I have no time (I shouldn’t even be writing this), so this will be a very short wibblette.
I’ve been dwelling on my own cognitive dissonance reflected in my recent post ‘The cake is a lie‘. The original post was a rant about an ‘unfair social contract’; recent events caused me to precede that with a different kind of rant.
The collision of the two perspectives is, to me, a palpable one.
And it will go on hurting until humanity wakes up and treats all humans – and, indeed, all the other residents of Spaceship Earth – as true equals, wherever we happen to have been born. I have no faith that that can ever happen…. until it does, the cake will remain a lie.
George does it again, and inspires me. This great man should receive a Nobel Prize.
A major means of humanity’s attack on nature is overfishing. The worst attack on land-based nature is agriculture — we do need to feed those eight billion humans, somehow.
Suppose we could provide abundant food without torturing and killing animals, releasing terrible chemicals into the environment, using fossil carbon (agriculture is powered by dieseline), covering 70% of the planet with unnatural landscapes. Imagine all the beauty and wonder that could return if we could rewild much of Earth.
The technology is available, now, and it has been well tried in many fields. It is the basis of producing age-old traditional foods, and modern medicines, and various substances needed in industry.
Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o And on his farm he had a flood Ee i ee i o With some drowned cows here And some drowned cows there. Here a bull, there a calf, Everywhere an oh no. Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o.
Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o And on his farm he had a drought Ee i ee i o. With wheat that died And the farmer cried. Empty tank, empty bank, Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o
Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o And on his farm he planted trees, Ee i ee i o And made his farming organic, And life came back, With soil that’s black. Old MacDonald had a farm Ee i ee i o
If it feels like your electronics always die after a few years, it’s because they’re designed that way.
All the tech we know and love will, one day, be obsolete. In the meantime, it would be nice if the gadgets we use every day were designed to last longer and longer rather than shorter and shorter. Unfortunately, tech companies usually adopt the strategy of ‘planned obsolescence’: You keep coming back to buy more product, hurting the planet and wasting your money along the way. And so, for the sake of the planet, your wallet, and your sanity, here’s what to know about hacking planned obsolescence and getting your electronics to last as long as possible.
What exactly is ‘planned obsolescence’?
Planned obsolescence is not as simple as electronics falling apart on a set deadline. Instead, it’s a business strategy: design products that require replacing within a few years on the market.
In practice, this looks like your smartphone slowing down after just about two years as new generations of software grow less compatible with the aging hardware. In fact, software is often designed to include new features and file types that are incompatible or otherwise less friendly with existing programs and hardware. Sure, some of that is necessary for technological progress, but much of it is done to encourage you to upgrade your devices.
When it comes to the plague of planned obsolescence, there’s not a lot you can do in the face of Big Tech. Companies are going to do whatever they think will benefit them most. Still, there are a few tips to keep in mind to fight back against purposefully short-lived electronics.
Push past perceived obsolescence
First off, it’s important to take a beat and recognize how you’re defining obsolescence. Powerful marketing tactics will always push the newest, shiniest products at us. Often, these aren’t actually meeting a need you have, but play on the desire to have the latest and greatest thing. Always think about functionality over style.
Tech has gotten so good in recent years that a smartphone or laptop will stay usable far longer than ever before. While you might lose out on new feature here and there, or notice some slowdowns, chances are you can hang onto your devices for longer than you – or the companies that make them – think.
Choose devices that you can upgrade rather than replace
Instead of always replacing your gadgets with newer version, try to shop for products you can easily upgrade in future. For instance, the next time you need a laptop, consider skipping the light, sleek model for one that can handle upgrading RAM and storage. While more devices are now going the non-upgradable route than ever, there are still customizable options out there to choose from.
Apple’s laptops, on the other hand, can’t be customized at all. What you buy today is what you’ll have forever (or, rather, until it fails), so keep that in mind.
Repair before you replace
Your instinct might be to replace your old electronics with newer models, but don’t rule out good old-fashioned repairs. For instance, if your phone never reaches a full charge anymore, you might be able to replace just the battery for a fraction of the cost of a brand new phone. If your laptop is running hot, you might need to clean the fans, or to reapply the thermal paste. It’s like taking your car to the mechanic: You don’t chuck out the whole car because you have a flat tire, after all.
What’s key here is to do a little research before you buy. Find out whether the product you’re buying is easily fixed by a repair person, and if the brand has any rules or restrictions around repairing their products. Remember, as a customer, you’re allowed to ask for every detail about what you’re buying, so don’t make the purchase until you’re sure you know how repairs will go down the line.
