eugene_delacroix_-_la_liberte_guidant_le_peuple

Get off the barricades and get a grip on yourself

The predictable reaction on the Left to Littlefinger’s election has exploded on my Facebook feed as it has across the country. This sparks a peculiar aspect of my character where I calm down when all around me panics. So despite my complete disgust with the results, I can’t help but eye-roll at the hand-wringing. People seem all-too-ready to build and man the barricades. I resist these visceral reactions, as history is littered with bloody incidents caused by people losing their grip on their critical faculties. Let’s not do that, okay? Let’s keep some things in mind:

One: We live in a constitutional democracy. We have a history of some pretty nasty campaigns going all the way back to Jefferson, and once the dust settles, people tend to get to work. You may not agree with the policy, but it has to be cleared with Congress first whose members will seek reelection in two years.

Two: Federalism is your friend. If you live in a blue state, just that alone will protect you from any perceived threats to your lifestyle. Fret if you want about about your kindred spirits elsewhere, but you and your daughters will not be deprived of an education or reproductive rights. I can’t say the same for those in the red states, but despite what you might read on your alarmist progressive blogs, people in those states mostly don’t care who you share your bed with as long as you keep it to yourself.

Three: The chickens are now roosting quite comfortably. Thanks to the drumbeat of derision expressed by the coastal media, your friendly neighborhood deplorable has finally given the Left its comeuppance. The picture that I see painted by so-called “progressive” media outlets of the Tea-Party-turned-Trump-supporters simply does not fit reality. The media pointed their cameras and microphones at the more outrageous of the bunch because it simply plays better and gets more clicks. The bulk of those who voted for Trump are simply hard-working people in search of some answer that Washington has failed to provide through 16 years of Republican and Democratic promises. Maybe they backed the wrong horse this time around, but to shrug off this election as a mere triumph of the idiocracy speaks partly to your own lack of empathy for their concerns. They may be wrong about a lot, but they don’t deserve disrespect.

Four: Hillary ran a terrible campaign. She was probably the worst possible candidate the Democrats could have picked. Corrupted, unprincipled, and completely unable to articulate a vision for what she wanted to do, she had no business running. She couldn’t win against someone that two-thirds of the county mistrusted. If the left should be pissed at anyone, they should direct their ire at the DNC for attempting to coronate her, save for Bernie crashing the party. He had even less of a chance, so you’d think that among their ranks, the DNC could have enlisted challengers that had a clear message to convey. Instead, the vacuum got filled by a well-meaning and lovable, but ineffectual septuagenarian who like Santa Claus promised all kinds of free goodies to get the kiddies all excited.

Five: I’m afraid too. And disgusted — but not at the people who voted for Trump. I direct my disgust at the process that allowed his ascension. We have an electoral system that all-but-guarantees to exclude anyone with real abilities. This leaves us with candidates who play well in our hyperbolic media environment, and to no surprise, we just picked a product of that environment.

I despise Trump. He turns my stomach. I’ve felt that way about him since his Atlantic City casinos crashed and burned. I think that Obama deserves credit for repairing our standing in the world damaged by his predecessor, but I expect to see Trump undo all that. Having just read Trump’s plan for the first 100 days, I actually see much I like, but I don’t see anything to address the massive debt his proposals could generate.

Let me offer a ray of hope for the Left. Trump wants to spend money on cities, and typically, the Left likes cities. Trump lives in a city, and presumably, he values the urban environment more than the suburban cul-de-sac. Well, it’s something, right?

Here’s my point: No president makes everyone happy. Obama ran on a liberal platform and all-but-promised a new Great Society. How did that work out? If I were a liberal, I’d be pretty disgusted with the last eight years. Seven countries bombed, 300 civilians (at least) killed by drone strikes, expansion of the Patriot Act, more government snooping, anemic economic recovery, and not one Wall Street executive indicted for their role in the housing crisis.

Be vigilant, get involved, stay engaged, but please, calm down and do not unloose yourself from the facts. Maybe go out and find a Trump supporter and buy them a coffee or a beer. Have a chat. Walk in their shoes a bit, people, because we’re going nowhere if we don’t start listening to each other.

Whose votes were wasted?

If all those voters hadn’t wasted their votes on Hillary and instead voted for Johnson, we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.
.

Five million less people voted this year compared to 2012. Obama also happened to win by about five million votes. Hillary Clinton took that Obama coalition for granted. She wrongly assumed she would inherit it just by winning the nomination. The Clinton campaign also took multiple states as givens. There wasn’t a day that went by where the media wasn’t talking about the “blue firewall” of rust belt states. The Democrats assumed far too much, and made true asses out of themselves.

