An Open Letter to Apple

Dear Mr. Cook:

I am dismayed at Apple’s decision to remove the Parler app from the App Store. In many ways, this seems contrary to Apple’s founding and original character.

The Mac Team and the Pirate Flag

My love for Apple and its products began in the late 1970s. I had first an Apple //e, then a IIc. When I was able to get my hands on a Macintosh, I replaced the IIc quickly. I’ve read all 122 stories by and about the Mac team at When Steve Jobs raised the skull and crossbones flag and declared, “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy,” the tone was set. Apple wasn’t going to “go along,” Apple was going to be a challenger. A trend-setter.

I remember the “dark days” of Apple after Steve left. I remember Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio and the horrendously complex line of boring, tan computers. I remember the rumors that Apple was going to be acquired by Sun Microsystems. I remember Microsoft, considered to be Apple’s staunchest rival, infusing Apple with $!50 million to keep the company solvent. I remember buying Guy Kawasaki’s book, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, and buying and proudly wearing a “Mac Evangelist’ shirt (which I still own).

The one and only MacWorld D. C. occurred in 1989, and I attended gleefully. I won a copy of Informix’s Wingz program which was completely ahead of its time. I belonged to several Macintosh user groups. I bought the first three volumes of Inside Macintosh (hardcover!), and the first edition of The Macintosh Bible, and I still revere its First Commandment: “This is the Macintosh. It’s supposed to be fun!”

This is a Second Edition cover; I couldn’t find a First Edition.

Owning and using a Mac, and then later Apple products was a pleasure and filled with satisfaction. A quick inventory of Apple products I own shows Macs (6), iPads (2), iPods (7), Airpods (2), iPhone (1), Magic Mouse (3), Apple Watch (1) and assorted cables, cases, connectors and keyboards. On top of that I have five shirts, including the Mac Evangelist shirt mentioned above and two coffee cups.

I became a shareholder 20 years ago. Apple’s stock has been one of the best investments I have made! I cheered when Apple became the first company ever to exceed the $1 trillion market valuation.

Somewhere along the line, Apple became the “establishment” as we used to call it. That same establishment that Steve Jobs so despised. I’m sad to say the products don’t work the way the old ads used to claim: “There is no step three.” I have experienced software glitches with macOS security updates, my new iPhone didn’t automatically transfer data from my old iPhone, and crashes are now more frequent than the “sad Mac” one would rarely experience.

And now, Apple has put the icing on the cake with its decision to remove the Parler app from the App Store. Personally, I don’t like and have little use for “social media” (which is anything but, in my opinion), but this move seems capricious and divisive. I’ve been to Parler, and I have never read any article or posting there inciting anyone to violence. I have read and seen worse on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Those apps are not banned from the App Store, which makes me wonder about selective indignation. If Parler were offering pornography, weapons building instructions or clearly illegal content, I could understand it. But this strikes me as a move to silence voices you don’t want heard.

Would you have silenced Steve Jobs because of his pirate flag?

Sociopathy = Social Distancing + Social Media

I started writing this blog post on an online forum, and then felt it might better fit here.

It occurred to me this morning, as sometimes thoughts like this do, during my shower that we (the royal “we”) are once again being manipulated like cattle in the pens heading for the slaughter.  How?  

Ever since the coronavirus lockdowns started, I have internally rebelled at the term, “social distancing.”  Who came up with that term, why, and what does it mean?  In fact, the advice we hear to ostensibly help protect us against contracting the virus, is to physically distance ourselves from one another by six feet. So why not just say so?

Perhaps this is mental manipulation.  Because the more physically distant we become from one another, the more our innate need to socialize (man is a social being) reaches out and finds… social media.

New Yorker cartoon published on July 5, 1993 – the same year the Internet became public – is captioned, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

The implications of this cartoon – the most widely reproduced New Yorker cartoon, according to Wikipedia – are that behind the firewall of one’s computer, one can pretend to be anyone or anything.  Enter “social media.”  I am not a sociologist, although I did some study decades ago in college, but to almost anyone with a semblance of a brain, examples of people pretending to be things they are not run rampant on the Internet. 

So why not us?  My inherent trust in people (which has gotten me in trouble before) wants to believe that everyone reading this is exactly who and what they say they are.  But if I say I’m a 6-foot-5, 250-lb. former Navy SEAL with extensive experience in black ops and multiple contacts within the intelligence community, who’s to say I’m wrong? (I’m not, by the way).  

