“Tis the Age of Ares

Be afraid, be very afraid. The End may, indeed, be near. Surely the stars must be mis-Aligned.

Since I assume that only people who can read are likely to frequent this site (except, of course, for those few students likely to be caught plagiarizing), I’m a little embarassed to admit that while listening to MSNBC Thursday night I found myself actually agreeing with Pat Buchanan. When the far left and the far right can join hands in a common cause surely The Circle must be nearly Whole. And who can tell what completing the circle foreshadows?

This is the same Buchanan I used to laugh at when he was on the McLaughlin Group, the guy who was so far to the right of McLaughlin that he often wasn’t visible unless you had a widescreen TV.

Buchanan argued that the Bush Administration had made no convincing argument that America should attack Iraq. Although readily admitting that Iraq had used poisonous gases on their own people, he argued that this, by itself, was not adequate justification for an attack. He pointed out that America, after all, has used the atomic bomb on the Japanese, and no one was arguing that that justified a first-strike against America. In fact, it was the West that invented and first used poisonous gases.

He argued, as does this MSNBC article, that the countries most likely to be invaded by Sadam, its neighbors, do not support our attempts to overthrow him. At the moment, only Israel, for obvious reasons, and possibly Australia, for reasons only Jonathon may be able to fathom, support our efforts at overthrowing Sadam. That should tell us something about how convincing the administration’s arguments are.

For me personally, the real irony here is that I was enraged during Desert Storm when we did not eliminate Sadam or at least remove him from power. I felt there was no greater injustice than the fact that we killed thousands of relatively innocent Iraqi soldiers who did not want to go to war, but we let the only person who really had anything to gain from the war stay in power.

Unfortunately, in my mind, that still does not give us license to go in years later and finish the job that should have been done before. As Buchanan pointed out, doing so would seem to require us to also take out leaders in Iran, Syria, and Northern Korea.

Buchanan argued that deterrents have worked in the past against those who have weapons of mass destruction, and there’s every reason to believe that they will continue to work against Sadam.

Let me tell you, as a former tank platoon leader and combat veteran, I would not want to have to lead a platoon of tanks into Baghdad. Tanks are not meant for urban warfare and are severely limited when encountering tall buildings, buildings where people can drop things on them, things like Molotov cocktails. Air support is equally ineffective unless you want a total bloodbath, one that would surely dwarf anything we saw on television in Vietnam. If we have to actually enter Baghdad to get Sadam, there are going to be severe losses that will come back to haunt those who sent them in. And such losses have even greater ramifications for the future.

If Pat Buchanan and I can agree that the invasion of Iraq is a mistake, perhaps we do, indeed, have a chance to prevent our country from blindly following Cheney and Bush into battle, despite patriotic echoes of Onward Christian Soldiers playing in the background.

Lest we become complacent, though, the latest Gallup poll seems anything but promising with 53% of Americans favoring sending ground troops into Iraq, with the only good news being that that percentage is down from recent numbers.

Trivial Pursuits

Browsing through someone’s Burningbird’s links (is this really how you’re supposed to correct an error later rather than just correcting it like I usually do?), while avoiding thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird, I found Michael’s Subject to Change. While his proposal to save baseball might have been funnier a few hours ago, it’s still darn funny. (Oddly enough I found the link through Bb’s side links because his name is close to mine, not her article link that I just noticed while looking up the link referenced below.) Lot’s of other good stuff there, too.

Course it couldst be funnier cause I be subsidizing the Mariners this weekend in a big way, though I toldst my woman I warn’t buying no damn $5.00 hot dog and $5.00 soda pop this here year.

We won’t need no oxygen masks or periscopes this year ‘cuz we done sprung for lower level seats down there on d’ first base line. I can ‘ford ’em if’n I don’t buy no hot dogs or no sof drinks. (Sorry Burningbird, but I jest had to try out yorn’ sugges’n that I tries to applies the style of the latest book I be readin’.) I jes dons’t know if my ex-students gonna lets me get away wit it.

No Answers Here, Just More Questions

After finishing my Mockingbird essay that’s been posted at The Banned Book Project and reading Whiskey River’s "less preoccupying thoughts" and reading Jonathon’s philosophical entry today, the following thoughts occurred to me:

If you think you know the answers to life, you probably don’t know the question.

otherwise known as

Asking the right question is the key to finding the right answer.

