Thursday, March 20, 2003


Raven is distracting himself reading my horoscope in the web.

“All they’re doing today is asking you questions: ‘Are the scars on your soul necessary, is there such a thing as meaningless suffering? Etc.’”

It’s because they don’t have any answers, Rave. Not for me. Not for the people in Bagdad experiencing the meaningless suffering inflicted by Tomahawk missiles.

“Putin is urging the US to stop the war:

'I would like to underline that military action is happening in contradiction of international public opinion and in despite of principles of international law,' said Putin. Moscow had fought hard to have any military action against Baghdad approved by the UN Security Council. 'This military action is unjustified,' he said. 'There has been no answer to the main question: Are there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and if so, which ones?' He said that Washington was never able to prove that Baghdad actually posed a threat to international security. 'Furthermore, Iraq has presented no danger -- not for neighboring countries nor for any region in the world,' he said. Putin said that chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix stated in his latest reports that Saddam's regime was improving its cooperation with the United Nations and that inspection should have been given a few more months to run their course. 'Iraq did not hinder the work of international inspectors -- quite the opposite, Putin said."

None of that makes any difference, Rave. Baby Bush performed the only legal act he was required to do before dropping the bombs: to inform Congress that diplomacy had failed. Congress had already given away its right to declare war last year when it authorized military action in the event that all diplomatic means were exhausted.

"Yeah, right. Threatening, blustering, lying, bullying all of his allies and bribing some of them--the key cards in the diplomatic deck."

Guaranteed to fail. Guaranteed to let him test all the latest military toys on real targets: defenseless civilians.

"The way he's going, pretty soon he won't have any potential clients left to buy the new toys."

Raven, you are way ahead of him. He isn't capable of drawing those kinds of conclusions.

"He's only capable of inflicting meaningless suffering?"

I believe so. And I feel an enormous sense of shame.

"That makes two of us."

Raven hands me a cup of cold coffee.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Raven and I have been reading an article about war by one of our favorite people, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

“Sweet rhetorical questions,” Raven decides: “Bush has called Iraq a dark corner of the world, and Galeano asks, ‘Does Bush believe that civilization was born in Texas, and that his compatriots invented writing? Has he never heard of the Library at Nineveh, the Tower of Babel, nor the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Has he never even heard one of the tales of the Thousand and One Nights of Bagdad?’”

Good questions. But not apt for a hater of culture, a prohibiter of poets in the White House.

“A Morse code stutterer: duh, duh, duh, duh....He goes on to ask who elected Bush president of the planet. Well, the answer to that besides being obvious gives us one thing to be thankful for, that there is no Supreme Court of the Planet packed with stooges by his father.”

No wonder Bush refused to allow the US to recognize the World Court.

“He comments further that Bush has not even been able to hear the loving advice of Gunter Grass: ‘The German writer, understanding that Bush had the necessity to show something important to his father, recommended that he consult a psychiatrist insead of bombing Iraq.’”

It would be cheaper. But it lacks the surreal beauty of your attack of the flying toilet seats.

“That’s old news. Pressing on, he asks if Bush has God on his side, ‘How come God has given such contradictory orders to Bush and the Pope?’”

Rave, this is not the first time in history that God has appeared to be duplicitous.

“No, I suppose not. Now we come, speaking of surrealism, to the heart of the matter: ‘They say it’s not for the petroleum; but if Iraq produced radishes instead of petroleum, to whom would it occur to invade that country?’”

Probably the Peace Corps never took hold there—wasn’t that the organization dedicated to manufacturing needs in the Third World under the guise of teaching people to plant frivolous crops? Radishes, indeed, could have saved the Iraquis’ bacon.

“He also mentions the banner one of the protestors was carrying in New York that asked ‘Why is our petroleum under their sands?’”

Just a logistical anomaly, I suppose.

“Then there’s the fact that no Iraquis were involved in 9/11. But of course we know the answer to that already. The CIA has always preferred to hire Saudis for capers like that. But here’s a classic: ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower said, in 1953, that “preventive war” was an invention of Adolf Hitler, adding, “Frankly, I couldn’t take anybody seriously who proposed something like that.’”

Well, there you have it, Rave. We are spinning in the maelstrom—again—created by someone who couldn’t be taken seriously. Someone so challenged on the brain chain that he puts food on his family and says it was difficult. A smearer escaped from the back wards.

“In short, a pursuer of radishes. We are doomed."

Tuesday, March 18, 2003


Raven is hunched over in front of the computer screen listening to Dylan’s “Memphis Blues.”

“Oh, mama—can this really be the end?”

