Feb 26, 2011

The Middle East's 4000 years of conflict and counting...




The events of the last few years comes as no surprise to those of us who are familiar with the history of eternal conflict, usually in the name of a deity, in that region of the world non-Catholics recognize as the cradle of homo sapiens' evolution - yes I said the E word.

In fact, history shows that for some reason only they understand, the Middle East cultures seem to not want to get along, determined that they are that they are the righteous and the rest of us are the infidels. Okay, I give you that the rest of us are stupid - really, you're not going to argue with me that we are stupid, arrogant and ignorant, are you? But as an infidel, let me be the first to point out that as much as my culture enjoys its version of unrelenting warfare, often in the name of peace keeping, we at least hold to the premise of freedom and opportunity, as simplistically naive as it may be, as opposed to the simple minded, one fact, righteousness we see bleeding all through the region.

Take Iran? Need I say more? Granted, we planted the Shah back when... but now we have someone with a loose grip on his own marbles, and flaunting nuclear weaponry as well. Iraq? Well years of success. What can I say about that which has not been said to death before me? And now Libya, finally figuring out that Muammar al-Gaddafi does not have "the Jordache look" for those of you remembering the eighties ad parody of him on Saturday Night Live.

The explosion of Libya is a realization of the people that enough is enough, and frankly, it is about time. The man is a joke of a leader. But the joke is on us for we have created these clowns by empowering them with funding in our quest for oil at small pricing, something that we now realize has an even shorter shelf life. Last I looked, gas in San Francisco was four and a half which for the golden state is like getting an HIV diagnosis - simply unbelievable. Of course, the rest of the world, used to paying very high gas prices (even though they drive fewer miles) and consider us spoiled whiners given our love of the auto. But these little despots that like to kill their citizens on their way to being deposed, forget Mussolini's end and instead expect that Allah will for them forge a special heaven, not unlike that idea of thousands of dancing virgins sold to the suicide bombers of 9/11.

And so freedom erupts where dictators linger and now, as in the seventies, the big USA and the UN are ready to impose......sanctions. Huh? It did not work then and it doesn't work now, but...at least we are not launching a major Gaddafi offensive, although I say that quietly because as every good politician knows and GWB announced, there is nothing like a war to unite our country. Or is there? Can anyone say $20 Trillion Debt?

I was listening to an old church hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers" which is heard at most Christian church services at some point. And I realized that it could well have been not a hymn of peace but a battle cry for the Crusaders to plunder the Middle East in the name of the ever peaceful and loving God. Although I can already hear the Christian/Catholic protests that I am being cynical and cruel. Okay, I read the historical references to the Christian being a soldier for Christ- II Timothy 2:3 (KJV): "Thou shalt endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." But let's face it; there have been many a war in the name of Christ, not too different from the Jihad we hear of often in the media.

"Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!"

I remember as a younger man the big deal of the Middle East peace talks, and then Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State delighted with what appeared to be some stability as a result. But then look at the history of the region, from before the Egyptians, through the modern time, and still Egypt is in the news although brushed aside today by the Libyan conflict. Who is next? It was Bahrain a few weeks back, Iran, Iraq... Pick a Middle Eastern nation, any nation, don't tell me which nation you picked.... Sooner or later they will be in the news.

What I do not understand is that it is all in the name of God, someone who wants justice and righteousness, and contradictory to the tenets of faith of all nations; that of a benevolent creator looking out for His own.

What I fail to get is why and how it makes any difference if they want to keep blowing themselves up for the next 4000 years, for whatever reason or purpose they figure is justified. Oh yeah, forgot, they all want the destruction of Israel - how could I forget that fact. But then Israel is quite empowered, not just by the support of the USA but in their own non-wish-washy retaliations. The Jews do not waste their time with all the PC white bread stuff we do here. Strike and you get a strike back. An eye for an eye. Or is it a nation for a nation. And besides...as God's chosen people it is all God's will anyway! Or Allah's will! Or Buddha's will! Or Krishna's will and so on....

I watched a science show last night that covered the evolution of the galaxy and its ultimate fate, and I found myself thinking that knowing that there is a finite time frame, what an incredible waste of time, life and energy to sustain a ridiculous multi-thousand year conflict over the right to some sand, oil and the illusion of power, especially given that in the end it is all burned up by our sun turned red giant. So much for the glory and so much for righteousness and truth. Besides which there are faster ways to get to Heaven.

When I get asked why aliens have not come down from the heavens I answer that it is proof of their intelligence. Anyone traveling across the cosmos would see us as the refuse of the universe, a species bent on self-destruction despite great potential, and one that pees in its water and one that pollutes its land and food and air and kills that which it cannot sell, have sex with or steal from. We are such a lovely species. We have the capacity for intelligence but we are not smart.

And when I get asked how we will have peace on Earth and goodwill to and from all men I answer that it will be the day the bad-ass aliens come down and conquer us because only then do we rethink our definition of the brotherhood of man, and will, only then, surpass our religious, cultural and ethnic differences in favor of a battle against a common enemy. I just can't imagine why an alien race would even want to conquer us. It would be like eating food grown in a bath of toxins.

So settle back, adjust your television sets and your history books, and stay tuned for the next few thousand years of conflict..."like sands through the hour glass....."


