A Letter to My Parents Following the 2016 Election

The 2016 election cycle is finally over, but for many, the fight is just beginning. While Hillary might not have been the right candidate for many people, I do not understand how Trump could gather enough votes to actually win the election.

One thing I do know, however, is that as a straight white male in America, I can no longer sit back and just watch this country turn to shit. What’s worse, however, is finding out that I am the only member of my immediate family who did not vote for Trump.

Only the closest of friends (and my brothers) know the environment that I grew up in. In the months leading up to election day, I suffered through their racist and narrow-minded posts on Facebook. I asked them to unfollow; they would not comply. I muted them, but that felt wrong. My ultimate decision was to close my Facebook account following the election, and I’ve turned my Twitter account to Private.

Prior to taking those steps, however, I received an email from my mother, telling me that I shouldn’t be mad about the election, or at everyone. My mom…I love her, but that woman knows how to push buttons.

If Trump has his way with the country he vows to “Make…Great Again,” he will most likely revert any progress this country has made in my lifetime (which, for those who are keeping score, is 51 years). His and Pence’s policies will have a direct negative impact on the lives of many of my friends, and for many in this country.

Below is my response to her, but it is also meant for my father who decries email and technology. (Names have been changed to protect those who may become targets of hate.)

Warning:
Some of the language in the email I sent is offensive. The racial slurs are meant to remind my parents of the environment in which I was raised, and how that shaped who I am today. By exposing the racism and bigotry that surrounded me in my youth, I hope this is something we can all learn from.

Hey Mom,

I’m not mad at everyone, Mom; more so disgusted. Trump’s America is not one that I want to live in or be a part of, but here I am, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and watch him and the Republican Establishment undo all of the progress that this country has made—again.

While I wasn’t a fan of Bill Clinton, I did vote for him because I saw the good that he was doing. I voted for George W. Bush the first time around because I didn’t like Al Gore at the time, and that was a mistake. George W. Bush got this country into two endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was upset when George W. was reelected, and kept thinking, “How can America be so stupid to reelect this idiot?”. Under George W. Bush—along with his cronies Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld—our economy worsened, they introduced a level of fear in this country by giving the CIA, FBI, and NSA carte blanche to surveil the citizens of this country—without warrants—and their use of rendition to torture prisoners is unparalleled, even by our worst enemies. Those very actions have led to many of our allies backing away, while leaving a dark stain on our country.

When President Obama was elected and took office, he inherited a massive debt left by the Bush administration. He had to deal with the financial crisis, the housing crisis, and if that wasn’t enough, the automobile industry almost went under, too. If it were not for President Obama and the government bailing out those three institutions, this country would have plummeted into a recession on parallel with, or worse than, the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The healthcare system in this country is a disgrace. The Affordable Care Act (or, ObamaCare, if you want to use the derogatory term used by Republicans) helped to make healthcare affordable to millions of people who were uninsured. I don’t know if you remember my friend JP, but he is one of those people whom without the ACA would probably be dead by now. And what is Trump’s first action going to be? He says to repeal the ACA without any other plan in place, just so the Republicans can put in their own plan or just let it all rot. If JP loses medical coverage, he will die, Mom. So maybe rather than saying “Thanks, Obama” with a smirk, think about what this means.

But what I find more disgusting is that this country elected a BIGGER buffoon than George W. Bush to be the next President. You watch, Mom, Trump and the Republican Establishment are going to turn this country inside-out and not in a good way. All of the progress this country has made in my lifetime—over the last 50-60 years—will be gone.

We will end up with a HUGE debt, not a surplus. Trump’s company has gone bankrupt four times; something that he is proud of. He boasts about not having to pay taxes while the rest of us pay more than our fair share in comparison to the taxes he and the people who earn more than a million dollars a year pay.

Trump talks about how generous he is, but he refuses to disclose his taxes or to provide a list of charities to which he has donated. Trump has said throughout his campaign that he donated to veteran’s groups, but there is no proof of that. All he has to do is disclose his tax records as proof, but he refuses to do that, and until he does, he’s just telling lies.

Trump has been indicted for bilking millions from people who attended Trump University. That case is scheduled to go to trial soon. He has also been charged with raping a 13-year-old girl, Mom. 13!

A Trump Administration will dismantle any rights that a woman has to make decisions about her own healthcare. For proof of that, all you have to do is look at what the Republicans in Texas have tried to do in their own state. The government should not tell you what you can or cannot do with your own body, Mom. They have brought religious [fanaticism] into the government, which is in conflict with the ideal of separation of church and state.

