Tag Archives: Apple

Removing the right of choice

Fox News had an opinion piece 2 days ago that only now met my eyes. Now, for the most, apart from some Guardian opinion pieces, I tend to stay away from them. Yet, this one caught my eye because not only was the situation upsetting. The issue that Americans use their right to free speech to deny others the right to choose (to some degree) is another matter and it became clear that I should give my view in all this.

The title ‘Is the West finally pushing Saudi Arabia to squelch its version of radical Islam?‘ First off, why on earth do we see the need ‘forcefully silence or suppress‘ the choice of Islam? Now, I am merely a Christian in this, but I do not see any reason here. In the second, the setting of ‘radical Islam‘ is equally an issue. What makes it radical? That is not me being clever, it is an actual question. When does any religion become ‘radical’?

Now, I am merely quoting Wiki here (just the easiest part), and important that as a Christian and not armed with a knowledge of Arabic, I might wrongfully quote her, so be aware of that. With: “In the 18th century, a pact between Islamic preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and a regional emir, Muhammad bin Saud, brought a fiercely puritanical strain of Sunni Islam first to the Najd region and then to the Arabian Peninsula. Referred to by supporters as “Salafism” and by others as “Wahhabism”, this interpretation of Islam became the state religion and interpretation of Islam espoused by Muhammad bin Saud and his successors (the Al Saud family), who eventually created the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932“, you see, my issue, perhaps partially better stated as my grievance with Nina Shea is not that she is a lawyer or a Christian, but that she is both. That one nation that has been hypocrite towards empowering outspoken Christians and Christian puritans at nearly every twist and turn of every American administration since WW1 is now speaking out against another puritan based religion? How screwed up is that?

And the fact that we also see in the Fox News pages that she currently is a leader of a campaign for Christians threatened with genocide by ISIS, is even worse. As American Presidents have refused to name the Armenian Genocide as such because of concerns over alienating Turkey, with former president Barack Obama being the latest weakling in that long line of individuals in denial. And when we get to alienating Turkey? Turkey alienated them self for a long time, going all the way back to 2001 and they only alienated themselves stronger with nearly everyone after that. So genocide is only recognised when it is in the interest of US political policies? How hypocrite is that? So even as this happened less than a year ago, we see: “But although ISIS’ genocidal intent has long been clear, the extent of the group’s atrocities has remained murky. Local authorities and human rights organizations have made some attempts to compile lists of victims. According to those lists, between 2,500 and 5,000 Yazidis had been killed by ISIS while over 6,000 had been kidnapped. But the UN has not yet been able to independently verify these figures” (source: www.foreignaffairs.com), so how should we see these differences?

Personally I have no issue with people and their religion, you see they can be a puritan as they want to be, and until they start pushing that onto us (read: me) they are fine. I have absolutely no regard for any Christian pushing their values onto others, in that I am quite happy to see the separation of state and church to be forever. There is in equal measure another issue, you see, puritan is often seen as ‘against pleasure‘, which is not always the case and that makes that discussion a lot harder, for what sets the definition of Puritan?

So when we see the quote from Nina Shea that gives us: “Now Europe is finding its voice with a new willingness to pressure the Saudi Arabian government to end its spread of extreme Islamic ideology, known in the West as Wahhabism“, so she has set ‘puritan‘ as ‘extreme version of‘. The question is on one side is what constitutes a puritan version as such and even if so, the Vatican forced Christianity into the world, whilst under its flag committed genocide by removing no less that 11 civilisations. The church and greed have gone hand in hand for centuries whilst the nobility, or should that be in modern tongue ‘Big Business’ have not been held accountable since before World War 1. The bible approved of slavery and in Matthew 19:14 and Mark 10:13 stated ‘Let the children come to me‘, Catholic priests saw that as an optional clear signal to fuck every young boy in town (whenever possible). So as the Holy See was considering thousands of priests actively taking the cherry from young boys for over 50 years, how many went to prison? In that light the media is equally to blame, until the movie Spotlight got the limelight in the Academy Awards, millions of Americans remained in denial. Even as the Boston Globe exposed it in 2002, it would take 13 years, until after the movie was released that the larger part of the media changed their tunes, the church still has that much power. So as we oppose one form of puritan religion, we see the outrages acts of our own religions and in that regard I have an issue with certain settings.

In addition we see: “As I told Congress in testimony last July, 16 years after the 9/11 attacks – led and carried out primarily by Saudis” we see yet another issue. In the first, this attack was done by Al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden, who was indeed born Saudi, yet he was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1992, 9 years before the event. More important, their family came from the Yememi Kindah, so another ‘faith’ altogether, in that regard, when we consider that Kindites converted to Judaism following the conversion of the Ḥimyarite kings, which happened roughly 1500 years ago, so why is she not blaming Israel in all this? It seems to me that Nina Shea has no religious agenda; she has a political one and is willing to play Saudi Arabia towards her needs. In the part that we accept that Al-Qaeda was made up from Islamic Extremists and Salafists, there is the legitimate question on how many of the members of Al-Qaeda are (still) Saudi, but is that even possible to grasp? There are so many splinter organisations, active all over the Middle East, In Yemen is gets even more of an issue where they are fighting the Houthi’s. The New York Post gave us two weeks ago: “An immigrant from Saudi Arabia suspected of applying to join an al-Qaeda training camp has been arrested on a visa fraud charge in Oklahoma, according to a report. The FBI recently discovered Naif Abdulaziz Alfallaj after his fingerprints matched those taken from a document found in Afghanistan“, it makes matters worse and less clear. It is not a clear picture for those getting all the information, for people like Nina Shea who are willing to ‘filter’ data before their presentation make matters worse, we do not only get a distorted picture, we get more non-truths (at times non-verifiable truths, or speculations) and as such the picture shift a little more. We can argue that to some Saudi citizens desire a life of ‘action’ in perhaps the wrong direction is preferred over whatever they had before. We have all had those moments. I myself have argued within myself to find 1-2 paedophilic priests and hang them in the nearest tree without trial, so should I join some anti-religion and blow up churches? Of course not, that would be just insane, but some might do just that.

So when we consider ‘members of the Ku Klux Klan planted and detonated dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church‘ we also need to see that J. Edgar Hoover had secret recordings that proving the involvement of guilty parties (according to some sources), he also ensured that a court could not use them as evidence to prosecute the attackers, making it more difficult to convict. For 14 years after the bombing, none of the men were prosecuted for their crime. The first one to be arrested (and convicted) was Robert Edward Chambliss in 1977. So we, Americans and non-American Christians alike have closets full of skeletons, perhaps when it comes to certain matters we should not be the judging or reforming parties in the matters of other nations.

Now, there are a few sides that do bare consideration.

Even if we agree with: “In 2010, a top U.S. Treasury counterterrorism official warned that without Saudi education reform “we will forever be faced with the challenge of disrupting the next group of terrorist facilitators and supporters.”“, Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state, it has its rights and it has forever been a Muslim state. You see, until the oil prices went down and the profits declined, America remained unwilling to hear any level of criticism on Saudi Arabia, making a lot of the matters in play hypocrite at best.

The next ‘wrongful representation‘ is “The West seems to be finally waking up. The new assertiveness shows official recognition of the link between Islamist ideology and terror, and our governments must keep it up“, you see, I see this as “as the profits are declining and as Saudi Arabia is now set to be a growing force beyond the petrochemical industry” we see issues because the ‘link between Islamist ideology and terror’ has been known for a long time and seen as such. Hamas, Hezbollah are the clearest ones. There is the Muslim Brotherhood, and plenty of others, whilst the PLO was delisted as a terrorist organisation is now again rearing its tail by no longer recognising the state of Israel, so that could escalate again. In addition we see that only the UK saw the Orange Volunteers as a terrorist organisation, I wonder why the US did not see it that way. So whatever makes that list is also very dependent on how they cross the United States of America (speculation on my side), so as the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia is becoming a growing centre of commerce and an economic power we start seeing more anti-Saudi events. Yet the US will happily sell all the weapons and planes they can for now. Nina also refers to a report that was classified and forced into the open in 2016 regarding the Saudi textbooks (at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/17/international-home/document-state-dept-study-on-saudi-textbooks.html), it is 148 pages, so read it there (the PDF was too large to place here).

My issue in this is not the paper; it is the chance of comprehending it all, it is linked to hundreds of books, to hundreds or issues all linked to the Koran and to the rights that Saudi Arabia has as a sovereign nation. We might not agree and as Christians we might to a certain degree oppose outside of Saudi Arabia, but its sovereign rights are as they wanted it, linked to the Muslim faith. We need to recognise that we are not all alike, that others have their rights and they need not be based on democracy. However we must also recognise that ‘democracy’ in America and largely in Europe is set towards what the rich and powerful want it to be. If you disbelief that then try to change laws in America that makes Wall Street criminally accountable. Good luck getting that done within the next 50 years!

