Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Latest WTF Moment

Just when you think the Orange Buffoon can't top his latest stupid statement or action, he goes and pulls another monumental zinger out of his ass. Of course I'm referring to the press conference back on April 23rd when he suggested injecting and/or ingesting disinfectant as a way to treat the coronavirus. Just to add icing to the huge stupid cake he was offering, Buffoon then suggests it might be possible to use ultraviolet light internally to also clean the human body of the pathogen.

I'm sadly use to the fact that most people here in the US don't have a microgram of scientific understanding on any subject that is relevant to our lives, but this one left me unable to speak. Had I not been watching the press conference I would have instantly thought the later stories reporting the Buffoon's words were satire. I mean young toddlers generally understand that to drink any sort of disinfectant will make them sick or even dead.

Here we have the individual occupying the Oval Office not understanding the effects on the human body of drinking something like bleach. We've entered realms of dark comedy that, to me, suggest all sorts of insane scenarios could still happen long before 2021 Inauguration Day, the earliest we could expect some relief from the surreal reality we find ourselves trapped.

From the horrible November 2016 night when the Orange Buffoon stumbled into an electoral college victory, I knew we were highly screwed. I also knew that OB would burn the country down in some fashion. Never once did I even entertain the possibility that he might try to poison us.

Please excuse me that even now after the Buffoon has attempted to play his misguided suggestion off as “sarcasm” that I sincerely wish that he might demonstrate his novel treatment. Does that make me a bad person? Because if it does, I can surely live with it on my conscious.

Onward and upward people, the only way we'll get through this shit is to laugh and enjoy a long weekend nap.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Short List of Reforms for the American Republic

Congratulations has to go out to all the morbidly obsessed fans of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction here in America because in many ways your preferred genre of entertainment has come true. Yes, while many of you Hunger Games and Walking Dead fans still relax in your comfortable suburban settings with refrigerators full of food watching Tiger King on Netflix the world has lost its little marbles. You don't like the current world order? Fair enough because for billions of people and other lifeforms on the planet it sucks. But, world orders are clumsy things and when they fall apart the overwhelming result is large-scale war with all its death, destruction, and chaos.

Throw in the fact that there is no international brotherhood waiting in the wings to take the global reigns once the evil American Empire collapses, the best thing might be to shore up the existing order and push for reforms. But first lets count the ways the world is going to Hell in a hand basket. No, this isn't a complete list. Because ultimately climate change is the ticking megaton nuclear bomb off in the corner.

The first sign of the apocalypse is of course the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it isn't a zombie plague nor a civilization-killing flu like in Stephen King's The Stand, it's a sticky, persistent bitch that is pushing medical systems and resources passed breaking points leaving thousands dead. All the while here in the glorious United States, we have zombie stand-ins shrilly screaming that COVID is “no big deal” or a “hoax” meant to derail their Dear Leader's sparkling economy.

The second path to doom is that the nice and tidy world order that popped into being in the 1990s is falling apart with certain national strongmen actively undermining stability. As the Soviet Union crumbled democratic governments sprouted up across the world leading some academics to suggest we were seeing the end of history. Instead we have authoritarian dickheads in many of those liberated countries undermining the very freedoms others gave their lives to achieve. Of course the tip to the growing authoritarian spear is both a heavily nuclear armed Russia and the economic juggernaut that is China.

Stealing from the late Senator John McCain, but Russia is nothing but a glorified gas station with thousands of nuclear weapons. While it still dreams of playing a leading role on the world stage, its economy is bullshit and its alcoholic population ain't making enough babies to replace the dying old folks. Making matters more problematic, it has a megalomaniac at the helm who is nursing a serious grudge towards the United States.

China on the other hand is simply the up and coming nation who nurses ancient dreams of global glory while remembering how the Europeans countries screwed with it in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. China has money and lots of smart people with a willingness to make sacrifices for the greater national good. Now this greater national good is often harmful to the planet, human rights, and the truth but as far as they are concerned, you have to break a lot of eggs to make an omelet.

It goes without saying the keystone of current world order is the United States and its near failed-state status is exacerbating the international situation. The question is how do we fix it.

