Hamas, Harvard, Ukraine and Alaska Air: Looking for a Bright Side 

Screenshot from a video taken during Supernova festival attack. (October 7, 2023) via BBC News
Fleeing the Supernova festival. (October 7, 2023)

All is not right with the world.

But all is not wrong, either.

Take Sunday night’s air disaster that didn’t happen, for example.

Alaska Air 2059

An off-duty pilot, riding in the cockpit’s jump seat, achieved momentary fame by trying to trigger both engine fire extinguishers. Putting out flaming aircraft engines can save lives. But not when the aircraft is nearly six miles, 31,000 feet, 9,400 meters, up.

Happily, the flight crew interfered with their colleague’s effort; and all 84 folks who were on board were alive and well when Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 landed.

At Portland, Oregon, rather than San Francisco, California.1 But the point is, they landed.

Underground (Literally) Schools in Ukraine

Kids in Kharkiv, Ukraine, going to class in underground bunkers isn’t exactly good news. But I figure this way, they’re somewhat less likely to get killed during Russia’s Nazi hunt.

Or whatever the current official explanation for death and destruction in Ukraine is. Apparently Russia is also saving the world from Ukrainian Satanism and black magic.2

You can’t make this stuff up.

Hey, Everybody! See What We’re Doing! — Improv by Hamas

Idan family photo, via BBC News: Maayan, third from right, is dead. Her father, Tsachi, far right, was kidnapped by Hamas. (October 2023)
Family photo, before Hamas attacked.

Then there’s the little live theatre presentation that Hamas broadcast recently.

‘Hamas said they wouldn’t shoot, then murdered my daughter’
Anna Foster, BBC News (October 23, 2023)

As Tsachi Idan was driven away to Gaza, his hands were still covered with his daughter’s blood.

“He wasn’t allowed to wash them after cradling 18-year-old Maayan, who was murdered in front of her family by a Hamas gunman….

“…And throughout the ordeal, Hamas rigged up a phone to broadcast the family’s pain and terror to the world on Facebook Live….”

I’ll admit to a bias. I think murder and kidnapping aren’t nice. Even if whoever’s doing it really, really wants to.

Since I’ve got free will, I could say “although personally opposed to murder and kidnapping, I don’t have the right to interfere with another person’s choice”. But I won’t. Partly because I think that makes no sense.

I think murder and kidnapping aren’t nice, even if done for a great and noble cause.

Some actions are just plain wrong, no matter what excuse I have. “…The end does not justify the means….” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1753)

Meanwhile, Back in the States

From Mack Sennett Studios, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission: a publicity still from 'In the Clutches of the Gang' / 'In the Clutches of a Gang'. (1914)A couple weeks back, university students at Harvard reminded me of my college days. Not that they had me in mind, of course.

Harvard Student Groups Face Intense Backlash for Statement Calling Israel ‘Entirely Responsible’ for Hamas Attack
J. Sellers Hill, Nia L. Orakwue; The Harvard Crimson (October 10, 2023; updated October 10, 2023)

“Harvard student groups drew intense campus and national backlash over the weekend for signing onto a statement that they ‘hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence’ in the wake of a deadly invasion of Israel by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

“Authored by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and originally co-signed by 33 other Harvard student organizations Saturday, the statement came under fire from federal lawmakers, University professors, and other students….”
[emphasis mine]

In a way, I don’t blame those kids for saying that “the Israeli regime” made Hamas attack the Supernova music festival, kill some Jews, and kidnap others.

The situation in what’s called the Gaza Strip isn’t ideal.

It wasn’t ideal, even before “the Israeli regime” started acting as if killing Jews isn’t nice.

Hamas — the name’s an acronym of “Islamic Resistance Movement” in Arabic — has been ruling the Gaza Strip since 2007. They’re Sunni Muslims who seem convinced that God agrees with their political views.

