AI, Humanoid Robots, the Singularity, or Curiosity Killed the Cat

Webtek Media

Even before the Jetson’s, Isaac Asimov gave us the Laws of Robotics in a short story called “Roundabout” published in 1942. The idea of creating machines with brains which could do work for us has been a dream of humans living in many different eras. But it was the stuff of fiction until now. And although we are closer to robots who think like humans than humans have ever been, although we now use Artificial Intelligence in many ways, we have not created the ‘singularity.’ There is currently a race to make the iconic robot, a thinking, feeling machine that can anticipate our needs and our moods, relieve us of tedious tasks, and take on the dangerous tasks that would kill or maim fragile humans.

Asimov’s Laws were written to protect humans from robots. We have always feared achieving humanoid robots even as we are heading pell mell towards producing them. Why do we keep going? If we understood that, we would have unlocked the mystery of what drives humans to do anything.

The very fact that Asimov wrote his laws reminds us that we also know the dual nature of our reality. Regardless of what we invent, create, or do to solve a problem, the solution will eventually reveal that it offers negatives as well as positives. Asimov wanted to look at what could go awry with robotics and protect against it. Clearly the more intelligent the creations, the more we endow them with the power to use human decision-making skills, make them capable of learning (and learning perhaps even beyond human intelligence), the more nervous we are that robots will no longer need humans and may harm us.

Asimov wrote:

First Law of Robotics

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law of Robotics

A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

Third Law of Robotics

A robot  must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first and second law.

We have had some evil robots like Hal the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey and in some of Asimov’s books, like I, Robot. In fact Asimov wrote many books about robots. We have had robots we fell in love with like C-3PO and R2-D2, and BB-8. We had robots of war like the AT -AT walkers in Star Wars. 

Since robots obey their owners and people are both good and evil, robots in fiction represent both sides of our nature. Recent books with robots and AI’s seem to be deliberately presenting us with kinder, gentler robots, whose human-like personalities make them very appealing. Authors seem to want to persuade us that Asimov was wrong when he suggested that robots that are too human may turn on us. Asimov implied, after all why would they need us? His robots learn that humans are not worthy of respect. Modern authors picture robot-human interactions as far more emotional and positive. 

Martha Wells presents us with The Murderbot Diaries, where the main character is a robot designed to be a ‘murderbot’ who doesn’t like his role in life, finds a way to excise his governing controller and goes rogue — but in the most heroic and entertaining ways. Kazuo Ishiguro presents us, in Klara and the Sun, with the very tuned-in AI, Klara, who runs on solar energy and seems to ‘out-human’ the humans by taking such good care of the person she is purchased for. Modern sci-fi of the world-building variety mixes humans and robots indiscriminately. We even have the dark view of humans who exploit robots as in Blade Runner. Google (which runs on AI) can give you a list of books about robots.

We may be discussing whether or not we should advance artificial intelligence, how far we should go with it and if we will ever reach the ‘singularity,’ but all the while we are discussing AI we are already using it in so many spheres. We have manufacturing robots, self-driving cars, smart assistants, proactive healthcare management, disease mapping, automated financial investing, virtual travel booking agents, social media monitoring, inter-team chat tools, conversational marketing bots, natural language processing tools, Facebook newsfeed, Google search, book recommendations, an iRobot or a Roomba to vacuum or mop our floors, GPS, facial recognition, handwriting recognition, speech recognition, virtual reality, artificial creativity and if you google artificial intelligence there is even more. Some of these involve simple algorithms, some are more complex. 

Neal Stephenson, in his book Fall, or Dodge in Hell, suggests that the eventual outcome of finding the singularity is oblivion, or living forever but only as digital beings. Is he issuing a warning like Asimov’s laws, that experts say robotics has moved beyond, or is his warning, which is more informed by where robotics has gone and where computing has gone, a warning we should heed. We are close to having quantum computing that does not require subhuman conditions to function, allowing us to handle data with exponentially greater speed and complexity. What good things will come with quantum computing and what will we do that might bring harm to humans, animals or the planet? We don’t know, but it looks like we’ll find out, unless the climate changes wrought by human excesses knock us back into a more primitive age. Stop or go on, yes or no? I think we all know the answer.

