Why all the hoopla over iPhone 5?

For a lot of people, this is a big day: Apple released the iPhone 5.

What I can’t figure out is whether all the hoopla is real or whether it’s one of those things that looks bigger than it is because big media outlets have decided that it’s a big story in much the same way that the kidnapping of a cute little girl becomes a huge news item even though it’s just one of a thousand kidnappings that happened that day.

As it happens, my long-time cell phone — a less-expensive competitor to Apple’s products — kicked the bucket about a year ago. OK, I dropped it a few times to hasten the process, a sort of cell phone euthanasia. And when I replaced it with an iPhone, I was impressed.

Like so many phones today, this one does everything I could ever want it to and about 10,000 things that I don’t really care about. One of the most useless features is the “assistant” that will supposedly answer questions like, “Where’s the nearest coffee shop?”

One thing about living in Austin is a guy pretty much knows how to get to a coffee place without having to ask — unless the roads are torn up.

Which is a good thing because the assistant that came with my phone never seemed to get the hang of handing out a useful answer — either misunderstanding the questions or simply ignoring me. Come to think of it, it is about the same as talking to my children.

A few niggling complaints aside, however, I have enjoyed the phone. In its rubbery case it has survived several perilous falls and dunkings and it has hardly ever failed me.

Which brings me to the point: Why do we need an iPhone 5? I know why Apple needs one: It’s a chance to sell a lot more cell phones. But why would I buy a new phone? Why are there thousands of people lined up at stores and clicking frantically on their keyboards to buy an iPhone 5 today?

It’s hard to imagine anything useful a new phone would do that the old one can’t. And the pleasure of showing off the latest phone seems too fleeting to make up for spending hundreds of dollars.

But that’s what a lot of people are doing today and, if we are to believe the reports, it’s the news of the week.

 

Romney’s 47% remarks say more about group of voters than it does about candidate

Last week’s news of the week, the unfortunate-for-Mitt-Romney discovery of a video that shows the candidate complaining that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income tax and suggesting that those people are government-dependent whiners, interested me enough to watch the video clip.

Rather than an outrage, what I saw was a presidential candidate doing exactly what it takes to get elected in America: Saying what an audience of possible donors (and voters) wants to hear.

This made it both more and less disturbing than Romney’s opponents would have us believe. Less disturbing, because what presidential candidates say on the stump is so disconnected from reality that it provides almost no insight into what they really think. More disturbing because there’s a group of people who want their president to speak and think that way.

The real fear is that it’s not a small group. These would be people so far removed from the reality that most Americans face that they simply don’t recognize that being hard working but not financially well off (a description that fits most of those whose income exempts them from federal income tax) is different from being dependent on the government, is different from being someone who feels entitled to be helped by others.

Indeed, working hard to take care of your family — regardless of whether you paid federal income tax — used to be the ideal of American conservatives.

The reality, however, is that there’s a group of Americans so wealthy and insulated that their interests are almost nothing like the rest of the nation’s. Its their favor that Mr. Romney was seeking — regardless of what he may believe personally.

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