Things You Learn When Dating a Mexican Woman


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It’s rather surprising to find out just how often a U.S. citizen can be told to go home or asked about where she (really) comes from.

It’s also infuriating


Contrary to popular opinion, a word doesn’t become Spanish by adding an [-o] to it. Using this construction does however make most any word irritating to her.

This can be useful, amusing, or painful to you, depending on the details.


Rolling your Rs can be damned difficult.


A speedy-Gonzalez voice is not funny. (She told me to add that it’s also kind of racist.)


Taking a Mexican girl to a Mexican restaurant is not likely to impress her. You may hear comments such as “rice doesn’t really go with this” or “why would you put lettuce on that?” Also, don’t be surprised if she prefers Italian food, Shabu Shabu, or Korean BBQ.

Date her long enough and you may yourself ruined for an awful lot of Mexican restaurants.

Thanks Moni!


It turns out that an awful lot of famous Mexicans are actually Spaniards, and apparently that makes a difference.


What a lot of us assume to be Mexican accents are actually northern Mexican accents. And apparently, this too matters.


Anything you say about Mexico, Mexicans, or Mexican culture is racist. Anything she says about white people isn’t. This is how girlfriend privilege trumps white privilege.

…and it does.


Don’t be surprised if music you think of as Mexican strikes her as redneck country music, or at least the south of the border equivalent thereof.


Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve.

Because of course it is.


Virtually every western you’ve ever loved has some Mexican character vamping up the stereotypes to the point of personal embarrassment.

She will feel that embarrassment first.

Then you will feel it more.


You will probably pay dearly for every tongue-in-cheek comment you make in this post.

An Oddly Spangled Banner


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Came across this piece in the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. It was made by the artist Ken DeRoux. and displayed along with a piece of commentary by Mark Hamilton, a former president of UAF.

The text reads as follows:

Be Afraid, 2005

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Ken DeRoux


“When I first viewed Ken DeRoux’s ‘Be Afraid,’ it was wrapped up around a cardboard cylinder with bubble wrap, evoking the qualities of both protection and vulnerability I associate with art. As I watched it unfurl, I saw each ‘stripe’ with its symbols or partial quotation revealed as carefully as it was doubtlessly assembled.

“You are seeing it suspended, specifically by safety pins. From an artist who devotes himself to the language of representation – light, shadow, horizon, perspective – I assume purpose for each element of this work.

“Suspend your evaluation for a moment while we look at the language of representation. This is not a flag, it is a banner. Specifically, it is a confederation of ‘banners’ in the newspaper sense of lead quotations. This is cloth, not tapestry. There is no weaving or even binding of the images; they are held together in loose collage by the beautifully ironic safety pins.

“The left edge of the banner is significantly more irregular than the right, suggesting the effects that wind has on a deployed banner. That, in conjunction with the purposeful irregularities in the body of the banner, is effective in portraying an image of embattlement.

“I don’t look at art to ‘figure it out.’ So I don’t pretend that subtle observations were intended by the artist except to the extent that he certainly expected observations. Here are a few observations. The largest quotation, and one of the two written bottom to top as opposed to left to right, is from Condolezza Rice. I suspect the reason for her prominence is that her quote is far more specific in items to fear than the generalized warnings of the other figures. In that sense, her observation has the stark qualities of a symbol, most of which appear at the periphery of the banner. By the way, the only other citation written vertically is also from the State Department. Is this because the execution of foreign policy must take a different, more specific direction than the more generalized ‘slogans’ of elected officials?

I am fascinated by the safety pins. Is our ‘safety’ only possible by considering the compilation of these warnings and symbols? Is our ‘safety’ the coming together symbolized by the clear visual reference to the American flag – the symbol of our Union? On the other hand, do the safety pins represent the current status of our union as a people, as in ‘only held together by safety pins?’

“Despite the title of the work, the symbols do not appear to be aimed at fear. They seem almost cartoon like, as does the sole terrorist figure. It seems to be more a work of inquiry than intimidation, to the point that the title ‘Be Afraid’ could as easily be “Be Aware.’

“The prediction is that this work will be controversial. I think it will be conversational if we enjoin one another to hold our evaluation until we are done thinking.”

