Saturday, February 28, 2004

Haven't you heard the news? The terrorists have just declared victory.

Their leader just came on national TV (the definitive forum) and declared that they have won. It was yet another of those previously taped audio-only statements, in which the terrorist in question points out that their objective was to scare the American people out of their wits. And that they have succeeded.

Admittedly, first after their attack on New York and Washington, it seemed to have the opposite effect. The nation was deeply saddened, but at the same time united, and determined not to succumb to the demands of the terrorists that it change its society and live their life in fear.

And the whole World joined with America. In solidarity. In the week after the attack, I wandered into Sacré Coeur, in Paris. Outside, the sun was blazing, so it took my eyes a while to get used to the darknes in there. Then, I realized that the church was completely full. Of people. Praying. I mean laying on their knees. Crying. Quietly pleading with their God. This was on a weekday afternoon. What was the occasion? I peered at a sign by the door. It said, roughly: "Come and pray with us for the victims in Washington and New York and their families."

Back to the chief terrorist. He said that although it looked like their plan had backfired, things soon started to go their way. You see, Americans may have wowed not to cave in. But instead of healing, quietly fixing the security flaws that made the attacks so easy, and getting on with life in the 'Greatest Country', this nation went the completely opposite way.

Mass hysteria, racism, censorship, siege mentality, eradication of personal privacy, and latent fear in every-day life. These are among the most prominent fruits of the terrorists labor. And they couldn't have been happier about it.

But the leaders of this country went one step further in their unwitting efforts to help the terrorists reach their goal of breaking the free spirit of Americans: They decided to invade another country. To wage a full-scale war against a nation that had shown no aggression against the USA. What. So. Ever. Of course, that is not what they said they were doing. No. They maintained, in a surreal, cartoonish manner, that they were attacking this country, of 23 million people, in order to get one man. And his two sons. They even offered to call off the war if he went away quietly. Presumably with the sons. This gargantuan fiasco did not only claim the lives of thousands of people - none of them the main target of the war, although the two sons were killed - but it flushed down the toilet the credibility of the Americans as 'the good guys' and the solidarity of the rest of the World with their cause.

So here we have this 250 million strong nation. An elephant. Scared of a deranged pack of mice. Acting as if it is actually at a full-scale war with these sick pools of madmen. As if what happened was not a single, despicable act of bringing down specific buildings in two cities and killing the thousands of innocent people working there. No, the level of trauma that this nation sustains, has maintained and cultivated, suggests that the whole country is under fire. That thousands of bombs are raining down on its cities. No wait, that is in a different country. What would the mentality be like if this country was really under fire? What if here, like in many countries today, thousands of people were being killed in a real war? Not just once, but every month? Or every week? Is this overwhelming angst of hundreds of millions of people really appropriate response to the acts of terrorism that have been committed in this country? Or is it, like the lead terrorist maintains, just a sign that they have won? That we have, in reality, lost?

Just to top it off, the administration plunged the country into its biggest-ever fiscal deficit and cemented into the nation's consciouness the notion that it should be afraid, and stay afraid. It should pour money into weapons and armies. It should be on 'constant alert' against the danger of 'evildoers'. In fact, everything is in 'danger' nowadays. The Leader of the Free World spoke of 'dangers' eleven times in this one speech he gave the other day. Eleven times.

Even the 'sanctity of marriage' is in danger. And has to be 'defended'. From what? From people that want to get married, of course. "What?", you say. Well, it is obvious, really. Marriage is popular. Has been going on for a long time. It has actually become so popular, that the wrong sort of people now wants to marry as well. I mean, we can't let just anybody get married, can we? Of course not. Just because two people who love each other and want to stay together for the rest of their lives would like to get married, doesn't mean that 'we' should 'let them'. Not if they are not the right sort of people. We may not be systematically killing them for being different, or even putting them in jail for that anymore, but they sure as hell shouldn't be treated the same as the rest of us. They are the danger, too. Will probably be branded terrorists, before long.

And we should be concerned. No. Even better, we should be afraid. And have someone defend us from the danger. So that we can feel 'safe'.

As if.

I bet the bastard was smiling when he made that tape.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Yes indeedee.

It was a very bad idea.

Just woke up. Now I have a hangover. And didn't even get to become drunk to begin with. And will probably never manage to fall asleep tonight.

The second all-nighter I pull this week.

Probably not a good idea.

Feeling kind of small just about now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I go to this old gym now. Much better than that sterile, new-fangled place where I used to work out. Not the same stench of chlorine. This place somehow has an air of human frailty about it. Which is comforting, in a way. It feels real.

Tonight, as I came back to the locker room after working out, I heard singing. This really off-key, but somehow soothing, singing. Part lullaby, part karaoke-style. It was a man, obviously, but he was singing to somebody. I held my breath, as not to interrupt. The singing went on. Lazily. Wearily. Haunting, somehow.

I edged closer to where it was coming from. I just had to know. Who was this man singing to? I came to the corner of a row of lockers, and just as I was about to turn it, the singing was interrupted by a hushed "Dad!" I turned the corner, and in front of me stood one of those overweight, fairly tall, tattooed guy. In the flesh. One of those types you would expect to have a fat Harley standing outside, waiting for them.

Despite all the characteristic, stereo-typical, mean-looking aspects of this human, I caught a glimpse of the most tender look on his face you could imagine, just as he turned to me. He had been looking at his son, who had been sitting sleepily on a bench by their locker. His son was about eight or nine years old. This was who he had been singing for. The kid had this look on his face of embarrassment, and I knew I had interrupted. I could also see exactly what the kid was thinking. He was ashamed of his father's vulnerable side being exposed. To a stranger.

The heavy fellow's face quickly dimmed as he saw me. Then came the curt nick of the head. The kid looked away. I turned and went back to my side of the row of lockers. We were the only ones there. I undressed, and they dressed, in silence. When I came back from showering, they were gone.

Strange beasts, we men.
Just got my computer back.

Amazing, how quickly it got fixed. The DVD drive in it died on me. It is still under its 3-year warranty. So, on Monday (yes, the day before yesterday) I sent it via Airborne Express (now DHL, I guess) to Texas. There, it got examined, a new drive was installed and tested, then the thing was shipped back and delivered to me this morning. Less than 48 hours later!


And the DVD works. Which is kind of nice.

Monday, February 23, 2004

I am a bit elated.

Just a teenzy-weenzy bit. And that on a Monday. Before lunch!

Not that I am drunk. Per se... Not in the strictest meaning of the word.

Aw, all right. I'll get to the point: I'm wasted! On sleep deprivation, though, not alcohol. 'High on life' indeed. Heh-heh.

I had planned to pack quite a lot into this weekend. The last, and possibly most important chore, was to do an assignment for my CS class. Nothing over-the-top. Just some algorithms. In C++. Which I had hardly gotten around to begin to do work on by dinnertime last night.

"And noooow you knoooow, the rest of the storyyyy."

So here I am. Whacked. While everybody else is at work. Alone. Silly as a willy. Haven't slept since Saturday night, but too strung up to go to bed.

On the other hand, maybe not...