(Think Despondent) Notes From a Friday Afternoon

Friday, 07 October 2011 04:43 PM Written by 

(picking the apples of my mind)

For your consideration: another curious collection of thoughts, reactions, and observations that didn’t make it into a full-length post this week...

• Turns out Sarah Palin was right all along. (Just not in the way she thought.) President Obama does support Death Panels.

• Read the whole article. Try to keep a chill from running down your spine. And try — hard — to remember in what country you’re supposed to be living.

• Here, for the record, is the (dead) money passage: American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials. There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

• Now that they’ve gotten al-Awlaki, maybe they’ll go after Trotsky next.

PG political cartoonist Rob Rogers has been praised many times in this space. And deservedly so. But rarely have I wanted to praise him more than for yesterday’s sardonic bit of brilliance:


• I have also many times praised ABC bulldog Jake Tapper in this space. And deservedly so. But rarely have I wanted to praise him more than for last week’s insistent gnawing on White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

• Due process? They don’t need no stinking due process.

• Both of William Dietrich’s incredibly generous gifts, $265 million to Carnegie Mellon and $125 million to Pitt, were effective upon his death. You don’t suppose they’re excited, at least a little bit, over in Oakland today, do you?

• Both universities should have their money long before their respective Boards of Trustees meet to decide next year’s tuition rates. Which means they’ll both have plenty of time to move on, cite rising costs, invoke the need to maintain high quality and momentum, and raise tuition, room, and board around 3 or 4%. Or more. Just remember: you heard it here first

• The best, and perhaps simplest, summation of the late, great Steve Jobs' brilliance came yesterday, from (and this shouldn't be much of a surprise) Slate's Farhad Manjoo: Jobs’ best talent was his ability to spot the pain points in every technology he touched. He could look at anything and tell you why it sucked. This became his standard formula for unveiling new products: He would begin by explaining what was awful about the industry he would soon supplant. Old-style smart phones? The ones before the iPhone were encumbered with buttons that were there whether you needed them or not, and that remained static for every application you used, leaving very little room for a screen. Portable music players? The ones before the iPod stored too few songs, transferred your music too slowly, didn’t catalog your tracks in any useful way, and were too large and ungainly to carry with you. Pre-iPad tablet PCs? If you got him started on those things, you’d be there all day.

• In other words: Jobs saw things that didn’t work, and other things that worked reasonably well enough, and decided that he and his compatriots would not rest until they’d redefined them and made them truly great. Where his predecessors or his whole industry said no, and thought things couldn’t be done, he and his team went out and did them, sometimes inventing whole new ways of doing them. We could all -- in tech, in medicine, in education, and sure as hell in politics -- learn much from his example.

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