three thousand























There were two enormously dissatisfying issues with this picture for me. It’s not going to stop it from the first billion dollar opening, it’s not going to prevent it being a bow tied on top of the MCU to this point, it’s not like you can’t live with the way things work out, but there are two GIANT PROBLEMS that bother me.

One is the way we skipped ahead to five years in the future…and then bring everybody back. “Bring them back, don’t change anything else.” And just like that, everybody that was gone, all those names on the monuments in San Francisco, everyone that the survivors mourned and tried to move on from…is back. That’s an insanely complicated proposition to handwave away all by itself before even considering the bigger problem: it was bad enough when aliens descended from New York. Now half the population disappeared. And came back. And there’s no reason to think it couldn’t happen again, or something like it. They allude to the fact that governments are falling apart, and I can’t fathom how that doesn’t continue and worsen. As Fred Clark has famously argued, September 11 shows us what happens when three thousand people are unexpectedly killed by something we can identify. Now imagine a third, or half of the planet, disappeared into thin air. The crippling implications for the insurance industry alone, never mind religion or geopolitics or the like – it’s not the loss of population, which only drops us back to the 1970s or so, it’s the fact that it happened, that it could happen. You can’t go back to an ordinary world with field trips to Europe. That would be…psychopathic.

It would be different if this were meant to be the end. We mourn our heroes, we celebrate our victory, and we say “and the rest of them all lived happily ever after to the end of their days.”  I wouldn’t have this problem if this were the final page, but it isn’t. So we’re going to have to pretend that everything somehow goes back to normal, or else we actually grapple with the consequences of what happened. Which is probably why all the TV shows are done (or as good as) and starting over with different stuff elsewhere. I understand wanting consequences, not wanting to say “it never happened,” but if you say it did, then you can’t gloss over the implications of that and pretend the world is back to our normal.

Which leads me to the other thing.

This almost certainly makes me an asshole and a bad person, and I don’t care: it was tremendously satisfying that Tony Stark tore Steve Rogers a new asshole in the first five minutes, and Steve just had to sit there and take it, because Tony was right. Right about the threat from above, right about needing to stay together being more important than how we stay together, right about how “we’ll lose.” And when it happened, he didn’t have any of the Avengers with him. Steve Rogers put his feelings ahead of the planet, the planet paid the price, and at the end of the day…Tony dies. Tony takes his one in fourteen million six hundred and five chance, snaps his fingers, and dies to destroy Thanos and his empire. Tony loses his life, leaves behind his wife and daughter…and Steve gets to go back in time and live out the full life with Peggy that he never expected to have.

Resentment is corrosive, Tony says, and he swallows it because the world is at stake. And he gives his life to win. That strikes me as colossally unfair on a very personal level: you are responsible, you do what has to be done, you swallow your pride and do what is required of you, and in the end it costs you everything. That’s a little on the fucking nose for me. Although I suppose in a way, it’s the inverse of Thanos: one cosmic individual’s determination to accomplish the mission no matter what can only be confounded by another’s.

One thing Tony did get, though, was that trip to 1970. We all know how conflicted he’s been his entire life about his father, and it goes all the way back to the very first Iron Man movie. He got that moment, got to clear the mechanism, and you could say that in a way he got the same thing Steve did: resolution to the great unfinished business of his life. Hell, just for Peggy’s sake, I’m glad things worked out for her eventually to get Steve back – although that confounds an awful big bunch of stuff if you think too hard about it.

And that’s the real trick. Kevin Feige is out there saying that Spider-Man: Far From Home will be the real last film in Phase III, and I’m hoping they at least make some kind of effort to say where things are going and what the world looks like now. Because if we blow by it all, ignore what happened, and pretend everything went back to normal somehow, Marvel will have done itself a substantial disservice – and its fans with it.

marvels and infinity

Sarah Halley Finn is a superstar.

