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making things clearer, some hope

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  • louise
    these are extracts from private correspondence: 15th July, 1997 Dear Louise, ....... During the course of the conversation [previous Sunday evening, following
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 3, 2005
      these are extracts from private correspondence:

      15th July, 1997

      Dear Louise,
      During the course of the conversation [previous Sunday evening,
      following service] I asked you why you rejected Christianity (or
      something similar). Your reply was that you had not found any
      evidence for it (again, this was the gist of your reply).
      On reflection I find that claim nothing less than staggering. ...
      Fragmented and disparate discussions with me, my sermons and a few
      other like incursions into the 'mechanics' of Christian doctrine are
      hardly suited to discover the *evidences*. I hope I am not being
      too unkind when I point out that you seem to examine the evidences
      for Christianity through the eyes of its convinced antagonists and
      always seem to have some reason for not examining the great minds of
      orthodox Christianity. This is a bit like Nelson's blind eye which
      saw no ships.

      [the Reverend signs his name]

      this letter must have been passed to me by hand, for I began a reply
      the same day and completed it the next, on Wednesday, 16 July, which
      ran to five typed sheets - too long, I decided, and filed it away.
      as far as I can tell, though, the part below I subsequently
      photocopied and sent to the minister on Friday 5 February 1999,
      together with a handwritten sheet of especial manic madness.


      At first, when I read your Nelson comparison, I wanted to rush to
      the defence of this great national hero. Let me put this in
      context ... it is the Spring of 1801, & England's navy, at war with
      Denmark, engages in the Battle of Copenhagen under its commander-in-
      chief, Sir Hyde Parker. As battle proceeds, Parker notes
      with "dreadful anxiety" (all quotations here derived from Chapter
      VII of Southey's 'Life of Nelson') that Nelson, his second in
      command, has been deprived, by various accidents of "a fourth part
      of his ships"; for three hours enemy fire is unabating, & finally
      Hyde "began to despair of success; and thinking it became him to
      save what he could from the hopeless contest, he made signal for
      retreat. ... [On Nelson's ship] the signal lieutenant called out
      that No. 39 (the signal for discontinuing the action) was thrown out
      by the commander-in-chief. [Nelson] continued to walk the deck, and
      appeared to take no notice of it. The signal officer met him at the
      next turn, and asked if he should repeat it. "No", he
      replied; "acknowledge it." Presently he called after him, to know
      if the signal for close action was still hoisted, and being answered
      in the affirmative, said, "Mind you keep it so." He now paced the
      deck, moving the stump of his lost arm in a manner which always
      indicated great emotion. "Do you know," said he to Mr.
      Ferguson, "what is shown on board the commander-in-chief? No. 39!"
      Mr. Ferguson asked what that meant? - "Why, to leave off action!"
      Then, shrugging up his shoulders, he repeated the words - "Leave off
      action! Now damn me if I do! You know, Foley," turning to the
      captain, "I have only one eye - I have a right to be blind
      sometimes," - and then putting the glass to his blind eye, in that
      mood of mind which sports with bitterness, he exclaimed, "I really
      do not see the signal!" " The battle was thereby won, & Nelson
      said, as he left his grounded ship, the *Elephant*, "I have fought
      contrary to orders, and I shall, perhaps, be hanged. Never mind:
      let them!" And Southey comments: "This was the language of a man
      who, while he is giving utterance to an uneasy thought, clothes it
      half in jest, because he half repents that it has been disclosed."

      16th July, 1997 [same letter]

      In view of the nobility which so characterised Nelson's life, of the
      danger in which England stood as this battle hung in the balance, of
      the intense emotion & reflective instinctiveness which accompanied
      this famous gesture - to look at what one cannot see, & to do so
      with conscious irony, publicly expressed, risking all for the
      greater good - I jibbed, at first, at your apparently imputing to
      the famous admiral a wilful refusal to face the truth, of which you
      seem to think me guilty.

      But then I thought of the way Homer uses similes ..... etc. etc.


      any thoughts, anyone ....

    • Herman B. Triplegood
      Friends: I heard an interesting bit of news on National Public Radio as I was driving home from work this morning. It was announced by authorities in Iraq that
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 3, 2005

        I heard an interesting bit of news on National Public Radio as I was driving
        home from work this morning. It was announced by authorities in Iraq that
        Operation Lightning is now officially ended. This was the sweep of Baghdad
        that has been going on for the past week. It was also said that 700
        insurgents (suspected insurgents) were captured, and that 28 were killed.
        Now here is the interesting part. The authorities also said that this net
        capture or killing of almost 750 people represents, at least a 60 percent
        increase in security for Baghdad.

        I had to lean back in my driver's seat and start doing the math. This means
        that the authorities have some idea how many are still left. It also means
        that they have some idea how many there originally were. This is
        interesting. let us briefly do the math. The 750 terrorists put out of
        commission represent 60 percent of the total number that were believed to
        already be operating in Baghdad.

