Halloween – Fruit or Candy?

As many trick-or-treaters head out tonight to load up on sweets necessary to remain in a semi-permanent sugar high until Thanksgiving (and this whole time, you believed it was the tryptophan in turkey that made people sleepy. Nope, it was the post-Halloween sugar crash.). Meanwhile, in a move that seemed more “trick” than “treat” the White House doled out dried fruit to its attendees. To be fair, White House M&Ms were also included. Happy Halloween America.

Mitt’s Mitt-mentum

The current buffet of Republican candidates could hardly be less appetizing. According to the Miami Herald, America has two options in the current GOP nominating process: Mitt Romney or Not Mitt Romney. In other words, any candidate that has held front runner status – besides Romney – has been quickly relegated to the back of the pack. Parodoxically,Herman Cain, who won the Republican straw poll in Florida, was ripped in the last debate by all the candidates for his 9-9-9 plan. Even “brother” Perry couldn’t help but offer to “bump plans” with him. Still, he has maintained his position near the top of the field. The Western Republican Leadership Conference straw poll saw him edging out Mitt Romney. It’s not so much that people love Cain as it is that the other candidates just aren’t that appealing.

Try as I might, I can’t see him being the GOP candidate. That he’s garnered so much popularity and success with his dark horse status is indicative of the overall discontent that the Americans have displayed toward a potential Obama replacement.

And then there’s Mitt Romney.

He hasn’t been able to generate the enthusiasm to energize the field, but he’s as close as we can come to a generic, bland, Republican candidate.

If Mitt Romney, already the de facto choice for Republican connoisseurs does secure the nomination, he’ll have the advantage of already being thoroughly vetted. Additionally, he can probably win the a portion of the independents. On the other hand, Obama’s political machinery likely has ads already produced and ready to run in case Romney won the candidacy four years ago.

The big question is not whether Mitt Romney will be palatable to the Republican party. Republicans, it seems, would rather have bland if the alternative is not eating. The big question is whether, despite Romney’s blandness, he will have the Mitt-mentum to carry him into the Oval Office.

Is the Election for Obama to Lose?

Much hay has been made over Obama’s low poll numbers.  The July Gallop poll suggests that a generic Republican can beat Obama.  But is this really the case?  For as much as people are dissatisfied with Obama’s promised “change,” I’m not sure that “one-term presidency” is in the cards.  The problem for the GOP is that there isn’t a candidate that anyone particularly likes.  Yesterday, Perry launched negative ads against Romney.  Last month, Ron Paul launched a negative ad against Perry.  Cain picked some obscure issue about Perry’s ranch from about thirty years ago and made headlines.  Welcome to the GOP circular firing squad.  The quest for a candidate almost seems like a gang initiation.  To join, the potential invitee is thrown a blanket party.  Surviving that, the members rally behind the beat up and bruised candidate.  Love hurts.  And this is looking to be a very painful election process.

Any significant swings GOP debate tonight only mark the fluidity of the race.  At the very least, Perry will be worth watching.  He was heralded as the cat’s meow when he first announced his candidacy, and then he tried to debate.  And then  conservatives took a look at his immigration policy.  Amazingly, virtually all the popularity Perry lost, Herman Cain gained.  Herman Cain, has his own issues.  Jon Stewart makes well sure that everyone knows about those too.  While most people are not enthused with Romney, he only needs to focus on not pulling a Howard Dean.  I also wouldn’t joke about being unemployed either.

Listening to the radio on the way in to work today, one disenfranchised voter from New Hampshire didn’t really feel a whole lot of excitement toward any of the candidates.  With primary voters decidedly undecided, one is left to wonder whether the eventually GOP candidate will be received as enthusiastically as Sarah Palin.

The Death of an Innovator

Steve Jobs, the leader of Apple, Inc.

Yesterday, while driving home from work, my iPhone started buzzing.  I signed up for “breaking news” text alerts from AzCentral (perhaps inadvertently because I haven’t found them particularly newsworthy, yet I haven’t bothered to turn them off).  Imagine the shock when I read that Steve Jobs, had passed away.  His death was not particularly unexpected as he had battled with pancreatic cancer since 2003.  His health seemed to turn for the worse when he resigned as Apple’s CEO in late August.  Even with that, I was among many that thought he would likely return at the helm after a period of months.  Even the anemic photo that appeared sometime in September depicting Jobs as gaunt and frail could be dismissed as an anomaly or something expected in the course of cancer treatment.  Not everyone believed that the picture was a precursor to his final exit.

As recently as October 4 when Apple announced the new iPhone 4S, some pundits and many Mac-heads expected Steve to make a guest appearance to announce the revised iPhone or provide some words of reassurance that Apple’s best years still lay ahead.  Alas, this was not the case.  I would not be surprised if Jobs himself lay on his bed and watched the successful keynote.  Perhaps, that keynote allowed him some modicum of closure.  For him, that was his last chapter in a book he charged Tim Cook, the new CEO, with writing.

Of course, this is all speculation.  I have no special knowledge not possessed by the general public.

Steve was a giant that completely revolutionized computers, music, and technology.

I’ve been part of the Mac faithful since the very early 90’s when my dad walked in from school and brought back the Mac Classic (which later evolved into the iMac).  Even when Apple entered the “dark period” of the mid-1990s and the company faltered, our family continued upgrading: the Macintosh Performa, and later the Power Mac 6500.  Oft-criticized by a couple of close friends that had “unparalleled” computer games that were incompatible with my Mac, I couldn’t switch platforms (probably because I had no money, and my dad bought the computers.  I didn’t have a say in it.  I bought or downloaded what few games I could.  Oregon Trail,  Bolo,  Stuntcopter, Command & Conquer, and dozens of now-defunct titles).

I can’t claim that I should somehow feel worse because I’ve been with Apple longer than the majority of consumers, which, by the way, started purchasing Apple products in the last ten years.  It’s just that Steve Jobs had always exuded confidence in his products and the direction of the company.  He developed a cult following that captivated the consumers and both intrigued and frustrated his competitors.  He even strong-armed the entire music industry to fit within the Mac environment.

CEOs lead companies.  Steve Jobs did not fit the ordinary mold of a CEO.  He did not lead the wildly successful computer-turned-technological-giant company so much as he embodied the company whose stock shot up 7000% since championing Apple out of the dark ages.  It seemed that people were loyal to Steve first, Apple second.  For years analysts and shareholders worried about the lack of succession plan if Steve was unable to lead the company he once founded.  It wasn’t until recently that Apple announced its plan about how specifically it would move forward in a post-Steve Jobs world.

Now the time has arrived and with it the challenge to relentlessly innovate walking in part of the shoes of Steve but also progressing in a new, but hopefully equally successful direction.

As I sit with my iPhone at my side and type on my Macbook, I can’t think of a better platform I would rather write this post.  To this, I thank you Mr. Jobs.