Friday, August 24, 2007

From Pullo to Pullet

It's ironic that as I get older and inevitably more conservative, I am much more cautious in my personal habits. When I was twenty-five I would routinely pound as six pack and race my motorcycle through heavy traffic to get to the next party. Thirty years later I don't party at all, and drive an SUV at legal rates. Even my father in law thinks I'm boring. This is pretty much par as we get older, but how as a nation did we get to be such pussies? The descendants of the hardy and brave pioneers seem to have become solely concerned with comfort, health and security.

On tv today I see a clip of what looks to be about 15 cops, all with weapons drawn, nervously encircling a large black man waving a knife. I understand that they shot and killed him, although this wasn't shown, probably in the “hail of bullets” mode. I can only conclude that the cops must be really, really afraid of black guys with knives. I have to think it was “suicide by cop” but I don't see how dangerous the guy would have been with a couple of 9mm's in his knees. It's got to be a result of the training police get to shock and awe perps by screaming and trying to intimidate them; the cops end up scaring themselves. Pussies. Dirty Harry never even broke a sweat.

This is one reason we're going to lose in Iraq. We are a nation of paranoid pussies that has to use excessive force in every situation. Our soldiers are brave and tough enough, but the home front is not behind them; as a whole people, we don't have the balls. I'm embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with such a lame bunch.

I'm Still feeling a Draft

I lost my student deferment in 1969 when I quit college after one year. At that time (before the lottery) I knew I would be drafted and soon was ordered to undergo a "pre-induction" physical, which I easily passed. I was determined not to be drafted (as an immature, self-centered and spoiled baby-boomer, I was more afraid of DI's than combat itself - think Pvt. Pyle in Full Metal Jacket). I had heard that there were shrinks in Boston that would certify one as mentally unfit, so I hitched up there and enrolled in group-therapy sessions after being certified as paranoid (ha!) and delusional. I knew the important thing was documentation, but I was determined to use any means necessary including going to jail, as I figured civilian jail would be better than military.

Fortunately for me, they came up with the lottery system in 1970, and I returned to normal life, albeit with a large and permanent chip on my shoulder towards involuntary servitude. I did not and do not see any reason for the War but I didn't really care about it as long as I was not involved directly. Obviously, this selfishness is not something that a good father would promote in his children, but I feel that the social contract is nullified if society allows what is in effect slavery. I do support a strong military and think the answer to manpower problems is better pay, period. If they would have fewer unnecessary wars, it would also be helpful.

The tricky part of getting a mental deferment is being convincing without actually going nuts. I'm not sure that I was completely successful; I maybe somewhat paranoid and even delusional, but compared to some vets I've known I'm Dr. Phil. Also, I don't really know what metric would be used in determining unsuitability; if one was really psychotic, one might make an excellent soldier, for all I know. However, society has become much more attentive to individual problems than in my day, although the army is still going to take whatever it can get and round off the square pegs as necessary. There's also the whole issue of sexuality. I say that I would have done anything to avoid service, but in fact I did not check the homosexual tendencies box out of actual fear that they might make me prove it somehow. Like Dick Cheney, I had better things to do...

The bottom line is every kid (but especially boys) should have a long and well-documented medical impairment of some sort, mental or physical that would preclude military service. This is long-standing practice; I remember how everyone of the doomed on the bus back from Richmond felt about the loud-mouth college boy waving his TB x-ray around. I turned out to be lucky in the lottery, but if they're really after grunts, luck won't cut it. If they restart the draft, resistance will build quickly, but each individual needs to have a personal resistance plan in reserve. Again, I'm not saying that military service is evil in itself, and for some guys, maybe most, it can be a good thing, but for some it is devastating. These guys need to plan ahead, and a parent can help.

I'm sure they will try to resurrect the draft, probably under a "national service" rubric to which I still object. Involuntary servitude is slavery, before and after the 13th amendment, despite what courts may hold.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I don't know if anti-Semitism is the correct term for hating Arabs, although they are said to be Semitic. For the purposes of this discussion I will use it to mean hatred of stereotypical Arabs by, especially ignorant American jerks, but my thesis is that much of Jewish hatred for Arabs is indistinguishable from this vulgar, “mountain grown” if you will, racism. This is an old and accepted stereotype in America; I remember seeing a Porky Pig cartoon from the '30's where he defended a foreign legion post under assault by hook-nosed, sneaky Bedouins. This cartoon was drawing on older, probably ancient, views of Arabs as slave-traders and smugglers, and were still current until very recently, even well after such views of Africans and Asians were no longer generally acceptable.

My own view is that a racist is one who expresses any of the dark thoughts that are resident in most, if not all, sane minds; racism as a mild form of Tourettes. I'm sorry to say that I instantly tag everyone I meet by their most obvious characteristics and will instantly align my behaviour and attitude to these tags, very like the inheritance model in programming, where the new object inherits it's properties and methods from it's class (stereotype). I might think “fat slob” when meeting someone overweight and poorly dressed, but I don't say it, if only to avoid being labled with “stupid fool”. I suspect most other people objectify in much the same way, although their tags may be more sophisticated or polite. My own struggle is with my internal Archie Bunker, sorry to say, but it forces me to control my behaviour and modify the object as evidence requires.

It may be that everyone shares the same well of prejudices and is simply able to exempt himself and others like him. I've often wondered why there doesn't seem to be effective epithet for white person. Cracker, red-neck, ofay, even if said with heartfelt hatred, just don't sting (although I've never been called a Republican; that might hurt). I can only assume that I am able to somehow psychologically deny that I am that objectional thing, and I think this works for most people. I once told my friend Hari that Indians seemed to believe they were the best people in the world, and he told me that they indeed think they are superior, contrary to historical evidence, and I would assume Arabs reserve similar sentiments for themselves or at least their tribes. Having been forever under foreign occupation and rule, craftiness, cynicsm and self-interest are primary virtues. I don't think they hate us because we are greedy; that they understand. It's our uncanny success in spite of our laxness and ignorance of history and culture that's got to irritate. They know we can't stick it out.

A man, a plan, a canolli

"Don't just stand there, do something!" Although sometimes handy in emergencies, this is not really a way to order your life. Even in emergencies it's best to have at least a rudimentary plan and consider potential consequences of action. Sometimes just standing there is the best course, or at least I tell myself going into my fourth year of unemployment. How can a bum help? you might well arsk.

Although each person has some degree of thought and action, we artificially divide people into doers and thinkers, but each group needs the other. Where would nascar be without spectators? Most nascar drivers don't finish in the top ranks and know they never will but are important to the enterprise. In this sense, even the last guy is a winner. American society has internalized this enterprise ethic.

There are some doers who are regarded as losers, but not by me, because anyone who is trying but not suceeding is still a winner compared to a thinker who does nothing but observe [and make a lot of sarcastic remarks, but this isn't just about me].