Let’s not go overboard

Too many paste-eaters are out there crowing that the Library of Congress ruling on DMCA exemptions is somehow the death-blow for Apple, and that you’ll be able to buy jailbreaks on the corner and then sue the pants off Steve Jobs when iOS 4.1 breaks them. Setting aside the foolishness of anyone thinking jailbreaking is remotely on the mind of 99% of iPhone owners, I will refute this with two simple points:

1) The ruling says that jailbreaking does not constitute a breach of the DMCA. From a black-letter law standpoint, all this means is that you can break your own phone and not be legally liable – in no way does it imply that Apple is obligated to facilitate or support this. Think of it like a car – you can rip out the engine and put in some wacky hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain if you like, and you’re completely within your rights to do so, but you shouldn’t balk when the mechanic at the dealership says “we can’t really fix that for you.” In other words, as with so much of life – buy the ticket, take the ride. All this ruling means is that it’s legal to buy the ticket.

2) The last round of DMCA exemption rulings in November 2006 said that unlocking your phone to use with another provider is not a breach of the DMCA. That was reaffirmed in this round. For almost four years, it’s been completely legal to unlock your phone in the United States. How many carriers are selling phones unlocked? For that matter, how many carriers will unlock your phone if you ask them to? You can do it yourself, if you can figure out how, but if you call up AT&T and ask them to unlock your iPhone, they’ll tell you to go shit in a hat, irrespective of your contract status. Hell, even if you could “unlock” a phone from Verizon or Sprint and move from one to the other, you’d still need them to accept your ESN and put on their network.

Apple caved on the carrier-subsidy model after a year. Google folded in only seven months. Like it or not, if you want to tinker with your phone, you’re going to deal with the fact that the carriers have the whip hand. That’s the American way – which is why our cellular system is the most cocked-up on Earth.

Meanwhile, what you wind up with is this: you’re legally free to do whatever you want to your phone. However, nobody is obligated to help you out, and if you somehow make it non-functional, well, now you’ve climbed up there it’s a hell of a lot higher than it looks, ain’t it? And for all those who want to loop this into the Apple-is-the-new-Osama-bin-Laden meme that seems to be sweeping the Internet in 2010, two points: 1) show me a case yet of Apple going after jailbreakers in the law or courts, and 2) it wasn’t Apple who’s out there remotely removing software from their phones…

Saving money with Division III sports

November 9, 2008:

…The $11 million Panther Stadium, carved into a hillside on the northwest edge of campus, seats 2,000 fans in the stands and dozens more on the berm in the south end zone. More than 120,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved to make room for the facility, which features a brickwork facade and a prescription athletic surface.

BSC reported 3,575 people packed the stadium, which is framed by oaks and pine trees on the perimeter and a view of a giant industrial slag pile across Interstate 20/59.

“What we all enjoy are these festival days of fall,” said BSC President David Pollick. “This is what you think of as a romantic afternoon at a liberal arts college. This is fun. And it’s a big day for us.”

The new stadium features an outdoor track and the football surface that doubles as a lacrosse field. Building the stadium allowed BSC to add five sports to its roster.

Pollick said the debt for the construction would be retired in three years because of an increase in enrollment sparked by the new sports….

Submitted with no further comment…

May 26, 2006:

The Board of Trustees announced that they intend to pursue a move to Division III, beginning with the 2007-2008 academic year. One lame-duck season in Division I, followed by an end to scholarship athletics. In addition, they announced plans to start football in Division III, complete with an on-campus facility. In related news, the Birmingham News reports that the NCAA was approached in February by an institution, requesting anonymity, seeking to explore a move from Division I to Division III.

So the question is twofold:

1) If we don’t have the money to stay in Division I, exactly where in the FUCKING FUCK do we have the money to start up the most expensive sport a college can play, and build it a new stadium to boot?

2) Has this move been in the works for three or four months now, and if so, why has so much effort been made to keep it secret?

