The new laptop

It took a couple of Lego Star Wars games and a work policy modification to make me realize the extent to which the iPad has become my personal computer. The security configuration was changed to allow Universal Control to work at last, with the result that there is no personal anything on my work computer any longer – my RSS, Slack, Twitter, etc etc are all on the adjacent iPad mini and I can just mouse over. Then, after hours, it’s Lego Star Wars Castaways, which is a simple MMO probably aimed at a younger audience, but which hits all the marks for me.*

The thing is, this is such a more useful combination. I could have the 6.1” iPhone, a hair bigger screen than my iPhone X was, but it’s too much for a phone and not enough for an iPad. Instead, the iPhone 13 mini is perfect for everyday carry, but the iPad mini is ideally suited to travel in a way an an actual laptop would not be. I can do desktop-style browsing on it, up to and including actual work (I have done things from a tiki bar that prevented having to run right home, or worse, try to muddle it out on a 5.4” screen). And in a pinch, it fits into many of my jackets, and that ain’t hay.

The main thing, I suppose, is that I don’t pull up the laptop after hours. And I mostly don’t take the phone out on the couch either. I said a while back that it feels like the iPad has become Apple’s default solution, with the iPhone a subset and the Mac a superset that adds the command line layer – and lately, it feels like the iPad is the computer in a way that fits the same future-feel as the electric crossover in the driveway. Not for nothing, I can’t remember the last time I needed to get on the old iMac to do anything at all. (Having the ability to print wirelessly from the iPad is a significant thing.)

And the 8-inch display is big enough to be immersive. I’ve watched television on it without a fight. It’s easy to read with or without the glasses. It is the home pub night device for sure, with all the music and reading options available without the temptation and distraction of the phone. All by itself, it obviates the need for the phone and the Kindle and the scratch pad in one awkward heap.

So yeah, this was a good present. From London to Pismo to Disneyland, it’s gotten the job done and I’m grateful for it.

* Castaways is a Lego Star Wars game that takes place in what can only be described as a seaside village on a beach planet, in which you can run around doing simple tasks or play recreations of major settings in the original Star Wars trilogy – and you can do it alone or with ad-how groups, rather than needing the laborious “this is just a second job!”-type stylings of Work of Warcraft. You can’t beat two or three forms of escape at once, especially when it’s free with your Apple One subscription.

The gold watch

In the summer of 1997, after flunking out but before getting a permanent job, I had a temp gig at a large fossil fuel company in Birmingham, Alabama. One of my duties was to walk to Bromberg’s, the most prestigious jeweler in Birmingham, to collect a paper bag that contained Rolex watches for presentation to employees who would be marking their 25th anniversary with said company that month.

A couple of months later, after a sojourn in Akron, Ohio of all places, I found myself in my unfurnished apartment in Arlington, Virginia, on the night of September 14, 1997. And I looked at a map, and realized for the first time that I didn’t have to take the orange line to Metro Center and change for the red line for Farragut North, I could just get out at Farragut West and walk one extra block and save fifteen minutes and ten cents. That’s how clueless I was on the eve of my first day of work as an IT professional at the National Geographic Society.

I don’t know where I expected to be after 25 years. As early as a month before actually starting the job, when it was still a wisp of hope, I thought about the prospects offered by Apple’s acquisition of NeXT and the move to a net-centric computing world, and fleetingly thought that maybe some day I could do my job by remote control from a laptop in the woods somewhere. As it happens, my first attempt only took five years, and for the last 30 months I have done my entire job from a laptop in my house. So that much, at least, came to pass.

I hadn’t thought that far ahead, really. Just as grad school happened because I didn’t know what else to do after college, once I had the first permanent job, I didn’t think about where the next one might come from. it certainly never occurred to me that it would be Apple itself, let alone in Silicon Valley. But then, it never occurred to me that I’d spend a decade in the same employer only to find myself reset, laid off and rehired for the same job by a different payroll operator, and then be functionally abandoned during the pandemic.

I know no one stays at the same job for 25 years any more, but I look around at other people my age who have managed to stick to only a couple of jobs, who have risen to be managers or directors or vice-presidents or best of all, indispensable individual contributions who are compensated accordingly. I have no idea whether my employer values the work I do at all, and ample reason to think it hasn’t occurred to them one way or the other, and that in a pinch I could find myself unemployed as an accidental reflexive shrug of cost-cutting by someone who hasn’t looked at what the line items actually do.

