Wednesday, December 04, 2002

on iraq. one thing is missing from what i have seen of the talking heads and what i have read, and this is a serious discussion of the impact of such an event on regional stability and what exactly happens after said invasion.

let's look at the example of the recent war with afghanistan. yes, this could be considered "an effective" carpet-bombing campaign that seemed to rid us of some demons, which is what i am gathering is suggested for iraq. but if you continue reading coverage of the current status of the country, which you will notice is quickly fading and being buried on page A22, you would know that the united states has turned down offers from countries such as germany for more peace-keeping troops. this is interesting, especially considering that recent reports also confirm that the taliban is regrouping and seizing control over territory in the country again. it is not enough to simply run over to a country, carpet-bomb the place, and not be around to nation-build, and even go so far as to refuse offers of help from allies in this spectrum. herein lies the problem itself: we can bomb all the countries in the world back into the stone age, but unless we kill everyone there, there will be rebuilding to do, or we will face the same problems of terrorist-harbouring repressive states. i'm going to assume that there isn't a serious contigency that still exists on the planet that would support killing everyone. it is a simple concept: clean up after yourself. if you're going to a place to 'help rid' the plague of totalitarianism and to make the world 'safe for democracy,' nation-building is required. it is an important and vital step in combating terrorism, one which i do not see the bush administration pursuing in an active manner.

for this reason, i reject out of hand the idea of war with iraq. we still have serious work to do in afghanistan, and now the administration is suggesting that we go carpet-bomb iraq and "take saddam out"? i have yet to hear one serious plan for how this administration plans to deal with a post-saddam iraq. don't get me wrong; i am no fan of saddam. is there anyone who is? but there is a question here that relates to general values and knowledge.

iraq is a substantially sized country smack in the middle of a tumultuous region. in the south, there are shi'a muslims, providing a linkage to iraq's neighbor iran. in the north, there are kurds, who are the victims of saddam's chemical weapons experiments, as we all know by now. we are speaking of a country essentially made up by the british in the 1920's, its various factions only held together over time by a strong, heavy-handed and not necessarily benevolent leadership.

let us focus on the kurds. this is a group of people who have been struggling for independence for decades now. in iraq's neighbor turkey, the kurds wage a serious battle for independence, even using terrorism.

how come none of the talking heads on television are asking the obvious question, which is: what on earth makes us think that in a new iraq, an iraq without saddam, the kurds in the north will not try to splinter off and form kurdistan with the kurds of turkey, thereby destablizing turkey (one of the main U.S. allies in the region)? how on earth does the bush administration plan to maintain iraq as a stable state at all, much less with a u.s.-imposed leader? the world has yet to see this administration demonstrate its prowess in creating a viable state in afghanistan; why should we give it a mandate to go to iraq now?

other things that must be considered while entertaining the prospect of war with iraq: the almost inevitable repercussions on the people of the state of israel. while we listen to talking heads speak daily of saddam's lunacy, the truth is that these people must not actually believe he is really crazy or that he has weapons of mass destruction, or they are desperately irresponsible people. because let us speak realistically here. donald rumsfeld was on television the other day saying that even if the inspectors don't find anything, it's because saddam has already hidden everything. slow down, back up---think. you're saddam. the inspectors are in your country, but you are still watching cnn and hearing rumsfeld say he isn't satisfied. you know that if the u.s. invades this time, they are taking you out, period. this mission cannot fail. what, exactly, do you, saddam hussein, have to lose by launching whatever weapons you have at israel, the major ally of the u.s. in the region and the one within in closest 'acceptable' striking distance, both politically and geographically? "preemptively"? for all these comparisons to hitler, somehow it is not coming up that hitler's last order was to destroy germany. if saddam is a madman, what makes us think that if we back him into a corner where he seemingly has no way out diplomatically, which is where the bush administration is putting him now---what on earth makes us think he won't try to take down as many israeli lives as possible with him, preemptively or after an invasion? is this an acceptable risk to the bush administration and the congress that gives the executive a blank check to run after anyone as it sees fit?

there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. i'll probably add to this particular diatribe at a later date.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

at the request of two people i am acquainted with, i am to read the following pieces: Barry Rubin's "The Real Roots of Arab Anti-Americanism" in the Nov/Dec 02 Foreign Affairs and Amos Elon's "Israelis and Palestinians: What Went Wrong" in 19 December 2002 New York Review of Books. since both parties seem to want commentary on my part, i figure, why not throw it all up here?

