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Tuesday 4 May 2004

I lack emotional robusteness

I want to say it's cuz I'm tired, but really I just cannot handle emotional stress. I mean, if someone rejects me or I think they're going to reject me, it freaks me the hell out. Even people I don't like that much. I mean... I think this is definitely a pattern. I dunno what to do about it. Fortunately, people do not act in a manner that makes feel/fear rejection very often. And I can see how such a reaction might have come into my life recently or at least been recently amplified, although it's scary to think how many of my life descisions might have really centered around this tendency. or not. i dunno. Obviously, if I'm going to be a functioning member of society, I need to be able to deal. step 1: recognize the issue. step 2: ?

I swear, I get happier and more functional every day. But "all better" continues to ellude me. I have to much stuff to do before wednesday to worry about this. maybe i'll just live in a cave till i'm done here. and then live in a cave forever! no, not really. i should go look at my Feeling Good book, as it contains many strategies for dealing with stupid every day things. Cuz a lot of depression is just not knowing how to react to everyday things.


In other news, the new york times magazine has an article on the war on terror, which i don't have time to read, but which I've heard rumors that it says we should use torture in interrogations and carry out assasinations. Well, of course, we already do these things. where do people think Hussein got all that torture stuff? the CIA has the greatest torture technology in the world. A lot of the tools for it are manufactured right here at home. Torture = american jobs. And you can get training on how to do that plus learn how to set up death squads at Fort Benning, at the renamed School of the Americas. I'm going to assume that the writer is conviently ignoring US-sponsored terror and torture in client states (we do car bombs, yes we do) and thinks we should start torturing people domestically.

Oh that's a great idea. For instance, torture in Iraq's prisons have really raised our stature in the Arab world. The question, tho, I guess for people who utterly lack a moral compass, has to do with the ends of the means and not the means themselves. What countries openly assisnate and use torture? What countries have terror? Well, there's a lot of terror in Europe. Want to know why there are no garbage cans in the London Underground? How about the see-though garbage recepticles around Notre Dame in Paris? Yes, other countries, like, I dunno, Spain and all over Europe deal with terror all the time. I'm picking them vs South American countries, because they're all democracies. Also, as the US is the source of South American, terror, it would make an odd comparison. Anyway, all of these countries have to deal with terror periodically, but somehow they maintain democracy. Of course, they've had experiments to responding to terrorist events, like say, the Reichstag fire, by adopting a more totalitarian model. That didn't work out so well.

Contrast this with Israel, a contry with a ton of terror and assymetric warfare. They torture. They assasinate. Doesn't seem to help much. Seems to make things a lot worse.

Lookit, the head of the department of education recently called the NEA a terrorist organization. If we say, "you can torture peple, but only suspected terrorists," then who is a terrorist? People blocking the entrances to federal buildings? (I've done it. It used to be called peaceful protest.) Teachers? This strategy is a pandora's box. Police forces will always use every tool available to them to solve crimes. To do otherwise would be to underacheive. Do we want them to have this tool? What if you, yes you, were mistaken for a terrorist? what if you did something that sort of brushed against a definition of terrorism? I know a guy who thought it would be cool to scribble stupid grafitti in an airplace bathroom. For a good time call, or something lame. Well, if he's done something that looked illegible, like those stylized scripts you see used in artistic grafitti, law enforcement could assume that he was communicating with other members of a terrorist cell aboard the plane. No joke. No exageration. It was a lame thing to do, but do we want to torture lame college students?

The part of the article I did read contains some errors. First of all, Al Queda was never monolithic. Politicans have asserted otherwise, but they also said Iraq had WMD. There are many groups who are upset about US foreign policy (and rightly so, as we export huge amounts of inequality and terror) and willing to respond to that with assymetric warfare. Trying to say they all follow one guy with a video camera is rediculous. The power of these groups lies in their independance. The writer goes on to talk about dirty bombs. The Journal of the Atomic Scientists, a publication which included Einstein as an associate of some kind, recently ran an article on dirty bombs. First of all, the material needed to make a dirty bomb, spent fuel rods, are extremely heavy and toxic. They are very hard to move. anyone involved in such a project would certainly quickly die of radiation poisoning. Ok, so even if you say they're suicide bombers, it would take fo team of people to grab the rods and they would all die shortly thereafter. then, the spent fuel rods are attached to a conventional explosive device. Like dynamite or something. The idea is that they spread radioactive material everywhere. Well, the folks quoted in the article that I read, a trade journal for atomic scientists, say the risk of anyone being harmed by that is low. So fuel rods, who and unexploded are very radioactive and toxic, but once they're dispersed, the little pieces are a lot less dangerous. You clear the area and then send in a cleanup team. I mean, it's not harmless. People caught in the actual explosion would be maimed or killed. but not by the radiation, by the bomb. the real, huge danger from a dirty bomb is panic. Panic that is way out of proportion to the threat. the way to prevent massive damage from a dirty bomb is to inform people about the real (much lower than they think) risks and make sure that people stay calm. That's how you fight the effectiveness of dirty bombs. Their danger and power is in the symbol, not in the actuality. Nobody would go to the deadly hassle of messing around with spent fuel rods if they knew it wouldn't cause panic. but how have our leaders responded? By whipping up fear to a fever pitch. They're smart people. They have undoubtedly been briefed on the real risks of dirty bombs and know that the real problem is panic. the fact that they have chosen to increase the risks associated with dirty bomb attacks rather than decrease them suggests that protecting us from terror is not their primary agenda. Not that this is surprising, given that they've been diverting anti-terror funds to our Iraq adventurism and totally ignored terror reports from before 9-11. As it's clear that fighting terror is near the bottom of the Bush agenda, we need to ask ourselves why they or their lackeys would be lobbying for torture and assaination. It's not to make us safer...

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