December 15, 2004

JUNK SCIENCE

I had read this Michael Crichton speech on junk science before, pointed out by Kalroy, but I returned to it today, pointed out by Hud. It's amazing how much junk science we're inundated with every day. My favorite bit, per global warming:

Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?

This is one of the best articles I've ever read.

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ROTATION

The OEF and OIF 2005 troop rotations are in the paper today.

And Gunner Palace is opening in theaters. Naturally, I won't be able to see it. First Team America, then Gunner Palace. But by golly we can't live without showing Christmas with the Kranks.

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OBSCURITY

Every once in a while, I find myself wondering what Saddam is up to. Especially when I see him cavorting with Satan all the time. (I still think Saddam should be forced to watch South Park episodes starring himself. Cruel and unusual? You betcha.)

So it's always fun to find an article about what Saddam is doing these days. Oh look, he's starving himself to prove a point.

A year after his capture on December 13, 2003 Saddam, once the most visible symbol of the country he ruled for 33 years, has faded into obscurity amid the daily insurgency that has engulfed Iraq.

To quote John Kreese of the Cobra Kai: "You're nothin', you lost, you're a loser." But don't let Saddam fade too much away; we have to keep ourselves pumped up for the day when he's executed.

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December 14, 2004

HA

What's the answer to this comment?

I Understand you[r] explanation, but I think you are missing the point we (the angry at Rumsfeld) are trying to make. When the head of the Armed forces says, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the one you might want," and the timing of that war was determined by that man, it is a disrespect to the troops who are over there fighting and dying. It was Rumsfeld's responsibility to have the "Army we want" before going to war. The Pentagon ignored the Army War College's analysis of the course of events. All of this was predicted before we invaded. If Rumsfeld was not so arrogant, maybe these guys would not be asking these questions. "Even tanks get blown up," is NOT and adequate answer and it disrespects every man and woman over there. If he was in the private sector, he would have been thrown out on his ass a long time ago. You can respect the presidents decision to go to war, but you cannot respect our troops AND respect the way Rumsfeld runs things. He has been incompetent from the start and if you have friends or family over there, you should be as pissed as I am... just my two cents worth.

Rebel Rouser has the answer, complete with colorful language and plenty of punchlines. I read every last word of his answer; you should too.

And apparently he wrote Military Classes for Civilian Dumbasses first, which is just as good.

I like this guy. Reminds me of Deskmerc.

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REQUEST

I have a friend who works at AFN radio, so I requested "American Solider" for SPC Mahlenbrock. They can't play it at 1900, but they're going to play it earlier in the day and explain why they're playing it. We're doing our part here in Bavaria to honor SPC Mahlenbrock's last request.

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STEP THREE: PROFIT

Varifrank tackles the underpants gnomes of "import less oil".

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PHILOSOPHY

Last night I had a dream that my husband and I were reading blogs together. What an exciting life, huh? Anyway, in the dream my husband got up to go to the bathroom, and I thought of something I wanted to say to him. I woke up and thought to myself that I would tell him when he returned from the bathroom. Then I had the slow realization that he wasn't in the bathroom.

We hit the 300th day last week. And I found today that my deployment philosophy is the same as Major Phelps':

I continually tell myself and I wholeheartedly believe that if we as a country can confront terrorism and rouge nation-states that support terrorist acts and if we can bring peace, hope, freedoms, and democracy to a country in the heart of the Middle East while at the same time solidifying the security, freedom, and liberties of this great nation then my sacrifice is inconsequential. If I am asked to partake in some small way to accomplish this goal then I say take me before my four sons are confronted with this problem in 20 years and they are forced to clean up a problem that has only festered, become increasingly worse and a problem that we should have confronted twenty years earlier. We are doing the right thing, and America needs to stand united and reaffirm to themselves every now and then that we are in fact doing the right thing. I think I'm a free minded thinker, and I'm not "brainwashed" by the President, Mr. Rumsfield, or some "right wing propaganda conspiracy theory." I really think we're attempting to accomplish something monumental. I guess we'll see.

I don't mind being left alone for a cause this important.

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December 13, 2004

MONEY WHERE MOUTH

I got a little frustrated the other day. My former roommate writes for an anti-war publication. Sigh. It was no surprise, really; if you met her, you'd instantly recognize her as anti-war. But something about seeing her name there in black and white really irked me.

I figured out what was bothering me so much the next day when I read an update on the Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge. Many blogs that I read every day are raising insane amounts of money for Spirit of America to help Iraqi citizens. LGF alone has raised over $14,000. Apparently one of LGF's readers went over to one of the biggest left-leaning blogs and asked why none of them had considered contributing:

Why aren't you involved in Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge? Whether or not we agree on the war, can we not agree that it would be best for a Free Iraq to get off the ground? Not only for the US but for the Iraqis themselves?