You see, in support of my view, I would like to call attention to page 3, where we see “The national identity of Saudi Arabia is deceptively simple. It is an absolute monarchy“, so what makes a monarchy absolute? The Netherlands is a monarchy, so is Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain and a few others. So as these are predominantly Christian monarchies, are they not absolute or dangerous? Perhaps they are merely seeing eye-to-eye with the US and not that much of an economic threat? The EU and the ECB simmered down the European nations as threats is another view and it is for people with better economic degrees than mine to make a call on that. Again a speculation from my side, but it seems to me that the US would prefer every nation to be a republic, so that the larger corporations can sweep in and reduce that national population into a spreadsheet and reduce the abilities of those being a hindrance, a non-consumer or a liability.

We can take any view on these matters, but in the end we see a person with a rightful opinion get the centre stage all the way to the US Congress, whilst we consider her quote: “Germany finally pressed Saudi Arabia to close the King Fahd Academy in Bonn in spring 2017, according to a 2016 Deutsche Welle report. It first came under investigation 14 years earlier for alleged ties to al Qaeda“. The question that is here is ‘It first came under investigation 14 years earlier for alleged ties to al Qaeda‘, so was that ever proven? That is the part that Nina Shea does not want you to know; in addition there is the part that was in the Deutsche Welle. ‘Now, the King Fahd Academy is about to close its doors of its own accord‘, which she did not mention. In addition (at http://www.dw.com/en/controversial-saudi-school-in-bonn-to-close/a-19511109), we see the clear mention of ‘Moving beyond oil‘, it seems that Europe and the US stayed very silent whilst the oil profits were flowing their way making a lot Nina states even more hypocrite. So as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pushing stronger towards his “Vision 2030“, we see that slowly his reforms are catching hold, there is momentum and there is additional evidence that it is a worry for the United States, particularly the people who were having benefits on the matters before Vision 2030. When we consider the rumour from last month when we were introduced to “The new policy means Apple is administering collection and remittance of tax to authorities at a rate of 20 percent in Armenia and Belarus; 5 percent in Saudi Arabia; 18 percent in Turkey; and 5 percent in United Arab Emirates” we see the clear benefit for Apple to grow in Saudi Arabia, yet in that it could cost the US 20 cents to every dollar pushed to Saudi Arabia and as Apple tends to think in tens of billions, the US is about to lose out of a pretty penny they desperately need. In addition with Amazon and Google gaining tech hubs there, the loss of revenue and data is about to cost the US a lot more and in this greed driven economy that is what has been setting plenty of people over the rails and into the sea of chaos, frustration and outcry. So as Saudi Arabia ends up getting 5 data centres, how many will not be upgraded in the US or Europe in the near future? How much is that going to cost them?

These are all matters linked to the opinion of Nina Shea, because if that was not the case we would not have seen “These events are being driven by Western governments that are now pushing hard for the government of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to pull back from Wahhabist support – a push that appears to be working“, you see, the fact that (some) schools closed on their own accord was not mentioned, neither is any part of Vision 2030 which has been on the front page of the Saudi plans of actions for almost 2 years now and in addition, when we see “For decades European and U.S. leaders bit their tongues while the Saudi governments spent billions of dollars indoctrinating Sunni Muslim communities“, whilst not stating that the oil money flowing into these places was too good to ignore is equally an issue because it shows us to be hypocrite and it shows Saudi Arabia to be business oriented. OK, I will give you that the last part is not entirely correct, but why did Europe and the US bite their tongues? If they were so morally high we would have seen a lot more, an issue that never happened.

So who will Nina Shea blame for that? I reckon we will leave it non-mentioned (for now).

Finally we need to look at her statement “Tiny Belgium, population 11.27 million, has sent more Islamic fighters to Syria per capita than any other European country“, so when we see the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/europe-balks-at-taking-back-isis-fighters-1518557328) where we see the quote “An estimated two to three dozen Belgian foreign fighters are in detention in Syria and Iraq, another Belgian official said“, so as we consider an unrelated statistic like “Hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. That’s 700 people per day, notes Steve Swensen“, the fact that we see the mention of 36 Belgium fighters in Syria in a pool of 5000, seems to be too irrelevant to use as a focal point in her presentation, whilst in the US 700 people a day die in Hospitals through mere errors. She has the wrong focus as illumination in her presentations. You see, it would not have mattered if she had mentioned the number of Belgium fighters and the total pool of ‘extremists’ but she did not want that, she wanted the hypocrite limelight, so I will happily keep a focus on her and how she tries to misinform the people around her next.

In all this Fox News should get an equal share in the blame by not setting the stage properly. By leaving too much unstated we should consider that the reliability of Fox News and what they present is equally taking a turn downwards.

In the end

In the end this was less about speaking for Saudi Arabia (they can do that themselves perfectly well), then speaking against Nina Shea. I find this a hatched job that should not have been placed on Fox News the way it was. Whatever points she could have made was drowned out by the misrepresentation that I see them to be and in several fields in many ways. This requires me to add her mention of ‘Islamist terror has replaced chocolate as Belgium’s best known export‘, you see the best export the Belgium ever had was beer, the finest in the world. And even as we agree that their chocolates are the best, we need to see that terrorism is not their export, or their best known export. Perhaps their flaw was to have the most cordial of borders in Europe, together with Sweden, yet as Sweden is up in the north and Belgium is caught between the Netherlands, Germany and France, there is no doubt that whatever they get came initially from one of the three other nations and guess what, Nina made no mention of that either. Perhaps because she was in doubt whether it was a good idea to piss the other three nations off? Again, merely speculation from my side, but in the end, we have seen in evidence from reputable sources that the economy has been a central reason in creating extremism, a part that has hit Belgium and several other nations. That too remains unmentioned.




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Insights or Assumptions?

Yesterday’s article in the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/01/22/the-rise-of-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-reveals-a-harsh-truth) is an interesting one. In this article Professor Bernard Haykel gives a view on the issues we are optionally likely to see in Saudi Arabia. I am not sure I can agree. You see, he might be the professor of the ‘Near Eastern Studies and the director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia’ at a prestigious place like Princeton, but my pupils tend to shape like question marks when someone’s title requires 13 words to be merely one part. We see in the article “depict him as power-hungry and corrupt, and cite these two impulses for his behavior and policies. When King Salman designated MBS as his heir in June 2017, MBS effectively became the most powerful man in the kingdom. And despite ill-advised purchases (including a yacht and a French chateau, which have cemented the impression of the crown prince’s greed)“, so how does that work? You see Prince Mohammed bin Salman is wealthy, his family is very wealthy, and as such is a yacht a splurge? It would depend on the price. Second there is the mention on a French Chateau. Well, I have taken a look and I fell in love with a house in France too, in Cognac (my favourite drink). The house (at http://www.rightmove.co.uk/overseas-property/property-58209296.html), has 7 bedrooms, is amazing in looks and in a nice village. The amount comes down to a little over a million dollars (money I obviously do not have), but consider that the same amount will only get you a decent 2 bedroom apartment in the outskirts of Sydney, within some suburbs and in the city, those prices will go up from 250%-1500%, depending on how outlandish your view needs to be, in a measly 2-3 bedroom apartment. So how does that make the Crown Prince greedy? Now his choice is a chateau 50 times that price and a family that owns billions can splurge a little. His place is west of Paris. And let’s face it, as some economies are going, having your money in something substantial is not the worst idea. His second splurge, linking him to greed and power hunger is a yacht. So how does that leap rhyme? I have no idea and I find the professors view slightly too speculative. Yet, the man is not done. He then gives us: “MBS is trying to deal with a harsh truth about Saudi Arabia: The kingdom is economically and politically unsustainable, and is headed toward a disaster“. There is a truth in that. As Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil, there will be a lull in their lives, as the need for oil exists, with prices going down, there is no real prospect of fixing it, but wait that is exactly what the crown prince is doing. He is setting forth his 2030 view, a growing move away from oil dependency, which is actually a really good thing to do. It does not make him greedy, merely a visionary that technological evolution is essential to the continuing future of Saudi Arabia. We then get two quotes that matter. The first I already gave light on with “a sclerotic state with limited administrative capacity and an economy that is largely reliant on declining oil revenues“, yet sclerotic? That means “losing the ability to adapt“, which is exactly what the crown prince is trying to achieve, adapt the nation to other options and new ways. The second is a lot harsher, but requires additional focus. With: “a venal elite comprised of thousands of royals and hangers-on who operate with impunity and are a huge drain on the economy. It is saddled with a bloated public sector which employs 70 percent of working Saudis, and its military is incapable of defending the homeland despite billions spent on armaments“, so we can argue on the wisdom of ‘employs 70 percent of working Saudis‘, I am not stating that it is true, but when we see Walmart in the US, who employs 1% of Americans pumping billions of profit into that one Walton family, we should wonder how wrong the Saudi actions are. So we might not see corporate greed like in the US, but is one method better than the other? I am not sure that this is the case. The other part I need to comment on is: “its military is incapable of defending the homeland“, what evidence is there (it is not in the article at all)? Let’s not forget that Iran has been a warmongering nation for DECADES! How many wars did Saudi Arabia get into? There was the Saudi -Yemeni war of 1934, The Gulf War, where Saudi Arabia was a member of the allied forces, the Saudi intervention in Yemen and the current upcoming conflict with Iran. So, regarding the inability to defend the homeland? Is that perhaps merely gesture towards the incoming missiles from Yemen? Well, we can bomb the bejezus out of Yemen, but it would imply thousands of civilian casualties as these people are hiding in the civilian masses. Something they learned from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah I would reckon, but that this is merely an assumption from my side. I found the restraint that Saudi Arabia has shown so far quite refreshing.

