In a comment on my ridiculous prediction post, Andrew asks if I think the revised Apple TV qualifies as my predicted Pippin 2.

Ha ha! It’s tempting to answer yes, given that the original Pippin was conceived as a combination set-top box and video game console. The Apple TV doesn’t play games, but it sure does sit on top (or given today’s TVs, underneath) just like a Pippin! And it brings the content, notably HD-grade content, which was always the missing link with the first version of the Apple TV.

But more importantly, I have decided that as soon as the iPod Touch and iPhone start playing the SDK-developed games that are about to show up, I will declare them to be the Pippin Portable and the P-Gage, respectively.

BTW, charging $20 for the recent upgrade to the iPod Touch is devilish, but the added apps convert that thing from an amusing media player to a handheld wifi device I actually lust after.

Oh, laptop? The MacBook Air is a supremely clever toy, but I would point out the form factor is that of a MacBook, minus a half-inch of thickness, two pounds, and lots of functionality. As an adjunct to a desktop Mac, or possibly backed by a Time Capsule, it probably looks good to those for whom the cost is not a serious consideration. The base MacBook remains the laptop for the rest of us.

I think the Air will be a successful product for Apple, but as a feat of industrial design it largely points out that the fundamental limitation on laptop size is now the screen. You could make the Air smaller, but the screen would shrink beyond what is reasonable these days.

I believe that Apple’s new theory is that people who want a laptop smaller than the Air really want an iPhone. It’s a good theory.

Pippin 2. You heard it here first.

TLO and I went to the Macmillan Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park on a lark. There, we met Charlie:

Thanks Charlie, we love you too.

Bell is sorta promoting their Unlimited Mobile data plan. It’s not clear if this is purely a “walled garden” play, but the short version is that early reports say it isn’t: you can just surf the web on your mobile phone’s browser, $7/month, unlimited data.

Considering that current data plans range up to something roughly approximating “infinity dollars a month” from most carriers, this is a monstrous breakthrough.

The speculation when it was first announced was that this was a shot by Bell at Rogers, since the latter was soon expected to start carrying the iPhone in Canada.

If it is, it’s a really clever shot: the key advantage that Bell (and Telus) have over Rogers right now is a really fast (1X) data network. Rogers has a sorta-fast data network (but GSM-based), and charges the world for access thereto.

Here’s some slightly more detailed discussion from HowardForums on the subject.

As for Telus, the rumor is they will be matching this plan ASAP. Rogers? No news is probably bad news.

It’s good. It’s very good. It’s less subtle than it thinks it is, and is possibly the least surprising script that could possibly come from the hand of Aaron Sorkin. I mean, he found a story about a Democratic politician who did a little cocaine and did the right thing in Afghanistan? If the story wasn’t true, I would damn Sorkin for writing such a banal allegory.

If the film has weaknesses, they are at least pleasant weaknesses: gratuitous nudity (aside from one easily bowdlerized scene at the start of the movie, you could show this film in high-school civics classes), name-dropping, and slightly clumsy exposition scenes. It engages in extraordinarily shallow hindsight at almost every junction (unknown unknowns are all clearly understood by our heroes ahead of time).

The acting is uniformly solid, which may be the highest praise I can offer.

This movie deserves a more thorough critique (rather than this shallow review), especially since as a right-wing kook who liked it, I’m in a unique position to highlight its virtues, much like a Canucks fan describing what they admire about Minnesota.

But I’m lazy.

A ridiculous discussion in rec.bicycles.racing (eventually, they all are) led to someone mentioning, in the context of personal art collections, this poster:

Which led me to declare that US aircraft carrier groups, collectively, were the greatest art installation ever conceived.

Yes, that sounds like my usual blithering nonsense, but it’s actually extremely profound nonsense! Allow me to demonstrate:

I subscribe to the principle that art consists of useless crafts.

As the French philosopher Baudrillard pointed out, The Gulf War did not take place. So if carrier groups are designed for wars which do not take place, they must be works of art.

And I am not alone in this. Paul Virilio has written entire books on the intertwining of art and war. I am certain he appreciates these highly kinetic sculptures as much as I do.

In terms of most expensive art work of all time, I think its only competition is the International Space Station.

So, I had to read back to find out what I did this year. Here’s what I did:

January: I rode in the snow
February: everything broke
March: I bought a bicycle built for two
April: I helped build a tiny bike
May: I built a black bike
June: I shaved my head
July: TLO and I went to the Kwik-E-Mart
August: TLO and I went to Greece
September: TLO and I went back to school
October: TLO’s curriculum came late
November: nerd! Nerd!
December: month ain’t over yet.

TLO and I would like to wish you a merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and the dog has this to day:
Dog looking silly
What were you expecting? Dogs can’t talk.

We are, of course, speaking of the definitive Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated version.

Please don’t tell TLO I did this.

So I was watching this classic Christmas special on TV the other day, and what struck me was how much of a jerk Santa is in this story.

“Great bouncing icebergs!”

