I’m reading in
The Essential Gandhi by Fischer chapter 15, titled
Gandhi’s Message to All Men and just a few pages into the chapter I’m struck with a strong disagreement.
Up until now, I agree strongly with Gandhi’s arguments for strict adherence to purity and non-violence. When you are gentle, and compelling in the face of an oppressor, when you yield materially without resistance … well, what’s the aim of a bully? Generally, a real bully enjoys the struggle some.
Dad told me of a story which convinced him that there was power in non-violence … he had pissed off a bully who told him that he was going to be beaten up after school. After consultation with a friend of his who was in fact a gun-nut who later entered the Air Force, dad wrote a note for the bully and met him after school for the big showdown.
The bully struck him, and following his friend’s advice, dad did nothing to stop him, or strike back. The bully got one lick in, which didn’t hurt dad too bad. But there was no struggle to keep the bully occupied.
Dad’s letter to the bully consisted something of “I’m sorry for you, to be embarrassed in such a manner.” Despite his fears, dad didn’t get his ass kicked after all, he merely got one strike at him.
Turn the other cheek.
At this occasion, the power and appeal of Dad’s non-violence was that the cruelty, terror, unjustness, whatever negative adjectives you can use to describe the bully’s wrongful aggression, were starkly illustrated to Dad, the bully, and onlookers … what’s the point to fighting an enemy who is not in it for the fight? Says Gandhi, “They say ‘means are after all [just] means.’ I would say ‘means are after all everything.'” What is the end that justifies the mean of bullying? Of unwarranted aggression?
It is harder to see the evil in violence when it is construed as a means to an end … violent revolution, war … other examples I can’t think of just now … what if they held a war and nobody came? Gandhi would ask such a question, and I envision in my mind a country surrendering to an invading army, offering no resistance … why fight, when in the end justice will prevail anyway? Assuming, for the sake of example, we’re not dealing with Hitler and instead just mere territorial greed, if the country being attacked can absorb and then overwhelm the invader with … righteousness, love, truth … and so soften the invader as to purge the enemy therefor of the bad things which caused the invader to invade in the first place, and come to regret and hope to rectify these actions, well then is not everyone better off?
The collapse of the Warsaw Pact, all those totalitarian regimes, the reformation of Taiwan, are all beautiful examples of the fatal flaw of an unjust and oppressive system: it’s being run by humans. Humans tend to want to be pretty moral creatures, setting things right, atoning for their past transgressions, that sort of thing. The braver ones, the Mikhail Gorbachevs, the past leaders of South Africa, that leader in Taiwan that Ian told me about … they’ll actually go so far as to say “Look, this is wrong, let’s try to set it right.” These are the truest reformers, because they have the ability to simply maintain the status quo to their benefit, but they instead endure great material loss and put a lot of under-appreciated effort into doing the right thing.
How many times must the cannon balls fly, before they’re forever banned?
The thing that tends to be scary about the modern world though, is that humans are less and less employed in the means … it is easier to see the inhumanity of war when soldiers are charging at each other with fixed bayonets, staring each other in the eye and keeping a question on their own humanity open. It is a harder thing to do when you are dropping bombs on people, particularly big bombs, bombs affixed to missiles which can cross the globe and annihilate awesome amounts of life at the push of a button.
But then, it’s humans that have to build the machines, humans that have to push those buttons. And you’re better able, I’ve found, to build and operate complex gadgets when you’re acting out of rationality and not emotion.
Dad proferred some of his doubts about the Oklahoma City bombing … if Tim McVeigh was that freaking bonkers … a patriot that would indiscriminately blow up people … how capable was he of the planning required to build and plant that damned bomb? While I really don’t know all the details, the fact that he was so easily caught, while smelling of some government conspiracy, is also symptomatic of sloppy work. It’s one thing to build a big bomb and kill people with it as a loner. It’s another thing to do that really well. All the kids that were killed in the pre-school? A sign of mental competence would have been to check beforehand … like those guys at the World Trade Center, who rented an easily-traceable truck, leaving even the serial numbers on the vehicles … these are not people thinking clearly.
Luckily, it takes a great deal of effort to build something as complex as a nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, bombs have gotten a lot cheaper, because even though it takes a lot of clear minds and steady heads to build them, and a decent government capable of assembling the effort, the governments that have pulled it off weren’t good enough that they lasted so well, and the integrity of Russia’s stock-piles are in great question …
Anyways, back to being invaded … what do you do when a well-organized, well-tuned and strong terror machine is knocking on your border? You know, the Third Reich or something. They think you’re not even human. While non-violent swaraj has a chance of working, it’s more likely, I might tend to think, that by the time your good feelings overwhelmed the enemy, the numbers of people killed would not justify it. That’s assuming good triumphs in the end in any reasonably timely fashion … as effective as we are now at the arts of mind-control, propaganda and the like, it’s quite possible for at least an extended period of time to manipulate and control most of the population’s thinking and morality to suit your own ends. A human’s greatest strength is it’s ability to communicate good ideas … while high morality is a good idea, if the oppressor does a good job of eliminating those with the good ideas … well … self-sustaining. With time such a system could theoretically weed out any human intentions toward the good idea – nightmare scenarios like
I’ve clearly been thinking about this too much. But there’s times when you must take the great bravery it takes to stand up in non-violence to face the wrath and hatred of those you are trying to overcome through virtue, and there are times when you’ve got to take the great bravery it takes to reject this idea and out-muscle the opposing force, often with guns, weapons, civilian casualties, untold amounts of human suffering.