let's start with elon. i have some quotations from the article itself, which will follow my commentary here and include more points, but i would like to give an overall review. where do i find the words for a piece such as this, so well-written and so apt at cutting through all the crap of the conflict, so ably sketching the historical development of the current situation, and so damn depressing? my immediate reaction to finishing this article is "jesus christ." elon leaves us fearfully, speaking about how the conflict is now in a stage where the options, if nothing changes, appear to be a permanent status of war/terrorist acts and/or full-scale ethnic cleansing. he addresses the issue which this brings up very quickly, namely, where are the leaders who can change this direction? it seems clearer than ever that what the israeli-palestinian conflict needs is one rational person with some backbone, some jerk who gets elected to israeli office saying one thing and once he finds himself in the actual seat of power, turns around and does an absolute 180 on relations with arab states and palestinians. somebody who would act more out of a desire for history to remember him as brave and slightly insane than a desire for reelection, or even survival. this person would have to perform this kind of 180 i refer to because of elon's astute observation on the power of settlers in israeli electoral politics. ("Though 70 percent of Israeli voters say in the polls that they support abandoning some of the settlements, 400,000 settlers and their right-wing and Orthodox supporters within Israel proper now control at least half the national vote. They pose a constant threat of civil war if their interests are not fully respected. At their core is a group of fanatical nationalists and religious fundamentalists who believe they know exactly what God and Abraham said to each other in the Bronze Age.") unfortunately, i am not enough of an expert on parliamentary politics to be able to adequately assess whether such an action is even really possible without an immediate dissolution of a government. i have a strange, lingering feeling that even a jerk who got the power and then tried to act in accordance with what i will call historical morality would not be in office longer than twenty minutes. [so i guess we have to pray that in those twenty minutes they get a lot done.]

oh what a tangled web has been woven. has there ever before, in the history of the world, been such a ripe recipe for disaster, as is the modern israeli-palestinian conflict?

"Ben-Gurion preferred legitimacy to real estate, even if that real estate included the Wailing Wall and other historical and sacred sites." clearly. the simple genius of man who valued survival and strength of a jewish state over land. why must we ignore our revered leaders?

"Today, thirty-five years later, 4.1 million Palestinians live between the river Jordan and the sea (3.1 million in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and 1 million Palestinians in Israel proper.) Despite heavy Jewish immigration since 1967 there are still only some 5 million Jews, a ratio of only 1.2 to 1. Higher Palestinian birthrates are certain to assure an absolute Palestinian majority within ten or fifteen years." here we are, the age-old demographic problem. the question i pose time and time again to speaker on the conflict after speaker on the conflict. but sir, i say, wouldn't you say that the israeli state has a vested interest in, essentially, 'keeping' the rights of arabs and palestinians to a minimum, for due to demographic changes, pure numbers will cause problems with keeping the jewish state jewish? how is it possible, sir, for this to continue? but mr. israeli ambassador, this cannot go on, can it? so let us tease out the bare facts that elon has outlined for us here:

a palestinian majority within ten to fifteen years + nineteen year old palestinians increasingly having no problems blowing themselves up in israeli cities = dear lord in heaven. forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us. i would recite the rest of the lord's prayer if i knew it.

"For all practical purposes, the United States served as a ready partner in the settlement project." this comment, made in reference to the U.S. government allowing tax-deductible donations to flow into organizations and funds that helped finance settlements in the west bank and gaza, brings up several interesting points. first off, in the contextualization of 9-11, such participation by the U.S. government in continuing the trend of aiding settlements, thereby further alienating and angering the palestinians and hence the entire third world, is no longer sound foreign policy. it gives new definition to the concept of blowback. we do not live in a world where the U.S. government can operate on shaky moral grounds in foreign lands however its heart desires and not have to worry about whether its citizens will bear the brunt. it is defined, it is established, it is known: the citizens of the united states of america will have their physical and mental safety absolutely compromised by actions of their government abroad. second, this comment raises the specter of campaign contributions in U.S. electoral politics. two extremely power lobbying groups have vested interests in the state of israel, namely AIPEC and the Christian Coalition (CC). this would not be so damaging were these groups not quite so willing to link the existance of israel at all to the continued israeli occupation of the 1967 lands of the west bank and gaza. the CC angle is one that i have especially been interested in as of late. the fundamentally religious basis for CC's support for the state of israel, the biblical roots of its position on all matters dealing with the middle east, makes for a dangerous (in particular) GOP foreign policy. [for further consideration about the neoconservative movement in the U.S. and its impact on foreign policy, may i suggest the november 2002 discussion logs of h-diplo, available by search at ]

"Today there are 200,000 settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip—their number has been allowed to almost double since the Oslo agreement of 1993." this comment calls to mind said's _peace and its discontents_, an excellent work which rips the oslo agreement to shreds, which i have to reread, and which anyone who wants to understand what has gone wrong with all the "peace" agreements should keep by his bedside.

