In less than an hour, Apple is holding a conference call with the press to announce plans for its vast stockpile of cash, currently approaching $100 billion. What could they do with all of that money?
The most likely (and boring) suggestion is that they’ll start paying dividends to their shareholders. Bolder predictions include buying one of the cellular carriers (can you imagine Apple owning AT&T?) or possibly even Google. (OK, I don’t think I’ve actually seen that one, but I think they could do it.) Or, if they were Dr. Evil, they could hold the entire world ransom.
But let’s have a little fun, shall we? Here are some other things they could buy with $100 billion:
A large supreme pizza for every person on earth
A new stadium or arena for every team in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL
Ralph Nader used to have a good reputation. He spoke for those who were rarely spoken for, and represented the interests of those who didn’t have the resources to represent themselves.
And then he ran for president.
Back in the early days of 2000, when it seemed nearly impossible that an inarticulate failed businessman and death-penalty-championing former Texas governor could become president, I actually supported Nader’s campaign. He represented something strikingly different from all of the political insiders the major parties had to offer. “Bush and Gore make me want to Ralph” actually seemed to make sense. But in the end my gut instincts kicked in, and I colored in the little oval for Gore. Not that it mattered.
And then he ran for president again.
By this point, the few loyal Naderites who tipped the 2000 election had wised up along with the rest of us, and his showing in 2004 was as feeble as it deserved to be.
Things are different this year, though. Anti-Republican sentiment has finally risen to a level commensurate with the havoc their failed policies have wreaked upon us. The Democrats have not just one (which in itself would be a big deal) but two viable candidates who are capable of generating genuine enthusiasm, and both of whom would, if elected, be an historic first. Ralph, this time around, you really have no chance. What compels you to waste your time and money (and potentially other people’s money) like this, not to mention squandering your once noble reputation? I guess in a way, Ralph really is a mirror of America itself. We’ll see in November just how true that is.
There was a time in my life (I happened to be 13) when I was a huge baseball fan. I had the giant baseball card collection to prove it. I even chewed the nasty gum a few times.
My enthusiasm was richly rewarded in 1987 when my hometown Minnesota Twins won their first World Series. Life was good.
But eventually I moved on. My brief, albeit intense, interest in baseball (and pro sports in general) faded in high school, and although I still enjoy going to a game once in a while, it’s just too expensive and too corporate, and I’m too cynical, to sustain that kind of passionate enthusiasm. So when it was announced that Johann Santana was traded to the Mets, I barely even raised an eyebrow.
It wasn’t until I read Nick Coleman’s column on the matter that it really hit me what this means, especially in the context of the Twins’ controversial new stadium:
[W]hen you’re a kid, your town’s team manipulates your immature emotions in order to get you to tug on daddy’s sleeve and beg him to buy a pair of $50 tickets and a souvenir jersey so Dad can go to his grave knowing that his boy will remember him through misty eyes and support the next billion-dollar stadium proposal when the stadium opening in 2010 needs to be replaced a few years later.
He’s right. And he goes on to show just how trivial a slice of the pie, given the ludicrous sums of money floating around in the world of professional sports, Santana’s salary really is. It’s the stars like Santana and Torii Hunter that make a team like the Twins worth going to see. Which is where the money comes from in the first place.
Yesterday, contrary to all expectations, I fell in love with the new iPod nano.
I had never even considered a nano before, because I just felt I needed more capacity. But the other day I was looking at my 30 GB iPod and I discovered that I had over 3600 songs on it that I had never played and that was when I realized I didn’t really need to carry my entire music collection (or, to be honest, 1/3 of my entire collection, because that’s all 30 GB could hold) around with me. That opened the window of opportunity for the nano to win me over, but I still wasn’t really considering it. I was too in love with the idea of the giant screen and Internet access available on the iPhone or the iPod touch.
But yesterday, all of the pieces seemed to fit into place. My wife and I had planned a little weekend trip to Stillwater, MN and we were going to stay at the “historic” Lowell Inn. That logo should have told me everything I needed to know (mainly, that the place has been on a steady decline since the 1970s), but I overlooked it. We arrived in Stillwater and had a fine afternoon checking out the antique shops and vintage bookstores, and having lunch at the Freight House. But then at 3 we headed over to the Lowell to check in. I immediately sensed that the place wasn’t quite as luxurious as it appeared in the tiny photos on their website. Oh, sure, with your glasses off or squinting, everything looked really nice, but there were little details that said otherwise: paint chipping in places, the Post-It note by the front door indicating the location of the door bell, the bent vent grates, the loose stairway railings. But it was when we got to our room that our hearts really sank. We were expecting a suite, or at least a reasonably large room, or, well, let’s be honest, a bathroom that actually had walls and a door and not just a big curtain draped across it, that was too narrow to afford the user of the bathroom total privacy. (It was impossible for the curtain to be closed in such a way that a person sitting on the couch couldn’t see a person sitting on the toilet, either directly or in the mirror.) I also noticed more loose grates, and the headboard of the bed was barely attached, and other weirdness about the room, and was left in a bit of a funk. I probably wouldn’t have cared if the room hadn’t cost $168, but I just kept thinking of all of the other things I could’ve spent that money on.
So, after mulling it over for about 20 minutes, I mustered up the courage to do something I rarely ever do: we decided to go down and ask for our money back, and leave. The proprietor was a bit flustered at this, but he offered to cancel out the room and, if he was able to sell it to someone else, to refund our money. About a half hour later as we were leaving the Stillwater area to head back to Minneapolis, he called and let us know he had been successful. In the end I have to say I was extremely appreciative of the service we got, and I suppose the room’s antique charms might win over some guests, but in the end there is no way I will ever consider staying at the Lowell Inn again.
As we headed back we made our revised plans for the night. We were now flush with cash that we had intended to spend on the hotel and a nice (and commensurately expensive) meal at the Bayport Cookery. So we decided to go to Southdale instead so we could do some shopping and then head over to the Galleria for dinner at Big Bowl.
And so it was that I came to know and love the iPod nano. While SLP was visiting various clothing stores, I headed down to the Apple Store to play with the iPod touch. I had already seen a friend’s iPhone, but since I have less than zero interest in switching to AT&T, I know that particular gadget will remain elusively out-of-reach for me. So, the iPod touch. I was really enjoying looking at it, but then I happened to go over and check out the new nano. It was just a curiosity, nothing else, but I fell in love instantly. The screen, though small, is unbelievably sharp; I love the new user interface; and it is so small! It’s the first iPod I’ve seen (aside from the useless iPod shuffle) that I could actually imagine carrying around in my pocket most or all of the time.
I didn’t buy it immediately, although I wanted to. But the rock solid logic of this basically being the amount of money we saved by not being stuck in the Lowell Inn for a night convinced SLP as well, and on our way back home from Southdale we stopped at the new Super Target that just opened in Richfield, and that’s where I got it.
Now, on to the actual topic of this post. This morning I was checking out Apple’s website for carrying case options for the new iPod nano. I was a little disappointed that the new models don’t come with the little faux-leather slip sleeve that my previous, 5th generation iPod came with. And as I perused the options I discovered the iPod nano swimbelt. Yes, it’s real. Apple doesn’t joke when there’s money to be had. But do people actually swim with their iPods? Apparently at least one person does, because there is one (and only one) superlative review of this product there on the site.