Hunting Wild Boar in La Pampa II

We all need to lighten up. Yesterday morning Maureen Dowd quoted Bill Maher who “had joked that Trump was the love child of a human woman and an orangutan — what else could explain the tangerine hair?” I wrote this one back in March.

There was nothing left for me to do in Oaxaca. Erstwhile friends had fled north—where they encountered really bad weather while the days here were scorching. Talks at the Library I found totally uninteresting. The news media (CNN and Fox) had become so fixed in their political opinions that their comments were predictable and repetitive.

Movies on Netflix were as dreadful as ever, and the audio was the usual sonic blur. I was out of Bonne Maman cookies. I had begun to read again the fantastical stories of Donald Barthelme, the only inspiration I could find to continue writing. A total break from all this, I thought, might improve my digestion and my spirits.

The service desk at LATAM put me on long holds, giving me time to think about why I’d want to book with them after a recent flight suddenly dropped 500 feet in a dive, throwing people to the roof of the cabin and injuring 50. Still, it was the best way to Argentina where I would join a posse of rich Americans on a wild boar hunt.

“What the hell is the matter with you?” a friend asked. “You can’t afford this and you hate the idea of hunting. Have you been talking with Al Z. Heimer again?”

“I have no bucket list, whatever that is, and boredom has taken over my life here since I gave over volunteering for badly managed organizations, taking falls on broken sidewalks, and eating tacos stuffed with grossly hot jalapeños. Nor can one subsist on old jazz and schmaltzy Sibelius symphonies alone, as some have advised. Even curmudgeonry gets tiresome after a while.”

I told him I’ve never wanted to kill wild animals, or any animal, before now. I don’t like guns. And yet the urge to murder shitheads like Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan became such a preoccupation that it scared me. I decided to invoke what the psychologists call displacement—avoiding the unacceptable and dangerous delusions of seeking death to those lunatics by taking out my aggressions on other beasts.

Of course, the trip to La Pampa never came off. The hold times were too long, and while waiting I read enough blurbs from the hunting lodge that I could hear the bangs of the AR-15s and feel the soggy mattresses in our tents. Not to mention associating with the Harlan Crows, Clarence Thomases and their ilk who would make up the party. Travel is for those with no imagination.

Gerontion (T.S. Eliot, 1920)

Despair is always in fashion. Turning 90 keeps it at bay.

Thou hast nor youth nor age
But as it were an after dinner sleep
Dreaming of both.

TSE, the old Jew-hater

Here I am, an old man in a dry month,
Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
I was neither at the hot gates
Nor fought in the warm rain
Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass,
Bitten by flies, fought.
My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.
The goat coughs at night in the field overhead;
Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds.
The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea,
Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter.

I an old man,
A dull head among windy spaces.

Signs are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”:
The word within a word, unable to speak a word,
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvescence of the year
Came Christ the tiger

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering Judas,
To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk
Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero
With caressing hands, at Limoges
Who walked all night in the next room;
By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians;
By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room
Shifting the candles; Fraulein von Kulp
Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles
Weave the wind. I have no ghosts,
An old man in a draughty house
Under a windy knob.

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or if still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last
We have not reached conclusion, when I
Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last
I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils.
I would meet you upon this honestly.
I that was near your heart was removed therefrom
To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition.
I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?
I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch:
How should I use it for your closer contact?

These with a thousand small deliberations
Protract the profit of their chilled delirium,
Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled,
With pungent sauces, multiply variety
In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do,
Suspend its operations, will the weevil
Delay? De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled
Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear
In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits
Of Belle Isle, or running on the Horn,
White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims,
And an old man driven by the Trades
To a sleepy corner.

Tenants of the house,
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

Doing Time as a Protestor

Tents on the Columbia Lawn

It’s not really déjà vu because the Vietnam era was different. But this week’s massive protests over Gaza on more than 30 campuses brought back heavy memories, mostly illustrating how the principles of protest have changed. I got involved in these early-‘60s protests against the war at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I was in graduate school studying French Symbolist poetry and its influence in England, enjoying being a bit of an intellectual snob and teaching a course in jazz. Smoking a little pot with friends. Not the profile of your typical bomb-thrower.

