The American government likes M&Ms. You know why? The official line is that it’s because soldiers can eat them without getting their hands sticky. But the real reason is they’ve developed something that keeps soldiers loyal. You can’t buy loyalty. Normally. But you can buy M&Ms. Therefore you can buy loyalty.

Why are we loyal? We like somebody’s face? Their attitude? The brand of mushroom soup they buy? All of the above! We factor in all the little things and ignore the big ones. So what he works for a corporate monolith. His shoes look like they were made of vinyl, just like your cousin Arthur’s shoes. And that’s the basis for trust? No wonder this world is so messed up.

Obsession is what gets people into trouble. Desire. The Buddhists have it right, that we need to get rid of our desire, then things will go better. But only if everybody dumps desire. And honestly, how do you get rid of desire? Some say by satiating it. That’s a lot of chocolate. That’s a lot of cigarettes. That’s a lot of whoring around.

Well, sure, it’s complicated. The thing is, there are always conspiracies. Everybody’s conspiring. As long as you misdirect the conspirers, you will succeed. Because you can’t stop them from conspiring. It’s like a need. Not a desire, now. A need. So you just channel their need. Let them think they’re on to something. Then misdirect them. Their gaze shifts away from you like you were made of Teflon and their gaze is a greasy pile of slightly overcooked fried egg.

You want to know how to spot the conspirers? I’d look for something out of place. A lady crocheting. Nobody crochets anymore. Not in public. No, I’d say her crochet needles are something else. One of any number of high-tech spy devices. The way to tell is that you offer her something for them. Forty dollars because you’re on your way to your aunt’s house and you forgot to get her a gift. If they’re real, she’ll take you up on it and get another one out of her bag. She’s got enough money now to get that sparkly blue yarn she’s had her eye on. But if they’re not real, she doesn’t want to give up her thousand-dollar spy device.

Here’s a good statistic to go by. Fifty percent of the people in any given place are spies. Twenty-nine percent are spies for the government, twelve percent are spies for a foreign government, and nine percent are spies for a private interest. So of the ten people in this restaurant, we’re not spies, unless you’re that good, which you’re not. Those two over there look like spies, so they’re not. The guy in the corner that’s swirling his coffee with his finger, he’s a spy. The family of four over there, they’re spies. The kids—what would you say, eight and twelve years old, they’re part of the cover and they do the simple stuff. Lookout duty, a little lock picking, creating distractions, stuff like that.

Go ahead, stare at them. It’s okay. You want them to think you’re too stupid to ignore them. Then they know you’re not a threat. This is a highly psychological business. So we’re not staring them down, threatening them, that’s something different. We’re merely playing stupid. It’s gotten me out of some tough jams.

You don’t believe me because you don’t want to believe me. But you’re just ignorant. You haven’t researched any of this. While I have. In life, who do you believe, the one who’s done the research, or the one who hasn’t? Bingo. I have.

You have to let information roll around in your mind. Process it. Think of it like a lottery ball machine. You spin in for a while, mix it up. Then you let 6 balls drop out. You put them together. And there’s meaning.

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