i sat down at my computer, trying to get some work done and realized what today is. september 11, 2016. 15 years ago our country faced a horrible tragedy at the hands of evil madmen.

though i hadn’t planned to post anything today, instead writing for posts tomorrow and (maybe) tuesday, i thought i’d take a moment to contemplate….

here’s a look at what i wrote on the 5th anniversary.

even today, the footage is hard to watch.

a lot’s happened since that day our country changed, since we became afraid of, well, everything. 15 years later, we’re still waging a war on islamic extremism, with arguably little effect. and at least a portion of the country is intent on waging war against the whole islamic religion.

it seems to me, the world is a much scarier, much sadder place than it was before september 11,2001.

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several weeks back, i came across a commentary on the current state of politics in america, how it came to this, and how we might move back toward reason and compromise. how american politics went insane, from the atlantic, is a piece i’d strongly encourage everyone to read, twice….

still, despite the high quality of the piece, i have my criticisms.

after painting a humorous, if not horrifying caricature of what could be waiting for us in the 2020 election season, the author suggests the primary races for both major parties were “eerily” similar. the terrifying, evil asshole ted cruz and the bombastic, stupid blowhard donald trump led the republican field, while the democrats had bernie sanders in a strong second to hilary clinton. according the author, bernie isn’t a real democrat, just as trump and cruz aren’t real republicans:

The Republicans’ noisy breakdown has been echoed eerily, albeit less loudly, on the Democratic side, where, after the early primaries, one of the two remaining contestants for the nomination was not, in any meaningful sense, a Democrat. Bernie Sanders was in independent who switched to nominal Democratic affiliation on the day he filed for the New Hampshire primary, only three months before that election. He surged into second place by winning independents while losing Democrats. If it had been up to Democrats to choose their party’s nominee, Sanders’s bid would have collapsed after Super Tuesday. In their various ways, Trump, Cruz, and Sanders are demonstrating a new principle: The political parties no long have either intelligible boundaries or enforceable norms, and, as a result renegade political behavior pays.

i don’t believe the major political parties are experiencing rebellion because renegade candidates have chosen to throw the middle finger to their respective parities of choice. the renegade candidates have, seeing an opportunity to take advantage of tired, poor, and angry people, have chosen to run because the democrats and republicans have utterly failed to represent and genuinely work to address the electorate and their lives’ hardship.

and though here i have criticisms with the author’s characterization of “renegade candidates,” i’ll refocus and move on to his real thesis.

the balance of political power and influence has, for a long time been held in place by a system of checks and balances in the framers’ construction of our government, but also in the vast and far more complex political system that has been built in decades and centuries since.

the supposition here, the core argument of the piece is that careful and complex political system has, over a period of time, been dismantled. the vacuum left behind has allowed for, what the author calls, “chaos syndrome:”

Chaos syndrome is a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization. It begins with the weakening of the institutions and brokers—-political parties, career politicians, and congressional leaders and committees—-that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the political system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time. As these intermediaries’ influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualist and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal—-both in campaigns and in the government itself.

so, how did we get here exactly? what are the “reforms” made that put us on the path to chaos? well, the author has some very clear ideas. and i’ll take a look at them in part two.

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actual work precluded me getting a post up in a timely fashion this morning. it turned out to be ok, though, because now i can write a bit about the new iphone 7 and ios 10. both have improvements in form and function, but neither the new iphone or the accompanying ios 10 makes me jump up and down with anticipation.

i have, nonetheless, been waiting for the release of the new iphone, mostly because i’ve decided i’d prefer the larger model to what i have now. and the batter life on my current iphone has begun to fade, not enough to be useless, but enough to be annoying.

the news that the standard headphone jack is going the way of the dodo is… a bit distressing. i consider myself an aspiring, or amateur audiophile and definitely appreciate high-quality headphones and the sound they produce. though some sources i’ve found suggest you can get the same quality sound wirelessly (over bluetooth) as you an via a wired set of headphones is promising, i’m not convinced.

earlier this year, i purchased a set of atx-m50x headphones from audio-technics, which i absolutely love. they’re bulky, but they create a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience and i find it a little hard to believe i could get a similar experience from wireless headphones (without spending two or three times the amount).

despite all these concerns, i understand why apple felt the move was necessary and am not really surprised. and it’s good to hear they’re going to be including an adapter with all the new iphones, eliminating the criticism that they’re forcing people to buy all new equipment.

i imagine it won’t be too terribly long before quality and pricing makes it worth while for me to move away from my wired headphones, though i’m glad i don’t have to do it quite yet.

while there have certainly been some technological advances i’ve been eager to adopt, others i’ve struggled with. as it was difficult for a generation to give up vinyl records or cassette tapes, so have i struggled to fully adapt to the fully-digital music world. i enjoy the experience of browsing in a music store and the moment ripping off the plastic on a cd case, or browsing the liner notes while listening to the album for the first time. i’ve even been contemplating a step back to the “vintage” era of vinyl and acquiring a record player and a healthy selection of vinyl records, though finances and a necessary rearranging of my tv and stereo have so far prevented me from taking the plunge.

anyway, in the next few days i’ll be visiting my at&t and apple stores to see about my options for upgrading to the new iphone 7.

yea for shiny new gadgets!