It’s times like this that I regret not having completed the PhD. A masters’ degree is largely a waste of time because it doesn’t really come with any sort of recognition. If you have a doctorate, people are obligated to at least take that seriously, which explains why the hucksters and con artists are always rushing to show off their degree-mill credential. If I’d accrued some sort of military rank, or had a title of nobility that didn’t come via mail order from Sealand, or at least had the eye and ear of the CEO and the gushing approval of their assistant, I might feel like I was on more solid ground and that my work was worthwhile.

As it is, it feeds the Enneagram 6-ness of it all. “I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE! (I am, right?)” as the gag went in DC, where I never once questioned who I was as a person or how I was doing professionally. Even when it was unheralded by the powers that be, I knew I was doing a Hell of a job, as was my crew. Now, who knows. When the only people who get recognition are the same half-witted service desk phone operators who can’t read a knowledge base article or remember a procedure for three days running, you begin to wonder if maybe you’re not the one who isn’t up to snuff somehow.

I do remember that about a month in, I told a group of students at the University of Iowa that my job was as easy and rewarding as picking up money in the street. There were harder days for sure, days and weeks where I swore I was going to quit, and all because everyone above my manager was lined up attempting to vanquish him, me and us – despite the fact that the CEO and almost all the users swore by us. but for seven years, we were the lords of the earth, and we feared no evil.

In some way, everything I’ve done professionally since has been an attempt to capture some of that again. I’m way too old for running tickets, in a world where desktop support can be done from the end of a phone unless the computer is on fire, but I still need to be The Man, still need to prove that I do know what I’m doing and you should listen to me and afford my crew and myself the respect and consideration we’ve earned.

But I can say this: I’m definitely not five years away from being able to retire, which is something I absolutely would have believed in at the time. Not even ten years, and I would have sworn I would be able to hang it up at age 60 after a long and distinguished career at…something.

I’d hate to think I’m going to end up doing 25 years at this place.

The end of the 20th century

That’s what it is, honestly.

Elizabeth II came to the throne in the aftermath of the Second World War, burn into an era where the British Empire bestrode the world like Colossus, linked by the Red Line telegraph and the undisputed master of the seas. She leaves a United Kingdom that barely rates the name, where Scotland and Northern Ireland are both edging toward the door, where Brexit has severed the links to Europe, where the 52/48 dynamic and twelve years of ossified Tory rule has combined with plague, economic distress and political upheaval to produce a sense that this really is the end of the line.

The Queen was a coelacanth of an earlier era: an age of deference, respect, tradition, where she knew from a young age that she would spend her entire life as the main employee of Monarchy LLC. Her greatness came from the fact that she faced her duty without complaint or shirking, something that is unimaginable in the modern era. It’s something her heir was unable to manage – the divorce and the death of Diana was arguably the greatest peril for the institution of the Royal Family since Oliver Cromwell, and as for Charles—

Actually, spare a thought for Charles, who finally has the job he never wanted and had to train and wait for his entire life, and has to assume it at a moment of utter grief in how he got it, and whose history – the outspoken opinions, the troubled personal life, a life in tabloids – suggests that the Crown under his rule will not enjoy the same residual respect his mother clung to from the war era. Indeed, it’s hard to see anyone bringing that sort of gravitas any longer in the 21st century.

This is a hard blow for the UK, to be certain, and it might be a diminution they don’t come back from. It’s going to be a very tough winter – real 1970s style – and the confluence of so much at once does rather shake the foundations. The 21st century has finally fully arrived for Britain. They might not be happy it has.

Oh by the way

If anything an even less consequential Apple event than the year before. Like the iPad mini last year, though, the one thing that I might be in the market for in future was shown: the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s not something I need right away, by far, but when the time comes to get a new Apple Watch, why wouldn’t I go for the biggest screen and the biggest battery by far? Especially given how battery life has always been the Achilles heel of the Apple Watch.

Other than that, nothing of consequence. The non-Pro phones have the same base processor as my beloved iPhone 13 mini, so there’s no incentive to upgrade whatsoever. If the only options are 6.1” and 6.7”, you may as well get the Pro at this point. The AirPods are an incremental bump, one unnecessary since I got my warranty replacements in London in March. When you have a mature product line, improvements are incremental at best.

