Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Is This Guy For Real?

The trouble I have with grasping the reality of Donald J. Trump’s election to the office of President of the United States has little to do with his policy or personality. It has much to do with my lifelong struggle to tell the difference between fiction and reality, and my viewing of a video of “The Battle of The Billionaires” a few months before the election. I did not know about the event before that. I learned that “The Battle of the Billionaires” was one of the events on the WrestleMania 23 card held on April 1, 2007. The video shows Mr. Trump pummeling and humiliating Vince McMahon, a promoter of professional wrestling matches.

At the age of seven I asked my dad if the stuff I saw on professional wrestling on TV was for real. “What are you doing watching that junk?” he asked me. “It’ll ruin your mind.” He meant the storylines and the trash talk by the contestants. That was almost fifty years ago, when professional wrestling programs were locally produced and aired.

A Cryptoquote© puzzle that I solved a few years ago also causes me to question the reality of the election:

“Politics is the entertainment division of the military- industrial complex.” - Frank Zappa

Before you label me a conspiracy theorist, remember that a real United States president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, really did warn us of the military-industrial complex in his farewell address. He defined the military-industrial complex as “this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” He explained that, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Zappa’s words imply that we did not heed President Eisenhower’s warning, an opinion shared by Eisenhower’s own granddaughter. The quote implies that the military-industrial complex has control of our political system, and that it stages elections and government proceedings so that we can believe we have a voice in government. Though he did not use the term “military-industrial complex,” Donald Trump acknowledged as much in a campaign speech:

“This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged. This is reality, you know it, they know it, I know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it.”

Later in the speech Trump admits his insider status, and claims that, “Because I used to be part of the club, I'm the only one that can fix it.”

I can believe that one would need an insider’s knowledge and clout to survive the system and reform it. President Eisenhower did not call himself an insider, but he would have had to have been a major player in the military-industrial complex to achieve victory in Europe and secure an advantageous position for the United States in the Cold War. He had enough pull to not get killed for his reluctance to send men and arms to Viet Nam. President Kennedy did not enjoy the same privilege.

In his inaugural address, President Trump said: “...we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.”

Does Trump really intend to wrest political power from the military-industrial complex and give it back to the people, or merely give the illusion of doing so? If he really intends to win back our power, can he? Can anyone? Will he trample the Constitution to do it? Will “draining the swamp” in Washington merely result in more entertaining sessions of Congress? Is Donald Trump for real, or is he a puppet of the military- industrial complex?

Each new day gives me reason to believe Donald Trump is for real, or reason to believe that he is not for real. Whether I agree or disagree with his opinions on issues, I can see how some of his past words and actions could run counter to the interests of the military-industrial complex.

In 1988, Trump took out a full-page ad in The New York Times that urged the U.S. government to press other members of NATO to contribute more to the military operations of the organization so that the U.S. could save money on defense. The ad prompted Oprah Winfrey to ask him if he would consider running for president. Well before Trump announced his candidacy, I heard or read statements by both liberals and conservatives that more or less agree with Trump’s assertion that everyone in Washington is a lobbyist. Trump addressed cost overruns on the Air Force One and F-35 fighter jet programs before taking office. He addressed the revolving door between the United States Department of Defense and defense contractors shortly after taking office, but proposed increased spending on defense.

I question whether Donald Trump is for real because if a guy getting caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the pussy doesn’t lose a guy an election, I don’t know what will. Also, before taking office, Mr. Trump criticized both Democratic and Republican opponents for taking money from the banking firm Goldman Sachs. Since taking office, he has recruited several former Goldman Sachs employees to positions in his administration. Perhaps public and private sector finances are so tangled that he had no choice.

I keep remembering my father’s warning that watching professional wrestling on TV would ruin my mind. When I saw “The Battle of the Billionaires” video, I immediately thought of a Star Trek episode entitled “Bread and Circuses.” Captain Kirk and senior officers beam down to a planet where The Roman Empire never fell. A Roman-style dictator forces them to fight in gladiatorial matches on live television. This dictator kept the masses under control by providing food and entertainment.
The title of the Star Trek episode comes from an ancient Roman satirist named Juvenal, who used the phrase to describe how people made it easy for their leaders to transform their Republic into an empire:

“… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”
(Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81. Translation by J.P. Toner in Leisure and Ancient Rome.)

