Categories
Business Technology

FBI vs Apple = 6-1

  1. If there was someone on the planet that didn’t know that the usual way FBI and Apple solve these things is in secret, we all know it now.  Both parties involved admitted that usually when the FBI wants the contents of a phone, Apple has always played along and told nobody about it.
  2. We all found out about Apple’s sneaky secret backdoors.  Updates they can install on just one specific phone and other things which only a mind as perverse as Steve Jobs could think of.
  3. At best Tim Cook seemed “adequate”.  For most of us he was just blatantly hypocritical in pretending to stand up for free speech and privacy.  This is the right hand man of Steve Jobs.  They both did so much nasty stuff against consumers’ interests for so many years; any serious analyst can only laugh to hear him wax lyrical now.  iPhones secretly sent location, private data and well,  pretty much everything in the past.  It probably still does, just in more complex ways.  They never told consumers any of it.
  4. Similar to “freedom fries” and the small media war against France in the past, this media frenzy will leave Apple with scars.  True patriots will avoid iPhones to some degree.  After their tax dodging tricks, Chinese workers killing themselves and Donald Trump having a go at Apple, it is starting to pile up.
  5. After all this, magically, a way to hack the iPhone was discovered.  So the FBI doesn’t need a backdoor.  They can use the same trick for any iPhone.  Heck, we are all pretty sure they can hack the latest models too.  Well done Apple, you just made sure the entire planet knows just how unsafe your products are.
  6. I am not the only one not to buy the story about an “outside contractor helping the FBI”.   Apple gave in.  They helped the FBI and came up with this vague story to cover up.  They knew that if they left it long enough, many outside contractors and hackers would find publish a way around on the internet.  Every hackathon has Apple products falling first.  This is no conspiracy theory.  Apple products’ security is rubbish.

There is only group of people which think that Apple won the case.  Apple fan boys.  But then again they always think Apple has won.  So the only interesting question is “why make all this fuss for nothing?”  I would look more at the stock market for answers than the technology involved.

Categories
Book

Render unto the sultan what is the sultan’s

Some books speak for themselves.  Hard to summarise, so here is the conclusion in it’s entirety.  If you think this is interesting, you will love the book!  “Render unto the sultan” by Tom Papademetriou.

