Thursday, March 18, 2004

I woke up with a start in the middle of the night: "Nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo, nam myoho renge kyo -- Purify my six sense organs!"

Yes. That's it.

Purify my eyes, in order to see clearly and have the courage to see what is there.

Purify my ears, in order to listen carefully and have the courage to hear what is being said.

Purify my nose, my sense of smell, in order to "smell the rat" in the cheese factory, or "find the pony" in the stable full of manure, and have the courage to face the reality of both.

Purify my sense of taste, in order to distinguish between sweet and sour, salt and sharp, in order to be able to distinguish the "poison pill" masked by a favored flavor.

Purify my sense of touch, in order to have the courage to retain it in the face of pain, or discomfort, or accustomation, in order to be in a position to take appropriate action.

And finally purify my mind in order to avoid being fooled by the wrong interpretation of the sensory data provided by those five physical sense organs (for instance, "Don't believe your lying eyes", Hehehe!).

So, here I am back to the War on Turr.

In Spain, we are saying Al Qaeda won the elections. Let's take a look at a few facts and try to pick a courageous course through the rubble.

The first reaction of Aznar's government, his spin, was "It's ETA". Even though ETA, whose usual method of bombing was: 1. To give advance warning; 2. To minimize civilian casualties; and 3. Always to claim responsibility.

Now ETA has been in the business of terror bombing in Spain (and southwest France) for more than thirty years. The Spanish population (and the French in Basque country) have been living with this fact for thirty years.

I myself, as a tourist in, let's see, 1977, remember most clearly the strange feeling of muffled anxiety involved in driving a rental car through Basque country and enjoying the incredible beauty of sleepy little San Sebastian, walking along its seaside promenade with thousands of Spanish residents, of an evening, before and after dinner, people-watching and leisurely and peaceful, with the knowledge in the back of my mind that "they" were there, right beside me.

The War on Turr has been a local fact of life in Spain (and southwest France) with respect to ETA for over thirty years, I repeat myself.

When Aznar joined Bush's Coalition of the Willing, the Spaniards who did not want to go to war (they had some of the largest turnouts in Europe for anti-war demonstrations, pre-March 2003 invasion of Iraq), were suddenly caught in having to extend their terror-consciousness to a country most of them probably had very little interest in, either personally or as a nation. Suddenly, they were in duty bound to hand over their sons and daughters, and their forfeit tax pennies away from health care, education, social services, etc., to join another Bush incursion in the Middle East.

One might understand their increased reluctance in participating, if one were to stop and think for a moment on the high proportion of Spanish sons an daughters who returned from the first such Bush expedition with what is called by everyone who has been touched by it "Gulf War Syndrome". If you look at it this way, you might be tempted to believe that was also an important factor in the reluctance of other countries to join said new Coalition of the Willing. Particularly in light of the fact the sacrifice of these young people's health was in large part made in vain, as Old Man Bush walked out of Iraq prematurely, allowing Saddam to crack down ruthlessly on all those people who had been encouraged to overthrow him, and who were ready to die in the attempt, taking advantage of the presence of foreign troops, never thinking they would so effectively let them down by abandoning them to certain repression and the murder of thousands by a triumphant Saddam.

Peoples all over the world are still questioning whether an invasion of Iraq was timely and well-founded. The debate goes on and on, < strong>ad nauseam, whether Saddam had any WMDs at all, or whether they were just a wet dream of his.

Meanwhile, in dribs and drabs, dozens of people are dying in Iraq every day, and proportionate numbers are being maimed or psychologically imbalanced. Those figures are not being revealed, and you can bet it is not because they are insignificant, but because if the truth were revealed, we would all of us become absolutely disgusted and we would react.

This is a silent terror and the fact we choose to ignore it doesn't mean it's going away. In my opinion, it's only a matter of time before some Madeleine Albright, finally admitting to the numbers of real casualties and being asked whether it was worth it, will blandly yet emphatically state: "We think it was worth it".

Going back to Madrid, the Spanish came out and said "Basta Ya!", "Enough Already!"

They were saying it to ETA, to their local terrorists.

They were saying it to Aznar, whom they perceived as having participated in a lie which involved them in spreading violence into another sovereign country.