By appointing Supreme Court Justices that are way far on the Religious Right, the Trump administration will undo Roe v Wade and unravel marriage equality. That means many of my friends, including Barney Rubble (you used to play bingo with his mom, right?) will have their marriages nullified because the Republicans will strip away his and Fred’s right to be married to each other. The same goes for my friends Wilma and Betty, Tom and Jerry, Richie and Fonzi, Velma and Daphne…shall I keep listing their names?

This country was founded on immigration. The Statue of Liberty bears a plaque inscribed with the sonnet, “The New Colossus,” which states:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

What Trump has proposed is an end to immigration and naturalization. To mass-deport people, families, and children. To block entry to people who are fleeing war-torn countries and oppressive regimes in search of hope and safety for them and their families. Mom, THIS is the very foundation of our country! Somewhere in our lineage, we—the Flintstones and Rubbles—came to North America from somewhere in Europe without invitation, but in search of a better life.

If we turn our back on the rest of the world, we should expect the same in return when the time comes. Is that how you want our country to be viewed? As isolationists? As xenophobes?

And speaking of xenophobia, let’s talk about race, shall we? It’s the big pink elephant that’s in the corner whenever we are together…

What Trump’s base of voters would prefer, is to “Make America White Again”. You cannot tell me that is false, because I have seen numerous images of people wearing shirts and hats with that very wording on it.

Trump’s father was in the KKK. Trump received an endorsement by David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The only paper in the US to endorse Trump was The Crusader, the official newspaper of the KKK.

Do you see a pattern here?

Trump had the full backing—and most likely the voting block—from the Ku Klux Klan. This country elected a known racist and bigot to the highest office in the land. And worse, he will be able to appoint Supreme Court Justices that share similar beliefs.

You cannot deny the racist environment we grew up in. You and Dad both regularly used [racial slurs] to refer to people who weren’t white. Nigger. Chink. Jap. Porch monkey. Spear-chucker. Spic. Wetback. Sand nigger. Turban-head. It’s a long list. I heard those and more growing up in our home and, honestly, all around me in Michigan. You speak fondly of the time when [REDACTED] drove into Detroit to let the dobes run in a park “to chase the niggers”.

It’s not funny, Mom! It’s disgusting. Appalling.

I also remember the time when a black family moved into our neighborhood, on Mockingbird Lane. That family was run out of our neighborhood. Their daughter was in my class, and she had no friends. One day, I walked home from school with her because she was walking alone. I remember this quite vividly, Mom…dad drove by in his pickup on his way home from work. We were on Stone Way, just past the house on the corner that Captain Caveman rode the mini-bike into, and dad saw me walking down the sidewalk with this girl. He slowed down as he passed, hit is horn once to get our attention, and he wagged his finger at me. When I got home, Dad said that he never wanted to see me walking with “that colored girl” again. If he did, he promised to beat the shit out of me. I was in 5th or 6th grade at the time; imagine how terrified I was.

I also remember dad telling us that you and he would disown us if we ever dated or brought a girlfriend home who wasn’t white. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That was the environment I grew up in—we grew up in—but that is not who I am. And that is not the country I want to live in.

So, no, I am not mad at everyone who voted for Trump. I am disgusted by the America they want my home to become. I am saddened and fearful for my friends who may lose their health benefits and die or see their marriages dissolved, and for some, to be run out of the country because of their ethnicity.

That is not my America.

I love you, Mom. We may not believe in the same things, but I do love you.

Chuck

The Future of the Mac, or, What The Hell Just Happened?

Earlier today (okay, it’s now after midnight, so technically, yesterday), Apple held its annual Fall product release, billed to tech journalists as Hello Again. Those two simple words hinted that this event was to be about the Mac, and not just the Mac, but to many of us—the Future of the Mac.

The event started with an incredibly heart-warming video about the accessibility users can find in the Apple Watch, iOS devices, and on the Mac. The story is told through the screen of a videographer, and we discover toward the end that the person working on the project (Sady) is disabled and making use of the accessibility features built into Final Cut Pro and macOS. It’s a great video, if you haven’t seen it, you can catch it on YouTube.

I have a lot of respect for the Accessibility team at Apple. They work incredibly hard, and have dedicated their careers to ensuring that the things Apple produces—hardware and software—are usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. But sadly, beyond Tim Cook’s comments that followed the video, that’s all we heard about accessibility on the Mac today. And what did we get instead, a “Touch Bar” that no doubt will be accessible via APIs that Apple released today to developers, but that was never mentioned.

