AppleCare on the NHS

Before Russell T Davies retconned their history so that they were created by Trigger from Only Fools and Horses, the original Cybermen on Doctor Who were humans who’d gone overboard augmenting their bodies with technology. In my vision of the future we’re still emotionless monstrosities, but with unnecessarily-glowing Apple logos embossed on our cold, metallic skin.


JobsCo haven’t quite gotten to the point of delving beneath human flesh, networking your nervous system and linking it to a proprietary port for which you have to buy a separate £39 cable just so you can play your iTunes purchases out of your coccyx. But if rumours that Apple are developing a “smart watch” are to be believed, then I can’t help but think it’s getting sinisterly close to the Apple Geniuses receiving surgical training and AppleCare coming on the NHS (which won’t make it any cheaper, by the way).

If true, which I doubt but I’ve been wrong before, then it would inevitably connect (exclusively) to an iPhone via Bluetooth, have a camera to allow Facetime and be controlled either by a touch-screen or Siri or both. The microphone on the iPhone has never been great, so unless you link a Bluetooth headset to a Bluetooth watch to a Bluetooth phone, you’d have to mutter into your wrist like you’re conspiring with your armhair to overthrow the Illuminati.

They wouldn’t be the first to try and bring out a “smart watch” (though I hope to God that’s not what we end up calling them), LG tried to persuade us that an entire phone strapped onto your carpus was a good idea back in 2009. They made lofty promises of “basic functionality” and “various clock faces” but sadly it never quite caught on. More recently, the Kickstarter-darling “Pebble” watch and Sony’s SmartWatch are at least being realistic by connecting to existing smartphone platforms rather than trying to overthrow the iPhone and Android giants with a concept device more niche than a Josef Fritzl fanclub.

iPod Nano in a wrist-strap, but still

The idea of watch-gadgetry has been around in fiction for a while: Dick Tracy, Secret Squirrel and Power Rangers all famously wore watches with (amongst other things) communicators. Whilst the idea is nifty, it’s always struck me as a prospect that wouldn’t work well in reality. For one thing, modern gadgets (particularly Apple devices) have a notorious scratch-rate and that’s just when it’s in a pocket, imagine what lacerations it’ll emerge with after a day in the open air. Even if you work a desk-job, proximity to coffee, hard-surfaces, blue-sky thinking or (worst of all) clichés would still afford it a scrape or two.

The screen would be so small that working out who’s calling you from the hopelessly-pixelated scaled photo would be like watching a bizarre witness-protection episode of Deal or No Deal. Their position as a highly sought-after device (which the Great Apple Publicity Machine would see to) would be incongruous with their nature as being visible and easily accessible, since it’d be easy for thieves to target people who were sporting one. Wrist-mounted tech seems about as practical to me as a marzipan sledgehammer.

Of course, practicality has never stood in Apple’s way when it comes to selling a product. In much the same way as trainers, mobile phones or regular watches (hereafter referred to as “caveman timepieces”, “Luddite chronometers” or “wrist sundials”), this gadget would be a fashion symbol first and a tool second.

But if people are willing to pay for it on the basis of branding alone, then why shouldn’t Apple take advantage? Though I may regret those words in five year’s time when I’m running down a corridor desperately spraying bullets behind me to escape a swarm of iCyborg and a mechanically resurrected Steve Jobs.

Excruciatingly typed on my new iPad Mini. Happy Christmas.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers

It seems like every town has an elderly eccentric that few have met but everyone knows. My home town has a man who cycles around on a bike with dozens of pin-wheels attached to the basket whilst wearing garish patterned trousers, like Noel Edmonds trying to recreate the flying bicycle scene from E.T. Whilst plenty of these amusing nutters will make bold assertions on behalf of the supposed creator of the Universe, only one city has taken these geriatric ramblings so seriously as to put their author in charge.

Pope Benedict XVI has been extolling wisdom, theology and questionable condom advice throughout his seven year Papacy, only now he’s joined Twitter so he can shout into an entirely new indifferent abyss. Before his befrocked Holiness had even said anything, his follower count burst past the one-million mark. These comprised a combination of devout followers and bemused heathens, primed in the off-chance his senility wasn’t being filtered through a dozen advisors and he ended up tweeting that God’s favourite creature was actually the Dairylea Dunker.

Pope's Twitter Page

It’s not even like his absurd follower count – online that is, not his absurd follower count in reality – was a case of follow-back guilt, since he’d only followed his own accounts in different languages. After that whole Tower of Babel thing, he really had no choice. In any case, a few days later he made his proper debut, in which he blessed everyone who’d shown up so far, which seems an unwise strategy, what if there were child molesters following him? Oh.

Just like Gary Glitter (albeit later found out to be fake), the sudden appearance of someone directly involved in pedophilia on a public forum has invoked the wrath of keyboard vigilantes. Pesky atheists, why can’t they just shut up and let the Catholic Church systematically abuse children in peace?

Oddly, the subject of the Pontiff shielding pedophiles in the Clergy and silencing their victims through intimidation and guilt hasn’t come up. All we’ve had so far is meaningless platitudes about faith straight from the cliché handbook. All fourteen of Benny’s tweets, at time of writing, have been vapid, ghost-written (possibly by the Holy Spirit) and barely worth the pixels they’re rendered in. However, from the response each one has had, you’d think he’d been claiming that condoms increase the risk of STIs…again.

Cool story, bro.

History doesn’t favour a heartfelt disavowal of pedophiliac priests to come any time soon. The Catholic Church neglected to acknowledge that Galileo’s “heretical” claim that the Earth orbited the Sun was, in fact, correct until 1992. Back in 2000, the incumbent Pope issued a nondescript, blanket apology for all the mistakes the Church had made. That’s a hell of a long wait just to see the horrific crimes be hand-waved off with all the sincerity of a sneering Lord throwing a penny at the foot of a beggar.

The irony of the Catholic leader using a product bearing a logo referencing original sin notwithstanding, have a good look at what we have in this video. A deteriorating husk of a human-being jabbing stupefied at a glowing rectangle at the behest of his handler. If there was any doubt left that he’s not really writing these tweets, that video should settle them; I’d be surprised if he even knew what he was doing in that clip.

Ultimately, the Pope has joined Twitter so that he can preach to the choir. Those managing the account are clearly not interested in theological debate or addressing the many issues that surround the church. Especially since, given that the abuse scandal has effectively blown over, nothing will be tweeted that hasn’t been utterly exorcised of anything substantive that may risk giving more cause for criticism. Those who lambaste the puppet account of a feeble old man spouting myopic philosophy are just wasting their time, that may be better spent defending children from the monsters he shields.