Category Archives: Humor and Satire

How “Catch-22” Shows How to Deal with Suicide and Depression

If you’ve ever felt depressed or suicidal, chances are good you believe your life consists of nothing but equally unappealing choices. When confronted by nothing but lousy choices, it’s easy to get depressed or feel like suicide is the only option.

However, the real problem with depression or suicidal tendencies isn’t that there are no good options available to you. There are, but you just may not see them. As long as you believe no good choices exist, you won’t bother looking for them, which makes them as good as not existing in the first place. People get depressed not because their lives have no good options, but because they don’t know where to look and find better options for their lives.

When faced with a dilemma that forces you to choose between equally unappealing options, you can learn from “Catch-22,” a novel by Joseph Heller, which was also made into a movie. Given a choice, read the book because it’s far superior to the movie although the movie does visually show the insanity of war as you can see in the clip below where a commanding officer cares more about making money than the lives of his own troops.

Basically the idea behind “Catch-22” is that a bombardier during World War Two is told that he must fly a certain number of missions before he’s allowed to go home. Unfortunately every time he survives to meet the required number of missions, his commander raises the number to force him to keep flying.

As a result, he must keep flying until he eventually gets shot down and dies. As he watches his friends get shot down and die, he knows it’s only a matter of time before he’s next. That means his only choice is to keep flying until he eventually dies.

However, he does find a way out. If he can prove that he’s crazy, he can be released from flying. Of course the only way he can prove he’s crazy is to keep flying because only a crazy person would keep flying missions, knowing that he’ll eventually be shot down and die.

The moment he wants to stop flying because he’s afraid of dying, he’s obviously sane and must keep flying more missions. Because he can only get out of flying if he’s crazy but he can only prove he’s crazy by continuing to fly, he’s stuck in a dilemma known as a Catch-22.

Such a Catch-22 dilemma is what many depressed and suicidal people feel. They feel like no matter what they choose, they’re doomed to a horrible choice so the only way out is through addiction of some kind such as alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or the ultimate escape which is suicide.

What “Catch-22” teaches is that whenever you’re confronted by a dilemma, you can always create your own, far better alternative, but you have to first believe such an alternative exists and you must then take action to pursue that better alternative.

“Catch-22” is about realizing you are always in control of your life in some form and by believing you have better options, you’ll look and find or make that better option. Then you can embrace that better option rather than feel trapped in a Catch-22 dilemma stuck between multiple unappealing choices.

So if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, take a moment to read “Catch-22.” Not only will it help you see war from a humorous point of view and the insanity behind it, but it will also show you how to escape a dilemma by making your own option, however crazy it might be.

Read “Catch-22” and skip the movie. “Catch-22” just might help you find a way to overcome depression and suicidal tendencies just by thinking about your life from another point of view.

The Power of Being Delusional (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 4: The Power of Being Delusional

“When all else fails, there’s always delusion.”

— Conon O’Brien

In Chapter 1, you learned the importance of defining a clear goal that’s so big it will change the world faster than an incompetent, megalomaniac president. In Chapter 2, you learned how to overcome your own self-doubt and the moronic beliefs of others who may try to derail your dreams because they’re too lazy to pursue any worthwhile goals of their own.

In Chapter 3, you learned why a plan is useless for getting you to a goal, but useful in getting you started. Now in this chapter, you’ll learn how to overcome obstacles you’ll face whenever you pursue any goal worth achieving.

These obstacles typically come from other people who will get in your way. Such people exist solely to make life miserable for everyone around them. Because these other people have zero goals and ambition of their own, they delight in stopping real human beings from accomplishing anything worthwhile. To defeat such pests, you need to harness a power greater than anything known to mankind. The only power that can overthrow kingdoms, turn democracies into dictatorships, and erase the collective lessons of the past is none other than delusional thinking.

First, let me say that I’m an expert when it comes to delusional thinking. Everything I write in this chapter comes from personal experience so if there’s anyone more delusional than I am, I have yet to meet that person in a mirror.

The moment you start moving towards a goal, you’re going to run into idiots who will tell you no. Some self-help gurus claim you need to turn all those naysayers into friends. I say just run them over and leave their bloody carcasses behind as roadkill. That will serve as a warning to anyone else who even thinks of getting in your way in the future.

The truth is that unlike me, you can never succeed on your own. With me, it’s different. I do everything myself and take 100 percent of the credit for what someone else may have done for me. With you, you can’t depend on other people doing your work for you and giving you all the credit. Instead, you have to do some of the work yourself.

I know this may sound like a harsh lesson to reality, but it’s the truth. No matter what type of goal you’re pursuing (unless it’s something really stupid), you’re going to run into people I call gatekeepers. (Actually I call these people something else, but the publisher said I can’t use four-letter words because they might “offend” people. Hey, if you’re offended by four-letter words, I’ve got some five-letter words that will really piss you off.)

Gatekeepers are people who have the power to say no but never have the power to do anything useful themselves. Think of eunuchs who guard a king’s concubines but can’t have sex themselves. That’s what gatekeepers are.

The first words out of any gatekeeper’s mouth will always be, “No.” That’s because it’s probably the first word they learned as a baby and they never learned any more words after that.

Gatekeepers are generally afraid of failure, which is ironic because most of them are already failures in my book. Because gatekeepers are afraid of failure, it’s always safer for them to say no to you than to say yes. If they say no, they protect themselves from looking foolish. If they say yes, then they risk looking foolish if you should fail. Therefore gatekeepers will always say no.

There are two ways to get a gatekeeper to say yes. First, you can slap them with a subpoena and threaten to sue the living daylights out of their family, their ancestors, and their future children until they say yes. Since most people don’t have access to an army of lawyers like I do, the second way to get a gatekeeper to say yes is to change their mind. (Good luck with that.)

Do people change their minds easily? No. That’s why they’re idiots. Look at me. I change my mind sometimes within the same sentence. In fact, often I don’t even know what I just said. If you confront me with my own words, I’ll deny I ever said them. That’s because I’m smart enough to know how to change my mind faster than you can use my words against me. That’s a symbol of flexibility and strength.

However, since most people aren’t as smart as me, they’ll always resist changing their mind. To change a gatekeeper’s mind, you must first identify the gatekeeper.

That’s not as easy as you might think because gatekeepers are scaredy cats afraid of being exposed. It’s always easy to make someone say no without facing them. It’s always harder to tell someone no in front of their face.

So the moment you run into an obstacle in pursuit of a goal, look for the gatekeepers who are telling you no. Then kill them. Ha, ha, that’s a joke. No, just sue them. Then find out if that person telling you no is really the person saying no, or just doing the dirty work of someone too chicken to do it himself.

What you need to find is the real person telling you no. Once you find that person, you have to work to change their mind.

Here’s where the power of delusional thinking comes in. First, you have to be delusional to think you can achieve something you’ve never achieved before. If I asked if you could successfully walk to the kitchen and bring back a glass of water, you’d probably say yes. That’s because you’ve done it before.

Now if I ask you to achieve a huge dream, chances are good you’ve never achieved a similar huge dream before. That means if you base your thinking on facts and the past, you’ll think you can’t achieve it. Wrong.

