Lunar Calendar Silly

Since today is Chinese/Lunar New Year’s Day, and this is the year of the Horse according to the Chinese zodiac, and my editor just brought Three’s advertisement to my attention, here’s a bit of horsey silliness to start your day.

But since we still work in libraries, here’s a bit of library silliness to go with it: some astounding book sculptures by artist Terry Border.

So Happy New Year if you’re of a mind to observe it (I was raised near and now work in proximity to Manhattan’s Chinatown, so it’s hard for me not to), and Happy Friday if you aren’t. It’s all good.

Things You Already Know

It’s the end of the semester. Congratulations on making it this far. (Go you!)

This is a stressful time for students and staff alike; you have your problems, we have ours, things get hurried and hassled, details are lost in translation, and so on. (You know how it is.)

That said, this is not the time to forget why you’re here. The point is to graduate with a degree. I’m assuming (as do my co-workers) that you want that degree. Why else would you be here, right? (Right?)

Anyway, this is a list of things you already know, because we’ve told you before. We tell you at the beginning and the end of each semester, and we tell you at opportune moments during the semester, too. You can’t avoid these.

Granted, that doesn’t stop you from trying to avoid them, because you do try. We’ve seen you. It’s impossible not to know these things unless you expend a fair amount of energy on doing so.

So, here they are: things you already know.

Show up for class prepared.

Ask questions.

Learn the applications.

Start projects early.

We are here to help you.

The library (and the school it resides within) is a place of work.

Don’t bash the equipment.

Books are due back in 30 days.

My point is that you know all these things.  So why do we keep having this conversation?

A Book A Week: Eaarth

Listen up, folks: we are in trouble. We’re not totally screwed–not yet, anyway–but we have all moved to another planet whether we know it or not. That planet is hotter, wetter (sometimes), drier (sometimes), prone to increasing weather-related volatility, and generally less stable. It is not the planet we grew up on. It is the planet Eaarth. And since we have nowhere else to go, we need to figure out how to live on it.

This is the premise of Eaarth by Bill McKibben, a book we just ordered and which I gave a close look to while I cataloged it. It’s a fascinating examination of the increasingly obvious and inter-related problems of stagnant economies, population growth, peak oil, limits to capital, climate change, and a less stable environment. The fact that all these things are the product of seventy years of unparalleled economic growth exacerbate the problems due to sclerotic thinking caused by sunk costs, but more on that in a moment.

Bill McKibben is no stranger to environmental issues: he’s been called “the nations ‘s leading environmentalist” by the Boston Globe. He’s led the organization 350.org and has reported on environmental issues since 1989 when his first book, The End of Nature was published following a serialization in The New Yorker.

The problem: First, the heat. It’s increasing. Our industrial age dug a billion years’ worth of fossil fuel out of the ground and burned it, releasing carbon into the air where it traps more sunlight than used to be the case. Even if the cause it not exclusively industry (unlikely as hell, but I suppose, not impossible), it’s clear that all that carbon is not helping matters. The world is getting hotter, period.

Second, the weather. It’s changing. The planet is heating up, more water evaporates into the atmosphere causing more frequent storms of greater intensity than we are used to seeing thus far. The ability to plan for the future requires, however, that we have an effective predictive model to use. We’ve assumed that the future will resemble the past and for twelve millennia that was a safe assumption. Not any more. Volatility is not the friend of predictive modeling.

Third, industrialization itself. All that coal, oil and natural gas had a real value to us: we learned how to extract a great amount of energy from these materials than had previously been harnessed in all human civilization. That’s 12,000 years or so of slaves, soldiers, farming, and animal domestication. None of it could hold a candle to a coal-fired power plant, or even a 350 horsepower internal combustion engine. (Imagine a car pulled by 350 horses and you get an idea of what I’m talking about.) Industrialization allowed a huge number of people to benefit from a workforce that made things in great quantity. The result is a society that commands greater comfort and convenience than the wealthiest kings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and said comfort is available to nearly anyone, at least, in theory. But more stuff requires more energy, which requires that we burn more carbon, which makes the world even hotter, etc.

