Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Cheering For The N. Korean Team In The 2010 World Cup

Last Friday a friend brought up the fact that North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il has decreed that the 2010 World Cup matches will not be broadcast in his country. Only matches that his team, qualifying for the Cup for the first time since 1966, wins will be screened in N. Korea and then only edited highlights. In mentioning this example of the total dictatorial control that Kim exercises over his personal fiefdom of 29 million people, my friend opined that maybe it would be a good idea to cheer for the N. Korean team during their matches. My friend compared them to “the kids in the school sports day whose parents and friends ignore them” and further asked; People are worth it aren't they? Because if they aren't - then war is for nothing.” Sometimes I need a slap on the side of the head to get my attention. Thanks for that.

When I questioned this logic, somewhat jokingly, I wasn’t thinking of the possible implications for the N. Korean team when and if they should lose. Quite simply, I was not in a serious mood at the time. When the possibilities were pointed out to me and I finally started to think, it’s a valid point. In a regime like N. Korea and I doubt that there is another as repressive and paranoid anywhere in the world, anything is possible at the whim of one nutcase. He could have them executed, imprisoned or anything else his black little heart desires and absolutely no one to stop him. Possibly the World Cup matches will give the team members a chance to defect but would they take it? Suppose they defect, what then happens to their families and loved ones? Nope I don’t see them defecting, not if they have a bit of love in their hearts. Frankly, Kim Jong-II, makes Sadam Hussein look like an Eagle Scout and that’s saying something.

What N. Korea needs, besides getting immediate rid of the “Dear Leader” is a couple hundred thousand of these:

For the edification of any here who’ve never seen this picture, it was taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press in Bejing's Tiananmen Square
on June 5, 1989 during the Chinese government’s bloody crackdown on the demonstrations there. What you see is a skinny little student facing down a line of Chinese T-54 tanks. He actually stood there holding his two bags and stopped the tanks. When they tried to maneuver around him he moved to stay in front of them. Some say he had balls. Me? I say he had a heart too big for his slight frame. I can’t look at that photograph and think of that unknown man without tearing up. He is the epitome of courage and heart. If North Korea had a couple hundred thousand men and women like him, they could win freedom; it’s the only way they will win it. With N. Korea in possession of missiles that can reach Japan and S. Korea and in development of missiles that can reach Hawaii and Alaska, taking the country by force is about as likely as the chances of the N. Korean team winning the World Cup, slim and none. Add to that the fact that N. Korea has tested nuclear weapons in the range of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and you get possibilities that send cold chills down my spine.

Add up all the above and yes, it’s about people and nothing but people. In spite of the naysayers who whine about war and oil, war and power, ad nauseum, it all boils down to being about people. Only people, their freedom and their dignity are worth fighting and dying for, certainly not land. I don’t see us fighting for the N. Koreans, given the situation with a nutcase leader and nuclear capability, and I don’t see the emergence of a couple hundred thousand “tank men”.

So what to do? I don’t know about you, but as a start, I’m joining my friend and cheering for the North Korean World Cup Team, not for the regime, for the people because as my friend, uncon, had the heart and the wisdom to remind me; “People are worth it…” How could I have lost sight of that?

It might not make a difference, but what can it hurt? Join us.

Copyright Don Smith 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

World History 101 from an American Perspective

What I Think I Learned In Screwl

A Macedonian who thought he was Greek, Tito would have argued the point I think, conquered the world.

A bunch of Greeks (ATO’s or maybe Kappa Sigs) lived in cities that they thought were states. Yeah, right.

The Roman Empire happened and its history is so muddled that I tuned out until it got interesting with all the sleeping around that Cleopatra was doing. Cesar crossed a river becoming the first wetback in recorded history. He managed to get into Cleopatra’s (another hapless Greek) pants in short order and then was murdered by Marc Anthony, his friend (hence the term back stabber was born) who also wanted in Cleo’s pants. To top that off Cleo had two brothers who wanted in her pants. All four succeeded. This part was really interesting considering how crowded it was getting in there.

The Romans got their arses handed to them by the Gauls at a forest in Germany in 9 AD. The Germans had a big head about it up until 1945.

Lots more stuff happened until…

A bastard Frenchman named William invaded England (with help) and kicked good King Harold’s arse in 1066. This is the first time in recorded history where the French had a white sale because they weren’t in need of a bunch of white flags, something that doesn’t happen often.

A lot more stuff happened until…

Things had been going fairly well in England for more years than I care to count until one day they wound up with a crazy King. Along about here, the phrase; “You get the government you deserve” came into being. King George, the crazy, decided to levy onerous taxes on the American colonies (which had come in to being during that last bit of stuff that happened)

The American colonists decided to dress like Indians and have a tea party in protest which lead to the American Revolution (some say we’ve been revolting ever since) in which “we” and a bunch of others, notably the French who once again left their white flags at home, kicked the empire’s arse and set up our own country.