You have to be delusional to reach any goal. Do you think Dorothy wasn’t delusional when she went off to find the Wizard of Oz? Do you think Rocky wasn’t delusional when he tried to fight Apollo Creed for the heavyweight championship of the world? Do you think Luke Skywalker wasn’t delusional when George Lucas told him he couldn’t be a real boy until he blew up the Death Star? Not a chance.

Delusional thinking makes you believe you can achieve anything you want. If you believe that, you’ll actually take action to achieve everything you want. So what if you don’t have the brains, education, skills, or knowledge to achieve your dream. That’s never stopped me.

Now once you run into a gatekeeper who tells you no, most people give up and their dream stops right there. Losers.

Quitters never get what they want. That’s why they’re called quitters. Winners always get what they want. That’s why they’re called winners. You can’t be a winner if you quit any more than you can be a war hero if you get captured by the enemy. That’s just the meaning of the definition.

When you pursue a goal, you’re going to run into gatekeepers who will tell you no. Most people assume that gatekeepers must know what they’re talking about because they’re gatekeepers. That makes as much sense as saying that politicians know what they’re doing just because they got elected. Wrong!

Gatekeepers will tell you no because their job is to protect the time of someone far more important than their pitiful little soul. To bypass the gatekeepers, you need to rely on delusional thinking.

First, you must delude yourself that you’re so important than only an idiot would say no to you. (Since gatekeepers have already said no to you, that proves they’re an idiot.)

Second, you must delude others to believe you’re so important that only an idiot would say no to you. That way if they do say no to you, they’ll feel like an idiot and immediately change their mind to say yes. That’s because people are more concerned about what others think of them than what they think of themselves.

Personally, I think I’m perfect so I don’t care what others think of me. If someone doesn’t like me, that only proves that they’re inferior. If someone thinks I’m perfect, that only shows they have good taste. That’s the power of delusional thinking.

So if you want to get past the gatekeepers in life, you have two options:

  • Find out who the gatekeeper is protecting and approach that person instead
  • Find someone else who can say yes and remember the gatekeeper’s name so you can buy up their apartment or home in the future and evict them

Let’s take the first option first because it’s listed first and items listed first must be a winner. That’s because winners never come in second place or else they would no longer be a winner. Remember that.

How can you approach someone that a gatekeeper is protecting? Easy. Just remember that everyone in the world has a problem. (My problem is that not enough people recognize that I’m the greatest person in the world.)

Since everyone has a problem that causes them pain, everyone wants a solution that removes their pain. So the secret is to find who the gatekeeper is protecting and then find out that person’s biggest pain. Once you know that person’s biggest pain, find a way to remove that person’s pain even if it’s illegal, unethical, or immoral. That’s the way I do business and that’s the way you should too.

When you know a person’s biggest pain, offer a solution to remove that massive pain. Then watch that person gladly run over their own gatekeeper to get to you and your solution. See how easy that is?

Now you may ask yourself, “How can I find out a person’s biggest pain?”

To which I say, “Hey, I told you this much that you didn’t know before. Do I have to do everything for you?”

Since everyone is different, everyone’s biggest pain will be different and finding that out will never be the same from one person to another. There, happy now?

In other words, you have to think for yourself once in a while. If you want step-by-step recipes, buy a cookbook. If you want guidance from me, then you’ll have to accept that I can’t hold your hand through every crisis you’ll run into. Chances are I wouldn’t want to hold your hand anyway unless I can wash my own hand afterwards.

Okay, so you know the best way to get around a gatekeeper is to find who that person’s they’re protecting and then find their biggest pain. Then find a solution to their biggest pain so they’ll be eager to ignore their gatekeeper and say yes to you. Problem solved!

Okay, I know a lot of you are whining that you still don’t know how to find a person’s biggest pain. If you’re not willing to look for your own solutions, skip it and move on to the second option. That means looking for someone who will say yes to you.

Let’s put it in simple terms because most people have simple minds. Suppose you want to date a beautiful Eastern European model. Go up and ask one out for a date.

If she says no, go up to a second model and ask her out. If she says no, go up to a third model and ask her out. When do you stop? When one of them says yes.

Life is simple. The more you persist, the more you’ll succeed. Most people go through life trying to avoid failure. That’s wrong because by trying to avoid failing, you guarantee you’ll never achieve success. That means you guarantee failure, and that makes you a loser.

The only way you can ever succeed is to experience a lot of failure. The more you fail, the more likely you’ll succeed. Just as a roomful of monkeys banging on typewriters will eventually type out a real estate legal contract, so will constant failure eventually open the door to success.

Does failure feel good. No! That’s why I make fun of people who fail because making fun of failures does make you feel good. What happens when other people make fun of you when you fail? Then wait until you succeed eventually. When you become rich and powerful, all the losers who laughed at you will look really stupid in hindsight. That’s the bonus of becoming a winner.

Failure hurts, so that’s where the power of delusional thinking comes in. Keep telling yourself that each time you fail, you get one step closer to success. Is that true? Absolutely not. Do you think Charlie Brown is any closer to kicking a football the more times Lucy yanks the ball away from him? No, but delusional thinking can keep you trying one more time. Each time you fail, delusional thinking can motivate you to keep trying again and again. It never matters how many times you fail. It only matters when you win. Once you win, you’ll always be a winner.

Once you give up, you’ll always be a loser. That’s why you can never give up until you win. The only power strong enough to make losers keep trying is either a slot machine in a Las Vegas casino or delusional thinking.

Don’t think rationally. Be delusional. If it can work for me, it can work for you. I don’t believe that, but if you do, then it will work for you no matter what anyone else thinks anyway.

Embrace the power of delusional thinking. It’s the only path to certain success. Even if you fail, you can delude yourself that you didn’t so you’ll always wind up a winner in your deluded mind anyway. And that’s something no amount of positive thinking can ever overcome.


  • Gatekeepers are people who will always say no to you. Your job is to make them say yes. Failing that, hire someone to kill them.
  • If you can’t get past a gatekeeper, go straight to their boss and see if you can get the boss to fire the gatekeeper for not saying yes to you in the first place.
  • If a gatekeeper says no, find someone else who will say yes. Anyone who says yes to you is a winner. Anyone who says no to you is a loser.
  • If you quit, you’ll always be a loser for eternity. If you keep trying, you’ll always be a success in your own mind even if everyone around you thinks you’re an idiot.
  • It never matters what anyone else thinks about you if you’re delusional.
  • Being delusional is the secret of Donald Trump.

How to F*ck Up Like Donald Trump

Hey everybody! If you admire Donald Trump and don’t mind his behavior, then chances are good you’d like to use Donald Trump as a role model. Better yet, think about how your children could grow up and be exactly like Donald Trump. Think that’s impossible? Absolutely not.

Just start by teaching your kids to disrespect anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Even better, not only disrespect them but blame them for the very same problems you created for yourself. If anyone isn’t obviously 100% enthralled with who you are and your behavior, then they’re obviously been influenced by fake news so the answer is simple. Everyone should believe you just because you tell them to. What could be easier than that?

For those who seek advice on how to become like Donald Trump, there’s now a new book that gives clear guidance for how you (or your kids) can model their actions, thoughts, and behavior to be like Donald Trump.

Called “How to F*ck Up Like Donald Trump,” this book provides clear steps for how you too can achieve massive success in your own life by stepping on others, blaming others for problems you created, taking credit for solutions others created, and insulting your way to the top using fear, hatred, and lies to do it.

