How to Understand the Ending of Learning to Drive

Learning to DriveLearning to Drive is a film for adults and that is why you have probably never heard of it. The primary character is Wendy (Patricia Clarkson), a noted book reviewer who has been left by her husband just minutes before the film starts. She gets into the taxi of Darwan (Ben Kingsley), an Indian Sikh who also teaches driving. And through a series of cinematic cliches, she becomes his student and friend.

In India, Darwan was a teacher and still is an intellectual. This is why when you are on vacation, you should take taxis because the drives are very often interesting people. On my last trip to San Francisco, I met a driver who had a PhD in Social Linguistics, and we had a nice conversation about the subject that extended several minutes after I had exited the vehicle. Looking back, the most amazing thing was that there was not a hint of bitterness in him. He was just happy to talk about his love to another who was interested in it. If the roles had been reversed, I doubt the interaction would have been so pleasant.

Wendy Decides It Is Time for Learning to Drive

Wendy, being a New Yorker, has managed to never learn to drive. And now she needs to in order to visit her daughter who is living and working on a farm in upstate New York. Her first effort results in failing her test, so Wendy gives up. But one day, her daughter, Tasha (Grace Gummer) visits her and tells her that she has decided not to return to the farm. (It is some part of her college education.) She admits that she had been in love with a young man there, and he was going back to college. So Tasha wants to come and live with her mother. But Wendy says no. She would love to have her daughter around, but she must finish her farming experience. At this point, Wendy is determined to learn to drive so she can visit and support her daughter.

Wendy Tries Again

So Wendy calls Darwan and tells him that she would like to try again. At this point, Wendy and Darwan become true friends. Darwan is having problems of his own. His arranged marriage to Jasleen (Sarita Choudhury) is not going well. The biggest problem is that Darwan is an intellectual and Jasleen is not. They don’t connect. Clearly, Darwan and Wendy are better suited, although it is clear they could never have a romantic relationship because of their social differences. But clearly, they can be and are excellent friends.

Darwan’s Marital Problems

Darwan confides in Wendy that their relationship is not going well. Wendy asks him if he would ever cheat on Jasleen if she disappointed him. He says no in a way that implies that the very idea has not occurred to him. She says, “You are a good man.”

Eventually, Wendy passes her driving test and Darwan goes with her to help her buy a car. As they are saying their goodbyes, Darwan asks Wendy if they can have dinner or coffee sometime. He does not want their friendship to end. But she says no. She adds, “The trouble is, you’re a good man.”

This is a subtle film.

The Ending of Learning to Drive

It took me several viewings to understand what Wendy was saying. It’s clear that Darwan is not asking for a romantic relationship. He simply wants their friendship to continue. But finally, I got it. The problem was not him; it was her. If they continued their friendship, she would fall in love. She would want more and he could never give it to her because he is a good man.

Also, she respects his wife Jasleen, even though she has never met her. And she knows that if she provides the intellectual stimulation that Darwan needs, he will never form the bond that he must with Jasleen.

Thus the literal end of the film is unnecessary. Wendy is driving to her daughter’s farm. But we know this will happen. It is the entire point of her learning to drive. The true ending of the film is for Darwan. And it is a beautiful scene.

The Real Ending

Jasleen comes home from shopping to find Darwan sitting on their bed. She says, “Darwan, I didn’t expect you.” He moves on the bed to provide a place for her. She sits next to him, having no idea what to expect. Is he going to divorce her and send her back to India? It’s a reasonable assumption. He says, “Jasleen, maybe I will not work at night anymore. Would you like that?” Jasleen smiles slightly, turning her head away from him. Her smile widens — almost to a laugh. She says, with the relief of all months of loneliness, “Yes!” He puts his hand on her face. She takes it. He gently rests his head on her shoulder. They are happy for the first time in the film.

Then we see Wendy driving out of New York on her way to visit her daughter. But this is de rigueur — simply for completeness. The film was complete with the joy on Jasleen’s face. Wendy’s story arc is about finding her own power. It is the primary plot, but we know it. We’ve experienced it too many times. What matters — what affects us — is the story of a traditional Sikh man who sacrifices his idea of how the world should be for the happiness of his wife. It is beautiful.

See this film!

Craig Steven Wilder on The Central Park Five

Craig Steven WilderI felt ashamed, actually, for New York. And I also felt extremely angry because their innocence never got the attention that their guilt did. The furor around prosecuting them still drowns out the good news of their innocence.

These were five kids who we tormented, we falsely accused, we pilloried in the press, we attacked. We invented phrases for the imagined crimes that we’re accusing them of.

And then we put them in jail. We falsely convicted them. And when the evidence turned out that they were innocent and they were released, we gave a modest nod to fairness, and we walked away from our crime…

I want us to remember what happened that day and be horrified by ourselves because it really is a mirror on our society. And rather than tying it up in a bow and thinking that there was something that we can take away from it and we’ll be better people, I think what we really need to realize is that we’re not very good people. And we’re often not.

–Craig Steven Wilder
Quoted in Ken Burns: The Central Park Five

H/T: James Fillmore for introducing me to the film.

I Have a New Amazon Slogan: Do Be Evil

Amazon Prime

After what seems like decades, but was probably only a couple of years — which is long enough, I finally decided to sign up for Amazon Prime.

The truth is that I hate Amazon. If we had a proper FTC, Amazon would have long ago been broken up into about 10 different companies. And they probably already would have gone out of business if they had not been given the huge advantage against other stores of not having to charge sales tax on their goods for over a decade.

The Government Made Amazon Rich

This isn’t the main point of my article, but let me explain something to you. The government allowing Amazon (and other online comparies) was a big deal.

Sales tax in California, the state with the most people and money, is roughly 10%. Since I have been, one way or another, in the publishing business for 25 years, I know that the margins in bookstores are extremely small.

So if all that time when Amazon was becoming a behemoth, the government had been giving all these other little brick-and-mortar stores had been given 10% extra money, they would have had no problem competing with Amazon.

You could do an experiment: randomly give half the restaurants in downtown 10% from the government and see what happens. I’m certain the only restaurants still around after a couple of years would been the ones that would still be in business. That’s because they would be able to cut prices where necessary and take extra profits where possible.

Economists Chime In

So Amazon’s good fortune over all these years has been due to the fact that the government gave them a whole bunch of money. This is something that should outrage everyone. But no one seems to care. I’ll write about it more later, but here’s a summer from Alternet, How Tax Avoidance Is a Big Reason For Amazon’s Success:

A new study finds Amazon’s sales drop in states where it is required to collect sales taxes, revealing what Jeff Bezos has undoubtedly known for years: the company’s success, its track record of shuttering local businesses, is as much a product of government favoritism as it is of its own ingenuity.

Amazon’s sales have fallen in states where it is now required to collect sales taxes, according to a new study by three economists at Ohio State University. The study offers striking evidence of how much Amazon’s dominance of the retail marketplace is owed to nearly 20 years of favorable tax treatment.

I Signed Up for Amazon Prime

So the thing is that I signed up for Amazon Prime. And I bought a few things because that’s necessary if I’m going to get Psychotronic Review off the ground. But my first two purchases gave me an offer. I could get my DVDs within 2 days or I could get $6 off Amazons Prime Pantry. So I looked at it and it looked okay. There were razors and tea. Those are two things I buy quite a lot. So that sounded pretty good to me. $12 of free razors and tea!

Amazon Prime Pantry

I was skeptical of course. This was Amazon, after all. And they are a vile company. I know Google no longer uses the slogan don’t be evil. But Amazon might as well use the opposite, “Do Be Evil!”

So there was a 50 pack of Irish Breakfast tea for $5.49, which is about what you would pay anywhere. So I added it to my cart and I went to check out. And I found that in fact the $5.49 was subtracted from my bill, but unlike my regular Prime purchases, I was charged $5.99 for shipping and handling.

And this is tea! It weighs almost nothing. Amazon could doubtless ship it for less than a dollar. And here they were charging me $6 to ship it to me. (Okay, it was only $5.99.) Yes I got $5.49 off the price of my tea but the shipping cost was even more.

But Maybe There’s Hope!

But I got an idea. I had $12 of Amazon Pantry Prime dollars — or whatever the hell it is they call it. So if I ordered two boxes of tea then they would get both boxes of tea for free and the shipping cost would be the same. So I would get the tea at half price. Well that wasn’t so bad. So I did it. But — try not to be too shocked — that’s not the way it works.

No, It’s Just Another Amazon Scam

Instead of both my boxes of tea being free because I had $12 on account only my first $6 was applied. So I still had to pay for one box of tea (less 51¢) and they’re ridiculous price for shipping. Note that if I bought Amazon tea just normally the shipping cost would be $4 not $6, of course the total cost would have been $10. So Prime Pantry is better than the usual “Amazon: great prices and then unreasonable shipping prices that make their prices irrelevant.

So now I was still stuck with paying basically the same amount of money. I can just walk over to Raley’s, get the tea for the same price, and have it. I don’t have to wait.

Amazon Prime Pantry Offers Nothing

I don’t care. Really I don’t. I would rather do my grocery shopping in a grocery store. What really bugs me is that when Amazon offer me this deal it was not at all clear that they were going to do this. And even when I figured out what the con was it was worse than I had even thought. I don’t see any way for Amazon Prime to be worth anything at all. If my total Amazon Prime Pantry can’t be used together, it is never worth using except for saving four bits. That’s it.

So Amazon is offering me nothing for my delaying the shipment of my products. And what they ended up doing was shipping both products which were very light in one envelope. So I suspect that they were able to ship both of my items for about a dollar. And in exchange for that they gave me nothing.

What About Amazone Prime Itself?

Thus far, I have to say I’m happy with Amazon Prime. I do like the free shipping. But whether it is worth it will all depend upon how much I spend. And I have a feeling that I won’t spend enough money with Amazon to make it worth my while.

And ultimately I would rather buy these DVDs from an actual DVD retailer. Not Amazon. As I said I hate Amazon. They are evil. I don’t actually think they should be broken up. I think they should be forced out of business.

Better Would Be to Find a Video Store

So I’m going to have to find some nice online DVD retailer. That would have many advantages. For one thing the description of the item would probably be accurate. Amazon’s descriptions are terrible. I usually have to rely upon user comments to figure out what I am buying. They are like Netflix in that way; they cater to people who don’t care that much about film.

