tfw there can be only one

App.net is going to bite the dust in a couple of weeks. Started five years ago, it was that most novel of Silly Con Valley propositions: the provision of an online service in exchange for cash on the !-ing barrelhead. Like Twitter, but ad-free, 256 characters per message, and with an API framework to allow it to be used for other things going forward. All in all, a delightful notion…that went absolutely nowhere. Because Twitter had a four year head start and is “free.”  Just as Facebook is “free.”

Social media networks have to be free. They simply have to. Because their entire value proposition is based on having everyone on them. And their entire business model relies on endless ever-spiraling growth. And you can’t grow at unnatural speeds if people have to pay for the service. Never mind the hassle of digging out a credit card and evaluating whether it’s worth paying money for your whatever-it-is, you then have to have a secure payment mechanism and protect the data and keep track of…it’s hardly worth the effort, is it?

More to the point, unlimited growth because “free” makes it a lot easier to pitch to advertisers and data miners (but I repeat myself). I am prepared to bet that Twitter could not actually make money charging for their service (I am prepared to bet that Twitter cannot make money full stop, and I doubt whether Snapchat will either) and that at a minimum, the amount they would have to charge to make up for no ad revenue and the shrink from loss of unwilling-to-pay users would combine to put them in a SoMa alleyway with a quickness.

And still we struggle, because Twitter and Facebook are largely garbage. The only way you can make them useful is to set them as private, lock them down to a fare-thee-well, pare your list of friends and followers aggressively, and make absolutely sure that none of them is going to go feral on you. And things being how they are, if you just want to get away from the madness of the world, you can’t do it on Twitter or Facebook.

Which is where Instagram comes in.

Yes, it’s owned by Facebook, but perhaps realizing how shit they are at mobile has led Facebook to leave their acquisition alone. And it’s completely dissociated from my existing Facebook account (which goes largely unused these days). And it has become the only “social media” that I keep on the phone and check routinely, because for the most part they’re either people I know or people whose posts I find interesting. And in a pinch, there’s even a chat client.  It’s simple, it feeds the escape urge, and at least it doesn’t make me feel like the world is collapsing around me.

Sic transit App.net and Peach and Path and Ello and Diaspora and all the other attempts to get around the Tweetbook duopoly of social media. It’s the Gram or nothing at this point.

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“I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the first mouse.”

The Pebble and the Moto F3 are both on borrowed time. The Pebble is no longer getting updates and the servers on which it depends are on borrowed time in the wake of the acquisition by FitBit. Meanwhile, 2G cellular networks are getting re-farmed and GSM phones which have been viable for years are finally being pulled off the grid. In fact, another treasured piece of tech – the iPhone I was issued gratis as an Apple employee in 2007 – will no longer work on AT&T’s network as of January 1, because they’ve already pulled the plug on the 2G network.

I brought this up some time ago. On the one hand, I got the MOTOFONE F3 as a Christmas present in 2007, and even then, it was already a sort of coelacanth – a phone in 2007 with a 7-segment display that could send and receive calls (with speakerphone even!), send and receive text messages (without even upper case or a full set of punctuation marks), store 10 speed-dial numbers on the SIM, set an alarm (to ring at the same time every 24 hours or not at all) and show the time of day on the front. It was already 10 years behind state of the art. And yet, those 10 year old phones – in theory – would still have worked just as well. Had I bought a Powertel or Sprint Spectrum GSM phone in 1997 as I’d desired, then in 2007, assuming they were not SIM-locked and I could find the appropriate SIM form-factor, I could continue to use them to place calls and maybe even set an alarm. It’s not much, but there you go.

But that required a compatible network. And just like AMPS and TDMA before it, the original flavor 2G GSM network – which started as Pac Bell or PowerTel or Sprint Spectrum or Voicestream and eventually ultimately all became either AT&T or T-Mobile – is now being refarmed in the desperate search for enough bandwidth to accommodate the Snapchat generation. Which means that any phone from before the initial re-push of 3G in 2007 is about to be a paperweight. 

