Politics · Technology

An interesting week in politics and tech.

An interesting week so far in politics with Jacinda Ardern stepping down from her role as Prime Minister and Chris Hipkins – the fact that it was such a smooth transition makes me wonder whether this had been in the works for a while. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any major changes but so far it appears, based on the speech he gave, that they’re looking at the many policies that are being pushed and pruning them back to the absolute essential ones that need to be implemented.

The three waters, which has become a political hot potato (rightfully or wrongfully) I could imagine them ‘sending it back for more consultation’ with an announcement of a short term funding announcement to deal with the immediate issues that require addressing in an expedited manner then I could imagine either the states quo or consolidation with central government funding for long term infrastructure needs.

When it comes to the merged public broadcaster they’ll push that out but I don’t think they really have the stomach for a merging – what I could imagine is that TVNZ remains as it is with maybe the news and current affairs handed over to RNZ and TVNZ licences it off RNZ a simulcast version of Checkpoint which will reduce TVNZ’s costs and reduce the duplication in the current affairs and new divisions between the two organisations.

Regarding the phasing out of DHBs, that’ll still go ahead because the whole idea of having elected DHBs never made any sense particularly when it comes to a national strategy on health not to mention the very low interest that the public had in regards to the whole DHB election process given that a sizeable number got in because they were at the top of the list rather than it being a conscious choice being made (there was an article from years ago that the top winners were also those at the top of the list as they were printed on the voting form). Even if National were to get in I don’t see them undoing it since they were never onboard with DHBs in the first place and ACT years ago talked about reducing the number of boards from 20 down to 6 – 4 in the North Island and 2 in the South Island.

I could see them maybe having a look at the tax code particularly around adjusting brackets given that there has been almost a decade of bracket creep with wages going up well above inflation but the tax brackets remaining static not to mention the IETC threshold for abatement hasn’t adjusted in over a decade meaning many are missing out on the IETC even though, if one were to adjust for inflation, their incomes had only increased modestly. As much as I would love to see a capital gains tax to transform the tax system from one of being ‘deep and narrow’ in favour of ‘broad and shallow’ which would ensure that the burden of taxation wouldn’t fall overwhelmingly on the shoulders of income tax payers.

Today Apple release updates for all their platforms – so far everything is going well with the new macOS 13.2, no issues with any of the software. Nothing Phone is gradually rolling out the Nothing OS 1.1.8 update which includes bug fixes along with January 2023 security update (link). There is the upcoming Android developer conference then followed by the WWDC in June (I’ll get time off from work when that happens) – many things occurring in the first half of this year so it’ll be interesting to see what is announced.

Personal · Politics

The quiet time of the year.

Around this time of the year although there is the craziness of end of the year festivities (from a variety of different religions) and celebrating the new year in the fields of politics and technology things are pretty quiet but eventually they start to pick up heading into February with Samsung’s new produce announcement then followed by Google’s Android developer conference where Android 14 is announced then in June there is the WWDC 2023 conference (maybe in person this year?). Samsung Galaxy S23 will be interesting but there are rumours regarding the Samsung Galaxy S24 that Samsung will reduce their line up to two models but keeping in mind that they’re just rumours at the moment. There is also rumours in the world of Apple that 2024 is the launch year of Apple’s own Bluetooth, Wifi and mobile modem chip so that their SoC is completely end to end controlled by Apple. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an improvement there will be once they ‘control the whole widget’ and whether Apple removes mmWave support given the complexity of the antenna is and how useless it is in the real world (outside of the US the focus is on sub 6GHz) given that a double glazed window can block a mmWave signal.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year in terms of New Zealand politics particularly when one considers it is an election year and inflation hasn’t been tamed yet but that being said if the voter can see that the inflation is coming down then they might give Labour another chance. With all that being said, National ins’t exactly making themselves electable when their platform is what I like to call ‘the four step tango’ which amounts to 1) Tax cuts 2) Deregulation 3) Privatisation 3) Build a road. They attempt to dress it as something else but it always ends up looking the same and the last thing New Zealand can afford, particularly with the goal of becoming carbon neutral, to under invest in rail, to privatise state owned enterprises resulting in the treasury losing dividend payments, deregulation of the economy only for the consequences of that deregulation coming back to bite consumers and the industry in the backside (see ‘leaking homes’), tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich resulting in a decline in the monetary velocity. All in all it is a bad policy prescription that has all the stench of the ‘1980’s guy’ – too bad many on the right haven’t updated their ideology to reflect reality but then again when your ideology is about justifying policies that benefit your donors then nothing should be surprising.