Trouble at the Border

From a Google Image Search – Reuters – Paul Ratje

Any opening the Dems give the Republicans to besmirch President Biden and Democratic Party policies they will take. So, having returned to accepting refugees at the southern border all the old talk that is intended to rev up fear of letting children running from drug cartels, climate changes that challenge food production, and lack of opportunity into America is being put in high gear once again. Kevin McCarthy and a group of Republican legislators, including my representative, John Katko have rushed to the southern border to find the MS-13 gangs rushing into America. 

Perhaps America had to stop breaking our immigration rules but it is a tough sell in the time of this pandemic. I wish that arrangements could have been made in advance for housing these children until their sponsors could be found. While honoring one law, we are breaking others. Children are not supposed to be held for more than 72 hours. These children will most likely be in custody for longer than 30 days. They are once again being held in cells or in jail-like settings and there is over-crowding. 

President Biden has called on FEMA to help find more humane ways to handle this influx of young, unaccompanied immigrants from our neighbors to the south. He has opened the Dallas Convention Center to house 3000 children with the help of FEMA. He is calling for help from social services workers to come to the border or find other ways to help place these children. We will be hearing heaps of blame and fearmongering over the next couple of months. The purpose may be to drown out the benefits of the relief funds. Biden is planning outreach in red states to make voters aware of what is in the relief program, but he will have to also address this activity at the southern border. Does fear trump hope? It all depends on Biden and the Democrats and how well they handle these two challenges.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/16/mccarthy-terrorists-border-gallego-escobar/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-immigration-political-threat/2021/03/15/bee8c83c-85a9-11eb-bfdf-4d36dab83a6d_story.html

How America’s Billionaires Fared in the Pandemic

This is not the graph from the WaPo article. This Statista graph looks at only the rise in profits from March (2020) to November (2020). From a Google Image Search

The article published in The Washington Post today (March 12, 2021) has an eye-opening graph which shows the profits that continued to fill the bank accounts of billionaires as unemployment rose and food lines lengthened. Elon Musk thrived with his profits soaring over 1000 times in one year. Even someone like Bill Gates who is a billionaire philanthropist saw his profits increase by a factor of 29. WaPo offers a graph that I could not capture. You can see it here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/12/musk-bezos-zuckerberg-gates-pandemic-profits/

Republicans are still railing against the pandemic relief bill. They seem rabid with anger because they contend that helping those at the bottom of our economy is the wrong move. They are suddenly back to being against raising the deficit even though there seems to be no other way (without making billionaires pay their fair share) to make sure our economy recovers. We certainly know trickle down doesn’t work.

Societies that get too top heavy often topple. We seem pretty close to a tipping point if we don’t pay some attention to those who have been neglected. Small businesses may be too pinched by a $15/hr wage, but that is only because some people are stockpiling profits that might oil the wheels of even the smallest enterprise.

Elon Musk may justify his enormous profits because his goals are very pricy, but if the American economy tanks no one will profit from his space flights or his automobiles except other wealthy people. He is just making toys for the rich. Will his rich boy toys eventually help save the earth or give us a way to escape a ruined earth. Maybe. But who wants a ruined planet Earth or a tanked US economy. We need to do a reboot in the ways our economy functions to reward so few over and over again, and so many hardly at all.

The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs – Book

From a Google Image Search – Women’s Foundation of California

Anna Malaika Tubbs has given us a book about The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation. I began reading this book near the end of Black History Month and finished it on International Women’s Day, a serendipitous accident of relevance. 

Emma Berdis Baldwin was born on the island of Grenada to an activist mother and father who faced the same fights for racial equality we have seen in America. America had claimed to be a nation where all men (and they did mean men) were created equal, but of course when she arrived she found that she was not in any racial nirvana. James was Berdis’s eldest child. Berdis was able to communicate love, pride, and the value of an education to her family and her family remained a close and loving one living in a four story Harlem building owned by James Baldwin which offered places for his sisters and brothers. Finding a mother as beloved as Berdis, a mother who produces a child of such value to the nation and the world is surely enough to hold a place for Berdis in our historical memory. 

