I’ve never been a “Mac Guy” per se. I was definitely impressed by OS X (enough that I got an iBook, and later a Macbook). I have many Mac-crazy friends. My family also has countless ipods, iPhones, and an iPad. But even if you don’t have Apple products, the products you do use are heavily influenced by Apple and thus Steve Jobs.
But whatever you think of Apple, clearly Steve Jobs led a remarkable life. In reviewing his bio, I noted a few things:
So I’ll admit, the last post was a bit of an exercise in tone. Some of the most informative sites I’m reading seem to specialize in a cynical and pessimistic tone. Unfortunately, most of these sites have been an excellent predictor of the increasingly wobbly economy. Certainly better than the commoditized status quo of CNN/Fox, and just about anything is better than the Rah-Rah of CNBC. So I wanted to try my hand a bit.
However, “to the bitter end” conveys an excessively worldly approach on it’s own. So I figured I’d round it out with a little absolute Truth. Fortunately, Chris’ sermon on Sunday provided excellent material.
Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! 19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! For the Chief Musician; with my stringed instruments.
Personally, I think “the bitter end” of what we’re doing is going to ultimately a good thing. Our failed experiment in government-god, fueled by cheap debt and energy, has left us much worse off than we know. It’s time to end it and start being human again, for better or worse.
And, no..this is not some nihilist view that it’s all about to go to crap and never come back. It’s not even a Christian view that we’re in the end times and that it’s all going to crap in preparation for the second coming (although the blood red oil in the gulf, frogs in Greece, earthquakes, etc. do look very end-times-ish).
History is chock full of “bitter ends”, followed up with rebuilding periods of varying lengths and implications. If we are indeed about to see one as I think, it will be an extraordinary opportunity to build something better. And besides, no amount of socioeconomic junk has ever stopped the cause of Christ…even when people have tried to stamp His name on it.
Through it all, God is sovereign and we can and will rejoice in the Lord. No matter what happens we know who’s running the show. And our cup is always overflowing.
Just a refresher course: We are currently firmly ensconced in the loving shadows of a relatively recent economic theory called Keynesianism. In a nutshell, Keynesianism is a tacit rejection of free market economics, instead relying on government (or other monetary overlords) to actively jump in and out of an economy to make sure “Good Things” happen. By “Good Things” we mean people spend to oblivion to make sure the economy is moving….(these are all my definitions, not Keynes’)
It can be seen as a competitor to Supply Side economics which, while more recent label than Keynesianism, is considered by some to be the engine that built the (formerly) best economies in history–with the help of a whole lotta cheap energy. Supply side economics has slowly had it’s tail handed to it over the last few decades…
…because free market supply-siders sold their soul to wealth accumulation short cuts, trading the basic principles we learned in Henry Ford’s factory for policies that looked like supply side, but weren’t. Flattening out the tax curve does not mean that extra money at the top end will automagically build a factory. People figured this out pretty quickly and the Keynesians made wild progress by calling supply-siders “trickle-downers”.
Of course this only ruined the party for a little while. Trickle-downers soon realized it was a whole lot easier to accumulate gobs of money in a command style stimulating economy. They kept their supply side tattoos for nostalgia, but settled in to the cheap money party just as easy as everyone else…more easy, even.
So instead of building factories whose workers can afford to buy the very products it produces–you take those jobs, move them to factories with the overhead of Mola Ram’s Temple of Doom. Then give your former workers a “service job” and a credit card and convince yourself that the “information economy” means something. A few Ivy Leaguer’s and sharp country boys get rich on finance charges and naked body scanner patents. And when things don’t look so good, just tweak the “seasonal adjustments”.
It’s demand-side genius until the credit is used up.
Boom, everything grinds to a halt, the Keynesian Cult starts chanting “Stim-u-lus…Stim-u-lus…” We all buy iPhone apps that flash “when things turn around…..” on the screen while any true wealth producing industry crashes and burns in bubbles of increasing frequency. A generation that has grown up under this hollowed out debt feuled economy doesn’t see how insane this is. The stock market will go up. It always has.
Meanwhile, the intoxicating smell of free money becomes irresistable to politicians. Keynesian money injections get you elected, especially when they are legitimate, named applications of the economic theory. But hey…doesn’t really matter what you call it as long as they’re building a shovel-ready bridge or a jetfighter in the district.
And before you get to anti-politician, remember this is a completely rational response on their part. We vote that way.