The nice thing is that four months on, I still love my iPhone 13 mini. I even love the silicone case. It’s the perfect device, my favorite phone since the original SE six years ago. If I had it to do over, I’d’ve bought it in time for London, but as it is, I intend to ride it directly into the ground, especially if the notional SE4 turns out to be based on the iPhone XR as is threatened.

Now all I need is for Apple to integrate Announcements ™ into Messages sooner than later, if Signal isn’t gonna shift Stories in 2022…

waiting for signal

If you go back on the web forums, bits and pieces of the Stories functionality in Signal were cropping up on the GitHub back in March. This has been in the works for over six months, seems like. But it might be imminent. Four weeks ago, the release notes for a bug fix release included “more exciting changes on the horizon” and this past week, changed to include “plans for the future.” This seems like it might be, if not imminent, at least close enough to allude to.

That’s going around, honestly. Another example is the breakfast and lunch place that’s been “coming this spring” for eight months now – it would be nice to have a spot walking distance from home and not bike or driving distance, but there’s no date certain associated with it. Then there’s Pixelfed, which might be a viable Instagram replacement but needs something to precipitate uptake. Then there’s the open-ended question of whether Twitter is going to have to go away depending on whether the courts hold Phony Stark to his waived due diligence for the purchase of a company that appears to be burning down in its own shit.

And then there’s work. Which, in the last couple of months, has turned a corner. I’m finally able to actually do the job instead of just talking about what we would do if we were allowed to do the job. And we’ve been rolling. And the result is…crickets. No recognition. No acknowledgement. Nothing to say our current work arrangement is permanent or even open-ended. We don’t exist to the powers that be, and there’s no guarantee that pushing back would even get us anything other than trouble.

It’s a difficult way to live. It was always possible to believe that we only had to somehow survive through 2020 and we’d have a chance. It was possible to get through to the new house and new car because there were deals signed and papers exchanged, even if the precise dates were nebulous at times. My sister is fond of saying that you can endure anything that comes with an end date. But the open ended promise of something that may never show up, let alone by a date certain – it’s like the experience as a kid of being told that maybe we can go to the mall today, and never actually going.

In a lot of ways, it feels like we’ve crossed a nodal point, at least as much as was ever promised. We have a Democrat in the White House, for the time being. We are mostly on the back side of the pandemic, at least enough to go to London or Pismo or Disneyland. We are moved into the new house, with the EV in the driveway. I’m still 100% remote for the foreseeable future, and I’d even be willing to take that down to 95% in exchange for permanence. I’ve made it to 50, enough to be very self-conscious of Being Fifty and trying to be honest about what in life is realistic at this point. For the first time in fifteen years or so, the dull moment might actually be possible – so long as you focus on the moment.

But there’s still a lot to “radically accept.” The biggest thing is, as William Gibson said, time moves in one direction and memory in another. The toughest thing was radically accepting that the college thing is dead and there is no point trying to remediate it, and giving up on things that no longer sparked joy in an attempt to reinvent that. There are things that have become less essential now that they are harder and more expensive to do – the default pub night is at home, even though there won’t be a way to combine a comfy seat and low light until late October at the earliest. The old options – the comfy leather chair at Trials on Sunday evening, or the live trad at O’Flaherty’s at the same time – are simply no longer available.

There is a thing I told myself years ago about the importance of stopping trying to be who you were and let yourself become who you are. The addendum I would throw on there now is not to try to force it too much. At fifty you have to accept some of the dictates of reality and ask why you would even want to live like you did at 30 any more. Or, to borrow a line from the franchise that has defined my life in so many ways, “the belonging you see is not behind you, but in front of you.”

And let’s be honest – half a life on from the beginning of my IT career, I have the things that seemed aspirational at the beginning. I’m a system administrator who never has to wear socks and can do all my work remotely. I took for granted that under such circumstances, my employer would value my work, but that might be too much to ask. But for as long as I can make it happen, I’m going to try to enjoy it and use it to make possible the rest of a life I want to have.

That’s a wrap on blog year 16. Next year, a third of my life in one place. That’s…something.

Onward.

the semiotics of the mall

It came to me in a dream, honestly. The notion that one would walk the mall with one’s friends is not something I got from popular culture, because popular culture didn’t reach the exurbs of Alabama in 1983. I literally had a dream that I and some of my classmates (notice I don’t say friends) were at Century Plaza, in an era when that was still the premier mall in Greater Birmingham. Western Hills Mall, Eastwood Mall – both still broadly feasible, but neither as equipped as Century Plaza for my needs, which in the early era meant a toy store, an arcade, a bookstore and a music shop.

