START

7:00am

My eyes flicker open and as the light streams in I am greeted by my welcome screen. I am aware of my girlfriend sleeping next to me (other users) and I recall the tasks I must perform today (current quests).

7:15am
While I am showering and preparing for the day my brain goes through the highlights of the previous day (cream of the cool) and also any new events to look foward to (everything new nodes). Eventually I will myself to get up and go to work.

8:30am
My job is my quest today - as it is 5 days out of 7, but while I concentrate my main efforts to this task my mind wanders and drifts through the database of my memory. Whether I attempt to recall something in particular (search box) or the memories are conjured up by other thoughts my mind is always active, sifting through the information it has collected up to this point.

Of course this isn't the only activity my brain performs - I am also constantly learning from my own experience and from the experiences of others (noders). Some things that I learn I pass on to them too so that we may learn from each other.

1:00pm
Lunchtime. Free from the systematic work routine for an hour my mind is free to wander off in whichever direction it chooses. It may now delve into the more esoteric regions of my neural network. Some of the stimulus for this thinking may come from humour (the humourous writings of e2), memories (daylogs) or some other external source (Slashdot anyone ?).

The mental links in these areas are often obscure and have little or nothing to do with my last thought (example) but are the very thoughts which are the soul of my personality.

2:00pm
Back to the bump and grind of a regular workday. At this time I am more likely to create original concepts on my own (noding). Once again my current quest (work) is still my main focus.

5:30pm
Work is over for another day and I'm home.It's time to relax. My main activities will be those which require the least thought (Page of cool perhaps) until it's time to shutdown.

10:00pm
Time to switch off.

Dreamlog



Restart

Goto START

On the War

War has begun, and noders may want some early, and indirect, measures of how it is proceeding. The Bush Administration is looking for a quick knockout with very little fighting. They are doing so for two very good reasons. First of all, fighting will kill people. American soldiers will die in combat, and while the administration has spoken of war it has waited until the very day of war to mention that "there might be casualties".

The Administration's silence isn't accidental. Polls show that most Americans support the war, but with UN backing the Administration did not get. A quick, relatively bloodless victory like we enjoyed in 1991 will play well for the Administration. A longer, bloody conflict will likely turn the public against the President.

But what does America consider quick and bloodless? The recent air campaigns have led many Americans to hold unrealistic expectations of low combat losses. I heard one man say he thought 25 American deaths would be a disaster. That number was atypical, but most Americans really don't understand what they're getting into. Many regard 150 or 200 American deaths as disaster! Some consider 4-500 Iraqi deaths a reasonable estimate. Those numbers are achievable when you're invading Grenada. For Iraq such numbers are delusional. To win America will have to occupy one of the world's larger countries and fight its way into that nation's capital. Urban warfare is truly difficult, because clustered buildings provide many excellent ambush sites. American may suffer over a thousand deaths in this fighting, and Iraqi casualties might reach six figures, as they did iin the first Gulf War.

The President never mentioned the potential bad news for good reason. First of all, he probably believes American losses will be low, that most Iraqis won't fight. Second, mentioning such large casualties would have almost certainly eroded public support for the war. It would have given Congressional Democrats plenty of ammo to use against him.

Of lesser importance (to the Administration) is that there will also be Iraqi casualties. Dead Republican Guards are not a problem. Dead Iraqi civilians are, and with al-Jazeera and other TV networks the entire Islamic world will be watching. If the conflict drags on and Iraqi civilian casualties are seen every day the Islamic world will seethe with anger. An explosion is possible, and the most likely casualties are pro-American governments, like those in Jordan and Egypt.

One of the unspoken, but real, reasons for pursuing this war is the hope that an overwhelming victory will discourage Islamic extremists from using violence. The problem with that is that expectations are already so low that if Iraq holds out a month it will be seen as an Iraqi victory by many Arabs. Saddam will be rehabilitated in many eyes, and his murderous nature forgiven for his bravery in the face of "crusader imperialism". That will put even more pressure on pro-Western governments. It will also make it easier to recruit suicide bombers.

With a quick, overwhelming victory of paramount importance you'd think the Bush Administration would have made every effort to secure one. But they have dispatched less than half the ground forces used during Desert Storm.

That's because of the second reason the Bush Administration wants a quick win. Wars cost money. The first Gulf War cost around $100bn, and estimates of $85bn are being tossed around for Gulf War 2. fighting is expensive. And the Administration has made no attempt to prepare the American people for fiscal sacrifice. Fiscal discipline might threaten the new tax cut proposal. The upshot of his libertarian tax policy and neoconservative foreign policy is that the Bush administration seems to have dropped any and all concern with budget deficits, the Democrats have not, and a very large deficit can and will be used against the President, and Republicans in general in 2004.

Moving a force of the size used in 1991 would be very expensive, much more so than the smaller force dispatched today. So the military must do more with less. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has argued that is possible for two reasons. First that Iraq is much weaker than 1991. Second, that the US military is "ten times tougher" than it was during the first Gulf War.

There is no argument that Iraq is weaker. The economic sanctions against Iraq have worked. Despite black market deals and arms smuggling, the Iraqi military has a lot less equipment than in '91 and a lot of what it does have is inoperable due to lack of spare parts. Parts shortages have curtailed many forms of training. Iraq is still a danger, but it's a shadow of what it want was. Turkey alone could take Iraq apart at will.

But saying the US is "ten times tougher" is a much more difficult sale. The US has more, and more sophisticated smart weapons. Communications and data sharing gear his greatly improved. That sort of gear isn't very glamorous, but can be a signficant force multiplier. However, my opinion is that Rumsfeld has been reading too many Tom Clancy novels. Training standards have slipped some since 1991 thanks to heavy international commitments. And a lot of our gear is the same as it was back then.

Moreover, the job is more difficult. In 1991 the job was simple, liberate Kuwait. That job was accomplished by a simple and elegant envelopment maneuver. Putting our troops behind them destroyed Iraq's defensive strategy without combat. They had two choices, run or surrender, each of which gave the UN forces victory.

This time the object is regime change, which forced the US to conquer and occupy the whole of the country. The US and Britain have more than enough firepower on hand to defeat the Iraqi army, but securing supply lines and guarding prisoners will suck troops like a Hoover vacuum, greatly weakening the front.

Military planners teach that the strength of an offensive is inversely proportional to the advance. In other words, the farther you go, the weaker you get. The reasons for this are simple. The equipment you had in good shape at the start of the offensive now needs maintenance. The supply lines and bases you set up at the start of the campaign are stretched thin and need to be resited and restocked. Your soldiers are getting tired, and need rest. Units are out of position as faster units outrace their slower support. A great example of that was when Patton's troops ran out of gas during World War II.