Mark Hamilton,

University president, retired

Retired General

(Click to embiggen)

Sitka Whalefest, 2021


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The occasion was Whalefest, which was held at the beginning of this November. My colleague, Linda Nicholas-Figuroa, turned me on to this gathering a couple years ago, and I found the event both enjoyable and instructive. So, I was excited to hear that the conference was back on for this year.,

We attended most of the regular conference panels by zoom, but they still had a few in-person events, hands-on stuff (necropsy goodness!) and out-doors (whale-watching). I love the area. So, my baby and I packed our cameras and headed down there with a colleague and a couple students.

Definitely worth the trip!

(Click to embiggen!)

Racism and Moral Exceptionalism at the Game Table


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Island Gobbo by Jason Wiebe

I just watched an interesting presentation by Antero Garcia called; “Dungeons & Dragons in an Era of Terror, Nationalism, and Gamergate.” Academic discussions of role-playing games (RPGs) interest me for several reasons. It’s a chance to connect interests that I normally experience in different parts of my life (gaming and scholarship on the one hand, and storytelling in gaming and storytelling in other contexts on the other). So, I was excited to see a new source on the topic.

A copy of one of Antero’s books is on the way, but in the meantime…

This talk is a bit of an intellectual shotgun blast. Antero is busy introducing a broad range of themes and analytic tools for much of the presentation, so much so that his main point is barely taking shape at the end of the video here. Still that point, namely that race and gender politics (among other things) are very much a part of the gaming experience is a good one. I wish he had spent a little less time introducing his key terms and more time developing this main theme, because it’s definitely worth considering.


One thing that struck me about this presentation is a point that Antero makes a couple of times in here. He says that players are “supposed to enact racial practices” in games like Dungeons and Dragons. Take for example the following section of the Youtube transcript which starts at the 41 minute mark:

“Oftentimes when I had sit at the table play with other people if someone was a dwarf they would see an elf who’s play who is at their table and say I don’t like elves right and you were supposed to enact racist practices towards other races within the game right if you’re a human you’re skeptical of orcs right if you’re an elf you don’t like dwarves there is there is racism built into the system in terms of the attitudes you’re supposed to carry with other people”

Here we have the basic case for taking fantasy racism seriously. I am amazed at the number of players who don’t see this connection, but perhaps some folks are just being a little too defensive here. We don’t have to give up our dice or even our magical axe of kobald-slaying, but perhaps we could be asked to entertain the idea here that it matters when we choose to tell stories, interactive stories, set in a world where race and racism are built into the setting.


What struck me most about Antero’s presentation is that the norm here strikes me as significantly less obvious than Antero suggests. It may be that he oversimplified the matter in a hasty delivery, and I do think his point is essentially sound, but as presented, this does strike me as an oversimplification.

I don’t know that players in an RPG feel an obligation to play their characters as expressing racist attitudes towards other fantasy races within a given setting. Players are often expected to run their characters on the assumption that such attitudes are pervasive in the worlds where they live, and the significance of such beliefs are serious boosted by a degree of objective differences between the races which is often hard-wired into the games (orcs get a bonus to strength, dwarves to constitution, etc.), but despite all this, players are normally free to shape their own character’s attitudes within such a world as they see fit.

Simply put; players are free to buck the racist world in which their characters live.

More simply put (2.5 edition): Players are free to emulate the heartwarming story of Gimli and Legolas, a dwarf and an elf who somehow find it within themselves to become friends despite the widespread enmity between their races.

But does this happen often, you may well ask?

Yes, it does.

In fact it happens so often it gets a little tiresome. I recall once seeing a satirical bit on some gaming site in which the author complained that not all drow needed to be chaotic good rangers. Misunderstood orcs abound, and odd friendships are outpaced if anything but unlikely romantic couplings. It is sometimes a problem to see just how often and how easily players set aside the stereotypes built into fantasy races and rise above racist attitudes with an ease that belies even the social realities of the fantasy setting (let alone the hardwired elements of racial character built into the game). Sure, people sometimes play the stereotype. That does happen. But they also play against it. That happens too. So, it doesn’t really work to say of any given dwarf and any given elf inhabing the same campaign setting that the players running them are supposed to enact racist attitudes towards each other. It’s at least a little more complicated than that.

