Friday, 30 October 2009

Words are the most dangerous weapon of all

Sticks and stones can break my bones,
but words will never harm me

In fact, words are the most powerful weapon of all.

Words can bring about peace, friendship, invention, understanding and education. That happens when words are used wisely, to build bridges and solve problems.

Words can bring about war, murder, hate, riots, destruction and disinformation. That can be the result of the reckless use of words, when words are used to promote hate and violence.

An instance of the reckless and dangerous use of words has been demonstrated in South Africa's recent history. It began with a statement by the minister of law and order. Police must shoot to kill when lives are at risk from criminals. The statement was repeated by the new chief of police and the country's president.

The words have already had some unintended consequences. It seems that the criminals are not waiting to be shot dead and ensure that they shoot first if confronted by the police.

The latest example of the use of dangerous rhetoric was by the chairman of the Free State ANC Youth League. He stated that ".. Professor Jansen is also a criminal ... and I agree with the ANC President that criminals should be shot and killed."

Now the emphasis and meaning has shifted dangerously towards anarchy or fascism. The courts are no longer required to decide when a person is a criminal. My say so is enough.

More horrifying was the next statement, that "criminals should be shot and killed." Gone are the qualifiers. Life no longer need be threatened. More a "look, there's a criminal. Kill him, hill him!" mentality. What if someone acts on these words?

How many fanatics will now fantasize on going out to shoot criminals?

Julius Malema this morning denied that there was anything wrong with these words. John Robbie of 702 Talk Radio played the sound clip several times, but Malema refused to admit that the words uttered had been said. Sounding more brainless than ever, he tried to twist their meaning. The statement about Jansen was totally unrelated to the part about shooting and killing.

Words can be extremely dangerous. Almost every crime, every murder, every terrorist act and every war is started with words. The ideology that drives a suicide bomber is transmitted by words.

ANC leaders should be trained to use their brains before resorting to dangerous rhetoric. To allow these words to be uttered without restraint could lead the party and the country to a very dangerous place.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Why cell phone users are reverting back to landlines

The explosion of cell-phone technology has been a major area of growth. Cell phones have become ultra smart. They emulate computers. They are able to show videos in high quality and stream television programmes.
The latest models include GPS navigation, document editing, handwriting recognition and email processing. They allow you to view the latest you-tube videos or go to your facebook page at the click of a button.
Then there is the cell-phone as camera. The best of these are good offering up to 12 megapixel resolution!
The growth of the cell-phone industry is almost without parallel. People have become dependent on their mobile phones and in a sense are almost enslaved by them.
Cell-phone technology has also heralded the birth of the videophone. Formerly a part of science fiction, video calls have not really caught the imagination of the world. Transmission is just to slow to use the technology effectively. The voice and picture are never in synch.
Landline phones, by contrast have remained phones. You may be able to see who is calling, or view the last few calls, but it is still a phone.
There is only one aspect of cell-phone technology that hasn't improved much since their introduction. The one aspect gives a landline phone the edge is the network and call quality. Coupled with the failure of the cell-phone networks to reduce their prices, the landline is fast becoming a more attractive option.
It is hardly surprising that many cell-phone users are using the landline to make calls. Apart from the clarity of the call and the stability of the signal, the cost is a fraction of the mobile variety.
But it is not only cost and call quality that affects the popularity of cell phone call usage. The police and intelligence services have the technology to tap and intercept landline calls. Interception of cell phone calls imposes an even greater risk.
Internet access is similarly affected. A DSL landline connection is fast, stable and cheap. The cell-phone companies seem addicted to super-profits and charge massive rates for broadband Internet access. Even if you decide to use VOIP - or the Voice Over Internet Protocol - the cost (and probably the quality) will be better from a fixed line.
Perhaps cell-phone users are re-evaluating the value of the cell-phone. They are great for quick and immediate communications. They are not ideal for long discussions. Perhaps the focus has been on better and better technology for everything other than to make calls. That must be why cell-phone users are rediscovering the landline.