So this is going to be a more difficult conflict than 1991 even if US and British troops didn't have to take Baghdad. Which they do. It is for this reason that the President spoke directly to Iraqi soldiers, reminding them that "your life is not worth losing over a failed regime". Bush would like them to surrender.

Perhaps the Iraqi footsoldier will pack it in. Saddam's regime gets by primarily on fear, and one cost of a regime maintained by terror is rather limited loyalty among the terrorized. Certainly most Iraqi soldiers expect to lose. Especially those veterans of the first Gulf War. Nationalism will fortify many. However, the amount and effectiveness of the aerial firepower they will taste in the opening days of conflict are guaranteed to produce fear. While dying in a losing cause is celebrated in Japan, it is not very popular in most of the world. Including secular Iraq.

But I keep thinking back to Karl von Clausewitz's dictum "The moral is to the physical as three is to one." Certainly the Iraqi army is outclassed. But behind them are waits their homes and families. And Saddam may convince his people to fight for Iraq, if not for him. In World War II that strategy worked for another murderous dictator by the name of Joseph Stalin. The "shock and awe" campaigned planned by the Pentagon may convince many that surrender is the best way to save what they have. But if they do not, and the Iraqis fight, it will be a long bloody war. And George W. Bush will prove a one term president.

What to look for

In the early days of the war the best indicator I can see is the conduct of regular iraqi army units. Saddam deployed these units forward because he has the least faith in them, and can most afford to lose them. But he wants them to fight, otherwise he would not have dispatched political officers to ensure their compliance.

However, soldiers have guns and unwanted officers can be 'fragged'. It seems certain that some units will surrender, or put up only token resistance. Some will fight. The key is what the majority do. If most of the regular units go down fighting, this war may drag into late April, or even May. I'm encouraged that a few Iraqi soldiers have already surrendered but it's too early to say if they'll have much company. So watch the briefings carefully. If the briefers show some swagger, and talking about large amounts of surrenders, things are going well. If you see pursed lips and talk of "pushing back' more tha a few isolated units Baghdad will be rough.

But keep in mind Clausewitz's dictum: "The Enemy is someone who reacts". The Iraqis themselves will chose how they will fight. If I were Saddam I'd look very hard at having his frontline units pretend to surrender, go where the Allies tell them to go. Just keep their guns, their ammo, equipment and units intact. Tell them to pretend to roll over and play dead. Then order them to wait until US and British units are engaged inside Baghdad , and then start rolling with the objective being Allied supply lines. Sure they'll be wiped out, but that action will cause a lot of problems, and might even force the temporarly withdrawal of a frontline unit to take off the pressure. If Saddam can compel the withdrawal of even one division he'll be regarded as another Saladin on the Arab street. He'll be hero and all his murderous sins will be forgiven, particularly as he'll be too dead to commit any new atrocities.

Remember that the Battle of the Bulge was an act of desperation, and not particularly wise from a military point of view. It weakend the German front tremendously and hastened the Wehrmacht's collapse. As Casey Stengel put it, "It ain't over until the fat lady sings" . The fact that she's warming up backstage doesn't mean the play's done.

A Machiavellian Moment

At the end of the war the US and Britain will have to decide what to do with Saddam Hussein and his sons. I doubt we'll take them alive, but if we do we'll face an interesting dilemma. We might try sending Saddam and his henchmen to the International War Crimes Tribunal. Giving him to international justice would take the responsibility off our hands and give the US actions some badly needed international legitimacy. Except this is the same court the George Bush pointedly refused. And the Administrations thoughtless and insulting rhertoric might have left the international community not very willing to bail the Bush Administration out. Many conservatives would worry that foreigners might be less vulnerable to hostages than us Yanks.

If America tries him, then the responsibility is all ours. And we too will face hostage takings and threats designed to free the hero Saddam. So I'd like to suggest an alternative Give him to Iran In fact, give him to Iran's moderate president Mohammad Khatami. The Iranians hate him for what he put Iran through during the Iran/Iraq war. The Iranians will take care of all the rough stuff. It will award the Great Satan style points with Iran, and giving him to Khatami will strengthen Iran's moderates at the expense of the hardline clerics.

I know Bush won't do that, but it would be fun if he did.

French intransigence on the war probably helped the President. By matching America's bellicose rhetoric, France gave the Administration an excuse to not to hold a vote it was sure to lose, and a foreigner to blame.

The dog doesn't have to worry that a president he didn't vote for is dropping bombs on people he doesn't know. The dog doesn't know that the monkey in office is a warmonger. The dog doesn't care about Iraqi oil. The dog isn't aware that he should avoid highly subjective writeups. Fuck Bush and fuck his administration. I wish I was the dog.

WAR

The major irritant in this particular conflict is that we are going to war with a country that is eight time zones ahead of the East Coast (eleven time zones ahead of the West Coast) and three away from British Time.

As such, daytime in Iraq is nighttime here.

Notes to the future:

  • CNN was the network to watch, because they had cameras in Iraq. The other networks, by and large, didn't. I'm watching Baghdad right now.
  • The U.S. has dominating air and sea power.
  • The Iraqis like to defect, thank God.
  • When I wake up tomorrow, a lot of people are dead.
Good night, world.

Today, the bombing of Iraq began. We are at to war, and there is nothing any of us can do to stop that cold, simple fact.

I'm not going to spilt hairs on this: I loath Bush and co. with all the loathing I can spare to people I don't know. Why? I don't like what he's doing. He firmly believes that the best course of operations is to start a war in Iraq while we still have forces battling terrorists in Afghanistan, and a crisis brewing in North Korea; that's three possible wars right there. Why? Because he believes Iraq is an evil nation. Because he's trying for the history books by juggling as many balls as possible, in the hopes that some of them will stay in the air. But more importantly, perhaps because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, landed ass-backward into business opportunity, a governorship, and the presidency. He's starting this war the same way he started his presidency: without any sort of legitimacy. Don't believe me? Think. Does ANYONE want this war? Does any single nation truly want this war? The citizens of Britain, our closest friend and ally, are less then thrilled. Hell, without at least trying at the UN, many of us don't want it. And we are the guys chomping at the bit? Look at the rest of the world! How is this anything approaching legitimate!!!

