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Boy, I Really Thought Like Shit Today

When you lead America's No. 1 political think tank, you've got to always be thinking, and thinking hard. Each day, I go to the office, catch up on my correspondence, and then to set to work: fresh insights and ideas, bold new paradigms, groundbreaking ways of looking at things. That's my job. And most days I think up two or three solid public-policy initiatives before I've even finished my morning coffee.

Not today. No, today I didn't think for shit.

What do I have to show for eight hours of work? A notebook filled with doodles and some tic-tac-toe games I played against myself. You call that thinking, Strobe? You get paid to think of innovative, practical recommendations that strengthen democracy and foster social welfare, and you're sitting here playing your fifth consecutive hand of solitaire?

Fucking idiot.

For God's sake, this is the Brookings Institution! The place that helped create the U.N. and the Marshall Plan. You're expected to think at the highest level. You're supposed to walk into a meeting and say, "Hey, you know what I just thought of that would increase the accountability of the federal government? A nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office." That's what people do at a think tank. Come on, Talbott, get your shit together!

It's not like I came in planning to goof off all day. In fact, I had a pretty full schedule: 9 to 10:30, think about poverty; 10:30 to 12:30, think about chemical weapons; 12:30, lunch at desk, brainstorming exercises; 1:30 to 4, think about alternative energy; 4 to 6, think outside the box. But what did I do? Sat around with my thumb up my ass.

What is wrong with me?

For someone who's been at the think-tank game as long as I have, this routine should be old hat. I should be able to waltz in with some kind of plan to fix Social Security, evaluate nuclear disarmament for a couple hours—the usual stuff. As it is, if I don't develop a couple new strategies for more efficiently disbursing foreign aid—or something—pretty quick, I'm gonna be stuck here all goddamn night.

I've had, what, two, maybe three thoughts all day? Oh, yeah, this was a doozy: "bigger airplanes." Nice one, asshole. What a retard! Why did I even write that down?

Dammit, Strobe, that's not going to cut it. Not at a think tank. Not at the Brookings Institution. Think, man, think!

There was one point, around 1:30 or so, when I thought I had a breakthrough. I was in the bathroom thinking, "Hey, maybe we could use methane digesters and hydroelectric turbines to generate power from our sewage-treatment plants." I started to get excited and even told my secretary to get ready to take dictation, but then it hit me: You know where that thought came from? A meeting we had five years ago. And it was someone else's idea. And it wasn't even a good one, because it was dismissed for not being cost-effective.

Bra-vo!

Oh, and also? A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called earlier. She wanted a quote on nuclear brinksmanship and the situation in North Korea. I told her I'd get back to her. Never did. Why? Because my mind is just a piece of shit today, and I can't even think well enough to parrot the most obvious talking points from our own fucking position papers!

God, now all I can think about is how little I can think. It's like a snake swallowing its own tail. If I can't break this vicious circle, I'm fucked. I can't even generate a decent train of thought to…

Wait. Snakes. Trains. Trains like snakes. Snake-like… Nope, lost it. Yup, I'm fucked.

Way to go, Strobe, you complete and utter jackass. Way to go.

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GENEVA—Stating that the data published within its pages represented the scientific consensus of top researchers around the world, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its annual report this week, which consists solely of an alphabetized list of every country on earth and the years each of them will become uninhabitable.

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