Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Monthly Archives: November 2016

Ten things that suck.  §


© Aron Hsiao / 2000
  1. USPS Parcel Select. Oh . my . God . does . it . suck . Never, ever use it. For anything. USPS is now a one-service shop: priority. Send any other way and you’re looking at 15-30 days, packages that they don’t bother to scan for tracking at all, and a not insignificant chance that your parcel will never arrive because they allow it to fall off the back of the truck.
  2. The Democratic Party right now and liberals in general. Embarrassing cesspool of outrage porn, prejudice, tribalism, and anti-democratic activism. And I say that as a far-left liberal of many years. These people are currently lost. And I say that as a life-long leftie.
  3. The way that no watchmaker is quite on the ball. Swiss makers can’t come up with a cheap anything. Americans don’t even make watches anymore. Orient has beautifully accurate, inexpensive automatic movements, but only periodically come up with a good watch face and can’t get their bracelets or fit and finish right. Citizen makes beautiful faces, cases, and bracelets, but then stuffs an Eco-Drive into almost everything and makes precious few automatics. Seiko has reasonable movements, reasonable faces, reasonable cases, and reasonable bracelets, but excels in nothing, leaving you feeling as though you’re wearing a Toyota.
  4. The way that Apple now sucks. They used to make high-quality, world-beating products that made life better. Now they make high-quality products that are way behind the technology and size curve and make life more complicated and more frustrating, all while charging way too much.
  5. The American legal system. It’s a dumpster fire. Anyone hoping to get justice out of it in any area of law—family law, criminal law, torts, whatever—is going to be sorely disappointed.
  6. Facebook. Aside from being a cesspool, it’s also got the most braindead resources for businesses that I think I’ve ever encountered in a SaaS UI.
  7. Volvo. Which is sad. Because they once made great cars that ran half a million miles with the barest of service. Now they make expensive cars that run exactly 24 miles between $3,000 repair bills.
  8. The fact that nobody makes full-size Chinese Checkers sets any longer, and the fact that Levi Strauss & Co. keep changing (and cheapening) their recipe for 501 jeans while selling them as “the original.”
  9. The malaise in the academic world.
  10. United Healthcare. Never try to do business with them. Any little thing you want to do has to be done by phone because their online system is a joke. When you call, it only takes 25 minutes to wade through their voice system pressing numbers, after which you’ll be relieved when you’re finally told, “We’ll connect your call now. Your expected wait time is 55 minutes.” After which, at approximately minute 52 of waiting, they’ll summarily hang up on you without warning. After four days of trying and waiting, you’ll finally get through to someone whose English is so bad that even if you’ve lived in every major city in the U.S., communicating effortlessly with accents from new immigrants from all over the world, you’ll fail to understand the very first sentence that they make, and will then spend the next ten minutes asking them to repeat themselves over and over again until they (once more) hang up on you without warning.

Apathy.  §

I have these periods in my life during which I don’t say or do much personally or publicly that is out of the daily routine. Largely this happens when I simply stop caring about what’s happening in the world.

This is one of those periods. There are all of these things that I know I’m supposed to care about, but I just plain don’t:

  • Politics and the election of Donald Trump
  • My ex-wife’s life or the fact that I have an ex-wife at all
  • Academic topics and the latest research
  • What’s going on in my community
  • What’s going on in friends’ lives

I don’t know what the psychological dimensions of the phenomenon are, all I know is I just can’t bring myself to care. I try and I don’t. It all seems so irrelevant to anything at all.

What do I care about?


© Aron Hsiao / 2007
  • Ensuring that day-to-day life is stable for my kids
  • Taking proper care of my jeans
  • Whether my aging dog is happy or not
  • Whether my watches are running slightly fast or slow
  • Whether my new tiny fish is going to be eaten by my monster fish
  • The neighbor’s dog

It’s like a switch went off and I hit that second half of life that seems to young people to lay on the other side of a very large phenomenological chasm. I swore I’d never be one of those people, but here I am and so I am.