Protect your equipment
It’s simple, but overlooked: Treat your electronics gently if you want them to live long, happy lives. Use cases and screen protectors, and handle your tech with care. And, when you’re initially buying, shop with an eye for durability over style. Even if all these accessories are an extra investment at first, you’ll save yourself money in the long run by avoiding costly replacements every few years.
† I did look for, but couldn’t find, any information on lifehacker.com regarding its policy on reuse of its content, but came up blank. I hope that they won’t object to my helping to spread this very useful message.
This video by Marshall Rosenberg is less than 6 minutes long, but in that short time it packs a message that would change our world if everyone applied it.
Punishment and reward are the same thing. Both punish everyone.
Humans are made to feel and give love.
If you don’t believe me, watch the video so you can change your mind.
And if you do believe me, watch and be inspired.
The purpose of nonviolent communication is to help you to do what you already know how to do. To connect in a way that makes natural giving possible. You all know that giving; you know how to do it. And remembering to stay with that quality and giving, moment by moment, in any connection. But we also all know that it’s easy to lose it. It’s easy to lose that connection. So that instead of enjoying that quality of giving, which is possible every moment in every contact we have, in spite of how precious that is, we forget.
And instead of playing the game of making life wonderful, much of the time we play another game, called ‘Who’s Right’. Have you ever played that game? It’s a game where everybody loses. So, isn’t this amazing? We all know about this quality of giving. It’s possible every moment. We find that the richest thing to do. And much of our life, we end up playing ‘Who’s Right’. Now, the game of ‘Who’s Right’ involves two of the most devious things human beings have ever come upon. One: Punishment. Because if you’re ‘wrong’ in the game of ‘Who’s Right’ then you deserve to suffer.
No more punishment. You won’t do it in your families. We’ll get rid of it with criminals; it just makes things more violent. We’ll find other ways to deal with other nations beside punishment. No more punishment. No more reward. It’s the same game. Part of the game of ‘Who’s Right’: if you’re ‘Right’ then you get rewarded; if you’re ‘Wrong’, you get punished. No more. No more. It’s created enough violence on the planet.
We’ve been educated for quite a while to make violence enjoyable; and educated in a way we can even be violent to our children. Watch a parent try to bring about change in the child:
– “Say you’re sorry!” – “I’m sorry.” – “You’re not really sorry, I can see it! You’re not really sorry!” – “I’m sorry.” – “Okay, I forgive you.”
Can you imagine a game like that? Can you imagine a parent responding to a child that way? And if a parent is going to do that to a child in their own family, what are they going to do to people from other cultures who behave in a way we don’t appreciate.
So, of course you’re going to have violence wherever you have this kind of thinking. Learning how to go up to our head and think basically in terms of ‘Right and Wrong’, ‘Good and Bad’, ‘Normal, Abnormal’.
You see, natural giving; anything we do in life that isn’t coming out of that energy, we pay for it and everybody else pays for it. Anything we do out of fear of punishment if we don’t: everybody pays for it. Anything we do for a reward: everybody pays for it. Everything we do to make people like us: everybody pays for it. Everything we do out of guilt, shame, duty, obligation: everybody pays for it.
Now, this isn’t what we were designed for. We were designed to enjoy giving; to give from the heart.
After I scheduled this post, I heard about the massive earthquakes in Turkey/ Siria. And it got me thinking: by comparison with the hardships now faced by those affected by that catastrophe, my original post makes me sound like an entitled git. My heart goes out to those struggling with the aftermath; I made a donation to Oxfam’s Turkey and Syria Earthquake Appeal, because “but for the grace of god, there go I.”
I’m lucky to have been born into a (relatively) prosperous society. While I am by no means wealthy in the context of where I live, I am when it comes to considering those who happened to be born in certain other areas of ‘our’ [sic] home planet. But, more than that: I wonder what those far more fortunate than myself (for whom national boundaries are meaningless) truly think of such events. I strongly suspect that far too many of them simply shrug, say “that’s life,” congratulate themselves on their supremacy, and hop into their helicopter or private jet to go party (again) on their megayacht (the one moored off the coast of the island they bought ‘just because I could’), or perhaps consider (another) jaunt into space.
‘Normality’ is, to me, a dirty word – as is ‘humanity’. Until, globally, we buckle down, settle our differences, and pool our resources, calamities such as this latest one will continue to be dealt with on a last-minute “Oh, shit, we have to do something!” basis.
Humans? Bah. If we were truly as smart as we like to think we are, we’d have figured out a better way, long ago.
