Obama is the Democrats’ Nixon

Obama is the Democrats’ Nixon:

Thus Obama took office under roughly the same political and economic circumstances that Nixon did in 1968 except in a mirror opposite way. Instead of being forced to manage a slew of new liberal spending programs, as Nixon did, Obama had to cope with a revenue structure that had been decimated by Republicans.

Liberals hoped that Obama would overturn conservative policies and launch a new era of government activism. Although Republicans routinely accuse him of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.

This debt debate has dragged on far too long. and Obama’s negotiation is far too forgiving to achieve anything like an equitable result.

Lion Preview

A preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion for me at the Apple Store today, before I go and upgrade:

  • Arrrrrrrrrgh, Apple, did you really have to implement rubber-band scrolling in Mac OS X too? It makes sense, kinda, on an iPhone to show “there is no more to scroll”, where you potentially might have your finger over the scrolling indicator. On Mac OS X, I want that to stop scrolling and stay.
  • “natural scrolling” (i.e. what the rest of the world calls “inverse scrolling”) is… surprisingly easy to get used to, actually. Though that said, I can only imagine the hoops the muscle memory will have to jump through when flicking between systems that follow that convention and those that don’t.
  • Thank you for setting scrollbars visible to be an option at least.
  • Thank you (finally!) for any-edge-of-the-window resize.
  • Not so much a fan of full-screen apps, unfortunately. The full-screen button is not a substitute for the Maximise icon in Windows.
  • While full-screen mode is nice, and I can see the point here, some (many) are apt to lose the damn window if you’re doing this quaint notion called multitasking. Alt-… err, Command-tabbing away to another app works when going from a full-screen app; to go back, you have to use Mission Control/Spaces.
  • Speaking of which, Mission Control is surprisingly good – better than Expose/Spaces by a long shot. I hate that spaces is now limited to a in-a-row configuration, but otherwise MC wins comprehensively.
  • In the same vein, Launchpad is pretty and decently usable too, for the right people. I tended to keep the Applications folder in the dock to show as a grid for my parents to launch apps on the Mac; Launchpad is a better/cleaner interface for the same thing, and easily ties into the iPad halo effect.
  • On the other hand… click-and-hold to get apps “wiggling”? It was for right-click that tap-and-hold was created to substitute, not the other way around.
  • I was that close to saying the system-wide autocorrect looked awesome… and then it mucked up a couple of corrections of mistypes. Needs training for sure.
  • Finder. Oh for the love of…
    • No, they didn’t FTFF. Not even in the slightest. It’s even more confusing than ever before.
    • For one, it’s grey. Grey-on-grey action. (yes I know that sounds really bad.) Gone are the at-a-glance hints of folder purpose – forget that, you better concentrate to read or comprehend the lil’ grey icon. It’s not enough that the main folders are all shaped the same, it’s the sidebar hints too now.
    • Even Quick Look has gone grey; gone is the nice looking transparent black pop-over, replaced by a leaden grey window. The buttons are grey, the sidebars are grey. Just about the only thing with a hint of colour in the interface is the Close/Minimise/Maximise buttons, and even they’re shrinking. Is Steve Jobs colour-blind and wanting to impose that on the rest of us, too? Does he want to make this the first Mac interface since the Mac II to be compatible with a monochrome display? Is the next MacBook going to be an e-Ink display?
    • Holy shit is the functionality of the Finder broken. Who the hell needs to see “All My Files” as the default Finder window? A little hierarchy might need a little explaining, but my god is it a power for good after that. Yick. (Ed: turns out, you can change that as a preference. Please.)
    • Ok, I see how I need to right-click to sort by name instead of type… but why can’t I pick the direction of my name sorting? why is the title showing field name now just a translucent label I can click right through? Who decided this would be a good feature? Why has no-one yet implemented cut-paste in Finder? (Ed: that, too, is now available with Cmd+Opt+V) Path Finder, here I come.
  • Resume looks to be a genuine winner. Close an app down, open it up again, poof, it’s back as quick as you could ask for.
  • Didn’t get a chance to play with Versions.
  • iCal & Address Book. Really? The cheesy looks-like-real-life skin? I thought we got rid of this with the 90s. I didn’t like it on the iPad, why would I like it here?
  • Though the integration with Google/Yahoo/Other accounts looks pretty sweet.
  • Mail looks pretty sweet.
  • Don’t think I got to play with anything else that was specifically Lion related.
Overall, I’m going to wait this out a little, I think. Not that I won’t go for it, just that it might be good to wait and see 10.7.1 come around, y’know what I’m sayin’?
(p.s. if you’re interested in a more comprehensive review of Lion and you haven’t already done so, check out Jon Siracusa’s 27,000 word review of it over at Ars Technica.)

The Perfect Fire

From Longform.org, a story of a fire in an abandoned warehouse – The Perfect Fire:

The message that there might be people inside was relayed over the fire-department radios. Brotherton and Lucey walked back across the roof to the AB stairs, tromped down one flight, and started searching the top floor for people. Routine. At 6:22, only the thinnest haze of smoke hung in the corridors. More than two dozen men were in the warehouse, looking either for homeless people or flames. Each man had a tank strapped to his back filled with oxygen compressed to forty-five hundred pounds per square inch–enough for thirty minutes of relaxed breathing, half as long humping through a burning building–and connected to a plastic face mask. But the air was so clear that no one had bothered to put his on.

Chills, and heart-wrenching.

The Trust Issue

Apparently, the biggest single issue that “ordinary Australians” have with Julia Gillard is that she has “lied” about introducing a carbon tax, breaking an election promise. It goes without saying that Gillard is far from the first PM to have broken a election promise, let alone one about tax; the difference is this time, her opponent hangs on to that and doesn’t let go of a line until it proves to have wormed its way into the psyche of the average voter.

Why is it though that adaptability is derided as an unworthy notion in politics? If there’s one thing you learn from politics, it’s deal making – the art of compromising in order to achieve outcomes. As we saw after the election last year, obstinate refusal to participate in a process of negotiation tends to leave you with no seat at the table – and this carbon tax is the result of that very same process of negotiation that won the ALP a face-saving second term. The “lie” became one because of the result that the electorate handed to the parties, and achieving a pragmatic result ought to be accepted as better than partisan bickering along idealistic lines that achieves nothing.

The same goes for American politics: a refusal to engage on the issue and work out a compromise that achieves something simply leaves the government floundering, ineffectual and showing the frailty of the system. Being able to think beyond your own self-interest is the mark of a mature adult, not sticking to a position in the face of evidence and reason.

I despair at the inability to accept compromise or a change of position in our political leaders. Why do we expect them to be so unreasonable? The violence and vehemence that fills what passes for political debate is not a sign of an healthy democracy where open conversations occur.