Archive for January 28th, 2010

The WhyPad

Don’t get me wrong, I mostly like what I’ve seen of the iPad so far, I just have trouble identifying a reason why I would want one.

I have a PS2, but I got a PSP because I wanted a gaming platform (and media player) I could carry around in a pocket.  I have a laptop, but I got a Treo because I wanted internet access I could carry around in a pocket.  Then I decided that I really wanted a more format-agnostic media player, but I couldn’t rationalize adding yet another device to my portable ecosystem.  So I was tempted by the iPhone, but eventually ended up getting a Touch Pro2 because I wanted a physical keyboard and a high-resolution screen.

I also decided that I wanted a laptop that could fit in the side pocket of my semi-ubiquitous camera bag and go all day on a single battery charge, so I got an Eee 1005HA.  That would be the most likely candidate to be replaced by the iPad, but I just can’t figure out why I would want to pay $500 or more to replace it with something that’s roughly the same size and battery life but with fewer capabilities and no keyboard.  Maybe if the iPad were running Snow Leopard, but it’s not.  It’s running a scaled-up version of the non-multitasking iPhone OS, which gives me the same “Whyyyy?” reaction as when I see stories about netbooks running Android.  There’s just something kludgy about putting a mobile phone OS on something with a screen that big.

The only device that the iPad really seriously threatens is the Kindle DX and its plus-size brethren, which are the same size and price, but only do eBooks and some MP3s.  But I don’t think all that many people own or are looking to pay $500 for a ginormous eBook reader – they want something pocket or purse-sized, which the iPad is not.

This is not a shortcoming of the iPad itself, which I actually think is pretty cool, and probably the best possible implementation of the iPhone OS in a larger form-factor – it’s a shortcoming of the tablet computing genre as a whole, and the reason why it’s never caught on.  It’s not as capable as a netbook (especially now that the next generation has better screens, better HD video capabilities, better battery life and bigger hard drives) and not as portable as an iPhone.  It might carve out a niche as a prestige device, or as an eBook Reader/Media Player Plus, or as an art/graphic design tablet, but I just can’t see it catching fire, for the same reason that tablets have never caught fire.

I want to want the iPad, but it just doesn’t make a strong enough case for why I would want to pay $500 (or $830) to carry it around.

2 comments January 28th, 2010 at 11:41am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Technology

Dare We Hope?

This is the most promising sign yet on healthcare reform:

House progressives organizing to rescue health care reform are pressuring their Senate counterparts to go back to the provision that has most energized the party and a majority of Americans throughout the debate: The public option.

(…)

They argued that the current bill before the House, which passed the Senate, lacks the votes needed to pass because pro-life Democrats don’t believe the abortion restrictions go far enough and progressive Democrats don’t like the lack of a public option, the weak affordability measures or the tax on private insurance. And nobody likes the Cornhusker Kickback, a provision won by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that would cover the state’s Medicaid bills in perpetuity. Not even Nelson likes it anymore.

So, in order to move health care through the House, Democrats either need to pick up progressives or conservatives. And the budget reconciliation process does not lend itself to altering abortion language reform, because that wouldn’t have a direct, substantial impact on the budget.

That leaves progressives as the bloc available to pick up. Their demands — changes related to the tax on insurance, a Medicaid or Medicare expansion, and a public option — would likely be allowable using reconciliation. (The Senate parliamentarian would have the final say.)

Two House freshmen, Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), circulated a letter, looking for signatures, that will be delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday on behalf of the plan, Polis told HuffPost.

(…)

If Reid and President Obama decide that the House Democrats have a workable plan — perhaps the only viable plan left, after the New York Times declared that the brakes had been slammed — they may be able to accomplish it.

(…)

Health care reform became less popular, Polis argued, when the public option was taken out but the requirement to buy private insurance or pay a fine remained.

“I think the fading of the public option from the Senate bill really hurt the Democrats’ prospects in the Senate [race], because they were seen as following the typical pattern of tax and spend and caving to insurance companies,” he said.

Pingree and Polis both noted that Obama’s focus on fiscal discipline and cutting spending makes the public option — which the Congressional Budget Office estimates could trim more than $100 billion from the deficit in ten years — that much more appealing.

It would also give Democrats something else to run on in 2010.

If House progressives stay strong and insist that the Senate use reconciliation to restore the public option (and hopefully remove the excise tax), then Obama’s desperation to claim victory on healthcare reform could put the Blue Dogs and Senate Democrats between Barack and a hard place.  This is really the only strategy that can make the public option happen, and they’re finally using their leverage to implement it.

If by some miracle the public option does return from the dead and gets passed by both houses as part of healthcare reform (and if the Democrats don’t get routed in November), the politician most responsible for that stunning victory would not be Obama, not Reid or Pelosi, and certainly not Rahm.  It would be Raul Grijalva, who has managed to stay strong and keep his caucus together on insisting on the public option (well, more or less).  Without him the House probably would have passed the Senate bill by now without a reconciliation sidecar to fix it, and their constituents would have absolutely hated them for it.

January 28th, 2010 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Politics


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