Louise Little, mother of Malcolm X, was an activist all her life. She and her husband and her children moved frequently because her activism made them targets. She was a follower and an important worker in the movement begun by Marcus Garvey. She wrote in his newspaper and spread his message despite one close call with the KKK and other terrorist attempts to force her to be quiet. Her husband Earl was killed when he was pushed in front of a trolley. She and her children struggled with poverty after Earl’s death. Social services (welfare) pursued the family, eventually sending Louise to a mental institution, although her only mental illness was the stress of single parenting in a world where she could find no work. Malcolm X had followed in his mother’s footsteps, although he was not a Garveyite. He founded the Black Panthers and was assassinated for his embrace of violence as a means to change, but of course Martin Luther King Jr. who believed in nonviolent protest was also assassinated. Louise was released after 25 years in the mental institution and was able to spend her last years surrounded by her family in a lovely and peaceful black town they founded.

Alberta King was married to the powerful reverend at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. She led a life of greater affluence. Alberta was a talented musician who played the organ at that famous church and led a renowned choir that people came from miles around to hear. She also gave lessons in music to many black Atlanta children. As she watched Martin Luther, (ML) as he was called, turn into a speaker who captured the attention of the entire world she worried constantly about the forces arrayed against him. One day a stranger entered the Ebenezer Baptist Church and shot Alberta and four others as she sat at her organ. She survived to be surrounded in her age by her remaining children and grandchildren.

Anna Malaika Tubbs is well aware of how women, especially Black women get erased from history and she did not want that to happen in the case of at least these three moms who gave the world so much. As she writes she shows us the ways that these sons were products of their upbringing and how the mothers were the most influential forces in their children’s lives. These mothers lived through many dark days and they kept their families afloat and put hope and love and a need to speak out in their hearts. Our nation benefitted from the lives of these three men and they would, all three, wish us to remember their mothers. I can’t think of a better message for International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021)

Too Many Elections

From a Google Image Search – CNET

We have too many elections. Nothing can be accomplished because there is always an election which means that the political needle could tip in the other direction. This incentivizes the group that is out of power to block the group in power from setting policies that they find unacceptable. 

As elections become ever more expensive, and we tend to read campaign contributions as votes, the stakes are higher and higher. A party that wants to use grassroots financing faces enormous challenges. They cannot talk to their constituents about policy without asking for a donation and they are not actually seeking opinions, only dollars. The grassroots campaign is competing against campaigns funded by corporations and millionaires and billionaires and, although their goal is to put elections back in the hands of the people, the campaigns that don’t accept big donors find it hard to win. 

Today the media reports that the GOP spent 8 million dollars on a candidate in a local election in Maryland who is highly unlikely to win, and half the money went to a single firm.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/klacik-gop-campaign-donations/2021/03/02/76300fde-7077-11eb-85fa-e0ccb3660358_story.html

Changing terms and setting term limits would not be easy since these are constitutional matters and would require amendments. Amendments require high levels of congressional agreement and national backing which are probably impossible for any metric to reach right now with our nation split about 47-41 and some voters choosing to abstain.

Setting all terms at six years might fix the problem of always being in an election cycle. Washington pundits, with their deep interest in all things election-related, offer up the common ‘wisdom’ that the first 100 days of any presidency are the most important, that nothing can get done after 2 years into a term, and now we have all have learned that Supreme Court justices are subject to different limits depending on which party is in charge. If the Democrats try to fill an empty Supreme Court seat a year out from an election is too late, but if you are a Republican there is no time limit at all. If a President served for six years would we get more bang for our buck? Suppose that a President could only serve one term.

We could elect Representatives to the House for six year terms and stagger who’s running like the Senate does, 1/3 every six years. We could limit Representatives and Senators to two terms of six years. This would allow more Americans to serve the public and it would not allow career politicians to claim ownership in our legislature. Even the Supremes could have shorter terms. There are so many qualified people to fill all these seats.

Finally we could do that thing that is brought up all the time and then discarded as impossible. We could ditch the electoral college, especially now that politicians are trying to turn it into a numbers game. It always gave elites an edge, now it gives an edge to cheaters. It is an outdated tactic to block uneducated people from choosing bad leaders, that is now being used by supposedly well educated people to choose bad leaders.