She may not be a household name, but she probably ought to be, because she is head of casting for Marvel Studios. Which meant that she was the one, all those years ago, who thought that Robert Downey Jr was a perfect choice to play a spectacularly gifted talent with substance abuse issues. Okay, that could have been typecasting, but even so: the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe spins out of that decision and the ones around it and after it.

Iron Man first came to my attention when my sister, the paranormal YA writer, was at SDCC and saw the panel, and was nonplussed at best by the constant self-congratulation about what a great job they’d done bringing Tony Stark to the screen. And then the movie came out, and…well, you could see why they felt that way. Because they’d done it. Nailed it. Created a flawed and believable character on an arc of increasing self-awareness, given him one best friend who felt real and authentic (“How was the Fun-vee?” Is exactly how my DC teammates would have rescued me in the desert) and another one who felt like more than The Love Interest (especially with the epic “and then you LEFT ME THERE” at the end), created a mentor with a perfect heel turn, put Stan Lee in as Hugh Hefner, and created a comic book movie with no actual super-powers and a sense of contemporary scale and grounding.

The timeline of the thing is what boggles you. This really is an eleven-year story where all the pieces matter. A dud like Iron Man 2? Still sets up the creation of War Machine and the sense of hubris that, coupled with PTSD, will lead to Ultron and Sokovia and the Accords and the events of Civil War, which is why the Avengers aren’t there when it all happens. All because at one point, Tony Stark thought he could privatize world peace.

RDJ has had two lines that absolutely got me long after. One was last year, in Infinity War, where Bruce tells him that the name is Thanos, that he sent Loki, that was the attack on New York, that’s him, and Tony’s reaction is a quiet “this is it.” The thing you’ve dreaded for six years, the inevitable moment of reckoning, the thing you can’t run from or hide from or escape is finally in front of you. That felt real.

The other, of course, was an ad-lib to Bruce about the thing in his chest that kept the cluster of shrapnel from gnawing its way into his heart. This circle of light keeping him alive. And he said “it’s a terrible privilege.” And that stuck with me, still does, because in one stroke he summed up what it’s like to be me. What it’s like to be anyone, really, what it’s like to be alive.

Marvel Comics were only a big part of my life in adolescence for maybe three or four years, tops. I was mostly an X-Men guy, but I was out before we ever heard the word Genosha, so I missed the entire run of the 1990s and the All Mutant Errrthang era of comics. Deadpool and Cable and Gambit and blah blah blah, all after my time. The initial X-Men series of films left me cold, especially when they butchered the whole Phoenix story (Bryan Singer left the X-Men for Superman and killed both franchises deader than fucking fried chicken), the Fantastic Four movies were shake-your-head bad, and Spider-Man, while successful, didn’t seem to be going much of anywhere. Certainly there was no notion that you could ever cross these over.

And then, forced by the necessity of having sold off rights to every profitable franchise in the 90s, Marvel had to start from scratch with only one character anyone had heard of (and still identified mostly with a TV show). Fast forward less than ten years, and in The Martian, what is Mark Whatley’s reference for “I could fly around like”? Iron Man. Not Superman, Iron Man. That’s how you know you’ve shifted the conversation. Because they did another Iron Man. Then a Shakespearian drama. Then a period piece. Then crossed them all over. And at every step of the way, it was possible to say “this is where they’ve overreached, this is where they’ve gone too far, they aren’t going to be able to sell this” and yet, it always worked out. Guardians of the Galaxy. Ant-Man. Doctor Strange. Every time you think they’ve gone frog-sticking without a light, it works out. Eleven years ago, if you’d said that a space-opera epic starring Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, several actors you’d never heard of, and a talking CGI raccoon was about to be the first billion-dollar opening weekend in movie history, you’d have been laughed out of Hollywood. 

Think about that: Marvel is about to open its fourth movie with a violent talking raccoon as a frontline star.

