Doakes Potpourri

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We need universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, like these.

 

***

 

When politicians are spending taxpayer dollars, they have a moral obligation to get the most value for their money.  In olden days, that meant “cheapest price” but nowadays, it means “promotes social justice” which is why they have quotas for minority-owned and female-owned businesses that can’t compete on price.  Oddly, the school district is short of money, which couldn’t possibly have anything to do with intentionally overpaying for goods and services, could it?

 

***

 

I’m confused by this protest at the police station.  What, specifically, is the solution they demand?

 

  1. Police should prove the shooting was justified?  They will, in good time.  So why march today?
  2. It doesn’t matter whether the police say the shooting was justified, shooting members of specific racial or tribal groups is never justified, ever, at any time for any reason, not even in self-defense!  Okay, so why march at the police station today, why not lobby the legislature for new law exempting certain groups from being arrested when they shoot up apartment buildings?
  3. Police shouldn’t shoot anybody, ever, at any time for any reason, not even in self-defense!   Okay, so why march at the police station, why not lobby the Mayor and City Council to disarm all cops.  Take guns out of officer’s hands, no more officer-involved shootings.  Simple.

I’d love to get on board with the protest but I can’t figure out what we’re protesting for.  Shouldn’t I know that before I hit the bricks?

Pfft.  All that matters is that you show up when told.

Edge Of Our Seats

On the one hand, few stories have cranked my claustrophobia to 11 quite like the story of the Thai boys trapped in a cave for…

…gulp…

…two weeks.

But as this is written, the staggeringly tricky rescue is finally underway:

Senior officials told Reuters and AFP that six boys had been rescued, but this could not be confirmed.

Rescuers will now need another 10 to 12 hours to get ready for the next stage of the remarkable operation, Narongsak said..

The plan is to take the rest of the group out in batches of four within two days according to the Journal.

All of the rescued were examined and found to be in good health, according to local outlet The Nation.

The governor confirmed this, saying the health of the four boys is “perfect.”

Another local outlet, Kahosod English, said one of the rescued soccer players was being “closely monitored.”

The Thai Navy Seals posted on their Facebook page that four of the boys had been rescued.

Am I the only one who thinks “well, this is the 21st century” on learning the Thai SEALS have a website?

And of course, in a world that venerates vacuous celebrity, it’s elevating to know that the world still has some real heroes 

Sgt. Major Saman Gunan wasn’t abiding by any orders when he joined the effort to rescue a boys soccer team trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. The 38-year-old retired Thai Navy SEAL did so by choice.

Gunan, who was working as a volunteer, passed out underwater during an overnight mission placing extra air tanks inside the cave, along the route divers use to reach the cavern where the 12 boys and their coach remain stranded and the oxygen in the air is depleting. He couldn’t be revived and was confirmed dead early Friday morning, according to Thai officials.

Hopefully this story will be over, with a happy ending, today.

 

They’re Coming For A Lot More Than Your Guns

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The story of how the court can seize a person’s guns based on one quip alone is bad enough, but I have two more thoughts:
When the cops seize your guns, do they run the serial numbers to see if they’re stolen; or test-fire them and run ballistics to see if they were used in a crime? If not, why not; and if so, what happens to the value of your never-fired-new-in-the-box John Wayne Peacemaker when they fire it and who makes good on that?
Second, assume the Liberal psychological explanation is correct – gun owners are compensating for having a small penis. In that case, taking away my guns would be physiological castration. If I were a gun owner considering seeking mental health treatment but the price I’d have to pay would be castration, you can forget about it.
“But it’s for your own good.” That’s what they told the tomcat. He didn’t like it either, but he had no choice. I do. If you want to reduce the number of men killing themselves with guns, you must find an incentive for them to accept treatment. Loss of manhood is not it.
Joe Doakes

Put it another way:   even back in the seventies, psychologists (in general) knew that telling homosexual children to not act gay was profoundly psychologically damaging; telling someone “don’t be what you are” is an invite for decades of misery.

Fair enough.