Your side whines that conservatives are cold and cruel, but when it comes to demonstrating compassion with your own money (as opposed to someone else’s) the Left seems rather reluctant.

I’m here to throw down the gauntlet. LGF has hit the ten grand mark.

Can you compassionate Leftists beat us?

It was a snarky challenge, but a legitimate one, I think. The response his question generated was quite disheartening. Most commenters just called him names (remember, this is the lefty blog that linked to that ass who called me fucktard dumb...), while others refused to participate in Spirit of America because, naturally, their money would just be funneled back into Dick Cheney's pockets.

And I realized what was bothering me.

My old roommate writes poetry to speak out against the war. Atrios' readers use their filthy mouths to denigrate right-leaning bloggers. But what have they done of substance? If you oppose the war, shouldn't you support helping Iraqis put their country back together? Regardless of whether Bush looks like a chimp or not, shouldn't the idea that someone is raising money to help the common people of Iraq be a good thing? If you believe the war was wrong, shouldn't you believe the people of Iraq were right and thus want to help them?

It's warmongers and chickenhawks who have raised $62865.72 so far for the people of Iraq. As far as I understand, there's not a lefty blog among the participants. I find that very sad.

My old roommate writes anti-war poems. I donated to Spirit of America. Which one of us has done more to help the people of Iraq?

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COOL

I don't see it happening any time soon, but this uniform is pretty freaking cool. Of course, I had a crush on Robocop when I was a kid...

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RING

The night we got married, my husband and I said goodnight and shut off the light. I then heard this small tinkling sound. "What was that?" I asked. "Nothing," my husband said suspiciously. "Seriously, what was that?" Turns out it was my husband sneaking his wedding ring off his finger and onto the nightstand. "But it's bugging me," he whined when I was hurt that we'd been married less than six hours and he was already taking his ring off.

When he got home for R&R, the first thing he wanted was his ring back; it's grown on him now. I'm glad he doesn't wear it in Iraq -- it's dangerous -- but I wonder if he's as attached to his ring now as Lance Cpl. Battle is to his...

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December 12, 2004

UP-ARMOR

Some soldier perspective on the question posed to Sec. Rumsfeld the other day:

Deskmerc
Greyhawk + follow-up
A Line in the Sand
2Slick + follow-up

And from my favorite reservist:

Sarah,

I've started writing about armor on vehicles quite a few times only to cancel it. We just can't get into the details without violating OPSEC (Operational Security). I can't tell you why that works without revealing details that can be of use to our enemies. I especially can't talk about the downsides either.

The first IED I ever saw took out an 18-wheeler in front of me. It blew the cab on to the left side of the road while the trailer careened off to the right. At the time, I was riding in an unarmored Humvee without doors.

I went to Fallujah in a Humvee with canvas doors.

I hunkered behind a "frankenstein" scrap metal door in Najaf as bullets bounced off.

With all that and more, I'm not sure it really makes all that much of a difference. When I look at the trade offs with what is truly gained, I really don't know. I do know that many soldiers now and before us went into Harm's Way with less ~ am I or any other soldier any more special?

One thing I have truly come to believe, if its your time - it's your time. I don't care if you're wrapped in armor while sitting in a bunker, if it's your time then you're a goner. So with that in mind, does it really make that much of a difference?

I round 'em up, you decide.

MORE TO GROK:

More on armor above.

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LIFE IMITATING ART

The husband finished Atlas Shrugged the other day; I still have a couple hundred pages left. But what I'm noticing as I'm reading is a sad parallel between what's happening in the book and what I've been reading on blogs lately. Take this gem for example: In Britain, if you want to replace a broken window or rewire the lighting in your house, you have to ask the government's permission. Bureaucrats have to come and make sure your home still meets Kyoto regulations. Of how 'bout this from the Netherlands: The government would pay artists with taxpayers' money to create art, which would be stored in a warehouse, just so that people could have a job.

So how do people react to a society of "each according to his need", of government control of everything, of forced multiculturalism? They want to leave:

"Van Gogh's death was a confirmation for them of what they already sensed was happening," he said. "They're accountants, teachers, nurses, businessmen and bricklayers, from all walks of life. They see things going on every day in this country that are quite unbelievable. They see no clear message from the government, and they are afraid it's becoming irreversible, that's why they are leaving."
...
Ellen, 43, a lawyer and banker who votes for the free-market Liberals, said the code of behaviour regulating daily life in the Netherlands was breaking down.

