Dear NBC

With the news yesterday that NBC wanted to experiment with raising prices on iTunes, and asked for a cut of Apple’s massive iPod revenue, I thought I would voice my thoughts over at NBC’s newly beta Hulu site. As Corey pointed out to me this morning, NBC’s “slice” of the iPod revenue is the network getting their shows on the portable player in the first place. They are not entitled to profits from the sales of the hardware itself. Despite what Bill and Ballmer have done. Here’s my comment over at Hulu’s blog:

“So $15 Million dollars wasn’t enough for you guys from iTunes last year huh? What was the amount you were making for your shows online before iTunes came along? Oh yeah, right. Zero. Your vision is shortsighted, greedy and anti-customer.

If I can’t view your shows on my iPod or iPhone, can only see the last 5 episodes of something, can’t watch them outside the US, have to watch ads and need flash, then I’d say this grand experiment is a massive failure. Too bad too because I like your content, but I’ll never buy another NBC/U DVD. Ever.”

I meant that last bit. Mindy and I bought the first season of Heroes on DVD because I had missed it first time around. Although it’s tempting to buy season 2 when it eventually comes out, until NBC comes back to iTunes, I won’t be forking over any more money to Zucker and company. If you feel the same way, I suggest you head on over to Hulu and let your thoughts be known. Judging from the comments already posted, we’re not alone.

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, anyone wanna take a guess as to why the final season of NBC/Universal’s ‘Battlestar Galactica’ is being delayed until April instead of its planned January airing? Could it be that NBC/U wants Galactica to be their flagship show when Hulu leaves beta? Could be rabbit. Could be.

Doing the Impossible. Twice.

When the Red Sox won the championship in 2004, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had never known before. When Boston came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS I knew that all things were possible. The World Series against the Cardinals was just icing on the cake, it felt good, but the real “win” was beating the Yankees into a small, bloody pulp. Quite simply, it was every Red Sox fan’s dream, and it felt goooood.

Sunday’s night win against the upstart Colorado Rockies was a completely different animal. After Denver went down in game 3, in their very own stadium, I felt the series was over. Of course anything could have happened so I tried not to become too confident. My fears all melted away as Boston completed an impressive sweep in four games and ran away with their second world championship in four years.

I’d just like to say thanks to Manny, Big Papi, Lowell, Pedroia, Varitek, Ellsbury, Beckett, Papelbon, Francona and all the rest who played one of the best seasons of baseball I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The summer was filled with ups and downs, nail biting and celebration, and in the end you guys pulled it off once again. My parents and I thank you, as your efforts have given us cause to speak more often and share in the joy of your victories. I wish I was home in New England for the party that is going down. So, from this tiny little part of Red Sox Nation, here in North Carolina, congratulations! Now go and sign Mike Lowell, will you please?

Scott Moritz Full of Ca-Ca. Again.

For those of you just tuning in, financial “analyst”, Scott Moritz of theStreet.com, has proven once again that he doesn’t know jack when it comes to Apple, how the technology sector works, or even the stock market. Moritz first spread rumors that Wall Street expected Apple to sell upwards of 1 million iPhones in the weekend launch of their new product. This despite the fact that no one but Moritz himself had circulated that figure to the press.

Then, later when Apple dropped the price of the iPhone, he reported that the move was because the iPhone wasn’t selling as fast as “some optimists” (read Moritz himself), had expected. According to Moritz, Apple dropped the price to keep sales brisk and catch up with Wall Street’s sagging expectations. More factless speculation on his part, especially since the iPhone eventually hit 1 mil units in just 74 days.

Now we can say with absolute certainty, that Moritz was full of crap on at least one other report he filed. On October 17th 2007, 9 days before Leopard went public, he reported from theStreet.com that Apple would be shipping an ultra-portable 13-inch laptop as a companion to the operating system launch. Do you remember Apple announcing a new 13-inch MacBook on Leopard’s launch day? No, your memory isn’t fading. You didn’t just happen to miss the news that day. Moritz’s prediction never happened.

