Thursday, March 31, 2016

Human Clutter

Hello dear reader, got clutter?

Some of us were standing around at Unity Church, after a meeting. A white haired retired soldier told us he is still finding stuff to throw away. “Why do we keep it so long?” he asked. We pondered why,  and decided that clutter, stuff appropriate yet inappropriate, seems to be the universal human condition. We felt some unity at this. And someone said how Oprah’s magazine runs the same front page de-clutter headline in the same month, year after year.

An improve actress said, “And we seem to feel that we are bad people…”

We contemplated. I said, “I’ll tell you how hard it is for me. It’s like the time I had to take remedial math in university. (I had failed math in high school) One day I’m in one of those coffee shops with hard round seats, Robins Donuts. And I knew I had to study math. So I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to leave until I had it done. Well. I was there for hours, and then the seat started hurting like mad, before I finally started my work. (Got it all done) That’s how hard it is for me to start de-cluttering.”

We laughed. Sometimes the human condition is made for sharing and laughter.

That was last night. Now my sense of humor is drying down into parched ground. Clutter. All I can say is: I’m a teeny bit sad, and a tiny bit mad. The equivalent of my cafĂ© counter stool is: I could avoid the Internet and avoid composing fresh essays for several days. And I could even go out of town rather than face my clutter. But at last, like facing a steel seat, I’ll surely get to it, and then resume posting here. Meanwhile, I surely won’t make a post here next week.

Sean Crawford

Calgary, March 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Me and My Blog

Hello, dear reader. Tea?

Actually, I prefer coffee, but my point is I invite you to approach my essays in a leisurely manner. I am again, after another six months, thinking about this blog, having again filled a blog administrator’s page of 25 weekly titles. It’s time again for a meta-blog. As you sip your steaming tea, I will cover: How have the last six months been, What do free blog statistics mean, Who reads, and Why would we read unhurried and relaxed... with tea?

If you’ve been on my site, you may be warmly curious about me, so I should cover my life first, before expanding on colder blog stats.

Since my last meta-blog, I’m still going to a club for public speaking, Toastmasters International, meeting at Unity Church, tacked on to Saint Marks Church. When our club first moved to Unity, the church member who showed us where everything went was a retired alderman, John Lord. I said, “John, you’re still doing service work.” He replied, “Isn’t that what life’s about?” As we worked he explained that down in the United States, Unity Church is good for politicians to belong to because it is so broadly non-denominational.

As for being of service, in my late middle age I heartily agree with John, dear reader, that life is not about receiving, but giving.

One of our club members, a former executive, became a school custodian, beloved by students and parents alike. He wrote out and presented to us a masterful speech on “Hugging,” better than I could ever write—and I know hugs—but he didn’t take me up on my offer to do a guest blog here. “I’d still like to post your speech” I said weeks later, but he was still too modest. I can relate. As for me knowing hugs, last week the chairman told everybody I was the best hugger in the club. Isn’t that nice?

On evenings when I have Toastmasters I will first go down the road to the Tim Hortons coffee shop, and spend time checking my blog. My blog site host, Blogger, offers free statistics. A fellow writer and very successful blogger, John Scalzi, notes from his blog stats that less than one half of one per cent of readers will comment. So I guess I’m beating the odds, because despite my usual low traffic during the last six months I’ve managed to get my usual few comments, often from right here in Calgary, and not only from people I’ve met. That’s nice.

I guess reader comments will (unfairly) influence the search engines, giving me more “hits.” (page views) If you’re curious, the two non commented-on essays with the most hits for this admin page have been Too Fast, Too Wrong, archived in October 2015 and Journalists and Bad Guys in December 2015. The most popular, posted during the federal election, was Citizens and Elections, archived October 2015.

The lowest visitor count? In October I reprinted an old essay of mine that my buddy Blair the lawyer liked; he hoped student newspapers would pick it up… but no. The post quickly achieved a hit count equal to the cumulative count from since I had first posted it, so that was nice… and then… no further hits. To my dismay it’s my “worst” piece, as measured by reader views, of this entire admin page. Too bad, for in that essay I had reasoned that a student’s productivity is hampered not by laziness or fear but by pressure. Like what happens with world-class athletes. I think students who assume they are too lazy or too fearful need to hear that.

