I’m about to say something that will piss off a lot of people. Celebrities have the same right to privacy the rest of us do. “The beautiful people” are no different than us “normal” people. They understand that more of their lives will be in the public eye, but there are some things that should be allowed to stay private.

Take the recent celebrity phone hackings for example. Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, and Justin Timberlake were all victims of a hacking group whose stated purpose is to hack celebrity phones in search of incriminating pictures. They didn’t find anything on Mila or JT (though their privacy was violated just the same) but they got a couple pictures of Scarlett.

“She’s an idiot for taking those pictures” is what I’ve been hearing. Really? What if the pictures were in her house, not her phone? Would that be a different story? If so, why? Her property was broken into and something was stolen. What’s the difference if it was stolen from her phone or her house? And haven’t we all done something in the impetuousness of our youth that we regretted later in life?

Maybe she was away from whoever the pictures were intended for and wanted to do something to keep the spark going. Pictures like the ones she took are actually a good way of doing that. Trust me.

I think it’s a crying shame that the victim is the one being berated and not the thief. What is this world coming to?

Contrary to (seemingly) popular belief, HP did not purchase Palm in order to put the struggling company out of its misery. Think about it: would you spend $1.2 BILLION on a company (or anything) just to kill it? Of course not.

HP bought Palm for webOS (and its almost endless cache of tech patents that puts those at RIM (maker of BlackBerry products) and Apple combined to shame). They did not buy Palm for the Palm name. They just killed the palm.com URL, which now redirects you to HPwebOS.com, the Palm App Catalog is now the HP App Catalog, the boot screen now says HP instead of palm, etc. But just because they’re killing the Palm name doesn’t mean they’re killing Palm.

As a matter of fact, Palm lives on at HP in its own division called the Palm Global Business Unit. According to those employees who have spoken to webOS news websites, such as webOS Roundup & Pre Central, they operate mostly independently. HP has also canceled working with Microsoft on the server side of their business in order to send that team over to the Palm division to help work on webOS. 

They also gave webOS Internals, the leading webOS homebrew development community, a server valued at between $10,000-$15,000 with no strings attached. Palm has always embraced the homebrew community & it seems like HP is continuing that tradition. As a matter of fact, when the Pre 2 was released with webOS 2.0, it turned out HP had taken several of the patches developed by webOS Internals & other homebrew developers for earlier versions of webOS and made them standard in 2.0 & up.

Yet still rumors persist that HP bought Palm to kill the company. They say they’ll release the final products Palm was working on before the acquisition and then kill the brand altogether. The products Palm was working on were the Veer (world’s smallest smartphone only available on AT&T in America), which was released last month, and the Pre 3 (release date yet to be announced).

What they seem to forget is that HP is set to release the Touchpad, their answer to the iPad, this month (hopefully). The Touchpad will be the first webOS-powered tablet developed after the acquisition. They also want to put webOS on PCs, printer, pretty much anything with an electronic display. 

But HP isn’t making things better on the PR front. After Palm made the promise last year that the original Pre, Pre+, Pixi, & Pixi+ would receive the webOS 2.0 update. But just weeks before the release, HP announced that wouldn’t happen due to hardware constraints. They said that during the acquisition they missed a release cycle and promised to “make things right”.

But so far, no details on how they’ll do that have been revealed. Add that to contradictory statements from their CEO & Senior VP, few details on upcoming releases, and an app catalog that has fewer apps than Windows Phone 7 which was released a year after the original Pre and you get a confused, pissed off, dwindling consumer base.

Bottom line, HP made a major investment in webOS, not Palm. Only the truly webOS faithful are willing to stick it out waiting on new hardware, but those numbers are dwindling. HP has made a few missteps in the last year and it takes the patience of Job (for those unfamiliar with the Bible, Job, rhymes with lobe, was put through a series of tests to prove his faith) to wait for the tiniest tidbits of webOS-related news. 

I and the webOS faithful understand why HP is taking their time releasing new hardware. They want to release not just an appealing product, but also a working one (unlike RIM, who rushed the Playbook to market WAY before it was ready and has to deal with the fallout of thousands of tablets that don’t even boot properly, if at all). But to the average consumer, it looks like HP is just dragging their feet, possibly because they don’t really believe webOS will sell. 