Not only did it not happen, there was no reason to ever believe it in the first place. Apple has never announced new hardware in tandem with an operating system release. Never. And why would they? Jobs wouldn’t risk overshadowing an OS launch that has taken years for Apple to develop, test and ship with that of a flashy new sub-notebook or powerful desktop computer. Any “analyst” who tells you differently is blowing smoke up your ass for some reason. As I’ve speculated before, I suspect Moritz is either very bad at his job or is intentionally trying to manipulate Apple’s stock price. Either way theStreet.com needs to grow a spine and get a new Apple expert. All investors of AAPL need to know is anything that comes out of Scott Moritz’s mouth or published in his columns isn’t worth the time it takes to watch or read it.

Disclosure: I own stock in Apple Computer.

Leopard’s Little Things

Scads have been written about the big new features in Apple’s new OS offering. Apple has made sure to fill Leopard chock full of compelling reasons to upgrade, from Time Machine and Spaces to improved versions of Mail and Safari. All of these great features help to keep the Mac ahead of our PC using counterparts and give the average user even more reasons to consider a Mac for their next purchase. And while Time Machine, Boot Camp and any number of the over 300 new features make upgrading to Leopard worth it, for my money, it’s the little things that really make me happy. Here’s a list of just some of the things that make using a Mac even better under Leopard.

A Flexible Finder

It’s no wonder that Apple highlights the Finder on the Leopard home page. Users have been waiting for an update to this portion of the operating system for many, many years. The Finder’s often touted, unified appearance, is just the tip of the iceberg however. The sidebar now mirrors the structure of iTunes, which instantly gives non-Mac users a sense of familiarity. This single user interface change may help sell more Macs than any other aspect of Leopard. At first, I thought having the Finder mimic iTunes might be confusing, but after only a few hours, I could see the wisdom of this important design decision.

I suspect it was difficult for execs to sell the unified appearance in marketing meetings, and so Apple gave us Cover Flow in the Finder. This sexy little bit of code looks great, but I’m not sure how often I’ll be using it. Like the “genie effect” of days past, it gets old quickly and ends up being just eye candy. Even though Cover Flow is purely an attempt to lure switchers with “cool” parts of the Mac, if it helps build mindshare, I can deal with it.

For me, the real meat and potatoes of the Finder update are additions that make navigating my data quicker and easier. The Finder’s column view finally has options to sort by more than just name. For the first time, I can move through columns with recently changed items listed at the top. I can’t say how much I appreciate this addition. For those who like to view their Finder windows in List View, there is the new Path Bar. The bar gives navigational bread crumbs similar to the column view, but allows for maximum line widths in the List windows themselves. I may end up using this configuration even more than columns in the weeks ahead as I’m enjoying it immensely.

iChat Love

Without a doubt, iChat is one of my most used applications. Keeping in touch with Craig in Laguna Beach or Dave in Stockholm is critically important at work. Lately however, Apple’s lack of attention to iChat forced me to seek out Adium with its rich feature set like tabbed chatting and invisible buddy status. I’m happy to report that so far, iChat in Leopard has once again reclaimed the top spot for instant messaging on my desktop. iChat 4.0 has tabbed chatting, SMS messaging, invisible status settings, improved audio and video conferencing (something Adium is just now adding) and unlike Adium, file transfers work every time. One downside however is the ability to set invisible status directly from the menu bar pull-down. For some reason it is missing and must be activated by key command or by going to “My Status” in the main iChat menu. Strange.

In addition, iChat 4.0 adds all new emoticons including nerd, confused, sarcastic, crazy, thumb’s up & down and what may be the best little improvement in all of Leopard, a new “Stick your tongue out” smiley. Ever since iChat was introduced, it has always bugged me that the “Yuck” smiley, as it is called, has looked more like a goofy expression than “I’m sticking my tongue out at you!”. Someone at Apple must have thought the same thing, because the emoticon now looks like it should have. An expression of “Take THAT!” instead of “Whatever?”.

Random Acts of Kindness

There are lots of other little things that should help make Leopard a satisfying experience. Leopard’s new Quick Look feature is just great. I had doubts about this since Preview always seemed like an easy way to look at the contents of a file. But after having used Quick Look for just a short while, it runs rings around Preview. It’s “always on”, really is lightening fast and lets you view multiple files just as easily as one. Now if it just played Windows AVI files…

The dictionary in Dashboard now not only offers thesaurus mode, but also an “Apple” mode. Want to look up a term like “firewire” or find out what the heck “Keynote” is? Just set your Dashboard dictionary to Apple mode and search away. I tried looking up Steve Jobs, but alas, there was no entry.