I understand that the “Battle of the Billionaires” was held on April Fool’s Day, and it looks as though Mr. Trump enjoyed a fine lark. This further confuses fiction and reality for me. The event shows that Mr. Trump had experience providing politics as entertainment before he ran for office. The storyline was that Donald Trump was up against The Evil Mr. McMahon. McMahon was evil because he grew his media empire by ruthlessly putting local professional wrestling programs out of business. He violated gentlemen’s agreements between local professional wrestling programs to not encroach on each other’s territory. He also had a reputation for not dealing fairly with the professional wrestlers he promoted.

The dispute between Mr. Trump and Mr. McMahon was over which of them had more money. Rather than produce ledgers or bank statements, the two men hired professional wrestlers to represent them and settle the question in the ring. When the fight in the ring became boring, Trump took matters into his own hands and attacked McMahon. Trump won the bet and got to shave off McMahon’s hair.
It all looks pretty fake to me. I don’t mean I think the video was doctored. I mean it looks fake the way every professional wrestling match looks fake: you can tell it’s neither a real fight nor a true athletic contest, but stylized violence for show. I now think of campaign speeches, debates, press conferences and political news as pretty much the same thing as professional wrestling, and remember my father’s warning.

If Donald Trump is correct, that we are “controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system,” and that “the whole world knows it,” then that helps explain why 38% of eligible voters stayed home on Election Day. Perhaps they already knew that we live under an “illusion of democracy.”

With voter participation rates the way they are, the popular vote is almost as non-representative as the electoral vote. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton received a majority of the popular vote. Clinton received 48.25% of the popular vote to Trump’s 46.15%. Trump won the election by persuading less than a third of all possible voters to vote for him.

An analysis of interviews with political scientists tells us that “...the President-elect’s leap from long-shot candidate to the most powerful political position in the world may have happened in part because of apathy toward Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.” Even Michael Moore, a strident critic of Donald Trump, acknowledged that both candidates represented the military-industrial complex:

“But her vote for the Iraq War made me promise her that I would never vote for her again. To date, I haven’t broken that promise. For the sake of preventing a proto-fascist from becoming our commander-in-chief, I’m breaking that promise. I sadly believe Clinton will find a way to get us in some kind of military action.”

Some days, I wonder if Donald Trump saw a quote that I often see on Twitter, and took it to heart:

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” - Bertolt Brecht

Trump knows that politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. “The Battle of the Billionaires,” "The Apprentice" and his appearances on numerous talk shows were part of a decades-long unofficial campaign to get elected President. I don’t share his taste in art, but acknowledge his success at it. He can use his position as entertainer-in-chief to get us outraged enough to shake off our apathy and educate ourselves about how our system of government is supposed to work.

Trump’s promise to build a wall along our border with Mexico reveals the injustice and hypocrisy of our food production system. We depend upon illegal immigrants for much of the hard labor involved in getting meals to our tables, but we take advantage of their legal status to deprive them of just compensation for their hard labor. If President Trump succeeds at halting illegal immigration, we face increased food prices because very few legal workers want to do agricultural labor. As one frustrated farm manager put it:

“I’ve been telling anyone who will listen: you either import your workforce or you import your food,” Aiello said. “Unless American citizens are willing to do this work - which they haven’t shown they are willing to do.”

President Trump’s policies on immigration do not radically differ from those of previous administrations, but he plays the news media like Duke Ellington played his orchestra. His outrageous statements during his campaign got him all the coverage he wanted, and allowed him to define the arguments. Advancing a shocking and entertaining idea such as building a wall and making Mexico pay for it causes us to discuss a problem we would rather ignore. If this discussion leads to legislation that addresses our immigrant labor issue, Donald Trump will have succeeded at using art to shape reality.

On other days, I wonder if we have reached the point predicted in another quote attributed to Frank Zappa:

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

Donald Trump may be the guy hired by the military-industrial complex to take down the scenery and move the tables and chairs out of the way. We won’t like anybody who reveals the brick wall at the back of the theater. Donald J. Trump may not be the one to wrest control from the military-industrial complex, but he may be the one to lay it bare.
I reserve making a determination on whether Donald Trump is for real until his smackdown with Vladimir Putin. I hope he wins, but I’ll be looking for the same signs of fakery that I saw in “The Battle of the Billionaires.”


