Republican Presidential Debate: Trump vs. Goat

Moderator: Welcome everybody to the first republican presidential debate. Here are our candidates. We have Donald Trump, businessman and reality TV star, and Harold Gomes, former Senator from Missouri, who is a goat.

[Trump smiles and waves to the crowd. The goat nibbles at his microphone.]

Trump: Thanks, Jim. I’m happy to be here in the great state of Ohio, home of the Trump Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Trump Cleveland Children’s Hospital & Poker Room.

Goat: Baaaah.

Moderator: Ok, let’s get started. First question to both of you, why do you think you would make the best republican candidate for president?

Trump: Look, it’s simple. I’m the most successful person in the world. I’ve had an amazing life. I’ve built a massive company, I wrote the Art of the Deal which is just about the greatest business book of all time, I’ve had tremendous success on television with the Apprentice, I went to the Wharton School of Finance, one of the hardest schools in the world to get into. People love me. Everybody knows me. I will make America great again.

Goat: Baaaah.

Moderator: Senator Gomes, what do you consider to be the biggest problem facing the country right now and how do you plan to fix it?

Goat: Baaaah. Baaaah.

[The goat kicks the lectern. Trump nods and smirks.]

Trump: Senator, you wouldn’t even be talking about this issue if it weren’t for me. I’ve been to the border. Illegal immigrants are ruining this country. Last month, 314,000 people were murdered by illegals across America. Idiot politicians like you didn’t do anything.

Goat: Baaaah.

Trump: Excuse me. Let me finish. We don’t even have a border anymore. We’re not a country. When I’m president, I promise to build the largest casino and resort in the world along the Mexican border. We’ll have top entertainment, I’m talking Barbara Streisand and the Rolling Stones and Jerry Seinfeld, all of whom are my personal friends, and restaurants with the best chefs in the world. It’ll be fantastic. Ten times longer than the Great Wall of China. Security guards at every door will make sure only paying customers and citizens come through.

[The goat moves in Trump’s direction and nibbles at the ground. Trump steps away from his podium and scowls at the goat.]

Moderator: Please, Gentlemen. Back to your positions… Mr. Trump, in light of the rise of ISIS, do you consider the US-led invasion of Iraq to be a mistake?

[Trump smiles.]

Trump: I don’t make mistakes. I built a massive company that’s worth even more than the $10 billion I’ve said it is, I wrote the Art of the Deal and a dozen other best sellers, I created the most popular reality show of all time with the Apprentice. Everybody knows who I am. Everybody loves me. Even Rosie O’Donnell would vote for me. I’ll make ISIS cry like little babies.

Goat: Baaaah. Baaaah.

Trump: Come on, Senator. That’s a lie. This country has been losing to everybody. We’re losing to China, to Russia, to Mexico. Our leaders are stupid. They’re all pawns for special interests and rich donors like me…

Goat: Baaaah.

Trump: Losers and cowards like you are running this country into the ground.

[The goat stomps on the floor. Trump pulls up his sleeves and motions for the goat to come closer.]

Goat: Baaaah!

Trump: I’ll make your life a living nightmare. I’ll snap off your legs and feed them to your children.

Moderator: Enough, enough. Please calm down, gentleman.

[They bait each other for a minute but then both back away to their microphones.]

Moderator: Ok… This question is for both of you. What core values do you think are most important for the future of the Republican Party?

Goat: Baaaah. Baaaah.

Trump: No, that’s incorrect. I’m pro-life. I’ve always been pro-life. Think about it. My parents could have decided to flush me down the toilet, but they didn’t. Now I own thirty-four golf courses, twenty-eight ice skating rinks, and fourteen Roy Rogers. There wouldn’t be a Miss USA pageant if not for me. Imagine the world without Donald Trump and people like me. That would be tragic. Life is sacred. Though Mr. Gomes, on the other hand, I might make an exception for you.

[Trump stares at the goat and smirks.]

Goat: Baaaah!

Trump: Is that the best you’ve got?

Goat: Baaaah! Baaaah!

[The goat kicks over its lectern and rears at the ground. Trump loosens his tie, holds up his fists.]

Moderator: Senator Gomes! Mr. Trump!

Trump: Come here, mutton.

Goat: Baaaahhhh!!

