Random Shots:
Pirates, Gladiators and Assassins

— R.F. Kampfer

DUBYA MAY COME to regret his efforts to classify his crusade against terrorism as a war. The legal ramifications of waging war against a non-governmental organization may keep the lawyers busy for generations. One would think that the 18th Century international convention on piracy, which declared pirates to be the general enemies of all mankind rather than any particular state, might be conveniently applied here.

The Roman gladiatorial games had something in common with modern television: commercials. The sponsors of the games, usually politicians running for office, appealed for the audience’s votes in between bouts. The Romans found it all extremely boring.

New Yorkers have responded to the events of 9/11 with admirable stoicism. If only they didn’t act as if they’d invented it.

One suspects that travelers are less afraid of planes being hijacked than of being stranded at an airport for hours or days.

College bears a certain resemblance to the ritual ordeals used to initiate young people into tribal societies. It doesn’t teach you much useful, but getting through it is a good test of your determination.

Is the USO going to put on a show for the Northern Alliance troops in Kabul? Bit of a culture shock there.

Speaking of which, Colin Powell must be the only one in Washington who still says kabool instead of cobble.

Germ Warfare

ANTHRAX IS A common industrial disease for those who work with cattle and hides. They probably think the U.S. reaction somewhat overdone.

Some people are getting hamsters to provide an early warning of anthrax spores. Gerbils would be more useful for opening mail.

Kampfer’s new oncology clinic only opened recently, but somebody apparently ordered a collection of old magazines for the waiting room.

Those who criticize the gay community for the spread of AIDS might note that heteros were just as careless about syphilis when it was incurable.

Incurable Revolutionary Optimism

AFTER A YEAR of war the flags will be worn out, and the workers will be ready to listen to us.

One expects that the War on Terrorism will meet the same success as the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, and the War on Crime.

The Revolutionary Communist Party is finally trying to update its image. A recent RCP leaflet depicts revolutionary workers carrying M-16 rifles rather than Moisin-Nagants.

The Good Old Days

WE ALL KNOW how useless the Maginot Line was in defending France during World War II. It’s not generally known that the French refurbished the fortifications in 1945 and kept them operational until 1964.

One can find quite a few similarities between Omar Bin Laden’s organization and Hassan I-Sabbah’s 11th Century Assassins.

Hollywood is attempting to shift gears and produce movies suitable for wartime. During World War II, the troops found their efforts to make realistic war movies extremely comical.

ATC 96, January–February 2002