I’m simplifying the situation enormously. The point is, Hamas runs the Gaza Strip.

They were elected all nice and legal-like in 2006. That’s important, since democracy and elections have been all the rage since the late 18th century.3

I can see how serious-minded college kids might think that a democratically-elected outfit with “resistance” in its name, supported by their friends, could do no wrong.

What does surprise me, or maybe “relieve” is the right word, is that at least one Harvard professor and an ex-Harvard U. president said the students weren’t absolutely right.

“…Harvard Computer Science professor Boaz Barak called on the University to remove the organizations’ school affiliations.

“‘I have a lot of criticisms of Israeli policies, but everyone who signed this statement is condoning terrorism, rape, and murder,’ Barak wrote on the social media platform X.

“Former University President Lawrence H. Summers called the joint statement ‘morally unconscionable’ in a post on X.

“‘In nearly 50 years of @Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today,’ he wrote….”
J. Sellers Hill, Nia L. Orakwue; The Harvard Crimson (October 10, 2023; updated October 10, 2023)

Maybe there’s reasonable hope that more academics like Boaz Barak and Lawrence H. Summers will break ranks and Make Academia Great Again. And that’s another topic. Topics.

I don’t know why those Harvard students blamed “the Israeli regime” for the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack. But I suspect that at least some may have been following an old American tradition.

I’ll get back to that.

Civilian Homes, a Little Extra Shielding — Tomayto, Tomahto.

U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, screenshot from video: 'US Ambassador to Israel Shapiro Visit to Attack Tunnel'. Under the Gaza Strip, built with materials which would otherwise have been wasted on civilian housing. Or which should have been used for civilian housing. Take your pick. (October 27, 2013)
U.S. Ambassador to Israel, in one of the Gaza Strip tunnels. (2013)

I don’t doubt that folks living in the Gaza strip are distressed just now.

Their rulers decided that killing Jews was a good idea.

Jews, or at least the Israeli government , acted as if killing Jews wasn’t acceptable.

And now folks who are not running the Gaza Strip are learning that living on top of their rulers’ tunnel networks is occasionally unpleasant.4

I gather that discussing the Hamas tunnel network(s) isn’t considered polite in proper circles, which doesn’t surprise me a bit.

Moving along.

Loving Neighbors: Not Easy, But I Must

Sporki~commonswiki's (?) photo taken during World Youth Day, Rome. (2000) via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permissionI don’t hate those Harvard students, folks in Hamas, and certainly not folks living under Hamas rule.

More accurately, I’m not allowed to hate them. Loving God, and my neighbor, and seeing everybody as my neighbor, comes with being Catholic. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2537; Catechism, 1789)

I follow that rule better on some days than on others. But I’m obliged to try every day.

Loving my neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean endorsing whatever my neighbor does. “Love” doesn’t mean “approval”, and that’s yet another topic.

Bogeymen, Assumptions, and Attitudes: Past and Present

Confederate till Death at English Wikipedia's photo: Ku Klux Klan members at a cross burning. (November 2005) via Wikipedia, used w/o permission
Cross burning and the KKK. An American tradition, but not the only one.

The United States is not now and never has been a monolithic block of like-minded people, united in their common preferences, politics, and parentage.

I very strongly suspect that’s driven various fanatically faithful folks nuts: nuttier than they were to begin with, at any rate.

Politics, Religion, and Not Missing ‘the Good Old Days’

Watson Heston's 'History Repeats Itself'/'This is the U.S. in the Hands of the Jews': Anti-Semitic USA political cartoon. Sound Money magazine (April 15, 1896) via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.
Watson Heston’s “This is the U.S. in the Hands of the Jews”, from Sound Money magazine. (1896)

Grant Hamilton's cartoon comment on William Jennings Bryan's 1896 'Cross of Gold' speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.With another presidential election looming, my country’s news is already full of flying fewmets; which is about par for the course.