I am not stating that Saudi Arabia is holier than thou. Like any nation, it makes mistakes; it has views and a set infrastructure. It is moving at a pace that they want, not the pace Wall Street wants, which is equally refreshing.

The article gives us truths, but from a polarised setting as I see it. Yes, there is acknowledgement on the achievements too, in both the directions of the USA and Russia, and we can agree that just like 86% of all other nations (including the USA) that the economy is a weak point. So how is America dealing with a 20 trillion in debt? From my point of view, the USA has not done anything in that direction for over a decade. Instead of lowering the corporate tax to the degree it did, it could have left it 5% higher and let that part be reserved of paying of the debt and interest, oh right, the 5% will not even take care of the interest at present, so as such the USA is in a much worse place at present, which is not what the article is about, but we should take that into consideration, and the end of the article? With “Ultimately, MBS wants to base his family’s legitimacy on the economic transformation of the country and its prosperity. He is not a political liberal. Rather, he is an authoritarian, and one who sees his consolidation of power as a necessary condition for the changes he wants to make in Saudi Arabia“, is that true? The facts are likely true and when you employ 70% of a nation, economic transformations are the legitimacy of that nation. There is the one side Americans never understood. In the end, Saudi Arabia is a monarchy; their duty is the welfare of that nation. So it does not make him authoritarian (even as he might be seen as much), he is the upcoming new monarch of Saudi Arabia, a simple truth. Within any monarchy there is one voice, the King/Queen of that nation. So it is in theory consolidation of power, in actuality it is a monarch who wants all voices and looks to be towards an area of focus, what that is, the future will tell, but in the end, until the Iran-Saudi Arabia issue is solved, there will be plenty of space for chaos.

In this his path is clear and that is the part the professor did illuminate too. With: “MBS is trying to appeal to young Saudis, who form the majority of the population. His message is one of authoritarian nationalism, mixed with populism that seeks to displace a traditional Islamic hyper-conservatism — which the crown prince believes has choked the country and sapped its people of all dynamism and creativity“, it is his need to create a population that is nationalistic, that sees Saudi Arabia as a place of pride, which is not a bad thing. In a setting where the end of hyper-conservatism, as it can no longer reflect any nation in a global economy, is an essential path. He is merely conservative in not handing out all those large benefits and multi-billion dollar revenue in the hands of opportunists who are eager to take those billions over the border, out of Saudi Arabia at the drop of a hat, any hat. That will drag down the Arabian economy with absolute certainty. A dynamic and creative nation, especially fuelled by youth and enthusiasm could spell several wells of innovation and profit that could benefit Saudi Arabia. I think that the path from hyper-conservatism towards where it needs to be in 2023 is so far well played. He is not there yet, but the path is starting and that is in the end a good thing. The only thing that the US needs to fear now is that the creative and innovation path that Saudi Arabia is on, could spell long term problems for a nation that has been fixated on a iterative technology path where the US is no longer the front runner, they were surpassed by Asia some time ago, the US merely has Apple and Google. Oh no, they do not, because those are proclaimed global corporations. So where does that leave the US?

So as we see Bloomberg (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-22/imf-sees-global-growth-picking-up-as-u-s-tax-cuts-gain-traction) gives us ‘IMF Says Global Growth Picking Up as U.S. Tax Cuts Take Hold‘, which is a number I find overly optimistic, Global growth is set to 3.9%, yet the bad news cycle has not started yet, so I reckon that if the global economy ends at 2.45% it would not be a bad achievement. In that light I find the mention “The IMF also predicted that the tax plan will reduce U.S. growth after 2022, offsetting earlier gains, as some of the individual cuts expire and the U.S. tries to curb its budget deficit“. I believe that the US economy takes a hard hit no later than 2020 and the idea of ‘curb its budget deficit‘ is equally amusing, they have not been able to do that for 15 years and as there is at present every chance that President Trump is a one term president only, the Democrats are now likely to win by large margin and the entire budget curbing would be immediately off the table, because spending is the one thing the democrats have proven to be utter experts in, they merely leave the invoices for others to deal with, which is equally unhealthy for any economy.

And in that article we see exactly the fears that are mounting towards Saudi Arabia too. With “the IMF flagged protectionism, geopolitical tensions and extreme weather as risks to the global economy” we see a new frontal attack starting on protectionism. Mentions like “A reduction of Germany’s surplus would help reduce global imbalances” and it is not one source, hundreds of articles over the last 16 hours alone, all hammering the protectionism word in a bad light. It is now becoming all about trade protectionism, even under the terms of Brexit, we saw on how people were stating that it was a disadvantage, the single market falls away and as such the UK cannot benefit. Now that Brexit is still pushing forward, the IMF is changing their tune and it is now on protectionism and trade protectionism. Another way to state that tariffs and import fees are now a problem, it is the final straw in giving large corporation the push for benefit they need and many are in the States (IBM, Microsoft, 3M and so on), they would benefit and even as I mention Brexit, it also affects Saudi Arabia. As we saw last July: “Being a WTO member, Saudi Arabia is expected to bind its tariffs on over three-fourths of U.S. exports of industrial goods at an average rate of 3.2 percent, while tariffs on over 90 percent of agricultural products will be set at 15 percent or lower“, so the IMF is not merely voicing the fear of the US, it is equally scared that the stimulus backlash is about to his impeding presented global growth, the protectionism and trade protectionism are set to plead for open doors, I wonder if that also means that patent protectionism would have to end. I doubt that because pharmacy is what keeps the US afloat in more than one way, and is not a subject that is allowed to be tinkered in.

So were these insights or speculations?

I believe both the professor and myself were doing both, I admit to that upfront, whilst the professor set it in a text that is acceptable yet should have been raising a few more questions that the Washington Post is bargaining for. We can argue that this is a good thing, but it is my personal belief that even as it was a good and insightful article, in the end all the mention of power hungry and corrupt, in the end he showed no real evidence that this was a move of a power hungry person, especially as the person in question (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is set to be the future king of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince is at the tip of the pyramid, so he needs not be power hungry. That can only be shown if he starts expansion wars with his neighbours. In addition no evidence is shown of corruption, I do not state that this is not the case, but if you accuse a person of being corrupt it would be nice to add actual evidence of that, which is merely my point of view.

In the end, through insight and speculation, I hope that you got some insights of that and feel free to google ‘IMF protectionism‘ and see how many articles were added in the last week alone. It is clear that Davos is about removing limitations, not actually growing a true economy. Which implies from my point of view is that Davos is about big business and what they need, not what the people desperately require. Consider that when you read about the ‘World Economic Forum Annual Meeting’ and when you see who is present. My mind wonders on how many informal meetings there will be and how Theresa May is likely to get hammered on Brexit issues as Emmanuel Macron, Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and perhaps even Donald Trump unite against Brexit. It is an assumption from my side, but at the end of the week, will I be proven wrong?



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Vision or imagination

The Guardian brought an interesting article, one with far reaching consequences. At https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/13/great-barrier-reef-tourism-spokesman-attacks-scientist-over-slump-in-visitors, we see a few things and it is time that some people are put in front of a hearing committee where they get to answer very direct questions. Fail even one answer and we will confiscate whatever they own and they get to do hard labour for double digit years. Initially, my mind was even less nice. I mistook his first name Col for Colonel, so I was ready to put him in front of a firing squad without a sense of hesitation.

Well, there was hesitation, because I always want evidence, evidence is crucial here, and as the persons have been speaking out, they have the right to a defence, I do believe that any person has the right to defend themselves.

So what gives?

