"Standing armies consist of professional soldiers who owe their livelihood and income to the government. Unlike civilians who render periodic service in local militia, professional soldiers do not own property and therefore do not have any source of income other than the government’s military paymaster. Thus, they are more likely to serve the government’s interests, regardless of whether its leaders are dishonest and corrupt or not. In fact, standing armies may even promote rapacious foreign or domestic policies if such policies enrich the army. In contrast, arms bearing, property owning citizen militiamen have a stake in the health of the republic as a whole and can be trusted to act in the republic’s best interests, whether those interests call for action in support of or against the political leadership of the nation." ~ Anthony Dennis
What's G-d Got to Do With It?
Note: The deities portrayed in this work are entirely the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. They do not bear any resemblance to any actual deity, either living, dead, immortal, or yet to come.
I hold in the highest regard and admiration those men and women who venture forth into the unknown. Pioneers are always aware of the risks involved in exploring new frontiers.
When I was about eight years old, I fell prey to a typical childhood disease that caused me to be remanded to bed for the duration. I was given, among other things, a book about space. There was a chapter on early flights of fancy to the moon. A chapter on rockets. On the solar system. The galaxy. Attempts to reach the fringes of space. And the future of space exploration, a vision which was quite limited in 1953, outside of science fiction.
I remember actually cheering when Commander Alan Shepard became the first human being to reach space. And when Colonel John Glenn orbited the Earth. And when Neil Armstrong became the first to plant a foot on an alien world. I wanted to be there; I wanted to be them.
To the men and women who died and to those who still live to open the door to a new frontier, I salute you.
Ya just gotta love C-SPAN. Yup. Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. Now if it would only live up to its name and show the real affairs of public officials, live, in real-time. Would be worth a few yuks. Remembering, however, President Bill "Studly" Clinton, his intern, and his cigar, maybe that's just a plain "yecchhh."
But I content myself with the amusement of watching Congress inaction and Congress in action, as it were. Here is where C-SPAN really shines. "Democracy," as H. L. Mencken said, "is the fine art of running the zoo from within the monkey cage." C-SPAN doesn't tell us what the monkeys are doing, it ushers us into the cage and lets us see for ourselves.
What we see is pillage, plunder, and rapine'I know, that's redundant, but so is Congress'on such a wholesale scale as to render insignificant the exploits of the Vikings, the Huns, and the Mongels. Tamerlane's mountain of skulls was a foothill compared to the heights reached by Congress when it stacks up the sucked-dry husks of the American taxpayer. Annually.
C-SPAN's morning program, Washington Journal, is my favorite, not only because of its parade of monkeys of both the elective and appointive types, but because it opens up the telephone lines to the hoi polloi. It is a rare and wondrous thing to listen to what comes from the brain-disengaged mouths of my fellow citizens.
On Saturday, February 1, as we watched the horrible spectacle of the space shuttle Columbia breaking up on re-entry, C-SPAN opened up its lines to callers. Most of them were horrified, shocked, thoughtful, crying, and decent. Some of the callers, however, served to re-justify my considerable faith in the ability of human beings to be inhumane, insensitive, and just plain stoopid. Within one five-minute period, I heard two callers with smug self-congratulation in their voices note that G'd's judgment had been called down for various and sundry reasons. So much for the feelings of the families of the astronauts.
(Note: I spell G'd as I do because I'm not sure as to the actual spelling of the deity in question: God or Gawd. Please fill in the blank with the vowel sound of your choice.)
There was no mention as to whether this was the Christian G'd, the Jewish G'd, the G'd of Islam, or one of the many G'ds of the ancients. Personally, I believe it was G'd the Baptist.
I recall from my youth those high school classmates of the Baptist perversion who were forbidden to go to school dances, attend movies, eat ice cream, wear lipstick, or scratch where it itches. Surely, such a fun-killer G'd would be the one most likely to zap a bunch of astronauts, merely on the basis that they were having so much fun! Yeah, Tiger Woods gets to play golf and get paid millions. That's cool. But these people, these astronauts . . . . They got paid for going into space! Would that it were me. But, then I'd be on some G'd's hit list.
Perhaps if we look more closely at the comments of the callers we may find insight into the nature and characteristics of this G'd, the one who killed seven in "judgment."
Case 1: It was G'd's judgment on us for going into space.
So, G'd killed seven spacefarers to warn us off. To tell us, in effect, "No Trespassing." What conclusions can we draw from this?
G'd is inattentive. The space program was initiated in earnest in 1960 and G'd only now gets around to telling us "Keep Out! This Means You! Yankee Go Home!" Of course, there were the two earlier accidents where we lost ten astronauts. Maybe those were judgments, too. But G'd keeps getting his licks in later and later in the mission: first in training, then in liftoff, now on re-entry. Maybe G'd's next judgment will wait until the astronauts have returned to their homes and G'd not only knocks off the spacefarers, but their families and maybe the neighbors. Now there would be a message.
Maybe G'd 's been busy. G'd 's got an entire universe'perhaps several of them'to run, and G'd 's a hands-on kind of deity. Likes to work up close and personal, according to the fuliginous fulminations of fundamentalists. Maybe G'd doesn't want to delegate such delicate matters to staff, so it takes time before G'd gets around to handling the in-basket.
To: The Big Guy
After trumpet practice the other decade I visited the Earthers. They're still at it, trying to sneak into H''v'n through the back door. I really think you have to send them a message. Again. That Tower of Babel thing didn't do it.
