In Next Big Move, Apple Removes Screen From iPhone

Citing “radical innovation,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, announced Tuesday at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) that the iPhone 8 will have no display.

“This is old, outdated technology and something we need to move away from,” Schiller reportedly said. Speaking to a full auditorium at the popular event, he added, “This is radical innovation and it’s up to us to spearhead it.”

The iPhone 8, which is due to be released in the end of September, has been highly anticipated by technology analysts and consumers alike. Even before the release of its predecessor, the iPhone 7, there were predictions that Apple would be completely redesigning its flagship device for the tenth anniversary.

Apple famously announced in 2016 it was removing the 3.5 mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, citing “courage” in this instance.

When asked for further comment at the event, Schiller specified that the iPhone 8 will be a “voice-only” device. “You use your voice for everything,” he explained. “Typing and visual feedback via a display are outdated. It’s time to move on from this. By using Siri, [Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant introduced in iOS 5] you can call, text, take photos, and send these photos to iCloud or email—all without touching or looking at a screen. Basically, it’s completely unnecessary to have one.”

Analysts noted that removing the touchscreen will save Apple billions in manufacturing costs, both directly since the glass and touchscreen processors will no longer be needed, and indirectly due to the smaller battery needed to power the new phone. “See, you don’t need this massive battery anymore because you don’t have a big screen eating up power. The new battery is fifty percent smaller but gives the same battery life as in the iPhone 7 Plus,” an Apple engineer said. The engineer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Apple also announced the phone will retail at $1,256 for the 64 GB model and $1,712 for the 128 GB model. Apple’s stock reached record highs after the announcement, peaking at $2,000 per share during after-hours trading the day of the announcement, making the Cupertino-based tech giant the first company in history to reach $1 trillion in market capitalization.

“It’s really amazing,” Jennifer Price, a consumer technology analyst at Barclays Capital, noted. “It’s like Apple can’t do anything wrong. No matter what they do, people want it.”

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Note: This article is satire! Don’t freak out too much, everyone. 😉 Seriously though, I wrote it as a joke a while back when I was frustrated with Apple’s removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, something that has been talked about quite a bit online. As you can probably tell from the article, I wasn’t a fan of that move—and I’m still not. The absence of a headphone jack is one of several reasons why I probably will not be buying another iPhone. It’s not the only reason, but it is a reason that factored into my decision. Anyway, this post is the first in a series of posts in which I plan to talk about Apple and my changing thoughts on the company. Stay tuned!


Radovan Karadžić Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison

I used to follow the trial of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadžić quite closely, so I noticed today that he was sentenced to forty years in prison.

At the end of it all, 21 years since he was first charged, after 11 years on the run, a five-year trial and the 18 months the judges took to deliberate over a verdict, Radovan Karadžić’s moment of judgment came.

The Bosnian Serb leader was convicted of genocide for the 1995 slaughter at Srebrenica, and nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, terror and extermination. It was a conviction that ranks as the most serious handed down in Europe since Nuremberg.

Radovan Karadžić in the court at The Hague
Radovan Karadžić in the court at The Hague

The judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia were definitive about Karadžić’s key involvement in the Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 7,000 men and boys were rounded up, executed and pushed into mass graves. The presiding ICTY judge delivering the ruling, O-Gon Kwon, said: “Karadžić was in agreement with the plan of the killings”, and had given a coded message to an underling for the doomed Muslim captives, which he referred to as “the goods”, to be moved to a warehouse, from where they were taken out and executed.

During the 100-minute verdict and sentencing, Karadžić sat impassively, dressed in a dark blue suit, not in the dock but on the defence bench, as he opted throughout the five-year trial to act as his own lead counsel. He smiled and nodded to one or two familiar faces from the Serbian press in the gallery, but hardly glanced at the public gallery which was packed with survivors and victims’ family members, mostly women grieving lost sons and husbands. They obeyed the tribunal instructions to stay quiet throughout the proceedings, but there were quiet grunts of disappointment when Karadžić was acquitted of a second charge of genocide for the 1992 killings in Serbian municipalities around Bosnia.

The only time he appeared nervous was when he stood to receive sentence, his arms stiff by his side, but as soon as the judges had gone, he called a huddle of his legal advisers to immediately begin planning his appeal.

“He was surprised at the reasoning that the trial chamber used to convict him, so that was basically the first thing he said: ‘I can’t believe they convicted me like this,’” Peter Robinson, his chief legal adviser, said afterwards.

Karadžić will now have 30 days to file an appeal and it will take three years to hear. The legal marathon will continue and Karadžić will stay in The Hague for the time being….

