Was doing some bathroom reading and happened upon this:
"In an animated conversation I often see the face of the person with whom I am talking so clearly and so subtly determined in accordance with the thought he expresses, or that I believe has been produced in him, that this degree of clarity far surpasses my powers of vision: so the subtle shades of play of the muscles and the expression of the eyes must have been made up by me. Probably the person made an altogether different face, or none at all." (Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil - V.192)
Also, your Mom.
I saw a recent blog post about disconnecting oneself from social networks, and thought of this piece that I wrote about three years ago. Hope folks like it.
Living As An iMinority
I didn't realize how marginalized I was until I went to pay my wife's cellphone bill today.
"While you're here, would you like to get some accessories for your own phone?" asked the cheerful counter
"I'm just paying my wife's bill," I said. "I don't have a cellphone."
You know the saying about how men are from Mars and women are from Venus? Well, right about then I
was being looked at as if I actually did come from another planet.
"Really? Why not?" he asked.
"I had one several years ago," I explained. "I didn't really use it so I got rid of it."
Again with the baffled look.
"Wow, that's so weird. You're really in the minority, y'know."
I shrugged, grabbed my receipt and left. But as I walked back to my car, I mused on what the clerk had said.
What exactly was he getting at?
Being in the Minority
It's interesting to see the way people use the word 'minority'.
In a political sense, it can refer to those poor bastards in parliaments around the world whose sole
contribution to public life is endless !@#$%*ing and complaining. They lack the votes to propose or halt
government policy. They are the minority. They are helpless.
Of course many of us are also accustomed to using the word 'minority' to refer to various ethnic groups. In
North America, not being Caucasian makes one a 'minority', even if one happens to live in an area where
Caucasians are vastly outnumbered. The implication of being a minority of this type is that one is being
"kept down by 'The Man'" or something like that while at the same time being eligible for preferential
treatment of some kind. (Don't believe me? Have a look at the job ads in your local paper, and watch for
phrases like "commitment to diversity" or "preference will be given to visible minorities.")
I don't fit into either of these classes of 'minority'. Instead, I seem to be part of a minority of the 'nonconnected'.
Having Internet access, an e-mail account or posting on Facebook is no longer sufficient.
Because I have consciously rejected something that most people take for granted I am, let's face it, a
TeleLuddite. (I once went without television for nearly three years. You should see the looks I get when I
I am an object of curiosity, if not pity. How can I possibly get by?
Why I Really Don't Have a Cellphone
After finishing my Bachelor's degree, I worked in public policy for a few years. No, I wasn't some kind of
policy wonk. I was one of those guys who raises money to keep the research going. At one point I was
spending roughly one-third of the year on the road, doing things like flying from Vancouver to San
Francisco for lunch, then turning around and heading right back home.
When I wasn't traveling, I spent an awful lot of time on the phone; so much time, in fact, that to this day I
have ulnar nerve damage in both arms from leaning on my elbows while talking on the phone. Having one
or both hands suddenly go half-numb for no apparent reason is quite normal for me. They still work the
way they were designed; I just can't feel them.
This is part of the reason I don't like telephones, but it's not nearly as important as you might think.
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that a "letter is an unannounced visit, the postman the agent of rude
surprises. One ought to reserve an hour a week for receiving letters and afterwards take a bath."
I feel much the same way about the telephone.
That's right: The real reason I don't have a cellphone is that, if I did, people would call me.
I know, I know....this makes me a horrible, anti-social person. How could I possibly be annoyed by the
prospect of having people communicating at me (note: not 'with' me) at all hours of the day or night?
Consider the nature of most of this so-called communication, however. Maybe it's just me, but from what
I've observed most of the things people talk and text about run the gamut from trivial to utterly
unimportant. While I can only claim to have ever heard one side of others' cellphone conversations, my own
observation is that most people spend an awful lot of time explaining that they're on a cellphone and that
they're going somewhere or have arrived somewhere. The same is true with text messages.
And then there's that other annoying feature of modern cellphone 'culture': the ubiquitous picture and
video-taking that goes on.
The finest examples of the banality of this behavior may be observed wherever so-called celebrities are
gathered. People wait for hours, often in less-than-ideal weather, crushed behind a barrier of some kind, all
in the hope that they'll catch a glimpse of Justin Bieber, Barack Obama or some other media idol.