Don’t Block the Plate

Not only do I have writer’s block, I have way too much on my plate right now. Now that I’ve been writing this blog for nearly a year, I’ve been considering redesigning it, not in the small ways I’ve been redesigning this page constantly, but in some major ways I’ve been trying to avoid.

In order to make most of the changes that I want to make, I’m going to have to go to another ISP provider besides AT&T, something I hate to do since I’m already paying AT&T for the right to host a web page.

What I really want to do is switch to MT and have permanent links and comments. In order to do that, I’m going to follow Jeff Ward’s advice and switch to his ISP at some pretty reasonable rates.

I hope to divide my new web site up into different areas. The main focus will still be In a Dark Time, because personal philosopy and literature remain my main focus.

But another major focus will be environmental, and necessarily political, issues as that is another of my passions in life. I’ve been reading several web sites regularly that cover environmental issues but have been struggling with how to integrate these issues into my site. Until I do get the new page up, I suggest you visit Michael Webb’s MLWebblog site for interesting commentary and links on environmental and political issues.

Meantime, I’ve finished writing the review of To Kill a Mockingbird which should appear on the Banned Books Project in the next few days. Eventually I will probably archive it on my new website but not right now.

I’m still working on a more detailed analysis of the book which should also be coming shortly.

Diagramming Writer’s Block

Wow, that was some great tech service from Omni, especially considering I was using a trial version. I went out and purchased OmniGraffle immediately. Here’s the graph I was working on in trying to write The Mockingbird essay.

As you can tell, there are some problems with parallel structure. Nor am I sure all my causal links are truly causal links. At least it gives me some ways to start writing. Better than looking at an empty page.

Oops, Stuck Out Here Again

When I used to teach writing courses and students would say that they had “writer’s block,” I would tell them to just keep writing and something would come out. (Of course, I didn’t bother to tell them it might be pure bullshit, but I’d read too many student papers not to realize that possibility)

Maybe that’s why it’s hard to take my own advice. But, if the truth be known, I’m stuck. I’m within a few pages of finishing To Kill a Mockingbird, and I‘ve been thinking about it for days. I even followed Jeff Ward’s example and tried making a flow chart, but that has created its own problems.

First of all, I’m not sure how ideas are connected in the novel, or even if they are connected. I think one of the weaknesses of INTP’s is that they want things to be connected, even if they really aren’t connected at all. But believing that there must be a causal relationship when there isn’t one is probably as wrong as assuming there is no relationship when there really is.

Second of all, OmniGraffle is new to me and I haven’t been able to make it export the chart to something I could post on my blog. I even did the unheard of and emailed support to see if there was something I was missing. Of course, I still haven’t gotten a reply back. However, this has become its own obsession, providing me with another excellent excuse not to write an entry for my blog.

See how easy it is to avoid the real question?

The truth is maybe I care too much about To Kill a Mockingbird to just write about it. I invested too much energy in teaching it to take it lightly. If I could only require one book to be taught in high school, I think that book would be To Kill a Mockingbird. It contains the values that I would like every student to have when they left school, with perhaps a few that I would just as soon they didn’t have.

Since I started reading this novel to write a defense of it for the Banned Book Week, I’ve also seen the novel in some new ways, seen some things I just glossed over the first four or five times that I read it. In trying to be “objective” I’ve found some things I’m sure that would offend certain people, people I would probably disagree with, of course, and I’ve even found a few things that offend me.

When I used to teach this novel, I taught it thematically. I emphasized what I considered the most important themes in the novel. It’s relatively easy to pick out important themes in the story. It turns out, though, that it’s much harder to tie them all together.

Lately it’s been easier to read other people’s weblogs and write short comments than write anything here. (Have you ever wondered why wood s lot doesn’t have comments? I mean, I could do some serious commenting on his page.)

However, after reading Jonathan Delacour’s comments on Burningbird’s comments on Doc Searles, I might have put my foot in my mouth without realizing it. I only glance at Doc’s page occasionally and obviously didn’t have the background Jonathon had to put the comments in perspective. Personally, I read the comment entirely different than most people and, after reading the columns referred to, felt insulted that saying these were the "smartest babes" on the web was an insult to those intelligent women writers I link to in that column over there on the left. Actually, I still feel that way, but I was still taking Doc Searles’ comments out of context.

Maybe running around commenting on other people who are able to write isn’t the best use of my time, but heck since I’m not getting paid for this there’s no one here to keep me on track.

I’m trying to get back on track, but the train seems to have left the station without me and I’ve got those lonesome writer’s blues.