While my greatest sympathies would tend towards the side of non-violent and virtuous action against the foe, I also support the idea that violence would sometimes be the better course of action. The right answer to Hitler in Europe, and Tojo in Japan, was I think the one we delivered.
I think that anyone who takes up violent action though, should take it up with the greatest humility possible. These are extreme situations … when you are going off to hurt or kill others for the greater good … you should acknowledge that suffering and always interrogate yourself and feel true to your conviction that yes, this is the best way.
And you should do the job right.
I agree with World War II. I am heartened even more with the doctrine of total victory … if something is that evil that you must enforce violence against it, then you better be damn sure that fucker is eliminated. Nazism? Just say no, all the way … the system of barbaric conquest that was in place in Japan? Get rid of it!
That humility comes into play especially when I think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Towards the end of total victory, we inflicted awesome violence upon those cities. I think that America generally does feel somewhat ambivalent about that action. I think it is healthy that we continue to question the wisdom of that action … that reveals some humility on our part regarding the action we took.
We went all the way in World War II because we believed we were doing the right thing. We were firm in our convictions.
We failed in Vietnam, and I think too we failed in the Persian Gulf against Saddam Hussein, because we did not have a full moral conviction behind our actions. In Vietnam, we sunk to humiliating levels of inhumane barbarity in fighting the enemy … if you are going to kill, you should do so acknowledging the full human dignity of those you kill. Ultimately the greatest price you will pay is the bad feeling of having had to kill a person, or several people, in the case of combat … unless you are damn certain you are doing the right thing, you can’t do this honorably, and the only way you can achieve the end of surviving is to get even more fucked in the head … we didn’t believe in what we were doing, and we failed to retaliate after Tet, I understand, because we didn’t truly believe in the war, and lacked the conviction it would have taken to see that carnage through.
We failed in Iraq, I think I can say. Yes, by the standards of warfare, we did really well and kicked lots of Iraqi ass.
By the standards of swaraj, or human struggle, we failed. We liberated Kuwait back to it’s royal masters, but when push came to shove, when George Bush saw those pictures of carnage on the highway of death, he couldn’t stand it. Instead of the total victory that we stood for in World War II, we collapsed when faced with this moral dilemma. We did not push to Baghdad and rid the area of Saddam Hussein because we felt remorse at our own actions. They were undertaken for material benefit – oil, International prestige, and not for any great motivation on the part of the people involved. We chickened out.
Perhaps that George Bush sat on that popularity, doing nothing with it … maybe he was overwhelmed with what happened? He couldn’t stand the pain we were inflicting .. he didn’t believe in it because it was wrong, and he got really weirded out after the war as to his ability to really act right.
Well, that’s pushing it … but …
I opposed the war. The day before the bombs began to fall I participated in my first protest. We marched from Lincoln Park down Lake Shore Drive and into Daley Plaza. I was full of great conviction then, shouting “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your fucking war!” I sincerely believed and continue to believe that without the violence, which is now used by Saddam to justify himself, that he would have collapsed more readily under the more humane and oppressive weight of sanctions and a huge fucking Army waiting out in the desert for him, with great patience, for him to fall. As the stand-off continued, I heard more reports on the radio of small signs that Saddam’s control was being eroded. It would have taken a long while … it took a long while to sit out apartheid, but in the end, quiet pressure won out, and fewer people lost their lives in armed conflict.
When the war started, I shut my mouth, and supported our soldiers. I may question the virtue, but wars aren’t won by consensus … if we’re going to do it with violence, then I will put my support behind it. That we failed to follow through though … Saddam Hussein is still fucking there! Some argue that eliminating him would cause a power vacuum … maybe Iran might get ambitious … maybe I’m a fool, but if one leader’s bad, and you remove him, someone takes his place … maybe or maybe not he’s a better leader. If you replace Saddam Hussein, you’re prolly trading up though … if that leader can’t hold Iraq together though … well, maybe we could do the right thing and acknowledge the truth that the country is pretty cobbled together and maybe a better solution is possible … hindsight is 20/20, possibly. Crystal balls are pretty murky though .. to not do the right thing on the chance that something bad might happen … that’s wrong.
