Opinion & Analysis stories

Over these last few gift-consideration weeks, I've gotten numerous queries about and given multiple demonstrations of Apple's iPad mini, both from people interested in giving one and from those interested in getting one. Nearly universally, the response from women I spoke with to the iPad mini is a variation of my wife's "it's so cu-u-u-u-te!" Over the same period of gift-consideration weeks, I've gotten absolutely zero queries about anything related to Windows 8: not about Windows 8 desktop PCs, not about Windows 8 laptops, not about Windows 8 tablets, not about Windows Phone 8 smartphones. And apparently I'm not the only one apathetic about Windows 8.
Now that the election is blissfully behind us, maybe it's safe to make grand political pronouncements without seeming to be partisan, such as: We Americans used to build big. From the Erie Canal to the transcontinental railroad, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Hoover Dam, from the interstate highway system to putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth, we love to build big things. But what have we done on this monumental scale lately? Many point with pride to our public project penury as saving future generations a hefty bill. But it seems we also are robbing the future of not only monuments to our collective derring-do, but of necessary infrastructure advancements so the world we leave behind doesn't one day simply crumble from our niggling neglect. In this spirit, I have a suggestion for a grand public project — not a visible monument to our achievements, but an invisible one. A grand project that would make us all safer and secure, and rid our landscape of possibly the ugliest intrusion on our scenery: Cables.
An astute friend of mine once satirically defined our age of seemingly instant obsolescence: just buy and thro-o-o-ow it away. At first blush, it's funny because it can't be true — you don't buy something and then just throw it away. But after Apple's iPad press event Tuesday I'm not so sure.
In the Chuck Jones cartoon classic, "Hare Tonic," Elmer Fudd is convinced by a certain long-eared leporid that he has contracted a case of the dreaded rabbititis, complete with swirling red-and-yellow spots before his eyes. I'm getting the sense Samsung is suffering from a similar sickness I'm calling Apple-itis. Lately, every marketing move Samsung makes includes some overt or covert reference to products from — or customers of — the Cupertino giant. While perhaps initially clever, Samsung's growing obsession with Apple is becoming wearying. Worse, it's ruining my post-season baseball enjoyment.
What happens when you die? No matter what anyone may assert, we don't really know what exists beyond this corporal mortal coil. Some angelic (or overheated sulfuric) afterlife, a ghostly post-existence haunting our former haunts, reincarnation as some animal or famous person, probably the big sleep of nothingness. We do know a bit more about what of our physical possessions we can pass on once we, uh, pass on, such as our record or CD collection. But once you pass away, your iTunes digital music tracks cannot be passed on to another iTunes account holder. I and many folks think there's something fundamentally wrong about this, including Bruce Willis, that has induced in me and likely many others a wave of iTunes buyer's remorse.
Americans will spend the next few weeks angrily debating whether they should pull a little lever marked "D" or "R." Hope everyone has fun with that. However, if current trends hold true, deciding who heads the executive branch of even this most powerful nation in the world may one day be as quaint as that old question: "Blu-ray or HD-DVD?" As technology improves, governments become less necessary. This is true. In fact, we may right now be seeing the signs of a wholly post-patriotic world. Sound out there? It's not unthinkable.
Ever since I saw her open for Bob Dylan at Roseland just before or just after Tuesday Night Music Club hit, I've been a fan of Sheryl Crow. Everyday is a winding road. But earlier this week, Crow really did go out of her head on Katie Couric, when she claimed her cellphone could have been a contributing factor to the development of her meningioma, a benign brain tumor. Horse petooties. The odds of Sheryl Crow's cellphone causing her brain tumor are about the same as her on-stage ear monitors triggering it, or perhaps it was the one other product her head spends the most time against — her bed pillow. How do I know cellphones didn't cause her tumors? Science.
It's been widely reported by a variety of reliable sources that Apple will announce the new iPhone 5 on September 12, and it will go on sale eight days later. As much as we can know for sure sans Apple's official imprimatur, the new iPhone will connect via 4G LTE and feature a 4-inch screen. These are the headline upgrades; there are more, which I'll get to after the jump. As per usual, I'll be on the physical line at an Apple store or pre-order an iPhone 5 to be delivered to my door so I can pass judgment in print as quickly as possible — and pass my 4S to my anxious wife. But strangely I am not tingling with geek excitement as I have with past major iPhone upgrades (which is a place, sadly, I've been before).