The issue of voter suppression is once again before the Supreme Court as legislation tries to put the starch back in the Voter Rights Act with John Lewis’s posthumous bill to restore the preclearance section of the act. Also before the court are various voter rules passed in some states to make it harder for minorities to vote. Some states wish to abolish vote by mail, some want no voting on Sundays to put the kibosh on Souls to the Polls activities which help minorities get out the vote, some states still want voter ID laws and the creative ways to block liberal votes go on and on. Republicans get an A for innovative vote blocking nastiness, but an F for fair and free elections. Clearly here is a chance for all those right wing justices to pay some of their dues to their GOP overlords. We’ll see.

Would shifting the message from killing votes by a thousand cuts to changing terms and term limits stop the GOP from messing with voting rights? IDK. The ERA amendment has been around for many decades and still catches our attention from time to time. We could try composing and proposing an amendment to change the language on terms and term limits and keep that beach ball up in the air for a few decades until it has the votes required to amend the Constitution.

Announcing New Publication – 2028: Trump at Guantanamo

Amazon

I am announcing that my new novel 2028: Trump at Guantanamo by NL Brisson has just gone live on Amazon.

This is a Trumpian fantasy which takes place in the future. It imagines what might have happened if Trump had won in 2020, if he wins again in 2024. It is fiction and it is meant to be enjoyed. Although Trump’s policies are reflected in the content, the actual policies the story describes are extrapolations. You might enjoy meeting Cyborg Trump with a half metallic head prosthesis. He selected two wigs to wear. He wears them under a MAGA hat. See which wigs he chose. Come join Melania, Trump, Barron, Ivanka, and Jared at Guantánamo. It is a fun revenge fantasy. 

Calling All Oil and Gas Men and Women

From a Google Image Search -WFAA

Calling all oil and gas men and women. You have the stuff we need. You know energy science. You are risk-takers. You like big bucks. I don’t understand why you are throwing in your lot with a dying industry. These days present a golden opportunity. You could be the new energy barons.

Sad that our best and brightest energy people have been enlisted into the energy wars by our oily overlords. These gas bags have you fighting to preserve energy’s past, rather than offering grants that would allow you to earn your own fortunes (and theirs) while creating new energies. You may be well paid, but these folks you work for are billionaires. 

Not only do you oil and gas people know energy, you know money. You understand supply and demand, you understand how to be where the money is. But those petrodollars have been more unstable recently. Of course, fortunes may rise when this global pandemic ebbs, but the climate change you deny will persist. Eventually we will have to drastically lessen fossil fuel use. You could be part of the solution, not part of the problem. You could be heroes, not objects of our ambivalence (or worse). You could be in the forefront, rather than being the rear guard.

This week Texas froze, not for the first time, but this time the cold snap has outlasted their power grid. There sits all that oil and gas, all those refineries. It’s the age-old dilemma of those stranded at sea with no fresh water. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Except, it’s fuel, fuel everywhere but not a good delivery system. 

And then you have that Republican mayor you elected who said that survival is up to each individual and only the strong will survive. We do not live in a socialist country he tells us. Your government will not save you. 

And there we have it, we can’t drink oil and gas, we can no longer get water without electricity. We have put everything in pipes. If those pipes don’t have pumps we have nothing. All the old springs where people used to take containers to fill with water have been capped because it made road maintenance harder, or because it became valuable to sell water. Big money comes now from selling fresh water encased in throwaway plastic.

So this mayor thinks nothing of people, people who are his people, who are freezing in their homes for days on end, piling on clothing and blankets. He doesn’t care that their refrigerators will no longer keep their food safe to eat. He doesn’t mind one bit that most new stoves, even gas stoves, need electricity to function. He’s not worried that stores and restaurants have had to close so takeout may not be an option. Two people in his city die trying to use their car for heat, that’s their problem. Where are the FEMA trucks with the water? Where are the heated shelters? This is America without any safety nets. This is small government and every man/woman for him/herself. Of course some of these ‘people’ are children.

