RIP RBG.

Photo from SCOTUSBlog

Rest In Peace, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You were a true warrior for justice. We will do everything we can to carry on your legacy.

Loopy.

During Tuesday’s Apple Event, CEO Tim Cook casually mentioned that the next version of iOS, the operating system that runs the very popular iPhone, would be upgraded to iOS 14 the following day.

This caught me by surprise. And apparently, it caught developers all over the world by surprise as well.

The beta versions of iOS 14 have been available to developers, and later the general public willing to do some testing, for several months. Generally, Apple would release a GM or “Gold Master” to these testers, indicating they were ready to release their latest endeavor to the general population and the GM is the version they’re going to ship. Releasing a GM a week ahead of time gives app developers some time to wrap up the modifications for their apps for the new version of the operating system so that when it releases to the general public, everything should be working properly for all involved.

Tim’s announcement gave developers less than 24 hours to achieve this feat. Marketing beat out practicality. Again. This is how we do it now. It’s just part of our societal regression.

As a software engineer, it’s my goal to make sure there are as few bugs as possible when software is released. This used to be the credo of everyone that worked in the business. However, as time has gone on and computer use has become ubiquitous, the standards for quality software releases seem to have been lowered in favor of marketing hype. “We must keep the masses engaged with shiny new software!”. Instead of having all the bugs squashed for a major release, companies now aim to fix the bugs in an incremental release shortly afterwards. Smart users will probably wait for iOS 14.1.

Since I was already running the public beta, I went ahead and installed the Gold Master on my iPhone and iPad.

I have run across a couple of bugs that were not present in the beta releases leading up to this week’s Gold Master / Public release. For example, when trying to add an app subscription to my account, the Face ID prompt on my iPad Pro does its thing as it scans my face but then the Face ID icon just sits in the middle of the screen. Seemingly, this icon will remain for infinity, or at least until the battery runs out. If I touch the icon it shoots off the screen at a jaunty angle but the subscription request never completes.

This is not how production quality software should be behaving.

Earlier I mentioned the words “societal decline”. Society in general has lowered their expectations to the point where mediocrity gets a standing ovation. Cell phone conversations are of a lower quality than their wired telephone counterparts using equipment from the mid 20th century. People have become accustomed to rebooting their major appliances as timers with relays and cams have given way to delicate circuit boards prone to power spikes. With a decaying power grid, this is an issue.

I’m saddened to see Apple go off into the mediocre weeds with the rest of society. With their premium prices I’ve always held them to the standard associated with higher priced purchases. But when evaluating the quality of what Apple puts out today with the quality of what other tech companies put out today, Apple is still grasping for a higher lowered bar.

I guess I’m getting old. I miss the days when people took pride in their work.

Cults.

I have found that Republicans fit into three categories right now. The first are the die hard Republicans that will vote Republican without regard as to whom they’re voting for. They’re the ones sinking boats with Trump flags, changing their Facebook or Twitter header image to an American flag or an image of the Declaration of Independence, or running around not wearing a mask because of their freedoms. One can not debate this type of Republican. They are part of a cult. If Trump told them to drink the Kool-aid to get on the comet, they’d drink the Kool-aid and bring an overstuffed carry-on for the nearest Hale-Bopp. I know too many of this type of Republican and I’m steering as clear of them as possible. They’re loud, they’re irrational, and they’ll probably turn violent. Think Ted Cruz. Trump could set his wife on fire and he’d still kiss Trump’s ass.

The second type of Republican I’ve encountered voted for Trump in 2016 because after all, “what did they have to lose”? They admit the man is a nut job but they can overlook things like kids in cages and nearly 200K dead people from a controllable pandemic because their 401K is doing just fine. Some of them probably don’t have a 401K but whatever that 401K may be it’s doing just fine and besides, some of them can secretly think their own thoughts about non-white people and not feel too bad about it. One can have a discussion about the merits of Trump and where the Republican party is today but it’s probably still going to be a losing proposition for the non-Trump voter side of the discussion. Think Susan Collins here. She’s making plenty of dough, she gives looks of concern and occasionally furrows her brow. She worries about kids in cages and dead people from COVID but it’ll all be OK because it’s always OK and she’s white and privileged.

