For the last year or so, I’ve been blogging about my regular pace – meaning very occasionally, when I REALLY needed to write my way through some thoughts I was in the middle of. And while I’ve been doing the normal writing stuff (trying to figure out what the bleep happened to the American Political system…I mean, was Robert Ailes REALLY given godlike powers of persuasion and we’re now finally seeing the full flower of them in the WHOLE of American politics?) there’s been a lot of other stuff going on in the background of my life.
So let’s start, eh? From the outside in, on the topics that have been key in my mind:
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The Continuing Implosion of Apple
In last year’s year-beginning article I commented on how Apple had intentionally engineered a phone of theirs so cheaply that it did stuff that it wasn’t supposed to (bend, fall apart, etc). One would think that they would have learned their lesson by now, but it turns out that their latest iPad offerings include ones that don’t even wait for you to use it a bit before bending. Meanwhile there’s still issues with the keyboards of their newer Macs of all kinds, and people aren’t buying the new iPhones at nearly the pace they were buying, even for the troubled iPhone 10 (and that is, of course, where they’re allowed to sell their phones…). Add to this the fact that the latest iOS was dedicated to bug fixes, and you’re talking about a company is the middle of some major troubles.
The fact is, 2018 has done nothing to buttress Apple as a company; instead it has shown that the company has fallen into a black hole of dysfunction based around the idea that they must stay profitable AND PHYSICAL QUALITY OF THEIR MATERIALS TAKE THE HINDMOST. Remember, we’re talking about a company that has turned the strategic removal of certain once-integral-but-now-dated technogies into simplification for the sake of simplification, and damn the consequences for those of us who can’t afford something new every moment. Whether it’s their computers, iPads or their iconic iPhone, they’ve traded solidness for lightness and expect us to continue to pay for it.
Now, I know full well that I predicted last year that Apple could easily become a zombie company in ten years time, there so that the rich could strip-mine its assets for the tribute they figured was theirs. I stand by that prediction, with a notice that I have a couple of older Apple products that I hope I can make last longer – long enough so that Apple can turn itself around, or I can deal with the ego-blow of letting my brother teach me how to work on the Windows/Google platforms (and trust me, he won’t let me let go of that should Apple decide to stick with their present path). However, for Apple to recover they will likely have to do the following:
- Fire Cook. He’s locked Apple into a profit-oriented company, and the past two years has shown what happens when tech companies focus on the bottom line instead of their products.
- Tougher products. We’re talking about a company that’s dictated to others certain items in the past (this despite them using a strongy proprietary system), they could probably make their products twice as thick as presently and the whole industry would fall over itself to follow their lead.
- Make your products easily repaired and upgradable again. Goes back to tougher products, also makes computers more affordable over the long term – I can justify buying what I need now with the idea of playing catch-up later on, I can’t justify buying something planning for three years ahead of time as I don’t know what I’ll need in three years time.
- When you make a mistake, OWN IT. Every Apple-hater loves to bring up the antenna issue on the iPhone 4, however there are major differences between then and now – The Antenna issue in the iPhone 4 was owned by Apple, a fix was put in place, and it was fixed. Apple has never owned how weak they made the iPhone 6 and they haven’t owned how weak they made the 2019 version of the iPad Pro. Just fixing it next issue is not going to work – they need to do something that says “my bad,” like they did with the iPhone 4. The iPhone 6 and 2019 iPad Pro needed strong cases to use around their products, and Apple needs to make a point of giving them away. What they offer doesn’t have to look nice (but then, the bumpers around the iPhone looked ugly), but at the very least they need to take ownership of the problem.
The “#MeToo” Backlash/Psy-Op
I can’t help but think that the Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court could have been stopped had they stuck on the guy’s record. After all, he wasn’t a good justice, he wasn’t good with his finances, and he was one of these guys who looked like he had been handed everything on a silver platter all his life – and was ready for life to give him his comuppance, for once.
Then came the Sexual Assault allegation – and suddenly Kavanaugh went into “party bro pissed that his past was being held against HIM” pose. And his fellow Republicans unite behind him so that he makes it into the Supreme Court.
Thing is, I can’t help but think that this was a psy-op. Think of it – a guy with an iffy past suddenly becomes a cause-celebré of the right. Add to that, you have a bunch of (admittedly shaky) Democratic senators in Republican states suddenly find themselves unelectable due to a sudden exposure – either stand with the state and lose your urban support because you stood against them (and the party as well, who would quite happily put someone against you just to make a point) or stand with your party and lose the rural support. And as close to the election as it was, there was no time for them to remind their state how they stood and the details of their stands – it was stand up and take your hits.