If by some cosmic magical event I was given sole control of instituting reforms the first thing I would address would be the electoral college. The hallmark of the American ego that really irritates the rest of the world is our obnoxious bragging about our democratic traditions. This becomes a serious issue of blatant hypocrisy when a presidential candidate loses the popular vote by a large margin but wins the electoral college and thus get to spend at least four years getting White House room service.

Now Republicans having won two presidential elections in the last twenty years this way loves the electoral college. Right-wing talking heads embrace the electoral college with an enthusiasm almost equal to the Second Amendment. Of course their love of the electoral college is only because it pushed George W. Bush and the Orange Buffoon into the White House. Had the situation been reversed I'm sure as bears leave steaming piles of poop in the woods they would be demanding its elimination. Yes, if Democratic presidential candidates were benefiting from the electoral college they would be quite happy keeping it going.

Now the usual talking points from Democrats is that American presidential contests should rely just on the popular vote to decide a winner. A good idea for the most part but from what I understand the mechanics involved would require a constitutional amendment, something extremely difficult even in the best of times.

My reform would not eliminate the electoral college, but would award the popular vote winner twenty extra electoral votes. This idea goes back to the 1976 election when political scientists noticed Ford and Carter were about even in the polls. They wanted to save the country from another bout of political upheaval so soon after the conclusion of Watergate.

Those extra votes to the popular vote winner would not have saved Hillary Clinton back in 2016. But under normal circumstances with two nearly even candidates it would be enough to avoid uncertainty and chaos. The factors involved in the 2016 Hillary/Trump Fiasco were far too complex to be solved simply. While Hillary's election to POTUS would have been spectacular, I'm forced to admit she was a highly flawed candidate that grossly underestimated her opponents. Still it would be my hope that just giving the popular vote winner twenty extra electoral votes would be easier to implement than a complex campaign to change the Constitution.

My second reform would be that all serious presidential candidates would have to fully disclose the entirety of their financial records, including that of their wives and children. Failure to provide such records or to somehow forge them would mean immediate criminal prosecution and, of course, being disqualified from further campaigning. This of course is aimed dead at the Orange Buffoon who did quite the dance to avoid making his taxes public. I utterly hate the man and his family but I'll give the Devil his due and say he played the media, the Democrats, and more specifically the Hillary Campaign like a master violinist.

The third reform I would institute would be that not only would presidential candidates be forced to disclose all their medical history but would have to have psychological evaluations by an impartial, independent panel. The first part of this reform is aimed at Bernie Sanders who in his usual asshole manner steadfastly refused to disclose his medical records after have suffered from a heart attack during the 2020 campaign.

The second part is aimed at the Orange Buffoon whose public behavior at a minimum is irrational if not dangerous. The Orange Buffoon has showed nothing but contempt for American principles playing every situation and circumstance while in office to his personal or family benefit and showing a disturbing tendency for authoritarian behavior. In normal, relatively saner times calling the American free press “The enemy of the people” would have resulted in members of the president's own party taking him to the woodshed.

A fourth reform would involve candidates showing they actually understand the workings of American government, international relations, global economics, and science. From the moment the Orange Buffoon entered the White House he has been lighting matches attempting to set the existing order on fire. Until the pandemic that he ignored and then downplayed his destructive tendencies hadn't done too much damage. Yes, for a while he was determined to destroy NATO and ruin our relationships with our allies but somehow I still believe his damage is repairable.

His refusal to standby international treaties from previous presidents is a disaster of unprecedented proportions. Not only does the Orange Buffoon's actions undermine American foreign policy now but will make both foe and ally hesitant to trust us again whenever this nightmare ends. This goes back to the idea that when world orders become unreliable it allows chaos to grow with other nations looking to impose their own will on the world.

In a way the fifth reform I would impose is the most vital but yet the most difficult. While I detest anyone who criticizes American teachers, history and civics educations in this country is dangerously insufficient. The ignorance in history and the workings of American government I have personally observed is so overwhelming and persuasive that I fear what will become of this nation. One person I know is so ignorant that he refers to hazy, ill-defined memories of decades old Saturday morning “School House Rocks” cartoons when talking about government.

What truly chilled me to the bone was another person wondering why our NATO allies didn't pay the United States government for its protection. Frankly, I was dumbfounded at how to explain what was literally thousands of years of history going back to ancient Athens to the more recent calls of the great Winston Churchill for collective security in the face a growing Nazi Germany threat back in the 1930s.