This is very much like the last Harry Potter, or the last Sopranos, or the last Breaking Bad: you don’t know who lives and who dies. But you care about all of ‘em. You believe in every single character arc that brought us to this place, even when they were truncated at best like Hawkeye. There’s going to be loss. There’s going to be tears (don’t get me started on the last five minutes of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, especially ‘they came’). I’m not ready to see Tony Stark lose his life trying to stop the thing that he spent every moment of the last six years working to stop. 

And yet, I’m also ready to see what I hope will be a satisfying ending, and a depiction of how you can come back from the end of the world – not easily, not without cost, and not back to what you had, but that you can come back at all. Because I need that in my life right now, looking around at 2019. I just want to see a path back out of the dark for somebody.

I guess we’ll find out in about 72 hours.

flashback, part 105 of n

The glasses first appeared around third grade. It was startling how much clearer everything looked, and I could read the chalkboard a lot more clearly. Unfortunately, the brown plastic frames with their super-scratchy plastic lenses were pretty much bang on brand for the school nerd in the early 1980s, and by eighth grade I had started putting them in my plaid-button-up-shirt pocket for most of the day unless I actually needed to see what was doing.

I got contacts in December 1985, and it felt like a new world was opening up. I had super powers! I could see without assistance! Now certainly my life would transform for the better! And then 1986 turned out to be the worst year of my life to that point (still arguably in the top three or four, depending) and I got braces, so my facial appearance was back to a mess. And then…conjunctivitis. MASSIVE conjunctivitis. I had to give up the contacts for six months, which means new glasses. These were different. The lenses were tinted gray rather than brown, and the frames had actual metal, but they were still absurdly thick – and yet, not so horrifying to drive away my first girlfriend.

After that, the insurance paid for a new pair every year, so January 1988 meant new black plastic frames with thinner lenses, and those were my go-to for two years and change. 1989 saw my first and only pair of prescription sunglasses for almost thirty years, which got a lot of run in the summer as I drove around in a car with glass tops under a blazing Alabama sun. And then, I graduated, it was time to go to college, and I hadn’t had my eye exam yet. And I outright asked for something that would look better than what I’d been wearing, and they fitted me with these round tortoiseshell-look things that were a little bit off the Venn diagram of Harry Potter and I Love The 90s, but it worked. I at least didn’t feel like as much of a yutz.

And then, in the summer of 1991, I tried out the disposable contacts. I had one pair for two weeks, and it was the strangest feeling being able to wear actual sunglasses again, and it felt (again) like I’d had some cybernetic enhancement that would set my vision straight. And I reluctantly went back to a new pair of glasses, this time small enough that the lenses weren’t absurdly thick, and wore those for a year…and then, in 1992, the insurance started paying for disposable contacts, and that was the very end. Those 1991 glasses were my only prescription glasses for a decade, and I might have put them on a dozen times between 1992 and 2002.

Then in 2002, I was inspired by my girlfriend’s glasses with their magnetic clip-ons, and decided I must have that, especially since my old glasses were a decade old. The new ones were impossibly small, and it turns out that’s not the most effective thing for sunglasses. Lesson learned. Never thought of going to them full time, even after I paid to have transition lenses put in the frames a few years later. 2011 came round, and I got another pair of glasses with Oakley frames that looked half-Snowden, half-Google Glass, and wore them sporadically at best. 

It was only in early 2018 that I carried out an experiment, largely driven by the fact that my cousin seems to manage regular and prescription glasses without a fight. I broke into my flex-spending stash and bought two pair of Ames frames from Warby Parker, one with sunglass tint and one without, and found myself wearing them more and more and more…until this year, when I bought a third pair with the transition lenses. I haven’t put my contacts in since, as far as I can tell.

So what happened? After almost thirty years, I’m back to being a “glasses everyday” wearer. And not just any glasses, but ones that make me look older if anything, the sort of glasses that say “I’m launching a Gemini mission at 6 and serving a federal warrant on the Klan in Indianola at 10” – maybe it reads as hipster, I don’t know, but probably not on an aging and sagging 47 year old. I guess it became part and parcel of not needing to prove anything – of simplifying my life, of not wanting to take lenses out every night, of not wanting to wake up with my contacts in, of not having to pack a whole extra array of toiletries for travel. It means a life that least little bit simpler. And if there’s one thing that life needs to be in 2019, it’s simpler.