Who's the Axis of Opposition? Germany. France. Russia. Bush says that we "understand the costs of conflict because we have paid them in the past." Oh, We paid them? Look at France!! They got slaughtered twice in a thirty-year period. Look at Russia! Their western borders are complete graveyards. Look at Germany, where the two bloodiest conflicts in world history shattered the nation. And we know war? And they're the cowards? They don't want to stop this war because they're weak, or afraid, or because of their oil licenses. They don't want a war because they've seen what we haven't seen since Sherman: War destroys lives. What do we have to prove that? Vietnam? A simple cakewalk to them. Sure, we lost, but that's just because shooting Charlie/civilians/monkeys/trees got old, or something. We don't know war. Our soldiers do. But we civilians have no clue.

And as for the fact that Iraq has ignored the UN: look at Israel. There's been resolution after resolution saying that the settlements on the West Bank should be removed, and they're still building the things. Fine, it's a democracy, and all that, but that just means we should hold them to a higher standard. And if we're supporting Israel because it's a democracy, why do we prefer Saudi Arabia over Iran? Iran at least has some sort of democracy, and their on the Axis of Evil regardless. Saudi Arabia still cuts off hands for theft! What's with that? Just realpolitik, I guess. Well, to hell with realpolitik! If Saudi Arabia's and Israel are doing the same things as Iraq, let's not just brush that to the side.

What the hell happened to the democracy I was once told we were, where one man could never impose his will on the rest? Between this illegal war with Iraq, the Patriot Act, and whatever else they have up their sleeves… Forget American Idol, or Celebrity Boxing: this could well be the end to America as we know it.

God Bless America. We fucking need it.

This was put up twice, and got eaten twice. If you want to eat it again, fine. I'm getting tired of the whole thing, to be honest. I put something out, and they take it down. That's life, eh?

I almost feel sick.

These actions were taken neither on my behalf nor in my interests as a citizen or a human being. I would like to simply wash my hands of the whole thing but as Lady MacBeth well knew the damned blood won't wash off.

words fail but i have nothing else to offer.

I'm not particularly happy that we're at war today.

It bugs me when I hear W talking about nations banding together for "our common defense." These nations aren't banding together to defend themselves, they're banding together to invade another nation. To attack. Maybe this is necessary in order to prevent terrorism. I'm not convinced, and it sounds like most of the world agrees with me there. But my opinion doesn't matter, I'm just one of those wacky California liberals who thinks we should have actually counted the ballots in Florida a couple of years ago, and maybe averted this whole war before it started.

I spent the car ride home from work listening to NPR's coverage of the start of the war. A member of the administration, I believe it was Ari Fleischer, was quoted as saying that "there were going to be casualties."

Duh.

Of course there are going to be casualties. The US military just launched a few laser-guided missiles into Iraq with the intent of destroying something. There were probably people around whatever's so important to blow up; they're probably dead now.

Oh yeah. We're at war. The other side isn't made up of real people any more; they're the enemy.

You are the witness of change
And to counteract
We gotta take the power back

--Rage Against The Machine

Nothing crushes dissent quite like the first salvo of war. People return to their homes and wait for the end to come. We have been taught that it is wrong to do anything other than support our nation and stand together in times like this. Bullshit. This is when you need to make your voice heard.

We are haunted by echoes of Vietnam. Indeed. During the first Gulf War, all I heard was people talking about how this was our opportunity to "make it up to the troops" for our disrespect for them after Vietnam. They weren't the same troops and there was no mass movement to help the veterans of the Vietnam War deal with the medical and psychological damage they suffered in that conflict. It was all about yellow ribbons for our proud heroes from the conflict in The Gulf. This made them feel all sorts of better about things. Yellow ribbons didn't mean jack shit in the end. I know veterans of both Vietnam and the first Gulf War that can't get the government to help them with how fucked up they became as a result of these "conflicts."

I will wait. I will not support this pre-emptive action that is taking place in my name. I didn't believe in it two months ago. I didn't believe in it two weeks ago. I don't believe in it now. Yet you temper that with respect for those who are obeying orders and doing their job. At the same time it distresses me to hear the president of the United States dictating that Iraqi soldiers desert or face future consequences. Regardless of the fact that the man who runs their country is the worst kind of human being to walk the face of the earth, they are defending their country. To ask them to commit treason while urging us to rally behind our own troops is wrong. Twelve years ago we were liberating a country that had been invaded. Regardless of circumstances surrounding that, it is in the interest of the world to prevent invasion and repel those who would threaten their neighbors. It is in the interests of the world community to prevent any country from invading another because of a perceived threat or perceived wrongdoing. And therewithin lies the rub.

The first casualty of war is truth.

What happens if the U.S. led forces rolls over Iraq, encounters pockets of resistance, and no weapons of mass destruction are launched by Iraq? What if it proves to be just a steamroller effect where a path of destruction to Saddam's door forces a regime change? What if we are faced with killing people armed with sticks and knives trying to defend their homeland? Is it considered an effective measure with little cost in life on our side and therefore a precedent for future action? This is the real danger. It isn't the war, really. It is the precedent. It changes everything. This is what I fear, and I don't fear anything. I am merely an observer on this world. I am not really part of it any longer. I can feel the shift, and it is not a comfortable shift.

Buy a veteran a beer, for fuck's sake.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot

Chaos is so close I can taste it.

The rest of my life day 3

This is probably something that everyone has felt, but have you ever noticed how easily depression comes when you get your emotions all built up for something that doesn't happen? Well it happened to me big time today.

I could barely sleep at all, because I knew that when I got up I was going to be facing Sarah. I would be facing Sarah because I had to get the books for our bible study, and Sarah works at the Christian Bookstore. I could have just chosen another bookstore, but I wanted to talk to Sarah, even though it is incredibly difficult for me to do.

I went to bed at 8 am. I laid awake, thinking about my upcoming encounter with Sarah. I worried about it. I prayed about it. I repeated that cycle until about 1 PM, at which point I gave up on trying to sleep, and just got up for the day.

I dressed nicely, and generally cleaned myself up like I was going on a date, instead of just going to order some books. On the way to the store I began slightly fixating on one sentence I had written in the card I gave her Sunday, thinking maybe she misunderstood it, or perhaps did not like it. But at the last minute I somehow managed to wipe all the fear and worry away, and pulled into the bookstore parking lot as confident as can be.

She wasn't there.

The depression came quickly after that. I had prepared myself for every possible outcome except for the fact that she might not be there. I guess I thought there was nothing to think about in that situation. Tht depression lasted several hours. I guess it was all I could expect after pumping myself up for something for 6 hours, only to have nothing happen.