        Let x equal the original number of suspected terrorists, and let y equal the
        number just now put out of commission. Then, it follows that:


        We know (more or less) the value of the variable 'y', so we can determine
        the original number of suspected terrorists to be:


        This works out to:

        1250 original suspected terrorists. That my friends, is a good sized
        battalion or two.

        How many are believed to be left? Let us call this 'z'. That would be:




        There are around five hundred suspected terrorists believed to be still
        operating in Baghdad. That, my friends, is the equivalent of about two
        companies of armed soldiers. Would you be comfortable, in Chicago or London,
        knowing that your government knew (kind of) that about half a battalion of
        armed terrorists, were capable of building truck bombs, and were actively
        pursuing the building of these things, and were using of them against you,
        the innocent citizens, in your own city?

        let us step back and think about what is behind these seemingly magic
        numbers, for, you see, they tend to disguise the real magnitude, and
        possibly even the real nature of this "insurgency problem" in Baghdad.

        How can one even know enough, in the first place, to say that 750 "out of
        commission" is "at least" a 60 percent improvement in security?

        One must know something about these people, in order to put these numbers to
        the event, even if the numbers are a bit shaky and not very certain. This
        bit of news tells the tale of a problem with this "insurgency", the extent
        of which is either not fully comprehended, or is being held a closely
        guarded secret.

        We are not talking about 500 people who "got away" with only their clothes
        on their backs. These people are packing weapons, ammunition, explosives,
        and even the chemicals and the raw materials with which to make such

        Look at it this way. In order to be able to say that you even "guess" there
        might have been as many as 1250 terrorists in operation before Operation
        Lightning took "at least" 60 percent of them out of commission, you had to
        know something, at least in a rough way, either about WHO these people were,
        or WHERE they were. Okay, well you knew where they were, but the operation
        was not instantaneous, so now you do not know where they ARE. They moved
        about, presumably to other hiding places, while you were sweeping the city.
        Where are they now? Think about this. They did not get from where they WERE,
        to where they are hiding NOW, with just those clothes on their backs. They
        got there, with their weapons, ammunition, explosives, chemicals and raw
        materials. Besides, if you really knew WHERE they were, why not have the
        United States "precision bomb" them and take out not only them, but also
        their hiding places, the places where they are stashing all of their
        supplies, to include food and water, and all of the war gear too. Either,
        you don't want to end up with a "black eye" because, even with precision
        guided weapons, you were bound to kill as many, if not more, innocent
        citizens than terrorists.

        Okay, let us say you don't really know exactly where they WERE, or even
        where they might be NOW. You probably know something about WHO these people
        might be. How else could you say, "We estimate that we have killed or
        captured probably at least 60 percent of them now." In other words, there
        are "not quite" 40 percent of them left.

        That is, if the numbers are to believed, about 500 of them.

        But this isn't all. It takes a lot more than 500 people to put 500 people
        into battle, to provide support for their terroristic efforts with hiding
        places, safe houses, weapons caches, food and water supplies, workshops and
        laboratories, for building of roadside bombs and truck bombs. It was said,
        during the beginning stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that for every
        combat soldier we had over there on the ground, it took as many as 16
        additional people, operating at all levels, and in all occupational
        dimensions, to support that single combat soldier, from the mess halls to
        mail call, logistical support, communications, clothing, you name it.

        Chances are pretty good that the reason why we suspected where they WERE,
        but cannot seem to locate where they ARE right now, is because there are at
        least 10 times as many supportive collaborators present in Baghdad as there
        are actual insurgents. That puts the number of "combatants" at between 5000
        and 10000, in a city of about two or three million people. That is an entire
        military division, if it is "military", which, come to think of it, might
        very well be the case. Now, either this is an incredibly sophisticated
        "insurgency" able to pull off coordinated and deadly car bomb and truck bomb
        attacks on an almost daily basis, or it is an incredibly, and cleverly
        disguised, "fifth column", being orchestrated from somewhere else.

        Probably from outside of Iraq.

        Syria? Iran?

        Just food for thought.

        The existential-philosophical take? It must come from VonClausewitz.
        Essentially, as Demzel Washington said it in "Crimson Tide", what Von
        Clausewitz was saying, according to Washington, as he played his "sensible"
        role in that movie, was this: That war is the means to its own end. It is
        the purpose of war, to perpetuate war. That war serves no other master, save
        itself. Not even ideology can command war. Once you let the war "genie" out
        of the bottle, it takes on its own life and purpose, and you DO NOT control
        it. Furthermore, in a nuclear world (and it is becoming more nuclearized
        with each passing month and year) the true enemy, is neither communist nor
        fascist, Muslim nor Christian, American nor North Korean.

        The true enemy, is war itself.

        This is the existential, geopolitical dilemma, of the twenty-first century,
        a century in which, if matters are left unchecked, not just a "privileged
        few" governments will have the BOMB, but individual people may have the
        BOMB, to include the Osamas and the Zarqawis, the McVeighs and the Oswalds,
        and perhaps, some of your own neighbors.

        We live in a world, where the waging of war, is no longer existentially
        viable. The problem is, it is STILL existentially possible.

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