Opiate and Solace

... and he saw that it was good.


"What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm.
Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape."
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Freidrick Nietzsche

I step out of the Red Line train in a Nietzschean mood of angry, soul-empty despair in which the future is laid out before me not as a map to be read or a path to be walked, but as a flat, black, ACME-issued portable hole to be feared, or leapt into with self-destructive loss of self.

If Zarathustra was stuck in the South Station bus terminal with an hour to kill, what would he do?

Would he stand up on a soapbox and proclaim the death of God? Would he try to convince the throngs of the stale-wool commuters and confused, lobster-seeking tourists that their highest goal should be bridging the gap between plant and ghost in the advancement of the UberMensch? Would he stare at the bees running their courses and pick out those who have enough chaos inside to birth a dancing star?

Or would he, like me, simply sit on the ground, lean silently against the rusty iron lampposts, feel the concrete suck warmth and life through the seat of his jeans, and pull out his iPhone?

The idea that Appleism goes beyond brand isn’t new. In a famous (for those with free time and serious issues) blog post David Kuo proposed that the brand-loyalty exhibited by Apple fanatics did in fact match certain textbook definitions of religion. And if Appleism is a religion, than I’m something of an Edward Abbey-styled jack-mormon.

In college, I was never cool enough, or rich enough to own a mac. I owned an Apple IIe, one which I saved mountains of small-jobs money to attain. The IIe was replaced by an Atari ST. Neither was as cool as a Mac. I hung out with Mac-friends, hoping it would rub off. They did art projects in dithered binary black and white. They chatted on the campus network, black text on round-cornered white pages.

They would always be cooler.

For a time, my assumed mastery of the command prompt was like a badge of honor, covering up a festering abscess of resentment.

In 1989, frustrated by the paper-based collaborative writing system at the daytime TV show for which I worked, a few fellow geeks and I orchestrate a palace coup of the writer’s room. We install a 16 terminal Wordperfect environment built on the back of a single SCO Unix server running a blazingly fast Intel 486 processor. It costs over $10,000.

My friend Jason buys a Mac SE/30 with bonus money from a film project. He’s using it to write a screenplay in his loft, and play Cosmic Osmo. He wins.

As Apple rolls out lust-worthy objects one after one in the last 20 years, I have only the occasional opportunity to join the cult – a startup company settles on Pizza Box Macs. But I soon leave and join the PC dominated work force, and my love of video games keeps me firmly in the PC camp from thereon.

When the iPhone finally surfaces, a subtle undercurrent of unsatisfied Apple-longing explodes into an entirely irrational enraptured fervor. I go into the closet. I become an iPhone critic, pointing out every flaw, every shortcoming.

A little less than a year ago I gave up my subconscious pretense and became fully aware. I bought one.

For months I carried it around like a talisman. Other iPhone owners would give me nods of recognition in crowded malls, more intimate and telling than if we had both worn 8-inch-tall gold crosses around our necks or borne tribal tattoos on our foreheads broadcasting our allegiance to Crom. I would feel its weight in my pocket, and the simple knowledge that it was there would give me embarrassed comfort.

I should point out that in the fading New England mud season of 2008, the iPhone had no games whatsoever. From an outsiders view, I did exactly five things with it: made calls, sent text messages, checked email, surfed the occasional website, and listened to music. For any lengthy excursion from the confines of my basement – say, a walk into town – I carried something else: my PSP, or my DS. But these devices were always relegated to a backpack. They didn’t live pressed against the flesh of my thigh, night and day.

In July of this year, Mr. Jobs unleashed the App Store on iPhone owners. I had low expectations. Perhaps my religious appetite had been so sated that the idea of more was simply inconceivable.

And now, some months after the App Store’s unveiling, I make this proclamation:

The iPhone is the perfect gaming platform.

I ask you to take the previous thousand words as context and justification for hyperbole. There is really no rational argument I can make to support this claim – it’s not the most powerful handheld. It doesn’t have the biggest screen, the biggest library, a removable battery, stereo speakers, a D-pad, or a dozen other check-box items to justify this claim.

What it does have is a few good games from big developers: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, SPORE Origins, X-Plane, Crash Bandicoot. It has a few good games from the indy-world: GalCon, Line Rider, Enigmo. But much more importantly:

  • Every game is a download, meaning I have a new game any time I want one.
  • Nothing costs more than $10.
  • I always – always – have it with me.

