Steve Jobs is just making silver-painted Styrofoam police badges

The iPad has been out for a day now, so that should have been enough time for all the pundits and Apple-know-it-alls to gripe about what is missing from the iPad, what should have been done differently, etc, etc, etc. And they are all very wrong because Steve Jobs really doesn’t care what you think or want. I know that has also been said before but before you dismiss me as another me-too thinker, let me share a short story with you.

When I was a puppy, we used to play a lot of games like cops and robbers. My parents were good Catholics, so that meant there was a rather large litter of us, all pretty close in age. My dad didn’t make much money and my mom was a stay-at-home, always in the kitchen, don’t bother me kind of mom, so there wasn’t a lot of money for toys. We made a lot of necessary accessories like pistols and billy clubs out of tree branches and whatnots. (It was a long time ago; guns were ok toys back then, even pretend ones made out of twigs.)

When I was about nine or ten years old, we got a catalog in the mail that had a whole section of cop badges you could order. Suddenly, without question, our cops needed badges. I started making badges using the Styrofoam trays meat was packed in. Turns out, if you traced the outline of the badge from the catalog, cut it out and then traced the inside detail lightly with a dull pencil, it would make an embossed badge. Paint that with silver paint used for model cars, tape a safety pin on the back and you had yourself a slick looking police badge.

Then I got to thinking that if I thought this was a good idea, other people would to. I made a few more and sold them to other kids who played the cops in our games for I think $.25 or something like that. Nobody really needed the badges to play a cop in cops and robbers, but it sure made the game more fun. After a bit, nobody wanted to play a cop unless they had a badge.

But here’s the thing: I made the badges because I wanted to create a game where the police characters sported really cool badges. I didn’t much care if they had all the features that others wanted (like a multi-color seal or gold eagle and silver base) or even if they were necessary for the game. In my mind, a world that had cops without badges was just not going to be a world I wanted to be in, pretend cops or not. If other kids thought it was a cool idea and wanted to buy a badge, that was ok, but it wasn’t necessary for me to have a market for silver-painted styrofoam badges for me to make the badges.*

And that ultimately is how I think Steve Jobs sees his world. He created the Apple computer because he wanted a world where small, personal computer existed. He created the iPod because he wanted a small, portable music device that worked in a non-technical way. Same kind of thing for the iPhone and iPad. The fact that lots of other people want these kinds of things too is incidental.

Steve Jobs is just making silver-painted Styrofoam police badges.

*The product line branched out to cop hats (made out of blue construction paper, kinda cool really) and belts before I grew up, discovered girls and that was that.

No party for old men

It is sad what the Democrats are doing to Joe Lieberman. The only “sin” Sen. Lieberman committed was having opinions that did not quite align themselves with the new leadership. 

I looked up the Senator Oath of Office. It reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

There is no mention of party loyalty, no mention of suspending personal beliefs and opinions when taking the oath, no mention of “with us or against us.”  To paraphrase from several Obama speeches, there is no Democratic Senate or Republican Senate, there is the Senate of the United States of America.

I want my senators to think for themselves. I want my senators to take risks. I want my senators to have the freedom to have liberal opinions on social reform, but conservative views on national defense. I want a healthy, authentic discussion of ideas in the US Senate. That was the mandate we gave Barack Obama, not a mandate to further divide the country with the “victor” handing out spoils of war. 

Joe Lieberman knew the risks he was taking, but I think at some level — perhaps naively, perhaps with more hope than was pragmatic — that this election cycle held two candidates, each had the ability, political capital and personal stones to rise above partisan government and lead a country. That he chose to back John McCain who eventually did not prevail is incidental to the academic argument.

President-elect Obama needs to show strong leadership with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He need to put a face of cooperation, but firm leadership, on the “New Democratic Party.” All three are at a crossroads at this very moment, with Joe Lieberman being the turtle in the road.

If you have not yet read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, read it now. Focus on the turtle. The question remains; will the Democratic Party be the truck driver that swerves to try to hit the turtle for sport or Tom Joad who shelters the turtle in his jacket. (Spoiler: the turtle prevails, despite setbacks…)

These are the tests that determine the character of a man. I hope Obama passes.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Obama planning ahead

I was watching the news yesterday and a journalist said something odd. Paraphrased, it goes like “Obama is running ads in South Carolina, a state so red that it is impossible that he win it for the election.” The implication is that he should not waste his money on ads for people who are not going to vote for him.

But, the HUGE point was missed entirely. Barack Obama is not winning the election; he is winning the presidency. He is not after their vote; he need their hearts and minds.

Barack Obama has learned from the 2000, 2004 elections and the Irag War and probably his own marriage. Winning the war, getting married and winning the election is the easy part. Winning the peace, building a relationship, leading a country made up of people with almost polar viewpoints requires leadership beyond getting elected. Americans in red states may not agree with Obama, but he needs their respect as their president to lead.

Wow. If that doesn’t get you thinking Barack Obama is very much ready to lead, I’m not sure what will convince you.

Northmont hires a leader?

I was reading the Englewood Independent yesterday and a sidebar article caught my eye. Northmont has hired a new superintendent, Douglas Lantz, formerly the superintendent from Franklin City Schools. Great! New blood, fresh leadership, a focus on building the human infrastructure of tomorrow…

But, then I get to Linda Blum’s quote. For the people who have since lined their recyle bins with the paper, here it is:

“[Lantz’s] experience as an athlete and a coach have taught him much about teamwork and the important components of an organized structure.”

What?? Where is the educational excellence? Where is the leadership skills that will infuse a new level of academic excellence into our kids that will better prepare them for leadership in the changing world? Where is the challenge of producing thought leadership in our students to better equip them to adapt to the dynamic world around them? Where? Where?

Perhaps it is best if we look at Mr. Lantz’s performance as measured by the State of Ohio Report Card System (yeah, I know.. but that is an entirely different blog.)

Northmont’s Report Card | Franklin City Schools Report Card

Well, I can do the analysis, but you all can probably do it better. Bottom line, we are bringing in a superintendent whose highest score was 92.8, Effective to manage a school district that has already achieved a score of 102, Excellent. Hmmm..

I think what Mr. Lantz has really learned from his being an athlete and a coach is that if you hang around long enough on the bench and show up every day for practice, the coach will eventually play you, whether you are good enough for the job or not.

I’m a dog who can read, write and think. Perhaps I should have applied for the job. As an athletic dog, I can probably out-run Lantz as well 😉