And if I can do that then $99 can be the last amount of money that Amazon ever gets to scam out of me.

Why (Stupid) People Love Amazon Prime

I know that a lot of people think that Amazon Prime is just the greatest thing in the world. But it’s not. It treats its customers poorly it treats its employees like they are thieves. And it pays them so badly that they should be forgiven for becoming thieves.

If Jeff Bezos got a very bad and painful form of cancer, I would not feel the least bit bad. But the bottom line is this. I don’t see why a company that makes so much money needs to manipulate its customers and make them think they are getting things that they are not.

I want to do everything I can to avoid doing business with this extremely unethical company. And if I have to buy things through distributors and hope that I can sell a large enough number to make my investment back, well, that’s what I’ll have to do.

It’s the Rich, Stupid!

But I doubt that if you’re reading this you are a big Amazon fan. I find that the people who are the biggest Amazon fans are people who have a lot of money. They’re the kind of people who just would have clicked and wouldn’t have noticed that Amazon Prime Pantry was screwing them. (Note that in a very real way, Amazon acts like a street beggar.)

Not that I’m alone. Amazon’s business model seems to be to screw people over. As the study I quoted above showed, Amazon is doing worse in states where they now have to collect sales tax. If you haven’t been screwed over it just means you haven’t dealt with them long enough.

Amazon: Do Be Evil!

The Final Word on the College of Architecture and Planning Sign

Update on the Ball State College of Architecture

College of Architecture and Planning Sign

Two of the biggest pages on this site have to with this funny sign on the College of Architecture and Planning building. The joke is that these very smart and erudite people who teach planning didn’t plan enough to get their sign properly displayed. It’s slightly amusing, but my reason for writing about it was that there were a lot of people who thought it was real — that the faculty of Architecture and Planning had this sign made with no thought and then just said, “Oh well, nothing to be done!”

No, Academics Are Not Idiots, Even Though Conservatives Want Them to be

This was an idea particularly pushed by conservatives who want to believe that all academics are idiots. But even worse, libertarians seemed to take this line the most. I had always thought that for all their failings libertarians at least valued knowledge and that while they might think government bureaucrats screw things up, they wouldn’t take it to academics. Most libertarians think of themselves are smart and learned.

My Purpose: to Show the Image Was Made to Be Funny

So my only reason for writing the articles was to make the point that the sign was a joke. It doesn’t matter if the subcontractor screwed it up and the dean said, “Let’s keep it, it’s funny!” And it doesn’t matter if a change was made to the building and the dean said, “You know, instead of redoing the lettering, let’s put the “C” on the other wall because it will be funny and stand as an object lesson for our students!” And it doesn’t matter if the photo was simply photoshopped to make a funny image.

There Is No Deep Meaning in the Image

The sign was meant to be funny; it wasn’t an indication that academics are idiots. That’s all I had to say. Unfortunately, there are, about a million people who took the image very seriously indeed. And for a long time, I responded to these people with variations of, “You make an interesting point, but it’s still true that whoever did it, did it because it was funny. It doesn’t mean anything. Conservatives and libertarians can’t use it as an illustration that academics are idiots. That’s not what is going on in the image. Regardless of what way you turn it, the perpetrator did it because they thought it was funny. And that’s the end of the story.

The Two Articles

So I eventually wrote two articles about this stupid little images. At first, I had no idea that this would be such a big deal. The first article was just intended to talk about how un-serious it was. Then, the second one was written to try to lower the fever. But when the reaction to it was even bigger than it had been to the frst one, I knew it was hopeless. So I gave up. But here, for all you people who think this is very important, I’m putting it all together.

College of Architecture and Planning Sign Is a Joke
Update on the Ball State College of Architecture and Planning Sign — It’s Still a Joke

I’m even including the comments because most of these people are very smart and they had interesting things to say. Sure, the world would be better if these people tried to cure cancer or something. But this is what they’ve decided to do and who am I to say they’re wrong? (A sensible person.)

College of Architecture and Planning Sign Is a Joke

At the top of this article, you can see the “hilarious” image of the College of Architecture and Planning sign. In case you can’t see it, the “C” in the word “College” is pasted on the brick wall to the left (on the right in the image). It is clearly meant as a joke and perhaps an object lesson for all those “planning” majors. I think it’s quite brilliant in its way.

Cjhelms to the Rescue: Nothing to Be Done!

By all accounts, the building was at Ball State and has since been torn down. But it is hard to know anything for sure. Consider that when this photo was posted on Reddit this January 2014. Some reddit person who goes by the name cjhelms wrote:

The building was constructed in two parts. One completed in 1972 and the newer part completed in 1982. The newer part includes the wall to the left and the older part is the rest that you see. The photo was taken from the basement level. The lettering is above the first level (the windows above the words are of a second-floor conference room). There was originally a pedestrian bridge that connected to the entrance below the lettering.

When the newer portion of the building was constructed, the contractor missed his mark and caused the lettering to be cut off. Why didn’t they change it? The space that used to be a beautiful grand entrance to the college was converted into a loading dock.

Part of this may well be true: the left side looks newer. Just the same, none of this would imply that an error was made and I find it very unlikely. Much more likely is that they were making an addition to the building and they knew they had to cover over part of the existing beam. Rather than redo the sign, someone said, “You know what would be funny…?” Cjhelms’ implication that they couldn’t be bothered to fix the sign because it was now just a loading dock doesn’t fly. If that’s the case, why did they go to the trouble of pasting the “C” on the brick wall?

What’s more, I question cjhelms’ seriousness. In another comment, he mentions that it was built by the “lowest bidder,” which is a tired cliche. No one ever gets a contract by being the lowest bidder; they often get them by being the lowest qualified bidder. What’s more, cjhelms claims he knows what went on there because he works at Ball State. But that doesn’t mean he knows anything about the project. And if he weren’t there when it was built (he recently had a child so he is probably young), all he likely knows is campus folklore.

This automatically raises a question: if this was now the loading dock, why didn’t they just remove the letters? They were no longer needed. I’ll bet you anything that Cjhelms prowled the droms looking for a couple of people having drinks so he could explain traveling past the speed of light was possible. And trust me: his dissertation required the use of string, Magic Tape, and the last burrito in the freezer.

RJMjr60 at Least Makes Some Sense

In contrast, RJMjr60 claimed:

It was done intentionally to prove a point, and to continually reiterate that point to every student who entered the building… The name was a reminder to always think things through and the fact that it made it to Reddit many years after its demise is proof that it got people’s attention and made them think.

Or just consider the human psychology behind the sign. If you ran the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State, and something went wrong on the project for your new building, you would make the best the situation. (For one thing, you would require the contractor to fix the sign!) You would not throw up your hands and say, “It’s an embarrassment, but there is nothing we can do about it!” So whatever the situation with the building, the sign was a choice — a joke that makes a point about the subject being taught.

It wasn’t some stupid dean who couldn’t think of anything else to do. “God, what an embarrassment! But nothing can be done! Maybe if Kurt Gödel were around, he could come up with some hyper-intellectual solution like moving all the letters closer together. But this is Ball State! We don’t have that kind of brain power, so let’s just embarrass ourselves!”

Comments Both Great and Stupid

Here are all the comments to the first article. I’ve left out the “track-back” comments, which are just links from other websites that linked to the article. It was originally a way to encourage people to link to each other, but quickly just turned into another way for scammers to try to increase their Google Rank. It’s sad. Before the Internet was monetized, this never happened. Now it always does. And the single thing that made the internet great — people earnestly trying to help each other out, has died. I much preferred the only internet. Now it is soiled.

There is actually a way to bring back the old internet using some idea of the economist Dean Baker. But it would never happen, because people are too used to the capitalist internet and can’t imagine anything else. When you have a whole bunch of people who are making millions of dollars off the new internet, they have the incentive and the money to keep it the way it is. It’s too bad because we could have something better. I was on the internet in the heady days of the 1980s. Most of the people today don’t even remember those days. All they know is the capitalist internet. And there is so much more.

Richard
YEAH, RIGHT!!!!!
Dave
The image is a photoshop fake and the back-story is invented. Here is a genuine shot of the building.
http://www.ballstatedaily.com/article/2015/08/signs-architecture-major
Frank
Thank you so much! I’m preparing a followup article, that will go up at 5:05 tonight. I don’t think this new photo quite proves what you claim. But it is really great to have it, and and it has brought a couple of things to my mind that I hadn’t discussed before. I hope you will drop by and see if you buy what I have to say.
Isak Lindenauer
What’s stupid and what makes the joke fail is the fact that whoever wanted to create this hoax erroneously made the “error” on the left side. No one would start with a mistake or put up the sign starting at the right and working to the left. (Well, maybe if it were an Orthodox Jewish college!). For the joke to work, it has to appear seamless and believable. That means some shmendrick who was commissioned to put up the sign starts with the letter C without really thinking his actions through and making a plan even though the very word is in the sign. He gets to the END and sees there is not enough room for the last letter so he puts it on the right wall to finish the title…
Frank
Read the update. I don’t accept it, but the competing theory is that the left wall was added, cutting off the sign. The dean (or whoever) thought it would be funny to put the “C” on the wall. But we now have a better version of the image with the letters displayed perfectly. So I am 99% certain this is just a PhotoShop gag.
Dwight Simmons
What is really funny, is all the posts of Facebook and the comments about how stupid the College is.
Frank
Ah! I had wondered what was going on there, because I’ve been getting a tremendous amount of traffic on this.

Update on the Ball State College of Architecture and Planning Sign — It’s Still a Joke

The College of Architecture and Planning Sign Is a Joke. It is in reference to the photo at the top of this article. I didn’t think much about the article at the time, but it has been huge — arguably the most viewed article I’ve ever written. The reason I wrote it was basically political. A lot of people use the picture as “yet another example of how the government can’t do anything right.” And that offends me. So I went searching for information about the photo. There was very little and so I put together what I could find.