I dunno. But the fact that there is so much opposition to sanctions, that we’d rather just forget about Iraq … we wish it’d just go away. We did wrong.
We should acknowledge the Allied casualties of war, but we should also try to repent for the Iraqis who died. I have believed this for so long … every Iraqi killed was a human tragedy. Every child that dies in Iraq now from lack of nourishment, whether it’s Saddam holding back or not … what the hell are we doing there now? Traipsing around, trying to coerce and cajole Saddam into letting us find his poison gases? We should either give up or strong-arm him the right way.
I dunno, and my arguments are getting emotional …
Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night, of the dear savior’s birth.
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
’til he appeared and the soul felt his worth.
A thrill of hope: the weary soul rejoices,
And yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees!
Oh hear, the Angel’s voices!
Oh night divine!
Oh night, when Christ was born!
Oh night, divine!
Oh night, oh holy night.
Grandma is now online, dialing in to EnterAct with a term program called “Black Night” and reading her email with pine. “But ‘q’ is what I type to start Quick Mail at work!” It will take her awhile to get the hang of things through a shell. Luckily I have her password and stuff so I can wander in and set things up for her when need be.
As we were leaving her work at the University of Chicago, I remarked that this was the second occasion I had to be on a college campus during my vacation. The nice thing about college campuses being, imho, a good number of attractive women my age. I wasn’t particularly revelrous, if that is even a word, recalling my earlier occasion to be at Northwestern to attend a memorial service for Marcus Marinho, an EnterActer.
I knew Marcus very little, but he seemed like a good guy. This was affirmed over and over again as friends of his spoke of his good nature, his helpful attitude toward things. I didn’t feel such a loss, except for the fact that I don’t get a chance to know him. His comrades felt a very deep loss, which I could only barely grasp, I think. After all, he was a great guy, and what’s most jarring perhaps, was that he was young, and the fateful car crash in California that took his life was something people don’t normally expect from someone in their twenties.
And among the number of his comrades was most of EnterAct, which closed for the day so everyone could attend. I could tell that they were each grieved in some way, but they seemed to be taking things pretty well. I liked the chance to get together with all of them. We went out to a restaurant in Evanston, and sat together, seventeen people at a table, like a great extended family, and I a cousin come to visit from afar. I knew most of the people there, but some were new faces. I felt comfortable with everybody. It was nice to see Mike, Elyse, Tracy, Jim, Jess, Juan, Charlie and the others. I’m even more interested in working there now, having been reminded of what a good group there is that I could so easily be a part of.
I just sent Tracy my resume. Mike said they need people in the Network Operations Center.
Of course, if they find out that due to a brain fart I typed
rm /etc/* the other day they might try to keep me away from the Unix systems. Moshen was helpful in my crisis when he told me that he had once accidentally nuked /etc himself on his own system.
For the unenlightened, that command kills off the important system configuration files. That kills a system, basically, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily I’m half competent enough to have pulled my shit out of the fire even without backups to fall back on. As backups go though, I was lucky to have sasquatch at my disposal, and doubly lucky that it’s running the same, or near-same version of FreeBSD as stumpy here.
Mom’s buying a new computer. A Compaq. My single greatest misgiving is that the memory system on there seems very non-standard, and despite Compaq’s promise of ass-kicking performance, I’m wary of it’s limitation of 48M of RAM, in an apparently proprietary format. But then, mom’s not much of a power user, the price was damn right, and in the worst case it’s not hard to replace a motherboard. She bought the system mail-order from Milwaukee, WI. No sales tax that way.
I payed bills today, and am now broke. Maybe I shouldn’t buy that harddrive I wanna get off Inspector’s Gadgets when I get back to town? I thought today that the beauty of credit cards is that you can spend money that you have not yet earned. Well, I know I’m in line for the money, about $300 or so … it seems kind of extravagant but I’m telling myself the most important use is supplying stumpy with enough space that it can keep a directory of FreeBSD source code and track -stable or maybe even -current if I feel bold. With source in hand, I can learn a bit more how the system works you see?
I can also amass more mp3s.
The snow was falling very prettily as I walked home this evening from buying soap, deodorant and washcloths at Walgreens.
My mind is blank right now. Maybe I should read History. History set me asleep today. Foul portents.
Dinner tonight included chicken tenders and french fries. They’ve got the funky new lard-enriched fries like at Burger King. I’m not eating fries any more. I mean, I like a fry that’s not limp, but not brittle either. Yuck! I prefer limp to brittle but Americans seem good at settling for second best.
There was a long line throughout dinner, people waiting on their fried foods. The cook came out and said that they only had two “fry-o-laters” with which to make the chicken and french fries, and so that we should all send email to the powers that be to get them newer, better, or more “fry-o-laters”
Whatever that thing is.
Oh, coolest news of the day: Netscape is releasing their source code!
