Instagram is awful

Recently I decided to set up a new Instagram account and to write about Tudor watches. I wanted to experiment with simple images and longer form text than you normally see on Instagram. No great ambitions here, just something to do when the thought would strike.

Little did I realise how dominated by businesses, not always the best ones, Instagram is and how much the experience would be ruined within a day.

The moment I posted an image with what I thought were relevant hashtags the responses started to come in. Lots of likes and lots of simple comments like ‘excellent photo’ and so on. It was relentless and did not stop, to the point that its close to impossible to find genuine people who follow because they have an interest in the subject.

And while someone who has thousands of followers no doubt has many genuine people viewing their content, they must be absolutely inundated with spam from Kickstarter outfits and dodgy Chinese creators selling cheap nonsense.

Instagram is no longer a social network to me, apart from posting family photos on my personal account. It is merely a destination for those who lessen the experience immensely. Such a shame.

No backdoor…

Cook and Sewell met with Eric Holder and Jim Cole, then the deputy attorney general, in late 2014, and FBI agents told them they were “interested in getting access to phones on a mass basis.” This was way before the attack in San Bernardino, and Apple made it clear from the start that they were not going to grant the FBI access to hack into Apple users’ phones. Cook and Sewell told Holder and Cole that they “didn’t think that that was an appropriate request to be made of a company that has as its primary concern the protection of all citizens.” They had a similar conversation with Lynch and Yates… More here.

Good article.

Behind Brexit lies a yearning for a past we destroyed

Was that period perfect? Of course not. Bad things happened, poverty existed, governments screwed up, and there were wars and reversals and crises. But the general trend was for increased wealth, health, life expectancy, security, openness, home-ownership, saving, disposable income, social cohesion, and acceptance of others. In the years since the mid- to late-80s, to put it mildly, the pendulum swung back. Those gains – and for the vast majority of us, they were substantial gains – have juddered to a halt, stagnated, and then begin to slide inexorably back.

Prior to that, wages were high, growth was almost constant, unions ensured jobs were safe, education was free, productivity was strong, healthcare was well funded, and housing was cheap… More here.

A quite brilliant article.

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean the algorithms aren’t out to get you

By no means are all malevolent programs an accident; some are designed with mischief in mind. Bots can be used to generate or spread misinformation. Jamie Bartlett, author of The Dark Net (US) (UK), warns of a future of ultra-personalised propaganda. It is one thing when your internet-enabled fridge knows you’re hungry and orders yoghurt. It’s another when the fridge starts playing you hard-right adverts because they work best when you’re grumpy and low on blood sugar. And unless we radically improve both our electoral laws and our digital systems nobody need ever know that a particular message was whispered in your ear as you searched for cookies… More here.

A quick, but good read.

The humbling of Britain

This is not “taking back control”. This is not the proud, independent, liberated Britain that the Brexiteers promised. It is grotesque, calamitous, an epic act of self-harm brought about not by some war or disaster but by our own stupidity. And the true “enemies of the people” are not those opposing this catastrophic Brexit. They are not the million decent people from every background who marched in London last Saturday, or the five million who have petitioned to revoke Article 50, but those whose lies, zealotry, and political recklessness have all but broken Britain. For posterity’s sake, those self-styled “patriots” who have so grievously betrayed their country should be named and shamed… More here.

It’s all so sad.

When Life’s Noises Drive You Mad

“My heart starts to pound. I go one of two ways. I either start to cry or I just get really intensely angry. It’s really intense. I mean, it’s as if you’re going to die,” she says.

Rapp has been experiencing this reaction to certain noises since she was a toddler. She recalls a ride home from preschool when her mother turned on the radio and started singing, which caused Rapp to scream and cry hysterically.

“That’s my first memory ever,” Rapp says… More here.

Scary, but fascinating.

What It’s Like to Grow Up With More Money Than You’ll Ever Spend

You know, I’m not. I’m 59, and now that I’ve been living in the world on my own and managing my own money for a while, I have developed the opposite view of almost everything that my parents did. I started giving money away in my 20s, and my parents thought that was crazy. But it was mine to give. Luckily, my grandfather gave us money directly, which was great because I never had to go to my parents and ask for anything. I was totally independent at 21. So I started giving money away. Within a couple of years I was giving away more money than my parents, who had much more money that I had, which they told me was embarrassing to them… More here.

A very good, and surprising, read.