The “It’s a PhotoShop Hoax Theory”

Yesterday, there was another explosion of traffic to that page, and I got a very interesting comment from a guy named Dave, “The image is a photoshop fake and the back-story is invented. Here is a genuine shot of the building…” He provided a link to a recent article from Ball State Daily, Ten Signs You’re an Architecture Major. The content of the article has nothing to do with the question at hand, but it does include a picture of building, which I have cropped to highlight the part of the building that is displayed in the original image.

College of Architecture and Planning

To reiterate, this has little to do with my original article. If that photo is digitally altered, then it was indeed a joke. The point of the article was that the College of Architecture and Planning didn’t, as I wrote, throw up its hands and say, “It’s an embarrassment, but there is nothing we can do about it!” No one behaves that way! Whether the sign ever existed hardly matters. Whether it was a designer or a graphic artist, it was intentional. And it was always meant to be humorous. The fact that a lot people don’t see that annoys me. It reminds me of those “ancient alien” shows that are predicated on the idea that humans are dumb.

There is a really clear difference between these two photographs, however. In the original photo, there is a wall on the left side. There is no wall in the new photo. This doesn’t prove that the original photo wasn’t a PhotoShop job. Indeed, it adds some credence. It might have been perfect because the beam had no lettering on it. But why put a wall in? It makes more sense to have the end cut off, not the beginning. But I can’t say.

It is also possible that these photos are from different parts of the building. Or it could even be that they are different buildings — the Bracken Library on the Ball State campus has a similar design. This possibility would almost certainly make it an altered image and not a representation of anything that ever existed.

The one thing that disturbs me is that wall. In my original article, I quoted a Reddit user, “The building was constructed in two parts. One completed in 1972 and the newer part completed in 1982. The newer part includes the wall to the left and the older part is the rest that you see…” The new photo is from the college archives — a similar one by the same photographer (Savannah Neil) was used a year earlier. So maybe the original photo is actually more recent. I actually think so, because the building looks shiny and new. I suspect this photo was from the original shots taken of the building.

It could have been that someone thought they would throw up some letters on the beam temporarily when the expansion was taking place and they thought this was cute. Or maybe it was a prank. I’m rather fond of that idea because it is exactly what you would think a few students at the College of Architecture and Planning would do and think was the funniest thing ever. On the other hand, that beam is very high and would be hard to get to.

The strongest argument for this being a PhotoShop job is that the original image is the only one I’ve found of the sign. There are no others from a slightly different angle or time. But if the building does date back to the early 1970s, then we are talking about a different time. People didn’t have cameras everywhere. Maybe it was pranksters. They took several pictures of it, but this is the only one they hung onto — or at least the only one they bothered to digitize.

Ultimately, all the new photo provides is some indication that this is PhotoShop work. (I’m about 50-50 on the issue right now.) But if it is, that only proves what I was always saying: the people at Ball State are not lazy idiots. The sign — real or digitally created — is still a joke.

Update (8 September 2015)

In the comments, Paul L provided what looks to be the original photo. It contains the letters where you think they would be. And the photo is better: you can clearly see a figure in the window who is vague in the “mistake picture.” So I assume this picture is the original and the mistake picture is a PhotoShop job. If any picture proves it, it is this one — not the picture above that I’m sure is an earlier one.

College of Architecture and Planning - Original, No PhotoShop

Update (14 September 2015 9:05 am)

Here is the video that we have been talking about in the comments:

If you skip to 0:53 in the video, there is a pan up of an image of the sign. It is shockingly like Alien Autopsy in that just before we get to see “the truth” it cuts. I guess we can be happy that it doesn’t go blurry. But it does show that the seam in the metal that the sign is on runs through the second “T” in “ARCHITECTURE.” In what I thought was the original image, the seam goes through the second “C.” As I’ve noted before these are the same exact photographs so one must be a PhotoShop job. And it would seem that the “correct” one is.

I hate being dragged down in the weeds on this. For the umpteenth time: the sign is a joke, not an example of incompetence. That is all I care about.

Comments

So here are the final coments. Again, my point is that this is a joke. That’s all I care about. It does seem that this is a PhotoShop joke. That’s what the data indicates. But a joke it is. Professionals are neither so ignorant nor so later to do this by accident.

Crispy
There’s also this video which seems believable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZshMwU2-HCM

Frank
Thanks for that. This is more or less what one of the original Reddit people said — almost word-for-word. The problem with it is in the newest image above. And as I think I pointed out in this article, I can’t actually find the “wrong” image going back more than a year or so. But what are we to make of the newest image? Is it PhotoShopped? Because it is the exact same image. One of them has been PhotoShopped. I think I discussed in the first article that it is possible that now even the people at Ball State are relying on folklore about this. As it is, the video references Professor James Underwood for the “oral history.” I would love for the story to be true — partly because he specifically says, “It would be funny” — which was my original point. But it doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t Chris Helms who created the image in the first place.
There is one thing I’ve been thinking about that is brought up in the video, and was discussed originally on Reddit: the big image above (without the left wall) is not that part of the building. The building is sorta symmetrical, and the part with the sign was on the other side. But that makes the “mistake sign” even less reasonable, because then the new wall wasn’t built and there would have been nothing to change the original sign.
Vern
Is it too far fetched to consider the photo was flipped horizontally before the letters were photoshopped onto it?
Frank
At this point, I’d believe anything… If it turned out that Ball State doesn’t even exist, I wouldn’t be surprised.
MW
The “original” photo you posted has Where’s Waldo waving from the window.
http://www.pleasantondowntown.net/assets/uploads/files/events/da775-new-canaan-waldo.jpg
Considering Ball State’s own video says “this happened”, I’m inclined to believe the photo is real, and the “original” photo with Where’s Waldo is a photoshop.
Frank
Good eye! But all that proves is that the image was taken after 1987. Both images contain the same figure, so it is meaningless to note that the figure is Where’s Waldo. But I did notice something, so I guess I will have to update this damnable article.
Charlie (It was you!)
Have you looked at the 1:11 moment of video? I see no mention of this. It appears as though this part of the building with the ill placed “C” has been built over. Hmmmm, the plot thinks.
Jim B
Have you looked at the 1:11 moment of video? I see no mention of this. It appears as though this part of the building with the ill placed “C” has been built over. Hmmmm, the plot thickens.
janepublic
It’s Photoshopped. you can see the tell tale drop shadow pixellation around the letters under 500 magnification. I made an addition to the photo to show off but there’s no upload here. :(
Frank
Interesting. Do blogs have that capability? That sounds more like a forum. Anyway, we are but a wee website.
I’m more than willing to believe you. But I have promised myself I will not be dragged back in! Every week or so, there seems to be an argument somewhere about this photo and someone links to this article.
But, once again: my interest is really not whether or not the image is real. My interest is whether or not it was actually a mistake. Was it the result of bad planning? Clearly it was not. It’s great regardless, and people find it constantly interesting — this has been going on for well over a year now.
Randall Peacock (with the ice pick in the kitchen)
Okay people, why is this so difficult to understand? I am completely baffled at the amount of ridiculously incorrect information that has been posted in this small amount of cyber space.
1. The original image is of the upper portion of the building. Starting at the third floor there is a cantilevered outside corner section of the building that sits within the interior corner formed by two brick walls. You can see this on any street view of the building.
2. The image in this post showing the “correct” sign is actually the spandex over the door on the first floor. The doors are at the first floor and are parallel with one of the two brick walls forming the inside corner. This is the reason you see brick on both sides of the doorway.
3. The photoshopped image of the incorrect sign is the “left” side of the cantilevered exterior corner. There are no signs on this third floor section of the building.
4. The building was expanded in 1982 but the expansion is on the complete opposite side of the building. All of the photos shown in the original and in this post are of the of the original portion of the building.
5. Simply going to Google Earth will allow you to see the street view of the building.
A Genour
I’m sorry, but you’ve been had. Your “original photo” in the update, the one with Waldo, is the photoshop, and quite a bad one at that.

A flip-book style comparison with the original with the mistake will show you how the Waldo photo’s creator has just moved the letters a few pixels to the right – not bothering to retouch elements such as the seam in the panels around the letter “T”. This is the by far biggest tell, and frankly you could stop reading here.
Animation: http://imgur.com/ofpJnuZ

