa people are waiting hours in line for water and rice

I didn’t want to do it. I still don’t want to do it. But I am obviously weak-willed and malleable. Here I sit on the cold mall floor outside the Apple store. What in the world is wrong with me?

Stirring up the stagnant waters

We are not living in particularly innovative times; the technological movement in our era is of a refining nature rather than an inventing one. The iPhone is not a new invention, it is simply a refinement of the telephone. All the technologies we are used to, from transportation to the internet, are the products of era decades or even a century ago.

Blind Consumerism

While Apple usually gets kudos for excellence in design, I have to say that their stylish take sometimes has drawbacks. Such as this new site they created, showing iPhone availability at a store near you.

Using tiny red and green dots is in keeping with Apple’s sense of style. But many of us — such as myself — have a common form of colorblindness, which means that we can’t differentiate between the tiny green dot and the tiny red dot. They look like the same color.

Please, please, please. If you are a web designer, I implore you to avoid this situation with a very simple solution: you can continue to differentiate with color, but also differentiate by shape. A red “X” and a green checkmark would have eliminated any problems here.

But it still cost $100 to join Costco

Two years ago, I bought a box of kitchen trash bags. I believe it had something like 200 bags in two rolls of 100.
Today I finally used the last one of the first roll.
I think this is the first time that buying in bulk has ever paid off for me.

What kind of first impression?

Sometimes I am mean. Just really, really, really mean. Like this morning.
When I posted an entry here making fun of someone else’s design “skills.”
There was no call for it, really, other than me being in a bad mood.
So, now it’s gone. Never mind.

Everyone else is doing it

Let’s talk iPhone.
Yes, I know I’ve been remiss in discussing this subject, I mean, I think this is only my third post on it in six months.

You get what you pay for with free TV

Oh, what chicken s**ts network executives are these days. After only a handful of episodes — in summer rerun season, no less — CBS has yanked “Creature Comforts” effective immediately. CBS came in 4th in the Monday 8pm timeslot; as we have learned in the last few years, the concept of letting a show find its audience no longer exists.
It seems like this happens to me all the time. “Wonderfalls” comes to mind immediately.
Goodbye, Creature Comforts. Let’s hope that a DVD will follow this ignominious end. I’ll be first in line to buy one.

Packs of Wild Dogs

This is the sort of thing that you often think never could happen in our “civilized” country.

Texas Crowd Kills Man After Car Hits Kid
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Austin, Texas (AP) —
A crowd attacked and killed a passenger in a vehicle that had struck and injured a child, police said Wednesday.
Police believe 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for a Juneteenth celebration when the attack occurred Tuesday night. The man who was killed had been trying to stop the group from attacking the vehicle’s driver when the crowd turned on him, authorities said.
The Austin Police Department identified the victim as David Rivas Morales, 40. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Police spokeswoman Toni Chovonetz said she had no further information, including how many people were involved.
The driver was able to get away from the crowd and is cooperating with investigators, police said.

And this was Austin, not, say, Houston or Dallas. Austin.

Update, June 22: The Austin police have clarified the situation a bit.

About three or four people — not a mob of up to 20 — beat a man to death after the car he was riding in struck and injured a toddler, police said Thursday.
Police backed off earlier descriptions of Tuesday’s attack, also saying that fewer than two dozen people — rather than hundreds — were witnesses.
City officials also said the attack was not connected to the city-sponsored Juneteenth celebration that had just wrapped up nearby, which celebrates the day Texas slaves learned they were freed.
City officials held a news conference to revise their report Wednesday that 2,000 to 3,000 celebrants were in the area when David Rivas Morales, 40, was beaten to death after a car in which he was riding bumped a toddler. The toddler was not seriously hurt.
Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald said almost all the celebrants were blocks away from the public housing complex where the attack occurred. And Assistant Police Chief David Carter said police were wrong on Wednesday when they said up to 20 people may have participated in the attack.
“We’re looking for three or four heinous criminals,” Carter said. “I want to bring them to justice.”
Morales’ neighbors and relatives complained on Wednesday about the time it took an ambulance crew to reach him as he lay in the parking lot, choking on his own blood. Morales reached a hospital about 35 minutes after a 911 call was received, timing that became more difficult to understand given the news that there had been no large crowd in the area.
An anonymous 911 caller who reported the beating to a dispatcher struggled to get the dispatcher to understand her location and described the scene as a gang fight involving people celebrating Juneteenth, according to audio files released by the city. Police said Thursday it was not gang-related.
That forced emergency crews to wait a few blocks away until police were sure the area was under control, said Richard Herrington, director of Austin’s Emergency Medical Services Department. Police, however, previously said it took them just one minute to get to the scene.
Herrington also said traffic in the area delayed the ambulance.
“It’s really congested but the guy’s bleeding from the head pretty bad, if you guys could just mow everybody down to get it through,” a police dispatcher told an emergency medical services dispatcher. “We need you in there ASAP.”
After the crew was cleared by police to move, it took them seven more minutes to get the rest of the way. Jasper Brown, who commands the communications division for the EMS department, said the street next to the parking lot was extremely congested. Vehicles were parked on both sides of the street and both lanes were locked in bumper-to-bumper traffic, he said.
Morales was in cardiac arrest when the crew found him, Herrington said. The crew treated him at the scene for about 12 minutes before rushing him to the hospital.
The family also had criticized police for failing to perform CPR before the ambulance arrived, but Herrington said that could have made Morales’ condition worse.
Authorities on Thursday also released new details about the events leading up to the beating, saying the car’s driver had just dropped off Morales at his sister’s town house when he hit the 2-year-old child. Three or four men confronted the driver, and Morales came to help him, Carter said.
The driver told police he got away in his vehicle before the beating began and didn’t know his friend had been hurt, Carter said. Police have refused to identify the driver because he is a witness. [AP]