Means two very important things to me. The first is that we can get the bugs outta Netscape and make it the way we want, adding customizability and porting it among platforms. It also means that Microsoft’s competitor is about to enroll tens of thousands of hackers throughout the world in it’s effort – people who work for free! If you’re gonna give your product away for free, you might as well have the community develop it for free. Linux and FreeBSD demonstrate that this philosophy actually produces a pretty damned fine product.
Or, even looking at things from the point of view of desperation, if the man is gonna run you down, you can do a lot worse than just giving the technology away and thus give the victor a rather hollow victory .. because now even if Netscape will be going out of business, there will still be a competing product out there. Makes me feel right patriotic to the freeware movement.
And grateful to Netscape for giving the community it’s hard-won gift in it’s totality.
This section was written Sunday evening on the Pilot.
I was waiting on Green Street for the bus to take me to the train station. A campus bus called the Illini pulled up and I nodded my head “no” to save him the trouble of stopping. He stopped anyway, pulling the door open.
“What bus are you waiting for?”
“That one aint running anymore.”
“I need to get to the train station. Any suggestions?”
Clearly this was a difficult request. He hopped on the radio and asked about another bus.
“You can catch the yellow. It’s up there. Hop on.”
I rode with him a block towards Wright. He stopped in front of the Union to pick up a group of students.
“See that bus up there?”
“That’s the yellow – he’s waitin’ for you.”
“Thanks!” as I took off running in front of Everett to catch up with the bus resting at the Wright Street shelter. As the doors opened I looked at the driver and tried to explain myself.
“The other guy sent me.”
“That would be Chip.”
“He’s a great guy!”
I am so excited. I haven’t rode a train in years. Being in one of the front cars, I swear I can hear the sound of what I believe to be the beautiful putt-putt of the train’s diesel engine.
The leg room is astonishing! Trains, being the wonderfully fuel-efficient devices that they are, have less to gain by packing us in like sardines. To serve more passengers they only have to add another car. For an airplane or a bus to do the same … well they can’t do the same!
And that, of course, is why trains are superior. Nowadays even trucks ride trains, in a sense, for the long-haul. There are modular containers which can be stacked on trains and ships and placed on trailers for local delivery. That’s just cool.
So, Monday morning I got up at 0630h and rode to work with mom. I dozed off in her office, then grabbed a very inexpensive breakfast of French Toast in the cafeteria. After that we headed off to traffic court for my 1030h hearing.
On the way out, mom introduced me to “the girls” – all her Physical Therapists seem to be in their twenties, which seems weird but cool. Like college, only everyone’s a few years older, and there’s four peers as opposed to 40,000.
Anyways, we waited in traffic court, the proceedings going uninterestingly. From what I could tell, mine was a somewhat special case. Others seemed to feature mainly repeat offenders for speeding and other infractions. I was in there for a moving violation which resulted in an accident with no injuries, property damage, and no problems insurance wise. All the same, when I was called forward to the bench, the witness, Mr. Goldman, whose car I had hit, was not present, and the prosecutor said that the police officer was sick with the flu and asked for a reschedule. As the judge explained that I would have to come back in March, I interrupted, “Your honor, can I just plead guilty?” She seemed a bit surprised, but complied, issuing me a thirty dollar fine, a light penalty considering other fines were running forty to sixty with “supervision”.
My intent was, of course, to avoid the expense of traveling to and fro for such a trivial matter. Thirty dollars is less expensive than the cost of round-trip between Chicago and school, without even counting opportunity cost of missed classes and work.
After paying my fine I saw Mr. Goldman in the lobby. He had been delayed due to car troubles. Irony. He seemed disappointed or frustrated or otherwise unhappy with my guilty plea. “No, you say ‘Not guilty’ because it was just an accident and they let you off!” My understanding ran contrary to this, but I know Mr. Goldman’s testimony and that of the police officer could only have helped. This is this matter of impatience on my part. Some have suggested this gives me a criminal record or somesuch, but I figured if just going and pleading guilty was so bad the judge might have said something, especially as I hadn’t bothered to consult the legal counsel, which would have taken longer.
Ahh, the intricacies of court.
So, after that, I drove back, with mom in the car, which was very nice of her. I didn’t want to miss all the things I had scheduled, like the NASO meeting, dinner with a friend, and work from 1900h.
At the NASO meeting I volunteered to write thank-you letters for Organizations that had contributed to Pow Wow. Bill said he thought that the lack of thank-you letters was offensive, and that furthermore he hadn’t time to finish the rest.
I’m a Rhetoric major.
Of course, this was after one of the more … outspoken members launched an attack on what she felt to be a terrible lack of Native Americans in Native American Student Organization, being reflected in the President and the Treasurer-elect being non-enrolled persons. This sparked a debate that was way tangential about the meaning of enrollment, qualifications for what is a Native American, and stipulations that NASO might attach to it’s executives. She was particularly offensive in her approach, but she seemed to be the only one who felt such a way. The other enrolled Indians seemed perfectly comfortable with us white oppressor types pitching in to help the group. The president is a white guy, which is kinda cool in it’s colorfulness, while still illustrating the problem of Native Americans at the University: there just aint enough.
