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I just found an essay I wrote when I was 10. It sounds exactly like President Trump.

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"As for campaigning, people don't want promises. They want action." — Noah Millman, age 10

This past Sunday, on a visit for brunch, my mother brought me a time machine in the form of an old valise. Inside was a treasure trove of documents from my childhood: photos, drawings, report cards, clippings, programs from the local drama club's productions. And, unsurprisingly for a budding writer, a wide array of written material.

I was particularly struck by one piece, written in November 1980 as part of a school assignment, describing my program should I be elected president of the United States. It began with the line quoted above.

I don't recall the details of the assignment, but I can imagine what prompted it. The 1980 election loomed large in all of our consciousnesses, including us kids. After all, we'd sat on the gas lines with our parents. We'd watched the drama of the Iranian hostage crisis play out on the television every night. And we all still remembered the 1977 blackout. We knew the country had serious problems. As I detailed them in my essay:

The basic problems today are: inflation, crime, energy, transit in the cities, the hostages, war, etc.

The list is different from one we'd make today — though we're still worried about falling behind economically, about the poor job we're doing preventing the country's infrastructure from crumbling, and we're still panicked about a hostile regime in Iran.

But what I was struck by most was the . . . familiarity of some of the language I used when I talked about how to tackle these problems. You might almost call it my blueprint for making American great again.

Take it away, 10-year-old me:

One way to fight inflation is to bit by bit fend for ourselves, rather than being constantly dependent on other countries who are now raising prices to profit. A good example is OPEC. They are now just realizing that they can control the oil.

OPEC is no longer our bugaboo, but Trump's emphasis has also been on how we're losing control of our destiny to foreign interference. They control something that we depend on. If we're going to solve our problems, we've got to take back control.

We've also got to take care of those bad hombres:

Crime I feel can be suppressed by holding stricter punishment for it and banning favoritism by surveillance. Many of our unemployed would gladly train and fully obey if made into more police, firemen, etc.

Again, what's most interesting to me is the Trumpiness of the language: the emphasis on control, and the smooth blending of a tough-on-crime message with talk of directly employing the unemployed that harkens back to the New Deal.

And guess who had already discovered fake news?

One big, big fake is the energy crisis. There is none! There is no oil shortage! But there are outrageous oil prices and countries such as ourselves in need of it.

How should we respond to this fake shortage?

But we don't have to stand for it. We have the largest coal reserve in the world which can be converted into oil.

From the fulsome praise of coal to the gratuitous use of exclamation points, I was fully prepared for a career as a Trump speech writer.

Like the president, I knew how to throw a bone to traditional Republican advocates of federalism, small government, and local control:

Transit I feel should be taken care of by the cities.

But I quickly returned to themes that were closer to my pugnacious heart:

As for the hostages, we weren't aggressive enough in the beginning, and now it's a crisis. Right now we must make sure they don't fall into the hands of the Russians. . . .

I think World War III is just around the corner. The Russians are planning planet conquest and their key is the oil. We must be aggressive from the start. It'll be a long costly war, but there is no escape from it.

While Russia clearly played a different role in my geopolitical imaginings in 1980 than it does for Trump today (or, to be fair, than it did back in the 1980s), the parallels are still alarming. Like Trump, I believed that if you aren't aggressive from the get-go, you'll get rolled. Like Stephen Bannon, I believed that a war for global domination was imminent, if not already upon us. Like Michael Flynn, I was convinced that events in disparate parts of the globe were surely connected, even if no evidence supported my convictions.

Even my warm peroration is framed in terms of self-reliance and the need for strength:

Once our problems are solved, we must escape new ones. We must strengthen economically and defensively. We must rise above other nations, but never to conquer. We must achieve friends, not enemies. Peace, not war.

So what does it mean that the president of the United States sounds an awful lot like a 10-year-old boy from 1980?

The obvious joke to make is that Trump has the maturity and depth of knowledge of a 10-year-old boy. But this is perhaps unfair to 10-year-old boys. Even if we looked like we needed a good dose of Ritalin (which was first licensed in 1955, though it didn't become popular until the 1990s), our minds were always working. If we were still able to observe the world as we saw it, and not merely reflect back what our teachers expected to hear, that's good. And heck, I'm kind of impressed that in fourth grade I knew America had the world's largest coal reserve.

Or perhaps it means that Trump's own impression of America was fixed in the 1980s? There's probably an element of truth to this, which may partly account for his peculiar policy mix, which includes warnings about '80s-era problems that have largely receded — urban crime in particular is at historic lows, notwithstanding dramatic spikes in a few cities like Chicago — along with problems, like the dislocations associated with de-industrialization and mass immigration, that first reared their heads in the 1980s and have only accelerated since then.

But what it really says, I think, is that the kind of rhetoric that Trump indulges in operates on an emotional level that a 10-year-old — and a 10-year-old boy in particular — would understand.