“Defend myself, those who depend on me, and my community” is as we discussed the other day a primary evolutionary imperative for men, and firearms are almost always the best way to do that.  Forget about japes about penis size – those are for people who are compensating for lousy comedic chops.  Disarming someone is an attack on what evolution tells them to be.

What could go wrong?

It’s MLK Day…

..and I”m taking a long weekend, myself.

With that in mind, I’ll urge you to listen, as I do this time every year, to Reverend King’s final, and in some ways most iconic, speech, “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop”.

“I Have A Dream”, full of vigor and hope, gets all the headlines; “Mountaintop” is both more sober and more expansive; it focuses on the stump-pulling work of the battle for civil rights. It has lessons for those who fight for all civil rights.

As always, the whole thing is worth a listen.

Travelogue

Manny Laureano – principal trumpeter for the Minnesota Orchestra, and a longtime friend of this blog and me personally – went back to his native Puerto Rico. Nothing new there – he goes back roughly once a year.

It’s a little different this time – it’s his first visit since hurricane Maria.

Manny’s got a blog, now, and yesterday he published the first of many parts of his account of his trip home. Check the whole thing out.

Human Nature

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals insist people are basically good.  If the cops laid down their guns, then the criminals would see there’s no need to be armed so they’d lay down their guns, too.  The world would be a better place if we got rid of the nasty guns.

That’s a lovely vision but it depends on the validity of the underlying assumption: are people basically good?  Can we depend on them to be kind and generous and helpful in a crisis, when normal societal constraints are gone?  Is there any recent empirical evidence to answer the question?

Houston hurricane – looters.  Miami hurricane – looters.   Puerto Rico hurricane – looters.  Wildfires in California – looters.

Joe Doakes

And it’s not just “progressives”.   “Anarchist” libertarianism can only exist with the complete repeal of human nature.

People Addict People

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

There is a crisis.  People who are prescribed drugs containing opioids can become addicted to them.

There is a problem.  People who receive medical treatment have privacy rights.  We don’t know who’s doing the prescribing, who’s doctor-shopping, who’s obtaining prescriptions only to sell them.

There are proposed solutions, but they’re mostly paperwork regulations that have no more effect on real-world issues than putting up a Drug Free Zone sign on a schoolhouse door.  More warning labels won’t help: people take the medicine doctors prescribe because we trust doctors.  Restricting prescriptions won’t solve the end problem: no doctor prescribes heroin and people who self-medicate their personal problems with drugs will obtain them illegally, as they always have.  Adding a new federal registry of sensitive information on individuals – does the word “Equifax” ring any bells?

“Opioid” is simply the new word for “narcotic” which has been a staple in the War on Drugs since Coke took cocaine out of its soft-drink 100 years ago.  The problem isn’t the tool, the problem is the tool user.

Joe Doakes

As with any plan, philosophy, worldview or kind of government – the problem is people.

Disagreement

Being able to disagree is a dying art – and a vital one:

To say the words, “I agree” — whether it’s agreeing to join an organization, or submit to a political authority, or subscribe to a religious faith — may be the basis of every community. But to say, I disagree; I refuse; you’re wrong; etiam si omnes — ego non — these are the words that define our individuality, give us our freedom, enjoin our tolerance, enlarge our perspectives, seize our attention, energize our progress, make our democracies real, and give hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere. G

Diagreeing civilly and productively is what makes representative government possible.  We’re losing that ability.

Boomed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I’m considered a “Boomer” because my birth date is before the arbitrary cut-off in 1964; but by the time I reached each new stage in life, the older Boomers already had been there and ravaged it, like locusts.  I was about 5 years too late for everything, which makes me feel less like a Boomer and more like one of the next generation.

Like this kid feels.

What’s it do to a nation when you believe your generation has no future, that the people before you squandered it?

Joe Doakes

I’m probably in the same boat as Joe.  The arbitrary date cutoff is wrong, of course; “Baby Boomers” are the children of people who came home from the war and started having kids.  As my parents were 9 and 5 on VJ day, that just wasn’t the case.  And if I were a Baby Boomer, perhaps I’d remember more about the Beatles than hearing they’d broken up on the radio.