The immediate and the local seem important. The other stuff? Idiot presidents and ex-wives? Who cares? It seems to all be a lot of bullshit. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is to water the plans and vacuum the floor and be sure that I’m honest in my everyday dealings. The rest seems like so much fluff.

Nuts.  §

Have you ever noticed how most people look in selfies?

They look nuts. Absolutely nuts. They are smiling so hard you think their ribs are going to crack, and they are pressing their face forward so hard they’ll likely need a chiropractor for weeks afterward.

I think they think it’s gonna make you want to hang out with them.

Mostly it makes you think you’re glad you don’t know them, because they’d probably come visit and turn your house upside-down, talking the entire time without stopping.

(Forgotten) rules for living in a functional society.  §

Always rationalize others’ behaviors and sharply question and apologize for your own, no matter what the behaviors in question.

Never justify your own uncivil behavior, no matter what may have happened to inspire it. Own the blame, and blame no other.

Express the incredibly strong internal responses that you have to things in the quietest possible terms, and only at times and places specifically set aside for doing so.

Guard against the emergence of an “activist mentality” in your own thoughts and behavior.

Support longstanding norms even if at the moment they result in catastrophic outcomes to which you are stridently opposed.

Put others first and yourself second.

Remember that now is rarely the time; the immediate moment passes quickly, and time itself is quite long.

— § —

Why do we live in a troubled society in the conceptual middle of a troubled globe?

Because these rules, so long known by so many wise people, are the precise opposite of what have been broadly embraced by the public these days. Every one of these, when flipped to its opposite, is now the conventional wisdom.

Nobody stops to realize that if we flip each of these to its opposite, we must also flip the title to read: “Rules for living in a selfish state of eternal offense and factional warfare.”

Things.  §

I once thought the most important thing about social media was its multiplexity in combination with its abridgment of time and space.

I was wrong.

The most important thing about social media is the end of the newspaper, not so much physically as metaphorically, c.f. Anderson.

Yes, it will be a postnational world. It already is, even within nations.

No, it will not be a harmonious one.

We are entering yet another “new age of barbarism,” to recycle the term once used by the Frankfurt School scholars.

— § —

I do not blame this on the right.
I do not blame this on the left.
I blame it on both.
On both sides, bigots and extremists, all.

Per Yeats, the center has failed, once again, to hold. Humanity seems incapable of preserving it.

— § —

The term #failson is an interesting one, but I think it’s more #failcitizen that is at stake. I’ve posted before about the lack of grown-ups.

I have spent my own life trying very hard to grow up. Every single social and economic force in our current milieu militates against it. As a result, we are and are surrounded by people who don’t know how to run a world.

— § —

Contrary to what it may look like here, I haven’t had much time over the last couple of years to think much about the world, about the things I spent most of my life studying.

I have been digging, for the past year in particular, into myself. There is much to work out. And every time I think I may be halfway through the tunnel, I realize that this is likely not the case, but that I don’t know where the tunnel ends.

I have been working on developing frames of mind to turn toward the world while remaining also tuned in to myself. But this is a work in progress.

— § —

I don’t call myself a Christian because I’m not one. But I will say that by and large, the Christians and the Buddhists and the Taoists have it right.

The university professors, the activists, and the raging hordes on Facebook busy sharing posts about coconut oil and lemongrass have it wrong. Evil doesn’t always recognize the evil in itself.

— § —

The world is haunted. Only the children are not. I suppose it has always been thus.

Only these days, people don’t like children. They’re jealous of them—because they’re vying for the same attention and recognition that the children are.

Key mistakes, last ten years.  §

1) Not following the “no women” rule when I arrived in NYC for graduate school.
2) Leaving NYC. The reason doesn’t matter. Bad, bad mistake.
3) Stopping teaching. Another bad mistake.

