Archive for June, 2007



Friday, June 29th, 2007

Well, it’s a milestone of sorts anyways…


Pointless Entry

Friday, June 29th, 2007

For pointless purposes.


Massachusetts Roads

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Reason Magazine released it’s annual ranking of America’s highway systems by state, and Massachusetts ranked 45, though it’s not as bad as you might think:

2005 Overall Rank: 45
2004 Overall Rank: 48

Mileage under state control | 3257
Total disbursements per mile | $893236.41 (Rank: 49)
Rural interstate miles in poor condition | 0% (Rank: 1)
Rural primary road miles in poor condition| 0% (Rank: 1)
Urban interstate miles in poor condition | 0.84% (Rank: 13)
Urban interstate miles congested | 47.38% (Rank: 28)
Rural primary roads with narrow lanes | 4.79% (Rank: 21)
Fatality rate per 100 million miles | 0.797 (Rank: 1)
Deficient bridges | 36.38% (Rank: 45)

Prose interpretation: Good quality roads with moderate congestion that we pay through the nose for. And our bridges could use some work.

Not as bad as I would have figured.

View the interactive map.


Paul Kedrosky On The iPhone

Friday, June 29th, 2007

In today’s WSJ:

[H]ow has the iPhone succeeded in getting millions of people interested in buying something so expensive that hasn’t even been launched?

I’ll tell you. First, people hate their cell phones. Other than making phone calls — a downright dreary bit of business — using phones for Internet, entertainment and pretty much anything else has been abysmal. Cell phones are best characterized as crippled, paternalistic devices best suited for people who think straitjackets are comfortable evening wear. They have horrible Web browsers, crummy screens, and obscure-to-the point-of-opacity interfaces. (After all, some of the iPhone’s most hyped features, like maps, are on traditional cell phones as well. You just can’t find the feature.)

But in addition to hating their phones, people hate their cell phone carriers. Hate, hate, hate, hate. The major cellular providers — with their ham-handed “support” and fascist control of software that can run on phones directly — are right up there with the IRS in terms of inspiring your average mobile phone user’s disgust and loathing.

To such consumers, Apple’s iPhone seems like a cool drink of water. These people want to be liberated either from bad phones or from bad phone companies. They want to choose a device that does all the things they want to do — calling, being entertained, consuming information — not all the things their phone company thinks they should do (and then be charged $5 a month per feature for the privilege). They want phones that make it possible to do calls over wi-fi, to the point that cellular companies could potentially become irrelevant.

The massive upwelling of grassroots support for the iPhone shows that a revolution has been building for some time. Now it’s here. Cell phone carriers are going to have to respond by cutting the length of contracts and eliminating exclusivity, and most important, by finally being responsive to their market. If not, iPhones (or their successors) will finish them off.

Kedrosky is right on the money here. And it says something that a phone that apparently can’t use user generated ringtones or have real programs loaded on it is still a breath of fresh air compared to what’s out there. I have a Samsung t-809 from T-Mobile and it’s beyond crippled, an expensive piece of hardware that I’m not allowed to use to its fullest, but expected to pay for in full.

When my contract is up, I’ll prolly get an iPhone too.

Read Paul Kedrosky.

UPDATE: Also, the WSJ interviewed Steve Jobs and the CEO of AT&T here.


Getting Out Of A Cellular Contract

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I would probably get an iPhone if I weren’t under a contract. Wired publishes a list of ways to get out or your contracts. My favorite:

Fake your own death
Have a friend or colleague work up a good set of tears and call in on your behalf claiming that you’ve shuffled from this mortal coil. Report something feasible yet horrible, e.g., “He … he was just ripped to shreds by that farm machinery.” The contract will be terminated because you are. Note: This is wholly unethical and probably illegal.
Odds of success: 50-to-1

But if I fake my own death, will I still be able to keep my phone number?

Read the whole list here.

UPDATE: Ok everybody, I’ve officially died. Sorry to tell you. That’s why T-Mobile needs to let me out of my contract, ok?


Is Andrew Sullivan Calling Fred Thompson Gay?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007


Outside the extremist, activist base, regular GOP voters turn out to be relatively tolerant when it comes to sexual minorities and private sex lives. They’re not well represented by their party leaders, as far as policy is concerned. This is good news for Fred Thompson. The man has had a colorful and wide-ranging sex life, as I’m sure we will soon find out.


Read Andrew Sullivan.

UPDATE: Sullivan backtracks.


More On Inflation

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

The WSJ Opines:

Neither former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan nor successor Ben Bernanke has acknowledged the Fed’s role in creating this housing bubble. But last autumn Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, offered a kind of proxy mea culpa when he noted that “In retrospect, the real fed funds rate turned out to be lower than what was deemed appropriate at the time and was held lower longer than it should have been.”

Which brings us to the current moment, with the Fed having held fed funds at 5.25% for a year and spot commodity prices hitting the highs in Mr. Laffer’s chart. Meanwhile, the world continues to be awash in “liquidity,” the buzz word for lots of money at low prices. Private equity firms have to turn money away, while hedge funds are so flush they’re taking flyers on the likes of Pakistan. The question is whether we are in a genuine global boom, or another Fed-inspired monetary bubble? Our view is that it’s some of both.

As I’ve said before, I think it’s inflation mitigated by the low cost of consumer goods produced abroad and by illegals at home.

Read the whole thing here.


More On Rudy’s Health Plan

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

The WSJ published some more bits and pieces on Rudy’s proposed health care plan today:

Mr. Giuliani is no radical, and unlike the plans of Democratic candidates that would affect nearly everyone with increased taxes, his paradigm shift would affect many fewer people and in far more positive ways. The key is to provide incentives to reinvigorate the individual health insurance market, putting it on a level playing field with group insurance and giving the industry the incentive and ability to innovate.

The first change would be to make dollars spent on health care tax deductible regardless of whether those dollars are spent by employers on group benefits or individuals on portable coverage. Putting individual insurance on a level playing field with group insurance will allow people to seriously compare the features and benefits of group versus individual insurance and make informed decisions.

To further provide a real choice in the health insurance market, Mr. Giuliani would adopt an idea that’s been proposed in Congress for years: free up the market in private health insurance. Rather than force people to buy plans approved by their state, he’d allow people to shop anywhere. One reason why health insurance in some states is very expensive is because they can’t do so now. If New Jersey imposes expensive mandates on what health insurance must cover, Garden State residents can’t buy insurance that’s available in, say, Delaware. Under Mr. Giuliani’s plan, you could. That would allow more people to buy the health coverage that fits them best. Teetotalers will no longer need to subsidize substance-abuse treatments. People can buy insurance for the risks they face.

I really wish he’d publish a whitepaper on this.

Read the whole thing here.

Previously: Giuliani Health Care Plan.


iPhone Questions

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

So Apple has posted its FAQ for the iPhone. Here are some questions they still haven’t answered:

  • Can you install your own ringtone on the iPhone? Or are you limited to what it comes with, or what AT&T sells you?
  • Does the camera work on the iPhone? Why is there no demonstration of that app?
  • Can you exchange files with other iTunes users via Bluetooth? Particularly iTunes, MP3 or video files? Of not, why not?

My guess is that these questions aren’t answered because the answers suck.


Walt Mossberg Breaks the Embargo

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Read Walt Mossberg’s review of the iPhone.