Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why the iPod is the Greatest Gadget Ever

You know a company is doing the right thing when no less than eight people have asked me if I'm getting an iPhone. Short answer: No. Medium answer: No, not unless they rip out the "phone" part. Longer answer: No, because I've never liked talking on the phone, and cell phones make the experience just that much worse. "What? No, you go... I said... OK, you go first. Look, I really need to run, because it looks... What? Are you still there? Hello! I think I lost you. That means I'm talking to myself right now. Bye!" The only reason people are so fired up about the iPhone is because of the wild success of the iPod.

Here's what I love about my iPod:


This summer I've listened to David Copperfield, a WWII thriller by Scott Turow, a collection of great French and Russian short stories, and I'm part of the way through The Brothers Karamazov, which used to be my favorite novel before David Copperfield -- all while riding my bike. Books and cycling are my peanut butter and chocolate, and iPod is my Reese's.

Bonus use: When my mind is churning at night, I play 1776 by David McCullough, which distracts me, mesmerizes me, and puts me asleep. I've listened to the first few chapters more than a dozen times, and all I remember is that some of the soldiers in George Washington's outfit don't have shoes.


Playlists and downloads are my pride and joy et cetera.


My dentist made fun of me for watching a movie on my iPod. "What is that, a 2-inch screen? And I thought a 13-inch television was too small!" I told the dental dimwit that if you hold the 13-inch television a few inches from your face, it's huge. Then I let him watch a few seconds of The Godfather, Part II. "Hey, that doesn't look half bad!" Then all of a sudden he's making plans to buy his kids iPods for their trip to Hawaii. I didn't even tell him about the accessories you can buy to play your iPod on a larger screen. Television shows are especially good to watch. May I recommend The Wire?


This is a my newest delight. I love the New Yorker podcast in which they have an author read a New Yorker short story and chat about it afterwards. Minette also turned me on to This American Life. In the most recent version, they highlighted a program called Radio Lab, which I'd never heard of. In this particular Radio Lab segment, they speculate on where morality is derived. The hosts describe an experiment in which a person listens to two scenarios. In the first scenario, five men are standing with their backs to an oncoming train; the person can save the five people by pulling a lever, which switches the train to a different track that has only one person on it (no, Mormons, it's not the lever switcher's only son). The second scenario is identical, only the person has to physically push a person off a ledge to save the five people. An overwhelming majority of people say Yes to the first scenario and No to the second. Then the scientists took pictures of the people's brains at the moment of decision, and learned that the two scenarios cause different parts of the brain to become active. Then they discuss the physical evidence that moral decisions are made by deciding between warring factions in the brain. It's interesting and entertaining. Check it out.

Got any suggestions for good podcasts?


  1. AnonymousJuly 12, 2007

    i confess to having an iphone.

    advantages: it's wicked awesome. great screen, great interface, great integration.

    disavantages: it's a bit delicate, is in definite need of some software upgrades (if you get an email with a pic attached, you can't download said pic to your iphone--you have to download the pic to your computer, then sync to get the pic onto your iphone--lame. also, the email is more like old school polling, not as cool as the blackberry pearl email.

    the iphone is bling. but i would never have paid for it if it were my money.

    i love having my phone be my ipod on bike rides, rather than a phone AND an ipod.

    my kids love to watch youtube videos on it. if you're within range of a wireless network (ANY wireless network) the iphone connects and the internet suddenly gets screaming fast. otherwise, not so fast.

  2. AnonymousJuly 12, 2007

    I know how addicting This American Life can be, but don't listen to it during a thunderstorm. Word up.

  3. OK, all right, important safety tip, thanks Egon -- I mean, Minette.

    Dug - I'm with you on not wanting to carry the iPhone and the cell phone. I also like the iPhone's larger screen. Still, the idea of loving a phone above all other worldly possessions would be too jarring for me. I'll need a couple years.