mad drunk genius

I used to have all sorts of problems. Now there's just the one.

Republicans’ Osama

A cat is placed in a sealed box. Attached to the box is an apparatus containing a radioactive atomic nucleus and a canister of poison gas. This apparatus is separated from the cat in such a way that the cat can in no way interfere with it. The experiment is set up so that there is exactly a 50% chance of the nucleus decaying in one hour. If the nucleus decays, it will emit a particle that triggers the apparatus, which opens the canister and kills the cat. If the nucleus does not decay, then the cat remains alive.

In quantum mechanics, this thought experiment devised by the physicist Erwin Schrodinger to illustrate the seeming paradox of superposition, possible realities existing simultaneously. Inside the box, the cat is both alive and dead, until the observer opens the box and sees either a living or dead kitty.

There’s obviously more to it than that, but quantum mechanics makes my head asplode, and it’s only here for the foundational purposes of my comparison, anyway.

See, Osama bin Laden is in the news again for being dead, and a friend of mine made the comment, “Osama is the Republican version of Schrodinger’s cat”, referring to the above thought experiment, of course.

Beyond just being witty, I found it to an incredibly succinct way of describing the complex relationship conservatives in this country have with bin Laden. As much as he is an enemy ofAmerica, he is a powerful friend of its conservatives.

I don’t mean that in the dastardly, conspiratorial way it may come across. Rather, I mean that for all of the enmity that surely exists between Republicans and Osama, they do a great job of helping one another out. Bush’s poll numbers have never been higher than they were immediately after 9/11/2001, and in the 2004 elections, national security was the big win for Republicans across the country. When people feel threatened by an external threat, the current hawkish conservative government is comforting. And of course for bin Laden, despite the infrastructure of al-Qaeda surely damaged by military efforts against it, you have to imagine enrollment is at an all time high considering the amount of U.S. involvement in the Middle East right now.

Osama bin Laden is good for Republican business, and again I mean this in a strictly political sense, not a conspiratorial one. I’m sure almost everyone on both sides genuinely hates the other, but Democrats do not benefit from a terror threat in the days leading up to an election the way Republicans have and do.

The problem is, as great a face to put on terrorism as he is and as winnable  a goal as killing him seems to be, Osama not being dead after five years of trying makes us look impotent. Combined with continuing problems in Iraq and Afghanistan, not getting him makes it appear like we haven’t accomplished anything at all.

Which is why he’s dead right now. Osama’s dead, and that’s progress. A great blow struck against terrorism and justice for the thousands of American lives he took. It feels really good for a while, but unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t last. Because it becomes quickly apparent that terrorism is still continuing without him and his death does absolutely nothing to win our war on terror. Now terrorism is a faceless, unstoppable phenomenon, and hell, that’s depressing. Osama’s death is a positive, but an extremely temporary one.

So he’s also still alive right now. In fact, as long as we never “look inside the cave”, Republicans are able to play up both advantages as needed. When an audio tape promises more attacks on Americans, that’s proof we can’t let our guards down and in fact need to be more vigilant. When (unconfirmed) reports of bin Laden’s death reach news agencies, we get to feel good about it and feel like we’re safer, that we have won something as a result of our pressure on him in Afghanistan. The feeling fades, but in the short term, it’s quite beneficial.

I know what you’re thinking. First, it’s entirely possible to play up the negatives and use this all against Republicans. Second, people will surely grow tired of continued fake reports of bin Laden’s death and they’ll become ineffective.

But I’ll remind you that Republicans are quantum politicians, and the American attention span is hardly long enough to get us through commercials on television. After all, do you remember the last time bin Laden was reported to be dead, if you remember he was reported dead before at all?

The good news is bin Laden is barely hitting 50. We have a solid 30 more years of this ahead of us, if we can restrain our curiosity that long. Because that would kill the cat.

It’s over

He loved me. I really believe that, even after all that’s happened, I will continue to believe he loved me. I loved him, too, not that that ever mattered to him. I indulged him, and that was what made him love me. But then I never cared why he did, only that he did.

I don’t believe there is another person like him anywhere. He would always say the oddest things, where they came from I certainly don’t know. In conversations, once a topic would finish, he would bring up another widely divergent to the one just discussed, or make some comment relative to absolutely nothing I could ever discern. That was one of the things I loved about him, but it also showed how he was always in his own little world.

That was okay, though. I was willing to put up with him to be a part of that world, even when he did nothing to show he appreciated it. I had my life to live and he had his, but I was the one who had to bridge the gap. Maybe I should have made him reach out to me more, but I don’t think it really would have changed anything.

When we met, it was the same. He was eating alone and I sat down across from him. He looked up, blinked twice, and smiled with that smooth grin I came to be so familiar with.

“Hello,” I said, “I hope you don’t mind if I eat with you.”

“I’m used to eating alone, but no, company is always welcome. My name is James.”

“I’m Alex,” I said, “Nice to meet you.”

The rest of the conversation I don’t remember, except that he had an abhorrence for jewelry which wasn’t practical or significant, including his class ring as an example of significance, but nothing related to religion. I’m not sure why I remember this part of the conversation, except that it’s an example of the typical subjects and opinions that would come from his mouth, with little or no prodding.

I wasn’t smitten, but I was entertained. He, I think, enjoyed having a receptive audience.

We hit it off immediately, but it was another week before we actually got together again. Another week and a half after that before we even considered dating. After considering it, it wasn’t long before we were actually doing it, though. We went out often, eating, drinking, even shopping. We were always happy together, but the first few months were bliss. We were always just happy to see one another and be in the same room together. It was a special event, and being apart seemed to be torture.

I suppose it’s not surprising moving in with him was what changed everything. I’m still glad for the next two years I had with him, but those first months are probably the only part of our relationship worth remembering. Once we were living together, being with one another obviously wasn’t special anymore. Even sleeping together became a routine, rather than exciting or romantic. We shared duties around the house, alternated cooking when we were both home for dinner at the same time, and were partners in the way two people are supposed to be, but it wasn’t a partnership. Once I moved into his place, I was his. He had conquered me and I was no longer his audience, I was his possession.

The spats happened as they will between couples, with rising and falling frequency, but the general trend was for fights to become worse and more common. I spent the night with friends on more than one occasion, promising them and myself that I was going to get all of my stuff and go somewhere else. But then there would be the apologies and the promises that everything would be different and back like it was before. We both believed what we said because we loved one another, and loved the way things were during the good times.

I don’t even remember how the last fight started. It was something small. Hair on the soap or something trivial and cliche like that. It escalated until we were talking about things that had happened a year before and bringing up every negative aspect of the relationship. The usual name calling took place, and I stormed out, off to spend the night with one of my friends who I hadn’t used yet.

He ended the relationship for us by putting all of my things outside for me to find when I came back the next day. If he hadn’t, we’d probably still be together.

It wasn’t a healthy relationship by any means, but he made me happy in a way no one else has since. For all of his cruelty and selfishness, he could be charming and funny and tender, too. I prefer to remember those things about him.

James moved on, too, and I hear about him every now and then. His first love has always been himself, so I’m not surprised he hasn’t done any better than I have.

It’s not a surprise that we didn’t last, but a part of me still can’t believe it’s over.