Absolutely epic rant on the ills of AT&T and business in general from an old favorite, Fake Steve Jobs:

While I’m ranting, let me ask you something, Randall. At the risk of sounding like Glenn Beck Jr. — what the fuck has gone wrong with our country? Used to be, we were innovators. We were leaders. We were builders. We were engineers. We were the best and brightest. We were the kind of guys who, if they were running the biggest mobile network in the U.S., would say it’s not enough to be the biggest, we also want to be the best, and once they got to be the best, they’d say, How can we get even better? What can we do to be the best in the whole fucking world? What can we do that would blow people’s fucking minds? They wouldn’t have sat around wondering about ways to fuck over people who loved their product. But then something happened. Guys like you took over the phone company and all you cared about was milking profit and paying off assholes in Congress to fuck over anyone who came along with a better idea, because even though it might be great for consumers it would mean you and your lazy pals would have to get off your asses and start working again in order to keep up.

And not just you. Look at Big Three automakers. Same deal. Lazy, fat, slow, stupid, from the top to the bottom — everyone focused on just getting what they can in the short run and who cares what kind of piece of shit product we’re putting out. Then somehow along the way the evil motherfuckers on Wall Street got involved and became everyone’s enabler, devoting all their energy and brainpower to breaking things up and parceling them out and selling them off in pieces and then putting them back together again, and it was all about taking all this great shit that our predecessors had built and “unlocking value” which really meant finding ways to leech out whatever bit of money they could get in the short run and let the future be damned. It was all just one big swindle, and the only kind of engineering that matters anymore is financial engineering.

The original sin here is that the “real” news comes from “fake” personalities. America has no check on the rich and powerful in business, because both the media and the political structure in Washington are wholly owned subsidiaries. It fails by design because it’s more profitable than making it work.

More gems from FSJ.

I wanted to share a few of the more powerful words and images created in the light of Al Gore’s incredible achievement, and humbly add a thought or two of my own.

First, Josh Marshall:

There are several layers of irony and poetic justice wrapped into this honor. The first is that the greatest step for world peace would simply have been for Gore not to have had the presidency stolen from him in November 2000. By every just measure, Gore won the presidency in 2000 only to have George W. Bush steal it from him with the critical assistance of the US Supreme Court. It’s worth taking a few moments today to consider where the country and world would be without that original sin of this corrupt presidency.

And yet this is a fitting bookend, with Gore receiving this accolade while the sitting president grows daily an object of greater disapproval, disapprobation and collective shame. And let’s not discount another benefit: watching the rump of the American right detail the liberal bias of the Nobel Committee and at this point I guess the entire world. Fox News vs. the world.

And not to forget what this award is about even more than Gore. If half of what we think we know about global warming is true, people will look back fifty years from now on the claims that “War on Terror” was the defining challenge of this century and see it as a very sick, sad joke — which rather sums up the Bush presidency.

In spite of what the Republican right wants us to believe, this herculean effort was never about personal glory for Al Gore. It is a selfless act, born of a deep commitment to the truth, and a dedication to the health and well-being of all on Earth. But since they cannot fight the facts, which as Stephen Colbert once said “have a well-known liberal bias,” they must counter with outright slander and the most personal of smears…

Speaking of which, along with the great Media Bloodhound, I too was appalled to see the New York Times give prominent placement to such worthless garbage. Contrast that with the simple and understated treatment on the Apple website:

Al has put his heart and soul, and much of life during the past several years, into alerting and educating us all on the climate crisis. We are bursting with pride for Al and this historic recognition of his global contributions.

Yes, Gore is a member of the Apple Board of Directors (he’s on Google’s Board as well), but he’s also an American icon now recognized for his efforts by the global community, and that feat alone is worthy of acknowledgment. But we can’t give him too much glory, or else some people (even make-believe ones like Fake Steve Jobs) will look to Al for even more…

Now it is time. You must run. Not because you want to run, but precisely because you don’t want to run. That, Al, is your strongest point. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. You dare now to be yourself. No artificiality, no stiffness, no falseness. You are who you are. And we need you. We, your fellow Americans. We need you. Now more than ever. Our nation’s soul, hurt by this foolish war, cries out to you. We’ve been wounded by an administration so obsessed with so-called “terrorists” that they don’t notice the earth’s temperature rising at an alarming rate — nearly a tenth of a degree in just the last ten years. So blinded by fear of Iran that they don’t see the snowcap receding on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and icebergs melting and breaking apart in Antarctica. For nearly eight years we have suffered under this madness. This must end.