Let me say that again: Apple led with a video about accessibility, and then proceeded to introduce a Touch Bar for the new MacBook Pro. Am I the only one that sees the irony here?

After Tim Cook’s welcoming remarks, he meandered down a path that was very un-Mac. He talked about iOS 10, its adoption rate, its adoption rate vs Android, the iPhone 7 Plus and its awesome camera, and showed pictures—lots of pictures—that iPhone users sent to Apple just so he could show them to us during a supposed Mac event.

Next up…not a Mac. Instead, Apple TV. Twitter on Apple TV, and more blah-blah about Apple TV.

This is a Mac event, right?

Finally, we get to the new MacBook Pro models with its newest feature—which we all know about thanks to the Internet, yo—the Touch Bar. To me, this feels gimmicky at best; a short-lived feature for the MacBook Pro line that (IMO) will live an embarrassingly short existence. And to make all of us long-time Mac users feel nostalgic, the Touch Bar gets an updated version of the Control Strip.

We got to listen to Phil Schiller tell us how outdated function keys are, so here’s a touchy-thing to replace that row of buttons that you don’t use. (Except, I use them every day. Thanks, Phil.) We got a demo from Craig Federighi. Another demo, and another demo, and another demo, and then the big reveal: The hardware specs, pricing, and availability that we’ve all been waiting to hear.

Yawn.

But as a long-time Mac user, there was honestly nothing about the new MacBook Pro models that made me want to upgrade my aging 2012 model for the new hotness. Internally, the MacBook Pros are a work of art, they really are meticulously designed, but on a spec level, what Apple presented today was an embarrassment. The top of the line MacBook Pro is limited to 16 GB of RAM? Seriously?!

Just who is Apple designing this new line of MacBook Pros for, my retired mother who plays Bingo on the web? No, seriously. These are Pro models, right? Laptops that developers use. Laptops that designers use. And, apparently, laptops that Final Cut Pro users use.

16 gigabytes of RAM. That’s what you get, and there’s no way to upgrade that, monkey-boy.

The new MacBook Pros only have Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. The last time I checked, the Lightning cables that come with the new iPhones and iPads are all standard USB, which means if you buy the new laptop, you’ll also need to drop another $25 for the USB-C to Lightning cable. No biggie, right? Now multiply that by every iOS device you currently use and might want to sync with your laptop.

The event wrapped up just like all other Apple events in recent years, with a video voiced by Sir Jony Ive espousing the virtues of the latest, greatest Apple thing.

And that was it.

Today’s Apple “event” lacked something that is typically central to these events: a theme. In the past, Apple’s product announcements were precision-tuned; this one felt thrown together. It lacked substance, and it kind of lacked purpose.

What it did show, however, is more of Apple’s hubris. “Here’s your new laptop, now leave us alone for another four years while we go back to work on iPhones and iPads, m’kay.” That’s what it felt like being a long-time Mac user today.

What we did not hear about today was anything related to Apple’s flagship consumer desktop, the iMac. Nor did we hear anything about the Mac Pro. Oh, and if you were hoping to learn about a new Apple-branded external display, think again. Instead, Apple made it very clear that if you want an external display for your new shiny MacBook Pro, you’ll have to go with an LG display. Uh, sure, yeah, Apple “partnered” with LG to get a display that supports Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), but those are the only ports you’ll find on that display. No HDMI, no Ethernet in, no standard USB ports for external keyboards, etc.

If I’m going to drop $1500 on a display (that’s the cost of the 27-inch 5K display mentioned in the presentation), that display had damned well earn its place on my desk.

As a long-time Mac user, today’s event left me with more questions than answers about the Mac’s future. And what’s more telling is just how out of touch Apple is with their own user-base, at least when it comes to desktops and laptops.

Another Murder Committed by a Police Officer in America and We All Look Away

Guns are a real problem in this country. Not just for citizens, but also in the hands of trigger-happy police officers.

I woke this morning to news that a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota opened fire on, and murdered, the driver of a car he had pulled over for a broken tail light. In the passenger seat, his fiancée, Diamond Reynolds. In the back seat, Diamond’s four-year-old daughter.

The car was pulled over for a broken taillight. A simple “offense,” if you could call it that. Not even an offense; it’s a violation.

Until Diamond starts capturing video of the scene on her phone, we don’t know the particulars of the exchange between the unnamed police officer and Philando Castile. What we do know, according to Diamond, is that Philando informed the officer that he had a conceal-and-carry permit, and that, when he reached for his wallet to get out his ID for the officer, the unnamed police officer shot Philando four times.

Four times.