Fourth, the logical conclusion, is that mass production required mass capital. Mass capital required bureaucratic organization. And the only organizations (up to now) that have been able to marshal such huge quantities of capital for lengths of time spanning decades or centuries are bureaucratic governments (corporations took that model for their own for a reason). And it worked: only our government could have fought and won two world wars, sent a man to the moon, built and paved 47,000+ miles of highway, or created such safety nets as Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. That model of thinking is at an end . . . or will be at some point. The bottom line is that we have spend the past sixty years building an empire that we can no longer maintain. The center does not hold, things fall apart, and working within the system for reform yields nothing but angry reformers.

The result: a hot planet melts glaciers faster than they can be reformed and so there goes all our drinking water. The lack of predictive power over risk will bankrupt governments and insurance companies, as storm surges and extreme weather render the world’s coastlines uninsurable. The rising temperature will melt the poles, Greenland, and Siberia, release a few million tons of methane into the air (Siberia is actually a frozen swamp), and then things will really heat up. Forests literally go up in smoke as drier summers spark fires in the interior. Food gets scarce and then disappears over increasingly wide swaths of the world. Wars will be fought over things like fresh water and arable land.

Maddeningly, oftentimes our solutions make things worse. Land cleared for biomass production has the double whammy effect of dropping food stocks even further and burning more carbon, for example.

Yet, McKibben says, all is not quite as dismal as it seems. People are a resourceful lot and when they stop thinking of things as they should be and start thinking in terms of what is and is not, they can come up with some fascinating ideas.

Decentralized organization is one way of thinking. Using his home state of Vermont as a model, he points to organic farms that are more productive than giant agribusiness. Energy production is something that can be rethought as well; wind farms, solar panels, hydro power are all things that need local concentrations and modeling, not national.

Rethinking a  world that’s predicated on the automobile is another. You don’t have to get rid of the cars; deteriorating roads combined with more frequent gasoline shortages will do that. If you stopped building cars this very minute and never built another the surplus would be enough to absorb several years’ sales worldwide. The problem is creating a system that does what cars do–move people and goods from one place to another–but with energy efficiency and carbon neutrality in mind. Two words for everyone: public transportation is a decent option. Rebuilding our railroads would benefit everyone.

The point, McKibben says, is not that we’re all going to die because the planet will kill us. The point is that we have nowhere else to go and the planet is different now. Old models of survival will not work. So even if we can’t bring back the good old days (such as they were), we can almost certainly manage the damage we’ve already done and resolve to do less.

 

Quote of Note: E.B. White

ebwhiteletter

 

That is all.

 

The Greatest Gateway Drug of All

With all due respect to Fred Clark:

They took offense.

It was easy to get. At parties, at work, after work, even on television. Some got theirs out of books or movies, some waited for an election season to begin (or end) before diving in. It was all over the internet. Some got theirs in church. It seemed harmless enough.

And it made them feel great. A shot of offense was enough to turn a boring discussion of minutiae into a great, roiling, one-act play about them. Lights, places, action! It was intense.

But like all gateway drugs, the intensity was temporary, almost a cheat. They took more and more offense to maintain the extraordinary high, to make it seems as if their lives were about something greater than themselves. About something, period. The illusion displaced the reality, too quickly. With each new hit the lows got lower and the highs were relegated to mere background noise.

Then they tried the hard stuff. Indignation. Umbrage. Tantrums. Wrath. Even pique, and Oh. My. God in heaven, self-righteousness. That stuff was the shit, and it was everywhere. The pros took it, the wannabes took it. The politicians, the businessmen, the college professors, the cops, the pundits, the bloggers, the social media geeks, the preachers, the teachers, the parents even took it.  It had a way of soothing the mind while energizing the body. On a bad day it felt like swallowing a five hundred cc engine. On a good day, they felt they could leap Mt. Everest in a single bound. Self-righteousness was the ultimate score.

There were consequences. They hurt people. They hurt themselves. They became known as fatuous gasbags, crybabies, whiners, hypocrites. But in the depths of their binges, they never noticed. All they knew was that they were right. (Say Hallelujah!)

Don’t take offense.

Everything goes BOOM!

“There’s always a boom. After a while . . . BOOM!”

–Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova

 

It’s Thursday, November 1, 2012. (Happy Day of the Dead!) Metropolitan College of New York remains closed until Monday morning due to the continued power outage in lower Manhattan. Which is just as well, because without power the subways aren’t running, which means I can’t get to work physically. The phones are out, but the school website and emergency text services work, as they are off-site services. Unfortunately, the mail server, which is local, is also out. So not only can’t I check my work e-mail, but the webinar links and contact information I needed to learn more about RDA yesterday are sitting, unused and unusable, on my work server. No working from home, either, it seems.

We rely on electricity to make our library work properly. Without it, it’s just a room at the top of a tall building with too many stairs to climb. No databases, no online catalog, no ILS, no contact with our own materials. I remain convinced that this is a real weakness in how we run libraries. Electric current is a marvel, and we rely on it almost completely at this moment in time. So completely that it becomes part of the background noise of our lives, noticeable primarily in its absence when it goes boom and vanishes.

At times like this, I wish we had a card catalog.

This is not a universal situation: there are libraries with power offering their services to hurricane Sandy’s victims. And power outages are only part of the story for libraries which claimed damage from the storm: collections are waterlogged, equipment damaged, and entire buildings remain flooded as I write this. Intellectually, I get that my building was luckier than some. Which leaves me feeling safe, but useless.

I am looking forward to re-opening the doors to our students and faculty on Monday morning.

 

 

BBW 2012: Brave New World

In my experience, no one uses the word “utopian” correctly. The incorrect way is to do so in a hyperbolic sense rather than the literal one. For example, those who say that our tax system could use some progressive tweaking are being utopian. Not true, as the tax system gets tweaked all the time. The offenders intentionally misuse the word in order to halt the discussion.

Utopia comes from a pair of Greek words: ou, or ‘no’, and topos, or ‘place’. Utopia, therefore means ‘no place’.  A perfect society is a logical and moral construct rather than an expression of reality, so it can’t exist. We don’t even really want to live there. We just like to dream about it.

Dystopia is the rhetorical opposite of Utopia.  In this case the stem dys (also from Greek) means ‘bad’, so ‘bad place.’ Except in this sense, it’s a place as bad as we can imagine. That’s easy–work a shift in a Foxconn factory for a few weeks. Get yourself a cup and beg in the slums of Calcutta for a while. I guarantee a life lesson or two.

I sometimes tell my students that I think calling Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World dystopian is unfair. That gets a discussion going pretty quickly, as the allure of utopian societies remains subject to opinion. One writer’s paradise is another writer’s hell. There are elements of both extremes in this story, but the book isn’t usually taught that way in classrooms.

First a few historical bits. Brave New World is #52 on the ALA’s list of most frequently banned books. It’s been banned for its politics (communism, socialism) and for the sexual content (pornography). As far back as 1932 the book was being challenged for its language and for supposedly being anti-family and anti-religion. In 1980 it was removed from a classroom in Miller, Missouri, and in 1993 an unsuccessful attempt was made to remove it from California readings lists due to its “negative activity.”

The year is 2540 (or 632 A.F. –After Ford–as it’s known locally). In terms of physicality, it’s not that different from the world we see around us now.  No flying cities (there are personal helicopters), no teleport booths. But . . . all aspects of human behavior and physiology have been standardized. People are cloned in factories, raised to specifications in education centers, and every aspect of their lives is predetermined by a centrally planned state. Society is completely managed, but the level of stimulus-response training people receive as they grow up avoids the need to micro-manage the population. Once grown, people are sent into careers of the government’s choice based on economic need and they live out their lives. They wake up, go to jobs, do their work, eat, sleep, and take a hangover-proof wonder drug called soma when they need a break from reality.

And that’s it. Literally, that’s all there is to this world. There are no new discoveries about the universe or insights about people themselves. No sexual hangups, no real problems other than deciding how to entertain oneself. No real skills except for those needed to do one’s job. No parents, no children, no psychological trauma. No emotions, which means no drama, so no comedy or tragedy. No illness. It’s a well managed world where where everyone is perfectly average. Everyone is happy, healthy, and productive literally until they day they die.  The world is homeostatic.

So . . . what’s not to like?

