Maxing out the karmic credit card

I’ve been staring at the computer screen for the last hour trying to come up with something, ANYTHING that might be easy, breezy reading with no connection whatsoever to Sept. 11. It’s not going well.

Oh, I tried. I churned out some tortured jive about the peculiar idiosyncrasies of Nevada freeway drivers, a search for bits of escapist humor in that banal subject. It was futile. So futile, in fact, that upon re-reading the first draft, I printed it out just so I could have the satisfaction of wadding it up and tossing it in the can.

So maybe next week I’ll be able to escape the extreme gravitational pull of the mammoth black hole that is 9-11. But, until then …

The concept of karma seems to be universal. It’s certainly not a metaphysic that is confined to Buddhism or Hinduism. It’s been elegantly expressed in Christian scripture by the phrase, “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” It’s safe to guess that Jews and Muslims have their own karmic passages in their holy books, although I can’t reproduce them here. Isaac Newton provided a scientific description of karma with one of his laws of thermodynamics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So karma is not a bizarre or distant concept to wrestle with, and it’s safe to estimate that it guides and influences billions of humans on our planet.

Therefore, if one subscribes to the theory that karma is an ever-present force in the universe, then one must, sooner or later, ask oneself: What the hell have we Americans been sowing in order to reap the karmic mayhem that was unleashed upon us on 9-11? And, going a step further, can you imagine the enormity of the blood-drenched karmic currency that just landed in the already bulging account of a certain Mr. bin Laden at the First Universal Bank of Allah? When the tab arrives for that one, Osama, are you sure that even YOUR check ain’t gonna bounce over the moon?

I know we Americans love to scare the crap out of ourselves with stories of Apocalyptic Doom, and I hate to be the one to throw a bucket of ice on one of the better terror tales going around these days, but it’s time to soak the subject of “briefcase nukes.” In reading a recent issue of Time (Oct. 1), I found this comment by a Princeton prof named von Hippel who said, “It would take 150 pounds of uranium plus hundreds of pounds of casing and machinery to make a weapon. Nobody’s going to be carrying a bomb around in a suitcase.”

No need, though, to let that tidbit stop you from scaring yourself dungless. Freak out instead over a far more plausible nuke scenario: that of a suicidal, virgin-hungry martyr plowing into a nuclear power plant with his truck bomb.

OK, that’s it. Next week, topics will be bubble gum and chirping bluebirds and college girls in tank tops dancing to surf music!