It’s Your Move – Mister President!

Two men sit at a chess board. Player ‘One’ is quiet and scheming; player ‘Two’, brash, given to occasional ill-thought-out moves. He is the more powerful player of the two. He is very competitive. The word ‘lose’ is not in his dictionary.

Player ‘One’ started from a position of weakness. Some pieces were missing from his side of the board. He’s had to play with a handicap, compared to his opponent, and he knows it. But by carefully calculating his moves, rattling player ‘Two’ into making the occasional error, he’s now been able to call “Check!” on his opponent. A quick glance at the board shows that player ‘One’ has left player ‘Two’ little room for manoeuvre. The most player ‘Two’ can hope for is a draw, but that could mean annihilating much of the human race.

Kim Jong-un has Donald Trump by the ‘short ‘n curlies’, figuratively speaking. Trump’s ego needs him to come out on top, but he sees only two ways to possibly achieve that, and both involve military intervention. If he attacks North Korea with conventional weaponry, Kim will almost certainly retaliate with nuclear weapons likely aimed at the United States. That would mean relying on America’s missile defence systems to take down Kim’s warheads before they reach their target. It would only take one to get through for unimagined devastation to occur. America’s MDS has never been tested against an actual nuclear attack. Dare he take that risk?

The second choice for Trump is an all-out nuclear strike to take out Kim’s nuclear arsenal before he has time to fire it. That option truly doesn’t bear thinking about. With thousands of U.S. citizens stationed just across the border in the South, and China only a whisker away, the aftermath of such a strike would be too horrific to contemplate.

Western media is united in condemning North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, but consider for a moment the position of Kim Jong-un and his country. No-one, apart from the regime, would argue that this isn’t a dastardly dictatorship, but there’s little doubt it deservedly feels threatened. With U.S. military bases in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Guam, half the U.S. navy parked in the East China Sea, and a brand new missile defence system partly installed in South Korea, plus decades of U.S. political rhetoric condemning the regime, and George W Bush labeling it part of the “Axis of Evil”, if Kim and his cohorts are feeling decidedly edgy one can hardly blame them.

Is there another option? Yes, there is, but it’s unlikely Donald Trump will consider it.

Basically, Kim wants the U.S. to back off, get out of his front yard, treat North Korea with a little respect (meaning lift all the sanctions) and stop threatening him. Tillerson keeps telling him the U.S. isn’t interested in ousting him from power, but he’s seen what America has done to Iraq and Libya, and would like to do in Syria, so he’s not too keen to believe all that baloney. He knows he stands between America (in the form of ally, South Korea) and China, and the U.S. government would love to be able to position itself militarily right on Xi Jinping’s border (and, incidentally, next door to Russia).

All of which means America is unlikely to back off, and of course it wants regime change in North Korea, just as badly as China wants to preserve it. Any other U.S. president would have been pushing hard for diplomacy to cool the tensions. Trump is no diplomat. He’s allowing Bannon and his military advisers to call the tune.

Donald Trump is just completing his first six months as president of the United States. In that time he’s brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. What will he achieve in the next six months?

It’s your move – Mister President!

Our Fairytale View Of The Natural World Can Often Backfire

One of the more unusual headlines last week was this from the BBC (and many other news outlets):

“Ohio boa constrictor: Firefighters kill snake ‘stuck to woman’s face'”

Firefighters in the US state of Ohio have rescued a woman who telephoned 911 in terror, pleading, “Oh, please! I have a boa constrictor stuck to my face!”
“Ma’am, you have a what?” the operator replied. “You’re outside with a boa constrictor stuck to your face?”
The terrified woman explained that the 5ft 5in (1.6m) snake had wrapped itself around her and bitten her nose.
She said she had “rescued” the snake and another boa on Wednesday.
An ambulance was swiftly dispatched to the woman, who was found lying in her driveway in the town of Sheffield Lake with the snake around her neck.
“It was wrapped around her neck and biting her nose and wouldn’t let go,” fire chief Tim Card said, according to the local Chronicle-Telegram.
“They had to cut its head off with a knife to get it to let go of her face.” [1]

It was an early summer morning in the American Midwest and I was returning to my home after my usual exercise walk before going to work. The street where we lived was a quiet cul-de-sac of wooden houses and open plan lawns. Suddenly, I heard the most dreadful screams behind me. They cut through the misty, dawn air with such intensity I turned sharply, desperate to witness what was the cause.

Even before I could complete the act, I was aware of the beat of heavy wings as a red-tailed hawk passed over my right shoulder, not twelve feet off the ground. It was working hard to gain altitude due to the weight of a creature hanging from its talons. This was the animal, an adult chipmunk, that was emitting those piercing, agonized, screams that had so startled me.

