As a recent media spike (which has consumed most of my blog), Barack Obama is heading into the Democratic National Convention — and the rest of the world is keeping their eyes open — and their noses up. The question have popped up everywhere — what would be Obama’s perfect ending to the “official” primary season? Now that Hillary Clinton, virtually guaranteed 2nd place, has recently pledged to give up her remaining delegates, the experts have made their predictions and suggestions over the web, giving the public different angles to look at. 

But what really struck me was lingering in a news source that I normally stay away from — Fox News. They posted a very interesting view on Obama, not exactly as a political tactic to pounce on, but as a general state of mind — being aggressive. And what really took my attention about this was the fact that it was very simple, true — and genius. Obama — held under mercy by Hillary Clinton (which made him politically weak) — has now been released by her grip, not only relieving himself to his normal political standards, but giving him the chance to go back to who he was when an unknown presidential candidate years ago — fight. 

And in a sense that is really where he is best off right now. Fox argues that the 2004 convention was more or less lost by John Kerry because he gave a very “passive” argument – later letting the Republicans speak undisturbed, without answering the Democrat’s attacks, during their convention. Although I don’t agree that this was the main cause for George Bush ultimately winning the election, I thought it was a very important and well thought out point by Fox.

This also leads me think being more aggressive would be something that Obama could use to his advantage, not only in the convention, but also in the general election. Let’s face it — Obama is an incredible speech writer and speaker, so furthermore it wouldn’t be very hard to incorporate some attack points geared toward the Republicans in his acceptance speech Thursday. He could later (if those points are indeed effective) pound them into the press during general election debates with John McCain. 

So, all in all, this is in fact a very crucial convention which can be overlooked by anyone without a credential dangling from their neck. And if Obama effectively pursues these ideas, he could have a boost toward the elections, which will be a daunting task.

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After glamorously introduced in Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, Joe Biden excitedly strolled up to the podium, addressing the thousands of screaming voices directed to him. And at the same time, across the United States, hundreds of thousands of McCain’s loyal supporters banned together, gathering for another swipe at the Democrat’s final campaign. 

Its just another day in the world of politics, where bitter rivalries are settled by a public media death-match, and separate campaigns take whatever they can find and throw it into the fire. And this is precisely what is happening now on the web in both sides of the center, both officially and through amateur sources. JohnMcCain.com recently ran a section with pre-primary debate footage of Biden confirming that Obama was too inexperienced to be the president of the United States. This ad, which is now on a youtube thrill ride, has been both pushed on proudly by conservative bloggers and ripped up by liberal sources. It has been been debated on both sides the by the professionals and used by Obama’s extreme opposition (the ever so questionable McCain-Clinton group) in every possible angle that somehow attacks the senator. 

And with campaign news like this, an explosion of opinions and analyzation all over the world was in a sense expected.

In my opinion, Biden on Obama’s ticket strikes many nerves. Politically, he is the best pick to support the candidate, with his impressive foreign policy insight and credentials, but at the same time he is the perfect person for conservative attack. Even though he is now on team Obama, his long line of gaffes and politically un-correct (whether taken out of context or not) comments will come back to haunt him, whether delivered by the press or by the opposing party.

But then again, that’s just a part of politics, and in the end, it will be America’s decision whether he is the overall best running mate for Obama, not McCain’s.

Of the many political bullets a successful politician can dodge, cameras and press aren’t one of them.

After catching wind of Obama admitting he has made his choice for Vice President, one might fall victim of the far-well too known knack of the media to ride the ‘this just in’ wave, confusing the hailed politician with an entertainment star. It seems like Newsweek and Hello magazine are recently starting to integrate with Obama-like news, which could ultimately make one of his worst fears come true — becoming a celebrity. Many, including the republican nominee John McCain, have accused the senator of soaking up the celebrity life, comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. And as this realization becomes closer and closer to Obama, there is really only one thing to do…deal with it. 

As Obama travels the globe, he will be swarmed by a mix of the media’s camera flashes and smiling fans, and he simply can’t get rid of only one. Both will follow him around like a loyal pet, and showing any frustration to this can and will backfire at him, which will send the right wing press (including McCain) into a full-fledged field day. So accepting this recent stardom may be a hard thing to do, but it will be the best choice for the senator long-term. 

