Friday, October 21, 2016

The Dragon and the Maiden Fair

Dragon lonesome winged his way
‘cross empty mountain, plain, and bay
In search of rare and hidden mate
strove he against a forlorn fate

Misunderstood, great wyrm of sky
Had long outflown the battle cries
Of orc and elf and dwarf and man
(Seek they to slay him if they can)

They want his death for fame and treasure
For wealth and glory beyond measure
Knew they not this dragon’s hoard
Could not be won by bow nor sword

The dragon’s wealth was long since spent
On frivolous accoutrements
Items now misplaced and lost
Yet seeking serpent felt not the cost

What good is that which isn’t shared
came epiphany in steaming lair
so from dark cave did dragon burst
with fire and smoke to slake a thirst

Through wind and rain his wings were drenched
yet awakened fire was not quenched
o’er cathedral cloud the dragon marched
his flaming heart but dry and parched

dreamed he of scales of deepest green
and sharpened claws with glossy sheen
a dragonness, the queen of beasts
So hastened he into the east

The rising sun, horizons burning
In dragon’s eye reflected yearning
so long he sought but did not find
a single member of his kind

At last he landed, tired and cold
flame inside drawn weak and low
upon a field with thoughts despairing
his wings were sore, his journey—wearing

Asleep fell he, upon the hill
and dreamed sweet dreams of lovers’ thrills
whence came then soft voice on air
wakened he, found maiden fair

A brave young girl of seventeen
had spied the wyrm upon the green
of dragon’s magic much was said
sought she to dodge a greater dread—

Than death by tearing maw and teeth
Like sickles threshing fields of wheat
Brought she a gift of food in wagon
Took her chance and woke the dragon

Serpent grateful fast devoured
food and wood and dirt and flower
In one great bite the gift was gulped
Along with some of the hilltop

Folly thought the maiden then
of her errand and its end
But dragon curious left her alone
and thus he spoke, deep baritone

“Why hast thou shook me from my slumber?
your years appear but few in number
dost thou seek an early death
your body charred by flaming breath?”

“O! great wyrm,” she then beseeched
Her voice aquiver, fair face now bleached
“By bird and beast and tree and fish,
Invoke your magic, and grant my wish!” 

“Betrothed am I to vulgar prince
well known is he, in this province
for violent proclivities
and vile infidelities” 

“Family mine will make a fortune
a share of which I’ll see no portion
I beg of thee to intervene
ere I become forsaken queen”

Dragon’s heart thus was stirred
by maiden’s quick and earnest words
saw he did in her behest
an echo of his own great quest

said he, “Alas for your entreaty!
Thou hast confused me with a genie
magic mine makes conflagrations
false be other allegations

From maiden came despairing wail
thought her then the quest had failed
for surely was the prince a liar
but should she have him set on fire?

“Thy plight I cannot solve with magic
though your tale be truly tragic.
perhaps there is another course:
Fly with me to distant shores”

At this the maiden gave a start
and hope did blossom in her heart
the dragon offered swift egress
with wanderlust was she possessed

A fair breeze blew upon her face
and through she trembled in his gaze
steady was her nod of head
up she climbed twixt wings outspread

The dragon’s quest become her own
long they searched from town to town
Thus enduring bond was formed
strong it stayed through gale and storm

Found they much upon their journey
love and hate and fear and glory
fighting orcs and causing trouble
(They once reduced a fort to rubble)

And all the while they asked and looked
for any sign that could be took
for evidence of dragon dame
but not a whisper ever came

Time flew by beneath proud wings
came they to have respect of kings
but dragon’s deepest, longest yearning
was not met through all their searching

Until one night in mountain cave
another realization came
as maiden slept against his breast
upon his leg her soft caress

companionship his heart had lacked
had been right there upon his back
continued search of long duration
never more in desolation

Years had passed whence the pair
far out to sea in cold night air
were forced to fly into the clouds
and thunder rumbled all around

Blind and cold and wet and tired
the father of all storms conspired
to throw them down into the waves
bodies failed but hearts were brave

The ocean rose as if in greeting
prepared were they for final meeting
A goddess kind then saw their plight
and knew the pair had lost the fight

She of fate and bonds and thread
Wanted not to see their end
Plucked them she from sodden doom
and wove them through her hallowed loom

She fixed them bright into the sky,
said, “blessed be, eternal fly
above the land you long traversed, 
sail thee now the universe.”