Anyway – what does it do for a nation, believing that the previous generation squandered your future?  Good question.  I’m looking at Millennials – say, at Evergreen State – and wondering if they’re going to squander my legacy.

Call For Mr. Hobbs

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If IQ exists (which SJWs debate but serious researchers do not), then the Theory of Evolution through Survival of the Fittest would suggest that average IQ was higher in the past.  It must have been – only the people clever enough to survive, lived long enough to reproduce.

Nowadays, with endless help groups and support networks and government programs, people who would have starved to death in the past are now surviving and breeding, as are their children.  The inevitable result must be a general lowering of IQ.  It’s not your imagination – people really are getting dumber every year.

Imagine that a new Black Death or Spanish Flu kills off 70% of the world’s population.  Would the survivors be smart enough to rebuild?  Or would our civilization disappear, to be discovered centuries from now as stone ruins deep in some jungle where St. Paul used to be?

Joe Doakes

In a semi-related matter, I’ve had a piece in my “drafts” folder for a few months now about how The Walking Dead is the most conservative thing Hollywood has produced in a generation.

I may have to finish it.

Alas, Babylon

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There’s a reason the United States considers cyber warfare to be a weapon of mass destruction, same as nuclear weapons: because of the massive damage it can cause to modern civilization.

Mitch wrote recently about a grid-down scenario from EMP attack.  How about grid-down event caused by ramsomware?  How secure are the computers that serve the national electrical grid?

If the Twin Cities were without power to scan groceries, to accept debit cards, to pump gas, to run air conditioners and elevators, to listen to the news or surf the web or communicate on cell phones . . . how long would it be before hooligans started breaking windows and homeowners started loading shotguns to protect their families?

You do have a shotgun, don’t you?  And several weeks of food and water?  A medical kit.  Propane or charcoal for the grill.

Joe Doakes

My plan is to become a warlord.

Changing Times

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Where did Americans get the assumption that if I work in the same office with other people, they’re automatically bosom buddies entitled to know everything about my life, and entitled to regale me with humorous anecdotes about every detail of their lives?

If I wanted to know about your kid’s Cub Scout dinner last night, I would have asked.  If I wanted you to know the details of my weekend, I would have told you.

Am I a curmudgeon, or is everybody else a gasbag?  Or both?

I asked a friend who said: “Yes, you are a curmudgeon.  The other people are being sociable.  They are assuming (apparently incorrectly) that you are socially engaged with those around you.  It’s a social contract.  When trapped in an elevator or mine shaft or cube farm for 8 hours, you talk a little.  You work in a government bureaucracy, so your social contract requires even more talking, plus loafing, web surfing, coffee drinking and paper shuffling.  There are other rules the social contract.  You are not required to engage in certain topics, for example.  Although that’s where the problems tend to arise these days since under the new and improved version of the social construct you are expected to be diverse, agreeing with the Liberal mantra at every opportunity in your own unique way.  That’s something you’re no good at; hence, the curmudgeon label.  You should work from home making millions in your spare time, I see ads for those jobs every day.”

I suppose he’s right.  Only 13 years until I can retire.

Joe Doakes

I’ve become very thankful that I get to  work from home.

Watch This

You’d do well to read this entire article by Kevin Williamson – about the real source of human achievement.

Hint: its not politics, or politicians:

Politics thrives on convincing us that things are worse than they are, telling us that we must live in fear of violence and misery if we do not elevate the members of a very special caste of people who do very little resembling real work. The contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton is not only unworthy of us as Americans — it is unworthy of us as a species. We contain within us greatness and the seeds of greatness, and the belief that the affairs of this free, dynamic, prosperous, good, unprecedented republic of 319 million souls rests on the choice between Enfeebled Psychotic Miscreant A and Enfeebled Psychotic Miscreant B is a superstition, one that we should leave behind.

And the conclusion?

