September 10, 2010

We Have Seen the Enemy…

...And He Is, Us!

A collection of articles to stimulate and provoke thought (find a comfy chair):
We Have Seen the Enemy…
Is Karzai a Nut?
War Drums
Will Israel Bomb Iran?
'Wiped off the Map' – The Rumor of the Century
U.S. Goes Broke?

For many of us, today's ongoing series of world events seems like little more than another sequel in the Bruce Willis Die Hard franchise - the most recent being Live Free or Die Hard. After all, we have good guys (like NYC cop John McClane) who take on a bunch of bad guys (the terrorists) and finish them off in the end. Despite the good cop's heroic efforts though the terrorists always seem to make their return, thus ensuring a continuing income stream for the franchise-holders. Early in 2010 we were told to be on the lookout for Die Hard 5.

For other spectators the plot-line of this real-life movie more closely resembles that of Groundhog Day (no sequels made). Here the main character, played by Bill Murray, is a TV weatherman who becomes trapped in a time loop and finds himself repeating the same day over and over again. In the end the time-spell is only broken when Phil (the weatherman) undergoes a complete transformation from a self-centered, egotistic individual to a more outward focus on others, using his experiences to save lives and befriend all the townsfolk. (On a side-note, in an example of life imitating art, the term "Groundhog Day" has now become part of American military slang in referring to any day of a tour of duty in Iraq.)

For yet another group of onlookers (far fewer in number than either of the last two groups) the lead character bears no resemblance to either John McClane or Punxsutawney Phil, although the plot does seem strangely familiar. Eventually it begins to dawn on them that this movie is yet to be finished though it has been in production now for almost a decade. They begin to recall some of the news which came out shortly after it began 'shooting' - like the reports of how the group of writers decided to change parts of the storyline after filming was already underway and were able to gain the director's approval notwithstanding complaints from the production company about cost overruns. 'War is good' said the lead writer (a reprise of the famous Gordon Gecko line 'Greed is good' from the film Wall Street).

Continuing, he explained that as the movie-house was going through a slump, if just one war would help stimulate its revenues, then a second war would do so even more and that they should also consider the possibility of adding a third one to the script - more is better! Though the director was not fully convinced about the third act, he went for the first two. Several years later as production costs went through the roof while revenues declined further the movie giant decided to replace their by now discredited director with a younger and brighter person, who had promised them the long-desired change to that old storyline.

As they looked back in at where things had got to after another year had passed under the young director's leadership, they were surprised to find that not only was 'shooting' still going on for both the first and second acts, but the director had spent much of his time in those first 365 days fighting with the movie-house's accountants to obtain better benefits (health & otherwise) for the performers - from its star actors all the way down to extras. Not only that, but the new team of writers who were brought in for the change were once more in heated debate over whether to include that third act within the 'new' script.

And as the group of onlookers reflected on this epic-in-the-making they wondered about how it would all end - not the movie anymore, but for the production house. After all this well-known and formerly well-respected production giant had churned out blockbusters aplenty over her more than two century-old existence. Now the venerable institution was no longer seen as the story-maker, but was instead becoming the story. Would she survive to celebrate her third centennial or, would the ongoing sequel after sequel within the movie, combined with the desire to improve the lot of her staffers prove too much for the old girl? No one really knew and few dared venture a negative opinion for fear of being ostracized, though some did wonder aloud whether a storyline closer to that of Groundhog Day might not have provided a better ending. 'Nah, I'm sure those writers know what they're doing!'

Albert Einstein once famously quipped: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."
He also reminded us all that: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Hmmm, the more things change...

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