The Bigger Picture
Oddly specific. Universally applicable.

Warnings from the Roman republic

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(Photo by Dario Veronesi on Unsplash)

We can breathe a sigh of (temporary) relief now that Trump has formally initiated the transition to the Biden Administration. Still, I’m scared for the future of the American republic, because of the past of the Roman republic.

Growing up in the 90s, I loved to watch historical documentaries and the History Channel back when it still played history. History was my favorite class, and I read history books written for adults.

If you know something about how the Roman republic descended into authoritarianism, then you know enough to be scared for the future of American democracy right now.

The story of Rome that I learned from the History Channel, history class, and books focused on Julius Caesar, Octavian, gladiatorial games, wars of conquest and expansion, struggles against barbarian invasions, and the inexorable decline and fall of the Roman Empire. I learned about emperors, not dictators, and gladiators, not slaves. …


Our current political system has transitioned from policies to damage control

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(Photo by Keri liwi on Unsplash)

When did solutions stop mattering in politics?

After weeks of chaos and nonsense, it’s really starting to look like President Trump will finally drift away in January, alongside the cold weather. Even though a lot of people are looking forward to this development, only a fraction know what they want from the new administration.

While plenty of Americans will bask in the quiet created by a more reserved president, Biden will take advantage of the calm by enacting policies that appease his donors despite them not aligning with the will of the people. But even these half-measures will be hindered by a Republican-heavy Congress.

This is where chanting “Blue, No Matter Who” for half a decade gets you. …


We’re all just looking for our place in the world and people who understand us

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“Don’t Believe Everything You Think” — painting by Mary Corbin

I don’t know how I got like this. Maybe it was one too many bumps on the head. Over a lifetime, I mean. I used to be sort of clumsy when I was younger. Maybe that was it. Sometimes I think it was from when I lived in Germany for this one, very intense year, working in an industrial, sprawling city. It seems like I changed right after that. Became so obsessive. So organized. So clean. Like maybe I was exposed to so many toxic things all at once, and so far away from home, it sort of rewired things. I don’t know. …


On bullshit jobs, time theft, and wage slavery — here’s to escaping it all

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(Image by Shawn Hempel)

Bullshit jobs

You and I are trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare, a pantomime of busywork and make-belief with others engaged in the same. If we break character, someone else may be offered our part. It’s a farce staged in offices all over the world; whether in the public or private sector, bullshit jobs and pointless tasks abound.

“A bullshit job is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obligated to pretend that this is not the case.”


A ‘Build Back Better’ blueprint

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(Photo by Daniel Bendig from Pexels)

Fast Company recently asked the best ad agency in the world to rebrand America. It was a purely speculative assignment with no budgets or practicality attached to it. Ideas were as simple as putting immigrants on dollar bills to as grand as literally sending the Statue of Liberty to the state that accepts the most refugees.

Yooooooooo.

I love this idea. I love this assignment. I love this as a thought experiment. It’s a no-holds-barred, no-kids-in-cages, dream-big, sky’s-the-limit assignment to bring America back, baby!

So, I’m giving it a go. I’m going to pitch my less well thought out ideas — in a different format — to a much easier publication — with a much smaller audience — a week after the original article posted — near a major national holiday. That oughta show that ad agency for refusing to hire me three (maybe four) times now. …


How investing in NASA and space exploration provides answers to questions we don’t even know to ask

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(Photo: Greg Rakozy/Unsplash/CC BY-SA 4.0)

On Sunday, November 15, 2020, the four-man crew of the Space X Crew Dragon Capsule was launched into orbit and docked at the International Space Station. The successful launch and docking of the Space X vehicle promises to usher in a new era of space exploration after the retirement of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011.

As the world is battling another spike of COVID-19 cases, with cities once more shutting down, space exploration may seem like a fever dream. It is difficult to look up at the sky with wonder when society appears to be on the brink of economic collapse. …


How my great-grandfather’s shenanigans inspired the London Traffic Act

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Vintage Double Decker (Image/Delpixel)

“Below the smooth surface of official accounts of history, lie those stories that have been silenced and erased, leaving only their ghostly traces, and therefore bound to return and haunt the present.” — José Colmeiro, “A Nation of Ghosts”

There comes a time in a person’s life, usually around 38 I think, that all the old photos on the wall of straight-faced ancestors whose names you’ve been told a million times but have somehow forgotten, suddenly seem quite relevant and even rather interesting. The walls of my parent’s home are adorned with swindlers, thieves, mystics and medal winners. Tales abound of brushes with drunken royalty, beautiful celebrities, daring deeds and sinister schemes. …


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Upon moving to L.A., my first order of business was to get a SAG card. SAG jobs (those are the good jobs, as opposed to non-union jobs) tended to go to people already in SAG, so it seemed essential to join the union. I had heard from many other aspiring actors that it was possible to get a SAG card by becoming an extra and receiving three waivers. So, I signed up for every website, mailing list, and what have you, for even the remote possibility of a SAG job.

A week later, I received an email regarding a production company casting for short people (I’m 5'1). Apparently, it was a movie about dwarves, and they were having a majorly tough time finding enough dwarves to fill the scene. Technically they were looking for people 5'0 and under, but I figured an inch or two wouldn’t kill anyone. So, I lied about the extra inch and emailed the casting director, telling them I would be perfect as an extra as I am 5'0 and Indian. I was positive they didn’t have any Indian dwarves in the scene, so I figured I would add an exotic flavor. The casting director obviously thought so, too, because he called a week later to tell me I was in. And after a little weaseling and negotiating, I even got him to agree to give me three SAG waivers so I could get a SAG card. …

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