Three years later, the Riverchase Galleria opened. And it blew every other place away – a quarter mile long, skylights and atrium with neon lights, aBanana Republic with a Jeep sticking through the window, two bookstores, two record shops, a Macy’s! – to the point that I stopped going anywhere else. Inasmuch as I could, obviously – I was two years from a drivers license and on the wrong side of Birmingham to get there without begging my parents. But it was something that approximated a future life – it was walkable. You could go from shop to shop to dining to just hanging around, all day and all night. I fantasized about the kind of wealth that would let me live in the top floor of the attached hotel or office tower (I was getting through a lot of Fantastic Four at the time).

There was one other smaller mall, closest to school and with a 70s Brutalist feel that was almost subterranean, but once I could drive it was the easiest stop from school. It was an obvious hangout, albeit a solitary one. It and the Gal were the only malls I frequented through the end of college. Largely because there was little enough else to do.

In Nashville, the malls were at the cardinal points of the compass, and diverse in audience – Green Hills, my local, was most posh, and Rivergate was a touch downmarket, but the others all covered a pretty broad array (with the additional novelty at Bellevue) and I could find most anything I was looking for – which by this point was mainly hats, jerseys, Nikes and outerwear. Music came from Tower Records and books from Davis-Kidd or Bookstar, and hanging out was for the Overcup Oak or SATCO.

By the time I was in DC, malls like Tysons Corner or Pentagon City were mainly for movies or dinner. It didn’t take long for music stores to become irrelevant in the digital era, and a good tobacconist was as important as anything else. It didn’t hurt to have the very first Apple Store open in Tyson’s either. Once I got to California, the mall was only interesting for a couple of years, and only out of habit.

Which brings us to today. With one exception, there are two types of malls in Silicon Valley: upscale luxury malls and demolished malls. Valley Fair, Stanford Shopping Center and Santana Row are all explicitly dialed in on big money, especially the Chinese tourism market. Sunnyvale Town Center, Tanforan and Vallco are closed or rubble. Hillsdale is going upscale. The lone holdout, so far, is Oakridge Mall in San Jose, which has gone broad church: Target as an anchor store, a food court and a movie theater, ethnic shopping and local ownership alongside more major national chains, and a willingness to cater to customers larger than size 4 or poorer than a quarter-million a year.

The Amazon bomb did for the malls. Did for most retail, honestly. I never thought I would be willing to shop for clothing online, but between American Giant and LC King, it’s gotten pretty simple. Socks from Bombas, drawers from Made Here, and as much as I don’t want to use Amazon, it’s basically the search engine for commercial goods. But more than that – I’ve spent most of a quarter century living with public transport, major cities, walkable downtowns of varying sizes. If all I get from a mall any more is lunch or coffee, there are plenty of options in Menlo Park or Mountain View or San Jose, and much better loitering.

The mall, in the 80s, was a set of training wheels for a bigger world. The problem was when I didn’t have anything else in Birmingham for years and years to provide the grown-up version. I suppose one of the reasons I have a hard time feeling fifty is because I didn’t accumulate fifty years’ worth of living. Maybe when I say it’s not the years, it’s the mileage, it’s because the mileage is lower than it ought to be. And more highway miles than city, to my cost.

when you had too much to think last night

There is too much. July hasn’t been much of a posting month, partly because of…well, reasons, but let’s try to take out the trash before July ends:

• Boris Johnson goes, far too late. On the bright side, the Tories are at least capable of realizing they made a mistake in ways the GOP is not. But now we will see how much they are in thrall to the ERG, the DUP and the alphabet soup of reactionary assholes intent on ruining the world if they can’t stay in charge forever.

• The real pain in the ass in all this is the DUP. They are holding Northern Ireland hostage to get results they could not obtain at the ballot box – and a coalition of Sinn Fein and non-sectarian parties is being kept from office because they are not willing to endure a world in which someone else has the upper hand. This plays perfectly into Tory hands, seeking to use Northern Ireland to extort from the EU what could not be had in negotiation and hold 25 years of the peace process hostage in hopes of achieving full cake-ism and a permanent back door into the EU. To be protected but not bound, while others are bound but not protected: it’s the definition of what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century.