I don’t often admit it, but I voted for Bush in 2000. I was warned repeatedly by a close friend, but the overwhelming media bias against Gore (especially at the local level in Ohio — the Columbus Dispatch was ruthlessly brutal) had me so thoroughly snowed that I pulled the lever for Bush instead. I still recall a distinct sorrow and shame for my decision at that very moment, knowing in my heart that I was making a grave mistake (obviously that regret remains with me to this day, and even voting against him in 2004 brought little relief). Luckily, there is a silver lining, as Andrew Sloat so eloquently reminds us of the beauty in the 22nd Amendment…

Clearly, these two men and their causes will forever be linked, and their fortunes intertwined. We know now the many differences and the immense gulf between them. Look no further than these two images for confirmation…

Here is Al Gore. He is consumed with his life’s work, immersed in his passion, actively at play in his mind, and truly unencumbered by his modest office:

Al Gore

On the other hand, here is George W. Bush. He is an empty suit in an empty office, seen here casually bullshitting with Nouri al-Maliki on the phone, obviously fidgeting as his imagined power to wish away an inconvenient truth proves ineffective yet again. It always seems that he is consciously trying to look the part of President, all the while mistaking ceremony for reality:

George W. Bush

Clearly one man is a leader, the other is a farce. History will not be kind to Bush, nor should it be, but that is the least of our worries now. And no, this is not about the election in 2000, it is about the future of America and the fate of the world. We must find a way to move forward, together, and only one person can do it.

So please, Al, run. Run for President of the United States in 2008. And don’t take any shit from anyone when you do. Stand tall. Stand proud. You were right then and you are right now.

Robert Cringely saidbest:

Profit is to be found not just in pleasing dissatisfied customers, but in dissatisfying them in the first place so they will then pay to be pleased.

That’s life to a T in the Bush era.

This scam only succeeds because we continue to support a broken system, rather than demanding a better way. Then again, that’s true of most of our ills these days (see my previous post for more on that subject).

Of course, we could end it all in a heartbeat, if we just worked together…

So funny, and so damn true. Luckily, I only waited four hours for mine. Even still, it was worth every minute and every penny. And yes, I am a nerd and I don’t care.

On the growing masses of Apple iPhone fanatics, most of whom are ardent advocates eager to share its many virtues with you, and the lessons those of us in the music industry must apply to our business and bands, Bob Lefsetz saidbest:

So you’ve got to create something great. And it doesn’t have to sound like anything else, it’s just got to fire on all cylinders within its chosen genre. Hell, if Apple were a major label it wouldn’t have put out the iPhone because there was nothing else like it in the marketplace, there’d be no demand for it. But a great band creates its own demand. And, it takes a while for it to catch on.

We’ve been focusing on instant. Ever since we learned video can blow acts up.

But those acts crashed back to Earth just about as fast. Turns out if you want something to last, it’s got to grow slowly. You need early adopters, who believe and spread the word. You’ve got to let your act percolate in the marketplace. True riches come down the line. And they last, because you’ve got a legion of believers.

I live this every day, on both sides, with an iPhone and a small but promising music label. Believe me, the iPhone is a lot easier to share…

Earlier this summer, my good friend Stewart Brown created five exquisite organic electronic tracks for a project called Sky Observer’s Guide, and I put together the FORKLIFT ENTERTAINMENT website to present it to the world. Right now we’re seeing a handful of hits each day, with plenty of positive reaction, but very little growth momentum. At first I was disappointed, but over the past few weeks I realized that everything is proceeding as I expected, albeit much more slowly than originally planned.

We rightly recognized that putting a price tag on these songs is a barrier to entry, and so we designed the site to make the music immediately accessible. We simply want everyone to hear these songs, and if they like it they can share it with their friends. That’s why each and every song can be streamed in its entirety for FREE, downloaded for FREE, and purchased on the cheap (I know Bob will say lower the price!).

