Sunday, May 17, 2015

All along the Apple Watchtower

I've got a mind to give up living
And go shopping instead
I've got a mind to give up living
And go shopping instead
Pick me up a tombstone
And be pronounced dead

— Variously attributed; performed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band  

Living is uncool. What matters now, for those who can or imagine they can afford it, is showing your up-to-the-second personal technology.

Steve Jobs's last words were said to be, "Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!" Not quite as elegant as Goethe's "More light," but perhaps his first glimpse into the life following death. I don't think he was looking down the tunnel to the Apple Watch.

No doubt, the Apple Watch — which has the world gaga — is capable of wonders, practical and pointless. I haven't bothered to learn all about it. Yours truly (as people used to sign letters), but I won't be yours in Apple blossom time. There seem to be three basic models, keyed to your socio-economic class, and loads of designs. Doubtless there are a billion aps, and it can do everything but spit nickels. Watch Ben-Hur on your wrist!

Throw in a Tesla to your instrumentarium and you're in the Elysian Fields without even bothering to cross over like Steve Jobs.

"The Apple Watch Will Create Its Own Market Based On Emotional Needs," writes a commentator who styles himself Clinically Sound Investor on Seeking Alpha. He's right.
The Apple Watch pre-orders totaled over $600 million. One thing people can take for granted and Apple doesn't have a problem with is heightened public awareness. The TV spots, the live demos at Apple Stores since April 24, as well as Guided Tours online, all have people thinking about the Watch even before they develop an interest. Once the Watch is out on the street and people see them on others, if there was thought of a "lack" before, it will feel more real. ...
The ability to send virtual taps, heartbeats, and drawings through Digital Touch actively reminds owners, "Great, I have the Watch," for staying connected to their community. ... For younger users, who grew up in an age where online contact with their social network is as pervasive as face-to-face time with their friends, the demand for the Watch may be even greater. The best way to stay connected is through instant sharing of emotions and ideas, which is more conveniently done with the Watch's texting and iMessage capabilities than finding your phone. 
In other words, "the Watch" enables people (especially the young, whom many from older generations now emulate) to find virtual meaning in their lives, often without interacting in "meat space."

You can argue that in principle there's nothing about wearing an Apple Watch that differs from the jewelry and decorative clothes that women and men have worn since the beginning of history (and probably before): it's a high-tech version of an aborigine's bone necklace. Right enough, it's human to want to be stylish, and if a gyroscopic sundial could have been made small enough, Egyptians of the XVIII Dynasty might have worn them or endowed their animal-headed gods with them.

I myself used to collect watches of eccentric or unusual appearance. They included a Sekonda whose face noted in microscopic letters, "Made in the U.S.S.R." My timepieces were admittedly intended to attract attention and show how hip I was. I still have them but no longer wear a watch, except occasionally on trips, because there are readouts all around on computers, car dashboards, TV screens, even electric ranges.

My watches were cheap, though, and nobody would have assumed that I'd paid any more for one than for a Timex. Style aside, all they did was tell the hour and minute. You even had to adjust them if you went to a different time zone.

There's a different and, to me, distasteful vibe about the Apple Watch. To judge from photos, some of the variations might be visually attractive, but the bragging rights they give the owner cross a line that ought not to be crossed. It's impossible to define where that line is exactly, but it has something to do with the biblical admonition that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Traditional Christianity doesn't much appeal to me, but it deserves credit for ceaseless analysis of human motives and the inner drives that can seize the soul and turn it away from the moral and spiritual. The Seven Deadly Sins are deadly precisely because they are tempting and often pleasurable. If we must derive and then satisfy an "emotional need" from a fancy science-fiction watch, we will deserve what we get.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's only sleeping

... I think.

It's getting on for a month since the last post. Partly your blogger has been overtaxed (and not only by the gangsters in Washington) and under-energized. Reflecting Light hasn't been reflecting much light or anything else lately. It is going through something of an identity crisis.

In its nearly decade-long existence, the blog has devoted a lot of electrons to lampooning politicians and politically correct lunacy. Mostly that's been fun for me and, I hope, for readers. But it implicitly assumed that in some small way, such posts might warn of a road washed out ahead. 

But my efforts -- and those of hundreds of bloggers more knowledgeable and influential than I -- have had, as far as I can see, zero payoff. Let's be honest with ourselves. The Left has won the political game not only in the U.S. but every major country in what was once called, with some validity, the Free World.

You've read about the two Muslim assassins who tried to put bullets through who knows how many people for daring to attend an event satirizing The Prophet. Half the commentariat blames the trouble on Pamela Geller, its organizer, not the would-be killers or their ideology. We read that before the recent election in the U.K., the candidate of the Labour Party said that if the voters in their wisdom installed him at 10 Downing, his government would outlaw Islamophobia.
"We are going to make it an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” [Labour leader] Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in a wide ranging exclusive interview.

“We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country,” he said.
While they're at it, the Labour Party would "strengthen the law on disability, homophobic, and transphobic hate crime." That is, thought crimes and speech crimes by anyone who offends a protected group or member thereof.

I have no doubt the empty vessel occupying the White House would love to do the same. Maybe he'll give it a shot via executive order between now and when he can fully devote himself to speechmaking and golf in January 2017. It matters not if lots of people criticize or complain; they are powerless versus the strange oligarchy of cultural Marxists and big corporations that actually do the heavy lifting.

Anybody who still belongs to The Resistance has my blessing, but to me it's a lost cause and I'm too old to waste time on lost causes. There are other important (or at least interesting) things, some maybe even more important than politics. When and if Reflecting Light wakes up, those are what it will mainly reflect on.