947b3409d3f5bf2c3c14b354b244db0a“Between 1453 and 1500, the office of the Patriarch of Constantinople changed hands eighteen times with an average of a one patriarch every 2.4 years. Between 1500 and 1600 it changed thirty-two times with an average of one patriarch every 3.1 years, and between 1500 and 1600 it changed fifty-three times with an aver­age of one patriarch every 1.9 years. A quick examination of the names of indi­vidual patriarchs shows individuals were elevated, deposed, and reappointed, in one case up to seven times. The Patriarchate of Constantinople in the era after 1453 appeared to be fragile and vulnerable. As the only surviving institution from the Byzantine era, it was an institution in a state of flux. The rapid change of lead­ership raises the question of how much authority did the patriarch actually have over the Greek community.
bf62b1f787f9fd553cfc102e7e651b7bThe answer is complicated, when one considers that the instability of the office was caused largely because the broader lay Greek community intervened in the appointments and depositions of bishops. Doctrinal issues certainly played a role in depostions, and there are examples of patriarchs and bishops being challenged in their faith, and affirming their confession of faith in the Orthodox religion. However, the practice of condemning an opponent for unsound theology did not become common practice until the seventeenth century. One such challenge to the faith occurred in the 1560s and 1570s when the German Lutherans, Martin Crusius, and Stephan Gerlach, visited the court of Patriarch Jeremiah II Tranos. They were ultimately rebuffed by the Patriarch Jeremiah II though they became friends with members of the patriarchal court. The lack of cooperation from the sixteenth-century patriarchal hierarchs and theologians did not prevent inroads from being made by Protestants and Roman Catholics in the seventeenth cen­tury. Among the most famous cases of a patriarch who was elevated and deposed multiple times ostensibly for doctrinal reasons is Patriarch Cyril Loukaris (1612, 1620—23, 1623, 1623—33, 1634—35, 1637—38). Patriarch Cyril Loukaris held the patriarchal throne of Alexandria and Constantinople seven times between the years 1612 and 1638. Loukaris was known to be sympathic to the Calvinist doctrine, and became a proponent of translating the scriptures into the com­monly used Greek language of the day. Patriarch Loukaris was caught between the intrigue of his pro-Calvinist acquaintances, and the Jesuits, who undermined him in the sultan’s court. He was eventually killed, having been strangled and tossed into the Bosphorus. However, aside from this major episode there were few major doctrinal disagreements responsible for patriarchal succession in the seventeenth century.
The underlying reasons for many of the depositions of patriarchs were more often than not associated with power struggles over the ecclesiastical office. The rapid patriarchal successions show an increase in competition for patriarchal power. As bishops of the Church, patriarchs were not only subject to the vicis­situdes of a dominating imperial state, but they also were subject to the machina­tions and designs of ambitious members of the Greek community.
4a64966f805fc76fb12d74baf87a3f51If one continues to accept the millet system paradigm to describe Ottoman rule of non-Muslim communities, then this power struggle was purely a political struggle, in which churchmen were vying for the leadership position of the Rum millet-i. This view, however, does not take into account the interests of the mem­bers of the Greek community, who were made up of merchants, artisans, as well as ecclesiastical personalities.
Since according to the millet system non-Muslim religious leaders in the Ottoman Empire served as both spiritual and temporal leaders, it would be under­stood that the Porte issued laws and ruled the non-Muslim populations through the religious leaders of the Greek, Jewish, and Armenian communities. While this description is tidy and neat, and even though there might have been heavy politics involved in religious leadership succession, the notion of the millet system must, once again, be challenged.
An alternative, and perhaps more productive explanation should replace the millet system paradigm. Ecclesiastical offices offered an economic benefit to their holders, as they functioned as tax farms and became an object of intense com­petition for members of the Greek Orthodox community. Because these offices could only be purchased, power was spread into the hands of the wealthy lay people. This new description counters the received wisdom that the patriarch was the leader of the Greek millet, having both religious and civil authority over the non-Muslim Greek Orthodox Christian community.
If the focus changes from a political story to an economic one, a fuller, more contoured, and variegated picture of the Greek community in Ottoman society develops. One result is a better understanding of incidents such as the rapid turn­over in the office of the patriarch and of other hierarchs. In the course of examin­ing Ottoman and Greek ecclesiastical documents, the one common element that continually appeared throughout the study was the distinctive fiscal relationship between Church hierarchs and the Ottoman state.
