Early thoughts on 2019

* Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is tailor-made to be the new Fundraising Caricature Super Hate Object for the GOP, in the tradition of Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi. Young, female, Latina, notionally “socialist” (again, I’m not sure if anyone really knows what that means in 2019), basically the perfect nightmare of any Fox News obsessive. The thing is, though, she gets modern media and how to swim in that particular stream. She also has a certain sense of reality around her, and when they mocked her complaint that she couldn’t afford an apartment in DC before her salary kicked in, a lot of young people heard “these assholes don’t give a shit about real people problems.”

* The other thing she has going for her is that she seems like a real sweet gal, a normal person in a town full of anything but. Your typical rising young politician was usually president of the frat, first woman president of the law review, the sort of hard-charging student government type who gives the impression they’ve been 40 years old since puberty. AOC is a pleasant lady whose sudden life in the crosshairs is a living breathing reminder to the youth of America, the women, the non-white: the Fox Boomers hate you for existing. Stop trying to reconcile with them and just turn them into !-ing meatloaf. The kids, plainly, are all right.

* I carried two phones through San Francisco this week in an attempt to sort out my loadout and wardrobe for the forthcoming road trip. It is SO much easier to work with an SE than an iPhone X…right up until you need the keyboard or the battery life. Granted, since I wasn’t doing anything with the X but playing back audio and occasionally looking at white Kindle text on a black AMOLED background, it wasn’t a fair fight, but given my use case in Patagonia I don’t know that the SE will make it through a full day without a battery top-up along the way. Might be time for the Hulkbuster case I had in Hawaii five years ago, if I can still find it.

* Speaking of phones, I have most of my closest regular texting contacts transitioned to Signal, which is basically the only cryptographically-acceptable cross-platform messaging solution. It means that I will almost certainly get rid of WhatsApp sooner than later, probably by March Madness if not sooner. Which means that in the grand scheme of things, all I have to do is export my data and get shut of Instagram…which is not nearly the toxic cesspool for me that it is for others, because I’m almost 47 and mainly follow people I know in person. But it’s owned by Facebook, and Facebook is going to start shitting it up to make up for the sagging fortunes of the blue site, and I don’t want to be around to be continually strip-mined by Fuckerberg and his band of useful idiots.

* Speaking even more of phones, looking at Apple’s situation, it’s hard to argue that they – and the West generally – got played for suckers these last twenty years. The promise of a billion new customers was too good to pass up, so the West signed China onto the WTO with assurances that business would lead to liberalization and that everyone would just go along with this. And then, after we spent two decades thinking this would all work out in the end, these companies find themselves tied in legal knots, aiding and abetting a totalitarian regime and their intellectual property being ripped off wholesale for profit. All so Silly Con Valley could have their widgets assembled for ten cents on the dollar. And now there’s not really a cost-effective alternative solution any longer, so we’re stuck until someone else can spin up modern manufacturing at scale in a different place – assuming, of course, that you have a physical product to sell. If not, you just have to wait and watch as Tencent and Alibaba do the same thing you can’t for those billion customers you assumed would be yours.

* Ten years ago, I got a Caltrain GoPass which I’ve had ever since. I can ride Caltrain for free, any distance, anytime, and that was really the beginning of my going up to San Francisco in any meaningful way (yes, there were Vandy game watch parties in 2008, but they usually entailed my long-suffering wife driving up and then tolerating fifteen verses of “Country Girl” on the way home). For about four years and change, it was a delight – and then, sometime in early 2013, I realized that the city was no longer for the likes of me, because it was becoming part of Silly Con Valley which was definitely not for the likes of me. After several years off, so to speak, I’ve spent the last couple going around unearthing the bits of NorCal that the tech sector hasn’t yet ruined beyond repair. Turns out a lot of them are at the far ends of the cable car or MUNI Metro lines, or tucked out of sight in San Jose, or nestled along the coast. It’s been fun, and reliving, to discover them again.

* It’s remarkable how much better I feel when dressing the part. I’ve spent three-quarters of my prolonged holiday break in the same combination of jeans, black t-shirt and AG work shirt that I embraced in 2018 and it just feels right, especially with the addition of merino wool socks (the Bombas socks are 80% merino, which is better than most). But yesterday, I caught a glimpse of my reflection on a cable car, leaned against the forward post in my tweed blazer and gray flat cap, and realized that I looked like I felt – which was to say, absolutely at one with my natural habitat.

* I would absolutely rather have a pint than a cocktail in 2019. The only time I go cocktail first anymore is in a tiki bar (or on the patio at the Royal Hawaiian). 20 ounces of Guinness is a perfect fit for pretty much any time, and when it’s not? the same 20 ounces of decaf black coffee, warm but not hot with a splash of stevia, will get the job done. Long pint, long evening, long book. This is how we’re gonna relax in 2019, and I need to get right on that.

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