I’ve been following the case since Karadžić was captured in Belgrade in 2008—that event was actually what sparked my interest in the Balkans. I haven’t really written about this topic much on this blog for various reasons, mainly because my views are somewhat controversial. However, I will say this: I’ve never really approved of this criminal tribunal that hears cases related to the conflict that took place in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s because it’s very biased against the Serbs. Croatian and Bosnian defendants have been able to get away with murder (see: Ante Gotovina and Naser Orić, respectively) and the Serbs have to answer for every little thing they did, even if it was a legitimate action taken in a war.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I doubt Dr. Karadžić’s appeal will go anywhere, but I’ll definitely be watching for news about it.

I listened to a Russian radio station during dinner and it was fascinating to see how differently they covered this event. They even aired a statement by Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky (who I once wrote about here) in support of Dr. Karadžić.

Russian Politician Suggests Burying Lenin’s Body

I kept forgetting to blog about this excellent news I saw at the end of last year, so here it is, a bit late. (But better late than never, right?) The Royal Russia blog (one of my favorite sources for all things Imperial Russia-related) has a story about a Russian politician who has suggested burying Vladimir Lenin’s body. Right now, Lenin’s embalmed corpse lies in a mausoleum on Red Square. Yes, it’s just as disgusting and gruesome as it sounds.

Russian State Duma Deputy Ivan Konstantin Sukharev – a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) – has introduced to the State Duma, a bill urging his colleagues to resume the debate on the burial of Vladimir Lenin and the transfer of his body to one of Moscow’s cemeteries. His bill also calls for the elimination of the cemetery where prominent Bolshevik and Soviet officials are buried near the Kremlin wall in Moscow.

According to Sukharev, the purpose of drafting the bill is necessary – “for the creation and promotion of the new symbols of Russia, reflecting the historical stage of unity, awareness of national identity of Russians building a democratic state, free from the domination of ideology – whose symbol remains Lenin’s mausoleum.”

“Russia cannot be considered a modern civilized state as long as a corpse remains in Red Square – the main square of the nation – the existence of Lenin’s mausoleum is simply unacceptable. Further, the misery and deprivation which Lenin’s actions and policies brought down upon his people and the state are incalculable,” – said Ivan Sukharev.

He also notes: “In my view, Lenin in the history of Russia is quite unique. We know that during the 22-year reign of Nicholas II, that Russia’s population increased by 60 million people. After Lenin seized power the nation experienced revolution and a Civil War, the population decreased by at least 30 million – clearly a very negative statistic in the history of our nation. ”

The bill also notes that many descendants of immigrants who wish to return to our country, are so far unable to do so, identifying the mausoleum of the Bolshevik regime leader that had brought so much suffering to their families.

“The proposal to bury the remains of Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) has long been supported by the hierarchs of the Church. Further, the existence of Lenin’s mausoleum is incompatible with the religious traditions and Russian society’s growing desire for Christian values” – is also stated in the draft law.

I for one fully support burying Lenin once and for all. Whether this will happen or not remains to be seen, though. This isn’t the first time politicians have talked about it.

2015 Overview!

Well, it’s four days into the new year, which means I’ve been reflecting on how last year was. It started off kind of bad due to job stuff, but after March everything got much better. I finished a draft of a novel early in the year, and then another draft of a different (and much better) novel. I’m actually considering hiring an editor to work with me on this draft because I’d love to get an independent, objective opinion from someone who doesn’t know me personally.

I also stopped reading the news in 2015, which was perhaps the most significant change I made. Overall, the results have been fantastic and I would recommend this change to everyone. I’ve started reading a few news items in Russian here and there, but I don’t read English-language media at all anymore, unless someone specifically sends me a story.

So yes, 2015 was a good year. I read a lot of books, did a lot of writing (see my forthcoming writing report later this week), and even finished making an afghan for my living room. I also started a blog series called Wednesday Music in which I write about a different piece of classical music once a week.

One thing that I wish were different about 2015 was the amount of violin playing I did. I didn’t play nearly enough, unfortunately. (Playing more will definitely be a resolution for this year.)

Want to know what my 2016 resolutions are? Check back on this blog on Tuesday and Thursday for more detailed posts.

How was 2015 for you? Did you accomplish your goals?

All Quiet On The Eastern Front

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post called Is Reading The News Bad For You? Since then, I have not read the news. I haven’t opened Google News in English at all. I have rarely opened Google News in Russian and the few times I did, I scrolled right past the allegedly important stuff at the top so I could read the cultural section. And I haven’t even done that for the past two weeks. I think I’ve pretty much managed to cut the news out of my life.