If Donald Trump is the type of person you respect, then change your own life to more closely match your hero. After all, if one Donald Trump can bring the world closer to global disaster, think of what an entire nation of Donald Trump imitators could do to bring down honesty, respect, and courtesy across the planet and even the solar system? (Think big. That’s the Donald Trump way.)

So be sure to pick up your copy of “How to F*ck Up Like Donald Trump” today! You won’t be disappointed, unless, of course, fake news tries to convince you otherwise.

An Easy Way to Get Into Heaven

If you listen to conservatives, the real solution to all of our problems is to return back to God. By that they mean their God and their way of worshipping their God.

The general consensus is that we’re all going straight to hell unless we follow the rules of God, which basically means always doing good and never getting tempted into evil. If you get tempted into evil, you risk facing God’s wrath and being punished in the afterlife by getting sent straight to hell.

So there are two flaws with someone’s desire to get into heaven. First, getting yourself into heaven is basically a selfish act. You want to save yourself because you think you deserve it, yet a truly unselfish, Christian act would be to give up your place in heaven so someone else can have it instead.

I guess you won’t see too many religious people embracing that idea.

However, a more serious obstacle to getting into heaven is the so-called belief that you must be 100% good all the time and if you stray from the righteous path, you risk going straight to hell. Using that logic, it seems like the fastest and most direct way to hell would be to worship not God, but the devil.

If you become a devil-worshipper, now you must be evil 100% of the time so you can go straight to hell. However, if you do a few good acts in your life, you’ll risk having Satan punish you by sending you straight to heaven.

See how easy that path to heaven can be?

With a God-fearing approach, you have to be good most of the time. With a Satan-worshipping approach, you just have to be good some of the time. Then Satan will punish you in the afterlife by denying you from hell and sending you straight to heaven instead.

So the quickest path to heaven seems to be embracing evil and doing good once in a while — which is exactly what most extreme right-wing (and left-wing) people actually do.

Of course, if those people are going straight to heaven, then it’s far more likely that heaven is really hell, so you really want to go to hell so you won’t have to ever see those people ever again for the rest of your life.

After all, it’s bad enough sharing your life with so many self-righteous people who use religion as an excuse to justify everything from slavery to war, but how would you like to spend an eternity with these same people?

That’s the definition of hell right there, spending an eternity with self-righteous people. If given a choice, maybe hell doesn’t sound so bad after all.

How to be Stupid as a Corporate Executive

When Sam Walton started Wal-Mart, he had to put up with a problem that all retailers face, namely shoplifting and employee theft. Rather than hire security guards at the front of his stores, which might prove intimidating to customers, Sam Walton decided to hire greeters instead.

The job of a greeter was to welcome people to the store but also to keep an eye out for theft in a non-obtrusive way. Wal+Mart’s executives fought Sam Walton on this, claiming it was a waste of money but Sam Walton got his way and put greeters in all of his stores. Not surprisingly, theft dropped and the cost of the greeters was more than made up for by the savings in reducing theft.

Then Wal-Mart’s executives got the bright idea to save money by getting rid of the greeters. Their logic was that since greeters cost money and didn’t do anything directly to increase profits, they were an unnecessary expense. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart saved money by eliminating greeters and then started losing money after theft started increasing dramatically.

In a move meant to save money, Wal-Mart’s executives found a way to cost the company money. That’s the typical corporate executive mentality. Save money now regardless of the consequences later.

With that in mind, here’s a similar idea. Why not eliminate corporate executives? This would provide an immediate cost savings, especially once you eliminate the exorbitant salaries, company perks such as company cars, and executive offices not to mention corporate secretaries who often double as thinly disguised (and equally thinly dressed) prostitutes and mistresses for the corporate executives.

So how come corporate executives never think of saving a company money by eliminating their own jobs? Most likely because corporate executives aren’t really interested in saving a company money so much as they’re interested in increasing their own benefits regardless of the long-term consequences for the actual company.

Before corporate executives cut other people’s jobs, they should first cut their own jobs and salaries to save money, provided, of course, that they’re actually serious about saving the company money.

Since corporate executives really aren’t serious about saving a company money, they should simply be open and honest about it and  publicly promote themselves as pursuing greed and selfishness. Then again, most corporate executives do promote themselves as the party of greed and selfishness by hiring lobbyists to influence politicians for their benefit.

The real problem isn’t that corporate executives are greedy, selfishness, and short-sighted. The real problem is that much of the general public is also greedy, selfish, and short-sighted, so they don’t want to hold others to a higher standard because they hope to reach that same “higher standard” one day when they can also exploit others by being greedy, selfish, and short-sighted. The only difference between a rich greedy and selfish person and a poor one is that the poor one hasn’t yet had a chance to be greedy and selfish on a mass scale.

After seeing theft increase, Wal-Mart decided that the cost of hiring greeters was still less than the expense of store theft. So Wal-Mart brought back their greeters and theft levels have dropped as a result.

Most people follow the common sense rule that “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” However corporate executives follow their own common sense rule that says, “If we eliminate employees, buildings, and products, we can bring our total expenses to absolute zero while still maintaining our current level of profits!”

If you own a company and want help running it into the ground as quickly as possible, hire more corporate executives. They’ll never fail or disappoint you.

To read more about Wal-Mart’s mistake in eliminating greeters, click here.


If We Hired People the Same Way We Elect Presidents

One of the oddest features of the latest Presidential campaigning is that the most popular candidates are those with the least amount of experience working in government. Candidates touting their “outsider” appeal are basically saying, “I’ve never done this type of job before so therefore I’m best qualified to make the changes we need.”

That’s like hiring someone who knows nothing about plumbing to fix your clogged toilet or hiring someone who knows nothing about electrical wiring to rewire your house.

Nobody in their right mind would hire an unqualified worker in any other field, but when it comes to politics, knowing nothing and having zero experience is somehow an asset while having experience and working in the government is somehow considered a liability.

With that in mind, we can now visit a job interview between two applicants for a brain surgeon in a major hospital.

INTERVIEWER: As you know, this hospital prides itself on hits excellent reputation as the finest medical facility in the world. We’re looking for our next head surgeon who can maintain this hospital’s research and reputation and take it to new places. So first, tell me about yourself.

APPLICANT #1: I’ve been working as a surgeon for the past twenty years and helped Dr. Rubens perform one of the latest artificial kidney operations in the world using techniques that he and I both helped pioneer. I’ve written and published numerous scientific papers about surgery and healing techniques that use light and sound to heal damaged cells at the molecular level, and I’ve volunteered for the past ten years to perform operations in Third World countries absolutely free.

INTERVIEWER: Uh, thanks, but to tell you the truth, we were looking for someone with more radical ideas for changing the way this hospital, and the entire medical community, works. I don’t think you’re the person we have in mind. Next!