Ten years ago, the talk of South by Southwest Interactive was an app called Foursquare. Its creators had started with an app called Dodgeball, which used SMS to check people into venues and was sold to Google and left to die. When its creators left the confines of Mountain View, they started another company to do the same thing, only with the advantage of Smartphone Time. Turns out that built-in maps and GPS and enhanced data service make that a much simpler prospect than it was in the days of the RAZR.

Ten years on, Foursquare has built its own sort of map and social grid. And they’ve remained independent, selling aggregate map information to other companies rather than selling out to Google or Facebook or the like. And they did kind of screw up by  splitting into two separate applications and messing with the whole check-in mechanism, ruining one of the most successful attempts at gamification in the smartphone era. And yes, I get nervous that there’s all that location data for me in there.

But it was extraordinary at the time, even if it was plainly meant for people ten years younger than me. It gave me a record of places I’d been, things I’d done, and the people I’d been out with. It was data that proved the existence of a social life, kind of sort of. Granted, most of the people I have friended through it no longer live near enough to me that we check into a place together, but that’s a broader issue. Instead, I can look back and see a stream of check-ins across Europe in 2010. Or Japan in 2015. Or Disneyland. Or see when I last visited some place that I hadn’t seen since 2011, in the case of one of the downtown wine bars. Scroll back far enough and you can see peregrinations around San Francisco back when that was a desirable thing to do. Or things that used to be, like Z Pizza or Dan Brown’s Lounge or Soarin’ Over California. Or things I forgot I did, like Vanderbilt happy hours or my 2015 ER visit for my back or the Sunset Festival.

I have more past than I remember. That’s what makes Foursquare – and this blog – important.

flashback, part 104 of n

I was attractive in 1989. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and the photographic evidence of the era provides no clues – only more bewilderment. Terrible center-parted hair, badly tinted coke-bottle glasses, braces that I couldn’t seem to get shut of, and a wardrobe consisting entirely of either white concert-style t-shirts or pastel plaid short-sleeve button-ups, topped with a Members Only jacket five years too late and a gray fedora. In theory and on paper, I should have been a circus clown, and instead, four different girls found me attractive at some point in that year.

The last of those was an anomaly about which I hadn’t thought in years, maybe decades, aside from the snark at one of her pageant titles. Because she was a pageant girl, a cheerleader for a decade before we got together, the sort of high-achieving queen-bee sort that, in an exurban Southern high school setting, might have been the Platonic ideal of “who should I not be with, ever.” And yet, we dated from early October of 1989 through January of 1990, as I was filling out my college applications and getting ready for the inevitable future for which I’d waited my entire life.

Looking back, I think it was an experiment for both of us. I was probably the very last thing she would have thought of going out with, especially since she’d just had a long-term alpha-dog sort of boyfriend who had gone off to Auburn a year ahead of her. I never dated from my own high school, and was still reeling from my exposure to the wider world in June coupled with the reversal of personality and fortune around my common-law girlfriend at the time, and after being in limbo for a month, I called up this girl who had expressed a mild interest at one of the academic events of the summer and gave it a shot. 

We went to movies, I think, but by virtue of where she was located it was tough to see anything that started after 7 and still get her home on time. It was a prolonged drive deeper into the sticks from home, on two-lane roads that gloried in the name “state route”. I barely met any of her friends, and…well, I didn’t have that many for her to meet. My friends had all graduated the year before and I was at hammer and tongs with most of my senior class, and I was keeping score at scholar’s bowl practice as ‘me versus the world’, so there really wasn’t anyone to whom I could introduce her. Or wanted to. We sniped obliquely at each other about our odd-couple matchup, as I sat on her bedroom floor desperately trying to figure out how to solve the even-numbered problems in my AP Calculus textbook.

