Table Topics Family 64 #127-128


1. What nickname would you like?

2. Which of your five senses would you be saddest to lose?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. None, I like my regular name.

2. Considering my nose is constantly clogged, and my eyes are terrible without glasses, I would say losing touch would put me the most down.

I Think Apple’s Still Going Down

I’ve had some time to study the Iphone 6 since its release, and some time to think about the Apple Watch since its announcement. I’ve put a lot of faith in Apple products since 2009 when I bought my MacBook and Ipod. Later I also got an Iphone. But now, to me, it seems that my prediction of Apple slowly going downhill post-Jobs is proving to be true.

I don’t have too much to say about the Apple Watch, other than that I won’t be buying one, ever. I’m not going to say that it’s a bad product, but in my opinion it’s poorly conceived. And I don’t want to charge another thing at night, I already kick myself when I use my phone too much to avoid having to charge it daily.

I will say that, on the new Macs, I’m glad they do still have USB and didn’t switch to Thunderbolt entirely like I originally thought (I don’t really listen to too much tech news). Other than that, I’m not the most pleased with their operating system, but that is really beside the point. And the OS is far from their worst failing, though it does add to the general slip in quality of their company as a whole.

My real problem comes with the Iphone. iOS has been going downhill for quite some time, in my opinion. I haven’t upgraded for a while, but that’s just because of my general dislike of upgrades. I see the new layouts and design choices, how everything fits together perfectly and I see a lack of character. The older app icons had character that these new ones lack. But as long as it functions, that doesn’t matter. And from what I’ve seen, the new app versions function exactly the same as, or worse than, my characterized versions. So I still like the older ones. And the sleek design is really off-putting. I tend to think more of us being controlled by devices like these and not being in control of them, a point that it seems was stressed before and has now been forgotten. The man who was to hold your hand through the friendly tech renaissance is no longer there, and neither is the friendly.

But to the new iPhone. I have a 4s, which I consider at this moment to be the last good iPhone. I love the design, aesthetically, ergonomically, etc. I think it is wonderful. The 5 is fine, and the 5s and 5c are both steps down. And the 6 is even worse (though, if you’re really counting, it should be the iPhone 8 or 9). First off, in my opinion, it looks ugly, which isn’t the biggest deal, the iPhone 4 looks kinda ugly, and indeed so do most cell phones, but at least the 4 looked rugged and classic. This new one just looks too rounded and thin, it’s like a toy. “Oh, your hurt yourself on the last phone, well here’s one that suits you better, Billy.” It’s kinda like Apple’s talking down to you.

The 6+ is even worse. I couldn’t possibly use it, it’s so large, and the thin, toy-ish-ness of it would make it easier to drop than to hold. I know that some people have a use for larger, thinner phones, but as I already try to cram my pockets, satchel, and backpack full of everything I might need, a few extra centimeters goes a long way toward making something uncomfortable. I’ve already combined my wallet and phone and still don’t have enough space in which to put things.

There’s also the bending problem, which isn’t really a problem as it requires one to put quite a bit of force on a specific point. The fact is that the new phones are much less durable than the old ones, which anyone can tell you is caused by their being thinner. Unless they made it out of titanium instead of aluminum, I don’t know how one could expect better performance, really. I just don’t want a bent phone. You’d think Apple would’ve tested that or maybe they just said, “Okay guys, we have this several thousand dollar prototype, no one sit on it” and the first day of purchasing someone says “I have this new several hundred dollar phone, let me sit on it!”

I can’t understand sitting on any phone. How in the world could you ever find that comfortable and/or not think it would break it in some way? I think the flaw is with both parties there.

I’m not going to be upgrading my iOS either, as I don’t want to see horrendous drops in the speed of use which may or may not be for malicious reasons. It is meant for better hardware, I wouldn’t expect windows 10 to run on most XP machines. As I said, I don’t like the graphic design, which is weird for me. I guess I just want more hard edges. YouTube moved away from hard edges some time ago and I still don’t like the way it looks now. It’s like it’s trying to stop me from hurting my eyes with the sharpness. And the new iOS has a lot of what seems to be semi-transparent features, like they’re ashamed and trying to hide. I’m not a fan, and I don’t think it functions better.

Now, I said at one point that the end of Apple would be the iPhone 5c with its silly plastic construction and vibrant colors. It looked like a toy, not like the serious and classy items Apple had made in the past three-quarters of a decade. After progressing past the kidlike original iMacs, they’re going back, and losing their exclusivity and image.

In a world with the Windows operating system and linux, Apple can’t sell to the bottom or the top of the market. Windows and android are too flexible and can outcompete them. Who’s going to buy a five-hundred-dollar or more phone when the “c” version’ll come out in a year and look the same for a few hundred less. In the top market people like exclusivity. It doesn’t just matter if it functions better: they also want it to look better. They want people to perceive it as better. And when your thousands-of-dollars gold Apple Watch looks the same as the several hundred dollar one that is spray painted by some kid, you might feel a little cheated. You got rich to get something better. It has to be designed exclusively from the ground up for you.

And at the bottom of the market Android and Windows really rule. You can make any crappy piece of hardware run those, or some open-source OS, and tinker with it to your heart’s content. Apple can’t make it cheap enough to grab the people on the really low end, nor can they make it open enough to appeal to tinkerers. In my opinion, Apple’s losing its core market with nowhere to go.

