it’s bigger, stranger world, baby
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according to general news reports, today is 911 iraq parity day.
by my own post, the military death toll has to get to 2976; seems the current consensus number is 2974 and the current death toll in iraq is 2975, so maybe tomorrow, maybe today.
how’d you do?
pull up a cushion, and gather ’round with your cups of delightful hot chocolate, for i have a christmas story to share…
once upon a time, years and years ago, santa was having a very, very bad time preparing for his christmas run.
the worker elves were on strike, the reindeer had the runs and were leaving messes on everything, mrs. claus was pmsing (a week early, no less), toy production was backed up weeks behind schedule, rudolph had a really bad cold and his nose didn’t work – and on, and on, and on.
in short, just about everything that could go wrong pretty much was going wrong.
up in heaven, the angels looked down at the north pole and saw that santa was having a really, really bad time. fearing that christmas might get cancelled, they got together and tried to think of something they could do to fix things. a committee was formed which recommended the creation of a task force, which authorized a report, which mandated a delegation, which formed a council which appointed the littlest angel to go down to earth and visit the north pole to cheer santa up.
on the way to the north pole, the littlest angel came upon a perfect little fir tree, and the littlest angel thought that would be the perfect gift to cheer santa up. so the littlest angel cut down the tree and went on to santas house. when the littlest angel got to santa’s house, she gently knocked on the door.
but there was no answer.
santa, of course, was in the bathroom doing some bathroom business and didn’t hear the littlest angel knocking.
so the littlest angel knocked again, a little harder.
this time, santa heard the knocking, but ignored it.
so the littlest angel knocked again, a little harder.
santa finally realized that they weren’t just going to go away, so he pulled up his pants and came storming down the stairs, threw open the door, and shouted “what do you want!?”
the littlest angel, completely unphased, said “hello, santa. i came from heaven and we noticed you were having a bad year, so i brought you this christmas tree to cheer you up. where would you like it?”
and that is how the tradition of the angel tree-topper was started.
enjoy your hot chocolate.
[this story has been told, and retold, but no idea where it originally came from... bless the first comic]
this week marked the official release of the report of the bipartisan iraq study group (not to be confused with the 2am tuesdays campus library study group). this document outlines recommendations on how to escape from the disaster that iraq has become under united states occupation. while i haven’t had a chance to eat this week, much less read a report, i figured this was as good a time as any to bang out the rojisan generational global anti-terror strategy.
i am fond of simplicity, and this is a pretty simple plan.
it’s based heavily on technology, science and engineering, which are things america needs to re-prioritize for our own good anyway. it puts america first (because i’m an american, and we’re just arrogant like that). it starts with the founding documents of the democratic republic of the united states of america, and in a couple generations should solve the world terror threat, at least to the extent that is practically possible.
it’s also a plan that makes america a leader (which is something else we need to figure out how to do again), but really requires the coordinated resources of the entire developed world to get done right. fortunately, i don’t think anything in this plan is too controversial to
oh, and it should have been implemented right around September 15, 2001 when the whole world was ready to do anything we asked, or perhaps sometime between the war in afghanistan and the war in iraq. unfortunately, you can’t always get what you want.
the first principle comes from the declaration of independence (united states edition, july, 1776), which asserts:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
all men (and in this case we’ll come right out and say that women, those of the human species of indeterminate or intermediate gender, and most especially children count as men) have an unalienable right to life.
let’s look at the requirements for life. the human species requires several things to live. 1) air, 2) water, 3) food. after that.. it gets a little foggy, but every human needs those things, in that order. you can live for a few minutes without air, a few days without water, a few weeks without food (roughly speaking – i’m sure the medical doctors out there will chime in with some specifics eventually).
where life is valued, terror has no purchase.
i’m not suggesting that america should (or even could) become the world’s keeper, what i’m suggesting is that we show the world that on at least three fundamental levels (air, water and food), we demonstrate that we have everyone’s lives in mind. i’m suggesting that the next time a most of an innocent family is killed when an american bomb falls into the wrong house, that we give the people that gather to mourn those dead people the opportunity to say “this is tragic” and not “those bastard americans don’t care about us! i will kill them myself!”
i think that will do more to eliminate the terror threat around the world than all the bombs and all the bullets we can make.
so the strategy to beat terror? give life.
told you it was simple.
but of course, it’s not really that simple.
what we do is demonstrate, in deeds, not proclamations from the oval office or capitol hill, that the united states of america values human life – all human life. we make life so valuable that there is no question in the minds of people all over the world, compelled by mere observation of our deeds, that the united states values their, individual, life. so much so, in fact, that the united states offers the hope of liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness, no matter the circumstances in which that individual may be found. the united states of america stands by its founding declaration.
ok, you say, so how do we do that? what can you do to demonstrate that you value life? you can make it easier to sustain on this busy, crowded, rock.
