In case you haven't noticed, this is a big election year here in the good ole' U.S. of A. The Presidency and various House and Senate seats are up for grabs.
We run this political gauntlet every 4 years. Commercials born in lies, rumors, half-truths, and speculations glorify the endorser and damn the opponent. Hidden personal and often mildly questionable deeds suddenly become public knowledge and the basis for verbal lynchings. Huge amounts of money is fed into a well oiled propaganda machine that are specifically designed to obfuscate and confuse.
And that's just for the race for the local county commissioners' office.
I'll admit, politics is not a subject I enjoy, and I see this quadrennial assault on my calm as a necessary evil, the alternative to which is immeasurably worse. There's no way I can devote enough grey matter to fully understand the often trumped up subtleties on any given political subject. For instance:
-The budget deficit: I know we have one and it's huge and growing. Fiscal responsibility and austerity would be my cure, but how to do it and who gets slighted?
- Military actions: I know we are waging military actions, if not wars in foreign places, but the whys and hows get lost in translation. Our friends today are in our gunsights tomorrow, or us theirs.
We can go down the list; immigration, gun control, Social Security, and on and on with every candidates claiming to have the answer.
Burying your head in the sand doesn't help, you just wind up with a head full of sand. The best thing to do is to at least keep an occasion eye on the folks we put in office, and what better way to do that than with free apps designed for that very purpose.
White House App
Did you know that the White House is 212 years old? It was completed in 1800 and has been the residence and executive offices of the President of the United States and his family and staff ever since. It's been burned, expanded, parts of it deconstructed, then reconstructed, and has hosted royalty and dignitaries from nearly every country in the world.
Photos in White House app
As you might imagine, a lot goes on in the White House and if it's business of state then we are privy to know about it. Of course, we all can't just drop by for a chat with Barrack and Michelle Obama, party crashing would likely be frowned upon by The Secret Service, but we can keep tabs on the White House happenings with a decent free app simply called, White House.
The app give you news, press releases, photos, and videos of all the happenings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It also delivers presidential appearance schedules in case The Prez and his crew happen to stop by your particular neck of the woods.
The app is simple and well done. Content is easily accessible and changes often so it's always something new when you visit the app.
White House is your tax dollar at work so you may as well grab it.
Real Time Congress
If watching the President doing his thing isn't your thing then maybe you'd rather see how our House and Senate representatives are doing their thing. If so then Real Time Congress is the app you want.
Here you'll get the latest scuttlebutt on bills, amendments, and other national concerns as they are championed, argued over, and ultimately voted in or out of existence.
Real Time Congress is a bit dry however. No pretty pictures to fowl up the boring text and hardly a dollop of color to break up the monotony. If, however, you dig into the party Whip areas you start to find some interesting bits as each party promotes what they believe is important. You find videos, speech audios and more. It would be nice if the whole app was as well done as the whip areas.
Like the White House app, Real Time Congress is free and ad-free, and runs on iPhone and iPad. If you're into politics this is your app.
Watching congressional action is often akin to watching grass grow, and in some circles watching a lawn sprout is far more interesting. That's not to say that politics is nothing but boring. In fact, there's humor in them there congressional halls, and Comedy Central can put you in the thick of it with its Indecision Game.
Think of it as the venerable global conquest game, Risk, meets a politicized version of Trivial Pursuit. You take turns against other players answering questions. The person who gets the highest score for that round wins the round. In the event of a tie the person who answered quickest wins.
Each round players are awarded points, winners obviously get more points than the loser. You use the points to capture states. The player who gets 100 points first, and therefore the most states, wins. If you're into politics, which I am not, then this game can be a lot of fun. Even those of you who are like me and don't know much about political trivia can have fun against others with similarly barren political knowledge.
And wouldn't you know it, you might actually learn something. The game offers trivia tidbits at certain times. For instance, when you select Washington State the game will let you know that it's the only state named after a president.
It's free and fun. What's not to like?
And that's a wrap for this week. I'll rummage through more free stuff for your perusaling pleasure next week here on Free on iTunes.