Since I started carrying my iPhone I have not played a single game on my PSP or my DS. It’s not for a lack of titles – solid releases continue for both on a regular basis. Rather, I’ve stopped carrying a backpack. No laptop, no DS, no PSP, no book, no Kindle, no newspaper. The only other item regularly in that backpack was a sweatshirt, which I now carry tied around my waist. On longer trips, where my laptop was non-optional, I’ve eschewed my overloaded carryon of the past in favor of simplicity.

And yet, even in this unburdened state, I play more games. Maybe not the very, very best games. Maybe not with the very, very best hardware. But more games.

So as I sit on the floor of the South Station bus terminal, I can, for a moment at least, deny the abyss.

Comments

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home. I didn't realize there were still cellular holdouts in the developed world.

Oh, I have one. I don't want it, though. I got it because I have a very long commute and may need it for emergencies. It's a pre-paid phone, which I only have to pay $10 a year for, which is more than enough. Otherwise, no one knows my number, nor calls me on that phone. I don't use regular phones either, really.

wordsmythe wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home.

I feel land lines are still needed for those of us who have young children at home. I won't trust the cellphone of the 14-year old babysitter in case I need to call home and check up on things, or she needs to call us or (God forbid) 911 in case of an emergency.

wordsmythe wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home.

Spoken like someone who doesn't live in the deep boonies. If I lived in the city, I'd be right there with ya.

Certis wrote:

No need to start trolling, doomcryer.

Alright, that's fair. I'll just internalize my hatred of Apple where it can fester quietly as a mental illness.

OK, time for a tech checkup. Rabbit, do you still use
a) your Kindle
b) Wii Fit
c) the SumoSac?

Nyles wrote:

OK, time for a tech checkup. Rabbit, do you still use
a) your Kindle
b) Wii Fit
c) the SumoSac?

a) My wife or I do every night
b) Not as much as I thought I would, but to fair, every moment of excervie has been spent on Marathon training for two months. The kids use it frequently.
c) I read to my kids in it several nights a week, and they jump on it for a half an hour an afternoon at least. It's a great landing pad for leaps off the back of the couch.

DS/PSP - gathering dust.
360 - not daily, but pretty frequent
PS3 - nearly daily for movies or Hulu. Occasionally for games.
Wii - fits and starts.
SLI Rig - only occasionally gets the second card in SLI mode, but has four monitors.
MacBook Air - having my children as we speak.

Did I miss anything? Bah!

That's a good return rate on everything but the DS/PSP. Nice.

rabbit wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home.

Spoken like someone who doesn't live in the deep boonies. If I lived in the city, I'd be right there with ya.

Have you considered Chicago? We have a wonderful condo glut downtown!

rabbit wrote:

a) My wife or I do every night
b) Not as much as I thought I would, but to fair, every moment of excervie has been spent on Marathon training for two months.

OoCT, or advice on marriage?

In my experience the battery lasts from a couple to a few hours depending on what you are playing.

I have yet to actually run out in between places where I can charge, even flying across the country and sending text messages and gaming. Would it last TWO days? No way. Will it last for one reasonably tough work day? Absolutely. Can I play Spore Origins for 5 hours? Nope.

rabbit wrote:

I have yet to actually run out in between places where I can charge, even flying across the country and sending text messages and gaming. Would it last TWO days? No way. Will it last for one reasonably tough work day? Absolutely. Can I play Spore Origins for 5 hours? Nope.

While not my only problem (With Apple in general, as well as the iPhone in particular), that's a big deal breaker for me. Some of us want, and even occasionally need a phone with 5 days of idle time or more. The iPhone would quickly become my world's most useless paperweight.

Rabbit, have you seen this: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/entry/just-mobile-gum-and-gum-pro-portable-usb-power-packs/

Might come in handy for those long trips where you can't be quite sure if you can find a USB socket in time.
I was thinking of getting one for my iPhone and all assorted USB devices. Although I can't remember if you are a 3G owner or not, since that really is a battery drainer.

Ooh. Shiny key icon! Awesome.

Yeah, those little battery packs are nice, but I have two of these guys, and these are nice, as they have a USB port and also do 110, although depending on what you're powering, battery life with the 110 plug will vary. But one powered my IKEA LED lighting set during the power outage from Ike blustering through PA, as well as, on occasion, my DSL modem for my internet fix. They are a good bit bigger than those other battery packs, however. I have one that is the same size as an iPod too. It passed through airport security without a second glance.

