Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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The World
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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Thursday, October 04, 2001
I watched parts of the Boston Bruins season opener. Boston won 4 to 2 over the Anaheim Might Ducks. Samsonov and Kariya (two players I like to watch) scored. Before the game, Ray Bourque's number was retired. He gave a wonderful speech of gratitude, and my favorite part was hearing him speak his (clearly) native Canadian French: "Merci, Montreal!"

Wednesday, October 03, 2001
I had lunch today with Mike Huben, a former work colleague. He and I hashed out the issues regarding Osama bin Laden, and the events of September 11. He told me "what we should do in the Arab third-world": implement a Marshall Plan. Mike's idea is a way to cut off terrorism at the root: by providing funding to create secular schools so that children aren't left destitute, and susceptible to being funneled into radical fundamentalist groups like Al Qaeda. Just like the United States funded work, housing, and food for Europe after World War II, we could "prop" up the Arab third-world's children, and give them real choices.

(I worried to Mike whether this would involve puppet goverments, exactly the kinds of things that got America into trouble before. And he agreed that this is one of the problems with Arab countries: it's hard to find good non-religious goverment infrastructure in place to receive this plan.)

When I brought up my thoughts on trying to 'negotiate' with Al Qaeda, trying to understand their hatred towards us, he asked me plainly: Could the United States have negotiated with Timothy McVeigh?

There is evil in the world, evil people, people that cannot be rational, people who cannot and will not and do not see 'our side'. Diplomacy with these people is impossible. All we can do is mitigate the effects of these people. And perhaps put in place systems that prevent evil from growing within people.

As a fan of Stephen Covey and Phil McGraw, I know that the only person I can change is me. But I also know as a new parent that the one person I can most influence is my baby. And by extension, the best thing we as a nation can do is raise good children.

I like to think people can change. But I doubt Osama bin Laden will be turning over a new leaf anytime soon. He's committed to perpetrating these vicious acts, so that he can influence and gain followers. We didn't seek to change Mr. McVeigh. We executed him. But we can change our kids. And this seems to me to get at the core problem.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001
I watched Scrubs tonight, and it was really funny.

Sunday, September 30, 2001
Buried in all our news about our war with Osama bin Laden was the horrific piece about a lone gunman who rampaged into an assembly meeting in Zug, Switzerland. He blasted away with a pistol, and other assault weapons, killing at least 14 people, injuring others, and then killing himself. Stunning.

Also reported in the Boston Globe, but not really 'mainstream' news: there are too many blood donors, but the Red Cross is taking advantage of eager donors to stock pile blood.

And again: there are too many funerals and wakes as a result of the terrorist attacks; Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and others in the fire department cannot attend all the ceremonies for all the men. Giuliani commented he rarely failed to attend the wake/funeral of a civial employee, and has asked the public to attend.

Gary Gilmore committed two murders in Utah in 1976. He was sentenced to the death penalty, but threw the state of Utah and the nation into turmoil when he decided not to appeal his sentence.

Norman Mailer won the 1980 Pulizter Prize in Fiction for The Executioner's Song. When I bought this book in June, I was eager to start reading it. He was 'a great author' I had wanted to read, especially Of a Fire on the Moon, which he wrote about the Apollo Space Missions.

It's an awe-inspiring book. 1000 pages devoted to Gary Gilmore, his crime, his trial, and his punishment. Along the way, Mr. Mailer paints portraits of Gilmore's family, the lawyers, judges, prison wardens, and media 'hounds' who would seek to profit from the 'rights' to Gilmore's story.

I didn't know Gary Gilmore was a real person. The Pulitzer Prize category this book won was 'fiction', but I didn't know that either. The book felt like fiction, a very rich fiction. However, as the details of the trial emerged, I began to realize this was based on very real events. About a month into the book, I avoided entering 'Gary Gilmore' into Google, because I was afraid to find out 'how it ended'.

After finishing this book, I'm suprised there was no mention of him during the execution of Timothy McVeigh.

If you don't want to know what happened, stop reading now!

The Gary Gilmore Memorial Society took pictures of themselves in the manner in which the execution took place.

Has Gary Gilmore's death stopped any murders? Has Gary's nearly pertpetual incarceration throughout his young adulthood contributed to his murderous acts? Why do some women find themselves attracted to such a flawed person?

I wonder about these questions, as they seem to be the major themes in his book. However, there are many alleys into which Mailer ventures.

I found myself marveling at the 'system' of appeals, and the role of lawyers and judges, con-men, and informants. I learned about how only a few people really get to the heart of a story, and that 'the rest of the media' fight over the same piece of news. I read the life of the victims, and found out that they were good people, good Mormons, who probably didn't deserve this death. And I read about the executioners, and what exactly did they do after the sentence.

On Amazon, one reviewer claimed that they read it twice. I'm not sure if I could. Another reader claimed that they would never part with it. Definitely.