John Gruber already mentioned about a neat little feature that I think is worth highlighting. When you click to rename a file, the Finder now automatically highlights only the name portion and omits the file extension. This is a tiny change, but one that will make life on the Mac just a little bit better. Lastly, on Tiger when I used to plug in my iPhone to charge, iPhoto would always launch just for the heck of it, even if I had auto-syncing turned off. I’m pleased to report that in Leopard this no longer happens. WooT!

Conclusions

So far I’m really enjoying Leopard. It seems a much more solid update than Tiger ever was. Of course, some people, like Talos, are having problems upgrading and may think differently. My upgrade went fairly smoothly, although I did lose all of Tiger’s keychain information. This would have been a major bummer, but I followed John Gruber’s backup instructions before upgrading and was able to re-import my keychain with ease.

There are things missing from Leopard that I had hoped would make it into the build. The most notable among these is the ability to sync Notes from my iPhone directly from Leopard. I’m a firm believer that Apple needs to provide a way to create and edit notes on the desktop for use on the iPhone. Creating a shopping list, for instance, would go much quicker if I could create it in the Finder.

Overall I feel that the move to Leopard will be one of the best upgrades Mac users have had to date. The promise of Core Animation, increased speed from native software applications, and Apple’s effort to bring data backups to the masses all add up to a real winner. Of course there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but in my book, the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Oh yeah, and did I mention 512×512 icons? :-)

UPDATE: Seems as though Talos isn’t alone. Lots of people are reporting problems being stuck on a blue screen prior to login after Leopard installation. If you’ve not upgraded yet, I really would urge you to check out Gruber’s post about how he installs OS updates. Did the trick for me. We’ll see how this develops.

UPDATE II: According to this support thread at Apple, it seems at least part of the problem with the blue screen hangs may be related to Unsanity’s Application Enhancer (APE) haxie. APE is used by Shapeshifter and other 3rd party system enhancers to alter the look, feel and behavior of the OS. While APE doesn’t seem to be the culprit in all cases, it seems prudent to uninstall it prior to upgrading. Hat tip to Louie Mantia.

I Believe

… 8 days of rest are bad for professional baseball teams.

… I never want to have to choose between fires, mudslides or earthquakes.

… in Bigoot Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster & the theory of Atlantis.

… Apple is the most valuable computer maker in the world.

Scott Moritz couldn’t “analyze” his way out of a paper bag.

… there is only one OCTOBER!

… Halo 3 is overrated.

… Digg is a double-edged sword.

… Hiro is his own father.

… chemists know their puns.

… people regret re-electing George W. Bush.

… watering golf courses during a historic drought is a mistake.

… “Deal with it!” is my new favorite TV catch phrase.

and

… Kirk > Picard.

Dustin Pedroia for President!

I’m taking a cue from Dan Cederholm and putting my vote behind the man who should be the American League Rookie of the Year, Dustin Pedroia. The 2007 Red Sox are heading to the World Series against the Colorado Rockies, and it is in no small part thanks to the efforts of this scrappy little guy. To be totally honest, I’d like to nominate the entire darned team, because right now I’d follow them anywhere.

After loosing three straight games to the Cleveland Indians, I really thought the Sox were done for. My faith had been shaken before and I should have learned my lesson, but thankfully guys with names like Lowell, Ellsbury, Youkilis, Beckett and Drew sent me to detention, stepped up and won the ALCS. After the first three games there was so much talk about Manny and Big Pappi and how they had carried the team, even I was starting to think these two sluggers were on their own. How wrong we all were. J.D. Drew’s grand slam in the first inning of game 6 set the tone for the next 18 innings as time after time hitters other than Ramirez and Ortiz drove in the runs. Tonight’s RBI’s by Pedroia, Youkilis and others have cemented the notion that this year’s Red Sox are not a fluke. They are the real deal, working together as a team, and I can’t wait to see what happens against the Rockies.