I guess with thirty years of hindsight, I was just marking time until I got out and got on with my life. This was an attempt to see what would happen if I’d had a more normal high school experience. Small pond, low ceiling, call it whatever you like. Ultimately she didn’t care about Doctor Who or Casablanca, and she was an Auburn fan, so we didn’t really have much to talk about besides school. And we never once had a word of conversation about “what happens next.” By the time we split up – well in advance of Valentine’s Day, and in a way that ensured I wouldn’t be seeing any more of her, which you can get easily down south when Dad taps on the window with a flashlight – I still didn’t know for sure that Vanderbilt wasn’t going to be happening. But once that was revealed, it was a sort of echo: the dream of escape had run on the rocks, so I was going to have to settle for something nearby and make the best of it.

Would that I’d had the sense to break up with undergrad after four months.


The Mueller report is what it is because of impeachment. There is no legal doctrine around what allows a president to be charged with a crime. There is plenty of legal doctrine around impeachment. Impeachment is, legally speaking, the proper remedy for the conduct alleged (if not outright documented) by the report we saw yesterday.

But it won’t happen for two reasons. For one, the non-Beltway public largely seems to be tuned out. I don’t know if it’s ignorance, approval or disinterest but you can hardly distinguish between the three under the circumstances. And for another, the GOP’s entire doctrine consists of a lack of shame and a willingness to brazen it out for as long as it takes, confident that there will be no circumstances.

There will be no impeachment, because the Senate will never convict, at which point you’re wasting your time. If the public doesn’t care enough to be interested, then there’s nothing to be gained by whipping them up. Best bet at this point is victory at the polls in 2020 and somehow tip the Senate, and then embark on a good solid two years of putting into law all the unwritten rules that made this possible. Shackle Silly Con Valley within an inch of its life. Soak the 0.001% for 90% of their income. Codify the release of income tax returns for every Presidential aspirant. Demolish the Electoral College by hook or by crook.

The system is broken. We probably only have one shot at repairing it. If we don’t, it’ll be time to look at real estate in Galway.

freedom from consequences

Once upon a time, we had the tools to deal with assholes. Society mattered. One’s name mattered. The good opinion of your peers mattered. The unwritten rules mattered. But assholes used those tools on people for being different. For being black, for being female, for being gay, for coloring outside the lines – and so we lost those tools. Think about how impeachment is tarred as being an inherently political and unsuitable tool, and think how it got that way. When the unwritten rules don’t matter that much, it’s not a big leap to decide that the written rules don’t matter that much either, and then all you have to do is look pious and say “we should focus on moving forward” and then “why you bringing up old shit” and that’s how you skate on any consequences for the Iraq War, or tanking the US economy, or undermining the country in the face of hostile foreign action. 

The moral rot of the 21st century really began in 1988, when George HW Bush decreed that anything was permissible in the service of winning elections. Then the talk radio hosts and Newt Gingrich decreed that anything was permissible in the service of winning, period. Norms and guardrails began to deteriorate, culminating in a perjury-trap impeachment. And then in 2000, the reasonably-clear intent of the voters was decreed obsolete. After that, especially in wartime, it was a short hop to decide that facts and reality were whatever you wanted them to be, and the bottom fell out extra-quickly after that.

Because once you’ve punted on reality, punted on the rules, and decided that anything goes no matter what, and that anything is acceptable if it helps you win, you get what the GOP did in America and what the Tories did in Britain: an open embrace of ignorance and thinly-veiled racism in the service of staving off defeat. “Economic anxiety” became the fig leaf for an appeal to “we can make things like it used to be” that for some reason never summoned up the spectacle of unions or high marginal tax rates. The problem is, once you hitch your cart to ignorance, those who prey on stupid have a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun…and that’s where Facebook came in.