When your grail is not the best, it’s still your grail

When I first became very interested in watches, there was one particular model that I always aspired to own. It was the Tudor Black Bay Red and this feeling never really left me. Aspirational is the word because after running through many Seikos, Citizens, Bulovas and countless others I have ended up with the Black Bay red and I think that’s the end of my watch buying and selling story.

I recently owned the Black Bay GMT which is by all accounts a better watch. It of course has the GMT function, it is hard to come by and there are long waiting lists at every authorised dealer, and it is rarely seen in public. If you are wearing a GMT and someone else knows their watches they will notice it and likely be impressed by it. If you are wearing a Black Bay Red the same effect will not be seen because it is a commonly worn watch and in red is the most popular of the Black Bay series.

The problem for me was that the GMT felt cold. The white hands and hour markers didn’t drag me in and the, admittedly subtle, red and blue bezel was a little too noticeable for my liking. It’s hard to explain because it ticked all of the boxes for me, but perhaps it ticked too many which was the ultimate problem.

When you are into watches, and particularly if you have a grail watch, it becomes too easy to compare other watches in an unfavourable way simply because they are not the same. The white hands and hour markers are not a problem in the GMT, but they are not the subtle gold of the Black Bay, a gold that is enhanced by the red bezel more so than in the other colour variants. The date window is useful, but it takes away the clean symmetry of the dateless Black Bay. And then there is the GMT hand which makes the dial feel busy to me. Of course the GMT is still an exceptionally easy to read watch, but once I had seen the Black Bay Red it was hard to not see anything other than business and functions I did not need.

The old adage of less is more has never been truer than with the Black Bay for me. Pulling out the crown just one notch to change the time without the need to gauge exactly which position it is in to make specific changes to each function. The superb accuracy means I rarely need to correct the time and without the need to amend the date every month or two months it just sits on my wrist doing its thing and looking quite splendid.

As easy as it is to say ‘that’s it for me, no more watches’, I have an advantage in that I have never collected watches. I may have owned many, but I don’t like having more than one decent watch in the house. I like one beater watch, in my case a Citizen Brycen AW1590-55E, and a wear the rest of the time watch which is only removed when doing things that a decent mechanical should not be exposed to (grading, running etc etc).

So, this really is it for me. I always wanted this particular Tudor and it is easily living up to my expectations. I have never felt the need to own a Rolex or to spend a huge amount of money on a watch. I don’t care what other people think about what is on my wrist. 99.9% of people have no clue which watch is which and the ones that do probably have a focussed opinion on what a really good watch is and likely it will not be the one you are wearing anyway. And even then, what would I be trying to say with the watch on my wrist? Shall I wear a moon watch and pretend I am an astronaut? How about a massive dive watch for no other reason than it is huge and can go 1000m below the surface? No, why would I want to do that?

When I check the time on the Black Bay Red I simply see the time. I see the chocolate dial and gold hands and markers and a splash of red around the edge. That’s what grabbed me when I first saw it and as silly as it seems it causes me to look just a little longer than I need do when checking the time. This watch is for me, it’s my grail and I neither care what others think and don’t presume they do either. It’s my grail.

Generation Snowflake (is older than you may think)

The two most important things to know about the snowflakes of popular journalism are that they are a) easily offended and b) young. They are po-faced undergraduates at Sussex and SOAS, the new Red Guards who live to tear down statues of the Good Chaps of the last century and replace them with Brutalist Menstrual Art or similar nonsense. They are the spiritual descendants of the Loony Left, the Wimmin of Greenham Common and the soft-headed teachers who banned “Baa Baa Black Sheep” for fear it was racist… More here.

Some of the biggest snowflakes I know are baby boomers. They seem to get upset over everything.

The obscene moral spectacle of Theresa May’s resignation

What an abominable circus. It’s hard to know where the greater blame should be put. On the prime minister who has made her own eradication a bribe to force through the product of her failure? Or the great defenders of British sovereignty who have suddenly decided none of their principles mean anything if there is a chance to finish off a political rival?

These figures have spent the last two and a half years saying that a second referendum could not be allowed because it would damage trust in the British political system. But somehow they are unable to comprehend that their cosmic level of hypocrisy might do the same thing to anyone unlucky enough to observe it… More here.

This is a superb article that sums up a lot of what us Brits are going through at the moment. There is a small selection of powerful people in the UK who have zero morals and who do not care who they hurt, a bit like in the US at the moment.