This kind of this is the best argument for how we've strayed from respresentation of the people into a policitical oligarcy:
Today I posted a note to a local list and misspelled "upgrade" as "ungrade". Todd Lewis, an excellent fellow all around whom I have known for too many years to think about, commented in a reply to my message:
Hey, Bil! I know it was a typo, but I really like the word: ungrade.
Because until a few days after it's done, you don't really know if it was an upgrade, downgrade, degrade, retrograde, or what. "Ungrade" sounds like you're stepping off into an unknown state, which is exactly what's happening.
He's exactly right, and I wish I had thought of it. For example, I recently thought I was upgrading my workstation from Snow Leopard to Lion, but I decided I couldn't stand Lion yet. As as aside, I have about decided that you should only do one major system upgrade on mac hardware, since I often have problem with the second major rev, but in fairness, I'm pretty hard on the software. But I digress. I lived with Lion for a week or so, decided to go back, and found it a difficult process involving blanking drives and mounting machines in target disk mode. So it wasn't an upgrade, clearly, nor a downgrade, since the downgrade was going back to Snow. Ungrade suits perfectly, and it will the next time I try Lion as I'll have a cold ball of concern in my soul as I start the installer.
Gruber's got a nice take on the recently announced pay wall for the New York Times, which is basically $35 a month for web, phone, and tablet access. To be fair, the paywall is very easy to circumvent, and they do allow 20 articles a month for free, tho.
I find myself thinking of this in conjunction with the news that Angry Birds has had over 2.5 million paid downloads. I like the NY Times, and have used it as a source for Wikipedia fairly often. But I would never pay $35 a month for online access, and I think they are missing a good opportunity by setting the price this high. Of course, I have no knowledge of their balance sheets, and I'm just guessing about what would work for them, but it seems to me that they'd do better to send a monthly price for online access for more like $2-10 a month. I'd bite for $2 for sure, even with ads, just for the basic news articles. I'm just not interested in most of what they are publishing, but it's a good source for news.
What is interesting to me is the notion that if they set the price low enough, the New York Times might be able to pick up enough readers internationallly to become a multinational newspaper. We need something like that, with all the churnalism out there.
Last week, I caught a bloody awful cold and was trapped in the house for three days. Really a small problem, and the time off gave me some time to play around with software and poke around wikipedia. By sunday, I was pretty much out of fresh food and not feeling much like cooking anyway, I turned to the metalware in the panty. Progresso clam chowder, that'll do the trick, esp. with some extra clams and a bit of lousiana hot sauce. So I open the can of soup, then the clams, strain the latter, and here's what I find:
Over half the can is just filled with water/clam juice.
Now this is a can of chopped clams from Snow, but in fairness, I found the same thing in a can of Chicken of the Sea's canned clams. And this is getting to be a pet peeve of mine, since I'm finding more and more of nothing in cans and bottles of various types. The last aspirin bottle I bought was 75% volume of air, and 25% volume of aspirin, and the same is true of many vitamins and supplements.
Here's the thing--it's not so much that I'm not getting the product I expect, since my expectations are pretty low when it comes to this kind of thing. Rather, it is the waste that bothers me--this can of clams carries half the clams it could, and that means that there's about a third more metal in the can than is needed, and that the shipping costs are about twice what they could be. That's a lot of energy wasted, oil burned, fuss and muss for no real advantage. It's a shame, really.