The People Who Bring You Magic haven't gone away. They send me letters. Real paper. Their SPAM fills my inbox. One or two of them send me queries via personal channels.

"How's it going with the miracles?"

"Hard to say."

"Anything we should know?"

"You're The People Who Bring You Magic - shouldn't you be telling me?"

"Everyone says that."

"And every time someone says that you reply with...?"

"You are free to live your life any way you want."

"Not quite the satisfying response anyone wants to hear, I suspect."

"It's the only answer."

"That's the excuse of all charlatans and cold readers on the planet."

"Do you think magic is a joke?"

"Tell me, do I think it's a joke?"

"You are free to live your life any way you want."

"In the time it's taken for us to have this conversation, I could have rewired that flickering light in the bathroom, or poured some Drano down the clogged kitchen sink."

"You are free..."

It gets pretty annoying sometimes.

I fly all the time. Every so often I am reminded by one airline or another that in the event I survive the plane crashing into the ocean at 500 miles per hour and cartwheeling into bits and pieces, if I manage to pull myself out of the sinking hulk in almost frozen water (if I haven't been burned to a crisp or had my head ripped from my spinal column by 90Gs of inertial forces) I can take comfort in that if I retain any coherent thought, I could use my seat cushion as a sort of floating thing to grab onto before I die (provided I have arms).

This raises questions. How exactly would I stand up from my economy class seat amid the burning carnage, and twist to pull the seat cushion from the metal frame during the screaming and blistering? How does one wade through the body parts and wailing survivors to grab onto one of these fart soaked foam appliances presumably to help keep one's head above water while one's life's blood pumps from one's femoral artery or from the socket where one's arm once was?

What the hell are they talking about, exactly, when they say my seat cushion will help me in a plane crash?

They are selling stories.

I once received a briefing before a military flight crew led us onto a C161 ICBM ferry jet to fly us from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo, Antarctica. As the world is out of the ICBM business, theoretically, these planes were being used to move people to unpleasant places instead of carrying missiles.

The loadmaster (which is what they call stewards/stewardesses on military planes) said, "If you hear a siren and see a red light and are still alive, you will see me heading for the nearest open door. I will probably not be wearing a life vest, as it won't do much good in the southern ocean. Nobody's going to find us. The only reason I'll exit the craft is I'd rather freeze in the ocean than burn to death.

You may choose otherwise."

What a breath of fresh air the truth is.

The blonde haired girl says, "But everybody knows you don't ever survive to use the seat cushion as a life preserver."

"My mother doesn't think that."

"What do you want them to say?"

"How about, 'Hey, if we crash, we're all dead. Don't bother with the seat cushions, get out if you can. If we're in the ocean, what's the difference? You can't swim a thousand miles to shore.'"

"That's going to set a great mood for a long plane ride."

"But it's the truth."

"There are kids on those planes."


"Will you cut this out? What do you want for dinner?"

Yesterday I was out to lunch with one of my Republican friends who usually steers the conversation to politics during the course of our midday repast. I have not had lunch with him for months, mostly because I don't need the conflict.

But people like to debate me. I wonder what they get if they win.

"You lived up there in Alaska. What do you think of Sarah Palin?" he asked.

"I've met her, you know. Had lunch with her."

"That's why I'm asking. You met her. You know how qualified she is for the job."

"I have my opinion, which may or may not be borne out by fact."

"But what do you think?"

"What I think is that I want a vice presidential nomination. You know, I would have said 'Yes,' to either Obama or McCain had they asked. And then I'd have the entire political party behind me making up shit about how prepared and great I was, and it really wouldn't matter what the truth was, because really, what the hell are we electing when we elect a president? These guys will say something one day on camera, and then deny it the next, and they don't even care you can go back to the prior day's video and show it to them. So what the hell are we electing when we vote? It can't be a person, because they apparently stand for nothing that can't be unstood for the next day."

"We're not electing a person. We're electing a concept."

"So, whatever idea you have about Sarah Palin is all that counts, no matter what I say."

Then I quoted Kurt Vonnegut, "And so on."

Once I asked The People Who Bring You Magic, "Say it's all true - then what difference does it make if there's magic?"

"You are free..."

"Look - if magic is real what does it do to help or hinder me? It's just another force of nature. Like you have fire, wind, gravity, electricity, magic, some nuclear forces, stuff with magnets and quarks and whatever. The point is, we go on with our lives. Magic does not alter life's purpose."

"But why do you think it's possible magic is not real?"

"Because it doesn't seem to do anything for me."

"What do you need done for you that magic cannot do?"

"Guys. Girls. You gotta forgive me - but this whole interaction seems like a crashing waste of time."

"We were thinking the same thing."

"What are you writing?" asked the blond haired girl.

"I'm writing about truth. About how we can never seem to honor truth enough to say directly what needs to be said, and in so doing, we never commit to anything concrete, and so take the very reality away from our lives, so there is no more truth, and everything becomes vague. And then in a world that is entirely vague, anything is possible, but nothing is true."

"You always get like this during elections. Why is it different now?"

"Lack of certainty admits magic, which is code for lack of understanding, the absence of truth."

"Whatever happens is true. That's the definition of 'true,' I think."

"People used to be worried about being caught in a lie, and now they don't care. To these politicians, truth has a half-life. Truth expires. Say something one day - once you're past the comment expiration point, whatever you said doesn't matter anymore. What do you believe in if you can unsay something a few hours after you said it? What are you if you morph day by day into an image you think people want to see at the moment? It's like quantum uncertainty at a macroscopic level. Heisenberg in the large."

"I think I feel like going to bed."

"To watch these conventions - these endlessly blathering pundits - it requires a suspension of disbelief. The whole election process is one giant poorly made movie."

"If you come to bed now, we might have sex."

"Don't you see how serious this is?"

"Don't you see how serious this is?"

"Do you believe in magic?"


"You came to me by magic."

"I came to you via Alaska Airlines."

"The People Who Bring You Magic keep demanding updates. I'm tired of answering them."

"Are you coming to bed?"

"You want me to stop writing and come to

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