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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homage to the Nuclear Weapon

God bless you,
(I think),
You kept the peace,
For forty-five years,
World wide peace,
You were our tool,
Your threat of white heat,
Kept us off the edge of
With MAD,
We carried you everywhere,
In the air,
On the sea,
Under the sea,
Under ground,
Over land,
We protected you,
As we protected
Nothing else,
You were our magic
Touchstone of safety,
Our ultimate security blanket,
Whose security was
Whose safety might turn on us,
In the flash of the
Now you've become a leper,
Over bred,
Your power unwelcome,
Desired only by your
Fellow lepers,
But you're done,
(I think).

Giving Away My Sextant

There was a time,
When celestial navigation,
Was a most
Necessary art,
Those of us
Who practiced it,
Might smile,
For those who didn't,
Looked upon us,
As practitioners,
Of a nearly black art,
We kind of liked it that way,
We shot six stars morning,
And evening,
Two sun lines,
And the ever useful
Local apparent noon,
Lots to do,
Even when we had
Some crude 'lectronic aids,
Then they put those artificial stars
Up in the heavens:
No more need for a clear sky,
No more worries about steady decks,
Worried 'bout your nav gear breaking?
Buy two or three pocket spares,
Drop your sextant?
You've got trouble,
Drop your pocket GPS?
It's got a rubber case,
And you've got two more,
Ocean navigation is no longer
A black art,
Not that it ever really was,
Old friend,
Follow my film camera,
Into the sunset.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

St. Elmo's Fire

Sea state three,
Just to give the ship
A little roll,
Don't set that cup down,
Unless it's one
With rubber on the bottom,
And a big fat base,
Gliding along,
Under low clouds,
That hide a bright full moon,
With the hint of a storm
Coming on,
The bosun reports,
All lights are bright lights,
But urges you
To the bridge wing,
Where you see it,
It dances about the mast,
Wreathes the antennas,
It is a power,
Out of your control,
St. Elmo's fire,
A dancing electrical specter,
A mysterious visitor,
It slips away as it arrived,
You may never see it again,
You might never have seen it
At all,
The rumor was,
It didn't exist,
Now you know,
Don't you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Model Of Morals For Modern Times

What would a model
Of morality look like?
Is it executable?

Would it require justice for all?
Who would define justice?
Would economic justice require
That a man have what he wants,
Or what he thinks he needs,
Or what I think he needs?
Assuming that I am qualified to think
Such thoughts.
For others might seek to delegitimize me.
How might we profitably fight over it?

Everyone should have justice,
Even if they don't understand truth.
We'll define truth for them.
If they don't like it, we'll arrest them as an enemy
Of good order and discipline,
Or a blasphemer,
Or a heretic.
For truth and justice are necessary in a moral state.

Should a man be permitted,
To send a man's son,
To fight and die,
If he hasn't done the same,
Or hasn't sent his own son?
The answer should be obvious,
But the proof,
By experience,
Is missing,
Or in error.
Combat in defense of
Another's country,
Carries tenuous moral baggage.
If another's country is important,
Send your own son,
To defend it.

Is food a right?
Who should be forced to grow it,
And how much
Should they be forced to give?
The UN World Food Program
Will tell you the moral level.
So they can feed it to folk,
Being starved by
This year's members of the
UN Human Rights Council.

Here's a 21st century concept,
Let's rehydrate Darfurians,
So that we can starve them again
When they become South Sudanese.
That gives us more weapons sales
For the Chinese.
More work for UN food bureaucrats,
More feel good giving for western ninnies.

Now that's a moral stance.
It's a trick of metaphysics,
To decouple morality
From Human rights.
That's an executable model,
What curious Algorithms it must employ.
No one else could.

Friday, July 15, 2011

En Route St. John's

The sea's grown calm,
Just two days out,
The ice is in our wake,
We're thinking of a
Run ashore,
We've earned it,
Six days through
The sea smoke,
Ice bergs,
Bergy bits,
All the usual debris
Of travel in these parts,
Now the only debris,
Pods of whales,
Folks pay to see them,
We get paid to see 'em,
Sort of,
It's been a long cruise,
But still,
We are getting paid,
In the morning,
We'll give the ship
A bath,
And get ready for
A real reward,
There's got to be
Some reward,
For vigilance,
And boredom
All across the pond,
And there is a reward,
There'll be Newfie merchants
On the jetty,
Bringing to us,
Barrels of...
They don't have much,
In Newfie Land,
But lobsters they've got,
An over supply,
We'll being 'em home,
Steamed and frozen,
Ready to eat,
And while we're here,
Perhaps a little beer,
A reward for not hitting
A single whale,
Let's keep the Navigator sober,
Insurance that he miss
Sable Island,
On the next leg south,
After all,
It's the last leg home.
And so,
St. John's,
Not a garden spot,
But good enough,
To be the last stop.