Getting back to Nothing, it appears that they’re slowly entering the US market with a ‘beta test’ version of their phone (link) and although the aforementioned linked article has a cynical title (probably for the sake of getting clicks) I personally wouldn’t have bothered entering the US market given the laundry list of regulations one has to comply with when compared to the many other countries they’re making the phone available in. From what it appears, they’re taking the cautious approach to growth which is good when compared to what competitors have done where by there is massive growth then followed by numerous problems appearing one after the other as the organisation isn’t prepared to deal with the increased customer base and the after market support.

Politics · Technology

The slow decline of social media platforms

Well, I have to admit, I’ve been enjoying the decline of the two big players in social media – not the people losing their jobs, I would never relish innocent bystanders finding out the day before thanksgiving that their services are no longer required, but rather the hubris of billionaires believe that they can be like Mary Poppins where at the snap of their fingers that everything falls in place.

Although both Meta and Twitter are declining I would be hesitant about putting them in the same boat given that Elon Musk is a younger version of Donald Trump who considers himself the smartest person in the room and the reason why (in this case) Twitter isn’t successful is because the company is run by morons and only he can fly in like superman with his ‘big brain’ to fix up the platform (all while ignoring that almost everyone of his ideas have been thoroughly investigated by the internal team and found those ideas either never got off the drawing board or if they did found that when they ran small scale tests the idea crashed and burned quickly).

Mark on the other hand is an example of someone who is too smart for his own good – the inability to appreciate the fact that he isn’t the ‘average person’ no matter how much he might wish to talk about his smoked meats. Running a successful business is in part knowing what skills you have but it also requires you to know what your limitations are so then when you confront something your skill set is unable to address you find someone who can. Getting back to Mark, he cannot seem to wrap his head around why people aren’t interested in his Meta version – he can’t work out why his employees aren’t interested in it even after working on it while ignoring that they’re working on it because that is what they’re paid to do not because they are interested in it. The other part of Facebook’s decline has been the ‘vibe’ of the place, people just don’t want to be associated with all the scandals around it with large numbers either going to TikTok or using alternative platforms where it is more reminiscent of the internet of old – chat rooms, dedicated ‘instances’ for particular topics etc. in other words it is the slow and gradual decentralisation of the internet after years of consolidation around a small number of internet businesses. It also doesn’t help when key people within the organisation have delusions of grandeur about ‘taking over the world’.

As for when or if these organisations may collapse – I’m not going to indulge in speculation because there are so many variables but that being said it is possible for these platforms to hang around for years before turning into something else or dying quickly as it becomes apparent that it is no longer a viable business. I remember when Internet Explorer was the dominant browser out there but then Firefox suddenly appeared and gradually its marketshare slipped then Firefox became the dominant browser then Apple embraced KHTML/KJS to create Safari then Google forked KHTML and became blink and replaced KJS with their own JavaScript engine known as V8 and here we are with Chrome dominating the browser market. Point being, there can be long stretches of time where nothing happens and suddenly things start to happen, what was seen as a permanent part of the landscape then suddenly out of nowhere disappears. Netscape Navigator/Communicator was seen as a permanent fixture on the web landscape up until it wasn’t then Internet Explorer took that place which was then quickly replaced etc.

Personal · Politics · Technology

Dealing with long COVID, Apple releases an update and no red wave.

It is an ongoing issue with the constant dry coughing, occasionally coughing up phlegm – I’m try to make sure I get a good a good night sleep each night but I think it is going to be a long road to recovery. At the moment I am working at home with the icing on the cake being able to use my own computer – Mac Studio with a boat load of RAM and a speedy processor thus making the whole work day go a whole lot faster.

Apple released a small update this week to address a security hole in libxml2 (link) which covers macOS, iPadOS and iOS along with some odd bits and pieces to fix issues that couldn’t wait until macOS 13.1 and iOS/iPad 16.2. It is rumoured that the next 13.x/16.x update will be released around mid-December so it’ll be interesting to see what improvements make their way into Safari given how quickly improvements are appearing in the Safari Technology Preview. I think the whole Webextensions API implementation is going to be interesting to watch because a lot of it is in a state of flux so I wouldn’t be surprised that Apple is taking a ‘taking things slowly’ as to avoid implementing it only for their to be a major change resulting in all that work being undermined.

