4 months, 7 days – Still sober
Yes, it seem like summer has finally arrived and the temperatures have been going ever upwards just lately, along with the humidity. But last night there was some thunder and lightning around, although no rain, but it was scary enough for us to let the dogs kip down in the bedroom with us. They are such as bunch of scaredy-dogs. I hope we don’t have any burglars during thunderstorms as my gallant guard dogs will probably cowering under my bed!”
I’ve been a bit naughty of late – too many visits to dens of ill repute for my own good. I think I may be falling in love.
More in my next blog…..
Bin Laden and Conspiracy Theories.
The world-wide reaction to the aftermath of the killing of Bin Laden has been pretty predictable and holds no real surprises. Most in the west have applauded the action, and most in the Muslim world have either greeted the news with grave reservations, or have outright condemned it in the strongest possible terms.
The event will be the subject of debate for many months – maybe years – to come and we have yet to see what, if any, retaliations may be carried out.
There are increasing discussions and disputes as to what really happened when the Seals descended onto that compound and the accounts of the action have already changed 3 times, to my knowledge. (Was he armed? did he defend himself? Did he resisit? and so on…).
At the very least, some justified accusations can be levelled at the American authorities at their singular failure to get their ‘story straight’ from day one. Then we have the indecision on whether or not to release the photograph of the slain criminal. And no one has questioned, why, with all this meticulous planning and limitless funds, did one of the helicopters break down and have to be destroyed, thus limiting their ability to capture and take away criminals who may have disclosed valuable information.
As for getting their story straight and their late decision on whether to release the photographs; why on earth wasn’t this all thought out properly in advance as they were both highly predicable scenarios? I’m sorry, my American readers, but to me it is just one more example of a ‘Gung Ho’ attitude, where the military action is ‘King’, and the detailed planning of the repercussion and aftermath of the action is, at best, summarily thought through and given low priority until it is too late. It’s a bit along the lines of: ‘let’s just get the bastard and we’ll worry about the details later….’
On a much larger scale, the same could be said of the invasion of Iraq itself, but for some unaccountable reason, they never seem to learn their lessons.
Anyway, enough Yank bashing, whatever the weaknesses of the overall effort, this Brit for one is highly indebted to the Americans for the action that was taken, but, like with every extended family, I hope they will indulge this cranky old uncle his need to criticise, whenever he sees fit.
As for the plan to kill rather than capture – of course this was the right decision. I couldn’t contemplate a world where Bin Laden was kept alive, to become the focus of devotion for millions of Muslims, and after many years, be sent to a massive show-trial. It just couldn’t be allowed to happen, but I would have respected the Yanks more if they had just had the guts to admit this and not worry about the outcry from bleeding heart liberals, (most of whom would hack to death the murderer of their own children if they ever had the opportunity), and of course, our Moslem enemies who have sworn to convert the whole world to Islam and to slaughter all western infidels and send them to Hell.
Then we have the ‘Dead Bin Laden photographs’ controversy. Quite frankly I couldn’t give a damn whether they release them or not. As far as I am concerned – along with a vast majority of Americans and Europeans – Bin Laden is dead and that is an end to the matter. I do not need photographs to confirm this; you either believe that in these matters you are being told the general truth, or you are one of the significant minority who seize upon every world event and turn it into a conspiracy. No amount of photographs is going to convince a conspiracy theorist to change his mind and quite frankly who cares? The people who matter, believe what has been reported and that is all that really matters. Those who lost a loved-one in that terrible outrage, can now have some small measure of ‘closure’.
Conspiracy theories have existed since the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and very likely, way before that. The list is endless, and some notable ones that spring to mind are: JFK assassination, the moon landings, Elvis Presley faking his own death, The AIDS virus being created in a laboratory; Princess Di’s death, the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Centre, and so on….
The thing about people who believe in these theories is that no matter how many indisputable facts and evidence you present to them, they will never change their views, so entrenched are they in their belief that a conspiracy is afoot. Some experts who have studied the subject of conspiracy theories, have even compared ardent conspiracy theorists to religious zealots – like the Jehova’s Witnesses who believe that God created man 10,000 years ago, despite indisputable scientific evidence that man existed some 500,000 years ago.
