Earl and I went shopping on Lincoln Square this afternoon. I stopped in to Q-Brothers to use a gift certificate and when I came out Earl showed me his phone. He had dropped it and the screen shattered.
This is the second screen in this phone. It has been showing signs of displeasure since it was dropped in some water a few weeks ago.
“I’m buying your birthday present early.”
Off we went to the Apple Store, where we bought Earl a brand new iPhone 8. He felt that the iPhone X was too much phone for him but the iPhone 8 felt familiar to his iPhone 6s, just faster. We also purchased a wireless charging mat for his nightstand.
Matt and Alex helped with the purchase; Matt coordinated the transaction and Alex sat with Earl and me at the “setup desk” as we went through the motions of wiping out Earl’s old phone and setting up the new one. I had a great conversation with both guys about where Apple is headed, and I had the opportunity to watch a Today at Apple session is progress.
As much as I complain about the quality of Apple’s offerings as of late, the fact of the matter is, I still believe they are giving us the best technological experience available to consumers today, especially when you look at connecting humans with technology. While any company can provide a product to use, Apple provides an experience.
Today’s adventure at the Apple store was absolutely top-notch and I have no complaints with how things went. It was fun to watch others setup their devices at the setup desk; it helped me understand how folks out in the wild manage passwords and accounts and all of that stuff. It also helped me understand how much patience you have to have to work in an Apple store.
So I hadn’t shaved in 2018. It’s been a while since I really let my beard grow out and 18 days was enough for me to see that there is way too much gray in my beard right now. I could handle if my beard was all gray, but this cinnamon and sugar mix is making me feel like I look old.
I’m turning 50 years old this year. I’d say that I’m 90% on board with this; I certainly don’t feel like I’m over halfway through this life, but the reality of the fact is this is the case. I told Earl that I’m concerned that I’m on the downslope. Like the smart, silver bear that he is, he told me that it just keeps getting better.
I can handle being 50 years old but I can’t handle having a lot of gray in my beard right now. I’m not one to dye it so I’ll go back to clean shaven in the morning. My dad once said that a good, disciplined man, like a pilot, shaves every day. He might have been on to something with that, though I know a lot of great men that have beards.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of “Madam Secretary”. The show is in its fourth season, and is on CBS on Sunday evenings. The show hit its stride early in its run and is continuing to offer up compelling storylines. This past Sunday featured the episode “Sound and Fury”.
I’m not going to get too far into spoilers of this episode, but they may be sprinkled here and there in the rest of this blog entry, so let’s say you’ve been warned.
Yes, you’ve been warned about potential spoilers.
This particular episode of Madam Secretary should be required viewing for high school civics classes. It examines how the 25th Amendment works, why it would be considered and what is really involved with invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. A temporary medical issue comes into play here, but the result of the medical concern feels very familiar if you’ve been paying attention to the news at all since the latest administration took office. Phrases like “overwhelming force and ferocity” are bandied about without consideration. Diplomacy is set aside in favor of ‘tough guy’ displays of strength. On the show this is very uncharacteristic for fictional President Dalton. I wish the same could be said about the man in the Oval Office today.
The scenes around debating invoking the 25th Amendment are very honest. It all felt very believable. If anything, it made me think of how that debate would carry out in the real world today. Are there meetings taking place in D.C. to discuss this exact thing?
I’m inclined to think so.
The are two lines in particular that struck me rather hard (and I’m paraphrasing): 1. “We have the greatest system of government the world has ever known, but it’s only as strong as its people” and 2. “We took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not our political party”.
If only the folks in Washington would get on the script.
The tribalism, and the divisiveness behind the tribalism, is what’s deeply hurting our country, and I fully believe the news media continues to pour gasoline on this raging dumpster fire. Tribes saw one candidate as a movie villain and reacted as if they were watching a WWE tournament. The tribe continues to do this today. Trump purposely stirs up the tribe to keep a “villain” in the news. And the news outlets eat it up. It’s the tribalism that is killing objectivity. A good number of elected officials are putting party over country. I have little faith in most of our elected officials; the charade of “serving the people” died years ago.
If you haven’t had the chance to see Madam Secretary or if you don’t even have the interest to follow the show, I still recommend that you watch the episode “Sound and Fury”. It works pretty well as a standalone episode and I think the mechanics are sound to help one understand how the 25th Amendment works.
And how officials should always honor their oath to uphold the Constitution.