(Sidenote: I remember the old uppercase AT&T’s abortive effort at pushing out UTMS in 2004. Then they got eaten by Cingular and 3G disappeared for a couple of years, only to emerge just as the initial iPhone didn’t offer it. Which in turn led T-Mobile to brand their faster non-LTE 3G as “4G” and add to the confusion that drives us all insane today. God help us once 5G starts rolling out.)

But that’s obsoleting a bunch of phones from the pre-Obama era. For the Pebble to have the rug yanked from beneath it is a little more alarming.  The first Pebble watch, fresh from the greatest crowdfunding success ever, arrived in January 2013 and was pronounced dead just under four years later. I bought one in 2015, and had replaced it with an Apple Watch within four months because if I needed a smartwatch, I needed a smarter one – but the Pebble was still useful in its way, and would have made a nice companion to the Moto X, similarly on its last legs (without a security update since last April and without an OS update since Lollipop 5.1).

As Aldrich Killian said in Iron Man 3, “the early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Pebble turned out to be the first mouse. And as networks evolve, it’s anyone’s guess how long something like my Moto X will continue to be viable – but I’m prepared to bet I won’t be noting that it’s just now being cut out of usability in 2024. Software makes our smart devices less like phones and more like laptops. With predictable results.

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The finish line of Stuff

It’s entirely possible that 2016 is when I finally scratched the last itch for things. I got a Harris Tweed sport coat for Christmas which had lingered on my wish list for years, and then I spent some money on a pair of Australian work boots of a type I’d been eyeing off and on for half a decade. And with that, everything I actually wanted badly enough to write down was acquired.

What did I always fixate on? Shoes? I have all the shoes I usefully need for any occasion. Outerwear? Same, all possible instances and styles are covered. I have the phone I need and the accessories that suit it, I’m fixed for hats unless some perfect Vanderbilt lid descends, I need another Nerf gun like a hole in the head, I have a new car and a decent bicycle, and if I ordered one more insulated mug of any kind my wife would take my life (I’m arguably already one over what I can usefully use). But even some of the other things I wanted, however frivolously, are beside the point. I don’t want a new pair of eyeglasses, no matter how tangentially stylish. I don’t want that T-Mobile SIM with 100 minutes and 5 GB of data a month for $30, because as long as work’s paying for my phone and I own the handset myself there’s no point in sinking the money. I don’t need sports jerseys for players who probably won’t be here more than a year or two anyway. My bike is just fine, when I ride it, and no matter how cool Priority’s beach cruiser is, it’s pointless if I don’t live at the beach.

So what is it that I want to spend money on now? Given the opportunity? Books to read, mostly at home. Craft beer, mostly to drink at home. Going out with friends. Going abroad for as long as the freight will bear it (looking at you, Ireland). I may have finally crossed that millenial-threshold into experience first, after a conscious seven-year program of trying to accumulate the things I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life. With the obvious exception of the cellphone, because we’ve already proven that can’t be done…of which…

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So now what, then?

The opposition to the new administration has rallied hard and fast – so much so that the elected opposition seems to be struggling to keep up. It’s not surprising that things would turn out this way, and you can point to one reason: George W. Bush.

See, in 2001, there were very few people willing to stand up and say what a disaster we had on our hands. I certainly thought so, partly because we’d not had a President win with fewer votes than an opponent in over a century and the lack of even a plurality was uncharted territory –  but mostly because I knew that what we had, aside from an amiable dunce in the Oval Office, was basically a matador for the worst aspects of a Republican Congress. And that’s more or less what we got for four years, propelled by the national panic after the attacks. But it faded fast – by the time of his second inauguration, Bush the Lesser was already below 50% approval and would never get positive again. 

