The phrase “Saturday night special” used to be applied to cheap handguns available to gangs. These days, the gangs have Uzis. But I am sure that low-budget criminals still buy Saturday night specials.
About 30 years ago, I applied the phrase to describe the microcomputer. I said that this would shift power away from the federal government. It would provide the common man with a tool of resistance.
This year, tablet computers will outsell PCs. The prices are falling like stones. The new Android 4.3-based Nexus 7 tablet sells for under $250.
I bought a new PC, which was delivered last Saturday. I am a dinosaur. I own an iPad. I have used it once. I gave it to my wife. I also have a cell phone: no screen, no GPS, no 4G (or 3G or 2G), and no earphone jack. I can barely use it to make phone calls. It’s not a smart phone. It’s a retarded phone. It’s all I need. I don’t like talking on the phone.
I am like a man who mastered the Colt .45 Peacemaker single-action revolver and who watched the world move to double-action revolvers, then to the 1911 Army Colt semi-automatic, and then to Glocks. I can still hit the target with a Peacemaker. Use the tool you have mastered.
The public now has cheap tablet computers that have more computer power then the entire IRS computer complex in West Virginia. The IRS can still nail you if it has enough time. It can still hit its target: you. But the decentralization of knowledge that is implied by Gordon Moore’s famous law of computer chip density continues to work its digital magic. The public runs ever farther ahead of the bureaucracy, with its mainframes and its incompatible programs.
Knowledge spreads because the cost of information falls. Economics takes over. “At a lower price, more is demanded.” The world’s establishments are all based on two factors: (1) their possession of specialized knowledge (priestly); (2) their ability to enforce this monopolistic knowledge through the state (kingly). They are all threatened by the spread of computer power. They are rapidly losing their advantage with factor #1. The fiscal and monetary crisis that began in December 2007 has revealed the vulnerability of factor #2. It is not simply that the emperor has no clothes. Now winter is coming.
I think Android will defeat Apple. I said this in 2011. Why? Because open source will defeat proprietary source. Linux will defeat both Apple and Microsoft. This has already happened in Asia. The cheap computer is going to defeat the expensive computer. But in this competition of operating systems, the state will lose. Mainframe computers are no match for tablets. The mainframe computer is like a tank. It is now facing a growing army of guerrillas armed with IEDs. Tanks get more expensive. IEDs get cheaper.
Moore’s law applies to supercomputers, which government bureaucracies cannot afford, and tablets, which urban Asians can now afford. The public does not perceive the threat which the modern Saturday night special offers to the modern state. The public does not have to know. It merely has to buy the next generation of Androids or iPads, and then do it again two years later.
The American government worries about its lack of gun control: the decentralization of power. But that is nothing when compared to the threat of Android.
Thank you for your insight. As a college professor, teaching Computer Science, I share your belief that Open Source will end up on top. This even though I am a dedicated Mac & Linux bigot! If you look at the history of Unix, it started out Open Source way back in the early 70s because Ma Bell was being beaten up for being a monopoly and was prohibited from selling anything that didn't have direct linkage to telephony. So they gave Unix away, as source code! This is an interesting time to watch the world of computing change. I would be interested in your thoughts on the "singularity"?
The state or rather the puppets behind the state know that cheap computing power is absolutely no threat to them, indeed it only strengthens them. RFID chips alone–embedded in all your cheap computing devices, will enslave the masses. as for the free spread of information, that too is irrelevant, note the large numbers of truthers on 9-11 and how little impact they had, –the elites use truth to manipulate just as much as they use lies. i believe one day truth will triumph, but under the most complete totalitarian regime in world history, humanity will be enslaved so completely, that the elites will be able to freely tell the slaves the absolute truth, with no chance of the slaves launching a successful coup….the digital shackles will be too tight.
I think you meant to say that Android would defeat iOS, not Apple. Android is software while Apple is a company that builds hardware and writes software to power it. Android's growth is not being driven by it's open source roots but by the extremely low cost of the phones that run it. Linux is also software and both Microsoft and Apple are companies. You might think that Linux will supplant Windows and OS X and maybe it will but right now it is barely a blip on the radar. In the case of OS X, the Apple software is so cheap and so much more powerful (being a full implementation of Unix) that Linux (a Unix clone) really isn't grabbing any kind of a foothold on the Mac. The PC does offer a much better chance for Linux to thrive as most people think it superior to Windows but needs major support from third parties.
The Feintein anti gunners should not have meddled with laws which prohibits Saturday Night Specials some times refered to as Suicide Specials from entering this country…These were cheap guns that 90% of the time failed to operate and likewise some times blew up in the shooters hands…Gang bangers loved me…Cheap bangs for the bucks…A lot of lives could have been saved in Chicago and Detroit if there were not a law against them!
Excellent article, Gary. Some great quotes:
"It's not a smartphone. It's a retarded phone."
"It is not simply that the emperor has no clothes. Now winter is coming."
"The public does not perceive the threat which the modern Saturday night special offers to the modern state. The public does not have to know. It merely has to buy the next generation of Androids or iPads, and then do it again two years later."
I tend to be an old technology buff, myself. Case in point: I'm a piano tuner/technician. Digital pianos have their advantages, but none can duplicate the sound and presence (not to mention the tactile feel to the performer) of a beautiful large grand. Re the Colt Peacemaker single action: What a beautiful, timeless design! Sure, you have to cock the hammer for each shot (hence the "fanning" for rapid fire), but for strength, reliability, and sheer elegance they haven't been surpassed in all these years, IMHO. And I am taking nothing away from Smith's beautiful double actions, the great Browning design of the 1911, etc.
I want to understand how tablets and cheap computing power are actually are engaged in any battle with IRS mainframes–I just don't get it. I'm one of those of whom you said "The public does not perceive the threat which the modern Saturday night special offers to the modern state." Someone help me out here.
On a related note, imagine what would happen if a good number of people stopped filing 1040EZ and went with something more complex, requiring much more processor time to churn through. On a second note, I wonder what will happen when all those new tax codes from Obamacare go into effect?
I agree. One of the reason the goverment is giving way free phones is that every fool who gets one can be tracked 24/7 by the government that gave him the phone, adding him to the masses who are spending their own money to provide surveilance hardware for the government.
I think Android will defeat Apple. I said this in 2011. Why? Because open source will defeat proprietary source. Linux will defeat both Apple and Microsoft.
I believe this is accurate despite one commenter getting picky. The prb is the apple mentality is closed and monopolistic. THAT is what ultimately fails and will fail. Whether or not it is software or hardware is NOT the point but the open vs. closed nature. What's with Apple's refusal to use normal plugs etc.? What a weird company to act European (on purpose?). And don't tell me you can't lock up or crash apple, I've done it many a time AND I know lots of apple computers that have simply stopped working and people losing all of their data. It is the mentality behind a company that ultimately dooms them or causes success. Open WILL end up beating monopolistic closed…
On your related note…what would really slow down the IRS would be for everyone to stop electronic filing and mail in paper 1040's. That flood of paper would overwhelm the IRS drones. But people want a quick refund of their paltry overpayment.