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Rooting for the Apocalypse — Chapter 1: Heat

This a rotten summer. The heat gets into everything. It’s not a dry heat, like California. This is a wet, hot, stinking Philadelphia heat. Jungle over desert, motherfucker. You take a shower and never get dry, pores picking up where the faucet left off. Your clothes stick, and your fingers, stick, and the sheets stick, and cling as you roll around in the hot, wet, dark, heat of the night. The sheets stain yellow from the sweat.
My bedroom is the size of a trailer. It just barely fits the bed, a twin (would you really put twins in this?), and I have to scooch around the side pressing my back against the wall to get to the head of it. The ceiling is high and there are two windows that bring in light and air and the neighbors’ conversations. Kristy is thinking of buying a grill. She’s concerned about a rash on her vagina. Their voices echo in the convolutions of my brain.
I sleep with my head reversed—over by the foot of the bed rather than the head of it. My little round fan is propped …
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Rooting for the Apocalypse: A Multimedia Novel of Life in a Dying Empire

San Francisco Fever Dream

At exactly midnight I land in the bizarre fever dream of San Francisco. My Lyfts keep cancelling and when I snag one he goes to the Departures gate instead of arrivals and I'm slapped with a no-show fine of $5. I chat with a robot in the app, who waives the fee based on my good behavior in the past, though not without a note of admonishment. At last a Lyft takes the bait of my dangling e-dollars, and I hop in a Line (shared ride) headed for downtown.

Downtown San Francisco at one in the morning is a busy place. Every corner has a crowd of individuals in a wide variance of cleanliness smoking and gabbing and drinking. Some of these parties are lit with the flashers of a cop car. Side-streets and alleys are lined with wheelchairs, or sheets, or sleeping bags, or nests of newspaper in makeshift dormitories. At the corner where my Line companion alights, three men sit on the curb holding a sheet over their heads, passing around a pipe.

In the morning I walk through Golden Gate park.…

The Birth of the New American Aristocracy: Privileges versus Rights

This is a good article about the metamorphosis of the educated professional class into a new aristocracy, by Mathew Stewart, in The Atlantic.

Worth reading in full, but this paragraph jumped out at me:
The source of the trouble, considered more deeply, is that we have traded rights for privileges. We’re willing to strip everyone, including ourselves, of the universal right to a good education, adequate health care, adequate representation in the workplace, genuinely equal opportunities, because we think we can win the game. But who, really, in the end, is going to win this slippery game of escalating privileges? Nailed it.

The many privileges bestowed upon you by growing up in the aristocracy will give you definite advantages over your fellow citizens, but will not protect you from predatory capitalism. You're better positioned but still vulnerable to asset bubbles pops, medical emergencies, lost employment, and the trials that accompany it. You might be a stronger, faster …

The New Gmail Review: It Just Doesn't Work

I recently upgraded to the new version of Gmail. I like it. I like being able to see which emails have attachments. I like the automatic suggestions for responding to emails (even though I don't like it reading my emails). I like the new "confidential" mode.

Unfortunately it has one big problem.

The new Gmail doesn't work.

Now Gmail has always been a little feisty with me. I have an old MacBook, I use Firefox in private mode, with plug-ins like Adblock Plus, Disconnect, and uBlock.

But this is totally different.

Sometimes the new Gmail won't load. I'll wait and wait. One minute. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Nothing. I'll try again, and again. I'll restart Firefox and finally get in.

Once Gmail has managed to load, the real fight begins. I use hangouts, or try to, but sometimes they don't show up in the new Gmail. I'll click a conversation and nada. Nope. Good luck buddy.

Fine, I didn't even want to talk to my friends.

But I do …

What the hell happened to spring?

What the hell, God? We endured a bloated, ghastly winter this year with the promise of spring, a promise you failed to keep. Only at the end of April did temperatures consistently rally past the forties and now it's 91 degrees? That's too hot! What happened to spring? We're full-out ball sack now. Just breathing gets you sweaty. The sun is relentless, there's no refuge, it crisps you with its rays and melts through the brick of your house to broil you within.

See, we need spring. Spring is all we got here in Philly. Sure, we do a nice fall, but fall leads into winter and the sun goes away and the days get shorter and the nightmare of Christmas is approaching and you just can't help but be reminded of the fact that you're going to die real soon. So spring is where it's at. You get the birds, and sun, and every day is longer than the last, and it rains but you don't care because it's big and sexy and dramatic with growls of thunder and splashes of l…

The time Venmo stole $15 from me

My friend owed me $15 for a ticket to an L.A. Salami concert. She didn't have any cash. She asked if she could Venmo me. I said no. I don't have Venmo. I don't believe in Venmo. She said that if I had a PayPal account it would still work. Reluctantly, I agreed to accept payment via the Venmo-PayPal spur.

I received a text with a link to claim my money. This is already more work than I want to be doing. In case you need a refresher, here's how cash works:

Fine, whatever, I'll sing for my supper. I click the link. It takes me to PayPal and I'm greeted with a message that my payment has been received.

Unfortunately, this is a lie. I check my account balance and there is no $15.

No big deal. I check account activity to see if the transaction is pending or processing, but nada. It's probably just loading.

A week later I check again. Still no $15. Still no record of the transaction. I look everywhere and can't find it. I don't even know how I g…