Monday, September 28, 2015
Despite my doubts, long-time residents of the burg I find myself marooned assure me that it was once a pleasant little place. They say it possessed a genuine down home friendliness and character where everyone walking down the clean and neat streets eagerly waved hello to all the people they encountered along their way. I am also told that at one time it was filled with locally owned businesses that actually cared for the community along with providing the best in customer service.
That might have been the case at one time, but what it is now is a congested tumor filled with disgruntled suburbanites addicted to twenty-first century crass consumerism and the delusion that they are escaping the worst aspects of modern urban life. Driving down the main business section you would see nothing but one continuous run of strip malls, fast food joints, and national chain department stores and sit down restaurants. That is, of course, during the early morning or late at night when traffic is unusually light because with the regularity of mindless insects once it is time for the suburbanites to either leave or return to their hive-like neighborhoods you will be grateful for every inch you move down the congested highways.
But the local inhabitants like it this way and get rather upset should anyone suggest things that might contain or at least blunt suburban sprawl. It would not be an overstatement to say that politically speaking the entire county is so staunchly conservative that I am surprised it doesn’t elect a free-market Libertarian to the state legislature. The main reason they don’t is because they have to kowtow to equally plentiful religious right which when pushed might have some issues with the basic libertarian platform that says everything is cool if it makes someone a buck, namely the legalization of certain drugs, gambling, and prostitution. That still doesn’t prevent the occasional sighting of Ayn Rand supporter from appearing in the general population, which is what happened a few weeks back. This appearance precipitated a few basic questions concerning the beliefs of the founder and her movement that pretty much states that it is not only okay to be a douchbag but that it makes you a better human for being a selfish twit.
See what happened was that both my wife and I refused to make dinner late one afternoon. She was tired from her long day at work with her mental condition made worse by having to navigate the choked roadways to arrive at our own glorious McMansion. The last thing she wanted to do after that experience was to stand over a hot stove.
I on the other hand had just spent a couple of hours coaxing our daughter into doing her homework, something that I contend is actually worse that driving through rush hour traffic. When you throw in the fact that just a few hours later I would heading off to do my usual night-shift routine at work I wasn’t feeling any warm fuzzies about making dinner either. My lovely spouse and I were at an impasse, so we both quickly agreed on me going to pick up Chinese food at one of the take-out restaurants in the middle of town.
A few minutes later I'm in my car driving to the our usual Chinese restaurant to pick-up our order. By this time the worst part of evening rush hour traffic had faded away but that only meant my five mile trip took just thirty minutes. The major holdup was going to be the intersection just before the strip mall where the restaurant was located, it bisected two major highways and while traffic was easing there were still many irritated and careless drivers hellbent on returning home before everyone else. That intersection does have turn lanes and dedicated traffic light turn signals to help assist the rush hour hordes. Now both the lanes and turn lights are nice efforts but in all honesty they are comparable to trying to putting out a raging forest fire with just a couple of buckets of water.
Much to my pleasant surprise, once I pulled into the left-turn lane of the intersection several of the cars ahead of me were able to slide through before the light changed. The only car in front of me was an ultra high end BMW and I figured once the left turn traffic light came back up he would use every one of his mighty German horses to punch through allowing me to pick up the food. Yeah, not only was I was getting rather hungry, as sure as massive bears leave steamy piles of poop in the deep and dark woods I knew my wife was herself almost peckish enough to take a bite out anything close to organic in origin. So, it was going to behoove me to get home as quickly as possible with the food before I had to explain to my coworkers that night why a chunk of my butt was missing.
For reasons I can't explain the left-turn signal didn't pop up that time forcing me and Mr. BMW to wait. It was then that I noticed the “Who is John Galt” sticker neatly affixed to the dead center of that guy's rear bumper.
Low and behold that afternoon I had stumbled upon one of the local Ayn Rand supporters. While I automatically despise Rand and anyone who supports her ideas to the point I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire I do harbor an intense curiosity at their coldblooded view at life. At the heart of her ideas is the basic premise that simple human compassion is misplaced and that the highest form of behavior a person can emulate is selfishness.
Screw the basic principles of the Judo-Christian ethic that we are in fact our brother and sister's keeper, according to her if you see a destitute family on the street that is cold and hungry the best thing you can do is walk on by and ignore their plight. Even if you are rolling in cash and hypothetically speaking, have a carload or warm clothes. According to Ayn and her fictional creation, John Galt, poor people are probably in that situation for a reason. The usual assumption being a combination of laziness and bad choices. Yeah, some people are poor because they have screwed up their lives but Rand's people completely ignore the vagaries of economic fluctuations and even natural disasters.