Cast up thy gaze on clear night
behold there cloaked in warm starlight
Far beyond all mortal ken
the dragon and the fair maiden.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Good Look in the Mirror

I don't blame Trump. He's a smart, manipulative guy. He gets people. In some ways, I admire the depth of his apparent understanding of emotion and control. No, blaming Trump for what's going on is much the same as him blaming all Muslims, or immigrants in general, and so on. It's a way of avoiding responsibility. Our problems, according to Trump, are not actually our fault. They're everyone else's fault. It's this thinking above all else that I find so distasteful. It's blind, feel-good bandwagoning, and it caters to the oldest parts of our evolutionary history, where the only good and trustworthy things were the members of our own tribes, sitting together with us around the campfire.
The bad things were the other, the tribes on the next hill, who were all murderers and rapists and thieves. And of course, those other tribes thought the same things of us. And, perhaps most disturbingly and inconveniently for our current electoral dilemma, sometimes these things were true.
However, it should be blindingly obvious that just because some terrorists identify as Muslim, it does not logically follow that an entire faith should be shunned and feared. Despite this basic fallacy, perfectly reasonable, intelligent human beings believe this anyway (I've talked to them), so it should be pretty unsurprising that Trump can find so many folks who go along with this narrative. After all, evolution taught us that it's better to commit genocide unjustly and survive than to be too trusting and be killed yourself. No one sees it this way, at least, not consciously. All they're aware of is that they perceive a threat to life, home, and family, so any response is justified. All they know is that overwhelming feeling, that emotion, of righteous anger and the need to band together and defend.

Look. We like being on different teams. We're addicted to it. Conflict and banding together drives everything in the social sphere. From story to game to play to work, life is conflict, and we often overcome it by banding together. It should not be surprising, then, that Trump is as successful as he is largely based on delusions of grandeur, grandstanding, and demonizing the other. No, what bothers me more than anything else is the enormous level of support he's found for this view. His rise has uncovered a vast population of individuals who are perfectly willing to believe anything they're told about other races, cultures, and faiths.

It's almost comical, because one side of the debate keeps saying "let's come together and solve our problems, acknowledge our differences, and cooperate to find solutions." But this clarion call falls on deaf ears, because the folks who most need to adopt that approach are the very people who are convinced that people who aren't like them need to die.

It's the realization that there are so many hate-filled tolerance-opposed human beings in this country that makes me weep. They would probably accuse me of being un-American for saying what I've said. And they would find legions to agree. Trump already has. What's sad is that they *do* make me feel un-American. I'm not like them, and I find it so difficult to understand their point of view. Democrats are quick to blame the Republican establishment for Trump's rise, but I'm not convinced it's their fault, really. Sure, the dysfunction in Congress has led to vast populations of the disenfranchised on both sides, but there's a big difference between those who are dissatisfied and fed-up with partisan politics (most folks), and essentially fascist Trump supporters.

You can't blame Republicans for the extremists. You can't blame Trump for the extremists. You can only look in the mirror and wonder from what depths our the human psyche such destructive world-views arise.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Re-read of The Magicians

I originally read The Magicians, by Lev Grossman, roughly three years ago. I wrote a blog post afterwards, trying to parse the distaste I felt when I finished the book.

It was a strange feeling, because Lev's writing was excellent, and so was the story. My feelings were ambiguous; I both loved and loathed it.

I recently read it again, almost in one sitting. I'd forgotten how good the good parts were. I felt compelled to go back and read my original review.

My original review explains that I would never read it again (despite its many merits). My reason? I didn't like the main character, Quentin. What I said about him was true. He's not the most sympathetic character. He's cowardly and sophomoric. He embodies a special kind of brilliant, ignorant, ignoble teenage angst personified, but long beyond the teenage years, which I now see as a metaphor for those of us millenials who can't seem to grow up. He finds emptiness everywhere he looks. Another character in the story tells him essentially "this is all there is, you have to learn to be happy with what you have, instead of assuming true happiness is right around the corner. You'll arrive where you're going, and find that it's still just you, still just reality, and no amount of fantasy or wish fulfillment will fill that void deep inside. That part can only come from within."

Quentin never really learns this lesson, which, looking back, I found very tiresome.

This was where I landed. I disapproved of Quentin. This is still true; he's an idiot. However, I realize that I wasn't being entirely truthful with myself.