While his fiancée’s four-year-old daughter was in the back seat.

We know the name of the man who was murdered in cold blood by a police officer: Philando Castile. We know the name of the deceased; why not the name of the police officer?

After being shot, his arm nearly blown off, Philando slumped in the driver’s seat and died by his fiancée’s side. Meanwhile, the police officer stood by the side of the vehicle with his weapon still trained on Philando Castile, and did nothing to call for assistance.

There was no noticeable regret in the police officer’s voice.

No remorse.

Only, clearly, the voice of an agitated person who just murdered another human being.

An agitated person who just murdered another human being, whom he was sworn to protect and serve.

The voice of a murderer, and the cries of his would-be daughter and bride to be.

This is America.

No longer the land of the free.

Especially if you are black.

Playing Chicken in an Election Year

Let’s play this out, shall we…

Today, President Obama appointed Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States (#SCOTUSnom). Now, the Republican majority has said that they aren’t even going to consider this nominee because of a hypothetical situation discussed on the Senate floor by then Senator Joe Biden (who is now the Vice President). The Republican majority is calling this “The Biden Rule” to try and rally support for their cause.

As Mitch McConnell said:

“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

So, they want the people to decide. We did decide when we reelected President Obama. We did decide when we elected the members of the current House and Senate. To say that they aren’t even going to consider this appointment is nothing short of a dereliction of duty. The members of the House and Senate were elected by us. If they won’t uphold their duties, as defined by the U.S. Constitution, then they should be held accountable. They should be impeached and removed from the highchairs they were elected to.

So here’s the rub, folks. The Republicans want the next SCOTUS appointment to be made by the next President, whomever that may be. Essentially, they are banking on a YUGE “if” at a time when Donald Trump is the Republican party’s front-runner for the RNC’s Presidential nomination. Let’s say that the next election is Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump, and Trump loses in a landslide because nobody wants to elect the village idiot to the highest office in the country.

The irony here is, in their failed attempt to see if the Presidential election goes their way, the Republican-controlled Senate faces their next dilemma: It is now #Hillary’s turn to appoint the next member of SCOTUS. That nominee could very well be…wait for it…former President Barack Obama.

Remember, before entering politics, Barack Obama was an accomplished attorney. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, and he taught Constitutional Law. And, since SCOTUS often has to rule on the Constitutionality of lower court rulings, who better to be on the Supreme Court of the United States?

The Republicans are playing chicken in an election year. This won’t end well for them.

Reboot This

There’s been a lot of fluff lately about the reboot of the Ghostbusters movie because it no longer features a mostly male cast. So what. The reboot, just as any, should be judged by the script, the chemistry of the characters/actors, and the soundtrack (yes, I hold that accountable, too).

What bothers me most about this is that it’s a bunch of men—whom I will collectively refer to as Bros—who are complaining about replacing the Ghostbusters team with a crew of women.

So, let’s use this as an experiment. Let’s take another successful franchise and flip it around on its sex axis. Let’s use Charlie’s Angels as an example. I think a brilliant reboot of that could be one where the movie starts out with the Angels’ headquarters being taken down. Bosley’s dead (previously played by Bill Murray), and the only remaining Angel is Dylan Sanders, played by Drew Barrymore. She is the new Bosley. Everyone else? Gone. Toast. The opposing faction (whoever they are) wiped them out.

So now it’s Dylan’s job to, as they say, put the team back together. The new Angels would consist of a three-dude team, consisting of Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 and 22 Jump Street), Jay Chou (Green Hornet, The Interview), and Aml Ameen (The Maze Runner). Three fairly beefy dudes who bring different strengths to the new crew of Charlie’s Angels, led by a strong female character whose team faces an unknown threat.

To me, that would be an awesome reboot. But, do you think all of the women would be up in arms because women were replaced by men?

Grow up Bros.

Meanwhile, if anyone in Hollywood is interested, I’ll totally write the script for the aforementioned Charlie’s Angels reboot.

Little-known Subtitles for the Expendables Movies

The next installment of the Expendables franchise, Expendables 3, hits theaters on August 15. Granted, I haven’t seen 1 and 2, but I think the studio is missing a huge opportunity here to have some fun with subtitles; here are my suggestions:

  • Expendables 1: Everyone’s Got a Gun
  • Expendables 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Expendables 3: Van Damme Had to Pee
  • Expendables 4: Everyone on the Floor!
  • Expendables 5: Stallone Takes a Dive
  • Expendables 6: Now with Chicks!
  • Expendables 7: Nobody Lands in Heaven
  • Expendables 8: Statham Lifts a Crate
  • Expendables 9: Beuller? Beuller? Beuller?
  • Expendables 10: Here We Go Again

I’d totally greenlight any of those.