I could only stand helplessly and watch, listen, as the bird gained height, but those cries of terror were still clearly audible as the hawk and its victim rapidly disappeared over the distant trees. I carried that sound in my head for the rest of the day.

A few weeks ago I was driving up a narrow, rural, lane in France. A tight bend to the left, then up a sharp rise before another bend, this time to the right, revealed a field with trees bordering it. A momentary tableau caught my eye through the car windscreen. A black kite, talons outstretched, was taking hold of a house marten, one of a small flock out feeding on flies in the evening sunshine.

Just for one split second the sudden appearance of my car caused the raptor to falter. In that moment, the smaller bird desperately trying to seek the safety of the trees, broke away and darted into the waiting branches. This time the hawk was baulked of its prey.

Most of us would admire a raptor as a magnificent creature, yet the truth is it’s a cold-blooded killer that rips its prey apart while still alive. But then, so is a house marten when it comes to flies. We tend to speak of the ‘wonders of nature’ and are fascinated by the natural world, but in reality it’s an arena of violent death and destruction, devoid of compassion, emotion, or pity. To survive, everything has to feed off something else. Even the poor old chipmunk, while happy with a few nuts and plants, won’t turn its nose up at the occasional beetle, frog, or worm. The majority of life on this planet is intent on killing anything and everything around it in order to survive.

There’s a food chain that stretches from the lowliest bacteria to, at its peak, the mightiest killers – sharks, alligators, lions, tigers and bears from which even we, who consider ourselves kings of the earth, are not immune from falling victim. Every living thing on the planet, and possibly throughout the universe, is engaged in an emotionless, competitive, struggle to be the survivor.

Nature is often touted as a beauteous vista of mountain scenery, azure skies, green forests, and blue seas, all filled with wondrous creatures for our delectation. Our eyes deceive us; our senses hypnotise us to the truth. Nature, and in particular, evolution, is no more than one huge killing machine. The world is a vast amphitheatre of gladiatorial combat…

…and the only spoil for the victor is a longer period of survival than its victim .

We like to bestow our own emotions onto the animals we see, or keep. As babies we’re programmed to cuddle and love certain furry creatures. We even take effigies of them to our beds with us. The Disney Corporation made its fortunes from portraying wild animals as little humans in disguise.

There have been numerous cases of animals failing to return our misplaced affections: dogs trusted to play lovingly with very small children, only to attack and sometimes kill them when the parent’s back is turned, cats that smother babies (albeit unwittingly), humans convinced they’ve befriended animals from the wild, only to find one day the friendship’s not returned.

Then, of course, there is the Ohio woman who ‘rescued’ a boa constrictor and took it out onto her driveway to pet it and show it some kindness after its ordeal. It responded by trying to kill her. Its intention was to eat her.

She ‘rescued’ it. Did she really think, perhaps, it would be grateful?

[1] “Ohio boa constrictor: Firefighters kill snake ‘stuck to woman’s face'” BBC, July 29th 2017

Of Babies, Comedians, & The More Foolish Aspects Of Mankind

Yes, let’s begin with the image of three healthy, bouncing, babies. Sadly, there are occasions when such delightful little human beings are neither healthy, nor bouncing. Sometimes they’re sick, and occasionally they die.

There can be no doubting the sincerity of his parents, or the sad plight of a baby terminally ill with a rare disease that’s untreatable, but the media hysteria over Charlie Gard really needs some analysis.[1]

Headline in just one of almost all national UK newspapers (25/07/17). (Added at the bottom of the page: “Mum’s Heartbreaking Tribute: Pages 4,5,6 and 7”). Could we ever resist buying this rag to read Mum’s personal heartbreak?

Millions of babies die every year within twelve months of birth, according to ‘Save The Children’:

Worldwide, nearly 3 million newborns die each year and an additional 2.6 million babies are stillborn. [2].

Charlie Gard is one of them. He is ‘special’ only to his devoted parents and close relatives, yet the media have attempted to make this one child ‘special’ to everyone. It even evoked a response from Donald Trump…

Donald J. Trump?Verified account
@realDonaldTrump

If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
7:00 AM – 3 Jul 2017
37,192 Retweets 123,516 Likes

…and the Pope (as per the Guardian):

Pope Francis is calling for the parents of critically ill baby, Charlie Gard, to be allowed to do everything possible to treat their child.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the Vatican said the pope was following the case of the 10-month-old, who has a form of mitochondrial disease, “with affection and sadness” and was close to his parents: “For this he prays that their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end isn’t neglected.” [3]

It’s the sort of cheap political move we’ve grown to expect from Trump, but the Pope should know better.