Midterms in the United States didn’t turn out to be the ‘red wave’ that many in the media and Republican talking heads boasted about in the media. I think the sad part was hearing the post mortem by those on the right arguing that they didn’t go right wing enough – it’s almost as though they cannot admit that maybe the ’normal folk’ out in suburbia aren’t interested in the culture wars. Being angry all the time, hating, more anger followed by more hate isn’t sustainable for the long term – it becomes physically, mentally and spiritually taxing on oneself to the point that either you get eaten alive by it or you have to step back and simply leave it altogether.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next year as inflation drops (the latest statistics out of the US show inflation as well as core inflation have dropped), the economy keeps growing, deficit decreases and crime decreases. What I find interesting is how economists talk about the concern over inflation becoming embedded but these same economists said nothing about 20+ years of super low interest rates in the United States which has resulted in asset inflation, housing bubbles, a stock market bubble, riskier and risker investments and all the factors that would contribute to greater financial instability. Maybe what we’re seeing today in terms of high inflation has its origin further back that two years.

Personal · Politics

Going cold turkey, I can’t take it any more.

I’m going cold turkey when it comes to Twitter – I like to ‘stop in’ occasionally to see what is happening in the world of Twitter but it appears that as the US draws closer to mid terms (there is early voting in many states) the avalanche of crap that’ll appear on Twitter will keep getting worse and worse until it reaches a fever pitch then it’ll be months of relitigation as supporters of the two major parties accuse each other of everything ranging from steqaling the vote all the way through to some absurd insane conspiracy theory involving Antifa, space aliens and whatever else happens to be the du jour flavour of the month when it comes to conspiracy theories.

It has just been signalled that the Twitter purchase by Elon Musk is on track to close this week (link) so expect more of the same as many of the banned users or users who left because they didn’t like the rules come back to the platform in the belief that Elon Musk will give them free rein to do what they want all in the name of ‘freedom of speech’. I think young Elon Musk is going to find out the hard way when Twitter turns into a bigger toxic cesspit than it is today, when advertisers start pulling their advertisements from his platform because they no longer want to be associated with such a platform,  

Twitter is putting up the ‘Twitter Blue’ cost up to US$4.99 per month but it’ll be interesting to see whether there is a sizeable number of subscribers willing to pay for it. That is one of the things talked about, that the goal is to make Twitter less dependent on ad revenue but something tells me that the very sort of people who refuse to pay for YouTube Premium and instead use an ad blocker aren’t going to suddenly start paying for a subscription for ‘Twitter Blue’ even if they are ae giant simp for Elon Musk.

Personally, I would sooner make a donation to the Mastodon project than giving it to a billionaire so they can fund their vanity project. Once I get some stuff cleared out of the way in terms of debt I’m going to given then $20 per month – it may not make a huge difference but every bit of money counts and with the European Union also backing the project I am hoping that with a bit of momentum with help from Elon Musk sabotaging himself that the end result will be a robust alternative for those who don’t want to deal with the less than salubrious characters that Twitter will eventually attract.

The swathe of first updates are being pushed out by Apple for beta testing and if the rumour is true then I’d say that their goal is to get it ready for the rumoured refresh of the Mac range although rumour has it that Mac Pro refresh won’t be coming until next year some time.

Side note: If a person is pointlessly replying to you and it is clear that they have no interest in listening to what you have to say then just block them – nothing of value will be lost.

Politics

Being held to a standard that one sets for oneself.

I really have to ask whether conservatives are playing ignorant or are actually that ignorant in real life as based on the tweets many of them put out. The latest one is from our good friend Benjamin Shapiro:

I have a general rule that I set for myself and that is to never hold someone to a standard that they themselves never agreed to. The basic idea is that I hold them to the standard that they themselves have declared -for example, if you’ve declare that you’re anti-abortion then I’ll hold you to that standard. I’ll give you a recent example, there was a same sex couple wanting to buy a wedding cake a few years ago, the baker refused to provide a wedding cake because he said it was against his Christian faith. Well, then we had the usual right wing rent a crowd claim that the bakery were a private business and shouldn’t be obligated to serve customers that they don’t want to. Over the last four to six years there has been nothing but incessant whinging from these same right wing blow hards about how they’re being ‘censored by [insert big tech company here]’ – but what happened to your original claim that private businesses can decide who they can do business with? The company has decided that they not longer wish to provide you with a platform and according to the standard you set, you should put your big boy pants on and deal with that reality.