Too bad I can’t be of service to such students.

My free blog site statistics are provided by mighty Google, the company that hosts Blogger. (blogspot) “Free” means I am provided with crude stats, giving only the “top ten” for three things: posts viewed, viewers by nation, and sources: meaning viewers by website page and URL. For these ten (only) listed sources I can click and track back. The sources part would also give me ten search terms—how delightful, to see what obscure terms had led someone to my site. But no longer: Google is now keeping that a secret, to thwart marketers. I don’t like this; I don’t like feeling that Google’s own bloggers, including me, are less important than marketers.

Blogger has a button, “next blog” where you can go to a random blog, of someone also on Blogger. Occasionally I feel adventurous: I press it. But I’m suspicious of how random it is, because now I keep landing on blogs of other writers. Normally I get families with their “home movies” and child photographs. In the last few weeks the list of ten “sources” stats have begun including a “next blog.”  But when I click, the result is always random, not back to the person who found me through “next blog.” So that Google stat is bogus. I feel somehow taken advantage of.

Detailed stats are available, provided I fork out cash to Google, but hey, do I really want to know how many seconds per page people are viewing? As a former student journalist I have seen how half-interested people will flip-flip through the pages of our campus newspaper. Now, because I’m pretending people will linger on my essays like they do the Sunday supplements, (features section) I really don’t want to read detailed stats that show the contrary.

How and when do most people read? According to research by Wordpress, a blog server in competition with Blogger, people mostly read during the week: So weekends is not the time for new posts, lest they be pushed down the search engine list and lost before the work week begins. Therefore, if I cared, I would probably be posting on Mondays, not Thursdays… but Thursday fits my weekly writing cycle. Besides, my best fan commented that she reads me over her Thursday morning coffee.  

“During the week” suggests that many people are surfing blogs at their place of employment. Do they hunch over, with the back of their neck tight? This might explain why many readers prefer links to click on links rather than consciously and deliberately typing in their own search words: Typing would mean more guilt, more facing up to the fact they are surfing on their boss’s dime. Easier to say, “The devil made me click.”

I truly don’t write for people who are guilty or rushing or skimming. I never read that way myself, not if I want to feel engaged.  I read like I write: slowly and deliberately. It’s more productive, and way more fun. And it goes with my tea.

I guess most people in this cyber age “touch type,” meaning they don’t have to look down at the keys: “All the better to type in search terms, my dear.” A colleague told me about how strange it was to take a class with young people in a room where everyone had desk computers. He acted out for me how the young people all kept looking over at each other and conversing as they typed, because they could type blind. I can do that too, but only because, back before computers, I took a night school class with secretaries in Beginning Typing. (Or, to use politically correct words: I took a class with student administrative assistants who hoped to one day apply for a job through Personnel, I mean Human Resources)

By the way, the keyboard you use is called a QWERTY, named after the keys across the top row. A few years ago, inspired by Stevey Yegge’s essays advocating continual self-improvement, (the upward curve) I memorized a totally different keyboard, called Dvorak. This was after I found a Beginning Typing in Dvorak course by a man who likes the TV series Babylon-5. Here’s the link. In Dvorak the vowels are all on the “home row” where you rest your fingers, a placement which will possibly make my typing faster, and will definitely make my old age easier when arthritis creeps in. (Full time fiction writer Holly Lisle had to switch to Dvorak to save her career, because she was having intense wrist pain—now the pain is all gone, and she’s added years to her typing life) I felt no need to re-label my keys to memorize Dvorak. No, I just kept looking up at my screen as I learned a new touch.

I can’t resist saying: When I take the initiative to learn something like Dvorak, or when I practice writing every day—not like how I wouldn’t practice piano as a boy—I feel delightfully like a grownup. Never mind whether my daily writing is any good: It’s being a grownup that delights.

As for typing, my mind is made up: If so many people can touch type, in their homes and coffee shops, then surely they can type in their own search terms. Hence, while writing for readers having a leisurely tea, I seldom make links. Am I being unfair? No. I explain this in my essay No Links is Good Links, archived July 2012. That essay remains one of my top ten posts of all time, even though I’ve had my blog site since 2009, with over 1,000 people curious enough to pass through into my profile page. … Yes, I do realize that by not linking I am lowering my search engine ranking, reducing my number of hits. That’s fine by me.