So how exactly can this be carried out without ending in disaster? After arousing enough news sources with his vice president cliffhanger, Obama will have to try to sole this frenzy by delivering an “end — all” speech with his running mate this Saturday. Hopefully for the senator, after this chapter in his campaign finishes, the media can switch their attention to John McCain’s vice president fiasco. I’m sure the public (and the democrats) would like some more wind about Sarah Palin’s bid…

Genius marketing mixed in with perfect tactics and fan support have made senator Obama’s new ads as effective as ever. After McCain’s celebrity attack ads geared towards Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as well as the Illinois senator, a response ad was imminent — and hyped. 

And did it come, in Obama’s first attack ad: “Embrace”, which turned the tables on the popular political ‘celebrity’ topic and focused on the popular web video of McCain hugging current President George Bush — who has now become public enemy #1 for the Democrats. More notably though, “Embrace” was truly the first full-fledged attack on McCain, and in my opinion it came at the best time. 

Although he has been steadily gaining on Obama’s lead in the polls, McCain’s PR has been on the decline recently, starting with his Iraq-Pakistan border gaffe and continuing with his recent attack commercials that seem to have little thought and research thrown into them. And because of this they have been ripped to pieces publicly by Obama staff and then discussed in numerous liberal blogs and forums.

On the flipside, Obama’s ads have been technically defensive responses with savvy quotes and researched facts, which have strangely been untouched by the right wing so far. His second ad, “Economy” was a simple but genius approach which has not been yet done before, but startled viewers. Starring McCain’s economic gaffs and disagreeing American citizens, on air the ad was very convincing — although it is very, very possible the people in the ad were the ones who agreed with Obama. But what not many people realize is that the Americans in the ad were from some of Obama’s weakest states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky — where the average Joe would probably a McCain guy. This may have gone unnoticed by many, but it was a great idea for the campaign to exploit that weakness in a public way.

But not only is Obama winning in the advertising category, he’s orchestrating McCain attacks every day — most without him knowing. Obama’s fans have played a huge role in his campaign, and they have continued to on the web, where “first door on the left” type of blogs are sending out disses and attacks to the republican side with appeal to everything from McCain’s secret service to remixes of his gaffs and views being ridiculed by “experts”. 

So as Obama continues on with his hyped running mate decision and television ads, he knows one thing for sure — he won’t be alone. Far from it.

 

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The business of startup companies is really all about ideas. Who can come up with the most innovative, breakthrough product that the worldwide market will flock over, and who will come up with a brilliant idea, but find out it is too bleeding edge or non-understandable for the world’s eyes. And now — one startup of their own claims to predict that — YouNoodle. 

These guys are all over the web advertising their top secret algorithm, which they claim can predict not only if a startup is successful or not — but their overall fate over a short or long scale. Their sample predictor is getting worldwide buzz, but I’m not so convinced it is a good thing. 

Oxford dropout Bob Goodson, left, claims that his idea can help out our economy crisis by in advance predicting successful companies — but it seems like marketed quicksand to me. First of all, I don’t believe that its possible for a math equation to predict the fate of a company — that’s purely in the mind of the general public itself to decide if it will be useful in their lives.

Second, if proven to work (or somehow convincing to everyone) this idea will be like pulling fruit out of an ecosystem — it will not only be imbalanced, but everyone else will eat each other. If YouNoddle becomes the standard for all startups — then they essentially will decided if they fail or not. The public will believe that whatever they say will come true and that will stop many ideas from coming through. 

They will, in a sense, form a blockade between the office and the world, beta and public, and most importantly, a dud and a bloom. And looking far ahead, if YouNoodle is a proven winner and the public trusts them, they will be able to decide the fate of any new company. YouNoodle would act as a tollbooth that decides whether the company can go on or not. The public, in the end, will not invest if the idea seems good or the CEO is promising — but solely on what YouNoodle says about it. And by then, YouNoodle can just drop their mystery math algorithm and basically hire teams to hand pick companies they like and dump the ones they don’t. They are really dangling the fate of anyone who crosses their path — and I think that’s wrong. Thank goodness the general public has its doubts too.

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Senator Barack Obama’s pick for Vice Presidency has been a rare case — swaying everyone’s opinion from your teenage daughter to the head of the New York times. And in a presidential race that is one for the history books from the candidates to the voters, what better time to keep the suspense high? So I guess the questions are who and why — but now its “when?”

