God, part 2

Earlier today, one of the hipper Silly Con Valley companies decided to blow its own dick off. Basecamp decided that employees were no longer welcome to make a big deal about diversity or inclusion or “wokeness” and offered a severance to anyone who didn’t like it, and lo and behold, a third of their staff – including the head of design, the head of marketing, the head of customer support, the entire iOS team and the entire Rails dev team – took them up on it. Which must smart, especially since the remaining two-thirds are probably going to look around and think whether it’s worth passing up six months severance to stay at a mortally wounded company.

The founders had made much in recent months of fighting back against Apple and their 30% cut in the App Store (leading one wag to say of the departures “you know how much they hate to give up 30% of anything”), in order to sell their invitation-only $100/year filter service disguised as “we fixed email.” Yet another self-inflicted wound of hubris in this valley, of the same variety as the guy in Florida who thought he could pay for sex with a minor on Venmo without issues. Who is himself of a piece with the bitcoin bros, the Slate Star Codex circle jerks, the Spartan obsessives, the gun suckers, the Gamergaters with the anime pillows they don’t wank to, all manner of QAnon nutters and status quo warriors…

I wrote a while back that God is the name for the handles we bolt onto the idea that nobody is above an ass-whooping. If you go through the people above, the common thread that links everything is freedom from consequence, the notion that accountability is for lesser beings than your CEO-Navy SEAL-white man self. It’s the Randian ethos, laundered through a weaponized flavor of the Southern Baptist belief that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God – grace and forgiveness become self-granted, you are always justified, and you get a healthy dose of Confederate-grade toxic masculinity and performative redneckery into the bargain. 

Much like in the UK, where Remain/Leave on Brexit broke the traditional political alignment, or in Northern Ireland where religion and nationalism are starting to falter as signifiers and no longer reflect the Good Friday Agreement era’s guidelines, we are entering a world where ostensible enemies like “big tech” and “Real America” are actually driven by the same thing: the absence of accountability and the belief that the things you have done will never come back to hold you responsible.

You wonder if the two founders of Basecamp believe in this vision of God. Probably not. But rest assured, this God believes in them, and His hand was visible today. Mostly the middle finger.

Hanging out Sunday’s wash

* Through a series of events, I found myself at the outside beer garden of a Livermore brewery this weekend. Taps on the outside wall of the factory, strings up for the hops to grow on, live music, food trucks, bocce courts, little kids playing bags, and plenty of space to maintain distance – plus four or five non-IPA options. Nature is healing.

* I supposed I should say something about Apple’s event. AirTags are finally real, and they’re fine. The new iMacs are something to see (esp. given they’re the same thickness as the original iPhone) but I have concerns about storage; it’s crazy that you can buy a 2TB iPad but the iMac starts at only 256 GB. But the real kicker is the iPad Pro coming with the same M1 as that iMac. It makes me think that given the rumors and leaks around the forthcoming MacBook Pro at 14″ and 16″, we may not be getting a laptop smaller than 14″ anytime soon if ever. So if you want the old bloggers’ delight 12″ device, you’re going to be buying an iPad Air. All this does is reinforce my suspicion that barring calamity, I will not be in the market for a personal computer in 2021.

* That calamity may be further off than I expected this time last week. After a year and a half, certain people have remembered that other certain people work for them, and said other certain people are being taken seriously in a way that might make continuing as-is more feasible. There’s a lot I’m willing to tolerate if I don’t have to come into the office ever…but it’s not infinite, and at a minimum I need to feel like the floor couldn’t open under me at any second.

* A huge part of change with grace comes from stopping trying to live the life you had and embracing the life you are growing into. This time I’m hoping that will be a little easier for knowing that. And for the prospect of a quiet yard and a quiet pint.

* Go listen to “Prize Fighter” by the Killers. And then watch the video for “Crossfire” by Brandon Flowers. And then contemplate how lucky I am to be married to the subject of both. Happy birthday, Super Roo. 🙂

an experiment

Five or so years ago, we got hold of one of the first 12” MacBooks through work. I referred to it as “the Scottish laptop” in keeping with theater tradition, and sure enough, it was poorly suited for a work computer not least because it had one (1) USB-C port and nothing else. Power, video, accessories, everything through that one lousy port which wasn’t even Thunderbolt-capable.


The 12” laptop has been a particular desiderata of my computing experience for longer than I can recall. On my first day at Apple, when offered the entire 2004 spectrum of Apple technology to choose from, I asked for and received the 12” PowerBook G4 as my chosen workstation. I later got a 12’ iBook, which I tricked out with the larger hard drive from a 14” iBook and the Superdrive of a 15” PowerBook. That thing ran hotter than a two dollar pistol but it ran. And this 12” MacBook, for all its limitations, struck me as the closest thing to an iPad Pro. And there was a time, when the iPad first emerged a decade ago, that I famously thought a similar-size laptop would be a better option (although as it turns out, the Atom line of processors didn’t have shit on what we now know as Apple Silicon).

As it happens, in 2021, we do have an iPad Pro. But this laptop still strikes me as a more desirable package. Two pounds, with a full keyboard built in, and if re-envisioned in Apple Silicon, probably similar battery life and performance. And what do I need a laptop for that I can’t do on my phone? Blogging, lean-back video chats and watching movies or TV or YouTube, typing notes, learning Swift, indulging in Kentucky Route Zero, maybe even reading books…

And in almost every respect, an Apple Silicon MacBook would run rings around an iPad for the utility of any of those things. So we’re going to put it to the test. This five year old laptop with an Intel Core M processor is going to be my personal computer, the scaled-up adjunct to my iPhone 12 mini, for all things other than work hours, and we’re going to see what’s what and if this size and form factor is really best suited to my needs in the modern world. After all, depending on our personal circumstances in the future, a 12” laptop might be all the computer I have room for, and it’s still small enough not to pull out of the carry-on bag at the airport.

It’s a computer for the kind of life I wish I led. If Apple will be so good as to make a laptop that fits in these dimensions with an M2 chip or similar, I will buy it right off the assembly line.