Is Apple Suburban?

I came across this article the other day from the New York Times.  In it, the author makes the case that the Open Web is a bit like a city: disorganized, dirty in places, unsafe in others; and that the application-based environments of the iPhone and the iPad is more like a suburban neighborhood with its safe and clean streets.

Something about this really resonated with me.  For the same reason that I live in the city I like the idea of having more open access to my computing experience.  I appreciate the Apple for its focus on design and the experience but, as I’ve written several times in the past, I’m not a fan of their heavy handed control.  In the same way, I like living in the city, where all walks of life are around and every day you can experience something new as opposed to the quiet suburban lifestyle where the experience is more controlled.

While I think the new iPhone (and its operating system) offer some compelling new features, I’m looking forward to this summer when I’ll be able to ditch my AT&T contract without penalty and switch to a more open platform like Google’s Android system.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m also not a fan of allowing Google to have access to having so much of my information but for the time being their system is more compelling to me than Apple.

Prop 16 and the California Constitutional Congress

I’ve been seeing a lot of ads for Prop. 16 lately and it reminds me just how screwed up California can be.

I used to be a big fan of California’s propositions.  I thought that it was a way to get the people more directly involved in government and elections.

I was young and innocent.

Seal of California
Image via Wikipedia

The propositions have long been a way for interest groups to circumvent the legislature and use the uneducated masses to vote on items that they don’t understand.  And they’re just getting worse.

I’m not trying to be harsh on the masses.  When I say uneducated, I’m referring to their awareness of the propositions and their content.  Most people just don’t spend any time to understand what it is they’re voting for (or against).

Prop 16 is a great example of this.  The “Taxpayers’ Right To Vote” proposition.  Who doesn’t like the right to vote?  Why, on the face of it, of course taxpayers should have the right to vote.  But that of course is the problem.  Most people won’t look past the simple description of the ballot measure.

What this proposition is really about is whether California governments should get into ‘public power.’ (I don’t want to trouble with debating the merits or detriments of public power – that’s a separate topic.)  Because what this proposition says, if it passes, is that, should the government be truly interested in getting into public power, they’ll first need a 2/3 majority vote by the public to approve such a move.  And think about that – 2/3 majority is just about impossible.  Just ask someone trying to pass national healthcare or a California budget.  And these were passed by legislatives.  It’s hard to imagine the general public voting 2/3 for anything.

So basically, all one needs to do to change the law is to get a proposition passed (with a simple majority, by the way) that calls for future votes to require a 2/3 majority vote.  In doing so, you lock in your own view and make it near impossible for any future changes.  And how does one do that?  Just throw a bunch of money behind it.  PG&E has already supported this measure with over $30 million (while opponents have raised about $50,000).

More and more I’ve become a fan of a constitutional congress for the state.  Of course that process has the potential to be filled with missteps and problems but we’re getting to the point where almost anything would be better than what we have today.