May 28, 2006:

…This whole project stinks to the skies, what with the complete veil of secrecy until the last minute, the mysterious “anonymous school” approaching the NCAA about shifting down to III, and the apparent willingness to shovel money into the transition despite the dire financial straits that prompted the move in the first place. There’s only one explanation: David Pollick has wanted this from day one. He always intended to do this, because his vision for BSC is that we can be the next Sewanee, the next Centre, the next Oglethorpe, whatever. Coming in under the shadow of Neal Berte, he had to do something to make his mark right away – so he stirred the pot. Risible at best, contemptible at worst. For some reason, the trustees went along – maybe some of them look forward to fewer minorities coming through the gate, I don’t know – but I have yet to find a single student or alum who thinks that moving backward is a good idea.

BSC always found the money for everything else – science buildings, frat houses, whatever – so let’s not get caught up in the whole “follow the money” approach. This isn’t about money. It never was. If there was a serious commitment on the part of the administration, donors could be found, just as they have been in the past. This isn’t about money – this is about a new president wanting to remake a school in his own image…

July 14, 2010:

Birmingham-Southern College today announced massive financial cuts to balance its budget, 110 days after serious fiscal irregularities were discovered that forced the school to cut spending by as much as $10 million a year.

The cuts include 51 staff members laid off; a decision not to fill 14 vacant staff positions; average pay cuts of 10 percent to remaining faculty, staff and administrators; suspension of the matching contributions to retirement plans; two one-week furloughs for all staff and administrators…

July 22, 2010:

The financially beleaguered private liberal arts college announced late today that, with the start of the 2011-12 school year, it will no longer offer majors in those five subjects (accounting, computer science, dance, French and German – ed.) and that, over the next year, the school will eliminate 29 teaching positions.

The school’s music program will undergo “modification.” What kind of modification is under discussion, and school officials declined today to say more about possible changes.

About 150 BSC students are pursuing majors in the five programs set for elimination, school officials said.
The cuts will result in 12 faculty positions being eliminated effective with the start of this school year, which gets under way in about a month. An additional 17 faculty positions will be eliminated effective in the 2011-12 school year…

So I apparently missed a meme a few months back…

…about the ten most influential books of your life. So I’m going to give it a shot. In no particular order except roughly chronological…

1) Our Universe, by the National Geographic Society. An illustrated atlas of the solar system and beyond, unbelievable in its artistry and comprehensive in its information. It even came with a floppy vinyl record that demonstrated the doppler effect. For a kid who was a space freak (and had plenty of classmates willing to inform him of same), it was THE book.

2) Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. An anthology of vignettes of turn-of-the-century life in a fictional Ohio town, this was an assignment for summer reading when I donked off English 11 in the summer of 1988 so I could fit AP English in later. While the books in general were pretty good – Gatsby just missed this list – Winesburg is the one that first made me think, “I wish I could write that.” Still does, over twenty years on.

3) The Moon Goddess and the Son, by Donald Kingsbury. A recommendation in the summer of 1989 from my long-distance nigh-imaginary dream girl at the time, this one had everything: non-linear plotting, near-future setting, and a concept of simulation-based historical and political analysis that did as much as anything to start making a political science major of me.

4) The Making of the President 1960, by Theodore H. White. I read this in its entirety while waiting for a scholarship interview my senior year. A landmark view of a style of politics in transition, before primaries and television made party conventions irrelevant. Subsequent installments were also interesting, but this is the one that made White as a political commentator – and conclusively bent the curve from pre-law to political science.

5) V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The greatest graphic novel of all time, Watchmen be hanged, this is the book that opened my eyes to what anarchy really means…and to what terrorism can really accomplish. Also features the most compelling anti-hero of British fiction until the coming of DCI Gene Hunt. If all you’ve seen is the movie, you really don’t know the story.

6) Griffin and Sabine (and its sequels), Nick Bantock. An obvious hook for any English minor pining after somebody far away, the combination of “epistolary novel” and artwork that you actually had to open up and touch was unlike anything before or since. I think this got turned into an interactive CD-ROM at one point, and it’s the sort of experience that would be downright transformative rendered on an iPad. The quintessential grown-up pop-up book, and one that made me realize that a bad girlfriend in the deep South was no way to go through life.

7) The Macintosh Bible, 4th ed., by Art Naiman et al. I got my first Mac in the summer of 1994 before going to grad school. This is the book that made it possible for me to use it, and thus to wind up with the life and career I currently enjoy.

