Monday, October 17, 2016

News Briefs 10.17.16

In a Galaxy Not so Far Away

It was only a few shorts months ago in August that Samsung released their newest phone, the Galaxy Note 7. Shortly after release, Samsung halted the sales of the Galaxy Note 7 and recalled over 2.5 million units (1) in response to internal hardware issues that would cause the lithium-ion battery in the phone to overheat and explode.

Since this unintentional act of cellular terrorism began, more and more cases are surfacing on the internet (via news articles, Youtube videos, etc) of the damage the exploding battery has the potential of causing. So far, there have been no serious or life-threatening injuries because of Samsung’s irresponsible management of their flagship product but the horror stories to come out of this are enough to make any average Joe who carries a phone in their pocket (i.e. everyone. It’s 2016, after all) go pale as the blood runs from their veins.

T-Mobile had officially announced that they’ll be halting all future sales of the Note 7 until the issue has been resolved and urge its customers “to follow this guidance and bring all models of the Note7 back to a T-Mobile store for a full refund,” before finally abandoning their product all together on Tuesday (October 11, 2016).

What is primarily disheartening to me about this latest hiccup (and I use the word hiccup sparingly) in how a company like Samsung would allow a problem like this to ship out with the launch of their phones. Whether it was another case of prematurely unveiling a product before it was fully tested in order to compete with the newest Apple product, the iPhone 7 (released in the same month) or even just an oversight by the world’s most inept group of Quality Assurance testers, this will only reflect badly on Samsung in their future iterations of the Galaxy and Galaxy Note.

What if a phone were to explode and set fire to someone’s home and kill them in their sleep? Is that a cynical, worst-case-scenario way to think of it? Yes, but not unwarranted. Living in an age where we maintain a near symbiotic relationship with our smartphones, there is an expectation of the manufacturers to keep the consumers safety in mind at all times. If Samsung is going to split hairs and rush a product out, it sets a poor standard for all future technological advancements. We as consumers shouldn’t have to be afraid of the luxury products we have at our disposal, but from here on out, perhaps we’ll have too if we want to avoid a premature death.

Though the conflagration of Samsung's flagship phone is being reported on quite frequently in the news, I've seen very little discussion on the long-term implications of this event. What if we are driven so much by our fear that Samsung loses all credibility and the only smart phones left available for the world is the iPhone? Apple would certainly be head over heels in love with the notion but I can only imagine the horrors of a world dominated by Apple as it currently stands, a monopoly that transcends over every aspect of our lives.

As Frank Herbert, author of Dune put it “He who controls the spice controls the universe.”



A few days ago, a bunch of Swedish people decided that a 75 year old songwriter was deserving of an award long considered to be the pinnacle of achievement for authors the world over. I'm speaking of course, of Bob Dylan and the Nobel prize for literature.

Yes. I'm serious. Bob "Like a Rolling Stone" Dylan won the prize for literature. People are not happy.

Ok, some people are thrilled. Mostly music people, and writers who are also music people. (Think Stephen King and Amy Tan among others.)

It's not that his name wasn't bandied about, it was! New Republic actually wrote an article about who they thought would win, and they specifically said "Nope! Bob Dylan is definitely not going to win." They were definitely wrong.

Why is this so controversial? Well, for one, he's not really an author--per se. Dylan writes 3-10 minutes of singable lyrics and kooky guitar solos. The Scandinavian selectioners (new word I just made up) don't really acknowledge lyrics (usually) as a part of the literary canon. Typically, they like to choose someone who is extremely progressive and "woke," from a place in the world you had no idea existed until you read the award release. (Is Genovia a real place? Florin? NARNIA?!??!) Also, most people have never read what that person wrote. Except maybe 10 college professors and the selectioners. (We've been over the new word, thing.) Also, they are the ten most egregiously arrogant English Lit professors with tenure in the world.

But Dylan? Everyone knows Dylan. Everyone.

My favorite. "It's Alright, Ma (I'm only Bleeding)."

The Lyrics:

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fools gold mouthpiece
The hollow horn plays wasted words
Proved to warn
That he not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Temptation's page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover
That you'd just be
One more person crying.

So don't fear if you hear
A foreign sound to you ear
It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don't hate nothing at all
Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their marks
Made everything from toy guns that sparks
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An' though the rules of the road have been lodged
It's only people's games that you got to dodge
And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You loose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand without nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget 
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despite their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platforms ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God Bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.

Old lady judges, watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony.

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes
Must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me ?

And if my thought-dreams could been seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.

In my opinion, as a writer and musician and lover of literature, and dangit, and American, I'm over the moon. I want to take my guitar, my American flag, and my sense of musical superiority to go watch the hopes and dreams of the smug naysayers go up in flames in a great Viking funeral. 

This is a win.



Mike Rowe, known for his role in Dirty Jobs, was reportedly victim to drone surveillance at the hands of an unknown peeping tom.

He described the situation to CBS San Francisco. The title of said article reads as follows:
Apt summary of the account. A naked T.V. star, check. Guns, check. Fear of change, check.
Good ol’ American get to-itivness embodied in the bold threat of violence in face of a new threat.
Mike Rowe, a beacon of blue collar guts lost in an ocean of techies, fashions his weapon,donned  in honest nudity, in the face of intrusion at the hands of these lily-livered clear-frame glasses wearing, boutique coffee drinking, no-respect for privacy showing, new-age flag hating dweebs.

I hope the bias in my analysis of the imagery this article seems to celebrate is clear. 

The humor in the absurdity of American media coverage aside, I actually have a real sympathy for the position of Mike Rowe. The advancement of technologies capable of infiltrating our rights to privacy are beginning to make traditional ideas of security seem small and impotent***. What’s a gun to a drone operator, what’s a gun to a hacker, what’s a gun to a satellite surveillance team. The argument for gun rights as the only way to keep governments and large corporations from undermining individual rights is really illogical. Guns only work against other individuals. What else do you run to then when you need to protect yourself from the ever growing forces hell-bent on crippling your liberties? A future in which homes are equipped with emergency EMP grids is sometimes what I think a real American would invest in, although I don't think a sophisticated computer defense mechanism would appease the phallocentric click clacking of a 12 gauge*** which Rowe's seems to love. Why does he love it, or why does he believe his audience needs to believe he loves it (I'm curious)? Is aggressive investment in anti-technology technology going to supplant 2nd ammendment fanaticism (I'm curious)? 


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