NOW FAIR READER, onto the immortal barry rubin, perhaps best known for his epic _the prize_, which focuses on oil. in this case, we shall examine his recent article in foreign affairs magazine. *******EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM. BARRY RUBIN DID NOT WRITE THE PRIZE. IT WAS DANIEL YERGIN. (this explains the incongruity. i realize now i was thinking of rubin's _paved with good intentions_. oh well. idiocy.) GOD BLESS YOU, PROFESSOR MANDAVILLE, FOR POINTING THIS OUT.*********

oh dear, my concern with rubin starts early. suddenly tom friedman's recent swing towards conservatism is ringing in my ears when i read this: "The result was more than 3,000 American deaths." barry, as a scholar, and even simply as a researcher, you know that there was more than one nationality that bore the brunt of the crime of the hijackers on 9-11. oversimplification alert. [not that i am never guilty of this crime, but then again, they don't publish my work in foreign affairs magazine.] but i read on, interested to see what will happen here.

the horror, the devastation. an eminent scholar selectively choosing histories and scripting a manifesto with the seeming thesis of the u.s. being "damned if it does, damned if it doesn't" in all matters arab and middle eastern. readers, before i even start in on this article, may i offer you a shred of advice. if you find yourself immersed in an article on the middle east, by anyone, at anytime, and it contains a clause like this, "the United States has also spent blood and treasure saving Muslims in Afghanistan from the Soviets": please immediately lean back in your seat, stop clutching the words so intently, regroup, read on, and understand it with a doubtful mind. the red flag words here are: blood, treasure, saving Muslims. this is sensationalism. note, if you will, that these words beckon mind's eye visions of crusaders. even if the author of said article is simply not expressing himself properly, and really is not trying to do this, the imagery which he is conjuring up is inappropriate to any sort of sane, informed discussion on the middle east. blood and treasure? in the words of bridget jones' friends in the film "bridget jones' diary," "come the fuck on."

i'm literally rereading this article dumbfounded at how misconstrued things can get. i am going to have to limit myself to four responses only to very specific assertions of rubin's. if i actually try to go after the whole article this could take hours.

1. rubin's conclusion.
"Even if the United States were to pressure Israel, end sanctions on Iraq, or pull its troops out of the Persian Gulf, Arab journalists and politicians will not start praising America as a wonderful friend and noble example. Instead, further concessions will only encourage even more contempt for the United States and make the anti-American campaign more attractive.

What, then, should Washington do? U.S. policymakers should understand that various public relations efforts, apologies, acts of appeasement, or policy shifts will not by themselves do away with anti-Americanism. Only when the systems that manufacture and encourage anti-Americanism fail will popular opinion also change. In the interim, the most Washington can do is show the world that the United States is steadfast in support of its interests and allies."

essentially, rubin's solution here for u.s. policymakers is to stand by and do nothing different, nothing at all, until these popular forces and tyrannical leaders fall out of power. stay the course, he argues. i am not quite so sure that if the united states pressured israel [what does that even mean? here i use it in the context of resolving things diplomatically with palestinians, but rubin doesn't even make this demarker, making the comment some sort of double-whammy insulting-to-all-zionists comment], halted the economic sanctions on iraq, and pulled its troops out of the gulf, the overwhelming arab response to such actions would only be more contempt for the united states. such an argument suggests that hatred of the united states runs so deep and so irrationally into the arab world that it is impossible to penetrate by rational means. essentially, this seems to say to me that the leaders and the masses are clearly retarded and haven't any idea what the score is. i suppose one could argue this. one could also argue that the sun is made of butter and that i startlingly resemble salma hayek. the point is this: even in a totalitarian state, people have a brain, meaning, if suddenly the economic sanctions in iraq were lifted, the people of iraq would realize that the u.s. had reversed its policy, no matter what saddam tells them. if we pulled our troops out of the gulf states out of some grand gesture towards the holy land, muslims worldwide would not ignore this, no matter what osama told them. and no matter what the popular leaders and "journalists" would say or write about these 'dubious' actions of the united states, on the ground, the score would be different, because the PEOPLE would see it. i do not necessarily endorse any of these policy alternatives, but there would be a significant undercutting of popular unrest towards the u.s. if the u.s. stopped doing things that Piss People OFF. is that so hard to understand? and the arab world, despite rubin's claims that it has very little to complain about in regards to u.s. policy in the region, has an awful long laundry list of complaints.