• We’ve been a long time getting to this point. It really began in the 80s, when Reagan and Thatcher teamed up to say that there is no such thing as society, nothing we owe to other people, and it is perfectly all right to act as if such is the case. Forty years later, with no one having ever successfully pushed back against it, we now have an entire generation or two that has internalized this as the normal state of things, and a cohort of assholes pushing ever harder in the direction of “I must never be responsible to anyone ever.” To a large extent, the internet has made this worse, especially a generation whose parents weren’t online or were misguided enough to think that the internet wasn’t the real world. Meanwhile, “I don’t have to know or care there are other people” is the driving value system of America despite never seeming to have the most votes.

• I don’t have an answer, because there isn’t one. All there is any more is trying not to think too hard about it and desperately trying not to invite tomorrow’s trouble in before today. If there’s nothing you can do to stave it off, the best thing to do is save your powder, not soak in it, and preserve your strength and sanity until you can do something about it. Which was easier in July than in June, for obvious reasons, but it didn’t hurt that I had two major life incidents along the way. Of which.

What I wish Apple would Announce

“Announcements” ™ – an update to a selected Audience ™ of your contacts within the Messages app: can be pic, vid, gif, text, flight status, mood emoji, location check-in, anything from the stickers or iMessage apps – all in a separate scroll from text messages and group chats, in chronological order, without notifications.

Announcements are shared by default to an Audience you populate by choosing individuals and groups from your existing contacts. You then modify the Audience per post if required. E.g. – default Audience is BSW + Bastard Squad + The Kids + Rosa + Ray + Ashley; you can remove individuals or groups from specific Announcements when you post (Ray, BSW and Ashley might not be interested in Disneyland stuff, perhaps).

You can dip into your Announcement scroll whenever you like. Announcements are ephemeral and expire from the scroll in 48 hours by default (if you want more permanent communication, that’s what the texts and group chats are for).

In your contact list, each contact has a tick box for “Receive Announcements” – uncheck it and you will not see that person’s Announcements. There’s also a switch in Settings to turn your Announcement scroll on or off if you don’t want to receive any Announcements at all. Announcements appears as a circle with your favorited contacts in iMessage.

The only notification you ever receive is a one-time notice when someone adds you to their Audience. “XYZ would like you to receive their Announcements” at which point you pick Yes/No from the notification itself (you can change it in future in the contact card). You can add people to your Audience but are not told if they accepted or not. You don’t follow people; they offer to share.

The end result is that instead of texting the same thing to half a dozen people or groups that don’t overlap, you blast it to everyone you’d like to be able to see it and if they are interested, they can. Since it’s a feature within the app’s own architecture, it shares the same end to end encryption, and nothing is stored on a central server – it’s delivered and that’s an end of it.

What makes this an attractive prospect is that you can leverage the contacts you already have, in bulk. The group chat is still the most valid form of social networking, but you can’t combine all your groups into one big one because no one wants to be on a group chat with fifty people and the notifications are preposterous. Thus the scroll, which has no notifications and which you look at whenever you like. If it’s a must see, they’ll text you – this is ideal for the pictures of London you share in the moment while you’re there.

And here’s the thing: this has expanded beyond just Snapchat and Facebook’s properties. Twitter, Netflix, even LinkedIn – but most of all, if you look at the beta for the Android client for Signal, and turn on the correct flag, you can see the implementation of Stories ready to go. And this is huge – because you have the ability to do ephemeral blast communication to all of your contacts or at least as many as you want to, all end to end encrypted, from a program that is cross-platform, accessible from phone or desktop alike, and which is owned by a non-profit foundation rather than a corporation, and which has if anything a bigger middle finger up than Apple on the topic of privacy.

This, in short, might be what I’ve been moaning about for two years. And it might be the thing that prioritizes Signal over any other service (well, except for CarPlay texting while driving) – because at the end of the day, that sort of ephemeral blast content, if you can coax people into using it, would obviate the need for Insta and Twitter and at that point, I wouldn’t require anything else.