The current election cycle’s hysterical nonsense could be worse.

So far, I’ve seen nothing like William Jennings Bryan’s famous — or infamous — “Cross of Gold” speech. (July 9, 1896)

That bit of political theater, and Watson Heston’s “This is the U.S. in the Hands of the Jews” cartoon, were symptoms of what should have been a discussion of United States monetary policy.

A serious issue, whether or not to caffeinate America’s economy, was complicated by fallout from the then-recent Panic of 1893: and by the fears of some folks who weren’t “robber barons”.

My teen years and the 1960s overlapped almost exactly. What I’ve read about the period, and my memory, tell me that American politics wasn’t much less goofy than it was in William Jennings Bryan’s day.

My news feed tells me that both, make that all, parties still aren’t trying to help voters think. Can’t say that I blame them, sort of, and that’s yet again another topic.

I have, however, noticed that there’s less of the massively-inappropriate old-school ‘God agrees with me’ political hype.

It’s hard to imagine a politico with national ambitions presenting himself as in persona Chrisi, the way William Jennings Bryan did.5

That’s an aspect of ‘the good old days’ I emphatically do not miss.

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” —

The Dearborn Independent's article (image of page, body text not readable): 'The International Jew: The World's Problem'. (May 22, 1920) via Wikipedia, used w/o permission“Protocols” popped up around 1902.

It’s a (fictional) strategic plan for world domination by an international cabal of Jewish conspirators.

The author(s) of “Protocols” spiced it up with paraphrases from Maurice Joly’s “The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu”.

They also did a pretty good job of covering their tracks, and that’s still another topic.

The original “Protocols” was in Russian.

By 1940, it had been translated into several languages, including German and English. And had been outed as a literary forgery.

Possibly because it fit neatly into existing assumptions about Jews, a fair number of smart folks didn’t realize that “Protocols” was — at best — fiction. And, at worst, dangerous propaganda.

Henry Ford’s paper, The Dearborn Independent, published “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, as well as several commentaries on that work.

Over in Germany, excerpts from “Protocols” were adapted for classroom use.

Word finally got around that “Protocols” was about as genuine as “Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk…”. But before that happened, highly-respected folks assumed that “the international Jew” was a threat to national — nay, world — security.

Time passed.

I suspect that Germany’s purge of undesirables made anti-Semitic attitudes less fashionable, at least on my side of the Atlantic.6

But it hasn’t been all that long since I heard someone who should have known better mention ‘the Jewish threat’.

Then there’s the 1988 Hamas Charter.

Article 32 and “Protocols”

Article 32 says Hamas is against “imperialistic powers” — those who seek the corruption of Arab countries — until at last Palestine alone shall stand as the final bastion of Islam.

Reminds me of what ranting radio preachers of my youth said, actually. Except they put America and their brand of Christianity in the starring role.

Anyway, Article 32 also says that the ‘Zionist conspiracy’ is revealed in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.7

— “Several Experts” and the Reptilians

David Shankbone's photo: Westboro Baptist Church protest at the United Nations headquarters, New York City, the day when Pope Benedict addressed the UN General Assembly. (18 April 2008) via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.America’s better sort have a new bogeyman. Or did, three decades back.

“…The Post has been deluged with calls since that article, which described followers of television evangelists as ‘largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.’ The paper ran a correction the following day, saying there was ‘no factual basis’ for the statement….

“…Michael Weisskopf, the article’s author, said he made ‘an honest mistake, not born of any prejudice or malice for the religious right.’ He said his description was ‘overstated’ and should have been qualified by saying that evangelicals in general are ‘relatively’ poor and uneducated.

“Weisskopf said he based the description on interviews with several experts, but didn’t attribute it to anyone because ‘I try not to have to attribute every point in the story if it appears to be universally accepted. You don’t have to say, “It’s hot out, according to the weatherman.”‘…”
EVANGELICAL OUTRAGE“; Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post (February 6,1993) [emphasis mine]

Maybe the word’s getting around, that what’s “universally accepted” in the Washington, D.C., area’s better neighborhoods may not be the whole picture. And that Christians are not all radical right-wing extremist white supremacists.

