Monday, 6 July 2015

Thin-skinned or what? I join Taylor Swift in being removed from the Cupertino Christmas card list. As for the euro, what next? It sure ain’t going to end in laughter, a song and a kiss

Now here’s a rather telling story.

Apple (Apple - remember Apple? Apparently before he died Steve Jobs was reputed by many Apple queens to be able to walk on water) have introduced ‘Apple Music’ to take on Spotify. It was launched last week, but even before its launch it got itself into a spot of bother in what I am beginning to regard as typical high-handed Apple fashion.

To make its putative Spotify-killer app as attractive as possible, punters who sign up get a ‘three-month free trial’, i.e. they get the service for free for three months. What we, the public, didn’t know until one Taylor Swift (‘a popular singing artist, m’lud, rather like Dorothy Squires, whose tunes I’m sure m’lud would have whistled in his younger days, except that Taylor Swift is still alive’) said she wasn’t playing along was that Apple had decided to have its cake and eat it: while punters were enjoying their free trial (and would, presumably, carry on using the service, swelling Apple’s coffers by another few million every few hours), the artists whose music they were enjoying would not be paid royalties. That was the law as laid down by St Steven Jobs’s spirtual successor at Cupertino.

You don’t believe! St Steve speaks

So, the admirable Ms Swift told Apple to stick that one up their kilt: if you don’t pay me, you don’t get to use my music. And it seems Ms Swift was not alone in being pretty pissed off with Apple’s arrogance: other artists supported her and Apple backed down (for more or less the first time since records began). On the day Apple Music was launched, Apple also released an IoS update for iPhones and iPads and alerted by a small red ‘1’ on the settings button, I downloaded it. That was a big mistake. The Apple Music facility is to be accessed through the IoS’s new Music app, you know, they one which allows you to listen to all the music on your iPhone or iPad. And that, my dear’s is a hell of a step backward.

When you first launch it, you are asked to sign up to Apple Music. I declined. But that is not what has irritated me: quite simply where the Music app it replaced was organised to that you could use it’s facilities in several way, the new app has lost almost all of those.

You could once list your music by composer, artist, song, genre and playlist. Now you can only look at playlists. Before it was easy to switch call up one of those categories and get the app to shuffle all while playing. Now that shuffle all facility is so unintuitive and hidden it is more or less absent. I was so put out that I went to the Apple Forums on the Apple website and said so: the new Music app, I declared, is shite. That was yesterday.

I did get a reply, but I can’t tell you what was in it, because Apple have removed my criticism and the reply. Apple, it seems, don’t like criticism. Nor, apparently did Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Idi Amin. The only difference between those four and Apple, as far as I can see, is that unlike Apple they weren’t in the computer and smartphone business. Fuckwits.

NB With the email I received from Apple telling me it had removed my comment was a note saying that if I disagreed with the decision, I should get in touch. I decided I would. But back at the forum you can hunt high and low, but you’ll not find out how to get in touch. Figures. You don’t slag off Jesus Christ and expect to get a lollipop. Doesn’t work that way.

. . .

As I have before added my two ha’porth to comments about Greece’s troubles over its debts, I suppose I should add a few more now that the referendum vote has been held and a rather big majority of those who voted gave a rather prominent V sign to the eurocrats. But with things moving so fast now, that would be pointless. I can’t say I’m not pleased, although not necessarily because I am ‘on the Greek’s side’.

In fact, I am on no one’s ‘side’. It would be odd if the Greeks, who admit they lied and cheated their way into the euro and then, benefiting from the eurozone’s cheap interest rates - on the back of the strong economies of the north of the EU - borrowed like there was no tomorrow were simply let off their debts scot-free. On the other hand the terms imposed by those who lent them the money to lend the some more in order to pay off their debts - yes, it really is now that daft - were ludicrously unrealistic and in their own way are just as reprehensible as Greece’s demand to have its cake and eat it.

This is, to use the technical term favoured by hack bloggers, a total fuck-up and furthermore one of gigantic proportions and what will come of it no one can guess. I have cheerfully been predicting civil unrest, possibly leading to civil war, in Greece but to be honest that looks unlikely. But it isn’t going to end with a laughter, a song and a kiss like in some Doris Day film. So best leave off the commenting until at least some of the dust has settled.

I shall add one thing, however: irrespective of who is ‘to blame’ in this matter and sadly it is pretty much nothing more than a question of you pays your money and you makes your choice (it’s not exactly 2 + 2 = 4) consider this: the euro was introduced - gradually - in the early 2000s and was consciously a step on the road to ‘ever closer union’.

All went well to begin with. Then it all went tits up. Any roof will do in fine weather, but you know just how good yours is when it pours with rain and boy did it piss down on the euro in 2009/2010. And that was when the corruption and cheating which went on in some quarters became very obvious.

My point is this: roughly 14/15 after the single currency was introduced, the economies of every single eurozone member state is stagnating badly at best. And at worst one in four of the adults of work age in some countries is unemployed, rising to every second adult if under the age of 25. Does that sound like the euro is a roaring success?

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