Something to think about.

the war was already here

Basically, the Supreme Court has torched the 14th amendment and its emanations and penumbras. Post-WWII juridprudence is absolutely for the chop, and states will be allowed to opt out of the postwar consensus en masse. It’s soft secession, as described elsewhere: states can do what they want and the conservative machinery at the federal level will protect them. The only way to prevent it is to somehow retain the House, somehow retain the Senate, add enough Senators to make a solid 51 votes for the entire Democratic plan, and then run roughshod – pack the Supreme Court to at least 15, destroy the filibuster, pass federally binding election law to prevent states making their own shenanigans. Right now, the Republican Party is devoted to the destruction of American democracy, and is acting and adjudicating as if they will never again be out of power. It has to be stopped now. Forget loans, or stimulus, or anything else except inasmuch as it will bring more voters to the polls in 2022 and 2024 to defend the entire concept of majority rule.

21 May 2022

This is it. When they invoke the past, that’s what they mean. Not a manufacturing base that was heavily unionized, not a top marginal tax rate of 91%, not nuclear-tipped stalemate against the Soviet Union. What they’re peddling is cultural hegemony. Homosexuals back in the closet. Negroes quietly in their place. Ladies who know their place is in the home. That’s the pitch. They can’t run on a rapidly improving economy, with GM posting record profits after the federal restructuring and unemployment slowly waning and Apple passing oil companies in revenue while carrying the S&P 500. They can’t run on foreign policy, with Bin Laden and Qaddafi’s faces painted on the “kills” fuselage of Obama’s administration.

So this is it. Pleasantville. They’re pushing all their chips to the middle of the table and betting that enough people want to live through Mad Men again that they can knock off a President who isn’t even the right color. As stunning as it is, we’re apparently going to spend the spring 0f 2012 re-litigating Griswold v. Connecticut and exhuming pre-Vatican II debates about the Pill, fifty years after the fact.

-17 Feb 2012

When I’m wrong, I’ll tell you, but I haven’t been wrong yet. Not only did the Court wipe its ass with stare decisis on Roe, it basically trumpeted its intent to come for Obergefell, and Lawrence, and Griswold. Anything based on a right to privacy is cooked. Contraception. Gay marriage. Your own bedroom conduct. In essence, the Supreme Court has relinquished any claim to calling balls and strikes, to being above the partisan fray – they are what they decried from the Warren and Burger courts, an activist court with an agenda that they are actively seeking to implement. They are the GOP’s masterpiece in the plan to avoid having to win the most votes in a fair election ever again.

The GOP has nailed its colors to the mast: it believe that it should rule, that only it should rule, that violence is an acceptable tool and democracy an unnecessary obstacle, and that their will alone defines what is American, or legal, or normal. And the vast majority of its membership is perfectly fine with this, because it means lower taxes or less regulation or something, and is willing to excuse anything no matter how much the truth has to twist to do so. The rules don’t matter any more: the ethos is “we can do whatever we want and no one else can do anything we don’t want.”

This makes me think of bell hooks, the poet and woman of letters who was a Berea College professor for the last years of her life, and an interview she gave in which she said the following, which I have taken the liberty of formatting as the poem it should be:

the author bell hooks’ definition of queerness as not only

“about who you’re having sex with”

but rather

“about the self that is at odds

with everything around it

and has to invent and create and find a place

to speak and to thrive and to live.”

Nailed it. I was certainly called queer (and worse) as a kid, despite being a straight white male Southern Baptist Alabama fan, because I was different, and the South does not believe anything should speak or thrive or live if it differs in any way from what is normal, what is acceptable, what is right. And my entire life story from second grade on has been about trying to find a space to live and thrive. Which I have found, intermittently. A couple years in high school, one at Vanderbilt, sorta, a few in DC, a few in California, but that space – and the circle of people who help make it – seems to shrink with every passing year. To the point where sometimes, the only safety is not in going down the pub or going for a drive, but going into my own back yard, under the cover of fog or marine layer or encroaching dark, and drown out my eyes with a book, my ears with RTE in Irish or maybe some moody lo-fi beats or scratchy old country music, and my tastebuds and mind with a pint or three of something smooth and malty and ideally under 5% ABV. Sometimes, you need to not be too much in this world.

But you can’t run forever. And it’s possible you can’t run far enough. California will hold til the end, but there will be hard decisions to make, and there are only bad ones. Secede? Stop the red states leaching off your federal tax dollars to underwrite their Christo-fascism, and then fight a two front civil war against them and their amen corner of Okies down the Central Valley? The option to live in peace and mind your business is vanishing, because my childhood bullies are on the march, and the end state is the United States of Gardendale Alabama.

What are you prepared to do?