8) The Nudist on the Late Shift, by Po Bronson. Ultimately, this is the reason I am in Silicon Valley. Written at the height of the dot-com boom, the stories within – new arrivals trying to make it big, sales people trying to spike the hockey stick on the last day, or a young CEO trying to take the company public – made me wonder if I could do that, and if I could do it in Northern California at ground zero of the future. As it turns out, I can. Which is kind of a relief.

9) To Say Nothing Of The Dog, by Connie Willis. The most accessible of her Oxford time-travel books, this is just begging to be made into the first truly great sci-fi-rom-com. I keep going back to it (and forcing it on the wife) just because you can hear those characters in your head, pitch-perfect. (And if you don’t think I’m desperate to make sure I live until All Clear is published…)

10) Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson. The Bigend trilogy shows Gibson working in an entirely new world, full of idiosyncratic characters, too-real-to-be-real plot twists, and chockablock with brand names – in other words, ours. James Bond reimagined for the 21st century, with secret agents replaced by nondescript young women and gadgets you could probably pick up on eBay if you searched long enough. Cayce Pollard probably informs my wardrobe over the last 3 years more than any other influence – lots of plain solid separates that could pass muster anytime since the end of the war…

They see me ridin’…they hatin’…

The backlash against Apple is reaching gale force. Wags from LA to New York to London are convinced that the iPhone 4 is somehow the Edsel of mobile phones, and the elite of the paste-eaters are insistent that Android is just the thing to bring down dictatorial empire of Jobs. Which begs the question: uh, LOLWUT?

Apple’s explosion into mobile telephony has been a circus hitched to a tornado and no mistake. Over the last three years, Apple has made more profit off the iPhone than every other mobile phone maker has made on their entire product line. That’s an innovation right there, to bring Silicon Valley margin to a segment that was previously fixated on providing the phone free to the user in hopes that they’d make it up on minutes. More impressive, though, is the projection that Apple’s profit on the iPhone in 2010 will be double all other US phone sale profit combined – on 3% market share. Clearly, they’re making crazy paper, and people are willing to pay for their goods.

So why the nerd backlash? I suspect it’s got a lot to do with the fact that the iPhone *is* popular and is the face of the smartphone revolution, while simultaneously being a relatively tight ecosystem. It’s not “open,” it’s not “free,” it’s not got root access and the ability to load your own operating system ROM and and and and… well, you’ve still got to “jailbreak” many if not most Android phones, and in the case of the Droid X circumvent hardware protection. Let’s also remember that somebody did remotely delete applications off their phones, and it wasn’t Apple. And the platform itself is fragmenting in all directions, with multiple versions of Android in the wild and different UI layers over the top – and that with the end of the Nexus One, you can no longer go out and buy a phone running the latest version of the Android OS on the retail market. If Apple were killing off phone models after seven months, revving the OS every three and obsoleting hardware barely halfway through its contract, the Slashdot gladiators and Gizmorons would be losing their shit.

The problem for the paste-eaters is that the iPhone’s not meant for them, and it’s successful. Most people don’t care about being able to install this widget they wrote themselves. Most people couldn’t give a shit about having “root access” to the phone. And I guarantee you that most people haven’t even considered the developer model behind their phone. All they know or care about is that they like it and it works.

And this is why Apple has succeeded so far, and why the iPhone 4 issues are the biggest problem yet: Apple has blown off the usual laundry list of specs and features in favor of one criterion – user experience. The reason why the original iPhone didn’t have 3G was because the coverage was so bad and the power demand so high, there was no way to make it work without sucking. The reason why the first two iPhones didn’t do video capture is because cellphone video at the time was, at best, 320×240 and maybe 15 frames per second, and that sucks. Full-motion VGA in the 3GS, 640×480 at 30fps, didn’t suck, and that’s why you didn’t get it until then. Video calling has been around for years, and it sucked, and that’s why Apple didn’t offer it until they had an implementation that was easy to explain and simple to use – and didn’t suck.


Thus the issues with the iPhone 4, and the consternation at Apple. Reading the papers, you’d think the iPhone 4 couldn’t get a signal anywhere, and any attempt to pick it up causes it to implode. Patently not the case – I was in an elevator yesterday, bridging the antenna gap with a damp finger on both sides, and I still had 2 bars of 3G and the call sounded unimpaired. But if people think the phone is terrible, that’s all it takes – which is why Himself was so crabby at that presser. He knew what had to be done, and he did it, but he didn’t like having to answer for a problem that was nowhere near what it was being made out to be. But ultimately, I think he’ll be fine, because there’s still a waiting list for new iPhones (at least as of yesterday at the Apple Store in Palo Alto) – and people don’t line up to buy something they think sucks.