There is no field of dreams to speak of, and certainly no instant payoff, and that is why we have completely taken the money out of the experience. I do believe we will attract interest, given enough time we will develop fans with strong and lasting passions, and then and only then we will be able to reap the rewards, whatever they may be.

All of this is a round-about way of saying, “I hear you, Bob.” And I would love to hear what all of you think of the music, the strategy, the implementation, or anything else that strikes you as interesting or odd. I’m all ears.

On the often overlooked and seldom discussed fact that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove in particular relied on an inherently weak and thoroughly obedient Alberto Gonzales to lend an imprint of propriety to their rampant lawlessness, Sidney Blumenthal saidbest:

From the beginning of his rise with George W. Bush until the day of his abrupt resignation, Alberto Gonzales was anointed, directed and protected by Karl Rove. At the Department of Justice, Gonzales served as Rove’s figurehead. In the real line of authority, the attorney general, a constitutional officer, reported to the White House political aide. Bush did not nickname Gonzales “Fredo,” after the weak brother in “The Godfather,” without reason.

As White House counsel and attorney general, Gonzales operated as the rubber stamp of the two great goals of the Bush presidency — the concentration of unaccountable power in the executive and the subordination of executive departments and agencies to partisan political imperatives. Vice President Cheney directed the project for the imperial presidency, while Rove took charge of the top-down politicization of the federal government. Gonzales dutifully signed memos abrogating the Geneva Conventions against torture, calling them “quaint,” and approved the dismissal of U.S. attorneys for insufficient partisan zeal.

Fittingly, his routine indifference to matters right and wrong, to say nothing of legal and illegal, was not his downfall. Rather, Gonzales is now leaving office due to his inability to keep up the barest semblance of competency in his job and coherence in the face of his critics. Let’s face it, he failed to register even a modicum of respect from his own Republican party, which is a pretty low bar indeed!

In the end, it all comes down to keeping up appearances. That, of course, was once thought to be Rove’s one true gift, but now like nearly everything else he has touched — in this case propping up a man who had no business being Attorney General — his ultimate undoing. And that is precisely why the real story here has nothing to do with Gonzales…

So make no mistake, Gonzales is not leaving because of Rove, rather it is Rove who had to leave because of Gonzales. Don’t be fooled by the inversion, and the implied causality here. This is due to a gross miscalculation on Rove’s part — that Gonzales could lie to Congress with impunity — necessitating yet another elaborate cover story to escape his crimes. I have to wonder if Bush has even pieced this one together yet.

As thrilled as I am to see them both go, and believe me I am ecstatic, I sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of them just yet. Congress must continue to press these two and hold them accountability for all of their lies told and laws broken. That is truly the only way we can prevent this absurdity from ever happening again.

In an especially biting rant on the ease in which the vast majority of Americans can be lulled into sleep by such trivial pursuits, while the financial markets and government institutions slowly collapse under the weight of their own corruption, Jim Kunstler saidbest:

Of course, all that creates a problem for the masses of human beings who theoretically support themselves by working to produce new things of value to be bought and sold. But let them watch Nascar! Let’s take whatever little remains of our tax revenues (or bonding ability) and build a dozen more speedway ovals around the country, and tweak the stock car engines so those suckers can run on ethanol, and shower the fans with Little Debbie snack cakes as they count the laps. Bring on Britney Spears or Paris Hilton at half-time (do they have half-time in Nascar?) and let Justin Timberlake cut their hearts out on the hood of a Dodge Avenger. Believe me, the public will be so deliriously entranced by the spectacle, they won’t notice anything else going on in the background of our nation.

This is how America enters the Long Emergency — in a Nascar rapture, with Jesus directing the pit crews and the Holy Ghost working the barbeque concession.

To wit, Michael Vick’s plea is the top story (old news) on the day in which Alberto Gonzales resigns to spend more time with his lawyer (big, big new news). Wake up, America.

On the joy of making technology do a delightful dance, Dave Winer saidbest:

This is one of those rare moments, when something works, and now my use of computers reaches a plateau that makes total sense. I call this feeling Living In The Future. It’s the nicest feeling technology can deliver, and it’s one important reason I like playing with these toys.