Honestly, a part of me hates that. (The other part of me is enjoying the peace and quiet that comes from not following news events!) In a way, I really miss reading the news, especially Russia-related stuff. It’s not so much the news specifically that I miss reading, but the fact that I read it as a Russia watcher. Being a Russia watcher was a part of my identity for a while and I enjoyed it immensely.

That is, until I discovered that independence of thought is not rewarded in circles where Russia watching is required for one’s job. It’s their way or the highway, as the saying goes. If you don’t loathe Putin and worship the opposition, there isn’t really a place for you. Amateur Russia watching on the internet then became increasingly toxic after the war in Ukraine started. So despite missing this part of my life, I don’t think I’ll return to being a Russia watcher anytime soon.

The reason is simple: without intensely reading the news, especially articles about Russia, I have a lot more time to do other things now. I’m studying for a professional certification exam (which isn’t that much fun but hopefully will help my career), playing violin, and writing. I don’t feel the pressure to blog about stuff I’ve read concerning Russia—because I haven’t read anything!

Unfortunately, my Russian studies have taken a bit of a hit during this news fast. I didn’t realize how much I relied on the news to learn new words in Russian until I stopped reading the news. I do have a plan, though. I’m reading a novel in Russian and plan to read more books about history. As it turns out, there are quite a number of interesting books about Russian history that I’d like to read. Western scholarship may have been freer for a greater number of years, but it is not without its problems, and besides, Russian scholars have written a ton of stuff in the decades since the Soviet Union fell. I’m also considering starting a blog in Russian on LiveJournal (because that’s where the Russian-speaking blogging community hangs out).

All is quiet on the eastern front, everyone. And honestly, overall I’m enjoying it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go crochet, or read, or play violin, or do something more fulfilling than opening up the Google News homepage that I used to frequent.

Is Reading The News Bad For You?

A newspaper vendor in London. From here.
A newspaper vendor in London. From here.

While reading a blog entry this weekend, I clicked on a link to an absolutely brilliant article on The Guardian by Rolf Dobelli called News is bad for you. I read the entire article and then saw it was adapted from a much longer article that you can read here on Dobelli’s website. I’d recommend reading the longer version if you have time—though, at the very least, do consider reading the shorter version on The Guardian.

As someone who used to avidly read the news in English, then avidly read it in two languages (English and Russian), then read it a bit less avidly in Russian, and now doesn’t read nearly as much news now, I absolutely loved the article.

Dobelli makes the following points for why reading the news is bad. I’ve copied them from the longer article I linked to—I don’t think the shorter version hits all of these points. I’m also not going to explain all of them because I want you to read the full article. 🙂

  1. News misleads us systematically
  2. News is irrelevant
  3. News limits understanding
  4. News is toxic to your body
  5. News massively increases cognitive errors
  6. News inhibits thinking
  7. News changes the structure of your brain
  8. News is costly
  9. News sunders the relationship between reputation and achievement
  10. News is produced by journalists
  11. Reported facts are sometimes wrong, forecasts always
  12. News is manipulative
  13. News makes us passive
  14. News gives us the illusion of caring
  15. News kills creativity

Though I can relate to all of these points, number thirteen resonated with me the most. Realizing that I couldn’t influence things I care about—the war in Ukraine is a prime example because, let’s face it, I’m not a policymaker and even if I were, I’d probably have to follow orders from someone higher up in policy circles—used to make me sad. Ever since I stopped obsessively following this event, I have felt much better.

Another important point is number eight. By “news is costly,” Dobelli means that reading the news consumes a lot of time. I second this. And if you think reading the news is a time suck, try blogging about it, too. That’s part of the reason why I’ve gradually moved away from blogging about Russian politics. With all the other stuff I have going on (writing, violin playing, and, you know, my actual full-time job), it was just taking up too much time and making me stressed.

Dobelli’s solution is to cut reading the news out of your life entirely. I haven’t managed to do that quite yet. I still read about culture-related stuff on many major Russian news websites. I also follow quite a few Russian news outlets on Twitter, so every time I pull up my Twitter feed, I see something related to current events. I’m tempted to stick all of my Russian news sources into a Twitter list so I have to actively click to see those tweets. After all, if I realize that I don’t want to be completely cut off from news, it’s pretty easy to go back to reading it. (And at this point, a break probably would be beneficial because I’m studying for my first professional certification and really need to study more.)

I want to emphasize that neither I nor Dobelli, the author of this fabulous essay, advocate being ignorant. Dobelli recommends reading more substantial works, such as intellectually-minded magazines like Science, Nature,, and The New Yorker, as well as books. I fully support reading books and certain magazines. (I’m partial to Discover and National Geographic myself.) I’ve been working on the same two books for a while now because I keep getting distracted with other things. Nevertheless, I’m pleased with my reading progress this year.

