Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Odds and Ends

Backin the early days of blogging my blog would always be full of random thoughts and observations. Sometimes I miss those prolific days.  So today I present to you a compilation of some of the dumb stuff that's been on my mind lately.

The Paradox of Men

I'll never understand why some situations bother guys and others don't.

Brown ring in the toilet and yellow stains on the rim?  No problem!

Inch-thick layer of dust on the furniture?  What dust?

Mildew all over the ceiling?  It's a garden!

A pair of stockings hanging out to dry in the shower?  EW YUCK!  HORRIBLE!  TAKE IT AWAY NOW!

Pet Food

Am I the only one scratching her head at these commercials for seemingly "gourmet" pet food?

They're always showing these beautiful cuts of meat and fresh vegetables (odd considering cats and dogs are mostly carnivorous). 

We're talking about animals who will eat garbage, rodents, feces, and vomit.  Cats are gross.  Dogs are even grosser. 

Why, if cats and dogs will eat all manner of disgusting things willingly, and even enthusiastically, would we waste our delicious, high-end people food on them?  They clearly don't notice the difference.

End of the World?

There is a religious group out there that is predicting with certainty that the world will end on Saturday.

What does it mean, "the world will end"?  In what way is it ending?  Is it the end of the human race, or will all life die out?  Is it the literal destruction of the planet?  Is it simply a way of saying that something about our society will change and life will end as we know it?

How exactly will life on this earth be wiped out?  Will there be a series of nuclear strikes?  Will it be even more natural disasters (they have been happening rather frequently lately) that may not kill us all outright, but will eventually kill us from starvation, or murdering each other over remaining resources.  Will the Christian God just smite all of us unbelievers with lightning bolts and rapture the rest?  Is Saturday the date that the Vogons have set for demolition of Earth to make way for a new hyperspace byapass.

If you're going to try to scare me with prophecies of the world ending, at least you could be a bit clearer on the subject.  After all, if it's only people being wiped out, I want to know that my horses will be taken care of once I'm gone.  Perhaps I should leave the stall doors open when I leave the barn on Saturday night so they won't be trapped starving in their stall and can live on grass for a while?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wave the Flag If You Must, But Please Don't Hide Behind It

Nearly 10 years later, Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Okay guys.  Pack it in.  Turn off the lights and close the door behind you.

Wait a minute.  Every child knows that when Mommy and Daddy turn out the lights and close the door behind them, the monsters come out of the closet and out from under the bed.

10 years ago I watched a news special where Pakistani and Afghani intellectuals were interviewed about Islam's hostility to the west.  Where does it come from?

The answer was pretty universal.  The US likes to help, likes to intervene, but only to pursue its own ends.  The US was more than happy to help Afghanistan rid itself of Soviet rule, but once they accomplished this, the country was thrown to the wolves.

In order to overthrow Soviet rule, in its single-minded puruist of defating communism, the US supported the very people who made Afghanistan what it is today.  Our policies had a lot to do with the creation of Osama Bin Laden.  Not long ago I was watching an 80s-era James Bond movie where much of the action took place in Afghanistan.  The Mujahadeen were the good guys!  It was all about defeating communism by any means necessary without any thought to the consequences.

Such consquences there were too!  The Taliban took over and ruled the people of Afghanistan with an iron fist.  The US government did little to keep them in check because Afghanistan was prime real estate for oil pipelines and we wanted to stay on friendly terms with their leaders.  Until that fateful day in September, our government seemed to care more about whether or not they blew up a Buddha statue in the desert than it did about women being denied medical care because they were not allowed to leave their homes or see male doctors (or be female doctors).  I can still remember Laura Bush making some speech justifying our attacking Afghanistan by listing the number of crimes against humanity committed by the Taliban. I wanted to smack her since human rights groups have been wanting the government to pay attention to these issues for years!

So now that we have our revenge on Osama Bin Laden, do we just pack it in and let the Afghanis duke it out for themselves?  Either way it seems like a losing proposition.  If we leave, the country could plunge into deeper chaos and there will be more loss of rights and loss of lives.  If we stay, American lives are lost as well, civilians could very well continue to die at our hands, and more American resources will be drained away when they are despeartely needed at home. 

With his death at American hands, Bin Laden is now officially a martyr.  It could be said that he was attacked in his own home.  His followers everywhere will now want to avenge him.  Do you think Al Queda is going to quietly go away with its tail between its legs because Americans have flexed their mighty muscle and showed them who is really in charge?  This is not a happy ending my friends.  This is a potentially a terrifying beginning.

I can't celebrate the way others are celebrating.  I'm not going to wave the flag and sing God Bless America over a single act of revenge (for one God Bless America is a crappy song and a blight on the memory of the great Irving Berlin).  It's not my nature to celebrate anyone's death.  I consider myself to be a pacifist.  A life that once walked the planet has been extinguished. 

What's worse is that death is just that.  It's death.  It's final.  There is nothing more than can be done to punish Bin Laden.  We have made him a martyr.  He's never truly paid.* Those with any sort of religious belief take comfort that he will be punished in Hell, but that doesn't do it for me.  I don't believe in Hell.  I'm pretty skeptical about any sort of afterlife.  As far as I'm concerned, he got off easy.

It's not just my own discomfort about celebrating someone's death that bothers me.  It's the idea that we are a people are making such a public celebration.  How does that make us look on the world stage?  Are we any better than the folks in Palestine partying in the streets on September 11th? Aren't we better than that?  Is the US above barbarianism? 

I'm glad that he was properly buried.  Our leaders have shown enough class to say that we are not going to stoop to acts of hatred and disrespect.  We are not our enemies.  I think we made a decent statement to the rest of the world by doing that.

There has been a lot of talk now about how Bin Laden was able to hide so well in plain sight.  It's an easy answer - money.  Bin Laden had millions.  Yes, his assets were supposedly frozen, but I'm sure his network of people were able to hide some of it.  I have no doubt locals were paid off to stay silent.  I would imagine low-level government officials were paid off to say nothing and look the other way.  He knew how to take advantage of desperate people.  That's one of the ways Al Queda grew so enormous in the first place.  I'm sure anyone who tried to defy him was quickly done away with as well.

Many people feel avenged today.  Many feel relieved.  If Bin Laden's death brings you peace, then I'm happy for you.  I am happy to see an era of fear coming to a close.  I just hope that this isn't the beginning of something more, and that there will be no counterfanaticism here in the US.  Let us keep finding productive and peaceful ways to move forward.

Peace out.

*Years ago it was written somewhere that the ultimate punishment for Bin Laden would be to spirit him away to an undisclosed hospital and give him a sex change operation then forcing him to live under the Taliban.  Now that would be fitting punishment!