Then we have the third type of Republican. They know that Trump is bat shit crazy and the worst leader ever known to this country, and they only voted for him in 2016 because Hillary was just too shrill and seemed like she thought she deserved the post. They see what Trump has done to this country, and the things he’s said about their friends or family in the military, and while they do not like Biden, they’ll probably vote for him in 2020 because nothing can be worse than what we have right now. They’re not for Biden, they can’t stand the Democrats, but they definitely do not want four more years of whatever this mess has been during Trump’s term.

I’ve had to significantly distance myself from the first type of Republican I described. Having these people in my life has contributed to a state of depression and self doubt that I have not known before 2020. I have always strived to maintain relationships with folks I consider “good people”. They don’t have to think like I do nor do they have to vote the way that I vote, but they still have a strong foundation built on basic human decency and a good moral compass. I really doubt these things to be true for the folks that fit into that category. They don’t care about human life, they don’t care about the planet, they don’t care about “the good of the all”. They care about themselves and that’s it. They lack compassion. They lack empathy. And my thinking they had it to begin with really amped up my self-doubt. How bad at am I at judging the character of people as to whether I want them in my life or not?

I struggle with this.

Stepping away from family and friends of this nature has helped me somewhat, but it still makes me sad. When we start having family gathering again or start meeting up with friends somewhere (after this pandemic is at a place where it’s safe to do so), I won’t be able to reconnect with the people from whom I’ve distanced myself. My memory won’t allow me to do this. My doubts will not allow me to do this.

This might be amongst the worst fallout of the Trump administration.

Entitlement.

There’s a lot of chatter on the airline and aircraft forums I follow on a daily basis around a woman who wrote a hateful, profanity laden, degrading note and handed it to the flight attendant as she deplaned after a recent flight. She was upset that she was asked to wear her mask over her nose.

I will not dignify the incident by posting the note here; it’s vile. 

Instead, here’s a photo of a woman in the Ukraine who was too hot sitting on a Boeing 737 and decided to do something about it.

Please note she popped one of the emergency exits open and decided to get a breath of fresh air. Ms. Pink Pants is banned from this airline for the rest of her life.

The tendency to say whatever we want to whomever we want on social media, usually with lessened social graces, has permeated into our normal interactions. Any sort of societal norm or contract seems to have been discarded. Folks are just doing what they want, where they want, and feel they can say whatever they want.

Another example of a society in decline.

When I say this, I’m occasionally reminded that not everyone is like this and this is absolutely true. The issue is one of two things, incidents like these are becoming entirely too commonplace or it’s become too easy to publicize asshattery like this. Either way, it’s still contributing to the decline of our society.

I’m often reminded of the passage from “Angels In America”:

Before life on Earth becomes finally merely impossible, it will, for a long time before, have become completely unbearable.

Observation.

The closing of schools due to COVID-19 are not indicative of a failing society. The closing of schools resulting in unfed children or no one to watch the children is indicative of a failing society.

Fear.

Apparently HairWeave and BadDyeJob, the two lawyers from somewhere in Missouri that pointed guns at protestors in broad daylight, spoke at the Republican National Convention last night to let people know that Joe Biden will abolish suburbs and let the non-whites cross the moat.

I can’t even type that last sentence without vomiting.

What does that even mean? Abolishing suburbs? I’m pretty sure the President of the United States doesn’t have the power to do that anymore than Hillary Clinton as President has the power to come in and personally take your penis substitute gun away from you right in the middle of your living room.

My god I’m really tired of stupid people.

My husband is watching the RNC as “an informed citizen”. I’m sitting out on the balcony weighing my options of pitching myself off the fifth story balcony or going in and sitting next to him on the couch while I strongly ponder Illinois’ legalized pot.