One way of thinking about it might be to suggest that the issue enters the discourse in the form of a presupposition rather than a normative principle. The players are expected to act as if their characters are immersed in a world within which elves and dwarves are likely to hate one another. What they are to do about it is another matter. Moreover, players are usually free to imagine the specific history of their own characters as they see fit, which means in practice, they can easily come up with reasons to make themselves the exception. “…oh yes, I’m a dwarf, but I was raised by a kind elven lady who took me in after I was orphaned in the last orc war.”

You get the idea.

Players are not necessarily expected to run their characters as racists; they are supposed to run them as characters in world saturated with racism. That this is a world in which race is also assumed to be real certainly does complicate any efforts to buck the system, but the reality is easier to ignore in role play than Antero suggests.


So, does this solve the problem?

Are we in the clear now?

No guilt here?

Roll a die 20!


Unfortunately, no, this does not settle the issue. It just makes it more interesting. The problem now is what do we get out of the various performances people enact in role-play? Is a player who imagines his character as the exception to fantasy bigotry really delivering a kill shot to the influence of racism in his life or that of the other players at his game table? Or is he just enjoying a catharsis, perhaps even building up some cheap moral licensing credentials? Will his performance help the other players to see through racism in their own lives, or will they all emerge from the game a little more comfortable with their own prejudices?

The answer to these questions aren’t clear to me, and I suspect the answer varies within the details. Hell, I don’t even want to suggest that the answer varies between one player and another or one campaign and another; I mean, the answer may vary between one moment and the next in a single game. It might well be that a player running a fantasy half-orc expresses some genuine social awareness in her decision to spare the elven prisoners in the wake of a hostile encounter …only to give vent to some real malice when she BBQs a hobbit later that evening. The relationship between the players at a game table and the characters on that table and within the game universe is always complex, and real world issues cannot be mapped directly from one to the other, but neither can we say that what happens in game stays in game, so to speak.

It matters that race is built into so many game systems, and yes, we should be concerned about that, but we can’t say once and for all that a player running an elf-loving dwarf is any more enlightened than a player reveling in the chance to commit fantasy genocide with his Paladin heading off to slaughter every last goblin from the dark swampland..

Okay, maybe we can draw some judgements about the guy running that Paladin.


In the long run, I suppose the real question is what does it mean that a significant portion of the gaming public regularly chooses to interact with each other on the basis of fantasies in which race is real and racism is pervasive? That’s a damned good question. The question is at least a little more interesting when we acknowledge that these people are free to shape their own attitudes towards the issues of race and racism within these fantasy worlds.

We Live in the Dumbest of All Possible Timelines.


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There is a reason idiots like Dave Bronson get into positions of power. It sure as Hell isn’t because people they can make a public apology after equating mask mandates to the Holocaust. It’s because they make such comparisons in the first place. It’s because they are happy to pander to the first thoughts of countless morons who learn about everything from medicine to history from Fox News and the half-remembered headlines their buddies regurgitate three beers into a Friday night. It’s because they give voice to the willfully obtuse, the unteachable, and the truly deplorable among us. Those people will celebrate Bronson’s idiotic speech long after his subsequent apology has been completely forgotten.

…and the lives lost while shameless opportunists play games like this instead of instituting responsible policies will never come back, not even when some of these fools finally come around.

Yes, that’s right. The present mayor of Anchorage defended use of the Star of David by anti-maskers in a public hearing. His argument went like this:

“We’ve referenced the Star of David quite a bit here tonight, but there was a formal message that came out within Jewish culture about that and the message was, ‘Never again.’ That’s an ethos. And that’s what that star really means is, ‘We will not forget. This will never happen again.’ And I think us borrowing that from them is actually a credit to them.”

Notice also that he explicitly identifies himself with those equating the two things.

I suppose I could explain why that is such an incredibly foolish thing to do, and a terribly stupid argument to make, but frankly, I think that should be obvious enough to anyone with any sense at all.

Sadly, that excludes more Republicans with each passing day.


Anchorage Mayor David Bronson defends the use of the Star of David by #antivaxxer and #antimaskers at meetings of the #anchorage assembly. The faux Stars of David read “We do not consent.” #covid19 #antisemitism

♬ original sound – TheBlueAlaskan

Not One of the Biggest Marches for Women’s Reproductive Rights…


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…but probably one of the coldest.

and definitely the northiest.