So in the end Ayn Rand's philosophy boils down to the simple presumption that compassion is wrong, selfishness is a virtue, and screw everyone else as long as I am happy, healthy, and secure. Which is a funny given what almost happened to Mr. BMW at that intersection.
Since the left-turn signal didn't come up that meant traffic flowed normally forcing Mr. BMW to pull further out into the intersection so he could wait for his chance to turn. Oncoming traffic had built up again and I figured that the light would turn red before I had my own chance to turn so unlike Mr. BMW, I didn't follow him into the intersection. Sure enough, the signal light turned yellow and a couple of seconds later, red leaving Mr. BMW sitting in the middle of the crossroads.
However before he could scoot across a huge pickup truck, a Ford F-350, came barreling through at a fairly high rate of speed, completely ignoring the red light. If in fact Mr. BMW had tried to make the turn his nice car and himself would have been smashed like an aluminum can. Once the truck had passed Mr. BMW made his left turn and drove away unscathed.
Just a few minutes later the traffic lights cycled through allowing me to reach my intended destination and pick up our food and get home before my wife's hunger turned her completely wild. But as I was driving home the thought occurred to me, given Mr. BMW's obvious Rand/Galt-loving philosophy if in fact the truck had hit his car causing him to be gravely injured would I have been wrong to demand some form of payment BEFORE I tried to gave any aid? I mean since compassion is a weakness and Rand clearly states that selfishness is a virtue so Mr. BMW shouldn't have had a problem with me just exercising the very principles he believes in as his broken body bled all over the nice upholstery?
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Just when you think things can't get any weirder some new idiot crawls out from under their Medieval rock and starts spouting crazy religious crap. A government employee in Kentucky gets all holier-than-thou over gay marriage even though her own past history is littered with numerous white trailer-trash moments. A kid in Texas gets arrested for bringing a clock to school because he is Muslim. And now a kid is told he is one of the devil's minions because he writes with his left hand.
OKEMAH, Okla. -- A 4-year-old was allegedly forced by his teacher to write with his right hand, even though he’s left-handed.
The child was sent home with a letter about how left-handedness is often associated with evil and the devil.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
(Author's note: Doing Flash Fiction Fridays again, link over and read the other great stories.)
When he awoke and looked around, nothing in the room seemed familiar. Scott tried to remain calm and just waited for everything to come into focus. It had been years since the last transition and it always took time for his senses to adjust to how things had changed. Disappointment flooded through his mind as things became clearer. Scott had begun to hope the rift in space he had opened around himself in a foolish attempt to run away from his problems had finally healed letting him finally piece together a new life.
The new room was about the same size as the one he went to sleep in, that at least was a consistent pattern but the furnishings were radically different. The ornate Colonial American style dressing table, Chester drawers and night stands he had come to appreciate had been replaced with brightly colored, ultra modern looking equivalents that while functional seemed sterile and utilitarian. Even the bed he found himself was just a mattress laying on top of a box spring that was only slightly raised above a hardwood floor.
More importantly, Scott realized that from the looks of the disheveled bed sheets he, or more accurately, his counterpart had not slept alone the night before. Experience had long taught Scott that while he was alone he should try to figure out the type of person whose existence he had abruptly assumed.
After climbing out of bed, he quickly searched through the drawers of his nightstand, dresser, and open closet. In the process, he found a wallet with identification saying he was Scott Wilson Phillips of Los Angeles, California. That little bit of information was actually a huge relief, while patterns repeated across contrasting realities, occasionally he would drop into a completely different identity. Since he had the same name in this new existence there was a good chance he wouldn't have to relearn the basics of life and family history.
On a whim, he opened the curtains of the huge window that occupied one full wall of the bedroom and was greeted by bright sunlight and a gleaming city situated next the ocean. Wherever he was it didn't look like his Los Angeles or any of the others he had visited. The buildings he could see were mostly futuristic, organic-looking constructions made up of spheres and pyramidal structures all connected by an elevated mass transit system. On the ground, he could barely see the streets because of all the trees planted alongside. Where there were breaks in the foliage covering the roadway he saw small cars and people riding bikes.
“At least here they seemed to have beaten the problem with smog.” Scott said out loud to himself remembering the overwhelming level of pollution he had to deal with in the last reality.