Now I do hope that isn’t entirely true. I like the modern Apple. And don’t think I hate Apple now or think they’re useless or terrible. I just think they’re making some bad decisions that are leading it downhill. I don’t want to see Apple fail, and I’m worried that it’s heading that way. But only time will tell.

Cultural Snowballing Part 1: The Mass of it All

Sometimes strange events make you remember things you learned, but hadn’t thought of in a while. We have so much to remember anyway, that my brain just dumps most of the information from my head RAM anywhere I go. For example, I recognized the same horror in me and my former history teacher when we talked about how her students didn’t know who John Wayne was, or the time with my cartooning instructor when he was talking about people not knowing Humphrey Bogart. Those conversations make me remember something that I’ve already thought of and forgotten, coincidentally enough.

It’s no secret now that we have a lot more to remember. People in the past could’ve been quite smart but taken modern IQ tests and come off as borderline dead (this is also due to the inherent problems with IQ tests, i.e. Everything). They simply didn’t know the specific information needed to complete the extremely subjective, incorrectly built tests. Now we have to know much more than would’ve been expected of them.

Imagine if the Greek Philosophers had to’ve learned 2,000 years of history and literature before they could start their studies and writings. In the time of Shakespeare, most people didn’t need to remember more than was needed to grow their food. Now Shakespeare’s works are expected to be known by all.

And this is amplified by the fact that we don’t just remember politicians and scientists, but artists, and actors. And now we have the tools to remember them long after their deaths. In the last hundred years I’d wager we’ve doubled our sum cultural knowledge per person if not more.

It isn’t hard to see how this could be a burden, and as I said previously we’ve also started to see how some people deal with that burden, which is by not having it. People are starting to forget about the early-to mid-Twentieth century. No one who served in the first World War is even alive, and the number alive who served in the second World War is withering down. It’s not too hard to see how their culture might disappear with them.

Still, their culture’s presence is felt a lot more relatively than it would’ve been several hundred years ago, when there were no movie stars and top singers to keep track of. Though it seems three-quarters of a century is about as far back as current culture can take. People probably know the name Franz Ferdinand as a band more than a man whose death 100 years ago started one of the largest conflicts in history.

But what happens when all of the ages of history that is “relevant” either takes up as much space in our brains as pop culture and we start forgetting it, or we forsake current culture and let history lessons fill all of our brain? Either way, sometime in the future, someone’s gonna decide that 5,000 year old Cæsar (just isn’t relevant anymore and give him the cultural axe. But who’d replace him in the vernacular as the man who crossed the Rubicon or beat the worst odds? His Dictatorship has already been forgotten as the modern age has posthumously awarded him the title of Emperor (a title claimed by none of the 12 Cæsars).

To a person like me who really loves his history, this is a problem. But it’s not to other people. Really it’s just me wondering how future people like me (or a future me) will keep up with all of the historical and cultural growth in the world. When South America and Africa (and China if the world goes right) are just as relevant culturally in North America due to the internet as Europe and North America are today, things will get quite a bit harder to follow.

I’m already the kind of person who sits behind the times (I know a lot about the modern stuff, I just can’t afford (to get) it), I love older stuff, and seeing what the past was like. Historical books are virtually all of what I read, despite my library being mainly composed of super-interesting fiction (that sounded sarcastic but it wasn’t).

I’m not sure if there’s really a solution here, and many might not even consider this cultural snowballing a problem. In a few decades, we’ll have computers in our brains that’ll keep track of all of that for us anyway (please kill me when that happens). Even if we don’t, the majority of people are quite fine with forgetting about the culture of the past as quickly as they forgot about the algebra they learned in school (seriously, I need a formula chart right now and I got all A’s).

The real problem is that the culture is still stuck in an older mindset (culture of knowledge 1.3 currently installed: downloading update: update failed). People expect to have a certain knowledge of certain things, especially and unfortunately when it involves something that person is particularly interested in. Everyone knows how to shop for groceries, but not everyone needs to know about the specifics of your hobby, as some people expect you to (that’s an important thing to remember, by the way). If you start getting into something, let’s say some TV show (cartoon, live action, anime?), many people will scoff at you for your lack of full knowledge of every single detail of the new show you’re watching. These people are many times the faces of such fan groups and it’s their job to turn away people from what they view as an already overcrowded group. They might not say this is their job, and other people likely won’t say that, either, but that’s essentially their job. Their mindset, though, is left over from when everyone knew just about everything they needed to know, and someone who didn’t know either didn’t survive (most likely) or had some sort of problem (it doesn’t take the wellest of brains to plow a field). And the higher and lower classes, each of which had a different set of knowledge, didn’t associate with each other.

This is changing a bit, nowadays. Once-small social groups (comic book fans, board gamers, etc.) are having quite a large influx of people. Many of the middle-of-the-road people in those groups are arguing for some sort of understanding that these new people don’t know things and should be shown around, not forced to get out. The older, and more hard-core, sections of these groups might still disagree, but they are rapidly being phased out by the middle-of-the-road guys, who will become the older group soon.

It’s nice to see attitudes change like that, with the understanding that there is so much going on in the world that maybe these people just weren’t exposed to this until now. Or maybe something different is causing the change. I can’t be really sure.

Regardless, views on lack of knowledge in certain subjects is changing, often for the better. But this cultural snowballing and world interconnectedness might be having some different effects on the way people look at and process information.