Utqiagvik joined the list of communities throughout the U.S. that saw demonstrations in support of women’s reproductive rights today. About a dozen folks participated in this event, encouraged by occasional honks and waves from passing drivers. They gathered at the Barrow Whalebone Arch and marched out to the front of the bank building where, a few of the organizers gave speeches before the event came to a close.

This is a small voice from a distant corner of the nation, but it’s nice to hear it just the same. I can only hope it joins a chorus loud enough to be heard in all the right places.

(Click to embiggen)

Polar Bears Happen


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Way back when I first saw the ad for a social science professor at Iḷisaġvik College, I remember pulling up the college website to fight a polar bear alert on the front page. Now some might have found this a bug, but I can assure you that for me this was a definite feature. I really wanted to see this place. As it happens, polar bears don’t show up that often, and when they do, it seems that I’m always busy. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to get up close and personal with one of these guys; I just enjoy seeing them from time to time, and especially when I have a camera handy.

So, I’m sitting in the cafeteria during the orientation for this semester when a notice goes out telling us there is a polar bear on the beach, just across from our buildings. The point of the alert is of course to let us know that we shouldn’t wander out that way (at least not on foot), but they do sometimes have an ironic effect. I desperately wanted to take a really long bathroom break right then and then, but I managed to hold myself together long enough to take advantage of a legitimate lunch break.

…and then the bear stuck around for a couple of days. Apparently, a walrus carcass had washed ashore nearby and he was munching on that in between naps on the beach and out on the ice. Eventually the local Wildlife department moved the carcass, but not before I and half the town got plenty of pictures.

So, yeah! Polar bears do happen!

he had just woke up from a nap

Click to embiggen!

Of course Moni got the best pics!

Language in Schizopolis


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For me, Schizopolis is nearly entirely a personal pleasure. Almost nobody I know has seen it, and still fewer people seem to have liked it. Still it’s my all-time favorite Soderbergh film.

What is it about?

Well, I could tell you, but that’s hardly in keeping with the spirit of the whole thing. Really, Soderbergh says it all quite clearly at the beginning of the film; if you don’t understand it, you must watch the film over and over until you do, and you must pay full price for the ticket at a genuine movie theater. Nothing else will do!

Suffice to say that the movie is well-named.

What I do want to talk about here, for a paragraph or two anyway, is some of the language games Soderbergh plays around with in this film. At first these games appear to be just so much nonsense, part of the chaos at which the name of the film barely hints. In time, though, I can’t help thinking that Soderbergh managed to say something interesting through these games, something about the relationship between the meaning of words and the nature of human human relationships.

What do I mean?

One of my favorite sequences consists of an assignment given to the main character at work. He is to write a speech for a motivational speaker. The instructions for this speech would be a great take-down of the entire genre. What should be red flags in view of basic critical thinking skills turns out to be the very means by which some of these people will make connections to an audience full of vulnerable people. The next time someone asks me why I hate motivational speakers so much I should just link them to this video.

My favorite language games from this movie are those involving romantic connections, or the lack thereof. There are two main story-lines for this theme; one involving a womanizing exterminator, named Elmo Oxygen, and other another involving a couple whose marriage has clearly taken a turn for the worse.

Elmo Oxygen is an id in a jump suit. He does what he wants in people’s houses, and for the most part he does who he wants as well, because all the housewives seem to fall for him. (Really, it’s why they call for him in the first place.) What Elmo doesn’t do is speak in meaningful sentences, not for most of the film anyway. His flirtations always take place in a kind of code. He knows the code. The women know the code. We the audience, don’t even recognize that it is a code for a little while. It just sounds like nonsense, and then we start piecing it together. As I recall “Nose army” means “yes.” (Elmo hears this phrase a lot.) About the time, we can start to follow these conversations the story-line takes us someplace else, someplace just as odd, I can assure you. For a time anyway, the Elmo Oxygen story-line treats us to a delicious jumble of utter nonsense which actually turns out to make perfect sense. What is said in flirtation between Elmo and his lust-interests never really amounts to anything but the flirtation, and if that’s going well, one may as well say ‘nose army” as ‘yes.”

