An Interview With George Orwell

SCENE: The set of a tony TV talk show; black background, two chairs, end table with two glasses of water. Mitch BERG is interviewing George ORWELL, back from the great beyond.

BERG: Mr. Orwell, one of your great quotes from 1984 was “He who controls the past, controls the future. He who controls the past, controls the present”.

ORWELL: Quite.

BERG: So when you see today’s American Left saying things like this – a woman who specifically called for shutting down schools, even as the science piled up that children and their teachers were safer from a public health perspective in school than at home, that most of Europe recognized this well over a year ago, and that fought hard to stay shut down long after most of society had re-opened, but then went out in public to say…:

ORWELL: Oh, I see things like that, and so much more, and I say to myself “George, you were such an impish young pollyanna back in 1948”.

And SCENE

Beleaguered

SCENE: Mitch BERG is standing in line at Kramarczuk’s Deli in Northeast Minneapolis, checking his email on his phone as he waits for an order. Distracted, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE walking in the door.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Aaaaah, sssssschto Novovo, Aver…

LIBRELLE: Why are you here?

BERG: I’ve been coming here for 30-plus years.

LIBRELLE: What? You support the right of a beleaguered people who are surrounded on three sides by an authoritarian regime who has tried to murder them all in the past, who’ve launched yet another campaign of terror, and is carrying on a plucky campaign of resistance against overwhelming odds, tapping immense civil spirit to fight back against an authoritarian invader who vows genocide against them?

BERG: You’re referring to Israel?

LIBRELLE: (Mouth flaps open like a trout)

CLERK: (To BERG). Order up. (Puts wrapped sausage on counter. Turns to LIBRELLE). Er, your order sir…er, ma…(Looks at BERG, in a visible panic. BERG shrugs.)

LIBRELLE: (Mouth continues to flap)

BERG: Have a great day.

(BERG walks out. And SCENE).

Foreign Relations

SCENE: Mitch BERG is at a coffee shop. He orders an egg souffle – the last one in the fridge. As the CASHIER is giving him the egg souffle, Avery LIBRELLE steps, unbeknownst to BERG, up into line behind.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, fuuuuuuor criying out loud, how ya been…

LIBRELLE: President BIden is showing the value of having a season hand with decades of experience in foreign policy in control.

BERG: Uh…

LIBRELLE: (Ignoring BERG for the moment, speaking to the CASHIER) I’ll have one of the cheese and onion egg souffles).

CASHIER: I’m sorry, ma’…er, si…er (Looks at BERG, terrified. BERG shrugs shoulders) …uh, we are out. We just sold the last one.

LIBRELLE: (Looks at BERG). So you got the last egg souffle.

BERG: Yeah, sorry – they are apparently lo…

LIBRELLE: I wanted an egg souffle.

BERG: I know, right? They’re keto, and they’re…

LIBRELLE: We need to sort this out.

BERG: I mean, I’m sorry. I didn’t plan it this way.

LIBRELLE: We need to reach a negotiated settlement on this impasse.

BERG: I mean, I already have it. I paid for it, I’m about to eat it. What “negotiated settlement” did you have in mind?

LIBRELLE: Someone needs to remove you from this coffee shop, and leave me the egg souffle.

BERG: I find your terms unacceptable.

LIBRELLE: Perhaps you need to just disappear.

BERG: You’ve followed a bag negotiating strategy with an even worse one, one that might be chargeable as assault.

LIBRELLE: It was just a harmless ad lib from my internal monologue.

BERG: Sort of like our putative President’s negotiating style.

LIBRELLE: Hey. That was a Biden joke. And you should talk; your Saint Ronald did the same thing when he told the Soviets to tear down the wall.

BERG: Calling for real estate improvements aren’t the same as asking someone to disappear the leader.

LIBRELLE: What are we going to do about the souffle?

(BERG takes a big bite).

LIBRELLE: Fascist!

BERG: (Muffled, with souffle in his mouth) Naturally.

And SCENE.

Expertise

SCENE: Mitch BERG is having a glass of wine at the bar in Whole Foods in Saint Paujl, after a day of vigorous shopping. Lost in the reverie, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE has walked in.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, shhhhhuuuure enough, it’s Avery. Long time no see. What’s u..

LIBRELLE: Marsha Blackburn asked Ketanji Brown Jackson a stupid, badgering question at her confirmation hearing to be the best Supreme Court justice ever.

BERG: Best?

