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Sunday, Dec 25, 2016 - 23:36 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Can You Be Happy?

Right, so we really should be winding down our GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP coverage for a bit, but before that, some final (for now, at least) thoughts on the TRUMPHENOMENON.

Occasionally - okay, more than occasionally, over the next eight years, you'll get pronouncements like this one:

Switch to @POTUS, or stay with @realDonaldTrump?
Decisions, decisions...

[N.B. but, really, remember the last time a country gave up its nukes for "perpetual guarantees of sovereignty and territorial integrity"?]

...and the press will blow their collective loads (well, on this particular tweet, the New York Times has for once been a voice of relative reason), because what did he just say?! OMFG WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE11!!1 DRUMPF111! (yelled this way)

To this, I say: relax.

No, really. Relax.

You know the guy who bursts into a restaurant, and says that he's so famished, he'll eat a horse? The appropriate response, in most settings, would be to chuckle in recognition, and serve up a double helping of the daily special; the "out of it" reaction, as so many disingenuous presstitutes are going for, is to frame it in the worst possible light, to sell shock and horror (think CNN interviewing the owner of the latest Kentucky Derby winner - "How do you feel about TRUMP wanting to turn Nyquist into a fried chicken meal?" - while having PETA activists sit in)

But no, I'm not going to contest the mainstream media cartel's right to say their piece, even as an individual, though I do reserve the right to call them out on bullshit. Disappointingly, state powers appear to be resorting to heavy-handed silencing. Obama, erstwhile liberal doyenne, has just signed a Countering Information Warfare Act into law, as Germany mulls an Abwehrzentrum gegen Desinformation (read: MiniTrue, for both); what happened to freedom of speech, one wonders...

They can't even be bothered to be subtle, now. Establishment goons and the legacy media are putting the heat on Facebook to self-censor (see: the dismal Singaporean journalism scene), and Facebook has in response begun flagging items with "users and outside fact-checkers". Of course, as worldly Reddit users instantly noted, what's most likely to happen is that people simply flag stuff they personally disagree with as "fake" (as happened to r/worldnews and r/politics for the most part), with firms manipulating ratings with employees and bots beneath it all (as with fake Twitter followers). I can hardly blame 4chan...

Never a good idea to piss off your biggest customer
(Source: twitter.com. Meta.)

However, in the spirit of holiday cheer, I have some comforting words for the Democrats out there. I've never hidden it - I consider myself Independent-leaning-Democrat on many issues, I pulled for Obama (in 2008, at least). What transpired this year, though, convinced me that they've totally lost touch (must-read exposition). TRUMP's foes are only now grudgingly backing up our analysis, over the last few days - CNN are acknowledging him as a "master in Twitter" (drawing the parallel to JFK and TV, as we did), and Biden has finally been freed to speak his mind - that Hillary lost mainly as she "never really figured out why she was running" (well, well)

But such is the virtue of American Democracy: when a party gets too big for its britches, it gets turfed out, licks its wounds for a bit, then gets back in the game, instead of necessitating the traditional heads-on-pikes formalities (and before China - or regrettably, us - sneers that "TRUMP as President is what happens if people have democracies", let's just say that when it goes to shit in the Middle Kingdom, one might belatedly discover the downsides of there being no-one else to blame, if the younger generation doesn't buy the ol' 日本鬼子 dodge; 但忠言逆耳, 中共行党又怎听得进? 还是好自为之, 不用谢了)

...oh yes, the comforting words part. Well, good news, liberals - TRUMP is, underneath it all, a Democrat! Before you click that "fake news" downvote button, allow me to explain: almost all his political involvement (which is a long time - he's seventy years old) has leaned to the left... until about five years ago, when he began seriously exploring a bid (I mean, he's a GOD-EMPEROR, but it would be a little too much to expect him to win the GOP nomination running as a Democrat, yes?). And, indeed, he rode to victory on the support of the working class, that stalwart bastion of the Democratic Par... whoops.

But yes, allow me to demonstrate. Cast your mind back to the GOP convention, back in July. Yes, that odious congregation of backwards deplorables, that lump of disgusting conservative capitalists, bound together by fundamentalist Judeo-Christian sensibilities, that have been out of date for several centuries. They've had to hide the racism away, but they remain, as the left so loves to point out, rabidly homophobic.