[The goat rushes at Trump, head down. Trump throws a punch as the goat crashes into him. They roll across the stage.]

Trump: You trash-eating dope.

Goat: Baaaaah!

Trump: You stupid hairy loser.

Goat: Baaaaah!

Trump: I’ll eat you alive.

[They bite each other’s arms. Trump spits out a chunk of fur. The goat chomps at Trump’s left ear. Trump smacks him in the jaw. The goat swats at his neck. Jabs. Chokeholds. Elbows into stomachs. The fighting continues uninterrupted for thirty minutes until both candidates collapse out of exhaustion. Blood and fur covers the stage. Trump’s hairpiece hangs off his head. They crawl towards each other, bruised and bleeding.]

Trump: Jim, I have to say the Senator is tougher than I thought.

Goat: Baaaah.

[They embrace.]

Moderator: Ok, so that marks the end of our first debate. Stick around for analysis from the Fox News political team. And viewers at home, now it’s your chance to vote on who you think did the best.

The Show Where Main Characters Die

Have you seen the show where main characters die? Few TV shows are so bold. Few TV shows have so many main characters.

With other shows, viewers pick a main character and root for them for the entirety of the series. Sometimes they enter perilous situations and escape improbably. In reality, they would have died.

In the show where main characters die, viewers pick a main character and root for them until they enter a somewhat perilous situation and die, even though they could have easily escaped. Or the audience roots for them until they survive a very perilous situation and die soon after when viewers think the character is safe.

Other shows often feel unrealistic. Their storylines seem manufactured to leave the audience with only positive emotions. The show where main characters die elicits positive emotions on occasion, but more often it delivers unpleasant feelings.

Because of its willingness to hurt its audience, viewers come to respect the show where main characters die. While other shows aim to please, the show where main characters die aims to fully pursue its internal logic even when the results are unpleasant.

Though viewers feel disturbed for a time, they are quickly able to let go of the negative emotions and root for another main character who is still alive. The audience feels dignified knowing that they and the series can move on after the character dies.

Other shows abandon their adherence to internally consistent states of affairs in order to directly satisfy the audience’s wishes, causing viewers to lose respect for the series and for themselves.

Fortunately, the show where main characters die does not submit to the wishes of its audience. Viewers can’t help but identify with certain main characters but the show does not adjust the trajectory of its characters depending on the audience’s sympathies.

In fact, to highlight its integrity, the show is more likely to kill or torture a character the more that viewers like them. Similarly, the show is more likely to sustain the life of a character, even when death would be reasonable, the more that viewers dislike them. He or she may eventually be killed, but only when doing so is consistent with the show’s internal logic.

Indeed, the show where main characters die remains surprising and exciting when its main characters die, thus successfully producing a narrative dream.

While other shows interrupt the narrative illusion by revealing that they are designed by creators weighing the audience’s reaction to potential storylines, the show where main characters die reveals that it is designed by creators who are primarily concerned with developing the show’s internal logic.

Wish fulfillment does not disrupt the dream.

So what will happen next season on the show where main characters die? More characters will be tortured and die. Viewers will experience unpleasant emotions but continue watching until the show’s internal logic is undermined or until the show kills off all of its main characters.

Why?

Because the show where main characters die would not be the show where main characters die unless the main characters in the show do, in fact, die.

How to Bee More Cre8tive

Sometimes when I’m walking down the street, people stop and ask me, “How do I get to the Jefferson Hotel?” I tell them I don’t know, I’m just coming home from the gym. But something I do know a lot about is how to be creative. Creativity is the spice of life. Imagine deviled eggs without paprika, chicken potpie without oregano, fish stew without cinnamon—that’s the world without creativity. But, lucky for you, I’m here to share some tips about how to be more creative.

Tip #1: Use More Paper Mache

If you think paper mache is just for elementary school art projects then you are mistaken. In fact, paper mache is one of the few aesthetically perfect materials. Find a scratch on your car? Forget about paint and let your vehicle stand out with some paper mache. Looking for an interesting way to decorate your microwave? Wrap it in paper mache. Lose your index finger in a boating accident? Well, who needs prosthetics when you have paper mache?