Facebook’s principal achievement has been to leverage ignorance for profit. Twenty-five years ago, openly racist screeds full of lies and calumny could only be obtained furtively. Now they can be routinely piped straight to your browser window, thanks to a deliberate decision to optimize for the most provocative and outrageous content possible. Dumb people, people too dumb to know how dumb they are, get a steady diet of lies and reinforcement. Lack of awareness? Lack of empathy? The misbelief that you’re fully and reliably informed? Silly Con Valley normalized it, propagated it, got rich off it, and then sure enough, when it lit the world on fire, all the paste-eaters in hoodies in Menlo Park and Mountain View and Palo Alto began their hooting chorus of “who could have known, we are working hard to solve the problem, no one could have foreseen” – and will probably skate.

And all the proof you need is Elon Musk – smoking weed on camera, clapping back at regulatory agencies on TV, spewing the precise and exact sort of Twitter bullshit that he placed his company in jeopardy by spewing in the first place. No sane CEO would ever have done this in days gone by; this is the behavior of someone who has come up with the belief that consequences are for other people. Failure is fine; there will always be other investors, there will always be more money, and a Lucas Duplan or Elizabeth Holmes can and will ride that freedom from consequence for as long as no one knocks them off their asses. 

And there’s an opportunity cost to all this. Unicorn valuations and hockey-stick growth mean that there are good ideas out there that won’t see the market or come to fruition because the ROI isn’t fast and sexy enough. Half-wit frat bros will sit on the judicial bench for decades to come, ensuring that one Bush v Gore will inevitably lead to hundreds more and make the cleanup generational in scope. Cultivate enough stupid, and you guarantee that the future won’t be driven by American innovation, and you only have to look at WeChat and “social credit” to realize where things go if you let the wrong people drive.

Trump isn’t an accident or an anomaly. We were a good thirty years getting here. We’re going to be longer getting back.

higher, further, faster




All right. This was a significant picture for me, because in the entire MCU thus far, this is the character I was least familiar with. I knew Ms. Marvel, how she lost her powers to Rogue in the pages of X-Men and then became Binary, and I was vaguely aware that Kelly Sue DeConnick had transformed her into Marvel’s leading heroine in the last 10 years, but I assumed that the origin story would need to be cleaned up and simplified a LOT for the MCU, which meant that I was experiencing a truly new lead character for the first time since, well, Phil Coulson.

I was also lined up for a 1995 period piece. And that stuck kind of close to home. I also made a decision in 1989 that wound up putting me on the shelf for longer than I wanted, and the spring of 1995 was the first time I thought to myself that “someone who doesn’t have to prove anything” would be my life’s aspiration. You can imagine what line really stung, I suppose, if you’ve seen the movie. That era was a real nodal point, too: the 1.0 version of Netscape Navigator released, the opening of the Internet to anyone who could get access to a computer and a phone (and a credit card, I suppose), a real sense that the world was opening up into something new and exciting and unexpected.

I remember what that was like. I also remember getting the first letter about my academic status at Vanderbilt that summer and being bewildered at how I suddenly found myself on the precipice, something completely unprecedented in my entire academic career. Of which, as I say. But for now, it was the inverse of Capt. Danvers’ experience: I was being confronted with the fact that I was not as powerful as I had been led to believe. And I had to reckon with who I am and what I was, after a lifetime of being steered toward the small pond and told not to think too highly of myself. 

Also, it turns out that she has the exact power set I would have imagined for myself back then. Flying. Indestructable. Strong enough to throw a ballistic missile aside, and spewing pure rage out of the hands sufficient to punch a hole in a planet. Yeah. Me at 23 would have clicked with that in a heartbeat. These days, it’s more about teleportation and just being able to wish yourself somewhere better.

But I do love the distinction drawn between the MCU’s two O-3s: Captain America always gets up, because that’s what a hero does and that’s what he has to do to ensure that things turn out OK. Captain Marvel always gets up, because fuck you that’s why.

