Inspired by Freeman Dyson's "Heretical Thoughts on Science and Society":
A Christmas Story
It’s Christmas 2025. The Donald, having forced through a constitutional amendment, is into his third term. True to his early campaign promise, he’s driven Starbucks into bankruptcy and got everybody saying “Merry Christmas.”
John Jones, a sixty-five year-old whose consciousness has not yet been reconstructed, is visiting his son, Jim, and family, which includes Jim’s son, Billy. Grampa John has settled in and is having a one-on-one with Billy.
Grampa John: Well, Billy, I can’t believe it’s Christmas, it comes so soon, and here you are already twelve years old. Your Dad and Mon tell me you like science a lot and have been getting good grades in it. So I’d like to get you a nice gift that will keep up your interest in that. I was thinking, how about a big, deluxe model of a Gilbert chemistry set? Would you like that?
Billy: [Trying hard to erase his uncomprehending stare while keeping the old boy ready to spring for a big present] Gee, Grampa, I’m really not sure what those are. Us kids don’t see those things around much.
Grampa John: Oh, of course, I keep forgetting. Kids today are interested in video games and computers. Maybe we could find a couple of computer games you’d like?
Billy: [Hanging in there, hoping all is not lost]. Oh, Grampa, I think my Dad used to like those. I know he talks about them sometimes. But they don’t work on the computers we have now, so I haven’t been able to play them.
Grampa John: Well, I guess I really am behind the times. I thought those computer games were all the rage with kids. What kind of science-type thing do you think you’d like, then?
Billy: [Wondering if he can’t get the old guy to drop a couple of Franklins on an Amazon gift card and put them both out of their misery] Grampa, what us kids are doing now is playing biotech games. You know, you get a kit with software and stuff to make something. Something alive. Like, my friend Rosa has a pet she made that’s kind of a cross between a dog and a cat. It’s really cool. All us kids want to do something like that. Me, I’ve been reading about dinosaurs, and there’s this kit you can get online that will let you design a really, really small T-Rex – don’t worry, not the dangerous kind, this one just eats veggies. It’s all part of the gene stuff you do with the kit. Actually, you can get that kit online; I think some company in California makes it, a company named DinoDesign or something. Maybe we can find it on Amazon . . .