Do not pass go..

My mind is blown more and more every day by what’s happening to these here United States. It’s now official: Manafort is going to JAIL! He was Trump’s campaign manager, but it seems like he was not even managing his own life properly. The state of New York has now SUED the president’s charitable organization! There is serious, I mean serious evidence of criminal wrongdoing there! “But what about the Clinton Foundation?” spouts the Facebook. Whataboutism is the hottest defense right now… false equivalencies the flavor of the day….. To me it seems more and more like the only possible outcome of these dug-in positions can only be complete chaos.

Let’s get a couple of things clear: I’m not a Democrat and I’m not a Republican; I’m not an American Citizen, although I love this country as much as the one I was born and raised in. I’m all for power to the people, believe in community and caring for and looking out for each other; that means ALL others, not just the ones you agree with. I do acknowledge the power of the free market, commerce and business, and the progress those have brought us, probably pulling more out of poverty than anything else humans have come up with. It’s clear to me that having too many people dependent on free handouts from a government is not desirable; and that trying to organize safety nets on a local scale is far superior, starting with families looking after each other. At the same time, it’s clear that most of those I hear rallying against “socialism” have NO IDEA what their country would look like without all of it that’s already implemented in the USA! Finally, the argument that nothing ‘government’ ever does is efficient and effective is completely ignorant (in the literal sense) nonsense. Can we agree that the US military is a shining example of effectiveness? LADWP is owned by the city of LA, and is cheaper and better than SoCal Edison, a private company! There are plenty of examples, and look no further than the Dutch government for  one that shows that it CAN be done, as long as the population pays attention and punishes those politicians who deserve to be punished. Of all the post WWII cabinets in Holland, 50% have not finished their 4 year terms…..

So what do we do? We have to stay reasonable. I know Hillary is the typical politician, bending the truth on occasion, certainly talking differently to the Wall Street Bankers than to Main Street citizens. At the same time, the Clinton Foundation was extensively examined and not found criminally at fault! It has done a LOT of good, is rated very highly by charity watchdogs, found to be spending 88% of the money it takes in on actual action. We’ll have to find out how Trump’s organization checks out, but it’s not looking good. If he was stupid enough to make hand-written receipts that prove criminal  actions, there needs to be punishment. If Bill Clinton got impeached over lying about a blow job, Trump needs to face the same if he lied under oath. We need to STOP talking about Hillary when discussing Trump: HE’s the president now and needs to be held accountable. We need to stop pretending this is a ‘two-party’ system; it’s NOT, it’s a two party population that can only think in black or white, good or evil.

We need to stop acting as if difficult problems have ‘a’ solution: most can not be fully solved and have multiple answers which might improve the situation. Guns are a perfect example. It’s clear that there are countries where there are almost as many per capita as here in the US and shootings are rare, just as there are places where there are strict regulations and people shoot each other all the time, and those for more control must acknowledge that fact. At the same time, the argument that criminals don’t follow the law anyway so more gun laws are useless is BS; and the fact that allowing just about everyone to have a weapon is going to lead to more accidents and for instance kids shooting up schools should not be discounted. There is a reason bazookas are illegal and those advocating for no regulations at all have NO IDEA what would happen if that were to happen.

To get back to where this post started, as someone without skin in the game if you will, the current administration is a disaster. Especially for all the bragging about “the best people” the amount of ignorance, incompetence and inappropriate behavior is extraordinary. It’s damaging the United States’ reputation worldwide, not to speak of the country itself. The focus on our current economy (mostly the result of the careful rebuilding in the Obama years setting up a slow but steady recovery; boring but solid) while ignoring the long-term ramifications is another typical example of the limited vision of those who support The Donald I’m sorry to say. The assault on the media is the most dangerous I’d say. You can feel what you want about the NY Times, but its track record is pretty damn good and its value to society enormous; certainly far more than ANY one president. For such a lying politician to call it “fake news” should be enough to depose of him, I don’t care WHICH party he supposedly belongs to.

