Manufactured Goods

You can’t get there from here.

You can’t listen to them.

You can’t take their word for it. You can’t stroll into that midwest diner, ask them what’s up, expect them to know their own souls.

They’re not going to be honest with you. They’re not being honest with themselves. They don’t know how. They don’t have to be. They weren’t raised that way. It’s not the world they were handed.

A world of their unquestioned dominance. A world theirs by birth. Born alpha dog. Born apex predator.

A world that doesn’t exist.

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So, it’s been a week.

What do we know?

Nothing, really.

We know that William Barr issued a tightly worded letter claiming Robert Mueller found no evidence to support the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russian government, and punting on the question whether Donald Trump’s actions regarding the investigation amount to a legal case for obstruction of justice.

We know that Barr himself is someone a courtroom drama would call a hostile witness, someone whose word is not to be trusted.

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George Bush died Friday.

We remember him now as George H.W. Bush, mainly to distinguish him from the George Bush who fucked the shit out of America and its future, but he was just George Bush: George Bush, former CIA director, supposed man of principle who sold himself as quick as he could to the man he had effectively called a voodoo dingbat months earlier, a man who kicked Geraldine Ferraro’s ass because he was a wimp trying to pass as macho, a man whom nobody loved nor admired and casually used a black man to scare white people into voting for him.

Oh, and a war hero.

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The pretense of government legitimacy in America rests, ultimately, on our right to vote — that as citizens of our republic, we collectively determine who governs us. An election lost can be deeply disheartening — our first presidential ballot was cast in 1980 — but if the loss is fair and square, so be it. Don’t blame us, we voted for the lesser scoundrel.

In many ways, the efficacy of voting, its guarantee of the consent of the governed, is an illusion: A President can achieve office while losing the popular vote. Half the American population is represented by only eighteen senators. House districts can be gerrymandered beyond recognition. The pretense of legitimacy is maintained — people voted! — but the results are engineered to thwart the popular will.

And even voting isn’t left to chance.

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Here’s how this plays out:

Nothing changes.

The Memo has been Released, it’s being used as toilet paper by anyone not in the Treason Tank, and none of that matters. It might as well be a blank Doctor Who psychic card, open to whatever interpretation an enterprising traitor wishes to give it. Does it provide grounds to fire Rod Rosenstein and get at Robert Mueller? Sure, why not? Nobody ever took it seriously, starting with its authors. The Memo exists as a propaganda tool.

But you already knew this. A year in, we have achieved Groundhog Day, and we know how this plays out. It already has. Many times.

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Even rats laugh.

If our life has been about anything, it has been comedy. Laugh-In may have been stuffed with rehashed vaudeville routines, but they were all new to our eight-year-old eyes and ears, and we tortured our father with recitations as soon as each episode was over. Mad magazine remains an enduring influence, down to our use of “department heads” on this website. The Seventies Sitcom Renaissance was ours to binge upon, capped by SNL debuting just when we were ready for it.

But our deepest love was stand-up, and we hit the sweet spot for that too, led by Cosby (sorry) and Carlin: One a master storyteller, the other a master of language itself. We didn’t listen to pop music in our teens; we bought comedy albums.

Which is why we were deeply intrigued this week when the chatter went around that Donald Trump never laughs in public.

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True story: A few years ago, Silent Creative Partner mocked up a silly matching-tile game app. (Think “Concentration”, if you’re old enough to think that.) Some time later, when we were looking for an excuse to learn iPhone programming, we glommed onto his mockups as a starter project: How the hell would be make this work?

Turned out, it wasn’t that hard — at least for an Obsessive Latent Geek. iPhone programming has an enormous learning curve, but once you reach the summit, it’s easy enough. Only took a couple weeks, and then we had a beta we could show off to clients. Look! We can do this! Pay us to do something else!

But one of our clients wanted that — the matching game. Only with client-specific graphics. “Reskinned”, as we say in the Geek Trade.

Oh, and could we add a virtual bobblehead?

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