From an examination of Byzantine and Ottoman evidence that extends from the earliest Ottoman times in the fourteenth century to the beginning of the sev­enteenth century, a clear trend was established. The Ottomans identified the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy as a resource for cash income. They became known primarily as tax farmers (multezim) for cash income derived from the Church’s widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. To gain those positions, the hierarchy enlisted the services of members of the Greek economic elite to purchase the ecclesiastical tax farm (iltizam), and to alienate the Church’s revenues. As a result, the hierarchical positions became highly prized for their economic aspects and, as tax farms, became subject to increased forces of competition, just as a customs zone tax or any other tax farm might be.
This practice continued into the seventeenth century, where we find the con­tinuity of ecclesiastical tax farming. With this explanation, the work of previ­ous historians becomes eminently more accessible and understandable. Multiple examples of this process are visible in the minutes of the patriarchal synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Codex Beta and Codex Gamma cover the years 1612—1761 and contain numerous references to the tax collecting obliga­tions of the bishops and of the patriarchate. For instance, in 1624, Patriarch Cyril Loukaris and the Holy Synod proposed defrocking Metropolitan Neophytos of Corinth, who had refused to pay the harag (land tax), the zeteia (an irregular collection applied similarly to avariz), and the vakia (monies overdue from the zeteia). He was defrocked because he refused to heed the warning of the synod and ignored a previous suspension.
The problem that a metropolitan such as Neophytos posed to the patriarch was that he would not pay his share; this meant that the patriarch found himself in the difficult position of trying to gather enough money himself to pay the Imperial Treasury the agreed yearly amount. This recalls the episode of Patriarch Raphael, and of numerous patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops thereafter. Time and again, the Ottoman state responded to requests from petitioning clergy by com­ing to their aid, and using the state’s coercive authority, to make sure that the payments were made. Even though this was the state’s response, each patriarch most likely dreaded and feared the moment he was forced to clamp down on his metropolitans and bishops through state authority to ensure their loyalty and con­tinued payment of the ecclesiastical revenues. The documentary records in Codex Beta and Gamma are full of such references.
However, an unusual development took place in the beginning of the seven­teenth century. As historian Phokion Kotzageorgis explains, it appears that by the beginning of the seventeenth century, there was a “transformation of the harag/ maktu into zara-i kassabiye” or payment of provisions of meat for the imperial gardeners corps. The form of payment and system by which it was collected appears to have changed. Nevertheless, the patriarchs and the Holy Synod continued to focus attention on the financial responsibilities of individual patriarchs toward the state. Because the Holy Synod became more involved in reviewing the financial position of individual bishops, and of the institution of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in general, it appears that the patriarchate was trying to consolidate its corporate authority over individual bishops. This was, perhaps, a first step in consolidating authority within the Church, and a first step toward developing real authority over the Greek community or millet.
In response to these financial pressures and problems, Patriarch Cyril Loukaris’ rival and three-time successor Patriarch Cyril II Kontares (1633, 1635—36, 1638—39), in May 1635 appointed a financial committee to develop a solution to the “great indebtedness weighing heavily on the Great Church.” The patriarch and Holy Synod enacted a number of measures to deal with this enduring prob­lem. First, they established a financial committee composed of five hierarchs that was to have complete control over all revenues of the Church. These revenues included the alms, zeteia, inheritances, ordination gifts, monastic revenues and fees charged to lower clergy. Second, no clergy except the patriarch, in consul­tation with other hierarchs, had permission to interfere or depose anyone. The desire of clergy seeking these positions promoted a sort of hyperactive misbehav­ior, where scandals and charges of scandals were meant to bring down hierarchs. Third, no election of a metropolitan or archbishop could be made without the approval of the financial committee. Fourth, no collection of any kind could take place in the province without the direct permission of the financial committee, and fifth, bishops could not transfer their sees without very good reason. The patriarch and his synod meant to rein in the local clergy and hierarchy and to place them under the direct supervision of the patriarchate. The fact that a com­mittee was established to prohibit these activities indicates that these must have been a rampant problem.
The overriding concern for Patriarch Cyril II Kontares was that the Church was under a huge financial burden that needed to be lifted. Because of this, the rapid deposition and succession produced the burden of the pi§ke§. However, the prob­lem with collecting the annual taxes was also extremely challenging. Patriarch Cyril II Kontares, in a sense, created an auditing committee that was intended to stop any individual from exploiting his ecclesiastical office and the perks asso­ciated with it. The problem would persist for the patriarchate, as is evident in another attempt to rein in misbehaving hierarchs at the end of the century