That’s what Santa says the first time he sees Rudolph’s rather extraordinary nose. Then he says Rudolph’s nose had better not glow if he’s going to be a sleigh-pulling reindeer.

What? Oh, but it’s okay, because then he sings a song, which does nothing to explain why glowing noses would be a problem in flying or sleigh-pulling.

Meanwhile, in a bustling warehouse on the other side of town, Hermey the elf is holding up the production line as he dreams of dentistry.

Hermey’s boss is a genuine hard case, but he has a legitimate beef: Hermey is a terrible toy-maker. Even Hermey knows it, and as he sings, “you can’t fire me, I quit!” because he doesn’t fit in.

I support both the hard-nosed elf boss, and Hermey’s decision to quit: Hermey wasn’t doing anyone any favours by hanging around in a job he hated and did badly.

Okay, so time passes, through the magic of Burl Ives-powered narration, and Rudolph is at the reindeer tryouts or something. But we interrupt that actually interesting plot point to bring you Santa being a jerk:

I can’t figure out why he’s hating the elf choir here, but he is. They’re singing fine, and he can only cringe.

Finally, we get back to Rudolph at the tryouts.

And you know what? He’s great! He can fly like nobody’s business. He’s a regular Wayne Rooney of magical reindeer flight.

And then the excrement hits the air recirculation device.

At this point, for the shameful act of having a red nose, Rudolph’s coach, best friend, all the other reindeer, and Santa all turn on him.

You know the drill: no reindeer games, whatever those are. Reindeer MMA? Reindeer skeet shooting?

And then there’s a bunch of plot we don’t care about, because it doesn’t touch on the thesis of this ridiculous rant. Rudolph’s girlfriend sings, and doesn’t sound like Marni Nixon, surprisingly.

Finally, our pair of misfits meet, sing, and become friends.

Of course they do. They’re both exiles, but Hermey really isn’t working out. He needs to spend some time working on his career options. But who would exile the incredibly talented Rudolph? A predjudiced idiot, that’s who.

I’m going to dodge another big meaty chunk of point, as we meet homeless toys, an abominable snow monster, and King Moonracer.

This photo of King Moonracer is included only because noble flying lions are cool. What can I say? I’m a cryptozoological monarchist.

I won’t spoil the funny but essentially reasonable plot which ends up with our heros acting heroic, and teaches us the awesome power of dentistry.

Returning to Predjudice Village, Santa reads the weather reports, and says Christmas is cancelled.

Like I’d want a present from that hater.

But just then, Rudolph & Co. show up from the wilderness, and now it’s all “that beautiful, wonderful nose!”

Super. So Santa is anti-mutant, right up until the very moment he needs a mutant, and then the scales fall from his eyes, and Rudolph is asked to guide the sleigh, and it’s happy endings all around. Even the misfit toys get loved in the end.

But what’s with Santa Claus being a hateful bigot throughout the show? At least the elf boss has an excuse: Hermey is a worse-than-useless toymaker, and all the elves do is make toys. His understanding of his needs is a little narrow, inasmuch as he can’t understand the need for a resident dentist until later, and as for the reindeer, well, I’m willing to cut ungulates a fair bit of slack.

But what’s Santa’s excuse? He apparently hates Rudolph for purely aesthetic reasons, and he completely reverses himself the moment Rudolph becomes necessary to him. Why wasn’t Rudolph using that opportunity to tell Santa Claus and the coach and all his inconstant friends in reindeerdom to go stuff themselves down a lit chimney?

Well, okay, at least he gets his dream gig out of it.

Now I want to step back and get a bit meta. What the heck were Rankin/Bass doing depicting Santa as such a hater? I know it’s hard to remember, but he wasn’t always a sugar-water salesman . Santa Claus started out as a widely beloved Catholic saint. And now he ends up here.

It’s time to take a stand! You can’t just depict Santa Claus as some sort of difference-hating fool with a selfish streak and get away with it. Think of the children!

And now, it is time for some nog. Merry Christmas, and God bless us every one.

Wrong! This is what happens when you really like coffee and are a really big nerd:

Ridiculous idea I thought up while sitting in the back of the car today: homeopathic products for six-moon audiophiles.

What’s a six-moon audiophile? Exhibit A: a favorable review of a CD/DVD Degausser*.

For further reading (good if you want to push yourself over the brink of derangement) try their archives. The most fun is generally to be had in the accessories category.

I’m going to start by selling cables doped with a 100x preparation of palladium.

*If you’re not sure what I’m on about here, degaussing (and by the way, that Wikipedia link will tell you the fascinating story of why they de-magnetized ships in WWII) is a process by which you remove a magnetic charge from an object. The metal CDs and DVDs are made of thin aluminum foil, and essentially can’t hold a magnetic charge. The reading systems for CDs and DVDs involve lasers, which are essentially unaffected by unaffected by magnetic fields. On the upside, all of this means that degaussing a disc isn’t likely to cause any harm. Being picky, though, I normally have higher standards for audio equipment than “doesn’t wreck things.”

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