Wednesday, 21 December 2016

President Trump will have worryingly little opposition

There is just less than one month to go until Donald Trump is inaugurated as President of the United States. Many Americans are relying on the system of checks and balances outlined in the US constitution and other forms of scrutiny to protect their civil rights. Also, to prevent Trump from implementing any of the regressive policy ideas he discussed in the campaign. However, I don’t think Trump is going to face many significant obstacles when making any kind of decision as President.

The Republicans have maintained their majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, making it far easier for Trump to pass legislation – a luxury that Obama only had for two of his eight years.

During the campaign, many Republican Senators refused to endorse Trump however, like almost everything said in the campaign, many are retracting their defiant comments. Now there is a Republican in the White House, they have a chance to make real differences. Congressmen and Senators have nothing to lose by working with Trump; every Trump victory is a victory for them so the Republicans are in a win-win situation.

Supreme Court
Obama spent the last year of his presidency trying to appoint a Liberal by the name of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court following the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Due to Republicans refusing to schedule a hearing for Garland in the Senate, Obama was unsuccessful in his appointment attempt. Trump, on the other hand, should face no problems appointing a Conservative to the court. From what he has said in interviews recently, the judge will likely be pro-life and anti-gay marriage.

It is also likely that Trump will get the chance to appoint further justices to the Supreme Court over the course of his term. The Liberal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Conservative-leaning Anthony Kennedy are both over 80 years-old. Given the opportunity, Trump will be able to upset the current balance of the Supreme Court and make it lean conservative.

The media industry is currently going through a fake news crisis which is undermining the credibility of even respectable titles. Most of the fake news that goes viral on social media comes from Conservative leaning sources.

Furthermore, Trump supporters are very sceptical of mainstream media. A national Quinnipiac University poll in October revealed that 55% of likely voters said that they think the media is bias against Trump. Furthermore, Trump has spent the last few weeks tweeting almost endlessly about the bias of the mainstream media.

In the past, the media has had the means to sway public opinion and scrutinise decisions with some weight however nowadays there appears to be a larger trend in people only reading news that they want to believe. Trump is subtly encouraging this because it works in his favour.

Foreign Policy
With regards to foreign policy, Presidents are not subject to the same checks and balances that they are with domestic policy. For example, Trump can press the ‘nuclear button’ or order a military intervention (like what was seen in Vietnam and Iraq) without running it through Congress first. With rumours that the transition from Obama to Trump is chaotic and RealClearPolitics’ Simendinger and Caitlin Huey-Burns describing Trump’s cabinet as “loyalists”, Trump’s ability to make educated and thought-out decisions in times of crisis will be undoubtedly compromised.

There is a well-known phrase in the politics sphere that goes “you can’t do anything in opposition”. Sadly, for the Democrats and liberal media, that is even more true in a time when some opposition - any opposition - would be beneficial for democracy and the future of the US.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The 2016 MacBook Pro is a waste of money

In October, Apple announced an update to the MacBook Pro line. The 13-inch and 15-inch models are now thinner, lighter, and boast a Touch Bar. The Touch Bar sits at the top of the keyboard, replacing the line of function keys, and changes the menu options depending on what app you are in. Many guess this the closest Apple wants to get to creating a touchscreen Mac anytime soon. However, after a month of use, many have deemed it useless. And that is only where the problems with the 2016 MacBook Pro begin.

For any computer aimed at professionals to be decent it needs to host a wide variety of ports so it is a versatile device. Apple have however scrapped the USB ports, SD-card reader, HDMI port, and Thunderbolt ports and replaced them all with USB-C ports which are still a rare oddity. Even the MagSafe charger port has gone which is a step backwards for Apple. Numerous times when I’ve tripped on my charger, the magnetic-ended cable has just clicked out of the port rather than sweeping a £1000 laptop onto the floor.

Apple was one of the first computer manufacturers to get rid of the optical disk drive in 2012 and although many found that irritating at the time, it wasn’t the end of the world because there was a trend in people downloading software and media from the internet rather than via a disk. Hardly anyone uses USB-C though so it is a nonsensical move from Apple as hardly any devices are compatible.

The lack of ports has forced many to delve into the ugly world of dongles simply to get their current cameras, chargers, external hard drives, monitors, and leads to work.

Lighter and Thinner
Why are tech companies obsessed with making lighter and thinner devices at the expense of functionality and battery life? If you want a lightweight MacBook, get the new so-called 'MacBook’ or MacBook Air. I, like many, would rather have a slightly heftier MacBook Pro though as long as it means getting a longer battery life, a deeper keyboard, and a more diverse range of ports. The old MacBook Pros are convenient because they are the sweet spot between the power and capabilities of an iMac but the portability of a MacBook Air. The new 2016 MacBook Pro compromises too much.

Touch Bar
The new Touch Bar is a great feature if you’re part of Apple’s marketing team as it makes the new MacBook appear special and your job easy, but, to everyone else, it's just an expensive gimmick. All the features and options you need already on screen so you can just use your mouse to click on them. The Touch Bar interface has been under scrutiny as well. On some menus you scroll, others swipe, and on others you press through menus. There is no uniform interactive language.

The only thing worse than a Mac with a Touch Bar is the prospect of a Mac with a touchscreen. But that, my friend, is a rant for another day.

Half of the people who own MacBooks don’t even need them; a £300 Windows PC would be suffice for their word processing and internet browsing. So why do so many people own a MacBook? It’s a fashion statement. A key part of the appeal is the luminous Apple logo on the rear of the screen and the iconic start up chime. However, on the 2016 MacBook, in attempt to remove everything that people liked about MacBooks, Apple has removed both of these quirks. The Apple logo is still on the back but it is only reflective and the laptop now turns on silently.

And here is the cherry on the top: it costs £500 more in the UK! Apple have raised their MacBook prices everywhere but many say that Britain has been subject to the steepest increase because of Brexit and the economic uncertainty that brings.

Overall, if you’re considering getting a 2016 new MacBook Pro, consider ye olde 2015 MacBook Pros first. They are just as powerful, have a battery just as long, but come with more ports, and a light up Apple badge. You should also ask yourself if you really need a MacBook Pro at all. Lenovo, Microsoft, Dell and HP all have exciting, practical laptops for the same price or cheaper that are just as good.

The Wall Street Journal:
The Independent:
Casey Neistat’s Twitter: