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Ben Franklin's bifocals Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Thoreau Walden Pond
[1817 - Henry David Thoreau born in Concord, Massachusetts]

George Washington Carver George Washington Carver in the lab
[1865 - George Washington Carver, botanist, born near Diamond Grove, Missouri]

Oscar  Hammerstein II
[1895 - Oscar (Greeley Clendenning) Hammerstein II, lyricist, songwriter, born in New York City]

Pablo Neruda reading on radio
[1904 - Pablo Neruda, poet, Nobel Prize for Literature, born in Parral, Chile]

London Bridges

London bridge

The horrendous terrorist attack on the transportation network of the City of London focused on the tube not the bridges, and was therefor more effective. As william has been saying for some time now, there is no way to defend against these senseless acts of mass murder. The bombs that were detonated with such devastating effect weighed about ten pounds each, and were apparently concealed in those ubiquitous knapsacks, bookbags or backpacks that all young people seem to carry these days. There aren't enough police and bomb sniffing dogs in the universe to check every person who boards a subway train or a bus, and there never will be.

Like a tsunami, the effects of these dramatic events ripple to every corner of the globe. Here in the USA several days of front page headlines pour out. Our alert status goes from one meaningless color to another meaningless color, as if that makes any difference to anyone but the politicians and bureaucrats. The cable news channels feast for days on the carcasses of the dead. Heads of State make speeches about how they will not be intimidated by the terrorists, followed by live coverage of widespread chaos and close ups of folks in the street with fear in their eyes. Meanwhile back in the caves and the safe houses the perpetrators rub their hands in glee. This is exactly what they hoped for; we are following their script.

What if, instead of the societal paroxysm that now occurs following each successful terrorist attack, we truly just went on about our business of living in a dangerous world? Suppose that these fanatics and thugs gave a party, and no one in Western Civilization came? Do you reckon that the terrorists might lose interest in this tactic? It sure seems like it would be worth a try since our current way of reacting to these kinds of events virtually guarantees that they will be repeated for the foreseeable future. If instead of dramatizing these vicious acts so that they attain epic proportions, we consigned them to the obituary page where they belong, we might have an effective coping strategy. Of course, we all know this will never happen because these terrorist attacks are big news (i.e. they have great entertainment value).

William's Whimsical Words:

Stalin reportedly said: "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic."

William would add that the killing of any number of human beings between those two end points is always a media frenzy.

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