Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Thank God I'm an atheist."

One of the disadvantages (perhaps the main one) of not accepting the existence of a higher power that takes a direct interest in human affairs is the limitation placed on expletives. What can you say instead of "Oh my God!" or "Thank God!" or "Go to Hell!" or "Damn it all!" or "What the Hell!" or "not worth a damn" or all the other handy expressions? Euphemisms such as "Good gosh" are also ruled out, as they are just indirect references to the same core belief.

There are of course the usual crude sexual and scatological expressions, but they rarely serve exactly the same purpose.

As a result, my speech is somewhat restrained. But I suppose if one claims to be an unbeliever on rational grounds, that rationalism should extend to the rest of life, and limit the need for expletives. I find it to be so, but sometimes one just needs to let loose with an emotional response.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A move by Black on the International Chessboard

Putin's puppet Medvedev has just announced that Russia will be placing short-range missiles on the Polish border. Let's think about "why".

Militarily, it's meaningless, or even a bad idea. Missiles based near a border are more vulnerable to ground attack or sabotage. They would not be appreciably closer to any likely targets.

But they are a response to the US move to place missile defences in eastern Europe. Those defences are a product of the Bush administration's general belligerance. But the Bush administration is the lamest of ducks. So it will be the Obama administration that must deal with this.

If Russia had left the matter alone, Obama would be able to cancel the missile defences. But if he does so now, he will appear weak and timid on the world stage, one of the things he can least afford. The Russians know this. Therefore, the only possible conclusion is that they WANT those missile defences there.

My guess is that by painting the US and western Europe as threats to Mother Russia, the Russian government will face less internal resistance to its assumption of whatever powers it wants domestically.