…the same goes, if it’s not.

For their part, the couple spend much of the film speaking in metapragmatic descriptors. Instead of using normal words to communicate; they describe what they are doing in the conversation. Instead of saying ‘hello’, they greet each other with words like “generic greeting.” Instead of saying “I’m sorry,” they say “sincere apology.” Their communication is always meta-communication, and that meta-communication remains disingenuous throughout their first few scenes in the movie. The only exception to this occurs when the husband turns to his daughter and suddenly speaks to her like a normal father would. When he turns back to his wife, he is once again going through the motions, or rather calling out his motions, because the content no longer means anything anyway. He and his wife do this for awhile.

…and then one of them starts speaking a foreign language.

This word-play alone was enough to sell me on the film. It’s an excellent commentary on the nature of romance, or the lack of it. What the Elmo Oxygen story-line and that of the couple have in common is the absence of substance in communication. What’s different is the reason for it. Elmo and his lovely companions don’t really say anything because they don’t have to. Whatever they have between them is working and the words themselves just don’t matter. Of course e could ask whether or not the shallow code that works so well for Elmo might also be devoid of substance because he really isn’t connecting after all, not in any meaningful sense, but he would surely be unimpressed with such vapid nonsense. In fact, the character would probably be off to some new conquest before we could finish asking the question. For their part, the couple no longer have anything to say to one another, and so they call out their moves instead of talking to each other, because these empty moves are the only thing that matters at that stage in their relationship.

Or in their break-up, anyway.

Oh yeah, …spoilers!



“You’re not a dildo!”

This was the worst insult my friend, Dan Bunin ever leveled at me.

At least it was part of it.

Of course, he said this after having just called me a dildo in the first place. We were playing a game of D&D back in college, and zingers were par for the course. So was a certain degree of genuine bickering over details long since forgotten. Still, this comment seemed a bit much. Dan was genuinely frustrated at me at that moment, and the awkward silence that filled the room suggested I wasn’t the only one who noticed. I had just resolved to just move on when Dan announced his change of heart, and told me I wasn’t a dildo after all.

I knew better than to think I was totally off the hook here, so I just waited for the punch line.

“If you were a dildo, women would like you!”

…and the whole room burst out in laughter.

I couldn’t stay mad of course. I was too busy laughing right along with the others, but the joke served its purpose. Dan broke the tension even as he got in one more shot. Fair enough, I thought, and we enjoyed the rest of the game.

This was over thirty years ago, and I still chuckle every time I think of it. It was typical of Dan’s wit, and his humor. It’s also typical of the other memories he brings to mind.

I remember once shutting a door in Dan’s face for no reason whatsoever. He opened the door back up a moment later with a very confused look on his face. I really couldn’t think of a good way to follow that up, so I asked if I could borrow five bucks. Dan just laughed and fished the money out of his wallet. I remember once coming out of the library at UNLV and wondering what all the shouting was about down at the student union. Turns out Dan had just about picked a literal fight with the entire fraternity community. (All of them!) I remember countless dinners at Korean BBQs where the running debate was about whether to order two meals for every one person or just the usual three meals for every two people. I remember playing straight pool with Dan and his brothers at the Q-Club. Back then, making a really great shot was as likely to earn you an insult as it was to get you a compliment. Suffice to say, Dan gave plenty of cause to call him an ‘asshole’ during those games. I remember attending a few wild parties at Dan’s on New Years Eve, and I remember noticing when those wild parties had dwindled to a table full of old guys complaining about the state of the world. I also remember that a good portion of the open questions we came up with sitting around that table seemed to get deferred to Dan. In a room full of smart people who didn’t normally hesitate to study-up on a good question, we had somehow gotten used to the idea that Dan was the one who would actually know the answer.

Back when we were both college freshmen, I remember Dan once turning to me in frustration as someone else was talking and saying the guy was wrong, but he just didn’t know how to explain it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this sort of problem wasn’t going to plague Dan for long. His career as a successful trial lawyer has long since put to rest any lingering doubts as to his ability to explain why somebody was wrong.

