Here’s a question for you: what do random acts of kindness, red bull, and al-Qaeda have in common? Not much perhaps, but they are all topics that I am keenly interested in, though for rather different reasons. So in this week’s blog entry, let’s start with the bad news first to get it out of the way before moving on to the humorous and the uplifting.
It has now been over seven years since al-Qaeda attacked the USA on September 11. To some extent, this is due to the facts that the al-Qaeda leadership has largely been killed or forced into hiding in the border regions of Pakistan and that some potential attacks have also been foiled by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. However, all this was also true four years ago, when bin Laden reared his ugly head and called on Americans to vote for Kerry. Well, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I know that bin Laden had to have known in advance that this would make it more likely for Bush to win the election, which, of course, is what ended up happening. Why would bin Laden have wanted Kerry to win? Simple. The Bush Administration had so antagonized the rest of the world, especially Muslim countries. Unknowingly, with their bungled efforts, Bush was playing into bin Laden’s hands.
Likewise, McCain’s bellicose rhetoric and penchant for supporting military action without always considering the possible consequences, the fact that in a recent worldwide poll, residents of every country sampled favored Obama over McCain, and the fact that Obama cuts a far more sympathetic profile in the Muslim world in particular all make it more likely that al-Qaeda would prefer a McCain presidency. So, if al-Qaeda has any capability to attack the USA at all, it seems very likely that it would try and attack the USA directly or at least US interests abroad between now and election day in the hope that it helps McCain. While hesitant to put a probability on it, I would say that the chances of something happening over the next four weeks are at least 1 in 3.
After that disconcerting prediction, a little levity. Many in the states might not know this, but Red Bull is in part owned by and has its headquarters in Austria. So fine, it’s an Austrian drink. But it has an English name, which, when pronounced in German, sounds like Khrrret Bule. If I ask for one in my American accent, no one understands me. So I hef too speak wiss a Gehmun Excent eef I wan too gett a Khrrret Bule...
Finally, a random act of kindness was performed by yours truly together with his better half on Sunday. We gave out about 155 homemade cookies outside the main cathedral in Vienna for no other reason other than to make people smile. It was great to see their reactions, and was lots of fun to coordinate. I’ll keep doing this once a week or so, and update what sort of hijinx we get ourselves into. Any suggestions for future goodwill are of course welcome.