I think the real reason I shied away from the book the first time over was that I recognized some of Quentin's tendencies in myself. I hated these tendencies, and so, naturally, I hated him. More than anything, Quentin was unfailingly self-destructive. Avoidant. Don't get me wrong, I was never as bleak or cynical, (or as satirically self-destructive) but I felt his disappointment with the world. And I recognized his inability to pick himself out of it, instead looking externally, eternally, for the solution. I recognized the avoidance, something that I still struggle with (though now I do it consciously).

It didn't help that I had mapped my relationship with my first girlfriend onto the relationship between Quentin and his love interest. I was ignoring the fact that my relationship wasn't going to work out, which deep down I know but couldn't accept. When Quentin's also fell apart, it was like having my face rubbed straight into a truth I wasn't ready to confront. Moreover, Quentin had the power to stop the bleeding, but didn't. I hated him for that, irrationally, because I had no power to fix my relationship, but that didn't stop me from trying. I couldn't understand why Quentin wouldn't set things right. It seemed so easy to me.

Not long after reading this book, I was faced with my own personal crisis. I had to confront these things about myself, and either change or accept them. In some areas I succeeded; others are still a work in progress.

The difference now, I think, is that it's all out in the open. I don't have to convince myself I'm not Quentin. Instead, I accept that which is similar, and the rest doesn't bother me. Without the avoidant psychology going on behind the scenes, I could appreciate the book from a different angle, and enjoy it properly.

It's a great book. It's worth reading. I'm glad I re-read it.