LIBRELLE: She is the most qualified jurist in history! The Washington Post showed it! Pictures, being science, never lie!

BERG: Well, not so much.

LIBRELLE: I never read National Review.

BERG: Clearly. So why do you think it was a “stupid, badgering question”?

LIBRELLE: It’s purely politicized, and she’ll never have to rule on that. “What’s a woman?” Mitch, please.

BERG: First: SCOTUS hearings, politicized? Bring that up when Robert Bork, Janice Rogers Brown, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are up for confirmation.

LIBRELLE: Those people were all in the past…

BERG: Exactly. As to never having to rule on that? Perhaps. But answering “what is a woman?”

LIBRELLE: It was an unfair question for which she had no time to prepare.

BERG: (looking at watch). A woman is an adult human with two “X” chromosomes. Three seconds. No prep time. And I didn’t even go to Harvard Law School.

LIBRELLE: She will never have to rule on what a woman is.

BERG: Perhaps. But she’ll be asked to rule on questions where much of the population does know what the answer is; the fact she’s willing to equivocate on something this comical, to keep the “progressive” wing of her party happy, is a very bad sign.

LIBRELLE: There are no such quesitons in the law! Its science!

BERG: When does human life being?

LIBRELLE: I don’t know. I’m not a doctor.

BERG: When do community standards violate free association?

LIBRELLE: I don’t know. I’m not the community.

BERG: Huh. When does the right to free speech interfere with private property rights?

LIBRELLE: I don’t know. I’m not a professor of rhetoric.

BERG: Huh. What does the phrase “Right of the People” mean?

LIBRELLE: I don’t know. I’m not a law professor.

BERG: A SCOTUS justice will be ruling on any or all of those things, including in the next term.

LIBRELLE: I don’t care. It was still a stupid question.

BERG: Nah. It fixed the front lines in the culture war – the issue beneath all the other issues in the upcoming mid-terms. And it showed which side are the metaphorical Russians, and which are the figurative Ukrainians.

LIBRELLE: Bla bla bla. So where are the avocados?

BERG: I don’t know. I’m not a grocer.

(And SCENE)

Acceptable

SCENE: Mitch BERG is paying his tab at a Korean restaurant. As his card is running, Avery LIBRELLE walks in. Waiting for his card, BERG desperately tries to make himself as small as possible. But it doesn’t work.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, shiiiiiiiiitake mushrooms made the perfect kimchi for the Galbi, and how the hey, Avery…

LIBRELLE: You had Covid?

BERG: Not that it’s any of your business, but yeah, I did. The original version.

LIBRELLE: So you were a negligent person who allowed yourself to get sick, endangering everyone around you.

BERG: So you think people who catch Covid bear some culplability…

LIBRELLE: It shows they don’t care about the poeple around them, and have depraved indifference to the suffering of those around you.

BERG: You haven’t heard, have you?

LIBRELLE: Nonsense. Probably. What?

BERG: The news.

LIBRELLE: What news?

BERG: Governor Klink…er, Walz, and most of his family, have tested positive for Covid.

LIBRELLE: …

BERG: And that’s after having all the vaccines and boosters, and apparently being able to go through hard-to-get tests like they are a bunch of gang-bangers burning through ammo.

LIBRELLE: …

BERG: So – what do you have to say?

LIBRELLE: The Governor is contributing to herd immunity, and is a hero.

BERG: Just like me.

LIBRELLE: Er…

BERG: Merry Christmas, Avery.

LIBRELLE: Hey, that’s triggering!

(But BERG is already out the door)

And SCENE

Compare And Contrast

SCENE: It’s the studio at Minnesota Public Radio. MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats, is guest-ghosting “MInnesota Insights”, a program of insights about Minnesota,. She is interviewing Gretel STROMBERG, Executive Director of “Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes”.

SILBERMAN: So, big news in Los Angeles. The city is banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers. What’s your take on that, Gretel?

STROMBERG: (sounding audibly giddy). I could hardly be happier! That noise every fall just drives me crazy. And sturdies show that a leaf blower creates a biggest carbon footprint in an afternoon than a car driving from Minneapolis to Fresno.

SILBERMAN: Hmmm.

STROMBERG: But it’s also the fact that it’s just a horrible sound.

SILBERMAN: Oh, same for me!

STROMBERG (sounding like she’s trying to head off a faux pas), let me say that what I’m saying is from the perspective of a white woman of privilege…

SILBERMAN: Of course…

STROMBERG: Because white woman privilege is huge and powerful.

