So, my blogging output seems directly proportional to my caffeine intake. It’s been tough — I look at bottles of Diet Coke the way a recovering junkie looks at a full prescription bottle of OxyContin. Waking up while trying to resist its siren song is a white-knuckle experience. Now, my baseline energy level is slowly improving… but without that burst of energy my mind has come to rely on, things can get real foggy, kind of. Hence, the lack of writing lately.
- The only real end-of-year political news involves two things. One was Cruz’s rise, at the expense of Rubio and Carson. The GOP’s donor class may find themselves in the incredible position of having to choose the lesser of two evils (from their view, Cruz instead of Trump), a problem they are more used to forcing on the base. Like Colbert, I find that is the one good thing of the Trump insurgency: blowing up the usual predetermined outcome of these things and sticking it to the plutocrats. Seeing them whine and complain about this campaign season, and the dumpster fire that is Jeb!’s candidacy, does warm the heart.
- The other news involves the omnibus spending bill, and while even my eyes glaze over at some of the details of this inside-the-Beltway arcana, one measure stuck out: Paul Ryan’s efforts to vastly increase the numbers of H-2B visa workers. This is designed purely to benefit the 0.1% and to stick it to the working class — and to Trump voters. The donor class may have lost control of this year’s presidential contest (for one of the two parties, anyway), but they are letting us know they still own Congress.
- Star Wars mania continues. In preparation of the movie’s release, EA put out a new FPS game set in that galaxy far, far away: Star Wars Battlefront. It’s basically a more casual friendly, SW-themed take on EA’s venerable Battlefield series, and I give it a qualified recommendation. The big downside: aimbot cheaters can completely ruin your experience. I was recently in a 6 vs 6 game where the second-place player made 12 kills; I made 9; the top player made 42. He never missed, even while shooting through opaque smoke grenades. And his own teammates were making fun of his cheating on chat. But most telling of all, he never bothered to dodge which is the hallmark of a cheater vs just a really great player. As long as you don’t get into a match with a cheater, though, this game can be great fun for those who are not hardcore FPS purists.
- Cheating in video games is actually a major international business. I know a guy who created and manages one of the main, paid ways of cheating at League of Legends. As anyone with even a passing knowledge of the industry knows, LoL is one of the most popular titles in the history of gaming, and like any online game, it is plagued by people who find it enjoyable to let a cheating hack win for them. Thus, this guy made a lot of money. He does not have much respect for the cheaters he services, but he does have respect for the money they give him. Like him, I will never understand the immature mentality that makes one want to cheat at an online game against anonymous strangers.
- Christmas in New York this year feels like what Christmas in Los Angeles must normally feel, with a reported high here of 72 degrees F. Of course, the obligatory tweets and blog posts about global warming are rubbish when just last year was one of the more cold and brutal winters of recent memory — certainly the worst since the “Snowpocalypse” winter of 2010-2011. Not that global warming isn’t a thing… it’s just that this winter season is not a good argument in support of it. Not on its own, anyway.
- Speaking of NYC, I’ve grown way too dependent on Amazon Prime Now and Google Express. The latter draws from an extensive roster of big-box merchants, including Costco and Target; the former delivers much faster but is more expensive, and can deliver perishables and even booze. This is not exactly a town where you can just jump into your car and drive down to the local Wal-Mart to load up on sundries; summoning whatever you want via smartphone app is simply way too easy. My New Year’s resolution: stop relying on these services and go back to local merchants in the area.
- And that’s all. Merry Christmas!