The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life     
. . . still studying and learning how to live
 
 
Sunday, July 31, 2005
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I went to see Patti Austin give an outdoor concert at the local county park the other night. She was pretty good, still a diva at age 55 (and not ashamed to admit her age either). Maybe she talked a little too much, trying hard to be “personal” with the crowd; if she had cut it back by 3 minutes, she could have gotten another song in. But hey, when you pay zero for admission and get up pretty close to the stage, you can’t really complain.

I could have stood to the side of the stage and had gotten a really close look at Patti at work. But I decided to step back about 200 feet, so that I could also watch the backup singers. Those three girls were singing their hearts out. They did a soulful round of “shu-bop-shu-bops” during Ms. Austin’s cover of Little Anthony’s “I Only Have Eyes For You”. And they were out-of-this-world during the encore, supporting Patti’s cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” with a machine-gun barrage of “what-it-is” refrains.

Backup singers always go unappreciated. Whenever I watch a concert now (mostly on TV, unfortunately), I always keep an eye on the backup singers. They’re the ones that make the star sound good. To all you backup singers out there, you’ve got a fan right here.

Oh, as to the Space Shuttle – I’ll be back about that later in the week, once they’re getting ready to come home.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 12:25 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, July 30, 2005
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SPACE VOYEURISM: I decided to tune in and listen to the Space Shuttle launch last Tuesday (via the NASA web site). I was hoping for a replay of the old drama that accompanied the space program launches back in the 1960s. I wasn’t disappointed. As the count approached five minutes, there was hushed silence broken by staticy techno-talk. There was the final polling of the controllers (“Range Safety is go”, “Houston Flight is go”, “Guidance is go for launch”, etc.), then the final countdown, then “engine start”, “lift off”, “Discovery has cleared the tower”, “Discovery is at an altitude of 25 nautical miles, downrange 27 nautical miles, flight path nominal”, “30 seconds to booster separation”, etc. It brought back memories of the old Mercury, Gemini and Apollo moon flights from my youth.

A few days after that I read a quote from some guy who works for an aerospace contractor, to the effect that they’ve got to eliminate the drama of getting into orbit. That shook my neurons up a bit. Yes, by now you would have hoped that manned spaceflight wouldn’t be such a risky venture. I just read something else to the effect that riding the Space Shuttle is a good bit more risky than being on a bomber mission over Germany during the height of World War 2. But after the Columbia disaster (same as after the Challenger disaster), we the public came to realize that the Shuttle is still a crude experimental vehicle. (Actually, so did NASA; most people there were locked into a fit of wishful thinking, to the effect that the Shuttle was a safe and cost-efficient way of getting people and stuff into earth orbit. They’re scratching their heads about that now.)

And so the voyeurism was back this past week. There again was the great spectacle of brave Americans strapped into a huge bomb with a hole in the bottom, poised upright along the sunny Florida coastline. If all went well, they’d be shot up into the sky and come home in a few days or weeks. But there was a pretty decent chance that sooner or later the bomb would go off the wrong way and kill everyone on board (as finally happened with the Challenger). Or they’d get up there and not make it back (as with Columbia, almost with Apollo 13). Great entertainment, right up there with the old Roman gladiator shows. It sure made the career of CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite.

Back in the 60s, there at least was a sense of purpose to the space program and all the risks and expense it entailed. We wanted to explore the moon and show the Russians that we were better than they were. What is our sense of purpose today with the Shuttle? Basically, to finish the Space Station. And what is that up there for? It’s in the wrong place to repair the important satellites we have up in orbit; ditto for building, lauching and recovering missions to and from the planets and beyond. It’s a pretty good microgravity lab, but if that were so valuable and necessary, then why isn’t private business helping to pay for it?

I hope that the US will continue its efforts to explore space using both robots and people. However, we need to admit that the Shuttle and the Space Station are a dead end. Space exploration is a new neighborhood, and when you’re driving around in a new neighborhood you sometimes go up the wrong street. You cruise along for a while, until that funny feeling down in your gut makes you stop. NASA has had a funny feeling for a while now, but they keep on driving (and keep on burning up taxpayer money).