I am at a point in my life at which it no longer makes any sense to “try to do the right thing by others.” I have had a lifetime of that. It leads nowhere good. It leads to enabling others to essentially dictate your life.

I’m happy to do the right thing, period. But the “for others” part usually ends up not being about a right thing on moral or ethical or even reasoned grounds, but rather being about satisfying their strong preferences and their own emotional foibles by amending my own life. I was raised to be this way. I have done it over and over again over twenty-five years. It has to stop. There is nothing edifying about it. It is a way to virtue-signal that was practiced by my parents. Virtue-signalling is an empty hobby.

Let others suck eggs. Live your own life. That’s my advice to the young.

Cars, watches, and momentum.  §

I miss my old car. How I miss my old car and am annoyed with my wife of the time for forcing the issue to sell it. It needed a heater blower and a new sunroof seal. That was it—but she hated it.

Thing is, I bought it at 133k miles for almost nothing. It looked and drove as new. Over the space of 15 years, it was incredibly reliable and almost nothing had to be fixed. It always started. It always drove. It never felt uncertain.

When we sold it, it was at 250k and the engine still ran as smooth as silk. The body and interior weren’t falling apart. The worst thing was the paint job—too many days spent outdoors in the ice during wintertime. It was sold for $615.00 to a student in New York. I’d pay $1,000.00 to get it back now.

That’s how hungry I am for a reliable car. I’m at 150k and the car is in far worse shape mechanically than the car we sold in 2010 at 250k. The current car is held together by duct tape and bubblegum, and keeps eating money at $hundreds a pop every other month.

Change will have to come soon. Somehow.

— § —

The thing about watches. And about why I don’t like straight quartz. Here’s the reason. Automatics (powered by your movement) and Eco-Drives (powered by the sun) derive their energy from the environment on an ongoing basis. Every moment that you wear these watches, your activity, your context, and the events that surround you power them.

Put a quartz watch with a new battery in a drawer and forget about it and it will still be running five years after anyone last touched or saw it. Wear a quartz watch with an old battery and it may die on you in the middle of the day despite the fact that you are still in the thick of things.

In other words, the time that quartz watches keep is abstract, mathematical, disconnected from the world that you yourself are living in. You and the watch are inhabiting different universes; a quartz watch lives in its own objective, isolated context, not directly related to anything that you do.

Automatic and to a slightly lesser extent Eco-Drive watches live with you, through you. Their timekeeping is intimately connected to the moment-by-moment movements and situations in your life. They inhabit the same time that you do—real time, the time of events and workdays and trips to the store. They do not live in a pure, theoretical space in which there is no material reality around them. Quartz watches keep time no matter what happens. For some, that might be a selling point. For me, it isn’t. To me, it feels as though they simulate time, rather than mark the passage of it.

If a giant meteor hit the earth tomorrow, filled the air with unbreathable soot, blotted out the sun, and took all life with it, quartz watches would still populate the earth and millions of them would still be rolling along five or eight years later, keeping perfect time beyond the end of the world. That’s just too much. It’s oppressive.

On the other hand, if the world ended tomorrow for all of the life forms on it, automatics would mark the end of time by stopping the day after tomorrow, just 20-40 hours later. Not a single one would be ticking a week later. Eco-drives—apart from the few whose owners happened to die outside in the sunlight—would go into hibernation (“pause” themselves in power-saving mode due to lack of sunlight) within a few weeks, and would never tick again.

The same goes true for when an owner dies and watches end up in storage as the funeral occurs and life goes on—the automatics stop within a day of the wearer’s life ending, and the Eco-Drives within a few weeks. The quartz watches? They don’t need you. Their purpose is ordained by God and they continue no matter what; their deaths are disconnected from human life or death entirely.

