Monday, November 23, 2015


Wired to the gills,
connected to the max.
No more privacy,
No chance to relax.

Watched all the time,
life a live performance;
Spied and tracked online,
charted chat entanglements.

The price of convenience,
Giving away any seclusion;
Protecting public safety
heightens civil right confusion.

But when terrorists attack,
singly or in groups;
slaughter innocents wholesale,
We summon all the troops.
Now no price is too steep
to punish these murdering creeps!

- end

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thoughts of Terrorism after the latest attacks

As I write this, the city of Paris, France is still recovering from a huge attack. The death toll was at least 140, with 300 hospitalized. It was a cowardly, barbaric act. People were slaughtered in public places, and some were killed inside a theater. The details are sketchy, but ISIS took credit for the attack. Countries around the world are rallying around France at this time. Another horrible hit to civilization – the second one in France in a years time. The Charlie Hebdo attacks took place in January, 2015. Questions arise again. How can some people whom France has welcomed into its borders, and fed and helped, turn around and do this kind of thing? It is incomprehensible.

But the most obvious explanation is fanaticism. Religious fanatics are responsible for so many bombings and insane acts throughout the world. Factions go after each other, like Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq. The Islamics go after the Jews, and the Jews retaliate. It is a never-ending cycle of violence, and that never seems to change. What are we going to do, outlaw religion? Not very likely.
Eyewitnesses had various stories to tell. One in a balcony above the Bataclan theater, described people all getting down on the floor to avoid gunshots, then being systematically slaughtered by two gunmen. Another told of a restaurant, where she thought a car had been driven through a window. It turned out to be more gunmen, shooting anyone they could. Blood and bodies were everywhere. Survivors will be traumatized for life. But one thing is for sure – these terrorists have just signed a death warrant for many, many more of their own people. Many Syrians and others in the Middle East will die in retaliation for these murders. 

Now the messages of solidarity are coming in from around the world. People on Facebook and other social media sites are filtering their names through French tricolors and the Eiffel tower peace sign that has been making the rounds. Messages of solidarity and peace. But the horrors are on their way, as retaliation looms. 

Before the Charlie Hebdo killings, and those recriminations, there have been many other terror acts. The most notable for people here in the US has been the September 11, 2001 attacks. A Wiki site
( lists most of them, although it is unverified in places. There have been bombings and assassinations from the 1860s in the USA all the way up to the present time. A “Mad Bomber” in New York terrorized residents for sixteen years, although he didn't do damage comparable to present-day terrorists. But an attack on Wall Street in 1920 killed and injured many, provoking much alarm. It has happened over here, more often than we may realize. But most often it is homegrown people with a local grudge of some kind. Ted Kazinsky (the Unabomber) was mad at university professors who had disdained his work somehow. So he mailed letter bombs, full of explosives and shrapnel, and injured several. The obsession to hurt or kill someone based on a grudge or beliefs is nothing new. 

In the 1970's the most feared groups seemed to be the Palestine Liberation Army or offshoots, and the Irish Republican army (IRA), and offshoots. There was also violence by JDL and Black Power groups, but this was on a smaller scale. Bombs were placed on planes, or up against buildings. In some cases, a lone gunman opened fire on a crowd somewhere. There were appearances by the Weather Underground, Ulster Defense Forces and others. In some cases large explosions were set off, killing or injuring many. But it seems that when Al-Qaeda made their debut, the era of large-scale terror attacks had arrived. No longer content to kill one or two people, the attackers now killed dozens, hundreds, or in the case of the Twin towers, thousands. IS seems to just be upping the ante. Which will guarantee that the Western (and Eastern) military organizations will be bogged down in warfare for many, many years to come.

Many attacks originate in religious disputes. For example, the forced settlement of Protestants in Catholic Ireland caused much unrest. Or Israel's formation in Palestine, and the resentment that caused. There are many, many more examples. 

US, British and French occupations in the Middle East over the last couple of centuries have surely bred resentments. The Algerians gained independence from France, after a bloody insurrection. There are even some Algerian Al-Queda members. When Britain managed Palestine in the 1940's, there was a group called the Irgun that attacked people, in the name of Zionism. The KKK in the US was responsible for many lynchings, fire-bombings and cross-burnings. So much so that they helped usher in a new segregation that lasted until the 1960's. Resentment still festers in some Southern US locales. Losers in any major conflict will hold grudges, and some will lash out. Even during major invasions, such as the Nazi-German invasion of France in WWII. Partisan resistance groups formed, and carried out many attacks, despite brutal retaliation by the Nazis. In Spain during the 1930's civil war, battles between the rebels and the dictatorial government of Franco raged. Rebellions of one kind or another have gone on for thousands of years. When the rebels succeed in overthrowing a government, they are often re-named “freedom fighters.”