But, with an election coming up — I’m just glad that only four percent of the American voting public believe that we’re threatened by space-alien shape-shifting lizard-men.8

Again, you can’t make this stuff up.

Spears, Pruning Hooks, and Making Sense in the Meantime

Navy Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson's photo: World Trade Center rubble and fires. (September 14, 2001)
New York City’s Word Trade Center rubble and fires after the 9/11 attack. (September 14, 2001)

I think Isaiah had the right idea.

“In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it.

“He shall judge between the nations,
and set terms for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.”
(Isaiah 2:2, 4)

And I am convinced that we’re not there yet. Not even close.

F. Bate's 'A Bird's Eye View of a Community...I think living in peace and harmony with all would be nice.

I admire the resolve of pacifists: and think they will, at this time, flourish. As long as they are protected by non-pacifists.

Given the sort of either-or perceptions I run into, a clarification is in order.

I do not like wars. They break things and kill people. Or, rather, people break things and kill other people in wars.

I think avoiding war is a good idea.

But I would make a terrible pacifist, because I think sometimes war is less unpleasant than the alternative.

Even before I became a Catholic, I thought human life mattered: and that stopping someone who wanted to kill another person was a good idea. Now that I’m Catholic, thinking that this is true isn’t just a personal preference. It’s an obligation.

It’s been almost a year since I talked about the idea that life matters, and that keeping folks from being killed also matters. It makes sense, but the explanation takes longer than a sound bite. So please bear with me.

Double Effect: It’s Complicated

U. S. Department of Defense photo: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, Washington, D.C., near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall; dedicated November 11, 1982, Veterans Day.I think human life is precious. All human life. Each person’s life. That’s because human life is sacred. We’re made “in the image of God”. (Genesis 1:27; Catechism, 2258, 2261, 2268-2283, 2319)

No matter where we live or how we act, each of us has equal dignity. Respecting “the transcendent dignity of man” can be hard, but it’s part of my faith. So is doing what’s good while avoiding what’s evil. (Catechism, 360, 1700-1706, 1928-1942)

Some of us don’t act as if everyone’s life matters. But everyone’s life matters, anyway. Including mine. So valuing my own life is a good idea.

Now let’s suppose someone tried to kill me. I’m a Catholic, so I must value my own life and value my hypothetical attacker’s life.

Here’s where it gets complicated.

I could, maybe, defend myself by avoiding the attack or stopping it without killing my hypothetical attacker. Maybe.

But suppose non-lethal prevention isn’t possible? Do I devalue my own life and let myself be killed? It is an option, but not the only one.

In this hypothetical situation, defending myself is okay: even if doing so results in my hypothetical attacker’s death.

If my intent was defending myself, if I used the least force possible, and if my attacker’s death was unavoidable in the circumstances. (Catechism, 2258, 2263-2269; “Summa Theologica,” Thomas Aquinas, II-II,64,7)

Individual ethics apply to groups, too. Avoiding war is a good idea. But sometimes the only other option is letting innocent folks get killed. (Catechism, 1909, 2263-2269, 2307-2317)

This idea of double effect, where preserving my life or the lives of others is an intended result, but the death of the attacker is not, is “legitimate defense”. (Catechism, 2263, 2265)

“This is Not Us” “Yeh Hum Naheen”

Looking for a video of that song, I learned that “this is not us” has been a provocative, polarizing, and otherwise divisive phrase.

I’m using it anyway, since the phrase expresses what I think is a reasonable idea.

Branford Clarke's cartoon, from page 21 of Alma White's 'Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty;' Zarephath, New Jersey. (1926)I’m quite sure that not all Muslims are terrorists, and positive that not all Christians wear hoods and desire an America cleansed of people like me.