Looking for inspiration to write software today, I did a search for “future technology”. Usually I watch Corning’s “Day of Glass” presentations or what Microsoft envisions 2020 will look like in the world of Surface and Office, but today some other suggestions were presented. One of those suggestions was the video from Korean Telecom featured in the blog entry earlier today.
The other was a link to the first episode of the third season of “Black Mirror”. The episode is simply titled “Nosedive”.
I’ve seen ads for “Black Mirror”; as I understand it, the episodes are standalone affairs, many based on future technology and how society reacts and implements it. Cursory research shows that the episodes can be quite dark. Some describe them as “nightmare inducing”. I have enough going on in my mind at any given time to fuel my own nightmares; I don’t need any exterior help to further the cause. However, the description of this episode was intriguing. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard (I remembered her from “The Help”) as Lacie Pound, the episode focused on a society that was completely dependent on Social Networking status. Everyone was rated on a score from one to five. Contact lenses allowed you to identify anyone around you and their current score or rating. People, strangers, co-workers, and friends alike, rated you on your interaction. Was that conversation worth five stars? Did the waitress deserve three stars? Perks in society were based on your ranking, for example, Lacie wanted to move into an apartment that required a certain ranking and she was only able to afford it if she ranked higher than a 4.5; the higher ranking would bring her a 20% discount on her weekly rent. Airline tickets and amenities were based on the same ranking system. Clubs were restricted to a minimum ranking. Your ranking was your collateral.
The driver for this implementation was to keep society calm and friendly. If you swore or screamed or did not “behave as expected”, your peers would rank you down and you would be ostracized. The more stars you had, the more impact your opinion impacted another’s rating. They were the Social Influencers. They even had counseling services to help you find a way to boost your rating.
How perilously close is our society to this scenario?
I am too busy on Social Media. I often say I use Twitter to keep up with current events, follow friends, and share my opinion on the state of the world. Some of the third party apps I use show a graph of how much of an impact I am making through my Twitter account. How many “hearts” did I get? How many people retweeted me? How many followers do I have at any given moment?
I will admit right here and now that I was elated when my follower count first went over 500 a few years ago. It recently climbed over a grand. That made me smile. It made me feel something. After watching this episode of “Black Mirror”, I can’t help but think a little hollow.
For all my life I have wanted to be one of the cool kids. I remember sitting in Room 220 in Lura Sharp Elementary School in sixth grade. Are desks were arranged in clusters; my desk was part of a cluster of four of us. We had greasy hair, we talked about geeky stuff, and we sat together in the cafeteria. Near the door was a group of six desks. In later years they would be the popular kids; the senior class president, the star quarterback, the girl with the parents that could afford to buy her a miniature Pong game. I was invited to join their group when one of their peers left for another school. I moved my desk and was welcomed into their club. I felt like I had some sort of status. It was nearly 40 years ago but I can remember it like it was almost yesterday.
It’s pretty much documented that “Likes” on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) triggers a bit of a Dopamine high. This past weekend I was telling my friend Jeff how I felt when Earl and I walked into a restaurant on the 70th floor of a skyscraper overlooking the city. Admittedly, and I know this is quite shallow of me, I feel a ping of acceptance when an Instagram photo is liked by one of the cool IGers. When I muster up the courage to “Friend” someone on Facebook that I haven’t met in person yet (but we obviously have same interests, like both belong to the National Gay Pilots Association or something), I feel like I’m climbing some sort of social ladder. Years ago, back in the heyday of personal blogging, Earl and I ran into a fellow blogger in Manhattan. He recognized us and was pleasant. That meant a lot to me. Not too long after that, I attended a happy hour where a man, a very hot man, introduced himself to me. I said, “um, we are friends on Facebook.” His reply? “We are? Wow, I don’t remember you.”
I remember feeling a little crushed.
I have to admit that I try to keep my social media feeds pretty honest. I don’t have an online persona, I’m pretty much “what you read is what you get”. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve sought out validation for nearly every one of the almost 50 years I’ve been on this planet. But how real is any sense of validation one would find on Social Media? How real are the timelines we see? How true are the photos we see? How good is the person with so many Facebook friends that they can’t accept any more requests?
A few years ago, I was remarking to Jamie the drop in the number of “likes” I was getting on Instagram after I shaved off that enormous mustache I had. I’ve often said that Jamie is a very old soul because he said, “Fuck ’em”.
My rating hasn’t been the same every since. And you know what? That’s OK.