APPLICANT #2: I’ve never used a knife before in all my life because when I rob liquor stores, I only use a gun. I carry a big gun because a big gun scares people and if they et in my way, I blast a hole big enough to put Cleveland in. I never wash my hands because that’s a waste of water, and I don’t trust medicine, surgery, or hospitals. Whatever happened to the old fashion way of draining someone’s bad blood like they did to George Washington? If you drain a person of enough blood, there’s no way their illness can survive. Of course, they might not survive either, but just because someone didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean it can’t work differently in the future. That’s why I think I’m qualified to be the head surgeon of this hospital because I bring an outsider’s point of view. I know nothing about medical practices so I’ll bring fresh ideas. I’ve never worked in a hospital before in my life, so I know how to run a medical institution the right way. I’ve never healed anyone so that means I’m completely qualified to work as a healer in the medical community. I promise to bring change even if those changes make no sense whatsoever because people want to see action, even if those actions do more harm than good. More importantly, I’ll never apologize for my actions or decisions because apologizing is for weak pansies. Everything I do will always be right and if it isn’t, I’ll just keep saying it’s right until you people agree and stop looking at facts to think otherwise.

INTERVIEWER: Well, you’ve certainly proven your point! I believe you have all the necessary qualifications needed to run this medical institution and heal the community with your medical knowledge. Welcome aboard, and if you get tired of running this hospital with no experience of any kind, perhaps you can then move on to run for President of the United States.


An Interview with God

Professor Jean Decety, a neuroscientist from the University of Chicago, studied over 1000 children from around the world and published a paper in the journal  Current Biology, which found that children from religious households are actually less generous than kids from a secular background.

While most people think of religion as making people more generous, it appears that this one study contradicts this common belief. So to get to the core of this study, it’s only fitting to ask the creator of the universe what He thinks, so we offer you an interview with God.

Me: As the main object of worship in all the world’s religions (except for those druids who seem to worship trees, but are indirectly worshipping you after all), what do you make of this latest study that shows people are less generous if they’re religious?

God: Well first of all, you have to realize that studying people is an inexact science so it’s hard to draw general conclusions from a sample of 1000 kids. But to answer your question, the problem with religion is that it allows people to interpret it any way they wish to justify their own lifestyle choices anyway. Generous, caring people use the Bible to justify continuing to be caring and generous towards others, while selfish people find ways to use the Bible to justify being selfish to others. Just look at all the religious extremists currently controlling the Republican Party and you can see what happens when selfish people use religion as an excuse to hide their own obnoxious behavior.

Me: So you’re saying religious people aren’t necessarily more or less generous than secular people?

God: That’s right. Remember, I gave people free will and look what a mess they make of it. Historically, people have used the Bible and religion to justify slavery, war, torture, and racism. That’s not a fault of religion so much as it’s a fault of people who hide behind religious righteousness so they can appear saintly while continuing to perform horrible, selfish deeds. Again, just look at the right-wing religious extremists in the GOP and tell me if those people aren’t looking out for their own selfish interests at the expense of anyone they consider to be outside their groups.

Me: Do you think religion brings people closer together or divides them apart?

God: Again it boils down to free will. For some people, religion provides rules to guide people into generous and loving behavior. For others, religion provides equally strong rules for hurting others, discriminating against others, and oppressing others all in the name of religious freedom. I didn’t give people the right to make others miserable, but that’s what happens when you give people free will. Just look how free will turned out in Satan and you can pretty much see how it works with right-wing extremists in the GOP as well.

Me: Why do you think right-wing religious extremists overwhelmingly support the GOP?

God: Most likely because the GOP actually listens to them and caters to their whims, no matter how small they might really be compared to the rest of the party. Yet because religious extremists are the most vocal, they tend to exert more influence than the larger majority that stays silent.

Me: Do you see any hope in people overcoming the negative aspects of religion and only embracing the positive aspects?

God: Don’t make me laugh! You really think people will actually read the Bible and follow rules like loving thy neighbor when they can simply focus on other parts of scripture to justify their own horrible behavior? That’s a good one. You see, far too many people use religion as a way to separate and divide themselves from others. When you join a particular religion, it gives you an identity and anyone outside of your religion is obvious an outsider, unworthy of the same benefits you deserve for choosing to join a particular religious group. Just look at how most people want to get to heaven. That’s a selfish thought right there. If they were truly religious, they would want to sacrifice their own lives so someone else could get into heaven, but most religious people don’t think like that. They want to get into heaven for selfish reasons masked as religious doctrine so they can avoid seeing how they’re really selfish and self-centered. If all those selfish people really got into heaven, it would actually look more like hell.

Me: So what would you say to all those people who blame other religions for atrocities while avoiding mentioning the atrocities of their own faith?

God: Those people make me laugh because they embrace the worst aspects of human behavior while disguising them as religious beliefs. Strip away religion from these people and you simply have maniacal psychopaths no different than Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper. The only difference is that serial killers at least acknowledge they’re hurting others.

Me: if you could recreate the world all over again, how would you do things differently?

God: Well I’d probably put a disclaimer in the Bible explaining that you can’t take the word of God literally because it’s all your interpretation anyway. But most religious people wouldn’t want to read something like that, so that seems like a waste of paper. I suppose I’d like to tell religious extremists that they really don’t know what they’re talking about, but if these people won’t listen to reason and logic, what are the chances they’d listen to someone like me, who they claim to worship and love while ignoring everything I tell them anyway?

Me: It’s certainly been interesting talking to the creator of the universe, knowing that He feels just as frustrated dealing with humanity as everyone else.

God: Thank you, and let me say that even I still can’t figure out a way to bring peace to the Middle East. You can’t wait for God to fix things on this planet. People have to learn to do it themselves, but then again, that’s something else most people don’t want to hear, even if it comes from God Himself.

Me: Thank you God for agreeing to this interview. I hope people will one day get a chance to listen to you for a change.

God: I wish they’d listen to Me too, but if they did, they’d have to actually change their behavior rather than find ways to justify it, so you know that’s never going to happen.

Who Would Hitler Vote For?

With so many people jockeying to become the GOP Presidential candidate, it might be interesting to look to previous experts in politics to see who they think might be presidential material. Now through the miracle of imagination, we bring you an interview with Adolf Hitler.

ANNCR: Welcome Adolf. We’re glad you can join us in analyzing the top GOP candidates.

HITLER: Glad to be here. After all, hell is getting crowded these days with people like Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jong-Il.

ANNCR: As the former dictator of the Third Reich, what is your opinion of the top GOP contenders and which one do you think will become President of the United States?

HITLER: What most people don’t realize is that dictators always get the support of the people in the beginning because dictators tell people what they want to hear. That’s why Donald Trump is currently the leader. What better way to rally his supporters than to blame all the problems of your country on illegal immigrants. It’s brilliant! I did that with the Jews back in Germany.

ANNCR: Donald Trump says he wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants from the United States. Do you think his plan is feasible or not?

HITLER: Of course it’s feasible. In the early days of my rise to power, I slowly pushed the Jews out of Germany. At first we just pressed them to leave on their own. Then when other countries, even the United States, refused to let Jews in because they didn’t want them either, all the Jews kept coming back to Germany. Since it was easier to round them up and exterminate them rather than keep trying to push them into other countries that refused to let them in because they were Jewish, I believe it’s only a matter of time before Donald Trump’s plan of mass deportation will turn into complete misery and chaos for all Mexican families and the entire United States in general. Naturally we know Trump is really talking about Mexicans when he talks about illegal immigrants because do you really think he’d deport a Brazilian supermodel just because she overstayed her visa restrictions?

ANNCR: So you see a future of concentration camps and extermination for Mexicans in America’s future?