Tip #2: Match Your Clothes to Your Mood

Creativity is a way of life. Don’t stop at just adding creative flourishes to your daily routine. Instead, embody your spirit. Show it off to the world. If you’re feeling peppy, wear bright colors. If you feel like grazing in a meadow, dress up like a horse. If you feel like eating pizza, then wear pizza.

Tip #3: Combine Everything

You might think that this tip goes without saying, but people rarely combine everything to the height of creativity. Blend your deodorant with your toothpaste. Squirt peanut juice into your milk. Take a bath while you drive to work. Burn leaves while you play catch with your son. Have fun!

Tip #4: Don’t Censor Yourself

The biggest roadblock to creativity is self-censorship. Say yes to your thoughts. Give a high five to your dreams. If it occurs to you to tell your best friend that she reminds you of a hispanic Mary Todd Lincoln, then go ahead and say it—even if you don’t know what it means. If a guy walks by and you feel like clapping your shoes together and singing the theme song from Friends as you follow him, then do it. Don’t hold back. If you have the urge to lock yourself in a walk-in freezer with a wolf and fight for the good of this country, then do it. God bless you.

Tip #5: Close Your Eyes

My final tip might be the simplest of all but I think it’s also the most important. If you want to be more creative then the first thing you need to do is close your eyes and see the possibilities inside of you. You are a creative person even if you don’t know it yet. Your imagination is beautiful. Your fantasies are truth. Close your eyes. It’s as simple as that. Close your eyes at work. Close your eyes at crosswalks. Close your eyes when you sleep. You are creativity. Creativity is you.

Modern Life: A Five-Paragraph Essay

In today’s society, there is much debate about whether life is better now than it was in the past. The world used to be much simpler. What has changed? How are things different? Where would you prefer to be? Perhaps you’ve thought about this. Though some people think that life is the same as always and others that it has changed for the worse, I believe that advancements in communication technology, food production, and entertainment have made life mostly better for people living today.

Firstly, it is much easier to communicate with people now than it was a hundred years ago. We not only have phones but cell phones; and not only cell phones but smartphones. The Internet is also a great tool for communication. You can stay connected with friends from other countries who you met on study abroad trips. You can send tweets to celebrities and discuss political issues with people you’ve never actually met. Some people think that in-person communication is harder now. People are always looking at their phones. And when they talk to each other, they are more awkward. Yet if people don’t like cell phones or the Internet then they can just stop using them, but they don’t, so they must really like it. Therefore, communication is better now than it used to be.

Food is also better. People used to starve to death all the time. Now it is rare. You can get almost anything you can imagine at the supermarket. We have powerful grains that don’t die in bad weather. We know the right way to treat animals in order to ensure that they live happy lives while also producing as much meat as possible. You can get fruit from far away instead of being stuck with what grows in the weather around you. But some people complain about chemicals like preservatives and genetic modification and unhealthy stuff like carbs. Yet a hundred years ago, they would be complaining about being hungry or eating rotten food. Thus advancements in food production are a key to the success of modern life.

In addition, entertainment is way better than it’s ever been before. You used to only be able to see plays and maybe sports games and listen to radio shows. Now there is everything. Movies, TV shows, music that you can download, sports all the time, video games you could play forever, lots of very fun lists to read, and many pictures. It’s like if all you wanted to do was sit in your bed all day and be entertained, you could do that. Opponents think that this is too much, that it spoils us. As if it’s better to do nothing and be bored or to spend all your time doing things you don’t like. But clearly we like these things. And even those who don’t like them must like not liking them. Thus entertainment is important and has brought today’s world to new heights.

In conclusion, modern life is a great place and that’s thanks to advancements in communication technology, food production, and entertainment. Some people think that there are downsides to the way things are now, but maybe they are just unhappy people who wouldn’t like their lives no matter what. It is apparent, in fact, that it is much easier and happier to live now than it was a hundred years ago. It’s hard to see how those people in the past did it. Maybe citizens in the future will say the same thing about us when life gets even better. I can’t even imagine what that future will be like but I’m sure it will be amazing for everybody.

The True Story Behind “Quality Guaranteed”

It’s a phrase you’ve likely read hundreds, if not thousands, of times. It’s plastered on billboards and street signs and pizza boxes. You’ve heard it on TV commercials and radio ads. About Chinese food and plumbers and online accredited universities. That’s right. You know the words: “Quality Guaranteed.”

