No Unity, No Vision, No Revolution

Perhaps one of the saddest failures in history was the League of Nations, with that failure came the second World War and even more death and devastation than the preceding war that led to the League’s creation in the first place. Now we have the United Nations, and although it chugs resolutely onward what is it really accomplishing? It spends vast sums of money operating, but other than that what does it accomplish? It failed to stop the disintegration of the Balkans, its peacekeepers in blue berets handcuffed to likely military targets and then the whole mess turned over to NATO to resolve.

I’m not here to either praise nor condemn the United Nations, but rather point out that the world isn’t a very pretty place right now. We’re still dealing with many of the rifts that date back over a thousand years, clashes of religions and ideologies and even political entities that no longer exist such as the Ottoman Empire that was broken apart after WWI and the bungling that left European diplomats drawing lines on maps and creating countries that existed before.

Some say the answer is to tear down all of the existing structures of government and class and institute natural forms of government in their place. An interesting theory when you look at it on paper, but then again what makes people think that what we have isn’t natural based on human nature? Democracy may just be the most unnatural form of government that there is because it gives a 90 pound weakling the same power at the ballot box as the 300 pound gorilla. It took will to institute that form of government and how much of the world has a functioning and fair democracy? Saddam once won an election with nearly 100% of the vote, anyone think that was a fair election? How fair do you think Pakistan’s last election was?

This is why we won’t see the world revolution that many people say will happen. In order for their to be a revolution people have to want the same things, and people from one end of the world to the other don’t agree on much of anything. This all hit me one day when I was vegetating and listening to one of my favorite songs, One Vision by Queen, it said many things, some easy to agree with, some that will cause argument, but look at this one glimpse into the lyrics.

  • I had a dream
  • When I was young
  • A dream of sweet illusion
  • A glimpse of hope and unity
  • And visions of one sweet union
  • But a cold wind blows
  • And a dark rain falls
  • And in my heart it shows
  • Look what they’ve done to my dreams
  • So give me your hands
  • Give me your hearts
  • I’m ready
  • There’s only one direction
  • One world one nation
  • Yeah one vision

That would be a revolution, getting the entire world behind one thought, even getting the entire globe to embrace the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is currently next to impossible, we have one that most of the world has signed and another that 57 Muslim nations signed, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam in June of 2000 that states that people have “freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah.”

  • If, under some incredibly unlikely set of circumstances there was a whole world revolution, is it armed or peaceful?
  • Is there to be another world war that will finally place something like the United Nations as the governing body for the world? Or is there going to be one worldwide movement that still recognizes the individual countries?
  • It is going to be a secular or religious revolution?
  • How will there be a world revolution that respects the rights of everyone?
  • What happens to those that don’t think there needs to be a revolution?
  • What form of government is there at the end? Democratic? Authoritarian? Socialist? Communist? Marxist? Or maybe we need new –ists and –isms before all of this can happen?

There are individual countries that can’t agree among their own people what form of government they need, and who should be in charge, look at Darfur, at Burma, the Balkans. There isn’t one vision, one thing that all people can hold onto and say in one voice we all agree on this. Somebody always has a ‘but,’ to throw into the equation and then another and another until all hope of compromise finally collapses.

  • While we live according to race, colour or creed
  • While we rule by blind madness and pure greed
  • Our lives dictated by tradition, superstition, false religion
  • Through the eons, and on and on
  • Oh yes we’ll keep on tryin’
  • We’ll tread that fine line
  • Oh we’ll keep on tryin’
  • Till the end of time

Queen, Innuendo

Then again, for all that say there needs to be revolutionary change there are others that say they pretty much like the way things are. There are no easy answers, but for those that advocate national or world revolution, is there a plan? Or is have a revolution the whole plan? I need to hear a whole lot of intelligent answers before I get excited about anything, starting with what happens to those that don’t want a revolution.

© 2007 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.


Free to All: The Wild and Wonderful World of Words

Freedom of speech, to speak as we will without fear of consequences or repercussions, the strange thing I suppose is that this is considered revolutionary, it seems to be a natural thing, but when you really look at it how free is free when it comes to words? Obviously there has to be some sort of limits, like how should you greet your friend Jack that you meet unexpectedly on a plane? Do you say “Hi Jack” or might that cause more trouble than its worth for a simple greeting? George Carlin once noted it was unwise to yell movie in a crowded fire house, but I suspect he was being facetious.

Words and meanings and implied meanings and inferred meanings and did that mean what I think it did or am I being too sensitive? Can a politician do something immoral if what they did was only immoral from say a religious point of view? After all, there is separation of church and state, so is there a secular view of morality or perhaps there is a better word. One person’s tax is another’s thievery, one intoxicant is legal but another isn’t. Then again there is the argument that “man created alcohol and God created pot, who do you trust?” But I don’t see adherents of this philosophy smoking a bowl of poison ivy during their coffee break.