Going forward, I do have an idea to try to get this discussion out of the stalemate it’s in. Whenever I participate in or overhear a political discussion these days, it’s virtually always two sides only advocating the advantages of their point of view. Any reasonable person knows that every idea, solution or action has pluses and minuses. I think it’s time we force ourselves to acknowledge, discuss and weigh the negatives of our proposed solutions and answers!

At the same time, we MUST acknowledge the positives of the other’s! Liberals must agree that we have a problem with too many people living on welfare with very little motivation to get off of it; Republicans must agree that we have too many people in jail and that making more things illegal is most likely going to move that number in the wrong direction!

It’s imperative to find common ground to build on, because this “making America great again” will not work unless we do it together. And one more time, that means including those who you don’t agree with!

Ecomony

“We Ran Out of Words to Describe How Good the Jobs Numbers Are” is the headline in the NY Times! Numbers, numbers, numbers, “lowest unemployment for black Americans ever“, even including the people that stopped looking for work the numbers are great. Shit, they’re so “amazing” that Trump broke decades of protocol and told us before they’re officially released. So all is just perfect in the Land Of The Free?

Let’s look at the bigger picture: the deficit is growing, the national debt already at a scary level and only going up, and there are still MILLIONS of folks who work full time who need food stamps to feed their kids! Now look at the number of homeless, in Seattle (one of the most money-making cities in the nation) and in Los Angeles for instance. Fact is, their numbers are skyrocketing. I see it in my neighborhood in a frightening way, with truly alarming colonies of people with nothing but a shopping cart, maybe a bicycle (prolly stolen)  and a pile of trash to their name. Healthcare here is in deep trouble now that the evil Obama-care has been maimed, which is going to lead to an increase in those who go bankrupt because of medical bills, which is already the number one reason for that in this, the richest country in the world.

Most likely, what we’re looking at in the future is what almost always happens when the kind of short-term thinking that Americans are so adept at is used to steer policy. As much as they claim to be “fiscally conservative”, it seems it’s always Republicans here that act in the opposite way. It’s like putting rocket fuel in a car and just jubilating about how much power you’re getting, conveniently ignoring the fact that your engine is about to blow up in a catastrophic way!

In my opinion, the only proper way to strengthen a land’s economy is to bring ALL aboard, to invest in education. And infrastructure! To make sure that those in power don’t abuse the little guy, so he has a reason to contribute to his fullest extent. That is what made these United States so strong and amazing in the past! The New Deal  after the Great Recession finally created a place where all were working together, where the value of the normal person was acknowledged and he/she was rewarded with a solid middle class life. Of course it didn’t include black folks, queers, freaks or transgenders, and that’s very important, but imagine what this country could do if it DID include everyone?

Companies have been making plenty of money, in that aspect the economy fully recovered under Obama, slowly and steadily, the smart way! The problem was, as it always is around here lately, that the gains all went to the top. It’s mind blowing to me how so many who are not part of the elite, are unwilling to see that, because that’s not a matter of opinion. Corporate profits have been more than solid from before the Orange One was voted in. Tax cuts for businesses and rich folks are NOT going to help the little guy. The narrative that they will lead to economic growth and thus benefits for the bottom 50% has been proven false time and time again!

Let’s face it: we’re setting ourselves up for a huge crisis, just like those waitresses that spend their hard-earned money on a $1000 iPhone instead of putting some of it in the bank. Trump is making enemies all over the world, through inexcusably rude behavior, a trade war (how incredibly stupid….), and other protectionist behavior. The rest of the world has looked for 75 years to the US for help and guidance; that era is about to end, and he’s partly to blame. Imagine what would happen to this country if the Dollar gets replaced by something else as the world’s reserve currency; imagine the economy when nobody wants to be caught dead with an iPhone or any other American product.