I personally find it amazing that a well-educated, well read, perfectly rational adult, who would laugh at the very idea that Elvis faked his death or that the Americans didn’t really land on the moon, will believe to their dying day that Dianna was actually bumped off by the ruling elite because they didn’t want her to be involved with an Arab. (Dodi Fayed)
This is in spite of the fact the one of the world’s most open democracies, where ‘whistle blowing’ is second nature if there is even the merest whiff of a cover-up by authorities, have held a months -long inquest and have had the best experts investigate the accident from every possible angle, concluded that there is not the slightest scrap of evidence that there was some mysterious force at play which deliberately instigated the accident. A three year public enquiry, conducted by one of Britain’s most learned and respected judges which was followed by a 6-month public inquest, together with a totally separate French 18 month inquiry all came to the same conclusion.
To me the whole idea was totally preposterous, for no other reason that if indeed there was such a conspiracy in the works, surely they would have come up with something far more efficient and guaranteed to succeed than a messy crash in a Paris road tunnel. There was absolutely no certainty that either of the passengers would be killed outright. Indeed, Dianna almost survived, and both of them would probably have survived if they had fastened their belts. Di’s body guard fastened his belt and he survived and made a full recovery. I simply cannot accept that there wasn’t a better way to do it if they had really wanted to.
But try telling this to your perfectly rational friend who in all other respects is completely normal. No – he knows better than all those thousands of people in those enquiries; despite the fact that not a single credible person from the ‘inside’ has leaked out the truth of the matter. Either you believe that the whole world is one massive conspiracy theory and that everything that happens is a lie, or you have to accept that the forces of law and order and the democratic processes in most western countries are an extremely powerful force that ensures that the truth, in the end, will without. I happen to believe the latter.
So in spite of the fact that even as I write this, many jihadists and Al-Qaeda websites have acknowledged that Bin Laden was indeed killed and that they are planning vengeance, there will be many – especially in the west – who will believe to their dying day that the Americans are lying and that it is all yet one more conspiracy theory.
But does it really matter?
The trouble with Tolstoy
Tolstoy has been one of my favourite authors since I was a teenager.
I read ‘War and Peace’ as a young man, and read it again in my more mature years. It is a giant of a book by any standards and is regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written. I commend anyone who has the time, to have a go at it. It is a beautifully written book which has a cast of thousands and is ultimately about the futility of war. But along the way, Tolstoy succeeds in getting you engrossed in the personal, intimate lives of his characters – both high and low – who lived during that period, as well as providing a wide, sweeping backdrop the some of the greatest field battles that were ever staged. It is a book which will never bore you and despite its incredible length; I promise you will race through it at the rate of knots.
If War and Peace was the greatest novel ever written, then Anna Karenina was the greatest love story ever written. There have been several attempts to put this story on film though the years, but in my humble opinion, none of them has come close to doing justice to such a towering piece of literature. It is a love story – a tragic love story – to end all love stories. But just as War and Peace is not just a book about War, neither is Anna Karenina just a story about love. It is far more than that – it is a masterpiece of Russian life as it was then, in Tolstoy’s Tzarist Russia; a must-read for all lovers of good literature.
Recently I watched a wonderful BBC produced, 2 part documentary on Tolstoy, entitled ‘The Trouble with Tolstoy’. Although I had some sketchy knowledge of his personal biography, this documentary brought to life Tolstoy as a person and it made fascinating watching. I was amused to learn that from a very young age, Tolstoy was a restless, carousing whore-monger and remained so for much of his life, despite his long marriage, his distinguished career in the military, a reforming landowner and, of course as a writer.
Although a relatively wealthy land-owner, Tolstoy had great compassion for the lower classes, particularly the ‘serfs’, who were effectively indentured slaves who worked the land for their absent masters, and he wrote much about their plight in his novels.
In his old age, he became a spiritual anarchist, was excommunicated from the Russian orthodox Church, was estranged from his wife who had been devoted to him and his 13 children for over 48 years and he championed an egalitarian religious sect which put him out of favour with the government of the day, some 10 years before the revolution.
In 1910. Tolstoy was in his 82nd year, and he became so ‘out of sorts’ with his wife that he left his home in the countryside in the middle the night, in the middle of winter and embarked a series of train journeys. He became ill and took refuge in a station master’s cottage at a suburban railway junction. Word of his ill health soon spread and his wife rushed to see him and take care of him. Incredibly there is live, black and white film of his wife arriving at the station and of her attempts to enter the cottage where he was staying. You can see her clearly knocking at the door, to no avail, then trying to peer in through the windows, knocking at the door again and ultimately being turned away. A few days later, he died, and his wife was not able to be with him at the end – after nearly 50 years of devoted marriage. What a bastard!
So I seem to be in good company….. only joking☺☺