HITLER: Hey, it’s what Trump supporters really want anyway. They just need someone to give them permission to express their discriminatory ideas. Why do you think so many Germans supported me? I gave them permission to let their cruelty express themselves on the Jews. Do you think I could have killed 6 million Jews on my own without the willing cooperation of so many law-abiding German citizens?

ANNCR: Well, let’s talk about Ben Carson. He’s a well-known neurosurgeon with nearly identical right-wing extremist views as Donald Trump.

HITLER: I love doctors! In fact, Doctor Josef Mengele was one of my best friends.

ANNCR: So do you think Ben Carson has a chance to be elected President?

HITLER: I see Ben Carson having a better chance of getting a cabinet position within the Trump administration. Ben Carson was the first doctor to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head. Josef Mengele loved experimenting with twins as well, so maybe Ben Carson can use his medical skills to find a solution to your illegal immigrant problem like Josef Mengele tried to do with the Jews.

ANNCR: Let’s talk about Carly Fiorina. What do you think of a woman running a country?

HITLER: I’m a firm believer of women’s rights just as long as they allow a man to have most of those rights. The best part about Carly Florina is that she drove Hewlett-Packard into the ground and walked away with a multi-million dollar golden parachute for her efforts to enrich herself at the expense of the workers. That’s the mark of a dictator if I’ve ever seen one.

ANNCR: Let’s get back to Donald Trump. If Trump gets elected, how do you think he’ll fulfill his promise to “Make America Great”?

HITLER: That’s easy. When I was rebuilding Germany, I used a similar phrase to make Germany great again. One way to make any nation great is to become the smartest, most productive people in the world and build a great civilization, but that takes too long. It’s far faster and simpler to make a nation great by building up your military and invading an easy target like Poland.

ANNCR: Do you see Trump’s promise of making America great again leading to a military buildup?

HITLER: Not necessarily any more of military buildup than your country’s been doing for the past few decades anyway. What Trump needs to do is find a common enemy (beyond the Mexicans) and start getting easy victories to give people a sense of satisfaction. I started by invading Poland and annexing land. Then I worked my way up to invading Belgium, Denmark, and France. Trump needs to start small by attacking Mexico and maybe some of those Central and South American countries that keep selling illegal drugs to Americans who keep buying them. Create a phony outrage, justify it with a military excursion against a weak opponent, and then the people will be so happy and blood thirsty that they’ll want to keep attacking one more country after another because they think they can’t lose.

ANNCR: Is war a valid long-term strategy for making a nation great?

HITLER: Of course not. Look where I wound up. But that’s not the point. People want simple solution to complex problems, so if you can convince them that blowing up another country that can’t put up much of a fight will make them feel better about themselves and their country, that’s all that matters.

ANNCR: If Trump does start a war, do you think it could escalate out of control?

HITLER: Of course. I thought I could invade Russia and win, so it’s likely Trump will keep using military force against all the nations of the world until he goes one step too far. Then it will be too late and he’ll wind up fighting a losing battle that he can never win.

ANNCR: If Trump did start a war with a bigger country like Russia or China, and started to lose, what do you think he would do next?

HITLER: Trump has an ego the size of Jupiter, so if he starts a war that starts turning against him, you know he’ll launch a nuclear strike just to protect his fragile ego. When you compare the deaths of millions of innocent people around the world to avoiding admitting that you were actually wrong, why would you believe Trump would do anything but destroy the world rather than admit he was wrong?

ANNCR: Well, Hitler, your insight on the thinking process of Donald Trump and the other GOP contenders is certainly enlightening. Fortunately most of the GOP supporters don’t read or learn about history so they can’t benefit from your mistakes.

HITLER: That is the beauty of people. They prefer making the same mistakes over and over again rather than learning from the past. That insures people like me and other future dictators will always have a chance to wreck the world once more.

ANNCR: Thank you Hitler, and let us know the next time you’ll be back on Earth to share your wisdom and insight with people who want neither wisdom or insight.

HITLER: It’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to seeing Donald Trump turn the United States into a fascist dictatorship. Perhaps my Thousand Year Reich might find new life among Trump supporters after all.

ANNCR: Thank you Hitler, and good night.

The Price of Vanity

After watching the movie “Interstellar” about the differences in time  when astronauts spend a few hours on a planet with dense gravity, but to someone in orbit, that same amount of time translates into over a decade, I got the idea of how these differences in time might be put to trivial uses.

Specifically, if empty-headed celebrities were so obsessed about staying young through Botox and plastic surgery, what would a wealthy celebrity think of time dilation as a technique for staying young much longer?

Of course, if you tay young while your audience ages, that creates an entirely different situation for a celebrity. Hence the title of my short story poking fun at the idea of what would happen if a celebrity met time dilation. The result is a short story called “The Price of Vanity.”


The Price of Vanity

by Wallace Wang

“You don’t have a choice.”

Blake Jacobs stopped, ran his fingers over the stubble of growth on his chin, felt the deep lines of wrinkles creasing his cheeks from years, no, make that centuries, of working the Time Routes, and stared into the baby blue eyes of the freshly scrubbed, pink-cheeked punk blocking the path to his own starship. A quick glance at this young man’s chest, shoulders, and arms showed that he wore no official badge of authority over Blake other than his neatly pressed and tailored business suit that fitted him about as well as hand me downs thrown over a scarecrow in a corn field.

Blake grunted his disapproval and stepped around this young man, only to find his way blocked once again.

The young man smiled the type of grin you have when you’re holding 21 at a blackjack table. “I said, you don’t have a choice.”

Blake dropped his faded flight bag on the pitted concrete floor of the space port. How long had he been lugging this battered bag on his Time Route flights? Ten, twenty years, tops, although to the people on this planet, it must look more like a 300-year old antique by now.

The young man, who couldn’t have been many months past the legal drinking age, reached into his jacket and flipped out a business card that he handed to Blake. JON STARLIGHT, PUBLICIST TO THE STARS, the card read.

Blake refused to take the business card until Jon blinked uncomfortably and shoved it back in his jacket.

“I’m sure even a man of your status has heard the name Heidi Hakima?” Jon spat out the word “status” as the sarcastic insult that it was.

Blake grunted. Names meant little to him. The only names he bothered to memorize any more were the names of the next star systems he would visit. His whole life was devoted to piloting starships through wormholes connecting galaxies together. It was steady work and the pay was great precisely because few people wanted to deal with the drawbacks that involved watching names of people you once knew slowly fade into oblivion.

Blake grimaced and pretended to think hard. “Heidi Hakima?” he blurted out. “Isn’t she that air-headed bimbo with no talent and an equal amount of brains to match?”

Jon puffed out his chest indignantly. “Heidi Hakima is the number one reality TV celebrity in the solar system. She has the top-rated television show with over 40 billion social media followers, a multi-billion dollar fashion and fragrance product line, and numerous movie appearances to her name, not to mention a hit single that topped the pop music charts for a week.” Jon let his eyes conspicuously study the filthy overalls that Blake wore. “And she can probably buy and sell you, your starship, and everything your mother ever bought for you a million times over.”

Blake grunted. “Like I said. That air-headed bimbo who has no talent.” He tried to move around Jon but the stubborn bastard stood in his way again.

“We need your starship,” Jon said.

