Yesterday, the morning was just filled with all sorts of news. From Obama and his agreement with Medvedev to reduce arms, and more importantly to let the U.S. move arms over Russia directly to Afghanistan, to a hotdog eating contest where a man ate 68 hotdogs in 10 minutes! Then there were the terrible ethnic riots in China, killing over 140 people, the news about Defense Chief McNamara's death, and the horrible monorail accident.
I stopped to comment on each of these stories as I read them - except the hotdogs. My son and I just had a good laugh about that one. I mean how does anybody eat 68 hotdogs period, much less in 10 minutes. It's grotesque.
The news about Obama's progress with Medvedev however was a little more relevant. While the reduction in nuclear arms can be seen as progress to some, I wonder what the world is thinking as the U.S. systematically dismantles its military bases, reduces its personnel, and reduces its defensive capabilities at a time when countries like Iran and North Korea are not only increasing their offensive capabilities, but flaunting them. Perhaps this is the time for a show of agreement to reduce arms from two of the superpowers. Perhaps the thought is that it may help to defuse the situation some. I don't know. From my perspective, however, it seems odd in the extreme.
The timing is just off. We have the Ayatullah Ali Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, blaming the west, specifically the British and Americans for the demonstrations and unrest in his country. They are actually going to try several British Embassy personnel for inciting unrest or some such nonsense. But it won't be nonsense if they are found guilty. It will be Laura Ling and Euna Lee all over again. Remember them? They are still languishing over in North Korea.
I don't understand what the riots in China were all about. Apparently one group said another group was trying to steal their homeland. But this is China right? And they're all Chinese right? Boy, I know I'm being naive on this one. I read the whole story and still didn't understand the dispute beyond that. They didn't delineate the factions very well, who they were and what they wanted. Apparently, an exiled woman living in Washington is being blamed for inciting the riots. Go figure. I'll have to look into this some more.
That monorail accident was just heartbreaking. The boy who was killed was only 21. He was conducting one of the trains. Apparently 5 or 6 passengers were treated at the scene. Disney still wouldn't release any information about how the monorail system worked. I think they are going to protect their secrets to the bitter end. I'm sure there will be more information on this today.
Last, but certainly not least was the story of Robert S. McNamara, the Pentagon Chief who is credited with escalating the Vietnam War and causing nearly 100,000 casualties. He died at 93 with a clear understanding of the mistakes he and others had made in that war - and understanding that was obviously too little too late. After the war, he took over the World Bank and did good things but nothing, most would argue, could erase the horror of Vietnam.
I wrote about these news stories today because each one of them touched me in a different way. I was pulled in and gripped by the stories, even the one about the riots in China that I don't fully understand. Trying to understand the world around us is part of human nature. It is also part of good writing. Understanding events gives us background and substance for our writing. I wouldn't be surprised if one of my stories has a man eating 68 hotdogs in it one day, or two countries negotiating for rights to fly over with arms for a foreign war. You never know.