Obama has left the country guessing left and right, but this time — the press has nowhere to go. Obama has been in a dark room with six top advisers, which means two things: a well thought out final decision — and no leaks. Although many news segments and articles have been written about possible choices, they have no possible leads and no one to get information to. So in the end, even with their top politics men analyzing anything everything and anything that could be going on in that room, they really don’t have a clue about who Obama will actually pick. It could be anyone from Vladimir Putin to Rihanna, as Paris Hilton put it. 

So with that said, who Obama does pick is not only a very important decision for his long term campaign, but will make a huge point to the public and sadly, race will be a factor. Obama’s best reception publicly as far as race, however, will probably a white male. As Hillary Clinton best put it during one of the primary debates: “there’s me {in other words a woman}, there’s Obama {in other words a black man} and then there’s John.” Referring here to John Edwards, her point was that with Obama and her breaking racial and gender barriers, John Edwards just looked like a stereotypical politician – a rich white male. And at this time in America, that’s what it can come down to — what race or sex you are as opposed to your actual political policies. 

His pick also shows to the more educated Americans what kind of policies he likes and what kind of politician he enjoys working with. He/she pick will show people who he thinks is a true leader and what he thinks his Vice President (lets call him/her “x”) has strengths and weaknesses. And that’s one of the reasons that picking Hilary Clinton would be complete suicide. In the rare case that Obama does pick Clinton as his running mate, he will get pounded by the press and the public. Why? Although Clinton shares many of the same opinions as Obama, she has not only fiercely attacked Obama throughout her campaign and decided to not completely disable her campaign after losing, she has attempted (and mostly failed) to cut Obama down in any possible way, and that mostly doesn’t involve politics. 

So who does this leave as the perfect running mate. In my case, John Edwards — but it would take more than just a flawless PR stunt to get his personal problems out of the way. And although what he did was horrible, I think he would be the perfect “x” for Obama — a publicly nice, white male that doubles as a great politician. Plus, he hasn’t gotten on anyone’s nerves yet. But since he is most definitely done (in the rare occasion he comes back it will be years), Obama is digging deep into his list of possible running mates, and the world will keep guessing.

So with no clues, the last thing to guess would be from a tactical point of view. During John F. Kennedy’s campaign, he chose (under great controversy) Lyndon Johnson, who wasn’t exactly his biggest fan or vice versa. One of the bigger reasons of choosing him was because JFK was not very popular in the South — and in the end — Johnson was. Obama could use this tactic for his advantage in his long struggle to steal some (bright) red states. Although it probably wouldn’t be in Obama’s best interest to shoot for Mike Gravel as VP, it would be almost monumental for the general elections to find someone with good connections to the midwest, preferably Ohio, who as we know literately picks the eventual president. So who has connections there? Well, there’s Ted Strickland…and not much else. As far as Ohio their aren’t many people over in the first door on the left, and Ted Strickland as governor is the best bet for Obama there.

But no news of anything in that category has popped up, we really have no leads in any direction. And with the democratic convention coming up, all we can guess all we want but — unless some sort of leak or lead surfaces — we’ll just have to wait and see. 

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Is Windows….Cool?

August 17, 2008

Let’s face it. Microsoft just isn’t as cool as Apple. And after a heck of a sales slump with their beloved Vista and Bill Gate’s departure, things are looking pretty grim for them. And rightfully so — their advertising sucks. Lee Clow’s genius “Get A Mac” campaign has hit internet stardom, and turned into a phenomenon that successfully depicts Microsoft as “uncool” for anyone who doesn’t work in a cubicle. The Economist put it well, quoting: “All this puts Microsoft in the awkward position of having its brand image defined by a rival—despite its own vast advertising budget, which towers above Apple’s.” And they made a very interesting point with that as well. 

Similar to Google now, about fifteen years ago (which is ages in computer technology) Microsoft was the ‘it’ company, literately and technically. Although there was no main competition, Windows users enjoyed using their R2 operating system and Bill Gate’s mastermind domino effect was in full force. Everyone bought a Windows because everyone else had a Windows. And that was the story of Microsoft’s life — until Mac got out of their previous slump with their OS 9. Until then, people never thought of computers as….cool. And that was really what fed Apple’s beast and let them unleash their OS 10, with a level of user service, compatibility and customization that shocked the world. No one had ever seen or heard about it before, and that is what kept Windows alive — people were simply afraid to switch to a previously unstable company. My family was one of the people who did, and I vividly remember the color and brightness the OS 9 and 10 boasted. I loved my iBook clamshell, and never cared that it crashed about three times a day (mostly because I was about six). 