I’m fine with having a lower readership, too low for attracting any trolls or hate mail, because getting attention and being loved, while an unspoken major motivation for many—is it OK to say that? — is only a minor part of my own motivation. 

You can call me a nerd, or call me an artist, but truly I don’t crave the “status” of having a “popular” blog. I post because I need the practice of writing, the discipline of composing an essay every week, and the soapbox for my voice. They say poets are folks who were never listened to back when they were children: As the youngest of five boys (and then a sister) I can relate. So on I write.

After I press the “publish” button, I fully realize that just as no one will share my fingerprints, so too will no one agree with every single word of any given essay. For me it’s good enough if they mostly agree, or, if they mostly disagree, at least tell me they’re mostly glad to have read it. As the youngest of five boys, that’s all I will hope for.

So dear reader, I don’t care about status, yet I do care to be polite and camouflaged: around Victorians I dress Victorian, in public at the Empress Hotel I sip tea like everyone else: But it’s all an act, because I have never felt frightened into conforming. (Once I get home I grab my coffee) When I do seem eccentric it’s on purpose, with awareness, and not (usually) because I’m innocent. If I’m strange enough to read poetry in the evening it’s not because I’m too lazy to turn on the television set. Yes, I read poetry; sometimes I write it, too.

I might do well to write poetry more and blog less. It’s nice to see how the popularity of blogging has peaked and passed, so people aren’t so frantic about their stats. Ah, sweet sanity. I’ve written of this trend before. (See my label for blogs) Not only is the novelty of blogs wearing off, I think people have moved on to new improved social media. Call it progress: I’ve heard that facebook is now old news, something the children regard as being for the older generation. I bet you never saw that coming.

Something queer about every late August and early September: That is normally a yearly low on my stats graph. Maybe my audience is mostly young idealistic students, who in those weeks would be too busy for blogs, being busy with their last holiday and starting school. Queerly, from my last low in 2015, my trough of low stats continued for months, not just a couple weeks. I don’t know why. Call it evidence that blogging is losing popularity. An alternate theory is that blogs are ever increasing, multiplying as fast as plankton, and I am being lost in the sea. But no, I think blog surfing is decreasing.

So I’ve decided: Late August-early September would be a good place to slip in any embarrassing personal essays. By the way, that’s when my next 25-week meta-blog is due. For those curious for further self-disclosure, try my blog then.

Sean Crawford
~My last meta-blog was Behind the Blog, archived September 2015…. Since then, three of my posts on this page have been fiction, not essays, from my Friday Free Fall group.

~I forget (and seldom notice) how often I’ve been translated; the languages I recall are: French, Turkish, Moldavian (means Romanian) and Mexican. The latter was once for my piece on government money inflation, more recently for my October 2013 review of the movie Elysium. I’m still getting hits on the review from Mexico.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Madness of Michael Moore

Want a good laugh? Try Michael Moore’s autobiography, the book with a cover photo of him on a tricycle, Here Comes Trouble subtitled stories from my life. I kept laughing out loud in the Tim Hortons donut shop. People are queer: you can look depressed or keep silently crying in a cafe, and people will simply turn their chairs to face away from you. But if you keep laughing out loud? Permit me to exaggerate: Then as you laugh they look right at you, looking positively homicidal. Don’t know why; just know I’ll never get a job as a psychologist, because I “just don’t get it.”

Up here in Canada, not as many people as in the U.S. have heard of filmmaker Michael Moore. Down in the States though, he’s as well known as the Dixie Chicks: At first people hated him, now people—especially in the armed forces—say he was right about the public being lied to by their own president, (Can you say, “weapons of mass destruction?”) and some people love him. In fact, Moore has a book out of letters that servicemen, living and dead, and their surviving families have sent him. Very touching. Other people still hate him, and so Moore is guarded by a team of ex-Navy SEALS. His problem? He was the first to speak out—and he did so on stage as he received an Oscar. (Bowling for Columbine)

But Moore has learned something about types of people. As I understand it, he found that liberal types would use their freedom of speech to offer a different point of view, or help you change your mind. The right wing? They don’t want their freedom of speech—they just want to shut you up. Through violence. I confess Moore’s book leads me to feel anger towards certain people; more on that later.

