Thursday, October 02, 2003

Talking of Cricket...

"Nobody was..."
"Well, perhaps not. But I wonder whether you ever heard the story of the duck who was out in a thunderstorm?"
"You mean the one about the goose who was out for a duck?"

Er, well, where was I? I woke up this morning in the fog that I live in at 4 a.m., to hear my little portable radio babble on about Japan's ownership of $440 billion U.S. debt. (I should learn to hit the off button before falling asleep.) Apparently that is the amount of U.S. Treasury bills the Japanese government have accumulated to shore up the U.S. Dollar. They now are concerned about this, because it appears the Yen is looking at a re-evaluation of more than 15%, which would bollox up the U.S. Dollar and possibly shake up the present equilibrium of world economics.

Well, welcome to the hard world of deficits and balances. I may have the political acumen of a moose, but when it comes to finance, I can't even come up with an appropriate description of my ineptitude.

I belong to the "nouveau pauvre", the retired, non-productive, underfunded section of the population. The last week of most my months is bulwarked by rice and beans.

My youth was not much better, to be honest. I was not taught to budget, only how to do without, which is not the same thing, believe me. My rollercoaster finances have been familiar to me all of my life, yet I have never felt really poor, so I suppose there is something to the sense of comfort brought by familiarity.

I have been looking at the dynamics of what is going on in the world today, in terms of the cost of everything in light of international credits: the oil, the military spending, the development of social benefits, health, infrastructure, and so on. The share all of us have in what is going on everywhere, the intermingling of destinies that translate for the most part in huge horror stories, without hope of change or reform of any kind.

Military equipment = a huge part of a vibrant economy. You buy up a lot of raw materials, somewhere (usually from a dirt poor country that has a very rich subsoil) and bring it home, where you transform it into guns, and bombs, and tanks, and fighter planes, and transport equipment for the same. You tie up a good proportion of your creative, imaginative, educated youth in R&D for more sophisticated devices and weapons; then you sell off last year's models to the smaller players, secure in the knowledge they will never become a real threat to you because you are the only ones who have this year's models which will out-gun, out-bomb, out-tank, out-fighter plane, out-transport, anyone and everyone on the face of the earth. This also insures your stockpiles of all of the above don't have to rot and rust on your land, thus clearing the way for the new products coming offline every productive day. Etcetera.

Once your economy's health is based on a military industrial complex, however, you have no incentive to change anything, but every logical reason to keep things going by going to war. If there is no conflict, ready to hand, you need to create one. It is not so difficult really, you merely provoke to anger, to envy, to hatred, to revenge, etcetera. You don't even have to provoke or otherwise maneuver someone else to threaten or attack you, you don't even have to respect the high moral ground, all you need to do is convince your masses to charge on, following their leaders: to follow the flag, save democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity, sorority, paternity, maternity, solidarity, humanity, nay, even stupidity. It doesn't have to include any form of reality, it only has to be couched in words of sincerity, mock or real doesn't even matter, as long as the delivery of the words, "them fighting words", is made by a talented actor, in easily memorized catchy slogans appropriately short and pithy for our diminishing attention span. If you have a taste for fairy tales, fond memories of childhood and the Truth Fairy, you can even go Hollywood and devise an elaborate plot to demonize some fetichistic enemy to rally the babble of the reluctant or the doubtful.

The bigger the field of endeavor, the larger the number of participants, the more difficult it becomes to stop the process or redirect the goal.

If you have a standing army of two million men and women, and you "go to peace" and no longer have need of them for "going to war", what will they do when you send them home? After all, there is only so much peacetime economy to go around, it cannot be sustained.

How will you ever get them to go back and stay on the farm after all those good times, the times of their life, the time of their healthy, energetic, idealistic youth, in exotic, foreign places, where they experienced the lure of diversity and the glamour of mysterious foreign cultures?

If the whole apparatus is paid for by borrowed monies, are you not living in effect on borrowed time as well, because it is the future generations who will finally settle the bill?

The present, for its part, is laid to waste. The youth of the nation is killing and being killed. The children are neglected, so this present is in effect a very real theft of the future, because it carries a built-in guarantee that the debt will actually be brought forward forever.

Not to mention the huge numbers from the military who will come home maimed, sick, psychologically damaged, physically depleted, or who will develop some kind of mysterious ailment that will bring them to an untimely death after their discharge.

Well, yesterday I was cruising the net for some time. Food for thought.

The weather patterns

"The European death toll [due to this summer's heat wave] is probably the equivalent to five or more World Trade Centers: at least 20,000 victims and probably more. Official estimates are at least 11,400 in France; more than 4,000 in Italy; 1,400 in The Netherlands; 1,300 in Portugal; and some 900 in the U.K. The Spanish figure of only 100 is hardly credible and should be the stuff of scandal."
- Mike Davis, Sept. 28,2003 -

Hard Times for Holy Cows:
- From BBC-South Asia -

It is estimated that some 36,000 holy cows are roaming the streets of Delhi. They have become a traffic hazard and are being removed to the suburbs, where they now eat hay, instead of the usual street garbage, which must be an improvement for the cows. (And incidentally also to those consumers who buy milk from the illegal milk farms in Delhi that own and milk some of these "wild" cows.)

"It is estimated that each cow in Delhi has an average [of] about 300 plastic bags in its stomach."

It takes some eight men with ropes and poles to get an angry cow off the street into the back of a truck for removal.

"It is hot and dangerous work."

Children are back in school in Iraq

"You know, an eight year old who has the grand spirit of attending school every day in a semi-demolished building, hearing the sound of tanks and grenades or what have you, every day, every day, every day, famished by one more disappointment, threat, and ubiquitous fear, is a by far more inspiring HERO for me than anyone who as an adult gets paid for what she/he does, as a job/duty. Let's not forget the nameless heros, though they would have never had the opportunity of signing even a one dollar book deal or a funeral for that matter. Let's cultivate some worldly patriotism for all. Let's remember the unknowns.
- Posted by Leila -

Same-sex marriage

"Once the same-sex marriage bill gets passed by the parliament in Canada, gays should start calling themselves something else. Something that doesn't imply being happy. They are in the same marriage boat as the rest of us after all."
- Posted by Hooman on September 17 -

The Middle East Road Map

"I for one would love to pass through the holy land, at least once before I die. However, I will not visit Abraham's tomb as a tourist, if I have to sidestep heavily armed Israelis chasing after shell-shocked Arabs. Not to mention the hidden landmines. I mean, what kind of souvenirs would there be to bring back home? Antiquated objects of Art or out of date but unexploded cluster bombs? Even worse, holy shrapnel lodged deep in my arm."

"Let's drop the firepower and instead use the starpower. If we want to stop Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking the Jewish settlements, I suggest we invite famous Jews to take up abode in the settlements. No matter how angry or hungry Palestinians, he or she could never hurt the director of Jaws, the star of Hello Dolly or the creator of Annie Hall."
- Posted by Auntie Establishment -

The continuation of violence

"Revenge may indeed be a sweet dish. But the pleasure only lasts so long before the reality sinks in. Before it becomes clear that violence only breeds further violence and this circle needs to be stopped somewhere. Lajevardi, a one-time victim of unjust imprisonment and torture, becomes the purveyor of more violence overnight. Where does it all end? If our generation doesn't stop this, our kids will pay the price."
- From an extraordinary post by Eyeranian on September 22 -

Something "Must Watch"

John Pilger's "Breaking the Silence"

Auntie Establishment's animation "Let's Bomb the Whole Thing Up"

There was a lot more, but that's all for now.

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