When I listen to my 10-year-old self, I hear a boy trying to act like a man: tough, uncompromising, and confident. Problems are huge — but the solutions are right there if we're strong and determined enough to pursue them. As the father of a boy, Trump's braggadocious posturing sounds very familiar — and it delighted my son during the campaign, who recognized a kindred spirit, and seemed to draw comfort from his presence on the national stage, as if it signified: I belong here, too.

He was less comforted when Trump won, however. He knows the difference between someone playing at adulthood and an actual adult.

And, at age 10, I did, too. My essay ended thus:

I feel that nowadays we have a lot of problems. I think that no one nowadays can get us out. I hope soon, someone will come along and get us out. Right now, I am just glad I don't have to. It's a tough job, and I don't want to have it.

When the rhetoric fades, there's the reality of governance. There I fear my 10-year-old self had far more self-awareness than our current commander-in-chief.

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gglockner
7 days ago
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Making America great again, by a 10-year old in 1980.
Bellevue, WA
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Nintendo Sues Company Giving Real-Life Mario Kart Rides

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If you’ve ever played Mario Kart and said “This would be super fun in real life, and even better in a Mario/Luigi/Bowser/Princess Peach costume,” then the good news is that someone in Japan made your dream a reality. The bad news: They didn’t get permission from Nintendo.

If not for the copyright problems, a trip to MariCar sounds pretty fun. Starting at ¥8,000 per person, or about $71, you get a two-hour guided tour driving around Tokyo on public roads. No, we’re serious, you can dress as Mushroom Kingdom characters and drive a Go-Kart. They don’t pick up gold coins along the way by driving through them, but the tour looks pretty fun otherwise.

In a statement to the New York Times, the company behind the karts explained that it had checked with legal experts and also told Nintendo about its plans. The legal experts allegedly said that there was no problem with using Nintendo’s characters in this way.

“We cannot even imagine how much it would cost in a court dispute against the world-famous company,” the operator said in the statement. “We are afraid that our business will be hugely influenced.” Yes. Yes, that would be a problem.

Nintendo does have plans to bring its characters out into the real world by opening small areas in Universal Studios theme parks in Japan and in the United States that feature characters from the Mario Brothers franchise. The company just doesn’t want the characters tearing around Tokyo. Without giving Nintendo money.





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gglockner
23 days ago
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What, no shells and banana peels?
Bellevue, WA
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Some Users Experiencing Issues With iCloud Services [Updated]

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According to Apple's System Status page, a small number of users are having ongoing issues with some iCloud services, including iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Notes, iCloud Web Apps, iWork for iCloud, and Photos.

Apple says less than 0.04 percent of users are affected by the iCloud problems, with those users experiencing "slower than normal performance." The iCloud slowdowns may be due to an Amazon Web Services outage that is affecting multiple websites and web services this morning.


Over the weekend, Apple updated the look of its System Status page, and the company now provides additional information on individual services that are experiencing problems. Prior to the update, Apple used a status bar at the bottom of the page to relay problems, but now each service can be clicked for an individual report that better outlines what's going on.

The page also provides a better look at past incidents that have since been resolved. It is not clear when today's iCloud problems will clear up, but customers experiencing issues should keep an eye on the System Status page for updates.

Update: Additional services are experiencing issues, including Apple Music, the App Store, Apple TV, and more.

Tag: iCloud

Discuss this article in our forums

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gglockner
23 days ago
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AWS is experiencing major system disruptions.
Bellevue, WA
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Trump Dines Out

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Benny Johnson:

The president was heading to his new flagship property in D.C., the Trump Hotel, for a private dinner at the BLT Steakhouse inside. Once the president arrived at the location, the reporter who was on assignment to cover him, Jordan Fabian of The Hill, was not let into the building and had to wait in the van outside for the remainder of the dinner, without a guest list or details of what was happening inside.

Inside the restaurant, I was seated at a table which I had booked hours earlier, directly next to where Trump would be dining. I made the booking based on a tip from a trusted source. I was ready to tell the story no one else would get to see and was personally fascinated to observe how a restaurant prepares for a president — and how Trump interacts when he believes no press are present.

The night was a wild one. Here is what happens when President Trump goes to dinner.

I enjoy a behind-the-scenes story like this. It’s fascinating to me that Johnson correctly predicted the exact table at which Trump would sit, and was able to book the nearest table for himself. Update: Ah, apparently not so fascinating at all how he scored the perfect table: Johnson is friends with White House spokesman Sean Spicer. Still, I found it fascinating to read about how a restaurant and the Secret Service prepare for the president to dine out.

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gglockner
24 days ago
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I'm sure he was good to his mother...
Bellevue, WA
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1 public comment
wmorrell
24 days ago
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A WELL DONE STEAK WITH KETCHUP. WHAT.