I guess this is the way the universe strives for balance; just like with the gorgeous girl who never has to learn to be a proper person when she’s young and attractive, only to end up beyond miserable later in life, when her beauty has left her and she can’t figure out why nobody is paying attention to her. So many here have grown up as citizens of a country that effectively ruled the world, almost without challenge; a place that always took the moral high ground, to the point that many were convinced (and still are BTW) that God personally selected America to lead the world in his absence. Just like one doesn’t question the Lord, criticizing the US has become almost blasphemous in some circles, and that is a very dangerous thing which can only lead to disaster.

In the end, economics is not truly a science, simply because emotion plays such a big role in its processes.  The country I come from has its problems, but money management is not one. For hundreds of years, Holland has had its shit together! When I hear about retirement funds in the US STILL being in trouble, after the stock market has more than recovered from the Great Recession, and I see that the Dutch ones are FLUSH with money, it becomes clear that there IS a better way.  It may be easier to manage 17 million people than 320 million, but the principles are the same, and short-term thinking is NOT the way. Look at Germany: it has 83 million citizens, lots of regulation, lots of taxes, and its economy is booming.

The “most comfortable”?

That’s what the cowboy and Lionel said, you’re “so comfortable”, “the most comfortable”. Wait…what? That’s what you’re gonna say?

There are three left: a really sweet good-looking blonde with some talent but an unfortunately affected voice, a typical young (boring?) cowboy with a good tone and Maddie Poppe, in my opinion the only one interesting. During the first night of finale week, the show starts with their first singles. The cowboy’s is boring, the blonde’s unfocused and seemingly unfinished, but Maddie delivers! The song sounds pro, and she’s GREAT. I mean, she can really sing, has a soothing pleasant stage presence, and just brings it! Sure, she’s much more comfortable, in every way, than the previous two, but that is what you’re gonna focus on? If previous seasons are an indication, she will not win. If it’s still mostly young girls voting, the cowboy’s got it on lock. Second song of the night, he gets to go first: boring!

About those original songs: the first two were truly below standard. Aretha Franklin couldn’t make them into a true hit! This is where Disney becomes propaganda; would Lionel Richie be allowed to say “I don’t like that song”?

Mass Shooting

Here we go again. Yet another mass shooting today, at a school in Texas. Not by Muslim terrorists, not by Mexican immigrants, not by Freddy Krueger, the Chupacabra or Big Foot, but seemingly again by pretty average looking good ole American students. What in the world is going on here?

First off, I grew up in a country where there were no guns around, except in the hands of Police and a few criminals. The number of shootings in (at the time) a country of 14 million was shockingly low; well-trained police, who defuse rather than escalate was part of the reason. Still to this day, the amount of killing is much lower there than here in the US. According to Wikipedia per 100,000 people the rates are as follows:

Netherlands  homicide: 0.29   Suicide: 0.28   Guns in possession(per 100): 3.9

United States homicide: 4.62   Suicide:  7.10   Guns in possession(per 100): 101.05

That’s pretty incredible no? So what does it mean?

Most of my liberal friends, American, Dutch or from other places, believe that strong gun regulation is the answer. After living in the US for more than 25 years, I think it’s far from that simple. We’ve heard all the arguments ad nauseum and there’s no denying that guns are a simple way to cause lots of death and destruction. Then again, cars and other vehicles are quite effective too; there are all kinds of ways of making explosives and the easy spread of information through the internet makes proliferation more and more common. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and perhaps the MOST gun violence of all. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we SHOULD have strong gun regulation, that allowing anybody to buy one at a gun show without any background check is epically stupid. But, I don’t think we can regulate ourselves of the problem of violence.

That’s the REAL problem, that these kids for instance want to shoot up their classmates to begin with. What in the world does it take for someone to do that? I was kind of an outcast in High School; only had one or two real friends, thought the ‘cool’ kids were full of shit. We all experience the angst of life, the relentless beat-down that is the universe. But how come SO many people just snap in these United States?