The by-line is actually the one that gives the immediate goods. With “Col McKenzie calls on government to stop funding work of Terry Hughes, saying tourists ‘won’t do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead’“, to which my initial response is ‘are you fucking kidding me?‘ You see, we have seen the news from several sources and the reef is in serious danger. The quote from Terry Hughes giving “In April 2016 Hughes made international headlines after releasing his final report on extensive aerial and underwater surveys, which showed that of the surveyed reefs (911 individual reefs), only 7% had escaped coral bleaching.” it gives that 93% of these reefs has coral bleaching. So when I read “McKenzie said that gave the impression the reef was “dead”. “All driven off the back of the negative comments made by a researcher paid entirely by commonwealth funds“, my initial thought is to curse at McKenzie like a sailor for an hour after which I can add that 93% of the reef might not be clinically dead, but it is on life support, whilst there is no medical aid given to the reef. And let there be no mistake, the moment the reef is showing to be dead, incomes will stop to a much larger degree than those exploiters think it will.

The second quote by Hughes gives us: “His Science paper, published on 5 January, found that coral bleaching events were now happening too regularly to allow the reef to adequately recover” that gives evidence that Canberra has let this happen. By listening to Dick McKenzie (eh sorry, I meant Col), they have again and again given preference to corporate exploitation above the environmental needs.

Is that actually true?

Well, that is also under debate, you see with “tourism representatives and operators like McKenzie should stop blaming scientists for reporting what was happening to the reef and start targeting major polluters to ensure change” as well as “his most recent peer-reviewed articles in Science and Nature, which deal with the increased incidence of coral bleaching as a result of rising sea temperatures“. So the issue is clearly larger. The question comes how are the temperatures rising? Is it merely polluters or is there a larger issue. You see, at some point we had ‘The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral‘, I am talking in the past tense, because are there still over 600 types of hard and soft coral? More important, how is such a large space affected to the degree of 93%?

There is evidence that damage is being done, and some of it by Australians. I think it is time for some laws to change. That was seen in the Cairns Post yesterday (at http://www.cairnspost.com.au/lifestyle/boating-and-fishing/two-fishermen-banned-from-fishing-on-the-great-barrier-reef-after-multiple-offences/news-story/7e187e89b4eeaca194e45fa060ad6d84) we see: “During a recent patrol blitz during the Christmas-New Year period, GBRMPA and partner agencies detected 41 instances of people fishing in the wrong zones, including no-take areas“, I suggest that we change a few laws, like setting the minimum fishing ban of 5 years when caught in a ‘no-take‘ zone and if Col McKenzie is serious about keeping the reef viable and healthy than he will move for this law change, or he can shut up and take a long walk on a short peer. You see people like Col McKenzie are what I consider to be ‘greed driven‘. Now, this might seem harsh, but let me explain. The Courier Mail gave us part with “The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, which represents 110 operators, said it was concerned about back-to-back mass bleaching but more worried about “doomsday scientists’’“, so is Prof Hughes a doomsday scientist? When you show that only 7% of the 911 reefs have escaped bleaching, there is a massive issue, if these numbers can be verified it should count as evidence. It in addition shows Col McKenzie to be an utter idiot, him hiding behind ‘his’ AMPTO, where 110 exploiters are trying to get in the last pennies for as long as they can, because it is their livelihood. In addition serious questions should be asked at the office of the GBRMPA and their chief scientist David Wachenfeld. He is now in my view accountable. He must now show, with scientific certainty where his ‘more optimistic‘ is founded on. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority should now be held responsible for their actions and give evidence on how the reef will restore, and as the article (at http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/great-barrier-reef-row-heats-up-as-coral-bleaching-puts-natural-wonder-under-pressure/news-story/be89af3077ec6d14bf913fce750f2196) gives us “Whatever we do locally, this is a global issue“, I see it as a political cowardly backdoor stating that the damage came from outside Australia. Now, yes, there are global ramifications and there is no denying that, yet how was this part affected, by what factors? The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is unlikely to have clear scientific data, merely political excuses and speculations. Now for the most that is not wrong or out of line, but when I see “more worried about “doomsday scientists’’“, they can now either clearly show that the work of Professor Hughes is flawed and in error, or the GBRMPA will be demanded to get a new chief scientist replacing David Wachenfeld by April 1st, which will be a nice joke for all around.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fine if Wachenfeld is able to show clearly that the work of Hughes is flawed, yet as the technical journals are peer reviewed, I think that he knows that this is not the case. In addition, as the work is published, there can be clear publications on where the work was wrong and that the results would be overly negative. If he fails, then it is bye bye David, and do feel free to take Col with you on the way out. And with “He said reports 93 per cent of the reef was bleached and dead in 2016” as well as “It turned out to be totally inaccurate. We’ve seen positive signs of healthy recovery and vibrant corals along the length of the reef.” we see the lie that he is hiding behind. I used the same path to show one thing; this is why I used it in the earlier part. You see, the EXACT quote was: “the surveyed reefs (911 individual reefs), only 7% had escaped coral bleaching“, which is in the centre of it. You see, he states that 7% escaped bleaching, ONLY 7% escaped it. The 93% has therefor bleaching to various degrees I imagine. So he does not state that 93% is dead, but that 7% is not bleached and that is clearly a very dangerous situation, especially as sea temperatures are allegedly still rising. The guardian had it right; the Courier Mail quoting Tom McKenzie has been trying to flim flam the people around him. I see it because he currently has skin in the game.

How about the Irish terrier?

Well, at the end I will add his paper(s), in the first one we see “We focus here on reefs that have lost their capacity to remain in or return to a coral-dominated state“, which we see in the paper ‘Rising to the challenge of sustaining coral reef resilience‘. So when we look at the future research of such reefs we see the mention: “An improved understanding of the processes and mechanisms that build or erode resilience is urgently required, in order to predict and avoid undesirable phase-shifts (or to regain a coral-dominated phase). Building the empirical evidence for feedbacks, thresholds and hysteresis needs to be a key focus. Reducing fast and slow drivers of change, where feasible, is a major research and policy challenge“, he clearly tells us that he does not have all the answers on how to fix it (if it could be fixed), but understanding the elements in play is a first requirement. He also shows us two pictures (on page 634) with the caption: “A phase shift from a coral-dominated seascape to a sediment-laden system dominated by macroalgae. Both photographs are from the same site on the inner central Great Barrier Reef, indicated by the hilly backdrop.“, so how many would go to any of the 110 operators to go diving to admire algae? You can just get a fishbowl and watch it grow in your own bedroom. No trip to the Great Barrier Reef required. Next to the pictures he shows on how coral dominance reverts to algae dominance, he here mentions elements like Overfishing (which validates my fishing ban of 5 years), nutrients as well as climate change. Well, we all agree that climate change is a global player, so we can, not now, or ever give a marker on that solution, but we can on over fishing and nutrients. You see, if there is less fish, they (the algae) will have more to eat, or will be unable to keep the waters algae clean, so algae can grow to more and grow there much faster. So perhaps I am really light by giving the fishers in the no-take zone a mere 5 year ban. We might consider confiscating their boat and goods. You see, if a ship’s captain cannot tell where he is, he has not mastered navigation and he should not have a boat, or better stated be its captain in the first place. If a captain is intentionally fishing in a no-take zone, because the fish is much better there, then he is endangering the environment. In this case, the environment that over 110 operators relies upon, so they are also endangering economic circumstances in Queensland, so again we can take his boat and leave him with the debt to work off as an Uber driver. That should set the other captains right overnight. And as it benefits 110 operators, Col McKenzie should request that change to be pushed into law. Should he back down then we have additional evidence that he is merely in it for his own petty needs.

On page 635 the Irish terrier educates us on coral health. With “To date, most overviews and meta-analyses of coral reef status have focused on death of corals, rather than why they have lost their capacity to recover from recurrent shocks. In a demographic context, mortality is only one side of the coin. Changes in fecundity, fertilization success, larval dispersal, and recruitment have played a major role in promoting shifts in abundances and species composition, but replenishment processes have been virtually ignored in comparison to the attention lavished on death and destruction“, which is an interesting part because in that earlier statement Col hid behind the 93% dead (hiding is what I would call it). Hughes tells us that 7% is alive and well, which is not the same and here the important part is seen, because if it is about the health of the reef, it should be about the replenishment processes and the cycle to return to a Coral dominated state, preferably mostly free of algae. Yet there is also critical views to be had (by yours truly, or ‘me’). You see, in my uneducated marine biology mind, I see a flaw on page 636. Here we see: “Bruno et al. [20] proposed that 50% cover by macroalgae represents a reasonable indicator of a phase-shift to dominance by macroalgae. Using this cutoff, they conclude that phase-shifts to macroalgae have occurred infrequently across the world’s coral reefs, because the mean cover of macroalgae (pooled across all sampled sites, habitats, reefs and all years between 1996 and 2006) is typically less than 50%“, now from my point of view this is specific to the Caribbean’s. There are larger environmental differences with the Great Barrier Reef, so even as we agree that as a point of reference it should be valued, can we agree that the elements remain the same? So if we agree that the Caribbean and Florida Keys have other elements, the Great Barrier Reef itself has optional additional indicators and elements that we have not considered? In light of the uniqueness of the Great Barrier Reef it is highly unlikely that it is hindered by fewer indicators.