Even the best of them do not represent the best of us. They can do some good, mainly by protecting property and the freedom to trade, organizing the occasional public good here and there, while otherwise staying out of the way. We — we human beings — cut global poverty in half in 30 years, built an ever-expanding electronic Library of Alexandria and have connected (so far) about half of the world’s population to it, all but eradicated polio, and saw the average life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa grow by 70 percent in 50 years. What’s next?

You could do worse than to read the whole thing.

Rights

I’m not going to talk politics, here. I’m going to talk morality and ethics.

First: as a general rule, it’s considered immoral to make someone accountable and responsible for something, but to withhold the rights needed to carry that responsibility out. It’d be wrong to say “raise this kid!” without giving someone the rights to, y’know, raise the kid.

Right?

Second: If someone said to you “I have the right not to be hit by a tornado”, you’d think they were nuts – right? Your rights don’t affect nature – do they?

Likewise, if someone said “I have a right not to get hurt while driving”, you’d likely respond “there is no “right” to be exempt from bad luck, equipment failure, or even human negligence – your own, or someone else’s”.

No – in both cases, you have the *responsibilty* to protect yourself, and especially your family, from these dangers that nature, technology and human nature throw at you. You listen to the sirens and haul the kids down to the basement; you check your tires, you make sure your kids are belted in, and yourself to boot; you watch for drivers who seem impaired or reckless, and drive defensively. You have the *right* to take action to meet your responsibility to *avoid* having human nature, mechanical nature, or Mother Nature harm you and yours.

So in this past week and a half, since the atrocity in Orlando, a lot of people have been arguing about the Second Amendment. One line I’ve heard a lot is “your Second Amendment right doesn’t trump my right not to get shot!”, usually from people who think they’re making a show-stopper point.

They’re half right; the Second Amendment trumps nothing. Literally. Because there *is* no “right not to get shot”. There is only a responsibility to try to deter, deflect or end threats to your community, to you, and your family.

Like Mother Nature, human nature is full of ugly surprises and perversions; people who want to take what’s not theirs (criminals), people who think that violence is a means to a political end (terrorists), some who think killing is their ticket to immortality (rampage killers) and, every so often, someone who thinks their will to power is more important than your life, liberty and happiness; none of them have the “right” to do any of it, but that doesn’t prevent them from doing it anyway.

Do you have a “right” not to be affected by the worst human nature has to offer? In an abstract sense, maybe – but discussions of “rights” with criminals, terrorists, madmen and tyrants are about as useful as discussions with tornados and flat tires.

You don’t have a “right” not to be affected by perversions of human nature, any more than you have a right not to be affected by tornados, earthquakes or blowouts. But you do have that responsibility.

To meet that responsibility, you have rights; the right to take actions that protect everyone; you don’t need a permit to check your tires, to take your kids to the basement when the sirens go off [1]…

…and the *right* to defend you and yours from the worst of human nature with a firearm (among many, many other options – from speech, peer pressure and dogs, to locked doors and motion lights, through restraining orders, police calls and the like). The Second Amendment doesn’t grant this right; our creator did, just like our rights to speak, worship, publish, and so on. To try to suppress that right – the right to uphold that responsibility to protect ones self, community and family – is as immoral as giving people any other responsibility without rights.

There is no more “right not to get shot” than there is a “right to shoot people” [2].

——

OK, I lied. There’s some politics in here too.

Some people who should know better have been given to stroking their chins and intoning “y’know, the 2nd Amendment exists and is a right – but we’ve rolled back other rights, like the right to own slaves”.

Sure – we’ve changed the Constitution. The 13th Amendment abolished the “right” to own other humans – an institution that was morally repugnant BECAUSE it stripped away the other human’s rights. Basic principle, here: one person’s rights can not infringe other peoples’ rights.

But abolishing the Second Amendment – or more likely, trying to ban a class of firearms – has less in common with the 13th Amendment than the 18th, which banned alcohol. Like Prohibition, the gun grabbers believe that if they just regulate what people can get their hands on, they can repeal human nature itself!