(Scene cuts to a community clinic in Coleraine, Minnesota, where Angela PULJUU, an LPN, is driving home from a 12 hour shift in an assisted living center)

PULJUU: Huh.

(Scene cuts to a tony home in Deephaven, facing Lake Minnetonka. Karen BERHEIM-WOLD, part-time realtor, ex-wife of a successful entrepreneur and current trophy wife of a bank CEO, is having a cup of Nespresson in her three season porch overlooking the lake)

BERHEIM-WOLD: That is so true.

(Scene cuts to a small farm in Goodhue County, where Janelle HELMBACHER is looking at price hikes in the meat aisle at the local grocery store)

HELMBACHER: What, now?

(Scene cuts to an opulent mansion in Chicago, where for whatever reason Oprah Winfrey is listening to the live stream)

WINFREY: Testify!

(Scene cuts to a school bus in South Saint Paul, where teachers aid Pauline SCZEPANSKI is wrangling a bunch of junior high kids who have gotten un-used to being around kids or following rules).

SCZEPANSKI: Huh.

And SCENE

Continue reading

Definitions

SCENE: Mitch BERG is eating a skewer of souvlaki at a local greek joint when Avery LIBRELLE walks in. BERG tries to hide behind a menu, but LIBRELLE sees him, walks over.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, hey, Avery…

LIBRELLE: You people are so paranoid!

BERG: OK, I”ll bite. How, this time?

LIBRELLE: They’re not teaching Critical Race Theory in schools.

BERG: Do tell.

LIBRELLE: Critical race theory is taught in law schools and sociology programs.

BERG: Y’know, this reminds me of the conversation I have with anti-gunners, condescendingly cooing “nobody’s coming for your guns.

LIBRELLE: More paranoia. Nobody’s coming for your guns

BERG: Right. So I point out that politicians say that that’s exactly what they’re going to do – Joe Biden said it himself on is campaign website…

LIBRELLE: That’s just talk, not policy…

BERG: Right. That’s the inevitable next line. So I point to gun control legislation jammed down in New York, Colorado and Virginia in the past few years, and they say…(motions toward LIBRELLE)

LIBRELLE: They’re not coming for your guns right this moment.

BERG: Right. According to you all, I can’t be concerned about gun control until there’s a BATFE agent beating down my door with a photocopied warrant.

But let’s get back on subject. CRT…

LIBRELLE: Isn’t being taught.

BERG: The VIrginia Department of Education says it is.

LIBRELLE: But you can’t prove that it’s being taught in classrooms!

BERG: Teachers are most definitely teaching students that America is inseparably and irredeemably rooted in racism, that “whiteness” and racism are inseparable, that the police were originally an extension of Slave Patrols, and that the Second Amendment was framed to defend slavery and nothing more. All of which are part and parcel of CRT.

LIBRELLE: Again, CRT is taught in law schools and post-secondary education.

BERG: So none of those things are taught in schools.

LIBRELLE: Of course they are.

BERG: And they are all inseparable from CRT.

LIBRELLE: No. Its not CRT.

BERG: What is it, then?

LIBRELLE: It’s a theory about race, that criticizes.

BERG: But not CRT?

LIBRELLE: Of course not.

BERG: (looks down at menu). Look at how the price of pita has gone up…

LIBRELLE: (Looks down) Huh?

But BERG has slipped away.

And SCENE

Fair Enough

SCENE: Mitch BERG is riding his bike down a suburban street when Edmund DUCHEY, riding a recumbent bike, pulls out onto the street to cut BERG off. Duchey is proprietor at the (possibly fictional) progressive blog “MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com”, and was badly scarred by a childhood in which he was routinely bullied – by much younger children

DUCHEY: Merg!

BERG: Jeez, you little feeb, you’re driving like a crazy f***.

DUCHEY: You wingnug ammosexuals want to carry guns at the state fair?

BERG: It’s got little to do with carrying anything, anywhere. It’s about a government body being able to arbitrarily restrict law-abiding citizens civil rights in violation of state law.

DUCHEY: Hah! Stupid ammosexual! The State Fair is a private corporation!

BERG: A private corporation that had its own police force, with arrest power? Which has called itself a part of state government in its own court filings for over 100 years? Seems like a bit of a stretch. And Minnesota statute is fairly clear that state governments, outside the judiciary, aren’t allowed to bar law-abiding citizens from practicing their civil rights.

