Coping: Apple Strudel, Coffee, and Bruce the Critic…

(Gig Harbor, WA)     Ah, touched a nerve, did I?

Yesterday’s discussion about whether people need a $400 watch that requires a $600 phone got me a stinger—zinger of an emailed critique from my friend Bruce down in Ecuador.  A fairer critic would be hard to find.


You don’t need a smartphone, because you have no friends, and really not much of a life. How many numbers you got stored in that tracphone? Do you have only one phone for the two of you? That’s as archaic as a couple sharing an email address. 

Question is, how many cpu’s/electrical switches do you have in all that crap you hauled across the country? The name of the game is chip reduction. The apple watch is not a watch. It is the interface to the computer called an iPhone that goes in your pocket or elsewhere. The new iPhone has more computing power and storage and connectivity than the first 3 computers you owned, combined. Maybe 10 times more. Like I said, there are people in the world that could replace all that crap you transported with an iPad, keyboard, smartphone and a Bluetooth headset. 

Why do I need a watch?  Truth is, I don’t.

If you had any readers under 30 before today’s rant, you don’t any more. Not because they don’t like you, but because you are irrelevant to their lives. The only advice you have is make more than you spend, but you can’t even tell us where/how to keep it safe. 

Years ago, anthropologists realized that the Hawaiians were psychic. When they traveled thru the woods, they connected mentally to everything around them. They knew there was a deer up ahead. They knew of the bird nests in the trees above them, where there was water, where there was food, where there was something that would eat them, etc. That’s exactly how a person moves thru an urban environment with a smartphone. THAT’S Urban Survival today! Everything you want to know about your environment wherever you are is right there in the palm of your hand. And next year at this time, as developers exploit the medical interface apple has provided, it will tell you pretty much anything you want/need to know about your internal environment as well. And what you put into that internal environment. Scanners that will scan your plate and monitor your nutrients, and smart cups that monitor and report on what you ingest. How much exercise you need, etc. And the smartphone will eventually have the ability control everything in your life that uses electricity. No more keys, no more switches, no more walking to the fridge to see what’s in it, no more getting up to turn off the burner under the pot. No more wondering how much gas is in the car, or how many miles you can drive before you need fuel. And these devices will be voice driven. You will talk to them and they will talk to you. 

Basically, the entire repository of human knowledge will be in your hand. It’s called a watch, because anything people put on their wrist that tells time is called a watch. As phones get larger, they become more inconvenient to carry and access quickly. But this “watch” will turn into (your) access to the world, and your control over your world. 

For some strange reason, I don’t find it unusual (for an American) that you make your living writing about a culture and a financial system in which you don’t even participate (except for paying your extorted protection money). What’s more interesting, is that you live in a place and manner where you really can’t even see it, like the nosebleed section in a stadium where most of the people are watching the game electronically. There may be a bunch of boomers like you out there, but they are more than two generations out of the current culture. 

Remember how your parents used to opine about the world when they were in their sixties, and we realized that they really didn’t have a clue what they were talking about?  Well, congrats, you just made the grade. There are people out there that have tried the electronics and made a decision that they were not of benefit. It doesn’t make you wiser because you didn’t spend the money to try them at all, it just makes you ignorant. 

If your wife had any friends with iPhones, and she spent any quality time with them, she would have one. Same thing if she got an iPad and used it for a month. It takes a real ignoramus to use a kindle fire and think they know something about tablets. Amazon/eBay is flooded with “refurbished” and used kindles. These are from people who returned them because the kindle experience sucks. But how would you know? There’s more to today’s electronics than just a business deal. Being super practical about everything comes from two sources. Being poor, and being old. Its known as a “second world” life. It’s why my wife and I got iPhones this year. We didn’t want the complexity to overwhelm us when we got too old to adapt when we really needed them. We got used older models from a couple of cycles back. It’s more smartphone than we will need in Ecuador for a few years. 

