The Northern Spy: questions, questions, questions
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: questions, questions, questions

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Spy thinks he understands a little about a lot of things, and quite a bit about a few things, but he does not understand...

Why are some people's reactions are so ridiculously extreme?

Leaving ordinary politics (if there is such a thing) aside for the moment, and as detailed here last month, the Spamhaus reaction to spam emanating from a handful of servers at the NewTek/Deerfield/Atjeu facility was to ban an entire range of 65536 IP addresses. Despite NewTek's and the Spy's efforts, nothing can persuade the Spamhaus boffins to be more reasonable and ameliorate this. The Spy has now dropped Spamhaus from his server's mail scanning RBLs. Given their policies are this arbitrary, they cannot be relied upon to accurately detect spammers. Remove them from your Exim preferences.

But immediately taking politics and society up again, he has reconsidered last month's comments on technologically-induced fragmentation creating the contra global village. Perhaps his comments were too...mild. He now sees the Internet itself fragmenting, for as Twitter and Facebook try to root out extremists, haters and abusers, competing (even cloned) services spring up that welcome, even encourage, sociopathic behaviour. When irrational haters can even accuse people of faking news of mass shootings (secret agenda dontya know) and issue death threats to parents of murdered children as part of their own fake news conspiracy, and can gain an online audience of believers, things have clearly gone too far.

Yet little can be done about this. The current Internet cannot be censured efficiently (even by totalitarian and xenophobic nations). Such people cannot be educated, will not let go of their extremism and hatred, and will apparently ever be with us--unless our society becomes so fragmented that Western civilization collapses under the weight of its own contradictions. Impossible, you say? The Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks, Romans, and others since undoubtedly thought so too. Whatever happened to "The sun never sets on the British Empire"? So, how soon will American hegemony disappear?

What engine drives conspiracies and secret agendas?

Playing off these comments, the Spy is invariably astonished at the number of people who hurl the accusation "secret agenda" at those with whom they disagree (and more astonished at the number who take them seriously). If a secret agenda supposedly exists, how do the accusers know about it? Ditto conspiracy theories, with the added caveat that he often sees groups accused of mounting conspiracies that are so flakily diverse they seem incapable of agreeing on anything remotely resembling a conspiracy, and would be even more incapable of keeping it secret. There is something logically wrong with many (nearly all?) such accusations.

Why no universal high speed Wi-Fi?

Parts of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia are still, after a full week, coming to grips with the ice storm of the century. (This is, for instance, one reason this column is late.) For days the air was punctuated every few seconds with the rifle-shot-like sound of branches breaking or whole trees exploding under the mass of three or more centimetres of ice. There still has been no thaw and many trees are now bent into umbrella-like phantasms of white and crystal. Beautiful in the sun or moon light, but deadly to be near. The Spy had seen ice storms before, and was careful to plant trees at a distance when he built the current family abode. But one Sunset Maple is shredded, a plum tree fell over under the sheer mass of ice, the garden is covered by trees and branches, and many others have lost tops or major branches.

It took several hours to remove sufficient hanging branches to get his car out of the garage. He dare not enter his woods for the still-extreme danger, but expects to find all the trails blocked with thousands of branches and trees. The chainsaw will get a several-days-long workout once the snow and ice is gone, likely producing sufficient firewood for two or three years.

The wireless technology angle? Two power failures totaling forty-nine hours, and a separate cable outage ran the total time without phone or internet up to about sixty hours. (apologies to customers posted on site.) There has got to be a better way, and it isn't to be found in the current (primitive) cell phone technology, which is a great money maker for providers, but too slow, too easily compromised, and far too expensive for the consumer. There has to be a better way. Countless billions could be at stake for the first company that does wide-area high-speed wireless right, but near limitless cash will be required to implement it. One wonders when Apple will move into this sphere.

Why is growth one of the modern Gods?

In the long run population growth is unsustainable. Yes, the early predictions of disaster if population growth continued unchecked were off on the details in the short run because of the development of better food production, storage, and transportation, and because as the Western nations grew more affluent people used birth control and have fewer children. That does not materially affect the long run. "Sustainable growth" is an oxymoron, and has the potential to collapse our society under the sheer number of people.

Yet those same Western nations that have their internal growth more or less in voluntary check import some fraction of the surplus population from other parts of the world. Yes, there are humanitarian reasons for welcoming refugees--our ancestors (even the first nations) were all refugees from somewhere, and the Spy is not anti-immigration in general principle. But population growth is cash-driven policy urged upon governments by businesses that want to continually grow their customer base. We see this at the federal, provincial/state and municipal levels.