We’re not going to beg; but clearly we need all the engineers, all the physicists, all the laboratory scientists, all the builders and designers and planners, all those who understand how to run manufacturing businesses, all the inventors, and patent lawyers. You can either kill the planet or you can save it. If you help create the switch-over to new energies that saves the planet you could be the new tycoons. If you were even to find a way to allow global use of fossil fuels without climate repercussions you would probably end up famous. Creating better batteries would put gold in your pockets. Perhaps we are begging, but we’re not expecting you to work for free.

Subscribe to the NYT. It’s not perfect but it will keep you informed, and you will keep an important paper alive.

Trump at Guantanamo-Preview Chapter 3

Google Image Search-Underground Cuba Travel Guide

Disclaimer: Trump at Guantanamo is a Trumpian Fantasy. It is fiction. Although Trump is the main character, this is a hypothetical Trump, based on the real one, but since the story takes us to the year 2028, and since the author cannot actually know the future, this is just a projection of a man who already keeps reinventing himself. Perhaps a warning, perhaps simply because she can’t help herself, this story insists on being told.

Chapter 3

Day 2, Guantanamo

Melania, determined to keep up appearances, got fully groomed and dressed before she wandered downstairs but she was still the first one up. There were all their portable possession piled up in the foyer. She separated her things into a pile near the pedestal table. She picked out a few outfits to wear in the coming days, hung them on the pegs off to the side of the foyer until she was ready to go upstairs again and made her way to the kitchen. It was looking like the kitchen would be a popular room for gathering, although they were not normally a gathering type of family. They usually operated more like billiard balls on a pool table, bouncing off one another and coming to rest in their separate corners. 

Barron was the next person to arrive in the foyer. (person, man, woman, camera, tv) He found his stuff and moved it to the blank wall in the foyer. He decided to come back later to see if there was anything he needed. Then Barron continued on to the kitchen. 

Melania was trying to find the proper kitchen appliance for making coffee. Were there any of those pod things? Was there any ground coffee? Where were the sugar substitutes? Was she humming, Barron wondered, as he entered the kitchen? Well, that was new. Was his mom a secret housewife? But Melania kept getting distracted by other discoveries as she worked on getting a coffee service together. She was distracted by taking stock of the pantry, by looking out the window over the sink, by a flock of parrots in a stand of palm trees, by the pastries someone had left on the counter in the pantry. 

Fortunately, Ivanka wandered in and took charge of the coffee endeavors. Ivanka had more recent experience in kitchen tasks, although not much as the kitchen staff usually took care of such matters. Her children were younger than Barron though, so sometimes Ivanka had done kitchen duty. 

Barron placed the pastries on the island, and set about finding coffee mugs, filling a creamer he found, and setting out the sugar cubes and fake sugar packets. He found some paper plates and added them, and he turned some paper towels into napkins. Looking over the pastries he picked a glazed apple fritter and started to devour it. This family, except his father, was not a pastry family. His mother and Ivanka both rarely ate anything worth mentioning. Donald was not supposed to indulge in sugar but to stop him they would have to hide all traces of the pastries before he joined them. Barron could tell that everyone would treat themselves for this one strange morning.

Donald came downstairs bellowing. “Where the fuck are we? Where is everyone? No one came to wake me up. There is no radio, no TV. I’m the United States President. Where’s my body man?”

They could tell when Trump arrived in the foyer because he was quiet for a few seconds. Then came the explosion, “What is all this crap? Someone clean up this mess?” 

No one stopped eating and the coffee was now ready so mugs were being filled, although no was willing to be the first one to taste the coffee. Trump found the kitchen by smell and started ranting some more. “Melania, why didn’t you wake me? You need to clean up that mess near the front door.” 

“Donald, sit down,” soothed Melania, “you can have a pastry this morning. Here’s your coffee.” The coffee had apparently passed the taste test.

“I don’t want coffee. Are there any Cokes in the refrigerator? Someone prepare one for me”, he looked around at who was present and reluctantly added a “please”. He was handed his Coke in a glass, no ice.