As a side note, anyone who says that Twitter is useless or “doesn’t get it” should add some friends who follow the same sports team as they do. I’ve found nothing more enjoyable than reading tweets from fellow Red Sox nation fans during these post-season games. It’s not quite as good as actually being in Fenway, but it does allow for shared celebration, commentary and emotional support like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Thanks go out to all those Sox fans tweeting along at home, you’ve been wonderful. Next stop, a little thing called the World Series. Come on down Denver!

UPDATE: Well, he may be too young to take over as President, but this week (11/13/07) Dustin Pedroia was awarded the American League Rookie of the Year. Congratulations Dustin, you really did make a huge difference this year. We’re all proud of you!

Five Frightening Flicks

Since Halloween is my favorite time of year, and Dave Caolo was looking for something spooky to watch, I thought I would carve up my very own top five horror movies. Maybe some of these are on your list of frightening favorites, maybe not. Either way, always remember to look behind you and have a happy Halloween!

• • •

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

What do you get when you combine clever film making, our innate fear of the woods and a brilliant marketing campaign? You get perhaps one of the least appreciated horror flicks of modern times. The Blair Witch Project was made on a shoestring budget and employed improvisational techniques to effectively paint the picture of a student documentary gone horribly wrong. Sadly, the film has been lampooned so many times it’s difficult to take it seriously these days. Never-the-less, it does have moments that will scare the living piss out of you. I especially love the scene when they stumble on the grotto. Who knew arts and crafts could be so scary? The film makers do a great job of turning location into a character in the story. The woods are dark, confusing and claustrophobic and play on our very real fear of getting lost in the forrest. Despite the iconic booger-in-the-nose scene and some weak acting, I still say the ending is one of scariest you’ll ever see on film.

• • •

Alien (1979)

Essentially a futuristic “haunted house” movie, Alien is to some, the quintessential horror flick. From the moment we set down on LV-426, we know there is going to be trouble. The crew of the Nostromo seems more interested in turning a profit than responding to a supposed distress call. The next thing you know, John Hurt has a face-hugger shoving an alien embryo down this throat and the whole mission goes to pot. Director Ridley Scott does a masterful job of showing just bits and pieces of the alien, proving the adage that it’s not what you see, but rather what you don’t see, that’ll scare you silly. We watch the crew get picked off one by one, until only Ellen Ripley and her cat Jones are left. The climatic scene in the Nostromo’s shuttle is hair raising, but the part that creeps me out the most is Dallas’ demise in the air vent. Giger’s nightmarish creature seems to pop out of nowhere, creating one of the best “gotcha!” moments of any horror flick.

• • •

Jaws (1975)

What can you say about a movie that made an entire generation afraid to go swimming? The success of Jaws stems from our instinctual fear of things we can’t see. When we wander into the ocean, we know there are all kinds of creatures swimming down there just below our feet. Some of those beasties are nice, and some are not so nice. Despite the technical hurdles of making Bruce the shark believable, director Steven Spielberg manages to pull the entire premise off with shocking perfection. From floating eyeballs and crushed shark cages to Quint get chopped up into little fish food, Jaws is one heart pounding thrill ride that bites down hard and never lets go.

• • •

Halloween (1978)

Forget Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kruger. Before either one of these wanna-be psychos sidled onto the scene, there was John Carpenter’s Michael Myers. Myers was a honest-to-goodness lunatic who spent 15 years in a mental hospital after killing his older sister. Now he’s escaped and off to conduct a repeat performance on his younger sister, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. Talk about devotion to family! To top it off, Carpenter’s baddie likes to stalk his prey in the scariest costume anyone could imagine, a mask of William Shatner. The small town setting, creepy music and over the top acting by Donald Pleasence all help put this macabre spectacle it in a league of its own. It always amazes me that this little film set the tone for all other slasher flicks to come, and none of them have even come close to replicating the sheer terror that is Halloween.

• • •

The Ring (2003)

I can’t exactly put my finger on what makes The Ring so disturbing. Maybe it’s the subtle mix of macabre elements like the blurred faces in the kids’ photos, or the calculated use of the gray-green color palette that permeates the film. Whatever it is, it works because every time I watch this nightmarish flick I get goose-bumps. The story is woven so cleverly and makes such great use of foreshadowing that when the “gotcha!” moments arrive, they seem even more upsetting than they should. Like Halloween, The Ring spawned a bunch of would-be knock offs including The Grudge, Saw and Hostel. None of them come even close to the terrifying poetry that The Ring represents. Every year at this time, The Ring is right at the top of my list of spooky films to watch. Sometimes before popping in the DVD, I even turn off the phone. Oh come on, like you don’t!