So on the one hand, you have a bunch of people seeing Trump and saying “not again.” On the other hand, you have the spectacle of a President polling under 40% approval before his administration is two weeks old. And on the third hand, you have a sense that this is not some doofus you might like to have a beer with, albeit surrounded and supported by the cream of the GOP establishment. This is a weak, scared, angry old man, surrounded only by courtiers and enablers and white supremacists and possibly pawns of a foreign power, and they don’t even know how to keep the lights on or read things before signing them.

The ACLU didn’t raise four years’ worth of budget in a single weekend for nothing. The Bush years paved the way for this, even if people didn’t really get it at the time. When the GOP and the media rose as one in 2009 and dictated that there should be no accounting for the Bush years, that Obama was not allowed to demand a reckoning or even exercise the full powers of his office, they normalized everything that happened. And now the bar is being lowered again, in some ways to the point of a legitimate constitutional crisis. There are bells being rung now that cannot be un-rung, and we’re not going to survive as a nation if we pretend we didn’t hear them.

If we want to keep an America worth keeping, we have to fight now.

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What if we’re not?

I keep seeing one phrase come up over and over again: “we’re better than this.” I understand what people mean by it, or want to anyway. We’re not a country that hates. We’re not a country that keeps people out. We’re not a country that relies on ignorance or stupidity or racism or general shallow foolishness.  Here’s the problem: that statement, “we’re better than this,” is aspirational. It’s not descriptive.

Think about what’s in living memory for us. Jim Crow. Dogs and firehoses. A world where a grown woman needed a husband to open a credit card for her. A world where it’s okay to fire someone because of marital status – and not just what gender you marry, the fact that you got married at all. George W. Bush re-elected despite a polled majority opposing him. Trayvon dies and Zimmerman walks. California – California – elects Arnold Schwarzenegger twice and then votes to outlaw gay marriage. The kinds of people who blew up my mother’s high school are still alive, and they all voted for Trump. 

The fact is, if you look at the reality of America in 2017, we’re not better than this. We’re just not. If we were, we wouldn’t be in this spot to begin with. But there were enough people willing to absorb lies and misinformation and deception and just let them slide, and enough people to buy it without question, and now matters are worse. A majority of the public disapproves of the accident in the White House, but not enough to hold their nose and vote for the one person capable of preventing it. There was an obvious solution, but enough people were indifferent or were too good to vote for “the lesser of two evils” or too consumed with “I got mine, fuck you” to do what it would take to prevent this.

Tommy Lee Jones, in Men In Black, nailed it. Nailed it. “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” And for fifteen years – going on twenty – we validated dumb and panicky. The average person on the street didn’t stand up to the fear mongering. They didn’t stand up to the lies. They didn’t stand up for majority rule when it was threatened. They didn’t stand up for the truth. They didn’t reject prevarication and bullshit and made-up internet garbage. And instead of rejecting birtherism, they elected the Head Birther In Charge to replace Obama.

We’re not better than that. We aren’t. Stop pretending we are. All we can do is try to come up with a way to survive despite. And maybe in a couple generations, we can hope that we’ve bent the curve enough to be better than this.

But probably not.

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Our Wireless Future

In a turn of events that should come as a surprise to no one, the Trump FCC today bent over and wiped its ass with net neutrality. The way is now clear for Internet providers to decide what gets to you at what cost – basically, the cable-ization of the Internet. It’s not the worst thing this administration has done in the first two weeks, but it’s pretty bad all of itself – because basically it paves the way for the major wireless carriers (plus Comcast) to carve up the Internet however they please and charge whatever they like.

Why so? Because you’re running out of options. Right now, in the middle of Silicon Valley, in the heart of techno-capitalism red in tooth and claw, my options for home broadband are…AT&T and Comcast. The phone company and the cable company. In a lot of places, you’re not even lucky enough to have two options.  I have AT&T, I’m not wild about it, and my only alternative is Comcast. As I’ve said before, I’d rather contract with ISIS for broadband than Comcast.

