Saturday, December 19, 2009

On Top of the World

When he was young sitting above the family garage in a place affectionately called the Ham Shack what happened there enthralled him. There, young Bryan listening to a conversation spanning the great distance from the bottom of the earth to North America, by way of the ionosphere reflecting signals of a certain frequency and wires across the land to a family member and back. Until tuned just right it sounded like those flightless birds, ducks.

Another time in the Ham Shack, this time alone he noticed these strange sounds all over the short wave dial. They sounded like power saws cutting through heterogenous wood fiber. When he was told this was the Russians jamming broadcasts from the free world it seemed quite reasonable. After all, in the '50s there was the ever present threat of nuclear confrontation. Upon learning sometime much later that these were actually encrypted digital messages from our own military to operations in the field, the significance of this legend hinted at something very profound.

When war (cold or hot) is most important nearly everything is interpreted in terms of weapon or threat, who do you trust and when and so forth. Remarkably, many who oppose war under any circumstances rationalize that 'them' must be those who do not see it that way and are therefore ... a threat.

So this thrashing around to find a formula for determining right and wrong seems vaguely futile. As if the Universe would stand still for a moment so we could derive that magic formula from static data.

But the very language that could explicitly communicate this timeless truth to an appropriate audience did not and as nearly as he could tell, still does not exist. That is, as they say, the situation. And the one that brought him here.

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