We’re All DOOMED!

Forget ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night. Every mac user knows the true meaning of fear. It goes by many names: The Spinning Beachball of Death. The Marble of Doom. The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. Ok, maybe not that last one. But the OS X spinning wait cursor is well-known and well-dreaded by Mac users around the world.

Now there is a fun way for Mac users to band together, share their frustrations and take solace. Thanks to the marvel of the Internet, MarbleofDoom.com lets Mac users vent their collective annoyance at being held hostage (5 or 10 seconds at a time) by this unwanted glassy harbinger of OS X.

Photoshop hung up for almost a minute? Is Xcode showing you the beachball love? Spin on over to MarbleofDoom.com and select the appropriate application, and the time spent waiting for it to relinquish control of your system. A running total of all the time wasted is displayed for all the world to see. The site also includes a more detailed data page where you can see how much time individual apps have contributed to the total. If misery loves company, then MarbleofDoom.com is a way of organizing one big, online therapy session for frustrated Mac users everywhere.

So don’t just powerlessly shake your fists in rage! Powerlessly shake them, then tell the world how long you were shaking them. All of us over at the Iconfactory hope you’ll spread the word far and wide, and remember, it’s all in good fun. Enjoy!

P.S. – Watch for a follow-up post about how MarbleofDoom.com came to be. It really is a funny story, so stay tuned!

The Rainstorm

I had never really known how much something as simple as a phone call could change one’s life. In the early morning hours of September 29th, 2005, I picked up the phone and got news that no one should ever have to hear. My wife and I huddled around the speakerphone to listen to my doctor tell me the results of my biopsy were in. The growth I had felt on my right clavicle, was in fact, a malignant lymphoma. Mindy and I had been bargaining our fears away for a week leading up to the results. We thought it was an abscess, a fatty deposit or Cat Scratch Disease. When the doctor told us that instead I had Hodgkin’s Disease, my world quite literally crumbled all around me.

“Then the rainstorm came, over me and I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see and realized my mistake.”

Tears came as we spoke to the doctor as he recommended I meet my new oncologist as soon as possible. The call to my mother that morning to inform her was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Her only son had developed cancer, and I could feel the pain in her voice as we spoke. Fighting back sobs, mom, dad and Mindy all comforted me, and I did my best to assure them that I would fight this thing. I would make it through with their help. The more I learned about Hodgkin’s, and the support system I had in place to help me beat the disease, the more my fears turned to hope and resolve.

“But time threw a prayer, to me and all around me became still.”

Everywhere I turned, from the gang at work, to prayers offered up in my name by those in my home town of Laconia, N.H., to the supportive and loving words of Mindy’s family, I knew I wasn’t alone in this fight. Mindy’s mom, Ann, had battled against a far worse form of ovarian cancer and won. My own mother had won her fight against breast cancer, as had my Aunt Lucile. I was turning out to be just the latest member of our family to come up against this disease and damned if I was going to be the one to kick it in. Any lingering fears and doubts vanished after I met my oncologist. From the moment I met Dr. Kahn, I knew I was blessed. She explained to Min and I what Hodgkin’s was, how she was going to treat me, and what I could expect from chemo and radiation. From my PET and CT scans, Kahn was able to diagnose me with stage 2A Hodgkin’s. While serious, it was still a highly treatable form of lymphoma. When she told me that she was going to “cure me” of the cancer, I could hardly believe it. Over the course of the next year, I learned Dr. Kahn was a woman of her word.

“Through the rainstorm came sanctuary and I felt my spirit fly. I had found all of my reality. I realized what it takes.”

Mindy and I drew strength from each other, as husbands and wives often do. She made me laugh, helped me take care of myself and led me to her mom & dad. Through their unwavering support and experience I was prepared for what lay ahead. Everyone at the Iconfactory did their part too. As I worked at home on the re-design of the company’s website, they took on my client projects so I could focus on getting better. As chemo progressed, and I watched the tumors melt from my body, the support from those I loved raised me up to a place I had never known before. Friends, family, neighbors and community had all come together for the benefit of me. It was a humbling and remarkable experience that I will never forget, nor be able to fully repay.