But to go on – you’ll also see how the job is rushed, not bothering to align the subtle textures of the metal around the letters with that of the rest of the panel. Also, Waldo’s addition to a clean photo is simple to perform, whereas removing him while preserving the reflection and detail of the dark space where he once was would require significant skill and time. In fact, calculating the pixel difference between the two images reveals that the difference is a perfect rendition of Waldo, something that would be *extremely* difficult to achieve if Waldo was the subject being removed, as you’d have to *perfectly* remove him, down to the tiniest color and texture subtleties.
I can’t speak to the authenticity of the first photo with the mistake. But I do question the assertion that the update’s “original photo” is of better quality – it is not. The noise pattern or “grain” is almost identical, with the slight addition of JPEG compression artifacts only visible upon a difference comparison and contrast adjustment – I say with confidence that the “original” is sourced from the photo with the mistake. The powers of suggestion are in full force here.
In conclusion, the “update” photo is fake, and Paul L is a dirty dirty liar :)
Frank
For the umpteenth time: I’ve always said it was a joke. I’m agnostic about whose joke it is. The original argument was about how it showed how incompetent academics are. I leave the rest of the argument to the tens of thousands of Reddit users who never seem to get enough of this!
A Genour
I see I was not clear enough in my post. I’m not discussing the original case of the “C…OLLEGE” sign, or whether it’s a joke. I’m simply pointing out that the 2015-09-08 update claiming to be an “unaltered original photo” featuring a correctly-spaced sign and a Waldo, is a photoshop fake, created by manipulating the “C…OLLEGE” photo that started all of this. That whole update is incorrect. The poster that gave you that update and photo is having a laugh at your expense, and trolling us all.
For what it’s worth, I’m fairly certain the “C…OLLEGE” photo is real, as suggested by the account in the 2015-09-15 update video by the college in question. And while I suppose it’s possible (although not corroborated by the story in the video) that a photo *could* exist of a correctly-spaced sign, the update photo of 2015-09-08 is certainly not it, as it’s a fake.
Elizabeth
Explaining a joke ruins the joke you know. [Not when it isn’t much of a joke to begin with. –FM 6 Feb 2018]
Frank
What you are doing is dangerous. I try not to get drawn in. Just the other day, about 2,000 people rushed to this page because another discussion started on Reddit. This happens at least once a month. I could not possibly care less at this point. But apparently, I’m the only one who’s ever cared enough about the subject to lay it all out — twice! Ugh!
Frank
Well no one is going to disagree you are a dork. :-) [True –FM 6 Feb 2018]
Bruce Keller
Isn’t it that they added the new brick wall on the left, and it would have covered the ‘C’, so after building the addition, they just stuck on the ‘C’ again, making the joke?
Frank
Something along those lines is my theory. As these articles have shown, this picture means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. My interest in it is only that it isn’t the result of bad planning but rather an explicit joke. There are many people who want to believe that it is the result of actual bad planning. I think a lot of that is just people who have a problem with colleges and want to believe the myth of the “educated fool.” Regardless of what happened with the remodel of the building, there were many ways to deal with it. Those in charge decided to make it a joke. Which is great!
Sean R.
I was showing this to a friend and stumbled on this article. I was a student in the building in question. I can tell you 100% the c in College is on the brick wall and not on the metal with the rest of the letters (at least last I have heard from a friend that still lives in Muncie). As for the original post, the first picture is correct (the delivery/side entrance off of Neely Ave.), while the second picture is of the main entrance (off of McKinley).
I can’t comment on whether the C being placed on the brick was a joke or not, as no one in the building or on campus can answer that (I lean towards joke, as the planners on campus have had a lot of fun with the buildings over the years – the aerial view of the library looks like a stack of books, the architecture building looks like a drafting table, the performance hall looks like a piano, etc) I’m sure most people are long past this, just thought I would add a first person account to the mix.
Frank
For the right person, it could turn into an obsession. But it’s really very simple for me. I grew up around builders. The letters are a trivial amount of money compared to the remodel, much less the building. But had no one cared, they would have simply cut the “C” off. But for the college of planning? It’s a brilliant joke and object lesson.
Sarah
The building is genuine. It’s on Clarence Street, York, England. The signage was originally like that, I remember as I passed it twice a day on the bus to and from work. York residents were told that it was a joke by the college. I’m unsure if they have since corrected it as I moved away 6 years ago
Frank
In general, I don’t respond to comments on this because I’m so tired of this story. But really?! This is the first I’ve head of it.

The only reason I wrote about this in the first place was because so many people were claiming that it was just an error. Regardless of where it is and how it came to be, the people involved thought, “This will be funny.”
Rob
You are clearly a Big Edu shill. Wake up sheeple!!!1!!
Frank>

I understand this to mean that my claim that this is a joke is an effort to protect pointed headed intellectuals. You aren’t far wrong; but you are wrong. It is my effort to protect human beings, who are overall pretty smart. Even if it was a mistake, the builders didn’t fix it because they thought it was funny. The original article was based on my experience with other humans — even ones I don’t think that highly of.
In the discussion of this image on reddit before I wrote about it, a lot of people wanted to believe that others were just stupid. I don’t want to live in that world. Lucky for me: I don’t have to. Humans are hardly perfect, but on the whole, not a bad lot. Not a bad lot at all.
James Fillmore

Could just be a joke about the silly word “sheeple.” Which, whenever I hear it, makes me think of the sheep in Aardman animations. Who are quite smart!
Here’s a fun thing I read recently. Mules aren’t stubborn; they’re smart, and have better eyesight/smell than horses. So if a mule sees a path is too treacherous to walk on safely, or smells a pack of predators in an oncoming direction, they’re really hesitant to move. A horse might not smell predators that sharply; they don’t really need to, they can run super fast. Donkeys/mules don’t run fast, so they rely on better smell for a warning sign, and better eyesight to make it into difficult terrain most predators can’t follow.
Frank
I came upon a mule fan site just the other day. It was fascinating. Mules also don’t bolt when they get scared. They seem to appraise the situation. They may then bolt. But as a result, people are not nearly as likely to be hurt by a mule. This is one of many reasons why mules are used in the Grand Canyon. They are also far more surefooted. They are also (in my experience) much quieter than donkeys. That’s the one thing I don’t like about donkeys!
James Fillmore
There is a large population of feral donkeys in Custer National Park, in the Black Hills. They are smart and hugely aggressive. They don’t attack people, but they will block roads and surround your car and butt their heads against the window until you roll it down and throw some food out far enough for them to chase it. Smart, annoying SOBs.
Frank
I love that! I’d hate to live through it. But I love it.
Bill
Came here because the BSU video was referenced in the following article:
http://gizmodo.com/7-more-viral-photos-that-are-totally-fake-1784250989
I then clicked your link in the comments.
I thought I had missed something when I attended Ball State 2000-2002. I wonder if some of the profs I still know could shed some light on this. I’ll let you know.
Todd
As a former BSU architecture student in the 80s I can tell you the sign was in fact cut off when they made the addition to the building. It wasn’t fixed when I graduated in 88. Not sure when they fixed it but at some point they did fix it.
Janus Kane
Just go to Google Maps… the street view shows the sign without error, beneath the overhang where the sign was photoshopped onto.
I don’t mean to dump on your spirits, as I love your rationality… But this took me less than 2 minutes. Pictures for proof in the website field
ADB
Clearly, you did something in a previous lifetime that you are now paying for. Man oh Manischevitz…this article is like purgatory for you. lol
Frank
Yep. I’m trying to figure out what it is. But it was bad. Not doubt about that!
SONYA
IT IS very cute picture and it made me giggle out loud. Whether it be real or not, can’t we all find at least, some humor in this society? WHY be so darn serious all the time?
Frank
t isn’t about being serious, Sonya — at least for me. I just love to analyze things. Although I have to admit that after all this time, I’m pretty bored with this!
But yes, it is funny. And what I think happened is that an administrator said, “Why don’t we do this? It will be funny!” People think of bureaucrats as stodgy. Well, here’s one that wasn’t!
HM
(Being years late to this conversation) I’m with “flip horizontal”, though the “maybe original” image in this post isn’t the same used in the “meme version” being discussed. I did it–flip horizontal, a little rotation–the vertical caulk line at the left, and the odd brick pattern, seem to confirm. If, of course, there is an institution called “Ball State” in the first place ;)
Frank
I’m with you! I’m so sick of this article and the question that I wish I had never written it. Every week or so, someone posts it on reddit, and my email box gets filled with passionate arguments that remind me of nothing so much as arguments about JFK’s assassination. I know the subject is interesting. But I swear to God, the world could be on fire and people would still be arguing about whether the photo is real or not. If I weren’t afraid that it would land me in a mental hospital, I’d write a third article taking into consideration what everyone has said — because many people have made good points. But truthfully, I’m far more interested in Bugs Bunny: Rabbit or Hare?

Democracy Dies in the USA

Democracy Dies in the USA

Ever since the publication of Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt in their new book, How Democracies Die, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about how Trump isn’t the cause of the death of our democracy but merely a symptom.

What Makes a Democracy?

This is undoubtedly true and certainly not a keen insight. Although I must admit that the acceleration of our democracy’s demise has been so great the last couple of years that even I’ve been surprised. I used to tell people that we didn’t have to worry about democracy dying in the US because democracy was not about voting. It was about the institutions of democracy that would keep the ship on course. I should have known better.

Republicans Figured Out How to Destroy Our Democracy

I did not reckon for the modern Republican Party which has absolutely no interest in democracy or even the country. I don’t consider myself terribly patriotic, but modern Republicans aren’t patriotic at all! As I have said too many times before: all they care about is power. Power so that they can enrich themselves and their rich friends.

This all really started in 1994 with Newt Gingrich. He’s the man who really changed the Republican Party from a bad but normal political party into one that cared only about power.

The Real Witch Hunts

And it was because of the Republican caucus that he created that started the actual witch hunt of President Bill Clinton. In fact, I find myself extremely angry when Trump mentions that there is a witch hunt after him. He’s gone through nothing the Bill Clinton went through! He’s not even gone through anything that Hillary Clinton went through. And they were both innocent of any wrongdoing. Day by day it looks like Trump is more guilty than Richard Nixon was.

Hillary Clinton Witch Hunts

As of 2015, there had been 7 Benghazi probes by Congress. Each one of them found the same thing: not only did Hillary Clinton do nothing wrong, no one did anything wrong. The 2012 attack was a tragedy. But the Republicans went on a witch hunt. They just knew that Hillary Clinton had to be responsible for the deaths of Christopher Stevens and three others. And when they found nothing, they started the whole thing over again. It was one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in American politics. But it wasn’t surprising in the least.

Bill Clinton

And then there is Bill Clinton, but let’s not forget that these were also attacks on Hillary Clinton.

People remember Monica Lewinsky. But they tend to forget about how we got to her. Ken Starr, the special prosecutor for Bill Clinton was determined to get him regardless of what the facts where. He investigates the death of Vince Foster. That’s right! The death of Vince Foster. And after billing the US government for ungodly amounts of money, they produced a 100+ page report that determined what others had found: Foster had killed himself.

(I have a certain affinity for Foster, because I believe that I would have done the same thing that he did. And in the end, in death, he was used in the same way that made him kill himself. Vince Foster was a good man — better than our society deserves.)

And Then Monica Lewinsky

When that went nowhere, Starr just threw the investigation open and looked at everything: Whitewater, the travel office, I assume even Clinton’s supposed drug running when he was governor of Arkansas. But in the end, Starr got him! He knew that any husband would lie about an extramarital affair. And that’s how we got to Monica Lewinsky.

The problem was, the people didn’t care. They could see what the Republicans were doing. Their lives were good, and whatever problems Bill and Hillary had in their marriage, that was their problem.

This, my friends, is a witch hunt. Both of the Clintons have been the subjects of witch hunts. Donald Trump has not. To him, anyone questioning him about anything is a witch hunt. Because Donald J Trump is not the kind of man you question. He’s the kind of man you protect. So if the FBI isn’t protecting him, it must be corrupt!

December 2000

But the day democracy truly died was late in the year 2000. That was when we saw that even the Supreme Court was more interested in having their guy win than seeing the law properly applied. It’s truly amazing that it is conservatives who constantly talk about our legal system being out of control when it is the conservatives who are doing it.

