Change You Won’t See

It’s that time of year when blogger’s thoughts turn to change. Seems like everyone is talking about it. Change for the better, change for the worse. Far be it for me to neglect a tidal wave of interest. But naturally, I have to put my own cynical spin on it.

Herewith, my top five list of things that need to change in 2015, but won’t.

5. BART’s mañana attitude. Not just waiting until the last minute and beyond to negotiate with the unions–really, guys, it’s not too early to start working on the 2017 contract, honest–but in general. Cars are increasingly overcrowded; by the time the new cars with more space are delivered in 2016 and 2017, they’ll be packed just as tight as the old cars are now. And yet, we keep hearing that BART can’t start thinking about increasing capacity until after the cars are delivered.

4. Caltrans’ “It doesn’t need to be tested” attitude. Do I even need to elaborate on this? It’s not just the Bay Bridge: everything we’re hearing suggests that Caltrans needs to make a significant change in its corporate culture. Consider future needs. Don’t take it for granted that construction has been done to standard. Recognize that budgets are not infinitely flexible.

3. Government’s belief that citizens have no right to privacy. Did you notice that the NSA chose Christmas Eve to release a pile of audit reports, hoping that nobody would pay attention? Bloomberg’s report makes it obvious that nobody is exercising any control over the NSA. If there are no processes–or software controls–in place to prevent analysts from conducting surveillance without authorization, it means the organization is relying on self-policing. And if an analyst can accidentally submit a request for surveillance on himself, it’s a pretty good sign that self-policing isn’t working. And yet, the NSA wants more access to record and monitor everything that everyone does. Oh, and let’s not forget the FBI, which continues to claim that North Korea is reponsible for the Sony hack, despite significant evidence that the crackers were Russians, possibly assisted by an employee or ex-employee.

2.5 The increasing militarization of local police. As long as police departments are free to buy new and increasingly lethal toys, no one will be able to make any progress in decreasing the fear and distrust between police and the general public. Drone flights won’t make the public feel safer, and the increased resentment will easily flash over into more threats against the police. And body cameras are not and will never be the answer. They’re too easily forgotten, damaged, misinterpreted, or outright ignored.

2. The endless waffling and squabbling by MLB and the As. Just make a decision, people. Yes, O.co is a literal cesspool, but the As aren’t going to make any effort to improve the situation while the possibility exists that they could skip town. The costs of San Jose’s lawsuit are increasing, and MLB’s anti-trust exemption–already cracked by recent court decisions on the NFL’s blackout rules–is at risk. Regardless of your opinion of the exemption as a whole, having it revoked or struck down would open the door to levels of team movements that haven’t been seen since the 1890s. MLB needs to–ahem–shit or get off the pot before someone yanks the pot out from under them.

1. Phones getting bigger. Remember how bad the RSI epidemic was before we started to figure out how hard on the wrists sitting and typing all day was? I’m increasingly of the opinion that we’re treading the same path here. People are holding larger, heavier phones all the time. Bluetooth headsets aren’t a cure: you still need to hold your phone to play games, watch videos, and read and write all but the simplest e-mails. I fully expect 2015 to be the year of the sprained wrist, as Android phone-makers rush out models to increase their size lead over Apple. 2016 will be even worse when Apple catches up with an iPhone 7 that–projecting the trend–will require a personal crane to lift. Not that all of the blame can be assigned to device manufacturers. Several studies that I just made up indicate that all of the screen protectors, fancy cases, and assorted bling that consumers slather on their phones increase the weight by at least twenty-five percent.

0. Happy New Year!

4 thoughts on “Change You Won’t See

  1. “Several studies that I just made up indicate that all of the screen protectors, fancy cases, and assorted bling that consumers slather on their phones increase the weight by at least twenty-five percent.”
    With due respect to your research team, I’d estimate that my “Otter” case doubles the weight of my Samsung- but it’s worth it. I’ve already dropped it twice, once directly onto a cement sidewalk, and it just bounces and keep’s on tickin’. (Obscure reference suggesting great age in the speaker.)

    As to MLB’s making some kind of sweeping policy decision: I think the invisible factor is their reluctance to disillusion Baseball’s fans any more than we are. We still like to think in terms of “our team”, and the reality that team owners are constantly thinking about increasing their profits by moving to some other “market” is one of the ugly facts of Baseball that we don’t like to think about. In fact, as the A’s are demonstrating, such thinking, once put into play, creates a negative feedback loop: fans resent having our noses shoved in the reality, and many of us respond with anger and stay away from the games: “Screw us, huh? Well, screw YOU, too!” It’s sad, because the team- the actual players- are caught in the middle of a situation they didn’t create and can’t control. All they can do is play their game and hope for the best. It must be a very uncomfortable position to be in, but I guess it’s just part of the game, as they say.

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    • Otter cases are way out on the end of the bell curve in terms of size and weight. For each of you who has one, there are a couple of people using thin skins that look pretty, but do nothing to actually protect the phone. So I’ll stick with my 25% figure as an average.

      One has to look no further than the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals situation to recognize that MLB has no qualms about moving teams around when it suits their purposes. And the As also have that whole “we’ll trade any player, even the fans’ favorites, whenever we want to” thing going–you can’t attribute all of the fan malaise to the threat to move the team.

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