Amerika

Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Net Neutrality Lunges In The Wrong Direction

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

The Left specializes in creating mental spam. Every few weeks, there is a new distraction that they hype into an end-of-the-world style issue, not so much because they care about the issue, but because they need to keep their base panicked and angry so that they become a personal army to crush opposition and demand Leftist power.

Currently the Leftism media-political establishment is raging about net neutrality:

Federal regulators will move to roll back one of the Obama administration’s signature Internet policies this week, launching a process to repeal the government’s net neutrality rules that currently regulate how Internet providers may treat websites and their own customers. The vote on Thursday, led by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, will kick off consideration of a proposal to relax regulations on companies such as Comcast and AT&T. If approved by the 2-1 Republican-majority commission, it will be a significant step for the broadband industry as it seeks more leeway under government rules to develop new business models. For consumer advocates and tech companies, it will be a setback; those groups argue that looser regulations won’t prevent those business models from harming Internet users and website owners. The current rules force Internet providers to behave much like their cousins in the legacy telephone business. Under the FCC’s net neutrality policy, providers cannot block or slow down consumers’ Internet traffic, or charge websites a fee in order to be displayed on consumers’ screens.

As usual, the Left wants to confuse one method of addressing a problem with the set of all methods, so that their voters think there is only one way to fix the problem and any deviation from that is treason.

First, we should talk about net neutrality. The original idea of the net was that every node could forward packages to every other node, based on the idea of mutuality, or that each did the same to others. This works in a subsidized or military system, but not in a market, where some sites are massively larger than others. This means that the little guys spend their money and energy supporting Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, Apple, Facebook and Twitter, while the big companies owe them nothing.

This means that net neutrality, as a concept, was dead the minute that the internet was commercialized.

Next, we should talk about monopoly. When a large search engine like Google, or massive site like Amazon or Wikipedia, controls most of the eyeballs, the policies this site uses to list links on its pages regulate who lives and who dies. A site with low Google rank disappears and its business evaporates; a concept that Wikipedia refuses to mention — in a model like that of the mainstream media, excluding its ideological enemies — just drops out of public consciousness. Any concept of neutrality is long dead.

With those in mind, we can turn to a solution. Regulation adds expense and litigation to otherwise thriving industries, displacing little guys and favoring big guys. The consumers ultimately want the ability to see anything they want on the net without consideration of what it is. But they have already lost that, long ago.

Instead, it makes sense to let the market cure this one. If an ISP is blocking your traffic, you can sign up with a competing ISP… except you cannot, because regulation keeps the market small and so you have few options. Instead of piling more bad regulations on top of that, it is time to repeal more laws and let the problem work itself out.

If consumers desire net neutrality as much as they claim they do, they will be willing to put market pressure on their ISPs instead of relying on Big Daddy Government to do it for them.

Over-Hyped Dot-Com 3.0 Elites Head Toward Collapse

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Every new business idea goes through a life cycle. When it is new and demonstrates how useful it is, people sell it at high prices and pay a lot of attention to it.

However, as time passes, the cost is expected to drop and people want to pay less attention to it. Consider the telephone: once cutting-edge, now humdrum. Or radio. Or desktop computers.

Now it is time for the third wave of internet companies to face this part of the business cycle. They are no longer cutting-edge; they are mundane services. But they grew too large and need more money to keep their staffs, stockholders and empires afloat.

At this point, the Dot-Com 3.0 crowd are zombie businesses. They gobble up anything they can in order to make this quarter profitable, but have no actual plan, and the value of the services they provide is declining. Crash imminent.

Some are starting to notice how abusive these new monopolists have become:

The upshot here is that both Google’s overwhelming search dominance and their profitable exploitation thereof are almost wholly unmerited in terms of their actual product. Google is a fine tool, but what defines the company is luck. Its profits come from a largely unearned strategic position within a socially-created communication medium. Devouring a small business that provided Google and the internet writ large with quality research simply to keep people fenced onto their own portion of the internet is just one particularly egregious example how this position can be abused.