DUCHEY: Stupid wingnuts. So you want to carry your guns, so you can intimidate people at the fair?

BERG: First – thanks for confirming Berg’s 16th Law of Cognitive Dissipation. Second: “intimidate”?

DUCHEY: People walking around with guns on their hips, or an AR47 slung over their shoulder, are by definition intimidating.

BERG: I could meet you halfway, if you were smart enough to realize it; open carrying in a crowd is a little tactless. I’d never do it. But the ones who have permits are not the people you need to worry about, and the only time criminals carry openly is when they’re pushing it in your face to rob or carjack you. But again, this isn’t about your feelings. This is about the law, and whether we make the state follow it.

DUCHEY: So you want to carry your little gun concealed? You wingnuts will probably shoot your p****rs off.

BERG: And further down the Berg’s 16th Law rathole we go. But I’ll tell you what – there are over 300,000 carry permittees in MInnesota. If we were having accidental shootings in any significant numbers, you’d be hearing about it.

And when I did carry, it was like a .380. I’d need more like a 10 gauge with slugs. No way to conceal that. Now, for you, a .25 ACP should do the trick.

DUCHEY: Was that an insult?

BERG: As far as you know, it’s a diagnosis.

(BERG pedals around DUCHEY, who sits, puzzled)

And SCENE.

Let’s Cool Things Down

SCENE: A conference room at “Minnesotans for All Progressive Causes” – a non-profit group financed by progressives with deep pockets – for the weekly message coordination meeting.

MyLyssa Silberman, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats, waits in the conference room along with Betty Rae Torstengaardsen, senior staff writer at the (possibly fictional) progressive blog “MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com“, sit, along with Mesme PHURPHY, elite objective political reporter from WCCO-TV They nervously check their watches.

Eventually, Gretel Stromberg Executive Director of “Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes”, and Inge “Lucky” Carroll, Executive Director of “Minnesotans United for All Progressive Causes”, enter the room.

CARROLL: (Looks at Silberman and Torstengaardsen and Phurphy, clears throat).

SILBERMAN, PHURPHY AND TORSTENGAARDSEN: (quickly rise from their seats)

STOMBERG: Be seated. (All sit, with STROMBERG at the head of the table). Americans are rejecting the term “insurrection” to describe the January 6 riot. We need to come up with another term.

PHURPHY: How about ‘genocide’?

CARROLL: Love the energy, Mesme, but it might be a bit of an overreach.

TORSTENGAARDSEN: I mean, ‘riot’ pretty much sums it up.

(STROMBERG and CARROLL cough nervously).

TORSTENGAARDSEN: Er…never mind.

SILBERMAN: ‘Coup’ usually implies the elites seizing control. ‘Insurrection’ implies a sustained, military campaign, like the Viet Cong or the IRA.

STROMBERG: I’ll go with “Putsch“.

(The three “journalists” sit, somewhat agape. Finally, SILBERMAN speaks)

SILBERMAN: So – a term that, outside a very thin film of political science and history academics, refers in American English solely to Hitler’s abortive 1922 Munich coup attempt?

(The three “journalists” look at each other)

PHURPHY: Works for me.

TORSTENGAARDSEN: Yep.

SILBERMAN: I hear and obey.

STROMBERG: (abruptly rising) Make it so. (Leaves the room with CARROLL).

And SCENE

Conspiracy!

SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking, sans ceremonial mask, into the Target on University Avenue, trying to calculate the number of people without masks in mandate-free, Karen-rich Saint Paul. Focused on numbers, he doesn’t notice as Avery LIBRELLE, wearing three masks, walks around the corner.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, ssssshhhhhhhhut the front door, how ya been, Avery?

LIBRELLE: Nobody is coming for your guns.

BERG: Democrats nationwide, including in Minnesota, are trying to.

LIBRELLE: Are they at your door taking your guns right this minute?

BERG: Er, no

LIBRELLE: So they’re not coming for your guns.

BERG: So if they’re not coming for my guns in five minutes, but not literally carting off my gun safe right at this moment…

LIBRELLE: Then you’ve got nothing to complain about.

BERG: Huh.

LIBRELLE: But the whole “Second Amendment” thing is just a conspiracy to sell more guns and ammo. It’s to profit from fear.

BERG: Huh. So the firearms and ammo industries staged “gun control” panic to improve their market.

LIBRELLE: Exactly!

BERG: So if that were the case, wouldn’t the firearms and ammunition industries have made sure they were ready to supply the immense demand?