Flicking through the chaos last night, the bright bulb in the photo above spoke passionately about defunded police, death panels, and billions of dollars in new taxes if Biden is elected president. And with Kamala Harris as Vice-President, all the white folks will go to jail while immigrants run free drinking all the milk driving stolen Land Rovers from the suburbs.

Maybe she didn’t say those words, but her babbling was equally ridiculous and since it was Monday night I figured I shouldn’t get blasted drunk with 4/5ths of the work week still ahead of me.

I’m going to walk inside in a few moments and either throw a sledgehammer through the television or convince my husband to watch a rerun of “Sports Night”.

It’s not that I’m an all-in, no holds barred Democrat. I’m a middle of the road kind of guy and like the last several presidential election cycles, the Democrat is the most sane choice who actually has a chance of winning the damn thing. When someone mentions on social media that they’re still undecided it takes all my might not to drive to their location and not kick them squarely in the teeth.

It’s rather doubtful that I’ll be sharing potato salad at a family reunion anytime soon (at least for a couple of parts of my family).

All I ask is that we stop being so scared of those that are different from us, so scared of idiotic conspiracy theories, and so stupid all the time. Please strive to achieve an IQ higher than the speed limit. That’s all I ask.

They say we could have a close fly-by of an asteroid right before Election Day. There’s a part of me that’s hoping the Mayans were just off a few years.

Let’s do the dinosaur.

Plausibility.

So back in 1983, two mini-series and a television series that last for just one season graced the airwaves of NBC. “V” and “V: The Final Battle” showed us what life could be like if aliens from Sirius descended upon us and promised to be our friends. The Visitors looked like us, seemed to act like us, and wanted to live in harmony with us. They had our best interests in mind. They claimed they brought with them a cure for cancer. They would show us their technology. They just needed a little bit of water and a few minerals in exchange.

They manipulated, and eventually took over the media. They formed youth-corps to foster cooperation between humans and The Visitors. They had big press conferences and said grand things. All the while, they were capturing entire neighborhoods of people to be processed as food, grabbing every ounce of water they could pump up to their mammoth motherships, and plotting the destruction of human civilization.

Wide swaths of the population continued to support The Visitors. They claimed to be our friends. It was the dissenters, the Resistance, that was messing things up. The Visitors came down on humans, eventually strolling the streets with laser guns, commandeering the media, and taking control of the government, all while quieting the scientists or making them disappear entirely.

Back in 1983 I couldn’t fathom how the humans who followed The Visitors as these benevolent beings could do so willingly.

It is now 2020. What we saw in “V” and the follow-up shows isn’t so far-fetched after all. Many humans, especially many Americans, will do anything for power. And they will go to great lengths of bending or discarding morals, turning a blind eye to the obvious truth, or discard any shred of scientific evidence, in any attempt to keep themselves to be perceived as powerful.

One has to wonder if anyone in The White House eats a mouse from time to time.

Masked.

There’s still a ruckus from folks about wearing a mass while you’re out and about in public. I don’t really have an issue with it; wearing a mask isn’t a difficult thing to do, it can’t make a situation any worse, and I don’t feel like my freedom is being taken away when I wear a mask.

I don’t understand the whole “freedom taken away” thing. Freedom isn’t a pie. There isn’t a finite amount of freedom. If a person with a different skin color is treated as humanely as I am treated it’s not like we’re going to run out of humanity. If I decided to become a nudist I wouldn’t expect people to just stand around while I browsed an all-you-can-eat salad bar with my junk swinging around in front of me. No shoes, no shirt, no service. We now add “no mask”. It’s not difficult. People need to calm down.

Perhaps folks need to do something other than wrapping a sock around their nose. My Starfleet mask was less than $20, it will last a very long time, and it does the job of its intent quite well. It’s comfortable to wear and I feel good in it. I feel good in it because it looks good but more important I’m doing a good thing by wearing it. And that’s protecting others from the off chance that I have contracted COVID-19.

The CTA has improved their graphics explaining COVID-19 precautions-related expectations of passengers. I was encouraged to see one of the masked cartoons wearing a Gay Pride themed mask. I like the subtlety. I’m not offended by the bilingual messages, but then again, I grew up near the Canadian border. Some signs north of us had EXIT/SORTIE along the Interstate. No one was offended.