Source: Don’t Blame Gary Johnson For President Drumpf, Blame These Three Things

The fall of Rome

Trump and the trifecta of decline

We have become a nation almost completely unmoored from its founding principles. We have become a people that has for too long sought solutions for our problems in the pockets of others. We fear the power of the one solution that once made and may again make us exceptional — our own selves left alone to pursue our happiness. Where once we embraced the concept that we rise or fall on our own merits, we instead brandish a self-serving license to blame others.

We have become a nation that operates under one tragic contradiction: We simultaneously fear and rely upon the one institution that has the sanctioned ability to take away everything from us — our livelihoods, our property, our very lives — and yet we gave it that sanction.

As a result, we have allowed our democracy become so corrupted by these powers, that we have turned to authoritarian ideas as a solution, thinking that this will only affect “them”, not us. Our contradictions and hypocrisies have made us easy prey to those who work in collusion with our rulers to keep us confused and angry. We play right into their hands.

I suppose it has become cliché to peg our country’s decline on this or that, but we have just elected a president that two-thirds of the country does not trust. How does that happen? How does it happen that we look for leaders among our lowest common denominators rather than our best and brightest? We have just elected a man that represents everything I fear: Power, privilege, and ignorance. The trifecta of decline.

It happens because we forget, and because we seek the easy solution that starts with abandoning our own responsibilities. We don’t believe that we rise and fall on our own merits, and the resulting discourse has become a cacophony of finger-pointing. How, we ask ourselves, can we make our government force the other guy do the right thing?

Until we wake up, open our eyes, and see the real reasons for our failures, it will get worse. We can bitch and moan all we want about corporations, rich people, Mexicans, and whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s just us in that voting booth. We should use that vote as an affirmation of our principles rather than a weapon against someone else’s.

Every time I think this country has turned a corner and corrected itself, I find myself profoundly disappointed. I have considered myself an informed and principled citizen for my entire life. I resisted becoming saddled with pessimism, but I know as a student of history, when your society begins to reject reason and intellect, only tragic outcomes result.

The best years of my life lay behind me, so I look at my daughter, and all I can do when she asks “why” is shrug my shoulders. “Sorry, kid. I tried.”

Every Mac I ever owned.

Apple: Forsaking the pros in Pro

Apple recently announced their new MacBook Pro models — a long-awaited update to any of their Macintosh portable lineup. Since that announcement, I’ve found myself redoubling my efforts to find a laptop that fits my needs for the next four to six years, and I’m not spending them looking at the MacBook Pro. I’m probably going to need a new laptop soon, and what I need and what Apple thinks I need may have irrevocably diverged.

Admittedly, I base my assessment mostly on ignorance. I haven’t tested a MacBook Pro much less laid eyes on one, but rather than faithfully cast my lot with Apple’s offerings, I feel I have little choice but to finally consider alternatives.

As a faithful Mac user since 1988, this development comes with a number of emotional pitfalls for me. I have used Windows machines, and they’ve only reaffirmed my enthusiasm for the Mac platform. I still prefer the Mac OS, but the hardware leaves me cold. As a designer myself, even I have begun to think you’re taking this fetish for minimalism too far.

Apple, I know you don’t care, but I don’t want thinner and lighter and more and more streamlined, not if it sacrifices capability, and not for devices that I use for work. I don’t want an array of dongles, and the need to buy still more different types of cables. If the market and I decided that USB-C is the way to go, then I’ll go out and buy USB-C devices when my older devices outlive their usefulness. I have heavily invested in USB-2 and 3 devices, and I’d prefer not to make them immediately obsolete the moment I un-box my MacBook Pro.

Apple, I’ve gone along with with all of your adoption of future-looking technology. I shrugged when you dropped the floppy drive. I embraced the demise of SCSI because I saw FireWire as a huge advancement. I celebrated the jump from OS9 to the UNIX-based OS10. And I stuck with you through three processor transitions, and I’m girding myself for your jump to ARM.

Apple, I want to see a true “pro” computer. I want a machine that makes me feel confident about its current technology, but its future value to me as well. Sorry, but even if I don’t ever upgrade the drive, or memory, or processor, I want to know that I can. Much like someone who buys a four-wheel-drive SUV and who will never let those tires touch anything but smooth asphalt, I want the confidence that comes with knowing I have that option. I consider this a form of insurance.