(But LIBRELLE has already wandered off to badger someone who’s not wearing a mask.

Demotion

SCENE: Mitch BERG is biking through Como Park when he hears some muted sobbing. He looks toward a park bench, where he notices Avery LIBRELLE sitting, wearing four masks, which are becoming slowly soaked in tears. BERG visibly hesistates, but his sense of compassion overwhelms his reflexes. He gets off the bike and walks over toward LIBRELLE

BERG: Er…hey, Avery…

LIBRELLE: (Stifles a sob) Stay at least 12 feet away!

BERG: Nooo problem. What’s the matter?

LIBRELLE: I…I don’t know. It’s just that with the CDC suddenly scaling back mask mandates, and Governor…

BERG: Klink

LIBRELLE: …Walz ending mask mandates early, I just feel…(sobs again)I.

BERG: How?

LIBRELLE: Strangely… empty.

BERG: Like part of your purpose in life has been removed.k

LIBRELLE: (Small sob)

BERG: Like all your moral authority has been snatched away.

LIBRELLE: (Bigger sob)

BERG: Like you’ve lost your only response to that evolutionary instinct you have to respond to what you see as an existential threat – a sabertooth tiger or a famine or Pearl Harbor? That you’ve had your power to fill the void left by generations of plenty, safety and security has been ripped from your life?

LIBRELLE: (Wracked with a convulsive sob).

BERG: (Lets LIBRELLE cry a bit, then) Well, the good news is, most people have been vaccinated…you’ve had your vaccine, right?

LIBRELLE: (mustering some irate composure). Of course.

BERG: Well, there. you…

LIBRELLE: Twelve doses.

BERG: (jaw flaps in breeze for a moment before he shakes it off). Makes sense. To go with the four masks.

LIBRELLE: It’s six.

BERG: Of course it is.

And SCENE.

On “Hockey Night In Vermont”, Soon.

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “Gascoigne checks O’Reilly into the boards…”

COLOR GUY: “Oh, wow. Cheap hit, there…”

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “Aaaaand off come the gloves. We’ve got a donnybrook going here”

COLOR GUY: “Hockey used to be such an artistic game. How far hockey has fallen, since it’s first ever fight, last January 7”.

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER: “RIght you are, Guy”.

Somewhere In Highland Park, Probably

GUY A: “Who was that woman who got arrested here in Highland a few years back for being a terrorist?”

GAL B: “Sarah Jane Olson. She was arrested for being involved in January 6″.

GUY A: “I thought it was from in the Symbionese Liberation Army, back in the seventies?”

GAL B: “Couldn’t be. There was no political violence before January 6”

GUY A: “Doh. My bad”.

One Day, Driving Through The Eastern Ukraine

TOUR GUIDE: “Welcome to Volgograd – formerly Stalingrad”.

TOURIST:”Excuse me – will we see any monuments to the Battle of Stalingrad?”

TOUR GUIDE: “What?”

TOURIST: “The epic battle between the Nazis and Soviets, in 1942-43?”

TOUR GUIDE: “I don’t understand. There was no war or violence of any kind before January 6”.

KOMMISSAR (yelling from off-camera left (where else?)): “Or since!”

In A Blue-City School, Somewhere, Probably

TEACHER: OK, Chad, what do the Gulf War, World War 2, World War 1, the Civil War, the War of the Roses, and the French Revolution have in common?

CHAD: Um…

TEACHER: Besides being called wars.

CHAD: Um…I don’t know?

TEACHER: None of them existed. Because there was no violence of any kind before January 6.

Money Pedals The World

SCENE: Mitch BERG is shoveling landscaping dirt into a wheelbarrow, distracted. Avery LIBRELLE pedals up the alleyway on, naturally, a recumbent fat-tire bike, catching BERG by surprise.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Aaaaah, fffffffor crying out loud, Avery, long time no see. What’s…

LIBRELLE: America is built around structural racism.

BERG: Our “structurally racist” country elected a black president, twice, and we have a sitting Veep who is Black and South Asian.

LIBRELLE: Yeah, but that’s just politics.

BERG: OK. This country is capitalist, right?

LIBRELLE: Ugh. Yes. Ick.

BERG: And under capitalism – well, the parody of it you people observe – all things evolve back to money, right?

LIBRELLE: Ugh, yes. Awful.

BERG: Right. And there are few places in our society where “money” and the people who spend it are as attuned to peoples attitudes as in advertising.