2. an accurate observation of rubin's: the ability of arab leaders to use anti-american sentiment to distract their people from their own failings. i'm not sure i'd place this up as "remarkable," as rubin does, as it's an age-old trick. use an enemy to unite your people and stop them from questioning you. brilliant, simple, used by governments the world over. the more interesting question becomes how to undercut this ability of arab leaders. rubin, of course, would argue that you can't really do anything, as i discussed in point 1. but here i think we can draw an interesting parallel to cuba. if the united states just whipped away our economic embargo and let mickey mouse flood the country, communism would fall within ten minutes. it is the absolutely horrendous effects of the economic embargo on the people of cuba that provides popular support for castro's united states bashings. if you cut out this popular support by rearranging our policy, this popular Enemy which the country must unite against would fail to exist and attention would be turned inwards.

3. "In fact, Arabs and Muslims have suffered far less from U.S. policies than many other groups or peoples. Yet virtually none of these other peoples evinces anything like the level of anti-American sentiment that exists in the Middle East or commits acts of terrorism against the United States." who are these 'other groups or peoples' that rubin consistently refers to in this piece? this grey, generic comparison fails miserably to prove its point because he doesn't even give us any form of substantative argument that qualitatively establishes arab/muslim suffering as less than that of 'others.' he never even defines an other, period. can't we get some throwaway line about the suffering of the vietnamese?

4. "In 1973, the United States rescued Egypt at the end of the Arab-Israeli War by forcing a cease-fire on Israel." i have chosen this particular line for its absurdness. there are many 'historical' examples that rubin puts forth in this piece to show how kind and wonderful the u.s. has been to arab states and the muslim world. it is, of course, equally ridiculous to try to claim that the u.s. has been nothing but wretched to the arab states/muslim world. the truth is somewhere in between. my question is why rubin feels a need, over and over again, in this piece, to misconstrue history to portray the u.s. foreign policy as some sort of benefactor to the middle east. rescued? [come the fuck on]

a crash course in the 1973 war, courtesy of the 1994 Westview Press production of William Cleveland's _A History of the Modern Middle East_: it began on october 6th, 1973, with egypt acting aggresively. egypt performed very well militarily in the beginning, even taking back the most of the territory which Israel had been occupying since the 1967 war. (at this point, reader, remember that according to the un, territory captured through war is not viewed as legitimate, and that the continued israeli occupation of these lands was [for the west bank and gaza, remains] illegal under international law.) starting on october 16th, israeli forces, led by our friend general sharon, fought back, and came "within striking distance of cairo." on october 22nd, diplomats from the u.s. and the u.s.s.r. negotiated a cease-fire. on page 337, cleveland writes, "...the October War was to some extent a proxy fight. From October 14 to November 15, the United States airlifted 22,000 tons of military supplies to Israel; the scale of the Soviet resupply to Egypt and Syria was also enormous. There was something grotesque in the willingness of the superpowers to replenish their clients' equipment in order to enable them to continue a war that might otherwise have ended sooner."

now, reread rubin's comment: "In 1973, the United States rescued Egypt at the end of the Arab-Israeli War by forcing a cease-fire on Israel." would you, reader, ever use that sentence to explain what i just relayed above? the use of the word rescued is questionable, obviously. the sentence also implies that the u.s. acted alone in this endeavor, when in reality it was a joint project between kissinger and gromyko. it also implies a form of innocence in the entire event that the u.s. did not have, as evidenced by its airlifting of supplies.

