Archive for the 'United States' Category

Nickelback’s “If Everyone Cared” – A “We Are the World” for Our Time

May 10, 2007

I recently heard the Nickelback song “If Everyone Cared” and was both shocked and uplifted by this, their latest release. “If Everyone Cared” carries a similar message as Lionel Richie’s and Michael Jackson’s inspiring “We Are the World” of 1984 and even makes references to Live Aid. It is an incredible example of a modern, socially conscious band and although Nickelback were already a successful and well liked group this masterpiece makes them unpredictable and unstoppable.

After watching the music video above in excess of 60 times in the last two weeks I have a few comments as an American living abroad. I find it very interesting how in this Canadian Band’s video there was little or no reference to events that have taken place inside or because of the United States. I am referring to such monumental events as the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King and the turbulent decades of the Civil Rights Movement. Although I am a patriotic American I am aware that my countrymen are among the most violent and combative people on this small planet. I think it is possible that Nickelback in their writing wisdom opted not to show American events in order to avoid offending Americans by not mentioning the politically correct tragedy of the week. This song, among other messages tells us that our problems are within us and and be fixed within us.

Although the lyrics of “If Everyone Cared” are somewhat over optimistic for the modern world it is truly a “We Are the World” an inspirational and uplifting anthem for the twenty-first century and beyond. I encourage all who read this to share this video and its message with those you love, and maybe, just maybe we might be able to play this song again in the twenty-second century.

For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal. – John F. Kennedy

Copyright 2007. Sebastian Prooth.

Advertisements

An Event of the Highest International Urgency

January 19, 2007

The recent destruction of a Chinese weather satellite should be a cause of serious concern to those of us in the West. It has the potential to destabilise the balance of power that exists between the East and the West. Hours following the event, America’s media had already decided that it was China that had destroyed its own satellite. The BBC continues to maintain and stress that it is unconfirmed that China is responsible as they have made no comment. CNN has reported that the missile appears to have been “launched from or near the Xichang Space Center.”

Not only did this action cause the governments of the US, UK and other NATO members to launch full scale diplomatic protests, CNN reported that “this is viewed as an action taken by China to directly affect the United States”. President Kennedy said something very similar to the citizens in a broadcasted address to the American people during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962, as follows:

“…It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” – President John F. Kennedy

The political climate that is developing between the governments of the United States and China at the moment has similarities to the one that existed during the cold war of the 1960s. The unexpected development of surface to space weapons by the Chinese government that could destroy the US and other countries’ surveillance and GPS satellites is an obvious escalation in what has so far been a very quiet cold war between the United States and China. The role of Russia, then the USSR, in the sixties has been assumed by China. A significant mitigating factor that was not present in the 60s is the strong economic relationship now tying western countries to China.

We all remember the Strategic Defense Initiative or Star Wars project championed by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s which called for weapons to be placed in orbit. These weapons would have been capable of destroying nuclear missiles launched from Russia directed at the United States. It was said at the time that once this technology was developed it should be shared with the USSR. In a 1985 issue of Peace Magazine, Andrew Pakula proposed that “Possibly the Soviets, faced with the reality or the perception of being at a disadvantage, of losing the deterrent power of their arsenals, might feel compelled to take the dangerous course of destroying the ‘Star Wars’ equipment.

Continuing to compare the cold war of the sixties with that of today, has China taken on the role of the former Soviet Union? It appears that China has destroyed its own satellite. This action was not an experiment “just to see if they could do it” but an announcement to the rest of the world that they have the power to disable some of the most important tools in modern warfare, specifically our strategic orbiting satellite systems. Apparently, the West has been caught off guard by this event.

The question has to be posed: If China did not launch this missile then who did and if it was some other country why have seen no reaction from China?

In the film, “The Sum of All Fears”, a secret organization detonates a nuclear device in the American city of Baltimore. The United States, believes that the Russian government is responsible for the attack. After intense negotiations fail, the United States and Russia attack each other but refrain from using nuclear weapons. Subsequently, we learn that the secret organization wanted to get the US and Russia to fight each other rather than for it to engage them individually.

How close to reality could this film be? Could it be possible that someone might really try to instigate a conflict between such powerful nations as the US and China. There is, of course, no evidence to suggest any validity to these speculations. There is, however, cause for concern that the United States and its allies measure their response accurately and appropriately. The last thing that we need is another war or skirmish especially with a military might of the size and power of that of China.

Those involved need to take a deep breath and figure out who, if not China, might have fired that missile.  In the words of Dean Acheson, a close advisor to President Kennedy, “Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before we reach the next step…  In the future, will our children be able to look back on the decisions of our leaders today and believe that they showed wisdom, prudence and discretion?

 

New Tesco VOIP USB Phones, No Mac Users Though!

December 3, 2006

tesco logoWhen I was doing some late night shopping in Tesco tonight I came across a curious piece of technology. Well it might be curious to the non-geek anyway. The device in question is what Tesco are calling a “Tesco Internet Phone.”

tesco usb cordedThere were two models to choose from, one a wired USB handset at around 15 pounds and a cordless, USB handset at around 30 pounds. At first glance these little phones appeared to be quite cheap and nasty gadgets, but closer examination of the boxes brought understanding and some irritation.

These phones that work via VOIP or Voice Over IP which is the same technology behind the popular internet telephony application Skype. The internet telephones appear to have been designed to be somewhat idiot proof with extremely basic instructions and information on the packaging.

One thing that shocked me while examining the features of these phones is a clearly stated incompatibility with Macs! This seems to be a marketing error what with the growing popularity of Apple computers both in and outside the geek world partly due to their embracing the Intel processors and the ability to run Windows operating systems. Why would a company like Tesco who are making inroads into the United States with corporate grocery selling power with such a bright vision of the future ignore such a large force in the internet using market?

tesco usb cordlessTesco’s reasoning may have some basis in market research. The fact is there are more PC users than MAC users. But most USB devices are compatible with both platforms and it is strange to see a brand new product so blatantly incompatible.

I would like to test the functionality of these “Internet Phones” for myself. I would like to see if the quality is anything as good as Skype is on a good day, partly because as it appears you have to pay for general use of the service. Luckily, there is an offer in place at the moment where you receive 5pounds worth of airtime when you purchase a new USB phone.

If you would like to find out more technical details or buy one of these phones point your browsers to Tesco.