Disclaimer: Names and some of the issues discussed but not places referred to have been changed in this blogpost to protect the innocent. §I told him right before we exited the plane at the terminal in PHL that I found our open and at times heavy inflight conversation fascinating. And then I thanked him with as much sincerity as I could muster and I put my hand out. Indeed. I was a bit flushed, a bit embarrassed, it was a long flight. §But before that, a bit on the travel. Flying over the Atlantic I sat in row 18D, the aisle. My new soon to be friend sat next to me inside the row at seat 18F. We were on LH426, an Airbus A340, departure Frankfurt, Germany. My new friend was connecting from Beirut. He was on his way back to school, and not just any school. He attended The University of Pennsylvania and during our conversation took the time to school me on Ivy League. But, wait, I wanted to worst-write about the plane. §We were on a discontinued Airbus—not unlike how a company may discontinue making a vacuum cleaner or a toaster. It seems that the airline manufacturing industry is getting away from four engine planes. Yet Airbus seems to have put a lot of their hopes in the A380, the successor of our A340. I had the pleasure of flying an A380 a few years back while traveling from Bangkok to Dubai. “Big” doesn’t begin to explain the size of this aircraft. But, as some people tend to note, size doesn’t matter. I’m not one of those people. I prefer the size of the greatest plane ever made: the 747. The problem is, last I read, Boeing hasn’t sold a 747 in two years. Everybody who is still fyling four engines buy the A380. But that’s another post. Oddly, or not, our A340 had a strange seating configuration. First, the cabin had no seats labelled E. Is that the same as skyscrapers not having floors labelled 13? Is the letter E a skeptical, mystical, ghostly letter? Second. The reason for the odd seating configuration–beyond the letter E–was due to the seats directly in front of me. Unfortunately I didn’t capture it in the pic above. But because the seats are from Lufthansa’s new premium economy class, which look like a cheap subset of business class seats. There are only three seats in the middle row and compared to sheople economy they are roomy as hell. Row 18 is where regular economy begins. Hence the pic shows the extra leg space I lucked out in getting. Oh. How ’bout those shoe laces! Ok. Enough about the plane. §On this 8 hour transatlantic flight I sat next to an ivy league grad student who just finished a semester in the middle east learning Arabic. If I had to place this kid somewhere to be able to size him up, I’d place him right in the middle of Occupy Wall Street–even though his elite demeanor could have placed him somewhere else. He wore his beard well, he exuded privilege, and he clearly had a big heart. And since I was sitting next to a millennial, I couldn’t help but be curious, the more and more we talked, about how his generation is destined to be the first generation that will end up in the historic dustbin named: wrong place, wrong time. Whatever. §After we reached cruising altitude and got our first round of cocktails, our transatlantic conversation started when I asked about the type of iPhone he was using. I was planning on getting a new iPhone once I landed where I would cross the border from PA to DE. DE has no retail tax, which means when purchasing the phone without contract you can save fifty friggin’ bucks. That started us talking about technology, Apple Computer and the legacy of Steve Jobs. It turns out we are both fanboys. He was impressed when I told him that my Apple experience goes back to owning two Newton devices. Eventually, though, it was inevitable that he notice how I used certain terminology combined with a cynical bent in most of what I had to say when it came to any discussion that required either depth or emotion. For example, he took notice of me using the term The Homeland whenever talking about the US. He also noticed how I always praise corporations for turning automatons into the consume-to-survive slaves occupy wall streeters didn’t know they were protesting against. And then there was the issue of the patriot act and the subsequent government expansion under the Dubya administration that rivalled the government expansion of FDR. Alone this act is a major determining factor for the welfare of millennials–and I don’t think, after this conversation, they are aware of that. Which means, it never crossed my new friend’s mind to refer to his world as Disney World, i.e., the united mistakes of America, or… The Homeland. Obviously, dear worst-reader, talking about Apple always leads to talk about politics, policy and #americant. With it all the company would never be the greed monger monster its become. Which brings me to another worst-writer term that caused him to blink more than thrice. §My young friend was sharp. I wish I was as experienced in and of the world at twenty-three. In order to cool down a potentially heated debate—during sleep-time of the flight—he wanted to know why I referred to it as The Homeland. I responded thus: “I also call it #americant.” (Pronounced: hashtag-american’t.) But he wanted to focus on The Homeland. This gave me the opportunity to switch from the frivolity of Steve Jobs—and his drug-ridden tech delusions and obsessions—to a subject that was closer to my heart: talking about the downfall of… we’re #1. Or, at least, the downfall of the pseudo middle class that is as much at fault as the upper class for all the demise. But the young collegiate whipper-snapper was not very enthusiastic about the subject matter. I can only assume that was due to his youthful optimism–which is a much his bent as mine is cynicism. This brought us to the issue of education and not because he was right in the middle of it. “Education serves no purpose, it is pretty much useless these days,” I said. “Look at The Homeland and how it’s run,” I continued, closing off his attempt at rebuttal. “All the managers, executives, pawns, automatons, etc., they are all higher educated. From the president, to cabinet members, to CEOs, the middle class, all educated to the hilt. Yet the only thing they have learned is how to cheat, lie, steal and cheat again. Where does that come from?” My young friend would not be disillusioned. He believed whole heartily in the American way of life albeit without considering how it got that way. For him–and I can only assume this was due to his proximity to one of #americants most notorious neo-liberal business schools–American capitalism was in turmoil but there was a way out (of that turmoil). And then I added, “You know, dear grasshopper, Das Volk can’t differentiate between politics and economics. That’s a real problem. It’s one of the reasons I call it #americant. Seriously. It cant differentiate. Cant. Cant. It’s not Ameri… can.” (Short pause.) “So it doesn’t matter,” I said. “Capitalism isn’t only in turmoil it is the essence of being American–and it doesn’t even exist. There is a difference between capitalism being an economic system and democracy being a political one.” (Shorter pause.) “Btw, get this, it’s almost 2016 and where I’m about to go after we land there are still front yards with “Bush/Cheney” signs on them, not to mention all the polished bumper-stickers bearing the same nonsense.” My little friend got a word in. He said that he was aware of the twisted politics in America. But then he added that regulation could somehow prevent a lot of the turmoil. Regulation? Yeah, he said regulation. A young man from an ivy league school used, with utmost sincerity, the word regulation in the context of a discussion about how to change the world. The only response I could come up with was to s
mirk and show-off more cynicism. Indeed. My cynicism vs youthful twisted optimism–regarding capitalism. And so, for a few hours of the flight we went down that road–we talked about capitalism, Marx and how it all can be fixed–with regulation. And I couldn’t help but notice that there was this growing monster in the form of a pseudo neo liberal from the Wharton School of Business. To say the least, worstwriter was freaking out about the youth that will assume the roll of rulers of a world I wasn’t about to consider leaving. (Unless, of course, a terrorist act takes us down. But I digress.) Somehow I couldn’t help but connect our talk about capitalism with education. “Look what these places of higher education have given us,” I said in a demanding way. He responded with the names of Wharton alumni. Which brought me ’round to The Donald who was business schooled there. Indeed, this young whipper snapper might be a study in the confusion of neo-liberalism and drunken optimism–devoid of reality. §With that I’ll end this worst-post. Except for one last thought. When we landed and were about to depart the aircraft we said our goodbyes. I introduced myself as worstwriter and he smirked unsurprisingly. Then he introduced himself as Dr. Robert Ism Capital. And with that, I entered Pennsylvania and it was good to be home.