Moore is the only one I know who can make SEALs throwing themselves in the way of an attack sound funny—because even a wounded SEAL, on his way to the hospital, can first make a stupid hater wish he hadn’t indulged in his silly hatred that day. But the post-Oscar “hate stuff” is only in the first 30 pages, that’s all, and then it’s flashback to boyhood years, and hundreds of pages of the blessed days when Moore wasn’t important enough to be hated. But he sure had a hilarious life. Moore’s the sort of citizen Thomas Jefferson would have liked, for he gets involved in his school and community and nation. And he tells stories. Now he’s known for his films, including…
Roger and Me
Fahrenheit 9/11
(In case you’re a U.S. lawyer reading this, you do know “including” does not mean, “limited to,” right? I only ask because some of your fellow-lawyers ain’t too bright—they have to have it spelled out for them)

Moore was previously a starving capitalist newspaper editor and journalist. Now Moore has successful movies out there, and, as he puts it, at last he no longer has to worry about having a roof over his head. How nice. But even before his success, I’m sure Moore never had to worry about where his next beer was coming from—I’d buy him drinks all night just to hear his funny stories.

So funny. I’ve heard of a clown being sad inside, but not Moore: he’s angry inside. He grew up in the very heartland of General Motors, in Flint Michigan—the place that’s in the news just now for having all that lead in their drinking water. As for GM: The corporation couldn’t give two cares about it’s own hometown. No wonder Moore’s angry. The other media merely repeated the big motor company line; the media toed the line, afraid to step on any toes. If Moore wanted to hear the truth, in his own hometown, then he would need to start up his own newspaper. And he did. And he got singer-songwriter Harry Chapin (Cat’s in the cradle, I’m at WOLD, Sing me a song, you’re the piano man) to do yearly benefit concerts, because it’s so hard, in a company town, to get anyone to place any advertisements in a newspaper willing to tell the truth.

Do you know what a Nazi death camp guard once said? He said—no, I’ll get to him later; I don’t want to get heated up just now… …I’d rather think about Moore getting hands-on experience in filmmaking from a gifted man who was related to President Bush—but didn’t tell Moore. Michael Moore only found out by noticing him on TV, at the Bush presidential inauguration, standing with the Bush family wearing a business suit. I had to laugh, you can’t make this stuff up!

So there was Moore, editing his newspaper, The Flint Voice. Quote:

“We did not do cover stories on the “Ten Best Ice Cream Places in Town” or “Twenty Day Trips You’ll Want to take.” Our journalism was hard-hitting and relentless…. We chronicled how General Motors was taking tax abatement money and using it to build factories in Mexico. One night, we caught them literally dismantling an entire GM assembly line, loading on a train, and sending it off to be shipped to a place called China.” (Page 308)

But many in Flint could not believe this. Nice popular GM wouldn’t kill jobs in GM’s own town, would they?

“ “Michael Moore is nuts!” I suffered much derision for exposing such goings-on.”

I suppose the people who had already lost their innocence about the armed forces (Vietnam) and politicians (Watergate) and the military-industrial complex (Vietnam again) weren’t ready yet to lose their innocence about the One Per Cent. (Not back in those days)

I remember being in the military community back during the days of long hair and Vietnam. We knew about communist atrocities, and we knew about society paying a heavy price for being invested in paperwork—as officers put paperwork above winning in Vietnam—and then we watched as young civilians weren’t ready to hear anything bad about North Vietnamese communists, not until years after the war when it was time for shows like Apocalypse Now. Too goddam late.

Back when I had short hair I was briefly with the Canadian Airborne regiment, and maybe if I had been with the US Navy I would have been with the SEALs, and later guarding Michael Moore, mainly because, although I’m not always a man of bravery or initiative myself, I get a kick out of being around those who are. And I’m fairly sure if I had been in Flint I would have found my way to be on Moore’s idealistic newspaper staff. Just to be around those guys.

To me Moore’s comic life represents the average man, something readers can identify with. My own life is instructive, from my years hanging around the campus newspaper.

