I’m still a Republican, but I voted for Joe Biden. It’s not my first vote across party lines, and it won’t be my last. I’ve been receiving a lot of remarks inquiring about why I’m still a Republican, and that’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot in recent years. You see, I’ve been a Republican since the Carter administration. I was quite young and upset with how Carter was handling the economy back then, and since I was all of nine-13 years old during his administration, I obviously thought I knew better. As soon as I could, I registered as a Republican, despite being in a very liberal state, Massachusetts, and again when I later moved to California.
I miss Halloween. Not the monstrous holiday/adult-themed party. Not the “it’s all about the children” tropes of recent years. I just miss the crappy Halloweens of my long-lost childhood. Some time ago, Halloween was a time to load up on some extra candy, which my immigrant parents would never buy for me. It was a time to see movies before I knew they were formulaic and to never ever turn my back on the door, or anything, because the frightening thing was always going to be right behind me.
I am a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and I just earned my MBA from the Brandeis International Business School. Like most students, all of my classes went fully online back in March. Lesson plans were quickly adapted, and for the first few weeks, it felt like an adventure we were all experiencing together. I had taken online classes before, but to borrow a very popular phrase, it was “unprecedented times,” so to experience it with other Brandeis students created a sense of solidarity. Even though I was missing out on valuable in-person social experiences, being in school meant experiencing the pandemic through the lens of higher education.
Everybody keeps talking about how divided America is. I agree. Since it’s so broken, maybe it’s time for a break up. If the states “consciously uncouple,” we might have a chance to be good North American neighbors.
Last fall, out of curiosity, I created a TikTok account. Many of my other social media platforms were getting old and boring. I grew tired of reading the diatribes on Facebook. Twitter doesn’t have enough characters for me to fully express my opinions, and I wasn’t a fan of the image link. And while Instagram had the text in line with the images, it became so commercialized. Plus, it was owned by Facebook and I was trying to diversify my social media presence. I had been on Snapchat but their videos were too short and not enough people I knew used it — network effects. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit I craved creative outlets that didn’t spew incendiary politics, and TikTok seemed to be the best option. I saw videos depicting everything from cats to parents trying to bond with their children. I also saw first responders reminding me to wear a mask and explaining how they got into medical school while still being devastatingly handsome. Admittedly, I enjoyed many of the videos, the lyrics to Interior Crocodile Alligator by Chip Tha Ripper being one of my favorites.
When I first thought of writing this article regarding the economic impact of the coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19), I knew things were going to get worse before they got better — and they have. There has been a delayed impact on the United States, but as of March 7, there has been a total of 17 deaths and 308 cases. A state of emergency has been declared in California, New York and Washington and more. A cruise ship with 21 confirmed cases so far is quarantined near San Francisco, and in limbo as to when test kits for all the passengers will be available. They have finally been allowed to dock in Oakland, CA, which is odd, since Oakland is just a short drive from San Francisco, so I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to prevent.
I used to work in Silicon Valley at some of the most respected and admired companies in both tech and pharma. I never felt good about how they were proselytizing to their employees, how they were considered great places to work and how I seemingly felt differently from all my colleagues. I wanted to love my employers, but I was unable to muster the enthusiasm and zealotry they demanded. I always felt that the employer-employee relationship was an even exchange, more or less, in which one would offer services in exchange for a salary. Despite the amount of work, effort and dedication I put in, I felt that these companies were operating at odds with my values of family, work-life balance and caring for the greater good. Until recently, I thought I was among the few who held this perspective.
This year’s annual Harvard-Yale game slipped past my attention, as it does most years — until I saw in the Associated Press’s headline that it made the news: it was one of the rivals’ longest games on record.
As if I don’t have enough student loan debt, Apple came out with a credit card just before the start of this semester. According to their press release, it’s “built on simplicity, transparency and privacy” with cash back, no fees and an easy user interface that allows one to view their spending along with enhanced security. Sure, once I’m employed maybe I can apply for one and add another Apple product to my tech ecosystem. And it’s a credit card by Apple, not a bank. But if you read the small print, the card is issued by Goldman Sachs Bank, United States of America, based in Utah. It seemed cool anyway, given its all white titanium exterior, with only the bearer’s name laser etched on it. To get the actual card number, when not using Apple Pay or the Apple Wallet, you have to actually open the wallet app and verify your ID to access that information; the digital card number is different than the actual physical card number, which enhances the card’s security.
I suddenly feel like I’m being followed, and not just online. I just read that Google bought Fitbit, the company that pioneered the wearables industry and makes devices that monitor fitness and health. My first thought was to ditch my Fitbit and buy an Apple Watch. But I have limited financial resources and even more limited space available on my left arm for a smartwatch to sit next to my analog watch. I am concerned about two main things: First, how will Google use my data and second, how does this latest acquisition affect the consolidation of companies, especially under the FANG (Facebook Apple Netflix Google) umbrella?