But how did it get to this point? How did we get an incompatible duopoly? Well, in recent times, it’s because people have hammered the notion that your DSL provider or your cable company has adequate competition from…wireless companies. That’s right, there are FOUR different competitors to your wired duopoly, and please do not look too closely at the fact that your DSL provider IS one of those wireless companies, or that Sprint is circling the drain and T-Mobile is only of use in urban areas (albeit very good), or that the wireless companies have METERED DATA.

And that’s where things were headed before today. Wireless companies weren’t covered by the restrictions of net neutrality. Had the Democrats maintained control of the executive branch, I think you would have seen more and more of a push toward the notion that you can get wireless broadband either through your phone or some home base station or similar, simply because there is no legal presumption of net neutrality and there’s an existing presumption that you’re going to pay by the byte. Because let’s face it, everyone thinks of their home broadband as unlimited. Do you even know how much data you get through at home?

But with the increasing number of cord-cutters, that doesn’t help much. Consider that where I live, it would actually be more expensive to buy Comcast broadband by itself than it would be to get the double-play TV package. Looking at my U-Verse package, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that with the exception of things like HBO (which can be sold separately over the top), actual television service is thrown in for lagniappe on top of data. Just like phone calls and text messages are thrown into your phone plan, which is nowadays almost entirely driven ENTIRELY by whether you’re paying for the handset and how big a bucket of data you want to split between everyone on your plan. 

The problem is this: everything is data now. Your voice, your texts, your cable TV, anything that can be reduced to bits – all it needs now is a pipe. And the pipes come in two forms, wired or wireless. And the wired pipes are limited by geography and how willing your neighborhood is to be dug up for conduit or netted over by wires, which is why fiber rollout isn’t very quick. But when you’re at the mercy of available spectrum for wireless, that’s hardly more competitive even before considering the lack of incumbent regulation.

And the only way AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and the other horse-cocks of the broadband industry can survive is to make sure there are as few pipes as possible. Because once the dumb pipe is a commodity, the only way to keep the price up is to prevent competition…or get the right to jack up the tolls at random. Which we’re now headed directly toward. You can probably expect this to look similar to the airline industry, which starts by pitching its new deep discounts for the minimum legal service and then posits everything else – checked bags, snacks, the right to put a bag in the overhead bin – as some sort of elective privilege that you don’t have to choose if you don’t want. You can already see this in the TV-only offerings like Dish or DirecTV, where you can start with a base of local channels and a few religious and home-shopping offerings – but it jumps a LOT the minute you want ESPN and other sports channels. You know, the only cable channels that drive live viewing numbers.

So basically, we’re getting a giant handout to the incumbent telecoms and everyone else gets ready to reach for their wallets.  BUT HER EMAILS HER EMAILS HER EMAILS HER EMAILS HER EMAILS HER EMAILS HER EMAILS…

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The forest of the real

It occurred to me a few nights ago to look through my list of distractions – the things I began to write down in November as part of my plan for how I would keep body, mind and soul together for the first few weeks or months of the Present Unpleasantness. I had a lot of things written down, but the ones of which I have so far availed myself are: the British quiz series QI, Roger Ekirch’s timeless At Day’s Close: Night In Times Past which I re-read every January as it is, some assorted Norwegian slow TV on Netflix, Pete Brown’s aforementioned books about the history and culture of strong drink, another rediscovered book about journeys on foot, some Rick Steves episodes, and of course several episodes of California’s Gold.

The thing that struck me in considering these is that they’re all real. Most of them are from other places, some involve other times, but they are all depictions and accounts and presentations of real things that actually exist or actually transpired. My retreat, such as it is, hasn’t been into the completely fictional, but into the embrace of a wider world that actually exists and actually happened (or is actually happening, in some few cases). Other things I have queued up are Stephen Fry in America, both the original and newer versions of Cosmos, the last DVD of Connections which I haven’t finished yet, and a couple of actual paper books which are historical in nature. Only the newest season of Sherlock is anything other than factual.