The technology behind search engines is now well-understood. The real challenges are having enough machines to make a search engine comprehensive, and the “network effects” that arise from having many other people in the market using the product as a kind of de facto standard.

If Google kept itself to 500 employees and a relative stable, blue chip style stock price, it would not have these problems. However, Silicon Valley was always about getting rich quick and the winner taking it all, which has produced a relentlessly self-promoting culture that has destroyed the very thing from which it profits.

Wikipedia, Amazon, Google, Apple and Reddit (WAGAR) are companies that centralize the internet. Instead of being decentralized as originally envisioned, the internet is now used as a means of reaching the big sites where network effects mean that the audience is lurking there. This essentially excludes the actual breadth and depth of information on the internet.

Sane minds fear a repetition of history, which is what happens when “gold rush” style thinking results in massive overvaluation of an industry, which then requires a brutal industry correction to remove the false wealth so that other sectors can function normally:

The tech bubble of the mid-90s was inflated by lies that sent the NASDAQ on a vertiginous downward spike that eviscerated the life savings of thousands of retirees and Americans who believed in the hype. This time around, it seems that some of these business may be real, but the people running them are still as tone deaf regarding how their actions affect other people. Silicon Valley has indeed created some amazing things. One can only hope these people don’t erase it with their hubris.

During the 1990s, the Bill Clinton administration urged more development in tech as a means of replacing the economy which was collapsing under the weight of expensive union labor, too much regulation and lawsuit costs, and inbound immigration which was removing traditional sources of work and forcing all sorts of underqualified people into office jobs.

Now we repeat this process. Politicians hate to point out that the new cash boom is false and we should hold back. Voters, like stockholders, like those bottom lines and really do not think beyond the next quarter.

And yet, history shows us this is a problem. The great postwar wealth boom of the stock market ended in tears with the Great Depression; the huge housing boom collapsed in misery when supply far exceeded demand. The same is happening to Silicon Valley.

Its once-innovative gadgets are now as common as telephones were in the 1990s, and people want them to just work, be very cheap and unobtrusive. All of those things mean reduced profit and importance, which destroys Silicon Valley and its mythos as well.

Even more, it seems that the replacement for the internet, or the centralized form of content browsing known as “social media,” is no longer the hot item it once was:

[Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov] explained his decision to purge: “Everyone a person needs has long been on messengers. It’s pointless and time-consuming to maintain increasingly obsolete friend lists on public networks. Reading other people’s news is brain clutter. To clear out room for the new, one shouldn’t fear getting rid of old baggage.”

Durov is right when he says everyone is on messengers these days.

Back in 2015, messengers overtook social networks in terms of total active users. And back in 2014, when Facebook separated Messenger from its main offering, Zuckerberg himself acknowledged the trend, saying that “messaging is one of the few things people do more than social networking”.

The problem for Silicon Valley is that internet advertising represents a shrinking pool of dollars, and this means that the big companies need to take the majority share in order to stay afloat.

As internet old-timers like myself warned in the early 1990s, advertising is not a stable model for the internet. The audience is not captive, as with newspapers or television, but capable of flitting off or filtering out the nonsense.

To combat this, the industry first tried to make the internet into video. When that failed, they put more ads on every page, which decreased the power of each. Then they tried social media, or making browsing more like passively watching television.

All have failed. A large correction is coming. Grab ahold of your seat and get ready for the crash.

Never Trust Silicon Valley And The FANG Companies

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Apple sent this message to a developer. It essentially states Silicon Valley policy: if enough people complain about something, the user who posted it must be destroyed.

This is typical Leftist crowd-oriented thinking. It enables any group that can muster a handful of complainers to destroy someone else, no matter how much time and effort they put into their content, and how much of it previous to that time was inoffensive.

Soft totalitarianism of this nature occurs whenever human individuals become too powerful as a mass, instead of being regulated by a hierarchy and values system.

