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Stateside with Rosalea: Pass The Envelope Please

Stateside with Rosalea

Pass The Envelope Please

"Math Instructor. 2 month assignment on US Navy ship at sea. Immediate openings. Masters Degree in Math required. Central Texas College, San Diego." Try telling me THAT's not scary! It's an ad currently on the San Francisco Chronicle's website Perhaps they'd like a vocab instructor too: "Dejectory" - an emotional state brought on by seeing the shell/bomb you programmed blow up your own supply line because you didn't do your sums right. Oh well, so long as it's not the supply line to the US Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego Bay - people might mistake your mistake for a terrorist attack on the Coronado Bridge.

Not that I am mocking the men and women of the armed forces. They're only doing what they've been told and trained to do - it's just a little scary that they're learning on the job, so to speak. And of course there is the train of thought that they're just being used by two spoiled rich kids playing out their childhood fantasies of world domination. "When Millionaires Fight, Who Dies?" asked the pamphlet I was given a couple of weeks ago. The pamphlet went on to point out that bin Laden is a multi-millionaire and Bush is a multi-millionaire and they're fighting over who should have control over Saudi Arabian oil resources, but who's going to die in the process? For the United States it will be working class youth in the armed forces - mainly blacks and Latinos.

Those of us on the home front are experiencing the feeling a child might have when beloved, comforting parents (Sanity and Reason) go out for the night and leave us in the care of the babysitters from hell (the Bush Administration). When they're not leaning heavily against the wardrobe door saying: No, no, there are no monsters in here - go to sleep! they're rushing back into your bedroom just as you've finally drifted off, shouting: Monsters! Monsters under the bed! Prisoners of war subjected to interrogatory methods that include alternate niceness and savage beatings probably fare better.

But hey. It's Emmy Awards night on Sunday - thanks to a nice little chat the White House had with CBS and a change of producer - so I predict something nice will happen this weekend. The bombing will stop maybe. So sure of that was I a couple of weeks ago at a talk on the history of Afghanistan that when the lecturer said he didn't know when the bombing would stop, I nearly yelled out: On November 4 - I read it in the entertainment pages! After all, the Bush Administration is nothing if not prime time.

So, here's my entry for the Emmy Award for Best Not-Yet-Made for Television Movie.

Far away in a distant galaxy a civilisation whose technology is far in advance of Earth's is planning to attack the Lonely Planet and sends an advance party, which is detected on the outer edges of the Milky Way. NASA alerts the President who immediately puts into action a long-standing plan to move his administration up to the space station, only it isn't finished yet, so he has to tell the Russians about the danger so they can work together to prepare the liferaft in time.

As the threat gets closer, NASA discovers that the primary weapon the aliens have is a gravity booster, which will simply suck the space station down to earth anyway. Furthermore the Chinese have now discovered what's happening and threaten to tell an as-yet-unsuspecting world of the danger, so the US agrees to ship some technology to its former foe so it can help with the urgent task of creating a successful counter-weapon. In order not to arouse the suspicions of the public, an elaborate spy-plane drama is played out, in which the Chinese down a surveillance plane and strip it of the vital technology and information they need to collaborate on the project.

Bored yet? Yes you're right, it needs a little love interest. I forgot to mention the young woman having an affair with a member of the House intelligence committee. Inadvertently she discovers that a plan has been hatched to put the world on high alert, without the real reason for that high alert being revealed. A plane will be flown into the Pentagon in the spot where it has just recently been strengthened and is fairly empty of workers and blame will be immediately placed on a terrorist group "capable of anything, at any time, anywhere in the world". Her lover races to warn a stentorian White House staffer who is reliving the glory days of his youth, and the young woman disappears without a trace that very day.

Alas and alack! The terrorists are more cunning than the planners realised. They hi-jack not one but four planes and have flown two more into the Twin Towers before the befuddled White House staffer realises it and gets the fourth plane shot down. BUT... all is not lost. The two burning buildings are the ideal place for researchers to test the gravity-booster machine they've been working on in order to understand how to neutralise its effects. Hurriedly they race the gadgets - no bigger than a computer mouse - to the basement of the buildings and set them off.

Oh gosh. You've lost interest again, haven't you. We need a hero. Hell, let's not be mingy - let's have a couple of hundred heroes. Let's have them carefully removing debris and manfully refusing - with their fists - any effort to ban them from the site as they get closer and closer to where they'll find the telltale evidence of the gravity-booster machine. The heroes must be stopped because it is essential for the public's sake that panic on a large scale doesn't occur without first having all the necessary public health and law enforcement agencies in place to deal with both the panic and the attack. From aliens. From another galaxy. Remember that?

Okay. So maybe it could be a miniseries. Maybe I could stick to my day job. Maybe I could move into vocab rehab full-time: "minISeries" - the emotional state of feeling miserable all the time because of what you've seen on television; "PipeLINEistan" - any one of several similarly named nations of interest to Russia, China and US/UK.
Lea Barker
Saturday, 3 November 2001

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