“Oh I, don’t bend, don’t break. Show me how to live and promise me you won’t forsake. ‘Cause love can help me know my name.”

I have been free of cancer now for two years. As I head for my semi-annual PET and CT scans this Thursday, I am proud to be counted as just one of the millions of people who have fought and survived their battle with cancer. I beat Hodgkin’s thanks to the love of my friends and family, the remarkable staff at the Wesley Long Cancer Center and good old fashion faith. Initially, I had never wanted to be defined by my illness. I resisted telling casual acquaintances about it for a long time. I knew that someday I would be able to help others through what had happened to me, but I wasn’t sure if that time was now. Today, I write this to tell you I am a loving husband and son, loyal friend, artist, geek, and now proudly, cancer survivor. Let me help.

UPDATE: I received word from my doctor today that my scan results are still negative. A clean bill of health for another six months. Thanks to all those who wrote or tweeted with words of encouragement. It means a great deal to me.

Climate Deniers’ Heads Explode

You really have to hand it to Al Gore. First he wins an Academy Award for his groundbreaking work on An Inconvenient Truth with Davis Guggenheim. Next he stages the largest entertainment event in the history of the planet, and now he wins the Nobel Peace Prize along side the IPCC. All of this was done in the name of raising awareness to the growing problem of man-made climate change, and his efforts seem to be paying off. People everywhere are starting to list climate change as one of the most important problems facing our nation and the world. With record temperatures being set, hurricanes that strengthen in record times and ever shrinking glaciers, the general public is starting to feel global warming’s effects directly.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the climate deniers from insisting that there really isn’t a problem. It seems that even when faced with overwhelming scientific evidence, from thousands of leading scientists across the planet, it’s just not enough. Well, today we learned that one man’s hard work and perseverance, along with the dedicated research of thousands of climate professionals, may just help to save us all. Bravo Al, from all of us who happen to think our pale blue dot matters.

God or Mini Golf?

CBS’s Kid Nation is fast becoming my new favorite TV show. This surprising and delightful reality series challenges a group of 40 kids to carve out a functioning society in the New Mexico desert. The latest episode dealt with the contentious subject of religion. Like many of the issues the children deal with on Kid Nation, the subject of “going to service” was imposed upon them by the show’s producers in the form of the town journal. Each week a new chapter is read by the ruling council and they must decide if they will take the journal’s entry to heart and effect change in Bonanza City, or ignore the lessons it attempts to teach.

After reading the entry about Sunday service, the council decides to create a “catch-all” gathering for the entire town in which everyone’s religion will be represented. But when the council rings the meeting bell, no one comes running. It seems on the outset, these kids don’t love God. They are both lawless AND Godless! Oh ye of little faith. Later that evening, Morgan decides to get an impromptu prayer group together, and low and behold, many of the kids attend. As the children huddle around a burning oil barrel, prayers from various religions are shared. Some of the kids are even moved to tears by the words of their friends. Instead of religion being enforced, God is shared spontaneously, and that’s what I love most about Kid Nation – it’s never what you expect.

Given a choice between an 18 hole mini golf course, or a collection of holy books, the kids choose the books. When tensions run high in a town meeting, it’s the voice of 9 year old Alex that makes the most sense. Sophia calmly states in an interview that religion is one of the leading reasons people kill each other around the world. And some kids disturbingly emulate their parents by “drowning their sorrows” with shots of root beer in the town Saloon. No matter what pops up from week to week on this contrived, sometimes awkward TV series, through it all, the kids shine through. They constantly rise above the fake settings and the Survivor-like challenges to single-handedly put the “reality” back in reality TV, and I’m loving every minute of it.

When the hero of last week’s sheep herding challenge, Cody, decided to leave, his heartfelt goodbye really got me. Who among us hasn’t had to say goodbye to a close friend or lend moral support when a buddy is down? Kid Nation lets us re-connect with our childhood while giving us glimpses into how today’s parents are raising their kids. Michael, Zach and Anjay’s parents are doing something right because they all deserve a gold star.