The closest I ever got to “pulling a Moore” was during my volunteer journalist years. My campus had a big rock sticking up out of the ground from the glacier age, a rock big like an iceberg, nine-tenths underground, way too big to move. So the powers that be, back when the campus was still fresh foundations and mud, had left it there—This probably saved some outside wall from some day being a fire hazard, having years and years of coats of paint from student announcements. “The rock” was a well-regarded landmark—and no one ever set fire to the layers of paint. And then early one morning, as the birds twittered, I walked onto campus and found somebody must have driven up a cement truck during the night. I rushed into the student newspaper, outraged, “They’ve blocked the rock!”

Of course no one would admit “who dunnit.” Later that day I waltzed on over to the engineering building, put on my best engineer smile, and was gleefully led into the darkroom to see reels of photographic evidence. This took no bravery, naturally, as I was never in any danger. This was in Canada: here neither engineers nor hulking varsity athletes pose any danger. It’s different, I know, in the U.S. movies.

Back at the newspaper office, week in and week out, as we hung out, we activists and scholars would never talk of literary classics, but of popular culture and Star Trek. Do you remember Starfleet’s Prime Directive? The Prime Directive (in capital letters like that) states no alien culture is to be tampered with by being given information about, say, a democratic constitution—in fact, you couldn’t even legally tell unknowing aliens that up among the stars was a confederation of peace, with starships.

A few years before Star Trek first aired, a Canadian wrote a novel where some adolescents are put to a test: A superior alien places them, suitably disguised, like spies, on an unsuspecting planet. Will they unwittingly break that directive? A directive the teenagers haven’t even been told about? The young adults pass the test. The superior alien congratulates them, and then explains the Prime Directive. The teens ask, “But what if we had blabbed?” The wise alien was never worried. He explains that if a culture gets blindingly bright revolutionary information it isn’t ready for … then it forgets quickly. Like me forgetting Michael Moore’s discovery.

I first read Michael Moore, laughing out loud, in a donut shop, near the thrift store where I had just I bought his book, in North East Calgary in the summer of 2015. After Christmas I started to de-clutter. Finding Moore’s book, I read it once more, laughing out loud again, this time in a South East Calgary donut shop in February of 2016. But then—specter of the Prime Directive! I had forgotten the most horrible part of all —I stopped laughing— For the first time in decades I heard again a Nazi camp guard’s voice: “You’ll never get out of here. And even if you do, nobody will believe you.”

I could scarcely believe what I was reading, I could scarcely believe I had forgotten it. All I can say in my own defense is nobody else is ready to remember it either: Moore’s book has been out since 2011.

I am sorry.

I only had to go across campus to investigate the rock, but Moore, after getting some of Ralph Nader’s boys to pay his way, had to go across the border to Mexico, for a conspiracy meeting, in a place where U.S. laws don’t apply. That was brave. If he had been caught making his discovery, then don’t you think the Mexicans would have, just like John Kerry, helped American imperialism, helped by “suppressing” Moore? A colleague of mine, with two passports, always uses his Canadian one, not his Mexican one, when passing through Mexican customs. It’s safer.

First Moore spent a whole week’s worth of his unemployment check, with his wife’s help, buying business holiday clothes. His “cover” was that he was the owner of a small auto parts company—as a Flint boy, he could pull it off. All around him were big industry executives. And the Commerce Department— no, wait. Excuse me, dear reader, I have to say this to you first: A week after you read this horror, you will have forgotten it. I just want tell you, right now, that I understand and I forgive you. Quote:

“I signed up as the head of my small manufacturing company (“less than 50 employees”) and headed off to Mexico to learn how I could throw them all out of work.” (Page 387)
“I walked onto the penthouse floor of the Excelaris Resort, high above the beautiful golden beaches of Acapulco. The sign over the door read: WORK MAKES EVERYTHING POSSIBLE (for you German speakers, that’s Albrecht Acht Alles Moglich!).

“I overheard two men talking about how the Commerce Department had to be “not so public” in its support of this weekend as apparently some democratic union-sympathizers in Congress found a clause in some “ridiculous law” stating that it was illegal—illegal!—for U.S. tax  dollars to go toward anything that promotes jobs being moved overseas. So Commerce was here, just not officially, leaving it to the Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican firm of Montenegro, Saatchi and Saatchi to be in charge of running the show.