I think in times like this, when everything seems to be going to shit, there’s greater comfort for me in knowing that these places and people and things were and are real. You could wish yourself away to Hogwarts, maybe, or Yavin IV, but when you wake up in the morning you’ll still be here and they’ll still be fictional. Once I had a bit to reflect on this, I realized that one of the things that gives me comfort from all those things is that they are real, and they exist, and the chaos around me isn’t the entirety of the world. There’s a train plying the route from Bergen to Oslo. There are bikes by the canal in Amsterdam. There was a time when the normal human sleep pattern meant waking from first sleep to sit up or stand up or be awake for an hour before going back to bed, as a matter of normal course. Beer preference in brand and amount in Australia is still largely regionalized and based on where you live.

There is a great big world out there. It’s not all destroyed. It’s not all toxic. It’s as authentic as the one in front of your face, and it’s as good a place to recover and gather your strength as I’ve found. The only problem is how badly I want to go there.

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Man vs Beer

The first beer I ever had was Budweiser. It’s amazing I ever drank beer again. It wasn’t the first booze I had – that was champagne on New Years Eve 1989, as befits Vanderbilt Man. Then when I started college, there was Bacardi silver (usually dumped in a Dr Pepper) and Asti Spumante (thanks to a new girlfriend in an Anne of Green Gables phase). But the first beer I remember having was on my birthday in 1991. I was turning 19. And it. Was. Disgusting.

Twenty-six years on, I have learned that apparently Budweiser does this on purpose. Whole hops, not pellets like many brewers use. Exacting quality control. “Beechwood aged.” As Pete Brown says, they are making this on purpose because they think this is what a quality beer tastes like. Which is truly a shame. By summer, my preferred alcoholic libation was vodka and Coca-Cola. By my senior year of college, it was the gin martini, served in quantity while watching Moonlighting reruns after class. I would drink Miller Lite if required, but any sort of cocktail was always preferable. Sometime in there I first made an effort at scotch and soda at some sorority function, and it was smoky and intriguing and I put that in the back of my head for later.

When I got to grad school, it was the age of red things. Red Dog was the official beer of the Vanderbilt Graduate Department of Political Science. We got through tons of it. I don’t know how. It’s not like it was good, but Gerst (the closest thing to a local microbrew in Nashville) was too expensive to obtain in quantity and Red Dog was…not. If we were boozing it up, my go-to was Jack Daniels Amber Lager while that was a thing – or better yet a Manhattan, the cocktail that Tracy J. said made me look like I didn’t have to prove anything. And that carried me right up to the end of my days in Nashville.

By the time I got to DC, I was part of a larger Internet community with a strong Boston contingent. So it became Sam Adams for a while. I’d even had the Samuel Adams Triple Bock once back at Vandy (one of the world’s finest syrupy beers) but I still spent the majority of my alcohol time with cocktails of one sort of another. I even have a copy of Paul Harrington’s Cocktail which I believe is worth about ten times what I paid for it. Maker’s Mark Manhattans, the “Drink Without A Name,” the occasional attempt at a Tom Collins, maybe a black and tan once in a while. And then, in a way, the dam was breached at the Vintage Virginia wine festival in 1999 when I had a nice dry amber cider that wasn’t sickly sweet and brought a nice punch without being leveling.

But then the 4Ps happened.

The loved and lamented Ireland’s Four Provinces, in Cleveland Park, Washington DC, was where almost everything important in our lives happened between January 2000 and June 2004. Birthdays were celebrated, co-workers were saluted in departure, new beaux were examined for faults, pipes were smoked and pints were drunk. And our Irishman swore to us that the 4Ps pulled the finest pint he’d had outside Ireland. I’d had Guinness before, of course, but this was the age before the rocket widget – bottled Guinness usually meant Extra Stout, not the creamy black perfection in the signature glass. 125 calories per 12 ounces, less than Coca-Cola. 4.2% ABV, comparable to an American light lager, which meant you wouldn’t die on those nights when you had ten or twelve in eight hours. It was smooth, it was flavorful, it was delightful. And because Washington DC had more Irish bars than the Bible has Psalms, it was available pretty much everywhere we ever drank, from the 4Ps to Nanny O’Brien’s to Fado to Mackey’s to the Four Courts.