And BTW, the markets you think are going to tank may dip, but only because the big guys want to shovel some more capital in, and they don’t have the habit of buying high. As Armstrong points out, the safe haven for capital in the world is getting smaller and smaller. USA equities are the last stop, and we will see more and more desperate money pouring in to that cesspool. Not because there is a hope of making money, it’s simply the safest place left. Pretty pathetic state of affairs when there are no bonds anybody wants to own. 

Have a magic brownie for me, and get some good sleep. 

And stop by an Apple store, and say hello to the culture you swim in. But watch a few apple ads first, because it’s not in what you can see, it’s in the experience. Like going on vacation. 

That’s how it looks from here.

“When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.”  Ayn Rand

From my iPad

Oh, jeez…here we go…the point-by-point rebuttal:

1.  Yes I (and we) do have friends.  I have never gone for “head count.  Quality means more than quantity.  But, yes, I have plenty of friends.

2.  But, as to how many of their numbers are stored in my TracPhone?  Zero.  You see, Mr. Ure is one of those people who doesn’t need a computer to do work that is more rightly done by his brain.

If I want to call my consigliore, or any of about 20-40 other people who are in the friend category, I use my memory to recall the numbers.

Memory is like a muscle – it’s one of those use it or lose it things.

It’s like calculators.  A few minutes of “head work” doesn’t require batteries, upgrades, or subscriptions.  No extra weight to pack, either.

There are plenty of young people who know this (my son’s got it down) and it really fits with the New Minimalist lifestyle.

3.  Yes, Elaine has her phone and I have mine.  Both are TracPhones and the total cost is about $100 per year each.  And they work all over the country, more or less.

Elaine’s is a 5-year old flip-type phone with no internet.  When she wants a computer, her laptop is a Win-7/.64 with 8 GB ram and 500 GB of drive with Office 2010.  Seems to suit her needs.  My laptop is similar except it’s Win 8.1.  And the development server (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS) is our third computer which can be used as a backup should both of the others crap out at the same time.

Unlike some marriages, ours isn’t based on electronics.  We actually talk (not text) at dinner.

4.  Chipset reduction may be the name of Bruce’s game, but it is not mine.  I hold to a different standard:  Maximum personal efficiency.  To be sure, that means not dealing with people via text messages, but experientially, texting is a terrible way to communicate with anyone.

For one, the output speed texting is slow – depending on user it may be on the order of 10-20 words per minute.  I can beat that with Morse Code (again, all done in the head, no paper required – since I pride myself on maintaining 25-30 words per minute).

When I “set up for work” when we’re on the road, that’s exactly what l do:  Serious laptop, Skype, Plantronics, wireless keyboard and mouse.  This way, my work time doesn’t fade into my play time – or social time.  It’s a boundary I prefer to keep distinct.  Choice.

Can an iPhone do everything I want/need on the road (supporting obscure development code for my “secret project”?  Not that I’ve seen.  Want to push code around on an iPhone?  Not me said the little George.

Want to show me a solid browser emulator or a full-featured CSS editor (as in Expression Web) that runs on the iPhone…I don’t remember seeing one.  Want to show me a serious graphics program on the order of Corel (current rev.) or better, or a host of other real-life tools?  Like, oh, even a decent DAW beyond the level of Audacity?

Although Bruce did raise a good point:  Anyone know if ProTools will run on an iPhone?

Mac Air?  No sweat…damn fine computer. But wait, that’s not a phone, now, is it? It’s a what?  Laptop.  My life is far too complicated to be boxed up in a small-format package, sorry.

Want to do chart work for Peoplenomics readers on an iPhone?  Maybe not.  Maybe that big ugly display has a place…at least in our world and travels.

5.  Readership didn’t seem to collapse yesterday due to my contrary-view of things.  People like an alternative view of things…

6.  And that brings us to the contention that Hawaiian people are psychic and cell phones will help you move through an Urban Survival setting.

Hold up a second on that, too.

First, for a fellow who lives in Ecuador, Bruce you somehow may have missed that cellphone tracking/sniffing/spying is a new favorite-way for Authority to keep track of people, their movements, and so forth.

Do you trust Authority is always working in your best interests? I have a problem with that.  When I am out and about, I don’t want a corporation, police department, or any Tom, Dick, or Harry with enough money to put up a spoofing cell site, to know a damn thing about my whereabouts and activities.