1. WrestleMania 23, wwe.org
2. Transcript of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address (IV), ourdocuments.gov
3. 50 years later, we're still ignoring Ike's warning, By Susan Eisenhower, washingtonpost.com, Outlook & Opinions Sunday, January 16, 2011
4. TRANSCRIPT: Donald Trump's Speech Responding To Assault Accusations, NPR, Oct. 13, 2016
5. The Inaugural Address, whitehouse.gov, Jan. 20, 2017
6. In 1988, Oprah Asked Donald Trump If He’d Ever Run For President. Here’s How He Replied, Huffington Post, July 28, 2015
7. Interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Nov. 13, 2016
8. Exclusive poll: GOP voters want the party to stand by Trump, By Steven Shepard, Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, Politico, October 9, 2016
9. Elizabeth Warren probes Goldman Sachs' ties to Trump White House, by Matt Egan, www.ksat.com, Feb. 10, 2017
10. “Bread and Circuses,” www.startrek.com
11. Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81. Translation by J.P. Toner in Leisure and Ancient Rome.
12. Trump’s victory another example of how Electoral College wins are bigger than popular vote ones, by Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center FACTANK, Dec. 20, 2016
13. What does voter turnout tell us about the 2016 Election? By Michael D. Regan, PBS Newshour, November 20, 2016
14. 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win, by Michael Moore, michael moore.com, July, 2016
15. Trump's Immigration Crackdown Triggers Anxiety Across U.S. Farms, Mario Parker and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are the religious tests location-specific?

Please keep in mind that this rant is about media bias.

Before I get to that, I thought that we wanted a government blind to a person’s religion. We saw what happened in Germany. Also, I thought we wanted Congress to determine immigration policy. True, I did not object when President Obama made it easier for people to come here from Mexico, without the consent of Congress. I figured that people who come here from Mexico to work have it hard enough. I admit to that bias.

President Obama’s decisions on enforcement of immigration policy did not raise First Amendment issues, as President Trump’s decisions probably will. However, I heard Reince Priebus say on Face The Nation this morning that Muslim minority members will be given some slack in President Trump’s restrictions, as well as Christians. This makes things a little different in my mind. We’re still using a religious test, but it makes the issue more political, and not just religious. 

The conflicts between Shia and Sunni Muslims are political as well as religious. The Sunni members of ISIS want to kill Shia Muslims just as much - if not more than - Christians. The fact that exceptions apply to Muslim minorities is an important detail for the media to leave out. Face The Nation even left it out of their article on this morning’s interview with Priebus. I found a mention of it in New York Magazine.

So, here’s my question for the media: Are the religious tests location-specific? That is, if a person is trying to come here from ISIS-controlled and Sunni-dominated Syria, will he or she find it easier if he or she claims to be Shia? Iran is predominantly Shia, and persecutes Sunni Muslims. If a person is trying to get here from Iran, will he or she find it easier if he or she claims to be Sunni? If so, the issue becomes more of a political and security issue than a religious one.

If the religious tests are location-specific, Reince Priebus, why haven’t you said so? Are you afraid of disappointing those who want to keep all Muslims out of the country? I didn’t hear President Trump say anything about exceptions for Muslim minorities when he announced the travel restrictions. 

If the religious tests are not location-specific, do the exceptions apply only to Christians traveling here from Iran? Won’t that make it more difficult for persecuted Sunnis to get out of Iran? Don’t we want to help all people who are trying to get out of Iran because they face religious persecution there?

Dear Mainstream Media: I agree that religious tests are hare-brained and un-American, but please let us reach that conclusion on our own. Ask more questions. Explain the conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims. You damage your credibility when you leave out important information and sensationalize the actions of public officials. Not only that, but you give more credibility to public officials who claim that you have a political agenda. You guys are supposed to be objective and unbiased, even on hot-button issues.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

We all bleed the same color

I heard echoes of my father’s words in President Donald Trump’s inaugural address. My father served in the U.S. Army in the 1950s, when the armed services still struggled with racial integration. When Mr. Trump reminded us that “we all bleed the same color,” I remembered hearing my father argue with someone about the desegregation of public schools in the 1960s. My father pointed out that - at that very moment - there were men getting shot at in Vietnam whose children had to attend second-rate schools because of their skin color.

I’m glad to hear that our new president supports racial equality. I just wonder if the guy is for real. I mean, our new president is one of those people who is famous for being famous. He has proved that name recognition wins elections. Just to give you an idea of how I thought of Donald Trump before his presidential campaign:  After I saw the inauguration on TV, I wanted to call my dad and tell him that I had a dream in which Ted Baxter got elected president. My dad thought Ted Baxter was pretty hilarious back in the day. The old fellow is in his 80s now, though. I don’t know if his heart could take it.