I love television shows that make us think. If you want to think about your Social Media existence and what it really means to you, I highly suggest you watch “Black Mirror” Season 3, Episode 1, “Nosedive”.
I’m always interested to see what others are thinking our future technology will look like. It’s felt like we were just on the edge of something “big” since smartphone technology became mainstream in the late 2000s and early 2010s. I think we are long overdue for the next jump in innovation. The question is, are we ready for it?
This past weekend Earl and I visited very dear friends in Durham, N.C. for a post holiday gathering. It was good to see these folks again, as we haven’t visited in a long while.
My tweets came up for discussion during our visit; apparently I am a very opinionated person, at least in my online persona, and I’m not afraid to share my opinions online. I tweet often. While I have been thinking about starting a new Twitter account for some time, this pushed me to go ahead and do so. It’s only today, on Monday, that I’ve realized that it’s very hard to rebuild “Twitter capital”, especially since the platform now thinks I’m some sort of bot and has locked me out of my new account. I will probably end up changing the username on my original account to the name used on my new account and deleting the new account because I like to keep things as confusing as possible.
I believe being vocal is key to a functioning democracy. Much of what we are experiencing in the United States today can be attributed to apathy. Less than half of eligible voters vote. Think about that for a moment, less than _half_ of the voters eligible voters in the United States can find the time and/or energy to determine the direction of our country. Honestly, that’s pathetic. BUT, a lot more people will take to social media and other related Internet technologies to catch up on news, stay in touch with family, argue with strangers and look at pictures of cats. Sharing our opinion, while the practice may seem raucous to some, may have some sort of impact on apathetic voters, even if they vote just to shut up the loud mouth.
When I lived in Boston in the late 1980s and early 90s, I took part in a couple of ACT-UP! demonstrations. People weren’t talking about the staggering number of people that were dying of AIDS at the time and it was something that needed to be addressed. Being loud and being opinionated moved the needle. Society started realizing that something needed to be done and the ball started moving forward again.
Now, I don’t believe that every Republican is evil. I know that not to be true. I believe that we need a reasonable balance of power in Washington. When the balance is unchecked, it swings too far into one column and many people suffer. Making noise, sharing viewpoints, and at the very least, getting people to _think_ about what’s happening around them outside of their comfort zone, is one way to get the ball moving forward again.
I’m not so arrogant to believe that everyone needs to think like I do. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I accept that many people will be wrong. I accept that I might be wrong. I’m the first to admit that I need to learn to listen. It’s something I think about everyday.
The truth of the matter is: I don’t mind if my gravestone says “Well, at least he’s quiet now”. If hearing or reading what I have to say gets someone to think, even for one moment on one subject, then I’ve done my part.
So I’ve decided to start a new Twitter account. My original Twitter account has been around since the early days of Twitter and I’ve tweeted nearly 40K times using that account. I’ve said a lot of things, I’ve expressed a lot of things and I’ve probably pissed quite a few people off over the years.
I’ve been thinking about starting a new Twitter account for a few months, and while Earl and I have been visiting friends and relaxing in North Carolina, I naturally thought this would be a good time to start a new account. The new account has my name in the username, something that I have wanted to do for a very long time, but there is a person in Japan that used my name for ONE tweet and has held onto that username since 2010. I was able to secure a username that did not include numbers appended to it and that made me happy.
I could have changed my username on my original account, but I feel the need to start afresh. It’s like having a blank sheet of paper sitting on the desk in front of you; what shall I create today?
In the process of creating this new account I also changed my profile description up a little bit. I’ve included more adjectives. I’ve even included the word “queer”! As mentioned earlier this month in a blog entry, I’ve slowly embracing the word “queer” to describe myself because not only am I gay but I’m also odd. I suppose the combination of the equals the word “queer”. It’s OK. And I’m opinionated, probably very opinionated. I’ve been told to shut up on more than one occasion.
I’m going to keep my old account around for a bit as I figure out who to follow on the new account versus who I followed on the old account. Having the old for referral will help keep some balance and tabs on people that I have met and enjoyed over the years through this tumultuous platform.
I’m excited about this new opportunity I’ve created for myself and it has reignited my interest in crafting a better Twitter experience. What shall I tweet about today? Life!
Oh, if you’re wondering what the new account name is, just search for my name without period. You’ll find it. I’m That Guy.
I’m always worried I’m going to be tagged as some sort of operative because of my love of the live-action Filmation television series, “The Secrets of Isis”. But, I still melt when I hear Joanna Cameron’s voice.