As far as other things go, I didn't really accomplish anything today. Depression killed the afternoon, and I spent the evening with Ryan and Kevin, at least I managed to get them to watch one of my stupid Kirsten Dunst movies (Strike!).

Whenever I am in a bad mood, I suspect that I am getting sick and I take some vitamin C. It has been a long time since I was so sick that I couldn't really get anything done. My wife bought a bottle of 500 1000mg vitamin C pills, and that's too much for me so I break them in half. However, there are two events that must be considered in any analysis of my recent avoidance of the common cold and the flu. My family has been using an ionizing air filter for a few years. This filter also produces ozone, supposedly to mimic the ozone production accomplished outdoors by sunlight since, as the company points out, microbes don't survive very well in ozone. Sometimes one of the kids (little kids) turns the filter off. Since it's very quiet, no one notices that it's off, but I check it whenever one of us is sick and it is often off. Since I don't remember checking it often when we're all healthy, that's not much to go on, but the entire history of illness in my family over the last couple years does suggest that ionization, ozone, or both contribute to our health. Note that ozone has negative effects on people too. Our commencement of air filter usage is one of the events that's important. The other one is the flu shot I got about two and a half years ago through my work. I don't know how long those last, but I do know some perhaps useful stuff about the immune system.

Children in daycare settings get exposed to the germs of others a lot more than other children. They therefore often have runny noses. However, as Nietszche pointed out, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. In the immune system, exposure to a germ, whether it is lame (actually, physically handicapped through the actions of pharmaceutical companies) or healthy, will cause the production of native cells which are specifically designed to recognize and destroy that germ. That's why you can recover after getting sick without taking any medicine.

There is a story of a scientist who gave himself an ear mite infection, recovered, and then did it again, twice. Each time he recovered, he recovered much faster than the previous time. It is remarkable to me how unwilling most people are to undergo suffering to establish such truths.

I wonder if we used a scale from one to ten, one being "'Iraq?' Who's that, a new Rock band?" and ten being "I know how the Iraqi people will form into groups in conflict if and when Saddam Hussein stops governing the country and I can predict the outcomes of those conflicts and I understand the reasons they will emerge." If people were asked to give themselves a rating on that scale before they answered the question "Should the US be invading Iraq without UN support?" What would the results look like?

I can imagine that Saddam is in the position of an abusive father (his family being the Iraqi people), being warned and now captured by some neighborhood do-gooders. Perhaps he feels that the only way to keep his family safe is through this abuse (his form of discipline), and he cannot morally choose to stop the abuse because in his heart be believes that it would be irresponsible. Perhaps. Or perhaps he is an evil man with no morals.

I like this line of thought, because along it, we come to the tough issue of foster-parenting and the state-run system of handling kids from abusive families who, our laws have determined, must be taken from those families. Many would argue that breaking up the family is not a good solution. But some judges or social services agents might decide that "it's best for the kids." Once those kids go through the state system and then "age out," an alarming portion of them end up homeless. Do you see the analogy with our NO NOT OUR - the Bush administration's decision on Iraq?

I believe that evil and sin can be the result of only one thing, and that is the choice to ignore. I suspect that deep in the minds of the people through whom this war came about, money and oil and security have somehow contrived to make them ignore a simple truth that becomes more obvious as a person grows wiser and more intelligent. That truth is that violence generally begets violence and that patient, persistent non-violence generally mitigates violence.
(chalked on the sidewalk outside the front entrance of the US consulate, #1818 – 1177 West Hastings, 10:30 pm PST):

Help keep Vancouver clean -
Please wipe the blood
off your shoes
as you exit the building.

Never before had so many people flinched at the daily sounding (since 1894!) of the 9 o'clock gun off Stanley Park.

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

You're sad, I'm sad, everybody's sad. We all have emotions of helplessness. We all feel danger for, well, the world.

This thing is happening and there seems to be nothing we can do. I know, write my senator, start a petition, send rice or pretzels or prayers. Don't think that one voice is too little because you know, that's how they get you. I've been hearing that for years.

My boss told me not to talk to my students about love, religion, or politics. With the Chinese government the way it is, it's just not a good idea. My boss, however, is the ever-overflowing crap machine, so I usually think the opposite of whatever he says has a good chance of being bible truth. So I started talking to my classes.

I am a teacher and that provides me the ability of power trips. I don't have many, just two, I don't allow students to speak like limeys, they're pants, not trousers damnit and I have no fucking clue which letter is zed. Also, I don't allow people to wear yankees paraphenalia in my classroom. I make them take it off, whatever it is, or turn it inside out. I do my best to teach them that those pinstripes did, in fact, come from the devil. But I don't do much beyond that, I don't keep favorites or tell them they're too young. I do my best to treat them as people and teach them English. I do however have the power of making them talk (in english) about whatever subject I want.

All week, I've been sad about the war. It's strange here, in China. Here I am thinking of some weird disease in Guangdong and Hong Kong and my own skin, worrying about myself, and at the same time, thinking of my friends and family in America and abroad, worrying about their lives and the world's backlash, and worrying about a friend I have in the war, someone who has a very real chance of this war directly affecting them in a bad way. China blocks many websites so getting real news about this is hard, hearing or watching the president's broadcasts is impossible, and as much as I don't care what he has to say I want to hear it myself.

The 48-hour warning gave out this morning for me, 9:00 am. I was in between classes. I did not want to go to class at a time like this, I wanted to think or read or talk or do anything but ignore what's happening. I wanted to yell to everyone to watch out, but they knew. I ask all my students what do you think of the war, of Saddam, of the U.N. and what they tell me is scary.