I hope we remember that citizens and soldiers of all religions bleed the same color. President Trump may be specific in his words about “extreme Islamic terrorism,” but his ardent supporters seem to want to apply this fear to all Muslims. I fear a Kristallnacht. Only this time, it’ll be Muslims getting their heads cracked and their stores burned to the ground, instead of Jews.

I’m glad to hear that our new president addressed decaying infrastructure and an ineffectual education system, but he won’t say anything about his violations of the emoluments clause of the United States Constitution. I’m glad to hear that he wants to drain the swamp in Washington, but he might make things better a lot sooner by draining the swamp on Wall Street. We stand to lose more jobs to robots than to low-wage workers in other countries, but Mr. Trump has not addressed job loss due to automation.

I will do as friends have asked, and give our new president a chance. I just hope that one friend is wrong about Mr. Trump losing interest and resigning before he finishes a full term. The day after the inauguration had a controversy about how the press reported inauguration attendance. The guy seems more pathetic than most politicians in wanting everyone to like him. He may decide the job’s not for him if he doesn’t get the adoration he expects.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Retro VR promo: Give Thanks for Soft Hearts

Retro VR promo: Give Thanks for Soft Hearts: A news article about a man making sex robots inspired me to write “ Retro VR .” I had to ask  myself why the topic interested me. I c...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Open letter to President-Elect Trump

Dear President-Elect Trump,

You asked for suggestions in your acceptance speech.

Growing up during the Cold War made me into a nihilist. I believed that we would obliterate the Soviets, and they would obliterate us, before my 30th birthday. Our destruction was mutually assured. I saw no point in building a career or a family life. Loved ones helped me get over this attitude, but I still have a preference for being vaporized at Ground Zero over succumbing to radiation sickness.

I now have a young son who asks questions about your remarks on nuclear weapons that you made during your campaign. As a parent, you know that questions always lead to more questions. My challenge is to avoid passing along my nihilistic attitude.

I request two things: Explain your remarks about nuclear weaponry to our kids, and apply your deal-making skills to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. I would not expect you to do this goal in one or two terms, but any progress you make will make it easier for our children to have hope that all humanity will not be lost.

It would also help if you could explain to the kids the remark about shooting people on Fifth Avenue and not losing any voters.


John C. Stevens

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Real Human Blood


By John C. Stevens


Please explain your recent scheduling actions: You approved Darwin Durwood’s Request Off for December 21 and 22, the Friday and Saturday before Christmas, without my authorization. We are considering disciplinary action against you and Mr. Durwood after the Holiday Sale fiasco at your store. You knew the scheduling needs, and Darwin signed a document when he started last month, acknowledging that he understood that he was not eligible for a day off from a mandatory shift except for the death of an immediate family member. The reason listed on his request reads “Family Business.” I saw that you submitted the request for my authorization while I was on vacation, but you didn’t wait for an answer before you told Darwin to go ahead.

I am quite puzzled at your decision, Larry. This is the same guy for whom you had to make a pretty convincing case in order for us to hire him, given his criminal record. Then, you invested quite a bit of time coaching him on interacting with customers. You were right about Darwin’s ability to talk about the new household robots in terms anyone could understand. He just needed to watch his tone so he didn’t sound impatient or condescending. Your bet paid off. Darwin has exceeded expectations, impressively.

My guess is that you owed Mr. Durwood a big favor, or something. Please let me know what’s going on.



I didn’t owe Darwin a favor, but his parole officer convinced me that doing this particular favor was critical to Darwin’s rehabilitation. By extension, I figured that having those two days off would be critical to Darwin’s continued success.

As you know, Darwin was a successful robotics engineer before his incarceration. He was a partner in a company that made robots that worked in conjunction with virtual reality systems. They started out making these systems to help train medical personnel. The robots provide a life-like feel to a virtual patient, and the virtual reality goggles help the medical personnel practice interacting with patients. The business really took off after they made such a system to train gynecologists. Darwin said after that, he and his partners felt like they had to consult psychotherapists to offer diversion programs on virtual reality that might help people overcome their sexual problems.

Darwin’s problems started when his partners asked him to design a blood victim robot. This would be for people who like to be a vampire in virtual reality, but want to drink real human blood from the neck of a life-like victim. Some of them already have sharpened incisors. It would be similar to the robot they made to train phlebotomists, but the vein would be in the neck instead of the arm. It would have a tank and a pump to send the blood through the robot’s jugular. The customers would insist on real human blood, so Darwin would have to take that into account in order to design it in such a way as to make it as easy to clean as possible.

