28 September 2003
Under the Rosebush
Q. The fountain of youth, seven cities of gold, the cock's egg, bigfoot, flying saucers, weapons of mass destruction and the unicorn. What have these all in common?
A. All have been vainly sought for.
Q. Which one does not belong?
A.The weapons of mass destruction.
A. Only they have been claimed to have been found under a rosebush or searched for in a Scottish distillery.
The DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) notified Bruichladdich Distillery on the Scot's Hebridean isle of Islay that one of their webcams was awry. Osama has been forgotten, Saddam is also missing and since Ali Baba hid in an oil jar, why not find an atom bomb in a copper whisky pot. Does the al-Qaeda gourmand prefer single malt?
I vaguely remember, in university, making the acquaintance of certain students, for part of a quarter, at some parties. Through the alcoholic bluster and probable exaggeration, the one kid, in this circle of friends, pointed to a bush outside a dorm window as the place our drunken, coed friend ditched the pistol her daddy gave her, when she thought campus security was about to go into her room. I was not there for that one, but guns were not a problem on campus, they were not sent in care packages from home, now musical, plastic hammers were though. I didn't bother to look, for it was on the walkway at the railroad crossing that led to the new south green where hundreds of people passed by each day.
I had not thought about that hidden, smoking gun till the current occupation after this Second Iraqui war. American forces pointed out to television reporters bunker, drum and vehicle that held the smoking gun -- weapon of mass destruction -- again and again. The headlines broke loudly and triumphantly to be followed by a sub voce, "nevermind." After a series of these, it was mentioned to Washington that no gun was yet found, in inestimable logic Fleischer, Rumsfeld and company said it was the responsibility of those who did not believe in their existence, to find them. Huh?
I remember teaching a science class and somehow alien life in other worlds came up in discussion. One girl was adamant in their existence. I tried, but failed, to impress upon her the logic that, though it is speculatively possible, it can not be assuredly maintained prior to its discovery. This merely angered her. They existed without evidence--period.
Now this came trickling back into recollection, when, in late June there was found the scientist, Mahdi Shukur Obeidi, who claimed to have buried nuclear plans and parts, under his rosebush, on the orders of Saddam's son. That could well replace the line, "my dog ate the homework," as the humorously lame falsity.
In 1958 Graham Greene's, "Our Man in Havana", began to be read. Mr. Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman, is recruited to be a British spy. He (Alec Guinness, at the picture show) invents other spies, and has vacuum cleaner parts and diagrams pass for military ones. Danger and excitement ensue when these reports and drawings are accepted. Beware the atomic pile cleaner. Perhaps the Mack Sennett Studios can come out of mothballs and Arnold can play Dr. Hasselbacher. How horrible it is when farce becomes real.