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during my time in philadelphia earlier this summer, i (reluctantly) had my first experience with ride-sharing.

watching the issue of ride-sharing regulation flair up in hawaii in the last couple of years and reading about lawsuits and stories about how ride-share drivers are treated by the “app” companies, i’d refused to use any of the services until i was comfortable there had been significant changes to how the drivers are treated.

so, in downtown philadelphia, late at night, with a couple of friends and no easy or inexpensive way back to our hotel, i reluctantly agreed to pitch-in on a lyft ride. it was a good experience. and ridiculously inexpensive; the 45-minute drive out to the hotel i think ended up costing something like $7 or $10 per person, including a generous tip. my only point for comparison is a $35 and 15-minute cab ride i took from the airport once, when my ride failed to appear….

this morning, while browsing emails and headlines looking for something to write about, i came access the article, there’s only one way to compete with uber. the author highlights a couple of upstart competitors in new york city that are attempting to compete with, or overtake, uber as the leading ride-share app in the area.

in the end, the conclusion made by the author, with which i completely agree is this: appeal to drivers, address their needs and concerns, and you’re bound to do well.

i have friends, family, and colleagues who won’t shop at walmart because of their poor treatment of employees, but don’t seem to think twice about how ride-share drivers are treated, generally not even considered employees. i find it baffling, frankly.

uber, claiming to be a technology company rather than a transportation or service company, wants to side-step regulations applied to taxi services and others. the problem with that argument is that without drivers, the company would have ceased to exist a long, long time ago. it’s an app company that provides a service through drivers who they refuse to consider employees, or pay a decent wage, or provide benefits, or pay taxes for. the drivers, the entire reason for uber’s success are independent contractors, some court decisions to the contrary.

there is substantial evidence that businesses that pay living wages, provide good benefits, and generally care for their employees, cannot only survive but thrive. the same can certainly be true for ride-sharing companies. you want to compete with uber and lyft? just treat your drivers like employees, like people with respect and dignity, and you’ll be successful at attracting not only the best drivers from your competitors, but also socially conscious customers, like me.

the lyft driver in philly was a nice guy, who drives for both uber and lyft, though he told us he prefers lyft because they pay slightly better.

i expect it’ll be a long while before i’m in a position again where using one of these services becomes necessary, but i really hope by then there’s an alternative to which i can feel good about giving my business.

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thursday. the last day of the convention and my last full day in the city of brotherly love.

frustration from two days prior continued to linger and physical and mental fatigue was beginning to set in, but i was up, again, in time to be at breakfast at 7am. that morning’s breakfast was going to be a special one; it had been arranged to have senator bernie sanders himself come and speak to the delegations staying at the hilton valley forge hotel.

thoroughly excited, i made sure i was downstairs in the conference room in plenty of time and to make sure i had my choice of seats.

in addition, and prior to, bernie’s speech, we welcomed former maryland governor martin o’malley. his speech was good, but honestly, i was so excited to see the senator up close and personal, i didn’t pay much attention. instead, i kept glancing back at the entrance to the room, waiting for the senator’s arrival.

unfortunately, because some bernie supporters were so unhappy with his loss and previous endorsement of hillary clinton, the senator was being harassed. there had been protests at his hotel (i didn’t even know where he was staying). so bernie was a little on guard and his secret service detail was definitely on guard. so, instead of a grand entrance from the back of the room, he was quietly rushed in through the kitchen entrance at the side of the room.

his appearance was sudden and though there was certainly applause and a rush to welcome him and maybe shake his hand, security moved him promptly to the stage with little fanfare and he began his address to us.

i tried to get some pictures of a couple of our young and bright bernie delegates presenting him with lei and gifts from hawaii. unfortunately, in the hustle and crowd, it proved difficult. i did, however get this great picture of a crying asami after presenting the senator with a lei:

his speech was good, but not a deviation from anything i’d heard from him over the last couple days. it was just thrilling to have him there, knowing what his campaign meant to so many people, including myself.

then, when he concluded his was whisked away back through the kitchen as quickly as he had entered.

though there were more events at the convention center, not to mention clinton’s acceptance speech that evening. i, however, decided bernie’s visit to our hotel would be a fitting end to my official convention experience. i wasn’t really keen on hearing hillary speak, nor bear witness to the celebration (and smugness from some) of clinton’s supporters. instead, i gave away my credentials to one of the party faithful form hawaii who had come to philly to staff the delegation; she was a clinton supporter and had no doubt she’d enjoy being there to see hillary accept the nomination much more than i would have.

so, a gray and rainy day spent packing, relaxing, editing photos, and writing marked the end of my convention delegate experience. in some ways, it had been the longest few days of my life. in others, it was over as hurriedly as it had begun. i was sorry to see it come it an end without any real climax, but so it goes.

early the next morning, i boarded a shuttle to the airport happy to begin my vacation spending quality time with friends and family in the midwest.

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