I return you now to the original programming:
‘The cake is a lie‘ is a meme you may have heard of. Or perhaps not. It originated with the (wonderful) 2007 game ‘Portal‘. It’s about striving towards a reward… that doesn’t exist.
My parents harangued me from an early age to ‘get a good job’ to ‘ensure my pension’. I was born in the UK, and have been resident here all my life. For decades, I was promised a state pension when I reached the age of 65. And then, suddenly – and unilaterally – Those In Power changed the rules on me, declaring that it would no longer keep that bargain. Their decision was made on ‘population demographic’ grounds, knowledge evident to economists (and anyone with half a brain) many, many moons ago; but our ‘elected leaders’ chose to kick that can down the road (as they do with far too many issues).
I now have to wait an extra year before becoming entitled to that benefit. By my calculations, the state has in effect stolen about ten grand (in Sterling) from me, according to that decades-long social contract. Not to mention the year off the wage-slave grind. (Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, the rich keep getting richer, and the purchasing power of that ten grand keeps getting whittled away… but that’s a separate rant.)
It’s true that folk younger than me now have to wait even longer, as the state pensionable age keeps on creeping upwards; but those young whippersnappers (no offense meant) haven’t lived through the same long years of promise.
It’s also true that those who lack a willy were (ironically) shafted even more harshly back in 1995: where once they had been expecting to retire at 60, their ‘cake’ was shoved five years further on. (To be honest, I always thought that deal was highly unfair anyway, and even more so as women tend to live longer than men.)
And there are a great many people on Spaceship Earth who don’t benefit from any such rewards at all, so perhaps I shouldn’t grumble. But then again: the thing that winds me up most is not the withholding of the cake, it’s the reneging on the promise of the cake. It sucks to be led by a carrot on a stick, clearly intended to keep you soldiering on, but (assuming you don’t shuffle off the mortal coil before you get it) to find only then that it’s made of plastic, well, that really does take the cake.
I have no post prepared for this week (too much to do, too little time). Esme posted this gem a short while ago; I’d noted it for a ‘reblog’ for an occasion such as this, but her post doesn’t have ‘Reblog’ enabled (and WordPress’s reblog function has been pretty badly borked for some time anyway), hence this waffle.
If there are any of Heinlein’s novels I’ve not read, I’m not aware of them. His mid-1950s yarn ‘The Door into Summer‘ is one of my favourites, and speaks to me in a particular way. I read it first in my mid-teens, and remember well being unable to identify with the protagonist, Dan Davis, because he is introduced as being ‘on the right side of thirty by a few days’. I was, at the time, only half that age. I read it several times in the following years… and made a special point of reading it again when I was thirty. And again when I was sixty. (It being a tale with a time-travel theme, that seemed fitting.)
And then, not long ago, I discovered that there was a movie adaptation.
The Door into Summer (夏への扉 キミのいる未来へ) (2021) Language: Japanese Directed by: Takahiro Miki Written by: Tommoe Kanno
Wait, what? Written by who?
This movie is, without a shadow of a doubt, based upon the novel of the same name by Robert Anson Heinlein.
In this adaptation, the characters all speak Japanese. That’s not a language I know, but that’s no problem; I’m perfectly comfortable with subtitled foreign movies. This one begins with quote, an entirely appropriate epigram:
… and, in the end credits, the source of that quote is openly acknowledged, again in English:
Special thanks Professor Stephen Hawking – The Estate of Stephen Hawking
2021 movie ‘The Door into Summer’, end credits
Other than that, the movie features no English at all. And that, well, I have a problem with that, because, surely, the story’s originator ought to be given credit. Not doing so (particularly as Hawking’s minor contribution is so clearly presented) smacks of discourtesy, if not dishonesty.
In the trailer I found on YouTube (see below), the subtitles tease that this is “The long-awaited theatrical adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s The Door into Summer”. But the movie itself is silent on that point. Inspecting the end credits, I found this:
I think (but don’t know for certain) that that gives Heinlein credit for the original story. But why is it not in plain English? I consider the effective burial of Heinlein’s crucial role in this endeavour appalling, and that egregious omission coloured my initial impression of the movie.
On my first viewing, I felt that the story had lost its heart, and much of its depth. As is often the case with movie adaptations of novels, this one featured changes that didn’t enhance the tale; they just made it different.