Friday, June 5, 2015

The Train


  “The universe (which others call the Library) …” — Jorge Luis Borges

            Like everyone who’s ever lived, I was born on the train and I will die on the train. If the train rounds a bend, the eye can see no terminus to the line of train cars in either direction. Most have concluded that the train exists without end. I have yet to make up my mind.
            The scenery changes slowly but with certitude. The train crosses mountains, deserts, rivers and forests. Never the same place twice, and never any people outside. I am fifty-eight years old. In my life, the train has not stopped, nor slowed, nor changed tracks, nor reversed direction. I fall asleep each night to the familiar gentle swaying of the carriage. I wake to the clack of wheel on track, my life’s metronome. The sound is ever present, varying slightly over bridges and through tunnels. With the exception of times of insomnia, it’s often beneath my awareness.
            Each carriage has two floors, the second a copy of the first. I met a very old man, long ago, and asked him about the train and his memories. His tales were rambling, jumbled, though one detail stood out. The carriages of his youth had only a single floor. On this he was adamant. I’ve met none who can confirm, but the idea remains lodged in my mind.
            The windows do not open. There are no doors, save those linking one carriage to the next. No place to de-board. Looking for an exit became my calling for a time. Most are content to stay within several carriages of that of their birth; they found my search ridiculous. “An exit?” they’d say. “Never thought of that.”    
            The carriages follow a repeating pattern, and the pattern never changes. Sleeping carriage, living carriage, dining carriage. The sleeping carriages contain only rows of uniform beds, each large enough to fit two adults. The lights in these carriages wax and wane with unchanging regularity. Shutters reveal food in the dining carriages thrice daily. Living carriages contain tables, chairs, and bookshelves. The bookshelves are filled with nothing but diaries, each with an attached pen. Scribblings, sketches, and the occasional essay from other passengers often fill the pages. I’ve scanned the diaries in countless carriages. Most are blank.
            These very words fill one such diary, a book I picked up thousands of carriages past, and that I have carried ever since. It’s a record of my travels. When I die, it will sit forgotten on a bookshelf. When I first set out, I sought to track the number of carriages I moved through. I made a mark in my diary for each one. After a year, I realized I’d have a diary filled with nothing but my tally, and so gave up the practice. Incidentally, I’ve happened across many such diaries, pages filled with mark after mark, though their authors neglected to write down what it was they were counting.
            Many of my fellow passengers object to my use of that term, passenger. They prefer conductor, along with the sense of agency the term implies. In either case, passenger or conductor, it makes no difference to the train. The train goes where it will.
            But where is it going? And why? These questions grip us. Apart from eating, sleeping, and gazing out the windows, one has few ways to occupy one’s time. Some, like me, choose to travel. If you were to ask twenty travelers why they travel, you’d receive twenty answers. Yet each traveler’s hope is fundamentally the same, because it is the same question that drives each of us:
            What is the train?
            Most travelers give up the search as fruitless, pick a carriage, and live out their days. Many trick themselves into believing they’ve found The Answer, and so justify abandoning their quest. 
            I have not settled. I still search. My family and friends continued their lives in a carriage far, far from this one. Everyone I used to know is now beyond my reach. It’s been decades since I left my home, and I shall die long before I could return. I used to regret the choice I made, my answer to the decision. Now when I think back, I no longer wonder if my choice was right or wrong. The distinction, I realize, doesn’t exist. It’s not regret—the desire to correct a mistake. It’s curiosity. I want to know what lies beyond the closed doors of fate. I have no wish to go back and decide anew, but instead to know what might have been.
            All who travel make the decision. It defines their search, and most choose the same. Which direction? In which direction will you travel the train? The direction the train is moving, or the way from which the train has come?  Forward or backward? Behind or ahead? I am one of the few who travels behindward, as it were. People see my choice as moving into the past. Forward is where we’re going. The future is forward, ahead, and so travelers choose the direction of the train’s movement. The future holds promise, and newness, and infinite possibility. We’ve come from the past. The past holds mistakes, and regret, and life fixed in time. I no longer agree with these associations, but human migration on the train generally moves aheadward, not behindward, and so it’s a strong illusion that links behind with past and ahead with future. The young move forward, up the train. Only the dead stay behind.
            Regardless of direction, most tire quickly of travel. They find no answers in the endless chain of carriages. They miss the people they know, and mistrust the people they meet. They stop their search and stay where they are, or if the distance they ranged is not too great, return home. Occasionally they believe they’ve found a better life in another set of carriages, and return to bring their families up the train.  
            The decision doesn’t matter, but it was many years before I understood why, many years before I made peace with the direction I chose. It is not merely the pattern of carriages that repeats, but the pattern of human existence as well. It’s a discovery learned only by those who devote their lives to travel. One must journey through many thousands of carriages to see it. I’ve met few indeed who’ve shared the revelation. There have been six, to be exact, all moving forward, our paths crossing. When we meet, there’s little to speak of. We have fewer answers than when we began. We sit and exchange small stories of what’s to come. We sit quietly, in mutual recognition of how little we know, before it comes time to move on. 
            Here is the story of my revelation.
            I had travelled behindwards for many years. As I went, I saw what I expected. I passed through community after community. I saw rich and poor, old and young, sick and healthy. An empty carriage here, one filled with the dead and dying there. I was stolen from and lied to and healed and helped. I was loved and hated, and returned what I received in equal measure.
            I met untold numbers of communities, each with their explanations and beliefs about the train, and none more provable than any other. I learned quickly, though, never to point out such a thing. Though some communities would respond with no more than raised eyebrows and knowing smiles, there were places where dissent could prove fatal. For some, there was never anything more viciously defended than a community’s intangible explanations for how the train worked: where it was going, what moved it, what we were doing on it, and so on. There, the life of the idea took precedence over all. Meeting these people made me cross and cynical, though I was young and didn’t know any better.   
            Eventually, I reached a group of carriages where the people told me I mustn’t continue. I must not travel further behindwards. They pleaded and threatened and cajoled me to turn round, and when it was clear I intended to go on, some tried to hold me by force. They told me there was nothing there, nothing to find, that their carriages were the last fringes of humanity on an infinite train, and all that lay beyond was infinite emptiness. An unceasing string of carriages where only insanity and death await the foolish traveller. The void. I laughed and told them that death awaits us all. At this their expressions hardened against me. “Let him go, then,” they said, “if he’s determined to seek his end.”
            For an interminable time it was as they said. I passed through empty carriages. Empty diaries on bookshelves, empty tables and chairs, and empty beds, made and unused in silent sleeping carriages. The dining carriages fed me and no one else. I ate alone, pondering what they’d told me. Could it have been true? Could they truly have been the last?
            My notes in my diary grew wild, ravings from a man long deprived of company. I never prayed so frequently before or since. I became obsessed with trying to learn whether the dining carriages offered their meals even when unoccupied, but this was an impossible task, as I could not observe the carriage without also occupying it.