Locking down my device makes me uneasy, especially as a professional user. If you want to market simple computing appliances to everyday consumers, I applaud that. I know plenty of people who don’t care about upgrades.

But professional users want ports. We want cases that open. And we want power. We don’t want to be stuck somewhere realizing that we forgot to pack that $40 dongle you required us to buy to make our projector work.

Me, personally, I want a Mac Mini with the power of a 5K iMac or more, but I want the ability to configure it to my needs today and again three years from now. I want a laptop that has ports for all the devices I’m currently using until you show me that the newer devices will prove their worth.

Unfortunately, I know that you won’t build that machine, so I’m looking around. I’m considering Linux, and dare I say it, Windows as well. The laptop I think I need does not require me to load heavy-duty applications on it. I want it mainly to write and to edit text in the websites I build, and for that, I don’t need thinner, lighter, and more beautiful, but I do need it to work with the array of peripherals I’ve already invested in.

And one more thing. I bought the iPhone 7, and when asked my opinion, I say the same thing to everyone: I love everything about it except the lack of a headphone jack. While I see the advantages of wireless headphones, I frankly do not want yet another device I have to plug in and charge in order for it to work.

The lack of the headphone jack has presented me with a nagging inconvenience. I sit at my desk over the course of the day, and I prefer to keep the phone plugged in to keep it charged. This means that I cannot listen to music or make phone calls using my earbuds — at least not until I spend another $20 to $140 for Bluetooth earbuds. Sorry, Apple, but if you needed courage to piss off your long-time customers, you have some serious blind spots in your marketing.

I had long-ago given up second-guessing you, Apple. After I predicted that the iPod would flop, I stopped making predictions. I do predict that you’ll continue to make boatloads of money for whatever you sell, but I do believe it’s a mistake to call these new machines “Pro” and leave so little in them for pros to want. Many of us, even me, will probably just go along yet again, but I do see a gaping maw of an opportunity for someone else to take my money.

It’s been a beautiful relationship, Apple, but you’re finally starting to get on my nerves.

Excellent summary on the decline of newspapers

I saw the end coming the day I read the Boston Globe on my laptop while the printed copy lay on my doorstep. That was in 2000.

Stop just blaming the Internet for killing newspapers. Start blaming editors. – Reassociated Press

https://reassociated.press/2016/10/24/stop-just-blaming-the-internet-for-killing-newspapers-start-blaming-editors/

stew

Hot wreaking mess of an election

A few days ago, I met up with a Greek documentary producer touring the area to shoot a video about the effect of the Greek diaspora on American culture, particularly on its cuisine. Of course, we spoke about diners.

But besides diners, we had an interesting off-camera discussion about the election. She wanted to know what was going on. I said this country’s system for picking its leaders has devolved into something just short of disastrous.

We now have a system, I told her, that like the priesthood and the police, attracts mainly candidates from the margins of society. No one with any abilities applicable in the where most of us live would dare pursue this job. No one in their right mind would subject themselves to the kind of scrutiny we now pour upon our potential leaders.

Politics has always meant appealing to the mob, and thanks to the internet and the 24-hour news cycle, that seems to be all it appeals to. Any attempt to discuss substance becomes drowned by the cacophony of the infantile outrage. A thoughtful candidate could ignore the fringe, but the fringe has taken control. The lunatics run the asylum.

As a result, this election presents us with a “choice” between two very emotionally damaged people, both coming from dysfunctional families, and suffering from serious daddy issues. Lucky us.

I said to my new Greek friends that it’s been a long time coming, but the all the ingredients that have made up for this particular election have laid upon the counter for far too long. Finally, instead of tossing out this garbage, we’ve somehow managed to toss it all into the pot and turned up the heat to high. Get ready to choke on this wreaking stew for the next four years.

Presidential electors should vote their consciences

The idea that a presidential elector should vote his conscience is not new. The Framers of the Constitution assumed that electors would be seasoned statesmen who would exercise informed and independent judgment. The Electoral College, as it came to be known, was meant to be a buffer between rough populism and elitist cronyism.

Source: Richard E. Sincere column: Presidential electors should vote their consciences

Government doesn’t “compete” with private business. Government destroys it.

Apparently, too many have yet to learn an important lesson in American economic history, which is that whenever government rushes in to fix a “problem” on behalf of constituents, it ends up warping the market. The result almost always means its ultimate destruction and then takeover. See transit. See education. And now, watch as the health care industry, one that government has been heavily entrenched with since World War II, gets unraveled by government “competition.”

If you think this is a good idea, go ride a train in this country. Try to find an affordable college. And now, try to find affordable health care that actually makes you feel good.