I don't blame American teachers for this level of ignorance. They have an extremely demanding job whose salary is pretty much crap. I blame lazy parents and the culture in general for valuing such things as glamour, celebrity, and the ability to chase various balls above rational thought and knowledge. How you fix that I haven't got a damn clue.

For shits and giggles another reform I would impose would be some form of term limits for politicians with them forbidden to become lobbyists afterwards. I'd also prohibit offspring from pursuing political careers thus eliminating family political dynasties. The absolute last thing we need is more spoiled brats using their family name for political advantage.

And finally, I would not only make voting mandatory but would extensively use mail-in ballots. There would still be physical elections with voting booths and polling places. But voting would be a week-long event with everyone getting one day off with pay if that was their preferred way of casting their ballot. Business people would of course whine about having to provide pay but frak them, they are acting more and more like 18th century British aristocrats. I'm personally getting sick of their attitudes.

There are certainty more reforms I would impose from my lofty but imaginary position. But for now I will just return to reality and wonder what some future Edward Gibbon will write about our times.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

At the Fall of Night

A prequel to the recent Destiny's Path short story. 

The creature had died on a rocky outcropping next the cliff. Its remains looked human but Jacob could see the rainbow hue of the nanites embedded in the bones. He wondered if the creature had been one of the fanatical followers of the Teachings of Parr, or a poor soul that had been forcibly exposed to the corrupted nanotechnology. Not that it mattered, either way once the nanites invaded living tissue the infected person became a nightmarish creature that was anything but human.

Surrounded on two sides by boulders and large rocks, the remains had been sheltered from wind and rain for decades leaving the bones largely in the same place the creature had died. Jacob could even see small strips of cloth tangled among the bones and what looked like hair attached to the skull. In the back of Jacob's mind, he could almost imagine the creature had willfully chosen this spot to die. As if some shred of sentience had returned after all the humans it could hunt down had either been converted or torn to bloody shreds.

Jacob stood more than a meter away from the remains trying to dredge up some sort of emotions. He thought of his lost wife and daughter, the former having been forcibly exposed to the nanites while the latter had been killed as the two fled from their home. That had been more than sixty years ago and Jacob hated himself for his inability to picture his wife's face or the sound of his daughter's voice.

Jacob was pulled back to the present to find the young man, Stephen, standing beside him. “Mr. Jacob,” Stephen said, “are the tiny machines still active?”

“Probably not,” Jacob responded, “but it still wouldn't be a good idea to touch anything.” Jacob noticed how the nanites had leached out of the bones and into the rocky surface looking for another host to infect. That had to have occurred right after the creature had died. But there was no reason to leave it to chance.

“Stephen,” Jacob said, “go find Iliza or Michelle and get one of the bottles of stove fuel. We need to sterilize the area just to be safe.”

Stephen ran off to find the fuel leaving Jacob again with his thoughts. Both of Brigham's moons were visible in the afternoon sky and as Jacob looked down to the valley below he could almost imagine the last sixty years hadn't occurred.

The city of Sego looked just like it did right after he graduated from university. He was twenty-three years old and ready to start his life. He married Emma the following year and they had Madison two years later. A month after turning thirty-one was when it all fell apart.


From the moment the Senior Council of Brigham was established four-hundred, fifty years before the Fall, the leaders had kept the artificial wombs brought from Earth on the seedship pumping out babies. The goal being a human population on Brigham that could support a technological civilization equal to Earth, Mars, or Titan. The Senior Council talked of colonizing the other planets of the Brigham system and even building seedships and sending them out to other nearby star systems.

So even after the optimal population of sixty-thousand souls had been reached, the Senior Council expanded the number of producing artificial wombs. These children were raised by robot caregivers, as the first colonists, and upon reaching maturity were sent out into the wilderness areas of the planet to push the boundaries of settlement.

The plan worked fine until being raised in the creche became a social stigma. “Creche-born” became a slur among the human-born population that translated into a form of discrimination back in the developed areas. Creche-born children disproportionately suffered emotional and psychological trauma from being raised by robots. This promoted a certain percentage to adopt destructive behaviors and substance addictions to compensate for the lack of human contact in their early years.

