"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Back to days, just in time

In time to enjoy 110 degree weather, that is. When I rolled in tonight, for my last night on the dark shift, the first thing out of peoples’ wasn’t “hi” or “what’s up”, but “DAMN, it was hot today!” I looked at the thermometer we keep by the back door which shows the highest temperature reached during the last 24 hours. That was a glorious 105 degrees – in the shade. Yep, it’s about time to go home.

So yes, back to days I go. But not before I got to fly once more into Baghdad (or “the heart of the beast” as we like to call it, really for no other reason than it sounds cool). I made a trip out there last night with the intent of grabbing some night-vision pictures of the place for the folks back home. You may judge my success in that endeavor by the photos in the previous post. I swear to God it’s Baghdad and not a blurry string of Christmas lights. But I suppose that’s the best I’m going to get by simply pressing my iPhone up against my goggles and trying to figure out where on the screen to press to take the picture while wearing flight gloves. I guess there are a few things that the iPhone just wasn’t designed for (on the other hand, if it WASN’T designed for use with NVGs, why did Apple make the touch-screen backlighting compatible with them? Huh).

Our flight was uneventful up to the end, when, as we neared the field and contacted base to tell them we were inbound, base duly informed us that Michael Jackson had died. My copilot was so distraught that he almost balled up the landing, forcing me to wade through my anguish and save us in the hover. Once we shut down we talked it out as a squadron, and after a great deal of soul-searching agreed that our hearts would go on. We turned on the TV, and the inevitable media lovefest was well under way. A great deal of soul-searching was going on in the MSM too, with the Reverend Al Sharpton declaring MJ to be pop music’s Jackie Robinson and CNN featuring an introspective on the King of Pop’s ‘eccentricities’. These eccentricities include a lifestyle of perpetual adolescence, reckless endangerment of his children, a perverse obsession with young boys, and the grotesque mutilation of his own body. I know, I should not speak ill of the dead, and I hope his family is granted grace in this difficult time. But it’s a sign of how infantile are the times we live in when a disturbed pop singer is airbrushed into a saint and revolutionary simply because his face appeared on tabloid covers with astounding regularity. I hope the networks can press through the usual fawn-idolize-talk-very-seriously-about-the-end-of-an-era phase quickly and get back to issues that may actually have a real impact on our lives, like the unprecedented rebellions in Iran or the massive, possibly economy-changing global warming bill getting pushed through Congress right now with elected representatives scarcely glancing at the table of contents, much less the 1200-odd pages of this ponderous tome.

All right, enough of that before I get bent out of shape again, a habit (usually triggered by work, not the passing of faded celebrities) which apparently my co-workers think has gotten stronger out here. I need to woo-sah and focus on the fact that while I won’t be home for the 4th of July, the leftovers and beer should still be in the fridge on my return.


Winefred said...

David Warren did a piece on the "sad clown" MJ, in which yours truly was quoted (anonymously, but I think you can find me) -- it was my immediate spontaneous reaction to the NEWS. Later on I thought how lucky he was to be missing out on cap-and-trade -- he's already about $500 million in debt, I hear, so why not skip out on creditors now before he doubles it, eh?

Anonymous said...

How about a little respect for the man who pretty much revolutionized the music industry? MJ was this generation's Elvis, and who, like his predecessor, was not without fault, but who should be remembered for his contributions to pop culture rather than his reclusive and perverted tendencies.

The Accidental Blogger said...

I continue to be underwhelmed by our media. Yes, MJ was a great musician who wrote/performed some truly amazing art. However, there is so much more going on that deserves far more attention. Whatever you think of cap and trade, its astoundingly short-sighted for this not to be discussed/debated by mainstream media. This adolescent fixation on celebrity in our culture is really depressing.

Meghan said...

Okay, I only skimmed the post. But I have to say, I don't want anyone to die - but if he was going to, he picked a good time to do it. Since I am up in the middle of the night these days, the 4 hours of MJ videos we have on DVR (thanks MTV Classic!) makes my nights with a screaming baby a little bit better. And I think I am starting to understand the profound meaning of

You Better Run, You Better Do What You Can
Don't Wanna See No Blood, Don't Be A Macho Man
You Wanna Be Tough, Better Do What You Can
So Beat It, But You Wanna Be Bad