Quite a lot, actually. For example, the happiness that is considered normal here is more like a self-reinforcing apathy. No one has any real worries about work because jobs are there, waiting for every human being who emerges from the education centers. Famine and disease are unknown. Personal relationships as we understand them don’t really exist. Death is inevitable, but the lack of connection between people makes grieving unnecessary. Monogamy is considered a social disease, and wanting to be alone is thought pathological. Sex is cheap and soma use is mandatory, at least, at certain times of the month. (A state pseudo-religion which glorifies sex and soma allows co-workers to bond and blow off steam on Friday nights.)

We learn about this world by watching Bernard Marx (Huxley named every character after a real life fascist or communist), a state-employed psychologist, run through the matrix as it were on his way toward what he thinks are laudable goals. Understanding how society operates curses him to awareness of just how low in the pecking order he is; he craves status, sex, and authority. Bernard is the physical and mental antithesis of what people expect: he’s short, smarmy, socially inept, and thinks much too much. He is a loser. And that’s what makes him wonderfully human, but that comes at the end of the book.

He pursues a co-worker, Lenina, who likes him well enough but no more than her other male partners. Bernard figures his chances with her will improve if they go on vacation together, but his idea of a vacation is a visit to a “savage reservation” in North America. When they arrive, they ooh and aah at the natives, but they get a surprise. They meet a young man named John who is the son of a civilized woman who was herself stranded there decades ago.  Lenina is utterly fascinated by John, while Bernard plans to use him to bolster his career.

They bring John “home”. Things get worse when Bernard’s supervisor threatens to send him to an island, i.e., banish him to the equivalent of a leper colony in the North Sea. Things get horrible when Bernard exposes his supervisor as John’s father, which to civilized morals is so freakish that the gentleman resigns in disgrace and the matter is literally never mentioned again.

Bernard shows John around the equivalent of high society and gets his status (and Lenina for a while), then mishandles it rather badly when he mistakes his new admirers for friends. John’s mother dies in hospital, and John handles it badly. John stops co-operating with Bernard. Barnard handles it even more ineptly. Mustafah Mond, the World Controller of West Europe, finally takes an interest in the savage’s integration into civilization, and things end badly for everyone.

Or do they?

John and Bernard have a lot in common: neither belongs in civilized company, and both try to use the other to access what they want (status for Bernard, Lenina for John). Both exacerbate their own misery and make the people around them miserable in turn. Square pegs jammed into round holes tend to do that.

One of the more absorbing aspects of this novel is the fact that the protagonists are the State’s failed subjects. Think about it.  Bernard is responsible for maintaining paradise but is physically and mentally ill-suited to living in it. Lenina’s perfect man is one that was born outside civilized society. John wants no more than to be accepted by the tribe of natives he was born into, and is rejected out of hand due to his foreign origin. Even Mustafah Mond, the Guy In Charge of Western Europe,  began his career in social control by being too smart for his own good. The fact that he was offered an out by going into politics was a fluke. Had things really worked properly, he should have been banished decades ago.

There are holes in the plot. Giant holes that you could drive a UPS truck through. One is John’s exposure to the English language by way of an old Shakespeare collection his mother just happened to be stranded with way back when. There is no way that John could have learned his absorbing command of the bard just by reading it. For that matter, his mother is described as a twit, and the idea that she’d have any book in her bag when they arrived is not exactly credible. As Neil Postman noted in Amused to Death, Orwell feared the banning of books, where Huxley feared a lack of respect for and interest in them. The only books we ever see live in Mustafah Monnd’s office safe.

Another problem (and one that Huxley acknowledges in the introduction) is the either/or nature of the world as presented in the text. There is civilization and there is savagery, but there’s no in-between. Neither universe informs or acknowledges the other. We’re told that the islands are numerous enough to house the total sum of all social misfits but we don’t get to see what life there is like. We’re told by Mond that an entire society of elites was sent to an island to carve out what life they could and have to take his word that the situation imploded rather quickly.

There are similarities to our here and now, too. Economics is the reason given for everything that happens in BNW. The economy isn’t everything–it’s the only thing. A person’s entire meaning in this world is the sum total value they can add to the machinery of commerce. His labor feeds it, his money lubricates its guts, his leaders direct it. In Huxley’s world, the economy is purely mechanical. All humans are its servants, one way or another.  Worse, there is no place on Earth to get away from it. Our current political discourse, where the lower orders are placed in the position of defending their right to eat at every turn, differs from the reality of BNW in degree only.