And so we fall back on the oldest of nerd tropes: that the people buying Apple are sheep, are morons, are fanboys who will eat whatever shit is shoveled out of Cupertino, that only an idiot would pay for an iPhone when you can get this amazing thing with an 8 MP camera and a 4-inch screen and 4G and a kickstand and it’s got video calling too and it’s open and you can root it and and and and…

Message to my fellow geeks: there are a lot of regular donks out there. They do not have the same priorities. They want something else, and Apple is apparently willing to give it to them. Ever since 1997, one thing has been true at Apple: the nerd market is not, cannot be, and will not be the focus of their attentions, because that’s not where the money is.

Sic transit Nexus

Well, that didn’t take long – after less than seven months, the Nexus One has been discontinued. The first – and to date, only – mobile phone that came close to wooing me from the iPhone is no more. Was that fast? I thought that was fast.

The charitable explanation is that the Nexus One was never meant to be a large-scale consumer product: it was designed as a proof of concept, to show what Android could do with the right hardware platform, and meant to spur other manufacturers on to better products. As an aside, being an unlocked phone, it made a great developer tool or just geek toy.

The problem was multifold:

1) The phone was only available online, and for the most part unsubsidized. Which means $530 up front for a phone you could only physically gauge by putting your hand up to a Flash app on the site. No typical consumer who doesn’t suffer form brain damage is going to go that route when every other phone on the market can be physically held and toyed around with at a cell store, or Apple store, or Best Buy, or Radio Shack, or…

2) The phone wasn’t carrier-subsidized. The upper limit on a smartphone seems to be $299 for all the bells and whistles, $199 for the mainstream variety. Asking almost double that is the height of foolishness, especially when…

3) Frequency lock-in means that you could only use the phone on T-Mobile. Oh, you could put it on AT&T, but you’d have no 3G coverage, since AT&T doesn’t operate in 1700 Mhz. And since T-Mobile’s 3G only works in that band, you could buy the AT&T version but be stuck there unless you were willing to go EDGE-only on T-Mobile. And AT&T’s rates per month are the same whether you bring your own phone or not – hell, even when you’re out of contract. Verizon and Sprint are right out – good luck going to them with a phone you don’t buy from them.

4) They barely advertised the damn thing. I saw ads on websites, but that’s about it. And really, Google doesn’t care about selling the Nexus One any more than Cisco cares about selling the Flip camera – it’s a sideline to help spur people to consume the company’s REAL offering – advertising in Google’s case, bandwidth in Cisco’s. Compare to Apple, whose main line of interest is in making you buy the device itself; things like the iTunes Music Store or App Store are nice, but those are to help facilitate and encourage the purchase of iTems, first and foremost.

Well, that’s made one bit of my life easier. If there’s not going to be an unlocked Nexus One, there’s precious little to be gained for me by switching my entire underlying infrastructure. As with so many things in my life, I ended up making the right decision through no fault of my own.

(An aside, leading up to the next post: how loud would the outrage had been if Apple had cancelled its flagship phone model after only seven months?)


Another day, another colossal fuck-up. The details of how Shirley Sherrod’s speech about her own racial-awareness come-to-Jesus incident got spun into some sort of black-supremacist plot and cost her a government post are all over the place right now, so I won’t waste time going into it. However, a few things should be obvious at this point:

* Every word that Andrew Beitbart says, writes, or publishes is a lie, including “a”, “an” and “the”, and the only time he should be getting public attention is if he is being mauled by a live panther at halftime of the Super Bowl.

* Every word that Fox News broadcasts is a lie, including “and”, “but” and “or”, and anyone who attempts to assert that Fox is anything other than a propaganda arm for the worst sort of hack Confederate propaganda should have his testicles crushed by a lead-filled 3-liter Coke bottle. The only reason Glenn Beck folded on this one is because a) he thought he could make the White House look bad by doing so, and b) to continue to support a known fabulist might cut into his televangelism racket.