Now it was Blake’s turn to blink uncomfortably. “I’m sorry. For a minute there I thought you said that you needed my starship.”

Jon grinned and flashed teeth that shined an unnatural shade of white. “You’re a Time Route pilot, right?”

Blake nodded. He didn’t like the fact that Jon seemed to already know something about him.

Jon clapped both hands on Blake’s shoulders as if they were best buddies meeting at a high school reunion. “Then that’s why you don’t have a choice!”

Blake stared in confusion. “Okay. So tell me what that means?”

Jon grinned. “That means you have the privilege to be the exclusive pilot for Heidi Hakima’s next publicity stunt!”

Blake stared at Jon long and hard, then tried to walk around him but Jon inexplicably popped up to block his path again.

“It pays well,” Jon said. “Very well.”

Blake shook his head. “I don’t care if it pays off the international debt of South America. I’ve got a job to do.” Blake tried to walk around Jon and found Jon standing in front of him once more.

“You don’t understand,” Jon said. “You have the only Time Route starship on the planet.”

Blake shrugged. “There’s another one coming in ten years.”

“And Heidi Hakima will be ten years older when that happens. That’s completely unacceptable for someone of Heidi’s stature as the most popular socialite in the solar system.” Jon draped a conspiring arm around Blake’s shoulders as if to share a secret. “Celebrities don’t like aging. It makes them look old.”

“Everyone ages,” Blake said. “And everyone looks old.”

“But not Time Route pilots,” Jon corrected. “They stay young forever. Or at least as close to forever as possible. Tell me, how old are you?”

Blake had to stop and think. For some reason, he found this mental calculation harder than trying to calculate the change in fuel consumption rates when orbiting the gravitational pull of a black hole. “Forty, maybe forty-five years old?”

Jon shook his head with a silly grin. “Three hundred and twenty-nine years, eight months, seven weeks, and three days old,” he said. “Give or take a day or two.” When Blake glared at him, Jon quickly explained, “I looked up your birth certificate in the Hall of Records.”

“Well,” Blake said. “That’s the drawback of being a Time Route pilot. When we go through those wormholes, we’re aging at a different rate than everyone back home.”

“Exactly!” Jon shrieked as if Blake had just won the grand prize on a TV game show.

Blake waited for Jon to say something else, but he just stood there smiling like a mute idiot.

“That’s why most people don’t want to be Time Route pilots,” Blake added. “Who wants to go out for a week on a job and come back to find that everyone you knew at home is now twenty years older than you are? You lose a lot of friends that way.”

“I understand perfectly,” Jon said again with a stupid grin.

Blake waited for further explanation, but Jon just kept grinning that Blake started to fantasize how many of those pearly white teeth would pop out if he punched him in the mouth.

Finally, Jon spoke. “I work in show business. It’s critical, no, make that vital, that my clients look as young and attractive as possible for as long as possible, and you can’t do that when your skin starts wrinkling and draining your youth away like a fatal disease. Tell me, how sexy is a sixty-year old woman?”

“Well, there’s always some people who…”

“Not sexy at all,” Jon interrupted. “Twenty is perfect. Eighteen is better. Sixteen is just on the cusp of ripening into full sweetness while still under the age of legality.”

“You can’t stay young forever,” Blake said.

“Oh yes you can. And you are proof that it is not only possible but preferable.” Jon whipped out two pictures from his jacket and shoved them in Blake’s face.

The first picture showed a young blonde girl, obviously still a teenager, posing and smiling for the camera. The second picture showed the same young blonde in the same seductive pose, but clearly bigger, heavier, and more importantly, older.

Just as quickly, Jon yanked the pictures out of Blake’s hands and shoved them back into his jacket again. “See the difference? That only represents a five year change, but you can already tell that Heidi’s lost some of that innocent glow in her eyes and that skinny body of a raw teenager.”

“Why doesn’t she do what other celebrities do?” Blake asked. “Plastic surgery.”

Jon smiled his stupid grin and shook his head so vigorously that Blake hoped that it would fall off. “Heidi is not just any celebrity. Heidi is unique. She’s a trend setter, not a follower. Besides,” Jon added. “Plastic surgery still doesn’t look natural over time. Get too much plastic surgery and most people wind up looking like deformed monsters that scare little children on Halloween. Heidi doesn’t want to look artificially young. She needs to look naturally young and there’s no better way to do that than to stay young forever.”

“Hence the Time Route.”

Jon nodded. “Hence your lack of choice.”

“No deal.” Blake tried to move away but Jon popped up again to block his way.

“Like I said before,” Jon warned. “You don’t have a choice.”

Blake pointed in the direction of his starship. “I have plenty of choices. Nobody tells me what to do.”

Jon rubbed the fingertips of one hand together with his thumb. “Name it. Heidi’s willing to pay any price.”

Blake rubbed his fingertips together in imitation and slowly dropped all but the middle one to shove in Jon’s face. “Maybe you don’t hear very well, Mr. Starlight. I said no deal. Besides, I’m already booked on a route. You can catch me when I return and maybe by then I’ll have changed my mind.”

“That will be twenty years from now,” Jon said. “Our time. For you, it will just feel like a week.” When Blake glared at him, Jon shrugged. “I looked up your schedule. I know a little about time dilation too.”

“Well if you know so much about time dilation, you can tell Miss Hakima that she can age gracefully like everyone else or she can just go to…”

“Hell-o!” Jon turned and waved at a mob of people that suddenly flooded into the space port. At the tip of the human phalanx crowded the paparazzi photographers, falling all over themselves to snap a continuous stream of images they could hopefully sell to one of the celebrity gossip tabloids.

This rolling, undulating mass of beings reminded Blake of a swarm of mosquitoes, shapeless and formless, but looking quite solid none the less. Occasionally when the paparazzi would part ever so slightly, Blake caught a glimpse of a cheery, smiling, overly made up face of none other than Heidi Hakima.

Protecting her from the swarming mass of paparazzi were a ring of bodyguards who grimly held rank and shoved their way forward like a wall of football blockers guiding their punt return specialist downfield.

Further behind came the screaming fans who fell over themselves in a desperate attempt to touch just a fragment of Heidi’s clothes. Failing that golden prize, they satisfied themselves with reaching their outstretched hands as close to her as possible before one of her bodyguards gruffly shoved them back to make room for the next irrational fan to take his or her place.

Jon turned with a triumphant smile. “May I present Heidi Hakima.”

The phalanx of bodyguards parted like the Red Sea for Moses as the screaming fans mingled with the paparazzi to get the best view of Heidi and catch every word of wisdom that fell from her pouty red lips.

“I’m so excited just to be me,” Heidi squealed. The fans roared their approval while camera flashes burst around her like an out of control fireworks display.

“Get some shots of Heidi in the cockpit,” Jon said, directing the crowd to the open cargo door of Blake’s starship.

“Nobody gets on my starship without my permission!” Blake roared. Two beefy bodyguards quickly blocked Blake from view of the crowd and glared at him to shut his mouth or else.

As the crowd surged into the starship, Jon turned back to Blake. “As I was saying about not having a choice.” Jon reached inside his jacket and pulled out a freshly printed letter on official Star Route stationary.

Blake’s eyes scanned the embossed letterhead, the straightforward order commanding him to do what Jon Starlight asked for or risk having his pilot license revoked for eternity, and the commander’s signature scrawled at the bottom to the make the whole order valid and official.