Equal Protection for Our Man Bush Jr

Once that happened all bets were off. There was no democracy. What was the point of even voting if your vote didn’t count. If 9 unelected justices could just say no we’re going to decide who’s president and we’re going to use the precedent we hate and say it only applies to George W Bush.

So don’t ever try to use this equal protection thing to protect poor people. It only applies to George W Bush.

From 1994 Onward, Republicans Will Protect Their President Regardless

The real issue we’re having in this country right now is that the Republican Congress will protect Trump no matter what. And I don’t believe that is any different than it was in 1994. Newt and company would have done the same thing. I just wasn’t paying attention. Few of us were.

Would a Parliament Help Us?

I tend to think that a parliamentary system would have fewer problems of this nature. That’s because it is so hard to get a majority in a parliamentary system. Thus most governments are made up of two — sometimes even three — parties. Thus, getting a government who would protect a man as unfit for the job as Donald Trump wouldn’t happen.

You certainly wouldn’t see what’s going on with Trump right now in a parliamentary system. Because you wouldn’t have enough people in one party who would do anything to protect him. His party might stand behind him, but his coalition partners wouldn’t.

What About Hitler?

But even there we still have the example of the Nazi’s rise to power. And that was in a parliamentary system. But that was very hard. The parliament simply could not form a government. My understanding is that this is no longer a problem.

The winning party gets the first shot at forming a government. But if they are so vile like the Nazis were and like the Republicans are then the second place party gets to see if it can form a government.

More Parties Would Help

I tend to think that if the United States had five or six major parties the Republicans would not be able to get more than about 20 percent of the vote. In a parliamentary system, a party would rise up that would offer the current Republican voters a real populist party: one that was socially conservative and economically liberal. And this would force the current Republican Party to be less just a party that offers oligarchy and one policy (anti-choice) that they like.

But it doesn’t really matter because the truth is when you get that many people who care only about power, democracy is dead. And it’s not like the United States started at a high level.

Constitutional Convention of 1787

The Anti-Democratic Foundation of the United States

Remember the Three-Fifths clause? Slaves who were in every other way property gave the slave states 2/3 of a vote for each slave or rather their master’s. And also we have the Senate which is incredibly undemocratic. And finally, we have gerrymandering.

We have the technology to do this. It’s the same technology that we now use to make are congressional districts as unfair as possible. Use exactly the same tools and you could have a fair and Democratic country. But we don’t.

Gerrrymandering Is Bipartisan

And that’s not just the Republican Party’s fault. The truth is that every elected official has a stake in the current system because it is the current system that got them elected. But I truly believe that the Democrats would be in favor of fixing the system.

Look at California: the bluest of blue States. It passed a law and pretty much got rid of gerrymandering. But you don’t much see that in red States. And the reason for it is that Republicans are not popular. They understand that in order to gain power they must the system.

Our Broken Judicial System

What I find truly amazing though is that conservatives complain about how Obama abused the Constitution. I remember no such thing.

He was extremely careful. There were many things that he did that I don’t like. But he did not trample the Constitution. The truth is that we have a constitution that is over 200 years old. It might have been state-of-the-art then but it is not today. There are much better constitutions. But that’s not Obama’s fault.

People Think Trump Is Saving Our Courts

At the same time, the people who think that Obama destroyed the Constitution think that Trump is saving it. And while I don’t think that Trump has done much damage to the Constitution because he’s so incompetent, it’s true that he knows so little about it that his general instincts are to run roughshod all over it.

He thinks like an authoritarian. He thinks that everyone in government is there to protect him. He seems to think that people join the FBI and pledge to protect him and not the Constitution.

I would be shocked to find out that Donald Trump has ever read the Constitution. He doesn’t understand it and he doesn’t understand our country. That’s really the biggest problem with him. How can you love America when you know nothing about it?

Donald Trump's Eyes

We Will Survive Trump, But…

So I think we’ll get through Trump. And I think the next president will be a Democrat. And they will do a lot of cleaning up. They will also do some bad things but let’s face it: the Congressional Democrats won’t let them get away with much.

This has been one of my complaints about the Democratic Party. They are not loyal to their own. The Republicans have the opposite problem. They are so loyal to their own that they will see their country destroyed before they will turn on a president like Donald Trump.

The Next Republicans

So we’ll get another presidency and things will go back to the way we thought they were. But I assure you the next Republican president will be even worse than Trump. Remember how bad George W Bush was? Remember how we couldn’t imagine someone worse? Welcome to president Donald J Trump.

So the next Republican president will be like Trump but he will be far smarter. He might even manage to dismantle our democracy completely without anyone even noticing. He might be rather well-liked — even by Democrats! Our problems don’t stop with Trump.

I don’t expect to live that long. But if I live to be 90, I know I will see a country that is unlike anything I ever thought possible when I was 30 years old. Things just get worse and worse.

The Real Fault: No False Equivalence

And I will not play any false equivalence here. There are many problems with the Democratic Party. But they are a normal political party. They are not the reason that our democracy is dying. Our democracy is dying because of the Republican Party. That’s all there is to say. And if you are Republican voter, you’re voting for the death of democracy in America.

I don’t want to be cute about this. You need to read some books. You need to pay attention. You need to see that the Republican Party is something more than just the party that will install anti-choice judges.

Because that is the real question for you. Does getting a few anti-choice judges on the court enough? Because they will also, by the way, always vote against individuals and for large corporations and basically vote against you in every way except on this one issue. Is that an acceptable exchange for the end of democracy in the United States?

Because there are already countries you can go to where abortion is completely illegal even to save the life of the mother. Many of them are authoritarian. So if that’s what you want go there. Why destroy our flailing democracy here?

Evangelical Christians: Christ-0; Trump-1

Jesus Crying Because Evangelical Christians Don't Follow HimSean Illing interviewed Stephen Mansfield who is an Evangelical Christian but one of the few who does not support Donald Trump.

I must admit I didn’t read the interview. I only read the introduction. Because I don’t really care. There’s only one thing I do care about and that is that 80% of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. You remember Donald Trump: the guy who’s on his third marriage, who plays around, makes money from the gambling industry, believes in money above all else, lies as though would get a price for it, and admits proudly to molesting women. That Donald Trump. You’d think that Evangelical Christians would be against a man who Jesus would hate. But what do I know?

Christian Trump Apologetics

You see, I don’t see Stephen Mansfield as an actual researcher of the Evangelical Christians who voted for Donald Trump. I see him as an apologist. I see him as a man who is trying to justify why these people would go against everything they claim to believe in to vote for this man.

For example, Mansfield thinks that Evangelical Christians voted for Trump because they thought that he would put people on the Supreme Court who would be anti-choice. Well as you know if you read my article Religious Right: Racism Not Abortion, you would know that the religious right’s absolute focus on abortion is something that was created. It was just a cover to allow religious schools in the south to continue to be all white.

So okay: I have little doubt that the 80% of Evangelical Christians who voted for Trump told themselves that they were voting for him because he would appoint anti-choice judges. But the truth is that it wasn’t really hard for them. Donald Trump’s major appeal was that he was a racist. And so are they. So they voted for him without much thought. He was just the kind of President they wanted!

(Data on the subject is hard. But in general, we know that anti-abortion laws don’t decrease abortions by much if any. Instead, they lower legal, safe abortions. There has never been any question in my mind that anti-choice laws, and the increasingly popular anti-contraceptive laws, are mostly about limited women and punishing them for the act of sex. Christians are a particularly vile group when it comes to this — especially when you consider that Jesus never brough the subject up.)

Early Christians and How Different They Were

I read a lot about Christian theology and about the early Christian sects. And this is clear: they would never have voted for someone like Donald Trump. Because they believed in something. They believed in the word of Jesus Christ. Modern Christians, at least the modern ones here in America. have very little interest in the word of Christ.

In America today, Evangelical Christians are overwhelmingly a group of white people who don’t like anyone else. And that’s really all you have to say about them. You can take a white Evangelical Christian and a white non-evangelical Christian and you will find nothing that separates them. They are just the same with the same bigotries. And if Christ is in their heart there is no indication of it outside of it. They are some of the vilest and intolerant people in the world.

No Christian Terrorists Because They Are in the Majority

The funny thing is that they hate Muslims so much. Because the truth is that if they were not a majority in this country and if they were not constantly pandered to, they would be just like the most extreme Muslims. They would pick up guns and kill people. They would create suicide vests. The Prince of Peace? That’s a joke to these people. The Christ that most of us think of is so different from the Christ that they think of.

To them, Christ is more like Rambo than St Francis. And they are proud of it!

I’m not just talking out of thin air here. I’ve talked to a lot of them. And they have no idea of Christian theology. All they have is the idea that they are the chosen people. They are the people who God loves. And anything they can do to hurt other people who are not chosen by their God is great.

So, of course, they would be for Donald Trump. That is about as surprising as the fact that if you let go of a ball from your hand in the air it will fall to the ground.

Modern Christians: Thugs

JESUS Died for You, TRUMP Lives for YouIt’s funny but I’ve spoken to a number of business owners and they have all told me the same thing. The Christians are the ones they have to watch out for the most. They are the ones who will try to skim a buck here and do other things that people who do not have the supposed Lord in their hearts would never do.

It’s really amazing. Think about it. The early Christians were known for their moral rectitude. And today Christians think that their belief in God allows them to act like common thugs. It’s truly amazing. I’m no more interested in what modern American Christians think then what the insane homeless man has to say. Remember: the Italian and Irish mafia were extremely religious.

So let’s not waste our time wondering why the followers of the Prince of Peace would follow Donald Trump. I’ve seen their shirts. They’re very common! They say, “JESUS Died for You, TRUMP Lives for You.” If you don’t see how heretical this is then you know nothing about Christianity. For these people, Christian isn’t a religion; he’s a social signifier.

There are certainly good Christians. But in general, if American Evangelical Christians got to set up the government that they wanted it would be worse than the Nazi government. I don’t say that to shock. That’s simply a fact of life. These people are vile and evil.