They are young so sometimes their parent's words come out of their mouths. They are Chinese, so sometimes their government's words come out of their mouth. But in the end, they are people, and more truthful because they are children, so if you try hard enough and listen closely you can hear what they really think. They say the US is great because it is so strong and powerful. Chinese people have strange priorities when you are raised by American society. They say the US will win, but one told me they cannot win forever. They say the US is too strong. They say the U.N. has now become incompetent and useless. They say Saddam is a great man, a brave man, very strong and one child wanted to impress on me that he had a big head. They are children and this is very far away. One student told me that it was not fair to ask them their opinions, it has nothing to do with them. They are too far away. They do not want war but there is nothing they can do. Everyone said they do not like the war because many people will die. There seems to be nothing to do but wait and hope. One person said they hope it is fast and as bloodless as possible, I agree. One said that September 11th will come again, and it's true, a stopped calendar is right once a year or something, september has to come again in one sense but I really hope, in the most selfish way, that in the coming deaths my friends and family aren't among those hurt. It's hard to teach. You have to keep your kids interested and disciplined and most of all constantly talking english, it's impossible. You have to humiliate yourself with silly gags, dance funny in public, make corny grandpa jokes. If you make the students laugh the school will think you are a great teacher. So here I am in front of a class, chalk in hand, and all I can think about is with overwhelming sadness the depth of what's wrong in the world, and what always seems to be wrong in the world. If it's not hatred towards immigrants, it's women's rights and slavery and world war 2 and Vietnam and drugs and police and Ronald Reagan and Latin America and Tiananmen Square. There's always something, isn't there. But here I am in front of 60 children that won't listen to me if I can't make them laugh. So I have to forget all that and get lost inside the head of a 12 year old, I have to make jokes about china, make jokes about America, make people dance and sing if they don't want to answer my questions, dance and sing myself, draw things funny on the board, call the troublemaker's babies when they don't want to talk. Then the bell rings and I'm left inside my own head, damned by the bell.

In my last class today it was the worst. I just couldn't get inside. I was telling jokes, they were laughing, but I wasn't smiling. Then a student hands me a water balloon, in the middle of class he says it's a gift. I smile because this one particular class room is on the fourth floor and happens to be over a road, so I can look down and see nothing but road. The children understand my idea and shout no! no! you'll hit someone! except for a few that shout yes! yes! and I smile and chuck it out onto the road, hitting no one but dusty pavement and a beautiful splash.

Chinese people are so caught up in safety it's laughable, they think China, possibly the safest part of the world I've ever been too, is dangerous. They protect themselves in the weirdest way too, the most Chinese ways, almost perfect but something's missing. They make a gate you can hop over easy, they don't watch against shoplifting, they have bike locks you can take off in 2 minutes with a screw driver. Basically, unlike America, they have more important things to worry about then stealing a candy bar or how to rip out a bike lock and take the bike as your own. Reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me, he used to live in Pakistan and he says one time he saw this man washing windows high up but using no safety line, just standing on the ledge, and he says that man should have a rope so he won't hurt himself if he falls! and his friends say yes yes! a rope! and they hop to and an hour later he sees the same man washing windows with a rope tied around his waist, the other line held diligently by a man on the ground. Some things just don't make sense.

I hope you are all coping. I hope you are ok and will stay ok. I prayed the other night for the first time in well, my life. That's a strange thing for me, I'm at best a unitarian, and at worst a philosopher, and basically not a religious man, but I was half asleep in my bed when the truth came to me (truth always seems apparent while about to fall asleep) and I realized that with all this shit in the world my soul was sick, I said that actually that my soul was sick which sounds silly, but you have to try it while half-asleep. I realized that for my world, I must pray and I did. I always hated when people will say I'll pray for you to me because I don't want anyone praying for me, but I think we really need something, and I will do whatever I can. I will pray for everyone inside this world and hope in the end everything works out for the best.

Peace, most of all, Peace.

Good Morning Iraq, what would you like for breakfast? how about aerial bombardment with ohhh let's say 39 cruise missiles with a generous sprinkling of stealth bombers, that should go down quite well..


11.00am GMT:
BBC News 24 - Already one civilian dead and many injured, as television facility and customs house was hit.

1.15pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - US military aircraft (Helicopter MH53) has Crash landed in southern Iraq.

2.00pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - All aboard the helicopter have been rescued.

3.30pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - Intense level of bombardment has begun in southern Iraq by US military aircrafts.

4.00pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - There are rumours of large burning oil reserves, no further details on that as yet.

4.40pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - Turkey allows the use of its air space.

5.30pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - US troops fire on Iraqi positions from the Kuwait border in an on ground assault. Vehicles carrying Paveway GPS laser guided bombs have returned to the Kuwait border empty, which suggests that they have been utilised.

5.50pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - Air raid sirens are sounding in Iraq.

6.05pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - BBC reporter John Simpson live from Baghdad, stated that it was definately Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi televised report after the US onslaught in the early hours, and hence the US were clearly misinformed since they missed their target.

6.30pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - American cruise missiles have struck Baghdad and shaken the city with massive explosions. Live televised link showing Baghdad city centre with certain areas up in flames. A building associated with the Ministry of Planning has been hit.

6.50pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - British Royal Marines commandos have stormed into southern Iraq.

7.10pm GMT:
BBC News 24 - Kuwaiti soldiers have clashed with Iraqi troops on the Kuwait-Iraq border.



I've already had enough of this, and it's just the beginning.. Iraq will allegedly have 1500 bombs/missiles dropped on its soil daily when this war really gets underway.

So do what you can to STOP THE BLOODY WAR.




Note - 42% of Iraqis are Children

During the night 8 British Royal Marines and 4 US servicemen lost their lives (and that's putting aside any civilian casualties) on day 1 of this so called Humanitarian War.
Today I am not proud to be British...
Dig the grave both wide and deep
For I am sick, and fain would sleep!

I was awake most of the night, listening to the Associated Press reports of the physical manifestation of our disgrace.

I cried.

I'm so tired this morning. Sick and tired and depressed.

Woe is me! by fraud and wrong -
Traitors false and tyrants strong

I'm ashamed of my country. I've been embarrassed to be an American in the past, but today I'm ashamed.

I will continue in my own battle against this horror. I will continue to send my emails and letters of protest to the people who "lead" this country. I will continue to speak out against my country's actions.

And, for the first time in years, I will pray. I'm not sure if anyone or thing will hear me, but, maybe, it will ease the pain.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Hi everybody! –I hope you are all doing good. I wrote a poem last night about war. We have to practice things in school that are like fire drills and stuff and we go down to the basement. I hope we never have to do it for real like other people must have to do. I talked to my dad about it but there are some things that I still don’t understand. The poem is called “War is Bad” – I hope you like it.

War is bad
And I think I know why

War is bad
Because people die

War is bad
Because people cry

War is bad
Because people go away

War is bad
Because they miss their family

War is bad
Because it’s a sin

War is bad
Because nobody wins

I hope it ends soon and not too many people get hurt! Bye!

American Nero

I’m feeling an almost perverse sense of relief that the war has started. Now that the waiting is over, events are finally progressing onwards towards the conclusion of the crisis. Whether it’s weeks, months or years -- at least we’re closer than we were last week.

