You've only been gone for 9 hours and I'm already feeling the emptiness around me. I haven't left for home yet, but I'm already dreading walking into an empty house. I will be waiting for your call. I hope you call as soon as your plane lands, even before you walk off the plane.

I pray to all that matters that you arrive safely. I hope the storm in Chicago doesn't get worse, making it more dangerous to fly.

Two weeks of waiting, of loneliness. Nothing I haven't handled before, but it's been so long and you've become such an important part of my life.

I guess in the mean time I'll be arguing politics. Maybe I'll get bored and move on. Then I'll need to find some other way to kill time while I wait for you to come back into my arms.

I miss you, my love.

The force of the first blast blew the little girl out of bed. Whimpering, she lay on the floor covering her ears against the string of explosions that followed. The deafening torrent of sound didn’t stop right away, but continued for what seemed like forever, a thunderstorm of fire and steel.

The girl could feel things in the air above her tearing holes in the walls of the room as they passed over her head. When the barrage ended, for a moment she thought it could have been a dream. Any doubts vanished the moment she saw her grandmother burst into the room. The old woman threw herself to the floor, covering the girl with her body.

As her hearing returned, she recognized the agonized screams of farm animals and the wailing of her Grandmother. She couldn't make out what was said, but she could tell by the tone of it that Nana was extremely upset. The door burst inward again, and the girl looked up to see her father, face crazed with concern. His eyes darted about the room, finally settling on his daughter and mother on the floor.

They were still partially deaf from the concussive effect of the bombardment, but they could make out the words as he screamed, "Are either of you hurt?" When the two on the floor shook their heads, he ran back out into the night. The old woman got up and sat on the bed, tears in her eyes. The little girl found her voice. 'Nana, what happened?" The woman wiped her eyes with an old piece of lace she had wrapped tightly around her fingers. "We've been bombed, my darling, but never you worry, it's over now." The old woman stood and pulled her grandchild up with her. "To be certain we're going to spend the rest of the night in the cellar until your father says it's clear."

When they came out of the house, the chill light of dawn was casting a dreamlike aura, softening the harsh reality of the scene. The little girl wanted to believe that it was all a dream, but she couldn't pull her eyes from the carnage that lay in front of her. The barn was destroyed and dead livestock was scattered about the yard.

Her father was tearing through the smoking wreckage of the barn with his bare hands, making a kind of mewling noise in his throat she had never heard before. That noise and her father's frantic clawing upset the girl more than the explosions had. Gasping at the sight, Nana hurried her grandchild around the side of the house to the cellar entrance, blocking the surreal tableau with her body. Once they were underground, the girl gave voice to her fears. "Where is my mother?" It's all right, child. The old woman nestled the child's head in the crook of her neck while hugging her tighter. "She's probably helping your father save what's left of the livestock, now shush."

The fear in her grandmother’s voice exposed the lie, and the little girl cried when it sank in that she'd never see her mother again. The two spent the evening hugging each other, unable to stop thinking about what they had seen.

I listen to white noise while I work. Do you?

Well, not exactly white noise, as in noise conforming to a Gaussian amplitude distribution and sporting a rather boring power spectrum. I just thought it’d make for an attractive node title. Rather than simply saying “noise”. That lacks something, doesn’t it? Doesn’t drip with limerick-y catchiness.

But I digress.

I listen to noise while I work. It’s the singing of an undefined frequency band (although sometimes the singing of certain undiscovered bands does classify as noise). It’s the sound of the static you get on TV after closing time. The voices of a million little dots banging on the glass, wanting out. The void between your favourite stations, the hissing that gives you a little private moment as you tune your radio, before the next segment of commercialized trash hits you like a homie you just dissed.

Of course, I don’t always have the luxury of a TV set tuned to nothingness with me, so I carry a portable radio receiver around. Comes in handy at the library, when I’m slogging for exams, or preparing notes for the next pointless paper due yesterday. I jog the dial all the way to the end, then a little past. It’s like taking a train ride. I zoom past all the stations, pockets of humanity, catching dribs and drabs of this and that as I pass:


“…news-/-today, a horrible accident-/-oops, I did it ag-/-esident Bush met-/-….”


Suddenly the dial sticks, and with a jolt I realize I have reached the end. And I plunge into limbo in one timeless, magical moment. I revel in the solitude and comfort that is mine, and mine alone; The smugness that comes from knowing I provide the only speck of awareness in this virtual environment of unrefined audio.