Prohibition made everything that it was trying to help, even worse, and had unintended consequences that were far worse than the original problem (all-time high crime rates, ballooning government spending, contempt for the law).

Naturally, this’ll be different.

Anyway – you don’t, ever, get more freedom by taking other peoples’ freedom away.

[1] although don’t give the Saint Paul DFL any ideas

[2] other than in self-defense, naturally

Our Fetishistic Elites

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals say Second Amendment advocates are compensating for small genitals [and let’s not forget the more recent, almost-as-dumb “ammosexual” – Ed.]; they call members of the Taxed Enough Already Party by the name for a deviant homosexual sex act; and now gasp that the intramural insult “cuckservative” refers to three-way-inter-racial porn (it doesn’t, it’s a combination of “cuckold” and “conservative” and means nominal conservatives that stick by the Republican Party even though the party elite constantly cheats on them).

Everything Liberals say about their political opponents is grounded in sexual fetishes.  And yet, if I were to suggest that gay marriage activists are queer, I’d be excoriated for unacceptable and demeaning incivility.

If Liberals didn’t have double standards, they’d have none at all.  I guess that’s what makes them better than me – they have twice as many standards!

Joe Doakes

Liberal Privilege is never really having to make sense.

A Modest Question 3: More Of The Shifting Dream

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The reason for exploring all this American Dream stuff is the poor performance of Black students on achievement tests.  Are the tests measuring the right things?

The modern White American Dream seems to be clean, indoor, meaningful work that pays well enough for an apartment with high-speed WiFi and a Light Rail Pass, such as sitting in a cubicle at a non-profit, saving the whales.  For that, students need basic arithmetic, reading, writing and not much more, certainly not college level expertise.  Any American who shares that dream – Asian, Hispanic, Black, Native American, Muslim, Jewish, or refugee – needs the same skills.  Any high school should be capable of teaching what they need to know and our traditional achievement math and reading tests should be capable of measuring it.

What about people who don’t share that Dream, who reject it?  Those people don’t do well in those White Dream schools because the skills being taught aren’t relevant to their futures.  Those students become a stereotype (which doesn’t fit every rebel but fits enough to have a grain of truth or the stereotype wouldn’t be useful) of Black Male Troublemakers, disrupting the school, fighting with others, preventing everyone else from learning.

So what is those rebels’ dream?  What skills would they prefer to learn, to succeed at their Dream?

If the Young Black Man Dream was as silly as the hateful racists claim – free sex, free stuff, free time – then the required skills would not be the same level of math and reading skills required for the White American Dream. Instead, young Black men would need verbal skills to convince fat White chicks to bed them and to hand over their welfare checks.  They would need to speak English poorly enough to get along with their peers but well enough to convince probation officers that they were doing nothing wrong when the police arrested them.  They would need pattern recognition skills to decipher gang colors and tattoos to avoid trouble.  They would need enough arithmetic to make change from selling drugs and buying bullets.  Yes, I’m intentionally being absurd to illustrate the point:  all students want to learn things they think will be helpful in their future lives as they imagine them.  The question is: how do Black male students imagine their future lives?

So back to education: if you are a young Black man and the school isn’t teaching skills relevant to your Dream – whatever Dream that is – then naturally you’re be bored stiff in class after about 8th grade.  You’ve learned all the useful knowledge the school has to offer – the rest isn’t relevant to your Dream.  Bored, restless, disciplined, disrespectful, fighting . . . and doing poorly on tests: do we have a discipline problem, or a Dream problem?

Should we accommodate the Dream?  Or try to change it?

Joe Doakes

It’s way past time to change the terms by which we define “the dream”.

A Modest Question 2: The Ever-Shifting Dream

Joe Doakes emails:

“The American Dream” has changed several times.

Used to be, laborers living in filthy tenements in New York or Chicago dreamed of traveling West where they could bust the sod, build a home, and make a new life for their families.

Used to be, GI’s in foxholes dreamed of finding a nice girl to settle down with and a job in a factory to afford a bungalow on a quarter-acre lot.