In May 1697, Patriarch Kallinikos II, along with Patriarch Dositheos II of Jerusalem and other hierarchs and archons, met to reaffirm the independ­ence and autonomy of the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, the Archbishoprics of Cyprus and Ohrid and Pep. They had gathered together to confirm their autonomous status, as there was a recent attempt to purchase the offices of the Church by “certain disciples of the devil” who were not named in the document out of embarrassment. One of these “disciples of the devil” was the Metropolitan of Thessalonike Methodios, who appears to have made a dangerous proposal, perhaps directly to the Divan, to purchase the ecclesiastical offices as mukataa and malikane.5 According to the patriarchal document 56, the plan was to purchase the tax farm and subsequently reap financial reward by offering the offices to the highest bidder.
In order to avoid the selling of offices, Patriarch Kallinikos II called on the other patriarchs and archbishops both to affirm their independence and to render financial assistance to the Church. In the document, after the problem was laid out, it stated that, “an appeal was made to the government, money was spent, and thus common destruction was avoided.” Being a formidable challenge to their authority, the above named hierarchs banded together to petition the Porte to disregard the new offer, and to ensure that the state would comply. They made a counteroffer and “spent money,” most likely a considerable amount, and were assured the continuity of the office-holders.
This example confirms the existence, even at such a late date as May 1697, of a form of tax farming in the ecclesiastical sphere. The interesting development is the use of the terminology of mukataa, which is a generic term for a tax farm that does not indicate the relationship with the Imperial Treasury that the term iltizam does. What is surprising in this document is that it carries the tone of frustration both with the individual who attempted to exploit the institution and also with the regime that allowed the institution to be exploited.
While the present study does not extend into the seventeenth century, it attempts to offer background, context, and explanation with which to better understand the previously published examples and studies including: the afore­mentioned ecclesiastical examples from the patriarchal archives, the work pre­sented by Halil Inalcik on the Piskopos Mukataa Kalemi that covered the years 1641—51, Josef Kabrda’s examination of the Bulgarian hierarchy from 1635 to the mid-nineteenth century, the 1678 account of Sir Paul Rycaut that even included a berat of appointment to a Latin bishop of Chios, and the study by Helmut Scheel that focused on the Metropolis of Trebizond between1732 and 1830. It is certain this list will continue to grow as a more vigorous examination of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries uncovers even more documents issued to ecclesiastical figures by the Ottoman state.
While the purpose of the present work has been to offer the history and context of a seemingly unique fiscal system—which in reality was not unique from the Ottoman fiscal administrative point of view—it has also attempted to offer social and cultural context. Beginning with the earliest interactions with Turkmen tribes, the Greek Orthodox bishops of Anatolia met multiple challenges
5 Metropolitan Methodios of Thessalonike was one of those seeking to purchase the offices. See Vaporis, Codex Gamma, 56, n. 3.
in maintaining their flocks. Their practical financial arrangements with Turkmen overlords allowed them to maintain a presence in their ecclesiastical see, despite suggestions from the patriarchal synod of Constantinople that they were being disloyal or disobedient. When the Ottomans formally took over, it became evi­dent that the Church posed certain challenges to governance, considering the Islamic restraints on taxing religious institutions. Therefore, the transition from Byzantine to Ottoman control saw a development of an ecclesiastical tax farm that became an important way to exploit an unconventional resource for income.
In the process of demonstrating how this ecclesiastical iltizam system worked, the Church was considered by the Ottomans as a fiscal institution, which can best be understood from within an Ottoman economic and social context. In turn, this context sheds light on many of the the dramatic elements of Greek Church life in the Ottoman era that have always thrilled readers of this history, such as the scandals and intrigues of the bishops, the rapid succession of patriarchs, the economic and political considerations of the Greek community, and the deci­sion making of the Ottoman government. An awareness of the Ottoman eco­nomic and social context also sheds light on the actions of the Greek community, especially by enigmatic individuals such as Michael Kantakouzenos. It is to be hoped it will also be helpful for historians researching later periods leading into the nineteenth century and the period of the Tanzimat reforms, giving them a clearer understanding of the continuities and changes that took place in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox community.
It is only from the context and vantage point offered in the present work that one can understand the fact that the priests, bishops, metropolitans, and patri­archs of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, from their earliest interactions, knew well and responded to the command to render unto the sultan what is the sultan’s and unto God what is God’s.”