They were saying it to all terrorists, local or international; they were saying it to all lies, all liars, all manipulators, all spin doctors.

They were saying in effect that they understood that if you attempt to control violence by bigger, more impressive violence, you are just merely escalating violence, you are stepping out of the world of Humanity into the world of Animality, distinguished by the double-edged dichotomy, where you kow-tow to those more powerful than you and where you dominate ruthlesssly those less powerful than you.

The French have a quaint saying in this respect. They will advise you, of a devious partner or an unreliable interlocutor: "Watch your back, he might get you pregnant from behind". And if you watch the monkeys at the zoo, you will know exactly what that means, as you may notice all the females and all the young adult males presenting their rumps in submission to the alpha male.

The Spanish actually said on Sunday: "We are not bending over any more. We want to remain human and assert our Humanity."

Look again a little closer at Spain.

It's not ETA wot did it, any more. It's Al Qaeda associates. Three Morroccans, who were already indicted/suspected/investigated/under constant surveillance/etc. for having been linked with the recent bombings in Morrocco, and two Indian nationals, have been identified as the primary suspects of the Madrid bombings.

Now, my question is, if these guys were in any way connected with the Casablancva bombings and were "under constant surveillance" in a country alerted to frequent and regular terrorist attacks for more than thirty years, How in Heavens' name were such individuals able to execute such a sophisticated series of bombings with impunity?

What is wrong with this picture? Is it a rat or a pony?


I was watching a program a little while back about genetic engineering. They don't call it "eugenics" these days, because unfortunately Hitler gave that a bad name.
Of course, that's what it is. You seek out the undesirable gene, and you splice in the desirable gene. Neat and simple. You are just improving the stock. (This is a really good time to ask Cui Bono". . . again and forever).

Anyway, the top American scientist being interviewed was sitting behind a small table, on which one of his genetically altered mice was free to roam -- all the way to the edge of the table, no further, natch.

This special mouse had been genetically created to provide a mouse whose eyes could not blink. The interviewer asked: "What for?" The scientist answered: "Because some human children are born this way, with eyes that cannot blink." The interviewer asked: "But surely, that is irrelevant, mice are not human beings." The scientist answered: "No, they are not. However, you should remember that the genetic code of a mouse is 99% the same as the genetic code of a human being."

Aaah! "Velly intellesting!"

I know mice are not rats. But rats are intelligent beings too, and in fact there is a problem with all forms of rat poisons and rat extermination, which is that the rats are quick learners and share information among themselves, so that when rats become aware of the connection between a food source and a poison, based on circumstantial evidence, they all avoid it in the future.

There is another fact about rats that bears relevance to the point I am making, and that is that rats learn from experience. They don't tend to flog a dead horse, as we do.

For instance, if you create a maze for rats, and place a piece of cheese in one of the corridors, the rats will find it eventually and enjoy the cheese. You could put a piece of cheese in that same spot every day for a week, and on the second day, the rat won't explore the maze at all, he will go straight to the place where he expects to find the cheese.

If, on the eighth day, you fail to put cheese in the cheese spot, the rat will not go back there: it will not go down that cheeseless corridor in vain.

Only a human being is capable of going back, again and again, to that cheeseless spot, surprise, surprise, "Where is my cheese?", or, plaintively, "Why isn't my cheese there today?" or, tearfully, "Who took my cheese?"

* * * * *

Today is a very low-tech day in my house. It's cold outside, the snow hasn't melted yet, there is no heat inside, and there is no hot water either. Oh, a woolly sweater is a sweet thing!

I have received my Aquasana water filters from Texas. They leak. The adapters do not fit my standard fittings. I am unable to flush the thinggy singlehandedly, I need to use both hands, which means I can't flush it into an upside-down glass. I could not twist the replacement caps to check (as the instruction booklet said I should) whether the correct filters had been set in the appropriate casings, and the white plastic tool "included" to depress the grey valve collars was not included. Aaah!

I am sorting fabrics to design a quilt, and human faces of all sorts are peering at me from the random folds of the many piles teetering all over the place, on the bed, the table, the chair, the floor, the ironing board. I feel surrounded by a world of possibilities.

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