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Tony Grist

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Stream Of Consciousness [Jan. 28th, 2009|12:14 pm]
Tony Grist
Some days it takes me most of the morning to wake up.

Today, for instance: Id been awake, but I'd gone back to sleep- and then someone rang the door bell and I had to leap up, throw on my dressing-gown, rush down stairs and take delivery of what turned out to be- well- I'm not sure what it was because I was still half asleep.

Something Ailz had ordered- some sort of medicine or health food.

Now I've given up on my anti-inflammatories she's got me taking this powder that you dissolve in water and it tastes like weak orange squash.

Anyway, my point is that if I'm woken suddenly- instead of being allowed to drift naturally, at my own speed, from one state to another- it takes me simply ages to get my mind into fighting shape- which is why it's already late morning and I haven't written anything yet- and I'm just going to type and see what comes.

Talking about being in fighting shape, did you know that the average age of seamen on board Nelson's Victory was 22?  No, neither did I.  Sailors in movies are always crusty old dogs (played by well-loved character actors) but when you think of all the shining up ropes they had to do and the heavy-lifting and the fighting you realise that can't have been the case. 

It's always the very young who are sent to war. I watch footage from Afghanistan or Iraq and there are all these children in uniform and I think, "this is just a fucking scandal".

Did you see, by the way, how one of Obama's first actions as President was to authorise an airstrike on a village in the tribal areas of Pakistan- one of those strikes that almost always kills civilians? How can he do that, then go on TV and grin at us? How does he live with the ghosts?

At the moment there are only about eight of them- ghosts I mean- little, ragged, dusty ghosts, following him around. That number will grow. Being the President of the USA involves killing people. That's just a fact. I had hoped this one might be a little more scrupulous about who he kills- but it seems not.  Apparently  he believes in the Afghan war. I don't know why. Afghanistan is the graveyard of foreign armies. Read Kipling.

Oh, wow. I didn't mean to go there. When I started out I had every intention of writing about beaches- and how I can't see the point of getting a tan- and how if I'm at a beach I like to paddle or build sandcastles or anything rather than just lie and fry- but my mind took the line of least resistance- and off it went.

These are the things I've been thinking about. War, politics, life between lives. I finished re-reading Newton's Destiny of Souls yesterday. If what he's telling us is true then this is one of the most important books of the past 50 years- we survive death! there's evidence! here's what happens after you die!- only no-one seems interested. I look for debate on line- and there isn't any. You'd think the sceptics might want to take a pop at him, but they don't. The nearest thing to controversy is an article by some Christian bloke who is trying to square what Newton says with the Bible. Apparently there's a line in the Book of Job that might be taken as referring to reincarnation. Who knew?

I was also going to write about cider. We visited a cider farm in the West Country last week- and returned with two, big, plastic containers full of the stuff- medium sweet for Ailz, medium dry for me. I like home-made cider. I remember buying scrumpy in the West Country once- and telling a rather strait-laced friend- a curate in Bristol-  how wonderful it was- and he said "Oh, you do realise that that's what the rough drinkers drink?"-  which was a real smack in the face. But even today I think I'd be too polite to come back at him with, "And your point is?"
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2009-01-28 01:26 pm (UTC)
I hate war - I think it makes us all despair and feel hopeless. But sometimes, war is a necessary thing. That doesn't make it a good thing. I think as I've grown older, I've come to understand that some things may not be good, but they are necessary.

The war in Afghanistan (emphasis on the "in" because it's not a war with Afghanistan) is the war we should have been fighting since 2001. The US currently has 36,000 troops there....remember, this is the place that harbors al-Qaeda, and should have been the focus of our supposed "war on terror." By comparison, the US has over 140,000 troops in Iraq.

Sadly, those we are fighting are ones who will deliberately bivouac with civilians in order to try and use them as shields against attack. I wouldn't want to be in any world leader's shoes, who had to deal with the undeniable fact that in order to get to the enemy, they were going to have to kill innocents. I don't know how anyone lives with that.

I don't think I'm saying this well at all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 02:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know it's difficult.

I don't have anything like a coherent case to mount against the war in Afghanistan- I just know what I read in the papers- which is mainly that the West is losing- just as the Russians lost.