So when we look at the figure on page 636, we see the three areas and the setting of algae and coral. So people like Col McKenzie will see that as an indicator that the corals are healthy in the reef, yet the part he forgets is that the other two have been exploited and brought damage upon by the events that gave the VOC (Dutch East India Company) growth, Dutch traders went into those regions to grow their wealth as well and as such a massive wave of exploitation became fact. The VOC would in comparison be the largest corporation in history. Its value in today’s coin would be in excess of $7.25 trillion, which is larger than Apple, Google, Rothschild’s wealth and Amazon together. There is no way that they would not have a disastrous impact on the local corals and its health. Consider thousands of foreign treasure seekers, moving there within a short time span, impacting its environment in a mere decade, all needing food, nearly all of them plundering Corals and local flora and fauna to make into trinkets, consumer goods and sell whatever they can. The problem here is that there are no records. There is no paper stating how many thousands of coral necklaces were made as polished coral looked like Gemstones and sold as much in Europe. Now this is partially speculation from my side. But is there any evidence that the Coral part of the Caribbean’s was not 15%, but a lot higher before 1600? So if that would be true, how is the interaction of algae now versus then? Would it be fair to state that there might have been additional options to push the algae domination to revert back to corals?

On page 637 we see not merely the flaw of Australian government but the carelessness that they have shown. With “Systematic monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) began in 1992, decades after two major outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish and the earlier degradation of near-shore reefs due to increased runoff of sediment and nutrients in the 19th and 20th centuries“, showing clearly that the Australian elected governments were at least two decades late to the party. That callous disregard for the health of this reef is now resulting in a near death experience for the same said reef.

The professor also takes a look at the Diadema antillarum, or sea urchin. These little blighters have lovely spines and they are well known devourers or algae, which is good for the algae. On page 638 we see how the population of these critters took a massive dive in 1984, from well over 15 per M2, they have sunk to below 5 per M2, so that also impacts Algae as it can grow much more freely and impact Corals to a much larger degree. So as the ecology is pushed out of its balance we see the impact on a few levels and the last part was based on nearly 3500 records from 74 published sources.

The entire report is 25 pages and shows massively more parts that should scare the 100 operators to near death. In addition it shows not only the invalidity of the words of Col McKenzie, it shows that his actions against this research shows that he is merely an exploiter of the reef and as such he should not be given any regards (as I personally see it). That is, unless he can give us clear scientific data that opposes Professor Hughes and his work. Yet this work refers to 112 other academic works, so unless there is clear scientific evidence coming from David Wachenfeld (who might want to remain employed past April 1st), we need to really realise that the reef is in a serious dangerously unhealthy place and much harder actions are required.

From my point of view, based on the published parts, I am appalled that people like Col McKenzie are playing politics with a reef that is in mortal danger to a growing degree, the fact that David Wachenfeld is much more optimistic might be fine, but only if he comes on the record on the clear evidence driven reasoning of that. It should be peer reviewed, for the mere reason that the GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) should be about the reef and keeping it safe, not cater to its exploiters (loosely stated). Now we understand that these operators (not just the 110 on the side of Col) want a healthy reef, it is their bread and butter. Yet the reality is that there is clear evidence that there is an issue and it needs to be addressed. In equal measure the work of Terry Hughes must be critically examined by his peers. Last there is the doomsday part. We need to see who those doomsday speakers are, because the media is not beyond a misquoted reference or two. In some cases it happens unintentional in some cases less so. Playing politics with the Great Barrier Reef should not be allowed, there should be a law against it. It is perhaps one of the few rare times where I want the environmental parties to be in charge.

The paper I am adding has a lot more interesting sides, it is linked to a BBC story (at http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20140916-the-corals-that-come-back-from-the-dead), with “Mumby concurs. “It makes us realise that some corals have a number of strategies to cope with stress that we don’t understand very well,” he says. “That is good news and we now need to understand exactly how they do it.”“. I am willing to accept that the life and death cycle of Corals is perhaps a lot larger and when we consider that we all accept that there are unknown parts, we should equally consider that there is still a question mark residing with the work of Terry Hughes. Is there a chance that there a much more complex interaction of life and death for corals? Perhaps that is true and that might be on the mind of Professor Hughes as well, yet can we take that chance? If we are wrong, we lose the reef and perhaps one of the largest and one of the most unique biome on the planet. Would you want to be the politician who signed off on taking risks with its existence?

So if we accept that 93% shows bleaching to some extent, can we remain to be callous if we are clearly shown that there are dangers and the only way to give guarantee that the Great Barrier Reef truly survives is to limit the risk factors that it is currently exposed to

That’s not doom saying, that is playing it safe for the generations of people that follow us.

Hughes et al 2010

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Squeezing the Apple juice

We know that Apple has been playing games in the past, I myself lost close to $5,000 due to their little games, yet I also have had great joy with their devices, so when I read ‘Apple faces lawsuits over its intentional slowing of older iPhones‘, (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/22/apple-lawsuits-intentional-slowing-older-iphones), I decided to remain a little cautious. One of the claims in the class action regarding the batteries was countered by Apple with: “Apple has admitted to slowing down the iPhone 6, 6S, 7 and SE when their batteries are either old, cold or have a low charge to prevent abrupt shutdowns“, this is odd as the Apple 7 is less than 15 months old (about the same time I got screwed with my Apple). What is a real danger is linked to the claim “Apple purposefully and knowingly released operating system software updates to iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and certain iPhone 7 phones that slowed the performance speeds of the central processing units (‘CPUs’) of these devices“, if proven could result in a massive fine and even could opt for the dropping of the price of the iPhone X by a lot (30%-60%), which would give the first wave owners additional reason to be angry too. One of the plaintiffs gave: “Instead, Apple appears to have obscured and concealed why older phones were slowing down.” which would be part of the issue and not the smallest part of it.

And Apple is not done, in the last few days, the media have been drowning us with all kinds of Apple news. Some come with the upcoming optional acquisition of Netflix, some come with the fact that the prices of Apple batteries have been slashed to a mere $29 dollars, Apple developer program fee waiver and even Fortune with ‘Why the Next iPhone X Could Be Apple’s Biggest Smartphone Ever‘ is taking part in all this. With “KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that he believes Apple will offer an updated iPhone X this year to complement a larger, 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus model” we see a new twist. The people who spent $1829 on the ‘old’ model merely a week ago will see their model outdated whilst it is still in the warranty phase, that is if they didn’t spent the additional $299 for the Apple Care option. So as we see these waves we might lose side of the Business Insider who is giving us: “Apple’s battery controversy could cost the company over $10 billion in lost iPhone sales“, (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/apple-battery-controversy-10-billion-lost-iphone-sales-2018-1).

Barclays gives us four main reason, but the one that matters is awareness, Apple had been left in the shadows for the longest of times and now that the actions of Apple are out, the people are taking more notice, the fact that the old X is now getting the shadow of the new X is equally an issue as sales could plummet. Who wants the old model now, when they could feel inferior as the Greek summer arrives and a larger screen edition, all for taking the bikini selfies on 6.5″ would be preferred by man and woman alike?

Yet in all this, the act of the accused battery drain scenario is now falling in the backdrop. Even Forbes who gives us “reducing the $79 charge for battery replacement services to $29 for 11 months “for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later” does not seem to give too much addition to all those iPhones that were working fine recently and now that the patch is there, the 5 year old iPhone 5, immaculate or not is to be regarded as obsolete. So much for the tribute to Steve Jobs that Tim Cook gave in September 2017. With “Steve’s spirit and timeless philosophy on life will always be the DNA of Apple“, which pretty much went out of the window through the use of a battery and an alleged software patch. Even as Vox gave us ‘Apple admitted it’s slowing down certain iPhones‘, yet how will this play in the class action? I am betting that their legal defence will rely on the words ‘miscommunication‘ and a ‘failure at the QA level‘, which does not make Apple innocent, it merely makes it look less guilty and whilst we now see all the massive waves of news (the Netflix rumour, which I got from a Citi source is the biggest limelight push) will aid in getting the water nice and muddy until the people care a little less on their bad investment of $1800+. The Vox article (at https://www.vox.com/2017/12/22/16807056/apple-slow-iphone-batteries) also has the Apple ‘party line’, which is: “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components“, which is in my book a way of stating that the battery is the lemon not worth the Squeeze. Apple basically needed the Samsung Note 7 battery, but dreaded the inflammation of flames in the iPhone, we saw how that pounced Samsung, so as we see that their battery was not the solution (according to the software) we see the dangers that down the track your mobility and connectivity is set to a $29 battery and its 330 day lifeline. So is the larger screen about a larger screen, or will it be because the larger new iPhone X will be about the essentially desperately needed larger merely to keep the iPhone X switched on?

the most important part is seen in the statement by John Poole, founder of Primate Labs and Geekbench developer. with “Once the phone is shut down, the battery is in a state where the only way to get the phone back online is to plug it into a charger. If you’re out with your phone on the go, that’s clearly not a great situation to be in” we see that the negative evolution of iPhone from mobile smart phone to merely a phone and not a very smart one is at hand and for those on route, they get to live like the executives of 1975, on the road without a phone to appraise their customers of the delay that they are facing.