As I settle down to work, it floods my consciousness. It fills gaps in my logic. It perks me up. It’s comforting, it’s encompassing, not in the least distracting, and most importantly, it calms me.

I listen to white noise while I work. Do you?

After careful reflection upon the recent incident in Abu Ghraib, I came to some conclusions:

I'm infuriated with what happened over there. I'm infuriated that a squadron of asshats have managed to single-handedly disgrace our country in the eyes of the international community. I'm infuriated that Lynndie England and her squadmates are incapable of doing anything except justifying their actions by slinging blame at some shadowy "higher-ups" rather than accepting the fact that they acted with gross irresponsibility. (I don't mean to single her out. They are all responsible, but she is the only one that I have read statements from.) I'm infuriated that some members of the armed forces of the country that is supposed to stand for freedom and human dignity treat human beings as if they were both animals and a convenient commodity.

I read some accounts of those in the armed forces, especially the Navy. I read about how officers would remove their wedding rings before shore leave, under the caveat that "What happens at sea, stays at sea." I read a man's observations that less than one quarter of the married men on his ship remained faithful to their partners while on duty. I read about the scramble to find easily available prostitutes once the ship hit shore. It may seem as if I am drifting from the subject, but it stands to reason that the way that a person treats others in the sexual arena will mirror the way that they treat others in all other aspects of life too. The type of people who act in such ways as this cannot be expected to act honorably in the field of combat. A man who cannot even honor and respect his own wife is not a man with the principles so desperately needed in war. A man of this nature is not a man who needs to be a soldier. But unfortunately, men of this nature appear to be common in the military. It bothers me that those soldiers who serve our country honorably are tarnished by the acts of such childish halfwits.

And now, there is this. The torture, sexual assault, and humiliation of prisoners of war. I can't say that I'm surprised. These are not the type of men that I wish to have defending the honor, pride, and security of myself and my country. These are not the type of men that I want associated with me at all.

To those who defend our country with honor, pride, and principle, I salute you. I respect you in the highest form possible. But the actions and mindsets that I have listed above are not those of an honorable warrior. These actions are not those of men (and women) who believe in and are willing to defend the sacredness of the human spirit. The actions of these men and women reflect horribly on us all.

Handing a man an M-16 and a pair of combat boots does not make him a hero, it is his actions that make him as such.

If anything, a group of people who have such an awesome power to take life as our Army does should be those with the highest reverence for life and humanity. But I have found, in general, that men who do such things as being regularly unfaithful to the women at home who love and support them, degrading women by purchasing them on a street corner like any other disposable commodity, gangbanging women on videotape, and sodomizing bound and hooded prisoners with glowsticks have little, if any, true reverence for their fellow human beings.

The God Emperor in the Dune series had the right idea, I think. How?

His entire army was comprised of women.

His explanation for this, once uttered, is quite simple. Women hold the cradle of life, which makes them, naturally, more reverent towards life. Women are able to find the needed test-against-death experience (through childbirth) that most men are only able to find in combat. This removes the variable of the psychological need for battle that most men experience on some level or another. When a force is comprised of people who are reluctant, but still willing when needed due to loyalty to a cause, to take life due to reverence for it and who are possessed of a psychology that does not include the need to aquire personal power through domination of some sort, then that force can act quickly and decisively to accomplish the goals that need to be met, while maintaining dignity, respect and honor for humanity, even the enemy. I don't think an army of women is the answer, but I think that an army that is carefully screened to weed out individuals who are not of this persuasion would be a damn good place to start.

But unfortunately, I believe that a cross-section of our society will uncover more animals than human beings, and the careful screening process that would be required to separate the animals from the men does not exist. And to make it worse, many of those that we are fighting against are also little more than animals.

The result?

Death, destruction, and finger-pointing all around. Thousands dead, thousands more wounded, lies, torture, and the systematic deception of the public to garner support for the war. On BOTH sides.

I am sad and shamed in my heart at the state of my brethren. I wish I had a solution, but the only real solution that I can think of is a complete paradigm shift in human consciousness. And I can't see that happening without an extremely traumatic event to catalyze it. This makes me very scared. I want humanity to make it to the next level without having to kill most of us off in the process.

But my hope continues to die.

I am aware of the brutal decapitation of Nick Berg by Al Quaida members, but due to certain discrepencies in that series of events, I have chosen to withhold judgement until more information is available. If this act was actually carried out as reported, then it does indeed make me sicker in my heart than anything above. But at the moment, I am not sure that it happened as it was reported.

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