The FANG companies — Facebook, Apple/Amazon, Netflix and Google — control most of the internet because they regulate its traffic. Sites not listed in Google disappear. Companies whose apps are rejected by Apple die out. Keywords and hashtags filtered by Facebook vanish.

The age of government censorship may not be over, but with “virtual spaces,” our public areas are owned by companies who have no obligation toward “free speech” under the law. As such, as they get more powerful, they will remove anything that threatens them by making their properties less valuable.

An obvious solution is to decentralize: go back to a web of RSS, blogs, independent sites and open protocols like USENET and IRC. Get away from big sites who hope to make money off of us as content providers, and then delete that content when someone whines.

Neoreaction In Action: Ireland Goes Patchwork

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Under Neoreactionary theory, small states will form that compete on the basis of cost and services offered to citizens, essentially formalizing the knowledge that governments are self-interested corporations and not benevolent charities. While this fails to address the national question and the actual motivation for most human decisions, it does explain the Irish state tax haven.

Apple announced its intentions to move its iTunes biz to Ireland in September when it transferred an estimated $9 billion of iTunes assets. At that time it also shuffled all existing developer contracts to Ireland-based Apple Distribution International. Like Luxembourg, Ireland is known for being a low-tax haven for international businesses. Last month, both Apple and Ireland announced they would appeal a record $14 billion tax bill from the European Commission, which earlier found it had been underpaying tax on profits across the European bloc from 2003 to 2014. Apple today is the biggest private employer in Cork, the Irish Republic’s second-largest city, with a workforce exceeding 5,500. Economists estimate Apple’s Cork operation pumps around $17 billion annually in salaries, tax and investment into the Irish economy.

If Ireland were to set up a libertarian free-trade zone as part of the country, say a major city, and offer citizens the benefits of living in a European country without the high taxes and insane regulations that this normally means, it could see a similar boom in income which would be more important than taxes as it would offer a thriving country which could then achieve financial independence by taking existing tax revenues and investing them in its corporations, providing an eternal revenue stream.

Beware The Self-Pity Narrative

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

You are controlled, whether you acknowledge it or not, by a narrative of self-pity that induces you to act against your best interests.

This self-pity narrative takes the following form: some large and shadowy organization or government is manipulating you, and you are a victim, and so the best option is to overthrow and take what is yours along with everyone else.

These narrative never pay attention to how large controlling entities are created. When people revolt, chaos results, and then there is a need for some strong power to keep basic order, like having the lights stay on and the trains run roughly on time. The more people revolt, the greater the power of what comes to rule them in the next step.

And yet, people never learn. They refuse to, because in order to learn, they must accept first that the problem is us, or really, our intent. We intend to be “free,” but have no idea what that means, so we abolish sensible rules alongside the bad ones, and end up with a failure of social order and then the tyrants step in, promising to solve our problems — in exchange, of course, for power.

Even in the most free societies this happens, but instead of granting power to one tyrant, we create many: government, industry, special interest groups, mafias, unions, lobbyists and gigantic corporations. We then try to regulate those, but this makes them more powerful by giving them a maze of rules to hide behind.

Witness the narrative of self-pity:

The bad guys control you. You win by rebelling against them. And then, you get another large company which extracts money from you by making products which are designed not to be repaired. It has been the same every time. The victimizer is us, and we are our own victims.

Why Twitter Is Failing

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

The cabal of media companies that now control the web are hated because they replaced an open standard with a closed one and are using that to manipulate us. Google, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook and Reddit have all come under fire for censorship, which has caused some people to speak the sophomoric maxim that they are not censoring anything, because they are private companies.

A more accurate analysis is that these companies, by replacing an open net, have taken it over and now want to “curate” the experience to both (1) remove controversial ideas and (2) turn us into good media sheep like the legacy media empire they replaced. As one writer observes:

In 2014, I was pardoned and released from a prison in Tehran where I spent six years over my web activism. Before I was imprisoned in 2008, all the hype and rage on the internet was found on blogs.