Then the music plays, and Peter Thiel - Paypal founder, entrepreneur, openly, flamingly gay Thiel - walks in.

He addresses the convention. "I'm proud to be gay."

And they f**king cheered.

Yes, the Republican core, stereotypically church-going bigots, according to the other side - were wholeheartedly celebrating a declaration of homosexuality! The PAP GOP!

My friends, this is the magic of TRUMP. Please, just sit back and enjoy the show. The GOD-EMPEROR transcends.

Recap, Going Forward

So, it's finally sunk in that I'm well and truly on the wrong side of thirty, though there's at least been another certificate to add to my collection. The problem is, of course, where to go forward from here.

Truth is, I actually kinda like research - or, at least, given the same middling pay, I don't know of many other things that I'd rather do (the happiness bit). There's always finance, I suppose, but the more one learns about it, the harder it is to shake the impression that it is, fundamentally, screwing the other guy over for self-benefit. Still, for enough cash...

Sometimes, I wonder how it would be, if I didn't have other... aims, that realistically are best satisfied by money. Perhaps I'd be willing to take the plunge on less-practical studies, like pure mathematics? Nah, probably still not me. Eh, it's early days yet; still time to make a career out of tinkering with stuff.

The Case For Startups

Which brings us to, the new cool-thing-to-do: a startup (Entrepreneurship! Be Your Own Boss! New Ideas!) Of course, it's a little disconcerting when one considers that the driving force behind most of this recent "initiative and creativity" can best be described as "gahment say take initiative, so I take initiative lor", and I'm under no illusions that the current popularity of computer science (as judged by quantity of inquiries) is due to much the same as chemical engineering about a decade ago, and bioengineering somewhat further back (i.e. promise of $$$), rather than any sudden emergence of extra-interview passion... but welcome, I guess.

That said, they do seem fairly committed to it. A couple of weeks back, there was an invitation to an Entrepreneur First (EF) meetup. Differently from the more famous Y Combinator, EF recruits individuals whether or not they already have a startup idea, instead of expecting ready-made team pitches. Furthermore, they target the technical set exclusively, which surprised me somewhat, but it seems to be working for them (oh, and honey badger). A couple of fellow grad students were featured on the intro slides together with Tharman, so I gather they're doing well. Not all that many locals at the after-dinner, interestingly, to the extent that they had to rely on a single overworked pink IC-ed nominee director, but c'est la vie.

I suppose it's not too much of a secret that we're considering doing something in the medical space (and by the way, Great Prophet of Kek Scott Adams is also on it), which brings with it its own set of issues. One immediate distinction would be the amount of regulation to be cleared; code up a new game, and worst comes to worst, it gets panned No Man's Sky-style. Do a medical device or process, and one has to fret about whether it'll pass all the intermediate hoops. On the bright side, that becomes a defensive moat against new entrants once cleared... which however brings the next problem: how ethical is it to profit from medicine (recall: the EpiPen debacle)?

To be honest, when Shopback founder Henry Chan spoke of having "a hundred employees" (if I remember correctly), my first thought was about the hundreds of thousands in salary (even assuming near-minimum wages) burnt each month. And, frankly, startup culture can be kinda... fluffy, to me. For example, it's hard to shake how far Theranos got, premised solely upon an (undoubtedly talented, but still...) college student supposedly driving diagnostic tech far beyond the state of the art, all under the radar (dragging Mattis into the mess). No shortage of other high-profile examples, either...

Not very encouraging, I'll admit, but I'm not gonna apologize for cynical pragmatism; I've seen the alternative.

Case Study: Optometry

Barely half a year after reporting on eyewear costs in July, the inevitable seems to have happened. While there has been a sustained push for optical shops to get involved in broader eye health, rather than be limited to offering prescriptions, one has to suspect that they are succumbing to the same online-direct competition that has scourged general retail. In response, the authorities have just set down guidelines requiring an official prescription for online purchases, as well as physical outlets for after-sales services, but one has to doubt whether this will do more than slow the tide, if at all.

Talk To Me

Since this is the last scheduled posting for the year, might as well end it on an upbeat note...

But you blow me off like it's all the same...

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Next: Year In Preview

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