Darwin refused to design the blood victim robot. He told his partners at the time that he had moral objections against it. They asked him why he didn’t object to taking his profits from the sex robot sales. He told them that vampires are evil. Masturbating with expensive toys like robots and VR goggles is just kind of pathetic. Darwin also told his partners that he didn’t want to be part of any scheme involving rich people buying blood from poor people just for sport.

What Darwin didn’t tell his partners was that his 17-year-old son, Arthur, had become obsessed with vampires. It worried Darwin, because the boy talked about getting his teeth sharpened. Darwin felt guilty about this because he’d put in long hours at his job when Arthur was very young. He wasn’t around to answer questions about mortality and death and the afterlife, and it looked like Arthur had gotten confused ideas from TV and movies. Arthur would get mad and storm out of the room when Darwin tried to remind him that vampires are fictional.

Darwin and his wife, Samantha, had had a lot of disagreements about how to raise Arthur, starting with naming him. Darwin thought Samantha’s names were too trendy or special, and Samantha thought that Darwin’s names were dull. Darwin thought Samantha helped Arthur too much when he needed to learn to do something. He thought she shielded him from the consequences of his actions. Samantha thought Darwin neglected Arthur.

Samantha loved Halloween. She loved to dress Arthur in a vampire costume every year, starting when he was four. Darwin didn’t object to this. It was one thing that Arthur and his mother could do together without yelling at each other. He didn’t think of it as evil. The first thing he thought of when he heard about vampires was either a counting puppet from a children’s TV show, or a nutty old grandpa from a black-and-white TV situation comedy. Darwin never took an interest in the vampire movies and TV shows that came out after he grew up, but Arthur and Samantha watched some of them together.

I asked Darwin about his crime in my initial interview with him. He said that when he continued to refuse to work on the blood victim robot, he and his partners got so angry with each other that they couldn’t work together anymore. They voted to oust him from the partnership and sue him for failure to perform his duties. His lawyer told him that the moral objection argument probably wouldn’t hold up in court, and advised him to show that the market for blood victim robots wasn’t big enough to justify the outlay of capital to develop the product.

Darwin surprised Samantha and Arthur one evening by getting home in time for dinner. When Darwin told them that he wouldn’t be going back to the office anymore, and why, they both got loud and angry with him. He hadn’t told them about getting kicked out of the partnership or the lawsuit before that day. Samantha was furious that Darwin lost a fantastic job because he wanted to spite his own son. Arthur was mad because he wanted a blood victim robot, himself.

Arthur told Darwin that if he wasn’t going to build a blood victim robot for him, he would have to drink Darwin’s blood. Darwin laughed and asked how he was going to do that when he still needed his mother to cut up his steak for him. The laughing enraged Arthur. He moved in to strike Darwin. Darwin stopped him with a slap to the face, but Samantha moved in to protect Arthur.

Darwin backhanded Samantha across the face. Samantha was a big woman, so she couldn't hold her own weight to keep from falling backward down the basement stairs. She ended up with a broken wrist and heavy bruising on her back.

Arthur lifted a kitchen chair over his head to hit Darwin. Darwin kicked Arthur in the ribs and broke three of them. Samantha called 911 and told them that her husband was trying to kill her and her son. Darwin didn’t resist when the police arrested him, and didn’t say anything about Arthur or Samantha trying to hit him first.

Arthur graduated from high school and had his incisors sharpened while Darwin was serving his time. He bought some VR goggles and played vampire role-playing games on the computer. This thrilled for Arthur at first, because it looked like he was right there in Transylvania or 19th-Century London.

After a while, role-playing a vampire, even with the VR goggles, got old. He started stalking a young woman in his neighborhood who liked to jog at night. He wanted to try to seduce her, but she told him to get lost as soon as she saw a creepy tall guy walking up to her. He attacked her the next night. It didn’t go well for him. He had never learned any fighting skills, and he was weak and out of shape. The jogger knew how to get his legs out from under him, and did so quickly. She called 911. She let him get up and run away before the cops got there, but he didn’t get far.

Arthur got sent up for assault and attempted rape. His sentence overlapped with Darwin’s sentence by about six months. Darwin was on cadre at the intake center when Arthur got transported there from the county jail. Darwin worked a few favors, and arranged for a 30-minute private visit with his son.

Darwin told me he told his son not to discuss his business with anyone. He told him if he had to tell someone something, to come up with something better than what actually happened, except for the prison psychologist or the chaplain. He told him that the other prisoners don’t treat sex criminals very well, and Arthur wouldn’t want to let on that he couldn’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. Arthur told Darwin that his mother had told him something pretty close to that when she made him get his incisors capped while he was still out on bond. Darwin told his son to stay away from drugs, gambling and prostitutes while incarcerated, and he would avoid 95 percent of the trouble he could get into.

