The Rod Blog

30 April 2006

Collateral Damage

Have you ever killed someone? Of course not. Do you know someone who has? Extremely unlikely. Can you imagine what’d it’d be like? I don’t think I can. It would have to change you profoundly. Your life would never be the same.

Early on in the Iraq war, I watched footage of soldiers in the back of a truck at night. Heavily armed, nervous, they are surrounded by a place and people they don’t understand. Any one of them could be the enemy. Any one of them could be lethal if they get close enough. Behind them, a car approaches. The soldiers wave their arms, and shout for them to back away. The driver either doesn’t hear, or doesn’t understand, and drives close to the back of the truck.

The soldiers rapidly become agitated, shouting with increasing urgency. Back off! they yell, aiming their guns to make their point. I don’t know what the driver was thinking, but he didn’t seem to get the message. Not good.

The soldiers are panicky, and inevitably, one starts fires, setting off a cascade of fire from the other troops. The night streams with tracers and the sound of gunfire. They’re shooting at us! one yells, and there’s a desperate air of adrenalin as the fight-to-survive instinct kicks in.

Today, these sorts of scenes pass for entertainment on television and in cinema, but I just find them sickening.

I really pity the soldiers in Iraq. A filthy little war, with virtually no chance of success. A survey by the New England Journal of Medicine of more than 800 US soldiers, nearly half reported killing an enemy combatant, and 14 percent had killed a civilian. Of nearly 800 also surveyed, 28 percent said they’d killed a ‘non-combatant’.

There are about 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq. God knows how many affected Iraqis.
All those dead and damaged people, and the most likely outcome is another dictatorship.

Until now I’ve shied away from political comment for fear I’d just annoy my audience. Goodness know, there’s already plenty of around without me joining in. Today I’ve made an exception because it matters to me. Don’t worry, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

26 April 2006

The Rippling Rod Pecs

In an earlier blog I complained about some of the indignities of one must endure with aging.
But I’m not doing too badly - I still have an impressive sixpack. It’s right there next to the frozen peas. But don’t complain to me, soldier this perfect physical physique doesn’t come without sacrifice. Up and down the pool, lap, lap, lap.

On a good day I drift into ‘the zone’. Way back in evolutionary history two bacteria decided to form a pair. Two instead of one, no one was going to pick on these dudes. Back off. Touch my mate, and you’ll have to deal with me too.
And so, over time, the pairs grew into gangs, and the gangs had the tough guys, the smart guys, and the guys who just hung round to make up the numbers.

The end of the lane, another lap. The muscle gangs work in time like little rowers in a Spanish galleon. Boom boom boom, in time. Their little heads are bobbing, and hence, my rippling pecs. Our bodies are these massive colonies of these little cooperating workers. And while this wondrous teamplay goes on, I contemplate the equally gigantic community of stuff in our heads. Lots of little voices all singing different parts, and yet we seem to hear a single tune. Or do we? Not always.

I have long been fascinated by the contractions built into each of us. The apparently incompatible facets of our personalities. The monster who will smile and smile, and be a villain. I dip my hand into the water. A smooth kick, breathe, and glide which is completely at odds with the ad hoc way I do some things. My bowling team partners told me I was way too stylish to be in their team. But they needn’t have worried. It’s one thing to bowl like a ballet dancer, and another to lift your score above mediocre (I didn’t).

So do you do this? One day you’re full of beans, and the life of the party. Another, you’re quiet, shy, and mope in the corner. The sharp-witted expert, firing off incisive remarks, or the slow dunce who’s lost the plot.

I’m joined in the lane by some slick super hero. He sails past effortlessly, and leaves me spinning like a dinghy in the wake of a supertanker. I’m sure his sixpack really is rippling, and I hate him with a passion. And when he’s not in the pool, he’s probably a complete dick. But it’s my final lap, and I put in one last spurt of effort for the day. Oh, look who it is. It’s Peter. Cool. Peter’s really cool, and I haven’t seen him in ages. We have a happy animated chat before I climb out of the pool.
I wander back to work hoping I’ll be the expert today, and not the dunce.

17 April 2006

We went the whole lentil

Just got back from the Four Winds musical festival in Bermagui. Very pleasant and earthy, sitting in the sunshine enjoying the superior music.
This one's an upmarket we-paid-off-the-kids-and-mortgage event.

Also very nice to see Den & Geoff, who are shortly moving to Hobart. Always good to visit distant friends.

I took these pictures from the nice little garden at the back of the Motel.