Judging someone by their looks is almost as bad as judging someone by their intentions.  You can only judge someone by their actions.  It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to take a look at the giants of the tech industry and believe that they weren’t the guys in school the girls were all chasing after.  Facebook, in fact, was created by “geeks” to rate the attractiveness of coeds at Harvard.  It’s probably safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and others of their ilk weren’t like Yankee Doodle Dandy, and “with the girls be handy.” The image of the four-eyed geek sitting in his mother’s basement, pens in a pocket protector, gazing at a computer screen is known to everyone, I daresay. 

I was one of them.  I wasn’t “handy” with the girls, but I was good with technology, and made a career of it.  A good career, in fact.  It has allowed me to survive the ups and downs of economic swings, and yes, I got married and had a family.  So even geeks can succeed, depending on how you measure success. 

Being good with technology means being able to manipulate things. Computers, cars, cameras, vacuum cleaners, thermostats, light timers, video recorders (remember those?).  It does NOT mean manipulating people. But I think we have reached a point in our disintegrating culture and civilization where the manipulators are using “social distancing” to push us to “social media” where content and concepts are being filtered to present us with a single view of the world.  Churches, restaurants and bars – places where people gather to talk, exchange ideas and “socialize” are being withheld from us, for reasons that appear to make no sense. The sociopaths have found a way to herd us like cattle.  And the drug of “social media,” where nobody knows we’re a dog, blinds us to that. 

With an Asterisk (*)

Lately I have been seeing a number of (mostly op-ed) articles placing an asterisk after Joe Biden’s name: Biden*

I am going to adopt this typography, as it speaks volumes to how the political landscape in the U. S. A. works today. At present, Joseph Robinette Biden seems poised to assume the office of President of the Unites States despite all logical indications he did not win that office. At least not fairly.

I won’t go into the many arguments, papers, treatises, videos, affidavits, charts and proclamations that make the point that massive fraud occurred during the presidential election of 2020, and that the true winner was the incumbent. It’s extremely rare for an incumbent to lose re-election. Especially when the record of accomplishments is as lengthy as president Donald John Trump’s.

Pictures Say More Than Words

The image above, as unfocused as it may be, tells the story without words: BIden rarely left his basement, and even put a “lid” on public appearances, while Trump traveled the country holding rallies, where thousands of enthusiastic supporters showed up. Weather be damned and COVID be damned. There is so much wrong that “statistics” show how improbable Biden’s “victory” could be. Yet, the media and “big tech” played handmaidens to the Democrats, and Biden’s victory has been proclaimed as if it were a fait accompli.

Thus the asterisk. I will never believe that Biden* won the presidency. If he takes the office on January 20th, 2021, he will be a “pretender.” A “president-select,” as it were. There will always be an asterisk attached to his presidency. For me and for 74 million other Americans.

I Love It Here. So, I’m Leaving.

If you work in an organization that uses email as a major form of communication, you’ve no doubt been the recipient of the global “blast” farewell message. You know the kind. Generically, the email goes out to everyone in the company/organization/division/group/whatever, and announces the sender is leaving for greener pastures.

But wait, that’s not enough. The person writing the email typically says something to the effect, “I’ve made some lifelong friends here, and this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”

There are even templates and guidance on writing such an email. The authors of these pieces of wisdom suggest that you are being considerate, thanking people you may not have had an opportunity to say good-bye to in person.

What I don’t understand is, the general tone of these emails suggests that the employment they’re leaving has been the pinnacle of their career, the company the best on earth, and the people the most wonderful creatures ever. So, if things are so great, why are they leaving?

If and when I leave my current employment (retirement looms only a short way down the road), I have no intention of writing a sophomoric “love letter” to the entire company. As the cartoon to the right suggests, when that day comes, I’ll just pack up and walk out the door. Done.

Can We Return To Normal?

The headline is one I’ve been seeing and reading a lot recently. In my opinion, it’s an unanswerable question until we first define “normal.” I have long held that “normal” is a setting on a washing machine. There are no “normal” people, and I think a fair argument could be made that the year 2020 was anything but normal!

First, there was the COVID-19 pandemic, which as I write this, is still front page news, and has half the world’s population cowering under the bedsheets. Then there was the U. S. presidential election with the revelations of media bias, pollsters making, not taking opinion, and big tech become the ham-fisted Big Brother we’ve talked about but never worried about. Until now.