Arthur participated in some recovery programs while incarcerated. When he got his release date, he told the chaplain and the prison psychologist that he wanted both of his parents there to meet him when he got out, and then have extended visits that day and the next day. Arthur’s release was scheduled for December 21st, the Friday before Christmas. The chaplain had to work hard to get Samantha to agree to include Darwin in the visits.

Darwin told me and his parole officer that he felt that the extended visits would be his last chance to salvage his relationship with his son. He got the impression that Arthur listened to him during their visit at the intake center, and he saw some hope in the fact that Arthur had requested the visits. Darwin isn’t interested in getting back with his wife, but he wants to be able to get along with her to help with Arthur’s rehabilitation.

I didn’t wait for an answer from you on Darwin’s request mostly because of the timing. He needed an answer before you were scheduled to be back from vacation. Also, I thought you would say no, and I was thinking about my store’s long term profitability with Darwin there. I really want to keep him, and I think letting him go on his visit will do that.




Thanks for the explanation. We won’t start any disciplinary action against you or Darwin, but I can’t very well give you a year-end bonus after your dismal Holiday Sale numbers.

By the way, has Darwin said anything to you about the visit? He’s put up some pretty good numbers since then, so I hope the visit accomplished what you hoped it would accomplish. A friend of mine is also interested. I ran into one of my fraternity buddies on New Year's Eve, who happens to be one of Darwin's former partners.

My friend said that he wished Darwin would have said something about the situation with his son at the time. He said if they had known about the kid wanting to get his teeth sharpened, they might not have gotten so angry at him. They might have worked something out - like dropping the blood victim robot idea - if they had known that Darwin was so biased that he needed to recuse himself.

The suit turned out to be a pretty bad idea, anyway. The partners had just put down a big retainer when Darwin got locked up, and they lost contracts because Darwin wasn’t there anymore. I thought you would want to know.



Darwin is doing well. It looks like the visits accomplished what he hoped. As a matter of fact, he asked me about Arthur coming to work at the store. He said that Arthur is pretty knowledgeable about virtual reality systems, and he picked up some interpersonal skills while he was locked up. He said he seems to have a better idea of the difference between fiction and reality now.

I’ll have to meet with Arthur to evaluate his interpersonal skills myself. If he’s like his father, he’ll probably be productive. I’ll also have to find out about his state of mind. I mean, some of the customers who buy the VR units are into some dark stuff. They might appreciate an ex-vampire as a salesman, but would it mess Arthur up if we ask him to dress up as a vampire or other monster on Halloween? I wouldn’t want to be responsible for him going back to a dark place.


The End

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Unfriended and Blocked

I got unfriended and blocked on Facebook last night for being racist. Specifically, I shared a video that had side-by-side comparisons of clips of speeches by Deval Patrick, John Edwards and Barack Obama. These speeches were loaded with quotes, by the way. I added a comment: "There are probably examples galore, Republicans and Democrats alike."

Apparently, Melania Trump's speechwriters cribbing from Michelle Obama's speechwriters is "rhetorical blackface," but Barack Obama's speechwriters cribbing other politicians' speechwriters is Advancing The Cause, and using Barack Obama as an example of politician's speechwriters cribbing each other is racist. A high school friend chimed in with text and photos about Donald Trump helping and being helped by African American politicians and celebrities. He got labeled as a racist, too.

Big Oil representative George W. Bush stole an election and got us into a war in Iraq, but I have to give his speechwriters credit for making me ask myself if I engaged in "the bigotry of low expectations." I think Barack Obama was too stiff-necked and too ivory tower to work with Congress effectively. However, I admire Barack Obama for something for which other people hate him: he apologized to the people of other countries for our imperialistic behavior toward them. That took courage, unless it was written into the First Black President script.

I may be cynical, but I'm cynical about politicians of all races. I think of them as employees of the Plutocracy. They help the Plutocracy put on a good show that helps us think that we have a voice in how we are governed. They all have their roles to play. Donald Trump is acting out the Asshole Who Gets Things Done script. Hillary Clinton wants to act out the First Woman President script. It doesn't matter which of them gets elected, since anyone who gets elected to the office of POTUS is merely a figurehead. He or she will be acting out a script. Same for just about any elected representative. They don't represent us, they represent the Plutocracy to us.