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Art & Culture

various essays on, well, art and culture

Bookbinding & Conservation

lessons learned from this profession


ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
but I still have a sense of humor

'Jim Downey' Stories

mostly true stories from my

Personal Essays

more "it's all about me"


Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The Political Compass.  Where
are you?


Gun Violence
We Create the Meaning
The Secret to Success
Holy Writ & the Motion of the Sun
The Car
The Mayor of Main Street


take a trip with me

circa 1966

The Human Condition

I'm in an Old Testament sort of mood this morning.

Listening to the news has done this.  There is danger in being exposed to the true nature of the human condition before one has had a chance to enjoy coffee and the sunrise, to watch the birds at the feeder, to just wake up with a decent attitude.

I have little sympathy with the Hutus from Rwanda in the refugee camps who were being forced by Zaire to go back to their own country.  The UN's efforts at voluntary repatriation were consistently unsuccessful, thanks to the fear spread in the refugee camps by the Hutu leaders.  Yes, those leaders and their thugs will probably face a rough sort of justice at the hands of the Rwandan authorities and the remaining Tutsis, who are justifiably upset over the massacre of a half million people that took place while the world watched a year ago last spring.  So be it.  It offends our Western sensibilities that there aren't trials, with individuals proven guilty and then put behind bars.  But let's keep this in perspective:  we have a hard enough time with one aging athlete and his pack of rabid lawyers.  We shouldn't be lecturing anyone on justice.

And the news that Saddam Hussein had almost reached nuclear capability before the Gulf War is only overshadowed by the report that he had enough biological weapons to kill millions.  That level of evil needs to be extinguished however possible, in simple self-defense of the rest of the world.  Again, it makes me angry that George Bush called off the Marines before they dug Hussein out of his hole and shot him like the mad dog that he is.  The time has come for us to ignore the protests of the French and Russians, who want to trade weapons for oil with Saddam, and give real aid and training to the Iraqi resistance.  Hussein needs to be overthrown, however possible, as soon as possible.

Serbian complaints about the treatment of Krajina Serbs by the Croats fall on deaf ears with me.  Yes, large numbers of Serbs have fled in the face of the returning Croats, guilt over having stolen the Croat's homes and businesses previously giving them cause to fear retribution.  And there were isolated reports that a few Serbian soldiers were hauled off as prisoners of war, perhaps a half dozen of them executed by the Croats.  Compare that with the thousands in mass graves left behind by the Serbs in Srebrenica, the thousands more still held in concentration camps.  Or with the Serbian use of systematic rape as a weapon of war.  Or the periodic shelling of civilians in UN 'safe havens' for fun and attention.  Whatever their historic claims, the Serbians are whining bullies, thugs comfortable with slitting throats and ignoring all conventions of human decency as long as the war is going in their favor, but screaming for help from the UN they have long scorned as soon as the tide turns even slightly against them.

And speaking of decency, I would like to commend the decency of Timmy Pease and Kim Osborn.  They were a pair of ex-cons who had been speeding when an Arizona Highway Patrolman tried to pull them over.  Rather than accept a ticket, they led police cars and helicopters on a merry ride for about 100 miles, shooting at police and anyone else who happened to present a convenient target.  They broke through roadblocks, forced other cars off the road, and generally made things lively for all concerned.  When they finally tired of this game, they committed suicide, and thereby saved the good people of Arizona the time and expense of a trial.

Well, maybe there is hope, after all.  I think that it's time for coffee . . .

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all work © James T. Downey, 1993-2006
photos © Martha K. John, 1994-2006
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