The Robot Tax And Basic Income

AVC
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In my work to prepare for the Future of Labor conversation we had at NewCo Shift a few weeks ago, I talked to a number of experts who are studying job losses due to automation and thinking about what might be done about it. Two ideas that came up a number of times were the “robot tax” and the “basic income.”

The ideas are complementary and one might fund the other.

At its simplest, a “robot tax” is a tax on companies that choose to use automation to replace human jobs. There are obviously many variants of this idea and to my knowledge, no country or other taxing authority has implemented a robot tax yet.

A “basic income” is the idea that everyone receives enough money from the government to pay for their basic needs; housing, food, clothing so that as automation puts people out of work we don’t see millions of people being put out on the street.

What is interesting about these two ideas is that some of the biggest proponents of them are technology entrepreneurs and investors, the very people who are building and funding the automation technologies that have the potential to displace many jobs.

It is certainly true that we don’t know that automation will lead to a jobs crisis. Other technological revolutions like farming and factories produced as many new jobs as they wiped out and incomes increased from these changes. Automation could well do the same.

But smart people are wondering, both privately and publicly, if this time may be different. And so ideas like the robot tax and the basic income are getting traction and are being studied and promoted.

The latest proponent of a robot tax is Bill Gates who said this about it:

You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed. That’s because the technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement. You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once.

There is a lot of economic surplus that could come from automation. Let’s look at ride sharing. Today I pay something like $15 to go from my home to my office in the morning. Something like $10 of that ride is going to the driver. If the ride is automated, either the price goes to $5, saving me $10 a ride which then is surplus to me, or the profit that Uber is making goes up significantly, which is surplus to them. Some of both is likely to happen. This surplus could be taxed, either at the company level or the individual level, so that the cost of the ride doesn’t go down nearly as much and the driver can continue to compete with the robot or the driver can collect some basic income, funded by the robot tax, while they find a new line of work.

At least that is the idea.

I would not characterize myself as a proponent of a robot tax or a basic income. But I find these ideas interesting and worth studying, debating, discussing, and testing at a small scale to understand their impacts. We should absolutely be doing that.

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gglockner
32 days ago
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Terrible ideas. If the US adopts a robot tax, factories will move overseas. As for basic income, imagine the outrage when people spend the money for things many would consider abusive - processed foods, jumbo TVs, etc.
Bellevue, WA
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Aldi Spending $1.6B To Upgrade Stores To Be More Whole Foods-Esque

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Millennials are already apparently flocking to Aldi over Whole Foods’ new, hipper version of its typical stores in favor of lower price points, but now these customers won’t have to forego the more expensive chain’s aesthetic: Aldi plans to spend $1.6 billion to revamp the layout of its stores in order to compete with chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts. 

Aldi on Wednesday announced [PDF] the upgrade plan for its 1,300 stores over the next three years.

So far, about 300 locations have already been revamped with sleeker refrigerators doors and windows that bring in more natural light. Other improvements include widening the first aisle, expanding the front of the store, and raising ceilings.

With the upgrades, the chain says it will be able to add more products to its lineup, including expanding its organic produce section, fresh meat offerings, and alcohol departments.

“The new ALDI store look delivers on its customers’ desire for a modern and convenient shopping experience with a focus on fresh items, including more robust produce, dairy and bakery sections,” the company said.

Business Insider reports that the new stores shares several similar features with Whole Foods’ new 365 stores, with their softer, natural light, and wider aisles.

For example, both stores feature refrigerator-lined perimeters and minimal signage. Additionally, the middle of the stores house the store’s produce, and neither chain offers a deli, but instead prepackaged cheeses and meats.

The remodel places Aldi in a position to potentially whisk away customers from Whole Foods and corporate cousin Trader Joe’s.

In fact, by the time the remodels are complete in 2020, Aldi tells Bloomberg that it expects to increase the number of shoppers from 40 million to 60 million each month.

It won’t just be the company’s stores that are getting a facelift. Aldi notes in a statement that it will also improve products, removing added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils from all Aldi exclusive brand foods.

In addition to revamping its current stores, Aldi said on Wednesday that it plans to continue moving forward with an accelerated growth plan of opening 650 new stores. By the end of 2018, the company expects to operate 2,000 stores in the U.S.

As part of these plans, the company has opened dozens of stores in California, pitting it directly against competitor Whole Foods, Bloomberg notes.





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gglockner
43 days ago
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This story sounds wrong: Aldi already owns Trader Joe's so why would it compete with itself?
Bellevue, WA
cbenard
43 days ago
That's not true: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/12/02/aldi_grocery_store_best_in_america_related_to_trader_joe_s.html
gglockner
43 days ago
Oh snap, the whole Aldi Sud/Nord issue. I stand corrected.
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