But we started marching in local protests around 1963. In those days many on the UW campus were fired up, with the protests getting more violent each time they occurred. Cops gassed protestors in the 1967 campus uproar over Dow Chemical’s production of napalm—which made earlier events look like a cakewalk. Then came the Sterling Hall bombing in 1970, killing a researcher.

By 1965 at age 31 when I moved to New York City, the war had become hugely unpopular and caused angry protests in the city and on many college campuses. One’s status in the culture reflected the growing split between those who opposed the war (the elites, by and large) and those who supported it (the working classes, by and large). And those divisions to an extent have persevered regarding the Gaza conflict. The 1960s gave birth to modern identity politics on a large scale.

I was teaching English at NYU and later at City College, marching in the streets with my colleagues and thousands of others, listening to Mailer and Sontag and Spock speak at rallies. It was a very heady and disconcerting time. Columbia was in the throes of protest and takeovers and, just as today, they spread to City College. When many of our classes were cancelled, my students wanted to keep meeting, in my apartment and other places. But discussing 19th century French poetry while the war was raging and anger in the streets was rising just seemed futile and absurd.

We talked about what was happening at Columbia, and I asked the kids what they thought the leaders like Mark Rudd hoped to accomplish. “They shut down the school, but they don’t have any real agenda,” I declared. Today, it’s all agendas and no real leadership. Maybe the issues with Palestine and Israel are too complex. But we all know the bombing has got to stop.

Now 76 and a pacifist, Mark Rudd says: “They don’t have the violent rhetoric we had, like calling the cops pigs and ‘Up against the wall, motherfucker,’ that kind of craziness,” he said. “I think they’re a lot more careful. I think they’re smarter.” He also says his identity as a Jew used to be based on Israel. “It took me a long time to get over that.”

As I said in my memoir, Vietnam and its turmoil constituted a major reason why I finally quit teaching. After Kent State (1970) I decided to get out of academia and find something more relevant to my interest in media, communications and the world at large. I was not the Peace Corps type; I had a family to support. But I wanted to write and do some good in the world.

It’s easy to forget how much violence was in the air. On March 6, 1970, the townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village blew up. Working at home just a block and a half away, I heard and felt the enormous boom, ran out to witness the chaos and later learned that the place was a Weatherman bomb factory in which three people had been killed. Homegrown terrorism, right around the corner and heretofore unimaginable despite the constant rhetoric that was feeding it. I had written and marched against the war and helped a few kids go to Canada, but this event took the steam out of my protest, as it did for a lot of people. The unpopularity of the war was growing into a very popular and sometimes vicious cause.

Perhaps the same thing can be avoided now, as thousands of young people across the country protest the criminal actions of Hamas and Israel. Their tactics are very different and their numbers are yet nowhere near those who rioted and bombed in the ‘60s. But Mr. Biden, despite his platitudes about protest (It’s OK if it doesn’t get violent) is totally missing the boat on how significant and powerful their numbers will be for the forthcoming election. If the Gen Zs sit it out and/or fail to vote for him, he will be toast, as I wrote in my little protest here.

As of now, 57 Democrats in Congress have signed a letter urging Biden to withdraw the billions in aid and arms he still quietly permits to flow to Israel. Some 66 percent of the “41 million eligible ‘Gen Z’ voters in 2024 have opposed aid to Israel.” The New York Times is generally conservative about such matters. Yet they write:

Just as students then could no longer tolerate the horrific images of a distant war delivered, for the first time, in almost real time by television, so many of today’s students have found the images from Gaza, now transmitted instantly onto their phones, to demand action. And just as students in ’68 insisted that their school sever ties to a government institute doing research for the war, so today’s students demand that Columbia divest from companies profiting from Israel’s invasion of Gaza. And students then and now have found their college administrators deaf to their entreaties.

Even the deaf administrators and Mr. Biden should be able to read the handwriting on the wall.

Watching Medical Ads on TV

CNN seems to make most of its money selling this stuff to older people, its evening news audience. They know their viewers, yes they do, and the old ones are far more gullible and needy. Nobody else watches the evening news anyway, and elders buy more prescription drugs than any other group. Rather than consult with their doctors, they will believe what they see acted out on their 1080p screens. And so pharma is delighted to rake in billions each year.