What A Difference A Year Makes :)

One year ago yesterday was my last day at Apple. I worked as the “Lead Editor” in the Developer Publications (DevPubs) group for a grand total of 495 days. The time I spent at Apple was—without a doubt—the worst experience in my career.

Flash back to April 2, 2013. I confided in a friend (and former author of mine) about how I needed to get out of there before the job killed me. DevPubs was soul-crushing. Only a few of the writers actually cared about the work, let alone the audience they were writing for (Mac and iOS developers). He mentioned that Ken Case at The Omni Group had posted a Tweet saying they were looking for a writer to join their team in Seattle. I had known Ken and a couple of the engineers at Omni for a few years, but only peripherally, so I decided to give this a shot.

I went back to my office, grabbed my iPhone, went outside and sat on the stoop, and sent Ken the following email:

Hi Ken,

I’m wondering if this position is still open. If so, I would like to apply and can send over my résumé later today.

Chuck

A little over an hour later, Ken replied:

Chuck,

Yes, it’s still open. We look forward to receiving your application!

Ken

I went home that night, updated my résumé, and submitted it through the normal channels.

A week or so later, I was invited up to Seattle to interview for the Documentation Wrangler position. To prep for the interview, I read all of Omni’s documentation. PDFs were available online, so I snagged and read through them, making notes here and there about what I liked or would do differently given the chance. I read through their support articles and went into the forums to see not just the comments from customers, but how Omni’s incredibly dedicated and thoughtful Support Humans responded. I was impressed.

I had two rounds of interviews that morning. Most of my career has been as an editor—magazines, books, online magazines, Apple’s developer docs—and while I have written a few books and articles on the side, this was the first writing job I had ever applied for. I was nervous as hell.

I thought the interviews went well, and they asked a lot of tough questions, including “Why do you want to be a writer? Why now?”, which I feared would come up at some point. I mean, hell, I’m pushing 50. I’d ask that, too. But the best part about the interview the back and forth I had with their sole Documentation Wrangler, David. The man had ideas. Ideas that sung to me. Things we both wanted to do. It was like the Power Twins meeting after they were separated at birth. Except, well, I’m older. Much older. Probably crankier. Definitely.

Now, mind you, about 18 months earlier I had been through interviews at Apple. There was a lot of talk about what they wanted to do, or things I would like to do. There was a lot of nodding and “Yes, we need that here” type of comments. It was encouraging. I felt I belonged there. A lot of my friends and former authors thought I belonged there, too.

The rug kept getting pulled out from under me at Apple, and the writer’s attitudes were appalling. I actually had one writer say to me that all an editor did was check punctuation and look for typos. Maybe that’s what he expected, but I tore his subpar work apart. He complained to his writing manager. I got my ass handed to me for being harsh and critical. Sorry, but in my opinion as a professional editor, this person wasn’t qualified to be a technical reviewer of some of the books I edited for O’Reilly and Pearson, let alone as a documentation writer for material that was going to be used by a worldwide audience of developers.

After 495 days of stuff like that (okay, more like 435, if you account for April and May last year), I’d had enough. The final straw came during a lunch meeting with my manager. As always, he fumbled through the lunchtime conversation; never able to get to the point. And, as he had during a few previous lunch meetings, he said “We still don’t know what to do with you.” I was pissed. I remember walking out of that lunch thinking, “Well, I sure as hell do.”

I discovered the job at The Omni Group less than a week later and applied after talking with Colleen about it. We had moved from Boston to Sunnyvale for my job at Apple, far away from all of her family and friends. A New Englander through and through, I feared that she wouldn’t be interested in a move to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Colleen, who is also a writer, told me to apply for the job at Omni. She had only been up to Seattle once before to visit her brother Daniel (who now lives in Boston), so this whole area was a strange new frontier for her, but after a year-and-a-half in Silicon Valley, she was as ready as me to get out of there.

My time so far at The Omni Group has been nothing less than amazing. I feel very fortunate and honored to work alongside such dedicated people who care about every last detail of their work. People as picky as me. I like that. And the stuff we talked about wanting to do during my interviews? Yeah, so far we’ve done all of that, and we’re already making plans for ways to improve our documentation in the future. I love this place!

Thank you, Omni, for restoring my faith in a humane workplace where people can get along and accomplish anything. And as I approach my one-year Omniversary, I can’t help but think, “What a difference a year makes.”