The preview for next week’s episode looks great too, as the kids will have to hold an election for a new ruling council. Politics and kids usually don’t mix well, but something tells me this will be different. It’s a shame that Kid Nation got such a bad rap in the weeks leading up to its premiere. While some aspects of the show are less than perfect, on the whole, it enlightens and satisfies. Just the right blend of humor – “I got a bogey!” and insight – “Yuck stuff.” to make Kid Nation one great hour of television. Check it out.

Brooms Are Bustin’ Out All Over

Baseball fans seem to be getting their money’s worth this post season. This goes double for devotees of the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. All four teams are so far undefeated in post season play, much to the disappointment of Cubs, Phillies, Angels and Yankee fans everywhere. Of all the division playoffs so far, the most surprising has been the Yanks and Indians. I think it is safe to say that few expected the Indians to shut out the Yankees so effectively, but now the series heads back to New York for today’s 6:30pm game. If there is any team in Major League Baseball that won’t go quietly into the night, it’s those damn Yankees. I think Jeeter and company would have actually won game 2 if it hadn’t been for the spectacularly bad catching of Posada along with all those wonderful bugs. I fully expect tonight’s game to be an old fashion brawl with the Yankees emerging as victors. Back in 2001, the Yankees were down 2-0 vs. the Angles and came back to win. Of course I could be wrong. The Yankees, after all, have been known to choke before.

The Red Sox have had a relatively easy go of their division series thus far, but now they head to California. The Angels won the most home games of any team in 2007 and as such are hoping for the momentum they need to beat back Ortiz, Manny and Shilling. After Dice K’s weak performance in game 2, I was actually surprised that the Sox pulled it off, so I’m less confident about a Boston sweep than I should be. I predict the Sox will lose today, then come back in game 4 to take the division. Similarly, I think the Yanks will crush the Indians tonight, but will ultimately lose, probably in game 5 back in Cleveland.

Any way you cut it, this is a great time to be a baseball fan. We’ve seen some fantastic moments so far, and I’m sure there will be much more to come. It was sad to see Chicago get clobbered so badly, I have an understandable affinity for those cursed Cubbies. However, as we said in Boston for over 8 decades, “There’s always next year”. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get going, my floor needs sweeping.

UPDATE: Seems that the Angel’s record at home during the regular season didn’t amount to squat. The Sox sweep the Angels and head to the ALCS thanks to a ball-busting 9-1 slugfest. God, I love being wrong. Now it falls to the Indians to see if they can sweep A-Rod and Jeeter out of the post season. My gut says the Yanks will still win big tonight.

UPDATE II: The Yanks manage to hold the brooms at bay and come away with a win tonight. Despite the victory, New York was far from perfect. Clemens put in a dismal performance and was taken out in just 3 innings. Was he really worth that $15.6 million dollars? And while we’re at it, what’s up with Steinbrenner threatening Joe Torre with dismissal? Yanks get to the playoffs, but evidently that isn’t good enough. At any rate, another game tomorrow. Should be fun!

UPDATE III: Well, the Yankees avoided the sweep, but they’re still out. Nothing like beating a team in their own park. The best part about the Indians going to the ALCS is that now I don’t have to hear the phrase “Joba Rules” anymore. Thank GOD. Bring on the Tribe!

AAPL Hits $160; Keep Crying iBabies!

There seems to be a growing backlash against the popular notion that Apple royally screwed up the iPhone 1.1.1 update. Sure lots of developers are berating Apple for locking them out of the platform, and even more people seem to want to sue Apple for the smallest little thing, but in the grand scheme of things, these attitudes don’t amount to much. Apple will conduct business how it sees fit and no amount of whining, throwing fits or hiring lawyers will change that. All the while these pouty, scorned users are planning on ditching their iPhones for the latest non-wonders from Verizon, Apple is selling a ton of iPhones and the stock continues to climb.