G'd is inefficient. G'd 's wasted a lot of time and energy trying to send us a message, or, as the judgmentalists would have it, punishing those who go out into space. If so, G'd 's missed a bunch of them. G'd should just ignite one thermonookyuler'sorry, I've been listening to reruns of the State of the Union'one thermonuclear device-sized G'd-zap above the atmosphere and the resulting electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) would fry our electronics back to the Bronze Age. No more computers. No more of anything that runs on computers, which is most of everything these days. Ergo, no more space missions.
Easier yet, G'd should put a glass bubble around the world, about 50 or so miles up. Keep everything in. The ultimate terrarium.
May 5, 1961
Cmdr. Shepard: "Houston, I have a problem." Houston: "Go ahead, Commander." Cmdr. Shepard: "I've bumped into something." Houston: "Repeat." Cmdr. Shepard: "I've bumped into something. It's invisible. I can't go any higher." Houston: "Commander, abort your mission. It sounds like you're already high enough." February 20, 1962 Col. Glenn: "Houston, I have a problem." Houston: "Go ahead, Colonel." Col. Glenn: "I've bumped into something." Houston: "Repeat." Col. Glenn: "I keep going around the world, but I can't get any higher. It's like I'm sliding on ice." Houston: "OK, Colonel. Abort your mission. Next time, use a little more ice and a little less scotch in your drinks at the going-away party."
Before you know it, NASA would be suing G'd over the Glass Ceiling.
G'd is bigoted. That's right, prejudiced. G'd keeps us out of space, but G'd lets all those other aliens into space. ET. The aliens from Close Encounters. The ones the Skid Row winos talk to. The ones who took Auntie Em up in a saucer and did, well . . . those things. (We don't talk about it at the dinner table.)
Or the real ones that landed in Roswell, NM. And the aliens being held by FedGov and living in luxury in Hangar 18, Area 51 where they have high tea, Cuban cigars, the best Scotch, and Playboy bunnies, all at taxpayer expense. Why them and not us? Do they have the franchise on being UFOs? The sole purpose of the space program is to get to other planets where we can be UFOs. And we're not allowed. We should sue God for discrimination.
To: Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe - Attorneys-at-Law
How are you coming on that reparations suit against G'd? Since your cut is going to be 30% of an infinite amount of simoleons, I'd think you'd be moving a little faster on this. And forget working through the lower courts. Go to the top. Not the Supreme Court. Go right to Captain Kirk.
Case 2: The second call of similar ilk from a sufferer of cranial-rectal insertion indicated that the zapping of seven astronauts was a judgment against the warmongers. Yup. G'd killed a shuttle and seven human beings because BushTwo wants to go to war. What can we glean from this?
Again, God is inefficient. If he'd done it right, it might have gone something like this:
Columbia: "Houston, we've got a problem"
Houston: "Columbia, your telemetry shows you're in the crapper (scientific term for "big trouble"). But you've got enough time to ride her down and initiate ejection plan 17."
Columbia: "Will do."
Columbia: "Houston, we have reached safe atmospheric levels and are bailing out of this tub."
Houston: "Roger that, Columbia. Set auto-pilot for Atlantic Ocean."
Houston: "Do you see where the Columbia is headed? It looks like it's on track for Washington, DC. With no crew aboard, we can't control it. Look! It's going in!"
CNR talking head: "We take you live to Blitz Wolfer on the grounds of the former White House, now known as the Washington Crater, where the President was reportedly scarfing down a bag of pretzels and practicing the pronunciation of 'nookyuler' when the out-of-control shuttle struck."
I'm only kidding. All it would take would be just the bag of pretzels and someone using a cell phone near Cheney's pacemaker, and voila! No more warmongers. And no dead astronauts.
G'd has bad aim. G'd aims at Washington, DC  and hits a space shuttle 3,000 miles to the west. Time to book G'd in at the range for a little target practice. Maybe that's what happened to the fifth planet, the one that's now a mass of rocks and rubble between Mars and Jupiter. G'd looked down, saw that a great mistake had been made, aim a giant zap at the Earth, and missed.
G'd is ambiguous. G'd leaves these obscure little messages around and expects us to get them without any hints.
G'd spaketh: "I want to stop the US from going to war against Iraq because Saddam Hussein has a really neat mustache, so I'll just kill off a few astronauts who don't have anything to do with the war on terrariums . . . terrierism . . . terrority . . . Damn. I've been watching too many State of the Union addresses. Anyway, they'll get the point."
Mike the Angel speaks: "Remember that Tower of Babel thing, Chief? They already missed the point."
G'd spaketh again: "Yeah, but that was about sneaking into H''v'n."
Mike: "Oh, yeah."
G'd spaketh yet again: "Maybe I should try the burning Bush thing again. Call up Chuck Heston and see if he's up to it."
Since the space program began, we've lost 17 astronauts, counting the Columbia crew. Seventeen in 42 years. G'd knocks off about 40,000 people a year on American highways, and we're not saying it's G'd's judgment against the automobile and we should stop driving immediately,  which will have the side benefit of letting SUV owners off the hook for funding terribleism with their gas-guzzling vehicles.
No, it wasn't G'd at all. And it wasn't Zeus, or Odin, or even Loki, the trickster deity. Maybe it was just an accident. What's G'd got to do with it?
 Of all the things that government has done with my money, I find this the least objectionable.
 I could have said "tenebrous" but the alliteration was too good to pass up.
 Pronounced "NuM." It used to be New Mexico (pronounced Noo Mecks-ee-ko, or New Meh-hee-ko, depending on whom (pronounced "hoo") you ask) before FedGov took away the state names and replaced them with initials in its program to desensitize citizens, because what proud former Georgian would now admit to living in the sovereign state of GA'pronounced "Gah"'which is south of "SCuh" and North of "Fluh."
 District of Confusion
 Actually, the Green Party is saying this, but who listens to Greens?
 Pronounced "vee-hickles" in GA..