In an era of “quick and easy” solutions, a time in which attention spans are shorter and shorter, and efficiency is goal number one, this is an issue of particular complexity. Every time you hear someone say “But, but, but the issue is too wide to be solved in the simple way you’re supposing!” most have checked out of the conversation already. We want quick answers, simple solutions, or bust. Ban the guns! Arm the teachers! Harsher punishments! Kick out the losers!

In my opinion, a huge part of the problem is simply that there are too many here who, justifiably or not, believe they have nothing left to lose. Too many who feel they don’t have a chance at a decent life in this rat race, this cesspool of liars and cheaters, of selfishness perpetrated by the ones in charge, the ones that have. I’ve written before about the dehumanizing jobs we’ve created, the public schools that look like they’re located in Syria, not the richest country in the world. Then there are all of those formerly hard-working folks who fell off the wagon because they got sick; two million (2,000,000) Americans will face bankruptcy directly because of medical expenses this year alone! It’s a nightmare of unimaginable proportions, really.

Amazingly, those who own the wealth here, with there increasingly fancy houses, cars and stuff, are getting more and more upset about all the crime and disaster around them. Large numbers of them would describe themselves as Christians, yet compassion is rarely found there. One of my stupid neighbors said it the other day: “I have no compassion for heroin or meth users!” At least Trump has emboldened these folks enough to let us hear their true feelings, their true intentions. It’s unfortunate that the system of propaganda set up here is slowly but surely leading them down a very, very dangerous path: more prisons, walls, less help for the poor. Chances are it will only lead to more violence….

American Ido…. wait, what?

You’ve got to be kidding me! I mean, you’ve GOT to be kidding me! Gabby Barrett? Really? You’re gonna vote her through to the top 3? I mean, she’s pretty good-lookin’….. she seems like a genuinely nice person. But Top 3 in a singing competition, perhaps the biggest in the nation? Has America been watching this program with the sound off?

Caleb is pretty good actually, although completely down the middle. In my opinion, but far the most interesting contestant this year is Maddie Poppe and she’s through as well. This chick is different; in a good way. She’s got a style all her own, she’s got a great voice and she’s got taste. We’ll see if the people get it right on this one….

Trespasser

For about a year now I’ve been getting more and more worried about a trend around my neighborhood of Sherman Oaks and Los Angeles in general. There have been folks living on the street here as long as I’ve lived here, but lately there are increasing numbers of a different kind of transient. Not the typical bearded crazy, or totally strung out disabled person, but instead 20 -35 year old perfectly fit, able-bodied people with anger and frustration in the face, roaming in packs seemingly looking for God knows what kind of trouble. I’ve seen a freak pop up from the bushes asking me if I was looking for some “shit” (=drugs of course).  There have been ever growing camps of homeless growing around here, a marked increase in crime. Had my bike stolen a couple of months ago.

But the craziest thing happened a couple of days ago: around 1030 my neighbor was in my apartment for just a couple of minutes with both our doors open, when we heard a bang coming from his. When he went over there to check there was a young woman (25-35?) throwing stuff on the floor in his kitchen. She couldn’t have been in there more than 2 minutes, but had managed to cut up part of the couch, stab the ceiling and throw stuff on the floor in the living room and the bedroom. When confronted she started saying she was SUPPOSED to be there, that her “boyfriend” brought her there, that they just “had sex on the couch”. When my neighbor said he wanted to call the cops that she should stay, she started flipping out and screaming. When he grabbed her to push her outside, she started yelling “This is kidnapping!”, but he did get her out. Then she was between our apartments but wouldn’t leave, continuing the BS story about being brought there, and that it wasn’t my neighbors apartment etc. etc. At this point I figured she needs to go outside our gated building, and I grabbed her and pushed her outside, closed the gate. At this point she got even more belligerent. Now accusing me of “grabbing her by the throat” she demanded we call the police! Trust me, she wasn’t hurt in the slightest. An upstairs neighbor was looking down on the whole situation and called down that she should get the F out of there. She kept yelling that I should apologize, that she had “no problem” with the guy whose apartment she broke into, but that I needed to be arrested! Stupidly forgiving as I am, I went out there one more time to try to explain to here that I was NOT looking to (or did) hurt her, explain to her how lucky she is to NOT get the cops called on. She kicked me and started punching me, my upstairs neighbor saw the whole thing and yelled down again: “Go away! If the police come you’re in trouble!” I got away from her and went inside again, while she stood behind our gate fuming for at least another 10 minutes. Luckily nobody got hurt and she finally disappeared into the night! Unfortunately, we did not get any pictures of her. I know, stupid, but my overwhelming emotion for her was sadness.

