The happy dream of the future…

It’s another day after an extended weekend and another day where I have very little on my mind. Spending a maximum amount of time at home tending the yard, tending the animals, sunk deeply into a book, or just generally avoiding people is clearly good for calming my brain even at the cost of having anything scathing to write about. It’s probably worth the trade off.

Before giving a mighty shrug of indifference I considered a number of topics for today – North Korea, border security, Starbucks, social media, and a few others. It really comes down to not being able to gin up much of an interest in any of them. That might be when the real truth hit me – although I have a passing interest in wide swath of topic areas, there are only a handful I actually give a damn about on a regular basis. That number gets even smaller when you whittle the time down to any individual day.

That’s all a round about way of saying that when it comes right down to it, I simply lack the bandwidth or interest to care about most issues. I don’t and won’t judge someone for what they choose to care about, but I’ll save my outrage and effort for the ones that are important to me. It’s not personal, just the reality of having limited time and resources and wanting to allocate them in a way that best serves my own interests.

There is something deeply appealing to me about pulling up the drawbridge and applying the focusing exclusively on whatever is of interest in the moment. That version of my reality is a number of years off yet, but it’s the happy dream of the future that sustains me.

No idea…

I have no idea what’s happening in the world. That’s not an exaggeration. At the moment, anything that is happening outside my immediate line of site might as well be an undiscovered country. I’m assuming the North Koreans haven’t bombed California and Donald Trump is still president because those are the kinds of stories that would have made Facebook explode.

I didn’t set out to cut myself off these last few days from global events, but I find that I don’t regret it all that much either. I find increasingly that if I’m busy tending to me and mine, the amount of time available to be all that interested decreases dramatically. I’m mostly OK with that… which is easy to say as I sit here in the fading light of this grand sweep of days off. Tomorrow is going to bring be back to wall to wall televisions spewing what passes for news all day long. I’m guessing it will take me about 24 minutes to get all caught up on whatever it is I missed.

I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss. That may or may not be the case, but it seems that I’m a happier and probably more sane individual when my consumption of current events is held to a bare minimum.

Contested…

Looking at the results of last night’s primary vote in Wisconsin, it’s becoming more and more likely that the Republican Party is headed for a nomination knife fight in Cleveland this summer. The talking heads are calling it a “contested convention,” but the reality of the thing is if none of the potential candidates arrive with enough delegates for a coronation, the convention floor is going to be a blood-soaked mess… metaphorically, of course. Probably.

Since my undergrad work was in political science, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m fascinated at the prospect of seeing a convention nominate a candidate the “old fashioned way.” It’s not something I’ve seen in my lifetime. While it will certainly solve a certain academic curiosity of mine, the process is going to leave the eventual candidate bludgeoned if not broken on his way to the stage. You could have that kind of intra-party conflict in the days before television, and camera phones, and twitter and charge out of a convention to win the general. I’m not at all sure a contested convention aired live in the 24-hour news cycle and covered to death on social media is good for anyone involved… other than the media, of course. People can always be counted on to turn in to watch a circus.

It’s a long way to slog through to July and I won’t even speculate on any number of fiascoes that could transpire between now and then. The only thing I’m willing to concede with any certainty is things are about to go even more stupid than usual.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Spoilers. That’s what annoys Jeff this week. I feel like I’ve spent more time ducking them then anything other single activity this week.

As a general rule, spoilers for the run of the mill television show or movie don’t bother me all that much. Even when I know where the story ends, I’m usually entertained enough seeing how they get from start to finish. I’m easy to please like that.

The run up to The Force Awakens has been something different. Given how little of the story has been released for public consumption, avoiding spoilers thus far has been relatively easy. Most of the available stories have been fan conjecture and wishful thinking. That got a little more problematic starting with the premier earlier this week, but still information was mostly avoidable as long as you didn’t go looking for it.

With wide release in a few hours, though, all bets are off. New media, old media, and social media channels are going to be filled with disclosures both intentional and unintentional. The Star Wars franchise is going to be near-impossible to get away from over the next sixteen hours.

There’s no force on earth – including snow storms, power failures, floods, fires, or flu that has ever cut me off from consuming mass quantities of electronic information for up to 18-hours per day. It is now, therefore, with great reluctance that I announce the implementation of an electronic media blackout. Effective immediately I am placing an operational pause on reading sources including but not limited to news websites, blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter, and Periscope. While I reserve the right to operate some or all of those applications in a broadcast only mode, I will temporarily cease to be a consumer of information.

That is the level to which I am committed to avoiding the contamination of spoilers before seeing this film. Having taken these steps, I hope you can understand how getting jammed up with who does what to whom in advance might be annoying.