They could take a break and eat an apple, to keep the doctor and his/her ulcer medication away, but that would be the mean thought to have.

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Overpricing or Segregation?

What is enough in a PC? That is the question many have asked in the past. Some state that for gaming you need the max hardware possible; for those using a word processor, a spreadsheet, email and browse the internet, the minimum often suffices.

I have been in the middle of that equation for a long time; I was for well over a decade in the high end of it, as gaming was my life. Yet, the realisation became more and more that high end gaming is a game for those with high paying jobs was a reality we all had to face. Now we see the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Xp 12GB GDDR5X Video Card at $1950, whilst we can do 4K gaming and that one card is a 4K 65″ TV with either the Xbox X or the PS4 pro. Now consider that this is merely the graphics card and that the high end PC requires an additional $2K that is where the PC with 4K gaming requires 4 thousand dollars. It is a little stretch, because you can get there with a little less, but then also the less requires the hardware to be replaced quicker. So I moved to console gaming and I never regretted it. We all agree that I have lost out, but I can live with that. I can truly enjoy gaming without the price. So in this situation, can someone explain to me how the new iMac Pro will cost you in its maximum setting $20,743? Is there any justification to need such an overpowered device? I reckon that those into professional video editing might need it, but when we consider those 43 people in Australia (on that high level) who else does it benefit?

In comparison, a maximised Mac Pro costs you $11,617, so it is almost 50% cheaper. Now the comparison is not fair because the iMac Pro has an optional 4TB SSD drive, and that is not a cheap item, but the issue is that the overpowering of hardware might seem cool and nice, but let’s be fair, when we compare this through MS Word, we see the issue. The bulk of all people will never use more than 20% of that text editor, which is a reality we face yet at $200 we do not care, take the price a hundred fold, with $20,000 in the balance it adds up and even as MS Word has one version the computers do have options, and a lesser option is available, in this, that new iMac Pro is in minimum configuration $7K and at twice the price of a 4K gaming machine, with no real option for gaming, is that not a system that is over the top?

Now, some might think it is, some will state it is not and it is really in the eyes of the beholder. Yet in this day and age, when we have been thrusted into a stage where mobiles and most computer environments are set to a 2-4 year stage at best, how should we see the iMac pro? In addition, where the base model of the pro is 100% more expensive than the upgraded iMac 27″, is there a level of disjointed presentation?

Well, some do not think in that way and they are right to see it as such. One source (ZDNet) gives us: “The iMac Pro is aimed at professionals working with video (a lot of video), those into VR, 3D modeling, simulations, animation, audio engineers and such“, a view I wholeheartedly agree with, yet that view and that image has not been given when we see the marketing, the Apple site and even the apple stores. Now, first off, the apple stores have not been misleading, most have kept to some strict version of ‘party line’ and that is not a wrong stance. Also the view that ZDNet gives us at the end is spot on. With “It’s Mac for the 1 percent of Mac users, not the 99 percent. For the 99 percent, yes, the iMac Pro is overpriced and just throwing away money, but for the 1 percent who need the sort of power that a system like that can generate, it’s very reasonably priced” and that is where we see the issue, Mac is now segregating the markets trying to get the elite back into the Mac fold. Their timing is impeccable. Microsoft made a mess of things and with the gaming industry in the chaotic view of hardware the PC industry has become a mess. It moved towards the gamers who now represent $100 billion plus already we see that others went on the games routine whilst to some extent ignoring the high end graphical industry. It is something that I have heard a few times and to be honest, I ignored it. I grew there whilst being completely aware of all the hardware, which was 15-25 years ago. The graphical hardware market grew close to 1000%, so when I needed to dig into the PC hardware for another reason, I was amazed just how much there was and how affordable some stuff was, but in the highest gaming tier, the one tier where the gamer and high end video editing need overlaps, we see a lag, because selling to 99 gamers and one video editor means that most will not give a toss about the one video editor. Most will know what they need, but that market is not well managed. Issues like video drivers and Photoshop CC 2017 against Windows 10 are just a few of the dozens upon dozens of issues that seems to plague these users. Important is that this is not just some Adobe issue; it seems that the issues are still in a stage of flux. With “Microsoft warned that the April 2017 security update package has a known issue that could affect users’ computers and which the company is seeking to fix” a few months ago, we are starting to see more and more that Windows forgot that its core was not merely the gamer, it was an elite user group that it had slowly snagged away from Apple and now Apple is striking back in the best way possible, by giving them that niche again, by pushing these people with money away, they might soon see that the cutting edge Azure targets for high end graphic applications become a pool of enjoyment for the core Microsoft Office users. A market that they are targeting just as Apple gets its ducks in a row and snatches that population away from them.

That is indeed a clever move, because that was the market that made Apple great in the first place. So as we read on how Azure is aiming for the ArcGIS Pro population, we see that Apple has them outgunned and outclassed and not by a small amount either. Here the iMac Pro could be the difference between real time prototyping and anticipated results awaiting aggregation. That would instantly make the difference between a shoddy $5K-$8K gaming system used for data and the iMac Pro at $20K that can crunch data like a famished piranha, you can wait and watch those results become reality before you finish your first coffee.

In addition, as soon as Apple makes the second step we will see them getting a decent chunk out of the Business Intelligence, forecasting and even the Enterprise sized dash boarding market, because with 18 cores, you can do it all at the same time. This is not the first, not the second and not even the third case where Microsoft dropped the ball. They went wide, and forgot about the core business needs (or so you would think). Yet, the question remains how many can or are willing to pay the $20K question, even as we know that there are options in the $8K and $13K setting in that same device, because there is room for change between 8 and 18 cores. It seems that for a lot the system is overpriced, we can all agree on that, but for those who are in the segregated markets, it is not about a new player, it is more that the windows driven PC market, they just lost a massively sized niche, it is the price we pay for catering to the largest denominator, the question then becomes: ‘Can Microsoft and will it hit back?

Time will tell, what is the case is that the waiting is over and 2018 could potentially see a massive shift of high end users towards Apple, a change we have not seen for the longest of times, I wish them well, because in the end many average users will benefit from such a shift as well, because in confusion there is profit and Microsoft is optionally becoming one of the larger confused places in 2018.

So why should I care?

Apple started something that will soon be copied by A-brands like ASUS. It will remain a PC, but they now see that the high end users they do have, they want to keep it. This makes it almost exactly 20 years after I learned this lesson the hard way. There was a Dutch sales shop who had a special deal, the deal was the Apple Performa, maxed (as far as that was possible) for almost $2750, I was happy as hell. My apple (My first 100% owned by my own self) and I had a great time. I never regretted buying it, but there was a snatch, 3 months later that same shop had the Power-Mac on special, the difference was well over 300%, the difference $1000 (a lot in those days), but still 300% more power and new software that would no longer support the Performa system and older models, a system outdated before the warranty ran out. We are about to see a similar shift. We know multi-core systems, they have been around for a while, yet the shift is larger, so as we see new technologies, new solutions pushed on us whilst the actual current solutions as still broken to some extent, we will be pushed into a choice, will we follow the core or fall behind? Even as we see the marketing babble now on how it is upper tier, merely for the 1% and we feel to be in agreement (for now) we see a first wave of segregation. As the followers will emphasise on the high end computers, we will see a new wave of segregation.

And? So what? I do not want to pay too much!

This is the valid response for many players, for many users, they do not have the needs IT people have, many merely see the need they have now and that is not wrong, not in this life as the economy is not coming back the way it needs to be. Yet two elements are taking over, the first is Microsoft, we can’t get around them for the most and as e-commerce and corporate industry is moving, shows to be both their option and their flaw. As we see more push where 90% of the Fortune 500 is now stated to be on the Microsoft cloud, we see the need for multi-core systems more and more. Even as some might remember the quote form early 2017 “Find out why it’s the most complete #cloud solution“, the rest is only now catching on that the Azure cloud is dangerous in several ways. Chip Childers, the fearless leader of the Cloud Foundry Foundation gives us “We are shifting to a “cloud-first” world more and more. Even with private data centres, the use of cloud technologies is changing how we think about infrastructure, application platforms and software development“, yet the danger is also there yet not mentioned. This danger is slowly pushed onto us through the change that the US gave yesterday. As Net Neutrality is being abolished, there is a real danger that certain blocks could grow on a global scale. So as we see trillions in market value shift, how long until other players will set up barriers and set minimum business needs and cater to them above all others?

