Monday, January 29, 2007

The Effect of Television in Our Post-Modern Society

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see a film about Queen Elizabeth and the way that she responds to Princess Diana's death in the hours and then weeks after it occurs. It was fascinating to revisit a time that I can recall vividly, and to experience through the medium of film a little of what the Queen, her family and advisers were going through in the weeks following the tragic accident. It was good to get some perspective from "the other side"and to see how Diana's death ended up threatening the monarchy. Even more intriguing was to see the royal stoicism of the Queen yielding at last to the humbling advice of her then newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

One thing that the film kept revisiting, and on which the story revolved, was that of the mass grief and hysteria of the British people following Diana's death. The question that struck me when it happened came to me again during the film. I have often wondered why (aside from the fact that it was a tragic way to die, and yet this sort of death commonly occurs) all of the public grief and obsession for a woman whom the larger part of the British population had never known personally? It was a question I asked again when "America's Prince", John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and sister-in-law perished in a plane crash and we saw a repeat of the same media fixation and public grief that is now becoming a common way of dealing with the deaths and tragedies of celebrities: those people we know intimately but have never met personally. Carl Trueman answers my question superbly in his book The Wages of Spin:

...The scenes of mass hysteria following the tragic death of a young mother were simply incredible - but what was really disturbing, if not a little frightening, was the language of familiarity which so many of the mourners interviewed on television used in connection with the princess. "She was a friend to us all"; "We felt she was one of our own; "She was like a big sister to me". Statements like this abounded, statements which implied that a real, personal relationship existed between Princess Diana and those being interviewed. Such was not the case: these individuals had come to know an image, albeit a carefully cultivated image, of a young woman they had never met but who entered their houses and their lives through the box of electronic wizardry in the corner of their living room. Then, at a moment of tragedy for the Princess and her close family and friends, these unknowns had also been swept up in the and been bereaved - not of a real friend, but of an image, of a character in a fantasy world. That they were incapable of discerning the difference is perhaps the most eloquent testimony to the power of television in our time.

-from chapter 2 of The Wages of Spin by Carl R. Trueman

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cisco Takes A Bite Into Apple

It's days like this one when you are glad that you don't have stock in Apple. After this lawsuit was announced today, Apple stock fell in after-hours trading. Oops. You would think Apple would cover it's backside before taking such a risky plunge as introducing a phone with a name that they know is already copyright-protected. Apple needs to get over thinking that because they're Apple and rule the technology world, they don't rule the real world. Copyright names means that they are legally protected. As in, no one else is allowed to use it.

Incidentally, Cisco* shares were up today. Now I'm thinking that stock in Cisco wouldn't be so bad right now...
(Actually, it all makes me grateful that I don't dabble in the stock market)

and yes, the title is bad, but I'm too tired to change it. :-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


It's days like this one when you probably wish that you had Apple stock. If you don't already, that is. I'm just assuming my readers don't. It's up, incidentally, by 11%. Why? Only because these new iWonders were revealed:

The new iPhone.

To make a call, users can tap out the number on an onscreen keypad or scroll through their contacts and dial with a single touch.

Apple is also introducing what it calls "visual voicemail," so users can jump to the most important messages rather than have to listen to all of them in order.

The phone supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology and can detect location from Global Positioning System satellites. It also can send and display e-mail and text messages. Apple is partnering with Yahoo Inc. on Web-based e-mail and Google Inc. on maps.

With a few finger taps, Jobs demonstrated how to pull up a Google Maps site and find the closest Starbucks to the Moscone Center. He then prank-called the cafe and ordered 4,000 lattes to go before quickly hanging up.

It does even more. Read the rest here. See more pics here.

I'm starting my phone savings now. And rethinking the switch to T-Mobile.

The new Apple TV.

The gadget is designed to bridge computers and television sets so users can more easily watch their downloaded movies on a big screen. A prototype of the gadget was displayed by Jobs in September when Apple announced it would sell TV shows and movies through its iTunes online store.

I must confess that the tv doesn't hold the same appeal as the iPhone. I do like the design, though.

A small change in the name: Apple Computers, Inc. becomes Apple, Inc.
I wondered when they would change. Glad to see everything done at once. Nice efficiency.

Monday, January 01, 2007