September 30, 2004

MOCKING

fad had me laughing out loud. At work. Big guffaws.
Go check out this post, where he announces his intention to become a big-time blogger, and then start scrolling up.
You know you spend too much time at the computer when you recognize everyone he's mocking.

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SHEESH

What part of the word illegal do these people not get?

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HEH

(Via Anders) If Saddam is released, he wants to do one of two things, he told a Swedish newspaper: either to run for president again in January or to move to Sweden, Switzerland, or Austria. Heh.

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ART

I told you Italians are cool...

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September 29, 2004

STRESS

It's been hard coming back to my Real Life after a vacation. I have to catch up on all the math I skipped last week. I have to prepare for the next class I'll teach. I have to finish grading the things that came in late from last term. I have so many things to do around the house: grocery shopping, laundry, planting bushes, etc. I have two blankets, a pair of socks, and a sweater to make as soon as possible. I have to enjoy my mom while she's still here. I don't like Real Life; I want to go back to the week when the only stress I had was whether we'd get all the red jellybeans put together.

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SALUTE

I heard a wonderful story, via my favorite reservist, that I am printing here with his permission. It's an anecdote from Kuwait when he was leaving Iraq for his R&R:

This morning at around 0530, I was walking to breakfast. I noticed the flag raising detail was in place but haven't heard any music so I kept walking. I passed a First Sergeant that was standing at attention and in front of him, a Marine, also at attention. I snapped to attention next to him and remarked that I had not heard any music. The First Sergeant relaxed and said that it hadn't started yet. So we both continued to walk towards the Dining Facility.

I pointed to the Marine still standing there at attention. The First Sergeant called over that it was still going to be a few more minutes if he wanted to keep walking. The Marine looked over and said, "No, I'm going to wait. It's been a long time since I've seen our flag raised."

That stopped me immediately. It has been a long time since I've seen our flag raised as we're prohibited from flying the Stars and Stripes in Iraq. I turned to the First Sergeant and said, "He's right, I'm waiting." A few minutes later the music started. The three of us snapped to attention and saluted.

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September 28, 2004

LINKS

What an awesome wish...
Flirting With Disaster
Troops Demoralized?

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MISS

I know he's not coming back. I know. But it seemed so final when I read this post that I actually began to cry. His was the first blog I ever read. His was the first blog I checked every morning. He was the one who catapulted me into blogging about a year ago. And he has given me something for which I will always be grateful: the slow, painful journey of learning how to think.

I just miss him, that's all.

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September 26, 2004

MORE ON ITALY

I found common ground with a porcelain artist in Nove, Italy.

You all know that I love my identity as a military wife, but the worst feeling in the world is that split second right after you have to answer the "Why are you living in Germany?" question. You never know what to expect from your European questioner. Most often you get that "oh", that bit of surprise that you're not here to bum around Europe "finding yourself" by getting drunk with Australians. Sometimes you get that recoil, and you feel the mood of the conversation change. Sometimes you get the look of pity, like it must be so miserable living under the thumb of the New Hitler.

And sometimes you get the, "Sure, I know where you live. I used to train in Grafenwoehr when I was in the Italian military."

Mom and I had a wonderful talk with this porcelain artist, and we could find enough common ground to really try to understand each other. He confessed to full support of the war in Iraq -- he likes the flypaper concept -- but admitted that he doesn't always think President Bush is best for the world. He he thought that a president who would kiss France's butt a little would be better for other countries in the EU. I can see where he's coming from: As an American, I don't give a flying leap what France and Germany think, but I can now see better how the smaller EU countries do have to play the cooperation game, even though this Italian man rolled his eyes and agreed that it was farcical. Mom was extremely forthright and asked him many questions to which I feared the answers, but we learned a lot from him, and hopefully he from us.

So I didn't get to meet Serenade, but we met his kindred spirit.

Overall, I found Italy to be quite pleasant. All of the people we met seemed to be genuinely happy to meet us Americans, and one of them even went on and on about how much she loved Wisconsin. Really. I've never heard a foreigner speak of anywhere but NYC, LA, or Vegas. The loving way she spoke about Wisconsin was quite touching.

The Italians also seemed thrilled that I had spent a day teaching myself a bit of Italian. All I did was teach myself a bit of non parlo italiano and quanto questa, but I guess the effort went a long way. I found the language to be quite easy to pick up, albeit on a superficial level. I crutched on my French and guessed by saying the latin root with an Italian accent a couple of times and managed to get along quite well. I also had a not-ugly-American moment when we wanted to ask a shopkeeper a question and my Italian simply wouldn't do: we asked if he spoke any English, and he shrugged apologetically and said, "Non...Deutsch." Well then, I thought, and asked the question auf Deutsch. Heh. And I speak two other languages that didn't even enter into the picture, buddy. Now go tell your friends that there are Americans who aren't monolingual jerks.