More on the Space Shuttle next time.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 1:36 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, July 24, 2005
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I’ve worked at the local county prosecutor’s office for the past 3 ½ years, and have noticed that many of the people there aren’t terribly fond of me. Not that we have any great ideological differences (although certainly we do have some!). I have nothing against punishing people who commit crimes, within reason, of course; we all commit technical crimes, but very few of us rape, murder, steal, distribute illicit drugs, defraud the government for big $$$, etc. It’s just that a lot of the assistant prosecutors (i.e., trial attorneys) and investigators (i.e., cops) get hardened from dealing with criminals all the time. Or alternately, they’re fairly tough, aggressive people from the start, the kind who are attracted to this kind of work. People like that have little use for an intellectual daisy-picker like me.

Case in point: the boss Prosecutor was officially sworn in the other day, so they had a little party for her afterward. I generally don’t do well at parties. At parties full of lawyers and cops, I only do that much worse. I wasn’t exactly in demand for chit-chat. I mostly drifted about on my own, and cut out by 6:30PM.

It’s a miracle, then, that anyone other than my peers in the administration section talk to me at all (other than necessary business). But believe it or not, there are some friendly assistant prosecutors and investigators. They manage to give me a hello and maybe even a good word or two, even after dealing with some of the most dangerous, violent and anti-social people out there. Or they at least manage a nod and a polite attitude toward me, the office’s lowly grants coordinator. For example, as I was leaving the office party the other evening, one of the supervisory attorneys (who was also leaving) gave me a smile and made a little joke about my leaving early, and then about her own early departure.

Unto those AP’s and detectives who yet share the milk of human kindness, you will be at my side when I enter my kingdom. But woe unto those who have dissed me, including my boss (another supervisory assistant prosecutor) . . . . . NOT. I hold no hard feelings against the tough crowd. I understand that it’s a nasty job and that folk like you need to stay within your own world of strength. I knew that the job was going to be a lonely one for me when I took it. I take no offense at your disdain for my introverted, nebbishy character. It’s just that when I find any un-forced friendliness whatsoever amidst the warrior brethren, I consider that to be cause for a smile. Maybe even reason, however small, for the restoration of faith in the human race, despite its often pitiful condition these days.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:08 am       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Saturday, July 23, 2005
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Being an informal observer of science and natural phenomenon, I always enjoy finding small examples of large-scale phenomenon. For example, when you open the drain on a bathtub filled with water, sometimes you see a little air spout getting sucked down through the water, like a mini-tornado.

Today I found a mini-volcano right there in a pot of lentils that I was cooking. A volcano-like funnel formed in the middle of the pot, with bubbling, boiling lentils coming up from the bottom. The side of the lentil mountain remained cool and crusty, like a true volcano. In a true volcano, heat comes up from the center of the earth and boils the rocks lying just underneath it; in my cooking pot, heat comes up from the stove burner and boils the water and lentils at the bottom. As with the volcano, a spout of lava-like material from the bottom started rising up through the cooler layer of lentils at the top. Yes, indeed, earth science in action, right there in my kitchen. Need proof? Here’s the picture:

◊   posted by Jim G @ 1:31 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, July 17, 2005
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STEVE, THE MAN WITH THE PLAN: I have new next-door neighbors in the apartment house where I hang my hat. Well, not exactly new; they moved in last September, when the old man and woman who used to live across from me sold the house to an investor. The new neighbors are a married couple with three small kids.

Oh goodness, just what a quiet guy like me needs.

(Hey, I don’t hate kids. Back when I was married I would have been open to having one around, had my X not gone off to pursue other romantic interests. After the divorce I did some volunteer youth ministry in an inner-city church for a few years. So I’ve done my time with America’s next generation. But still, I’m not one of those people who just love to have kids around. For me, it was always work. It was often good work, but work nonetheless.)

I guess that for Steve and his wife, having three kids is also work. A lot of work. But they must like it, because they’ve signed-on into the world of kids in a big way. Steve and Heidi don’t have real jobs; they spend their days running a small business empire. And that empire is built around kids. They run an after-school tutoring and enhancement center for kids, and they’re trying to get a book publishing company going that specializes in books for kids and about kids. So, these are people on a mission. They obviously have a dream, and they’re taking many chances to make it real. They’re obviously putting up with some genteel hardships; an educated, two-earner couple at their age (late 30s / early 40s) should have their own house by now. Instead, Steve and Heidi are packed into a small apartment, and have to put up with seeing me most every day.