Both automatics and eco-drives have that additional, embodied timekeeping capability—they have the ability to mark the end of time, to indicate and memorialize death and mortality, at whatever the scale. They are sensitive to the importance of the lives of their wearers. Somehow, to me, that is the most important function in a watch that I wear on my body, that becomes a part of me. So long as the watch is on my wrist is ticking, I want to know that I am alive and the world has not ended yet. And when I die, I want my watch, intimate partner that it is, to mourn and commemorate my departure from life and refuse to go on without me.

With quartz, I don’t get that reassurance. And that makes all the difference.

— § —

I struggled to stay awake all day and promised myself that the moment the kids were asleep, I would be, too.

Now, it’s 11:40 and I’m sitting here still typing, despite the fact that the kids have been asleep for hours.

— § —

It isn’t easy to tell whether or not you’re lying to yourself. Everyone acts as though deep down, you know. In fact, you generally don’t. Your subconscious isn’t that considerate.

— § —

Though I’ve slowed the descent, I am still losing momentum. The slow drip of disappearing mojo continues. It must stop.

I have huge internal resistance to starting at the bottom of the hill and pushing the boulder upward for the long haul yet again. Huge internal resistance.

There is a large part of me that wants to just throw my hands up and forget about it. To say “this is what I am today and it’s all that I’ll ever be or do, and whatever happens will happen.”

I mustn’t allow that to stick. I need to remember the Pete Carroll quote that I put up here a day or three (or is it a week or three) ago.

I must always be willing to fight the fight. I cannot allow myself to let myself down. I have to be able to live with what I’ve made of all this on the day that I die. I don’t want to face myself and realize that I was just lazy, especially when it counted.

Work to be done.

Curses.  §

I’m getting bored reading about the election—in the mainstream press, in the niche political press, and on political blogs. Especially on political blogs.

For all the flak the press gets, the mainstream big-brand press basically understands what happens and articuates it correctly. Everyone else is off in la-la land. Sixty million racists and sexists. International conspiracies involving the FBI and NSA to hack the election. Blah, blah, blah.

Some people are trying to make these explanations stick while using the same numbers that the mainstream press are using to tell the actual story. They look like idiots.

On both sides of the aisle, they all look like idiots. And Clinton and Trump come out of this clearly looking like idiots as well.

Basically, Americans just aren’t terribly high-quality people any longer. Their educations, when they have them, appear to be crap. They weren’t listening in class. Or maybe grade inflation is finally being reflected across the political system, both in candidates and in voters. And those that don’t have educations are overcredulous and incredibly self-focused. Everyone has seen too many movies. Their entire brain is a repository for a variety of vapid blockbuster flim plots, and meanwhile, they just plain can’t math and can’t fact.

The whole thing is just plain dismal.

— § —

Which brings me to fall.

The older I get and the more I reflect on life, the public, the system, my own path, and the seconds that pass, the more I understand why the “wise elders” in any milieu always seem to detach and turn away from social life and toward the natural.

The leaves, in all their windswept, fractalic beauty, are not idiots. They are forceful, elemental, real as of course is the wind itself.

Time passes. Seasons change. Life changes.

Truth.

Yes, there is truth. Objective truth. I have come down on that side of things. Just because the idiot plebes can’t reach it and the idiot elites can’t grok it doesn’t particularly undermine it in any way.

It doesn’t empathize with us, nor does it laugh at us. It just goes on its way, no matter what the humans do, no matter what happens in the world or what forces are applied. That’s how you know it’s truth.

Money.  §

Money is tight. Like, tight. Divorce’ll do that.

— § —

Kids are money pits. They wonderful, but they do eat a lot, and they break things. Expensive things. For no reason. Scratch a $1,500 lens here, out of the blue. Stick a magnet against your $200 watch there to see what will happen, out of the blue. Break a toy and then break another toy. Squeeze the toothpaste all over the bathroom.

There’s no point doing any scolding because each case is new. It’s absolutely true that you’ve never told them not to cut a textbook up with scissors before. And you also never told them not to try to dye their clothes with markers. And so on.