Jared, just entering the kitchen thought, ‘oh, oh, this patient version of Melania will not last. She does not like taking orders and she doesn’t like domestic labor.’ He wasn’t even sure what Melania did all day. He took a seat at the counter by an unclaimed mug and Ivanka filled it with coffee. Jared hid his shock and offered up a thank you instead of a cynical remark. ‘What was happening to this family? Maybe isolation was going to bring them closer together. Of course, it was only day two,’ Jared thought as he reached for a pastry.

“What should we do today?” Ivanka asked. “I want to go for a walk, and then maybe a swim. Anybody up for that?” Ivanka had found a note in her pile of possessions that said she would see her children soon. She was happy about not having to keep fighting with their ghost hosts about this. 

“I think I might take one of those golf carts and go play a few holes,” Jared said, “Dad, do you want to go?”

“Someone has to help me get dressed,” Trump grumped.

Barron surprised himself and everyone else once again by volunteering to help Trump sort himself out. “Then Dad and I will both go golfing with you, Jared,” Barron added.

Everyone cleaned up the kitchen, except Donald, of course, and retreated to their rooms to dress for their planned activities. Melania had to make another deep dive into her belongings in the foyer to pull out exercise clothes and a swimsuit. She also grabbed the outfits she had hung on the hooks and this time she took the elevator. Barron was already wearing casual clothes and, in fact, had thought to put his bathing suit on as his shorts. He trailed behind Donald into the foyer, helped him pick out appropriate clothing and by then the elevator was back on the first floor waiting for them. Fortunately, Donald did not need help grooming or shaving or even dressing. He simply did not know how to pick out an outfit to wear and he would sit down and never bother to get dressed at all if left alone. So, Barron ended up being sort of a cheerleader handing wardrobe items to his dad one at a time.

Barron and Donald picked up their golf bags from the foyer on their way out. The ladies were just leaving also and Jared was already sitting in a golf cart. Barron and his dad climbed aboard another golf cart and the guys left for the course. Melania and Ivanka set off on a brisk walk but soon slowed down. It was really hot. If they wanted to walk fast they would have to get up earlier. They didn’t stay on the perimeter road. They decided to walk the streets around the barracks and other buildings. The base was deserted except for them, and a bit eerie. It was sort of post-apocalyptic. 

In a strange way the privacy was a welcome relief from the usual chaos that surrounded Donald Trump. Eventually they reached the pool by a circuitous route. There it sat with all the pool furniture around it like survivals of a nuclear disaster. They swam and stretched out and then repeated that pattern, hardly in a hurry since they had nothing else to do. Neither of them even had a book or a magazine. They did not intend to do any cleaning, their were no electronics, no movies to watch, no music to listen to. They might have been inclined to decorate the houses they were living in but there were no shops, no online buying, no Home Shopping Network. 

“Next time we do this we’ll have to remember to bring water with us, said Melania.

“Let’s look in that pool house on the other side of the pool,” Ivanka said.

Sure enough, there was a mini fridge in the pool house with water and Coke and even some lovely green grapes. They took their loot back to their chaises and enjoyed the cool water in the pool for a while longer.

When Barron, Jared, and Donald arrived at the small golf course and started to play, they had a hard time adjusting their strokes to the new measurements; their balls traveled too far at first. After a while their perceptions obeyed the new dimensions. It was very hot though. They found a little air-conditioned club house at the fourth hole and it had a manly bar with all kinds of liquid refreshments and card tables equipped with cards, poker chips and dice. Trump grew expansive and tried to guess what was happening outside these walls in the Confederated States of America. 

“Why did they have to rescue us,” he asked, “What was the danger? Everything seemed fine until they landed at Mar-a-Lago. Sometimes I wish I didn’t shut down Twitter. No one gave me any intelligence reports about unrest or resistance. We had our people everywhere. We would have known immediately if something was going on. This is all very strange,” Trump talked it all through as he paced the small club house.”

Then Trump lapsed from this super lucid state into exhaustion. “We had better head over to the pool and meet the ladies,” said Jared. “The women are probably lobsters by now.”

“Those two can take care of themselves,” said Barron. “Com’on Dad, let’s get in those golf carts.” Barron helped him along by putting an arm across his father’s shoulders.

The pool led back to their patio where the unlocked patio doors opened into the cool interior of the house. They left the golf carts parked on the patio. 

