Archive for March, 2012

Why I’m not upgrading to the new iPad – and what I’ve chosen instead

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I admit it – I’m an early adopter.

That means that I enjoy trying out new technologies, though I can also claim I do this for work reasons as well.  As a consultant to unions that want to work better with new technology, I am often asked for my views on this or that new bit of hardware or software.

I got the original iPad back on the day in came out in the UK.  Actually, the day before it came out.  While Apple fans were queuing up late at  night to be the first to enter the stores, I had simply ordered online – and the iPad was delivered to my door the day before the official release.

I have enjoyed it immensely and use it every day.  It always sits on my desktop, turned on, showing my current to-do list (I use the Toodledo app for that).

But after two years, it has begun to show its age.

Once I started adding photos and music to it, it completely filled up.  (I own the smallest, 16 GB, version.)  I couldn’t download a movie to it.  In fact, the last time I tried, I couldn’t even update the apps – there was no room to download the updates.  I eventually deleted the photos and music just to clear room.

But I’ve also noticed a couple of downsides to the iPad over the last two years of intensive use.

The main thing is its size – it’s simply too large to use all the time, especially when travelling.  I’m self-conscious if I take it out on a bus or train.  (Though more and more people do this.)

And it’s heavy too — uncomfortably so for long-term use.

So naturally I was excited when Apple released the iPad 2 last year and the new iPad this year. (more…)

Bayard Rustin, 1912-2012

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Bayard Rustin.

This March marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bayard Rustin, the American civil rights leader who passed away in 1987.  Rustin is remembered as the organiser of the great 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech.

But to socialists, Rustin’s legacy is richer than that.

I first met Rustin some 40 years ago when he agreed to co-chair the Socialist Party together with Michael Harrington and a long-forgotten Jewish trade union leader named Charles Zimmerman.

Rustin was at that time already unfashionable on the left because of his strong opposition to Stalinism and his unflinching support for the state of Israel.

I was to learn later on in life that being unfashionable was nothing new for Bayard.  He was never fashionable, and always championed the causes he believed in, regardless of how unpopular it might make him.

He began his political career with a brief membership in the Communist movement, though he quickly resigned in the wake of the Hitler-Stalin pact.  But his being an “ex-Communist” was to haunt him later in life, when Southern racists in the US Congress were to accuse of him of every sin they could think of.

Not only was Rustin a red, they would say, but he was a draft-dodger and a homosexual.

Rustin’s response was to say that he did indeed refuse to serve in the second world war due to his pacifist convictions — and he paid the price for that.

As for his sexual orientation — and this was back in 1963, long before the Stonewall uprising — he denied nothing.  He told his accusers to raise that issue, if they dared, with his employers.  Later in life, Rustin became an outspoken advocate of gay rights.

Today Rustin’s sexuality, his early flirtation with Stalinism and his pacifism make him to a certain degree acceptable to some parts of the left.

But in his lifetime, his views on the Cold War and on Israel won him few friends on the left. (more…)