Advisors and Momentum

Another batch of advisors quit the other day. This one was basically a whole advisory committee on HIV/AIDS that walked out en masse because, they said, the president just doesn’t care about HIV/AIDS. They aren’t the first. Elon Musk quit after the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and there have been others.

I can see their point. Why keep talking, if no one’s listening?

Of course, on the other hand, I’m not exactly sure the role of advisors is to say “Do as you’re fucking told, or I’m going to go sulk on the other end of the playground.


Some days, well… yeah… you’re Aristotle.

But most of the time… You’re the slave boy on the victor’s chariot. Remember you are mortal. (No one cares. No one hears you. The cheering crowd will deify him, anyway.) You’re the gadfly, getting brushed away. Over, and over, and over.

Did you think there would be glamor? Sorry about that.

Obedience? Well, you’re clearly mistaking the role of “advisor” with the role of “mommy.”

Advisors have been an interest of mine since somebody–I can’t remember who, but I have my suspicions–mentioned that one of the signs of a ruler becoming a dictator is that he will begin winnowing out the advisors who don’t agree with him. He creates an echo chamber, and then, the downward spiral begins.

But Elon Musk wasn’t exiled. The Advisory Council on AIDS wasn’t crucified along the Appian Way. They just left.

Because things weren’t going their way.

And while I understand the concept of quitting in protest in theory, I believe there needs to be a slave boy. There needs to be a gadfly. An advisor isn’t an engine… he’s the brake. And he’s a failing break… but it doesn’t matter. Every little bit helps.

If nothing else, a ruler needs to be reminded–again and again– that his opinion isn’t the only one.

If he agrees with you, you’re not an advisor… you’re an echo.

It’s easier to be an echo.

Questions for a New Presidentiad

One of the big things I’d like to do right now is figure out where, exactly the middle of the road is. What exactly would a centerist believe? Where does the country balance?

That’s a tough question. Between Hollywood and the Information Age, the loudest voices always seem to get the most play–whether they represent the rest of the country, or not. It’s like…. you give that guy over there a loudspeaker and a drum set, and then, you try to hear the quiet conversation in the corner. Which may not even be happening, because the guy on the loudspeaker is a stand-up comedian, who has a schtick based on the people in the conversation in the corner.

If the loudest voices talked about religion the way they talk about politics, you’d think the whole country was made up of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists.

I’d like to know how you get people to tune back in. What about all those people who didn’t vote? Is that the electoral college? (I know how my state will go, so why get out of bed?) Alienation? (Neither candidate will represent me.)  Apathy?

I’d like to know how many people are out there, voting along party lines because it’s easier than researching a candidate, or because of brand loyalty. This is something I’ve noticed. People who sound like one party when they discuss the issues, but are voting the other party because… well, I’m not sure I understand it. Maybe it’s a case-by-case thing.

How do you get communication back?

Science Fiction Politics

film, projector

I’d love to be able to ignore politics entirely. In the perfect world, I’d be in the doomsday bunker with all the other intellectuals and artists, reading a book, and checking the periscope to see if it’s time to come out and repopulate, yet.

In the real world, stuff happens, and you realize…

The whole pre-season training camp presidential campaign can be expressed in terms of clips from your favorite sci-fi franchises.

And if you’re having trouble with some of the words on that teleprompter, buy a dictionary!

Conspiracy Theory: JFK committed suicide by means of a second gunman on the grassy knoll.

Fact: FDR used a wheelchair.

Politics As An Overheated Machine

I’m not in love with politics.

I’ve never been one of those people who throw on a straw hat and run around with a megaphone, waving the flag, and shouting sound bites.

I do kind of like complex systems, though. I love intermodal shipping. I’m passionate about the giant crane that takes apart a train and puts the boxes on a semi or a ship.

I’m not going to talk about a good candidate and an evil candidate. For what I’m saying, the individual candidates, regardless of their ideas and their platforms just don’t matter.

The conversation could be yellow or green Popcicles, and it wouldn’t matter.

It’s two choices, with the country, with the system, swinging back and forth between them. First one way, and then the other.

And the major political parties? Two kids on the same swing, both pumping as hard as they can, and both blaming the other kid if the swing goes too high.

When the swing goes too high.

You know that feeling, when you’re trapped on a swing with two bigger kids pumping, and the swing set’s feet start lifting of the ground? After a while, the whole thing starts rocking. BANG, BANG, BANG.

And you know that sooner or later, it’s going to tip over. It has to tip over. The momentum just keeps building.

You’re terrified, and you want to get off, but the big kids won’t let you. They’re not afraid. They’re having a great time. They love it.

After all, they tell you… when the swing set finally tips over, it’s going to tip on OUR side. It’s okay, you baby. We’re going to WIN.