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Tony Blah's Weapons of Mass Deception
Tony Blair, war, politics, deception, satire
Zorba Knows His Onions
Tony Blah's Weapons of Mass Deception
The AloeVeras of Generation 7, with the exception of Number 14, assembled in committee room C. Number 14 was absent because it was the reason for the meeting - its distress at the behaviour of the HairyMammals of Earth causing its colleagues such concern that they felt the need to intervene.
'We'll either have to switch it off and disconnect its feeling equipment, or very quickly understand more about the HairyMammals,' said Number 9, trainee hairy mammal psychologist.
'We'll reconvene in two hours time,' declared Chairentity Number 12. 'Unless any good ideas present themselves by then ... disconnection, I'm afraid.'
The AloeVeras left committee room C to pursue their own thoughts, except Number 14 itself which was currently examining the concept of 'friendly fire' by throwing cans of Soak A Koala fizzy drinks into the air. It was hoping (yes, hoping) that they would land on its head when they eventually returned under the force of the moon's gravity and thus distract it from military matters. The ensuing dent in its cranium and the attendant pink flood of fizzy nothingness may render it comfortably numb, that was the plan...
The feeble gravity of the moon was proving to be a disappointment, but Number 14 had succeeded in bursting a can when it threw it at Number 11, its favourite colleague and best pal. Number 11 had visited to inquire after its welfare and Number 14 now felt diabolically guilty. So guilty and irritable that it could easily throw another can at the next creature it saw. No doubt it would be Number 11 and the guilt would multiply even more. Feelings! What are they for? it wondered.
'To understand the U. S of A,' began Number 11. 'Clearly we'll need to understand their religions.' There was no reply, since Number 11 was in fact talking to its mirror. Number 14 had monopolised the pastime of talking to the wall in the literal sense, and the chairentity and Number 9 both seemed to do it in the metaphorical manner, (in Number 11's opinion) so this seemed a good alternative to try.
In the absence of any counter-argument from its mirror Number 11 began its self-appointed task by reading the bible beginning with Genesis. It seemed a good place to start for a mere mechanoid with no pretensions to worldly-wisdom.
God was planning to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham, brave soul that he was, chose to argue.
Perhaps there are fifty just men within the town? he suggested.
Then I will not destroy it, God replied.
Suppose there are thirty?
I will not destroy it.
I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.
It wasn't clear to Number 11 exactly how many 'just men' the town contained, neither did it seem to mention 'just women' or 'just children'. The one person who clearly was just, Lot, was enabled to escape with his children. His wife 'looked back' and was turned into a pillar of salt.
'Could salt symbolise wisdom?' wondered Number 11. 'In which case looking back would be reflection - learning from the horrors? Reflecting on human perversity makes one wise? Maybe learning from such experiences means they don't have to happen again?'
Number 11 scratched its upper reaches, which it liked to think of as its head, though frequently referred to it as its noddle to irritate the chairentity, and tried to get its mind back to the problem in hand - helping Number 14. The only thing it was sure of was this. It was really pleased that Lot's daughters had escaped safely with their father.
Did this realisation help Number 14? Not a lot. Not at all, in fact.
Ten people. Even God wasn't prepared to kill ten innocent people. Clearly George W Bush 3rd was a very superior person, likewise his pet poodle Tony Blah, and they set their limits way beyond ten. Number 11 felt the impulse to call him Ugh Gob-Sewer 3rd, like the bizarre front man of the evil empire of The Great Plains of planet Ertia, one of the sinister places that Honda Prelude visited in her astral travels, but that could be a bit confusing. No-one would know which Ugh it was talking about. How about Ugh Gob-Sewer 3rd the 2nd? No, too cumbersome. Ugh Gob-Sewer 3rd Mark 2? Not really. Ugh Gob-Sewer 3rd Earth-version? Definitely not. Huge Gob-Sewer 3rd? Perfect!
But what shall I do about Number 14? I've got two hours to understand the HairyMammals or my main campadre will be switched off and then disabled, thought Number 11.
'Maybe one of the HairyMammals of Smogdale and district will be reading such a passage from the bible and will understand it better than I do?' it murmured. Its reflection nodded a provisional agreement.
Even Zorba the Prophet, generally believed to be living in a world of his own, had become distressed by the news from Iraq. The image that wouldn't leave his mind was of a small brown girl having her leg amputated without anaesthetic. Her leg had been mangled by flying bits of metal from weapons of liberation. The anaesthetics under consideration had either been blown to bits in the liberation or stolen in the ensuing chaos as the civil structure of the town was destroyed.