“We all need showers,” Melania said, “I’ll be in the kitchen after I clean up.” So, they all kept moving past the very beige, beckoning furniture and went to their bedrooms. Barron followed his dad so he could put out some fresh clothing for him. His father was oddly compliant.

When they got to Trump’s bedroom Trump brightened up. “Look,” he said, “there’s a TV in here now. Where did that come from?” 

Jared stuck his head in the room to see how his father-in-law was doing. When he saw the TV, he got a few goose bumps and the fine hairs on his arm rose. They were not alone he reasoned. Someone knew exactly what they were doing and  the things that appeared in the house would only arrive when no one could see how they got there. 

The whole thing felt a lot more like prison than it did like protection. Jared had spent lots of time in Iran which made him very aware of what a surveillance state was like. Hadn’t Trump set up a surveillance state in what used to be America? Of course, Jared, Trump’s right-hand man had helped him do it. Keeping track of how many white children were being born. Making sure that any minority children were spirited away with no records kept and each of the moms were imprisoned or sent into white families to serve as maids or nannies.

Jared did not want to think about some of the policies he had helped Trump implement. If there was a rebellion, and he had heard rumors that there was before they were hustled away from Mar a Lago, it’s possible the family would remain in this expensive ‘prison’ forever. Who knew where they were? Did they still have allies? Hell, he didn’t even know where they were. Would the Saudi King help them now? How about Netanyahu? How about Trump’s shady pals?

Trump had put a comfortable armchair in front the TV and he was happily watching the very sparse offerings, which seemed to be one news channel and one movie channel. Trump said, “tell Melania I’ll eat up here.” 

“I’ll tell her,” promised Jared, but he hoped Barron was still in the mood to play good son, because he was pretty sure the duty would fall to him.

When Barron left Trump in front of the TV, arrived in the kitchen and told Melania about Trump’s expectations, he was given his mom’s evil eye.

“I think I’ll go up and have a talk with your father,” Melania said carefully controlling her emotions. Donald did not respond well to anger. You had to use psychology. Melania had tons of practice.

After a while Trump appeared in the kitchen cleaned and casually dressed followed by a grim Melania. It turns out that a TV had been placed in the kitchen also so the promise of both food and news had done the trick. In fact, there were TV’s everywhere now.

Outwardly peace reigned once again in the Trump family, but inwardly several family members had lost their peace of mind.

Trump at Guantanamo-Preview Chapter 2

From a Google Image Search – FBI

Disclaimer: Trump at Guantanamo is a Trumpian Fantasy. It is fiction. Although Trump is the main character, this is a hypothetical Trump, based on the real one, but since the story takes us to the year 2028, and since the author cannot actually know the future, this is just a projection of a man who already keeps reinventing himself. Perhaps a warning, perhaps simply because she can’t help herself, this story insists on being told.

Chapter 2

The Bunker

The Trumps were not actually alone on this tropical island. Guantanamo was a naval base, but this one compound had been appropriated to the army. The President and crew were being monitored from a bunker inside one of the barracks that had once been occupied by enlisted soldiers. It was a big compound but there were not many barracks as the area had been mainly designed for officers. But officers needed underlings so there were several now empty barracks on the property. The bunker was inside a barracks building and did not stand out. Usually only one or two men pulled short duty assignments in the bunker.

There were computers but the building was shielded to prevent the Trumps from using phones or computers by connecting with the post wi-fi. The Trumps had their phones and Jared had an Apple watch but no computers had been packed. For the most part, the observation team (guards) listened to the families more than they watched. They really had no desire to see the sights they might see.

There were four men on the team so they could spell each other: John Bingham, Dwight Eisenstadt, Michael “Rocky” White, Nelson Court – code names – Swimmer, Old Man, The Rock and Rockefeller. Old Man was currently on duty while the family slept. He heard noises in the foyer of the main house so he went to video and watched the family’s possessions being unloaded. Then he saw the same activity in the junior house. No one in either house heard a thing as far as the Old Man could tell.