As usual, the American media is beating the drums of war and waving their flags. This morning on NBC’s Today Show, one of the correspondents delivered his report wearing a gas mask. There was something surreal about it -- as if it was a scene from David O. Russell’s satirical film Three Kings and not happening in the real world. It’s amazing just how excited and happy these people are to report on killing. The Iraqis are abstractions to them, just as they are to much of America. Brown people in funny clothes, led by a man who looks like some Bizarro version of Stalin, worshiping a strange, vengeful God. 10,000 casualties would be light they tell us, without a thought to the realities of that number. I once did a mailing of 3,000 post cards and it took me over a week of steady 8-hour work to finish that mailing. 10,000 casualties is a lot of dead people.

I surfed the web to get some alternative opinions about things, but was left largely unsatisfied. Indymedia.org, the “news” site that all the protest organizers promote to the anti-war activists, is a joke. Anyone can post a story, so very little of it follows the rules of journalism. There are no corroborating sources, just statements of hearsay. I knew it was time to stop reading when one of the stories mentioned a “Zionist media cabal.” Sorry guys, I may not agree with Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, but the idea of a Zionist media cabal sounds not unlike the language of the American Patriot movement. A little too extreme, even for me. And a little extreme for mainstream America.

I was struck last night by the live video feed from Baghdad. The streets largely empty save for a few cars, everything seemed rather peaceful, almost serene. The scale and scope of the city was not too unlike the scale and scope of Washington. With the exception of some obvious Middle Eastern architecture, it could have been my own city. I found myself hoping that all those buildings would not be destroyed, that Saddam’s army would just give up in the face of the American forces. That the normal people of Baghdad would not have to suffer.

Around the world, other nations are denouncing the war with as much fervor as they rallied behind the U.S. to support us on September 11. Protesters in D.C. shut down the Key Bridge and managed to disrupt the morning commute. But none of it will have any effect -- we have an administration that holds democracy and public opinion in contempt. Should it be any surprise after they muscled their way into office during the Florida recount debacle that they would do whatever they want without any regard for the public?

Looking out my office window past the statue of Daniel Webster (if only Webster had been successful in blocking the annexation of Texas ...), I imagine George W. Bush sitting in the White House just a few blocks away. I wonder what drives the man to do this -- religious fundamentalism, big business, a need to finish what his father began in 1991? Or does he genuinely believe that this is the right thing? Is he like the mythical Nero, playing the violin while Rome burned around him, oblivious to the consequences of what he’s done? Say what you will about Bill Clinton, at least his motivations were clear. George W. Bush is an enigma -- and I fear, not an enigma because of brilliance, but an enigma because there is nothing there at all.

All the bonds of friendship and alliance are broken, the rule of law that has maintained the World order since World War II has been violated by the very country that drafted that law to begin with. A precedent of pre-emption has been set that Pakistan can use against India, China can use against Taiwan, and North Korea can use against South Korea and the United States. These are terrible times.

But at least it’s started. The end of all this is now a little closer. All we can do is watch and wait while it plays out. Oh yes -- and protest. Not that the media or the administration are listening.

Today's Headlines

US News

War With Iraq
At 9:48 PM ET yesterday, the United States began armed hostilities with Iraq, beginning with a surgical strike on a very specific target on the outskirts of Baghdad. The President addressed the nation twenty minutes later, announcing that war had officially begun. Iraq responded by launching four Scud missiles into Kuwait, from which the majority of military operations had been launched, and Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi television, shouting words of defiance. The military conflict as of yet has not achieved the large scale that was described by the Department of Defense in recent days, but it may have been limited by the conflict beginning just before dawn in Iraq and a sandstorm which may interfere with operations.

Hijacked Cuban Plane Lands In Florida
Navy fighter jets escorted a hijacked Cuban airliner tonight to Key West, where six knife-wielding hijackers surrendered to the FBI and approximately 35 passengers and crew members were freed. No injuries were reported in the incident. "It was kind of funny," said Steve Torrence, a spokesman for the Key West Police Department. "They landed. One of our police cars got behind them on the runway and put the lights on, and the plane pulled over." No reason was given in the hijacking.

Standoff With Protesting Farmer Ends In Washington DC
A protesting farmer who drove his tractor into a pond near the National Mall on Monday faces charges of threatening to use an explosive device. The farmer, a Virginian who was protesting the plight of tobacco farmers in America, ended a week-long licensed protest on Monday by driving his tractor into the pond and then claiming that he had a great deal of explosives, possibly enough to damage the Washington Monument. No explosives were found when the farmer gave up.

International News

Britain, Other Nations Prepare For Escalation War On Iraq
Britain said on Thursday its troops were ready for a rapid escalation in the war against Iraq and denied that the United States had sidelined its top ally with a first, unilateral raid on Baghdad. Senior members of the British military confirmed to Reuters that the upcoming hours will feature a great escalation of the conflict, likely coming as darkness descends on Iraq at around noon ET (17:00 GMT) today. Other nations pledged support and aid in the conflict, including engineering and medical support from Spain and additional logistical support from Australia.

France Denounces War With Iraq
Denouncing what it called an "illegitimate and dangerous war," the National Assembly, the lower house of France's parliament, suspended its session to demonstrate the broad domestic support President Jacques Chirac has won for his anti-war stance. "As the first military operation in Iraq starts, the French authorities express their deep concern," the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement. "(French authorities) hope the conflict that has just started can end as quickly as possible," the statement said. "They call on countries in the region to abstain from any initiative that could aggravate the situation."

South Korea Backs War Amid Concerns With North Korea
The South Korean military has been placed on full alert with concerns mounting that North Korea could use turbulence in the Persian Gulf as an opportunity to ratchet up tensions on the Korean peninsula. In a televised address, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the military to step up its alert status and early warning status "in response to possible North Korean attempts to increase tensions" during the new war in the Persian Gulf region. "The government will make every diplomatic effort to prevent the Iraqi situation from making adverse effects on inter-Korean affairs," Roh told the news conference after an emergency National Security Council meeting of senior ministers.

Business

Wall Street Expects Modest Boost From War
Wall Street was expected to open slightly higher this morning as the United States began bombing selected targets in Baghdad at the launch of a war that investors hope will be swift. However, the opening may not be as sharp as hoped since the strike was very small and surgical, rather than the hoped-for widescale attack that would strongly indicate that the war would be very quick. Wall Street prefers a very quick war so that American investments are impacted as little as possible.

Jobless Claims Dip
The number of US workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week for a second week in a row, but other statistics suggested jobs remain scarce. Initial jobless claims declined by 4,000 to 421,000 in the week ended March 15, the Department of Labor said this morning. But the four-week average, which smoothes out weekly fluctuations, continued to climb, rising to a 10-month high of 429,500. The numbers suggest that the job market is now stagnant after a month of severe job cuts. Nearly two million Americans have lost their jobs as the economy has fallen into a deep recession.