It sucks for the average consumer because they don’t read tech related articles and they depend on sales people to inform them on what type of phone or tablet they should get. And sales people typically push the popular or promising brands, not the best or most innovative.

I’ll do my part to spread the word about webOS. Who wants to help? 

Dear HP,

I loved everything I read about during your Feb 9 Think Beyond event. I’m not even disappointed that I won’t be getting webOS 2.0 on my Verizon Pre Plus. I’ve been through that with BlackBerry & wasn’t surprised.

However, I am concerned about how you’re going to “make things right” for the current webOS community. Especially those of us with over a year left on our contracts. I’m not asking for answers now. I’m just asking that you don’t forget about those of us who were late in coming to webOS.

Currently, I plan on buying a Touchpad (really wish you kept the name Topaz) & most likely a Pre 3, unless you release something better by the time I upgrade.

As for Verizon:

While no carriers have been announced for HP’s upcoming devices, I hope you jump on the bandwagon as I plan on upgrading to the next webOS device. Also, I hope you continue to include the mobile hotspot at no charge as I plan on buying a Wifi only HP Touchpad (if they include a Wifi only model) & using the mobile hotspot to connect as I can’t afford another data plan.

As of now, you are the only viable carrier choice for me as you’re the only one with service in my area that offers an unlimited data plan. However, if there are no webOS devices available through you, I’ll likely jump ship if they’re available on AT&T (the only other carrier with service in my area). 

Thanks for taking the time to read my rant (if it in fact makes its way to you). I hope to have my concerns aleviated “in the coming months” :p

Signed,

Mike (a loyal Palm, now HP, user & long-time Verizon customer)

On Twitter today, white house press secretary Robert Gibbs (@PressSec) answered some questions from the twitterverse. One question was raised about the recent Bush-era tax cut extension congress recently passed. The question: “Why does your admin continue to lie that tax cuts cost $$$? You can’t spend money you don’t have.”

The tax cut extension recently passed by congress, which also contained an extension of unemployment benefits, is expected to add over $800 billion to the deficit, which is what Secretary Gibbs refers to in his reply: “Regardless of your views, you have to admit extending tax cuts above $250k adds to the deficit”.

Actually extending cuts above $250k is only a small piece of the $800+B pie. And, Mr. Secretary, if the government wouldn’t spend more than it takes in, the cuts wouldn’t add one red cent to the deficit. 

Consider your household budget. When planning your budget for the next month, do you plan to spend more than you earn? Or, if you see that you’re on track to do just that, do you cut unnecessary spending? Well, from personal experience, I cut unnecessary spending.

So what could government stop/cut funding for in order to “pay” for these tax cuts? First, stop funding the war on drugs. Criminalizing an activity that harms only the user puts all the power in the hands of gangs & drug lords. Am I saying it’s ok to do drugs? Of course not. But I do believe each individual should be allowed to decide what to put into his/her own body.

We could also close many of the military bases we have in over 160 countries. Why do we task ourselves with the responsibility of defending nations that can defend themselves? Countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, just to name a few. 

There are many other cuts that could be made, but you get my drift. The fact is, thanks to the tax cut extension, there will be over $800B that will be able to be spent/invested/saved which will better help to jump start the economy more than the ill-advised trio of stimuli (which started with Bush 43).

Any questions? Class dismissed.

I’m reading Leonard Peikoff’s (executor of Ayn Rand’s estate) introduction to We The Living, & I have to disagree with him on one point: he says America was the result of, among other things, the West’s ridicule of Christianity. To my knowledge, the colonies were a pretty religious lot, as were the founders. 

To treat religion as the enemy is the wrong approach. I am a Christian. I believe in helping others. I believe in being charitable. I don’t believe, however, that it should be up to the government to direct our dollars to charities at their discretion.

Randians & religious peoples of all flavors can find a common ground: my money is mine to do with as I see fit, not for you to forcibly take from me and do with as you see fit.