A meeting had been called for 0600 of all four guards and the commander. The commander was Colonel Harold Masters and no one was aware that he was a Trump sympathizer. It had never seemed very important until right now. But he intended to play it cool. He would try to win small concessions for 45. This meeting was about providing Trump with some closed-circuit in-house video while making sure no signals could go out. They couldn’t give him real news because the news was all about the rebellion and the new inhabitants of the White House. Perhaps they could find a soldier who could broadcast fake news several times a day. Trump without TV or social media would not be pretty. His frustration and boredom might actually kill him.

0600

They met in the bunker although it was a bit crowded with the five of them. Master’s told them about the newest project “Operation Fake News,” a bit ironic, but the other men probably wouldn’t see it that way. He needed to find two soldiers who could patch together some TV programming; a mix of old movies and news shows they either invented or cut from old news broadcasts. 

There was a tunnel underneath the barracks that went down from the bunker and then under the wall. This is the way soldiers from the base outside the wall were able to enter and exit the bunker. Food was wheeled in from the DFAC or “chow hall.” When it arrived, the Colonel ordered a breakfast break to give the men time to toss around some names. 

Michael (The Rock) White thought that Daisy Mellon used to be stationed in Hollywood and did some work in the movie business. Michael was pretty sure that Daisy would know who else would be good for this project.

Breakfast over, they all took their original seats to see what else was on the agenda. It turned out that the Colonel was worried about Trump’s health. He said that he did not want 45 to die on his watch. Since NY had sent no doctor they would have to provide one from within their ranks. 

He was hoping for someone who knew the brain and the circulatory system since Trump tended to have fairly frequent TIA’s. Nelson “Rockefeller” Court knew a doctor from his last posting who was at Guantanamo now. He thought he was a “heart” doctor. But his name was Hunter, Hunter Grant. Rockefeller reasoned his name might call up bad associations for the President.

“Well,” said the Colonel, “we can just call him Doc or Doctor Grant or we can find out his middle name and use that to introduce the doctor to Trump.”

“Let’s wrap this up and I will issue orders to these soldiers to see me and get the ball rolling. Thanks, men. Who’s on duty now?”

“I am, sir,” said Swimmer.

The Colonel rose, “Dismissed,” and a salute.

The Colonel’s salute returned, every one exited the bunker except for Swimmer.

A Promised Land by Barrack Obama – Book

From a Google Image Search – CNN

Hanging out with President Barrack Obama has been a real trip through his early days in politics, campaigning for the Senate, his journey through the presidential primary in 2007, his presidential campaign and a win that will seem like a bit of magic and a truly historical accomplishment. Obama was both a black man and a young man, fairly new to Washington, but with a grasp of American hopes and a charisma that fueled his improbable election. 

It took a while to finish Obama’s book, A Promised Land, but not because it wasn’t readable or revealing, just because there were so many things going on as the 2020 election unfolded and the events of January 6 th shocked us all. I was actually blogging about politics all through the Obama administration because the opposition to him in the Republican party and in the media, especially the alternative media (Fox News, Talk Radio) became a constant stream of negativity. As a Democrat, I agreed with Obama’s politics, but setting that aside, the use of racist tropes and the shade cast on his every move jump-started my love of the underdog. 

Obama’s book gives him space to reveal the thinking behind his actions as President and offers plenty of insight into foreign affairs, especially the upheavals in the Middle East, which perhaps grew out of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which Obama inherited but did not initiate. 

After blogging for the past decade, I published some of my posts in a series of books entitled Loving America to Death and two omnibus editions which cover all ten years, including the Trump administration. Reading about the same events I wrote about with the new advantage of being, in a sense, inside Obama’s head and heart was similar to time travel. He discusses but does not dwell on the ACA. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the difficulty plugging that leak was something we both wrote about. Obama touches on Fukushima, the tsunami and the failure of the nuclear reactor. The dual track optics was so odd for me. We were observing the same events; me as a citizen sitting out here in the cheap seats, and Obama as the prime actor, the President of the United States. 

Even if you don’t agree with Barrack Obama and you don’t like his politics and you think any of the dozens of complaints that were aired about him were true, it never hurts to spend time in someone else’s shoes. The memoir is personal, intimate, and informative and well worth the time it takes to read it. After all, it is our history.

https://www.amazon.com/author/nlbrisson