A Chess Lesson in the Midst of War

Only those who have lived through it really know war, and believe me, having lived through one, it is not the solution to any problem

Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

1990. February, or maybe March. The last phase of a war which had been raging for 15 years. In the living room, between to whistles of shells, a dad, scissors in hand, was cutting a piece of cardboard into small confetti he would color in red or black.

Thus emerged a king, a bishop, a knight. A pawn. Two pawns. A rook. A game of chess, with the means at hand.

The hard part

That was the easy part. He still had to teach the game to two kids, 7 or 8 years old, and avoid a civil war at the scale of the house, as a game won on one side of the chess board is lost on the other side.

It all depends on the point of view. Black or Red.

Us or Them.

Christian or Muslim, Maronites or Druze, Sunni or Chia. But also, Lebanese Forces, Palestine Liberation Organization, Amal Movement, Hezbollah, Aounists, Marada, Mourabitoun, Israeli Defense Force, Baath, and I am surely forgetting some of the antagonists in this God forsaken conflict.

The conflict

A nameless mayhem which would have lasted more than15 years. A mayhem which would have cost 150 000 deaths, 100 000 physical disabilities, 250 000 net immigrations and displaced a million people, if we are to use a measurement unit better adapted to this disaster than months and years.

And in the middle of this maelstrom, a dad, a tiny chess board, and two children learning the hard way that a castling is better than a massacre of queens in the vast chess game of life.

I would like to end this short story with a message to those who promote war as a solution to liberate oppressed people.

Hang yourselves somewhere else.

Only those who have lived through it really know war, and believe me, having lived through one, it is not the solution to any problem.


This story was first written in French a while ago. This is the English version, completing the Frenglish loop, to be true to the bio.

I’m Rabih, Lebanese, French, writing in Frenglish and hoping to make a difference.

Let the board sound

Rabih

Write your thoughts into poetry

And let your poetry be love

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Write your thoughts into poetry
And draw poems into colors

Play the colors into music
And sing the music into songs

Pour the songs into wine and drink
And through the wine into drunkenness

And through drunkenness to oblivion
And through oblivion, memories

Of time gone by in search of gold
Of youth, of hope, of hate, of love

For love once found, it matters not
If you find youth, if you find gold

Your only hope, to counter hate
Is rhyme and word and poetry

Then let love be your poetry
And your poetry will be love

Let the board sound

Rabih

How Worse Could it Get

A more than weird episode at the office

Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash

8:04 AM.

I’m in the elevator with a weird colleague I had never seen before. The company had been growing like crazy in the past years, and the days when you could say “I know everyone” are long gone.

Long story short, I get off the elevator on the 6th floor and I think to myself:

Damn! That girl smells like the sixties and looks like shite…

Cold tobacco and wet leather kind of smell. And the looks, well I leave that to your imagination. Don’t get too wild though.

As the elevator door closes, I hear her whistle.

… All the lonely people…Where do they all come from …

OK. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles, 1966. How odd. How fitting actually. The song could have been about her. I go my way whistling Your song by Elton John as a tribute to her.

You can tell everybody, this is your song …

I know, I am being mean. But hey, what can I say, it is just not my day, and besides, my thoughts are my own to think.

And it is not like she could hear me!

I head to my desk. A message is waiting for me in the chat.

Rabih,

If I smell like the sixties and I look like shite, you’d better be a nostalgic scatophile for I’m here to stay. Just saying.

Eleanor Rigby, COO

It was sent the previous evening.

That would explain the sixties smell.

And back to the main title, it can hardly get worse than sharing the elevator with a telepathic-time-travelling C-level executive. I guess the fab four would agree.

Let the board sound

Rabih

Can Martians Buy Stuff at Walmart?

With Martian currency?

Photo by Andy Hermawan on Unsplash

I have just finished reading a very interesting story about some people bidding Mother Earth farewell before a one-way voyage to Mars. Now I don’t know about you, but it makes me wonder.

The 100 Euro question

(Not Dollar because I’m writing from France, and also, because why not?)

When Mars gets colonized, will it have an economy on its own? How will people buy stuff there? You see, as soon as you start having different Martian colonies or cities, such questions will arise, whether we like it or not.

Will Martians retain their earthling bank accounts and access them through the Internet? Can we even assume the Internet will be available on Mars at some point?

The idea has the advantage of simplicity. However, it would mean a 5 to 20 minutes delay for any banking instruction sent to earth, and as much to get an answer back.

Imagine yourself paying at the local Martian Walmart with your earthling credit card. You will have to wait for 40 minutes before your transaction gets approved. A local banking landscape is thus necessary, not the least for the convenience of consumers.