Many states are starting to see record numbers of new cases of Coronavirus. Trump’s solution is to stop testing for Coronavirus.

I’m thinking of turning off my alarm clock so every day is a weekend.

Insight.

The tendency for family and friends to share their political beliefs on social media, especially leading up to and since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been very eye opening for me. A little bit of background; my father never discussed politics. Actually, it was pretty rare for anyone in our family to have a political discussion. Either that or I was shielded from any discussions of this sort. Of course times were different back then and people weren’t as whipped up about these things, though now that I think about it I remember a couple of off-handed comments about “All In The Family” or “Maude”. But seeing what family and friends write on social media today, me included, is rather eye-opening.

I understand that not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on these things. I get that. To be honest, my “world view” has expanded considerably since moving to The Windy City nearly three years ago. Before leaving Upstate New York I used to enjoy spending Thursday evenings at the airport having a couple of beers with close friends and solving the political problems of the world. The three of us that tended to do this were a good blend: one on the right but not too far right, one on the left but not too far left, and one in the middle leaning socially in one direction and fiscally in another. We kept the conversation civil, even leading up to and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. It’s certainly possible to do this. However, there’s a reason those two aren’t active on social media. They’re sane.

On social media right now I have family by relation and by marriage that are saying the wildest things. Disappointing things. Some things that leave me speechless. Dumbfounded. These particular folk feel that Trump is doing a great job in the White House. Today. Right now.

The only thing that goes through my head is this: da fuq?

Now, I’ll admit I can’t bring myself to watch Fox News for more than 30 seconds without wanting to kick the television across the room. When my husband is watching some sort of news broadcast and Trump comes on with that horrible sing-songy preacher-for-a-penny-wannabe voice he has I become enraged. The man is a moron. Anyone who has to tell you constantly share his superior level of intelligence is actually an insecure idiot. Back in my commuting days I’d listen to right leaning talk radio just to see what others were thinking on various subjects, but even the most pearl-clutching, shat-bit crazy rhetoric at the time had nothing on some of the twisting and turning the folks on Fox News do to plump up Trump today.

And I can’t believe I’m associated, either by relation or by choice, with people that believe that crap.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been drawing a line at maintaining amy relationships. If anything racist is shared I end the online relationship immediately and honestly I question assembly with these folks in real life. And yes, that includes memes where “#BlackLivesMatter” is crossed out and replaced with “AllLivesMatter”. No explanation, no dialog, you’ve made up your mind, I’m outta here, and no need to pass me the cole slaw at the next gathering, we probably won’t be in the same room.

I tried. I attempted to understand. I tried explaining the importance of like this: imagine going to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and telling the kids living through their childhood cancer that “Hey, All Children Matter!”. Any compassionate human being wouldn’t ever say that. Just because we’re saying “Black LivesMatter” right now, because it’s been much too long since society has realized this, doesn’t mean other lives don’t have value. It’s just that we’re not going to tolerate this racial injustice, we need to fix it, and something has to be done.

The person I shared this with said everything was fine since Obama was president, and actually President Obama was racist against whites because of Affirmative Action. I didn’t go any further in their diatribe before hitting “Unfriend”.

As I type this I can’t help but think that perhaps not talking about politics may have not been the best approach. I feel less educated on matters than I should be and I’m not good debater on these subjects. I’m not looking to live in a bubble of my personal belief, but I’m looking to have discussions with people that have open minds. I like to think I’m open minded.

But the idea that based on skin color some folks have more value than others? Yeah, I’m not discussing that. It’s just wrong.

No Words.

I wish I could write something profound today about everything that’s going on in the world right now but I’m overwhelmed. My heart breaks when I see photos from Minneapolis, my heart breaks even more when I read the number of people that have passed during this pandemic, and my heart screams when I see what the U.S. government is choosing to focus on right now, mainly the labeling of one tweet from Trump as being factual inaccurate.

I managed a paragraph. That’s all I got.