Core Cloud Solutions become a danger, because it forces the contemplation that it is no longer about bandwidth and strength of your internet connection, the high end of business is moving back to the Mainframe standards that existed strongly before the 90’s started. It will be about CPU Time Used. So at that point it is not about the amount of data, but the reception of CPU channels, as such the user with a multi core system will have a massive advantage, and the rest is segregated back towards second level, decreased options. It does not change consumer use of places like Netflix, but when you require the power of your value to be in Azure, the multicore systems are the key to enable you and disable connection huggers and non-revenue connected users, consumers at a price for limited access.

This is the future we push for; it is not created by or instigated by Apple. It merely sees what will be needed in 4 years when 5G is the foundation of our lives. I saw part of this as I designed part of a solution that will solve the NHS issues in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but I was slow to see that the lesson I was handed the hard way in 1997 is also around the corner. As Netflix and others (Google in part) is regressing towards the mean in some of their services and options that they will offer the global audience at large. The outliers (Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and SAP) will soon be facilitators to the Expression Dataset of the next model of usage that comes. There will be a shift and it will go on until 2022, as 5G will enable some players like NTT Data and Tata Communications to get an elevated seat, perhaps even a seat at that very table.

They will decide over the coming years that there is a shift and as people decide the level of access that they are getting they will soon learn that they are not merely deciding for themselves, because the earlier their children get full access, the more options they will get beyond their tertiary education. Soon we will learn that access is almost everything, but we will not learn that lesson the way we thought we would. Even I have no idea how this will play out, but such a shift beyond the iteration IT world we see now is exciting beyond belief. I hope I will end up being part of that world, I have been part of the IT/BI Industry since 1980 and I am about to see a new universe of skills unfold before my very eyes. I wonder how far I am able to get into that part, because these players will all need facilitation of services and most of them have been commission driven for too long, meaning that they are already falling behind.

What a world we are about to need to live in!


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Another opinion

Today is about something I read yesterday. It was an opinion piece in the Guardian. The title ‘How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful‘ sounds all nice and sexy, but is that what we want? The subtitle ‘Banning these tech giants from buying any more companies would prevent them from entrenching their monopoly position – and help protect our freedom‘ is nothing that I am taking too seriously. The ‘freedom’ of people is too often being hindered by other means. The fact that IBM and Microsoft have had such places of power for decades shows me to be right to a larger extent. Freedom is a dangerous ploy to use to get things your way, but the players (not merely the writers of the opinion piece) have played this game before and they played it well. He has played the fear mongering card often and he knows how to play it. When it came to the new tax reform bill we hear “Kennedy believes reducing taxes on businesses could allow them the funding to hire more people and raise wages“, yet in equal measure it does not stop companies to pour it all into the bonus of the members of those boards of directors. So getting back to the Guardian, it is the part “a fundamental problem that Facebook and Google cannot solve on their own; these institutions are designed to gather vast amounts of information about every American, but they are not built to manage that information in the interest of those individuals or the public as a whole, such as by preventing Russian hackers from targeting propaganda at specific voters“, he mixes up a few elements and hopes that fear and anti-communism does the rest. When we see ‘not built to manage that information‘, we are forgetting the fact that they do not need to do this to the degree he proclaims, because if that is so, Facebook could have just given the data dump to the NSA, couldn’t they? The systems are more and more automated and the people decide what to like and what or who to follow. You see, Facebook has become more and more granular into finding populations on whom to advertise to, who to address and who to invite towards the groups that some seek. It was their version to counter Google AdWords, a freedom of speech that is protected in the USA in the first amendment and as such free speech goes overboard (like on steroids). The US did this to set up the failed dominos against Brexit, they went so far that the former President of the United States was stupid enough to speak out the political issues of another nation, whilst everyone knew that this was largely about corporate greed, the benefit of large corporations, their status quo now endangered in Europe. So how long until that same freedom is used by everyone else to push whatever agenda they had? That is the danger (or is that the consequence of free speech), because those liberals wanted to take accountability out of the equation, the people became entangled into a stream of feeble minded needs and rights in moving towards the waterfalls of too much data and information, call it death by spam drowning us in every device we have. It gets worse as we can often no longer tell between real information and sponsored words, they all use the same template and they all use Facebook to get their view across, merely because it is the largest player.

In this we get to the next part, because the story gets a nice twist, one that can be used against the corporations and against the US. You see with “how to ensure Google, Facebook and the other giant platform monopolists truly serve the political and commercial interests of the American people“, in this we see the countering by 96% of the population of this planet, because the US is only 4% in all this (this planets population that is) and as such any move could be used as evidence to remove all tax breaks from those corporations outside of America because discriminating for one nations will take them away from global consideration for all others. That was a stupid move in all this by those working for John Kennedy. As I see it there should never be a political interest, because you will always oppose 50% of that one consideration. The laws of no accountability took care of that part. There can be no political interest; there can merely be the option and opportunity to facilitate to any and all political needs and political information, in this digital age is there another way? Perhaps there is one but I am pretty sure that I cannot think of any that stops others in one way or another, which is the foundation of discrimination. So, by giving all the players in this a chance to show their case, and getting their interests across, we cater to some level of fairness. In this, there is no actual fairness and no real political catering, there will be merely political discrimination in one form or another and such forms of discrimination will merely hinder a much larger group of people to find the facts and to decide for themselves where they stand. This is the entrenched future of non-accountable free speech, and as for the commercial interest of the American people? In my view that is a group that is even more hollow than any other group. The commercial interest of the American people changes with almost every voice you hear. The bulk not in greed, but in support to feed and give their family a future, but they do not get to have a real voice. The voices that decide on it are merely greed driven and it is about their personal greed, not that of their nation. So by catering to ‘the commercial interests of the American people‘ they are merely catering to greed, unchecked, unregulated and outside of many legal settings that limits greed. That makes the entire opinion piece interesting because the piece in my mind seems to oppose what is good for the people. Now, we can argue that Google is slightly greedy by the prices they set with their Pixel 2, yet they are still decently cheaper than both Samsung and Apple, for what the people get they get it for hundreds of dollars cheaper than the new Apple X, so it seems that Google is catering to the American people by offering a top range device for a lot less than its competitor. How is that a bad business model? As it comes to data, the people of the world have been offered most of all of it at no charge, for 2 decades the people were able to search what we needed to find, in opposition, we see Bing (by Microsoft) to offer some limited version of this. A version made by someone who was better off being brain-dead at birth. By catering to the people by filtering through assumption we never get what we needed. So as I see it, the continuation of Google is a lot more essential than American politicians are comfortable with. For Facebook there is another part that the piece illuminates. The view of “For one thing, there is no doubt these corporations qualify for antitrust regulation. Facebook, for instance, has 77% of mobile social networking traffic in the United States, with just over half of all American adults using Facebook every day” is part of it. Now I get it that these people are merely looking at the American side. Yet Facebook has a lot more. When we accept: “Facebook has more than a billion active users: The platform has 1.71 billion monthly active users and 1.13 billion daily active users, on average. Facebook boasts 1.57 billion mobile monthly active users and 1.03 million mobile daily active users, on average” we see that the American population is below 15% of all Facebook users. America has become part of a global community and that is scaring the politicians in America a lot more than anything else. You see the people are starting to learn on how they were sold some cheap package and their quality of life has gone out the window.
Now everyone is out in arms and as Google and Facebook are largely truly independent the politicians and certain ‘captains of industry‘ can’t push for their personal needs. Now they are trying to take off the gloves and see if they can punch their way upwards. Their desperation shows even better with “Nearly all new online advertising spending goes to just Facebook and Google, and those two companies refer over half of all traffic to news websites“. You see until the early 2000’s the advertisement space was a joke, a few people has ludicrous prices and the papers lived of advertisements. People were often unable to promote their business because the prices were ridiculous, hundreds of dollars for a small image and a few words. Hoping someone would read it. Google decided that they could do better and they decided to make something affordable, suddenly everyone could afford to show their place and/or product for mere dollars, not for hundreds of dollars to a specific larger audience than ever before. In less than 8 years the print advertisement has become almost a wash, the advertisers are targeting THEIR audience and those others, who wanted to milk their systems for the maximum time are now out of a job, out of a business because they were all about the Status Quo. So now we see the writers of this opinion piece “Barry Lynn is the Executive Director of the Open Markets Institute. Matt Stoller is a fellow at the Open Markets Institute” advocating opposition to a world they and their peers created. You see the corporate world is a lot larger than these two players. Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Verizon and Cardinal Health. None of them are mentioned. This gives a more and more critical view that these two players are trying to get global visibility because their tune is getting old and tired in the US, or is that New America as they call it? And none are mentioning General Electric in all this. There are true boogeymen in America who are wrestling in on the American Quality of Life; the weird this is that is the one element that Google and Facebook are not inhibiting. So if it is truly about growing America, would having a go at the other players be more important? Well we can argue against that with the quote “Seven years ago, Google paid $700m for a company called ITA that provides software for the travel industry. The Department of Justice approved the deal on the condition that Google keep access to the software open to other businesses for at least 5 years. This year, Google closed that access“, so as I read it, the industry had 5 years to make something equal or better to the ITA software. So where is that software now? We have seen for decades that software can be vultured on for a lot less, but that always comes with an end date. So as there is no alternative, no new software those people will just have to go to Google. This is a simple world. You either have the product we need, or we get it somewhere else. Yet in the end you still need to bring a product to the table. We saw this as WordPerfect was pushed out of the world and MS Word remained. It was done to Lotus by Excel and the least said about the predecessors of PowerPoint the Better (although some were impressively cool and better than what we have now). Even in Databases, Access was the most inferior product. Now who remembers dBase, SuperBase or FoxBase? So this is not the first time it happens, so why cry now? In my view it is not about the people writing it, it is about the businesses who are now being pushed out of the market because the Status Quo days are over and the people want to know what is actually happening and they are more likely to hear that from Google and Facebook that they will from Bing and friends. Now I agree that there are issues on several levels and improvements are needed, but we know that this is work in progress. In my view it started a long time ago. When we allowed the glossy news from certain publishers go forth with innuendo and advertisements go through, whilst not having to pay GST (read: VAT) on their product, they saw a nice little loophole to gain a lot more. This is how some people like Rupert Murdoch really made a bundle. Newspapers, magazines and other printed issues. Now it is going Digital at 0.1% of the cost, so the numbers of players in this field are growing almost exponentially and fake news is becoming a problem. Not just for the people bringing the news, but in equal measure any support player connected to it and it is the first and most visible play on ‘free speech’ going over the edge. All because no one in America wanted to entertain the actual need for accountability.