Fair and open competition between the government and the private market was always a fiction. The government handicapped the whole game in its favor from the start. Obamacare was initially written with a public option, and was always intended to funnel people to it. Except now, conveniently, instead of always being there to drive protesting insurers out of the market more slowly, the public option can be dropped in as an affordable “savior” for people who have wat

Source: Why the public option is freaking evil and we should kill it with fire

NYTimes: Cubs Defeat Dodgers to Clinch First Pennant Since 1945

I couldn’t be happier for the Cubs. While as a Red Sox fan, I also have a soft spot for the Indians, you just have to root for Chicago in this contest.

One thing though: Should the Cubs finally turn the corner for good and shake off its “hapless” moniker, I hope their fans don’t turn into annoying, entitled assholes like so many newly minted Red Sox fans did after 2004. Yankees fans have already perfected this attitude, and deserving or not, it’s not an example a good fan should follow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/23/sports/baseball/cubs-defeat-dodgers-reach-first-world-series-since-1945.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

mike-rowe-works

Dear Mike Rowe: What dream do I pursue now?

[The video mentioned in the previous post inspired me to write Mike Rowe in hope against hope that he might have some wisdom to offer.]

I recently became a true fan of yours, and I only just this morning finished watching your interview on ReasonTV. I’m sold. In a sense, I always was, but I’ve rarely been able to articulate your message in such an entertaining fashion.

Please indulge me in telling my story. I came from extremely humble beginnings. I grew up in a household headed by divorced mother of three, who worked hard her entire life, often in sweat shops. We never had much, but we managed to get by.

Because of this upbringing, I was determined to go to college and learn a profession. While in school, I worked summer jobs as a shop laborer, office janitor, and a floor refinisher among other things. I saw this as temporary. I was going to college, dammit, to become a professional, and take over the world.

I eventually went to school to become a graphic designer, and embarked on that career in the mid-1980s with a measure of success, despite enduring a couple of severe recessions and a few other twists and turns.

However, as I was entering this career, I read this article in Esquire magazine that resonated with me. It was written by a Porsche mechanic with his own garage. He described a great life, fixing toys for the wealthy — people who drove their sick baby into the shop, caring only that they would drive out with a purring kitten. They didn’t tell him how much to torque the head gasket or angle the alignment of the left front wheel. They didn’t care what it cost or even when it might be done. They only cared that the car was fixed. He was king of his castle.

The mechanic talked about the fringe benefits of this life, including the invitations to his customers’ parties where he often found himself the most popular guy there.

Reading this I thought to myself that despite how much I used to love working on my old car, there was NO WAY I was going to shift gears now and become a “lowly” auto mechanic, even if I did work on the coolest cars in the world.

My 1973 Hornet in 1982, held together with bubble gum, rubber bands, blood, sweat, and love.
My 1973 Hornet in 1982, held together with bubble gum, rubber bands, blood, sweat, and love.

The story stuck with me, because I had trained myself so well on repairing my hand-me-down 1973 AMC Hornet, by the time I was done with it, I had switched out almost everything except the drive-train. Against all odds, I got that car to go at least 150,000 miles before I finally gave up on it. I actually loved the work and getting my hands dirty, but that to me was just a hobby, and I did it partly because I had more time than money. I called myself “Mr. Prettygoodwrench.”

Today, I’m 55 years old. I find myself aging out of my chosen profession as a website designer/developer, and I look back on that article and think to myself, What an idiot I was. If I had switched gears, I might be that guy today.

Mike, I have a 12-year-old daughter, and thanks to you, nothing would make me happier than if she came to me and said she was going to be an HVAC technician.

But what about people in my position? I think it’s a little too late for me to become a certified auto mechanic or a railroad engineer.

I have several friends in similar situations. We’ve spent the best years of our working lives pursuing a dream in some kind of creative profession, and it’s not working out. The prospects are frankly bleak. If I had a time machine, I’d go back to that day I read the article and beeline to the nearest Porsche dealer to find out what I needed to do to work there.

I know that I can always march down to the nearest Home Depot and get a job stocking shelves, but I don’t have to tell you how I fear that’ll affect my self worth.

What’s the alternative? What dream can I pursue now?

Thanks for reading, and please put your TV show on YouTube or start your own channel. We dropped out cable subscription years ago, and we’re not going back ever, even if we could afford to.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Randy Garbin
……………………………………
Recipe for an American Renaissance:
Eat in diners. Ride trains. Shop on Main Street. Put a porch on your house. Live in a walkable community.