Used to be, parents worked overtime to send their kids to college to be doctors and lawyers, so they wouldn’t have to work with their hands and could afford a McMansion in Eagan plus a lake cabin Up North.

For young Americans nowadays, The American Dream might consist of an college degree in Sociology to get a job working in a cubicle for a non-profit so you can live in a converted warehouse and ride Light Rail.

Notice what they have in common?  They’re all White dreams.  Black people living in pre-Civil War days had entirely different dreams of freedom.  Black GIs came home to segregated dreams.  And since the 1970’s, Black families have fragmented and crime in Black neighborhoods has skyrocketed.

What is The American Dream for Black youth today?  What should the schools be teaching to help them achieve that dream?

Joe Doakes

More on this tomorrow.

A Pet Peeve

I was listening to a segment on MPR with Tom Weber, interviewing Bryan Strawser of the MN Gun Owners Political Action Committee about President Obama’s big gun speech.

chanting_points_200px

But one of the callers reminded me of a pet peeve that’s developed over the years of listening to gun control activists.  It was a woman from Sioux Falls, who said…

…well, we’ll come back to that.

But First:  If a thunderstorm springs up, do you have a right to take your family out for a walk without being hit by lightning?

Of course not.  You have…:

  • responsibility to not endanger your family
  • The free will to decide if you’re going to take a walk in the rain (and lightning, and maybe hail)
  • The means to avoid the rain, hail and lightning by staying inside.

But what if humans are involved?

Do you have a right to drive your kids to the mall and not get struck by another car?

No.   What you have is…

  • responsibility as a driver and as a parent to assess the risks inherent in driving your family in a car.  At 2PM on a Saturday afternoon, those are probably pretty low.  At bar closing time on Saint Patrick’s Day, probably less low.
  • moral imperative as a citizen and moral being not to endanger other people via your own behavior on the road.
  • An obligation to use all prudent means to keep your family, passengers and the rest of the driving public safe; wear seatbelts, put your small children in car seats, carry insurance, maintain your vehicle, drive defensively, prudently and without distractions.
  • You have legal recourse if someone breaks the law and violates the principles above, and damages your vehicle or harms you or your passengers.  Law enforcement may also have something to say about it.

You have a right to try to drive your kids to the mall.   It is your responsibility to see to it that you get there and back safely.

Anyway:  The woman from Sioux Falls referred to something I hear from a lot of less-informed people on the issue – most of whom, I suspect, are repeating a chanting point that neither they nor the person they heard it from understands all that well.

“My kids have a right not to get shot”.

No, ma’am.  They do not.

Nobody has a right to shoot them, it’s true (let’s assume “self-defense” is off the table).

But there is no “right not to get shot” .

You have…:

  • Moral imperatives to:
    • Not kill innocent people yourself
    • Avoid being in a position where “violent death” is a significant likelihood.  As much publicity as rampage and spree killings get, you are still vastly more likely to be a homicide statistic if you’re involved in a life of crime
    • Keep your children out of danger – whether it’s not hanging out among drug dealers, or being observant of the situation around you as you go about your law-abiding business.
  • common sense imperative to avoid places where lethal trouble might break out, and be observant about the situation around you.
  • responsibility to see to your own safety by whatever means you deem (as a responsible, law-abiding adult) necessary and your worldview finds acceptable.  That can mean anything from pure pacifism (being OK with giving up your stuff, and maybe your life, rather than resorting to violence) to avoidance, to prudent preparations for self-defense.   For some, that means developing the ability to deter or counterattack against violent attack.
  • responsibility to see to your family’s safety.   What does that mean?  Oh, boy, is that complicated.  Do your kids go to a school full of kids in black trench coats who listen to Slipknot?  You might wanna look into their environment.  Do your kids to go a school where the official response to the possibility (remote!) of a spree shooter is to hand out suspensions for talking about spree shooters?  You may need to have a talk with your principal, as fraught as that can be.  (I had a conversation with my kids’ principal after 9/11 – and it was depressing indeed).

Too picky about semantics?  Probably.