Sports

Oftentimes when people ask me about some Baseball or Football game, I’ll tell them: “Sorry, there are few things I care less about than sports!” Half the time that answer goes right over their head, evidenced by some detailed response about what happened. For years and years I’ve been of the opinion that professional sports as a whole are a net deficit to society; if only people would spend half the time they spend on examining their leagues and teams of choice , memorizing stats, watching games (and don’t forget the commercials!) on learning what their governments do in their name, what’s really on their tax returns etc, we would have better societies. These days more and more opinions are based on less and less understanding of the issues it seems, and now that some very valuable sources of information like the NY Times have been classified by some of the upper echelon of knuckleheads as “Fake News”, there’s even more of a reason to remain ignorant. Combine that with the fact that a game of which you don’t want to miss a second is the perfect vehicle for creating a textbook captive audience, one ready to swallow whatever propaganda (that’s what commercials are, let’s not kid ourselves) you interrupt it with, and you have a precarious situation.

Every coin has two sides though, so there must be benefits to all of us, aren’t there? Of course there are! Humans are inherently tribal, and have a need to belong to one. Rooting for the same team can bring cities or countries together; for a short time, people from all walks of life, from minimum wagers to lawyers, black, brown or white, the mundane to the crazy can all feel like their on the same side. If it weren’t for the insane (IMHO) commercial interruptions, it can create a way to develop an attention span longer than the typical 30 seconds we’re getting used to. It creates a framework for learning how to deal with winning and losing, how to learn about patience and working towards a long-term goal in a world of short-term thinking.

Now there’s one more thing, and it’s something I don’t write about lightly. These days, more than ever before during my lifetime anyway, it seems one is not allowed to call people dumb anymore. “Everyone is smart in his or her own way” seems to be the predominant narrative, but that means nothing in my opinion. Just like a school system in which everyone passes every test, no matter the actual performance, it just devalues the label. So let’s define what smart means in what I’m getting at. Wikipedia has a great entry about it and it shows the wide variety of meanings the term carries; let’s go with this:

“It can be more generally described as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.”

In this light, it would be impossible to say everyone is equally intelligent, is it? There just are some that are much quicker and better at dealing with complex information and use it to adapt to unknown situations. Intelligence is not being good at remembering batting averages for your favorite team; it’s about solving problems you’ve never seen before, using things you learned from others situations! It’s about listening to a long complex story and quickly distilling the important parts and filing them in your mental toolbox. Having said that, in my opinion, it’s not something you can learn, it’s more like a talent your born with. You can develop it, you can hone it, but sorry, some of us are just born with less of it, just like physical abilities or traits.  Exactly like with every other human trait, our population spans the gamut, from Einstein to those who can do barely more than stuff their face and run real fast and that’s OK. As a matter of fact, it’s what makes humans so powerful as a group; diversity is the ultimate recipe for resilience and that’s a great topic for another day. So, why am I bringing all of this up? Well, of course not every sports fan is ‘dumb’, but for some of us, there’s tremendous value in a ‘universe’ which we can completely understand. Let me explain what I mean.

