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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Nokia 5110

This is how Nokia will re-conquer the world

On September 9, 2014, Apple announced two products that will hopefully revolutionize the world, but not in the way Apple thinks they will.

The iPhone 6 came first. Much like its predecessor, it doesn’t offer anything that would make me throw away my old iPhone 4 and buy the new iPhone. Moreover, the iPhone 6 is also bendable, making it even less attractive. I really like my iPhone 4 despite its assembly by slave labor, and I understand Apple’s need to sell as many products as possible, but selling me a crappy product simply won’t do.

Second came the Apple Watch. After years of unadorned wrists, Apple now kindly asks me to shackle myself to another outlet for all the applications that are already prevalent on the ever more common phablets.

Some of you might remember the era that was abruptly ended by the original iPhone. This was a time when every vendor tried to minimize their mobile devices to the size of ring? I certainly remember that time and its unchallenged hero – the Nokia 5110. It had a battery that ran indefinitely, did not require updates, booted almost instantaneously and was so robust that it would probably break your wrist if you tried to bend it like you just did with your iPhone 6. I can’t wait for Nokia to issue a new device called the “Nokia Classic(TM)” that will offer just these great features. To hell with all the apps, and the chat functionality and the camera and everything else – I just want a phone.

Unfortunately, this hypothetical Nokia Classic will not be the next great thing. The great leap forward for Nokia will be to realize the screen-size issue. When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone, he didn’t actually say “look at this phone – it has so many features!” but rather “look at this tiny  computer that can also make phone calls!”. Don’t get me wrong, tiny computers are great, but in order to work efficiently, you’d need need a much larger screen than the original 3.5″. This is the Apple Watch’s great realization – there’s room for small screens!

So, now imagine a Nokia Classic that has an Apple Watch for a screen. Imagine them reverting single-threaded processing to save on battery power and losing the touch-sensitive screen. A color display isn’t required either – there’s no reason why e-ink technology can’t be used on phone displays too. I don’t need this small gadget to play games or to watch movies, and I don’t need a built-in camera either.  If I need any of these, I’ll just use a proper computer. In fact, I actually believe that the majority of the population doesn’t even need a computer and can manage perfectly well with a camera. If I need a camera, I can settle for a WiFi camera like Sony’s QX-100.

All that remains, therefore, is for Nokia to realize that they’re sitting on a goldmine and for Apple to stop pushing crappy products at crazy prices…

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In the Hitcher Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams describes the Golgafrinchans’ idea of getting rid of all the “useless” people. Ian Hunter has offered a useful summary of this, and I personally agree with both Adams and Hunter in that the “useless” people should be eliminated, although I disagree with their methods. The bottom line is that these are human beings who can produce value when “harnessed” properly and  — as Hunter explained — it’s nearly impossible to classify people as inherently useless.

What makes a person useless?

OK, first of all it’s important to identify that the uselessness is derived from the function this person is playing and not from the person her or himself. A telemarketer, for example, might be a great person stuck in an extremely lousy job. I mean, why do we have telemarketers in the first place? are there any sane kids whose dream is to grow up and become a telemarketer? was there ever a person who said “thank god for telemarketers?”

Well, actually, there was. The business owner whose business had thrived thanks to the hard work of people sitting in small cubicles, calling complete strangers and asking them to spend money on something they don’t need. And since our economies are built on people spending money to buy short-lived products, then, yes, we should all be grateful for those telemarketers calling us day and night and tirelessly persuading us to buy more and more “stuff” and throw away our perfectly-serviceable-yet-not-the-latest products.

Well, I’m sorry but, for example, if I want to stay updated with the latest features that are guaranteed to improve my life, I will have to upgrade my iPhone.

How much money did you spend on your new gadget? how long did you work in order to earn that sum of money? wouldn’t it be a better if you could improve your life without working? And don’t say “But I have to work!” because it’s a circular argument.

But let’s talk for a moment about another Sci-Fi series – Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. At the end of the original novel, Ender uses near – light speed travel to go 3000 years into the future. The amazing thing is that in spite of the books’ depth and detail and its portrayal of a world filled with different planets, aliens and characters, the technology remains the same for the entirety of Ender’s journey. Wouldn’t it be a bummer if he would no longer be able to connect to the net because his communication devices are too ancient? why is my 4 year old iPhone 4 becoming obsolete while Ender’s spacecraft is still relevant after millennia?