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered who exactly is guaranteeing that quality. Is it the seller itself? The producer of the materials? Maybe a government agency or trade organization? At what precise time did the act of guaranteeing occur? Is each product or service inspected individually or are representative examples examined? What happens when the quality doesn’t satisfy the consumer’s expectations? Whose job is it to enforce the guarantee?

As you can tell, I’m a curious guy. I couldn’t find the answers to any of these questions on Wikipedia so I decided to investigate them myself.

After a long search through phonebooks and infomercials and discarded mail, I was surprised to discover that all the goods and services in this country are, in fact, guaranteed not by some complicated bureaucratic institution in Washington, DC or by quality control specialists at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart, but by a lovely old couple in Buxton, Iowa: Martha and Harold Washburn.

The Washburns have been guaranteeing the quality of goods and services for forty-five years, almost as long as they’ve been married. They’re humble, honest, and hardworking people, but the future of their business, as I’ve learned, is in jeopardy.

The Washburns have a middle-aged son named Clebald. He has been the company’s enforcer since he was fifteen years old. (All of this I learned through a series of phone interviews with Martha and one visit to their home/inspection facility.) Clebald still lives at home. He has meaty palms and a pair of brass boots. When I met him, he sprained my index finger and fractured my shin. He’s not a nice guy.

Being a family business, the Washburns want Clebald to take over the company very soon. They are slowing down in old age. But as Clebald said while stuffing his face with bonbons when I tried to interview him, “I don’t give a shit about quality. Get the hell out of my kitchen.”

All he cares about is breaking skulls. The Washburns were never able to have any other children so they’re stuck with him. Exhausted and arthritic, they are falling behind in their work. But that hasn’t stopped Clebald from hurting supermarket employees and yoga instructors even though their products and services haven’t been officially guaranteed.

“We’re in a really tough spot,” Martha told me, blenders and cacti and ice cream piled behind her. “We want the business to stay in the family, but we also want the guarantee to mean something. Clebald’s a sweet boy underneath but he can’t tell the difference between a billygoat and a shewolf.”

Harold, glaring through an eye piece at the laces of a baseball glove said, “All I want is to go on vacation for once.”

Then Clebald barreled into the house holding a severed hand, so I ended the interview for the evening.

The next morning I stopped over to say goodbye but the Washburns begged me to stay. “Look, we can tell that you really care about quality,” Martha said. “I saw you inspect that Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger,” Harold added. “You have a knack for this.”

I had embarked on this journey to learn about the story behind “Quality Guaranteed,” but now I was being offered the reins of a major American company. Did I care enough about quality to make this business my future? Could I handle the inevitable battle for power that would ensue between Cleobald and me? Did I want to move to Buxton, Iowa?

In the end, I decided that this business wasn’t for me, even though I was honored by their offer. But, if there’s any trustworthy people out there who wish to inspect all of the country’s goods and services every day for the next forty-five years, then please let me know. I’ll put you into contact with the Washburns. Otherwise, we might have to face a world where quality isn’t truly guaranteed.

 

Where is Kim Jong-un? He’s Living in My Basement

The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, hasn’t been seen in public since September 3rd. This is his longest absence since he assumed control of the Democratic People’s Republic in 2011. According to state-run media, he’s suffering from an “uncomfortable physical condition.” Video footage has shown him limping.

But, speculation has spread around the world that something else is afoot: a silent coup, a heart attack, an extended visit to a weight treatment center in Dubai.

So where is Kim Jong-un? What happened to him?

Unfortunately, I know the truth: He’s here. Living in my basement.

Kimjo (as he requests to be called) arrived a little over a month ago from Pyongyang. He’s not injured or ill, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead of repressing the freedoms of his 25 million subjects, he’s sitting in my couch playing a video game called Diablo III. He refuses to take breaks. He’s been surviving on cheese puffs and energy drinks.

Why did he choose my basement? I don’t claim to know the full answer. We met in May of 2012 when I was writing a piece for LA Magazine about the leisure activities of world dictators. I interviewed him at his palace in Pyongyang. For whatever reason, he seemed to feel an immediate connection to me. Eyes wide and cheeks rosy, he spilled forth tales of the games he’d played and those he hadn’t. I don’t know anything about video games so I nodded along politely and added a few ambiguous words here and there.