When we travel, all of our credit cards are in Access Denied wallets and our phones are turned off:  We don’t need to work in the car…it’s more useful to watch traffic, look at the countryside going back, and carry on intelligent discourse.

Losing either of our phones has no impact on our personal security: No bank info to be hacked, no friend lists…nada.

While it’s true that the Smartphones can do useful things (like a three-lead heart monitor app that was done 4-5 years back that I reported on at the time), we again come to the matter of confusing DATA with INFORMATION.

If I were to suddenly have chest pains, would I want to look at my Smartphone to see if it’s gas?  No, I’d want the phone function to call paramedics.  People managed to live through total survival-level existence for how many million years after crawling up from the mud – without Smartphones?

Give me the troponin stick test any day!  I won’t trust my life to an app.

7.  Living in the “current culture” is something we’re already doing.  You see, the New Minimalists are going where we’ve “already went” in terms of small footprint, living in harmony with nature in as clean an environment as we can find,

To say that we’re two generations from “current culture” is ridiculous!

Current culture ignores due process at what seems like every turn.  Push-button wars with no congressional approval.  Criminal athletes (and owners).  An imperial drug culture that buys politicians via the offshore banks…come on, if you want to have a culture discussion, let’s go with Best Practices.

8.  Elaine doesn’t really feel compelled to “run with people” – same as me.  While we have friends who share our interests, we’re both “head in the game” when it comes to current tasks.  That “modern culture” you seem to idolize has created whole waves of accidents with what?  Smartphones!

9.  As to Kindles?  We use them because we like them.  They don’t seem to have microphones and cameras that can be turned on remotely – like Smartphones.  Each of our Kindles (seriously) has at least 100+ books on ‘em and we find them convenient. 

They don’t ring and interrupt our reading time, either.  That allows for  what?  Back to “head in the game” is what.

10.  As to the market, let’s watch over the next month, or so, shall we?  Yesterday’s headline is likely to be valid by the time we get to the close of trading today.

Last week, the Dow closed at 17,137.36.  I would not be the least bit surprised to see it close under 17,000 for the week.

I know that Bruce has been reading for a long time, but if you’re a newbie around here, our market comments are mainly on the site where a far more detailed view of things is laid out.

There are always two cases (bullish) and (bearish) – and if there’s something that gives me pause, it’s when true believers in the bullish case begin to taunt bears.  Now and then, that’s the sign of a high in markets because in rallies about to fail, the sentiment is always extreme.

10.  Quoting Ayn Rand?  Why, that’s like quoting Greenspanian Kool-Aid, is it not?

The hard reality that I’m looking at is that the Fed and Washington Cartel have done nothing other than deck chairs on the Titanic.  Print and run.  The biggest Crash in human history lies before us, but the precise timing of arrival is always somewhat contentious.

It should have arrived in 2008/2009, but through the clever chair rearrangement and making up vast amounts of money, we’ve postponed the inevitable…but at some point, the listing decks begin to slide things toward the sinking side and then it’s only a matter of time until financial capsize is complete.

We’ve made the decision to live “clean” (TracPhones don’t get into cancellation clauses – they’re real throw-down phones) and we want no hassles when the capsizing occurs. 

Bruce kinda/sorta knows it is coming, too – or his heart wouldn’t have moved him to a sustainable culture in the Andes.

As always, when Bruce sends a worth critique of our thinking, we’re compelled to share it.  But bringing Smartphones to the Andes?  Isn’t that simply a replay of the bankrupt cultural imperialism that has F/U’ed the world already?  Read the history of Laogai and its corporate analogs.

You see, Smartphones are both a blessing and a curse – more curse than blessing to many workers in China, though.

It’s always easier to cooperate with evil than take a stand – and every time you make a purchase decision you either buy into the “current culture” more deeply, or try to draw a line and say “No more.”

We don’t play to “win” big…only to “lose small.”  In the process we all make choices.

The one vote people cast every day is with their wallets.  And that’s quite possibly the most important “freedom” still left in America.

Write when you break even…