Where the human-born people of the developed areas truly failed the creche-born brothers and sisters was understanding the stress and dangers of being pushed into the frontiers regions. The human-born were raised on stories of their courageous ancestors who turned a barren rock into a living world. They didn't realize that the early colonists suffered greatly with many utterly failing to live up to the standards demanded of the creche-born.

As the decades passed, creche-born people began illegally returning to the developed areas becoming an underclass without access to the services the human-born took for granted. Supremely organized and clean cities across Brigham sprouted slums and even homeless folks living wherever they could. Urban crime penetrated deep into the cities with the human-born beginning to fear and then hate the men or women they saw lurking in the shadows.

There were attempts at societal reform but the underlying problems of the system were always ignored. The poor and under-educated creche-born were cheap labor easy to exploit. For the human-born, life was good and Brigham had a Manifest Destiny to take their branch of human civilization back out to the stars. That's when Thaddeus Parr appeared and started his movement.


Stephen eventually returned carrying a squeeze bottle of cook stove fuel. Jacob took the container from the young man trying not to think about how Stephen looked. Jacob was ninety-one but appeared to be in his early forties. The benefit of being born when medical technology guaranteed every baby a long healthy life. Stephen was in his twenties but would have been confused with a much older person before the Fall. With technology corrupted and people living only slightly above a Stone Age technology, Stephen probably wouldn't make it much beyond fifty years old.

Jacob sprayed the liquid over the bones and the areas where the nanites had leeched into the rock. He used a pocket igniter to start the fire. As the bones turned black from the flames, the rest of his small group gathered around without saying a word.

“Alright people,” Bruce Carter called out as the fire began to die. “We need to get down this mountain to the refuge and we're losing daylight.”

Bruce, the de facto leader of the group and the one man beside Jacob who understood the dangers they faced leaving the protection offered by the high mountains. A child when Parr's Plague swept the colony, Bruce's family already lived in one of the villages established on a plateau nearly unassailable by anything except aircraft and heavy-duty, off-road vehicles.

As the nanite infected roamed the planet someone realized that they never went up into the high mountain settlements. Even with all forms of communication down, word got around to the few survivors that it was safe up in the mountains. While some survivors from the lower altitudes eventually reached these settlements, their numbers were exceedingly small.

For decades the uninfected hid in the high mountains never considering going down to the lower levels. Cut off from one another, these isolated pockets of humanity looked down from their hideouts and watched as bands of the infected moved across the valleys and coastal regions. Eventually though as the years passed the infected, unable to have children, began to die off allowing the mountain peoples to come down for limited periods.

The next day the group entered the dead city of Sego. While the infected no longer moved in large groups, smaller clusters and the stray individual was still a possibility. Even worse, the corrupted nanites that turned humans into ravaging monsters were ubiquitous to Brigham technology. Any computer-based item almost certainly carried infected nanites, which if touched could enter a person and begin building copies of itself. After entering the human body, it took a little under 48 hours before the person went insane.

Bruce Carter walked point going down the deserted streets with Michelle and Iliza pulling rear guard. All three armed with projectile assault rifles that worked without the aid of any computer assistance. The stated reason for the expedition, a search for needed non-perishable items such as low-level medical kits, hydroponic supplies, and anything else that might aid survival up in the mountains. However, the expedition was also meant to see how much of the nanites remained active after six decades.

The city of Sego didn't look abandoned except for all the computer tech laying in the streets and the occasional human remains. When people realized it was the tech spreading Parr's Plague, everything based on nanite computing was throw away in a panic. By that time it was too late, infected humans were already forming groups with the sole purpose to convert or kill everyone else.

Jacob cringed passing a reading tablet laying in the street, probably dropped there in the opening moments of Parr's Plague. It was the exact model like the one he stored his personal library on before the Fall. Like the remains of the creature they saw up in the mountains, the nanites from the reader had leached out into the substance of the street itself. What made this instance worse though was that Jacob could see the rainbow-hued nanites pulsing confirming they were still active. The pulsing, active nanties confirmed the group's worst fears, that it would still be many years if not decades before they could safely leave their mountain refuge. This information made their true mission even more important.

Barely two hours later the group leaves Sego behind having found all the items they needed to survive just a little longer. More importantly, both Jacob and Bruce retrieved what they needed to implement their personal project, a sort of gift to the future.