Particularly since I’m a Christian. And a Catholic, and that’s a whole bunch of rabbit holes I must ignore, if I’m going to get this thing finished in time.

Let’s see. Where was I?

An air disaster that didn’t happen.

Hamas, bogeymen, and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.


Backing up a bit, I think that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are not all mass-casualty events just waiting to happen. And I think nutty notions like those repeated in “Protocols” are common enough to warrant a little discussion.

First off: since I’m a Catholic, I must not blame our Lord’s death on “the Jews”. One way or another, we’ve all got a share in happened on Golgotha. (Catechism, 595-598)

I think that “outside the Church there is no salvation” and that God’s plan for salvation includes everybody. I must remember that someone can be seeking God and not be on the same page that I am. (Catechism, 839-856, 934-1942, 2357-2359, and more)

Basically, I must see humanity as “us”. Not “me and mine” and “those others”.

Easy? No.

Important? Yes.

On the other hand, sympathizing with Muslims who aren’t happy about being lumped in with the likes of Hamas — isn’t all that hard for me.

I grew up in a culture where ranting radio preachers and their fervent followers made negative stereotypes all too plausible.

Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Jeffrey S. Flier, Steven A. Pinker; Harvard Crimson op-ed:'Academic Freedom Prohibits Censorship and Punishment, Not Judgment' Headline and lead paragraphs. (October 26, 2023)The Harvard ‘it is the fault of the Jews’ SNAFU has been joined by similar expressions of solidarity — and has apparently entered the ‘support academic freedom’ phase.

I’d take stalwart defenses of academic freedom more seriously, if I hadn’t done time in academia when political correctness was in bloom: and remember when my country was recovering from Hollywood blacklists and other effects of McCarthyism.

Maybe this time freedom won’t mean “free to agree with me”. That’d be nice.

An unanswered question is why so many Harvard kids apparently hold “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”.

These are Harvard kids. They aren’t, or shouldn’t be, particularly ignorant.

They might not be familiar with all aspects of Middle Eastern politics over the last half-century or so.

But I’d think that they’d at least be aware that it isn’t a simple ‘Hamas wears the white hat’ situation.

Then again, their parents and grandparents lived in a society where “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was occasionally taken seriously: and still is.

More recently, “imperialistic powers” have been assigned black-hat status9 by my culture’s self-described best and brightest.

With some justice: but I do not think reality is that simple.

I suppose I should be glad that a coalition of student groups at Yale hasn’t declared that Alaska Airlines is “entirely responsible” for that off-duty pilot’s behavior. Maybe they have, and it hasn’t made headlines yet.

A Civilization of Love: Something to Work Towards

Google Maps Street View: New York City Central Park. (August 2012) used w/o permission.
New York City Central Park: August 2012. Not bad, but we can do better.

I said I was “looking for a bright side” in this post’s title. It’s high time I do that. But first, I’d better say what I mean by “love”. In this context, that is.

Love is an emotion. It’s an attraction to what is good. Love can cause desire for that which is good, but is not here. It can encourage hope, seeing a good which is possible but not present. Love is also an act of will: a decision to help another person. (Catechism, 1765-1766)

LOVE: See Charity”

CHARITY: The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. (1822)”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)

Like charity, love is something we do. Not necessarily something we feel. (Catechism, 1766, 1822-1828)

That sort of love doesn’t come easy, at least not to me.

But it’s a good idea.

So are values like justice, and acts of charity; along with respecting humanity’s “transcendent dignity” — and working toward a society where justice, charity and respect are the norm. All of which starts in me, with an ongoing “inner conversion”. (Catechism, 1886-1889, 1928-1942, 2419-2442)

Again, it doesn’t come easy. But it’s a good idea, anyway.

“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,” Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))

A “…Competent and Sufficiently Powerful Authority….”