News agencies now transmit their stories worldwide. One can only surmise how women in Yemen, Syria, or across much of the continent of Africa, feel when they hear of a Western baby’s plight raising over two million dollars, while their own child dies of starvation, or disease, because they’ve not even enough to buy food or medicine.

No-one could blame Charlie Gard’s parents for the efforts they’ve made to keep their baby alive, but Western media both in the U.K. and the U.S., are guilty of using this story to whip up public emotion for no better reason than viewing/sales figures, and with a callous disregard of the effects it might have on those women of similar circumstance in less fortunate parts of the world.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…

QUESTION: take the words vagina, penis, every possible conjugation of the verb ‘to fuck’ that you can think of used in a myriad different ways (throw in a generous helping of anal excrement) and what do you have?

ANSWER: virtually every comedic moment of every (so-called) comedy programme, late-night chat show, and stand-up act both on and off the TV screen, all of which have audiences convulsed with laughter – one’s tempted to believe the on-cue laughter is a prerequisite of gaining free tickets to the show. Though, maybe not.

What has happened to that elusive component of comedy called ‘talent’? Any fool can stand in front of a microphone and shout, “FUCK,” over and over again. There was a time when comedians could have people in fits of laughter without using any bad language, or sexual references.

I can only think of two comedians with the talent and personality to utilize bad language in an endearing way. One was Billy Connolly and the other was George Carlin, and neither found it necessary to constantly throw sexual references into their act. Today, nothing is left to the imagination. A vagina is a vagina and a penis is a penis, and, my God, aren’t we proud of it!

Now, I have to admit to laughing uproariously at all those words. I remember, it was behind our school bike sheds while sneaking a quick puff of a shared cigarette. I was about twelve years old. Way too young to stay up for the late night talk shows, if there were any in those days.

I guess I stopped finding such locution amusing by the time I reached, well, probably about sixteen.

Is it taking longer for ‘Millenials’, or, ‘Gen Zs’, (or whatever stupid names they call themselves) to attain adulthood?

Or, has evolution simply decided it’s evolved far enough and put the gear lever into reverse?

AND FINALLY…

Let’s take a moment to consider this lot:

A handsome, appealing, AMERICAN Jesus!

Most would agree the human race is in a pretty poor state and needs some rational thinking if we’re ever going to get out of the mess we’re in. Global climate change, wars, a dictator-president running the most militaristic nation on earth (no, NOT North Korea!), the accumulation of wealth (or the lack of it) the most fundamental raison d’etre for living…all cannot be overcome by burying our heads in the sand and waiting on some ‘Almighty Intelligence’ to sort it out for us.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only befuddled load of religious brainwashings on the planet, there’s a whole host of them, but today the BBC has highlighted the effect of this organization on those who have the courage to say, “Enough of this rubbish, I’m outa here.”

Total alienation from family and friends is the punishment inflicted by these pseudo-religious marketeers, causing acute pain, depression, and sometimes suicide to be inflicted on those who dare escape its clutches.

For some former Jehovah’s Witnesses, leaving the faith is not just the mark of losing your religion – it can also mean losing your loved ones. In many cases, friends and family are told to cut all ties with ex-believers, leaving them isolated and sometimes suicidal.[4]

The marketing of ‘God’, in whatever guise proves most profitable, has been a ‘top seller’ on the income scale for millennia. It’s time we all asked, “What has God ever done for us?” When human history is dissected, the answer is, “Bugger all!”

Every darned thing that’s proved good for us has been achieved by man, and everything bad, also. ‘God’ has been nowhere. To those who say, “Prayer works,”, the response is, “Yes, it does, about fifty percent of the time.” It makes ‘God’ no better than coincidence, or chance. ‘God’ is nothing more than a divine one-armed bandit.

It seems the human race is determined to be hoodwinked by its own crazy belief systems. Religion is probably the very last thing on this planet that’ll be exterminated – when the last fool alive calls on his god to save his life before death finally claims him. At that point the planet will no doubt breathe an almighty sigh of relief that it’s finally rid itself of the plague of pathetic parasites that have been slowly poisoning it for eons.

[1] “The Papers” BBC, July 25th 2007

[2] “Worldwide, nearly 3 million newborns die each year and an additional 2.6 million babies are stillborn.” save The Children, May 20th 2014

[3] “Donald Trump offers help for critically ill baby Charlie Gard” Guardian, July 3rd 2017

[4] “The ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses shunned by their families” BBC, July 25th 2017