“Rebel Alliance” Post-It Note

The divisiveness heightened by the election campaign continues even post-election. It staggers my mind to think that as technologically advanced as is the United States, a secure, streamlined process for holding elections — a mainstay of the American system — can’t be implemented. Oh, that’s right: One of the allegations raised is that bogeyman George Soros financed, at least in part, the manufacturer of the voting machines used in 16 states. As one side proclaims victory, the other side continues to challenge the validity and honesty of the election. What strikes me as pathetically laughable is that the presumptive winner is vowing to be “president of all,” and is expressing a desire for unity. Excuse me? This is the same party that nineteen minutes after President Trump was inaugurated proclaimed, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” (Washington Post, January 20, 2017). Funny, they had four years to “unify,” work “across the aisle,” and the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concerned itself more with bogus documents, anonymous whistleblowers and efforts to block any progress by the Trump administration — including COVID relief. Were it not for Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate, it’s unlikely Trump would have been able to appoint three Associate Justices to the Supreme Court.

That all may be part of the way sausage is made, as the old saying goes, but this time, not only was the sausage-making in full view, but the mask of impartiality was stripped from the media, the pollsters, and even the big tech giants.

It has been my observation for close to twenty years, that the media had stopped reporting the news and had become a 24-hour-a-day propaganda machine. Only when cataclysmic events (fires, floods, earthquakes) transpired did the media avert its gaze from its attempts to brainwash us to do actual reporting. I have since sought to get news from abroad, where the media doesn’t have as deep an investment in the American landscape (sure, many of them are part of the globalist agenda, but they aren’t fixated on the U. S.).

When the polls were so obviously wrong in 2016 (Hillary Clinton was posted to a 96% assurance level of winning), the thinking was that the pollsters would reset their algorithms and do better next time. 2020 was that “next time,” and once again, they got it wrong. Not entirely, though. Being part of the campaign to elect Joe Biden, they continued to flog the beast in the attempt to influence voter opinion, not take it. However, they neglected the local races and House and Senate races, and came up far short. Their dishonesty is a visible as the media’s.

CEOs of Google, Facebook & Twitter

Big tech is the eye-opener. But maybe it shouldn’t be. It’s no secret that the majority of campaign contributions from the big tech companies go to Democrats and Leftist causes. While I can’t fully explain the why of this, I suspect much of it has to do with the Democrats’ continued outsourcing of intellectual property and manufacturing, thereby lining the coffers of the tech elites. As Dinesh D’Souza put it in his film, Trump Card (paraphrasing), “Remember when your parent told you to eat your dinner because there were starving kids in India? Nowadays, they tell their kids, ‘go to college, there are Indian kids out after your job.'” By cozying up to Washington, the big tech companies can avoid close scrutiny and possible anti-trust regulations.

The genius of the American system is twofold. First, the adventurous and entrepreneurial will find alternatives. Already, there are new social media platforms showing up that promise no censorship, and privacy of information. I have already joined MeWe, and I’m looking into Parler.

You see, it’s been my experience that when dictators, autocrats and oligarchs begin acting TOO tyrannical, the serfs rebel.

My rebellion has started. We may never get to “normal,” but then again, what is “normal?”

Worth The Wait

Recently I wrote about how playing guitar “elevates my spirit.” Even though I took time off after breaking my elbow, playing the guitar has been a constant in my life. A constant source of joy, peace and even escape.

Making up for lost time, I’ve gone on a guitar buying spree the past few years, and have now accumulated a bit of a collection. When I was young and poor, electric guitars and the amps needed to play them were out of reach. Having achieved a modicum of success, I’ve acquired some electrics from name brands I admire: Gibson, Fender and more. One thing that I had a hard time realizing is that I spend more time playing acoustic guitar than I do playing electric guitar.

Now that I have the amps, the cables, the guitars, and even some foot pedals, I should be tearing it up on electric guitar. But I guess that I’m inherently lazy, because I find it just so much easier to pick up an acoustic and play rather than plug in, flip a switch, play, and then reverse the procedure. And when I have an acoustic guitar within arm’s reach, just pick up and play.

Big Baby Taylor-e

Before I knew that Taylor was the number #1 seller of guitars today, I bought an acoustic Big Baby Taylor-e to serve as a temporary replacement for my Framus 12-string while I had it in the shop.

Little did I realize I’d have my 12-string back the same day, so now I had two acoustics. Hey, a 12-string and a six-string. I had a choice. And I played them sporadically, but I still thought of myself now as an electric guitar player.

KLŌS Travel Guitar

Then, one day I saw an online ad for a company that was fundraising to create a carbon fiber travel guitar. I was very disappointed in the travel guitar I had (a Pignose PGG-200 Deluxe) and the prospect of an “indestructible” guitar appealed to me. So I pledged, and sure enough, I was soon the owner of a KLŌS guitar. Whee! I loved the size, the playability, and the ability to pack it away in a suitcase and not worry about what baggage handlers might do to it. I even liked the sound, but felt there was something lacking. At times it seemed “tinny.”

