Note: I am venting in a daylog. This is not an official position paper on the subject of Iraq, the Middle East, or anything else. I love you like a sibling but if you attempt to argue with me about those subjects, I will ignore it. Thanks, Quizro.

So to begin with, I am elated that we plan to get the hell out of Saudi Arabia militarily. Given the interconnectedness of all peoples and nations in this day and age and our reliance on oil in that region I know this is only a fantasy, but I would love it if we could grant the "Arab street" its wish (if it actually exists and is not a figment of pundits' imaginations) and bug out of the Middle East entirely. Remove our soldiers, cut off trade, cancel passenger flights in and out, keep our godless and immoral media to ourselves, and let them go through their Dark Ages in peace in a hermetically sealed bubble of their own construction. Of course, this would mean cutting off aid to Israel and letting them get squashed like a bug. Though from what I've read so far in Jimmy Carter's Blood of Abraham about the history of that conflict since the late 40s, I wonder if the Arab nations are even capable of that level of cooperation at this point. Seriously, just read the timeline at the beginning of that book to get an idea of what a messed-up situation we've all inherited.

That news came nearly at the same time as a report that fifteen or so Iraqis were killed by U.S. soldiers during a demonstration on Saddam Hussein's birthday. If you cut out the hazy bits and the obvious falsehoods, this appears to be the agreed-upon bare bones of what happened: on the birthday of their late dictator, large numbers of Iraqis (with whom we are essentially still at war) held anti-U.S. demonstrations in close proximity to armed U.S. troops. Many demonstrators were themselves armed, and some of them fired their weapons. In response the U.S. soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators and people were hurt and killed.

Now. I'm not a hawk, I had grave reservations about this war, I feel anguish when I hear about people being hurt and killed under any circumstances, I know the Army is capable of lying, and I know that troops have in the past opened fire on civilians when they shouldn't have. I know from My Lai and Kent State, okay? But get this: many voices I've heard over the Spew expressing outrage over the incident claim that the demonstrators were not firing at the American soldiers, but merely firing their guns in the air. Therefore the soldiers opened fire on innocent participants in a peaceful demonstration.

That's as may be. But does anyone seriously think it's a good idea to fire weapons AT ALL around armed soldiers, especially when there's a war on and many of your countrymen are still trying to kill them? What should one have expected the soldiers' reaction to be? "Hey, I hear gunshots coming from that angry crowd. Let's wait a bit and see if any of the bullets hit us before doing anything--after all, this may just be a peacful demonstration." I'm not saying anyone deserved to be shot, but there's a cause and effect relationship here that could perhaps have been foreseen and avoided.

Yeah, we're pulling out of Saudi Arabia. But we're still in Iraq. I hope against hope that this chaotic and bloody time represents the birth pangs of a better life for that tortured nation, and maybe for the whole Middle East. But it's hard.

Um. In OTHER news (that totally wasn't why I posted), my initial deadline for Neon Blood has come and gone, and I wasn't able to submit the manuscript when I'd hoped. This has always been a possibility, and I'm not at all alarmed; it's just taking longer than planned. I'm still working on these last few chapters, the cover art isn't ready yet, and a few of life's little surprises required us to hand over the money that would have paid for publication to other people (like the dentist, and Geico). It'll be soon, though.

Tonight we drive up to Los Angeles to collect Angela's paintings from the cafe in Borders Books. Hooray for Los Angeles! She didn't sell any pieces this time, sadly. One person emailed an inquiry but balked at the price--while reasonable, it was obviously more than they were willing to spend. It's tough putting a price on your art. We might catch a matinee of X2 on Sunday, dunno. What I do know is that it's time for me to get back to work. Yoink!