CONCLUSION
if you read all this, you may be crazier than i am
watch out for barry rubin. amos elon is a keeper.

and onto a topic that apparently cannot be delayed. my controversial usage of these things: _. you may have noticed that instead of underlining names of books, i make them _this_. why? because i like it better. however, the topic must be discussed.

finding myself having to defend this controversial usage in conversations with genius friends, i offer the following reasons. _ is much more convenient than underlining, and i hate quotations, as i think they are abused. onto the pretentiousness of _'s: where did i find this usage? on a pretentious listserv, where else? i'm on an h-net listserv for two topics, h-levant and h-diplo, and in their book reviews, this _ is used to indicate the title of a book because not all email programs have underlining capabilities, or we are all too annoyed to try to figure out how to do it. i like the usage because i have always loathed underlining, whether in typewritten or scripted works. the bitterness of the memory of having to go back in the sentence and underline something sticks with me, so my discovery that some people have started _doing this_ was one of the most exciting things that has ever occurred. also, i think pretentious is as pretentious does. _'s as grammatically improper in this day and age? yes, but even this point is arguable, since this usage is, as i have just stated, starting to come into its own on academic listservs. language changes.

all this being said, i love turkey sandwiches. more random rantings to come soon, hold onto your hats.

well it is morning, but almost afternoon. pay no mind to the time that the blogger assigns each of my posts; they are apparently wrong. the last one was off by three hours. i will fix this one day. note that there are no promises of speediness and such. i am due to scurry off to the lovely campus that is george mason university to communicate with some professors and give them long overdue materiels so that they can write recommendations for me. "jaime is a very promising student who procrastinates often. be sure to admit her to your program."

but first. considerations on the middle east. i make quite of show of being one who knows about the middle east, so people are constantly talking to me about the latest news there and such. reader, i must confess: when one is as obsessed with a region as i am with the middle east, and one doesn't bother to stay up to date on the latest news where said region is concerned, it makes one a moron in many ways. this problem mainly has to do with my laziness. it changes sometimes. sometimes i am a newsaholic and read the words and consume the information with the excitement of a five year old experiencing candy. but there are other factors, such as the depression that results from considering the actual status of the region, such as the sheer volume of news that is produced each day, the necessary texts that must be consulted in order to fully understand these events and people, the serious thinking that must go on once one is apprised of a matter. do i make this too complicated, or complexicated as our fearless leader w. would probably say? yes, probably. so i'll pick one topic and go with it.

israelines. an israeline is a 'helpful', usually daily email newsletter that the israeli embassy sends out to better aid folks in understanding and being aware of the current events in the state of israel. i used to read it with a skeptical eye, now i read it for the economic briefs and for shits and giggles. (at this point, ardent zionists everywhere are yelping at my comment that i read israelines, which include daily stories about victims of terrorism, for shits and giggles. to my zionist friends: i also read the news about the united states government for shits and giggles. at some later date i will make clear my philosophy on acceptance and love of states/events/peoples and criticism of said states/events/peoples, but not right now. also, see jane yolen's _the devil's arithmetic_ for my feelings on the role of laughter. it has a scene of jews laughing hysterically in a cargo train on their way to auschwitz, and when someone is outraged that they are laughing given the circumstances, they say, "if we don't laugh, we will cry.")

a single israeline is an interesting case study. you have the spinning, which is active and brilliant. recently, the term "suicide bombers" has become "homicide bombers." i read this and was stunned it took so long to develop this particular spin, feeling the same way i felt when there were finally cookie monster cookies for sale in grocery stores. so obvious, so needed, so consumer-oriented. you get these biographies of the terrorists and victims in one fell swoop. understandably, the bios of the terrorists are kept to a minimum, and the bios of the victims are generally painstakingly addressed. this is reminiscent of the post september 11th features in national newspapers which ran bio after bio, picture after picture of world trade center/pentagon/airline victims. you read about the words of the father at the funeral of his two sons: "do not be sad," he tells mourners, "do not cry; this is what the terrorists want." (perhaps a member of the likud party.) often there is a story about israelis abroad winning competitions in various spectrums. recently, a bunch of israelis kicked a culinary competition's ass. very human interest. economic briefs: an israeli company begins working very closely with an american company to work on developing bioterrorism defenses. an israeli company joins up with microsoft and intel.

for a while i just deleted israelines. now i actually read them. i'm slowly becoming an economist at heart. you can salvage the actual news from them, by filtering each one through chomsky and herman's factors in _manufacturing consent_. much like any other 'news' service, one has to simply know that what they are reading, on some level, is propaganda, and must read critically enough to decipher what actually occurred. for examples of this in the american media, as if they aren't everywhere, one should see last year's article in the washington post about g.w. bush winning the 2000 election. headline was something like, BUSH WINS ELECTION. subtitle something like, Gore Wins in 3 of 4 Scenarios, one of which happens to be if All the Votes Were Counted. reader, think about this.