Blogs were the best thing that had ever happened on the internet. They democratized writing and publishing — at least in many parts of the world…All that was made possible because of a brilliant and powerful, but simple and modest innovation: hyperlinks.

The World Wide Web was founded on the links, and without links, there won’t be a web. Without links the experience of being on the internet will become one of a centralized, linear, passive, inward-looking and homogeneous kind. This is happening already, and despite Zuckerberg’s sermon, it is largely Facebook and Instagram who are to be blame for the demise of links, and thereby the death of the open web and all its potentials for a more peaceful world.

Zuckerberg killed links (and the web) because he has created a space that is more like the future of television rather than the internet. Unlike what he preaches, Facebook has divided us into small personal bubbles of comfort.

This is the difference between the open web and the corporate web. On the open web, there are many information providers and you go visit them. The downside is that these sites are not uniform and may not all load quickly. On the corporate web, Google and Facebook show you what they want you to see, ideally while remaining on one of their sites like YouTube or Instagram.

What this means is that these companies are no longer private entities, but have taken over a public space, and are now censoring it for their own benefit. This includes removal of controversial ideas, often by sneaky methods:

Why is this important? The forces that be have realized that government is too easily criticized, and are aiming for another form of opinion control. When they talk about “fake news,” they mean any information outside of this approved arena. When they shadowban accounts, they mean that deviating information threatens their bottom line and cannot be tolerated.

They do all of this while promising to beat back big corporations and liberate you from horrible conservatives.

Perhaps the lasting lesson is that salespeople lie, and that this tendency couples with the eternal human tendency toward attention fixation that causes us to, when made aware of our bad behavior, accuse those who have noticed this bad behavior of the same behavior. This is why the anti-censors are censors and the liberators are enslavers, every time.

As a long-term strategy, this will not work among the people who have any experience of life. This is why the high-end consumers and natural leaders of society have mostly abandoned these platforms. That means that they are left with the audience of people with little purpose in life, minimal influence, and low income.

That in turn might explain this:

Tim Cook learns the hard way that SJWs are always toxic

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

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You know; I’m just not an Apple Guy. I tend to just view computers, cars and the rest as exactly what they are – machinery. But today I’m writing in praise of Apple’s usually-execrable CEO Tim Cook. He has taken on the leviathan and told it to go blow one out its monstrous rear-end. Well done, Tim. You just made your home state of Alabama proud.

You see, Tim Cook recently had a learning experience, an epiphany if you will. He reached the point where he got it. He came down out of the elite bubble, the Davos Smug-Cloud and really understood how badly life could suck down here on Earth. Down here in Amerika. It was when the FBI leaned on him to give them a backdoor code to allow them unfettered access to Apple’s iPhone products that he finally learned what it was like to spend a day being a regular human being under the power of an oppressive “people-powered” government like INGSOC.

Our FBI is attempting to hack an iPhone that belonged to one of the terrorists who shot up the San Bernardino Christmas Party this past December. They’ve got their smart guys, the real Harvard Men; measuring every physical dimension of the iPhone with their laser micrometers and their slide-rules. It was all going well and the investigation was making progress! But the iPhone then asked for a password so the whole electronic phase of things where they piece together what phone numbers the terrorist called has kind of stalled out.

So it now becomes Tim Cook’s patriotic duty as an Amerikan to fork over code that will allow Wile E Coyote Supra-Genus to instantly access any password protected iPhone through physical means or Wi-Fi with or without the user’s knowledge or permission.

At this juncture, one can imagine Tim Cook as an NFL head coach on the sideline. He has just watched his multi-million dollar franchise get jobbed out of a potential game-clinching touchdown by one of the worst officiating mistakes he has ever seen in his life. He stands there somewhat aghast and asks himself a vital epistemological question. Perhaps he phrases it like this: “Did I really just f*&^%$# see that?!”

