Associated Press – March 19, 2008 8:13 AM ET

MUSCAT, Oman (AP) – Vice President Dick Cheney has spent the day fishing in the waters between Oman and Iran on the Sultan of Oman’s 60-foot royal yacht.


The presumptive Republican nominee – a fine man who forthrightly acknowledges that the economy is not his strong suit – told the press at least three separate times in the last day or two that Iran is training Al Qaeda terrorists and sending them to Iraq. As the Wall Street Journal noted, ‘Iran is a mostly Shiite country and al Qaeda is primarily a Sunni militant group.’ The two branches of Islam do not actually get along so well.

Do not miss Keith Olbermann’s one-minute take on this. (The full clip runs two minutes and thirty-seven seconds. McCain is at the end.)


Eric Scott: ‘I’ve been receiving John Mauldin’s weekly newsletter [from which you excerpted yesterday] for a few years now. I’m not a big investor but I like to keep up with the times, and Mr. Mauldin’s viewpoints (while often quite bearish through the last few years) are always backed with very solid evidence. I have to admit I don’t always agree with him (he is, after all, a staunch Texas Republican) but I always look forward to hearing his opinion. I recommend you try his free newsletter. It is always very informative.’

☞ I agree.


Sam Linder: ‘You write, ‘What’s sleazy about thinking Florida democrats should not be disenfranchised because of something the Republican Governor and Legislature forced on them?’ Please explain to those of us who don’t understand the process how a ‘Republican Governor and Legislature’ forced the Democratic Party to move its primary without its permission. It strikes me as rather odd!’

☞ Good question. Elections in Florida, including primaries, are administered and paid for by the State. Democrats voted unanimously for an amendment that would have moved the primary back to February 5, within the rules, but the Republican-controlled legislature defeated the amendment. At first I thought this mess was just bad luck – Karl Rove couldn’t be that smart, think that far ahead. But the more I think about it, the less sure I am.

Skip Sherrod: ‘Wait a minute. I seem to remember reading that all but one of the Florida Democratic legislators voted for this plan.’

☞ Correct. The bill was (diabolically?) constructed to do two unrelated things: first, to replace paperless voting machines with machines that provide a paper trail in the event of a recount; second, to move the primary date up to January 29th. The first part – integrity of our elections – was so important to Democrats that they could not vote against the bill. They tried hard to split the two pieces, and voted unanimously for the February 5th amendment, but the Republicans wouldn’t allow it.


Stewart Dean: ‘After all the packaged, controlled nomination and campaigning of Gore and Kerry, this campaign is a delight that’s got people engaged and alive.’


At first, last Fall, I thought my iPhone had lost its ring. As explained here, this was only because I am an idiot. Even before I got to the Genius Bar, someone showed me the little switch that elegantly enables or mutes the ring.

But then, after two months’ ownership, my iPhone lost its ticklishness. I would touch it in places that used to make it do wonderful things, but now, suddenly – nothing. As explained here, this time Apple was the idiot. But by going to their big New York store and waiting 40 minutes, I got a new phone.

That one has served me well, with many wonderful features, like ‘visual voice mail,’ that can’t be beat. I am (still!) listening to the biography of Alexander Hamilton on this phone, and when I get a call, the narrator elegantly fades out, I hear a ringing sound, and can ‘pick up’ the phone, if I want to take the call, simply by pinching the earphone wire by my neck. When the call ends, the book (or song, or whatever) starts back up right where it left off. The stock quote feature often works. Likewise the weather, maps, and so much more. It’s not perfect everywhere in every way, but it’s pretty darn terrific.

So a week ago, iPhone #2 suddenly developed this glitch: even after I unplugged the earphones, it thought they were still plugged in. The phone worked fine with them in; but without them, I couldn’t hear anyone, when they called, and they couldn’t hear me (both important functions of any telephone) unless I put them on speaker. And you don’t always want your calls on speaker.

I’m told that the Apple store near me in Florida does $40 million a year – from one store. The corollary of that it’s always packed and a challenge to get help.

But two nights ago, shortly after midnight, I went on-line to make an appointment at the Genius Bar – and I got doubly lucky. First, by signing on shortly after they open the queue for the day’s appointments, I got the one I wanted: 3:50. Second – and this I think surprised the harried Geniuses almost as much as it surprised me – at exactly 3:50, I heard my name called. ‘Andrew?’ It doesn’t always work that way, but it did yesterday: credit where credit is due.

Within 10 minutes, my Genius determined I needed a new phone . . . transferred much of my stuff over onto it (not the books and songs – those I would have to re-synch at home) . . . and I was on my way with iPhone #3.

Two minutes later I was back, to everyone’s annoyance (there’s always a crowd around the Genius Bar vying for attention), because I was getting ‘5 bars’ for a second, then no bars for 30 seconds, then five bars for a few seconds, then ‘no service.’

As my Genius attempted to flee to the Secret Back Room Where They Do Stuff and Emerge with Solutions for another customer, I managed to block him (I played soccer in high school) and held the phone up to his face, with no bars. He fiddled with it briefly and handed it back to me, fixed.

‘How did you do that?’ I asked.

‘I reset the wifi network framis SSID,’ he said too quickly for me to know what he really said or had done – and vanished into the Secret Back Room Where They Do Stuff and Emerge with Solutions.

But within seconds – things move fast in today’s cyberworld – I had lost the bars again, and it was not working.

Knowing he would eventually emerge and return to his post, I positioned myself directly in front of the Genius Bar, determined not to let him reach his goal without my stopping him first (again with the soccer).

Multitasking madly, he took the phone – while producing the Solution for another customer he had gone into the Secret Room to procure, and fending off a third customer who had shown up for his 3:20 appointment at 3:20 and been told to come back in half an hour but, now, having come back, was told his name had already been called so his appointment had been canceled – and after fiddling with iPhone #3 a little more, handed me my fourth iPhone, which so far is working fine, and onto which I easily managed to restore my music and books by re-synching.

Since these $400 phones only cost Apple a dime each to make (or, if I’m underestimating, then perhaps it’s because their monthly split with AT&T is so lucrative), I guess Apple can afford this. I remain a basically very happy customer, even if it’s been a bit of an adventure. And they have provided me with four phones in seven months.

The best thing about this may be that I was initially worried that I’d have to send my phone in once a year to have its battery changed. (You can’t do it yourself.) But if they keep giving me new phones, I’ll never have to do it!


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