Martian banks

The Martian endeavor being what we imagine it to be, it will require a financial effort unlike anything the world has known so far. This effort will need to be sustained for the first centuries of the adventure.

Independent local banks might not be able to cater for it. This means that the Martian banking landscape will have to be made of branches of well established earthling banks. These branches will be ultimately fueled by earthling taxpayers.

Fueled with Euros at least?

Nope.

Much as I would like it to be Euros, the Martian currency will be something else. For it to be stable and efficient, it will have to be backed by the economy of the mother planet, through a basket of stable currencies like Euros, US Dollars, or Pound Sterling.

It will be blockchain based. But not the vulgar Crypto on everyone’s mind. Nope, it cannot be an empty shell subject to geeky speculations. It will have a real economy behind it. The economy of a couple of planets, nothing less.

The alternative is a system of dual non-exchangeable private-sector currencies, the EloCoin and the BezzoCoin. I don’t think that would be a good idea…

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Let the board sound

Rabih

The Last Currency Standing When All Is Lost

Hint: not Crypto

Photo by Zlaťáky.cz on Unsplash

Some humor coming up, don’t take this seriously. Or maybe just a little bit.

Here I go.

Lose the crypto folks, it will soon be dust. Why? Because

Universal War is upon us

People! Universal War is coming up! You could have seen it coming since the sub-prime crisis in 2008. If that was not a wake-up call, then maybe the COVID Pandemic was? Global warming maybe? And now, the conflict in Ukraine? …

Universal War I tell ya!

A war following which no economy will be left standing. Dollars? Nada! Euros? Nada! Sterling? It was already doomed since the Brexit!

Crypto?

Nada!

Useless figures on virtual screens at some ex-central bank or defunct crypto exchange. Toilet paper at most.

The post-war currency candidates

So how will we buy bread in the aftermath of Universal War? Not with Crypto, that’s for sure. Ah! I see you coming! Guns you say? You’ve heard some smart ass saying that’s the most liquid currency in the world and you want to sound smart?

Granted, you can use one to get some bread. I doubt however you will be handing an AK-47 Kalashnikov to the baker, just like that, in exchange for a loaf. You will actually be pointing it at the lad and will leave with it and the bread. That’s no payment. That’s theft.

Armed robbery.

Unless you end up shooting something or someone in the bakery and think that lead is some sort of currency. You would have bought you bread with a bullet, that is if you are careless enough to leave the bullet or its casing behind. Come to think of it further, that is not payment either.

That’s first degree murder.

OK. We’ve established so far that guns are not currency in this new apocalyptic world. What is then? Gold you say? Indeed, gold would still amount to something in these dire times. However, would you be willing to hand the baker a gold coin in exchange for bread?

Hell no! Because “Sorry, no change”!

And you can bet the bloke will have a gun to enforce it.

The new currency

You need some tools. You need a metal grater. A steel file. Only then can you produce the exact amount of gold to pay for your stuff. Gold gratings. Gold dust. Like in the wild west back in the days.

If we take a shortcut, we might even argue that the actual currency will be the file. Gold becomes a proxy, for the real value is in the file itself. It does not even sound like a shortcut come to think of it. To me, it sounds like evidence. It is unescapable.

The new currency will be the steel file. Not gold. And definitely not Crypto.

Folks, let me give you an advice. A head start.

Storm hardware stores and stack up steel files.

You’ll thank me later. If you survive Universal War of course.

Now you might say it does not matter. Why stack up steel files when no one is going to stop you resorting to violence and guns for bread, in the midst of a total collapse of civilization?

In that case, I just hope we are not neighbors. I’ll stick to my steel files, hoping I have enough to grate for my daily bread. Sorry folks, I need to wrap this up. The hardware stores close at 8 around here and I have 7 more to visit.

Let the board sound

Rabih

Shades of Gloom

An ode to a country on the verge of oblivion

Photo by Lukas Robertson on Unsplash

Shrouded in a thick veil of comfortable darkness
Purple drapes hiding your despair in shades of gloom
Diving in a sea of tranquil and somber bleakness
Hoping for oblivion, dreading the colors of bloom

For bloom is the rise of a phoenix from ashes
And to ashes returns to better rise again
Many returns carry century old flashes
Oblivious of the past the memories remain

Rise oh cedar, oh imputrescible essence 
In the Book seventy times chanted by prophets
Your name bears the promise of your children’s penance
A beacon in the rhymes of desperate poets

Rise Oh Lebanon, Oh land of milk and honey
Rise to the challenge and embrace your destiny

Let the board sound

Rabih