Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Reunion - 10 things I think


1. The reason for Donald Trump’s surprising popularity amongst GOP electorate is simple: he doesn’t back down. Over the past few years we’ve seen scores of people from the Republican Party spew all sorts of crazy rhetoric, and nearly all had to apologize in public for it. Well, the GOP base is sick and tired of seeing their mouthpieces and representatives apologize for words that they don’t think of as wrong at all. They blame the liberal PC media for bludgeoning their voice and opinion out of existence. Enter, the Donald.

Trump began with a bang, didn’t he? Incredulously referring illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists whilst in the middle of his campaign announcement, the general public was expecting a swift mea culpa from Trump - but it never came. He doubled down on his words, refusing to cave to media and corporate pressure. The move proved popular with the GOP base, the lot of whom believes the same fantastical idea as Trump: illegal immigrants are the scourges of society. The base was immensely happy to see a public figure from their parts for once, stand his ground.

As we’ve watched with great amusement and hilarity, Trump hasn’t yet rescind any of the radical rhetoric said since his campaign commenced, and his poll numbers are the better for it. The Republican Party establishment must be squirming at Trump’s continual staying power, because they know that while his message is massively popular with the base, he will never win a general election antagonizing immigrants, women, and veterans of the armed forces (to name a few).

I have to say it is incredibly fun to see Trump point out the hypocrisy in the GOP (McCain is a hero, but John Kerry, he’s a loser!), though likely not his intention. I hope he stays in the race as long as possible, because it’s highly entertaining indeed.

2. Never lend money to a friend you couldn’t otherwise bear to lose. It’s a maxim that has served me quite nicely, and one that has thus far allowed me to avoid getting punched in the face and left with a broken jaw. No matter how good of friends you are, the person who keeps hounding the other for money always end up looking like an asshole. The proper thing to do is simply wait for the friend to pay you back, no matter how long it takes. If you need the money in haste, you shouldn’t have loan it out in the first place.

3. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden is absolutely essential reading, and I’m only ashamed that I haven’t gotten to it in my formative years. His account of two years spent in a cabin by Walden Lake is a masterpiece in prose and storytelling, and the lessons and maxims sprinkled sporadically over the book is as critical as any found in religious texts (in my opinion, anyways). My key takeaway from the book is that life is at its most rich when it’s the simplest.

4.  Really, EPA? You quite literally had one job. The EPA spilling waste into a river is like a babysitter leaving the kid at home whilst he goes off gallivanting at the local mall. The agency hand out fines to polluting corporations, but who there to penalize the EPA when they themselves, however unfathomable and illogical, neglect the environment? Wasted tax dollars is what it is. I for one welcome a congressional hearing on this incident, rather than a forum on Benghazi for the fiftieth time.

5. Within the same calendar year now, we’ve witness the end of both The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and that is a stark and strange reality indeed. It’s super cliché to say this, but I absolutely grew up with those two programs of political satire. Like many of my generation, it’s the only political “news” program I watch, and while it most certainly did shape and color my own political compass, I would’ve gone the same direction regardless of Stewart and Colbert - I wouldn’t have kept on watching for over a decade otherwise.

I’m expecting big things from Trevor Noah, Stewart’s heir to The Daily Show throne, and anticipating seeing Colbert out of his signature satirical character (forever?) in hosting The Late Show. That said, an immeasurable void will forever remain in Comedy Central’s 11PM to 12PM hour, an end of an era indeed.

6. When I do make my prodigal son-like return to the motherland of China, I’m for sure taking the stairs at all times. The news of Chinese persons getting eaten alive by escalators is Final Destination sort of frightening, if it weren’t so real. Yes, Chinese regulations and building codes aren’t exactly world renowned, but that isn’t going to change overnight, is it? I don’t care if it’s the soon to be finished Shanghai Tower - stairs is the only option if life preservation is important to you, and it is to me.

7. Watching Ronda Rousey fight (or do anything, really) gives me tremendous amounts of joy. Her withering stare is altogether fearsome, and oddly attractive. Dominance does not even begin to describe what she has done to her opponents over the past few years. For those of us born too late to witness Iron Mike Tyson in his utter prime, Rousey is every bit the substitute.

She’s also a noted fan of Pokemon and Dragonball Z. That’s just not fair.

8. It seems we care more about a lion in Zimbabwe than we care for the actual people in Zimbabwe who are struggling with poverty and hyperinflation. While I am all for preservation and ensuring a planet populated with as many species as possible, let's take care of our fellow man first before we worry about endangered species. Just as a mother on a distressed airplane should put the mask on herself first before the child, any charity of mankind must first be towards our own. It’s a difficult visual indeed when social media is full of Cecil the Lion sympathy, whilst hundreds of migrants are drowning in the Mediterranean.

Also, lots of the false outrage over Cecil’s death reeks of vegans driving a car with leather seats.

9. My already immense love for Amazon Prime shot up a whole other notch after it announced the former Top Gear trio of Clarkson, Hammond, and May - along with much of the old production crew - will migrate to Amazon and signed on for at least three series worth of motoring program.

It’s a surprising coup for the retail giants, as most of us expected the trio to land with Netflix. Both are equally good platforms; unencumbered with advertisements, the forthcoming show won’t have to placate any one automaker. Clarkson will, just as before on Top Gear, have free reign to rubbish the Porsche 911, or reference Ferrari road car’s propensity for spontaneous immolation. Of course, it likely came down to money, which obviously Amazon has in spades over Netflix.

I’m just happy to see the magic of Clarkson, Hammond, and May, continue on.

10. It’s Monterrey Car Week! Though I’ll be stuck at work for much of the week, I’m excited to attend for the first time the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this coming Saturday at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s going to a (hopefully) bright and early morning indeed, as the doors to the track opens at 7AM, and I’m about two hours up north in San Francisco.