chicken with a bulldozer

so antir west was teh suxors…
well, not really, i had a good time, but my feelings for bullshit bureaucracies have not changed much..

went book shopping with my mother yesterday… it was funny listening to her and dave talk about it “you thought i was bad, you should see him, i only bought two books and he bought three bags of books!” … okay, so i’m an avid reader. beats the hell out of television. it’s nice to find some kind of common ground with mom. i expect that we’re both older and wiser.

and we both think that this:

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Evergreen College student Rachel Corrie, a peace activist/human shield in the Gaza Strip, was killed yesterday when she was run over by a bulldozer.

Joseph Smith, 21, of Kansas City, Mo., said he, Corrie and five other British and American protesters who are part of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement had spent the afternoon trying to disrupt the work of the Israeli bulldozers at the Rafah Refugee Camp.

Wearing a fluorescent orange vest for visibility, Corrie then sat down in front of them like we had done all day, Smith said. But this time the bulldozer didn’t stop. Protesters heard her scream, then we were hollering and waving our arms. The bulldozer then backed over her again and retreated, he said.
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was really stupid.
i live in the same city she did, and frankly, i’m tired of hearing about it.

evergreen uses the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy as a book-you-must-read-and-discuss.
in the book, right near the beginning, is this:

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Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has-or rather had-a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time.

Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terribly stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever.

This is not her story.

But it is the story of that terrible stupid catastrophe and some of its consequences.

It is also the story of a book, a book called The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – not an Earth book, never published on Earth, and until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or heard of by any Earthman.

Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book, in fact it was probably the most remarkable book ever to come out of the great publishing houses of Ursa Minor – of which no Earthman had ever heard either.

Not only is it a wholly remarkable book, it is also a highly successful one – more popular than the Celestial Home Care Omnibus, better selling than Fifty More Things to do in Zero Gravity, and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid’s trilogy of philosophical blockbusters Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?

In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words Don’t Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

But the story of this terrible, stupid Thursday, the story of its extraordinary consequences, and the story of how these consequences are inextricably intertwined with this remarkable book begins very simply. It begins with a house.

The house stood on a slight rise just on the edge of the village.

It stood on its own and looked over a broad spread of West Country farmland. Not a remarkable house by any means – it was about thirty years old, squattish, squarish, made of brick, and had four windows set in the front of a size and proportion which more or less exactly failed to please the eye.

The only person for whom the house was in any way special was Arthur Dent, and that was only because it happened to be the one he lived in. He had lived in it for about three years, ever since he had moved out of London because it made him nervous and irritable. He was about thirty as well, dark haired and never quite at ease with himself. The thing that used to worry him most was the fact that people always used to ask him what he was looking so worried about.

He worked in local radio which he always used to tell his friends was a lot more interesting than they probably thought. It was, too – most of his friends worked in advertising.

It hadn’t properly registered with Arthur that the council wanted to knock down his house and build an bypass instead.

At eight o’clock on Thursday morning Arthur didn’t feel very good. He woke up blearily, got up, wandered blearily round his room, opened a window, saw a bulldozer, found his slippers, and stomped off to the bathroom to wash.

Toothpaste on the brush – so. Scrub.

Shaving mirror – pointing at the ceiling. He adjusted it. For a moment it reflected a second bulldozer through the bathroom window. Properly adjusted, it reflected Arthur Dent’s bristles. He shaved them off, washed, dried, and stomped off to the kitchen to find something pleasant to put in his mouth.

Kettle, plug, fridge, milk, coffee. Yawn.

The word bulldozer wandered through his mind for a moment in search of something to connect with.

The bulldozer outside the kitchen window was quite a big one.

He stared at it.

“Yellow,” he thought and stomped off back to his bedroom to get dressed.

Passing the bathroom he stopped to drink a large glass of water, and another. He began to suspect that he was hung over. Why was he hung over? Had he been drinking the night before? He supposed that he must have been. He caught a glint in the shaving mirror.

“Yellow,” he thought and stomped on to the bedroom.

He stood and thought. The pub, he thought. Oh dear, the pub. He vaguely remembered being angry, angry about something that seemed important. He’d been telling people about it, telling people about it at great length, he rather suspected: his clearest visual recollection was of glazed looks on other people’s faces.

Something about a new bypass he had just found out about. It had been in the pipeline for months only no one seemed to have known about it. Ridiculous. He took a swig of water. It would sort itself out, he’d decided, no one wanted a bypass, the council didn’t have a leg to stand on. It would sort itself out.

God what a terrible hangover it had earned him though. He looked at himself in the wardrobe mirror. He stuck out his tongue.

“Yellow,” he thought. The word yellow wandered through his mind in search of something to connect with.

Fifteen seconds later he was out of the house and lying in front of a big yellow bulldozer that was advancing up his garden path.

Mr L Prosser was, as they say, only human. In other words he was a carbon-based life form descended from an ape. More specifically he was forty, fat and shabby and worked for the local council.

Curiously enough, though he didn’t know it, he was also a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan, though intervening generations and racial mixing had so juggled his genes that he had no discernible Mongoloid characteristics, and the only vestiges left in Mr L Prosser of his mighty ancestry were a pronounced stoutness about the tum and a predilection for little fur hats.

He was by no means a great warrior: in fact he was a nervous worried man. Today he was particularly nervous and worried because something had gone seriously wrong with his job – which was to see that Arthur Dent’s house got cleared out of the way before the day was out.