“Heidi is always willing to pay the price for whatever she wants,” Jon explained. “And she always gets what she wants.” He gingerly plucked the letter out of Blake’s fingers and tucked it carefully back inside his jacket. “Like I said. You don’t have a choice.”

Inside the starship, everything was a mess. Actually, that wasn’t quite true. Everything that belonged to Blake was a mess because someone had tossed everything he owned into sloppy piles that had been dumped in the hallway.

“I had to move your junk out of the way,” Heidi explained as she tossed her perky head one way and then another while posing in the captain’s chair as cameras captured her every move. “It just cluttered the background of my pictures.”

Then Blake saw the broken balsa wood airplane that someone had stepped on and shoveled to the side.

“What’s this?”

Heidi barely took the time to glance in Blake’s direction as she lifted her chin and smiled for the cameras. “Oh, that piece of junk didn’t match the color of my dress so I pushed it aside.

“You broke it!”

“It’s just a stupid toy.”

“It’s not a stupid toy.” Blake tried to keep his voice steady and calm, but the air hissed through his teeth like a locomotive engine about to burst. “That was a toy from my childhood.”

“Just get another one.” Heidi flung a scarf around her neck and dangled the tip of her high heel off the painted nail of her big toe.

“It’s not the toy that’s important,” Blake hissed. “It’s the sentimental value. Let me tell you something about Time Route pilots.”

The throng of paparazzi photographers suddenly went quiet and still.

Blake rushed in front of Heidi as two burly bodyguards immediately pinned his arms behind his back and pulled him away.

“Time Route pilots don’t have a home, we don’t have a family, we don’t have any friends, and do you know why? Because we don’t belong anywhere. No matter where we go, everything changes since the last time we’ve been there. That’s why the only thing we do have are our memories, and those memories are stored in what little we own. You take those sentimental items out of our lives and it’s like cutting our lifeline to who we are and where we came from.”

Heidi rolled her eyes and twirled her fingertip against her temple to indicate a crazy man. The paparazzi tittered. Someone took a picture.

Jon Starlight immediately stepped in front of paparazzi as the two bodyguards hauled Blake away. “Be sure to get pictures of Heidi piloting the starship.”

Heidi put on a grim look and pretended to steer the starship. More camera flashes followed.

“Let’s see the Heidi Hop!” someone shouted.

Heidi made an exaggerated face as if she we’re tired of hearing this, but obediently stood up, balanced on one leg, and hopped on one foot while pursing her lips and tilting her head at an angle.

“Be-bop de-woop,” she giggled and thrust her bottom towards the crowd. The photographers went wild, especially when Heidi did her trademark Heidi Hop once more, put her hand out, and crushed a second balsa wood airplane resting on the control panel.

The words of Jon Starlight still rang in Blake’s ears. “All we want you to do is take a short hop into that wormhole of yours, circle around for a day, and come back. Do that without getting yourself killed and Heidi will pay you 500,000. That’s guaranteed money. If I’m not mistaken, that’s at least a year’s pay for a Time Route pilot like you.”

Blake wasn’t happy, but he couldn’t do anything about it with two of Heidi’s goon bodyguards protecting her at all times. In fact, there really wasn’t much of anything Blake could do once he set the starship on auto-pilot. A pilot’s whole job consisted of landing, taking off, and programming the computer to do everything else. And, he reminded himself, deal with the unexpected, which was something that computers still couldn’t do.

In Blake’s case, the unexpected was having to babysit Heidi and her two bodyguards back and forth through a wormhole while resisting the urge to open an airlock and kick all three of them out in the direction of the nearest black hole.

Despite drifting past galaxies that few humans had ever seen in history, Heidi was already bored.

She glanced at the gold and diamond watch that her fifth ex-husband had bought for her during their honeymoon that had been filmed for the finale of season 6 of her reality TV show.

“How much longer until we get back?” she whined in the tone of a little kid constantly asking her parents on a long car trip, “Are we there yet?”

Blake didn’t say anything so one of her bodyguard goons nudged him with his fist in a not so friendly manner. “Hey, the lady asked you a question. It’s a good idea if you answer it.”

Blake stared into the scarred faces of both bodyguards that looked like they’d taken a full load of shrapnel from some past war that solved nothing. He tapped a button to light up a computer screen. A swirling mass of different colors appeared that looked meaningless to anyone but an experienced Time Route pilot.

“We’re here,” Blake said, pointing to nowhere in particular. “But it will take some time before we can get home.” Another spot on the map caught his eye. Blake chanced a quick glance at both bodyguards, but none of them appeared to understand anything of what they were looking at.

“However,” Blake added suddenly. “We are closer to this planet than we are to home.” Just saying the word “home” sounded foreign to Blake’s lips, but nobody seemed to have noticed.

Heidi glanced at the other planet that Blake pointed at. “So what?”

“So?” Blake tried to imitate the phony enthusiasm that he remembered Jon Starlight’s voice had. “That means more people to see you!”

Heidi perked up. “Really?”

Blake nodded. “It’s a new colony. You could be the first celebrity to visit it. They’ll worship you.”

Heidi squealed with delight. “I’m a trend setter, not a follower,” she boasted.

Blake nodded. “That’s what I’ve heard.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Heidi nearly shrieked. “Let’s go!”

Blake held up a hand and put on the most serious expression on his face he could think of, which was when his beloved Green Bay Packers lost the Super Bowl to a last second field goal. “I have to warn you it will take time.”

“We’ve got plenty of time,” Heidi screamed. Then her voice dropped to a more dreamy tone. “An entirely new planet to worship me.”

Blake glanced at his wristwatch. “We’re supposed to be gone just for a day, but if I take you to this colony and back, that will take us a week.”

“A week, a day, whatever.” Heidi stabbed the computer map with her manicured fingernail. “I can’t let down my fans!”

“Of course not,” Blake said. “But first, we need to get approval to make our course change official.”

“I’m telling you let’s go,” Heidi screamed with joy. “How much more official can that be?”

“Well,” Blake said, “we need authorization and approval. Those things take time, you know. And money.”

Heidi jabbed the computer screen again so hard that Blake momentarily thought her finger would go right through it. “I’ll pay any price to get what I want. You tell me what we need to do and we’ll do it.”

Blake tapped a button to contact the Time Route office. “Okay, I’ll let you take it from here.”

Only later could Blake marvel at the fact that he had spent an entire week cooped up inside a starship with the vapid, pointless, and overbearing personality known throughout the galaxy as Heidi Hakima, and managed to suppress the urge to walk outside in space without a helmet. For someone used to time dilation, Blake had to admit that had been the longest week of his life, putting up with the spoiled behavior of someone who was only famous because she was already famous. It reminded Blake of one of those paradoxes in his science books about Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity.

“I can’t wait for my fans to see me come home,” Heidi squealed. Suddenly she got a worried look on her face. “How do I look?”

One bodyguard pulled out a camera and snapped a quick picture. The second bodyguard pulled out a picture they had taken a week ago. They held the two pictures side by side for Heidi to study.

“You still look the same, Miss Hakima.”

Heidi jumped up and down with joy and stood by the cargo door like a puppy anxious to be let outside before it has an accident. When Blake opened the cargo door, Heidi triumphantly stepped forward, bent one leg in a sexy pose, thrust both arms in the air, and shouted, “I’m back!”

