Category Archives: Technology

How Rotten is Apple’s Core? Tax Avoidance and Human Rights Abuses

The Apple brand is not only one of the most famous in the world, it is also the one with the highest value. Although Apple shares have plummeted during the last months, the latest brand value rankings show that the brand remains the best in the world. In addition to this, in the third quarter of 2012 Apple had a market capitalisation of US$ 625 billion, by far the largest in the world, on top of which it had and it had a US $117 billion cash hoard. You would think that a company this size would pay a fair amount of tax, but Apple thinks differently.

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Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions in Five Bullet Points Please

“Time is running out to clear your browsing history before Google’s new privacy policies come into force!” Countless blogs and websites rang the warning bell on Google’s latest evil ploy to gather every single piece of information on individuals using their services. The URL to Google’s web history was eagerly re-tweeted and visited, in what seemed to be a true online civil action against the violation of privacy. But to what extend is the latest online privacy outrage justifiable?

Although the Google web history madness seemed to constitute a moment of communal outrage, I am quite certain that only a relatively small number of the stupendous amount of individuals that use the Google search engine on a daily basis are aware of this matter at all. I am also fairly certain that a substantial amount of the people that re-tweeted and spread the news about Google web history did so simply because of the appeal of the header “Clear your Google Web History before the big privacy change!” Continue reading Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions in Five Bullet Points Please

Bradley Manning: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues

Bradley Manning, the US soldier who is being accused of supplying classified military documents to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks, appeared in front of a military court on 17 December 2011. Using a rather unusual strategy, his defence team argues that Manning has been experiencing issues regarding gender identity and sexual orientation, which have made Manning emotionally fragile and unstable. It will be very interesting, for Manning and other people experiencing issues with gender identity and sexual orientation, to see how the US legal system will deal with these statements.

Same-sex sexual orientation and the military are two topics that have a turbulent history. Bill Clinton’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was only abolished by President Obama earlier this year, which obviously doesn’t make it any easier for individuals with same-sex sexual preference to serve in the US military. The fact that Bradley Manning experienced difficulties with his sexual orientation whilst serving in the army is not surprising. Stories of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals experiencing difficulties in the military have made the news in multiple cases over the years. Something that is more surprising to be brought up in this context are Manning’s gender identity struggles. Although sexual orientation and the army have a known and troubled history, the history of gender identity issues and the army constitutes somewhat of a dark spot. Continue reading Bradley Manning: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues

Addiction: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Just what is it that is so extremely addictive about running?¬†Other sports can be addictive, like football (soccer, for those who use the term football for kinds of sports where relatively little contact between the ball and feet occurs, see John Cleese’s rant for this), but running seems to be up there in a league of its own. It is the oldest and simplest form of exercise known to man and already featured in various forms at the ancient Olympic games. And it is to the Greeks after all that we owe the term marathon

I suppose that we could go even further back and argue that running might even be coded in our genes. Walking upright was a significant accomplishment for early hominids, and in order to survive it is not unimaginable that speed and agility were beneficial factors. There is no doubt that speed in the animal kingdom can mean the difference between life and death. And aren’t humans animals after all? Lot’s of spoofs exist of the image that depicts the evolution of early hominids to todays human beings, usually ending with a human sitting behind a computer with its back arched. Interestingly enough, I have never come across one such images that depicts a running individual. Continue reading Addiction: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

A new catalyst of civil uprising many believe has been identified in the form of social media. Examples range from the election protests in #Iran, the ousting of #Mubarak, the #ArabSpring as a whole, #WikiLeaks with its #Cablegate and the latest showcase, the #Occupy events in the United States. The matter whether social media like Twitter and Facebook actually contribute to these forms of civil disobedience or are just a form of ‘clicktivism’ has been discussed to a great extend. More recently, the debate has turned against Twitter with claims that the social network had a hand in some hashtags not becoming a trending topic.

It goes without saying that this is the kind of stuff for conspiracy theorists: the government is aware of the power of social media and is quietly instructing Twitter to suppress certain hashtags from making it to the trending topics list. Then again, the way in which 700 protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge shows an unrelenting crackdown on civil disobedience by the American government. In addition, the track record of governments around the world, including the United States government, shows plenty of violation of digital privacy and intrusive online behaviour. So, you wouldn’t really put it past them either. Continue reading Conspiracy Theories: Why The Revolution Will (Not?) Be Tweeted

Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The New York Times displayed the kind of headline that sadly enough does not stand out any more in 2011: “Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington”. What does stand out are the means by which this was going to happen, which lead to suspect that this individual has been locked up in a shed together with the Jihadist brother of MacGyver and the A-Team (where A stands for Allah).

The 26-year-old Mr Ferdaus, an American citizen from a town west of Boston, has been charged with plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol using remote-controlled aircrafts filled with explosives. But not only that, according to the FBI the man was to use the “aerial assault” to “eliminate key locations”, at which point attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and “open up on them” and “keep firing”. The shopping list of the generation-Y religious fundamentalist: three remote-controlled planes, C4 explosives, a couple of Kalashnikovs and, why not, some grenades. Luckily the would-be terrorist only managed to obtain one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms before he was apprehended by the FBI. Continue reading Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

Canadian Tar Sands: The Need To Move Away From The Second-Hand Car Salesman Logic

 This week the United States will decide whether it will build a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. The pipeline, which will cost 7 billion dollars, will ensure the transportation of oil gained from Canadian tar sands to the United States. Proponents emphasize the need of energy supplied by a friendly neighboring country instead of the hostile Middle East. Opponents see great risks to the environment and would prefer investing in renewable energy. A debate followed on PBS between pipeline proponent Robert Bryce and environmentalist Bill McKibben.

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The long and inconclusive search for a Mac OSX alternative to SoulSeek

After buying a MacBook Pro I discovered that SoulSeek, which had become an integral part of my everyday Windows computer experience, is not available for Mac. A search for an alternative, one that proved to be successful in the case of other programs, had disappointing results: none of the SoulSeek alternatives managed to fill the gap.

I consider the absence of a SoulSeek alternative to be most frustrating. Why? Because SoulSeek was perfect when it came to finding obscure music or recent and/or non-mainstream releases. In my experience, Torrentsites tend to only offer mainstream releases, as do newsgroups, making SoulSeek such a quintessential tool. First off, before criticizing these alternatives, I need to say that I have the greatest respect for those developing the alternatives. As I do not have the technical skills to develop these programs myself, I can only admire those that do so. However, this of course does not take away the frustration of the shortcomings of the available alternatives. Secondly, for all people criticizing those that download music: such is not the topic of this post. Continue reading The long and inconclusive search for a Mac OSX alternative to SoulSeek