News and medical ads don’t mix well, and so the mute button often comes into play. (I’m stuck with CNN on cable here in Mexico; see CNN Is Tottering and my further complaints about it). The other night I watched prime time news on CNN for two hours, holding off on the mute button so I could encounter the following medical ads with their cacophonous, mindless names.

      • Cosentyx: for arthritis and, yes, psoriasis
      • Instaflex: in which plastic surgery victim Marie Osmond talked anti-aging immature blah-blah about her joint problems
      • Veozah: for hot flashes
      • Sotyktu: for psoriasis, and spelled out phonetically for you
      • Caplyta: for depression, etc.
      • Fasenra: for asthma @ $5,511.41 per dose
      • Rinvoq: for eczema, arthritis
      • Ozempic: for diabetes
      • Skyrizi: for psoriasis

Would you ever mention any of these consumer drugs to friends at a party? Civilized people should avoid such pharmaceutical discussions. Why are the actors in these commercials invariably happy and smiling. enjoying things like camping, entertaining, biking, eating, climbing mountains? Nobody is ever sick in bed and recovering. Black and white, fat and skinny, homely or handsome, these counterfeit people might as well be selling Russian laxatives.

Anyhow, your doctor will surely know if Skyrizi is better than Cosentyx or Sotyktu for your psoriasis. “If you experience any of these side effects, call your doctor,” says the rapid-talking (tachyphemic) voiceover—and see how long it takes to get an appointment. How come all those trivial or deadly side effects end with “call your doctor”? Maybe your doctor has never heard of this drug and thinks you are pushy and offensive for trying to question his competence. More likely, he too is beholden to Big Pharma whose lovely gals visit him regularly to dispense tons of free samples that make his patients happy.

Doctor Aaron Kesselheim of the Harvard Med School says: “Actually, the amount of money that pharmaceutical companies spend on advertising to physicians is far higher than the amount spent on direct-to-consumer advertising because physicians are the ones writing the prescriptions.” So everyone is in on the take.

The take is a lot less for CNN these days, so we can expect to see more medical ads, which pay well. Reports are rife that the network will slash what it pays its star anchors and make some big changes. We’ve heard that before. Long-time anchor Poppy Harlow is quitting. What I wish they would do is stop their constant, sickening pro-Israel bias. If that could happen I’d put up with the medical sludge.

Meshugenah

For you nonbelievers, this is Yiddish slang for someone who is or acts crazy. Four years ago, I claimed in a book, “Trump is the certified end of America as we know it.” Since then and even before, more evidence has piled up that the ex-president has moved from being an annoying but flagrant narcissist schmuck to someone with severe mental problems.

The press has seemed unwilling to recognize this. “Day after day the press was gaslighting the American people: Pathologizing Biden’s normal signs of aging, such as forgetting names, and normalizing Trump’s flagrant signs of dementia.” So says John Gartner who has been tooting this horn (his shofar, as religious Jews would call it) since 2017 as founder of the group Duty to Warn and a large group of concurring mental health professionals. Others contributed to a book about this a few years ago.

Read Gartner’s piece especially if you think you understand Trump. He looks at four areas of growing decline into dementia. The samples below are from Gartner’s essay. Trump’s language and usage, if you hadn’t noticed, has long been decaying: “A Boston Globe study found in 2015 that Trump was speaking at a 4th grade level, much lower than the other candidates, but more importantly much lower than his former self.” He used to be fairly literate, but in the last years the decline has accelerated. Of many examples: he confused Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi. He has claimed, eight times, to be running against Obama. “He uses non-words to replace real words: “space capsicle,” “liberalation,” “U-licious S Grant,” and so on. He posted this: “Joe Buden DISINFORMATES AND MISINFORMATES”

He drifts from one lunatic thought to another, and we’ve all heard him do it. “They’re weaponizing law enforcement for high-level interference against Joe Biden’s top and only political appointment. A guy named me. A guy named me.” He falls asleep in his recent New York hearings, and his outbursts outside of court become “ever more paranoid, aggressive and confused.” Judge Merchan can’t control him.

Now, you might say, the poor man has been under tremendous pressure. Yes, and if his behavior is disquieting now, what will it be like under the pressures (and the freedom) of the presidency? If he can’t think coherently now, what then?