The War of 1812 when we decide to let little things, like boarding our ships and stirring up the American Indians, piss us off. Apparently we didn’t get the joke so the British burned Washington, which sounds like a capital idea to me.

Finally, only one day before a treaty was signed ending the war, the Battle of New Orleans was joined. The entire battle, which we won, would have been avoided if only someone could have gotten a cell signal down in that hole of a swamp some insist on calling a city.

More mundane stuff happened until…

The great bloodletting called by some the “War of Northern Aggression”, and by others “The American Civil War” began in 1861 during which a rag tag bunch of shoeless southern boys almost beat the well fed and equipped northern boys over God knows what. Certainly they had no real clue or they’d have stayed at home and let a few hundred wealthy landowners fight it out. Anyway moving on to a place called Gettysburg, the southern boys got there arses handed to them because some overblown Colonel of Engineers named Lee woke up and started giving orders. Things went down hill or uphill depending on your point of view until 1865 when it all ended. Its over, get over it.

More stuff happened until…

“We” MAY have blown up our own ship in Havana Harbor and blamed it on the Spanish which gave rise to the land grab called the Spanish American War. The Americans won and had a great time doing it. Three straight and the Americans were on a streak.

Still more boring stuff happened like digging a ditch across Panama, in another fine little land grab, all legal and above board this time.

Next we had WWI, the “War to End All Wars” in which a bunch of Europeans and the Germans (remember those guys) decided to dig up half of Europe and kill a lot of young men in the process. Never ones to let a good war go to waste, the Americans naturally decided to jump in. This war was started because some Serb decided to shoot an Austrian Archduke. This naturally pissed off some people and pissed off people are always prime for a war, so they had one and killed 15 million people, a high price to pay for one Austrian it would seem but what do I know. It’s only a game after all and does aid in keeping the population in check. I just kept wondering when the subject would return to sex.

The Germans and their allies lost and some idiot decided it would be a grand idea to put the boot heel of the winner on the neck of the defeated and grind a bit with the result of the German mark being worth almost as much as the paper it was printed on. The German’s not being a people to suffer defeat silently, after all they had kicked Roman arse all those years before, elected an Austrian to lead them and damn if he didn’t, lead them that is “out of the pot and into the frying pan” as we like to say. At least the French finally had need of all those white flags they had been stockpiling, so something good did happen. We Americans never passing up a good fight joined in, went to England and some other places and proceeded to fight and **** our way across England and Europe and some other places, like the Pacific Ocean culminating in America dropping a couple of atomic bombs on Japan. Killed approximately 250,000 human beings in two days, a pretty damn impressive score. Everyone's bloodlust satisfied for the time being we started about rebuilding.

Still more stuff occurred until…

The Koreans decided they couldn’t get along and just in the nick of time another war started. Good thing too cause most of the world’s armies were getting tired of just sitting around cleaning rifles and stuff. Eventually everyone decided to just call a very long temporary halt, as it was clearly more fun to sit around a table and stare at each other.

Again, stuff happened until…

One day the Americans elected a handsome lad, named Jack, from Massachusetts, whose daddy had enough money to secure the exalted office of President of the United States and leader of the somewhat free world. Problem is Jack was a womanizer (that part was interesting), war hero and a pill junkie which if you have a bit of power, is a bad combination. First young Jack decided to take on an island 90 miles off Key West but he cut and ran and left a lot of my Cuban brothers on the beach, figuratively and literally. Next he found another little piss ant country in SE Asia that looked like a good place for a fight and he sent in some really good guys to look around, the French having already exhausted their supply of white flags had left by then. The good guys reported back that all they needed was advisors but did any one listen? Not on your life. It had been almost 10 years without a good fight after all. Jack got his arse shot by, a nutcase in a building or was it up to 6 or so people standing on a knoll with guns, as he was taking the guided tour of Dallas, Texas.


This genius named Johnson got to be Grand Poobah, convinced Congress that a destroyer had been atacked by the N. Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin and off to war we went and according to some, who don’t know **** from shinola, eventually got our arses handed to us.

After more stuff happening…

Regan convinced the USSR and friends to "tear down that wall"


America was the victim of treachery that would put Pearl Harbor to shame and so truly discovered the Middle East, with more war than you can shake a stick at, and set about righting a massive wrong.

The End.

Copyright Don Smith 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Childhood Lost

Jack woke slowly, as he did every morning, with the light coming through his bare window gradually turning from black through shades of gray to full light. Getting out of bed as quietly as possible he quickly put on his clothes, the same clothes he had worn every day this week. It wasn’t that he didn’t have other clothes; it was because he was too small to reach them where they hung in the closet and no one to help. Carrying his shoes so as not to make a sound on the wooden floor he tried his door. Thankfully, finding it unlocked he opened it silently and moved into the hallway.

