Saturday, April 21, 2007

Guns and Ammo Mayhem in Singapore and America

Guns and Ammo Mayhem in Singapore and America

In the aftermath of the recent slaughter in Virginia, two guns and ammo novels have come to mind. One is set in the ordered society of Singapore, where the use of firearms is aberrant. The other gives us a vision of a sixgun America where the potential of firearms is exploited to the full, and shooting people dead for fun and profit is the norm.

Both novels are good reads, and would be ideal for those long commutes to and from the firing range. Both have a high body count.

The novel set in Singapore is IN A PERFECT STATE, the perfect state being the aforementioned republic of Singapore. The book is by Joseph R. Garber, who gives us ultraviolence in a mode of fun. It's a lighthearted book which won't keep you awake at night.

If you read this book, you will understand two things.

First, that Singapore is the ultimate society, a social utopia, clean, safe, law-abiding, orderly, prosperous and impeccably organized.

Second, that you probably wouldn't want to live there.

The main viewpoint character PERFECT STATE is an American who is on the run from the Singaporean police. He is innocent of any crime but has been framed by his enemies.

We also see the action through the eyes of the ethnically Chinese cop who pursues him. The cop is the ultimate gunfighter and relishes the challenge of pursuing and taking down the American.

The pursued American is desperate to escape from Singapore, but he has no passport, no money and not a single friend anywhere in the island state. Simply buying an airplane ticket out is not an option.

But Singapore is an island. He's a strong, confident swimmer, so he figures he can escape by swimming. Not all the way to America, but just across the narrow strait which separates Singapore from Malaysia. It's a long haul, but he figures that the swim should be doable.

So thinking, he goes by night to a small national park on Singapore's northern coast, just across from Malaysia, meaning to swim for it.

Before his national park adventure is over, he discovers that the notion of swimming to Malaysia was a Very Bad Idea. Even the modern Singapore of shopping malls and skyscrapers has some small patches of authentic jungle, and he's found his way into one, and the natural environment contains lifeforms which are perfectly capable of treating you as lunch.

Having coped with all kinds of fast-paced adventures, our plucky American hero survives his way to a climactic shootout in one of Singapore's ultramodern container terminals.

The hard core Chinese cop is there for the gun battle and gets the great do-or-die encounter that he's been longing for. But you can see that he's an anachronism in today's squeaky clean Singapore, where his Tombstone City skillset is seen by the department he works for as more of an embarrassment than an asset.

So much for the novel about Singapore, well researched and pretty well engineered.

Meantime, in the US of A, we have an impressively violent novel of lawlessness and criminal aggression which Singapore probably wouldn't even permit on its TV screens.

The novel is DIRTY WHITE BOYS by Stephen Hunter, and you can read about it online on the following page:

http://members.aol.com/thesussman/dirty.htm

Here's a quote from the page:

"Dirty White Boys by Stephen Hunter is a crude, vulgar, and absolutely fantastic thriller. Three convicts break out of prison and go on a bloody rampage throughout Oklahoma and Texas. Their leader is Lamar Pye, a viscious [sic] killer who also has a soft side. Along with him are Odell, Lamar's giant, but slow cousin, who has no concept of right and wrong and Richard, a coward, but whose artistic skills have caught Lamar's fancy. They're pursued by Oklahoma State Patrol Sergeant Bud Pewtie, a cop with a secret life away from the job."

From this book I learnt a useful fact which may one day save my life. If a guy keeps coming at you even though you've put a number of bullets into him, then aim your next shot so it smashes his thigh bone where it articulates with the hip. That will take him down of a certainty, even if shooting him fair and square in the heart has failed to do so.

Two books for our times, then, with gunplay shown in two wildly contrasting social settings, authoritarian Singapore and libertarian America.

If you decided you'd like to read one or both of these books, remember that most libraries in the wealthy parts of the world (the parts where the faucet water is safe to drink straight out of the tap) can usually get hold of any book you'd like to read, even if they don't have that title on the shelves of their own library.

Both novels that have been discussed are about people who have access to firearms, but my own tale, which I will now unfold, is one of danger which was faced (and survived) without the aid of weapons.

On a warm spring day in the month of April, my wife, my daughter and I went on an expedition through the streets of the less-than-perfect society of Japan, the place where we live.

En route to the supermarket, we encountered two sources of potential danger. One was an animal which had awakened from its winter hibernation and was on the move, ready to kill and consume anything in its predation range.

The other danger was a human, a male of the species, a total stranger who had absolutely no social connection to us, and who had, therefore, no reason whatsoever to place any value on our lives.

Although we were traveling without weapons, and although my combat skills are rusty, we survived, even though we encountered both these threats simultaneously.

The man was a guy who was cleaning up his yard, and the animals was his pet turtle.

The guy let three-year-old Cornucopia have a turtle-touching experience, and, after we had chewed up at least five minutes of his valuable time, we apologized for letting Miss Small Fry impose on him, and took our leave. As we departed, he did not take advantage of our vulnerability to fire bullets into our exposed backs.

Although we got away with this traveling without weapons stunt, I counsel you to be cautious, and think carefully before you go and do the same thing.

In particular, if you are going to the supermarket in Iraq, then I strongly recommend that each member of your party carry a weapon.

If you're a tourist in Iraq, I suggest that you go buy yourself an AK47, an utterly reliable battlefield weapon which you can easily buy in the markets of today's Iraq, a prosperous society which has been brought into existence by a benevolent America. Sunny Baghdad is, or so I've been told, very pleasant at this time of year.

I am writing this blog entry with the latest and greatest version of UltraEdit, 13.00a, copyright 2007. It's up and running under XP and seems to be working just fine.

When I've finished checking it out, I'll upload a page about my experience with installing and customizing this product.

There probably won't be any screen shots with that entry, because I still haven't figured out how to upload images to Blogger now that Google has inflicted the Japanese language on me. My Gmail login page is also, now, in Japanese.

On Saturday 21 April I decided to bite the bullet and put the title NIHONGO on a new notebook. Then, working with the Blogger page, I copied down Chinese characters, clicked on them, then wrote what the result was. Beneath each I have some kind of rubric, for example "The above gets you to your profile" and "The one above uploads a post."

One unwelcome feature of the new Blogger is that each post requires you to decrypt and enter the code shown by a robot buster. I often have real problems with these things, so the should-be-simple business of uploading a post becomes a bit of a mental upload.

It occurs to me that if I'm going to have a string of robot busters inflicted upon me, then I can capture them and incorporate a bunch of them into the cover of a book, maybe SINFUL SURVIVAL.

Meantime, I'm collecting screenshots of what Google and Blogger look like through a Japanese-language interface, and if I eventually succeed in figuring out how to upload images in my suddenly revised reality, then I'll share at least some of what I've captured.

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