Cisco Buys LinkSys
Cisco Systems has agreed to buy LinkSys for about $500 million in common stock. In a press release this morning, Cisco said the Linksys acquisition marks its entry into the consumer and small-office or home-office networking market. Based on the closing price Wednesday of Cisco stock, at $14.22, the Linksys agreement represents about 35.2 million shares out of the 7.1 billion shares of Cisco outstanding. LinkSys sells many home networking products, including wireless routers, adapters and print servers, as well as traditional wired products such as Ethernet routers and cable modems.

Science & Technology

War Has Impact On Internet
In the first hours of the war, many major news-providing websites were inundated with accesses on a level not seen since September 11, 2001, resulting in slow accesses from many sites. In addition, a new round of email-based viruses playing on the desire for individuals to access news on the conflict has appeared, containing attachments that can do damage to computer software. Email servers also saw a major uptick in message volume, along with an increased usage of instant messaging, as users tried to contact and discuss the issues with loved ones.

Bill Gates Describes Microsoft's "Wireless Manifesto"
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates committed to "significant" investments in mobility platforms during a keynote kick-off for the Microsoft Mobility Developers conference. "We are in significant investment mode," Gates told conference attendees gathered here Wednesday evening. "We are going to invest, invest and invest to make our mobile platform the most popular platform." Gates characterized mobile computing as a market that "will be the fastest moving of all of our businesses." Along with this speech, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of a new version of Visual Studio which will contain the .NET Compact Framework, enabling the use of .NET tools for development of wireless technologies.

ICANN Sees Change In Leadership
Australian Paul Twomey will replace Stuart Lynn later this month as president and chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization said Wednesday. Twomey will be the first non-U.S. citizen to head the global Internet oversight body, established in 1998, and faces the challenge of guiding ICANN through a major reorganization. ICANN is currently going through a major reorganization to meet the increased demands of internet naming requests, indlucing assignments for new top level domains.

Health

Researchers Identify Chemicals Causing Hair Growth
The delicate interplay of two chemical signals coaxes stem cells into becoming hair follicles, according to new research by scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University. The research greatly increases the understanding of hair growth and may lead to insights into how other structures, such as teeth and lungs, are formed. The research, published in the March 20, 2003 issue of Nature, indicates that both chemicals can be artificially manufactured, making it possible that hair replacement treatments may become much more potent in the near future.

Binge Eating Has Genetic Root
A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that binge eating may in fact have a genetic source, which may lead to the legitimacy of binge eating as a disease and may result in genetic treatments for the condition. It is estimated that binge eating affects as many as four million Americans, and although it is influenced by sedentary lifestyles, this discovery provides evidence backing the widely-accepted theory that there are other factors at work in the development of the condition.

Sports

Newcastle, Arsenal Eliminated From Final Eight In Champions League
Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Valencia last night, coupled with Ajax's 1-1 draw with Roma resulted in Arsenal's elimination from hope of reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which they have not done in the past five years. At the same time, England's misery continued as Newcastle lost 2-0 to Barcelona confirmed the end of their Champion's League season as well. Both teams must wait another year for an attempt to win European football's most coveted prize.

Tiger, Els To Face Each Other
Tiger Woods and Ernie Els look to face each other for the first time this season at the Bay Hill Invitational, which opens today. Woods and Els, the top two golfers in the world according to virtually every ranking system, have not competed against each other this year, in which Woods has won two out of three tournaments he has entered and Els has won five out of seven. Els said, ""I've won and the more you win, I think, the more you close the gap a little bit. You know, he's come out and he's won himself. So it's hard to say. I know his big goals are to win majors and so are mine, so I think that's probably where it will happen. It's the majors where you're going to hang everything out. So I think that's where you're going to probably measure the gap closing or not."

Entertainment

Monica Lewinsky Gets Show On Fox
Monica Lewinsky, the former mistress of Bill Clinton, has agreed to host a new Fox reality show, Mr. Personality, which will get the same time slot as the major hit Joe Millionaire on Mondays starting April 21, 2003. On the show, a single woman will court several eligible men whose faces are disguised by hoods, making them rely on their personality to woo the woman. Lewinsky said, "Since Fox is the network that has had the greatest success with this reality TV genre, I was very excited when they approached me to host the show: It sounds like good fun."

Travis Tritt Openly Decries Natalie Maines' Anti-Bush Comments
Popular country songster Travis Tritt gave the Dixie Chicks a suggestion for mending fences with angry fans who have been boycotting their music due to the recent negative statement Natalie Maines made about President George W. Bush. On the Fox News Channel, Tritt first referred to the comments as "cowardly" and a "cheap shot," then suggested "If the Dixie Chicks (news - web sites) really wanted to do something to prove just how sorry they are about those statements, they would volunteer to go and perform at some military base." No response from Maines or the group on the issue.


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

The Judgement of America

The war has begun; it is inevitable that the United States government has made a concerted decision to go ahead with an effort for regime change in Iraq.

The United States has unquestioned military superiority in this conflict. What I worry about is whether or not we will be able to demonstrate a moral superiority in the conflict.

We are already starting on the wrong foot, for we are the invaders. We are entering into a distinct sovereign state and planning to depose the leadership of the nation by military force. Regardless of the leader, this intrusion is definitely full of moral questions. Yet, the question has not been fully answered yet.

That question will be answered in part by our military. The young men and women serving our military, well trained and carrying brave hearts, will be greatly tested in the coming days. Can they stay focused on the task of minimizing human casualty and damage rather than following the much simpler path of murder and destruction.

Yet, the issue will also be determined by each of us, the American citizenry. It is up to us to respond to the news of the war and the increased threats of terrorism with compassion, careful consideration, and care for our fellow humans rather than a sense of rage, anger, and revenge.

Regardless of how we individually feel about this war, it is up to all of us to do the right thing as this action progresses. We must continue to treat others with care and compassion, offer aid where it is requested and needed, and express our viewpoints in a civil and intelligent manner.

The war isn't just fought in the battlefield. It is fought in the behavior and hearts of all of us.

Do the right thing.


Lent Diary, Day 16

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

I sat at home last night, late in the evening, watching the news coverage of the war.

And before I went to bed, I read Numbers 10, verse 9, and said a short prayer for all Americans and all Iraqis.

Today, as my fast continues, I can't help but remember that the people of Iraq, mostly Islamic and many Christians as well, aren't all that different from me. And I just hope that as a result of this, very little life is lost.