This is merely another opinion in all this and you will need to decide for yourself if my view is valid or not. And before you lash out against Google and Facebook (something I have done in the past and will do so again in the future), consider, did they cost you money, did they ask you to pay or did they give you options at $0? Now we know they get their money in other ways, but it has not cost us anything. So why cry? It seems to me that the Open Markets Institute has its own agenda, I am merely wondering if it was about open markets or about markets for friends who are losing their markets because they were unwilling to move forward. It is merely a view I am considering. It is up to you to decide what you think is actually going in. And when you pay $650 (+$299 for Apple care in addition) more for your new iPhone , $650 (or $949) more than its competitor, what that because it was really that much better, was it because of some proclaimed open market or was it because of something else?

It’s your opinion (read: your point of view) and you get to decide!


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Not the worst idea

An article hit my eyes this morning. First I was furious; this was easy as I had been set up with a lousy morning already. The one where you wake up knowing that bashing a person to death would be met with life in prison and the thought that this would be OK. I was that angry this morning! So, it is a given that you should not read certain news in an emotional state, but then I realised. ‘This might not be the worst idea‘. The article is ‘Marriage equality opponents call for broad right to discriminate‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/21/marriage-equality-opponents-call-for-broad-right-to-discriminate), you see, here we see the shortsighted, optionally two individuals who embrace the life of ‘Homo flaccidicus‘ (aka Homophobes). With “Monica Doumit, responded that the group “believes that no one should be coerced to use their creative talents to endorse a message with which they disagree”” we see opportunity. I will get to that later. And with “For example, we support the right of the many advertising agencies and meeting venues who have denied us service during this campaign to do so.” Monica Doumit opens a can of worms she would have been much better steering clear of. Tiernan Brady is right when he states that the comments showed the ‘No campaign‘ was engaged in was merely “a blatant attempt to unravel existing anti-discrimination laws which serve everyone in Australia well, not just LGBTI people”. Yet, Tiernan my friend, it might not be the worst idea. You see, Monica showed to be not the best intellectual mind and I will now lower my standards to meet hers. You see, these same people will not be forced into a different state, they forgot about their own self-interest in this. It will be their duty to loudly point at adulterers all the time and perhaps even stone them (I am opting for mandatory stoning). When you consider that amongst the penises and vaginas they know at least one out of three is involved with adultery (apparently that is what the statistics claim), so their foundation of friendship will be diminished by 30% at the very least (optionally for footy players this number allegedly goes up to 60%). So not only will they lose business to friends, the people that they are stigmatising will move to other grounds as well. So soon there will be no business left for them. Well, the Muslim community will, according to: “Sahih Bukhari (83:37) – Adultery is one of three justifications for killing a person, according to Muhammad.” be lowering the population soon thereafter as well. So house prices will dwindle down and I would like that too as I can’t afford a house in Sydney at present. So, getting back to the snakes and caves! When chastising the adulterers, as we read: “Mark 10:12 – And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery“, so these people will have to point out even more weaklings (in their mind). With divorce being close to 40%, these ‘discriminating No sayers‘ will soon have no friends, no business and no future. And the nice thing is that if THEY do not do these things we can do it for them and put them out of business that way as well. You see, doesn’t the heavenly father massively frown upon hypocrites?

So what they claim is not the worst idea, because they are forced to adapt to standards that will make themselves pariahs to the open world and there is no turning back from that. Merely because we all hate hypocrites and as we realise that Catholic Priests with young boys are no more than sodomites committing adultery, we could hang them in the trees around St. Mary’s Cathedral. This is the polarised world the No-sayer wants, and as it will largely impact these people, let us try this solution for a while. Their defence is that they are not announcing violence, merely stating their belief. Yet they forget that stigmatising and refusing service out of the allowed path of commerce is basically Psychic Assault, which in my book translates as: assault is assault no matter how you slice it.

So as these outspoken ‘no sayers’ (a path they are allowed to) are moving into the field of the ‘broad exemptions to discrimination law‘, they pretty much dug their own grave. In the mere practicality of these events, yes there are people who are uncomfortable with certain settings and they might voice this. So that couple could move on, especially as there are well over 2200 photographers and dozens good photographers are chomping at the bit to get any job that is out there. You see, the Guardian also gives us: “He said a bill would be guided by three principles: “Firstly, existing discrimination in the Marriage Act should be eliminated; secondly, a strong protection for religious freedom should be provided; and thirdly, we should not reintroduce commercial discrimination in Australia.”“, we can agree that part one is not an issue, it should not affect anyone who is not into the LGBTI field and their happiness should not affect the hetero sexual population in any way. If someone claims that it does, they are more likely to have internal struggles on contemplating what happiness is in the first place. I have always been in favour of religious freedom and as such there should not be an issue for the most either. There will always be groups that are offended by ‘another‘ religion. We merely need to look at Ireland in the 70’s to see that happen and nowadays they are so accommodating to large corporations like Apple that they have seemingly forgotten about the ethical issues between Protestants and Catholics and is seems that this wave is now moving to France and Luxembourg as well. Now we get the final part. With ‘we should not reintroduce commercial discrimination in Australia‘ another can of worms is opened. You see commercial discrimination never ended, it merely got pushed into the corner where the light is low. The evidence is clear in nearly every shop and we see the impact every day, but we ignore the evidence. We the people, we the multicultural sexual community (homo and hetero) are getting great at economic discrimination and as such there remains an issue where, if not set out in the open and force the issue towards people like Monica Doumit this will gradually become a way of life and that is not what we want, moreover, it is one that we need to fight visibly and outspoken, because before we know it, we will have a world where anything not in the mind of a small group becomes the standards and the bulk of us move from being a citizen to be no more than a pariah. This is a real danger and that is why I took my example over the top. By forcing them to the letter of the exercise as they ‘unravel existing anti-discrimination laws‘, by making them act against their own foundation of values, they will soon learn that their view was not merely wrong, it was self-destructive. So as we push for that to happen, if these laws are ever adjusted, we can than also tackle to a larger extent the commercial discrimination that is still in place.

We end up getting two wins in the event, I merely wonder if we can pull it off whilst keeping casualties to a minimum. I am not convinced that the casualty list can be kept to a minimum, yet what would be clear is that the casualties would go far beyond the LGBTI group, which might show the other casualties on how unfair and unacceptable the forced life of an LGBTI person was in the first place.

So as I stated at the beginning, it might not be the worst idea. It merely is one that comes with a higher cost than most trying to instigate it realise.


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