Upon convincing himself to that he really did f*&^%@# see that, his face turns a rather unhealthy purplish-orange color. His blood pressure could get a moon rocket fifty feet off the launching pad. He rummages in the back pocket of his Bike Coaches’ Pants and dramatically tosses his Red Bullsh!t flag onto the field to demand a replay challenge of the offending call. Kevin Williamson at NRO gives us the broader extended rant that occurs after CBS Sports quickly pans the camera away before six-year old kids accomplish too much lip-reading.

Yes, of course we’d like to have some prosecutions and convictions in the San Bernardino case, inasmuch as it is clear that the jihadists there did not act without some assistance. And, yes, there probably is some useful information to be had from that iPhone. But there is something deeply unseemly about a gigantic and gigantically powerful national-security apparatus’s being stymied by ordinary consumer electronics and then putting a gun to the head of Apple executives and demanding that they do Uncle Stupid’s job for him. You know what would be better than prosecuting those who helped the San Bernardino jihadists? Stopping them, i.e., for the Men in Black to do their goddamned jobs. An arranged marriage to a Pakistani woman who spent years doing . . . something . . . in Saudi Arabia? Those two murderous misfits had more red flags on them than Bernie Sanders’s front yard on May Day, and the best minds in American law enforcement and intelligence did precisely squat to stop their rampage. Having failed to do its job, the federal government now seeks even more power — the power to compel Apple to write code rendering the security measures in its products useless — as a reward for its failure.

One can imagine Coach Cook at a post-game press conference after his disappointing loss. He is now trying to patiently explain to the media what he really meant by all the nasty and unrepeatable things he said during what we’ll politely describe as a loss of sideline demeanor. He politely suggests that such a software code does not exist and is “too dangerous to create” because it could fall into Hillary Clinton’s toilet Internet-server, oops; I mean the wrong hands. This is a far better PR strategy than giving in to his baser desires, snapping off some beat reporter’s geeky, little head and driving a nice pile of steaming feces down that tosser’s pathetic, bloody stump of a neck. A careful observer can notice that Coach Cook’s hands shake to an unsettling degree while he struggles to maintain a calm and soothing tone of voice. Now is not the time to ask Coach Cook about the playoffs.

In conclusion, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown what Earnest Hemmingway described as the true measure of a worthy man. Unlike the fictional Coach Cook described above, he has displayed grace under pressure. He properly and exquisitely dealt with the outrage he must have felt when he was strong-armed by our desperate, incompetent excuse for a government. It has been said by many that all of us are Conservatives about the things we truly care for and cherish. Attempting to jack Apple’s intellectual property, at least for the nonce, brought forth an impressive streak of small-government, libertarian conservatism from one of Amerika’s most conspicuously SJW CEOs. I congratulate Mr. Cook on his quantum of enlightenment. I hope that it causes him to reevaluate some of his decisions and lead his particular corner of America to a far better place in the foreseeable future.

On free markets and the Apple issue

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Mr. Wilkinson has an excellent article about the Apple debacle which is coming up in the future, but it makes sense to clarify the technical issues first. Vox has an article which describes the technical challenges in this issue:

But the fact that we don’t know how to make an encryption algorithm that can be compromised only by law enforcement doesn’t imply that we don’t know how to make a technology product that can be unlocked only by law enforcement.

The fight over the iPhone’s encryption is not really a fight about encryption. Backdooring encryption is a bad idea because if the bad guys find the backdoor, there is no way to protect any of the encrypted traffic. But we have a workaround: We The People can command Apple to put a backdoor into the operating system that allows us to control specific phones.

That is what this fight is about. Can a government compel a private company to modify its products so that at government request, specific units can be compromised?

Legally, the answer is yes, of course. If the people vote for such a thing, it can be done. If there are civil rights or human rights objections, the answer will always be that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, a concept I find problematic because it assumes the equality of people as if we could be weighed by the pound and our value thereby determined.