Perhaps the infection is coming from fellow bizarro Republicans. You may remember this totally meshugenah remark from Marjorie Taylor Greene: “A wildfire in California was started by a laser beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats.” Last month Trump noted: “Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel and they should be ashamed of themselves because Israel will be destroyed.”

Or maybe the problem is simply his diet: see A Junk Food Diet Can Cause Long-Term Damage to Brains. A recent USC study on rats confirmed this. King Rat did not participate.

My Disaffection with Biden

In a nutshell it’s this: He is still arming Israel to the teeth while that country commits flagrant genocide in Gaza. A recent story in the New York Review puts it this way: “Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are at the brink of famine—a human-made disaster with roots in Israel’s history of using food as a weapon.”

Many, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the United Nations, have accused Israel of genocide in Gaza, deliberate and planned. We’ve all heard statements by the jingo Netanyahu and other Jewish leaders to that effect. Sen. Schumer calls for new elections but still supports military aid to Israel. Some Jews like me think this is a spectacularly wrong approach.

Others in Congress oppose the aid or at least question it. Outrage over the murder of food aid workers by the IDF has made the situation much more volatile. President Biden wants the House Foreign Affairs Committee

to approve a package that includes 50 new F-15 fighter jets valued at $18 million [each], 30 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons . . . .

Last month,

the State Department authorized the transfer of 25 F-35A fighter jets and engines worth roughly $2.5 billion, U.S. officials said. The case was approved by Congress in 2008, so the department was not required to provide a new notification to lawmakers.

And then there are the US-made 2000-lb bombs that have caused that horrific death toll in Gaza. Most countries proscribe them.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently told the committee: “’We don’t have any evidence of genocide being [committed]’ by Israel in Gaza.” This from the man who could not admit he had a prostate problem. Biden has a reelection problem, and he’s alienating thousands of voters, including me. Do you want to placate Israel’s right wing, Joe, or lose in November? For many, it’s become a Hobson’s choice.

Jewish agitprop organizations like AIPAC and the AJC will rise at every opportunity to defend anything Israel does. I’ve written before about this: “One does not expect proportionality in warfare but Israel’s violent response has cost it dearly with a preponderance of people around the world. The conflict has pushed many down the rabbit hole of partisan madness.”

If Biden doesn’t come to his senses about the rearming, he will turn off a great many voters in November. The growing protests, particularly among younger people, show that many will sit out the election if the president doesn’t change course. AIPAC’s talking points in fact support exactly what many Republicans are saying about the conflict. Read them here.

Jewish support for Israel has always been a fraught issue for those who have observed the country’s history with the Palestinians. Peter Maass, a journalist, recently wrote a fine piece about this in the Washington Post that resonated with me. “My Jewish identity was always a bit vague because my ancestors were German Jews who assimilated at the speed of cultural sound; when I was growing up, we even had a Christmas tree.“ Same here, Peter, and I’ve written about that too.

Some of the protests against Israel’s actions have been antisemitic. Still, many if not most Jews recognize the idea that it is not only legitimate to defend the lives of innocent Palestinians; it’s part of what we recognize as the morality of being Jewish. One continues to hope Biden will come to his senses.

Life in 2025

When Trump was reelected last year, his supporters finally came to their senses, except for the true cultists, of course. The common folk began to realize they needed to divorce themselves from all their former misconceptions of power and control. MAGA was no longer a political fantasy or, as some would call it, a delusion. It was dead.

In its place was simple tyranny as the president exercised his newly-given powers to control aspects of their lives that these poor simps never believed they had given him.

It was as if Trump had finally become Putin, the only person he ever respected. You couldn’t call it neofascism. It was nothing so preplanned as that. The president had simply fallen down the rabbit hole of his own psychopathic predilections. He had always just said whatever came into his contorted mind, attacking one judge’s daughter, another’s wife, defying all gag orders, making everything political into a personal attack. The poor simps sleepwalked into this approach because, like the president, they had no grasp of policy or political procedures. They enjoyed the power of the threat.