A sound originating outside the bedroom pulled Scott's attention back to his immediate surroundings. Subconsciously feeling like a trespasser he quietly walked out of the bedroom careful not to make any noise. Just past the bedroom doorway was a small flight of stairs leading down to what looked like a living area with a couch and chairs. Again taking care not to announce his presence Scott slowly descended the stairs listening for any sounds that might give a hint of his current situation.
Reaching the bottom, he saw that the living room had the same utilitarian style as the bedroom above. The furniture was basic but comfortable and there was another huge window looking out at a different section of the city. The amazing view almost pulled Scott towards the window but another sound further off to his left reclaimed his complete attention. Hugging close to a small section of wall on his left he turned the corner and saw her.
“Amanda,” Scott gasped in bewilderment.
The beautiful blond woman, dressed in a loose t-shirt and yoga pants was standing at the kitchen counter buttering a piece of toast quickly turned around after hearing her name. “Hello sleepyhead,” she said rushing over to embrace Scott. “I was beginning to think you weren't going to ever wake up. You tossed and turned all night and there was one time I woke up and you seemed to have disappeared. I just assumed you went to the bathroom, so I turned over and went back to sleep. Just how did you make it to the bathroom without turning on the light?”
Scott just stood there looking into the face of his long dead wife. It was definitely Amanda he thought to himself, although graceful lines now played across her face signifying the fourteen years that had gone by in this reality. When Amanda had died in his reality she had been just twenty-five years old, and at her athletic prime.
“What's wrong Scott?” Amanda asked, “you look like you've seen a ghost.”
Scott longed to tell her the truth about everything but instead he pulled her close not wanting to ever let go. This Amanda's body was just as firm as he remembered his own wife's had been and it didn't take long for her to respond to his burning desire.
“Wait a minute baby,” she said pulling away, “I have hospital rounds this morning and you have some sort of presentation to give to your egghead physics buddies. As much as I would like to play hooky and make love all day we both have responsibilities.”
Scott just nodded sheepishly and let Amanda slip away to eat her breakfast. “You're right,” he said, “there are times I just can't seem to control myself around you.” He hesitated several seconds being careful to phrase his next question so his newly returned wife would not think he was going insane. “Amanda, I have forgotten most of the stuff I'm supposed to do today. Where did I put my schedule keeper?”
“Oh God,” she said in dismay, “you'd forget your own head if it wasn't attached to your neck. Your data planner is on the desk by the couch.
Feeling he had dodged a bullet, Scott walked back into the living room and found what looked to him to be a normal computer tablet laying on the desk. Before he could reach down to pick it up a face appeared on the screen. “Hello Dr. Phillips,” the voice attached to the pleasant but clearly computer-generated face said, “I am ready to assist you today.”
“Please show me my schedule,” Scott said hoping it would be easy to gain access to his counterpart's files.
“What is the password doctor.” The artificial face asked him back.
“Oh not again,” Amanda said from the kitchen, “just use the retina scan override, you'll be all day trying to guess your password.”
The retina scan procedure took only a few seconds and with his computer assistant now believing Scott was his counterpart he had total access to that man's data. A few minutes later Scott had reviewed his counterpart's schedule and was sure he could pass himself off as the other man.
“One word of warning Dr. Phillips,” the tablet said, “until you re-institute protection firewalls, anyone can access the data in my files or listen to incoming calls.”
“That's fine,” Scott said placing the device back on the desk, “I'll take care of that later.” He then ran back upstairs to shower and get ready for the day. Scott could not believe how fate had smiled on him and he decided right then to drop all his research and find a way to make sure he never left this reality.
Twenty minutes later Scott returns to the living room to see Amanda sitting on the couch holding his computer tablet with tears rolling down her eyes. “You lied to me, you bastard!” She screamed at him. “You said there was nothing between you two and I believed it!”
Without another word Amanda handed Scott the tablet after triggering it to play back a recorded video call he received just minutes before.
“Hello Scotty,” a brunette woman said from the screen, “I've made our reservations for the resort down in Acapulco for next month. It starts the day after your wife leaves for the conference in London and ends two days before she get back. I can't wait to see you for lunch today.”
Scott lowered the tablet and looked back at his wife. She now held a small pistol in her hand and was taking aim at the center of his chest. Before he could say anything Amanda pulled the trigger and he fell to the floor feeling the blood flowing out from the chest wound.