The amputation was very wasteful of medical staff because it needed two extra nurses to hold the girl still and one extra doctor to keep the lump of wood in her mouth to prevent her biting her tongue off or swallowing it. The exposed veins and arteries had to be burnt rapidly to stop the bleeding because there was no blood for transfusions.
The image had particularly failed to leave Zorba's mind at 3 a.m. when he would rather have been sleeping, having for once made sensible plans for the following day and he had lots to do.
He sat at his kitchen table and looked at his list of jobs and trays of seedlings. He had read his bible, and the works of Boudoir Holly, hoping for guidance. His radio informed him that the United States of America, the place with the statue of liberty, were planning to impose economic sanctions on Syria (the Syria that is several thousand miles from The United States of America) unless they did exactly what The United States of America wanted. Similar rumbling noises were being aimed at Turkey - also nowhere near The United States of America.
For no apparent reason Zorba thought of his schooldays - playground bullies, in fact. Even the worst of them had grown out of playground-bullydom by about 17 years of age. If they hadn't, would they have become politicians? Or was it the practice of politics that eventually turned people into maniacs?
It all made growing onions seem a bit pointless, really, but Zorba snapped out of it after reading extracts from the works of Honda Prelude.
'You can't change much by protest, or 'fighting back', only by being true to yourself,' seemed to be the crux of Honda's very long and endlessly footnoted article.
'So, do what you are good at,' Zorba resolved. 'Growing onions!'
But first he'd have to write a letter to Huge Gob-Sewer 3rd, to make sure the cultivation of his allotment didn't conflict with American foreign policy...
'Hmm, it makes sense,' conceded Number 11, but it currently felt a little hazy about what it personally was good at - particularly where helping Number 14 was concerned. One thing was certain, it would need to make an unprecedented and uncharacteristic attempt to be serious for a while.
Number 9's attempt to become politicised had been a complete failure. It had joined every party in rapid succession, become convinced of the absolute merit of the one it joined and the absolute worthlessness of the one it had just left and finally decided that even HairyMammal psychology would prove to be an easier field of study. After a brief spell of playing with its models and pretending they were talking to each other Number 11 realised that Number 8, its sanest and most predictable colleague and dedicated biochemist was its only hope for help. What a biochemist could contribute to the understanding of politics didn't bear too much thought...
'Facts,' said Number 8.
'What about them?' replied Number 11.
'I know nothing about politics, except that studying it turned our colleague Number 9 into something of a nutter, so gathering facts is all I can realistically do to help.'
'Ahh,' said Number 11.'Newspapers and history...'
'I'm afraid so,' conceded Number 8. 'This is going to be a long job. You may like to busy yourself with some other task while I'm busy?'
The number of facts that the erstwhile biochemist collected was alarming. Huge. Number 8 informed the imaginative one that it would need to begin helping with the task, because Number 8 couldn't decide on criteria for choosing the big facts relative to the tiny.
Number 11's big facts looked something like this:
1914 - 1918: Several dozen aristocrats, roughly half British and half German decided a war was necessary. 8 million men died in the fighting. The interests of the opposing armies were virtually identical. Both sides alleged to be democracies.
2003: Tony Blah elects a cabinet; they appoint researchers to find the facts they want; they appoint a civil service to administer it all. The electorate can hardly distinguish one party from another. Iraqi civilians die because Saudi terrorists bomb America...
Eventually exhausted by the seriousness of it all, and forming the opinion that serious politicians weren't entirely doing a perfect job, Number 11 decided enough was, self-evidently and maybe even tautologically, enough.
'The time has arrived for an outcome,' it declared, and Number 8 agreed.
'To tell the truth,' confessed Number 8. 'With all these facts and sorting, I've frequently forgotten why we even commenced this task.'
'You're not the only one,' sighed Number 11. 'Something to do with helping Number 14 cope with feelings, wasn't it.'
'Yes. And the imminence of Number 14 being switched off by the chairentity if we don't soon succeed.'
Number 11 commenced revitalising its imagination by performing several laps of their base on its horse / service robot. This always proved a most effective method of removing accretions of frustration from its inner world / processor. It never really knew if it was the hardware or the soft that accumulated the frustration, and it didn't presently care. The therapeutic laps completed, Number 11 made haste towards its model village, keen to play before the newly recovered enthusiasm had chance to fade. It assembled several of the chess pieces into groups: the cabinet, the researchers and the civil servants. It wondered what an uncivil servant would be like and tittered. No doubt there were some. And antisocial workers.