Then I came West. There was still Guinness, but I found myself also drinking cocktails in a way I hadn’t in years. What with San Francisco being one of the world’s great centers of mixology, I found myself on a regular rotation through Bourbon & Branch, Local Edition, Clock Bar, House of Shields, Rickhouse, the Comstock Saloon…and that was just fine by me. Hawaii? Gimme a Mai Tai. Tokyo? That Scotch-and-matcha thing will do fine thank you. London? What’s the best you can do for whiskey? Drink it? Fine, Laphroaig. Schnapps in Salzburg. Elderflower gin in New York City. Anything at all at Trader Sam in Disneyland. And then, last January, I caned it pretty hard for the entire month before coming to the conclusion that it might be time to throttle down for a minute. And so for the entire month of February, it was only beer. And for some reason, I just never went back to the cocktails again. Not to say I never had one, but given the choice, for almost a full year now, when the menu comes out I’m looking down the list for whatever is the most local porter or stout or brown ale.

Okay, yes I’m late to the party on “craft beer,” but for good reason: somehow, all the craft beer scene in California (especially up North) is overwhelmingly focused on India Pale Ale, usually with as many hops as they can cram into it. Not to deny the efficacy of Cascade hops, but IPAs are showing up with IBU counts that are more suggestive of Scoville Unit counts on chili sauces with names like “Satan’s Shit.” It’s stunt brewing, and if you don’t want the most bitter thing you can gag down, you may have to go outside the Bay Area to find something that suits. And that’s entirely plausible. Last trip to Yosemite yielded “Sugar Pine Porter” from a local brewer. Down around Monterrey there’s a place doing cask-conditioned ales that show up at my favorite bar in San Jose. Last trip to Disneyland yielded a smoked imperial porter.

Or you could go to Birmingham, which is rapidly emerging as not only a remarkable food town but a legitimate beer town. I stayed at the Aloft in Homewood and drank at their bar, with four beers on tap. Every one of them was brewed within a 75 mile radius and not one of them was an IPA. The Vanillaphant vanilla porter from Avondale Brewing Company is a beer that would have changed my outlook on beer completely had it shown up twenty-five years earlier. Good People, Trim Tab, Cahaba Brewing…Birmingham has become a place to go drink beer, in a way that was inconceivable when Red Mountain Red Ale became its first local brew since before Prohibition.

Locally, though, the easiest thing to do is to stop at the nearby brewpub which fills a growler for $13 full of their brown ale or oatmeal stout (or, at the holidays, with something I just call Pie Beer – which, hold the applause, is a beer that tastes like pie). Or there are at least two or three bars I can think off right offhand with at least 20 or 30 beers on tap – one in Sunnyvale and two in San Jose. Which means that at any given time, without having to rely on the bartender’s ability to pull a proper Guinness, I have two or three things I can go for. And those have become the only bars I frequent, if you can even call it “frequent” at this point.

But something else happened this past year. One of the co-presidents of the San Francisco Vanderbilt Club is a big wheel at Lagunitas, the excellent Petaluma craft brewer, and among the many treats he brought to the Vandy-Stanford baseball tailgate was their fractional IPA. He also tipped me off to the Down Low, a beer they brewed originally for the Utah market, which is a perfectly functional craft beer that comes in at a slick 3.8% ABV. Not unlike Even Keel, the session IPA from Ballast Point down in San Diego. Later this year, we wound up in London, where I was greatly enjoying London Pride – and where I wound up buying books by Pete Brown, who apparently has written more about beer and the pub and drinking culture than anyone in Britain the last decade or so. And that’s where I found out that beer over 5% ABV was, until the last twenty-five years or so, almost unheard of in the UK. Indeed, for most of the 20th century, mild and bitter and the like were between 3.5 and 4.5% ABV and Stella Artois, at 5.2%, was considered a perilously strong “premium lager.”