Are you stuck, Rave? Inside of Mobile? With the Memphis Blues again?

“All of those. And up to my beak in the Slough of Despond.”

Anything in particular that has provoked this unusual depth of despondency? You’re a pretty upbeat guy.

“Upbeat, no. Beat up. By the daily dose of gratuitous cruelty. Check out this latest from the Gaza Strip:
A group of international peace activists has disputed a claim by Israel that an American who was trying to block the path of an Israeli bulldozer in a Gaza refugee camp was crushed accidentally."

Oh no, Rave. Say it isn’t so.

“I am not Shoeless Joe. How many times in the past two years have we said that? And every time it has been so. The piece goes on to say:
‘When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up on to the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it ... to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing,’ the group said in a statement.”

How could that happen with all the witnesses?

“The Israeli army said her death was an accident. It said the driver's vision was restricted because the bulldozer cab had small windows.” Small windows. Try the old tunnel vision model. Ontology recapitulates teleology--or ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny—is that something like what’s happening here?” Rave is peering at me as only Raven can peer, intently, the gleam of malicious analogy in his eye.

I sure don’t know, Rave. That’s a question for a philosopher--or for Stephen Jay Gould or one of those other guys who know about the evolutionary patterns of organisms.

“Well, in this case the small windows look like the tiny vision that’s operating with the upper hand in world politics right now. The tiny eyes of Ariel Sharon. The tiny eyes of Baby Bush.” Raven turns toward the computer screen. “My own. Tiny. Eyes.”

Rave, get hold of yourself. You’re not the crazy culprit here. You’re not building fires on Main Street.

“But I might be shooting them full of holes. Just like in the song. Oh, mama. Can this really be....?”

The End

Monday, March 17, 2003


Raven has been unusually quiet this morning. Instead of his usual cacophany of four-letter epithets emitted while scrolling through the news on the screen, a soft breeze of concentration has been stirring the dust projectiles that mysteriously (except maybe to Galileo) form parabolas here over the South Pacific. Suddenly, the breeze stops. Raven scratches his head, and one of his feathers remains vertical. Like an exclamation point.

“If one bomb is more than sufficient to kill one person, why does Baby Bush believe that 3,000 are necessary to kill Saddam Hussein?”

What are you doing, Rave—trying to invent Zeno’s Fifth Paradox?

“No, but I have occasionally thought of dazzling the world by becoming a living representation of his Arrow Paradox. Instead of the arrow in flight at any given moment appearing to be frozen in its trajectory, I will be the perfectly motionless bird.”

Hanging in space?

“And in time. Like a bomb. Over Bagdad.” Raven beats out the words like a rapper.

Okay, Rave. I’ll bite. If one bomb examined at one point in its fall appears not to be moving, then if all the projected 3,000 projectiles can be examined at specific points they will appear not to be moving either. And will never fall on Bagdad?

“If Zeno had been right, there would be that hope. Unfortunately, although Zeno was very imaginative at manipulating mathematical operations, he was compulsively wrong. But that was not the point I started out to make. I was concerned about another paradox: If the new belligerent technology has indeed produced intelligent weapons, why should it be necessary to drop 3,000 bombs in a situation where one would be more than sufficient? Even in the Middle Ages they ran with a lower margin of error than that. Imagine having to pour 3,000 vats of boiling oil over the castle ramparts in order to discourage one guy from beating your gate down. With the need to build in a margin of error like that, on the space/time continuum we would still be in the 12th or 13th century. Not to mention the logistical problem of getting enough oil to fill the 3,000 vats. British Petroleum and Exxon weren't even trading on the Big Board yet. So I believe something must be very wrong with the Pentagon’s calculations.” Raven is narrowing his eyes.

I see. Are you saying that needs are being manufactured where none in fact exists? Or that the budget for waging war against Saddam Hussein is 3,000 times what it should be?

“Only if the same margin of error that was built in for the bombs is being applied across the board.” Smug little guy, Raven. But he looks a little nervous, too.

Well, Rave, I fear it may be the case. Or possibly even more extreme. There have been a number of scandals in the past—during the few moments of peacetime that have occurred since 1945, the Pentagon’s budget for supplies and installations was so inflated that screwdrivers were costing hundreds of dollars and toilet seats in the thousands. If the same trend applies to numbers of items as it does to the cost of each individual item, Bush will bankrupt the US economy indefintely. When, in fact, he could wage war on Saddam Hussein for the cost of a few thousand screwdrivers. (I think I’m with him now.)

“Or they could just drop 3,000 toilet seats on Bagdad....”

I should have seen it coming.

But it was just hanging there in the sky.