But Kimjo seemed to think we were exactly on the same page. He confided to me that his sister and the other party leaders looked down on his interest in action role-playing games. I told him I understood how hard that must be. He smiled, his eyes gleaming. Then he asked me if he could play at my house. I laughed, said why not, but as it turned out, he was serious.

Two weeks later, he arrived for the first time. He didn’t stay long. He scoped out the place a bit. When he was comfortable, he took his own system out of his backpack, played for a few hours, then flew home.

His next few visits were longer but nothing like his current stay. Now, his fingers jab at the controllers like missile sausages. He glares at the screen as if staring down a South Korean in the Demilitarized Zone. He hasn’t cleaned himself either, so, yes, he is starting to smell.

More troubling, I think he’s starting to doubt my trustworthiness. He asks me accusatory questions: “No advice for this level?” “Why no personal PS4?” Yesterday, he demanded that I taste the cheese puffs and energy drinks before he consumed them. He’s a paranoid young man.

Of course, I want to kick him out of my house. But I fear that he will try to fight me. That would not end well. If I rough him up, he’ll seek vengeance. If I let him win, he’ll have no reason to leave. My only hope is that he beats the game soon. Yet I’m starting to suspect that Diablo III is the sort of game that you can play forever.

That is why I am writing now. For help.

Citizens of North Korea, please demand that your Supreme Leader returns. Party leaders, please stop judging Kimjo so that he feels comfortable playing massively multi-player video games in his own home. President Obama, perhaps you can lure him out of my basement with a buffet at the White House.

Something needs to happen. He does not belong here. I am not his friend. If he stays any longer, I fear that world peace will suffer along with me.

Fantasy Football Diary — Entry #2

[Note: My encounter with Adrian Peterson occurred before his indictment for child abuse. He has hurt me deeply. I will seek justice.]

“Adrian! Adrian!” I shouted.

He was gripping my arm, his face buried against my shoulder, Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings star running back, my first pick, as we rumbled to the top of the Wooly Mammoth roller coaster at Coaster Country USA.

“Tell me when we’re at the top,” he murmured.

I tried to shake him off. “Come on, man. Open your eyes. Lift your arms!”

The cart slowed as we reached the peak. He let go. “Ah ahhhhhh!”

We raced down the drop, our arms waving and bending as the roller coaster curved and looped. The wind whipped through my hair and over his skull. Sunlight beamed on our foreheads.

As we exited the ride, Adrian hollered in excitement: “So much fun. Oh geez. So good.” But his arms were shaking, his eyes were red.

I knew that he was, in fact, very scared. Adrian Peterson hates roller coasters. Though he would never admit it. Not to his friends, not to his coaches, not to his fans. My plan was simple: to threaten him. He’d let me down last week. I’d lost because of him. I was never going to let that happen again.

I kept the pressure on. We ate funnel cakes drenched in powdered sugar and drank Mountain Dew out of Coaster Country USA souvenir cups. Our stomachs sloshing, I led him onto the Fumigator, Mouse Maze Circus, Devil’s Dive, the Atomic Anaconda. He shouted in feigned enjoyment at the end of each ride, but he couldn’t hide his pain and nausea. He clutched his head as we trekked towards the most extreme roller coaster at the park: The Grim Reaper.

“Last one,” I said, sipping at my Dew, my stomach as strong as steel.

He was breathing heavily. “Praise Jesus.”

“What? You want to go home?”

He pressed his cup, packed with ice, against the back of his neck. “No, hey, I would stay all day. I just need to, you know, watch some game tape.”

“Ah, I see.”

We joined the line for the Reaper. I could sense his nervousness as people crowded behind us. There was nowhere to go. We moved closer to the hulking coaster. Three fifteen-story drops. Four 360 degree loops. A backwards twist. A gust of fire. A thousand pounds of g-force.

Our turn. I placed our souvenir cups at the side. They locked us in. I could hear Adrian praying.

I grabbed his shoulder. “You ready?”

He covered his eyes.

The roller coaster shot forward like a supersonic jet. Adrian yelped in terror.