            Then came the day when I opened a carriage door and found people again, or rather, their remains. Until now, I had never seen so many of the dead in one place. I knew not how long they’d been there; long enough that their bones gleamed white in the carriage lamplight, flesh and any shred of clothing having long since disintegrated. Even some of the skeletons themselves were returning to dust, as if dissolving into the floor of the train.
            The people I had met often carried their dead to the second floor of their carriage, and each community eventually designated entire carriages as the final resting place for their loved ones: a carriage or two converted to a mausoleum. But this was different. I wandered behindwards amongst them for many months, a vast swath of the train filled with nothing but bones.
            What had happened? Sickness, or war, or some other unknowable catastrophe? There was no answer. Though I could discern that the diaries in this part of the train once held writing, the marks were too faded to read.
            I despaired, but could not imagine turning back. The carriages filled with ancient dead came to an end, and once again I was faced with a span of empty carriages. What was worse, the loneliness of unoccupied spaces, or the patient ambiguity of the company of bones? I chose hope promised by the unknown, and so carried on.
            Then came the day, more than four years after I’d seen another person, when I stumbled through a carriage door and was once again among the living. Their speech was familiar but strange, not quite my language, but similar in subtle ways. The vocabulary, with the exception of the words train and passenger, contained nothing I could recognize, but as they kindly nursed me back to health, I became aware that grammar and sentence structure were no different from that of the language I knew. My time with this community, on the frontier of the great emptiness, was the longest I spent in a single place since my travels began. Need and immersion drove me to learn their language quickly.
            Once I could communicate, I told them of my journey. Nobody believed me. There was no “other side” of the emptiness. Periodically, a traveler from this community would set forth into the emptiness, always returning, finding exactly what they expected, which was nothing.             Apparently, there was but one traveler, long, long ago, who had never returned. They assumed that I was he, alone for so long I had forgotten.
            This person could not be me, I thought, for the timing was all wrong. But their certainty led me to doubt my own experiences, my very story. Had I lost my mind in the desolation? Had I been alone for longer than I remembered? The dissonance drove me to resume my travels, and in a way, I’m grateful. Without such doubt, I may have chosen to settle. The further I went, the more secure became my sanity. Though the people I met all spoke this new language, each community behaved in ways entirely familiar to me. In a superficial sense, these communities were like nothing I’d seen. And yet, to me, the necessities of life on the train made all of them exactly the same.
            Suddenly, it mattered not how far I traveled.
            I was always home.
            For all that was new and strange, there remained those fundaments of human life, endlessly familiar.
            The train was patterns within patterns. I began my travels knowing only the pattern of the carriages, and I came to learn the patterns of the people within them. So, when I met a second great emptiness, I was not surprised. I steeled myself for the isolation, and went on. My second experience was similar to my first, though I was better prepared for those I met on the other side. I accepted their help, and encouraged the stories they told of my miraculous appearance from the void. I learned a third language, at the same time similar to and different from the others. These three languages were but different ways of describing the same things.
             These revelations answered nothing of my underlying questions about the train, but they stripped my search of its urgency. I was left with pure curiosity, the desire to understand, and the acceptance that my understanding wasn’t important. I became more and more aware of the patterns I encountered.
            There are patterns to the diaries, for example. Nonsense fills most of them, no matter where I look. Rambling thoughts, sketches, games between passengers. But all civilizations have sects that put the diaries to some greater use. It’s common to pass through carriages in which passengers devote their time to recording all they see from the train’s windows. Groups of passengers sit and record as much as they can of the environs through which the train passes.
            I’ve spent many days reading such diaries. Occasionally, the observer becomes fixated on the possibility of life, human or otherwise, outside the train. Some convince themselves that they see evidence of such hidden among rock formations, tree trunks, or bends in the rivers. The result of this search is often the same. They conclude there exists a vast conspiracy of powerful beings beyond the train. This conspiracy controls the train, and by extension, controls us. Amongst them I listen and nod but always move on quickly, promising to spread the word.
            I, too, have wondered at what lies beyond the train. Through the windows we appear to see other carriages, and if we can see ourselves, and we exist, then so too must aught else appearing outside. I gave up these thoughts as useless many years past. If there is a larger world outside the train, our access is limited entirely by what the windows reveal. For me, the train is the world. Without an exit, there is nothing but speculation. Of all the questions I hope one day to answer, the question of what lies outside the train seems forever beyond my grasp. A fellow traveller from my past once said something I still remember: if the train is truly infinite, then the world outside must also be infinite, and an infinite thing into another infinite thing is simply one. For me this illuminates nothing, but I liked the idea, and so wrote it down. It’s nonsense of course, a paradox contained in a trick of mathematics, but the sound of it stirs something within me. 
            It was in my third desolation that I happened upon a diary that changed much. Most desolation diaries are unreadable, but some subtlety of time and decay had spared several passages of this one. It described a version of the train that has gripped me to this day.
            Every civilization has its explanation of the train: what it is, where it’s going, what moves it. Though each explanation is nuanced, until that moment, each explanation had shared one central tenant: somewhere, far far behindward, the train comes to an end, and somewhere, far far forward, the real conductor resides, in his vast and powerful engine. There lies the true motive force and driver of the train, whom many call God. Further, everyone assumes that the train is static in structure, that this train is the exact same train in which everyone has always lived, and will continue to be the exact same train forever more. 
            But this lost civilization, those who were consigned to be my third desolation, saw the train not as a line with beginning and end, but as an enormous loop. The diary states that if one walks in a single direction for long enough, one eventually returns to the carriage from which he or she began. Indeed, it seems that undertaking this journey was a rite of passage in this civilization, completed as a matter of course. I have trouble understanding the length of this circular journey. If a civilization sent its members to walk the entire train as a rite of passage, judging by my own experiences, they’d be many decades older—at the very least—upon returning. Not practical.
            Three possible explanations occur to me, none of which are mutually exclusive. First, the tale is mere fable or allegory, and the loop these ancient people walked was symbolic. Second, the train’s structure is not static. Third—and most likely—they or I or all of us are mistaken on some other key assumption. For example, I am certain I have never returned to the carriage of my birth. However, the tale of one-story carriages, to which I alluded earlier, supports the notion of a train that changes with its occupants.
            The implications, if true, escape me. For example, I’ve wondered if perhaps time itself flows at different speeds in different parts of the train. What if I have returned to the carriage of my birth, but not recognized it as such? What if that carriage now lies somewhere in the midst of a desolation through which I’ve passed? What if, what if, what if.