* This President, this White House and this Administration are running scared of a bunch of toothless hicks and their amen corner in the right-wing media echo chamber. It is past time for people who are sick of this shit to lean on the White House to sack up – and to browbeat every media outlet they can find into spending more than ten seconds fact-checking video clips from an organization with a proven track record of doctoring their content to support their avalanche of lies.

* Oh yes – it might be nice to give this lady her job back, since the pretenses under which she was pushed out of it are demonstrably and patently false.

If we’re going to decide that opinion isn’t enough, and everyone is entitled to their own goddamn facts, well, fuck it. I give up. We had a good ride there for a few decades. Maybe our new Chinese masters will make the cellular network run on time.

It’s getting out of hand

Yet another right-wing shooter went berserk over the weekend, this one in California. His mother – who sounds like a real piece of work herself, given that the shooter took most of his guns from her supply – says her sprog was angry about “the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items.”

It flabbergasts me that we have a Congress that has more Democrats in its majority than the Republicans ever had from 1995-2007, that we have a President who was elected by a much greater margin than George W. Bush ever managed, and yet somehow, anything they attempt to pass is some sort of affront to what “the America people” actually want. When, that is, they can pass anything – because in classic Texas fashion, you no longer win by having the most votes. Thanks to the fact that Senate rules are about seventy years out of date for modern political norms, a vote of 59-41 means that the 41 carries the day.

We’ve given politics over to the worst crop of ignorant rednecks imaginable, and I don’t know what’s worse: that they’re allowed to be part of the process, or that there are non-redneck Republicans who will go along with them in November just because that’s notionally their team. For whatever reason, nobody ever has to apologize for the crackers. Nobody has to answer for those who question whether the President is a citizen. Nobody ever has to REPUDIATE endless ever-so-veiled remarks about “Second Amendment solutions.” And yes, the word is “repudiate” – there is no such word as “refudiate,” you stupid, stupid (INSERT PREFERRED HURTFUL EPITHET HERE).

So yes – when this country goes down the shitter, just so you know, it happened because we allowed our political elites to declare that the goal, ideal, and apotheosis of American political life was the cast of Hee Haw.

Here we are, born to be kings, we’re the princes of the universe…

As reunions go, you could do a helluva lot worse. I recognized most everyone; the women are definitely better-preserved than the men – some of them looked like they’d aged, oh, two or three years tops, but everyone has held up very nicely – and people’s reaction to me generally broke down to some admixture of “OHMIGOD” and “HOLY SHIT!” Which, you know, I wouldn’t have had it any other way, then or now.

It was amazing. It really and truly felt as if I was the same person, just twenty years older. Maybe that ol’ boy grew up better than I gave him credit for, I don’t know, but it was truly fantastic to be back among the tribe. I was incredibly nervous heading in, and that disappeared within about three minutes, and after that it was off to the races. Just a blast all around. (And a surprisingly reasonable bar tab. When you can drink your way out of your reunion for under $50, you done good.)

Just once, I’d like to go back to the ancestral lands on the down-low, not let on to any of my local trying relations that I was there, maybe have Team Black Swan East come up and join us, and have our fellow Trees show us what’s good in the 205. I mean, there’s stuff there I would never have though to even look for. Soho Square? I didn’t even know that existed until drinks at the Aloft last Christmas. Bottletree? What’s a bottle tree? There may actually be cool stuff there, and it would be a blast to actually get to check it out. Put that on the “maybe” list once of these days – if we can ever circumvent the flight issue…

It’s here

I have spent the better part of the last five hours digging through a footlocker stuffed full of my old paperwork, from junior-high to the middle of Vanderbilt – in short, everything between “hey, girls are interesting” and “subscribe FRIENDSZ”. I generated two huge trash bags and most of a good-sized box, parsing into “keep this” and “trash that,” although half of the stuff to keep should probably actually be trashed. If any of you are Doctor Who fans, I think I may have just finished regenerating.

It’s a very surreal experience, knowing that all this stuff is at least ten years old and probably more like fifteen, but what’s more surreal is the way that I had that big needle-scratch in my mind when the wife came into the room and I realized that it wasn’t actually 1988, or 1993, or…

In high school, you always think you’re all alone, that you’re special and misunderstood and whatever. The really disappointing thing is realizing that you were just exactly like everybody else….