Then slowly but surely the overall market realigns itself around the characteristics of Keynesian policies. No matter what fancy pants economists say, there is always a market. We saw it as our focus on consumption allowed huge swaths of manufacturing to be moved overseas. We see this today as the labor market is being converted to a great cinderblock warehouse of entitlements, defense contracts, and transfer payments.
And unfortunately because the government is the Great Decider in this market, lots of rich and powerful entities will latch on to the government to ensure that “Good Things” are the kinds of things that make them even more rich and powerful. Expect to see huge accumulations of wealth and income disparity as the government decides more and more. The hilarious thing about this is that they’re plowing that wealth into the very dollar they’re exploiting.
Contemporary liberals will mistake the gas for the brake pedal and attempt to remedy this with even more government control. Contemporary conservatives will all apply at Haliburton and Goldman Sachs in the hope of working for government one day. The citizens of the U.S., now primarily consumers, will continue to hang Chinese-made flags out on the 4th of July until grandmom’s social security check bounces. Then everyone will get all mad, go to a tea party meeting, and vote radically the same in the next election. Because no matter the rhetoric, we’re all dedicated Keynesians now. Dedicated to the bitter end.
Today at lunch someone had left a very nasty note on my wife’s windshield about her parking job.
What made it amusing was that the parking job was fine. I’m very OCD when it comes to parking, and in this case it was almost perfect other than being a few inches closer on the left side.
Just makes you wonder, what kind of terrible life must a person lead to take the time to write such a mean spirited note? And how bad would it have to be to try and ruin someone’s day for little or no reason? What kind of issues must they have?
Today is national day of prayer. Send one up for that poor soul.
Just about every year around April 15th, I post my theory on why we have a national debt, and why that national debt will ultimately be the failure of theis particular grand experiment of democracy.
First things first, the cause of the uncontrollable national debt is the Congressional control and domination of the budgetary process. This started in the mid-1970′s with the creation of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as part of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
The Federal Budget was never meant to be a product of Congress. It was supposed to be produced by the Executive branch, then approved by Congress. Over the last few decades, this process has been replaced by the following process:
a) The president submits a budget.
b) Congress chuckles and cans the whole thing
c) Congress makes it’s own budget and submits it to the president with about 15 minutes to sign it.
Probably the last serious challenge to this fundamental change occurred with George Bush Sr. George went toe to toe with Congress, even threatening to shut the government down. He was slaughtered politically. It was clear at this point that Congress had secured a (probably permanent) political advantage with its control of the budgeting process. Couple this with the ability to borrow without consequence via self-regulated deficit spending, and the rest is (and will be) history.
The Congress was never designed (explicity or implicity) to control the kind of spending it does now, and as such it has developed this ability through political evolution. Those who spent, survived…those who saved didn’t.
Every politician has now learned that deficit spending is the way to get elected. So it really doesn’t matter who controls Congress at this point….it will spend freely to the maximum capability of our economy and beyond. As mentioned above, the office of the President has been made irrelevant so that doesn’t matter either.
Further, this mismatched functionality of the Congress has existed for so long that a majority of citizens were born after the presence of a systemic, increasing Federal debt in the mid 1970′s. It’s what we know, and there is no reason to see it as a problem.
For years the numbers have been rationalized as “percentage of GDP” and “constant dollars” etc. But all of these arguments failed to recognize or address the fundamental problem: Congress controls spending, and it is politically rewarded to spend more and take in less. There will be no change in this equation….ever….because there is substantial political dis-incentive to change it.
These arguments that the “debt isn’t that bad” make alot of sense, until they suddenly don’t. Most of the people who downplayed the debt/deficit are oddly quiet now. This should scare everyone. But it doesn’t because “hey…we’ve spent freely for decades without a problem…clearly it’s not going to hurt anything”.
Instead, we have a cultish, Keynesian analysis that ever increasing deficit spending is necessary for economic stimulus. I guess this is what happens when the consequences of policy occur generations after said policy is implemented.
Yet even the most conservative estimates on the debt rely on wildly outlandish wildcard figures (usually economic growth figures) that will send in the mathematical cavalry and save us all. Even if this did happen, Congress’ mismatched political goals will kick in and we’ll just spend more.
(And this doesn’t even take into account the amazing cheap energy benefits that are coming to an end).