1) fix our air
2) fix our water and everyone’s air.
3) fix our food and everyone’s water.
4) fix everyone’s food.
5) to be determined.
these steps overlap a lot (it’s not really a linear strategy, but more of a forked strategy…). we figure out the answers, and then move them out into the world, one fundamental problem at a time.
on to the discussion:
the united states commits to protecting its own air. i’m not just talking about running-around crazy global warming insanity, i’m talking about rational, real, leadership action. fortunately, we’ve already started. you can look to our history in preserving the ozone layer by restricting some chemical production or eliminating leaded gasoline as examples. the goal here is to make air available to everyone. clean, functional, 21% oxygen, toxin-free air. america first – we clean up ours. we’re probably not doing too bad here in america, but i’m sure there’s room for improvement. i’m sure there are some exotic chemistries floating around in the atmosphere that do bad things to human life, so we get out in front of that stuff and figure out how to reduce or eliminate it.
bonus – we’ve already started, we just have to make it a well-known priority.
the tricky part about cleaning up american air is that it tends to move around the planet a bit, so what we really have to do is clean up all the air. and that’s ok. we develop the technologies that make it possible, and make those technologies available, reasonably, to developing nations so they can avoid making the same soot-filled mistakes we made here. this is also the phase where we can start talking about global atmospheric stability, greenhouse effects, volcanic dust, whatever. anything that screws with people’s air is on the table.
bonus here too – we’ve already started.
the tricky part is that most of the rest of the developed world is ahead of us on this one, and i think we need to assert a leadership position on this. that much we haven’t started, from here out, it’s pretty much new turf.
at the same time, we start working on american (remember, america first! ) water. we make sure that the poorest, most remote americans have access to safe, clean water. we figure out how to deal with arsenic-tainted wells, address manmade chemical contamination (mtbe comes to mind), distribution problems, and economic problems with our own water. we make sure that every american can get the water they need to.. (wait for it…) live.
i’m sure you’re picking up on the pattern by now…
once we’ve got a good start on the american water problem, we make that technology, science and engineering available to everyone else in the world, because everyone else in the world needs water too. and yes, i’m suggesting we actually give this away – send americans out into the world to solve the world’s water problems, period. a water corps, if you will.
wherever there’s a village where the children walk 3 hours each way to fill jugs of water so they can drink, we find a way to make water available in the village (deep well, pipeline, transportation infrastructure, desalination plant, water-treatment plant, filters, whatever.) we don’t have to be in-your-face about it, but it wouldn’t hurt to have an american flag stamped into the pipes or something. we just make clean water available where it’s needed.
simultaneously, of course, we start working on the american food problem. in america, we don’t have a lack-of-food problem so much as an access-to-food problem, so we get out in front of this and make sure that babies in america can get… baby food. we make sure that students in american schools can get decent meals for breakfast and lunch (at least). we make sure that the food we produce makes it to people that need it. we make sure that food is safe (lots of e. coli in the news lately…) and not wasted.
finally, in phase four, we solve the world food problem. big planet – big task. lessons learned from air and water, plus our own experience feeding americans are sent out into the world where they save lives. cheap refrigeration, simple food preservation, packaging solutions, better or cheaper farming practices, agricultural water management – whatever we’ve learned that feeds the world.
somewhere along the way, we need to decide what comes next – it could be healthcare (vaccines are a good place to start), education, communication, a global disaster response system or something else entirely. i’m but a single, simple person, and i don’t know what comes next. something should. just stick with the principles – value human life in deeds, not words.
this is crazy. shouldn’t charities and generous individuals handle all this touchy-feely canned-food-drive crap?
no, actually, i think not. at this point, on this planet, these are not just touchy-feely issues. this stuff is the stuff that breeds resentment, dispair, hopelessness, anger, and ultimately, terror. today, this is about security. when a small group of men working out of a mountain village in south asia can bring terror to any city on the planet, someone has to work to bring air, water, food and a message that values life to every village first.
people with clean air, clean water and enough food to get through the day have better options. they can pursue an education, travel to a distant village or a country all the way around the world, or do something else that expands their options. while they might not like some other stuff america does (and undoubtedly will continue to do) to them and around them, it’s a rare parent that will raise a child to hate america if america made sure that child had clean air, clean water and enough food.
and that’s the rub. it takes time. that’s why it’s a generational global anti-terror strategy.
once an individual has picked the path of the terrorist, it’s nearly impossible to change their minds. at any point up until that moment, it might take nothing more than a nice, cool glass of water and some sticky rice to make someone into a friend. that sounds like a rational investment to me.
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