“Come off it, Mr Dent,”, he said, “you can’t win you know. You can’t lie in front of the bulldozer indefinitely.” He tried to make his eyes blaze fiercely but they just wouldn’t do it.

Arthur lay in the mud and squelched at him.

“I’m game,” he said, “we’ll see who rusts first.”

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept it,” said Mr Prosser gripping his fur hat and rolling it round the top of his head, “this bypass has got to be built and it’s going to be built!”

“First I’ve heard of it,” said Arthur, “why’s it going to be built?”

Mr Prosser shook his finger at him for a bit, then stopped and put it away again.

“What do you mean, why’s it got to be built?” he said. “It’s a bypass. You’ve got to build bypasses.”

Bypasses are devices which allow some people to drive from point A to point B very fast whilst other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people of point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people of point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be.

Mr Prosser wanted to be at point D. Point D wasn’t anywhere in particular, it was just any convenient point a very long way from points A, B and C. He would have a nice little cottage at point D, with axes over the door, and spend a pleasant amount of time at point E, which would be the nearest pub to point D. His wife of course wanted climbing roses, but he wanted axes. He didn’t know why – he just liked axes. He flushed hotly under the derisive grins of the bulldozer drivers.

He shifted his weight from foot to foot, but it was equally uncomfortable on each. Obviously somebody had been appallingly incompetent and he hoped to God it wasn’t him.

Mr Prosser said: “You were quite entitled to make any suggestions or protests at the appropriate time you know.”

“Appropriate time?” hooted Arthur. “Appropriate time? The first I knew about it was when a workman arrived at my home yesterday. I asked him if he’d come to clean the windows and he said no he’d come to demolish the house. He didn’t tell me straight away of course. Oh no. First he wiped a couple of windows and charged me a fiver. Then he told me.”

“But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine month.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything.”

“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a torch.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

A cloud passed overhead. It cast a shadow over Arthur Dent as he lay propped up on his elbow in the cold mud. It cast a shadow over Arthur Dent’s house. Mr Prosser frowned at it.

“It’s not as if it’s a particularly nice house,” he said.

“I’m sorry, but I happen to like it.”

“You’ll like the bypass.”

“Oh shut up,” said Arthur Dent. “Shut up and go away, and take your bloody bypass with you. You haven’t got a leg to stand on and you know it.”

Mr Prosser’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times while his mind was for a moment filled with inexplicable but terribly attractive visions of Arthur Dent’s house being consumed with fire and Arthur himself running screaming from the blazing ruin with at least three hefty spears protruding from his back. Mr Prosser was often bothered with visions like these and they made him feel very nervous. He stuttered for a moment and then pulled himself together.

“Mr Dent,” he said.

“Hello? Yes?” said Arthur.

“Some factual information for you. Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?”

“How much?” said Arthur.

“None at all,” said Mr Prosser, and stormed nervously off wondering why his brain was filled with a thousand hairy horsemen all shouting at him.

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you would think that this would come to mind while sitting in front of a bulldozer, eh?

someone else said it better than i ever could:
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On the one hand, this is a tragic incident, and my condolences go out to Rachel’s friends and family.
On the other hand (and I’m certainly not trying to belittle Rachel, her ideals or work, or her death) I have to admit that I’ve always found the idea of human shields to be naively optimistic, at best, and quite possibly downright suicidal at worst. You’re placing yourself in an extremely volatile and dangerous situation, between two factions that have repeatedly shown very little regard for human life, be it military or civilian. As horrible as any resulting deaths may be, I can’t see them as unexpected or surprising in the least. If you’re going to stand in between two warring sides, you’re knowingly taking the chance that one or the other (or both) is going to end up killing you.

I’m very sorry this happened, but some of the indignation I’m hearing from other people strikes me as a rather ludicrous response to an event like this. Being sad, upset, or even angry makes sense.. being indignant doesn’t. At least, not to me.
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so shut the hell up and quit telling me about it, okay?
if you are going to *die* for something, try and make it something worthwhile okay?
indignant? i’d be embarrassed.

and it is my personal belief that, in times of war, human shields should have their citizenship revoked, and be an enemy target just like the enemy you are standing in front of. it is one thing to protest, it’s another to be stupid.

/rant

anyway, so i’ve been working too hard again. so has the rest of my crew.

almost done building naivea_te‘s office, so we can get her out of azrayel‘s… once we’re done with that, we get to start on zxnaithfaery‘s…

sometime during all this i need to rewire the main gigabit links to 5 of the racks in the noc, and then i can relax for the rest of the week… maybe.

once the rewire is done, i think i’m going to let the lovely chaneecat decorate my office. her’s has such an awesome energy about it, that i think it will help me focus and work better.

by the way, i got a phone call from shadowpixie the other day, she’s in utah, but fine anyway 🙂

hrishi just kicked out an early beta of the interface for the herbology database that chaneecat has been working on for the past few months… when it’s finished, this is going to be an amazing reference… i can’t wait to get it finished…

the same story goes for the deities database, which is also in early beta.. this one is being compiled by flint of the westward seas, and when it’s finished, should be quite interesting.

today hrishi and i are working on getting webalizer installed so we can track who is visiting www.paganality.com, and how well our search engine optimization is going.

ironically enough, http://www.paganality.com/index.php is getting so many article submissions that our average is over 500 per month. whoohoo!

come on down and check it out… (for those of you who wonder what’s been taking up so much of my time)
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