Ah, the future. It’s about time.

What did Dave do? He simply integrated three disparate technologies, from three different companies, so that he can take a picture on his iPhone, upload it to Flickr, then post it to Twitter, which when combined alerts anyone who cares of a new photograph almost the instant he snapped it. He can now capture and share a moment, any moment, as it happens. And soon, you will be able to do it too.

Interestingly, not a single company could have done this on its own, not because its hard to do but because it’s not foundational to their business. However, each of the three companies (all big favorites of mine) had the foresight to expose their interfaces and leverage existing standards to make it possible for one man to stitch it all together.

But possible isn’t enough on its own. Delightful is what makes it and us dance. Dave continues:

If you want to make a product that people use then you have to pay attention to their experience when they use it. The better you are at understanding, the better your product will become over time.

I followed his blog and twitter as he developed it. I watched as he quickly responded to feedback, and relentlessly improved the service. This is no accident, and certainly no small feat, but the work of a brilliant man in the right place at the right time. I can’t wait to use it, expect to do so on a daily basis, and believe we all will in due time…

On the monumental misjudgment that is George W. Bush’s War on Terror for oil in Iraq, and the fact that we will be dealing with his failures for many years to come, Digby saidbest:

The world is running out of oil and the US government wanted to insure that they had a permanent beachhead in the biggest oil rich region in the world. What a good idea to turn it into an anarchic free fire zone in the process. But as Henley and Drum both point out, it will probably end eventually.

I wonder what would have happened if they’d spent the trillion or two (by the time it’s all done) on alternative energy instead.

Not only has Bush failed to get the oil, he’s also squandered our national treasure and tarnished our prestige. His last remaining chance at vindication is to wait until one of the many Iraqi factions vanquishes the others, so that he too can declare victory. If we leave now, there is no glory for Bush. Is it any wonder he will not end this war? This is all about Bush now, we are all just pawns in the game…

So don’t ever let anyone say there is no difference between the two parties. The Dems are flawed to be sure, but the Republicans have consistently held this man in high esteem, pronouncing him a visionary and a great leader (and now cleverly punt that final judgment down the road so that ‘history’ may decide once and for all).

But we don’t need to wait for some mythical or mystical date in the future, only Bush does. The rest of us can plainly see that he, his administration, and his Republican party have completely and entirely lost it all. They stood behind him and cheered, even as it became abundantly clear he had blown it. We are much worse off then when he started, and have since lost seven years of money and enterprising effort to chart a more prudent course.

America will recover, as she always does, and soon shine more brightly than ever before.

Let us make sure that Bush and his Grand old Republican Party do not.

On Rudy Giuliani’s groundless and shameless claims that he alone can save us from the terrorists and win the War on Terror (or as he prefers it, the Terrorist’s War on Us™), and the fact that we must begin to challenge him and his ‘facts’ openly and forcefully, Anonymous Liberal saidbest:

Giuliani is the Republican frontrunner and his claim to expertise in this area is the central rationale for his candidacy. It’s well past time to start tearing that image down. The Republican candidates are all attacking Hillary, Obama, and Edwards already, building narratives about them and planting the seeds of general election themes. It’s silly to allow Giuliani free reign to construct his public image as a seasoned terrorism expert, particularly when lack of such experience will almost surely be a major attack theme used against whomever manages to win the Democratic nomination. Giuliani is no more an expert on terrorism than Ray Nagin is an expert climatologist or the mayor of Tokyo is an expert seismologist.

Republicans almost always craft an identity to directly cover up (or at least get out in front of) their obvious flaws. Wisely, they then invest heavily in embedding that narrative into our collective psyche, building enough brand equity to withstand and a familiar refrain to combat our feeble future attacks. We never build a competing narrative, therefore there is no sustaining attack, and certainly no lasting damage, which leaves us lamenting the fact that the world cannot see the obvious truth…

Rudy is yet another Republican farce, a caricature of himself and his party’s wet dreams. We have already allowed him to march forward with his charade, but it is a house of cards, the truth of which will be so easy to uncover and dismantle with a concentrated and sustained effort to paint his true picture.

So let’s stop complaining and get to work.