The Macalope Weekly: Not funny

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[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

This week the Macalope brings you three examples of things that have been funny in the past but have since let us down: Wired, Dan Lyons, and RIM. Time to document the atrocities.

Saturday Special: Drive-by shooting

Wired would very much like you to click on Steven Leckart’s little piece of trolling entitled Recommendation Engine: How Do I Avoid Being an iSheep? At least, that’s the only message the Macalope can get from this, because it’s neither humorous nor informative. (JOKE: WE’RE SHEEP! GET IT?!)

Leckart’s a member of a class of professional freelancers who, for some reason, occasionally get asked to do a drive-by on Apple fans. The Macalope doesn’t understand it, but it’s a thing that happens.

Once you get past the laugh-out-loud hilarity that is the idea of iPhone users being sheep, you get to Leckart’s conclusion.

Recommendation: Go with Android if you’re concerned with openness, hardware options, and/or Steve Jobs’ health. Submit to Apple (and existence as a sheep) if you desire fewer bugs.


Now, the Macalope gets that the “joke” is supposed to be that this is the recommendation based on an algorithm’s interpretation of the news. The problem is, it’s actually Leckart’s stereotype of the news and it’s not funny or accurate. If it’s not over-the-top funny, it should at least have an accurate point (the best pieces are over-the top and have a point); otherwise, it’s useless. Leckart’s piece is not amusing us, and it’s not informing us. The Macalope’s not sure why he has to do Leckart’s job for him, but using all caps and a robot voice might have driven the point home more forcefully.

Since it’s not funny, we’re left considering the actual advice, which makes us wonder what in the name of Artie MacStrawman the health of our iGod and iHoly iSavior Steve Jobs has to do with anyone’s decision to buy an iPhone, baaa baaa baaa?

Look, if Steve Jobs decided to pack it up tomorrow, retiring to the subterranean hyperbaric chamber he’s having built in Area 51 and stocked with one of every animal (but don’t worry, it’s just a precaution), Apple would still be run be a cadre of executives with more smarts, talent, salesmanship, and sheer animal magnetism than the entire Android community combined. Should anyone considering buying an iPhone be concerned about Steve Jobs’s health? No. Potential Apple investors might have reason to be concerned, but is the iPhone ecosystem going to dry up and disappear during the lifetime of your phone (or even your next two phones)? No.

Far better to be concerned with whether or not your carrier will deign to let you run the next release of Android on your phone.


Let’s re-write Leckart’s conclusion so that it’s not only accurate, but funny.

Recommendation: Go with Android if you’re concerned with openness, hardware options, and/or Steve Jobs stealing your precious bodily fluids. Buy an iPhone if you desire less malware, a cleaner user experience, and a seat on Steve Jobs’ giant space ark that will take all Apple users to his home world of Vega (haven’t you heard he’s Vegan?) when the Earth explodes.

See? The Macalope even worked in some silliness at the expense of Apple enthusiasts. Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s better. The only nice thing the Macalope can say about Leckart’s piece is that at least it’s short.

Brain drain

Apple’s stock is down on Wall Street’s concern that…well, no one’s really sure. One pundit frets that, with the departure of executives Bertrand Serlet and Ron Johnson, Apple might be facing a “brain drain.” If there is a brain drain, though, it’s in the people who follow Apple, but don’t get it. Their brains are draining right out of their ears.

They like to fashion themselves after bears and bulls but, to the Macalope’s eye Wall Street often looks more like a herd of frightened gazelles.

Apple’s shares have been on the decline as of late, causing strong reactions from investors and pundits.…

CNN also mentioned Apple’s stock issues, citing public messages from users of social site StockTwits who are concerned by the decline. One user said that Apple is now subject to the “law of large numbers,” which limits a company’s ability to indefinitely post huge gains in revenue and profit; eventually, growth slows.

Sure, that has a tendency to happen, but why? Generally, it happens because management becomes more concerned with protecting existing markets than with developing new ones. Does that sound like Apple? And what’s the trigger for this magical event? Again, this sounds less like science and more like stock-market voodoo.

It should also be noted that stocks in general haven’t been doing that great during the same period as Apple’s decline and that Google’s decline is even worse. The dumb thing is, Apple was already undervalued. Now it’s under-undervalued.

Some of the concern is probably related to concerns over the departure of several Apple executives, which has former fake Apple executive Dan Lyons sounding alarms.

…in recent months two top lieutenants have left the company, and while it is way too early to say that Apple is in trouble, it seems we may be seeing a changing of the guard at the company, one that will mark the end of an era that began in 1996, when Jobs returned to the company he co-founded and launched the most remarkable turnaround in corporate history.

Right. Because no top executive has ever left Apple before.

So, after years of being told only one executive mattered to Apple, we’re now told that the other executives do matter. Only when they go away, apparently.

Jobs has been out of the loop since January, when he announced he was going on yet another medical leave.

“Out of the loop”? The Macalope would suggest that, based on Jobs’s normal level of intense involvement, his involvement on medical leave is still better than a lot of his perfectly healthy CEO peers. Remember, he was CEO of Apple and Pixar for years. And ran a secret ninja strike force.

Oops, the Macalope wasn’t supposed to say that last part out loud.

Meanwhile RIM can’t find its butt with four CEO hands.

Reading Lyons of late is like going to see your favorite band from “back in the day” in concert, and all they want to play is their tepid new stuff aimed at the mainstream. Which sucks.

So, can it, Weezer.


Is it even funny to mock RIM anymore? Like lolcats, Rickrolling, and some third Internet meme we’re all sick of, RIM mockery has almost lost its appeal.

We’ve run through the whole sad cycle: Has-been Hollywood star swears he’s on the verge of a comeback; we laugh and point out that his track record of late seems to indicate he’s incapable of said comeback, and he lashes out at the press; then his comeback oeuvre flops at the box office, and it all falls apart.

Amid layoffs and continued executive cluelessness, RIM has now cut its PlayBook sales target to one-third of the original estimate.

What?! Is this the same PlayBook that RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis described as “an amazing tablet that is already being widely praised as a multi-tasking powerhouse with an uncompromised web experience and an ultra-portable design,” months before it even shipped?

Turns out it is. Very odd. If you can’t trust one half of the RIM CEO executive corps, who can you trust? (Trick question. Turns out you can’t trust the other half, either.)

This is just really annoying and, if the Macalope may say, very inconsiderate of RIM. How are we supposed to keep mocking them when they’re so pathetic? Everyone likes to watch a train wreck, but no one wants to watch the aftermath. What’s next for RIM? Reality TV?

Actually, the Macalope would watch that.

(Disclosure: the Macalope holds an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

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