So any honest look at the numbers shows that the U.S. will eventually outspend it’s ability to borrow, and will then be in a serious pickle as it either defaults on the debt or begins printing money to meet obligations. Either solution would result in a collapsed economy and Federal government due to hyper-inflation or the sudden disappearance of Federal dollars in the GDP, or both.
At that point it can be said that the grand experiment of American brand Freedom Democracy failed. Which is ok. Sociopolitical failure is part of history. Maybe our descendants will turn their minds toward divine providence again and build something better.
Cheery thoughts! I know. But human history is not generally a tale of long, blissful periods of stability. We’ve been very blessed to have avoided problems until now.
OK, so this is not a slight to anyone getting an iPad. They’re very slick devices and obviously the conventional wisdom is that they’re awesome. But I gotta admit, they make no sense to me as a viable trend setting piece of technology.
Yes, the book reader is cool. Yes, you can stream movies. Yes, there will be cool apps for it. But all of these are true of a $300 netbook, which by Steve Job’s own criteria is the reason the iPad was invented.
So let’s look at some of the hardware comparisons. I’ll use an Asus Eee netbook from Best Buy.
iPad 9.7 inch – 1024×768
Eee 12.1 inch – 1366 x 768
iPad 1.5 pounds
Eee 3 pounds
Storage (this is a big one):
Eee Wireless and wired
iPad 9-10 hours
Eee 6-7 hours (higher capacity available)
There’s more, but basically the only real hardware advantage is the cool touchscreen and the weight. And there are significant disadvantages in storage. Battery life is sorta an advantage, but you can get a high capacity battery for the Eee that will make it last 10-12 hours.
Then there’s the keyboard. Whereas people who use it say the iPad touchscreen keyboard is surprisingly good, it’s a pretty safe assumption that it’s not good enough to do a large amount of typing given the reviews. Then when you buy a bluetooth keyboard, all that convenience of a single touchscreen goes out the window.
Some people would argue that with the Eee you’re getting Windows, which is inferior to the iPad…but I completely disagree with this. We’re not talking Mac OS vs. Windows here. We’re talking iPhone OS vs fully featured Windows, and the iPhone OS has significant limitations that don’t impact phone usage–but are terrible for laptops.
The much-talked-about lack of multitasking is a big problem. You can’t run multiple programs at once.
The whole process of getting files in and out of the iPad is evidently a convoluted mess. If you type a document or make a presentation, you have to go through some procedures get the files out if you need to work on them somewhere else. The Eee supports thumb drives, external drives, etc. right on the laptop.
Also, with the Eee you can move files from your digital camera in less than a minute with the built in cardreader. I shudder to think of how long it would take to do this with an iPad without an accessory…and even if you have it I wonder how easy it is to move the files around. Ever tried managing photos on an iPhone? Good luck. This is only practical if they’ve done considerable re-engineering for iPad.
In short, iPhone OS is great for a little computer that fits in your pocket, and it soundly kicked the techno-hiney of any phone out there when it came out. But the shortcomings will make it very impractical for laptop-style computing over anything longer than the short term. I can just tell that any attempt to replace a laptop with an iPad would slowly fail through the attrition of convoluted inconvenience.
But it’s a great eBook reader. And it is. But that’s a pretty expensive eBook reader, and the jury is still out on eBooks with regard to how prevalent eBooks will be. Plus you can install several free ebook readers on a laptop.
Gaming will be awesome on the iPad. But it’s also awesome on a Nintendo DSi, which is much cheaper.
It just seems that beyond all the hype and whiz-bang, this device isn’t going to solve many of existing problems or be any better at critical, meat-and-potato tasks. It may create entirely new markets for certain software or media, and the nature of the interface may create some interesting new applications, but will these be big enough to justify huge numbers of sales that will “change computing as we know it”? That’s a tall order.
Today we went to two Good Friday services. One at our ‘old’ church and one at our ‘new’ church.
In a simple sentence: it was really great. Two completely different services with wildly different music and visuals. Yet Theology was identical, the topic was identical, and even the outlines of the service seemed to be nearly the same.
This week I have also enjoyed the richness of remembrance on the web via blogs, facebook, and tweets of people from other denominations and Christian groups. It’s been a true life study of Ephesians 4 and 5.
I know Good Friday can seem like an odd holiday for non-believers. But this is it in a nutshell: That God saw fit to save a hopeless people by sacrificing himself in our place. Today is the brutal and ugly part of that equation. But Sunday is on it’s way, and that’s when hope became clear.