Congress, or what was left of it, rubber-stamped whatever the president wanted because they knew their indulgence would bring them favor and fortune. Government by bribery, some called it. The predictable result was entropy and random disorder. And judicial corruption continued—a pattern set some time ago by Clarence Thomas and his insider trading with those privileged associates who controlled what we used to call the levers of power.

Society Blues

Preparing a small dinner party for her older friends, Moira worried that her table was not set properly—forks on the left, wine glasses on the right, the way her mother had taught her. “Finally, who gives a shit anymore?” she muttered, opening her door to the guests who had all had several drinks before arriving.

Don Perignon came in first, a black man wearing gloves and a tattersall vest, complaining as usual about his boring existence as a major hedge fund investor. “I just go along with whatever they recommend and turn on Bloomberg TV.” Enter Marie Osmond who had just undergone a new round of plastic surgery. Proud of the result, she talked about the benefits of Soma (marketed here as Instaflex), the new anti-aging drug that had greatly benefited her sex life.

Sarah and Jorge followed, she talking endlessly about local politics and her garden, why aging was such a horror, and how her kids excelled in school. These people are not cartoons. They come with the new political and social territory, yet their non sequitur comments at dinner resurrected the same themes that we heard years ago in Evelyn Waugh’s great novel, A Handful of Dust (1934). The point of such parties is always to mix up the participants.

It was, transparently, a made-up party, the guests being chosen for no mutual bond—least of all affection for Mrs. Beaver [the hostess] or for each other—except that their names were in current use—an accessible but not wholly renegade Duke, an unmarried girl of experience, a dancer and a novelist and a scene designer, a shamefaced junior minister who had not realized what he was in for until too late, and Lady Cockpurse; “God, what a party,” said Marjorie, waving brightly to them all.

Soma and the New Media

AI has now facilitated production of a new anti-aging drug called Soma. It doesn’t necessarily enable people to live longer. It just takes away some of the ill effects of aging, like Alzheimer’s. Old people can now recover their knowledge, experience and health—well, to some degree. Youth is devalued politically, and clowns like Matt Gaetz are being voted out. Doddering old fools become founts of wisdom, and there are no more Mitch McConnells. Wolf Blitzer was made president of CNN.

Older and fatter people are now venerated on TV and in the media culture. Soma’s media ad budget is enormous, spent on a preponderance of medical ads in which happy fat people and jovial blacks are made healthy by some unpronounceable drug. They act out unreal jaunts and camping trips without ever consulting their doctors (which the voiceover always recommends). Some viewers, however, ignore the media because they can’t afford the drug. As in earlier years, these folks follow the social network that reflects their partisan proclivities, though heavy partisanship has been mostly hibernating since the new president’s administration. Alex Jones is in prison; Steve Bannon will be next.

There is still much underground activity dedicated to defying Trump. It’s kept in check by a new security agency, TURDS (Team for Unwholesome Radical Suppression), patterned on Russia’s KGB and just as vicious. There are only two big media companies now, Google and Apple, since they bought up The New York Times, Washington Post, and others which still function under their own names and serve up the same vapid entertainment diet they purveyed during the Biden years. So some things have not changed.

Losers and Winners in 2025

Losers

Biden, Blinken, Boeing, DeSantis, Harvard, Musk, Netanyahu,  Zelensky

Winners

Greg Abbott, Alabama Supreme Court, Maria Bartiromo, Aileen Cannon, Google, Putin, White People

We Got Water

It came at night while the town was sleeping, and the noise of the cisterns filling, unheard by most, gave way to shouts of surprise and pleasure in the morning as the citizens realized their good fortune. “At last,” cried Jeannine. “I thought the pinche Servicios de Agua had abandoned us.”

The water shortage produced much angry concern. There was a tremendous run on the pipas (water trucks) which naturally raised their prices to exorbitant levels and often neglected to show up. Giovanni called eight different companies without success and was reduced to drawing muddy water from the bottom of his nearly empty tinaco (water tank) in order to flush his toilet.

We heard reports of water thieves tapping into city water mains, like the huachicoloeros who steal gasoline from the Pemex pipelines. Others spoke of leaky old pipes, collusion in the water agency, cartel connections. A raft of conspiracy theories came alive. Kids with empty pails and jugs were wailing in the streets. People circulated lists of pipa companies that didn’t respond, and Marta heard that one was filling its trucks from a sludge-filled stream outside of town.