I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it, but just about the time someone says that they jump on somebody else for saying something they disagree with, which really seems to dash the whole sentiment aside because you have to wonder if that’s what they meant in the first place. Did I really say all of that in one sentence? Irrelevant! Or is it, because is what each individual person considers relevant the metric that we gauge relevancy by? Or does relevancy vary by the setting we find ourselves in?

Truth is a funny word, we can tell the truth, swear to tell the truth, but is truth a word with a fixed meaning, or is it in the realm of the philosophers? What is accepted as truth today might be found false tomorrow, so does that place truth and moral on a special plane of meaning? If you ask two people what color the car was than ran over old man Smithers and one says green and the other says blue does that mean one of them is lying? How can two people under oath give two completely different colors and neither of them be lying? So then we have qualifiers, lawyer words, “to the best of my recollection,” and “as near as I can recall.”

You can give your word, speak your piece and still have somebody tell you to take it back, not how is that supposed to work? Probably the same way that two people can look at the same event and take exactly opposite meanings from it. A law is passed and one says good and another says bad, because now we’re right back to the whole moral, truth, good and bad thing again that really seems to trip everyone up at some time or another. Look at the way someone can put a little jiggle on something that somebody has said and give it a whole new meaning. “I needed my tired rotated,” she said. “I’d like to rotate her tires,” he winked knowingly. The poor lady was worried about tire wear and suddenly its been hijacked by a double entendre.

If there is a single entendre I think that would only confuse things irreparably at this point. Its like one event can have completely different meanings, a house burning down is a sad thing, unless its your house then its tragic. There is no problem with unemployment if you are employed, and a difficult pregnancy is no trouble at all if you aren’t pregnant, because even a embryo is one of two things, if its wanted it’s a baby and if it isn’t then its an embryo, in much the same way that a strident person becomes a jerk when they’re not on your side.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and behind every successful man is… well that sort of depends on where they are at the time. A Corvette in the driveway of a neighbor is male menopause, but a Corvette in your driveway is a reward for living a good life, but if beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes to the bone its no sweat because beauty is in the eye of the beer holder after all. Some men will tell you that women get old and men get distinguished, apparently these men know of a tribe that venerates ear hair, if you find out where it is let me know I might qualify to be a bishop among them.

“Lets do it on the beach,” is a proposition and a preposition.

Even time can play against us, you can be so tired that you sleep till noon, or you can be so lazy that you don’t wake up till noon. It’s the same time, the same bed, but a whole new spin. And speaking of spin did you know the special relationship between fertilizer and filibuster? One is bullshit in congress, the other is bullshit in the garden, and speaking of consistency, how exactly does one react when in the heat of passion an Atheist calls out to God? I can tell you that asking about it right then is a bad idea.

They say that there is no such thing as an Atheist in a fox hole, but to be honest I never thought to ask on those occasions I found myself in a fox hole. I have run into a preacher in a barber shop though, which made me wonder just how seriously to take that Samson story. So if you part your hair, and a fool and his money are soon parted, does that mean that the barber groomed the person and their wallet, or just took a little off the top of both?

And we have enough trouble with language without using confusing expressions. I’ve used a brick outhouse, and didn’t find anything about the structure that I’d consider beneficial to the female form, although after losing a flashlight down one I know what they mean by its getting deep.

Its like the story of the two hobos, they are wandering the tracks and its cold, but they see an outhouse and rush to avail themselves of the facilities. A shout of dismay brought one to help the other. “What’s wrong?” the first said. “I dropped my money down the hole, have you got any money?” the second replied. “I have a five dollar bill is all,” the first said sadly, showing it to him. The second snatched the bill and tossed it down the hold and started undressing. “Why did you do that?” moaned the first. “Because I ain’t climbing down there for just a dollar.”

There is no truly profound point to all of this, its an exercise in free speech you might say, and you’d be free to say it. Not every word we utter is fit to be passed along to the ages, some I utter aren’t fit to be spoken within a country mile of a human being. Say what you will and let the world think what it may, but no yelling fire in theaters unless there is one, and don’t shout a greeting to Jack at the airport. Oxymoron is one of my favorite words, it fits many expressions quite well, but the best just might be common sense.

© 2007 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.

Memoirs Veterans

9-11 from My Perspective

There’s a lot of memories wrapped up in seeing 11 Sep on anything, it actually reminded me to change the way my computer shows the date, I kept it set for military format, DD/MM/YYYY, instead of the normal (to most of you) way of MM/DD/YYYY. And when I changed it I started thinking about that day, and the events and feelings around it.

In the summer of 2001 I found out I had 2 hernias. Inguinal Hernias to be technical. The unpleasant part of the term inguinal is where a loop of intestine can wind up, the link above has a diagram, if you want to know, go peek, I won’t spoil it for you.

So I had them both fixed in August, it involves a few small holes, it would be Endoscopic Surgery so recovery would be faster, but I would still be out of work until the last week in September. They gave me an orientation for the surgery, which was actually funny because we used similar, but much more expensive and better quality scopes to inspect jet engines, and I’d been using them for 17 years at this point. The surgery went fine, Kevlar mesh and a few surgical staples, and I went home that day. Recovery was a little more interesting that they or especially I would have liked, to put it delicately my boys were several sizes larger than they should have been, it was a few days after before I could pull my sweatpants up over the surgical area.