In realistic thinking of course the answer is no. The real issue here is far from the question of iPhones or governments. If we drill down to the core of this fight, it is thus: government cannot substitute for culture.

You will never have enough cops, judges, lawyers and spies to control a population. You would need not just a true panopticon, where every act was visible, but an observed panopticon where a wise and alert cop watched every act all the time. Only then do you have safety; but even then, there are many points of failure.

Those of us who want a Restoration point out that you either have a society of good people or the bad people win. There are no grey areas and no middle ground. People must police themselves. When your culture rewards good behavior and is intolerant of bad, terrorists and other crazies can have no place in your society. This works far better than police enforcement and spying on people through their phones.

The coming dot-com 3.0 collapse: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

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Our people hang on to one thing above all else: our economy with its technology will save us. This is why we live so long, have such comforts, and are wealthy. They do not want to face the obvious fact that our industry is oversold because it produces little of actual value, and exists on hype value alone.

Like dying civilizations, dying businesses go into a final period where people exist simply to milk the wealth of the past. They started with a useful product, but then the bloat got to them as it does in every human venture. The Crowd simply tears them apart with many demands: public image, hyping stock value, regulations, hiring enough people and making the right political statements. This reveals an inherent flaw in the democratic model from a business standpoint.

As a result, they stop improving their product in vital ways — in part from fear of disrupting what they know works — and instead start making many discoordinated tiny “improvements” which because they do not come from a singular focus and plan, actually make the product worse. At the same time, since their market is not expanding, they find ways to reduce cost so their new wider margins can take over the profit creation that they formerly received from an expanding market. This is why over time every product gets cheaper and more ornate, but does less well.

Right now, it seems like our internet wunderkind — Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon — are on top of the world. Millennials love their products and use them regularly. Their stocks trade highly. But as with all markets, the price is set by what people are willing to pay for something, and if that is based on illusion, it stays strong until right before it collapses.

Google has some obvious weaknesses. Its ad revenue per page has been declining for years because the internet is now coated in ads, and very few people on the internet actually buy anything. This has caused sites to become clickbait in order to draw in enough traffic to get a decent income from the lower-paying ads they now run; this in turn causes a concentration of traffic on relatively few sites. That puts us right back in the place where we were with old media where six big companies ran the show, and this has decreased the value of the internet as a news source.

Facebook wallows in weakness as well. It has tons of users because people can access it from at phones or on the job. The problem is that these people, beyond a few product categories, do not represent consumers. They are there to screw around. As a result, while Facebook and other social media have many users, they do not have many buyers. It’s not even clear that ads on these sites attract eyes from people who want to buy the products, which is why the ads are getting more random and more frequent, becoming a genteel form of spam. Twitter suffers the same problem.

Amazon similarly seems healthy on the outside but has deep problems within. It has a captive audience of millennials who buy products through it, but no longer has the advantage of being tax-free or even cheap. It is relying on convenience alone to sell products, and thus like many trends, it is running its course. Its improvements have essentially made it into a less unruly eBay, since it now has thousands of merchants and millions of individuals selling used products, but its market remains mostly entertainment products. As those wane, so does Amazon.

We have all heard of the miracle of Apple, but this is a company with a long history of having one good idea per decade and then declining growth. This occurs because the Apple model is based on hype: getting a whole bunch of people excited to spend credit and welfare money on trendy products. Over time, these products decline in cost and quality and the excitement moves on, as it did with the Macintosh in the 90s and the aging Apple PCs in the late 80s.

All of these products exist in cycles of hype. The cell phone was the “next big thing,” so the entirely industry reconfigured itself around selling apps and online games. But hype dies as its newness fades and its utility becomes revealed as relatively low. Government pumps the economy by dumping money on the theoretically impoverished, who can be counted on to spend it on gadgets and entertainment as the last sixty years of welfare spending show. This keeps the hype alive, but also makes these companies fragile.

