Bomb Disposals


James Eagan Holmes was a sweet guy, really.

For a time he even worked at a counsellor at Camp Max Straus in Glendale, California. The by Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles run this summer camp for disadvantaged children.

Quoted in The Los Angeles Times, Randy Schwab, CEO of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, said that Holmes’s job was to coach his charges with a view to help them be self-confident, and, teach them that team-work is conducive to positive results.

The other day, someone re-sent me that e-mail offering a “choice” of whom to elect as a world leader: either (a) the candidate  who associates with crooked politicians, consults with astrologists, had two mistresses, chain-smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day; (b) the one who was twice kicked out of office, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening, or (c) the vegetarian who doesn’t smoke and was decorated as a war hero and  has never cheated on his wife.

It was immediately obvious that the straightforward choice would not be the correct one – although the person who played about with the facts when setting this quiz conveniently forgot that Adolf Hitler had had quite a few affairs when he was not married – and it was only for that reason he was not adulterous.

The believer in the occult was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the cocaine-and-whiskey aficionado was Winston Churchill.

This goes to show that, as I have done in the opening paragraphs of this blog, facts can be transmogrified  to ‘prove’ whatever it is that you want people to believe is the correct version of things. After all, we see this type of media bias all around us – even in Malta, where wannabe opinion-makers and holier-than-thou people with hidden agendas make up false identities to post comments here, there and everywhere else, too.

Holmes was Californian. He was a quiet, regular church-goer, who graduated with high honours with a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience from the University of California-Riverside, and had started reading a neuroscience doctoral program at the University of Colorado but did not intend to continue it, worked at a fast-food chain, ran cross-country and played football.

Those who remember him growing up in Rancho Peñasquitos, the swish San Diego community say he was polite…and gifted. So why would he, within two months, have (legally) bought the equivalent of a ton of Semtex – two  40-caliber Glock handguns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, a Remington shotgun, and  an AR-15 assault rifle over the internet?

If I were writing a dystopian novel, I would probably have to make a conscious effort not to rehash parts of two Charles Bronson films – Telefon  and The Mechanic.

The first film tells of how after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S.S.R. had planted brainwashed sleeper agents all over the United States. If the need arose, they would be activated by a line from Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening followed by their real names, i.e. not the ones by which they would currently be known. Their mission would be to sabotage crucial parts of the civil and military infrastructure.

The second film showed Bronson as an ageing hit-man who trained a successor (long story) and found out he was going to usurp his position – and his belongings. The film ends with Steve McKenna hearing the note taped to his rear-view mirror in Arthur Bishop’s voice: Steve, if you read this it means I didn’t make it back. It also means you’ve broken a filament controlling a thirteen second delay trigger. End of game. Bang, you’re dead.

Conspiracy theorists are having a field day – as they usually do when something untoward happens. They are trying to make the connection between the aforementioned introverted youth and the mass-murderer; the reticent student and the red-headed person with top-to-toe black body armour; the retiring man who does not have accounts on Twitter or Facebook, with the red-headed “Joker” wannabe who, as  classicjimbo, posted his desires on a kinky sex web-site and booby-trapped his apartment.

What, in the words of the poster, makes a person tick – and what makes him explode?

We have all heard stories like the one about how Brian Malley, the supposed financial adviser Victoria Shachtay, went berserk when she discovered he was defrauding her of the money she had won in the court-case that confirmed she was left wheelchair-bound because of an accident.

He sent her a parcel-bomb that killed her and injured her carer; how he thought he would have got away with it astounds me.

It is useless trying to conjecture whether Holmes was hypnotised into carrying out the shootings, or whether he had some kind of remote-controlled chip implanted into his brain.

Since the laws about postage vary from country to country, I can only wonder why locally, packages of books and other gifts must sometimes be opened in the presence of a Maltapost official, and, in America, guns and ammo get delivered as easy as pie.

No doubt, this is one of the details we will get to know as more of the story unfolds.



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