I think you for your kind consideration in this matter and encourage everyone to not be a Homer. We get to have so few of these experiences in real time anymore, so let’s do our best not to ruin the moment.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Hate speech. Here’s a fun fact, just because you happen to disagree with something someone says, that doesn’t make it “hate speech.” If that were the hight of the bar it needed to cross, damned near everyone I talk to on a daily basis would have to be considered a hate-spewing douchcanoe. As it is, these people generally just happen to have opinions with which I disagree. I suspect the key difference is being able to tell the difference between getting your little feelings hurt and someone who actually says something threatening. Many can’t seem to make the distinction, or maybe they’re too deep entrenched in their “safe space” hiding from the scary words to be able to tell the difference.

2. The new, new boss. I’ve only just formally met the new boss a few hours ago. He seems like a decent enough human being. He’s the third boss our office has had inside the last 12 months. I have no idea if that says more about us or them, not that it matters. It’s just another dash of mayhem in the day while he learns our names and we learn how he likes his PowerPoint charts and whether he wants one space or two after a period in written communication.

3. Ash and trash. The problem with relying on the media to give you information is that regardless of your source, it’s almost always going to be slanted by bias either intentionally or unintentionally. Like when you see Huffington blazing forth with the headline “The Middle Class is Dying.” While that makes a fine headline and all, they don’t dwell much on the actual meat of the Pew survey they’re referencing. What almost none of the stories I read based on that survey tell you is that while the percentage of middle income earners is decreasing, more of that decrease (as a percentage) is attributable to people moving into the ranks of higher income earners than because they are dropping into the range of lower income earners. You actually have to look at the Pew report to see that “Notably, the 7 percentage point increase in the share at the top is nearly double the 4 percentage point increase at the bottom.” Since that factoid doesn’t fit nicely into the narrative the media wants to sell, you don’t see it unless you dig a bit deeper. Sadly that’s just another example of why we need to be our own fact checkers when it comes to the ash and trash slung out by professional “news” sources.

4. The unmitigated asshat who decided rush hour was a good time to try taking his two-lane wide load across a two-lane wide bridge. Believe me when I tell you that it should not take 40 minutes to navigate the 4.6 miles between Aberdeen and Havre de Grace, but it did tonight thanks to one misguided driver and the parade of state and local police who forced him to see the error of his ways. If I wanted to deal with that kind of traffic buffoonery I would have taken the job at Ft. McNair when I had the chance.

Mixed emotions…

The Pope is coming to the District tomorrow. I saw the previous Pope in his natural habitat the last time I passed through ye olde Eternal City. It’s quite a spectacle. It’s hard to beat St. Peter’s as a backdrop and you can well imagine that a two thousand year old organization has mostly worked the kinks out of its pomp and protocol. Even for a mostly non-religious guy like me it’s something to see. My inner historian eats it up.

Seeing a Pope in Washington, though, strikes me as something akin to seeing a jelly doughnut in health food store. It’s still tasty and good, but it’s not quite right. Frankly I’m not sure I trust my countrymen, particularly the Members of Congress, to avoid making asses of themselves on the international stage. If there was ever a chance to ramp up your notoriety in the press, heckling the Pope from the 17th row of the House of Representatives would rank right up there.

As religious leaders go, I like Francis well enough. Clearly I don’t agree with all of his messaging and I find his political bent deeply suspect, but among world leaders he feels like a good man trying to do an insanely difficult job. I’ve got mixed emotions when it comes to this Pope. I’m probably more a John Paul II guy when it comes right down to it – Democracy good; Communism bad. Simple and to the point. I’m not so sure Francis would so much stand up to a Soviet Union as he would give them pointers on creating a more perfect socialist paradise.

Even if I disagree with the man on issues of faith and politics, I fervently hope we can at least manage to avoid embarrassing ourselves for 48 hours. It’s a big ask, so say a prayer, or cross your fingers, or do whatever it is your supposed to do to bring on a bit of good luck.

Hey Siri…

Apple’s fall media event kicks off in about three hours. The fact that I’m home while the landscapers finish up the yard is purely a happy coincidence. Really. It is. I won’t bore apple-invite-sept-9-heroyou with what the Apple blogs are expecting to see this afternoon. Suffice to say I’m expecting to see at least one thing – and possibly two or three – that will eventually be showing up in my tech tool kit. God knows I don’t need all the things, but I do certainly want them. Whatever they are.

I wonder if this is what it felt like the day they rolled out the latest Sears catalog back when that was still a thing. Probably not. Sears wasn’t exactly a hype machine. Apple, on the other hand, is the master of making me want to gladly hand over fists full of cash.

In a world full of war, refugees, hunger, rape, murder, and all manner of pillage maybe that makes me a bad person. Probably. Still, the heart wants what it wants.