I also remember speaking to Dan at the end of an online gathering a couple Friday’s back. He was excited for his coming vacation, and I couldn’t help but be happy for him. He and some other friends had been planning this trip all summer. I figured we’d talk again this coming week. I’d see him smoking a cigar with a drink in his hand, his partner Violet sitting beside him, and Dan and the others would tell the rest of us all about their adventures. I figured we would still be hearing the stories all the way till Christmas!

We won’t be having those conversations after all, not with Dan. To say that I am heartbroken doesn’t even begin to tell the story.

I was going to end this with a platitude about cherishing your friends while you have them, but that kind of schlock seems unworthy of Dan’s memory. I doubt anything I just wrote is worthy of that memory, really, but I’m trying not to make it worse here at the end. The truth is that Dan Bunin will be very sorely missed by an awful lot of people. The world always got a little smarter when he entered the room. It got more interesting, and it got a lot more fun. In his departure, Dan takes an awful lot to smile about with him. I can’t help thinking the world has just become a much more tiresome place.

Dammit anyhow!

The Mandela Effect Trumperates in Conspiratorial Oprahtations!


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I see people passing this meme around from time to time. It’s pretty devastating, actually, or at least it ought to be. This of course makes the meme an awful lot like a lot of criticisms directed at the Trump camp insofar as one could really wonder why this isn’t an end-game argument? Except, in this case, there is a clear answer. The quote in the meme is not real.

At least, it’s undocumented.

The quote really is just a bit too perfect, really. It seems almost as if it was made up for the sole purpose of discrediting the man along with anyone foolish enough to vote for him. And the unfortunate fact is that it was probably made up for just that very purpose. In any event, there is no evidence that Donald Trump ever really said this.

Too bad!

Maybe this would have got some folks attention.

Then again, so many other things that should have mattered when he ran for President didn’t, not in 2016 anyway, and not now for those still waiting for the second coming of the deplorable messiah.

In any event, a few other folks have checked into this quote (The Reno Gazette Journal, Snopes, Politifact, CNN, etc.); all have found the quote to be spurious. Several noted that the meme itself first made an appearance in 2015, but all of those who checked for an actual source have come up empty.

Significantly, the meme attributes the quote to a statement made to People Magazine in 1998, but the image likely shows an appearance by Donald Trump on Oprah Winfrey in 1988. More on that later…

From time to time, I have tried to suggest that people refrain from passing along this meme as it does not appear to be accurate, and of course I encounter the usual bullshit responses from people too keen on their delicious gotcha-game to give it up on account of pesky questions about evidence. (It’s a little bit more frustrating to see such weak sauce coming from folks you might otherwise agree with than it is to hear it coming from the mouths of the deplorables, but anyway!) I still figure anone who thuinks they have to use a likely fake quote to criticize Donald Trump has not been paying attention to the living train wreck that is his public life.

One thing does fascinate me…

I have frequently encountered people who swear up and down that they have heard Donald Trump make this very statement.

One of the reasons this caught my attention is the fact that I too once thought I remembered seeing a video clip of Trump saying this very thing. In the run-up to the 2016 election, I recall making a point to find the clip so I could post it on every corner of the net that I could reach. (I really wondered why a link to the clip wasn’t the obvious answer to every pro-Trump statement any republican could make? Only I couldn’t find the clip anywhere, nor could I find an audio-recording, or even a credible written source. I did find a clip from the episode of Oprah in which she interviewed him about the possibility of making a run for the Presidency, but Trump does not say this on that clip. (In fact, his tone is wrong for the quote anyway. In the clip, he is trying to sound moderate and thoughtful, not brash and rude as he appears in the quote, or pretty much at any time during his Presidency.) Realizing that was likely the clip I thought I had remembered, I chalked it up to a bad memory and accepted the fact that I was likely wrong on that subject.

Yet people still insist they too have seen the clip and/or that they know other people who can verify that Trump did in fact say the very thing attributed to him in this meme. When I Tiked a Tok about this in 2020, a couple people told me that they would look around the net and get back to me when they found it. When I Tiked another Tok about it a couple weeks back, well over assured that it was real. A few people even got downright testy with me for doubting the matter. All of which leads me to winder…

Is this the Mandela effect in action?