As our world becomes more and more complex, it becomes harder and harder to comprehend and lack of understanding creates uncertainty. Religion is so powerful for exactly that reason: it provides a mechanism for providing “the complete story” even when you don’t get all the individual parts. In the end, there will be heaven or hell and that’s that. When you can define the theory of everything, it gives certainty, which leads to acceptance which leads to peace of mind. The universe is a big place and no one, not even the smartest 1000 people that every lived put together can even pretend to get the whole picture. Some of us are totally fine with that, but ironically the more you know the more you know that you don’t know shit! It’s one of the reasons I couldn’t get myself to continue my course in electrical engineering; theories built upon theories, conclusions we knew were wrong, but the best estimation we have, stated as the absolute truth. Don’t even get me started about Economics! The certainty with which some spout their theories….. The truth is that the system is too complex for anyone to comprehend and I don’t blame people for wanting to check out of the discussion.

And that’s the beauty of sports! It’s like a limited universe, a rather large world of winners and losers, of strategies and outcomes, of hard work and luck, that’s relatively easy to get. It allows just about anyone to get it, to see the big picture, to have the ability to contribute to a conversation with a relevant statement. It’s a microcosm in which traditional ‘intelligence’ is of very limited value, where talent, and dedication and hard work are 99% of the value, but there still is enough diversity and complexity to be ever-changing and ‘interesting’ for anyone’s lifetime. The older I get, the more I see the value in it (even though it still doesn’t really interest me very much at all) to the point where I’ve changed my mind about the net value proposition.

How much?

There’s plenty of talk about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies these days; from endless banter from people who don’t even understand the basic premises, completely nonsensical information from folks who have no concept of money and finances in general and even some discussions anchored in fact and knowledge. One kind of vital piece of information is impossible to be found though: how much money has been put in BTC and its derivatives? It’s easy to calculate to the total value of all Bitcoins: quantity times price, just like the market cap of a stock, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I want to know how much money all of us together have spent on buying them and that’s not that easy to figure out.

One more thing: please, PLEASE take all these analyses on the web about BTC’s price movement (moving averages, death cross etc etc) with a pallet of salt. The people writing them are using methods that may hold value when applied to stocks representing companies, for predicting the value of something completely different, and that’s asking for trouble. You see, even if investors would lose trust in Ford as a company, its stock would still be worth something, based on, if nothing else, the company’s assets (factories, inventory, cash), but BTC could be worth $0 overnight if something bad enough happens. I’m not exaggerating; its price is 100% dependent on trust. I’m certainly not saying it’s worthless; I believe we have something incredibly valuable here in the long run, but our old methods of analysis can not be blindly carried over.

x64 to ARM, come in ARM

It’s been rumored for a while, but today even Bloomberg is reporting on a possible platform change coming in 2020 to macOS; supposedly Apple is seriously considering making its own chips for Macs, just like it has been doing for phones and tablets for a while now. While in the iOS the transition from Samsung to self-designed SOCs didn’t mean breaking compatibility because just about anyone can use the ARM architecture and build on it, laptops and desktops are a different story.

You see, there are only three entities allowed to build x86 and x64 CPUs, and the Big Fruit is not one of them. What that means is that Apple will almost certainly transition macOS to ARM if it starts making its own CPUs. Now, most discussions I have read on the interwebs focus almost entirely on performance and whether the “mobile” chips will be able to keep up with “laptop” and “desktop” chips. In my opinion, there would not be a problem in that department; especially with higher TDPs Apple’s chips should be just fine. Also, all frequently updated software (think browsers, Netflix, MS Office) should be operational pretty quickly, although there will be some hell to pay in the bug department as there always is with such a major operation.