I was feeling pretty normal on the 10th when I went to bed, I wasn’t moving too fast but I was doing stairs just fine and as long as I didn’t get stupid and try and lift things I would be fine. It did look like I had two belly buttons, one of the scars had built up strangely and every now and then when I stretched I could feel a tug and a pop and the second bellybutton would be a little shallower. Don’t cringe, I had to feel it, what do you have to fuss about?

The morning of the 11th, a Tuesday I was being lazy and sleeping in when my wife got back from taking the girl to school, she was calling my name as she came up the stairs and turned on the TV. The second plane hit while we watched.

Oh shit.

At the foot of my bed is a big wooden chest I made when I was about 14, I had my MoBags (mobility bags) in it. Two of them and everything I would need to be out of town for a minimum of 120 days. We checked everything and packed it all together, she gave me a fast and very short haircut, then I shaved off about a month’s growth showered and called in. I asked where they needed me and told them I’d be in for the swing shift, 4 pm till midnight. We ran a few errands and then loaded everything into my car, because I was on a half-hour notice now to appear and leave.

This is when you hurry up and make sure you have everything, power of attorney for the wife, my will was up-to-date, I had cash, my government travel card, I was current on my training, the M16, and all my gear was packed. By career field I was a jet engine mechanic, but because of my rank I was working as an expediter, which meant I had 24 people from 6 different career fields that I dispatched to jobs from a big ‘bread truck,’ and I knew I was going to be busy as hell.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I got to work and all aircraft were generated and ready to do, we were standing by for any orders because my squadron was ‘in the bucket,’ meaning that we were the rapid deployment force for the bomber fleet. I was assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, we maintained and flew the B-1B Lancer, the history of the squadron went back to 1917 and when you looked at our guidon it had so many campaign streamers it looked like a pom-pom attached to a spear, if you dug a little you could see the actual pennant. One of the key historical accomplishments about the 34th was that most of the aircraft and pilots for the Doolittle Raid on Japan were from the 34th, if you look here you’ll even see some of the pilots wearing the patch on their flight jackets.

April of 1942, four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 16 B-25’s that had been shoe-horned onto the flight deck of the USS Hornet and flew a one-way mission to attack Japan. Of the 80 men that took off, 3 men were killed during the mission, 8 were captured (4 of them executed in custody), 5 were interned in the USSR, and all 16 aircraft were lost. Most of the crew’s made it to China, where the local population spirited them away, there are some estimates that the Japanese Imperial Army killed as many as 250,000 Chinese civilians trying to find them.

The actual damage inflicted by the raid was slight, but the psychological effect to Japanese and American morale was electrifying, it would be a few months later, June of 1942 before the Japanese advance would be stopped at Midway, and the long campaign to Japan itself would be four more hard years away, but in April of 1942 the Japanese were invincible, the US navy was shattered and severely outnumbered. The Doolittle Raid would prove to both sides that the Japanese weren’t invincible, and it proved to the Japanese that the Home Islands were vulnerable, and forced them to change their deployments to protect them at the expense of weakening other places.

But on the night of the 11th the guys that I supervised dragged their bags in and we checked everyone had everything, and then we started the waiting game. All up and down the halls were pictures of the history of the squadron, including shots of bombers flying off of an aircraft carrier. Down the hall and across from the commander’s office was the ship’s bell from the USS Hornet. It was three months shy of being 60 years since Pearl Harbor, and a few of us old timers walked up and down the halls and let the history soak in a little.

Technically I wasn’t deployable, I was actually still on convalescent leave, but I felt plenty recovered and I wasn’t going to stay behind. I’m not sure exactly what I said the first time I was told I couldn’t go, but I’m told it was loud and profane and I didn’t repeat a single cuss-word in the entire tirade, and since I was talking to an officer I did put a ‘sir’ on the end of it. Long story short I did go, and I watched as the bombers left, loaded with bombs and afterburners glowing bright and the thunder of the engines shook the ground beneath my feet. I was standing beside the truck listening to the radios, one playing music, the other a 2-way maintenance radio.

When the first jet broke ground AC/DC’s song Thunder was playing, and the 34th was called the Thunderbirds. If that’s not an omen of good luck I don’t know what is. We wound up forward deploying on Christmas Eve, from one location to another much closer to Afghanistan, and even that day we launched aircraft at one location and recovered them at the other. One hundred and twenty days of continuous operations and we took everyone home that we left the states with, a few dings and bruises, and we were all tired of living in tents, but we all went home safe.

To me that’s more important as the amount of bombs that we dropped. I’ve gone to too many funerals in my time, in some cases there was no coffin for the family to give some sense of finality. Its hard enough to accept the loss, but a picture on a empty coffin covered with a flag is not consolation. There were many that didn’t have that sense of finality when the towers fell. Its like you never get the chance to truly say goodbye.

© 2007 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.