One of her objections were to
fake Indians or folks who claimed some Indian ancestry but weren’t enrolled. I may be 1/16th Cherokee, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m a white guy, and that’s all I’ve ever claimed to be. I thought she was just barking up the wrong tree with me. Lots of passion and justifiable resentment, but it just isn’t targeted very constructively, in my opinion.
So, Bill Clinton came to town today. The whole place has been excited and everything all day. He didn’t say anything interesting, which is to be expected. Jon got irritated when Al Gore referred to the University as the central cloverleaf of the Information Superhighway.
We hate the term Information Superhighway in the first place. Jon said the abusive metaphors were driving him nuts.
Whatever. It’s Al Gore. He invented the first term so if he wants to be a schmuck about pushing his metaphors around, more power to him.
If you start talking about Cyberspace though, don’t expect any sympathy from dannyman.
Anyways, the cool part was when Al Gore started yelling. See, all the dopes who got to make speeches before the president got to be more expressive towards the audience. This includes Al Gore, who CNN apparently didn’t give a shit about. Bill Clinton comes to the podium in the midst of scandal after his State of the Union address and the world’s cameras power up.
Al Gore however, was shouting things like a pro wrestler. It was kinda weird, and I wondered if something hadn’t gotten into his water. It’s good to see him trying to resemble a human being though. Maybe.
I was giggling at the image in my head of Al Gore wearing a mask and some colorful wrestling costume threatening the Republican party or scandal-mongers with his mighty physical prowess.
Whatchya gonna do, when Al Gore runs wild on you? Grrr!
Clinton was greeted at Willard by
local heros … I was a bit wary of the heroics when the first lady to shake his hand was Mrs. Ramos, director of Food Services. What is so heroic about the crap that passes for service on this campus tends to escape me. The rest of the heros seemed like nice folk though.
At the end of Bill’s speech, he was shaking hands on his way out. Tsoni had a good position, given his place in the College Democrats leading the Schmidt campaign. He shook hands and exchanged a few words both with Bill and Al. He patted Bill on the shoulder and the allegation, apparently founded by me, is that Al gore rubbed his head. He doesn’t believe that and I was babbling it to everybody so excitedly that it’s now dubious as to whether it actually happened or if it is simply the product of a rather flamboyant guy making irresponsible claims and folks gobbling it up. Eventually I may well receive independent confirmation of the occurrence. Tsoni doesn’t remember it happening, but seems open-minded about it. I think the experience was likely somewhat surreal.
Tsoni’s been glowing all day. And all the hall that does know him, has been absorbing it.
Tsoni’s the man.
You know, with all the saber-rattling that we’ve been doing to threaten Iraq, I’ve felt very uncomfortable. I’m generally opposed to bombing the hell out of what are likely to be mostly innocent civilians, as well as to the embargo, which really just hurts the poor people worst.
And yet, I haven’t a better solution to offer, or do I?
Yes, howzabout the President makes a speech … something where he addresses the American people and the world and starts off about how evil Saddam Hussein is, and the terrible things he’s done, and the threat posed by the weapons programs, and how he’s fucking his own people in the ass, thumbing his nose at the whole world, and generally deserves whatever he’s gonna get from the United States.
There is no doubt that measures must be taken against Saddam Hussein. As I address you tonight, American and British war planes are being launched from their carriers in the Persian Gulf towards targets in Iraq. There is much opposition to the use of our force on the part of France, Russia, and many of our allies. Nevertheless, the course has been set, and we must never give Hussein the impression that we will allow him to worm his way past the standards of the world community and the UN.
Our war planes and cruise missiles have a variety of targets, including air defense systems, command and control centers, munitions depots, presidential sites and suspected chemical and biological weapons sites which Saddam is denying UN inspectors access to. These targets will suffer heavily from the powerful ordinance that our military will begin inflicting on them momentarily. There will certainly be innocent Iraqi lives lost in these attacks, and long-term negative repercussions as a result.
However, it does not satisfy us that these targets be eliminated. Our problems will not be solved with a few airstrikes, or any other use of military force. Our problems can only be solved by a change on the part of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people – a change that would benefit not only them, but their neighbors in the middle east, and the entire world as a result.
This change would be reflected in cooperation with UN weapons inspectors, to remove from their nation the poisons on their current regime. This change would be reflected in responsible government, which concerns itself first with feeding its people instead of continued military spending. This change would be reflected in a government that responds to the needs, both material and spiritual, of its people.
Governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. We have, since the invasion of Kuwait, taken this idea and applied it in the form of sanctions to cripple the Iraqi people and coerce them to change their government. It hasn’t worked. Today, more than five years since operation Desert Storm, Iraqi children are undernourished and without vital medicines, and world opinion is more concerned with the plight of these innocent, good people than with the evil intentions of their leader. And it is right that the world should be concerned for them.