Just nine days ago AAPL hit an all time high of $150, and now it has done it once again by passing the $160 mark. Does this sound like a company that has jumped the shark to you? The simple fact that most iPhone crybabies forget is that 99% of the gadget using public doesn’t even know how to set their VCR’s clock let alone hack their iPhone. They are content to let the iPhone be the masterful gadget it is, free from the burdens of 3rd party patches, font hacks and even awesome touch-sensitive games. Sure I’d love to be able for people to play Frenzic on the iPhone, I’ve said as much in the past. But I fully understand why Apple has had to lock down the iPhone and I actually agree with it. When they are ready for 3rd party developers to produce software for the platform, they’ll come knocking. Until then, we’re all just living in a “wouldn’t it be great!” fantasy land. Apple never promised us a developer’s rose garden, and no amount of wishful thinking or revisionist history will change that. Does it suck? Sure, but as someone from one of my favorite TV shows says, “Deal with it!”

Disclosure: Yep, you guess it, I own stock in Apple Computer.

UPDATE: In what is perhaps the worst case of iBaby whining so far, a man in California has filed suit against Apple because he cannot use the iPhone with a competing carrier. Once the 1.1.1 update was applied, his unlocked, hacked iPhone was bricked and became unusable. Forget for a second that he agreed to the terms when he activated his phone and unlocking it voided his warranty. Forget that he knew full well that he had to sign an exclusive contract with AT&T for two years. And most of all forget that he can get his iPhone working again by restoring back to the 1.0.2 firmware. Forget all of these things and what you are left with is the biggest, most disgusting pile of litigious crap I’ve ever seen. This is why the rest of us can’t have nice things.

Coulter Bends Brad & Britt Over

If you listened to Brad & Britt’s “interview” this morning of Ann Coulter, then what you heard wasn’t so much of an interview, so much as a 15 minute joke published over public airwaves. Brad & Britt evidently tried to take the “high road” and not go toe to toe with this disgusting excuse for a pundit and what we got was the usual hate spewing rhetoric that went unanswered and unchallenged while she shopped her latest book.

I called into the station to give my thoughts on the entire matter, but when I asked the producer who’s idea it was to put her on, he told me that they try to showcase both sides of the “argument” to try and be fair. I laughed so hard at the notion Ann Coulter and “fairness” used in the same sentence that I simply hung up. I’d love to know when 101.1 FM Talk has ever had anyone on Brad & Britt’s show from the left who is as extreme as Coulter. Because for the 2 years I’ve been listening, I can’t remember them interviewing anyone who called for the murder of public officials on the right, or who issues unilateral statements of hate against all Republicans. If I’m wrong, please let me know.

The worst part is that after she was off the air, the duo spent the next half our segment berating her and claiming that they needed a shower. So they’ll talk smack about her when the segment is done, but not while everyone is actually listening. Brilliant. I love Brad & Britt in the morning, but not when they do crap like this. Very disappointing.

Behold the Power of Kids!

One night when I was five years old (as the story is told to me), I sat at dinner with my parents. Aside from mom’s wonderful cooking, was the typical helping of cigarette smoke from my parents’ ash trays which were perched on the dinner table in their usual spots. That night, out of the blue, I asked mom and dad to quit smoking. I’m not sure if mom had smoked while she carried me, but both her and dad had smoked all through my first years in our home. Right up until that night at the dinner table. One simple plea from their only son did what multiple doctor visits, a modified diet and even a hypnotist could not do… change their behavior for the better. After that small request from me, they got serious, worked hard and threw away the cigarettes forever.

So when I read an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal about how kids are starting to influence their parents in matters related to the environment, I knew exactly what was going on. Our public school system has stepped up and is teaching kids beneficial practices like remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room, or how to switch from wasteful incandescents to compact fluorescents to help lower carbon emissions. Children all across the country are mobilizing families to help do their part for the future. Parents now think twice about not recycling or buying that big SUV. According to the article, one boy even convinced his family not to just replace their failing roof, but to upgrade it with solar panels. I say, if it takes your kid to convince you to do the right thing when it comes to how to treat the environment, so much the better.

Parents have always wanted what’s best for their children. It’s the reason why my mom and dad quit smoking when I asked them to, and it’s the reason why so many parents are now re-insulating, recycling and reusing around the house. We want our kids to grow up in a world that is just as good, if not better than the one we got from our parents. We all want to do what’s best, not just for our children, but for our friends and neighbors as well. It makes perfect sense to plant a tree, turn off extra lights or promote alternative energy sources, but all too often things like these are overlooked. Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge from those we love to make everything crystal clear once again. Call it kid power for the 21st century, and just in time too.