Their refuge didn't have a name, it was just a collection of cabins made of wood, stone, and metal storage containers. For people who had grown up around holographic entertainment systems, semi-sentient personal computers, limb and organ regeneration hospitals, and nanotechnology that could fabricate just about any item the refuge was tantamount to a Neolithic existence. Even such mundane services as running water and working toilets were the stuff of fantasy to the small collection of children born since the Fall.

But to the ones like Jacob and Bruce, who had seen everything fall apart and be replaced with death and chaos, the refuge was a chance to carry on and maybe rebuild one day.

“Jacob,” Bruce Carter began while taking a seat in his friend's small hut made of piled stone and particle board, “how will we organize this project?”

On Jacob's table, which had once been a packing crate, were eight items that any human would have recognized whether they had been born in ancient Rome to the late twenty-first century. The eight items were thick, unused leather bound journals. The unused journals were the result of a colony-wide fad of people wanting to leave some physical mark that didn't involve computers. The producers of the journals went as far to make them with paper and fake leather covers that were supposed to last centuries.

“I figure the first volume will be a basic history of humanity,” Jacob said feeling the weight of the task and its importance. “We won't have room for much detail and in-depth analysis, but enough for our descendants to understand where they came from. The other volumes will deal with science and engineering, enough to help whoever comes after us to leap frog the barriers that held Earth back for so long.”

“What troubles me, Jacob is that do we really need to do any of this?” Bruce asked.

“Bruce, all of our records and information is either lost or stored in systems that would turn us into monsters if we tried to access it. Our civilization, hell our entire existence was made possible by the computing power and storage capacity that damn nanotechnology made possible.”

“Thinking more to the long-term,” Jacob said after a long silent pause, “without some form of written record it won't take long before our civilization and its accomplishments become like the myths of ancient Earth. I can imagine a few hundred years from now people coming to believe humans originated from this planet.”

“Goddamn Thaddeus Parr and his terrorists,” was all Bruce could say.

“I knew Thaddeus Parr,” Bruce said in way that conveyed both a sense of sadness and anger. “Parr was truly insane and his corrupted nanites killed millions, but we created him. We built a society that thrived on the suffering of a people us human-born didn't really believe were on our level. Now like many times before back on Earth, we'll have to start over. Hopefully, our descendants won't repeat the same mistakes.”

Bruce wanted to believe his friend, that another, wiser civilization would rise in the place of the dead and decaying one down in the valleys and coasts. While Bruce didn't have the education of Jacob, he knew enough of Earth's history to have a cold chill of dread run down his spine. 

 Author's Notes:

One of the periods of human history that fascinates me the most involves the collapse of Bronze Age civilizations around 1200 BCE. With the exception of Egypt, which was greatly weakened and never recovered, most of the empires and kingdoms during that time utterly collapsed. The best examples being Mycenaean Greece and the Hittite Empire.

The crash was caused by several factors but the most mysterious in a historical sense were the ravaging "Sea Peoples" that attacked both coastal cities and those far inland. Much debate and head scratching by academics has gone to determining where the Sea People originated. 

I had always wanted to incorporate the concept of a Sea Peoples into a futuristic setting. 

I also wanted to create a setting where the bizarre human need to create an underclass raised its ugly head again. And yes, I touched on certain social issues that really piss me off.  

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Words and Actions

About a year before I retired from the National Guard my First Sergeant grabbed four other guys and myself early one Saturday morning and sent us to the Columbia fair grounds during the South Carolina State Fair to hand out recruiting fliers. It was easy, sham duty that usually went to the young, gung-ho, hotshots who lived and breathed weekend warrior action. I don't remember the other guys, but the only reason the First Sergeant threw me in the bunch was because I was in his line of sight at the right time.

So like good soldiers, we loaded up in our cars, drove downtown, and joined the mass of civilians already doing the rides, eating carnival food, looking at all the craft exhibits, along with general people watching. Since I was quickly approaching retirement and suffering from extreme burnout, handing out the propaganda pamphlets wasn't high on my Saturday priorities. At that time the National Guard was neck deep in deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq with the recruiting fliers we were handing out still extolling the virtues of one weekend a month, two-weeks in the summer duty. Something no one with any sense would believe since Guard units were already doing year-long overseas deployments only to spend six or seven months home before getting orders to head back out.