Vancouver is an interesting case in point. A magnet city, it attracts wealthy people from abroad who send their children here for a Western education in English, buy them a home, and plan to establish a base here for a possible escape from their current country. In addition, many (directly or indirectly) foreign- owned properties are investments and stand vacant. Consequence: housing prices have long made it impossible for locals to finance a home purchase within seventy kilometres of the city, which forces population growth in rural areas, destroying much-needed farm land.

Growth-by-migration is also unsustainable. No population, no economy, no money supply, no housing price can grow indefinitely without a degradation of living conditions, food availability, and general quality of life. Since we are in the early stages of the second industrial revolution (robotics) which will cancel at least seventy percent of all existing jobs, even our current population levels are unsustainable. Poverty and want are on the horizon for many. Doesn't anyone think about the consequences of their decisions any more? Can governments continue to act at the behest of businesses whose only consideration is shareholder value, and are therefore not productive and caring members of any social compact? We cannot continue to live this way. The only conceivable outcome is chaos. Yet all this is being ignored. Why?

Why do people still make/read dead-tree books?

The modern dead-tree book publishing industry is badly broken when a slender textbook for an upper-level math or computing course an cost from $225 - $385, and even old editions being supplied from warehoused printings of years past increase dramatically in price every year. Novels have been best written, edited, published, and read electronically for two decades now, yet no one has yet perfected a textbook reader.

Why not? Novels are read in a linear fashion, and the small-screen reader accommodates this well in a fairly simple fashion. Texts may initially be read linearly chapter-by-chapter, but subsequent accesses are, from the programmers' point of view, random. One wants to check a topic, a section, a word, an idea. For this to work, a section index by topic and number has to be readily available (a single touch away). Is that so hard to design? Whoever gets it right first will put the entire current paper textbook industry out of business in a matter of five years or less.

Why was WHO so tardy recognizing video game addiction?

Notwithstanding some theatrical outrage from the gaming community, it has been obvious to anyone who works with the 12 to 25-year-old crowd that video game addiction has been a serious social problem for decades. Back in the 80s the Spy jokingly predicted that we about to raise a generation with eyes shaped like video screens. Yes, video game addiction is real, and a significant percentage of young adults--mostly, but not all male--are hooked. As in all such industries, the suppliers--pushers-- have a vested interest in keeping it that way.

Yes, and many naive young would-be programmers aspire to be game programmers, not realizing the length of the road to get there rivals that for any advanced profession, and worse, not at all understanding the social effects of such games. If one is prepared to pay the price… But the Spy would prefer more useful ends for those who take his courses--ones that actually enhance society rather than fragmenting it into cells, each occupied only by the players of a specific game instance. So, at least kudos to the World Health Organization for having the courage to state openly the obvious--not that it will be easy to do anything about it, though the Spy rather faintly hopes the attraction may wear off eventually.

Oh, and to reprise yet another old comment on the matter: The Spy does not know or care whether the Lord of all has created other intelligent (word used cautiously) races in this wide universe. But should such a race appear above us, he does note that two whole generations have been conditioned by video game programming to a first reaction of "blow them out of the sky".

More food for thought, eh?

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics, Associate Dean of Science and Chair of the University Senate at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns or Rick's SF? Check out the Arjay blog at http://www.arjay.bc.ca/blog/

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:

Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher's Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization--Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Direct Mail 5.2.3 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for macOS. Create, send, and track great looking email campaigns that get results. Start your newsletter by selecting... Read more
WebSnapperPro 2.1.0 - $20.00
WebSnapperPro lets you capture full web pages exactly as they appear in your browser, with a single mouse click, without the need to "stitch" or cut-and-paste. Save the page as an image file or as... Read more
WebSnapperPro 2.1.0 - $20.00
WebSnapperPro lets you capture full web pages exactly as they appear in your browser, with a single mouse click, without the need to "stitch" or cut-and-paste. Save the page as an image file or as... Read more
Yummy FTP Pro 2.0.4 - $29.99
Yummy FTP Pro is an advanced Mac file transfer app which provides a full-featured professional toolkit combined with blazing speeds and impeccable reliability, so whether you want to transfer a few... Read more
Yummy FTP Pro 2.0.4 - $29.99
Yummy FTP Pro is an advanced Mac file transfer app which provides a full-featured professional toolkit combined with blazing speeds and impeccable reliability, so whether you want to transfer a few... Read more
Postbox 6.0.3 - Powerful and flexible em...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
TinkerTool 6.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
BusyContacts 1.2.11 - Fast, efficient co...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.3.19- - Binary dis...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
Vimeo 1.0 - Application for watching and...
Vimeo gives you the tools to upload, manage, review, and showcase your videos in the highest quality possible. The Vimeo app for macOS integrates with Final Cut Pro to export ProRes videos, manage... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
It's Friday again, and here at 148Apps that means it's time to round up the best games that are currently on sale on the App Store. It's a really brilliant week for sales, so I hope you've been saving up your pocket money because you're almost... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
It's Friday again, and here at 148Apps that means it's time to round up the best games that are currently on sale on the App Store. It's a really brilliant week for sales, so I hope you've been saving up your pocket money because you're almost... | Read more »
The best games that came out for iPhone...
Every week here at 148Apps we like to round up the cream of the crop of the newest games releases on the App Store. We think of it like a public service. There are so many games smashing onto iOS every week that sometimes it's hard to keep track of... | Read more »
Quest to be King gives you the keys to y...
The land of Thoria has been beset by the evil Darkness, and it’s up to you to save it. In Quest to be King, you’ll sort out match-3 puzzles with an RPG twist to combat the encroaching forces of darkness while juggling your armies and supporting... | Read more »
Oddmar (Games)
Oddmar 1.0.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.3 (iTunes) Description: Oddmar struggles with life in his village and is not worthy of a place in Valhalla. He is shunned by his fellow Vikings and must... | Read more »
World of Gunships by Gamespire arrives o...
Chopper enthusiasts on iOS needn’t twiddle their thumbs any longer (except to direct hot lead at their enemies) – Gamespire’s World of Gunships is finally available on Apple devices. This aerial shooter puts you in control of an attack helicopter... | Read more »
Will we ever see something like the Nint...
You've probably read a lot over the past few days, or at least you probably have if you've got any interest in video games outside of the mobile sphere, about Nintendo Labo. People have been getting their hands on the new tech, and the general... | Read more »
Shadowgun Legends Android and iOS guide...
So you've reached level 20 in Shadowgun Legends, and you're trying to figure out what to do next? Well, the game still has plenty to offer anyone who's reached the level cap, it's just that you need to be a little more selective with what you do.... | Read more »
Project Highrise guide - How to get star...
Project Highrise gives you a lot of tools and deep systems to grapple with while building the skyscraper of your dreams, but in doing so, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. As we dumped time into the game while reviewing it, we came up... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Friday has snuck up on us a bit this week, but that doesn't mean we're not prepared here at 148Apps. We've gone right ahead and rounded-up all the very best games that are currently on sale on the App Store. And there are some gems out there right... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Updated Price Trackers: Apple MacBooks, Deskt...
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: – 15″... Read more
Save $200 on a base 13″ 2.3GHz MacBook Pro to...
Save $200 on the purchase of a 2017 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB non-Touch Bar Space Gray MacBook Pro with this Certified Refurbished model at Apple. The MacBook gets a new outer case, a standard Apple one-year... Read more
Apple restocks certified refurbished Mac mini...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
New 2017 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to...
B&H Photo has new 2017 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $160-$250 off MSRP today. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
Thursday roundup of Certified Refurbished iPa...
Apple dropped prices recently on Certified Refurbished 2017 9.7″ WiFi iPads, with models now starting at only $239. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, and shipping is free: – 9″... Read more
Apple Canada customers can save up to $560 wi...
Canadian shoppers can save up to $560 on the purchase of a 2017 current-generation iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook, or MacBook Air with Certified Refurbished models at Apple Canada. Apple’s refurbished... Read more
27″ iMacs on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP, plu...
B&H Photo has new 2017 27″ Apple iMacs on sale today for $150-$200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2099.... Read more
Save 10% on an iPhone 7 with these certified...
Apple has Certified Refurbished iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ available starting at only $499 or 9-10% off the cost of new iPhones. Black, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold models are available. Each phone comes... Read more
8-Core iMac Pro on sale for $4499, $500 off M...
Adorama has the new 8-Core iMac Pro on sale today for $4499 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $500 off MSRP, and it’s currently the lowest price available for an iMac... Read more
Apple offers refurbished 21″ 1.6GHz iMacs for...
Apple has restocked certified refurbished 21″ 1.6GHz iMacs for only $849: – Refurbished 21.5-inch iMac 1.6GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Originally released October 2015 – 21.5-inch (diagonal) LED-... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Linux Systems Engineer, *Apple* Pay...
# Senior Linux Systems Engineer, Apple Pay Job Number: 113584532 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 20-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
Threat Intelligence Engineer - *Apple* Info...
# Threat Intelligence Engineer - Apple Information Security Job Number: 113023220 Austin, Texas, United States Posted: 20-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
Hardware Systems Architect - *Apple* Watch...
# Hardware Systems Architect - Apple Watch Job Number: 113565323 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 05-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Read more
QA Automation Engineer, *Apple* Pay - Apple...
# QA Automation Engineer, Apple Pay Job Number: 113202642 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 02-Mar-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** At Read more
*Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solution Consultant Rochester, MN Job Number: 113705723 Rochester, MN, Minnesota, United States Posted: 19-Apr-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.