It’s been awesome to observe and share that hope this week in it’s many facets yet singular purpose. How beautiful is the body of Christ!
The latest directive from our command-and-control government is that vehicles should get 34 mpg by 2016.
Which makes me wonder if there will be a substantial aftermarket for increasing the ‘pep’ of cars after manufacture. Or if it will suddenly become economical to make wasteful electric cars.
In other words, there is clearly a market for people who want vehicles whose unique characteristics make it impossible to get 34 mpg. So make those things guzzle electricity instead of gas. All electric is green and efficient right?
It also means buy an SUV right now, because they’re gonna be golden in about 6 years.
When: 6:00pm March 28th, 2010
Where: A2 Church in Vestavia (see below)
What: CD Release Concert. Free concert…free cd!
A2 church is above (to the right) of Pet Supermarket in Vestavia. Which is right across from Honeybaked Ham.
Here’s Bing Maps:
So last week I was at a conference in Biloxi, which is still present despite God’s attempt to stamp out parimutuel wagering with a Cat 5 hurricane. The newer, land based casinos seem to look out at the old pilings like notes in the key of C major. They skillfully riff like a game show theme song and hook like the lapping of the waves.
So like any corporate, Christian dude in a casino I asked myself “Should I even be here?” I found the answer to be obvious…but the question to be highly irrelevant.
Gambling is an inherently dishonest activity. It implies that you’ll be a winner but in reality the odds are completely against that. Then again, all of marketing is built around that concept. You’ll be a winner if you just wear these clothes, have this electronic device, etc. The odds of me looking like one of those models in an ad are much lower than my chances of winning 50 bucks in a slot machine. But I’ll spend 50 bucks on a pair of jeans. No problem.
Gambling is also entertainment. I see little difference between some of the cutesy slot machines and the games at Chuck E. Cheese. Ever seen a kid proudly walk out with a 50 cent toy…for which he paid $20.00 to get the tickets necessary for the trade? It’s a scam if you try to justify the cheap toy, but it’s alot of entertainment and alot of fun.
Gambling as a good tax source is just plain bad policy. The stories of how it negatively impacts the areas in which it thrives are many. Ask anyone who runs a community financial institution before and after about the negative impact.
But Gambling does employ people. You can’t shut down every textile mill in the south, preach about a “service economy” and not expect them to see a casino as an excellent employment opportunity. Would Jesus be for free trade with China? What kind of question is that?
It tends to affect the poor in the hardest way and very negatively. This makes any benefit to education seem a little morbid. It feels like the kind of thing that’s illegal to import but just fine as long as it originates here.
Gambling doesn’t create wealth. Instead, it tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few. But didn’t our recent mortgage bubble do the same? Doesn’t the stock market have many of the same characteristics? I’ve heard many investment professionals point to a graph of the Dow and say “The stock market has always gone up over the long haul”. Isn’t that like saying “everyone leaves a winner!!!” while the finance industry hauls off a huge rake?
What’s the difference in a dog track owner and a fella in the Hamptons checking on his 3 million dollar bonus? Does it make us any more uncomfortable that the bonus came almost directly from the Federally guaranteed labor of our kids? Do we preach about that in the pulpit?
We assume that the property 3 exits out will be valuable one day. Things are always growing…things are always going up, up, up!
Isn’t our current neo-capitalist world–where we think the world is a black box, and if we put enough money in that black box we’ll all be able to chill out at the lake with sweet tea and a golden retriever–isn’t that inherently dishonest?
Gambling is very easy to be against. It’s very sad to see someone falling asleep at a slot machine at 2 am. It’s sad to see people wandering around a smoke filled room with an oxygen tank. I can think of a thousand reasons to outlaw it. But that’s only due to perspective.
Is it really smart to have huge chunks of political capital flowing around the question “Should gambling be legal” Isn’t it really missing the point to ask “Should Christians gamble?”. Isn’t asking these questions, by definition, too late? Shouldn’t we see the bigger picture here?
I think we should look at our world as a whole. I think we’d find we’re all sitting at a table doubling down. If we’re any more honest than a casino billboard we’ll admit that we’re all trying to beat the house. I think we’re all feeding time and money into a system that has become something very different than we originally thought. Do we have time enough for countin’?
This has been Mike’s Kenny Rogers moment for the week.