A Disheartening Revelation

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This article was featured in the January/February issue of Fusion Magazine. Look for a follow-up article in an upcoming issue.

“In college, I wanted to be an architect,” says balding, greasy pitchman Dr. Robert Jarvik in his latest commercial for the cholesterol drug Lipitor. “But after my father had a heart attack, I devoted my life to studying the heart.”

“Good for you,” I thought to myself as I picked up the remote. But before I could change the channel, the serious voice-over guy came on with 11 little words that changed my life: “Dr. Robert Jarvik is the inventor of the ‘Jarvik Artificial Heart.’”

Excuse me? An artificial heart? Why had I never heard of that before? How much did it cost? How quickly could I get one? I had so many questions.

Like most Americans, my doctor has become increasingly concerned about my health as I’ve aged. My weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol numbers have all climbed into dangerous territory, and terms like “your blood has a syrup-like consistency,” and “there’s only room for the first three digits” are now tossed around regularly during my doctor visits. No matter what I try (except exercise; that actually seems to work) every lab report is bleaker than the last.

But now, thanks to Dr. Jarvik, I have been given a new lease on life. After my artificial heart replacement surgery, I would never again worry about trivial things like diet, exercise, or blood consistency. I went to bed that night secure in the notion that not only would I be eternal (so long as I kept changing the batteries) but that I’d also enjoy a 50-pack of chocolate Munchkins in the morning with absolutely no regret. I slept well.

The next day, I got right to work on Google. As the search results loaded into my browser, I was overcome with an eerie sense that I was about to see my own immortality displayed right there on the screen. I got goose bumps just thinking about it.

Then it happened.

I had clicked on an MSNBC article that looked promising, but as the page loaded slowly onto my screen my mouth opened wide with disbelief and munchkin crumbs flew everywhere.

“Despite past failures, Dr. Robert Jarvik succeeds hawking statin drug Lipitor.”

Past failures? What failures?

I’ll save you the suspense: Jarvick’s “artificial heart” is a fraud. After graduating from Syracuse, the good doctor couldn’t find a U.S. medical school to admit him. So he went to Italy (which, as everyone knows, is famous for their medical breakthroughs). He only stayed there for two years.

After returning to the U.S., Jarvik eventually got a degree in medical engineering from NYU and then a medical degree in Utah years later. He never practiced medicine, however, and he only became famous after using someone else’s patent to develop the “Jarvik 7” artificial heart. In 1982 that device was implanted into a dentist. He survived 112 mostly painful days.

Later, after more deaths, the New York Times called the Jarvik 7, “the Dracula of medical technology” and declared that “the crude machines, with their noisy pumps, simply wore out the human body and spirit.”

I’m no medical engineer, but that doesn’t sound like a glowing review.

Jarvik’s “new and improved” device is called the Jarvik 2000, which sounds like something out of a bad science fiction movie, and probably is. It’s still in clinical trials, but initial reports don’t seem to indicate that mass numbers of humans will be undergoing full heart replacements anytime soon.

Call me crazy, but I always thought that the whole point of making something artificial is because it’s better than the original. Artificial sweeteners; no calories. Artificial tanning; no burns. Artificial breasts—well, you get the point. But that memo apparently never made it to Dr. Jarvik. But there is one thing that I do know: thanks to Jarvik’s incompetence my visions of eternal life have now been replaced with visions of vegetables, sit-ups, tread mills, and, ironically enough, Lipitor.

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Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…




Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.