OK, so before I proceed to my main argument, let’s bear in mind that the last great Human Endeavour was the moon landing about 50 years ago. Sure, we advanced since then, and  now have the internet, and cheap commercial flights, and better technology, but there’s a big difference between a person waking up in the morning thinking “I go to sell useless stuff in order to earn a minimum wage” and the same person thinking “I’m part of this big project to of putting a man on the moon.” I’m not sure whether putting a man on the moon was justified in the first place, but let’s suppose that it was, because that’s what the people involved in the project believed to be true.

So here’s the recap: let’s say that everyone on Earth provided a certain amount of work for a certain period of time. This is the Human Endeavour. We as a society need to decide how these efforts are to be used. Maybe we don’t need so much effort? maybe we can re-assign the “useless” people to work that is actually needed? Eventually, everyone would be able to work a little less and have more free time to spend outdoors or to read a book?

And what about those who enjoy their work? Great! I’m not stopping them. Let them do whatever makes them happy, but let’s please get rid of the consumerist madness that has plunged us into willful slavery. In other words, it’s high time that we stopped worshipping “money” as the be-all and end-all of existence and moved to something more beneficial, not just to us, but to humanity as a whole.

"This isn't freedom. This is fear."

George Orwell‘s book 1984 is all about how horrible communism is

No, it’s not. I mean – yes, it does show the dark sides of communism, but it’s actually against something much worse and by far more relevant  than ever before: The loss of freedom for a sense of false security provided by a government (any government) falsely legitimized by the people.

Think about it: We got rid of communism, but did the world get any better? have the threats decreased? have our security budgets subsided  since the collapse of the Iron Curtain? No, we just realized there are other enemies who wants us all dead or would just like to eradicate our way of life or – more horribly – our freedom(TM). George Orwell over-simplified reality by positing a mere 3 communist superstates in  perpetual war with each other, which is almost the same as saying that all states are the same. It’s true, of course, but how would we Westerners have viewed the book if the Communists fought Capitalists and corporations? or a fascist dictatorship? and what about a fundamentalist theocracy? would we feel more or less sympathy towards the Communist state if its enemy were our modern-day enemies? What if there weren’t 3 superstates but rather 50 states with different powers and strategies, but not a single one offering true freedom(TM).

why do you put the (TM) when you say “peace”?

Oh, because “Freedom” is a commodity the state offers in exchange for allegiance. How many countries were conquered and how many people died in the fight for ‘freedom’? or in the fight for ‘peace’? aren’t they in fact one and the same?

These words – Freedom(TM) and Peace(TM) – mean so much that people don’t truly grasp their full meanings and just do what their country tells them to do in order to enjoy these great and wonderful things. They would even happily give away their personal freedoms or go to war in order to have them.

Do you live in fear?

Well, yes I do. Most people who unwillingly go to work every morning, live in fear of going hungry or broke or being ostracized by society. But you weren’t asking about this kind of fear. You asked about the Orwellian fear of government terrorism, such as random arrests and tortures.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be born in the right demographic group, a fate not necessarily shared by my fellow citizens (and what about yours?). But fear still plays a crucial part of the interaction between myself and my government as it keeps reminding us of our enemies who would like to drown us in the ocean. These threats could certainly be real, but maybe, just maybe, we could see the situation in a different light.

Governments are powerful, and it can do many things, both good and bad, by virtue of the power and legitimacy it is granted by the people. But the government must also sustain its power, and it does so by programming the people (‘heritage’) to believe they wouldn’t survive without the government (when the truth is the exact opposite).

State-terrorism is another Orwellian over-simplification. There are other means of controlling the population – such as religion,  nationalism, the fear of extermination by ‘enemies’ or even money. This is the kind of money that you can’t refuse without risking starvation or imprisonment.

Argh, so what’s your point?

Simply put, I encourage you to read “1984” again without thinking about Communism. Think about your government and what it actually means when it talks about “peace” or “freedom”. But don’t consider your own peace and freedom but rather those of the countries you are fighting with. Try seeing things from their eyes. And then tell me if “1984” is a fantasy or a rather simplified version of what is happening in the world today.

So you don’t like governments. I get it. Do you have any alternative solutions?

I don’t like brushing my teeth but it doesn’t mean I don’t brush them twice a day. We need our government. It can do great things, but it is our responsibility to make sure it does them. It’s our obligation ensure that the government doesn’t control us by limiting its freedom to tell us what to do. How many times did your government do something against your will? What if we could prevent this from ever happening again?