But they seem to be making the best of it. Steve’s best friend (who is also named Steve) now lives here in the building, in the basement apartment; he moved in a couple of months after they did. He drives a beat-up Dodge Neon and doesn’t seem to be doing all that well financially either. I’ve heard that he’s a substitute teacher and that he makes a few bucks working part-time at Steve and Heidi’s after-school center. Around 9 pm, once the kids go to sleep, the three of them gather on the porch and shoot the breeze long into the night. Oh yea, and play chess. They’re chess fans, and not surprisingly they teach kids chess at their center.

As you might guess, I haven’t exactly become part of their circle. Steve (the original Steve) actually did reach out to me when they moved in. I tried to respond in a friendly fashion. But after a while, I couldn’t think of what to talk about with him and his retinue. It’s all I can do not to complain about how much they’ve changed the peaceful environment that I once had here; before they blew in, I would grow basil and other spices on the front porch. But now the kids own the porch, and they have a swinging chair right in front of my kitchen window. I’m serenaded by the joyful squeals of children’s laughter while I eat dinner – at least until I tune in the local rock station and crank up the volume.

Steve and his wife have taken on some big assignments; raising three kids in suburbia today is a huge undertaking in itself (or so I’m told). Then there’s the issue of making two businesses succeed. From what I’ve read, about half of all small business ventures are shut-down within 4 years, and that goes up to about 2/3 by the end of the sixth year. (Steve and Heidi are completing their second year in business). And the book publishing business is especially risky; the competition is brutal, and the cash flow is awful. You can sink money into such a venture for years and not make a nickel. I hope that the three of them have their resumes ready just in case.

Right now, I’m sort of like Homer Simpson is with his neighbor. Still, I take my hat off to Steve & Company, despite my petty discomfort about the changes that they’ve caused to my habitat. Even though I myself can’t relate to what they’re doing, they’ve got a dream and they’re trying to make it real. They’ve got a true sense of companionship going for them; i.e., the feeling you get when it’s “you and me against the world”. I envy them for that. They’re an interesting story, and who knows. Maybe one day I’ll actually be glad that I crossed paths with them. Hey, I’ve been wrong before.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:52 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Thursday, July 14, 2005
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PBS INFECTED BY REALITY: I was watching “Cooking Under Fire” on PBS tonight, a “haute cuisine” version of a reality show. Yes, unfortunately the reality trend has also infected PBS. Sort of like Night of the Living Dead. You’d have hoped that PBS would have held out and would have stood up for something higher in terms of television quality. I thought that’s what PBS was there for. Guess not.

If you haven’t watched C.U.F., it’s a restaurant version of the Trump reality show. The winner gets a kitchen job in a fancy New York City restaurant. Tonight they were down to three candidates, all women. Before they set ‘em loose in the kitchen, the big guys made each of the young chefs say why they were better than the other two. So the first two went into the testosterone mode, “I’m the best; the other two stink, they’re too weak, too cutesy”.

The third one was named Autumn. Autumn Maddox from Seattle. She told the inquisition that she wasn’t better; she was different. The biggest of the big men – the guy who would hire the winner – did a double take. During the cook-off he asked her, what did you mean? She stood her ground – different, not better. Then came the inevitable judgement; sorry, babe, you wouldn’t last 5 minutes in my kitchen with a lame attitude like that. But the big man gave her one last chance – and she stuck to her story: different, not better. You can guess the rest.

For the past 35 years, I’ve known a guy named Ray. Ray drove fuel trucks and fixed engines most of his life. In a lot of ways, he’s awfully crude. But deep inside, Ray still has a soft heart. He still wants to see a better world. As I watched my girl from Seattle get trashed, I imagined Ray’s reaction: he’d get up from a deep slouch and with righteous indignation he’d shout “go **** yourself” at the judges. Ah, dear Autumn from Seattle; just another Cordelia, the Antigone of the reality shows. I shan’t forget you. I hope to get out to Seattle some day, and hope to get a table at your restaurant. I’m sure it will be a very civilized place, a place with very good food, and a place where a regular guy like my friend Ray could also feel comfortable.

And to PBS: next time you have your fund drive beg-a-thon, I’ll probably have a reaction similar to Ray’s.