The real problems will be affecting a small subset of users, among which are a LOT of people I know. This is because there is a whole subset of software that does NOT get updated frequently or at all; I’m talking about Audio Production software. If I had a dollar for every Mac user I’ve heard complain about what happened when Apple went from the G5 to Intel chips…. great plugins, like the Native Instruments B4, were never updated, Spectrasonics stuff was the same. Mind you, on Windows I can and still DO use them (there hasn’t been released anything better!). Now look at Pro Tools: the list of which versions work on which OS is a mind-bender! It’s such a mess that I occasionally get calls from Mac users to see if I can help them, and now the musical director at my church told me he’s fed up with Apple and asked me to help him transition to Windows. There’s simply nothing worse than a company forcing you to give up the tools you already know and love, because of arbitrary reasons. Windows has shown the way for years now; I can still run software from the 1990’s for goodness’ sake.

When a company ‘steals’ your data

Sometimes a vast majority can be dead wrong; as a matter of fact, in this world of #fakenews it seems to be happening more and more. Here’s a little story about Facebook and its evil companion called Messenger.

Years ago, when social media was in its infancy, the early clients out of Zuckerberg’s company included the ability to send private messages to another user. Yet another channel through which to communicate, I thought, I hope it doesn’t catch on, but whatever, we’re using the app, it is what it is. Then came Facebook Messenger, at first with the option to still do without it. Then all of a sudden, functionality was removed from the main app, and it became mandatory to use the stand-alone system! I never installed it in the first place simply because on installation it very clearly asked for permission to access all kinds of stuff on your phone, including your calls. Even before all the latest improvements in permission management, it seemed immediately unacceptable to me to give this company such private info, for what? The ability to send text messages? Send a picture? WTF, I though, why is everybody just jumping on this bandwagon?

In Europe, where SMS still costs money, everybody started using WhatsApp instead. It has the same problem, and even more, because it aims to replace your phones basic text mechanism so it cannot function without access to everything. Much to my friends chagrin, I refused to install it on my main phone; and when Facebook bought it, I felt even happier that I had resisted. In the meantime, here in La La Land, unfortunately more and more people had started communicating within the walls of Facebook, to the point where a gig offer might actually come through its channels. Now I’d rather miss out on a gig than get abused by this brave new world, but amazingly there was a pretty good solution!

Here’s where thinking for yourself  really pays off: it turns out there is a special version of the Facebook App called Facebook Lite, designed for parts of the world where data speed is limited and phones are not the newest and fastest. First off it’s tiny, loads superfast on any device, but more importantly, includes messaging without Messenger. It works exactly the way the old, old app works, all inside. No permissions necessary, no access to anything you don’t want to give to Zuck and his peeps.

So here we are; something like 50 million people have now given years of calling data to Facebook. That’s right, it (and who knows who else) now knows who you called when and for how long for the last few years. It probably knows who was cheating, or who’s at risk of doing it soon. This is what we KNOW they know. Did they secretly record the actual audio of our calls? Did they store text messages? Do all of those folks deserve sympathy even though most clicked willingly and knowingly through all the permission warnings?

One last thing, and it’s about something that we’ve talked about before: in EVERY, and I mean every situation in which something is ad-supported, the user is the product. When you watch ABC, the show is not the product, you are, and your attention is being sold to the advertisers. The programming is only to ‘lure’ you in if you will, to keep you tuned in the longest. It doesn’t even technically matter if you like it or need it; outrage works well for keeping someone’s attention for instance. I’ve been saying it for years: I don’t understand why people think it’s a good idea to frame our personal lives in a commercial operation in which we are the products. Social Media can be wonderful, but we need a paid system, where our data is sacred, or an open source peer-to-peer network that we collectively own. Until then, I will remain on the sidelines as much as socially possible, and boy am I glad I have so far!

(Added on 03-25-2018)

Credit where credit’s due: it turns out on iOS apps are not able to collect data about your calls and text messages! So even if you installed Messenger, and gave it access to your contacts, the inherent security of the platform prevents the app from ‘knowing’ who you’re calling or SMSing.