just when you think you are sane, you realize some things about the world and are forced to wonder.

enter the danger of becoming a blog addict. at least i am writing, i say to myself. not that i am writing what i need to be writing, my superego points out. what shall we write about now, the ego asks the super and the id. [plato's concept of three parts to the human being.] [always in threes.]

they say that the brilliant are only truly brilliant by virtue of their ability to convey their thoughts. essentially, there's no point to being a genius if you can't let everyone else know how smart you are. this is the business of refining one's own writing. communicating, as it were. (credits: roger wilkins, tom friedman, amongst others.) herein lies the challenge. am i smart enough that other people can understand what i am relaying? this is yet to be seen.

my self esteem was significantly damaged by an incident a month ago that involved a "betrayal" of sorts by two people who i thought were my best friends. i have not come around to this realization quickly; it is perhaps only in the last week that i realized that i have little to no self esteem anymore. there are several issues to explore here. one is that to a large extent, how i view myself is reflective of how i believe i am viewed by those who i love. in other words, if someone thinks i am a toad, i believe i am a toad and act accordingly. if someone thinks i am brilliant, i believe i am brilliant and act accordingly. it is the loss/questioning of two people in my main circle of friends, actions of theirs that made me wonder how they view me, that has struck me to the core and resulted in a lot of velocity thinking. now, how ridiculous is this? intellectually, it seems very clear that the malfeasance of others should in no way impact my self-opinion. emotionally, i am downtrodden and confused. run back to _the fountainhead_ and wonder at the being of howard roark. as a figure, he stood on his own and knew he was, yet the woman he loved, lady dominique, made decisions to challenge herself but that also challenged him. yet he handled this. this particular scenario has more meaning in my life these days than i would really prefer. i guess this means it is time for a re-read. (credits: kara, ayn rand)

i'm reading hermann hesse's _narcissus and goldmund_. i'm about halfway through it. a lot of it focuses on the concept of life as contradiction, something that i have been poring over endlessly these days. there are a lot of passages about this. one focuses on the process of birth and the expression on the woman's face as it occurs: the ecstasy and the ultimate pain, and what it says that this single process intertwines them both. so i am thinking as i have been lately about passion, which has the root word meaning pain. via dolorosa, the street that held christ's last moments in jerusalem, the street where israelis and palestinians fight now, the possibility that this single street synopsizes what the entire human experience is and means. props to the journalist-playwright david hare for making it the title of one of his works. (credits: david hare, hermann hesse)

i had a high school english teacher who deserves his own biography. one of the quotes from him is, "history tells you the facts. fiction tells you what really happened." or something to that general feeling. perhaps this is why recently i am struggling to read anything that can be classified under the heading of news, history, anything that reeks of the word 'fact,' because recently i am so dubious about fact itself. fact, it seems, does not exist. or is, at least, transitory. this is what happens to your mind, reader, when you have an experience that makes you stand back and doubt something so integral to your life that suddenly everything else is questionable. suddenly, you are an existentialist. you spend a lot of time thinking about albert camus. may i recommend _the plague_ and _the stranger_, but _the stranger_ if you only have time for one? (credits: mccann, camus)

clearly, i am struggling, as you can see. this is what velocity is. thank you susana for giving it a name.

a lot of my time is spent trying to find a balance between my three's. my three of plato, my three of freud. i allow myself to be ruled by my emotions too often. i can tell you're interested. may i refer you back to one of my earliest posts, commenting on how it is now time for my very own self-absorbed blog? now i am thinking of dave eggers on fiction, and how really fiction is just what happened with changed names. that commentary of his in _a heartbreaking work of staggering genius_ is really enough for me to betroth myself to him, but he even went further and made more brilliant, funny and wonderful comments. his second book interestingly uses the word velocity in its title: _you shall know our velocity_. has dave read kaysen? was part of his motivation for this title her usage of the word, although there is a clear story to which he traces his selection? notice how the worlds keep pushing me towards the word velocity.

