The usual strategy in this Blog is to wait until the recent, important event is old and all public interest is lost, before I comment on it.
This is not because I abhor of readership, but because I feel that in order to say an intelligent thing about a subject, I need time to contemplate. This time I did the contemplation before it happened. So I am about to do my thing while the wikileaks scandal is still raging. Here are my 2 cents. And I will start with the sound-byte:
19 year-old boys are not adults. Give these boys weapons (the ultimate in big-boom-generating toys), train them to kill, and send them on to a conflict-ridden zone. Now, guess: what they will do there?
If you even imagine that they will do anything other than killing, then you’re a damn fool.
The army is not the problem. It is simply not the solution. You can’t expect a bunch of kids with big guns to build a nation state. Nor should you send them on to do serious police work. It is not their job, it is not their expertise. You train them to fight a war, send them out to face an enemy, and they find themselves in the middle of civilian population. Anyone seriously suggesting that no atrocities will ensue is either a god-damn lier, or pathologically stupid.
Let me repeat myself, at the risk of being crude:
An army is not a peace-keeping force. It is a fighting force.
And then I was suddenly awake. It was the middle of the night, and something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I felt it in by bones. I felt it in the dark room closing around me. I was aware of a terrible inconsistency in the way I slept. It took me a few minutes to understand: the way I used to sleep was misguided. My configuration was terrible. All my inner organs were misplaced. My muscles were all strained. This was no way to sleep. I no longer knew the correct way to sleep. In fact, it dawned on me, I never did. It was always wrong. I didn’t know how to sleep. I never did.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, a thought nagged: “Man”, it said, “you were just sleeping a minute ago. You slept well last night, and you have done so for every night for thirty years now. Surely, you do know how to do that”. But the thought did not linger. I could not sleep. I did not know how to do so.
For a long time I lay down in the dark, squirming around in vain, looking for the correct geometric configuration, squeezing my body into impossible shapes, and running algorithm after algorithm in my mind. To no avail. Sleep evaded me. It took me an hour to give up. I stood up, exhausted, and suddenly, I had a revelation:
I am no data series. I do not need to an efficient data compression algorithm to sleep.
Dan Dennett is a wonderful philosopher. And I don’t say that just because he always agrees with me (yes, this is a joke). I say so especially thanks to his ability to make things simple and eloquent – and that, I think, is the hall mark of a true philosopher. But that is stuff for another post.
Really, Dennett is great. go YouTube and run a search (bear in mind that some good lectures are under Dan Dennet). Go to Ted and see. In this lecture, given while Dennett received the “Richard Dawkins Award” at the AAI 07 conference in Washington, D.C., he makes some interesting claims regarding religious beliefs. I won’t get into detail (just go and hear the man) – but for this one thing that bugs me:
How do you, an atheist, approach a person who just had a divine revelation? What can you say to him?
Now let’s be specific about it. The following is a real story. I know these people. Here goes.
I live in a rather tiny village – no more than 60 family homes, on a small Galilean mountain top. The village’s infrastructure are somewhat (meagerly) supported by “The Jewish Agency of Israel“. I’m not quite sure what exactly they are doing to help the village. They did buy the land for the village, but, after all, we had to buy the land from them (though I’ve signed a legal piece of paper giving them the right to evacuate me from my home “in accordance to the national interest”), and the infrastructure (roads, sewers, electricity, etc.) are paid for by the settlers themselves (that is, by us). But I needed to register at their offices and get their formal approval to join the village. So far so good. True, I have been denied some inessential assistance by a religious clerk who resented the fact that my wife and I are not “officially married” by a Rabbi. But that didn’t matter much. At least it didn’t matter enough for us to rush and get a religious matrimonial ceremony at the nearby Rabbinical institution. But my resentment of religiously defining my life is not the issue of this entry.
My boss got himself a brand new Nokia 3G cell phone.
The Internet connection malfunctioned.
So he called the company. They said:
“We’ll set it up, sure. But then we have this problem with the net… if your phone loses sound, call us”. Sure enough, the sound broke sown, and sure enough, the company wants him to confirm the service call… by calling service from his cell phone.