"People no longer know what to expect from each other. There are so many rules, but nobody sticks to them. They just do as they want. They just execute people on the streets, it's shocking when you see this for the first time," she said. "We've become so tolerant that everybody thinks they can fight their own wars here. Van Gogh is killed, and then people throw bombs at mosques and churches. It's escalating because the police and the state aren't doing anything about it.

"There's a feeling of injustice that if you do things right, if you work hard and pay your taxes, you're punished, and those who don't are rewarded. People can come and live here illegally and get payments. How is that possible?

"We didn't think about how we should integrate people, to make sure that we actually talk to each other and know each other, instead of living in ghettoes with different rules.

Is life imitating art, or did Ayn Rand predict all of this?

(But don't forget that our country isn't immune to ridiculous government spending...)

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December 11, 2004

HOLY CRAP, DUDE

I've watched a lot of South Park in the last year, which has affected my vocabulary. I chuckled when I read this article the other day about the word dude because Stan Marsh is the reason dude is in my vocabulary. Now whenever something surprises me, I hear myself say in my head, "Holy crap, dude."

I got an email today that I thought was a hoax. So I checked it out, and it appears to be legit. Ben Stein wrote me an email.

Ben Stein, people. Wrote to me. Holy crap, dude.

God bless you and good luck with your blog. I hope it makes you happy.

And your husband is a star....

Love, Ben

Dang. I wish I had said more about how cool Ben Stein is when I wrote one sentence about him the other day. Just in case he ever comes back here, I want him to know that my husband and I used to watch Win Ben Stein's Money all the time and stare in awe at how many questions he could answer. (We were also thrilled to hear his voice in the "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" episode of Family Guy.)

But more than any excitement we have at watching him intellectually clobber people, I have enjoyed discovering his writing. I first read How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? back in July, and then noted with glee that Stein had written in the comments section in response to a soldier's letter. Then the other day I ran across We Shall Overcome. I never thought Ben Stein would find the time to write to me.

If he reads this, I'd like him to know that I really admire and respect him. And that I consider it an enormous honor that he took the time to email me.

Holy crap, dude.

    MORE TO GROK:

    And read Col. Denman’s Luger too! Man, you all know how awful this week has been for me. Well, now I feel like Fry: "I'm walkin' on sunshine, woah-oh-oh!"

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    December 10, 2004

    SHRUG

    I know, I know. I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, so I should just shrug, right? That's what the book says. Shrug it off and think about yourself. But I'm still Dagny, still thinking that the world needs me. I'm trying, but I'm not ready for Galt's Gulch yet. I got stuck working an extra hour at the gift wrap today because my replacement never showed up. I can't just walk away if there's no one to pick up the slack. At least not yet. I'm starting to feel like maybe I could, especially after this hellacious week.

    Now I have to go wrap my own family's presents. I already let go of the fact that they're not going to make it home in time.

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    TOO MUCH

    Last night I had a dream that perfectly sums up how I've been feeling these past few days. In the dream, I went to see the musical that's showing here, but throughout the whole thing, my students kept interrupting and asking me questions. I finally gave up trying to watch it and went to the store to buy some gifts for my husband, but my friend kept pressuring me, telling me it was time to go and that I had to choose quickly.

    This whole week has gone down the toilet. On Monday, when I was so excited to be taking my vacation days so I could get stuff done, I never imagined what a waste this week would be. I got suckered into going in to work on Wednesday and Thursday, so I sat there all day long, thinking about everything I would be doing if I were at home. When I wasn't at work, I was knitting furiously for the gift exchange we had last night; the woman who won my gift said monotonously, "Oh, a scarf and hat," and then tossed them on the floor. Eight hours of work, wasted. So I was saving my stuff to do until today, when I found out last night that our company was supposed to be doing a gift-wrap fundraiser today but no one has signed up for it. No one even called me about it, but now I might get stuck gift wrapping for four hours.

    Christmas gifts are supposed to be mailed back to the States no later than tomorrow in order to guarantee them in time for Christmas. I haven't even started packing the first box. My Czech orphan gift has to be over at battalion this morning too. I also haven't bought a single thing for my husband for Christmas, since I haven't even had time to think.

    When is it going to be time for me to do what I want to do?

    I mentioned my frustration to my husband the other day (thus the funny exchange), and he thought I was cracking up. He said I sounded like I was depressed and that he was worried about me. I'm not depressed; I'm pissed off. I have stuff that I need to do, and it's all getting pushed aside for stuff other people need me to do. I know it's nothing like the stress of having an RPG hit your tank, but it's still something I don't really want to deal with.

    So, once again, no blogging from me. I don't even have time to read blogs today.

