Wednesday, 23 October 2002: Here's a pretty interesting article from the New York Times. It deals with Saddam Hussein's recent decision to release all prisoners in Iraq and how this bid for national solidarity (via a goodwill gesture) is blowing up in his face.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, this past Sunday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, to thank his countrymen for re-electing him to another seven-year term with 100% of the vote (never mind that he was the only candidate), decided to release all prisoners throughout Iraq. It did not matter if these criminals were petty thiefs, murderers, rapists, or political prisoners... they were all set free. Rumblings from outside Iraq lead you to believe that the real reason he did this was to drum up support for himself as well as a whole heap of anti-U.S. sentiment. I tend to believe this theory as well.
It seems that his little plan has blown up in his face to some degree. You see, in the last 23 years that Hussein has been in office, his secret police have whisked Iraqi citizens away in the middle of the night for one perceived offense or another without so much as an explanation to their friends and family. Many of those left behind have been harboring hope against hope that their loved ones are still alive. When Hussein released everyone and their relatives failed to return home, many Iraqi citizens were suddenly jolted to the realization that they are dead. And they are pissed. As a result, they have started small protests in Baghdad. In the U.S., a small protest is no big deal. Hell, we had small protests on the campus of NIU to sound off against the closing of Gilbert Hall as a dorm. But in Iraq, any show of anti-government sentiment is absolutely unheard of. Many are speculating that the citizens of Iraq have finally been pushed over the edge and this is all the nudging they may need to convince them to aid in overthrowing Hussein. Who's to say? Only time will tell.
Check out the article on the NY Times website.
Tuesday, 22 October 2002: Here I had all these ideas for what to write yesterday and they all suddenly became very insignificant.
Yesterday, I was sitting here at work whittling away at some projects and the only real concern in my mind was the fact that I had a test in my EMT-B class that I needed to find time to study for. Then I get "the call." You know what "the call" is, right? When your phone rings and you have that feeling of foreboding. Then, when you pick up and give your normal greeting, you hear some kind of sadness on the other end. Be it crying, sniffling, whimpering, whatever. It's just there and it's very tangible and you suddenly feel the world come crashing down before a single word is even spoken by the other party. My "the call" came from my mom and the news was that my grandfather (or "PopPop" as I've called him since before I have active recall) had died about a half hour earlier. He's been sick for months, maybe even a year or so now... who's counting? So, his passing is a bit of mixed blessing. Sad, of course, because he's gone. But happy as well, since we no longer have to worry about him suffering. And, even though he may have denied it outwardly, I'm sure he was suffering a bit whether it was physical or just mental.
I must just have a weird reaction to death. I didn't get as upset as I thought I would. I didn't cry. I didn't get pissed off and reactionary. I was just me. I dealt with it. I knew it was just a matter of time. Maybe if his death was sudden and unexpected it would have hit me harder. Who's to say? Luckily, death is not something I've had to deal with all too often. Two grandparents in addition to one best friend, two cats last year, and a deuce of gerbils when I was much younger. I guess I should consider myself lucky. Nothing really hit me at all until later yesterday afternoon when I realized that I no longer have a grandfather. PopPop was the only grandfather I ever had. My dad's parents got divorced way back when my dad was still a kid so I never knew that grandfather. And, despite my Grandma getting remarried, we only ever referred to him as Uncle Jay, not Grandpa or anything similar. I only have one grandparent left now and I don't want to lost her, too. Not yet, at least. Call me selfish, I don't care.
I love you PopPop, and I hope you're feeling better.
Sunday, 20 October 2002: I always get such a kick out of the "placing blame" game that occurs when some kind of incident deserving of national coverage happens. In case you're scratching your heads at this first sentence, I am referring to when something like Columbine happens, people are very quick to place blame and usually on some kind of mass media form. In the case of Columbine, it was Marilyn Manson and other popular music artists who are so obviously at fault for inspiring Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to carry out their deeds.
Well, I bring this up now because of an interesting news report that was on FOX News Chicago tonight. Apparently, people are starting to wonder if the Maryland/Virginia sniper who has killed nine people thus far, may have obtained training from one of the many shoot 'em up, sniper-like video games that are so readily available. Yep, you read right, people think that a sniper trained for his rampage using a video game. I'm sorry, but that is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. There is no way I am actually delusional enough to believe that I could go out and buy a rifle and be able to pick people off from hundreds of yards away with a single shot because I played these games. I really have gone out and fired rifles and pistols at gun clubs with my dad. No amount of video game "training" could make me better. The only thing that makes a person better at firing a gun is to fire it repeatedly and learn from your mistakes.
So I ask... where can people go to learn how to fire a gun properly; have access to semi-exotic, not-otherwise-readily-available weapons (like I'm sure this particular sniper's rifle is); and be able to escape the clutches of the law with seemingly superior stealth-like abilities? Hmmm... the military? Could it possibly be? Hell, the sniper in that college bell tower back in the 60s was an ex-Marine (sorry, I'm currently drawing a blank on the school and the guy's name). Why couldn't this new sniper be ex-military as well? I haven't heard much speculation about this so far. Instead, people go the absurdist route and blame video games. Christ, people are stupid.