War Department, Office of the Chief Signal Officer's photo: Ruins of Richmond, Virginia; detail. (1865) U. S. Archives, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.If I think building a “civilization of love” makes sense, then how come I don’t denounce “the Israeli regime”, and anyone else who physically resists attackers?

I talked about the idea of double effect and legitimate defense before.

Much as I might prefer living in a world where such ideas are strictly hypothetical, that’s not how things work. Not now. (Catechism, 2302-2317)

“…Certainly, war has not been rooted out of human affairs. As long as the danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted. State authorities and others who share public responsibility have the duty to conduct such grave matters soberly and to protect the welfare of the people entrusted to their care. But it is one thing to undertake military action for the just defense of the people, and something else again to seek the subjugation of other nations. Nor, by the same token, does the mere fact that war has unhappily begun mean that all is fair between the warring parties….”
(Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern Word: “Gaudium et spes“, Pope St. Paul VI, Second Vatican Council (December 7, 1965)) [emphasis mine]

Nearly six decades later, we still don’t have a “competent and sufficiently powerful authority at the international level”. So “legitimate defense” is still a very non-hypothetical idea.

On the whole, I’d prefer that Hamas not act as if it has remained true to the word and spirit of its charter. But I suspect that “the Israeli regime” is not completely unjustified in its efforts to keep the Gaza Strip’s current rulers from killing more Jews.

Of course, I also think that “Protocols” is a literary forgery, so I would have that opinion.

Now, about that “bright side” I mentioned.

Pope St. John Paul II’s phrase, translated as “civilization of love”, goes back at least to Pope St. Paul VI.10 Not all Popes have been Saints. But we got a bumper crop in the 20th century; and that’s — you guessed it — more topics.

“Although to some it may seem strange, Pentecost is an event that also involves the secular world. For it gave rise to a new sociology—one which penetrates the values of the spirit, which forms our hierarchy of values, and which confronts us with the truth, and with the ultimate destiny of humanity.

“It is this which has given us our belief in the dignity of the human person, and our civil customs, and which above all leads us to resolutely rise above all divisions and conflicts between humans, and to form humanity into a single family of the children of God, free and fraternal.

“We recall the symbolism at the beginning of this amazing story, of the miracle of many different languages being made comprehensible to everyone by the Spirit. It is the civilization of love and of peace which Pentecost has inaugurated—and we are all aware how much today the world still needs love and peace!”
(Creating a Civilization of Love, address for Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope St. Paul VI (May 17, 1970) via Christ the Servant Parish at Our Lady of Peace Church, Canton, Ohio) [emphasis mine]

Poetry, Future Generations, and a Very Long-Haul Project

Zellim's 'Celistic Concept Art', detail. (2013) used w/o permission

“…For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;…
“…Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
“There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law….”
(“Locksley Hall“, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1835))

That was among my favorite bits of poetry during my teens. Not surprising, since Tennyson said “Locksley Hall” expresses “…young life, its good side, its deficiencies, and its yearnings”.11

I turned 72 this year. My youthful suspicion that “the common sense of most” was a wildly-optimistic assessment has been confirmed. But those lines are still among my favorites.

However, I also appreciate Tennyson’s follow-up:

“…Gone the cry of ‘Forward, Forward,’ lost within a growing gloom;
Lost, or only heard in silence from the silence of a tomb.
“Half the marvels of my morning, triumphs over time and space,
Staled by frequence, shrunk by usage into commonest commonplace!
“‘Forward’ rang the voices then, and of the many mine was one.
Let us hush this cry of ‘Forward’ till ten thousand years have gone….”
(“Locksley Hall – Sixty Years After“, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1886))

But I won’t say “Let us hush this cry of ‘Forward’ till ten thousand years have gone”.

That’s because I think we have work that can be done today.

The civilization of love outlined by popes since 1970 still makes sense. Even though, maybe because, something profoundly not like it has been making headlines.