Michael James Keenan

Michael Keenan, shown with his friend Stacie Krajchir, died Tuesday from burns he suffered while saving another friend’s dog in February.

Back in February, the Bay Area heard the story of Michael Keenan; he suffered severe burns when he ran back into a burning building to save his friend’s dog. He has now died from those injuries.
I don’t know Michael Keenan, but I have followed the updates on his condition ever since that story. I don’t know, I just felt like it was a heroic and compassionate thing he did, and when I imagine myself in the same position I like to think that I would have done the same.
But Keenan did it more than once. Even after death.

In 2001, Mr. Keenan saw a car drive into the bay near the St. Francis Yacht Club. He jumped into the water, broke out a window with a heavy wrench and managed to pull a woman to safety. Her husband drowned.
“He will always be my hero for life,” the rescued woman, Heather Rosnow-Laarif, said Monday.
Mr. Keenan had been house sitting for a friend on Bonita Street, waiting for renovations to be completed on his own apartment, when the early morning blaze broke out. He made it out of the townhouse safely before realizing the dog was still inside.
Mr. Keenan was a lifelong dog lover. He later told a longtime friend, Frank Hsieh, that he had thought he could get the dog quickly, but found he had to search a while before finding the 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Bobby, cowering under a bed.
The dog survived after treatment at a local animal hospital.
For several weeks, friends and family said they were optimistic about Mr. Keenan’s chances. But he suffered an infection recently that set back his progress, and he had a stroke Sunday night, Kelly said.
Mr. Keenan was pronounced brain dead Monday. Even then, his heroics weren’t quite through. He wanted to donate his organs, so doctors kept his body on life support for purposes of finding a match. [San Francisco Chronicle]

This is an amazing person. And he will be remembered that way, even by people who didn’t know him, like me.

Bobby, the dog saved in a house fire by Michael Keenan, is reunited with his owner, Jeanette Gerl. Chronicle file photo by Liz Hafalia

The Flip Flop Spender

Well, this is hardly surprising — after more than a decade of Republican rule in Congress and more than six years of the Bush presidency, an era marked by the squandering of a record surplus and then an exploding deficit, George Bush has now decided to play the “tax and spend Liberals” card.

President Bush warned Congress on Saturday that he will use his veto power to stop runaway government spending.

“The American people do not want to return to the days of tax-and-spend policies,” Bush said in his radio address.

The House passed a $37 billion budget for the Homeland Security Department on Friday, but Republicans rallied enough votes to uphold a promised veto from Bush.

The measure — one of several annual spending bills that Congress began to consider this week — exceeds Bush’s request for the department by $2.1 billion.

Democrats on Friday defended the extra money in the homeland security bill, noting it contains money to hire 3,000 additional border agents, improve explosive detection at airports and provides money to double the amount of cargo screened on passenger aircraft. [Washington Post]

In other words, the Democrats want to bolster the lackluster job that Bush’s DHS has been doing. And since the Republicans have been spending like drunken sailors for so long, now that they are out of power they can now go back to their old accusations of tax and spend… which, frankly, is better than cut tax and spend, the GOP’s method.
Memories are short in politics, however, and people will quite easily move right into that old stereotype; Karl Rove is no doubt working feverishly to reposition the party to appear fiscally responsible. Will anyone remember the last decade of hypocrisy from the right?

Oh, and another flip flop:

In his radio broadcast, Bush also railed against earmarks _ a common Capitol Hill practice of slipping pet projects into spending bills.

He said that in January, the House passed a rule that called for full disclosure of earmarks. To give the public a chance to peek at earmarks, he said the administration has started posting them on a web site called

When they ran the House, Republicans larded legislation with these pet projects. But on Thursday, they were the ones forcing Democrats to be more open about Congress’ pork barrel ways.

After days of bickering, Democrats this week abandoned plans to pass spending bills without allowing foes of so-called earmarks to challenge them in the full House. The hope is that by shedding more light on earmarks, excessive spending on home district projects will be curtailed.

Gee, where was this OMB website and accounting of earmarks during the first six years of the Bush administration when the Republicans were running Congress with an iron fist? I’m endlessly amused — well, annoyed — at the way the Republicans so quickly and effortlessly slipped into the role of the aggrieved party after the election, as if they were somehow a marginalized group who never had any power; as if they hadn’t done all the sneaky and unethical stuff they’d done.