- Posted by MisterWriter

Feb 24, 2011

IT'S NOT YOU: IT'S JUST MY PROBLEM




PC: That is so interesting.
TRUTH: What a waste of a moment of my life listening to that drivel you are passing off as something worthwhile.

PC: It's not you: it's just my problem
TRUTH: Are you kidding me? It is one hundred percent you. For the love of God you can't see that? What are you thinking?

PC: When in doubt do nothing? It is better to be safe than sorry.
TRUTH: Confucius said "He who does little makes few mistakes" because he is doing...little! When in doubt do something because doing nothing makes you look like a loser. Sure, you may screw it up, but at least no one will accuse you of doing nothing. They did nothing when Hitler was culling the Jewish population because no one wanted to do something. It is easier to do nothing. (As an aside, in America lawyers love it when you do something because that usually means a potential lawsuit.)

PC: Teachers write: "Johnny is such an interesting boy"
TRUTH: Johnny is a brat.

We have such a problem saying things as they are, not even direct truth but at least something more truthful than the flaccid lies that we pass off as honest communication.

Worse, we do not teach direct communication skills to our children who instead are left to decipher communication through the social interactions with their peers, generally in abbreviated form online. This leaves no learning experience of expression and feedback that involves "reading" body language or nuances. Nuances? What's that, they would say, followed by...who cares.

Now blunt honesty is something many people cannot fathom and there is no shortage of weak souls who would be pushed to the brink of nervous collapse if told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Here is a test for you. Someone you know has food stuck in their teeth. What is your level of comfort pointing that out? Do you have to talk yourself into it, worrying that your comment will embarrass the person? Do you decide that if you say nothing someone else will alleviate your guilt-filled responsibility? Do you enjoy the fact that the person has a visual impediment?

Politicians have taught us that truth and fiction are kissing cousins. Political communication is the art of saying something without saying a damn thing at all. "And if elected, I promise to ensure that there is a radical enactment of the very foundations of the issues that have plagued us and to constructively develop a lasting solution to that in whatever form that may take. And you can take that to the bank!" WTF?

So how are we supposed to act and react? I would rather hear the truth and have the option of deciding how much of it I wish to accept rather than not having that option. I would rather know that I am disliked and why, rather than someone smilingly tolerating me. I would rather give someone a genuine compliment so that it actually meant something because they knew that I would not BS them. And I refuse to say something nice just for the sake of it. The old adage "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing" bodes well at times in avoidance of a scene; however it is ill serving where friendship and communication is concerned.

And when I write to the President of the United States, whomever that person may be, and receive back a letter with the stamp signature, I would far rather get back a letter with the signature of the aide, assistant or some real person who actually took the time to read it.

Even within families - the worst offenders of the PC disease - we have the annual rituals of family tolerance. Weddings, baptisms, Thanksgiving and Christmas, events that have family members invited we would otherwise prefer to not see. "How lovely to see you Aunt Bertha.". Not. Couples getting married wind up inviting off the lower limbs of the family trees, not wishing to offend this one or that one, not wishing for bad blood, yet forgetting that the day belongs to their choice and their wishes. Don't invite the alcoholic sister who, after a cocktail insults everyone at will. Leave off Uncle Henry who likes to hit on all the women, the younger the better, and whom you would never leave your young daughter with. And did you check first to see whether he is in the Megan's Law database? You just never know.

So unlike my title, it really isn't me; it is you that is the problem and life is too short to have to put up with the PC tap-dancing we do just to keep the peace one second longer.


- Posted by MisterWriter

Feb 10, 2011

ORIGINAL IDEAS LOST TO THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS

I hate it when that happens. Yes, I had an original idea, even though everyone will tell you that original ideas do not exist. Everything has been done before. Whatever!

I had an original idea for a story about the world as the economy tanks and the country is bought up by China, an onward development that creates megastructures in which the people live. These buildings reach up to the heavens and where you are depends upon your position of importance in society. The higher up you are the more important you are. And the usual greed and corruptions affect the result.

And so today I find there is a new sci-fi book out, "Sons of Heaven" which has that same storyline. I hate it when that happens. If you do not rush and do something immediately, your ideas will somehow filter out into the collective consciousness out there for someone else to snap up, and benefit from. Your loss. Their gain. Such is life.

But that happens all the time. You find yourself discussing an idea with friends and the next morning that idea is a reality somewhere. It is irritating. You see lots of Hollywood lawsuits filed over Copyright infringement, and most places won't accept unrepresented submissions for fear of getting sued. After all, all they have to do is open the envelope and if they ever make something similar they can get sued. So writers sending unsolicited scripts and other written works usually find their envelopes returned unopened.

Likewise songs that enjoy success are often followed by lawsuits from other songwriters who claim a phrase, a verse, a pattern that makes their song the original.

And yet copying, whether intentional or otherwise is the basis of innovation, improvements and commerce as one business, or country tries to advance against another. American cars, Japanese cars, European cars. Which came first? Who copied whom? And yet which is better, a Ford or a Mercedes? It is not called copying when innovation breeds a new series of product. For without it I would not be typing on the iPad, and you would not be able to buy an APad on eBay that boasts the clarity of Apple with the flexibility of Android.

I once said that all business is legalized theft. Yes...an original thought. So far no one has stolen it from me.




- Posted by MisterWriter