But even if there is a “right not to get shot”?   Like all other rights, it’s your responsibility to know how to practice it, and your imperative to protect it.  Because nobody is obliged to do it for you.

A Parable

(SCENE:  A small aircraft is flying over the prairie.  Inside the plane are:

  • Carpal POX:  a golf pro from Wayzata, and Vice Chair for Ideological Purity at the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Viktor VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE: a professional fraternity organizer, and Vice Chair for Education at the 5th CD Libertarian Party
  • Stephanie Marie ANNAN: Community Organizer for the Minnesota 5th CD Libertarian party.
  • Mitch BERG:  Guy, travelling space-available
  • Buck SAVAGE: The pilot. 

Suddenly, the right engine bursts into flames.  The plane begins to vibrate and starts to swerve to the right)

SAVAGE:  Crap!  Everybody grab a parachute!  We’ve gotta bail out!

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Oh, dude! Is this like one of those jokes, where the Pope, Hitler and Kim Kardashian are in a plane and there’s only two parachutes? 

SAVAGE:  No, there’s five.  Hurry up and put one on…

ANNAN:  …or what?  The (makes scare quotes in the air) “plane” will “crash” and “kill” us “all”?  How do we know this? 

BERG:  Um, yeah – I’ll take a ‘chute.  Thanks. 

POX:  Wait – I think there’s a third option.  Or maybe several third options. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  That means like third through maybe millionth options, you douche!

POX:  Let’s think about this.  Who’s to say there’s any absolutes, here? 

BERG:  (Frantically donning parachute) I’d say “the plane is crashing” is pretty absolute.

ANNAN:  That’s assuming the parachutes work.  I’ve read that they don’t always work.  Sometimes they actually cause accidents. 

SAVAGE:  Look, ma’am, pretty soon the fire in the engine is going to melt the wing spar, and the wing is going to fall off and the plane will go into an uncontrollable spin, and the centrifugal force will pin you to the wall of the plane so hard you won’t be able to move. 

ANNAN:  Oh, don’t even get me started on the melting point of steel. 

BERG:  The wing spar is aluminum, isn’t it, Mr. Savage? 

SAVAGE:  Yeah…

POX:  Look, the point is that this is a fine time to brainstorm for more, better options than the ones our authority figure – no disrespect intended…

SAVAGE:  (Handle on the hatch handle) None taken.

POX:  …tells us.  Because the biggest problem with the human mind is that we allow authority figures to shackle our imagines, and the bounds of logic to dictate the parameters of the possible.  What other options are there besides “flaming death” and “parachute?”

BERG:  “Dying while engaging in navel-gazing magical thinking?”

POX:  Not quite in the spirit intended, but there are no bad ideas here…

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Dude, I reject the premise that there’s any difference between the two.  Choosing one or the other merely perpetuates a binary system.  I’m not going to pick either one. 

SAVAGE:  Well, yeah – you will pick one.  Or more to the point, it’ll pick you. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  Don’t tase me, bro. 

POX:  Benghazi!  Benghazi!

(ANNAN and VON SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE giggle)

ANNAN:  I’m done talking with people who think in terms of “life” or “death” as absolutes. 

BERG:  Well, that’s a perfectly fine metaphysical and theological point, but crashing in the plane sort of moots the discussion. 

ANNAN:  That does it.  I’m shunning you. 

POX:  OK.  Fourth option; we concentrate real hard and levitate the plane?  Again, no bad ideas, here.  Any more? 

BERG:  So I pull this ring here? 

SAVAGE:  After we’re out of the plane. 

POX:  Some people just can’t be cured. 

ANNAN:  There is no difference between the disease and the cure. 

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE:  I’m totally posting this to Facebook. 

(BERG and SAVAGE jump, count to three, and pull the rip cords, as the plane, engine ablaze, sails into the distance). 

ANNAN (in the distance):  Bunch of ‘chutists.

VON-SCHLIEFFENBERG-MOLTKE and POX:  ‘Chutists!  ‘Chutists! 

(And SCENE)