Categories
Music

When a star dies

Think you may have all overdone it with the tributes to David Bowie guys.  I mean I loved the guy and his music  but I found myself noticing all his kitsch horrors rather than focusing on the good stuff.  And at the end of the day, he was quite secretive and very much…well…full of shit.  We tried to focus on his sparse moments of self depreciation and irony to survive.

Well take Iggy Pop instead then!  A man who has urinated on many of us, sung horribly and literally been naked in front of us.  His lack of voice, talent or musical knowledge never stopped him.  He boldly went were nobody wanted to go, the underbelly of modern nothingness.  He never pretended to be stylish or knowledgeable.

And as he reaches his end, he gives us a gem like this:

While others wax lyrical about the “chameleon” that was Bowie, maybe you want to take a quick look back at Iggy’s voyage.  The man just didn’t give a shit in the most creative ways possible.  Every time you wonder why he even bothered.

But like, in a good way.  I think.  Sure, the rhymes are like, well, I have always suspected his grasp of English stayed at the level of 15 year old wannabe.   So how does he do it?

Well he sucks what little talent or musical sense there is on his records from producers, collaborators and musicians.  Stone Roses, Stone cold from drugs or stones hitting on his head.  It all ends up as music of sorts.  And it’s a cry for love, a passenger, a cry for love and lust for life.

Iggy I love you.  I just wanna be your dog.

Categories
Business Communication Technology

Google is evil. But not like you imagine it is.

“Ah, yes, you’re the guy that has a thing against Google.”

It wasn’t the best of introductions but I knew what he was on about. I do have “a thing” with Google.  I am jealous as hell!  Because a select few people in Google are literally the closest a homo sapiens has ever come to being an all knowing God.

This is not some conspiracy theory.  Some time ago Google started hiding search results.  Out of on thousand people coming to a website via Google search, almost nine hundred are now a blank slate.  Google doesn’t tell us which keyword sent them here.  “Unknown search terms” is their way of admitting they are evil.

Worse still, the kind of keywords not appearing in results is far from random.  Google has used all their deep learning algorithm prowess to skilfully select categories so you can’t game or reverse engineer it.  Even in languages other than English, their technology is awesome.  90 per cent of the planet is using a search engine which then sends them to results based on a completely secret method.  And then it tells us nothing about where and how it did it.

So what?  Well, for starters, Google can hide or promote any idea, product, brand or other entity.  There are extreme examples, whereby a government or rich person pays them to do it.  Relegating a search result to page two of search results is usually good enough, though I have seen cases where the unwanted result disappears completely after on phone call.  Completely.  Like it never existed.

But that isn’t the biggest issue.  The real question nobody is asking is “how does Google sell all this knowledge?”  If you want to know what teenagers in your region will be buying tomorrow, Google can tell you.  Yes, it can sell you the information.  The corellations between search results and real life transactions and trends are pure gold.  Google knows if your next export idea is good or not.  Google knows what will sell and what will fail.  Much like they did with influenza, Google knows better than anyone at any time in human history, what is going to happen tomorrow.

All large organizations have more or less secret divisions.  When Microsoft decided to target governments all around the world, they didn’t call the division “blackmail and coerce department”.  It was lobbying.   Unfortunately Google works in much shadier ways.   Kings of industry have personal and secret relationships with Google.  Not their “head of sales” or “head of Research and Development”.  It is outside the office where this sort of information is exchanged.  Like insider information for the stock market only much much more powerful.

Google not only knows which government will win the elections, Google can greatly influence the result.  Google doesn’t even care, they can sell advertising and information to everyone on all sides involved.  Their rising levels of secrecy and the pittance of data they do allow us access to proves Google is more powerful to do evil than any other organisation in the history of mankind.

Categories
Society

When the Greeks met the Greeks and made…Greece

About 2100 b.c. a migrant, cattle-herding, pony-riding people made their way into the Mediterranean land mass that today is called Greece. They entered overland from the north, probably the Danube Basin, but their origins may have been farther northeast, for they spoke a language of the Indo-European linguistic family. Modern philologists believe that the ancestral Indo-European language—whose modern descendants include English, German, Gaelic, French, Farsi, Hindi, and modern Greek—evolved in the fourth millennium b.c. on the plains of southern Russia. This mother tongue then branched into different forms, carried in all directions by nomadic tribes. The group that reached Greece circa 2100 b.c. brought with it an early form of the Greek language. These people can be called the first Greeks.