As you may be able to imagine most of my time that day was spent eating fried Snickers bars, funnel cake, and other high calorie foods. All the sugary things that help make the Southern states national leaders in death from heart disease and diabetes. Understand, I still handed out the fliers but whenever a gullible civilian I was talking with showed signs of taking the glossy, focus group tested bait; I turned them over to one of the young, motivated hot shots.

Given that none of the fair goers we talked with wanted to seriously pursue the National Guard, I came away surprised at how South Carolinians could be both so hyper-patriotic but instinctively adverse to actually making a commitment to joining. To this day, I debate whether or not that made them smart and me stupid for entering military service. Or that their keen patriotism was just a shallow facade to hide outright cowardice and sloth.

Yes, my cynicism is getting obnoxious even to myself but it's well founded.

You might be surprised to know, even as I walked around carrying a bad attitude I did nothing to embarrass the National Guard, my uniform, or myself. You also need to understand that an attitude correction would hit me that day after I literally turned a corner in one of the fairgrounds buildings showing off various fine crafts.

If I remember correctly that particular building was where they had the displays showing off woodworking projects with the winning items in large glass cases in the center of the largest room. My recruiting group made our way through the various rooms both admiring the woodworking projects and handing out fliers to anyone who took notice of us.

Without really paying attention we entered the last room of the building before the maze-like layout of the displays deposited us back outside. Two boys, around seven or eight years-old, were in our path intently looking at one of the woodworking projects in a large glass case. I don't know if its was our reflections on the glass that caught their attention or maybe the sounds of our voices but my group and I really startled those kids.

They both turned around suddenly with looks of astonishment on their faces and said the word, “Soldiers” with a tone of clear reverence. Being soldiers, at least of the weekend warrior type, we naturally chatted with the kids for a few minutes before heading back outside.

It was a simple and brief encounter but one that reminded me that someone is always watching our actions and listening to our words. Like I wrote earlier, I did nothing that day to shame my uniform but my attitude was especially bad for a whole host of reasons, many justified given the situation at that time. I can't imagine the impression those kids would have come away with had I exposed them to my slow simmering bad attitude.

Fast forward to our current, much worse situation in my opinion, and I find myself seething at the actions of certain individuals in out national leadership and the media sycophants who carry their banner of fear and prejudice. The Orange Buffoon occupying the White House has made a habit of identifying the COVID-19 virus as the “China Virus” in a passive-aggressive manner that does nothing but stoke hate towards anyone of Asian decent.

Now OB, in his fourth-grade way of explaining it, says he uses the China Virus term since it originates from that country. This ignores a century or so of derogatory and outright racist terminology aimed at describing Asians, no matter where they were born or what citizenship they hold. More to the point, OB does this to prop up a bogeyman/scapegoat to cover for his criminal incompetence in the handling of the pandemic.

Enough about OB's usual behaviors that does nothing but lowers the standing of the United States and many Americans to the level of street thugs and illiterate, white trailer trash. What really pissed me off was how nervous my daughter was last week upon returning home from a lone trip to the grocery store.

My daughter is Asian, born in China, and went to the nearby grocery store to buy a few food items for herself. The same trip she she was made possibly hundreds of times since getting her driver's license. The difference this time was the fact that she had numerous people stare at her in a manner they had never done before. My daughter swears no one said anything to her in the grocery store but the stares she was receiving were highly unsettling. Upon hearing this, I instantly said that she wouldn't make another trip to the grocery store alone while the local natives, all middle class white folk, were being stirred up by pandemic hysteria.

Yeah, I blame the Orange Buffoon since he is damn near worshiped in the area and state I live. People I know hang on his every word and believe he literally can do no wrong. All his numerous faults are overlooked and ignored and if anything goes wrong during his management of the country they fallback on the scapegoats he serves up during his dictator-like speeches. So when OB pokes at long held racists tropes his collection of toadies quickly fall into line.

I didn't like George W. Bush as president and still believe many of his actions were at a minimum misguided. But not once during his years in office did I think he ever poked at this countries old prejudices against any ethnic groups. The Orange Buffoon on the other hand stirs up old prejudices and fears at every opportunity. It's like watching a slow motion hate crime on a national scale.

The prompting of these ethnic fears is how atrocities happen in other countries. My skin crawls at the idea that I live around and work with people who are so easily swayed by the Buffoon's words and behaviors because this time, it's on a very personal level.