I'm equal parts impressed, jealous, and a little creeped out. You've crossed the not-so-subtle line into existential discourse and it makes me feel ooky that it's about a phone. I hope they never make a gold one, but if they do perhaps it should have a ram's head on the back.

MacBrave wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home.

I feel land lines are still needed for those of us who have young children at home. I won't trust the cellphone of the 14-year old babysitter in case I need to call home and check up on things, or she needs to call us or (God forbid) 911 in case of an emergency.

Seconded. I have a cell that I use as my daily phone, but I keep the landline for emergencies (local service only). For example, if there's a power outage I call the power company from my landline so I'm not draining the cell battery on hold.

Another benefit of having the landline is that it basically becomes a cheap spam filter. I don't want to get telemarketer calls on my cell, and the do-not-call registers don't work. So when a company asks for my telephone number, rather than risk them selling my cell number to some cold-caller, I give them my landline and let the machine get it.

Rabbit - You spent way to much time reading Nietzsche. That is why your DS/PSP are so neglected Of course you are bettering yourself from ape to man to could it be Ubergamer and then a return to the gooey morass to start the cycle once again

TheWanderer wrote:

I'm equal parts impressed, jealous, and a little creeped out. You've crossed the not-so-subtle line into existential discourse and it makes me feel ooky that it's about a phone. I hope they never make a gold one, but if they do perhaps it should have a ram's head on the back.

I prefer my golden idols to be calf-shaped.

cmitts wrote:

Rabbit - You spent way to much time reading Nietzsche.

Quiet you!

cmitts wrote:

Rabbit - You spent way to much time reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Fixed that for ya. If Nietzsche had wrote this in 2008, he would have published it as a graphic novel.

souldaddy wrote:
cmitts wrote:

Rabbit - You spent way to much time reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Fixed that for ya. If Nietzsche had wrote this in 2008, he would have published it as a graphic novel.

You're going to "fix" and not bother to correct the obvious grammatical error?

Frotz for the iPhone? You've just ruined any chance I had for being productive this week. Thanks a million, rabbit

nsmike wrote:

I would love to have all of that in my pocket, minus the phone. I hate cell phones, and I don't want one. Problem is, the best mobile broadband coverage comes from cell phone providers. We need a blanket WiFi-type service, so I can run Skype on that device if I really wanted to call someone. Otherwise, keep the phone OUT of my pocket, please.

I can see a point to this. While I like the increase communication I don't like being on call 24/7.

I remember getting yelled at by my boss for not picking up my phone on my day off. 10 years ago they would of called my home and cursed that I wasn't there.
Now they I assumed that I screen their call (which i did)

But for the most part I like it. I love what I can find my friends at anytime and haveing emergency communication almost anywhere. But then theres always other people that you don't want getting a hold of you. But as it stands I feel naked with out my phone now.

Although I would love to have the Android. It still looks like I am leaning towards the Iphone. I am waiting for a 32g model so maybe by then I will hear of another Android phone that will make me wait.

I really want to combine my phone/media/games in one device. I love googles web apps so I would love an Android based ohone to be that.

Years ago, a friend's father who had a home office told me how he managed his work life. He said that he had a separate room designated for work which had its own phone line, etc . At 9am he went into the room to work and at 5pm he left and if the office phone rang outside these hours he didn't answer it. Employers must understand that just because someone is capable of working remotely doesn't mean that they have implicitly dedicated their life to work. It is perfectly acceptable to set reasonable limits on work hours and responsibilities, and employers have no right to expect more of someone just because they are in a different location.

Personally, my decision to purchase a cellphone was made while I was sitting in an airplane that had been grounded for bad weather. I was on the way to visit family, some of whom were waiting for me at the destination, and I had no way of telling them that my plane hadn't even taken off yet. I arrived a day or so later to discover that they had slept in their car at the airport because the airline wasn't telling anyone the status of the flight, so they thought I may arrive at any time. These days I honestly don't understand why anyone would be without a cellphone, for reasons such as this. But unless you're on call, no one has a right to expect you to be available just because they dialed your number.

Oh... I have an iPhone and I think it's a great tool overall. Less suited to being a day planner than the Blackberry I used to have, but it's just as good a phone and the internet capabilities are unmatched. For games, I think the motion sensing is the killer feature, with the touch-screen as a so-so input option overall. I don't have fingertips the size of eraser heads and miskey constantly, even after months of practice. This is livable for the occasional email, but it saps all the fun out of games that rely too heavily on touchscreen input. But then I've seen people touch-type with the touch-screen keyboard of their iPhone, so perhaps it's just me.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Seriously, though, I'm on the side that doesn't see the need for a land line at home.

