My Lord, forgive me

There shall come upon people years of deceit in which the liar will be believed, the truthful one disbelieved, the treacherous will be trusted, the trustworthy one considered treacherous; and the Ruwaybidah shall speak out.’ It was said: Who are the Ruwaybidah? The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘The lowly, contemptible one who will speak out about public affairs.’

23 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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A tale of two videos

Whether we like it or not, Campaign Islam’s response to the now infamous Honest Policy video will resonate with many young people. Most of us have mellowed with the passing years and have forgotten that the young are often attracted to those who appear to be straight talking.

The middle-aged amongst us watched a few frames and found our in-built Omar Bakri Alarms going off. Long gone are the days plastering lampposts with sticky labels promoting Islam as a way of life. Today, whatever our view of style and substance, theirs is a social media just as creative as any Channel 4 Short.

Such is the effect of our aversion to the HT / Al-Muhajirun circus of the 1990s, that we can no longer listen to those who sing from a different hymn sheet. Women in niqab should be silent, we announce, without the faintest trace of irony. Women moved by the desperate lot of others elsewhere should direct all their energies in that direction, and leave the rest of us alone to enjoy our skinny lattes.

20 years ago, I was one of those annoying youth banging on about hideous slaughter in our midst: in my case it was genocide in Rwanda. I was found pinning up posters around my college, begging people to take notice and do “something”. But we were the Brit-pop generation — the Boo Radleys were singing, Wake Up Boo! — and few of us really cared about the world beyond our Walkman mix tape.

In truth, this debate is replayed in every generation between the gloriously entertained and the boringly serious. CND would march while Punk rocked. Bosnia burned as Blur and Oasis battled for another nation’s heart. The chasm between today’s Mipsters revelling in Islampop and their angry campaigning counterparts is hardly peculiar. Of course there is crossover: thousands have been moved to support the people of war-torn Syria whilst listening to Adam Saif perform live in concert. But that has always been the case too, from Band Aid in 1984 to U2′s Sarajevo Tour.

When we were young, we tended to think that only our way was right. Sometimes it is tiresome to encounter those who still believe that, but surely we are old enough now to accommodate competing voices, however much we may find ourselves disagreeing with both.

21 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Reflections, Representation, Society | Leave a comment

Remote refreshment

Had a splendid week away in Ireland. In disconnected remoteness, missed much of the happenings of one world, but experienced the greater realities of another, such as the beauty of gardens, rivers, lakes and mountains, the sweet sound of bird song and waves washing the shore, the peace that descends when no mobile or wi-fi signal can be found. Wonderful weather, a family reunion, lovely walks. A soul replenished and refreshed.

19 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Reflections | Leave a comment

Geek vs. Mr Cool

Dearly beloved,

When I was first getting into graphics, I yearned for a Mac (but could not afford one). That was way back when they were beige: not cool, but highly functional. 

However, when they started that whole PC vs. Mac (Geek vs. Mr Cool) campaign, that really killed it for me. I can see why it worked: it played on base emotions, because nobody wants to be called a Geek – and you still see it played out in forum discussions: the superior, smug, “we’re cool” attitude. That marketing approach was pure genius, and the only fallout was to lose people like me who had already experienced too much of that in real life. No big deal, for the Cult of Mac had been well and truly cemented.

So it didn’t really matter if the marketing campaigns that came after it were boring and unimaginative: the consumer already had in mind that the product was the personification of cool. And I think Apple rested on its laurels, marvelling in this apparition it had created.

Now they need to do something, because that Cool has been tarnished by the likes of Samsung, which has used a similar strategy to say, We’re Young, We’re Really Cool, We’re Not Smug… Or to put it another way: Think Different… don’t be an Apple Sheep. It’s the same emotional marketing technique, simply updated and turned around.

However, I think Apple’s marketing team were not entirely wrong in their criticisms. Apple has some great products, but they are falling behind.

At work I use both a Dell with Windows 7 and a Mac with OSX Mavericks. I think the Apple hardware is generally unmatched, but if you were to ask me which OS I prefer, Windows 7 wins hands down. 

There’s no danger that Apple will lose out to Microsoft of course, because MS is simply rubbish at consumer marketing and their brand-name is too tarnished with alleged Geekery, Greed and Arrogance.

But they will lose out to newer, younger companies, who have marketing clout and the ability to say We are New and Different.

Apple needs to find a way to say, We are not middle-aged and boring. That might mean fewer commercials featuring old men rambling on about technical matters against a white background. But they also probably need to realise that most of us are happy buying a compromised, less perfected product that hits the right price point.

If I had the money to buy my own Mac Book Pro, I’d buy a Dell XPS 18 instead. 

And here ends my sermon for the day.

10 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Reflections, Technology | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are we developing a Chosen People syndrome?

10 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Reflections | 1 comment

This odious caricature of faith

To be honest, there’s very little nobility or goodness in our actions these days, and all that’s left is an odious caricature of faith.

09 April 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Uncategorized | 2 comments

Breaking the inner idols is harder than fracturing stone

19 March 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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For all the claims a decade ago, that journalists are a far superior species to bloggers, somebody needs to explain why so many newspapers now quote stories in other papers verbatim, without verifying the facts; how Twitter became a trusted authority; why so many spurious claims which are later found to have no basis get circulated worldwide. If journalists are the upholders of standards, then standards have certainly slipped.

19 March 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Reflections, Representation | Leave a comment


We will most likely learn in weeks/months/years to come that the plane simply crashed and that all the other information about military radar, diverted flights and pings were mistaken or misidentified items, or ideas or theories provided by semi-official spokesmen, which the media has simply seized on in its effort to tell a story. We have witnessed many of these cases over the years: eventually the story will be corrected with facts reanalysed in hindsight — although this will never satisfy conspiracy theorists who will cling to the earliest reports as the only true testimony. With One are the keys of the unseen.

18 March 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Do other men fall as I fall?

16 March 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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