Nobody cared. A few space port workers in greasy overalls briefly glanced in Heidi’s direction and continued on their way.

Heidi looked around in disappointment. “Where is everybody? Where’s Jon Starlight? Where are the paparazzi? Where are my fans? Hello, everyone. This is me!”

This time no space port workers bothered to pause and look in her direction.

Blake strolled by Heidi, touting his worn flight bag, and nonchalantly glanced at his wristwatch. “Right on schedule,” he said. Then he looked carefully at Heidi. “You look as young as you did the day we left.”

This seemed to soften Heidi up, but her lower lip stuck out in a pout when she saw the empty space port that greeted her. “Jon Starlight is going to hear from me about this!” She pulled out her phone and tried to make a call.

“We’re sorry,” said a computerized voice, “but this phone has been disconnected due to lack of payment.“

Blake pretended to stretch his arms. “I forgot to tell you. When you go on a Time Route, you have to make sure you leave behind enough money to pay all your bills. Why don’t you call from the Time Route office?”

Inside the Time Route office, Blake sat in a chair and propped his feet on a desk while Heidi made her call.

“I’m sorry,” said the voice of a young girl who Blake guessed was just an intern out of college, “but Mr. Starlight no longer works for the company. How may I help you?”

Heidi’s face wrinkled up in confusion, and Blake noticed that those wrinkles gave a hint to what she would look like when she would get older. “I’m Heidi Hakima,” Heidi shouted into the phone.

The girl on the other end paused for the longest time. Finally she blurted out, “Who?”

Heidi let out an exasperated sigh. “Only the most popular reality TV star in the universe. Hello?”

“Heidi Hakima?”

“Do you have a problem hearing or do I need to talk to your boss?”

Blake heard the young girl whispering something and then she said, “I’ll put you through to my supervisor right away.”

Heidi pointed to the phone and made a face. Blake shrugged his shoulders in sympathy.

A gruff man’s voice came on the line. “Hello, who am I speaking to?”

“This is Heidi Hakima. You know, the Heidi. The one with the hit reality TV show? Hello? Did everybody get hit by a case of the stupids while I was gone?”

The man was silent for a moment. “Heidi Hakima?”

Heidi let out another exasperated gasp. “Haven’t I been telling you my name for the past five minutes?”

The man went silent for a long time. “Jon Starlight no longer works for the company any more.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” Heidi said. “I think your stupid secretary told me that already.”

The man on the other end of the line sucked in his breath. “Ooo boy. I don’t know how to tell you this.”

The tone of the man’s voice made Heidi pause.

“Where are you?” the man asked.

“I just landed. I’m at the space port right now.”

“Oh.” The man cleared his throat. “We were expecting you years ago.”

Heidi’s face went white. “What are you talking about? I just left a week ago.”

“You see,” the man on the other end continued, “Jon Starlight is dead. He committed suicide after the police caught him embezzling money from all of his clients. Especially you.”

Heidi frowned. Blake hummed softly to himself and pretended not to be listening.

“What do you mean, especially me?”

“You were gone for twenty years, Heidi,” the man said. “The network had to cancel your reality TV show. Once people stopped seeing you on TV everyday, there was no reason for anyone to buy any of your products so your company went out of business.”

“What about the money?” Heidi’s voice could barely speak above a whisper.

“That’s where Mr. Starlight came in. Apparently he stole from all of his clients, but when you failed to return, he basically drained all your accounts and cashed in all your assets. I hate to be the one to tell you this, Heidi, but you’ve been bankrupt for the past ten years.”

Heidi dropped the phone. Blake turned around in his chair.

“Anything wrong?” he asked.

Heidi ran out of the office. Blake followed at a leisurely pace.

Heidi stood in front of a group of space port workers checking a starship. “Hey!” she shouted and waved her hands over her head. “It’s me!”

The workers just stared at her. Finally, the oldest worker frowned and walked up to her. “You look just like Heidi Hakima.”

“I am Heidi Hakima!”

The older man laughed. “That’s impossible. She’d be about forty, maybe fifty years old by now.”

Heidi balanced on one leg, bent the other one, and hopped on one foot while pursing her lips and tilting her head to one side. “Be-bop de-woop,” she desperately giggled, and thrust her bottom out. “That’s the Heidi Hop.”

The man nodded. “You’re good. You could probably get a job in Las Vegas as a Heidi Hakima impersonator.” Then he walked away.

Heidi turned to Blake. “What’s going on?”

Blake exaggerated a yawn and glanced at his wristwatch again. “Time dilation,” he said. “We’ve been gone a week but back here, time moved much faster. If my calculations are correct, one week through the wormhole is equivalent to twenty years here.” He glanced at Heidi. “You still look young though.”

Blake started to walk away, then stopped and turned around. He fished a contract out of his pocket and held it in front of her. “By the way, I think you still owe me 500,000 bucks.”

Heidi stared at the contract in disbelief. “I don’t have any money,” she whispered.

Blake shrugged. “In that case, you’ll just have to work off what you owe me. I’ve been looking to hire a janitor for the longest time because I need someone to clean out grease traps in the kitchen, hose down the walls in the trash compactor, and scrub toilets in the bathrooms. I’ll even pay a little above minimum wage.”

Heidi collapsed in a heap on a crate and buried her face in her hands. Blake sat down next to her. He thought that if you stripped out her entitlement mentality and cauterized her immature personality, you might find a decent person inside after all. In any case, he would have the prettiest janitor in the Milky Way. Provided, of course, that she would actually work for a living, but he would find that out in the next week, or twenty years, whichever came first.


The Confederate Flag Debate

During the American Civil War, the Confederacy tried to leave the Union. In the process, they fought the Union armies and killed thousands of Americans, which is more than ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban have killed combined. So that means instead of worrying about Muslim terrorists attacking the United States, we should really be worried about Southern white people attacking and killing innocent Americans instead.

First, we should invoke tough immigration laws since most Southern white people’s ancestors come from Europe, so let’s shut down our borders and deport all Southern white people out of this country and back to where they belong in Finland, Norway, France, Sweden, and England. Obviously it doesn’t matter how long they’ve lived here. They’re not real Americans so they need to go back to where they came from, even if they didn’t come from there.

Second, the Confederate flag represents an army that lost, so if southern state capitols feel the need to fly the Confederate flag, then the state capitols in all the original thirteen colonies should be flying the British flag to commemorate the British loss in the Revolutionary War.

Third, the Confederate flag represents states that supported slavery. So if Southern states want to relive the days of slavery, they’re more than welcome to work in sweat shops in New York and Los Angeles so they can relive the good old days when people worked just to survive one day longer.

Some people say that the Confederate flag represents pride for a region of the country that has the highest poverty levels, the lowest education levels, and a history of violent discrimination against blacks, so it’s easy to see why Southerners would be particularly proud of those accomplishments.

If the South truly wants to boast about their accomplishments, perhaps they need to show the rest of the country how to eliminate poverty, boost education, and treat others who are different to create a stable and thriving economy. If they could do that, then that could justify flying the Confederate flag.

Of course, they won’t do that because that takes effort, intelligence, and a willingness to change their current way of thinking, so in that regard, they’re no different than Northerners running Washington D.C.