And then, when the celebrity shows up, what happens? Out come the cellphones. The object of one's
adoration may be only a yard away, but instead of looking at the person we see people staring at images of
said person on their phone. Having been present at some kind of 'event' is no longer enough. We need
tangible evidence that it happened and that we were there. If we don't have a photo to share through social
media, then it didn't really happen. We don't look at an object or a person. Instead, we look at an image. We
prefer a picture of reality over reality itself.
This strikes me as really quite bizarre.
It reminds me of people who go to sporting events but never take their eyes away from the giant screens.
What the hell are these people doing? Do they realize they've just spent a great deal of money to go to a live
event in order to watch it on television? If someone pointed this out, would they see the irony?
My guess is no, they wouldn't.
Right now, Apple is running a series of ads in which they claim that more people take more pictures and
videos each day with iPhones than with any competitors' product. If this is true, then how very sad it is. All
these people out there taking pictures of things rather than actually experiencing them.
I'm Fine, Thank You Very Much
I'm a fan of genuine human communication; the sort that happens when two people can actually look at
each other, exchange ideas and pick up on the kinds of social cues that help us avoid misunderstanding and
pointless conflict. (Ever notice how many e-communications end in fights because one party assumed that
the other was typing with some kind of implicit, condescending tone?)
Does this make me a member of some kind of 'minority'? It would seem so.
Oh sure, I send e-mails and post random thoughts on Facebook, but I see these as being, at best, a tertiary
form of communication. They're more prone to causing miscommunication; something that seems to be
lost on those who stare at their phones to type out such important observations as "LOL," "k" and "<3."
Maybe it's a generational thing. In my forty-seven years on the planet, I've had some truly memorable
experiences, most of which I have no 'proof' of. And, if I'm to be honest, I must admit that I don't
particularly feel the need to prove that anything has happened. Whether it's a gift from my Creator or the
result of genetics, I possess a remarkably good memory. I don't need photos to reassure myself that
something actually happened, especially if I was there when it happened.
Wait a Second. Am I a Snob?
I've seen people use cellphones to have conversations that amount to, "I'll see you in five minutes." I've seen
people using those same phones to send text messages to friends who were literally in the same room. I've
seen people trade genuine experiences for photos and videos of non-experiences.
Am I looking down on those who have traded the real world for a hand-held facsimile thereof?
If I'm to be completely honest, then I must admit that I am more baffled than snobbish or superior.
We're frequently told that we live in a Golden Age of Communication, but all the evidence suggests that
nobody's really talking.
I don't get it.
One Final Objection
There is always the chance that I could find myself in a situation where having a cellphone would be awfully
handy. The car breaks down, phone service is interrupted, I'm running late for an appointment, I need to
change some plans. There are many, many situations in which having ready access to a cellphone could be
considered essential, I suppose.
So What Do You Have to Say About That, Mr. Smartypants?
François Mitterrand was President of France for fourteen years, and according to an article I read some
time ago he was noted for not wearing a wristwatch. He realized that he didn't really need to keep track of
time. Others would be more than happy to do it for him.
I don't wear a wristwatch, either. And when people ask me why, I like to give an answer that strikes some as
being a bit like a Zen koan. "Can you tell me what time it is?" I'll ask. And, inevitably, they can.
With that in mind, I'm having a bit of an emergency. May I please use your phone?
Thanks. I appreciate it.
About a year and a half ago I assembled a new PC. Nothing fancy, really, but since it was my first new computer in a few years it was definitely a step up for me. Here's the core of my system then:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 3.0GHz
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1333MHz
Drive: WD Caviar Black 500GB
GPU: Radeon HD5450
It soon became clear that I'd gone too low in terms of the GPU, so I moved up to a Radeon HD6770, which has turned out to be perfect for the few computer games I play.
And then I became annoyed by the speed of my hard drive. Boot times, shutdown times, application start times....everything was getting on my nerves. All this new shiny hardware and my computer didn't really 'feel' much faster than its dinosaur predecessor. I wish I'd done some benchmarking on my original HD to show the improvements I've made, but I think most folks will understand.
I started off with a low-end SSD, an ADATA S510 60GB. I put my programs on the SSD and stored files on the larger hard drive. This solution was satisfying for about two months. I'd open a program quite quickly, but when it came time to find a specific file (on the old spinning platter) my computer suddenly turned into a dottering old man who couldn't find his car keys. There was only one solution, of course, and that was to get a larger, and possibly faster, SSD to hold everything. And thus I moved up to an ADATA SX900 128GB.