The Modern Christians I’ve Known

I know lots of modern Christians here in America. Not one of them volunteers their time for the poor. All they do is give some money to the church. And they figure that’s enough. They don’t like the poor. They wish the poor would go away. They’re a very disturbing group. Most of them have never read the Bible. The only thing they know is what their pastors have told them. And in most cases that is just what their pastors told them. And in general, it’s really sick and twisted.

There are liberal Christians of course. Bruce Coburn is a famous example of that. He’s a man who cares about people.

But that’s not what American Evangelical Christians are. They are just people in a power struggle. That’s why they hate Muslims so much. They like Jews, but only because they are part of their end of times. And during that end times those Jews that they now like will all be killed. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. (Look at the pictures of the people in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ pamphlets — but make all the people white.)

And if that sounds familiar it should because that is the philosophy of the current president of the United States. And that’s why they want to limit legal immigration. In fact, they would prefer to have no immigration at all. Because all that does is bring over people who are not white Protestant Christians like themselves. You know: the people who made up the KKK. A land not fit for the KKK is not fit for the Evangelical Christians!

I’m Not Overstating: Evangelical Christians Are Horrible People

Am I being harsh? Certainly not. These are horrible people. The best thing we could do is find them an island somewhere to put them on so they could be all together in all their Lily whiteness. And they wouldn’t have to worry about people who don’t believe exactly what they believe (whatever that is other than, “We good, you bad”).

Let’s go through this once more. In the last election, 80% of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. And if you are surprised by this it is only because you have not been paying attention. These people are exclusionary. All they want are other white people who are Christians in the same way that they are. And they want to get rid of everyone else.

In other words, and it’s unfortunate I have to say this, they are Donald Trump. They are his people. They hate everyone who is not like them.

Will Evangelicals Regret Aligning With Trump?! Hehe!

In the interview with Stephen Mansfield he says that they may come to regret aligning themselves with Donald Trump. This is nonsense. They will not. All they care about is power. That was clear with Billy Graham and it is even more clear with Franklin Graham. But if you look it’s clear of all of them.

All they want is to see Christ coming back to the world on a horse with a sword killing all the infidels. This is what you get when you worship a 2,000-year-old religion. Then they’ll care about anything but the power of their people. So obviously they are Trump’s people. In 2020 I expect that Trump will get 90% of the Evangelical vote.

Because Trump has already done so much damage to the people that are not white Evangelical Christians that they can only love him more.

American Evangelical Christians Don’t Love Christ

They think they love Jesus Christ. They think they worship him. But in fact they worship Donald Trump. Because really what has Jesus Christ done for them lately? On the other hand Trump quite recently has gotten rid of many of the infidels that they hate so much. And their belief is based on hatred, not love. It is not based on any love that I know.

So can we stop being surprised that Evangelical Christians support Donald Trump? He is everything they want. He is power. He hates everyone who is not like him. He offers no love, no forgiveness, and no mercy to anyone not on his “team.” He is the opposite of Jesus. But Evangelical Christians don’t care about any of that any way. They’ve never been that into the Gospels. They’re into Revelation. They’re into the time when Jesus comes back and kicks ass. Until then, they have Donald Trump.

But they’ve waited a long time. And now here is Donald Trump doing it for them so they worship him. These are vile people. And they will only love Trump more as he does worse and worse things.

Don’t be fooled. Christian Evangalism is just an old name for a new cult: the Cult of Donald Trump. And they are all very dangerous.

The Final Trump Betrayal: Endorsement of TPP

President Donald TrumpOn November 8th when it became clear the Trump would be our next president the first thing I said was, ” well at least the TPP is dead.”

My only real concern about Hillary Clinton was that she would go back on the TPP. And about the only thing I liked about Trump was it he was clearly against these trade deals that are not good for America. They are good for America’s rich. But that is not the same thing — something to few commentators seem to understand.

Trump’s Reason for Hating Globalism Are Not Mine

I understood that Trump’s reason for hating these deals was that he was a racist. But the good side of that was that there would be no TPP and maybe he would actually do something good about NAFTA and other trade deals.

There was no question in my mind that he meant the stuff he said about trade deals.

TPP Country Leaders

Trump’s Changed His Mind on the TPP

And then I saw Zack Beauchamp over at Vox write, At Davos, President Trump Sold Out Candidate Trump. It is about Trump’s speech at Davos this morning. In it Trump took a much softer line on globalization. And he even said he was open to joining in with the other countries that were still doing the TPP.

The Reality

According to Tufts University International Trade scholar Dan Drezner, this isn’t going to happen because Trump, as usual, has so many conditions that the other countries won’t be interested. But I’m not that interested in whether it happens or doesn’t happen. I’m interested in what this says about Trump.

The Meaning

This means that Trump has now given up on every promise he made when he was a candidate. I understand that people who are still Trump supporters are some of the stupidest and most ignorant people in the world. But if they can’t see now that Trump has sold them out completely they’re lost.

What it means is that the 30 percent of the American public that supports Trump do not support him for any normal political reason. Trump is not a president. He is a cult leader.

Trump at Davos

Trump Is a Cult Leader and the Republican Party Supports Him

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.” —Donald Trump

And what’s most horrible about all of this is that the Republican party is entirely behind Donald Trump. This is because they know he is one of them. He will go along with their program of spending huge amounts of money on the rich so that when the Democrats get back in office they can’t do anything other than clean up his mess. (See Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew for more on this.)

I Remain an Optimist — Or Fool

But still, despite everything I can’t help but continue to be an optimist. I can’t believe that Trump’s supporters won’t see this and react. It seems impossible that he won’t lose at least some of his cult members.

But I’m probably wrong. It’s possible that Fox News won’t even cover this. And if they do cover it they will cover it in such a way that it makes Trump look good.

Donald Trump in Reno, Nevada

Isn’t There a Breaking Point for at Least Some Trump Supporters?

But doesn’t there have to be some point at which these people wake up? Isn’t there a point where they will notice that he is against everything they want. It’s hard to believe. It really is. It’s hard for me to think so lowly about people — even Trump supporters.

But it is over for me. There is nothing that Trump stands for. He is an entirely typical assembly line Republican. The only thing that is different about him is that he’s worse at his job. And I guess we must be thankful for that.

Can the US Republic Withstand Trump?

Yesterday I heard someone say that if our democracy can survive Trump that will be a major accomplishment. It’s true. If it can manage not to be destroyed after this constant assault on it we really should be proud.

But we will still have a Republican Party that continues to support Trump regardless what he does. Roughly half of the people in America support a party that puts the interests of the rich above the interest of the vast majority of the country’s citizens — or even the country itself. So we have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do. And it may be impossible.

Otherwise, democracy[1] is dead in America. This morning I was going to write about democracy itself in a more theoretical sense. I’ll probably get to that in a couple of days. But I had to write about this. Trump is a great threat to this country. And the number of ways he is a threat are so numerous that we can’t even itemize them.

Even if everything the Republicans say about Hillary Clinton we’re true she would still have been a far better and less dangerous president than Trump has already been. And I’m afraid the worst has not come yet.


[1] There was a time when conservatives went crazy if you referred to the US as a Democracy. “It’s not a democracy,” they would scream; “It is a republic.” At first, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I just responded truthfully, “Yes, but it is a democratic republic.” They would never say anything because it was clear that these people really didn’t understand why the difference was a big deal. It all came from Glenn Beck. He wanted to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which made federal Senators elected by the people rather than by state legislatures.

The reason for this was that having state legislatures elect Senators was an incredibly corrupt system where very wealthy men simply bought their seats by buying off state legislators. Beck, like most modern American conservatives, do not believe in democracy. They want a plutocracy, where the government is run by the rich. The Amendment is over a century old and most people don’t even know that things were every done any other way. And an overwhelming number are against changing it.

Art, Commerce, and Their Disgusting Collaboration

Denny's HaikuI have a great love of haiku — especially since I did the research for my article, How to Write Haiku Without Being a Pedant. Before that, I thought of it as just the simple 5-7-5 syllable structure. There wasn’t much too it. They were trivial to write. And if you sent one to a friend, it was likely they wouldn’t even notice you had sent them a haiku.

Since then, I suppose I’ve become something of a pedant in the opposite direction. Now that I don’t apply a strict structure to the poems, I’m required to call upon all my creativity. At the same time, the real structure of haiku in English provides so little room that even rendering the simplest of things is a technical challenge.

Haiku for Commerce

And as I try to write haiku that are transcendent, the simple 5-7-5 structure that every American schoolchild learns calls out to ad agencies to inject some “art” into their disreputable endeavors. And that brings me to a morning a few weeks ago.

At roughly 9:30 am each morning, I go on what I call my anti-stress walk. It lasts between an hour and an hour and a half. And I credit it with keeping me alive.

One morning, I was walking past a bus stop, and I noticed the cup in the image above. It was sitting on a bench. I had to have it. I love picking up weird discarded stuff on my walks anyway. But this was better. It was a “haiku” — by Denny’s no less. It displayed:

A DENNY’S HAIKU
WHEN THE HEART RACES
IT COULD MEAN YOU ARE IN LOVE,
OR TOO MUCH COFFEE.

It then explained that it had been tweeted by @DennysDiner. It outraged me, but most people were far more accepting of it. It is, after all, clever. It isn’t actually a haiku but rather a senryū, which is more or less a humorous haiku.

But I don’t like it in the same way that I wouldn’t like it if American Music Club’s song “Firefly” were used to promote a new chain of Firefly Steakhouses. I like to keep my art and commodity separate.

The Structure Is Wrong

But there are other problems. One is that the people who created the cup didn’t even know enough to call it a senryū. Or maybe, like everything else about it, they were simply pitching their product to the most ignorant people.

At a time when most serious haiku writers use 11 syllables — 3-5-3 (which I still think is too long) — they went with 17, because otherwise, their ignorant audience would have complained, having learned nothing since grammar school.

It Includes an Subject

What makes the haiku special to me is its lack of a subject. This could be easily fixed with the second line being changed to, “Could be the flutter of love.”

I think if they had made just that one change, I wouldn’t have complained. But a haiku is never about you or anyone or anything. And with such a simple fix, it’s much less offensive.

A Fix

The beauty is that it could take days to go from an idea to a poem that works.

But it isn’t that hard to make something that is okay. I wrote this with the 3-5-3 format. I don’t like it, but it’s easy.