Building a civilization of love, even cobbling together something like Tennyson’s “Federation of the world”, will take generations, centuries, of hard work, slow progress and occasional disappointments.

Make that millennia of hard work. Humanity has a backlog of unresolved issues, accumulated over uncounted ages. Making a dent in that is a very long-haul project.

But I am convinced that taking what we have, keeping what works, and fixing what doesn’t, is a good idea.

Starting now means that there will be that much less toil for future generations. Which strikes me as a good idea. They’ll have quite enough on their plate as it is. And — yeah — that’s more topics.

Finally! the usual links:

1 Today’s cockpits are almost always enclosed, so a cockpit is usually a flight deck: an etymology/history rabbit hole I’ll avoid today:

Off-duty pilot Joseph Emerson accused of trying to crash Alaska Airlines flight
Nadine Yousif, BBC News (October 23, 2023)

An off-duty pilot has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, after he allegedly tried to crash a passenger jet during a flight on Sunday night.

“The suspect was sitting in the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines flight behind the captain and the first-officer, according to an airline statement….

“…In a statement, Alaska Airlines said the off-duty pilot was traveling in the flight deck jump seat, when he ‘unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.’…”

Movie poster: 'The Fearless Vampire Killers' (ca. 1967) via allmovie.com, used w/o permission.2 Sadly, this is not an edgy dark comedy:

Ukraine war: First underground school to be built in Kharkiv
Jaroslav Lukiv, BBC News (October 2, 2023)

Ukraine’s first underground school will be built in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov has said.

“‘Such a shelter will allow thousands of children to continue their in-person education safely even during missile threats,’ he said….”

3 Winning an election and being right aren’t necessarily the same thing:

4 Focusing more on the tunnels than on the folks who live on top of them, and an embarrassing hospital hit:

5 Today’s politics? It could be worse:

6 The international conspiracy described in “Protocols…” sounds like the plot of an old Saturday afternoon serial, but a remarkable number of folks took it seriously:

7 ‘There is no negotiated settlement possible. Jihad is the only answer’ — Hamas Charter Article 13:

8 Space-alien lizard-men and other odd notions:

9 Perceptions, partisanship, and white hats:

10 A little background:

11 A poet and a poem:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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5 Responses to Hamas, Harvard, Ukraine and Alaska Air: Looking for a Bright Side 

  1. This got me thinking that maybe you should write a post about your recurring “Free to agree with me” phrase sometime, Mr. Gill, alongside the concept and value of things like slogans, especially, of course, today, when folks my age feel as burdened as we are empowered by all these media-powered attempts we’re making towards being outspoken and overt about social issues and action. Or we could just say that I’m itching for some challenge from older folks I trust to our creativity about packing a whole lot of meaning into a few words and my bloodthirst about my lazily dealt feeling of being out of place among my fellow fools. X”D

    • Writing about my recurring “Free to agree with me” phrase. Yes. That does sound like a good idea. It won’t happen this week: I’ve got something else lined up, and I want to think about how I’ll explain what I mean by that recurring phrase.

      Being outspoken and overt – strikes me as a good idea. Provided that I know what I’m talking about. 😉

      As for feeling out of place – this, I can relate to: which is a topic my oldest daughter and I discuss on a semi-regular basis.

      Thanks for pointing me toward an upcoming post topic. And for your continued reading and responses.

      • You’re very welcome, Mr. Gill. I also feel like this is the first time I directly requested a post or a post topic, which is something I hope I’m rare or, at least, wise about (Is the word “wise” the right term to use here, by the way? X”D). Anyway, I’m happy for the consideration! 😀

        • 😀 Yeah: and I don’t necessarily take requests. This one, however, seems like a good idea.

          One which will be delayed at least a week. Mainly because I’ve got material left over from the November 4, 2023, post that I want to cover before I lose track of the notes – and my train of thought.

Thanks for taking time to comment!