After the OS 10, Apple really separated themselves with Windows as the cooler brand and used it to their advantage. When the iPod came out, Apple thrived on its sleek, easy to use music player that swamped everything from the Creative to the Walkman. And what did Windows do? They fought fire with fire and created their own, hopefully for them “cool”, new music player — the Zune. 

And it was horrible. It was ugly, bulky, and huge. But what windows really failed to do was the feature that made the Ipod thrive – accessibility. Anyone can own an iPod from any computer (including Windows) and buy songs from anywhere (the iTunes Store just makes it easier) and put it on your iPod. The Zune simply made that impossible, not letting you take any songs from your previous iTunes store purchases, basically making sure that you start a new collection of music in Microsoft’s Zune store, which is more limited. 

Windows diehards valiantly defended their sole portable device with biased charts and Apple Parodies striving themselves on the fact that the Zune uses WiFi. And although that’s great, the only WiFi that Microsoft offers on their Zune is music sharing, where you can only play your buddy’s (he has to have a Zune) songs three times and then you must buy them off of the Zune store. And now with the iPod touchand iPhone, you can use WiFi (yes…you can’t change songs) to surf the web, update your wordpress, and do basically anything on the web you can with a computer. 

So after soon after the Zune’s release, Apple released it’s iPhone, which needs no introduction. Originally laughed off by Steve Balmer, the iPhone tromped all of Window’s brand name phones, and Balmer again looked like an idiot. So after all this, Windows really was in deep trouble. They looked like  old, dark, cubicle hackers, and that really wasn’t what many users strived to be. They lost tons of business from mac and their “get a mac” campaigns. So what did they do? Fight fire with fire….again. This time it was with an ad of their own — the Mojave Experiment, where they brought people into their dark San Francisco lair only to have them completely rip up Vista, calling it slow and “crash happy.” Then they showed them a “new” windows interface with a codename Mojave, and they said it was nice and fast. All of this is ‘conveniently’ on tape and is documented on this website.  

Windows again has made themselves look boring and dumb, and overall — uncool. And until Microsoft can make something better than Apple without copying them, then I (and many other people) will eat our hats. 

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Athlete 

n.

A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.

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It’s been hovering around him since the opening ceremony, and now after he has shattered six world records and won seven of his seven entered races, there is no question to many sports fans and journalists alike that Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever to set foot on Earth. He has the three key components of a true athlete: strength, agility, and endurance, and he happens to compete in a sport that demands each of those traits. But is he really the best? I beg to differ.

There is no disputing that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, but some people need to seriously contemplate making a statement like this, which in my opinion is very premature. The world has only seen this guy for less than a week, and whatever he has managed to accomplish is admittedly extremely impressive, but the world has simply seen better out of a human being. It seems like in all this excitement the world has forgotten the flawless performances that have been displayed thus far in the world of sports ranging from Kobe Bryant’s 81 point performance, where relentless scoring met grace and agility, to Michael Jordan’s illustrious career. And who can forget Walter Payton’s mesmerizing speed and toughness in the dirty sport of American football and Usain Bolt’s recent world records with arguably the best sprinting ever showcased. And what about Pele, Gordie Howe, Magic Johnson, and the many others who really were sports during their era. 

And we keep forgetting the unknown sports that really showcase the most challenging and athletic ability — Big Mountain Skiing, Biatholan, the marathon, horse racing, gymnastics, and (my favorite) — parkour.

So is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete ever? It’s very hard to tell, and it all comes down to a long and hard thought by a well respected journalist. So who is the greatest athlete ever? David Belle. Look him up.

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Jack Cafferty wrote a rather controversial post on CNN today, citing that Hillary Clinton has already taken over the democratic convention with all her scheduled introductions, prime-time addresses, and intro videos hyped up by her political team, which was been at a campaign stand-still until recently after months of negotiation with Obama. She has not, however, dropped out of the race — which left many Hilary fans (who aren’t exactly politically keen) baffled in the forums. Now Cafferty is a pretty controversial guy with what he says on the air — and the web — but this one may be the most outrageous political post he has published in a while. And as crazy as it sounds — he has a point. 