I feel land lines are still needed for those of us who have young children at home. I won't trust the cellphone of the 14-year old babysitter in case I need to call home and check up on things, or she needs to call us or (God forbid) 911 in case of an emergency.

Seconded. I have a cell that I use as my daily phone, but I keep the landline for emergencies (local service only). For example, if there's a power outage I call the power company from my landline so I'm not draining the cell battery on hold.

Same. And don't forget to have a phone that simply plugs into the phone line (ie. has no AC adaptor) so it will work during power outages. The $10 a month to have one is really worth it, even if it's only given out to salespeople, the ringer kept off, and used only for dialing 911 (hopefully never).

Oh, and for those of you who think that your cellphone is just fine for dialing 911, think again. I talked to a paramedic recently who said that emergency services in my area ignores 911 calls from cellphones as a general rule because they get so many calls asking for traffic information and the like. I expect this is very region-dependent, but it's something to be aware of nevertheless.

complexmath wrote:

Oh, and for those of you who think that your cellphone is just fine for dialing 911, think again. I talked to a paramedic recently who said that emergency services in my area ignores 911 calls from cellphones as a general rule because they get so many calls asking for traffic information and the like. I expect this is very region-dependent, but it's something to be aware of nevertheless.

Traffic information? Who does that? But still there should be some penalty for ignoring 911 calls. Even if it is 100 bogus calls for 1 person that really needs help its worth it. Especially in this generation. I have never had a land-line since college and neither has any of my friends. I've been considering it for emergency purposes (no power) since I'm thinking about going DSL over cable soon.

nsmike wrote:

I would love to have all of that in my pocket, minus the phone. I hate cell phones, and I don't want one. Problem is, the best mobile broadband coverage comes from cell phone providers. We need a blanket WiFi-type service, so I can run Skype on that device if I really wanted to call someone. Otherwise, keep the phone OUT of my pocket, please.

Most of the networks over here do USB 3G modems so you can get mobile broadband without a phone. Are those available in the US? If that's not what you're looking for you'll have to wait for WiMax services to roll out (whenever that happens).

Personally I'd be glad to get rid of my landline, it's pretty much just an ADSL line at the moment. The line rental is more expensive than my mobile, too.

Secret Asian Man wrote:
complexmath wrote:

Oh, and for those of you who think that your cellphone is just fine for dialing 911, think again. I talked to a paramedic recently who said that emergency services in my area ignores 911 calls from cellphones as a general rule because they get so many calls asking for traffic information and the like. I expect this is very region-dependent, but it's something to be aware of nevertheless.

Traffic information? Who does that? But still there should be some penalty for ignoring 911 calls. Even if it is 100 bogus calls for 1 person that really needs help its worth it. Especially in this generation. I have never had a land-line since college and neither has any of my friends. I've been considering it for emergency purposes (no power) since I'm thinking about going DSL over cable soon.

I think 611 typically dials some sort of traffic information service with some cell providers, and people probably just mix up the numbers. In any case, I completely agree that no 911 call should ever be ignored, but that doesn't appear to be the reality. At least most of us live in neighborhoods where emergency services will actually respond if called. That's an issue in some cities as well :p

Zelos wrote:
nsmike wrote:

I would love to have all of that in my pocket, minus the phone. I hate cell phones, and I don't want one. Problem is, the best mobile broadband coverage comes from cell phone providers. We need a blanket WiFi-type service, so I can run Skype on that device if I really wanted to call someone. Otherwise, keep the phone OUT of my pocket, please.

Most of the networks over here do USB 3G modems so you can get mobile broadband without a phone. Are those available in the US? If that's not what you're looking for you'll have to wait for WiMax services to roll out (whenever that happens).

Personally I'd be glad to get rid of my landline, it's pretty much just an ADSL line at the moment. The line rental is more expensive than my mobile, too.

The 3G networks in the US are able to do this, but from what I've seen the networks try to prevent this by limiting cellphone features. There was actually some software release for the iPhone a while back that turned it into a 3G modem of sorts via bluetooth (if I remember correctly), but the app was pulled from the Apple Store shortly after its release with no explanation as to why. I think it may have violated the EULA for AT&T wireless service or some such.

(Skimmer)

One more hit for Zoroastrianism! Amen