While the United States will never support lifting these sanctions until Iraq has complied with the directives of the UN Security Council, we realize that the Iraqi people have been weakened too far. That instead of throwing off the yoke of their tyrant they are bound to him as their only source of hope. To be honest, none of us can accurately guess the mindset of the Iraqi people, but we know that we can do something to help him.
So tonight, and for the indefinite future, American planes will be flying in to Iraq not only with deadly munition to use against Saddam Hussein and his evils, but also with humanitarian aid packages that will be dropped for civilians. For every bomb that falls from the sky there will be meals for hungry children, medicines for the ailing, clothing and books and other supplies that can feed not only mouths, but also nourish minds.
For it is the way of a tyrant to starve a population in to submission. Saddam Hussein is starving his people not only of food, medicine, and material welfare, but of intellectual and spiritual nourishment as well. It is this starvation which has caused the stagnant, hopeless situation we see in Iraq today, and it is this stagnation we must actively address.
For too long we have been playing games with Saddam Hussein on his turf by his rules. He is a warlord, and we have been responding with our war. We realize though that Saddam only feeds off of the destruction we can inflict. Now we will fight him with peace. We are putting our faith no longer in our own soldiers, who are foreign to Iraqi soil and can not themselves affect change. We are now putting our faith in the Iraqi people, that they are good people that need to be supported. If we support them, we support the idea that all oppressed people in this world must be freed.
It was Churchill who once said that given the supplies, he would finish the job of fighting fascist oppression. It is with our supplies again that we hope this time the Iraqi people, allies we do not yet know, but who we are putting faith in as human beings, can finish the job of fighting their oppressor, of changing the face of their nation from one of the world’s worst and most threatening totalitarian regimes into something that inspires hope. The Iraqi people are the only people that can effect this change. It is the Iraqi people that we now charge with and will support in our endeavors.
Hokey? Risque? Stupid? Well, good thing I’ve not been elected president. The way I look at it though, fucking Iraqis in the ass doesn’t help anyone. Saddam is trying to show them just a faint glimmer of hope in his leadership, in his own twisted, corrupt way. We have the materials, the supplies, and the moral superiority to show them a greater hope that does not rest in their dictator, but in moving past him. Saddam is a master of military oppression, especially when his subjugates are people without hope. If we give them hope, good will and love, and treat the Iraqi people with the respect that they deserve as human beings, they will persevere, and they will persevere to a better form of government.
Yes, dropping supplies on civilians will end up to a lot of the bounty being hoarded by Hussein’s goons, but the people will know that these great things have come from the sky, and where they have come from. And they’ll know who has taken them away, out of greed. It will become clearer who the enemy is. My enemy, as an American, is Saddam Hussein and his people. But the people of Iraq are not his people, I am sure, and the people of Iraq are the ones who can best finish the job of taking him out.
I would have to think this out a lot more to make the reasoning clearer.
I’ve been reading up on Roman history. There’s an exam on Tuesday. I think I’ll do alright. I’ve done a decent job with mostly keeping up with readings, and it’s a survey course, so hopefully my relaxed attitude will be better reflected by my peers in the grading curve.
Recently I developed for myself a new … thing.
Yeah. In my home directory there’s a file called
scorecard.txt which I fill out every day … something like at the end of the day looking back and reviewing what has or hasn’t been accomplished. The categories I’m keeping presently include something I’ve read, outside of class, a good deed, my “high point”, a “lesson learned” and an “Idea for Tomorrow”
Reading, that’s important to me. I’d like to be able to say most any day that I voluntarily read something I had some reason to find interesting.
The good deed … well, it’s not even a Boy Scout thing so much as it reflects a belief on my part that we live for others. We’re social creatures and all, and if I can’t think of any good thing I’ve done for my community or some person, well … This way I can also keep track of what I’ve been doing good, make sure I don’t “fall behind” as it were. For Friday, for example, the best I could offer was “held a door open”
I’m thinking I won’t keep this public on the web page just yet, but for now, for understanding, howzabout a sampler?
22 February, 1998
Discover - article about building microscopic robots
I was prepared to give up a seat on Tim's couch for Jacob, when Eric
finally gave in and did as he was asked. I handed him the husband I had
prepared to use.
Complimented Ganita on her emerald crushed velvet shirt.
Idea drawing parallel between Apostle Paul and Gandhi in that they both
desire above any other capability of man "love" or "charity"
Hypothesis - Moral altruism may be a consistent end of philosophers. To
catch popular acceptance though, they must tie this to a material benefit -
heavenly reward for Paul, national self-reliance and peace for Gandhi ...
racial equity and personal piety for MLK, etc.
Idea for tomorrow:
Catch NetDev AM meeting, study more for history, microtheme.