“The room was filled with bankers, executives, entrepreneurs, and consultants—all of whom were primed to help those of us who had come to Acapulco to learn how to close up shop in the U.S. and move our operations south of the border….” (Page 388)  

As Moore points out, the government forgot we are all connected: That is, if you delete the automotive-making middle class in Flint then there’s a gap, and they can’t buy non-automotive goods being made by other middle class workers from surrounding parts of America: And the dominoes fall into the gap, and keep right on falling. Maybe the One Per Cent would still keep their money here on this continent, but America is becoming like a walled city protected not by brick but by a surrounding wooden wall, a wall filled with termites inside, going unreported, as the middle class is being hollowed out. One day the walls fall down, a cold wind blows… and we are exposed to discovering we have now become a service economy, coast to coast. Such a cold wind as our grandchildren try to use the meager proceeds of a service economy for paying off the deficit we left to them.

Well dear reader, maybe Americans don’t deserve this cold fate. But then again, as my uncle said grimly as we bombed Berlin, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” One good thing— Every cloud has a silver lining: In these darkening times, Michael Moore can make me laugh and laugh.

Sean Crawford

~For last week’s essay I mentioned how President Obama employs John Kerry for imperialism. This week I must add that he also employs the man who was the keynote speaker for the secret weekend in Acapulco: Obama has put Jim Kolbe on his Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. Suddenly I remember what many men and women were saying in Berlin just before my dad’s generation started bombing and strafing them, “Der Leader is a good man, and it’s only the people around him who are bad.”

~Sometimes my sense of ha-ha deserts me. Totally. I feel like giving up, retreating from the honorific “citizen,” and just going off to Mexico where I can just spend my time in Margaretville, looking for my lost shaker of salt. But if I did… then I wouldn’t have guys like Michael Moore and his wife as my peers.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

John Kerry Likes Terrorists

“When Princeton economist Alan Krueger saw reports that seven of the eight people arrested in the unsuccessful car bombings in Britain were doctors, he wasn’t shocked. He wasn’t even surprised”
David Wessel, in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry likes terrorists.

Such harsh words. Of course, to be charitable towards Kerry, the issue isn’t whether he says he likes terrorists. Because of course “actions speak louder than words,” and “by their fruits ye shall know them.” What are the actions of John Kerry that could lead me to infer he likes terrorists? Or, at the very least, lead me to infer that he likes something else more than stopping terror?

I know full well that Kerry is a university graduate surrounding himself with a crew of sharp minds dedicated to winning the war on terror. Undoubtedly, he and his peeps have access to the latest intelligence and research. Well. What in God’s name is Kerry’s excuse for not knowing the title of a certain book? I think he does know.

What Makes a Terrorist subtitled Economics and the Roots of Terrorism. By Alan B. Krueger, Princeton University Press.

I’m angry; I will get back to Kerry, but right now I’m too angry too think about him.

Instead, let me recommend this delightful little book. It’s made from three talks delivered by invitation to the distinguished Lionel Robins memorial lecture series, at the London School of Economics and Political Science, talks given in plain English.

Despite the word “economics,” the book is not hard to read—in fact, I easily skimmed a lot of the “explanations of research methods” to get to the thoughtful conclusions. Although it does have plenty of scientific charts and graphs, I think if you want to, you can safely skip the charts, since the eager people Krueger was talking to during his evening lectures wouldn’t have had any time to peruse them. The audience filled every seat. Kruger’s little book, including graphs, goes to merely 142 pages, then 20 pages of keen questions and answers from his three public lectures, and then his new afterword and the index, ending at 194 pages.

I think we have all wanted to know, “What makes a terrorist?” Ever since September the 11th, 2001. I remember where I was when the towers were struck. During the days that followed, I remember my neighbors writing letters to the editor, saying terror is caused by “poverty and despair.” I was angry at the writers: I knew they were wrong. Because secondly, most of the world is poor, and firstly, because each of the 19 killers on the planes had more money than I did—and I was working full time. What I didn’t know then, not until I read Krueger, was that world leaders such as President Bush and Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair also said “poverty and despair.” They were wrong too.

As Krueger says on page 2, “…The popular explanations for terrorism—poverty, lack of education, or the catchall “they hate our way of life and freedom”—simply have no systematic empirical basis. These explanations have been embraced almost entirely on faith, not scientific evidence.”