Everything was on one drive and all was well until last month, when I filled the 128GB SSD and started using the 64GB drive as overflow. Yesterday I went out and picked up another 128GB drive. My first thought was to split things up again, but then I thought, "Hey, why not just use RAID and create one 256GB drive?"
So that's what I did. And, if only to show the various results, I would like to share my benchmark results.
Single ADATA S510 64GB
Not too bad, I suppose.
Single ADATA SX900 128GB
What surprised me about this was that the results weren't that much better than my supposed 'entry-level' SSD.
Would putting two of these in a RAID increase performance?
256GB RAID - 2X ADATA SX900 128GB
Boot time from the POST 'beep' is now something like seven or eight seconds. Shutdown is half of that. If I'm going to be away for a while and put the computer into Sleep Mode, my computer has powered down before I can turn off the monitor. (So....less than a second?) Most applications fire up in a second or two.
I'm almost looking forward to filling up the available space so that I can add a third drive to the mix.
(Final thought for SSD purists. Yes, TRIM is enabled.)
And, for those, who use the Windows Experience Index as a guide to performance:
Coming up next: A new CPU, I think.
Stuck in a doctor's office earlier today, I happened upon an article about what Canadians think of themselves and just how well those opinions match up to reality. I took notes.
And so, without further ado, here are some factoids that will hopefully dispel a myth or two, if not among outsiders than at least with ourselves. Sources (according to the article) are noted.
Canadians Can't Get Enough Hockey
- among children, hockey is about as popular as swimming and half as popular as soccer (Statistics Canada)
- among adults, the most popular sporting activity is golf (StatsCan)
- an estimated 30% of Canadians follow hockey very or fairly closely (University of Lethbridge)
- on a typical night, Hockey Night in Canada (long touted as Canada's most popular TV program) is not watched by 94% of Canadians (UoL)
Canadians Are Welcoming and Tolerant of Differences
- 27% of Canadians believe the current number of immigrants and refugees represent a "critical threat" to our interests (Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute)
- 62% of Canadians agree that "we should restrict and control the entry of people into our country more than we do now." (Pew Research Center)
- 30% of Canadians believe Canada's official policy of 'multiculturalism' (instituted in 1971) has been bad for the country (Angus Reid)
- attitudes of Canadians and Americans toward newcomers are virtually identical (University of Toronto)
Canadians Wouldn't Trade Their Health Care System for the World
- 52% of Canadians believe "fundamental changes" are needed to make health care work better (Health Council of Canada)
- 10% believe the system needs to be revamped completely (HCC)
- nationally, the average wait time to see a specialist in 2010 was 18 weeks, nearly twice what it was in 1993 (Fraser Institute)
- 40% of Canadians give low or failing grades to: family doctors, ER services, diagnostic equipment, medical specialists (Canadian Medical Association)
- 75% of Canadians expect the quality of health care to continue to deteriorate (CMA)
Canadians Know More Than Those Stupid Americans
- 59% of Canadians cannot identify Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister who, incidentally, appears on our ten-dollar bill (Historica-Dominion Institute)
- 81% cannot identify Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian medicare and 'Greatest Canadian' according to some lame TV show (HDI)
- 25% of Canadians don't recognize Wayne Gretzky (HDI)
- 47% of Canadians don't know the first line of our national anthem (HDI) (Hint: The name of the song is 'O Canada' - kz)
- 39% don't know when the country was founded (HDI)
Unlike Americans, Canadians Hate Guns
- Canadians own 30.8 firearms per 100 citizens, or roughly one per household
- Canada ranks 13th in the world for per capita firearm ownership, with double the rate of Australia and Mexico, and five times the rate of the UK
(the above numbers were identified as coming from a 2007 Small Arms Survey conducted by a Swiss research institute)
I laughed as I read this, because none of it was terribly surprising.
I know many of you are concerned that somehow you're being set up for an attack. I wonder, though, if you realize just how well you're setting yourself up for it?
Let me backtrack for a moment.
Amid all the bickering between LSF and IRON there was some question as to whether the offending LSF nation had left the AA and applied to INT.
I'm not really interested in whether he did or not. What I am interested in is your GenSec's contribution to the discussion:
At the time of this supposed application, LSF was already at war with Nordreich.
I have a few questions. They're very simple, and all but one can be answered with 'yes' or 'no'.
Somehow I think IRON will be interested in these answers as well.