I just filled that out right now.
This is not unlike my own thoughts.
Leaders of the National Council of Churches, representing mainline Protestantism, joined with Catholic leaders in appealing for an aggressive humanitarian and diplomatic response to Hussein’s intransigence, giving Iraq food and medicine rather than dropping bombs.
“We believe the key lies in allowing the Iraqi people to see the United States and the community of nations as compassionate friends, not agents of injury, threat and pain,” council leaders said.
Religious community against U.S. air strike
Daily Illini, 23 February, 1998
Tue Mar 3 22:57:21 CST 1998
Manic Depression is touchin’ my soul!
I know what I want but I just don’t know!
(How to go about gettin’ it.)
Feelin’ sweet feelin’
I wish I could caress, and kiss.
Manic Depression’s a frustrating mess!
Today I was depressed. Not for any good reason, mind you, I think it’s kinda like garbage collection. I slept through my morning classes and I’m starting to feel a little better now.
Too much thinking about women, that old Beavis screaming how it’s unfair and we’re never gonna score kinda thing was part of that, and a whole symphony of other things … some of my most important people are feeling kinda down in the dumps too, for respective reasons, and I may have carried off some of that.
All’s fair in love and war, for a good cause.
You know, organized Republicans make me jittery?
You know, this past week I’ve been working on a web site for the daily-menu stuff?
You know, I went to a program tonight where pro and anti Chief folks were presenting their opinions to the University student Senate? See, the Republicans were there, all sitting front and center, and except for a token black lady and a blond girl who said “my great great grandmother was a Cherokee princess” they were all white people. Now I have nothing against white people myself – I mean hey my whole blood family is white people – but a whole bunch of them sitting together cheering on the cause of a Native American mascot makes me feel ooky.
The Senate will be voting on a resolution to remove Chief Illiniwek as the school mascot. Even if it passes the Senate though, nothing really happens unless the Board of Trustees, appointed by Jim Edgar, approve it as well.
The Board of Trustees is a bunch of crusty old white people who think they’re right. The arguments of the pro-chief forces were basically “I like the chief, he means a lot to me, and he’s not so bad, we should keep him.” The anti-chief folks kinda stressed how he was inaccurate, offensive, patronizing, and tended to reveal the University’s hypocrisy – the chief is meant to honor, but he offends Native people. Proponents claim he raises awareness of Native culture, but the University doesn’t have a Native American studies program. The University promised a dean for Native American students, and then reneged.
Judging by the statements made by Senate members who were present, there was a strong anti-chief feeling by the end of the meeting. It felt reassuring. I know the whole conflict isn’t at all about to be resolved overnight. If the senate passes it’s resolution to retire Illiniwek though, and the BOT shits on the student action, things might get very interesting indeed. The student body is pretty fucking apathetic especially after that DIA move.
One Senator asked a question as to why if the Chief was okay back in 1927, is it no longer acceptable? I think it was a rhetorical question, but I muttered to myself “Black face was acceptable in 1927.” The guy next to me heard and quipped “and the Klan was an RSO.”
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
One student, Tammy Stanke, went on a big thing about how our University was a leader, and its students were leaders, and yadda yadda yadda yah … and so it is fitting that our symbol is a Chief, because “the Chief is always listened to.” I thought of how, if my understanding is correct, the Chief in an Indian tribe generally lets others speak and decides amongst the arguments presented, presenting a verdict, more like a judge. A University and a wizened judge sort don’t seem the same type to me … we’re full of babbling youngsters, who produce ideas for society to use and judge. Our supercomputers are not something I could envision a wise old Indian Chief taking a leadership role on. But then who am I to speak for native culture?
While he started out kinda nervous-sounding and stuttery, David Song made a point I found especially agreeable, that the Senate should pass the resolution in part to bring the debate before the BOT, who would just as soon forget about Native American affairs and issues of student democracy entirely, like they were bad dreams. Okay, I’m putting words in his mouth there, but I do agree that the Senate would serve the student body well by being more contentious with the Board. I, for one, am not a Happy Camper.
I went to lunch, and they were serving Cheeseburgers. Now normally these are kinda processed-meat looking things with a little rectangle of cheese over part of them that makes you think you’re in a fast food place. Shake the grease off well and you’ve got a fairly tasty burger by those standards. Today they were cooked poorly though. Dark on the outside, pinkish cold on the inside, and all the lettuce was flat and wilty. I cracked. I got pissed off and really bitchy and went on a little tirade about how I hate everything. As much as we get charged for this food, you think they could do a decent job! We agreed that getting Old Country Buffet in there or some private enterprise that does a good job might be pretty keen. If you can’t tell, I’m not at all keen on dining services.