As Scott's life slipped away he had time to think of the cosmic joke associated with his existence. It had been his rage at the discovery that his own Amanda was having an affair with another man that caused him to murder her. Overwhelmed with guilt, he later rushed to his laboratory and climbed inside an experimental quantum phase inverter that was supposed to painlessly scramble all his atoms into nothingness, instead it deposited him in an alternate reality.
A few seconds before Scott died he realized this was a fitting but ultimately ironic end to all his journeys.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
My first introduction to the study of history came from my high school world history teacher, Mr. Ron Edgerton. Before that the very concept of history was at best a hazy amalgamation of rumor, group assumptions, and bias opinions that were at times so flawed as to be almost comical. Mr. Edgerton introduced to me not only the organized study of history but the realization that you could always delve deeper into the details to understand the underlining causes to events that shaped the sad comedy of human civilization.
Conversely and veering slightly off on a tangent, I also learned from him that while I should appreciate the loser's viewpoint of history it would be dangerously misguided to build a worldview from such opinions. From there you can start believing such ludicrous ideas that the Confederacy, Nazi Germany, and Soviet Russia were honorable creations and begin making numerous excuses for their monstrous behaviors. In other words, history's losers more often than not have a huge axe to grind about their lost cause and will go to extreme measures to twist and even create facts out of whole cloth to muddy the already murky waters of history and justify present day actions.
Getting back on point, it was in Mr. Edgerton's class that I began to learn the ancient Rome Empire didn't fall in the year 476 AD. This greatly simplified statement runs counter even now to the many movies, books, and cheaply made documentaries that suggest all civilization ended with the reported death of the “last” Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, in the year 476 AD.
But in Mr. Edgerton's class way hack in the early 1980's I learned that in an effort to stave off collapse and recover from a long period of civil war and barbarian invasions the Roman Empire had long since split itself into two separate parts. The Western Roman Empire centered not on Rome but the Italian city of Ravenna. And the Eastern Roman Empire which made the already ancient Greek colony city of Byzantium its capital changing the name to Constantinople after the death of that emperor in 337 AD.
It turns out that Romulus Augustus, nominally thought of as the last western emperor, was overthrown by a barbarian-soldier named Odoacer who represented himself as the client of a guy named Julius Nepo, who the Eastern Roman Emperor Leo 1 had appointed emperor of the west in 474. Turns out the young but unlucky Romulus Augustus was put on the western throne by his daddy, a guy named Orestes, which forced Julius Nepo to flee Italy. After the death of Nepo, Odoacer continued his rule of Italy under the authority of the eastern emperor using the title of patrician but is referred to as king in many official documents and was known to use the title himself several times.
With that history refresher out of the way I recently stumbled across a book on Amazon offering up the idea that what truly did in the western empire and later the eastern portion was not all the standard reasons all too briefly touched on in American schools but agents of the Roman Empire themselves.
Entitled The Ruin of the Roman Empire by James J. O'Donnell, the author makes the case that all those nasty illegal aliens...I'm sorry, I mean barbarians were in fact often times far more Roman than the cloistered and pompous men who never traveled beyond sight of their palaces in Constantinople.
To prove his point O”Donnell uses Theodoric the Great as his best example. Born in 454 AD, the son of a Germanic nobleman, Theodoric grew up as a hostage in Constantinople--this was done so his dad and people wouldn't do anything that might endanger the eastern empire—but while he was held Theodoric received a first rate education. It wasn't until his eighteenth birthday that Theodoric was returned home but his years living in Constantinople didn't stop him pillaging provinces of the eastern empire and even threatening the capital itself.
In an attempt to buy off the raiding barbarian the eastern emperor Zeno sent him west to Italy to kill Odoacer, the guy who may or may not have killed off Romulus Augustus. See, not only did Zeno want Theodoric out of his hair, Odoacer had supported one of Zeno's rivals for the eastern throne and this in effect killed two birds with one stone. On a little bit of a side note, never one to ask someone to do a job he wouldn't do, Theodoric actually killed Odoacer with his own sword after tricking the guy to come to a banquet to celebrate a treaty saying the two would rule Italy jointly. After that messy business was accomplished Theodoric settled his own people in Italy and founded an Ostrogothic kingdom based in Ravenna.
Unlike Odoacer though, Theodoric actually respected the agreement to act as Italian viceroy for Constantinople even though he avoided imperial supervision and treated the emperor as an equal. Nevertheless, under the reign of Theodoric, Italy had the longest period of peace and prosperity in centuries. He respected and upheld Roman law for the Roman population throughout his territory although he he did not allow intermarriage between Romans and Goths.