Kruger points out that yes, crimes of property are statistically linked to the poor class, but no, terror is not linked to being poor. That’s because terror, just like war, is a continuation of politics by other means. The statistical linking, demonstrated in Kruger’s charts and graphs and figures and tables, is to the middle class. Kruger says the proper analogy is not to crime but to voting: The middle class votes more.

While terrorists are more likely to strike in a democracy than in an autocracy, simply because a democracy is more likely to be influenced, the question remains: Which nations are more likely to produce terrorists? Not the democracies. According to Krueger’s scientific research, the most likely predictor as to whether a nation will produce terrorists is whether the nation has civil liberties.

Political rights and civil liberties are the golden keys to the gates of earthly paradise. Martyrdom is for the other paradise, after one finds the gates down here rusted tight from blood.

Meanwhile, back in the US, maybe people are not honest with themselves about their war on terror. Meaning: Their so-called “war” is only some sort of “police action” to be very hastily delegated to the civil servants, so the citizens can just stay away from the library and Google, can just stay home, craving to be a nation of sheep on couches, just preferring their “plausible deniability.” How convenient for America’s “One Per Cent,” a Saudi-friendly One Per Cent. Let me confess I’m mostly sheep myself; I guess it takes one to hear one. Listen: “Baa-aa-aa.”

Are we 99 per cent sheep? This would help explain Kerry. Not to excuse him, but to explain him.

I know full well that Secretary of State John Kerry is a knowledgeable, important man. In the unlikely event of weapons of mass destruction killing both the US president and the vice president, then Kerry, third in line of succession, would lead the country. But here’s the thing: After the Arab spring was fading but fresh in Arab minds, when the Egyptian president, day after day, was murdering protestors in the street, it was then the perfect time for the US to pressure Egypt to allow people a teensy weensy tiny bit more civil liberties—if not a lot more.

Kerry flew to Cairo. He gave military stuff to the military—who are a main political power in Egypt, with power extending all through society, power far beyond anything dreamed of by Rome’s Praetorian Guard—and he gave a big loan to Egypt. Without attaching any strings whatsoever to this loan. No demand to increase civil liberties, or reduce street casualties. Meaning: Nothing to reduce the number of terrorists… nothing to help Egypt to lead the rest of the Arab world to walk towards democracy. Tell us why, John Kerry. Why the madness? For me, a clue is when I read that Kerry had to figuratively twist the Egyptian president’s arm to get him to take the loan.

My harsh conclusion: Kerry doesn’t exactly like terrorists, it just that he loves US imperialism even more… Loooves imperialism. Even more than winning a war.

And his crew, his peeps and a nation of sheep, all go along with him.

Sean Crawford


~The three lectures were entitled
1 Who Becomes a Terrorist? Characteristics of individual Participants in Terrorism
2 Where Does Terror Emerge? Economic and Political Conditions and Terrorism
3 What Does Terrorism Accomplish? Economic, psychological, and Political Consequences of Terrorism

~To be fair, I have read one, count them, (1) US columnist against Kerry’s trip to Egypt, but that’s all.

~I first mentioned John Kerry in my piece condemning the public’s foggy belief they could somehow learn to win their war on drugs without ever learning their lessons from Vietnam, in my essay A Young Girl’s Guide to Wars and Drugs, archived March 2013.

~The Arab spring reminds me that a U.S. housewife was eye witness to imperialism, here's the link.

~I contrasted citizen involvement between two wars, of today and the cold war, in my essay No War archived April 2014.

~If you have plucked Krueger’s book off of a library shelf, and want to take it over to a library easy chair to read pages of easy prose, without any charts, then may I suggest you go to the middle (or earlier) of page 55 and read on to comic newscaster Jon Stewart’s monologue (or later).

~If you can imagine Krueger with a humorous tone of voice, try the last paragraph on page 64. I think Krueger has a fine sense of humor: When on page 75 he introduces his only equation, a long algebraic thingy to explain his statistical models, he says, “Do not be intimidated by the math.” His next paragraph starts, “For those readers who enjoy econometrics, we estimated negative binomial count models, using data on pairs of countries (over 11,000 of them).