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    December 07, 2004

    JOB PERKS

    OK, so I agreed to work tomorrow since my co-worker had already made a doctor appointment. Unfortunately, I had put off a bunch of things that I intended to do tomorrow, like grade papers, shop for a gift for my Czech orphan, knit an entire hat and scarf as a gift, wrap and send my Christmas presents home, and grade more papers. So now I'm a little stressed that I had planned all these things for tomorrow and I will be sitting at work instead. (If you hadn't figured it out by now, I stress out easily.) Thus I had the following hilarious exchange with my husband online tonight:

    Sarah: usch, do you ever feel job stress?
    Sarah: dumb question, right?
    Husband: umm...a little I guess
    Husband: why?
    Sarah: but like when you guys have a lot to do, does your stomach feel like you're gonna throw up?
    Sarah: cuz that's how I feel this week
    Husband: not really
    Husband: but if people make me real mad at work I get to shoot them

    Man, I love that guy.

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    SMART CELEB

    I'd like to meet Ben Stein. He sounds like a good guy.

    Hud says:

    I've talked to people on the left who live in red states, who told me they've encountered some ugliness for expressing their beliefs, but I'd be really surprised if they feel they have whisper to each other like the people in this article. Most lefties I know are pretty open about it. On the other hand, I have known many people on the right who were afriad to speak out for losing work. I've even had some people tell me I was risking never getting hired for the stuff I say on this blog. And what I tell them is, if you let people oppress you, they win. And now more people are going out and challenging the leftist orthodoxy

    I know I never show my Bush support unless asked a direct question about whom I voted for, and we live on a military post, for pete's sake.

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    CHANGES

    A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to replace an 8th grade English teacher. The catch was that they needed to replace him within two weeks, and I didn't think it was right to quit my current registrar job in such a rush and right before Christmas. So I didn't look into it because I thought that I had a sense of duty to my co-worker. Then my co-worker and I had that massive blowout, and everything changed. I realized that loyalty to a job a monkey could do is pretty silly, especially when DoDDs pays more than three times what I'm making now. Turns out that I'm not qualified for the job they were trying to fill, but I might be qualified for another one that's opening up for next school year. I am going to start the application process, and everyone has told me that the best way to slide into the job is to start out as a sub.

    So I'm quitting my job.

    I have been saving all of my vacation time since I started working for when my husband comes home, and now that it's not necessary to save it, I'm burnin' it up. Yesterday I went in and announced I am taking the rest of December off, and that was that. I will go back in January and help them register students for the new school term, but I will give my notice and hope to be out of there at the beginning of February. I can then sub at the school and hopefully get in good with the principal.

    The thought of teaching middle schoolers more than freaks me out, but the money is definitely right, and I might find that I love them after all. I'm excited to give it a shot, and my dad always says that a human being can do anything for one year. I can teach hormonal kids for a year too: if I like it, I continue; if not, at least I gave it a shot.

    So remember those big changes I mentioned? That's that. I have the rest of the month to myself, to concentrate on 1) grading the rest of my papers, 2) getting Christmas presents mailed, 3) the five knitting projects I've started but can't mention because too many people read my blog, and 4) filling out the 60 page teacher application packet. Oh, and blogging. I'd like to devote some more time to it, since I've been rather lame lately.

    These last two weeks have been a ride, but I'm glad they happened. The fight with my co-worker opened my eyes to how silly I was being. I needed to move on, so I'm glad that she shocked me into taking the first step. I just wish it didn't have to end on such a nasty note. But that's life, and I need to look out for Sarah.

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    December 06, 2004

    UNCONDITIONAL?

    Is it possible for "unconditional love" to go one step too far? This question has bothered me since the day I saw Kip Kinkel's parents stand behind him. Then I saw John Walker Lindh's parents stand behind him, and now this strangler's cousin stand behind him. Am I the one who's nuts? Just because you're related to someone doesn't mean you have to stand behind them when they murder people, does it? If one of my family members -- be it cousin, brother, or husband -- strangled three people in cold blood, I sure as hell wouldn't stand up for him. I don't have children, so I can't really speak on the love that parents have for their children, but aren't there some things that cross that unconditional love boundary? Like coldhearted murder? Parents in the audience, please help me on this one.


    Posted by: Sarah at 05:17 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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    HI

    Dear the husband,

    I know you are getting excited about orders getting cut and plans for redeployment getting made. Just don't get too excited and forget about being safe. Stay focused and diligent. And if you see anyone put a tent in his mouth, call Humor in Uniform.

    Oh, and slow down on the Atlas Shrugged already! 950 pages in three weeks? How did you manage that? I tried to catch up last night, but I'm still about 400 pages behind you. Hopefully starting tomorrow I will have lots of free time (more on that later).

    Anyway, be safe, enjoy your Christmas tree, and keep looking for a copy of Team America!
    Love you, of course.
    Sarah

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