I know, pop-psychology is another net-hazard, but I can’t help thinking this instance might add up to a decent case for it. For those unfamiliar with the term, “The Mandela effect” refers to a shared memory that turns out to be false. It gets its name from a woman named Fiona Broome who had become convinced that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s. She was also convinced that thousands of others shared this belief, all of which must have made his tenure as president of post-Apartheid South Africa from 1994-1999 rather surprising). Some might have their doubts about this particular source, but there are plenty of other examples of the Mandela Effect to be found. I’m not entirely sure why the notion of a shared false memory is all that surprising to begin with. We know that memory is a creative process, and it shouldn’t surprise us that perfectly public sources of information could skew the memories of more than one person thinking about any given subject. So, before, anyone goes off to see this as proof of an alternative universe wherein Trump actually did say this…

Oh man!

I suddenly realize I should have written this entire post on the premise that these are memories of an alternative universe in which Trump actually did say this, and perhaps even one where the Mandela effect really is proof that alternative universes do exist, but I can only hope that there exists an alternative universe wherein the American people were smart enough to say ‘no’ to this festering bloodfart back in 2016, but then, dammit, why do I have to live in the one where a whole buncha people just weren’t?

…Okay, so, before you go off thinking this effect points us to alternative universes, let’s just say this is just the sort of distortions that we ought to expect from perfectly fallible people trying to reconstruct our perfectly fallible memories in the present.

Anyway, the point, is I can’t help thinking the number of people who seem to remember seeing and hearing this (likely fake) quote might be a good example of the Mandela effect.

Other options?

  • One person told me the quote comes from Playboy magazine, but I have yet to see any direct reference to any specific publication.
  • Others have suggested the quote comes from an interview that Trump did with Howard Stern, but I think this is actually a reference to a clip in which Stern describes Trump as being contemptuous of his fan base. The stern clip is interesting, but its not Trump saying it himself, and I have yet to see any other relevant clips coming from Stern or any of his shows.
  • Quite a few folks have pointed to People Magazine, but this claim has been checked pretty thoroughly (see the fact-check links above), and nobody has found any evidence for it.
  • By far and away, the most common angle is to suggest that the actual quote comes from the Oprah interview that seems to be the source of the image contained in the meme. This is the most common clip from that interview. As you can hear from the clip, it does not contain the quote in question. A search on Oprah’s website, reveals a couple other clips that seem to come from the same interview, which appears to have occurred on April 25th, 1988. What I can’t seem to find, on Oprah’s website or any other source on the net, is any full-length recording of the complete interview. Apparently, others cannot find such a clip either.

The inability to find a recording of the complete Trump interview with Oprah creates an interesting problem. Why can’t we find such a recording? I for one have no idea. I don’t know how Oprah’s archives work, how thorough they were back in 1988, or just how common it would be for people to have at least an old VHS tape (or even a Beta) of the interview. I really haven’t assessed the odds against this absence of an episode actually happening by natural chance. For at least a few folks, however, this is all so damned suspicious. They will commonly tell us the complete clip has been scrubbed from the internet, and that the elites (including Oprah) have conspired to prevent any evidence of the quote coming out. We could talk about how likely this is (and here the Streisand effect might also make an appearance), or we could insist on asking for solid evidence for the authenticity of the quote, rejecting any excuses for the lack of it. That so many people swear they remember hearing Trump actually speak the words contained in the quote doesn’t count for nothing, but eye-witness testimony isn’t the most dependable source of information. It’s a little less dependable when it’s provided by random guys on the net. At the end of the day this leaves us with a larger question…

What do we do when we don’t know?

What do we infer (or simply assume) when we don’t get a definitive answer to our questions?

Short of any substantial evidence in support of the alleged quotation, this effort to suggest the absence of evidence isitself evidence of a larger conspiracy isn’t the least bit helpful. I like my conspiracy talk in the other guy’s camp where it can keep good company with the likes of Q-Anon fans, Birthers, and Truthers, none of whom have anything worthwhile to add to our present-day politics. I think it far more likely that all the people who think they remember seeing and hearing Trump speak the words in this clip are reading them into their memories of the common Oprah clip. It’s a shared memory, but it’s a false memory.

…and Trump is every bit as awful as any of us might remember. That memory isn’t false.

…and we don’t have to make up anything to criticize Trump.

…or the fools who support him.