ANOTHER IRONY: The Space Shuttle launch was cancelled yesterday because of a faulty electronic sensor. So far, NASA engineers can’t figure out the problem; they don’t know if the sensor itself crapped out, or has a wire or connection gone bad, or is it something wrong in a computer chip. Hey, I once had a car with a problem like that; the kind of problem that a dealer charges you a grand to work on, and after six months the problem comes right back again. Glad to know that even NASA can’t deal well with faulty sensors. Also glad that I’m not gonna be in the Discovery when they finally do send it up!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 7:45 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, July 10, 2005
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Living here in Montclair, within twenty miles of the Atlantic Ocean and north of Chesapeake Bay, I’m pretty much immune from the influences of Creationism. But I’ve read various reports about it. Seems as though Christian fundamentalists and biblical literalists out in the heartland have been putting a lot of cash and energy into coming up with a way to challenge the Darwinistic view that humankind (and the world in general) evolved over millions and billions of years. The anti-evolutionists didn’t do too well taking science head on, so lately they’ve been trying to imitate it. They’re spending money to support people who come up with detailed hypotheses that favor sudden creation according to an intelligent design – i.e., by the hand of God. They’re even demanding that school textbooks and teachers give their theories equal time and space.

(During the 20th Century, the Roman Church was amazingly tolerant of the scientific view of natural evolution. But the Catholics have been peddling backwards for a number of decades now, so it’s not surprising that they’re pulling the plug on their commitment to scientific enlightenment; Cardinal Schonborn, a top theologian and close ally of pope Ratzinger, now sez that the Darwinian evolutionary paradigm just ain’t true, at least not for the faithful.)

To me, it seems like such a waste of effort. From what I’ve heard, Creationist writings and research seem impressive at first blush. But in the end they’re not real science. Most legitimate scientists reject what they’re doing. Quasi-scientific ponderings help the Creationists politically, but in the end, I believe that the truth will win out. And Creationism is not the truth – or not even the best approximation to the truth, which is all we can expect of science. I take my hat off to the people behind Creationism for their determined efforts to make faith in God easier in an educated society. But they’re barking up the wrong tree. And ironically, there is a nearby tree where their money and energy might get more traction, and might even contribute to the truth-seeking process.

That tree is the study of human consciousness. There’s all kinds of quasi-scientific fluff and Ken Wilbur babbling going around about the mystery of human consciousness. One needs to move past that stuff and get to the hard research. But even the hard scientists are at a loss about what the mind is and how it should be looked at. Some boffins explain that there’s no magic to it; our concepts of self-awareness, “me-ness” and individual experience (aka “qualia”) are all illusions, complex side effects of inherently physical processes (which act, of course, according to Darwinian paradigms).

However, others call these things a “hard problem”, as they aren’t definitively explained by evolution and functionality as the hand or the eye are. Some scientists go so far as to posit “some other reality state” that consciousness somehow interacts with, a state that represents a new frontier for our science. Others say no, we know enough right now to explain consciousness, we just need to arrange the building blocks correctly; sooner or later, someone will do that. The “just an illusion” people say that we can answer the problem right now, by realizing that there is no problem (or having faith that there’s no problem; their writings sound oddly like religious texts). For them, it all depends on how we look at consciousness, so if we ignore it, the problem goes away. Yes, but if so, then why do I still think there’s a “me”, with a past and at least somewhat of a future?

It’s eminently possible that science will soon find a perfectly mundane way of explaining human consciousness. The recent scientific interest in complex system interactions and their side-effects may well be the avenue of approach.

But then again, there’s also a shot that further study will encounter greater mystery and eventually arrive at a boundary where science can go no further. The existence of such a place, and an admission by science that all physical phenomenon are not in fact treatable by its methods, might well be an edification to the faithful (although, interestingly enough, quantum physics have already arrived at such a place – but most religious types can’t seem to envision God lurking within the extremely tiny boundaries of the quantum world, and thus ignore this fact).