You can try abstract concepts like “please try to take care of things, rather than ruin them,” but the fact is that kids don’t generally know the proper way to care for things, or at what threshold and set of characteristics a thing is called “ruined,” and there are just far too many potential cases in the average household to elaborate them all (not that they’d remember them all of you did).

It’s the school of life. The lesson not to jump up out of the blue and slam-dunk pieces of nature on your lens front element while laughing happens precisely on the occasion of this occuring. There’s no other occasion for it; that’s when it came up.

— § —

There are too many things to keep track of, too many moving parts in general in life. And too many urgent things.

It is proving difficult to advance at this stage of the game because life consists almost entirely of running around trying to keep things under control and not burning to the ground.

But it certainly doesn’t make me happy that no progress seems to be happening anywhere.

— § —

I’ve always thought that long, wavy grass was far prettier than mowed grass. Still do.

— § —

I don’t know what this blog post is about. As usual, over the course of the last couple of days I’ve had a hundred thousand things pass in one side of my head and out the other that I imagined ought to go into a blog post. And now that I’m here, I’m just plain half asleep and blank.

The end? Collapse?  §

I’m not sure how serious I am about this post, because the question is so big and so ridiculous. And at the same time, at least in the abstract, this deserves to be asked:

How long can the United States as a functioning state continue? Are we about to see a sudden collapse?

Consider.

In a two-party system with a very highly polarized population that almost universally despise (despite the protestations of self-sanity on both sides) each other, one party has refused to concede the legitimacy of the state for at least a decade already. And they have just won an election on a platform that explicitly grants legitimacy to the nation alone while effectively rejecting the state as it is currently constituted.

The opposition party has erupted into protests in the streets and the consensus is that the results of the election must not be legitimized. There must be four years of protest, the electoral college should vote against historical norms and then immediately be abolished, current leaders must not accept the new leadership, and the new government will “never be my government.” I am seeing talk all over the online sphere wondering what would happen if they simply refused to relinquish power on moral grounds.

Who, exactly, is the state’s constituency right now? What, exactly, is preserving it apart from sheer inertia and bulk?

For at least eight years, the Democratic side has been the state’s constituency. Examining the history of the last few cycles, we’d have expected the roles to flip if Republicans won—suddenly the Democratic side would refuse to accept the legitimacy of the state and suddenly the Republican side would embrace it. Only this time, the Republican side ran a new and unexpected kind of candidate—one who denies the legitimacy of the state entirely, and submits that it is the nation alone that is legitimate.

We are heading into a period in which the state will not have a legitimizing constituency, only populations on both sides that deny its legitimacy.

Call me crazy, but it seems very much as if there is very little holding the “United States of America” up. If there is a collapse, the name won’t go away—both sides are likely to engage in warfare to own the brand if the nation were to fragment somehow, all claiming to be the “real” United States government—but it won’t any longer be the same United States of America.

It is worrying. I’d suggest that liberals dial it back a little, unless there really is a desire to wind the state down. Because that is the platform that the other side ran on. If the left jumps in with both feet, too, to argue that the state should be wound down in favor of something new, then who, exactly, is working to preserve it?

Exactly no-one. And under those kinds of circumstances, change can move very swiftly, as it did for the Soviet Union.

Tired.  §

I’m tired. Seriously, I’m really tired. The last few years have been a lot. And that was right after doing a Ph.D. and moving from New York, which followed on the heels of moving to New York, which followed on the heels of rock and roll tours and doing an M.A. blah, blah.

In the space of a decade in a half I’ve lived in Salt Lake City, then Chicago, then Santa Barbara, then Goleta, then Salt Lake City, then Manhattan, then Queens, then Provo. In that span of time I’ve held twenty-one (!) different jobs at different organizations. I entered and exited three serious relationships. I got married. I got divorced. I had two kids. And this doesn’t include any of the details—long trips on the road, sometimes on a bus, sometimes in my own car(s); books written; media appearances; days in classrooms and exams given; cars bought and sold; blah, blah, blah.