Theodorus prohibits from encouraging any kind of violence, so what about Capital Punishment? Isn’t it a kind of violence?
Yes, it is, and it’s a very challenging issue. Despite the efforts put into Theodorus so it wouldn’t reflect personal opinions so it would not be biased towards a narrative of ideas or worse – discriminating a part of the demographics, its attitude towards violence is the function of my personal ideology. I believe that any kind of violence should be discouraged, not because violence doesn’t solve anything. On the contrary, it does. But violence causes habituation, meaning you’ll need more and more of it in order to keep it effective. Using violence will make you numb to atrocities. And worse – becoming violent will turn you into to the person with the behavior we’re trying to eradicate.

So you think murderers should go unpunished? you know that the one who shows mercy to cruel, ends up being cruel to the weak…

If I was to think that we should have the lives of all those who believe that “man has the right to take another person’s life”, I would end in the death-row myself. And what is cruel? I don’t deny the existence of cruelty and there are certainly unpleasant people out there. But is a man that kills in order to feed his children would be considered cruel? how about a person fighting to free or to protect his country?

I think it’s fairly simple to see who is an evil murderer and who is an innocent victim

No, not really. And what do you mean “an evil murderer”? can a murderer be not-evil? how about leaders, such as prime-ministers, who send thousand (if not millions) of people to their death, whether its their own people or other people – are they murderers? and what about a white-collar white-person who pollute a river and causes sickness and death to a native village – is he innocent? “innocent” is a term defined by the jurisdictional power and you, the citizen, just hope that it is not corrupted enough to decide for whatever arbitrary decision they might have. And it doesn’t really needs to be corrupted, it can simply be with a different opinion than yours, and you’re down for it. Different opinions about the legal age of marriage, or alcohol consumption, or sex, or drugs or homosexuality or a anything else that is a controversial. If you live in a tolerant regime, you’d probably have less criminals for many other reasons as well, but as soon as you implement a strict justice-mechanism, you’ll find it very difficult to breathe….

But there’s a big difference between killing a terrorist and killing a small infant!

Maybe there’s a difference between victim, whether the victim is an innocent bystander, or maybe the victim is a “bad” person himself and he deserves whatever we decided to inflict upon him. This would mean that the person that should be put to trial is not the offender, rather than the victim and see whether the violent act was justified or not.

Still, there’s a big difference between the person who set out to kill another person and something that happened by accident

Maybe there’s a difference in the intentions, whether the victim was hurt on a deliberate intention, or it was actually a purely accidental. It’s very important distinction, if we could actually get it to work. You shouldn’t forget we’re dealing with a person that intentionally and deliberately harmed another person. Would you trust him to answer truthfully when asked on his intentions? maybe you can, maybe you can’t, but if you agree to this level uncertainty, you may allow yourself to punish ill-intended people that were stupid enough to be honest.

Well, Yes! This is the best strategy we can take in order to have justice

What is justice? “An eye for an eye”? I think it’s a very bad morality, as it perpetuates violence and leaves both sides blind. We can try to think of a different kind of justice. Let’s say that justice is “objectivity”. What is the best interest of society when a violent crime occurred? why is it of our best interest to punish the offender? We don’t want to “give him a lesson” because from that kind of “lessons” people don’t really learn. We want to re-educate him. We want him to understand why what he did was wrong and how he could have resolve the issue without using violence. We would like to keep him as a productive member of society and not shun him away. Heck, he is the society: him, the victim and many people pretty much like them. Putting the offender in jail should be used only when we have reasons to believe that it is dangerous to have him roaming free in among other people. Vengeance isn’t objective. Vengeance is childish and should not be a reason for mature and responsible action.

Okay, okay, please stop! Bottom-line. If I believe that capital-punishment is legitimate – is Theodorus still good for me?

Yes, it is. Because the definition of what is would be considered violent is subjective and something the community decide for itself, so if the community don’t see a certain action as violent, they should simple not report it as such.

Also, you might consider Theodorus’ discouragement as aiming against Vigilantism and not against the Community’s monopoly over violence. Meaning it would be okay for society to use violence but not for the individual members.

If this is the society you want to live in, you can have, but beside the deeply-rooted fear society had brain-washed you to believe that government violence is legitimate because your fellow countryman are inherently evil (are they? will you become violent if there were no violent punishments?), I don’t really see why would you want such a thing.