Stopping to listen outside her bedroom door, he could tell that she was still asleep. Breathing a sigh of relief he crept to the stairs, being careful to step over the second one that always let out a loud squeak whenever he forgot about it. Moving through the kitchen, he paused just long enough to see that that there was nothing to eat that was in reach of a five year old. Maybe later, he thought, maybe later, as he unlocked the back door and moved silently down the steps to the garden.

At one time, Jack had loved this garden with all its colors and smells and especially its hiding places. He had loved the high stone walls covered in what she had called ivy when he had overheard her talking to someone. Now, even his five year old mind realized that the garden was just another “locked away” place, like his room when she was mad at him. The garden was just another place with only one way out, back into that house he hated and his room with it's locked door.

Moving on through the garden, Jack headed to the one place he still liked about it, the gate. The gate was an old iron barred affair set in the stone wall. It was always locked by a heavy chain and an old padlock. The gate opening gave Billy a good view of the playground across the street. On the summer days she slept late, he would sometimes stand for hours watching the kids playing. Those were the good days; he could forget, for a little while, the emotional hunger that drove him continuously. The hunger that lead him to try everything he could think of to please her, anything to get her attention, to get her to acknowledge his existence. He tried hard and every time he failed he knew that if only he had tried just a little harder or done it differently or something she would have seen him. If only he was better. His failures used to make him cry, but no more. All crying did was make her mad. He never cried now.

What Jack didn’t realize, standing there peeping through the gate at the park, filling with all the mothers and their children, was that the lock on the chain was no longer locked. If only he had looked he would have seen it but he was so used to it being locked that he no longer bothered to look. Locks just were. The lock on his door, the lock on her heart, the lock on the garden gate, his world was defined by locks. All Jack could do was stand there, a single, unfelt tear rolling down his cheek, in the prison of his own making, watching the world pass by and thinking to himself; “If only...”
Note: I wrote this, or rather it wrote itself, after coming across the image above. It's a Zen Tarot card, the 5 of Rainbows. Like looking at a Rorschart image, this write is what I saw.

Copyright Don Smith 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The God Illusion, A Cautionary Tale

The last few weeks have been pretty hard for my family. Within the space of two weeks we lost both our Moms and I’m having a hard time accepting that either death was, at least when they occurred, unpreventable. These were not sudden deaths, but each was a case of deterioration occurring over the space of a couple of week’s time. I think they both occurred when they did, and how they did, in part, because of the illusion of God like powers that we help to foster in the medical profession. At times like those, we are at our weakest, often stressed beyond our ability to think clearly and ready to believe in the illusion that they are gods. We fail to ask the questions, and demand the answers, that we should. We tend to defer to the gods without question.

What contributes, intentionally or not, to this God illusion? They clothe themselves in smocks or scrubs, the uniforms that, aside from their practical utility, identify them as different from the rest of us. A uniform that sets them apart from mere mortals. Additionally they surround themselves with technology that generally is, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, sufficiently advanced that it is often indistinguishable from magic. To further the illusion we, ourselves, imbue them with a God like aura of infallibility and expect them to perform miracles when we know, deep in our souls, that there are no more miracles, there is only a combination of skill and even more luck, if we’re lucky.

With such a build up as that, it becomes easy to see how they sometimes overstep the bounds of their training. An Oncologist has seen chemo patients develop pulmonary embolisms so often, and treated them successfully himself, that instead of deferring to a lesser god and calling in a Pulmonologist, he gets it wrong and the treatment is the kill rather than the cure. No malice on his part, rather he bought into that God illusion we all had a part in creating.

So now I know, in spite of all the magic, the training and the skill, they’re only human beings completely devoid of God like powers. “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”. The illusion no longer holds.

The reason I wrote this, was not to garner sympathy for our losses. I wrote it as a warning to those of you who have not had to go through something like this. The warning is to not let your decisions be influenced by the technology, the separation and complete trust in the abilities of doctors to perform God like miracles, especially if the “miracle” needed falls outside their specialty.

My Mother-in-Law’s Oncologist is great, as an Oncologist. I’d choose him if I had cancer. That said, I do feel that he should have called in a Pulmonologist when he diagnosed her with a pulmonary embolism. I think he had too much confidence in his ability to treat a problem that fell outside his specialty. That was his problem. Our problem was not insisting that he do so. We let our decisions be colored by that god illusion and failed to take advantage of the fact that when there are many “gods”, there’s probably a damn good reason for it and you go with the one who has the needed skills. You don’t pray to the god of fire when what you need is rain.....

Copyright Don Smith 2009