You might think that bringing him on this ride, on all these rides, was the extent of my plan to threaten him. But no, I was trying to create real motivation. I wasn’t going to stop at nausea and headaches. I waited for the perfect time, the ride’s only pause, right before the backwards twist.

“Hey Adrian,” I shouted through the wind.

He was clenched into a ball.

I gripped his harness. “Wake the fuck up!”

He lifted his head. I unlocked his belt.

“What are you doing?”

“Adrian, you listen to me.” I squeezed his arms. “You were the consensus number one pick. You only scored eight fucking points last week.”

I jerked him towards the edge of the cart. We were starting to move again.

“But, we won. Big. 34-6.”

I grabbed the back of his neck. “I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about me.” I dangled his head over the ledge.

“You need to get me more points.”

He pushed back. “Adam, stop, stop!”

I gripped his waist and shoved him forward. If I dropped him, there would be no more Adrian Peterson.

He screamed. “Please, please, I’ll do whatever you want, whatever you want.” I felt his stomach spasm as he puked his funnel cake and Mountain Dew a hundred feet to the ground.

Just before the cart bulleted backwards into the twist, I pulled him back and strapped him in.

He was silent for the rest of the ride.

When we stepped off the coaster, I apologized. I did not want him to be too rattled for this Sunday’s game. I refilled his Dew and let him keep my souvenir cup too. But as we walked into the parking lot, I pulled him close.

I stared into his soul. “Double digits. Every game.” I pointed at the steel skeleton of the Reaper. “Or I’ll tell everyone who you truly are.”

He nodded. The message was clear. From now on, I guarantee he will not disappoint.

 

 

Fantasy Football Diary #1

            I had dinner with Peyton Manning last night. He was wonderful. We went to an Italian place on 16th street. He had the Spaghetti Bolognese. I had the Penne Carbonara. Calamari, we shared. I drank wine.

            The evening was beautiful but I’m not sure if I convinced him to be with me. He’s a difficult man to read. So many gestures. So many audibles. Perhaps I came across as desperate. Needy. But I would be so good to him…

            We had just finished the calamari and candlelight was flickering below his sloping chin as I broached the subject. I dabbed some cocktail sauce off my lip.

            “So I’m thinking of drafting you on my team,” I told him.

            He was shoveling spaghetti into his mouth. He smiled. “Hey, that’s really nice of you to say, Adam.” Meat sauce spilled down his cheek.

            I lifted my napkin towards him. “Let me—”

            He waved me away. “I got it. I got it.” He wiped his own mouth. “This is some damn good pasta.”

            If he was with me, I’d serve him spaghetti everyday, I’d keep his glass always full of Gatorade. “Glad you like it.”

            The waiter stopped at our table and asked how the food was, if we needed anything. I sipped my wine and told him everything was superb. Peyton was focused on his food. He didn’t seem to understand what I was telling him. I was being too subtle.

            “I want you to be my quarterback,” I said, as clear as the Denver sky.

            He glanced up, a string of spaghetti hanging down his neck. “Is that why you invited me to dinner?”

            I looked away. “No, I mean yes, I mean that’s part of it. It’s just that the season is starting really soon.”

            “Pssh, you’re telling me.”

            His gaze returned to his plate. Neither of us spoke for a bit after that. I’m not sure if it was because the food was so delicious or if I’d been too forward with him.

            The waiter poured me another glass of wine. I was down to my last few noodles.

            I broke the silence: “It’s just that the other guys in my league won’t appreciate you like I will. I’ll play you every week. Even on byes.”

            He chuckled. “Sometimes I need a rest. These legs weren’t born yesterday.”

            “I realize. That’s not—”

            “Man, I could eat here everyday.” A shadow from the candle wavered across his ear. He reached towards my plate. “Mind if I try some?”

            I leaned back. “Oh sure.”

            He finished my noodles. “Damn tasty.”

            A rush fluttered through my stomach. My toes curled. He was so reliable, so creative, so experienced. Like having another coach on the field.

            He noticed me staring at him. “You can try some of mine too.”

            Only a few strands lingered on his plate. “No, thank you. I want you to have them.”

            He flashed his wide, goofy grin.

            Then I asked him, as directly as possible. “So will you be on my team?”