Like I mentioned earlier, while history normally says that the western empire fell in 476 AD, it was far less an actual collapse of civilization and more of it being broken up into mangled pieces. The numerous suicidal civil wars of the Third Century, initial barbarian invasions, and breakdown of internal trade generally shredded the structure of Roman life in western Europe to the point it was many centuries would pass before it even approached what it was before. Also, while the city of Rome had been sacked several times and was certainly dying, life did go on with surviving aristocratic families throughout the Italian peninsula still being appointed to fill senate and consuls positions. Although these appointments were strictly local, not imperial governments, that bird had long since flown and was now residing in Constantinople.
To his credit starting with Odoacer and even more so with Theodoric the various pieces of a badly damaged society started to come back together. Theodoric played the game of enforcing civil authority successfully by observing the old Roman traditions of religious tolerance, higher learning, and allowing the circus to continue. O'Donnell goes further to say that it wasn't just Theodoric's kingdom in Italy that was stitching a damaged civilization back together it was the Vandals in Africa and the Visigoths in Provence and Spain as well. The author makes the case that this barbarian-inspired recovery was well on its way to creating a kind of greater Roman “commonwealth” that could have possibly short-circuited a thousand years of darkness.
Personally, I found that aspect of O'Donnell's book a bit too optimistic. The Roman Humpty Dumpty was shattered mess and while I am only fifty, it seems human shortsightedness and even delusion wins out in most circumstances. It didn't really matter anyway, because the eastern emperor Justinian 1 was about to take the imperial stage and to grossly paraphrase a well known statement, he was going to burn the village down in order to save it.
Another aspect of late Roman civilization that seem to escape modern Christians is that in 380 AD the Emperor Theodosius 1 made it the state religion. Not to cast my usual stones, I known people who believe the Roman Empire worshiped their borrowed Greek gods right up until the end. They assume this is one of the reasons the Roman Empire fell, along with their acceptance of homosexuality in daily life and other decadent behaviors that brought them down.
That being said the young Christian religion went through some complicated growing pains. Several factions arose debating various mundane ideas about the nature of Christ. All these factions like Chalcedonian, Nestorianism, Arian, Miaphysitism, and many others eventually started playing the political game, which as usual with religions got incredibly nasty. Nothing challenges the very idea of human intelligence greater that a group of fools debating whether or not god likes certain rituals and gets pissed off at others.
But when Justinian became emperor of the eastern empire in 527 AD he made it his personal goal to reunite all of the Roman world under his control whether the various peoples liked it or not. One of the ways he was going to reunite everyone was the imposition of his brand of Christianity on everyone.
By 527 AD the eastern empire had largely recovered, mainly through the efforts of the Emperor Anastasius 1 who reformed the tax system and placed the imperial coinage back on a firm footing. He was so successful that by the end of his reign the eastern empire was playing with substantial surplus. The Emperor Justin 1 came next but the main accomplishment during his reign appears that he kept the seat warm for his nephew without screwing up too much. Whether that was a good or bad thing depends on if you believe history might have taken a different path with his successor having to wait a little longer for his chance to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the imperial geo-political situation.
Justinian comes in next with a “with us or against us” dream of recapturing the western portions of the Roman Empire and begins a long series of wars to do just that. In spite of it all Justinian is successful to a point reconquering most of north Africa, parts of Spain, and all of Italy. However the cost is so great he bankrupts the empire and O'Donnell quite frankly states that Justinian's insistence on religious unification, or synchronization (my word) so totally alienates the populations of the Middle East and North Africa that when the Arabs arrive several decades later they essentially don't really care who rules them.
Making the situation even more tragically funny, O'Donnell points out that all the western territory Justinian worked so hard to reclaim was to a great extent worthless. Far too much money and personnel were going to occupy lands that were either utterly destroyed from the wars of reconquest, in the case or Italy, or largely empty. Throwing more fuel on the unsustainable fire, the bumbling Justinian goes to war with the Sassanid Empire of Persia and has to deal with a new series of invasions on his Balkan frontier. Adding an extra helping of bitter icing on an already calamitous cake the eastern empire has to deal with a series of natural disasters from plagues, famines, and earthquakes from the 530's to early 550's.
O'Donnell rightly points out that Justinian should have just reinforced his frontiers, made nice with the Persian Emperor, left everyone to believe in god like they wanted, and all together just stayed in bed. It doesn't take long to figure out that the author despises Justinian and although his Highness did do a few thing right during his reign, it's hard to disagree with O'Donnell's basic attitude concerning the Bush-like emperor.