In the book, the story begins in 1970; in the movie, it starts in 1995. That minor alteration is not a big deal; it’s understandable to want to bring the story up to a more current timeframe. However, one of the most interesting characters in the novel, Dr Hubert Twitchell, the ‘Unsung Genius’, is sidelined. Most of his interactions with Dan Davis are absent. That’s a great pity. It would have been wonderful to see on screen the dramatic scene in which Dan persuades Twitchell to flick the switch to send him into the past (or into the future).
Another change is the addition of a character named Pete, an artificial person – who doesn’t feature in the original yarn. This may be a nod to the book’s ‘Protean Pete’, a prototype machine. Or perhaps it’s a conflation of that ‘Pete’ with, arguably, one of the most important characters of all: Petronius the Arbiter, AKA Pete, the cat – who is the whole reason the story came to be.
When we were living in Colorado there was snowfall. Our cat—I’m a cat man—wanted to get out of the house so I opened a door for him but he wouldn’t leave. Just kept on crying. He’d seen snow before and I couldn’t understand it. I kept opening other doors for him and he still wouldn’t leave. Then Ginny said, ‘Oh, he’s looking for a door into summer.’ I threw up my hands, told her not to say another word, and wrote the novel ‘The Door into Summer’ in 13 days.”
Heinlein interview with Alfred Bester; ‘Redemolished‘ p487, ISBN 0-7434-0725-3
Now, Pete (the cat) does appear in the movie, too. In the book, Pete is a feisty, ornery cuss who knows his own mind, suffers no fools gladly, and takes no prisoners at crunch time. In the movie, his part is played by an overfed, feeble feline; a simpering, cuddly lap cat. In the scene in which Pete bests Belle, I suspect he probably had to be thrown across the room to make it appear as though he was moving at all.
I find it totally unforgivable that Petronius the Arbiter was denied his finest hour.
But that’s just me. In its own right this movie is pretty good, and well worth watching. By the third viewing, I admit that it had begun to grow on me. Please don’t let my issues with it dissuade you.
Back in May, I used a series of photos taken at regular intervals along a footpath in an attempt to illustrate exponential growth. Last month, I happened to be walking that same path once again. That day was not a bright, sunny one; it was instead bitterly cold, and a freezing fog obscured the view ahead (cue the ignorant climate science deniers crying, “Global warming? What global warming?”). Halfway along the path, it suddenly struck me that this would be a far better way of portraying a journey into a murky future. I retraced my steps to the start of the path so that I could repeat the exercise, once again taking snapshots fifty steps apart….
As I was preparing this post, I realised something else: I had been walking at a steady pace along this 415-step-long path. But our collective acts of destruction of Spaceship Earth are not happening at a constant rate: the suicidal fixation on growth of Those Who Lead Us (while they give lip service to the need to address the climate emergency) is accelerating the damage we’re doing to our home.
So, perhaps an even more appropriate representation of the reality would be if these snapshots were taken, not at regular intervals, but at increasing ones. The choice of the rate of increase is, of course, an arbitrary one; let’s take 7%, which, in financial terms, represents a ‘modest’ doubling time of ten years. If the second photo were taken at 50 paces, at such a growth rate the third would be at 53.5 paces (50 times 1.07), the third at 57.245 paces, and so on. The set would comprise just eight images, not ten. I’ll have to wait for another freezing fog day to take those photos; in the meantime, I’ll leave its visualisation to your imagination.
When I reached the end of the path, I noticed the green sign on the gate. That was there back in May, and I’m pretty sure it’s been there for years. I’ve passed it many times, but have never paid it any attention: ‘familiarity breeds contempt’; we tend to remain oblivious to the obvious.
Here’s a close-up of that sign:
In the context of the climate emergency, this notice is ironically, bizarrely, appropriate. If you’re on any stage of Paul Chefurka’s ‘Ladder of Awareness’ that’s causing you distress, I hope that you’ll reach out for help.
As for me, I’ve been in ‘Stage 5 Awareness’ for some time, oscillating between despair and (perhaps foolish) hope. Paul talks about dealing with ‘Stage 5’ via either an ‘inner path’ or an ‘outer path’. I’m now on what I like to think of as a ‘holistic path’, a combination of the two. Although I find it implausible, given the overwhelming numbers who are still ‘dead asleep’ (as Paul puts it), humanity may yet be able to avert catastrophe. Despite the word ‘woke’ having been hijacked as a term of denigration by those determined to carry on with business as usual whatever the cost, I believe that whether our civilization (or indeed our species) survives is wholly dependent upon how quickly those currently oblivious to, or in denial of, the reality wake from their complacent slumber. (If they don’t, we’re all truly screwed.) I won’t stop banging the ‘alarmist’ drum, because it’s crucial not to abandon all hope.