It’s just been a lot of stuff. I suppose everyone’s life is like that. Crowded. Busy. But there are definitely times these days when I feel as though I want to retire, I’m ready to retire and just play golf or something. But of course I can’t. I’m not at all in a position to do that.

I need some sort of a vacation. Not like a weeklong-trip-to-Disneyland vacation, but a took-a-year-off-and-backpacked-across-Europe vacation. But I don’t know exactly how that would work. There is not a single circumstance in my life that would be conducive to that sort of thing.

But boy, am I tired.

Math and narcissism.  §

The amount of numerical illiteracy on display about the Trump outcome is driving me nuts.

The national exit poll data is wildly easy to understand at the level at which major news outlets are publishing it. It’s like something that would be on an average SAT test. It’s not rocket science. But the amount of abuse being done to the numbers is astounding. People just can’t get their heads around basic, basic numbers like percentages and percentage changes. And as a result, they think the data is telling them things (White racists swung Trump! People of color swung Clinton! Rich people swung Trump!) that are patently untrue, even with the numbers sitting right there in front of their faces.

In fact, they take these numbers to social media and share them along with their rants, and other people like and follow and agree. And here are the numbers that clearly show the opposite. It’s shocking that people can’t take two numbers printed side by side, subtract one from the other, and get an accurate answer.

People are dumb, dumb, dumb in America. Problem #1. Even 5th-grade math skills are missing.

I was wrong. I hate it.  §

A while back, I switched from a Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ to an iPad Mini, specifically to be able to use Daedalus and Ulysses again, which aren’t available on Android. Because I love those applications. I love them on iOS and I love them on the Mac. I thought it would help to boost my productivity to have access to them on both devices again.

I was wrong.

They haven’t boosted my productivity because I just plain hate the iPad Mini and iOS. This isn’t Apple hate. I was an early adopter of the original iPad, back when everyone else was making fun of it. And at the time, it was absolutely miraculous. An awesome device. And I use a Mac every single day for my work and at this point couldn’t (not just wouldn’t) switch without basically fucking up my entire life.

But the iOS thing? iOS is naff. And iOS on iPad Mini 2 is basically unusable. Let me count the ways:

  • Zero personalization, diffused flow focus on default metaphor UI
  • Dog slow (DOG SLOW) compared to my Android tablets over the last few years
  • Terrible UI accountability (Did I tap it? No way to know, when there’s this much lag and no UI hovering/hilighting)
  • Heavy
  • Bulky and way too thick
  • Touchscreen not as responsive
  • Screen much worse quality (poor color gamut, worse viewing angles compared to AMOLED)
  • Still no way to work with files
  • Highly crashy if you do anything intensive due to paltry RAM size

In short, in comparison to recent versions of Android on recent Android hardware, feels like I’ve traveled years into the past, back to when the iPad was first released. It would have been as amazing as the original iPad if this was 2010. But it’s not. And for 2016, given the competition that’s on the market, the iPad Mini 2 is absolute shit. I have been trying to rationalize, but I can’t. I hate it. When I can budget in the funds, I’m switching back to Android.

And oh, the productivity thing…

Because I hate it, I avoid it like the plague. If I’d still had my Android tablet, I’d be writing this post on it. I’d be complaining about workflow (have to start a standalone editor, save it to a file, transfer it to the desktop, blah, blah) and probably dreaming of Daedalus and/or Ulysses again and all the time and distraction they’d save me. But I’d be typing on Android.

Where am I typing? At a quad-core i7 desktop with two monitors. That is not the right place for blogging. A tablet is the right place for blogging. But I cannot stand my current tablet. I hate using it now that I’ve used Android on recent hardware, even though I love Daedalus and Ulysses (still do, at least in concept). Because the endless lag (press the home button, wait 5-7 seconds for anything to happen; pinch-zoom and the zoom takes effect 3 seconds after you remove your hand from the screen) and the incredible bulk (it’s like the difference between wearing a wristwatch and wearing an alarm clock on your arm) and the washed-out, low-contrast display just make it an unpleasant experience, even with the best apps, once you’ve had something else.