I was programmed to be Steve. I’d a hell of a lot rather have been Carol.

the problem of stuff

So Apple has announced the PowerBeats Pro. They’re basically AirPods on steroids; at $249 the cost is a solid $90 more than the AirPod equivalents with no wireless charging (of which more in a minute) but the battery life, sound quality, noise isolation and customizable fit are all supposed to be far superior. Which makes sense, on paper. The charging case might be too big for a pocket, but at 9 hours that might not be a problem (especially if you can go one ear at a time or something, or charge all day at work, or…

Actually, let’s think about this. I bought the BeatsX for $100 about a year and a half ago, and for the most part I’ve been reasonably happy with them. The little wing things and ear tips mean they fit reasonably well and keep other sounds out, the fact they hang around my neck makes me less wary of losing one accidentally, and the fact they charge with a Lightning cable makes it easy to use them with my phone because I can top up from the same cable. But the BeatsX don’t quite make it through a full day, and you definitely want to make sure they are fully charged by 4 PM if you’re heading up to the city.

And the annoying thing is – that’s $100 for, right now, a little over 18 months of use. How long can I expect these to last? Given that the battery life is already not what it was, how long can you expect any regularly-used built-in battery device to last anymore? We got acclimated to buying a new phone every two years, and then when we started keeping phones longer than two years, we had to pony up for battery replacements to keep them viable. How about AirPods? Will you get two years for $160? Three years? Can you reasonably expect the Powerbeats Pro to last almost twice as long as the AirPods? And for goodness sakes, will any of these things ever have battery replacement as an option so we don’t keep throwing away more electronics?

Ultimately, there’s a good case here that you just need to pay the price for something that has a replaceable battery and can be used with a cord in a pinch. I don’t know offhand where that might be found, and there’s the age old problem of not wanting to carry big over-the-ear cans everywhere, but it drives home a point I’ve thought about for a while: it’s getting harder and harder to put money on things you know aren’t going to last. This isn’t $19 for a replacement level pair of corded earbuds, this is the same money I paid to replace my iPhone SE. $249 is more than I’ve spent on most phones in my life. 

Still, I suppose I should be grateful they came out at all. The AirPower fiasco – Apple cancelling a product without ever shipping it, over a year after announcing it and less than a week after having it featured in the instructions for the new AirPods – is one of those things where you can say without fear of contradiction “this never happened when Steve was around.” Folks will point to the white iPhone, and that was indeed slow off the mark, but 1) it was a colorway rather than a whole new product and 2) eventually it shipped. We’re still waiting on the alleged new Mac Pro. The HomePod took forever to show up. The original AirPods were delayed past the holiday season, and the new ones were allegedly held for the AirPower mat which never showed up. Apple announces things now with nothing but a season, if that, as an anticipated ship date. A far cry from the days of “this is available for purchase today,” even if FCC filings and Chinese supply chain leaks make that sort of thing impossible now.

I was just about able to commit to $99 for a pair of wired Bluetooth earbuds. I don’t know if I can go over double that, especially when nothing seems to last more than a couple of years anymore. That’s bad arithmetic.

drip drip drip

After months and years of being absolutely airtight, the Mueller team is slowly starting to leak in response to the media’s credulity in accepting the Barr whitewash. They’re making it known that the report is not an exoneration, that it looks bad for Trump, and that – critically – they explicitly prepared executive summaries and abstracts that could be quickly or immediately made public and were not.

It’s not surprising. We all knew that Barr was there for one reason: stonewall the report. And while it might seem surprising that a credulous media bought the spin without question, why wouldn’t they? After all, “there was nothing to see here” is not only an exoneration of Trump, but of their own indolence in failing to pursue or report on this. If there was no collusion and no obstruction, then they can’t have been asleep at the switch, right? 

Which is why the clapback is coming now. And loudly. The press in this country has either been complicit or afraid of its own shadow, and at some point any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. The first duty of journalism was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That includes comfortable journalists.