Maurice remembered the bridge to the old Billie Holiday tune, “You Go to My Head”:

The thrill of the thought
That you might give a thought to my plea
Casts a spell over me
But I say to myself, “Get a hold of yourself
Can’t you see that it never can be?”

That was the predominant feeling until the water came in with a rush in the middle of the night. Townspeople then went back to their business as usual, bitching about bloqueos and too many chilangos, inflated prices and corrupt cops. The plague of water on the brain had ended—until the next outage.

Gas Explosion in the Media

On Monday the Washington Post broke new ground with this news flash on its internet “front page”: Why is my gas so smelly? Gender, diet and plane rides can play a role. Yesterday they ran it again, putting it now “below the fold.” So the smell of your farts is now right up there with Gaza horror stories and the Trump trials.

It’s part of major media’s efforts to diversify their content and change course from strict news to “human interest” and entertainment. The NYT is doing the same thing, and continues fracking for gas on Tuesday with Why Do I Feel Gassy on Airplanes? The Post story—which clearly got their attention—was explicitly directed towards women, who would be most likely to find it disgusting for its fulsome prominence. My mother, who never discussed farting, would be appalled. So, I imagine, would most women of her generation.

The idea that this is a serious problem for women on airplanes never occurred to me. Such is our obliviousness to the female world. When I’ve felt the urge to break wind I sneak one off into the cushion, like everyone else does, hoping the odor won’t be broadcast. I guess women do that too, so what’s to talk about?

I broached the subject of bathroom humor and scatology in my November blog entitled “The Bowels.” The point was not to “break the centuries-old taboo about the subject of poop. Rather, the idea is to justify its importance since everybody does it.” Kids especially are into poop and its trappings, as I tried to document. In grade school after a football game, we undressed in the locker room and undertook the classic experiment of trying to light farts. Dangerous, though it can be done.

Farting, of course, is an intimate and alleviating part of life and, like sex in the media, it’s now going to become a commonplace subject for public investigation. The Post story, written by a doctor, puts farting into a medical frame, which is like bowdlerizing good literature. See reader comments on the story. In my blog I put it this way:

Sex and porn are now all over the internet despite the efforts of right-wing Christians and others to stop them. Scatology, I predict, will be the next meme because poop is part of our under-culture and, like all “bad” things, it cannot be suppressed. The whole idea of breaking taboos is part of what created the internet. Trump’s gold toilet could well become the new symbol of our age.

What Billionaires Do at Dinner Parties

Well, they get drunk, of course. After the caviar is served and a few cocktails consumed, the party sits down to fancy entrées, then main courses like Kobe Steak, and a lot of wine. What they talk about is so banal that it encourages drinking. Something like this scenario apparently did in poor Angela Chao who got loaded, befuddled and, on leaving the party, backed her Tesla into a Texas pond where it sank in the mud and killed her.

You can’t blame Tesla for this, though we’d like to. She couldn’t get herself out of the car. The cops said that Angela’s blood alcohol level was about three times over the legal limit. “Chao was the CEO of Foremost Group, the wife of venture capitalist Jim Breyer and the sister of former cabinet secretary Elaine Chao, who is the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.” The Foremost Group is an American shipping company.

Would we care about any of this if not for the McConnell connection? Probably not. Billionaires and the British Royals keep quiet about their private doings for good reason. Their privacy is their PR, and the public’s unsatisfied curiosity is their stock in trade. It puts them on a media pedestal. VIP parties are especially ridiculous and indulgent.

So what do they talk about? According to one Quora contributor: “Vacations, travel, skiing, boats. Cars, houses, architects, contractors, parties, caterers, charity events, lawyers, their financial planners, investments, stocks, crypto, medical professionals who do cosmetic surgery, nannies, the help, private schools, sleep away camps, etc.”

My friends and I sit down to dinner and talk about none of these things—except maybe travel, on which I had my say here. Our similarly boring discussions focus on the latest political outrage, problems getting city water, health concerns, pets, and food. We could be talking about art, literature, music, philosophy and science. But we don’t.

Because the purpose of entertaining people is not to make them think.