And I have a thing about the bombing of civilian areas. I don't see how- morally- they differ from those attacks against ourselves which we characterise as "terrorism".
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-29 12:08 pm (UTC)
This is a typical response from someone who only has the American mainstream media as a source of information / propaganda.
I've read that Obama's mentor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has admitted to funding and training what later became known as Al-Quaeda. His son Mark was a campaign advisor for Obama, his other son Ian foreign policy advisor to the McCain campaign, and his daughter Mika reported the campaign for MSNBC. How about looking into that?
Obama has been silent to the Israeli attrocities committed against the Gazans, and talked about bombing Pakistan even during his campaign, so don't expect any difference between Obama and Bush in this respect, apart from an improvement in "marketing". For instance the Guantanamo closure PR event. The war is far from necessary, unless occupation and mass killing is justified when it leads to control of oil supplies and huge war profiteering. The commenter should also know that bombing all of the muslim world only leads to increased hatred of America and their aims of world hegemony, and therefore further terrorist retribution.
Tom F
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-01-29 12:11 pm (UTC)
The comment above this was a response to ArielStarShadow, not Tony
Tom F
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2009-01-28 01:30 pm (UTC)
I like swimming at the beach. It's a real wrench to visit the seaside and not go in the water, even in winter.

But I've been so cold for the last couple of weeks that the idea of lying and toasting myself is quite appealing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 02:05 pm (UTC)
It's a long time since I actually swam in the sea- but I almost always take my shoes and socks off and wade in.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 02:07 pm (UTC)
It's a "tonic" wine so it must be doing themn good.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-01-28 02:30 pm (UTC)
Lucky you. I'm up and out of the house by 7.15am, whether I'm awake or not. However, 47 weeks of doing that buys me a week or two of being somewhere warm, and although I'm not a sunbather, people have been telling my I look "healthy" since my sojourn down under.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 04:30 pm (UTC)
But are you actually any healthier- or is the tan just a fashion accessory?
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-01-28 05:34 pm (UTC)
I was a lot less tired when I got back. I'm trying to be in bed by 10pm on school nights to stop myself fading back to "Zombie".

The salary comes at a price!
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2009-01-28 03:13 pm (UTC)
Did you see, by the way, how one of Obama's first actions as President was to authorise an airstrike on a village in the tribal areas of Pakistan- one of those strikes that almost always kills civilians?

And do you think he just did it without thought? Just "Let's see, I think I'll authorize this airstrike just because I can?" I hate war, and I would rather that there was never any such thing anywhere.

The airstrikes were authorised under a covert programme approved by Obama, according to a senior US official. It was a dramatic signal in the president’s first week of office that there will be no respite in the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

No, that doesn't mean I agree. Not in the least. And you're so right about the ghosts following him around. Hopefully he will amassed less at the end of his term than Bush did.




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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 04:35 pm (UTC)
Of course we don't know what the briefing was or how he was advised or what the objectives were...



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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 04:36 pm (UTC)
That's sad. I suppose it's to do with climate and the kind of apples you can grow.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2009-01-28 03:57 pm (UTC)
"But these are only boys and I will never know / How men can see the wisdom in a war"

Great post.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: mkhobson
2009-01-28 04:34 pm (UTC)
That Michael Newton book looks interesting. I'll have a look at it. I firmly believe in reincarnation, myself, and the law of Karma. The way the Buddhists describe the time between death and rebirth sounds really "right" to me. It'll be interesting to see how Newton's work squares with all that.

M
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 04:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, do have a look. His findings confirmed and added detail to my existing beliefs.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2009-01-28 05:56 pm (UTC)
Wasn't Dr Watson of the Sherlock Holmes books wounded while fighting in Afghanistan? And then I remember reading The Wolf of Kabul in the Rover and Wizard comic (yes, I did read boys' comics!) in the mid 60s. Googling tells me that those stories were set in the 1930s. So it seems Britain was embroiled there for many years on what was then India's North West Frontier. As you say the Russians bogged down there for ages and now the Americans.

Why does anyone bother? You've thing they'd have learned by now that fighting there is hopeless.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-28 09:29 pm (UTC)
That's right. The North West Frontier was a constant thorn in the side of the Empire. If Tony Blair had grown up reading things like the Wolf of Kabul he'd have thought twice about taking the British army back there.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2009-01-28 10:33 pm (UTC)
Talking about being in fighting shape, did you know that the average age of seamen on board Nelson's Victory was 22? No, neither did I. Sailors in movies are always crusty old dogs (played by well-loved character actors) but when you think of all the shining up ropes they had to do and the heavy-lifting and the fighting you realise that can't have been the case.

It doesn't surprise me; the press gangs focused on young men, and a lot of British tars during that period were pressed men.

If you read contemporary literature, sailors (as opposed to officers) did stay active into their 40s and 50s unless they became disabled, but that was usually only in non-military contexts --- ie fishermen, etc. The naval sailors apparently retired earlier. Their officers, by contrast, remained on active duty until sometimes well past modern retirement age. Jane Austen's brother Rear Admiral Charles died on board his naval vessel of cholera at the age of 73, and was in active service at the time of his death.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-01-29 10:02 am (UTC)
I derived this snippet of information from a report in Current Archaeology on a dig at The Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich. Basically they'd been digging up dead sailors. They found- on the whole- that early 19th century sailors were a hardy bunch- many of them surviving serious trauma- the loss of limbs etc- to live to a ripe old age.
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