            I feel old, though my body remains healthy. Only yesterday, I realized that a single reason has kept me from settling. Continued travel always offered the promise of something new. But now, after a lifetime of travel, the opposite has become true. Travel is all I know. It is settling that offers something different. I am considering shelving my travel journal, and choosing a carriage to live out my days. The train still begs the same questions, but I doubt we can access the answers. Reflecting, I’m willing to say a single thing. Wherever we’re going, whatever you believe, make no mistake. One and all, the train takes us there together.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Complaining

I feel like writers can't complain about their writing. No, I don't mean "can't" in the way people use it to mean "shouldn't," as in,

"How are you doing?"
"Oh, can't complain."

What I really mean is that writers can't complain about their writing and get the response they're looking for. Because it sounds like fishing.

"Ugh my writing sucks."

"No it doesn't! I loved that one piece about the thing."

You don't understand. I'm not looking for reassurance. We can rest comfortably in the assumption that my writer's self-esteem will always be in the gutter, no matter what you say. I know this, the rest of you should know this, so stop trying to get it out. I could write a bestseller and still not be happy with my writing.

That's not what I want, anyway.

What I want is to produce something truly good. What I don't want is to produce something I know is bad, but be told it's good anyhow.

What we're looking for is sympathy over the mismatch between great effort and continued badness, and an acknowledgement that the problems are there.

Because if I can't write, I at least want to know that I can distinguish good writing from bad. Merely contradicting the "this sucks" sentiment not only feels insincere, but seems to imply that it's not only the writing that needs work, but the writers' taste as well.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Qué más, Hamas?

I'm a semi-informed non-expert. With that out of the way:

Why wage a military campaign if you know you can't win?

I wonder if Hamas' goal is to provoke Israel into killing as many civilians as possible. Perhaps they're hoping to generate so much anti-Israeli sentiment that Israel is forced, through international pressure, to capitulate.

If this were the case, Hamas would want civilian casualties. I'm sure some feel their cause is one worth dying for, but I wonder if that's how the average Palestinian feels.

I say this because Hamas must know that the rockets are primarily symbolic. Rockets, apparently, are the best way to make a statement. They draw attention to the human rights violations occurring in Gaza.

Does Hamas realize that there is no other possible Israeli response than the military action Israel has been taking?

I assume that's always been understood. Hamas can't possibly believe that the rockets will force Israel to do anything they demand. Not directly, at least.

So why keep at it?




Monday, March 31, 2014

Across America

I drove from Philly to Denver recently.

Near as I can tell, the whole country's just a bunch of pitstops, strung together like beads on a necklace, and each bead is made of a Dairy Queen, Qudoba, Taco Bell, and Subway, all mashed next to each other in one glorious culmination of The American Dream.