All too much has been written and recorded about the tragedy at Ft Hood, Texas, where a psychiatrist with loner tendencies and antiwar sympathies rampaged with devastating effect. As if going off to war, as he was scheduled to do, Major Hasan cleaned out his apartment, gave leftover frozen broccoli to one neighbour and called another to thank him for his friendship - common enough courtesies and routines for a departing soldier. Instead, it would seem, he went on the killing spree that left thirteen people dead. The Jerusalem Post made much of his Palestinian ancestry and the Washington Post of his loner lifestyle. They will pick over the bones for months, trying to crawl inside the mind of a man who in all probability had suffered a delusional breakdown of such magnitude that his actions were no longer under voluntary control. Eddies and asides suggest that he’d been planning for months and objected violently to his imminent deployment in Iraq, perhaps because he might be called upon to kill Muslims…the story goes round in an endless circle. Whatever the truth, and the likelihood is that it will never come out, nerves will twitch in the Pentagon for months, not least because this strange beast fuelled by unimaginable hatred, was allegedly one of their own.
We can, I suppose take comfort from the thermodynamic principle that ‘the probable is what usually happens’, suggesting that the reverse is also true. This seems not to be the case, however, in the celestial parallel to the above where a helium fuelled supernova has been observed, burning out in a fraction of the usual time with gigantic thermonuclear explosions. Another strange beast, behaving with worrying unpredictably. Astronomers will chew over this data for months as well. While we can do little to prevent the latter, regarding the former we might ask hard questions about whether the fault lies with initial Islamic indoctrination that surfaces years later with murderous intent. Or, am I just being naive?