Two Stories

Two Stories

Many decades ago, there was a little boy who saw a man walk on the moon. He was too young to remember but at the ripe old age of seven he already knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. He took matters into his own hands and wrote a letter to MIT. I imagine that it went something like this, “Dear MIT, my name is R…. I want to go to MIT and study to be a rocket scientist. Please let me go so that I can grow up and put a colony on the moon.” They wrote him back, let him know they read the letter, said thank you and told him to apply when it was time. Fast forward 10 years and he did all the things that kids with such dreams might do—his homework, his handmade calculator project out of recycled relays, the dissection of a fetal pig in 11th grade, AP Physics and his college applications. When he visited MIT for an on-campus interview, they started the discussion with that disappointing preamble:

“Well, you have an excellent record but we have many strong applicants,” said the admissions officer, “but something really set you apart….” Out came the letter from first grade, now-faded pencil lead diffused into lightweight wide-ruled recycled paper. They kept his letter all those years and he got accepted into MIT. While he didn’t become a rocket scientist, I understand he’s now raising complex debt instruments for (can you guess) rocket companies.

My second story is not so happy. I heard there was a shooting in the Philippines. This time it was a rich boy who did the shooting. He was rudely blocking traffic and infuriated the driver behind him. They somehow got into a physical fight and the rich boy took out his gun and shot the other driver twice. I did not hear whether the driver died but I assume that his condition is near fatal. The rich boy was not the son of a landed family or a major conglomerate. He is the son of a drug smuggler. I imaging he and his family leading white gloved lives with nice cars (typically over the top cars, especially for Philippine conditions), servants preparing his meals and picking up after him, calling him “sir” while his family ships in crates of pseudoephedrine to recreate the probinciano version of Breaking Bad. Just to fill out the picture, some time in the past, his father ran over and killed a fisherman on a bike because he was driving too fast.

Duterte’s bodycount of alleged drug dealers is approaching ten thousand since he took office. Until now, I didn’t get a sense of the kinds of people who were on the receiving end of this witch hunt. When I hear drug dealer, I think of Eric Stoltz in Pulp Fiction—cute, funny, a little lost, sprinkled with LA selfish. I don’t think of a spoiled son in a nice car posing as a little prince with a homicidal habit. It’s impossible to agree with Duterte’s policy of encouraging vigilante killings but, for the first time, I have a vision of the culture he is trying to eradicate and I can understand his distaste.

There’s no poetry in this post and nothing incremental about Sunpreme…except that they have really good green tea in the kitchen. Stay tuned for more on Sunpreme nextweek, especially since I received so many comments on my last column. It’s past midnight here in California. Next week, I’ll tell you the brand of that tea.

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