I’m sad that I sold off my Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ for this crap. I thought it was the right move, but the gains haven’t materialized. Instead, I’m stuck in the past, sitting at a desk after work in the PM hours typing at a desktop like it’s 1999.

Sorry Apple, iPad is dead. You have become IBM, at least in this space—once great and innovative and miraculous, but now pushing the equivalent of huge, 40-pound beige-and-black steel boxes with PC-DOS and OS/2 while everyone else is selling contoured PCs that fit conveniently into small spaces and run that newfangled Windows thing.

iPad Mini 2 = epic fail. Crap tablet for 2016.

Election.  §

Well, it happened. We’ll have a Trump presidency. I’ve been worried here about the rise of identity politics (see my many previous posts). Now that the exit polling is out, we can see that it has bitten us. Clinton ran on an almost pure demographic strategy—get women, people of color, and the educated onboard, and do it in a way that is strongly inspiring and without compromises for these three groups—potentially losing others due to values disagreements in the process if necessary.

The exit polling data is out. And it’s pretty revealing.

  • In comparison to Obama’s 2012 win, Clinton absolutely cratered with middle class and working class voters.
  • Women only went for Clinton by one percentage point more than they did for Obama.
  • Every single racial demographic swung Republican vs. 2012 with Obama. Every single one. Turnout was significantly worse, and the toward-Republican shift in the white vote was the smallest shift of them all.
  • She got more of the educated vote.
  • She got more of the upper income vote (this is of course correlated with the last point).
  • But the gains in these two groups, which are smaller to start with, and then also were smaller percentage shifts, did not make up for the loss of the middle class and working class losses.

In short, the demographic strategy failed. Women didn’t buy in, people of color didn’t buy in as strongly as they did with Obama and then didn’t turn out, and in targeting a more-or-less one-note message in such a socially progressive, identity-driven way, she lost a lot of the lower-income voters that really can’t digest such messages, both because of educational limitations and because they have other things to worry about.

In shorter short, Sanders was right, Clinton was wrong. It’s the economic outlook that drove votes again. Republicans went for that framing in abysmal ways, but by selecting an “elite insider” candidate and then subordinating the economic and opportunity message to the aspirational/inspirational identity message, Democrats ceded the territory, lost those voters, and then didn’t make up the difference in the expected areas.

Seems that identity can cause a few people to get angry, but not inspire most of the public to actually vote for a particular candidate—when it comes to governance, the public appears to be more sophisticated than that.

Part of me wants to say “thank goodness,” but the other part of me is staring down the barrel of a Trump presidency.

Can we dispense with the identity politics nonsense on the left now? (Evidently not, from reading the press and the blogs, where people are doubling down on the idea that this is outcome was about a public that is racist, sexist, and xenophobic, rather than the fact the traditional working class party essentially gave up on economic votes altogether).

— § —

For years, people on the left have been snickering at the right for their “echo chamber” in which pundits and mutually-reinforcing interactions fomented unreasonable fear, paranoia, and blame of the opposing side.

Judging by reactions to the election and ascribed causes, it’s clear that the left now has their own echo change in which unreasonable fears, paranoia, and blame are fomented.

Now that it’s clearly there, I hope it doesn’t stick around for decades as the one on the right has. But I’m not confident that it won’t.

It looks like we’ll have the right unjustifiably calling the left a bunch of totalitarian dictators and the left unjustifiably calling the right a bunch of Klu-Klux-Klan sexists… for the forseeable future. Vomit. The question isn’t “Can America survive Trump?” so much as it is “Can America survive the idiocy and paranoia of its own public?”

Welps.  §

That was what it was. It was going to be a sad day either way, and so it is.

Maybe, just maybe, the urban party elites on both sides can allow the plebes to have some better candidates next time.