“Do you know what that lunatic in the White House is up to now?”

“Lunatic in the White House? What the hell are you talking about man? We’ve got more pressing disasters!”

“What could be more pressing than the future of our nation?”

“Finals, you bastard! We’ve only got two weeks until the both of us have to know Chinese!”

Not a happy beginning to any study session, but I had much more to worry about than any mere Bush running our country to ruins. It’s bound to happen anyway; we’ve been on the wrong path since 1798.

I don’t plan to still be a passenger when this ship goes down, but I do plan on having a bachelor’s degree in English. Which requires, in my case, finishing three more quarters of Chinese after this one.

This, in turn, necessitates not failing the final. So, as we all convinced ourselves sometime in the first seven or eight weeks that the last two or three weeks would be plenty of time to learn a quarter’s worth of material for four classes, here we are, hunkered down over books and coffee mugs 27 hours a day.

Not thinking about the war in Iraq. Or about the new UC budget that will prevent me from getting shoes without holes in the bottoms. Or about where North Korea is going with that nuclear program they recently began.

Of course, the updates on whatever new deviltry our government is cooking up there on Capitol Hill can’t be ignored. Believe me. I’ve tried.

Especially when it’s been so long since anyone took a terror alert seriously that nobody’s sure whether this new round of alarmingly vague warnings, prompted by the capture of an al-Qaida chieftain, is worth any worry or not.

Suspension bridges, gas stations and power plants in major cities, including New York, are prime targets according to a U.S. intelligence memo.

After all the aggressive actions taken against Iraq by the U.S. government, it’s not surprising that we, the poor fools who pay those lunatics on Capitol Hill to get our nation into trouble, may be under fire again in the near future. It also wouldn’t be surprising, given all the anti-war sentiment, that the Bush administration may feel the need to scare us right back into obedience and fervent nationalism.

Both are probably true. al-Qaida really wants the United States to leave the Middle East the hell alone, and Bush really wants to run in there with guns a-blazing. And both of them believe that the American people should foot the bill.

We owe al-Qaida for the turbulent and blood-soaked last 50 years or so in the Middle East that the U.S. may be considered partly responsible for.

And we owe Bush our undying allegiance because we elected him – or damn near elected him, at least – to lead our country on to great and glorious new things. Which apparently translates roughly to “big, drunken brawl” in whatever language it is that Mr. Bush speaks.

Regardless, with this new wealth of information regarding al-Qaida’s inner workings, there may be a flurry of disappearances as the Feds begin to catch up with members of ‘Sleeper’ terrorist cells in the States. If they’re getting terrorists, good for them; if not, we’ll probably never know because they don’t really have to tell us.

I’d like to thank the writers of the Patriot Act once again for bringing us a little bit closer to George Orwell’s vision of what 1984 might’ve been like. Keep the dream alive, boys.

U.S. officials made sure to remind us that they’re not torturing the newly captured al-Qaida bigwig, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Because it’s illegal. And the U.S. government would never do anything that’s against the law.

If they’re gonna stick to this not breaking international law thing, they could add not making preemptive attacks on nations that look like troublemakers to their list.

But all of these international woes pale in comparison to the heavy responsibility of passing classes this quarter. Studying time is whooshing by as you read this. Don’t worry about the sinking economy or war; you’ve got some serious reading to do.

Daily Nexus assistant Opinion editor Cory Anthony needs more coffee.