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By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:12 AM

Apple's decision to keep the 3GS available is huge. Previously, Apple has only kept two generations of iPhones on the market at any given time. But, keeping the 3GS out there shows that the company wants to compete at every level of the smartphone market, not just the high end. With the iPhone now on three out of four US carriers and available in low-end, middle and high-end configurations, Apple has “finally” declared all out war on Android.

Time will tell a lot: much of Android's growth has been due to its multi-carrier availability and wide range of pricing. Now what will be its shtick?

LTE Dreams

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:13 AM

Tomorrow is the big day — the iPhone 4S or 5 or whatever-it-will-be-called will finally be unveiled. Reliable rumor reports seem to suggest that Sprint will be receiving the phone. That could be interesting, especially if Apple offers a WiMax enabled version. While AT&T will likely semi-justifiably label its new iPhone as “4G” since it will use HSPA+, a WiMax enabled phone would be a “true 4G” variant.

Still, the real dream remains LTE. I think it is almost certain that Apple will not release an LTE-based phone tomorrow. But, after spending a few weeks using a Verizon 4G Galaxy Tab 10.1”, I can't help but think about how nice an iPhone with LTE would be.

That dream may still be a bit off in the distance, sadly.

Go Cards!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:50 AM

Yes, the Cardinals are in the post-season and you know what that means: I will start gabbing about baseball on here again. It was good to see the Cards beat the Phillies tonight. I have a good feeling about their overall momentum right now.

Could a Cardinals-Yankees World Series be in the mix, perhaps? Having the two winningest teams together at the World Series would be fun.

After Apple Picking

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:33 AM

A little Robert Frost seems apropos to me tonight.

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

The First Real iPad Competitor

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:02 AM

Most tablets have been dead on arrival — they cost as much or more than the iPad and none of them can do everything the iPad can do. Sure, each has its own shtick that it does better than the iPad; the trouble is, none of them present a compelling narrative for how they are going to improve the way people do the things they really want to do.

That will change with the Amazon tablet:

Meanwhile Amazon has summoned the press to an event Wednesday, September 28, in New York City, where many are guessing the company will unveil a new tablet computer based on Google's Android operating system.

I'm not predicting the iPad's doom. But, I think Amazon may be the one company intelligent enough to really compete with Apple for consumers' hearts and minds. (The fact that they've built up a huge pile of digital media perfect for a Kindle tablet won't hurt either.) Given that Amazon is bringing its powerful Kindle franchise into the mix, this tablet may run on a fork of Android, but I'd be surprised to see Android branding anywhere.

A Second Language

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:51 AM

The ever interesting Stanley Fish wrote awhile back on students wanting to observe their own “dialects” and “styles” instead of proper English grammar:

And if students infected with the facile egalitarianism of soft multiculturalism declare, “I have a right to my own language,” reply, “Yes, you do, and I am not here to take that language from you; I'm here to teach you another one.” (Who could object to learning a second language?) And then get on with it.

I don't always agree with Fish, but here is one place we are in perfect agreement.

The Human Side of an Icon

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:39 AM

Lisen Stromberg writes observations on being a neighbor to Steve Jobs:

While Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and CNET continue to drone on about the impact of the Steve Jobs era, I won't be pondering the MacBook Air I write on or the iPhone I talk on. I will think of the day I saw him at his son's high school graduation. There Steve stood, tears streaming down his cheeks, his smile wide and proud, as his son received his diploma and walked on into his own bright future leaving behind a good man and a good father who can be sure of the rightness of this, perhaps his most important legacy of all.

Creativity is Critical

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:20 PM

Richard Paul writes in Critical Thinking:

When a mind does not systematically and effectively embody intellectual criteria and standards, is not disciplined in reasoning things through, in figuring out the logic of things, in reflectively devising a rational approach to the solution of problems or in the accomplishment of intellectual or practical tasks, that mind is not 'creative.'

An astute comment often overlooked, especially in poesy. The good poet is creative not because he vomits raw emotion onto a page and calls it “art,” but rather because he labors tirelessly on the meaning of each word until a collection of words transcend themselves and becomes something more. A poem.

Back in the Blogging Seat

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:13 AM

I've been meaning to get this blog back into gear and have some new subjects that I will want to sort through on here in the coming months. First and foremost, I am (much to my delight) serving as an adjunct this fall, teaching World Religions — I think that will provide me with plenty to mull over here.

The big question I am mulling over right now is this: is it truly possible to study the World Religions objectively? The question is difficult because I am not so sure our sense of what objectivity is with regards to such a subject is even real. Mitch Numark's insightful analysis of nineteenth century Scottish missionaries in Bombay published in May issue of the Journal of Asian Studies has been challenging me on that point this week. Maybe what we think of as the “objective study” of religions is merely the subjective viewpoint of post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment westerners. I'll be posting more on that subject in the near future.

Meanwhile, my fellow theo-blogger Travis McMaken blogged yesterday on just how small the world is. Travis stopped by asisaid back when I was first starting seminary in 2007 and interacted with one of my posts on Karl Barth. Since then, I've regularly read his excellent theo-blog, Der Evangelische Theologe. Earlier this summer, I learned that Travis had been hired as an assistant religion professor in my alma mater's Religion department. When I found out, I wrote him to welcome him to St. Louis and we discussed meeting sometime after he arrived.

As it so happens, a month or so later, I received the exciting news that I was being brought on as an adjunct in the same department. With the semester kicked off this past week, Travis and I finally met in the cafeteria. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to further discussions with him in the coming months of the fall semester.

Paved Paradise

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:48 AM

Too often we don't know what we've got until it is gone. How often is it that we look at what God has given us and say, “that's not good enough”? It may be an inevitable part of this life, though one that we need to actively combat.

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