            He twisted the remaining spaghetti onto his fork. “Well Adam, I’ll tell you one thing. I sure am glad you brought me here tonight.”

            And that’s as much as he would say. The waiter took away our plates. I gulped down the rest of my wine. When the bill came, Peyton went to the bathroom, so I paid for the two of us. It was a night I’ll remember forever. I know he enjoyed the meal. But… I’m still not sure if he would like to be on my team. The draft is coming up soon. I don’t know what to do. I hope he says yes. When it comes my time to pick, I would hate to be stuck instead feeding hamburgers to Eli.

The Plight of Ferguson Missouri

There’s a man out there named Ferguson Missouri. He lives in Wyoming. He has two cats. He works in the gift shop of Grand Teton National Park. He’s a descendant of Native Americans.

But if you Google his name, you won’t find him. He’s buried beneath news articles and opinion pieces and ungrammatical racist exchanges on message boards.

It wasn’t always this way.

At one time, you could find him on the second page of search results. His LinkedIn profile, his family tree on ancestry.com, his appearance with Big Foot on the front page of the Jackson Hole Picayune.

At one time, his wife could say his name without thinking about stop-and-frisk policies and the militarization of local police.

At one time, his boss could read the employee roster at the gift shop and not think that he’d hired a city instead of a human being.

At one time, his cats did not invite cats from faraway cities to loot his refrigerator.

But now his life has changed forever. He realizes that. He can’t return to the past. Except maybe if he pays Google to elevate his search rank.

On the street too, people look at him differently. They are distracted, he can tell, by rage or tribal fears or videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads.

Nobody truly looks him in the eyes anymore. They don’t see him. They read his nametag and shake their heads as they purchase Grand Teton National Park t-shirts.

At some point, though, he hopes the alienation will fade. As his great-great-great-great grandfather once said, “The city is not us. We are not the city.” He was talking about the impact of urbanization on indigenous communities but the point is the same.

The truth will rise to the top in the end. It must.

Until then, he will simply try to live as usual. He will play with his cats. He will cook dinner for his wife. He will man the cash register. Google his name. Update his LinkedIn. And he will pray that, sometime soon, the nation will move forward.

Because Ferguson Missouri deserves justice, he deserves respect, he deserves peace.

The Meaning of Lice

It’s a question that’s been asked for ages: what is the meaning of lice?

Some think the answer is simple: Lice are wingless insects of the order Phthiraptera, known to feed on human skin, blood, and sebaceous secretions.

Others think that the answer is more complex, deeper than what it seems, more difficult to understand.

I tend to fall into the latter group.

There is no easy answer, I think, to the meaning of lice. We are thrust into the world, independent of our choosing, and confronted with these parasitic creatures. No roadmap or manual to help us along

So, it’s tempting to despair at our situation. There’s nowhere to escape to. There’s no one to assuage our inflamed skin. Of course, we can also fight back. Pluck them off our scalps, burn them in the kitchen sink, comb them away from our thighs using specially medicated shampoo. But they always return. The battle does not end.

We are fated to struggle against lice. This is our reality. We must accept it. Though it drives many to question the very foundations of our greatest faith traditions. How did Buddha deal with itchy pests? Is it halal to bathe yourself in insect repellent? Why does Jesus like bugs so much?

And these are very good questions. We should not be afraid to reflect on the fundamental nature of lice. Many societies have crumbled because of a lack of interest in their invertebrate companions. We must turn away from ignorance. We must seek the truth. If we stop asking questions, then the powerful will rule without restraint. If we stop asking questions, then we’ll forget how it feels to be free of irritated scalps.

So what’s the meaning of lice? I don’t claim to know the answer. Maybe there is no meaning. Maybe we’re just born to search for meaning where there is none to be found.

Perhaps, we’re just here. And so are they. And sometimes our paths cross, for better or worse. But it’s a big planet. An even bigger universe. So let’s try to exist together, human and insect, mammal and parasite, person and creature. Let’s seek happiness for all, injustice for none, equal rights, fair pay, due process, forgiveness.

Maybe, we can give lice our own meaning. Perhaps it is simple. Deep but not complex. Difficult to embrace but easy to understand:

The meaning of lice is you. The meaning of lice is me. The meaning of lice is us.