The Italians loved pointing and whispering about my American-issued license plate, I ate the same pizza at the same restaurant three nights in a row, it was that good, and I burned a ton of gas driving up and down those mountains. What a week.

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COMPARISON

We went to a concentration camp today. It was raining and I was very cold, but not as cold as they were. I was frightened by the enormous pyramid of ashes, but not as frightened as they were. I felt angry when I heard some German start yelling, but not as angry as they were. And I cried when I was by myself, but not as often as they did.

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CATCH UP

We had access to CNN World on our TV, so we watched it periodically to get an idea of what was going on in the world. I never watch the news, so the whole thing was quite infuriating. There were several times I wanted to throw something at the news anchors for the obvious way they were leading their interviewees (One guy badgered the Nigerian president with the same question asked four different ways because he wasn't getting the answer he wanted to hear. And then he shrugged and basically accused the president of lying!) I wanted to rip the larynx out of Richard Quest.

I started trying to catch up on everything I've missed this week, but I realized it was futile. If you can think of something that I should read that was posted or was not presented on CNN World this week (heh), then mention it in the comments and I'll check it out.

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ITALY

In a normal week, I drive perhaps 15 or 20 miles. This week I drove 1300. In a normal week, I do three things: work, knit, and blog. This week I didn't do any of those activities. It was a week of doing things that were out of the ordinary.

I painted my fingernails. That may not seem so exciting, but I realized that I hadn't made the time to do that small task in nearly a year. I read 500 pages of my book. I worked obsessively on this puzzle. I went to see this man. I bought a set of these. And when I walked out of our residenza, this is what I saw.

valley.jpg

We went to a ski resort in September. There was no snow, there were no people, and there was nothing pressing to do. The resort owner seemed embarrassed and apologetic that we had come at such a boring time, but it was exactly what I wanted. For me, a true vacation is about doing nothing. I did a lot of nothing this week; it was wonderful.

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September 20, 2004

TO MY BLOGFATHER

msmm.jpg

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September 18, 2004

VACATION

My life this week has been filled with hurry-up-and-relax. I race to work, race home, race back to class, race to find time to spend with my mom, and race to sleep. But I'm done now; it's vacation time. In two hours, Mom and I will pile into the car and head here. For a whole week. With no plans, no alarm clocks, no superscript th, no work, and no stress. And likely no internet. I'll return next weekend; in the meantime, enjoy the sidebar.

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September 17, 2004

ALTERNATE UNIVERSE

What if it hadn't been John Kerry?

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SUBTITLES

Amritas weighs in on subtitling Fahrencrap 9/11 into Farsi at the screening in Iran. I started emailing him but then decided to post my thoughts here too. When I lived in Angers, there was one movie theater that didn't dub movies, and that was the only one we ever went to. I saw some pretty interesting movies with French subtitles, and I can certainly say that there were numerous jokes that went right over their heads. Often they didn't even bother to try to translate stuff. Some movies just don't translate well: The Big Lebowski, Buffalo 66, and Smoke. The subtitling for these movies was pitiful; there's no way the European viewers got even half of what we got out of the movies. We would be cracking up, and they'd stare at us like we were nuts. And that's just the actual dialogue; the culltural references didn't make sense, even to the English-able Brits. There's one scene where these gangstas come by the store, and the Brits were laughing at them: "They don't look so tough; I bet I could take that guy," they said. An American friend dared them to come to her neighborhood in the States and roll up to a character like that!

On the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, there are snippets of dialogue from the movie. My French roommate in college borrowed the CD from me and was visibly shocked when she heard the diner dialogue, you know, the one with the "sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie" bit. She made me play it over and over again, repeating the dialogue more slowly so she could understand, and she swore up and down that she had never heard that in the French version she saw. She claims that the exchange never even happened, not even something similar to it. I've always wondered what the French version of Pulp Fiction was like, but I've never seen it myself.

Maybe on the next trip over the border.

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INTERVIEW

I read this long interview with John Kerry (thanks to this comments section), and I don't think I understand him any better. He naturally goes through a long list of reasons why the W stands for wrong, instead of answering the direct, completely un-vague question that was posed.

IMUS: What is this plan you have?

KERRY: Well, the plan gets more complicated every single day because the president...

IMUS: Try to simplify it for me so I can understand it.

...