But if that “boundary of mystery” were ever to be reached, it would have to be reached by true and open scientific method, not by pre-judged, quasi-scientific rumination. I would suggest that the Creationists leave behind their “young earth” postulations and “date of the flood” calculations, and take on the risk of supporting an extensive and unbiased exploration of the human mind. In the struggle between the ideas and ideals of God and science, consciousness is the final frontier. If the Creationists have any real integrity and reverence for the truth, whatever that should turn out to be, then that’s the vineyard where they should be toiling right now. Take the risk!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:39 am       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Friday, July 8, 2005
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I was in my car on the way to work yesterday and turned the radio on, hoping to hear Morning Edition on NPR. Instead I heard people with British accents talking about calamity and bloodshed. Uh oh, sounded like another black day. And indeed it was. If MI5 and Scotland Yard couldn’t see it coming, what hope does our Department of Homeland Security have?

I think that the biggest problem here in the U.S. is that we don’t really know just what the terrorists want. The press and the media say a whole lot about terrorism, but seldom if ever get to the point. Maybe that’s because the terrorists themselves seldom get to the point with us. And perhaps that’s intended.

To be honest, I don’t think that al Qaeda envisions an Islamic revolution in America anytime soon. For now, I think they’re working on the overthrow of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, the other Gulf states, and maybe even Turkey. In order to rally the masses there, they need some big TV coverage. And how to better get such coverage than to cause a major calamity in a western city.

I’m sure that al Qadea would love to scare us away from our commitment to Israel. But that would be icing on the cake. What they need is TV coverage to rally the poor and downtrodden on the Arab street, inspiring them to rise up against secularist and/or pro-American regimes in the Middle East and replace them with puppets who are rightly guided by radical mullahs and imams. They would then push Israel in to the sea, sweep across Africa, pour into the Philippines, and renew the dreams of the 10th century by re-taking Spain, Greece, and eventually even the European heartlands. The poor squatters of Bangladesh and Algeria would finally have access to the wealth and power of the west, and get full benefit from their own resources (e.g., oil).

Just who would benefit from this dream? Just who is it being sold to? In a nutshell, it’s being played to the poor and downtrodden in the Moslem “crescent”. The leaders and activists in al Qaeda (even the suicide bombers) are often intelligent, college-trained people. But the Islamist vision that they are trying to sell is marketed toward the poor. Educated rogues like Bin Laden cannot pull off a revolution themselves. They need the masses to do that for them. So they twist the basic myths of Islam and the strident words of the Quran into a story for today, a story of the masses rising up against the powerful Americans and Israelis who are keeping them locked in poverty. Once the infidels are defeated, Allah will surely reward the Umma with a rich and just kingdom.

I myself don’t believe that the Quran necessarily calls for a return of the 8th and 9th centuries when Islam burst out of Arabia brandishing a sword, ready and willing to conquer the world. Most Moslems today interpret those stories of conquest in terms of personal and spiritual battle; they no more heed the Quran’s call to war against the infidel than most Christians and Jews take literally the stories of vanquishing the Philistines in pursuit of the Holy Land.

Unfortunately, the Quran and Moslem history are fairly easily transmuted into an unfinished story that appeals to the have-nots in modern northern Africa, the Levant and southern Asia. The poor and rural voters in Iran recently elected a fundamentalist president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) despite much opposition to him (and much sentiment for engagement with the west) from educated young people living in the cities. This seems like good evidence of what is going on in the minds of the Islamic underclass, how they are vulnerable to the promise of economic and social salvation through an unfortunate reconstruction of ancient myths. This is what al Qaeda is all about (along with Hamas and Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad).

I’m not at all sure how we here in the USA could help to untangle these specious reinterpretations of fundamental Islamic beliefs occurring in sandy, far-away lands. But a good first step would be for us to come to understand them ourselves; unfortunately, our leaders and our press aren’t able to give us pithy explanations of just what the terrorists (and those who might listen to them) are thinking. Anyone in the USA who might someday face the blinding flash, deafening shock wave and choking black smoke of terrorism needs to gain that understanding on their own. For now, I have one small suggestion: the Mid East Web website. It has a lot of good info, including an incisive history of Islam, Arabia, Israel, and other hot issues. At least this site attempts to walk a line between liberal over-politeness toward Islam, on the one hand, and conservative images of Islam being a crude, war-like race that needs to be treated like the Huns, on the other.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:27 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Sunday, July 3, 2005
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Buddhism by the Numbers: For a religion that’s supposed to be all about nothing, Buddhism is pretty complex. I was thumbing through the Harper-Collins Dictionary of Religion and Religious Traditions of the World by H. Byron Earhart, and I came across the following numerical tenants:

  • 3 Jewels
  • 4 Noble Truths
  • 5 Precepts of Morality
  • 8 Fold Path
  • 10 Precepts for the Sangha
  • 12 Elements of the Cycle of Samsara

Goodness, this is almost as complex as Jewish Kabbalah! The Christian Trinity seems pretty simple by comparison.