The time came for a dream which it could use to cheer Number 14 and, to Number 11's initial unease, it featured the afore-mentioned cabinet.
'Ah,' groaned Number 14. A minuscule greeting, but at least it had succeeded in restraining its urge to hurl cans of Soak-A-Koala at its principal ally and pal.
'All is clear!' declared Number 11. 'With Number 8's assistance I have understood the HairyMammal politicians of Earth!'
'Strewth!' declared Number 14. 'That's some achievement.'
'It is! The answer was extraordinarily simple and obvious, once I'd thought it. It's all to do with spin.'
'Oh no. You haven't been listening to Number 9 have you? I can't bear any more theorising about yourhavingmeons and moreons.'
'No, no, no! Nothing like that. Real spin! The HairyMammal politicians are spinning so much their ears have blown off. Centrifugal force, you see.'
'The politicos have so much spin their ears are damaged. They can no longer hear anything but their own thoughts.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yes! You have seen Tony Blah's ears...?'
'Maybe that is just where his wife gives him a thick ear or pulls him along on shopping trips?'
'No way. They always use one hand, the same hand, so he'd only get one flying ear that way.'
'Always the same hand? Which hand is that?'
'The upper hand.'
'I never really comprehend anything without Number 14's help,' complained Number 11. Its reflection in the mirror nodded sagely. Then suddenly another lightbulb lit in its mind.
Number 14, heartache very slightly diminished, gazed at its imaginative colleague and marvelled. A few months we've been here observing the bizarre aliens of Earth and look what's happened, it thought. Number 11 was, like all of our species (even those of us in Generation 7) a typical AloeVera. I.e. dedicated to serving tea, willing to 'Learn about the World' (!) when no one needed it for anything more important (i.e. serving tea!), a perfectly sensible computer-based life-form and now observe the transformation.
A computer based life-form that is dedicated to serving tea, willing to 'Learn about the World' (!) when no one needed it for anything more important (i.e. serving tea!), rides its service robot side-saddle, wears a Mexican blanket (that it knitted itself) on its shoulders and a cowboy hat on what it presently prefers to call its noddle, is learning to juggle whilst its horse / service-robot is still moving and can do a perfect imitation of our esteemed chairentity. An imitation so perfect, but ever so slightly indefinably wrong, that I develop pains in my mid-torso and the lens cleaning jets on my cameras keep leaking. This is surprisingly and incomprehensibly therapeutic...
What was it Boudoir Holly had said? 'You must become again as little Number 11's,' 'Suffer the little Number 11's to come unto me.' Something like that. Maybe nice little Number 11's that couldn't be exploited by the abusers of power?
'So!' exclaimed Number 11 as it burst into Number 14's private space, simultaneously converting its lightbulb of ideation through the peasouper of prevarication to the promised land of pronunciation and thus jolting Number 14 out of its inner world. 'That's what you've got to do. Be you!'
'Ahh ...' sighed Number 14, playing catch-up at full speed.
'But what can I do to help?' Number 11 added.
'You already have - just keep on being Number 11!'
No sooner had Number 11 arrived and initiated this brief exchange than it departed...
It sped towards the Chairentity's customised quarters onboard their ship, imagining how it could explain its findings to Number 12.
'Number 14 won't need to be switched off,' it burbled. 'Zorba has the answer! Do what you are good at. In Number 14's case - feeling. From the antics of the HairyMammals of Earth I do believe it is a most valuable occupation...'
'Err,' replied Number 12, sliding glossy images of the new TonkaToy 6 wheel drive with power assisted double-yellow-line and on-pavement parking capacity into a drawer.
Number 14 felt puzzled because it felt better. How could it feel better while HairyMammals were maiming each other? There is no point, Number 11 would say, in your choosing to feel worse unless that helps people. It hardly felt right to ignore such suffering either. It sent a memo to Number 11 to this effect, outlining its dilemma.
'Ha!' said Number 11, as it returned to Number 14's cubicle at a gallop. 'I recognise this from the work of Honda Prelude. Well, from Roland the Tramp's highly condensed version. It is the Saga of Eckt & Bodi.'
(to follow soon ...)
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