Call me insane, but I still think Clinton has a chance in getting the sole democratic seat in the thrill ride of the national election — and her elaborate schedule in the convention doesn’t hurt. What does hurt her campaign is the roller coaster she put her supporters through — at first claiming she will be “holding on ’till the end,” then hopping on Obama’s bandwagon, encouraging her supporters to vote for him, and now putting her name onto the ballot at the Democratic Convention.

Let’s face it, during the primaries, Clinton had many of her devoted fans jump onto the Obama chu-chu train for good, which was one of the reasons for her eventual defeat. She now has presented another chance for her delegates and super-delegates to fall for her convention “trap” — consisting of her daughter Chelsea introducing her followed by a move intro produced by the same people that made Bill’s “The Man From Hope” in ’92 — all leading up to her crucial last speech before the curtains close and the decisions start. 

Another thing that Hillary can use for her last hurrah is the fact that she has Obama at a standstill. He doesn’t want a dirty convention, and for good reason. A quiet and quickly executed convention would fair well for Obama, who as the projected winner (and for me the obvious one despite the above) needs to confirm to his voters, the independents, and John McCain that the fighting has ceased (at least the public stuff) on the democrat side. So because of this, Obama is staying very conserved and naturally, weak whenever Clinton goes on one of her rants. He knows if he fights back or even presents his side he will be open to attack from anyone and everyone who isn’t in his campaign. An expert put this very well, saying that the Clintons have “got Obama hostage and are exacting their ransom” with every demand that she presents. 

So what do I think? Hillary is hurting Obama — and the democratic party as well — by interfering with a convention she knows she can’t win, but will give her a chance. This chance, though, will draw votes away from Obama as well as hurt the democrat’s reputation and open up a hole that the Republics can successfully shoot through. This is something of a last hope for the Clinton side which doubles as a classic show of arrogance on her part. And it won’t fare well for the good old left wing, which needs a boost to beat McCain anyway. 

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Times have changed. Five years ago the war in Iraq was supposed to be already over, Time.com  claimed that the internet was too crowded (no, really?), and above all, gas prices were nearing an all time high at an outrageous $1.72 per gallon. So you could imagine how the garage wars around your neighborhoods were going, with one guy whipping out his 2003 Acura NSX, which (at the time) was one of the fastest cars in the world, and bragging about his 5.2 0-60 time. 

But sadly, times like that are far away from us now. The cars have gotten better and more expensive, and in a sense so has the oil. Ok, maybe not better, but you get the point. The grass will always be greener on the other side — like always — and now everyone wishes instead of buying that flashy Corvette, maybe they should have hung onto their good old 50 MPG VW Rabbit. 

Enter the hybrids. Victor Wouk’s genius creation turned hybrids and other green cars away from their hippie image, and suddenly they were as popular as bell bottoms in the late sixties. With streets flooded with brand new Prius’s, and a new EcoGeek community rapidly forming, it was suddenly cool to be an environmentalist again. 

Meanwhile, truck and performance companies like GM started their downfall. No one wanted a new Chevy Tahoe anymore, and despite valiant efforts to “green-a-tize” these gas-chugging trucks, GM’s popularity and credibility took a giant blow. Toyota and their squeaky clean factories dangled Detroit’s credibility right in front of them, mass producing their trademark cars at a fraction of the price it took Ford and GM to. So GM rallied back, trying the most sensible thing to do — fighting fire with fire — and creating a green car of their own. But what they came out with? It makes me think to myself: “What the are these idiots thinking?!” 

As you can see in the pictures, what GM failed to do here was make a car that could sell. In short, they sent Chuck Norris to a black-tie formal. What I mean by that is they planted themselves in a market that they had never experimented in, and because of that they couldn’t hold back, planting a sports car with gigantic shiny rims and a futuristic muscle tone to compete with a Prius. And that’s not going to sell. Sorry for offending anyone, but the average tree-hugging Prius driver would not exactly fair well with a high-performance electric sports car with bigger rims than Ice-Cube could ever dream of.

So its not going to sell. Plain and simple. GM went way too far with a good idea and tried for something new, inventive and sportsy for a car that is their future’s last ray of hope. So would I drive it? Well, first of all I can’t drive, but if I had a choice between a Prius and the Volt when I turn 16 in a world of horribly high gas prices, I would take the Chevy in a heartbeat. But I’m afraid that this wouldn’t be the choice of the average middle aged driver looking for a fuel-efficient car. So what do I think? GM just made a big mistake.

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