So. Are we there yet? Well, yes and no. The book assumes that all the wacky assumptions of utopian science fiction–unlimited energy, resources, and perfect balance with nature–have already been achieved, in defiance of history and the laws of physics. Since new inventions that don’t directly serve consumption are illegal–you will be banished if you try to pursue what Mond calls “real science”–it’s expected that there’s no new information about the world or the universe is being discovered, either.  Material concerns reign supreme. Clone people, give them jobs, feed them, extract their labor, convert the dead to fertilizer for crops, repeat as necessary. The modern idea of economic growth has no place in a world that depends on homeostasis. I doubt we’ll go there.

On the other hand, in the respect that iron-clad social control is maintained by a central authority standardizing human behavior for the sake of the wheels of commerce, you can argue the details all you like, but I think we’ve been there for at least 50 years.

Undying Faith in Technology

James Howard Kunstler questions a very real quasi-religous fatith in technology:

The Aspen Institute is supported by a bizarre array of corporate donors and individuals ranging from the secretive, devious, extreme right-wing Koch brothers to Goldman Sachs, to Michael Eisner to Duke Energy. The mission of the Environment Forum is divided about equally between publicizing the gathering horrors of climate change and promoting an ethos of wishful thinking that all the problems of mankind will yield to technological rescue remedies.
It’s a very odd mix of hard-headed science and the most dismaying sort of crypto-religious faith in happy endings, tinged with overtones of corporate log-rolling and government propaganda. The basic message is: the world is hopelessly fucked up but thank God for technology. There is not even a dim apprehension that many of the aforementioned vexations originate in technology itself, and its blowbacks. Alas, this is about the best that the American intelligentsia can do right now, collectively, and it explains why we have such uniformly impotent and clueless leadership across the board in America, from the White House to the CEO offices to the diploma mills to the news media and every other realm of endeavor where thinking realistically about the future might be considered valuable.
The implication is that technology is good for its own sake: without it, where would we be? Kunstler follows up this question more fully in his new book “Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation“, which I’ve just finished. A fair portion of it is a re-hash of his previous volume, “The Long Emergency,” which, he says, we are now finally dealing with. Essentially, if the peak oil production numbers of 2005 were not the official starting gun, the financial crash of 2007-2008 was. We are now officially in decline, and things will only get stranger from this point on.
It’s worth keeping this point of view in mind, even if you think of Kunster as a doom and gloom crank (I don’t.) Kunstler notes in the (new) book that even libraries, for instance, are now devoid of the gadgetry that kept them running before the advent of cheap, ubiquitous electricity. Card catalogs are largely gone, more of what we have to offer students and researchers are electronic in nature, namely databases, e-books and free Wi-Fi and internet connections.
On the one hand, he’s right. We have completely changed over to the new stuff, mostly because we have had no choice in the matter. We keep ourselves financially solvent by changing, adapting, improving services. If he turns out to have been premature in his estimation of what the quality of life in the next thirty years entails and we do somehow manage to tech our way out of the decline he says we’ve entered, then we’ll still be needed. If not, we’ll be needed even more.
I expect the truth will fall somewhere in the middle, but in the mean time, we’re still tagging our collection with those fancy RFID chips and adding new databases to our electronic stable.

Lousy Grammar Can Cost You a Job

From Kyle Wiens, writing for the Harvard Business Review:

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

 

The moral is simple: pay attention to your grammar.

A Word About The Great Brain

I want to apologize to Great Brain fans everywhere.

In my post last week about Encyclopedia Brown, I mentioned that he and Tom Dennis Fitzgerald, a.k.a The Great Brain were counterparts of sorts. Brown was the good kid, righting wrongs and helping others, while Fitzgerald was a young version of Jaimie Dimon.

In going back over the Great Brain books–which I devoured with the same voracity that I did the Encyclopedia Brown series–I was reminded that while generally being a complete and utter jerk to his peers, Tom Fitzgerald had his moments of humanity. He convinced Andy Anderson not to kill himself after Andy lost his leg to blood poisoning, for example. I don’t think that the CEO of JP Morgan Chase can say that. Dimon also never figured out how to track the Jensen brothers after they got lost in Skeleton Cave, nor did he work to get “Britches” Dotty Blake hooked on reading.

