Thursday, February 19, 2015

Round up

For a change I thought I'd do a quick round up of stories so far this week that grabbed my attention sufficiently to form some kind of opinion, here's a selection..

Designers: I notice that Apple design guru Jony Ive is in the news for slagging off a phone design concept from rival firm Motorola; in doing so he perfectly illustrates why he's a designer and not a businessman. First rule of sales, don't get caught publicly slagging off your competitors, especially on subjective matters like design, it just makes you look like a dick. This market is big enough for all kinds of players and design isn't necessarily the most important factor for many people; no point in alienating potential customers by intimating that they are "wrong" if they don't buy into your particular philosophy. Like many creative people he has an air of arrogance about him which he almost certainly doesn't see and which I suspect is also instrumental in his undoubted success. He has strong views on things and is single minded, a strength and a weakness rolled into one; this is one of the reasons why he's probably best exploited in Apple by being put on a pedestal in a glass box and told to make the latest widget "shiny" and not speak to people, a case of less is more.

Football: We've all become accustomed lately to re-awakening phrases and words that most of us thought were consigned to the dustbins of history; words like "blasphemy" and "apostasy" along with phrases like "offending the prophet". I notice this week that we need to re-open yet another pointless tribal bullshit term, "football hooligan". Along with large swaths of the Islamic world it would appear that some Chelsea fans still inhabit the past; a past where it's reasonable to be intolerant, racist and homophobic and where those who threaten mindless violence get their way. It's a shame that there isn't as much public outcry when some poor soul is violently abused by a Government in say, Saudi Arabia or Egypt as when it's Neanderthal Chelsea fans on the Paris Metro. I'm not a football supporter so I wouldn't like to comment on what action is needed to sort this out at Chelsea, but hardcore football fan Alistair Campbell has 10 ideas that look pretty reasonable to me.

Atheists: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA has been in the news lately, an Atheist (Craig Hicks) murdered three Muslim people by shooting them, apparently over a parking dispute. Many apologists and left leaning commentators in the USA (and some here in the UK) have been jumping on the bandwagon of "militant atheists" and "atheism inspired hate crimes" and you can't help but feel that such people have been yearning for such a combination of events to occur. Was this a "hate crime" inspired by Atheism? Well the honest answer is that we don't know, but fortunately the killer is still alive so we can ask him. Until that happens as part of a due process of Law all we can do is go on the evidence and that evidence would suggest not. America loses roughly 30 people PER DAY to gun crime and the vast majority of those are simple inter-personal disputes between people living in the same locale. In a society where getting access to a high powered weapons is trivial (and positively encouraged) it's no wonder that every-day arguments escalate all to easily.

Russia: As the polemicist and political commentator Christopher Hitchens once said "We will live to regret the conversion of Russia into a heavily-armed, self-pitying, chauvinistic theocracy." I worry that recent events in the Ukraine and now possibly lining up in the Baltic might just prove him right. Russia has it's own interests and those interests are not necessarily aligned with those of the "West" this is a plain fact of life and should be factored in. But, any reasonable person must look at some of these alignments and raise questions. For example, Russia is the biggest supporter of the barbaric Assad regime in Syria, it supplies significant quantities of weapons (10% of Russian military exports) that are essentially the only thing keeping him in power. The thought of another "cold-war" and endless proxy wars in places like the Ukraine, Georgia and Iran fills me with a real sense of foreboding; the Human species was lucky to get through the last one without nuking itself to ashes, the balance of probability is not in our favour to survive another.

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