O'Donnell's closing point is that civilizations are fragile things that should be carefully nourished with both intelligence and tolerance. For any leader, rushing into situations like the proverbial bull in the china shop in an attempt to remake the world in their image has never proved a good idea in the long run. Countless empires sit atop history's dustbin because they refused to evolve with the times. The only problem with empires that refuse to adapt is that when they pass away like some elderly but vicious dinosaur they usually take a bunch of innocent victims with them.
The Ruin of the Roman Empire is not a perfect book for numerous reasons. I've read other reviews and many take issue with O'Donnell's basic thesis that the barbarians could have saved greater Roman civilization. Others, like me, found his sudden jumping around historical dates and places irritating. But I still very much enjoyed the book and highly recommend it for people who have a basic understanding of Roman history. And for that I still have to thank Mr. Ron Edgerton for everything his taught me.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
So, it has come to this. Not that the death of an innocent child is anything new, it's been going on since one of our ancestors first felt the need to eliminate anyone that became inconvenient. But things are different now, right? Our respective monotheistic religions, supposedly advancements over primitive pagan beliefs, teach us to love and care for each other. The general idea, or rule, being that we should treat others like we would hope to be treated.
But the all to ugly reality is that all our religions are just clever facades that have far less to do with compassion and caring for our fellow human beings but are more of a way to disguise our fear of death and excuse our own moral failings. From numerous personal observations nothing brings on a "coming to Jesus moment" like a possible brush with death. The other favorite for many religious types is to use religion as a divinely inspired "get out of jail free cared." Get caught doing something sinful, like many politicians and reality television stars, just start hitting the social media circuit claiming that you have prayed to god asking for forgiveness and you're good to go. More than likely you're still have enough ignorant followers to retain at least a semi-lucrative career in politics or the media. Don't believe me, just look up the current history of the Appalachian Trail walking former governor of South Carolina and current United States congressman, Mark Sanford.
Yes, there are truly decent and honest people of all faiths who work hard to make the world a better place. But honestly, they seem outnumbered by those who use religion to advance their own personal, ethnic, tribal, or national agendas.
More to the point, a little boy drowned and washed up on a beach because various geopolitical realities made his plight inconvenient. It all starts with a petty piss ant dictator who is so disparate to cling to power he and his cronies pursue a policy of slaughtering their own people. Then comes all the countries surrounding the one where that little boy was born with most of them overwhelmingly practicing the same religion as that dead child's family. What the hell are they doing to prove the validity of their faith? What the hell are they doing to prove Islam is the religion of peace!?! I don't see any of them lifting a damn finger! Every one of these refugees are fleeing to not to the east but the infidel West.
Then comes the good people of Europe, with the shadow of centuries of monstrous behavior still looming over their countries, they bumble about squawking over what they can't do, pointing fingers at each other claiming their neighbors should do more. The dirty little secret that pervades this lack of organized relief is that many in the Western nations have a fear of being overwhelmed by dirty illegal aliens that will pollute their lily white gene pools.
I'm not leaving out the major powers for special condemnation, especially Russia who just can't seem to push their boy Assad to do the right thing and put a loaded pistol to his head and pull the trigger. Russia is far too busy nursing old national physiological wounds dealing with their asses being massively kicked in the Cold War. The Russians just can't accept that their national power play for global domination failed miserably, now they've got to invade every little country surrounding them to nurse their wounded egos. They so want to remain a major power on the world scene playing the role of spoiler trying to get some sort of revenge on the United States any way possible. This unfortunately included the possibility of starting the Third World War.
But then again, since the United States rode into Iraq back in 2003 on a full fledged god-ordained crusade the entire Middle East has gone up in flames creating some truly horrific monsters. So in many ways they hold a huge chunk of the blame for that little boy washing up on a beach. Of course the truly sad fact in this is that a majority of Americans either don't comprehend what was done in their name in the Middle East or simply don't care. American freedoms these days revolve around our ability to stay completely self-absorbed watching our big screen televisions. The rest of the human race is some abstract concept that we can't be bothered with because we're "exceptional."
In the end what does the death of a few refugees matter, even small children? Give it a few months and our collective attention span, or lack of one, will have us back pursuing our own selfish agendas while believing god smiles down on all our actions. Because far too many of us believe we can be as big a douchebag as we want and all we have to do to wipe the heavenly slate clean is whisper a small prayer and then carry on as usual.