Companies with declining futures tend to change audiences. In America and Europe, new products gain acceptance when the more cutting-edge users in the upper half of the middle classes adopt them. This group values its time intensely, and so is also the first to move on to what it perceives as better technologies or simply to flee from dying technologies. At that point, businesses try to find a new and easier-to-acquire audience, and so start moving down the socioeconomic ladder. This is how MySpace went from a place filled with college students to one cluttered with older people, and finally, became the general public and drove out the power users and upper half of middle class people. It is easier to acquire less discerning audiences, but it marks a decline in the product because less discerning buyers have less loyalty to brand and cannot be counted on to make the kind of analytical buying choices that advertising targets.

For these firms to get ahead, they would have to markedly improve their products. There’s not much chance of that once a company employs tens of thousands. Instead, they spread out and expand into as many areas as possible, adulterating their original focus.

The last two decades have shown America and Europe increasingly reliant on this technology-hype-welfare cycle. It has also been used to justify importing more H1-B labor, despite the fact that programming “by the pound” contributes to the bloat. Like our dying societies, these firms are built on hype and cannot improve, and instead keep the illusion afloat however they have to, knowing that someday — coming sooner than ever before — a collapse will take them into darkness.

Buying an Identity

Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

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In a society driven by commerce, we are expected to distinguish ourselves by what products we buy. Some products, while claiming to be the antithesis of this plastic culture, in fact enforce it by equating themselves with an identity. Clearly, the classic example is a car, but there’s a more mundane example closer to home: a Macintosh computer.

For over twenty years, Apple Computer has marketed its machines as “superior” with questionable data to support that assertion. They have never attempted to resolve this disparity, as all that is required of them is that they convince the roughly one in twenty computer users out there that Macintosh is a brand overlooked by a global conspiracy toward boredom. The user, usually an egodramatic sort, finds this type of thinking fits into her worldview: the great Right-wing conspiracy in Washington denies the unprivileged, the boring corporate machine denies individuality, most people never see the simple profundity of movies like “Save the Last Dance,” and so on. This person has succumbed to an intricate form of pity in which, by pitying themselves, they are required to think that the world denies all quality, and therefore, they look for “quality” in the minority options of any decision-making process.

Back when Apple made machines based around Western Design, Inc’s 6502 processors, they portrayed IBM who, if you can believe it, was the leading computer maker of that time, as the big bag guys in ugly suits who wanted you to have a boring, tedious experience. Never mind that IBM’s operating system could do many things Apple could not, and that their machines were faster and not that much more expensive (after a few years: substantially less expensive). Apple wanted to market their computers as “unique,” which was a way of avoiding direct competition with IBM.

When the Macintosh came out, Apple ran a series of “1984” ads that portrayed Mac users as the “freedom fighters” (gosh, sounds like something the Bush administration would say!) rebelling against the evil and stupid empire of Big Brother. The idea was that if you bought a machine with a visual interface, you would be fighting back against the tedium. Oddly, the fact was that the Mac was far more expensive than the other machines available at the time, and it was already round two of Apple’s attempts to make such a machine, having already failed with the $10,000 Lisa. Oh, and did we mention that GUIs – graphical user interfaces – were actually common at the time, having been invented by Xerox PARC almost ten years earlier. Does anyone remember GEOS for the 6502 machines? Or X windows? Yes, well.

Apple kept the propaganda machine churning, and they live by it to this day, selling machines that are three to four times the cost of equivalent PCs to a devoted userbase. Even more grotesque, these machines cannot be sanely upgraded (general upgrade price between computer lines: $1500 per two years) and thus result in giant mountains of landfill because unlike a PC, a five-year-old Macintosh is just about useless because all the software etc has been upgraded and is now inaccessible to it. These are $2,000 machines, mind you.