-Dec. 26, 2005

It’s probably for the best. The process of weeding out the cruft of half a life ago (literally, this coming spring, half a life ago) has done some really weird things to my psyche. All I can say is that I am clearly not the man I was, and not just the way that Christopher Eccleston is not Jon Pertwee. If you track back to 1988-90, I have gotten almost everything I ever wanted – granted, it took a hell of a long time, and a lot of what I got was not what I expected, and I have since lost some of what I got, and a couple of the things I just grew out of needing. But for better or worse, here I am. I don’t even have anything I wanted for Christmas and didn’t get.

God willing, maybe this means that some of my thought-processes and reflexes and instincts that were wet-wired back in the dark days of adolescence will go away now, or at least grow up. I’m not counting on it, though…

-Dec. 27, 2005

Two decades in the making, and it starts in less than 8 hours. Tonight, I’ll be seeing the stand-up comedy stylings of one of my fellow alums, and the next day, I’ll be on a plane for Saturday’s 20-year high school reunion dinner.

If you know me, you’ve heard the story a million times – how I was closer to the class the year before me, how I had the blockbuster spring semester my junior year followed by an even more eventful summer, and how my senior year was a letdown because of the distance between me and the rest of my class – but I didn’t care, because college was going to be IT and I didn’t need to worry about high school anymore. And you probably have some idea how that worked out.

I’d like to think that my best days are still ahead of me. Certain persons (Whom I’ll Figure Eventually ;] ) like to occasionally tease me about being one of those guys still coasting off that time his football team in high school won the big game and milking it for the next sixty years. To which I can only plead nolo contendre – I’m not admitting it, but I’m not denying it either. =)

Because college didn’t really work out. Neither did grad school, which basically served as a degree-laundering program while giving me some hands-on experience to let me try to luck my way into my first job in a totally unrelated field. Throughout college and grad school, for the most part, the friends I had were the same guys from that great run in 1987-89, and by the time I’d left grad school, they’d all split town ahead of me.

My life history, when you get right down to it, has been one of leaping from one rock to the next while the ground crumbles behind me shortly after. I left a gaping black hole where higher education used to be. I left Washington, and my old group at work was scattered within a year (with an additional admixture of spouses, offspring, and housing changes to enhance the effect and drive home the point that it would have happened even if I’d stayed). My two previous jobs in California left me with, at best, 4 or 5 combined people with whom I’m only in sporadic touch. One step ahead of the void, always.

And then last year, the previous class had their 20th high school reunion. And although I didn’t even know about it until it happened, the ripples in Facebook caught me – and all of a sudden I started to see names I hadn’t heard in years, think about things that hadn’t occurred to me since that night I dumped all the papers over four and a half years ago now. And that artificial blue stone on that 10-karat white gold ring began to wink at me… I’ve got three class rings. One I never wear, because I’ve disavowed that institution. One I routinely wear, as the world’s most expensive bottle-opener and part of my degree-laundering so I can feel better about myself in a world almost wholly defined by Berkeley on one side and Stanford on the other, and one because I graduated from there and I claim it and it has been with me every day since.

A couple months ago, in a preview of things to come, we had dinner with one of the guys who was part of my crew back in the day. He looked– well, he looked about 2 years older, and dressed like a tech-sector VP on a Silicon Valley fact-finding mission. (Conveniently, it turns out that’s exactly what he was.) And he couldn’t get over how different I looked. Maybe how different I seemed. And I can see how that would happen. The white T-shirts have been replaced with black polo shirts. The Reeboks gave way to black Docs. The (shudder) stonewash has been displaced by plain old standard blue 501s. There’s a goatee now, largely to compensate for the Folliclypse on my actual dome. The gray fedora and the Members Only jackets are long gone. And if I’m honest, I’m a good sixty pounds away from where I was all those years ago. I also have thirteen years in the world of IT on top of two degrees in political science and a world of life experiences on two continents.

But the kid underneath all that? The kid from twenty years ago? The one who urgently needed his four or five guys that had his back 24/7? The one who desperately craved constant validation, everywhere, everything, all the time? The one who’d rather face a firing squad than have to walk up to a crowd of strangers and assert himself? The one who had to be on guard every second of every hour of every day just to ward off the black cloud that would come eat his soul given half a chance? The one who needed to belong worse than he needed air?

Yeah. He never went anywhere. I just pay his taxes.