No country for men

When I was young, I played a board game called Risk. It requires a player to take their Roman numeral troops across the border and claim other territories. It unfortunately gave me an incorrect world view. The civilized world needed to spread its civilization to other civilization. No prizes for guessing whose civilization was preferred. Hint: The war loving civilizations.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

It turn out that the view was myopic to say the least. Certain civilizations may be remembered for their empires but it still depended on the nameless bureaucrats for logistics. We can romanticize about how the Mongolians conquered much of the world on horseback but much of what we know of the Mongolians today depended on the civilizations that survived. Or civilizations that bothered to write things down.

Changing views

Today, people think that red tape is a problem. Ronald Regan had a famous quote.

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”

It turned out that the corollary is even worse. If a GOP candidate tells you he or she has the solution, you are already dead. Even if you have not stopped breathing yet. Unless you are a donor in which you will have a express line to the grievance department. For those responsible GOP politicians, I am talking about the Antifa people that stormed the Capitol on the 6th of January.

Now most people who think the paragraph above is hyperbole. The 45th president has left office and there is still a country. There is even a 46th president who is not the 45th president in disguise. I also thought that the danger is over until I read the book the Fifth Risk. Full Disclosure: Michael Lewis is one of my favourite authors on speaking truth to power. Spoiler Alert: The powers are usually wrong.

Big Bang

The topic is about kitty litter. Apparently there are many types of cat litter. We will focus on organic and inorganic cat litter. At this point, most readers would wonder if I am an environmentalist or my cat has a sensitive butt. Except that no cats were involved in this mess. Full disclosure: It was a small pop with dangerous pollutants. No facts about the smell.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

In 2014, a drum containing nuclear waste exploded because the wrong cat litter was used. Inorganic cat litter contain clay. Clay does not react with nuclear waste. Organic cat litter apparently contains things that reacted with nuclear waste. The people that did the mistake was the contractor tasked with using the correct cat litter.

Whose fault

There are two sides to the story. The contractors stated that they were following the instructions with a typo. The Department of Energy also wanted to know how incorrect handwritten instructions got formalized as part of the process. Hint: Handwritten instructions or comments should never be part of any nuclear waste handling process.

Nobody knows

Now the GOP supporters would argue that the incident happen in the 44th president’s administration. That point is totally valid. But considering that it happened, there is still a duty for the 45th president’s people to learn about it. The problem is that it requires herculean effort to read them. In order to read it, you require security clearances in which Trump’s staff appeared to have difficulty obtaining. In light of the Trump’s staff that had security clearance that participated in the 6th of January “kerfuffle” at the Capitol, I can understand the government’s concerns.

I have not spoken about the technical qualifications because I have no clue about it besides a few science degrees are required. Like the sister of Sheldon Cooper, I use the term rocket scientist even for people who are theoretical physicist.

If you do not believe me, just ask the Trump appointees who avoided all the dirty work in that department during his administration. It turned out that the only people Trump knew who had sufficient scientific background was his uncle. Unfortunately for America, Tump’s uncle passed away decades before his nephew came into power. No word on whether Trump’s uncle wanted to be part of his nephew’s administration.

Follow the money

It is a fact that most Red states take in more federal aid than Blue states. It turns out that many Red states success stories came from government assistance. Tesla had a government loan. The loan was repaid but the government’s assistance seemed to reach many working GOP voters. It came as a shock to many people that many small businesses have government loans.

It is true that the bank offered the loan to the business but the money came from the government’s coffer. United States Department of Agriculture gives out a lot of loans that do not go to farmers or anything related to agriculture. One interesting point made in the Fifth Risk is American government departments have oversight over things that are not in their name. The Department of Commerce is in charge of the weather data in America.

The state government usually do take the Federal government’s money but they do not want it to publicized. For those pork cutting GOP voters in the rural area, Trump did cut programs to the rural areas. I am not sure if the billion dollar bailout to the farmers made up for the difference.


The book pointed one sad paradox in America. Many places have nice looking fire stations but require government support for even basic social services. It seems that assets are more important than people.

“and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln

Today the party of Lincoln seems to simplify the quote to government for the people*. Since corporations are technically “people”.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

*Normally, this reads donor class but the 45th president showed that family matters.