Confessing to be a bit of a “cork-sniffer,” I found a travel-sized Martin guitar, and bought the LX1RE.

Right size, right sound, but just not as “playable” as the KLŌS. Still, I used it as my go-to guitar for a while, but in the back of my mind, felt like it wasn’t quite “the one.”

“Little” Martin LX1RE

An attractive sale on another Martin had me dig into my wallet and I added yet another acoustic to my growing collection. Again, a terrific sound, but as I’d read before buying it, many consider it a “strumming” guitar. And I found that it didn’t suit the whole range of my playing. I will likely sell it or trade it — it’s just not a good “fit” for me.

As is my habit (dangerous to my wallet!), I browse a variety of web sites. A recent announcement of a new line by Taylor called the GT series (short for Grand Theater) offered a smalller size “combining the inviting feel of a compact instrument with the rich voice of a full-size, all-solid-wood guitar.” I looked into them a bit, but was put off by the price ($1,399-$1,599). But I also noticed the GS Mini (short for Grand Symphony). I found some on Reverb and added them to my watchlist. A couple of days later I was alerted to a drop in price and free shipping on a Koa model, and since my bank account had some wiggle room in it, I took the plunge.

Taylor GS Mini-e Koa. MY Taylor Mini-e Koa!

More than once I’ve thought to myself – and said to others – “This is the acoustic guitar I’ve wanted for decades!” It’s lightweight, plays and sounds like a dream, and is the perfect size for me. Others might consider it a travel guitar, but heck, I’ve got one of those. This is my at-home go-to guitar!


I have playing in the background right now some streaming audio from a site I’ve been listening to for a short while now, and it got me to thinking: Music For a New Age (MFNA) — this site — is now 25 years old!

That category of music sometimes erroneously (in my opinion) labeled “new age” is certainly not new. Fifty years ago, artists such as Tangerine Dream, Kitaro, Tomita, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Mike Oldfield were producing flowing, electronic, meditative and other-worldly music, experimenting and forging new ways of thinking about, and listening to music.

The MFNA web site was born out a personal wish to learn the then-new technology of the worldwide web. I didn’t purchase the domain name right away, but when it became apparent this thing called The Internet wasn’t just a passing fancy, I latched onto it. That was 25 years ago!

Originally, was little more than a “portal.” It was mostly links to other sites, separated into “pages” of data: records companies, broadcast stations, artists, and reviews. It was a personal creation; mostly a set of bookmarks to sites I enjoyed. It grew when others found it, and I wrote reviews and communicated directly with artists and producers. It was an exciting time to be a “web producer.”

Much has changed over the past quarter-century. Sites come and go, new performers arrive, old labels go under and new ones arise. But music survives. So, this brief revisit is more a “memory bubble” than anything else.

Without further ado, here are some links to music and musicians I listen to today. I should note, that some of these sites and their operators, performers and personalities, have been doing so for much longer than has existed. Music From the Hearts of Space, for example, has been broadcasting since the early 1980s. So, let’s start with them…

I should also like to make mention of Spotted Peccary, a recording label that features outstanding musical talent, and production standards. This is a company that is at the vanguard of keeping “new age” music alive!

The Most Expensive Photo I’ve Ever Taken

I was going to title this post, “Worst. Vacation. Ever.” But that only begins to hint at the experience I had. Not given to whining, I’ve already put it in the past, but I want to post The Most Expensive Photo I’ve Ever Taken. Ready? Here it is:

Not much, is it? It’s a pleasant enough scene of a tropical location, looking out into the ocean. But it will never win any photo prizes. Or any other prizes, for that matter. Why it’s The Most Expensive Photo I’ve Ever Taken is the rest of the story.

My plan was to scout out Barbados as a potential remote “work from home” location. To that end, I made the most horrendous travel plans and chose to go while there is a global pandemic scaring everyone. I’m going to blame my temporary insanity on my own cabin fever brought on by working from home for the past six months. But I only have myself and COVID-19 to blame.

The first inkling things were going sideways was when I learned (on my own, no thanks to no notification from the airline) that Air Canada had canceled one leg of my return flight. Wanting (needing) to get home for work, I had to reschedule, and that cost me two days of my trip. No reduction in an already high-priced air fare. My itinerary took me through Toronto, where I had to spend the night in the terminal, because to leave the premises would have required me to quarantine for 14 days. 12 hours in a terminal is preferable. But not comfortable.

