Monday, April 28, 2008

The Enemy Of My Enemy?

America's so-called War On Terror, to the disinterested bystander, is a rather nebulous affair. Many disparate geopolitical problems, some related and others not, are seemingly plucked at random and woven together into the miasma that we find presently ourselves in. Because of the vagueness of this crusade many situations are conflated together to produce even more confusion. One perennial misconception is to lump Al Qaeda's brand of terrorism/insurgency with the problem the US is having with Iran (here are two articles, from the Washington Post and Daily Telegraph, that do just that), the general line of reasoning being: "they're both Muslims and they both hate us ergo they're the same." Nothing could be further from the truth as was demonstrated by a news article last week which, if it weren't for the subject matter, would have been rather funny. Iran's president Ahmadinejad, running off at the mouth as per usual, accused a secret Zionist-American conspiracy for the 9/11 attacks (the rumour was supposedly started by Hezbollah). A popular move amongst the Islamic extremist audience one might think, but not so. Al Qaeda's no. 2 immediately made a statement denouncing the Iranians for wanting to discredit al Qaeda and their successes in attacking America. He then went on to claim that Iran was in league with America in the latter's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. (It reminds me of when I was a kid and I saw a news report where the IRA claimed responsibility for a bombing. To my naive and innocent mind I couldn't understand why anyone would want to claim responsibility for doing such a bad thing.) In fact the Shi'ite theocracy in Iran gives the USA a good run for its money for the top of al Qaeda's hate list. It just goes to show that the political dynamics in the region are far more complex than "with us or against us" soundbites.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Manic Monday

Monday was quite an exciting day for me, although, to be honest, I would have rather it had been a boring one. It started off quite normally, with lovely blue skies as I got on my bike to cycle to work, as is my wont. However, less than a kilometre from work, a woman in her car turned onto the road. Not something I would have a problem with under normal circumstances, unfortunately I was occupying the particular stretch of road that she had her eye on, and although I have put on a few extra kilos of late I was still unable to outmuscle her car and so was sent sprawling. Luckily it was more of a glancing blow and I managed to swerve away somewhat before impact, but nevertheless I still fell flat on my face and got to taste the tarmac.

Naturally I was none too pleased and so I started swearing, which is my standard fall-back response to most things. The woman had, by this time, stopped and helped me groggily get to my feet and off the road where I could pat myself down and check for broken bones. I was thankful that apart from my lip, which was swelling to impressive proportions, and some general scrapes and bruises everything seemed to be OK, as I really didn't want to go to hospital if I could at all help it (last time I was in A&E I had to wait for a painful 3 hours with a torn ligament at the end of which I was given a Tubigrip bandage, some paracetamol and crutches and told to bugger off). In a much worse state were my glasses which were badly scratched. My assailant, feeling particularly remorseful (as she should, as I had right of way), gave me a lift to work; and it wasn't until I arrived that the shock of what had happened hit me. I thought that I would be able to cope with such an event effortlessly (not least because I came away from it more surprised than anything else), but instead I was dazed and confused and certainly not with it and so I took my leave and returned home (by bus).

The next day, although my mind had cleared, my body felt as if it had been passed through the wringer with most of my muscles refusing to do anything but the bare minimum. My fat lip (see below) also made eating rather uncomfortable. My main task for the day was to order new glasses (because, being the well-organised and forward-thinking person I am I only have one pair of specs and not even any back-up contact lenses), and looking back on it I am partly thankful that they got scratched and will therefore (I hope) be paid for by the insurance claim, because they certainly weren't cheap.

Anyway, the swelling in my lip has gone down a fair bit now so I can eat more or less normally. Here's hoping that the rest of the week is more boring than Monday.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Corporate Conspiracies

As I've already mentioned I am now working in the oil industry; to be more precise for a management consultancy that works for big oil firms.

P.S. Completely off topic, here's a little picture taken from my bedroom on the weekend. Although it's April there was a sudden snowstorm in the morning which delivered more snow than we'd had during the entire Winter, but by that afternoon it had all disappeared as suddenly as it had come.