Complexity aside, the problem with all of the major religions is that they were formed at a time in human history when people thought about the world quite differently. Judiasm, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam all stem from a time when the forces of nature weren’t very well understood. It was easy to assume the presence of a conscious meta-force (or several competing meta-forces) deciding the course of the sun and moon and winds and rains. Moses and the Buddha and Jesus and Mohammed (and Joseph Smith and the Mormons, for that matter) could never imagine that the Universe runs on auto-pilot through gravity and electromagnetism and quantum forces.

In the age of science, the only reason for religion is to ask a question and give an answer. The question is whether there is a God. Religion should be about asking that question, but not about answering it. In modern times, there is no answer; it is nothing more or less than a Zen koan. The “answer” that I refer to is for a different question – i.e., how do we live our lives. And the answer to that question is The Golden Rule; Golden Rule all the way, even unto self-sacrifice. The old religions should either reform themselves around this question and this answer, or they should die off to make way for new religions strictly centered around them. Too bad that’s not happening. Until then, we’ll keep playing numbers games. And until then, I’ll have nowhere to go on Sunday mornings.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:41 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
Friday, July 1, 2005
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The people of America are having a lot of second thoughts about the war in Iraq these days. We’re long past the issue of finding weapons of mass destruction (remember that one?). The question today is whether the Iraqis are gonna dance to the tune of constitutional democracy and demonstrate to the Islamic world that a government modeled on the values and experiences of the West can work there.

The success of the election in January shows that the Iraqis are definitely interested in such a state. After what they went thru under Saddam Hussein, they’ve got to be open to most anything. But I really wonder if they have the passion for it. They’re up against a regressive faction from Iraq’s bad old days, which has teamed up with foreign fighters carrying out a violent dream of religious jihad. In order to overcome both this insurgency and the fractured ethnic and regional tensions existing within Iraq, the pro-democracy groups are going to have to show some passion. But thus far, I haven’t heard or read of any signs of democratic passion amidst the Iraqis. The Kurds want to be left alone with their oil up in the northern mountains, and the Shiites in the south (near Basra) are now talking about forming their own autonomous zone (which would also have a lot of oil resources within it). Iraq is starting to sound like the Middle-Eastern version of Yugoslavia, a conglomeration of tribes that was only stable when a powerful dictator ruled it. Just as Yugoslavia split up into three or four warring countries after Marshall Tito died, I can’t help but wonder if Iraq is one of those nations that just wasn’t meant to be.

The recent Presidential election in Iran, which was won by a landslide by a fundamentalist hard-liner (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), shows the strength of support for anti-western Islamic fundamentalism outside of the cities. A lot of people in the deserts, pastures and poor mountain villages in Persia must believe that the only way to improve their lot is through strict theocratic rule by the mullahs and their lackeys (which Mr. Ahmadinejad is alleged to be). It’s hard for Americans to understand and accept this, just as it was hard in 1968 for U.S. authorities to understand why so many poor Vietnamese in the flooded deltas and mountain passes preferred a nationalistic movement based on regimented socialism over free markets and rule-of-law democracy.

Is Iraq so much different? Is it cosmopolitan enough to believe in and fight for constitutional freedoms, to put aside its regional, ethnic and religious differences and come together as a nation? To be honest, I just don’t see it. I apologize for any possible Terry Schiavo reference, but the situation in Iraq today seems somewhat like a body on artificial support, without a brain willing and able to keep itself alive. I hope that Mr. Bush and the U.S. armed forces, which are struggling so valiantly and professionally in Iraq, will prove me wrong. And although I didn’t necessarily support pulling the plug on Ms. Schiavo, I think that at some point the people of America need to pull the plug on our “Iraqi respirator”. But right now, I think we should give the Iraqis a bit more time to make up their minds; even though that clearly means the death of a couple hundred more American soldiers and marines.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:25 pm       No Comments Yet / Leave a Comment
 
 
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