When it comes to politics, the policies one advocates is an outward manifestation of ones personal philosophy and once again one should be held to the standard that one announces publicly. In the case of Herschel Walker, there have been accusations made and evidence provided (link) (link) and the right wing are twisting themselves into a pretzel trying to deflect and redirect (see the above Twitter screenshot). Herschel Walker has taken the position of being 100% pro-life, no exceptions, and he will be held to that very standard he set out publicly which is why he is being taken to the cleaners by the media. There is no grand unified conspiracy theory, Herschel Walker shat in his own bed and now he is complaining about the stench – he only has himself to blame for the predicament he has found himself in. Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for the choices you make, if you’re going grandstand with the holier than though routine then you better damn well make sure your ducks are in a row or otherwise you’ll find things won’t work out as well as you expected.

Personal · Politics

Back to work again.

I’ve been sick for the last four days – coughing up phlegm and blowing my nose. I went to visit my doctor and I was advised that the best he can suggest is so get some rest, drink lots of water, get fresh air and make sure that I eat some good helpings of vegetables. I’ve been taking it easy which include working from home – avoid the cold air in the evening given that even in September the night temperature is getting below 5°C. There appears to be four viruses doing the rounds out there so it is probably best to avoid exposure by working from home where possible particularly when one considers that the shifts being done are at night where the cold air can aggravate the lungs.

I’ve finally got my act together and voted this year in the local government elections – I had until the beginning of October to send it away (it is done via postal voting) but I thought it would be best to get it done now before I end up losing track of my voting papers. I did some Googling to find out who each of the candidates were and what their positions are. Personally I think that the established parties should play a larger role in local government to avoid the sorts of ‘independents’ who have been hiding their crankery but thank goodness Stuff, Newsroom, The Spin Off and others have been exposing candidates hiding their links to those behind the occupation of the parliament grounds. The benefit of having the established parties involved at the local government level will provide the venting process and endorsement which will encourage more people to vote in local elections – if voters don’t necessarily 100% know the candidate they can feel rest assured that the party that they support at the central government give them enough confidence to vote for said candidate at the local level.

Work was ok – not too busy but new changes are being introduced in the next couple of weeks. It is amazing how getting a new CEO results in the company getting its ‘a into g’ results in improvements coming out in a mater of months if not weeks rather than the many, many, many years of procrastination. I’ve been employed with the organisation for almost 5 years and in the last year and a half there have been more things done to improve the customer experience than the previous years. There is a lot of great talent where I work – lets hope that the talent is given free rein.

Looking forward to seeing what happens in the next few months regarding inflation but I think it is foolish to believe that our inflation woes can be fixed by increasing interest rates given that it is a supply issue not a demand – the capacity is under-utilised rather than it being a situation of demand being too high and the economy is operating at peak utilisation. I think the bigger question that needs to be asked is what the long term plan will be to avoid this sort of issue in future – to avoid a situation where we have turned China into the workhouse of the world which has simultaneously created a single point of failure for the world. There are also environmental reasons – is it really the smart to take fish caught in New Zealand, export that fish to China and hen reimport the processed product back to New Zealand? thousands of carbon miles – yay the efficiency of the capitalist system.

Personal · Politics · Technology

Welp, never going to do that again.

Well, after working all day I thought “I’ll treat myself to some KFC delivered” so it I ordered it online, it arrived 20 minutes late and half of the order was missing and was cold, I sent it back with the driver and the replacement arrived with it missing the coleslaw and drinks. During the time I rang the store six times – no answer. I rang the 0800 KFC KFC but because it was after 10pm it had closed – the last order was at 10pm, wouldn’t it make sense to be open past 10pm to address scenarios such as what I experienced? Well, I sent through a complaint – I want my money back. To wait 1 1/2 hours for a meal that was completely incorrect I think that is the least that they should do. Yeah, it sounds kind of Karenish but it really was beyond a joke particularly when you consider the driver was also stuffed around because the expectation is that when he picks up delivery everything should be in the bag ready for the driver to drop off.

My iPhone is acting pretty buggy at this stage – random applications freezing such as Reddit app suddenly failing to load a subreddit then I force quit it then launch it again with it suddenly working. The other issue with the screen waking up but I’m unable to press any of the buttons on the scree – when the alarm goes off in the morning I press the ‘stop’ button and it doesn’t register my touching of the ‘stop’ butt with my finger. I thought it may have been the software but this issue never happened until recently so I thought I might as well give DFU reset a try to see whether a clean install will fix it. Then I thought maybe it is the software with that brand if iPhone but nope, the problems were unique to my phone. I’m going to hold onto the phone until it I’ve got the money saved but so far there is will be announcement at the 7 September Apple has planned where they’ll announce their new iPhone. Then there is the Pixel 7 and hopefully that’ll mean more markets that Google is selling into but not optimistic then there is the presentation early next year when Samsung announces the refresh for the Galaxy S range of phones which will have Android 13 preinstalled along with probably OneUI 5.1. I guess it’ll be a situation of “wait and see” because it is the sort of investment you only make every 3-5 years so you want to make sure you make the right decision.