One notable terror attack happened in London in 1605, known as the gunpowder plot. Guy Fawkes and other conspirators wanted to attack King James and the Parliament due to ever-more-onerous restrictions on the Catholics. The plot was foiled at the last minute, when someone sent a letter warning one MP to not be there. Many conspirators were rounded up. This would have been a large-scale disaster for British aristocracy if it had succeeded. The mere fact that it was attempted shows that acts of terror are not a modern invention.  (see

It is not known exactly how many events that fall just under the “terror” label have occurred. Some of these have made the news, including an attempt by a Japanese group to introduce Sarin gas into a subway system. Five did die, but many more could have had the group been more competent. Or in the US, there have been Highway or Freeway snipers caught. While it could be said they spread terror of a sort onto our roadways, their damage was comparatively slight. (Of course, you are the one being shot, it is a horrific act in any case.) There have been pipe bombs left in schools, and later detonated harmlessly by police. 

There have been school shootings, riveting national attention. Images of students evacuating a school, arms all held in the air for some reason, resonate in our collective minds. These are a relatively recent occurrence. In the past, someone bringing a knife or handgun to school was a major infraction, and grounds for expulsion. Terror in decades past at American schools would have had a lot more to do with fistfights than automatic weapons! 

Oftentimes human nature seems to have violent acts encoded within. A history of crimes of all kinds seems to show that one group will attack another group simply for being different. Thefts and vandalism go back to the beginning of recorded history. So terrorists seem to be an outgrowth of human population expansion and differentiation. As the human race expands, there are ever-finer shades of difference in many aspects. One of these is hatred and violence against others to achieve a purpose. The more people there are, the more ways we will find to do mischief or worse to each other. 

The “Good” people of the world must remain vigilant against those who would do harm. By “Good” I mean the people who carry on with their lives, and do no harm to others to achieve any ends. Vigorous competition in a team or individual sport may be the furthest they go in gaining the upper hand. Civilized people do not randomly do harm to each other. Rather they raise their families, go about their business, pursue their interests. The contrast between John Q. Civilization and Joe T. Terrorist could not be clearer. For whatever reason, JT Terrorist wants to spread terror and death throughout a population. 

This seems to be a problem we are stuck with. Just as with many other forms of “crime,” this one will be around for a long, long time. It makes one wonder that if and when Artificial Intelligences achieve a high mental capacity and begin to form societies, what kind of 'terrorism' they will have to contend with. Images of a robot sneaking around pulling the plug on another, or a group, come to mind. But someday this could very well surface as a real issue. Let's hope that we will still be around to view the outcome. Can machines bleed all over the street? And will humans be employed or forced to clean up the mess? We shall see. Yours in solidarity with civilization, and thanks for reading. 

Links for further reading:

- end

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Five things to avoid during NaNoWriMo

Courtesy of Grammarly, here are five things to avoid:

Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic Credit goes to Good luck with your writing!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Contented Cat

She sleeps in calm,
peace personified,
stretched out in casual beauty.
A visual delight even at rest.

Oblivious to the distant rumbles,
trains moving about in the switching yard,
nations moving troops around in the Middle East,
treading perilously close to each others pride.

She is unaware of a momentous trade agreement,
due to affect hundreds of millions of workers.
Unaware of worker discontent and anger.
Unaware of skirmishes small and large
taking place continuously in cyberspace.

As long as food and water are in the dishes,
there is a warm place to lie, she will be content.
And I will happily share in her contentment,
for a few moments
distracted from the many
hells being unleashed or defended from.

Being owned by a cat does have its advantages.

- end

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Kill Them All

Just a genial, average guy,
usually smile and be friendly.
But given a cat who has fleas,
my internal ninja comes out slashing.

With comb and spray I join the fray.
The tiny devils burrow and hide,
travel all over her, paws to face.
I comb, spray, comb some more...

Even if I saturate her with poison,
she will thank me one day with purrs and meows.

Time to deploy the ultimate super-weapon:
Extra-strength Fipronil is on the way!

This battle won, I return to normal.
Smile and wish one and all a “Good day!”

- end