Heart racing
Divine love’s signal
Or coffee?

Being a tea drinker, I’d make the last line, “Too much tea” or “Done teapot.”

But like I said, you could work on it for days.

The Pain

But what really hurts is just the idea of an art form — hundreds of years old — made so tacky. Why not just a picture of a naked woman?

There is something beautiful about pornography: there is no pretense to art. It’s just commodity. It sells orgasms.

Denny’s sells coffee.

You [sic] disgust me so [sic]
Defile art to sell coffee [sic]
Erectionless porn. [sic]

The Fight Against Martin Luther King Jr Day

Martin Luther King JrAmerica is an almost comically racist country. I use the word “comically” because most people are extremely racist, but they have no knowledge of it. Oh yeah, they’ll admire those who fought against slavery 150 years ago. But they’ll also admire those who fought for it without seeing any contradiction.

It is mostly because of this that I find it hard to love this country very much. Of course, there is so much more. I admire intellectual endeavor, and more Americans hate it unless it results in something they can beat their chests about like going to the moon. Of course, the two things are related. If you think, then you know racism is wrong. That’s why our president is a such a proud racist: he doesn’t value thinking.

The Long Road to Martin Luther King Jr Day

On this day (kinda) in 1993, Martin Luther King Jr Day became an official holiday celebrated in all 50 states. The history of this is bizarre. It became a national holiday starting in 1986, even though Ronald Reagan signed the law in 1983. The holdout was Arizona, which actually lost the hosting of Super Bowl XXVII, because its people just couldn’t manage to support it.

There were two ballot measures in 1990. One (301) would have replaced Columbus Day with MLK day and the people hated it — voting it down by almost 51 percentage points. The other (302) would have just created a new state holiday, and it lost narrowly by 1.6 percentage points. Finally, in 1992, the people of Arizona approved Proposition 300 that combined Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays into President’s day and created “Martin Luther King Jr/Civil Rights Day,” by a wide margin of almost 23 percentage points.

Interestingly, the difference was not the specifics of the measure or that the people had had a change of heart. The difference was that Propositions 301 and 302 took place in 1990 — an off year. Proposition 300 took place in 1992 — a presidential election year. If you look at the numbers, you will see that roughly the same number of people voted against 300 as voted against 302. It’s just there were a whole lot more liberals who showed up to the polls to vote for Bill Clinton (who still lost, but only barely).

It still kind of bugs me that in the state of Arizona, Martin Luther King Jr Day is “Martin Luther King Jr/Civil Rights Day.” It isn’t the only state to do this. Idaho and New Hampshire do similar things. Now understand: I am in favor of turning Martin Luther King Jr Day into Civil Rights Day. I am in favor of this because I don’t like these celebrations being about specific people. King is a symbol for a wider movement and that is the thing that we should be celebrating. But I think that adding “civil rights” or “human rights” to the name is meant to diminish Martin Luther King. And that is not my wish, as King would always be an important part of any such celebration.

Robert E Lee Day?!

But I can deal with that. What I cannot deal with is what we find in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Virginia. In each of these states, they combine celebrations of Martin Luther King with Robert E Lee. We can forget that Lee was a slave owner whose military brilliance doubtless cost hundreds of thousands of extra America lives in the name of maintaining the enslavement of African Americans. Let’s just make it simple: Robert E Lee committed treason against the United States of America. He should have spent the last five years of his life in federal custody. He certainly shouldn’t have holidays named after him. The southerns who can’t understand that are unpatriotic America-haters who should be shamed at every chance.

To have Robert E Lee day is like having Slavery Day — the day we celebrate the hundreds of years that slavery made America so much money!

Why I Admire Martin Luther King Jr

I appreciate MLK for his work as a civil rights leader. But I most appreciate him because he was a humanitarian. Everyone with half a brain knows that King was in Memphis, Tennessee to support a strike by the mostly white American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union. There was certainly a racial component to it. But the fact is that King didn’t hate white people, even though he had every reason to. He was a humanitarian — something too few Americans are.

Maximalizing Minimalism – Fashion Pretending to be Ideology

Maximalizing Minimalism

I consider myself rich. That’s because I define being rich as having more money than you need. “Minimalism” is a good way to sum up my life. Or so I thought.

My Life in “Minimalism”

Let me tell you something about my life. In 2008, I got endocarditis. I avoided going to the doctor for so long that when I showed up in the ER, my blood pressure was 60/40. It was bad. The truth is, I have no memory of the two weeks after I walked into the ER. Also, I remember walking through the doors that lead from the waiting room to the medical section, and then… nothing. The doctor told my family that I had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

Going to Live With Dad

But survive I did. I was in the hospital for roughly six months. But in the meantime, I had lost my job and my apartment. My weight had gone down to 99 pounds (due to the bad food, not the disease). I had no money. And my father was nice enough to let me live with him. He had a finished attic with a small bathroom, a microwave, and an electric hot plate. This was mostly thanks to my father’s girlfriend, who hated me and didn’t want to see me very much.

Stuck With Dad

A couple years later, the girlfriend died and my father requested that I live downstairs. He is now 85, but even at the time, he depended upon his younger girlfriend a lot. So I took over for him. When I wasn’t working, I did the cooking and cleaning and drove him places when he was ill. I still do much of that. I cook dinner every night and I very often drive him to hospitals — in particular, the San Francisco VA. But it’s okay. He was there for me when I needed him. I do, however, have some resentment because I would like to move far up on the California coast.

But when I refer to my life as minimalism, I’m talking about the fact that I live in a 10-foot square room, I use the kitchen and bathroom, and that’s it. There is a television, but I don’t use it. That’s his domain.

We Are Being Forced to Maximize

I’ve been somewhat aware that there was a thing called minimalism. But to me, it’s always been about reducing the cost of housing. If San Francisco would allow apartment buildings to be built with 100 square foot units, that would be great for me and other single people. Maybe, it would even work well for well-suited couples. It would not work for families that have children. But I find it unfortunate that there is only one city in the US that allows this (Seattle allows sizes down to 90 square feet).

There Are Few Small Spaces to Rent or Buy

I don’t understand this. First, even though Seattle allows tiny apartments when I lived there, I didn’t find that many when I lived there — or any that were vacant. It may just be that there aren’t that many people like me.

But I suspect that it has more to do with builders knowing that building a lot of tiny apartments cut down on the sells of their larger apartments. And so, when they do build tiny apartments, they don’t sell or rent them at reasonable prices.

Not in My Front Yard!

There is also the NIMFY aspect of it. My father was a carpenter and building contractor when he was still working. And when we talk about the high cost of houses and apartments, I always bring up building tiny apartments and building small houses on small lots, he’s almost apoplectic.

In my hometown, the minimum lot size is roughly an eighth of an acre or 6,000 square feet. That’s not surprising when most houses around here are 2,000 square feet or more. But a 500 square foot house could fit very well on 0.03 (1/29th) acres. Of course, you would have difficulty find a contractor willing to put a 500 square foot house on a 6,000 square foot lot. But if the law was changed, you could quadruple the number of houses and cut the cost by a factor of 4.

People Don’t Want Larger Houses

Don’t tell me people want larger houses. Read this: New US Homes Today Are 1,000 Square Feet Larger Than in 1973 and Living Space per Person Has Nearly Doubled.

And it didn’t start in 1973. House sizes have been getting bigger since the 1950s. In the 1940s, new houses were in the 700-800 square foot range — plenty of room for a family with 2-3 children. In the 1950s things really started taking off. And by 2014, the average new house was 2,657 square feet.

In 1944, the average new house was 837 square feet. The increase in house size has been quite linear. So it is pretty accurate to say that the American house has increased by 26 square feet per year. That means that every four years, the American house has ground by the size of my living area. And as we’ll see, almost none of extra space is used.

This Isn’t About Having More Money — There Are Lost of Things to Buy

This isn’t because people had more money. Remember: wages for most people have stagnated since the mid-1970s. It’s because builders pushed for bigger houses. This included lobbying to make lot sizes bigger. And so now we are stuck with these huge houses that we don’t use. The following image is cropped from: Think You Need a 2000 Sqft House to Be Comfortable? Think Again! The red dots show where people spend time. If it doesn’t have many (or any) red dots, the space simply isn’t used.

You Don't Use Much of Your House

I tell you this so you understand that getting bigger and bigger houses is not a rational thing to do.

Minimalism as a Lifestyle

So I was on Netflix, looking for a nature or archeology documentary, and I came up Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. At first, it was okay. It had people talking about clutter and how it was ruining their lives. And I’m totally onboard with that. It seems to me that people get meaning from life through the things they own. I don’t think that works. But frankly, I wouldn’t really know. The only “stuff” I’ve ever cared about are books. And it’s not the books but the ideas in the books that give me joy.

Now I’ll admit, my thing is collecting knowledge. Acquiring it makes me happy. And I think there are a lot of different ways to find happiness. But I do think owning things is so trivial that it is unlikely to give you joy. But it’s hard for me to say because I’ve never had the urge. Regardless, listening to people talk about how simplifying their lives made them happier was something that I was open to hearing.

The New Conspicuous Consumption

But then I noticed something. (Well, many things, but I’ll start with this.) Minimalism is a lifestyle for them. I didn’t see them replacing their clutter with anything edifying. In fact, they seemed to be as consumer-oriented as ever. It was just that instead of getting 10 cheap shirts, they were getting one really expensive shirt. And this was the way it was top to bottom.

There was a woman who lived in a tiny house but right next to it was a horse stable. I don’t know if that’s where she works or she owns it. But everything about her screened, “Look at me!” This was conspicuous consumption — just a different kind than we are used to.

Minimalism for the Rich

Another thing I noticed was that all the people were pretty well to do. As I said: I consider myself rich. Yet everyone I saw seemed to make a lot more money than I do. There was one guy who bought a small New York apartment. That alone means he has at least several thousand dollars to plop down. And then he redid it in an amazing way. The bed folded into the wall. And most interestingly, he had a wall that somehow appears for when he has guests. It was clear that he put at least $100,000 in making his minimalism dream come true.

And this was true of everyone. They weren’t practicing minimalism because they had to; they were practicing minimalism because they could — because they had the money to do it.