When I arrived in Barbados, I had my medically ordered COVID-19 test results in hand (negative) and I showed them to the airport authorities. “These are too old,” I was told. The time needed to obtain the results, plus the long layover in Toronto had caused them to pass the expiration time required by Barbadian authorities, which is within 72 hours of arrival. Not to worry though, I was told. We’ll give you a free test here. You’ll have to wait here for the results, but that should take only 8-10 hours. At least they were kind enough to bring me some food while I waited. And, as I expected, the results were once again negative.

But, I was told, you come from a high-risk country, the U.S.A. So even though you test negative, you may still be asymptomatic, and so we require you to be quarantined for seven days at minimum. And, that quarantine has to be at either a military base, which costs nothing, or at an approved hotel, which I would have to pay for. I didn’t like the sound of “military base,” so I opted for the Marriott, which was one of their approved hotels. They made the reservation, arranged a taxi, and I was taken directly to the hotel, where the desk clerk told me that at least I would have a room with an ocean view. The photo above, is the only scenery I saw for the next four days. It’s out the hotel room window!

Calculating the cost. Well, I’m not going to itemize every little expenditure; that would just as insult to injury. Airfare, lodging, plus non-refundable hotel reservation, pre-paid rental car, room service meals, taxi fare, airport parking as well as the cost to comfort (having to spend two nights in the Toronto airport, having to wear a mask except while eating. As well as while waiting in the Barbados airport and during flights).

That makes it The Most Expensive Photo I’ve Ever Taken.


As I prepare to embark on what looks to be the strangest vacation I’ve taken, due mostly to the coronavirus and the restrictions it’s imposed, I’m thinking to myself, “I need to get away from all the hectoring. The thought came to me this morning, “When did we become a nation of busybodies?”

I don’t think it’s just because this is an election year, although that may play a large part. The impact COVID-19 has had on our lives has a lot to do with it too, I think. It seems no matter where you go, what you read, see or hear, somebody is trying to dictate their beliefs on everybody else. “Wear a mask.” “Vote this way.” “Or that way.” “Black lives matter (but apparently not others).” Life in the year 2020 has become positively Orwellian. Just 36 years later than predicted!

Having grown tired of the inane, often thoughtless bickering I’ve seen on social media sites, I have come to the conclusion that, “One person’s ‘social justice’ is another’s mental tyranny.” As the title of this piece suggests, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Recently I posited the opinion that perhaps legislators — whose hypocrisy knows no bounds — are experimenting with testing the limits of their authority. It’s almost as if they en masse have decided to stretch the boundaries of their dictates to see how far they can push the people until the breaking point. The problem is, if and when that breaking point is reached, the result won’t be pretty.

The vacation I’m about to take has already been impacted by events. Flight cancelations have shortened my trip by two days, and I will end up spending the equivalent of two days sequestered in “secure” areas in airport terminals. Certainly not the kind of vacation I had envisioned.

But it’s better than sticking around and being deluged with negativity. At least for a few days.

Let’s Get Back to Guitar

I’ve spent too many posts recently focusing on travel, politics, health (mine, and in general), technology, and life in the time of COVID. So, it’s time to return to a topic that always elevates my spirit: guitar playing!

Fender Modern Player Short-Scale Telecaster

The other day I sat down and wrote a list of the songs I’m currently playing in my “repertoire rotation,” for lack of a better term. I was a little surprised that the list was long enough that were I a performing guitarist, I’d have enough material for a suitable concert. I also comment to friends that the stuff I play is so old that many would hear it for the first time and think it was all original!

Here’s a sample (artist follows in parentheses):

  • She Comes In Colors (Love)
  • Melissa (Allman Bros)
  • Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (Duke Ellington)
  • Roll With The Flow (Michael Nesmith)
  • Voices On The Wind (Little Feat)
  • Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (Beatles)
  • Kind Hearted Woman (Robert Johnson)
  • Daydream (Lovin’ Spoonful)
  • Orange Skies (Love)
  • Key To The Highway (Broonzy)
  • On Your Way Down (Toussaint/Little Feat)

There are others, but if you average them out at three minutes each, those alone would qualify for a 30 minute concert! Wow. I didn’t think I knew enough to play without repeating! 😃

Michael Nesmith – Then (Monkees) and Now

I’ve said before that a positive side to the coronavirus pandemic is that it forced me to stay indoors, and to pass the time I played more guitar. And that’s a GOOD thing!

One other item I’ll add: I have found a number of web sites that have helped me learn the lyrics, chords and tabs, which has made my learning some of these songs easier. In no particular order: Chordify, Ultimate Guitar, ChordU, e-Chords, and for chord research, Chorderator and JGuitar.

I guess I can’t get away from technology. And that too, is a GOOD thing.