Friday, August 18, 2006

Life Imitating Art

There are those strange moments of clarity when the whole thing seems to suddenly make sense; the pieces all fall into place and the picture reveals itself. To those of us who are (at least somewhat) politically aware, those moments serve as vindication rather than epiphany. This week has been one that makes all the quotes that I love so much fitting descriptions of my life.

"No matter how cynical I get, I just can't seem to keep up!"
Lily Thomlin

The news on Thursday last that a terrorist plot here in London would totally disrupt air travel back in the states was bad. (Especially bad personally since I was flying that day!) But the cynicism was driven home hard before 08:00. The "Ah-Hah!" moment came when sitting on a plane. (Though, I guess for cynicism sake, it was more of an "Uh-huh!" moment.) I had just spent nearly two hours standing in line at the security checkpoint watching the clock tick; listening to the TSA Agent shout at all of us in line that "No liquids, gels, pastes or aerosols of any type would be allowed past the security checkpoint." and that "No such materials purchased past the checkpoint would be allowed on the plane." This was due to "heightened security measures."

I am not a natural cynic, mind you! I have worked hard to develop the ability to be cynical when the need arises. So, after having heard the list of things forbidden on the plane, coffee, pop, toothpaste, make-up, perfume, mouthwash, deodorant and other like substances, imagine my surprise when not two minutes after sitting down on the plane, the woman next to me pulls out a tube of lipstick and starts applying it. (Wait for it! It gets better.) She then pulls out a mirror and a comb and re-adjusts her coif and sprays it with the spray gel she also pulled out of her bag. Finally, she re-applies the overpowering fragrance she was wearing. Good thing we stood through a line for two hours so that we could be protected!

"Nothing is quite so powerful as a bad idea whose moment has come."
Robert Rankin

Okay, admittedly it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually believing the airline when they told me that no checked luggage would be allowed on the plane this week, you would think that they would know. So I sent my laptop to London via FedEx. Everything else went into one big checked bag. Turns out I was allowed to carry my briefcase, MP3 player, two cell phones and PDA onto the plane.

Now, I know that you are wondering why this is a bad idea and not another example of cynicism. Well, it is because I have to write this on my laptop using an external monitor. FedEx broke my laptop monitor. It will be replaced today.

"A people should not fear their government, the government should fear its people."
(Unknown origin)

This line is fresh in my memory because I got it from a film I watched last night. A friend lent me a copy of V for Vendetta. Which I watched last evening. Good film! I highly recommend it. It is, of course, based on a completely impossible premise: a government coming to power by wielding the weapons of fear and religious zealotry on their own people. It could never happen, of course. No government would go to religious extremism to try and impose their view of fundamental Christianity as the one and only valid practice for its people.

I mean really, what democratic people would allow their government to impose their religious tenets as law? It could just never happen! What government would use fear mongering to break its own laws and commit egregious acts like, oh! I don't know... Spy on its own people?

This morning, I thought that I had fallen asleep with the movie running because I could have sworn that BBC 4 was reporting that the US Government was illegally spying on the people of the US. I then discovered that I was neither asleep not mistaken. The Federal Court in Detroit had determined that the warrantless wiretapping being done on the president's order in the name of "protection from terrorism" was (as many of us had been saying for quite some time) completely illegal.

"Curiouser and curiouser!"
Lewis Carroll
(From Alice in Wonderland)

I hope that wherever you are today, your day is a pleasant one!

Don Bergquist - 18 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

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