And that rang a bell. Because at 4.2% ABV, Guinness was something you could have four or five of in an evening without ever losing your mind or feeling the worse for wear in the morning (in fairness, fifteen years on, that figure might be “two or three” instead). Meanwhile, an Imperial Porter at 9.9% is probably asking too much. Victory at Sea is a remarkable brew, but it’s also a swift ticket to a hangover if you have more than 20 oz of it in a single evening. That’s two and a half pints of Guinness for every pint of the Vic. Which was the other great discovery in London: bars routinely serve pints and half-pints. Not everything is meant to be consumed 20 ounces at a time. And there are plenty of times when a 10-ounce pull is just right – especially when you’re sampling the menu at my favorite place in San Jose for only $3.50 a half.

Here’s the thing: back when I was younger, the pipe and the whiskey-on-the-rocks got me tagged as looking like somebody’s grandpa. But the genuine mode of old-man-drink in the land of our ancestors is the pint or two, slowly staggered over the course of the entire evening. If you can feel the incapacitation, you’re already doing it wrong. At most, there should be a sort of unwinding, a relaxation, ironically the same peace-of-mind civilizing effect I once attributed to coffee in the morning fifteen years ago. If you want to go out and knock down eight pints, God bless you, but I’m not keeping up anymore. I’ll be over yonder in the comfy chair, with something dark in one hand and a Kindle in the other, relaxed in the dim light and reading my way away. Of which.

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Here’s the thing…

…there were way too many people during the election saying “it’s all hype, it’s all talk, it’s all red meat for the base, he won’t actually do these things, there won’t be a wall, there won’t be a ban, you’re making a big deal out of nothing, you’re feeding the fear, you’re taking him literally but not seriously when you have to take him seriously but not literally.”

Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s generally safe to assume that people mean what they say and say what they mean. So stop looking shocked. If you voted for Trump, you voted for this: travel ban, lost health insurance, Nazis in the NSC, the whole son of a bitch. That’s on you. Forever. If you don’t like it, you better start doing everything you can, every day, right now, to make things right. Because right now, to be a Republican is to assent to this.

And if you were one of those people saying there’s no difference between Trump and Clinton: go on and kill yourself. You’re too fucking stupid to live.

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As then, so now

“Something was different last year, and if I had to put a finger on it, I’d say it’s when we all collectively realized that there may not be a happy ending.  Stupid keeps winning, ignorance keeps winning, racism and bigotry keep bubbling up even as we get traction on gay marriage, the climate keeps changing, the drought goes on, Congress gets more worthless and the media that covers it gets even more so, sports becomes ever more rigged and gimmicked and sports media gets ever more shrill and predictable, and the tech boom shoots money out of a firehose at complete assholes while everyone else tries to scrape by in a world where a suburban 3-bedroom townhouse can cost a million dollars.”

-two years ago today

I kind of wish I hadn’t been that prescient, but there you go. One week in and I’ve already had to take one mental health day. I haven’t made it through a five-day workweek since mid-December.

“So I guess that’s why I haven’t been blogging. I don’t particularly want to engage with the world right now.  I want to punch out, take refuge in a fireplace on TV with the Christmas tree still up and my sweetie snuggled up nearby. Or in a quiet dark dive bar where I’m the youngest person around by at least ten years. Or in a dell near Weathertop a few days out of Bree with Black Riders no more than a day behind. Or in Las Vegas, or Tahoe, or Japan. Sometimes you just need an escape.”

Replace Vegas and Japan with, say, Greenock. Or Galway. Or hell, even Pismo Beach or Morro Bay. Or anywhere that has cold beaches and the sun setting into the sea. As it is, we still haven’t gotten the tree down…and once we do, there are a couple of battery-powered copper wires of LED lights that I can use for creating that ambiance in a pinch. 

But right now, it’s about just being able to pretend that the world isn’t coming to an end until I’m ready and able to help prevent it.

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