KERRY: Well, Don, I realize that, but the fact is that the president is the president. I mean, what you ought to be doing and what everybody in America ought to be doing today is not asking me; they ought to be asking the president, What is your plan?

He rambles for a bit, and then the interviewer throws him a ba-zing:

IMUS: We're asking you because you want to be president.

Indeed. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas in Cambodia. But what are you going to do about it, Kerry? Stop saying what we should be asking the President and start explaining why we should vote for you. What would you do differently, and don't give me this bullcrap about bringing allies to the table. No single country has agreed to do anything differently, even if you're President. You criticize the President for "not having a plan to win the peace"; explain why you think the world will be more peaceful if you yank all the troops out. Explain it, please. Cuz last year you said

Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.

More stuff from the interview:

IMUS: Did you read "Unfit for Command?"

KERRY: No.

IMUS: Did anybody on your staff?

KERRY: I have no idea.

IMUS: Why wouldn't you want to know what's in it? It's the No. 1 "New York Times," of course, it says nonfiction bestseller.

KERRY: Because they have right wing people to buy them in bulk, and that's what they're doing.

Can't possibly be individuals who want to search for the truth themselves rather than buying what CBS is peddling? It's gotta be Karl Rove buying books by the crate and turning them into fertilizer for Bush's secret cocaine stash. Please. You can't be president if you believe in a book-buying conspiracy. (By the way, none of these conspiracy nutjobs are mature enough to be president either.)

Here's a zinger of a question:

IMUS: Back in May of 2001 on "Meet the Press," you said you yourself have committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers in violation of the Geneva Conventions. And my question, Senator Kerry, is, is there a difference between what happened in your case in Vietnam and what happened at Abu Ghraib, in that both were acts in violation of the Geneva Conventions?

KERRY: There is a difference.

IMUS: What is it?

KERRY: There is a difference. What I was referring to in that testimony was the general categorization of free-fire zones in Vietnam and the general categorizations of some of the weapons that were being used, which were in violation of the accords. We didn't learn that until we came home. I didn't know any of that while I was there. I didn't know any of that over there, nor did most soldiers.

That sounds mighty different from what he said before about Jengis Khan. That wasn't just weapons types, that was

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

Why can't we get a straight story out of this man?

IMUS: Do you think there are any circumstances we should have gone to war in Iraq -- any?

KERRY: Not under the current circumstances, no, there are none that I see.

But he just got done saying something that sounds different...

KERRY: Let me explain it to you. I felt in 1998, and I said that Clinton ought to have the power, the authority to use force, in order to force Saddam Hussein to have inspectors, to be able to disarm. The only way to get the inspectors in was to be tough, to have the threat of force and the authority to use force. I was prepared to use the force if he didn't do what he needed to do. But I warned the president, as did many people, take the time to build up the international coalition, don't rush to war, because the most difficult part is not winning the military part of the war; it's winning the peace. [emphasis added]

Kerry would've gone to war if "he didn't do what he needed to do." Who is "he"? Saddam, I guess. What did he "need to do"? "Have inspectors" and "be able to disarm". That's an extremely vague sentence, and it would be nice to know what exactly the last straw would've been for Kerry. What exactly would've made him decide it was time to go to war? What exactly would've made it too imminent for him?

What exactly is his platform?

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FOUR LINKS

Living in a Closet (via Oda Mae)
Kerry supporters make a little girl cry
a good post on the underdog
another Blue 6 (who just moved)

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September 16, 2004

COST

I just heard part of John Kerry's speech to the National Guard, just the live snippet that the news played. In it he criticized the President, saying that 95% of the cost of the Gulf War was paid by our allies. That was shocking to me, so I looked it up. The two figures I found amounted to only 88%, so I'm not sure how he got 95%. But still, 88% is a big number. A closer look revealed that more than half of the cost was shouldered by Kuwait (makes sense) and Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure I want Saudi Arabia considered one of our "allies", as Kerry's speech classified them. Japan paid a big chunk of change in 1991, much appreciated, and Korea paid a bit. Germany forked over a bit more than $5 million. Appreciated too, but I'm not sure what point Kerry is trying to make today. He criticizes the President for not getting our "allies" to help pay in 2004 like they did in 1991, but France isn't even on the list. And isn't that really who we always mean when we talk about "getting allies on our side"? And would we really be happier with the current war in Iraq if Saudi Arabia were helping to foot the bill? I'm not sure I would be.

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LINKS

I can't find a permalink, so you'll have to scroll, but I enjoyed reading this 17 August post called "America has failed".

And I know that this isn't really fair, because I know you could find some unflattering photos of me, but I loved the photos of the President.

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