Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bye Bye Karzai

In the last few days, Afghanistan's alleged leader, Hamid Karzai, has tried different tricks to force America to bend to his will in order to remain in his country. A Council utilized to approve an agreement which would allow the US to stay in Afghanistan, said yes to a pact. However Karzai has refused to sign it.
Who cares. The American people would like to leave the country referred to as "the graveyard of empires." Let's look at some of the mistakes other countries have made there over the centuries.
The 19th century saw an England that wanted to protect its control over India. So they spent most of the century sparring with Russia over Afghanistan and the surrounding area. It was pretty clearly a mess, with many men dying in the process.
In the First Anglo-Afghan War (which began in 1838) Britain tried to impose a puppet regime on the country. Of the 4500 British troops only 690 were Europeans. The rest were Indians who'd been enslaved by the British Empire. By the time the Afghans had driven them out, only one European was alive, accompanied by a few Indians. It was an example of the deathtrap that is Afghanistan.
The British and the Russians skirmished over Afghanistan for the rest of the  19th century. In 1979 the Russians invaded Afghanistan, only eventually to retreat and lick their wounds.
Karzai's brother is a major drug smuggler. Karzai himself doesn't have much to recommend him. It's time to say "bye-bye Karzai," and adios to a country in which tribes really control what happens there.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Were Warned

You can't say we weren't warned. My generation was forced to read "1984," and "Brave New World." These novels told in the most abject terms what happened when oppressive societies and technologies get together to monitor the lives of everyone.
Many of us went to see the movie, "the Social Network," and walked out chilled by  Zuckerberg and his machinations. Then we bought shares of Facebook.
So now we live in a world in which the national security agency monitors our calls and Facebook sells our information online. This week they told us they will use our children in advertising, no matter what we say.
I remember my daughter telling me how old I was because of my concerns about privacy. I dropped Facebook three years ago after they sold my name in conjunction with other personal information. It could only have come from Facebook.
So we have no privacy, and most of us don't seem concerned. Those novels and warnings did no good. In the end we turned over our private lives to giant corporations and big government. So much for universal education. Like lemmings to the sea we gave away our rights without looking back. Now we have to live with this brave new world.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Sorry, I Forgot How Important You Are

There are days when you start to feel like you've become invisible, and the likeliest place to be invisible is in a large city. I've got a big enough ego that I can transcend this feeling, but it takes me a few minutes to recover sometimes.
I'm disabled and have braces on both ankles and my right knee. I work out an hour every morning and then like to get in a walk. For reasons that you'll see, I usually drive to the drycleaner that is a block and a half away.
This morning I said to myself that there shouldn't be any reason I can't walk to the cleaners. The fact that I have to cross Westwood Boulevard, I thought, shouldn't be an impediment. Picking up my dry-cleaning I headed out. I stepped into the crosswalk and moved into the intersection. I was gratified when one car stopped for me. Unfortunately it was the last car that would.
By the time I was two steps into the intersection, I counted 19 cars that had crossed the crosswalk at about 40 mph. The further I got into the intersection, I thought, the safer I'd be. This was not to be the case. I was in West Los Angeles and I was prey.
I thought about how this section of Los Angeles frequently supported action against Arabs who would pick on people in Darfur, worry about the plight of those in our inner cities, and disrupt this area in their eagerness to greet Obama. A lot of money can be raised in this area for liberal social causes.
I laud all these actions but at that moment I just wanted to walk across a city street. In California, it's against the law to enter a crosswalk with a car when someone is trying to cross the street. This isn't supposed to be New York, where every pedestrian has a target on his back. People here used to obey the law.
However, this part of town is full of rich people with expensive cars. There are agents and lawyers on the way to important meetings. There are people who see pedestrians as somehow of lesser value. The BMWs the Mercedes and Lexus are all indicative of their high social status.
I've decided to accept their heightened status and promise next time to drive to the dry cleaners. I need to respect my betters.