And Along Comes a Website

And then came the website. You knew there had to be one, right? There had to be the gurus telling these frankly silly people how to live their lives and how they were so virtuous for doing it.

In fact, the entire film seems to be an advertisement for the website: The Minimalists. Its Alexa rating has been shrinking since the film came out. The creators of the website — Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus — are so thin-skinned that they wrote an article, “Dear Critics.” It says, “It’s okay to accept trusted feedback, but ignore criticism, because it isn’t about you anyway — it’s about the insecure critic.” That’s almost the entire article. They have absolutely no defense of themselves or of the Minimalism movement. There can’t be a valid criticism. To criticize them is to show that you are an unhappy person who just doesn’t “get it.”

Minimalism as a Cult

This sounds just like what cult leaders say to their followers. It disturbs me more than anything else. (In their defense, they wrote an article attacking the tendency on the web for people to get outraged about everything. But even it is just a pretext to defending themselves from criticism. And the criticism they don’t like is pathetic; they don’t even mention the real criticism of Minimalism. But the rest I accept: fucking let it go! Life’s too short to get angry about stupid stuff — especially the occasional slip of the tongue.)

They also created a podcast on criticism. What I listened to of it wasn’t bad. But again, they never deal with the real issue that Minimalism is just a new fad for the wealthy.

The Real Minimalism Is Practiced by the Poor

This is what this entire article comes down to. Minimalism should be a social critique. It should primarily be about economic inequality. It shouldn’t be a fashion statement.

Reuse Don’t Recycle

I believe I bought exactly two pieces of clothing last year. Ninety-five percent of my clothing has been given to me. Whereas most of those in the Minimalism movement would buy $200 sweaters made out of recycled fibers, I just wear the clothes that would have been destroyed.

One of the most important things that I learned in graduate school was that recycling ends with most of the material being used, but a small part of it being turned into a toxic waste that must be carefully disposed of so as not to hurt the world’s ecosystem. Reuse whenever you can.

But when your movement is based mostly on showing off, there will be none of that.

Minimalism is a movement by and for hipsters who, above all else, want to impress other hipsters. I have my own movement, which would be best called, “I Don’t Give a Damn What You Think.” It’s kind of a hard movement to follow because it isn’t pleasant to be mistaken for a homeless person. It’s kind of easy for me, though, because I’m not very observant.

But truthfully, I’d much rather be thought a homeless person than an entitled follower of Minimalism.

The Worst Kind of Racism

President Donald TrumpGerman Lopez wrote an article for Vox, Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from the 1970s to 2018. I’m not really sure we need to read all about this again. Trump’s racism is really well known — from growing up with a racist father and implementing racist housing policies to his presidential election rhetoric and his most recent claims about people from “shithole” countries. But Lopez said something that really bothered me about different kinds of racism — and which kind of racism is the worse.

Everyone Is Racist to Some Extent

He said, “At the very least, Trump has a history of playing into people’s racism to bolster himself.” This is exactly backward. To some extent, all people are racist because humans are tribal and they live in racist societies. It’s pretty much impossible to not be poisoned by it to one extent or another.

I have racist reactions and they disgust me. And I do everything I can to fight them. This is what a reasonable person does regardless of who they are or where they live.

Using Racism Is Worse Than Subconscious Bigotry

But a man who actively uses racism to his benefit is the worst kind of racist. The fact that many people were raised in racist households or raised in racist societies makes them partial victims. Sadly, as much as many of us try, it is impossible to have stupid thoughts that a moment’s reflection dispell. I do not believe anyone can escape that. The best they can do is to admit it and fight against it.

But someone like Trump is the very worst. He’s a man who thinks racism is great. He’s not someone who fights against racism. He not only embraces it in his own life, he uses his most vile impulses to push racism. This doesn’t just benefit him. It also makes other people who might fight their racism think that’s it’s perfectly fine — admirerable even.

Stop Saying Unconscious Racism Is the True Vilain

It is very possible that the worst legacy of Donald Trump’s presidency will be that he’s made us a much more racist country.

So we shouldn’t say, “Oh it wouldn’t be so bad if Donald Trump just used racism to get elected.” We should say it is the worst thing in the world to use racism to get elected. If he just had some lingering racist attitudes because of his racist father that would be a far lesser crime. And if he did everything he could to fight against the result of growing up with a bigot father, that would be admirable.

But instead, we act as though it would be better if Trump didn’t have a racist bone in his body and that he “only” used it to get elected to public office. Instead, what we know is that Donald Trump is extremely racist himself, that he embraces it rather than being disgusted by it, and he uses it to make other people more racist and thus get elected to public office. He is as bad as could be.

Making the Society More Racist Is the Worst Racism

So he is single-handedly making the entire society more racist. The fact that he is personally racist really doesn’t matter at all. In fact, it would be even worse if he had no racist attitudes at all. It would mean he does not see racism as an important issue. He sees it merely as a tool for getting what he wants.

So we should stop with this idea that somehow Trump is worst because he really is a racist. All that would mean is that he is authentic in his vile use of racism.

The damage that he does in whipping up a racist frenzy in his supporters is a far worse thing than him simply being unwilling to have friends or employees that are black, brown, or female he rates below 9. As time has gone on our society has become less racist. And he is doing exceptional damage in making it more racist — making it more acceptable to be a racist.

Our Culpability

And we make it worse when we claim that him really being racist is worse than using racism to harm our country and benefit himself. If he isn’t racist, his racist act is actually worse. It is the act itself that is the far more dangerous thing.

This reminds me very much of how everyone gets more upset by a CEO who is caught using the N-word than they are when his copy is found to discriminate against blacks. We like simple things. “Oh, he said the wrong word.” Thus we can attack him. But actions — which are far more damaging — are harder to prove, so we ignore them.

Don’t be an idiot. Remember: the act itself is the far more dangerous thing. And it is very possible that the worst legacy of Donald Trump’s presidency will be that he’s made us a much more racist country.

Please Oprah, Don’t Run for President

Oprah Winfrey

According to CNN Money, Sources: Oprah Winfrey “Actively Thinking” About Running for President. This is really bad news.

My concern isn’t that she wouldn’t win. I think she would have a very good chance of winning. My fear is that she wouldn’t be a very good president. I also have a more general consideration. Let me start with it.

Liberals Believe in Government

Liberals believe that our representatives should be professionals. It’s the conservatives who believe that you can grab any man (and I do mean man) off the street and make him president. Because governing is easy. All you have to do is go to Washington (or Sacramento, or wherever) and vote what you believe in. What could be easier?!

But liberals don’t think that. They know that governing isn’t just about having opinions. They understand that if you want to get anything done, you need to work at it. That’s why President Obama got a lot done and Trump came very close to getting nothing done his first year, and why he will likely get little done the rest of his term.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Had No Experience — And It Showed

But the main thing is that Oprah (or Tom Hanks) running for President is not what we Democrats do. We value government enough to want a president who is prepared for it.

My favorite example of this has always been Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unlike a lot of people, I know that Schwarzenegger is a smart guy. And when he became governor of California, he had a lot of ideas. He was no Donald Trump. He worked hard to learn the job. But being governor of California is really not something that can be learned in 4 years. So he accomplished very little, despite really trying.

When Schwarzenegger came up for re-election, his approval rating was in the high-20s. So the Republicans came up with someone else: Meg Whitman, who also had no experience. It wasn’t just that the GOP figured she could glide into office on her billions of dollars. Again: Republicans don’t think political experience matters. Had she won, she would have been as bad or worse than Schwarzenegger.

Jerry Brown to the Rescue

Of course, despite a mind-numbing number of television and internet ads, Whitman lost by 13 percentage points to Jerry Brown. He’s an interesting guy. He has spent his whole life in politics. He loves it and, more important, he understands it. After being a two-term governor, he went on to be quite a good mayor of Oakland — a small city in California. Most politicians wouldn’t do that. But he did because he loves politics.

And when he became governor, he was really good. He knew how the system worked. He knew the people. In short, he knew how to get things done — one thing most Republicans don’t care about at all.

Oprah for President?!

Now if Oprah Winfrey were going to run as a Republican, I would say, “Go for it!” She’s a television celebrity. She has a lot of money, which means she knows a lot of other people with money who will set-up super-PACs and all that. She wouldn’t need to know anything. She’d just have to be willing to sign the new tax cuts for the rich. So she’s a perfect Republican candidate except for:

  1. She’s black
  2. She’s a woman
  3. She’s smart
  4. She has a mind of her own.

But other than that, she would be great. That is to say, that Oprah would have a good chance of winning.

Oprah Has No Experience

Some might complain that Oprah does have experience because of her philanthropy and all the causes she’s been involved with. But our old friend Arnold Schwarzenegger had the same experience — in some ways better because he worked directly with presidents and other high-ranking government officials. (Maybe Oprah has too; I am no expert on her.)

But none of this is the same as being an elected official. It’s a skill. People learn it. The more they do it, the better they get.

Remember when Michael Jordan decided to become a baseball player? He managed to play on an AA team, which is impressive. But he was never going to make it to the majors, even though he was perhaps the greatest person to play a related game.

Barack Obama

Remember Obama?

Even Obama made some serious errors his first two years in office, despite having lots of experience and being a genius in that field. I know it would be worse for Oprah.

On the plus side, I know that unlike Trump and like Obama, Oprah would take the job seriously. So Oprah becoming president would surround herself with actual experts and do at least a competent job as president.

On the negative side, I’m certain that she wouldn’t do a fantastic job as president. I would be particularly concerned with her surrounding herself with a bunch of Gates Foundation types. All those people thinking that Hillary Clinton was a neoliberal would start thinking of her as a socialist. That’s not a certainty, but smart inexperienced people tend to be impressed with those kinds of thinkers, even though there is really nothing more (and usually much less) backing up their ideas than those of more egalitarian thinkers.

This Is Not Who We Are

But the main thing is that Oprah (or Tom Hanks) running for President is not what we Democrats do. We value government enough to want a president who is prepared for it.

That means we look at people like Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown. This isn’t just about the individual. This is about our ideals.

By all accounts, Oprah Winfrey is a fine person. And if she became the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, I would vote for her. But she shouldn’t be our nominee for the reasons I’ve discussed. And I believe that Oprah Winfrey would agree.