And perhaps you’ve noticed – in advertising these days, “people of color” are represented waaaay out of proportion with their share of American demographics. And remember fifty years ago, when Norman Lear got all “transgressive” and cast a biracial couple as bit players on All in the Family? Pretty scandalous stuff, back then – but interracial couples are kinda the “it” thing in advertising these days.

Now – given the ad industry’s focus on consumer attitudes, and capitalism’s imperative to make money work, would advertisers be pushing “racial diversity” in ads if the general public, including the white middle class which makes up a large portion of advertisers targets, were just frothing with racial hate?

LIBRELLE: You notice skin color in ads?

BERG: I notice trends in advertising, a key part of the industry I grew up in and which is still my avocation.

LIBRELLE: That’s racist.

BERG: No, it’s utterly clinical. But shall I just ignore everyone’s race? Because that’s pretty much my default setting…

LIBRELLE: No, that’s racist, too…

BERG: So the only thing that’s not “racist” is shutting up and letting you tell me what to think?

LIBRELLE: Pretty much.

BERG: Naturally. Hey, loook (points into the distance) – a garbage truck!

(LIBRELLE looks around – giving BERG an opening to slip away) .

(And SCENE)

To Think They Say Progressives Are Economic Illiterates

SCENE: Mitch BERG is at Fleet Farm, looking for new liners for his old chopper mittens. Engrossed in his search, he doesn’t notice Avery LIBRELLE walking around the corner, a quizzical look on hi…er, he…er, Avery’s face. LIBRELLE notices BERG.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Uh, hi, Avery. What brings you out to Fleet Farm?

LIBRELLE: Picketing against the Navy and farmers!

BERG: Of course…

LIBRELLE: It’s time to tax the billionaires for all the excess profits they’ve been earning because of the deadly Trump pandemic.

BERG: So let me make sure I get this straight…

LIBRELLE: Uh, heteronormative…

BERG: Huh? Oh, for f…ranklin Delano Roosevelt’s sake. OK. Let me make sure I get this correct: you want to raise taxes on the e-commerce billionaires who are prospering mightily…

LIBRELLE: Yes.

BERG: …because the small businesses that were competing with them were destroyed by the government’s ham-fisted handling of the pandemic, which was imposed by the government that you now want to make the ultimate beneficiary of the government’s own dork-fingered, utterly catastrophic mis-handling of the response?

(But LIBRELLE has already wandered off, looking for wherever the ships are).

(And SCENE)

Denialists!

SCENE: Mitch BERG is waiting for takeout at a near-eastern restaurant on Snelling Avenue when Avery LIBRELLE walks in. Trapped, BERG tries to ignore…er, Avery. To no avail.

LIBRELLE: Merg!

BERG: Oh, hey, Avery. What’s new…

LIBRELLE: Republicans reject science!

BERG: Is that so?

LIBRELLE: That’s right. You don’t wear masks.

BERG: Huh. So – just to be clear, if you conduct an experiment, and the theory succeeds, and succeeds repeatedly, then it’s an indication that one’s theory is holding up well.

LIBRELLE: Of course. Science is awesome.

BERG: OK. So – theory: defending against ballistic missiles would remove a key area where a hostile foreign power can blackmail the US by threatening millions of American lives. Hypothesis: modern technology makes point defense against incoming missiles not only feasible, but reliable enough to incorporate in foreign and defense policy.

LIBRELLE: Nonsense. It’s impossible. That science was settled back in the 1980s.

BERG: This ain’t the eighties, and the science is settling in the direction of “set ’em up, we can shoot ’em down”.

LIBRELLE: Not only is it impossible to shoot down missiles, but even considering it is destabilizing, actually making a nuclear attack more likely, which would disproportionally affect People of Color, Latinx, gay and transgender people.

BERG: So we’ve gone from science to intersectional sociology.

LIBRELLE: Intersectional sociology is science.

BERG: Huh. And queer gender theory?

LIBRELLE: Science.

BERG: The 1619 Project?

LIBRELLE: Science.

BERG: Vox.com?

LIBRELLE: Scientists, every one of ’em.

BERG: Shooting down missiles using a 50-year-old missile and guidance technology that’s been steadily improving since Jimmy Carter was in office?

LIBRELLE: Pure emotion.

BERG: Gotcha.

LIBRELLE: Hey, could you buy me a gyro?

BERG: When can you pay me back?

LIBRELLE: What do you mean?

BERG: Right.

And SCENE.