I had the unfortunate experience of coming across yet another individual who embraces the aesthetics of the left but in process push reactionary politics under the guise of being ‘anti-revisionist’ (link). Left wing politics isn’t in conflict with liberalism, it is the natural evolution that builds upon liberalism, a realisation that the phrase ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ rings rather hollow when you’re struggling to survive – how are you going to enjoy your freedom when you’re not free (due most of one’s time spent merely surviving) to being develop yourself and be more than just a interchangeable cog in the capitalist machine that is hell bent on ‘make line go up’ at all costs? As Noam Chomsky pointed out (outlined in many videos on YouTube where he is giving answers to questions put to him by students), such an individual (the writer of the linked essay) see themselves as the van guard who will whip the population into shape or by hell or high water send the ‘misbehaving types’ who display ‘bourgeois immorality that is incompatible with socialism’ (aka members of the ‘alphabet mafia’ such as myself) to gulags to ‘straighten up and fly right’. When your understanding of the proletariat is a characterture that you’ve conjured up in your mind based on stereotypes and second hand information then don’t be surprised that very few people are interested in following the particular ideology that you’re pushing.

Politics

It’s more complicated than that.

There was an interesting ‘Brooks and Capehart’ discussion on PBS regarding the issue of abortion with David Brooks raising the issue that although European countries have more restrictive abortion access laws, Europe also have more comprehensive ‘wrap around’ services in the form of welfare.

This makes me wonder about the issue of gun violence n the United States and the focus by many on passing more restrictive laws on the basis that restrictive laws keep the public safe. That being said, if we follow David Brooks line of thinking that maybe the issue is more complex than what people make the gun issue out to be, that the complimentary nature of having a public healthcare system with well funded mental health facilities married up with reasonable gun regulations results in better public safety rather than it solely being a matter of just passing gun regulations alone. I thought it was an interesting way of having a look at an issue that uniquely plagues the United States in terms of the number of mass shootings that take place in the United States.

Personal · Politics · Technology

A good weekend.

Well, that was a good weekend. There was the Australian election and Labor (yes they spell Labour as Labor for the centre left party in Australia) won although they’ll need to work with independents and the Green Party to get things moving. What I hope is that not only do they setup an ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) they also work to break up media concentration in Australia – break up News Corp, Channel 9, ban cross media ownership and more. If Labor failure to deal with media concentration then it is highly likely that they’ll be a one term government. They have been able to take on the Murdoch empire and win but I wouldn’t get so sure that it can be repeated.

Chrome 102 was released recently so I updated the Chrome installation on my devices. Although I keep oscillating between Safari and Chrome, I keep coming back to Chrome because a) the content blocking extension is available b) I don’t have to deal with the constant website breakages such as video playback not working properly, the ability to use the payroll website that I used for it and lots more. Google does a pretty good job at delivering a stable and reliable browser which is another reason why I keep using it.

Another tragic shooting has occurred in the United States and call me cynical but nothing will change (legislatively) as a result of – the congressman representing the area is Tony Gonzales (a Republican) and a strong 2nd amendment advocate so there isn’t even the political momentum within the community for change given who they voted to represent them at the federal level. I’ve seen this occur time and time again, the wailing, the crying, the gnashing of teeth then 12 months later the event becomes a distant memory with the gun reform legislation dying in some committee somewhere on capitol hill because no one has the stones to do what is required. At this point I’m numb to it all – at some point you stop holding out hope that things will change when it is clear that those involved and those who enable aren’t interested in pushing for change.

On more positive news, four more days until I start my long annual leave. That first week I’m finally going to get myself organised and drop my laptop off to the Apple repair place in town to get the keyboard sorted out. While I’m in there I might pick up a few things – New World on Willis Street is an wonderful bakery which is where I’ll want to pick up a few tasty goodies while I’m in there – I might even pick up some fish ‘n chips too while I’m there from ‘The Chippery’ (the Thorndon one being the easiest to access).