To the editor ...

I think the most pessimistic observation that I could offer would be that the regime does not even bestir itself to honest torture. Our polite totalitarians go Mr. Orwell much better: they believe, at this time unfortunately not without evidence, that they can ignore Winston Smith to death.

Fortunately, I'm too much of a cynic to believe that pessimism has much of a future. I think our empire is headed the way of the Soviet Union — not with a bang but a whimper.

Bob Lallier
Lodi, California

June 25, 2001

Strakon replies (finally)

I'm grateful to Mr. Lallier for helping me separate the concepts of cynicism and pessimism. As I'm always telling people, I'm a pessimist and a skeptic but not a cynic.

As for the empire's fate, I say, bang or whimper, let's get it over with. But I'm not holding my breath.

January 11, 2002

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