Dimon looks out for Dimon, and that’s pretty much it. As far as I can tell, he would have taken the opportunity to foreclose on the Jensen family’s house and wonder why tomboy Dotty couldn’t get a job. And Andy? Bah! Cripples should die. Oh, and there’s no way Jaime Dimon would have organized a heart-stirring funeral for Old Butch, the town stray dog. Tom did.

Tom was a recognizable ten-year old boy. None of us growing up in the 1970s had any clue what growing up in turn of the century Utah was like. But we saw enough of him in ourselves that we simultaneously rooted for him, watching carefully to see just how much crap he could get away with, and wondering why the adults let him get away with it. (They didn’t, but that’s another point.)  Tom looked out for himself but he always recognized that the world was a very big place and he commanded a very small piece of it.

For all the greed and selfishness, he was helpful when Adenville needed the assistance. He helped his Uncle Mark, the town marshal, gain the evidence needed to arrest a trio of Salt Lake City con men while they prepared to walk off with half the town’s savings.

Tom understood that he was smart, certainly smarter than the other kids in Adenville (except maybe Harold Vickers, who was 16 and studying to be a lawyer), and probably smarter than many of of the adults, but he had no empathy. To Tom, knowledge was the key to taking what other kids had without getting in trouble for it. As his younger brother J.D. described it, “Tom never swindled people. He always arranged things so that they swindled themselves.”

For years, it worked like a charm. Tom got Parley Benson’s air repeating rifle by betting him that he could magnetize wood . . . then presenting Parley with a boomerang and pointing a magnet at it. He took all of Basil Kokovinis’s money in exchange for some old toys after convincing Basil’s father that having the right stuff in one’s pocket was what being an American boy meant. Most importantly, Tom refused to part with ten cents’ fare for a raft ride and nearly killed himself, Jimmy Peterson, and Howard Kay during a flood.

Tom was even capable of pure evil. After the new teacher in town became a little too free with the paddle, Tom conspired with four other kids and J.D. to convince the town that the man was a drunken sot. Justified or not, false witness is criminal. There’s a commandment forbidding it and everything.

Even when he meant well, Tom just didn’t know when enough was enough. When his five year old adopted brother wanted to run away, Tom figured some reverse psychology was in order, packed the kid a lunch, and sent him on his way, telling him how to leave town.

Finally, Tom recognized limits to his abilities. Tom’s father, as the only man in town who’d been to college and the publisher of the local newspaper, was unquestionably The Smartest  Man In Town. Tom frequently disobeyed his dad, but wanted so badly to be like him that he decided to start his own newspaper. Tom’s story about a local bank robbery being solved went over well in Adenville. Tom’s gossip column superficially written as “Items of Local Interest”, did not. It was the only time his father told Tom that he was clearly “too young to help in any way except deliver the paper.” Tom handled the news poorly. It was a rare moment of humility for The Great Brain.

Only one thing got Tom to stop. The other kids in Adenville–the friends he’d swindled and those he hadn’t–got together and put him on trial. They did it by the book: there was a prosecution, evidence and testimony were presented. Harold Vickers, who was sixteen and wanted to be a lawyer, presided as judge. Tom defended himself (he pretty much had to, as every kid in town wanted to see him punished), and he was found guilty. Harold sentenced him to a year of the silent treatment–essentially a year of pariahdom at the hands of his peers. Tom offered to give back everything he’d stolen and reform, and the sentence was suspended.

Jaime Dimon could use a similar lesson. If the President  ever appoints an SEC Chairman who believes in enforcing the law, he might just get one.

Bottom line: Tom Dennis Fitzgerald might have been a little creep, but he was ten and he really was smarter than most of the people around him. I hope he didn’t grow up to be a billionaire scumbag like Dimon. I hope that he learned to use his mutant powers for good instead of evil. But then again, Tom had excellent role models in his parents, his neighbors, and his little brother.

Don’t let your brilliant son grow up to be Jaime Dimon.

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