"Blair, Bush, CIA - How many kids did you kill today?"

I arrive in school having only just heard the news: we are now officially at war with Iraq. It was, to put it bluntly, news I expected all along, despite being vehement in my opposition to the conflict. Reservations which would be shown later today.

It was only yesterday that I had heard there was to be a walk-out from school in protest against the war. I embraced the opportunity to protest, despite warnings from the school that suspension would be a protester's reward (probably a stupid move on my part; the GCSE exams are a mere 5 weeks away).

Preparations had been made via IM the previous night; we were to simply walk out of school during break, and set up a demonstration around the town pump. But as this moment approached, a problem soon reared its ugly head: Year 9 had already upped and left, embarking on a spree of vandalism and shoplifting which culminating in the police escorting them back to school. Things were not looking up for those who actually wanted to protest.

As break neared, with many students anxious to leave, a bell suddenly rang out. A fire bell, to be precise. After a moment's hesitation, the class shuffled out, everyone assembling on the field as per usual. As the teachers began checking everyone was there, the bell for the end of class rang.

Bugger.

20 minutes later, we were (finally) allowed to go, although not after the headmaster began lecturing those who had been returned to school. After a brief run to lockers to collect bags, banners, etcetra, we gathered outside the Sixth Form common room and marched into town. At last.

Overall, around 100-150 students from Year 11 and the Sixth Form turned up, just about every one of us carrying a banner of some sort. Once camped around the Town Pump and the church opposite, we proceeded to chant slogans, harass motorists, and generally have A Good Time. All the more fun was the fact that the Dorset & Devonshire Regiment of the Army was holding a recruiting session nearby. Many of the passing cars gave their support via the traditional honking of the horn, the police accepted flowers (we had acquired quite a large following of coppers thanks to the antics of the earlier group), and a good time was had by all. Hurrah.

This isn't going to be the last protest, if current events are anything to go by. And they're only going to get bigger.

Technology has turned me into an anesthetized guppy. I'm bug-eyed and bovine in a big bowl of milk. I'm annoyed by reality. I confuse masturbation with sensuality. The pleasant beeps from the tiny gadgets I buy leave me wanting more pleasant beeps from tiny gadgets. Magic flashing lights keep me occupied, in my seat, staring straight ahead. Any coherent stream of thought drowns in a flood of irrelevant sensory data.

"Don't let confusion stifle you. Calmly march forward. Single file. Now."

(i am not certain who is saying that)

Can I regain cognitive clarity? Did I ever really have any? Should I be sad that my tear ducts have dried-up from disuse? Do I want to lose this fuzz, if in doing so I lose my peace of mind?

...


nevermind

Fourteen hours after initiating the raid on Old Iraq, the Empire had spent $80,000,000,003.02. As an early evaluation of the strike results, it has been obtained one dead (civilian), 14 injured (civilians), 2 huts (made with parainfluenza viruses-contaminated mud) demolished, one coalition helicopter broken down (out of petrol), and 2 sand snakes (protected species) seriously hurt. About sixteen hours after the crusade started, more than 3,700 no mass destruction-bombs and 1,450 DU missiles fell on Baghdad, then the Hell came to visit the city, and countless casualties ensued.

On the basis of the above stocktaking, it can be advanced that the long lasting planned (12 years) war strategy constitutes more than a palatable success which heralds a very short battle on the skinny Mesopotamia ground.

Once the tyrant gives up, a political change would take place. It is strongly suspected, however, that Mesopotamia survivors (who -by the way- are expected to be the less awfully ugly and monkey-shaped among the elements belonging to the Axis of Evil concept) are not capable of choosing by their own neither the proper person nor representative institutions. Thus, the Empire will stay in that country in order to designate and support the most convenient staff. Even more, this is not the only sacrifice the Emperor is willing to do. Several plans have been carefully conceived by Him to repair, after this surgical war, the unavoidable damage caused by lead and fire in Old Iraq.

Moreover few secrets can be kept apart from the obstinacy of some infamous agents. In fact, the draft of the best recovery plan for New Iraq has just been stolen by the sadly astute Chinese spy Yel-low Thi-ef (who can be reached if you proceed quickely at http://politicalhumor.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitehouse.org%2Fnews%2F2003%2F031303.asp).

The content of this plan has been revealed and literally consists of the following relevant topics:

1. Non-Greed-or-Vendetta-Inspired Regime Change through Superior Defense Technologies.
2. Purely Humanitarian Reconstruction of Bombed-Out Buildings & Facilities.
3. An Utterly Charitable Clean Water Initiative.
4. Completely Altruistic, Famine-Averting Agricultural Programs.
5. Non-Greed-Inspired Road & Highway Rehabilitation.
6. Exclusively Kindhearted Enhancements of Railroads, Airports, and Ports & Harbors.
7. Wholly Compassionate Oil Plant Revamps.
8. Entirely Benevolent Assembly of Dams & Desert Hydropower Facilities.
9. Fully Non-Avaricious New Oil Well Drilling and Oil Well Completion.
10. Profoundly Selfless Delivery of Oil Refining and Pipeline Services.
11. Mercilessly Crush the False Religion of Islam.
12. Install Florida-Style Democracy.

In spite of the shame the violation of this allegedly well hidden state secret implies, a CIA spokesman has pointed out that a widespread broadcasting of such a plan could result in the hurried capitulation of the Enemy and -above all- the Basra surrender. Time will (shortly) tell.

I saw a man die today, I heard his scream for a split second as he was knocked down and under metered 16 mm film, without sound, like it mattered... He was dead and I stood there alive, I stood there and tried to dial 911 on my cellphone, I watched as a person called the ambulance from inside a house. It was sickening, his blood ran onto the street and made a glistening puddle on the pavement.

The ambulance came wailing and I watched the medics try and revive him, I listened as they became quiet and solem, he was dead, dead at the scene and I wondered if this man had a family or a wife at least, somebody who he was coming home to, but now these people wouldn't see his face anymore, he is no longer amongst the living, his soul and his last seconds caught on film.

Just before then I had come out of class after hitting it off with the cute punk girl, we had never really said a word but all of a sudden, we were partners in a project and it was like she was reading my thoughts and knew just what to say, the weirdest thing was: we were talking about car accidents. God I hope most people never have to see something like I saw, never have to see the gore and the blood or hear the paramedics go quiet and place the shrouded body into the back of the van and travel off after the corner has arrived. Seems like death and destruction are all around me right now.

Jeezus today was strange.

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