Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to destroy an enemy: you may if the wind allows blow gas at him

Aerosol distribution is considered the most efficient method of distribution for a large scale germ warfare program.
This was recognized by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio  (born c. 80 - 70 BC, died after c. BC.)-:

"For when the morning breezes blow towards the town at sunrise, if they bring with them the mist from the marshes and, mixed with the mist , the posionous breath of creatures of the the marshes to be wafted into the bodies of the inhabitants, they will make the  site unhealthy."

The phenomenon was not always to be dependent on the vagaries of nature. By 1914 it was a tool in the military arsenal of most "developed" nations. Its use  is described inn the third stanza of a poem written during  the war to end all wars: Five Ways to Kill a Man:-

"You may if the wind allows blow gas at him."

Sounds as harmless as a child blowing bubbles doesn't it? But this anti-war poem is in fact a warning about science allowed to run rampant without the restraints of humanity.


The point is, that if science becomes all technique and technology, if all science does is superimpose new technology on the same old problems, if there is very little understanding of higher human purpose, if an element called humanity is missing then, all we are doing is putting horrific killing power in the hands of barbarians, for, about the only thing that hasn't evolved over the centuries is, man. Sadly, the majority of people living today are no different than Stone Age man. Nothing has changed, all the old greediness is still with us. 

On the anniversary of 9/11, I thought it fitting to post a poem that explores man's inhumanity.

Five Ways to Kill a Man
by Edwin Brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways to kill a man.
Simpler, direct, and much more neat is to see
that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

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