Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Can You Sue God? Apparently, But I Wouldn't Advise It - Part I: The Filing

Nebraskan State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit against God. He accuses God "of making and continuing to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons, including constituents of Plaintiff who Plaintiff has the duty to represent." It says that God has caused "fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects, and the like." It also says God has caused "calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction." He's seeking a permanent injunction ordering God to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats.

Oh where to begin? Let's start with the point this lunatic is trying to make. He says that senators periodically offer bills prohibiting the filing of certain types of suits. His objection is that doors of the courthouse should be open to all. "Thus anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody - even God." I believe he has just made the opposite point, that the state should regulate what lawsuits can be filed. This frivolous lawsuit is just costing taxpayers money.

Logistically, there are numerous problems with the filing of this lawsuit. He filed this in Nebraska. That would require Nebraska to have jurisdiction over all these catastrophes and terrorizing, which would mean they would have to have taken place in Nebraska. Last I checked, nothing has ever happened in Nebraska. Second, how is God going to be served the papers for this? You'd have to physically track God down. "Plaintiff, despite reasonable efforts to effectuate personal service upon Defendant ("Come out, come out, wherever you are.") has been unable to do so." Chambers asked in the suit that the court waive personal service given the "peculiar circumstances" of the case. "Peculiar circumstances," you got that right. I don't believe the law allows for the waiving delivering the papers to notify the defendant, even to God. (Why they didn't have the foresight to write this into the law I don't know.)

Now let's turn to the heart of the case. Let me start by pointing Mr. Chambers to past transcripts of press conferences and press releases from God, found in the Bible, to aid him in his suit. (The Lord knows that he needs it.) In particular I'd advise he check out the book of Job. God already addressed the issue of why bad things happen to Job and his friends, and we are fortunate enough to have what God said, although unfortunately not on YouTube, so he'll have to read.

God's King of all of creation, so he probably has sovereign immunity. But putting that aside, let's look at what God has said. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements_surely you know! Pr who stretched the line upon it?..." Job 38:4. And turning to the book of Romans, (11:33) "Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" So we must draw from these statements that we are not in a position to challenge God.

I could take a look in depth at some of the many theological problems of this guy's case, but I recently had it pointed out to me by some friends that my blogs can get too long, so that will have to wait. This guy better hope God doesn't choose to make an appearance in court to address these charges. I'm afraid that Chambers will find himself, like Job and his friends, being the one cross examined, and not God.

No One Ever Said Freedom of Speech Was Free

Today while I was at lunch I saw on CNN a story about a journalism student at the University of Florida being tasered during a townhall meeting with Senator John Kerry. He had been asking several questions when he was dragged away from the microphone by campus police and eventually tasered. While this was going on Kerry said to let him answer the question. (You can of course watch this for yourself on YouTube.)

Was this an infringement on free speech? As you should know, the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech. It says Congress will make no law abridging the freedom of speech. It doesn't say that other people, such as the police, can't abridge your freedom of speech, nor does it say that speech is free or without consequence. The cost for this UF student to say what he wanted was being tased. As long as Congress stays out of it, you can't complain.

Who tasers a student for asking a question in front of a bunch of people who are bound to have videocameras? You have to know this is going to end up on the internet and the news. Of course they now have to investigate. In the video you can hear protests of police brutality from onlookers. What do you expect? When will the police learn to only beat people and taser, etc., when there is no videocameras?

Although I could probably go on and on, I feel a picture speaks a thousand words. And if a picture speaks a thousand words, a video clip made up of many pictures speaks a whole volume. So go judge for yourself.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Petition To Apple

I address this post to Mr. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, in response to the decision to refund $100 to the iPhone early adopters after their outcry against the $200 price drop.

Mr. Jobs,

Your decision to placate your irate customers is appalling in the very least. As you know, your company after 10 weeks dropped the price of the $599 iPhone by $200. But then you had an outcry from iPhone users, and are now offering them a $100 rebate. Before we get to that horrendous, detrimental decision, lets ask what reason did you give for this drop now? So that you can "go for it" for the holiday season. I would agree that this was the right move to make at the right time. Almost everyone who is crazy enough to pay $599 for a phone, even an iPhone, has already bought it. If they didn't buy it when they first came out they're not going to buy it, and would be stupid to do so. You're paying to be cool, and that has already worn off. iPhone, big deal, I've already seen people with it. You are right to go after the holiday season sales, and indeed anymore sales at all.

Personally, here's what I think you should have done. You had a bunch of people who would paid whatever price for an iPhone the first day it came out. So you should have released the iPhone at $599 like you did. You have a 14 day return policy. On the 15th day you should have lowered the price. Then you would see a sustained, organic growth in sales, instead of a drop off. But its too late for that.

You said in your Open Letter to iPhone customers that "being in technology for 30+ years [you] can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon." These were well said words with which I whole-heartily agree.

Early adopters of technology always pay a premium for the next latest thing. And that premium comes with the aura of cool, of being hip, of looking impressive. And that early technology is usually a work in progress. I thank early adopters for paving the way to the cheaper, improved products. On their backs we drove on the information superhighway. if it was not for early adopters, we'd have no new technology.

But it is ludicrous to think that one can be an early adopter of technology and receive its benefits, and then get back what you paid when the price drops later on. They know what they were paying $599 for the iPhone when they bought it. As you said, it is always a gamble when buying technology on when the price will come down or an improved version come out. You said so yourself, and yet you went back on your word. I must say as an engineer this ominous decision creates a dangerous precedent that threatens the future of innovation in America. This could raise the expectation that other technology businesses also refund their early adopter customers whenever they drop their prices. New products will never be introduced if they can't initially pay for themselves, which can't happen when they cost the same as they do after they've been out for months. Our economy will become stagnant and we will decline into the stone age, all because of your $100 bride to placate the mob of your angry customers.

I thought Apple had some of the most loyal customers in the world. It would have seemed they would go to the end of the world for Apple, or at least wait in line for hours for a new product. But your customers seem to doubt the "perfect timing" of your price drop. They seem to doubt your ingenuity and keen market sense that has gotten the great company of Apple where it is today, or rather a week ago. Why do they not trust you? If only they were loyal enough to own stock, then they wouldn't make you, Apple, shoot yourself in the foot, but would gladly have paid even more for the iPhone. Perhaps each iPhone should have come with Apple stock.

I ask you if you can put a price on being cool? Clearly you did, $200, the cost of being among the first to own an iPhone and have people gawk at you. That established, I did not, although tempted, buy an iPhone despite the allure of coolness because of the steep $599, I am only a poor college student after all. But that was when I thought it would cost $599, which happens to be the price, and not knowing there would be a $100 rebate. If I had known that it would only cost me $499,, I would have bought an iPhone so that I can be cool. So all I ask, and I believe it very reasonable, that you give me a rebate of $200, the value of cool that I lost out on, and I will use that to help buy an iPhone at the new price of $399. (costing me only $199 or my own money) And while I'm at it, I got a 30-gig video iPod a while ago. Of course the price has dropped and there is also an 80-gig, and now 160-gig iPod. So, I should get the latest iPod and a partial refund.

That is all I have to say you, Mr. Steve Jobs. I hope you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that you are destroying innovation in America. I will await the announcement of a $200 refund to all potential iPhone buyers, and my new 160-gig video iPod. (or I'll settle for the new iPod Touch.)


Greg P.
Concerned Citizen & Concerned Engineer