Government should go back to it’s beginnings and do what it was meant to do: keep us safe, while the courts do what they were meant to do & protect the law from government.

California’s video game law has reached the high court. On Nov 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the law’s constitutionality.

Supporters of the law say it “facilitates good parenting” & keeps minors safe. Opponents say there’s no conclusive evidence that violent video games harm minors.

I happen to be one of the opponents of the law. Why? Several reasons. 1: Movie retailers are less effective at keeping mature flicks out of the hands of minors than video games retailers are. 2: Why hold one section of the entertainment industry to different standards than another i.e. movies vs video games. There are other reasons, which you can read in a previous post.

As I mentioned in a previous post, video games, like movies, have their own ratings system. The latest data I could find shows that this system, along with parents & retailers, keep age inappropriate games out of the hands of minors about 80% of the time, even though it’s not illegal. A store can use these ratings suggestions to decide if they sell these games to minors or not. And if they do sell the games to minors, then the responsibility falls to the parents to know what their kids are doing & if it’s appropriate to do so.

California’s law takes that responsibility away from parents & grants it to government officials. Why should it surprise me that they’d do that, though? This coming from a state that has a county that banned toys in McDonald’s happy meals. 

Other industries, even scientists, are coming to the aid of video games. Scientists are handing over evidence that violent video games have no harmful effects on kids. The motion picture industry sees the implications of the law on their industry if the law is found constitutional & are running to defend video games.

I pick on CA, but several states (including my own) have tried this approach with video games. And each & every time, the state Supreme Court found the laws unconstitutional. But CA’s the only state to take the case to the US Supreme Court. 

Why would a cash strapped state enact a law that could piss off a $20 billion industry? Hey video game makers: come to Tennessee. The auto industry found out we’re more company-friendly. Energy companies are moving to the South. Even some tech companies are realizing this. 

For a more extensive write-up, check out this month’s issue of Game Informer. To let lawmakers know where you stand, check out http://www.videogamevoters.org. G4TV has some good write-ups on the case, too.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Whichever side you’re on, I want to know why you’re in favor of or opposed to the law.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

The very first words of the very first amendment to the US Constitution. These words are very important. The founders understood over 200 years ago that the freedom to practice your religion, whatever it may be, or no religion, is essential to securing all other freedoms.

This is just as true today as it was then. That’s why it bothers me when people from all sides of the political spectrum are calling for the community center (which is mistakenly referred to as a mosque) to not be allowed to be built two blocks away from the former WTC site. These supposed lovers of freedom are calling for two of the most basic freedoms, freedom of religion & the right to private property, to be denied to a select group of people based on what happened nine years ago (yes, it was a tragedy) perpetrated by a small group of terrorists from a country not even remotely like ours.

And it’s not just happening in NYC. Just an hour or so from my house, a community center (also referred to as a mosque) is finding opposition to a planned expansion in Murfreesboro. The kicker? The group has had a community center in the county since 1997. The reason for the epansion is because they’ve outgrown their current facility. Luckily, despite the opposition, the expansion will be allowed.

This battle is being fought all over the country. Newt Gingrich says that we shouldn’t allow mosques in this country until Christian churches are allowed in Saudi Arabia (or something along those lines). Howard Dean says it’s an affront. He also says those doing the project in NYC are doing it in good faith (that’s a little contradictory).

The fact is that none of these projects are in violation of any zoning laws, they’re being built on private property, and are run by those who have proven to be good citizens. Why should we deny them their constitutional right to practice their religion, especially on private property?

Do you disagree with Islam as a religion? If so, why? Are you aware that Islam, Judaism, & Christianity share many of the same tenets? Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, & the angel Gabriel all appear in the 3 religions, among other figures.

But Muslims stone people to death, right? Well, it’s allowed under their laws, but the majority of Islamic nations have ceased this practice. And don’t forget, stoning was an acceptable punishment in early Christianity & Judaism. 

Look, we all have our differences. But the fact is they have the right to practice their religion, especially on their own property. We have no right to take that away. And when you insult their religion, you most likely insult your own (unless you’re an atheist).