The land that they invaded was held by farmers who had probably immigrated centuries earlier from Asia Minor, a place with which they perhaps remained linked via an eastward trade network that included the Aegean island of Crete. They apparently knew seafaring and stone masonry—two skills that the nomadic Greeks did not yet have.

But the Greeks were the stronger warriors. They took over the country, probably by violence in the most desirable locales, but elsewhere perhaps by intermarriage (as may be reflected in the many Greek myths in which the hero marries the foreign princess). One apparent sign of conquest is the wrecked remnant of a pre-Greek palace that modern archaeologists call the House of the Tiles, at Lerna on the plain of Argos. Destroyed by fire circa 2100 b.c., this may have been the home of a native ruler who led an unsuccessful defense of the fertile heartland of southern Greece. Yet at certain other sites, archaeologists have found no clear signs of violence—only continued habitation and the abrupt emergence of a new style of pottery, betokening the Greeks’ arrival.

The region that the Greeks now took over—and that would henceforth be their homeland—is a huge, jagged, southward-pointing peninsula, with a coastline stretching nearly 2,000 miles. Beyond its shores, particularly to the southeast, are islands that beckon to sea travelers and traders. Through the peninsula’s center, from north to south, runs an irregular line of mountain ranges, whose slopes in ancient times held forests of oak, beech, and fir— timber for generations of house builders and shipwrights. In a later era, the limestone formations in these mountains would yield marble for sculptors and architects. But the mountains also occupied most of the mainland’s total area, leaving only 20 percent as arable land.
Aside from scattered pockets, the farmland lay mainly in three regions: the plains of Argos, Boeotia, and Thessaly, in southern, central, and northern Greece, respectively. These territories were destined to become early Greek centers of power, especially the region of Argos, with its capital at Mycenae.

The soil of much of Greece is red or orange from clay deposits, which served centuries of potters and sculptors. In ancient times the farmed plains and foothills produced wheat, barley, olives, grapes, figs, and pomegranates— crops that could survive the ferociously hot, dry Greek summer. Summer, not winter, is the barren season in Greece, as in other parts of the Mediterranean. Winters are relatively mild—cool and rainy, but far rainier on the mainland’s western side. The eastern regions, although traditionally densely populated, are blocked by the central mountains from receiving the westerly rainy weather. Athens gets only about 15 inches of rainfall a year; Corfu, on the west coast, has three times that much.

In such a country, where farmland and water supplies were precious, the Greek invaders of circa 2100 b.c. found most of the best locales already settled. The Greeks took over such settlements but kept their pre-Greek names. For that reason, the names of most ancient Greek cities do not come from the Greek language. Names such as Athens, Corinth, and Mycenae are not etymologically Greek; their original meanings are lost in prehistory. Relatively few ancient mainland sites have recognizably Greek names, among them Pylos (“the gate”), Megara (“the great hall”), Chalcis (“bronze city”), and Marathon (“fennel”).

Eventually the Greeks acquired the civilizing arts of the people they had conquered. The Greeks learned shipbuilding, seamanship, and stoneworking—skills at which they excelled. More significantly, they borrowed from the non-Greeks’ agrarian religion, which perhaps involved the worship of a mother goddess and a family of fertility deities. Non-Greek goddesses and beliefs, imported into Greek religion, served to complement and refine the warrior Greeks’ Indo-European-type worship of a sky father and male gods. A new spirituality was born.

Thus in the centuries after 2100 b.c. came the creative fusion of two cultures—one primitive Greek, one nonGreek. To these two elements was added a third: the example and influence of the dynamic, non-Greek, Minoan civilization of Crete. By 1600 b.c. such factors had produced the first blossoming of the Greeks, in the Bronze Age urban society called the Mycenaean civilization.

The excerpt is from “the encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek” (David Sacks) because I find it useful to put things in perspective like that sometimes.  Hint, hint.