Currently, if you go to look at computers, you will see two major options: any number of PC clones, and a series of Apple machines that look better and have a much fancier interface. Thanks to technology borrowed from Steve Jobs’ other company, NeXT, which went bankrupt after a series of bad business decisions, the new Apple machines even have a decent underlying operating system, OS X. The only problem is that the interface does not match the machine, and therefore, like Macs for time immemorial, much of what you need to do is hidden behind cryptic layers of first visual and then textual interface.

Apple, of course, will tell you how much superior their machines are, from physical plant onward. This is nothing new. They insisted the 68000 processor delivered more power than an equivalent Pentium, but soon that was not true, and they switched to the Power PC, while claiming the same thing. Recently, they’ve switched to Intel, mainly because they cannot get the superior power they’ve been claiming for years out of the Power PC chip. Few have asked them, but it’s pretty obvious that Apple was lying for all those years of statistics that put them ahead of PCs. Even more, it’s obvious much of their propaganda had a dodgy origin, including their dubious claim that using Macs made users more efficient. When one looks carefully at any Apple statistics, one finds a reek of bad science: when testing equivalent machines, the Apple box uses custom software and installations, and the PC box uses the most blockhead generic installation and software possible. There is no pretense of fairness, but Apple doesn’t need it, because their company does not sell products based on their superiority, all rhetoric aside. They sell them as an identity.

If you buy an Apple, the ads claim, you have automatically (for ticket price $2,000) entered the small elite group who actually know What’s Up, and therefore buy the hidden superior product instead of the blockhead machines everyone else carries home. Even more, there’s a whole agenda associated with Apple. If you buy an Apple, you support “expressing yourself” and “personal freedom” and being artistic. Thanks to their ads, you may even be supporting your right to be stoned, or to be gay (this is the company that had the rainbow logo, remember?). It’s a wonderful, wonderful pluralistic world with Apple, mainly because when you buy an Apple, it’s all about you.

And this is what sells computers for them. Clearly their userbase does not care if they are superior; they want the identity. Most people are fine with PCs, because recent versions of Windows are quite solid and run on a range of hardware, giving one quite a few options. Further, most people don’t actually care how great the GUI on the machine is, because they only need it for a few functions – and most of what Apple adds to their GUI does not make those functions easier, it only makes them more obvious. It’s like increasing the font size on streetsigns and using very simple words. It’s the computer for those who fear computers. When they have something of reasonable quality, they claim the world of it, but they also do the same when their machines cannot even compete. How would one ever trust such a company?

The answer is that one doesn’t trust, but like a drug addict, one needs one’s ego fix. The modern citizen is without cultural context, or really anything they would be willing to die for, as far as beliefs go. They’ll vote for whatever makes them feel better about themselves, usually through the mechanism of generosity and pity. They’ll buy things that make them feel like they are somehow different than all the other people who bought the same product. Isn’t it wonderful, to think that because of a mathematically unique combination of bathroom and home furnishing products, you, too, are an “individual” like the rest! These people do not derive individuality, as once was done, from actions or creativity, but from the process of “different” arrangements of familiar objects. In that case, I know a sure way to be the most individual: be insane, because you’ll never use anything for its actual purpose!

Apple likes to tell you that they’re the alternative to Big Brother, but really, they are Big Brother. What the powers that be do is manipulate you into thinking you’re unique, worrying about pity, thinking about anything but reality; this lets them run the show behind the scenes while you’re distracted. Furthermore, they convince you that somewhere in this society there is some other group which is naturally given more than you, and thus in the cosmic balance of good ‘n’ evil, you are “owed” something by them and must take revenge upon them. This is the mentality of not only Apple Computers, but George Bush’s neocons, Marxists, corporate marketers, drug dealers and pedophiles everywhere. It is manipulative. You either stand against this, by looking critically at it and seeing what it actually is, or you join the mass revolt procession toward oblivion that currently grips our society. Apple is part of this deathmarch, and if your soul is so weak that you need something external to ratify your self-worth, they’ll gladly sell it to you with soothing words and endless distractions.

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