And it did its job – remove the replacement of the Justice issue and chances are Trump would be facing BOTH houses run by Democrats. Not sure there would be a real chance of an impeachment reaching conviction (you’d need 2/3 of the Senate, and both attempts made so far (Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868; I’ll assume you know about Clinton’s trial.) came up short), but Trump would be much more constrained for the next two years.
Entering My Own Private Idaho
Partly because of what has been happening in my life (see below for a riff on thoughts from that) and partly from a decision made in the aftermath of the mess of a year that was 2017, I decided that I needed a break from what was going on. After all, if you’re going to experience a constant state of panic, you’ll need a space to recoup so that you don’t break down when you should be holding up the bridge when needed.
One odd place to take the lesson from is from Choir, but it’s an apt place as one can be stuck with singing some REALLY long notes with a bunch of people:
“This morning I have been pondering a nearly forgotten lesson I learned in high school music. Sometimes in band or choir, music requires players or singers to hold a note longer than they actually can hold a note. In those cases, we were taught to mindfully stagger when we took a breath so the sound appeared uninterrupted. Everyone got to breathe, and the music stayed strong and vibrant.
Yesterday, I read an article that suggested the administration’s litany of bad executive orders is a way of giving us “protest fatigue” – we will literally lose our will to continue the fight in the face of the onslaught of negative action. Let’s remember MUSIC. Take a breath. The rest of the chorus will sing. The rest of the band will play. Rejoin so others can breathe. Together, we can sustain a very long, beautiful song for a very, very long time. You don’t have to do it all, but you must add your voice to the song….”
– Aimee Van Ausdall (not directy from her, something tells me it was meant for a personal post and the quote turned viral instead, complete with men being given credit for the thought to justify its becoming viral (just like before – and here’s the original of THAT one time…)…)
Another idea that had come into my head is to pick my stands and support others indirectly. So…I stand for allowing Bankruptcy Protections for Student Loans (Even as it implies the continued closing of smaller colleges around the nation). I also plan on supporting the arts; I can easily see myself helping out art spaces in Northwest Indiana, as well as the punk scenes presently going on around me.
Not that I don’t support other causes, but the above causes are presently where I plan on putting my main efforts into.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum Of ANY Sort
And finally, one of the reasons I found myself strangely sanguane compared to the people around me – I had to deal with the death of a VERY deal friend of mine. Joanne had been bedbound for nearly three years when she finally died, and while there was plenty of emotional issues I had to deal with it wasn’t nearly as bad (I was there when she became bedbound. Let’s just say expected demises don’t have the punch of an unexpected demise, especially when you’ve already done a good deal of mourning already), nor was I as strongly affected by outside happenings.
One thing I have noticed, however, is that some people view the absence of Joanne as a vacuum in my life and have sought to fill it to their benefit (and their benefit only, never mind me for that matter). I’ve found it necessary to back off and do stuff that has made certain people angry at me, all because of the blind self-interest that has reared its ugly head in the wake of Joanne’s death.
I’ve had to cut back on social activities recently because of this. I’m still doing stuff, but it’s more on my own. I’ve done plenty of stuff alone in the past, and I’m on familiar ground when alone, even when I’m taking on new habits and patterns in my life (as I’m doing at this moment). When “alone,” I can also pick and choose my allies carefully. The needy and greedy ones I can back away from, the more cautious and careful ones I welcome.
The thing is, of course, to remove the unwanted. Good thing for me they tend to uncover themselves in due time – although I’m sure that part of it is the necessary standoffishness that becomes necessary at certain times. After all, if you can’t tell whom to trust, you can at least tell whom to shy away from – that’s often enough skill to protect from the obvious scammers, even if it doesn’t give you access to greater things.
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Finally, in preparation for the 2020 elections, I have a simple statement to make:
I will vote left if given the chance. I’ll vote Socialist, I’ll vote far liberal, I’ll vote Communist – hell, I’ll even vote for a Tankie (Stalinist – you got to admit, they won WWII in Europe and were the main catalyst for the end of the Japanese theatre of the war, Hiroshima and Nagasake to the contrary) over Trump. I have no problem being leftist. However, give me a candidate whose main point of being is “Not Trump(TM), and I’ll sit back and watch.
Want to whine about that? Go ahead – not only do I have popcorn ready, I also own Popcorn and Broomcorn stock; I also know of many others who’ll happily watch the world fall apart if the only choice we’re given is “fall apart now or fall apart slowly” so know that if the choices are as bad as they were in 2016 I plan on profiting from those who choose to spectate along with me. I also understand fully that, at some point, you need to have the option to walk away (and take the necessary punishment for doing so) if you’re going to bargain. The Right has taken this to heart, and it has given them great power over the nation; once the Left figures this out they’ll finally be able to get some of their wishes and, at least, to halt the Rightward slide this nation has been on.