What do you think? Do you read the news? Do you plan to stop reading it after seeing these arguments?

Want To Read Anti-Kremlin News In Russian? It’s Possible.

A newspaper vendor in London. From here.
A newspaper vendor in London. From here.

Note: I was planning this post for today before I realized that it’s the eleventh anniversary of journalist Paul Klebnikov’s death. He was shot in Moscow in the evening of July 9, 2004. The publication he worked for, Forbes Russia, is on the list of anti-Kremlin news sources in Russian. Mr. Klebnikov produced some fantastic work during his life and I would highly recommend reading it.

I’m a big advocate of reading the news in the foreign language you’re learning. It’s okay if you don’t like political stuff. Pretty much any topic you can think of has news related to it. A lot of people like sports and entertainment-related stuff and Google News has sections for both of these in many foreign languages. Believe me, I’ve read my fair share of political news, and it does get old after a while, if you ask me.

Reading native media will also help you see what issues speakers of your target language deem important. For example, if you’re into sports, you can tell from reading the sports-related news in Russian that Russian people are REALLY into soccer (or football, for you European readers out there).

So anyway, I found this interesting link with the twenty most anti-Kremlin sites in Russian. For the record, many, many Russian-language news sites and pretty in favor of the current Russian government. At least, the more popular and well-known ones are.

Before I post the list, let me say this: if you’re learning Russian, I think you should read pro-Kremlin websites. If you’re pro-Kremlin, you’ll enjoy it, and if you’re anti-Kremlin—well, you know what they say about knowing your enemy.

That being said, I think it’s useful to know whether a site leans pro-Kremlin or anti-Kremlin. Based on an analysis conducted in March 2014 (which was a very politically contentious month), here are the twenty most anti-Kremlin websites.

1. Ekho Moskvy
2. Dozhd TV
3. Novaya gazeta
4. The New Times
6. Radio Svoboda
7. RIA "New Region"
9. RBK and RBK daily
10. Vedomosti
11. Snob
12. Rosbalt
14. Yezhednevny zhurnal
16. Kommersant
17. Russky Zhurnal
18. Russian Forbes
20. Moskovskiye novosti

I’m pleased to say that I read Radio Svoboda (#6), RBK (#9), Rosbalt (#12), Kommersant (#16), and Forbes Russia (#18) on a regular basis. I read Vedomosti (#10) and (#15) when I remember to, which varies from “often” to “not very much”. I listen to Ekho Moskvy (#1) podcasts and radio on a regular basis. Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of Novaya Gazeta (#3) or The New Times (#4), as they’re a bit left-leaning for my tastes. As for the other sites on the list, I hadn’t heard of a lot of them before finding this list, so perhaps I will have to integrate them into my reading soon.

Needless to say, I read a ton of pro-Kremlin media as well. So don’t read too much (no pun intended!) into my choices. Mainly, I just want to learn as much Russian vocabulary as possible.

The Best Line Ever Written

My friends, I have found the single best line ever written in a news article. Are you ready for this?

The FSB did not respond to a request for comment.

Remember, the FSB is one of the Russian intelligence services. It’s a successor to the KGB. The quote comes from this article. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I saw it at work and burst out laughing.

Kiev Cancels Military Parade

This story, in Russian, says that Kiev has canceled the military parade for Victory Day on May 9. May 8, however, will be celebrated as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. Will this remembrance include the Polish victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (also known by its Ukrainian/Russian acronym, UPA) in World War II? We shall see.

A Diplomatic Spat In The Czech Republic 

Note: I’m blogging from my phone for the first time ever, so please excuse any errors!

Have you heard about this diplomatic spat in the Czech Republic going on? It’s quite funny and quite ridiculous. From reading this article, I think this is what happened: the US ambassador to the Czech Republic said on TV that he didn’t approve of the Czech president going to the upcoming Victory Day parade in Moscow. The president took offense and has now banned the ambassador from coming to the presidential office. 

Now, I don’t approve of the Czech president’s attendance at the parade, either, but my position has nothing to do with the Russian actions in Ukraine and everything to do with the fact that the idiotic leader of North Korea will be in attendance, too. (How dare he be invited?!? My form of boycott will be not watching the parade, which kills me. But oh well.) However, I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to go on Czech TV and tell the president not to go. If anything, I think he’s even more determined to attend since it’s about the principle of the matter now. 

Sigh. I’m sure this spat will blow over eventually… But a part of me thinks that the State Department takes a perverse pleasure in creating these incidents.