What else? The guy from the Observer, our local left-wing loony tabloid, argued that we should keep the Chief because there’s this football fanatic who drives to every game from Kentucky or somesuch who would stop coming if the Chief were retired. Tammy also compared incidents of the Chief being burned in effigy by opposing schools to incidents of the American flag being burned in foreign countries – “they’re not burning us” – no, Tammy, they’re not, they’re burning an image of a Native American which we have appropriated for our own use. I’d rather be represented by old glory than the people we raped to build this great country, and if anything is to be burned in effigy, I’d rather not it be an image representing a people we collectively owe a great deal to.
The PRC representative asked rhetorically why the College Republicans were participating in an effort to build a monument to Ronald Reagen in every state when for Native Americans it was sufficient to honor them as a football team mascot. Why not honor Native Americans with a statue, a monument, or something more honorable?
The whole issue makes my stomach churn and my blood boil, but I kinda need that now anyways, keep me motivated!
Someone retorted to all those who argued that Chief Illiniwek honored them that it’s not about you it’s about Native Americans!
Well, enough about me.
My history with computers begins Christmas of 1984 when Grandpa gave our family a Commodore 64 computer. It was several years before we had a complete system including disk drive, monitor, and printer. At first I was relegated to typing commands into the basic interpreter and playing cartridge-based games.
Upon graduating eighth grade in 1989, I convinced my family to reward my endeavors with an Amiga A500 computer, which blew the 64 away, holding twenty times more memory, much more speed, a capacity of 4,096 colors at higher resolution with special graphics chips, compared to the 64’s 16 colors, and best of all it had a cool built-in disk-drive on the side.
By 1992 I had saved up half the money required to make the purchase of an Amiga 1200, the descendant of the A500, with more advanced graphics, processing power, and a continued low price tag of around $600. The A1200 and A500 were cheap enough for my family to realistically afford, and gave a great amount of ability for the price. The graphics, sound, and multitasking Operating System were far superior to that offered on any other platform. Unfortunately, Commodore’s management and marketing sucked, and they went belly-up by 1996.
After being discharged from the Army in 1994, I began attending the University of Illinois in Winter of 1995, where I was for the first time exposed to NCSA Mosaic, and was induced to create my first web page. I remember the great effort it had been to find, scan, crop, and convert a small photo of me to augment what I had there. The web loaded a lot quicker before everyone started putting graphics all over the damn place like they do today.
Telecommunications has always been a strong interest of mine. Unfortunately, online services were priced beyond my reach throughout most of my childhood. By the time I came to the University I was finally making enough money to subscribe to a local Chicago Internet access provider. I’d felt like I missed a lot not having the financial capabilities to get on the networks sooner though.
When I first arrived at the University, my interest was in not going in to Computer Science, as I really only liked the Amiga, ever-waning in it’s popularity. That and I wasn’t particularly interested in making Math a great thing in my life. However, I eventually did join the CS department after my first experiences learning code – it was so fun and liberating! Now I had some power over computers, I could write the software, and do things the way I hoped they could be. And, after all, the other computers weren’t so bad. The Unix systems at least seemed to work well enough.
Well, Math of course, is not my strong suit. A year or so ago I met Brad in the Allen cafeteria, and was shocked at his approach of being a Rhetoric major with a minor in CS! Gee … I’d always enjoyed writing for my own personal interest, much as I loathed research papers. And I did hit the 99% percentile on the ACT for “Rhetoric” – whatever that was, I had not known at the time. And come to think of it, hadn’t I placed out of Rhet 105 three different ways?
The next week, I proudly made the switch.
The Internet continues to play a very big part in my life. My web site grows slowly every week. I keep my diary on-line for others to read. I write CGI applications. I’m a hard-core Unix geek, administering two of my own systems, writing my HTML and perl scripts in vi, wowwing friends with afterstep. I work for the networking group at NCSA, for the CSIL as a labsitter, and worked last summer at an ISP in Chicago called EnterAct, where I may very well return this summer.
I now use only Unix, and my old Amiga systems from time to time out of nostalgia and respect for history. I own two Unix boxen, four Amiga systems, and the old Commodore 64. While most of these are antiques, I still lend some systems out to others from time to time to facilitate their computing needs.
My fanatical Unix snobbery does mean that I know very little about Windows 95 or Mac. Because I have good computer karma, I still tend to negotiate such systems better than the average Joe, but I’m by no means a wiz. Instead I enjoy spending my time tinkering with completely open systems like FreeBSD. I am proud and inspired by the idea that there are now several very competent Operating Systems available even for normal users that are built and maintained entirely by volunteer effort. It is my goal to continue to learn and ultimately contribute to this effort as I can.
I hate Windows though. I find Microsoft’s philosophy of “Might Makes Right” peculiarly offensive. It seems a holy war between the dark forces of greed and the efforts of people writing useful stuff for free. I’m proud to say that not one byte of Microsoft code has ever run on any system that I own. In order to push this idea of independence I am even now writing a school paper in the archaic language of troff through vim, sending the job to the Dorm’s NT print server through lpr.
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