notice how the one thing i am missing in at least half of the personal relationships i value is Velocity of Closeness. is that proper grammar? is that communicable? what i am saying is i can’t have these people just yet, or at all. what i am saying is that in these relationships i have to abide by "all things human take time," and this is causing significant anguish in my world. what i am saying is that i wish i didn't spend so much of my time missing people, metaphorically, geographically. can you relate, reader?

yesterday, i was standing at the airline counter, waiting to check in, holding my email printout and my driver's license, my luggage grazing my leg. there were two, count em, TWO workers holding down the fort. let me delineate the responsibilities of these two workers: Handle All Customers, ie, for three flights. by handle i mean: check them in at the counter, check id's and tickets at the actual gate, and help load baggage onto the planes themselves. does this sound ridiculous? it should. picture this: two of three flights delayed. calculate the sheer amount of people who now require rerouting on different flights or airlines, the amount of time it takes to secure these peoples' baggage, the amount of time it takes to properly handle these folks so they aren't upset. now, picture one of the workers racing around, doing this, checking id's at the gates, and doing baggage duty. picture ten TSA security workers standing at the gate itself, loafing with their wands and plastic gloves.

i turned to the people in line behind me. i feel as if we should be taking on their duties, i say. like, i'll go behind the counter and check some of us in if you go check id's and tickets at gate B4. the women immediately behind me laugh. i was serious. i was ready to ask the guy performing baggage duty, gate checking, and damage control for delayed flights what i could do for him. i offered to buy the workers coffee or hot chocolate. they were confused. "it's just that there are delayed flights, so it's hard." yes, it is hard, i see this, would you like some coffee? you get paid dirt, don't you?

The passengers stand and watch a young man near the gate for the flight for La Guardia. He stands, waiting, for ten minutes. Check my information, he is thinking, because I need to board my flight. The door to the tarmac is wide open; the plane is about to take off. The overworked airline workers are running around elsewhere. The young man considers. He walks through the gate, unchecked. The passengers stand, watch, and close their eyes and pray.

yes, there are ten TSA security agents next to the gate. yes, this is good. yes, the experience i just related proves that it isn't enough to have 389719837198642764203 TSA security agents if there is one loophole. in this case, the loophole is inadequate airline employment.

which airline, you ask.
US Airways, i respond.
isn't that the airline that is going bankrupt, asking for a federal government bailout, and the government is requiring them to Fire people before they do it, in the name of restructuring and all, you ask.
YES, i say.

We are broke, says the poorly managed airline. Bail us out, Uncle Sam.
Fire people, you jerks, says laissez-faire Uncle Sam.
Okay, says the poorly managed airline.
....and he walks through the gate, unchecked....

Monday, December 02, 2002

all right kids, so i'm not quite so sure i enjoy my "template", as it were, but who really cares. the only people will be reading this will be my friends anyway, i'm sure. so let's start over.

it's time for my own self-absorbed blog. let us give credit where credit is due. credit to joseph for introducing this forum into our lives, credit to johnny for the following comment: "your shit should have a blog." this comment plus my procrastination where graduate school application essays are concerned provide the impetus for this endeavor. i refuse to give this particular blog some alleged purpose, some sort of elevated, concentrated status. these mission statements are too similiar to personal statements at this particular juncture in my life. give us 750 words or less on how valuable you are as a person, and make sure to kiss our program's ass at least a little. what can you offer us, besides biting sarcasm? words on the most critical/important/interesting situation/problem/event in the middle east. words on why you would be a good journalist. words, give us words, give us brilliant words.

[no.]

so do any of you recognize either the title of this particular blog, "all things human take time," or the term "velocity" as i use it here? once again, we must give credit. velocity is terminology from susana kaysen's work _girl, interrupted_. she discusses forms of crazy, specifically velocity v. viscosity. velocity is when your mind jumps from seemingly unrelated thought to seeming unrelated thought, racing through fears, dreams, observations. all things human take time is a phrase from terence despres' immortal work _the survivor_, a text that discusses heroism and martyrdom in western society. it speaks about concentration camp survivors but jumps around. danger of this blog becoming a defacto literary plugging device. well there are the explanations for you, dear reader. yes, that's right, i did use the phrase "dear reader." want to read a real, published blog? _everyone is entitled to my opinion_ by david brinkley.

i'll write more soon, but i need to publish this now, out of pure fear that i will somehow lose everything i just wrote.

can we reflect on how i just wrote a big long post and it couldn't be posted because some goddamn window couldn't be displayed?

here is the story of my life, right here.