February 20, 2005


Oda Mae sends a hilarious link!

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February 19, 2005


This wonderful article called The Millionaire Next Door vs. the Politician in Washington hits on what I mentioned the other day.

The problem with college financial aid is that for two families with equal lifetime incomes, the one that consumes the most and saves the least gets the most financial aid.

This is the single greatest problem I noticed when I worked for the university and saw financial aid disbursement. The 25 year olds with three kids by three different fathers were the ones going to school for free. We're rewarding the wrong behavior.

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Good article on the nonsense that is Kyoto, via Hud.

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February 18, 2005


My husband called tonight; it was the first time we've talked on the phone since Christmas Eve. It was great to hear him, though the static and delay reminded us why we never use the phones. He said he was bored -- amazingly enough, it's the first time he's used that word since he got to Iraq. He seemed in very good spirits, and my favorite bit of the conversation was when he said that his soldiers keep asking him if he has any more news about their departure. He said he keeps replying with jokes like "well, we might have to hunt Easter eggs inside the tank, but we should be home by Mother's Day, so buy a gift." Glad to see they're making the best of a crap situation.

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I saw my first busload of soldiers arrive home from Iraq today. People were stopping their cars and waving. It was cute.

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Good to go's jerk comment here made me think of something else. We do "depend upon [the government] for everything." The military is socialist system. Health care is free, housing is free, most services are free. And that's the worst part about being with the Army. Health care is free, so there are long lines at the doctor and forget about making a dental or eye appointment. Housing is free, so if you turn down the house they offer you, they take you off the list for 90 days. And services are free, so when we moved here, our flight was delayed for six hours and they put us on a plane with no overhead compartments that didn't have enough fuel to make it across the Atlantic. The movers also forgot to ship our belongings until after we arrived here (and the Army also forgot to pay us for two and a half months).

But all of this stuff is free, so you can't complain. Often the people who provide these services don't have much job pride or customer-oriented goals either, because what are you gonna do, take your business elsewhere? I live a socialist lifestyle, and it ain't pretty.

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February 17, 2005


I just noticed this comment by PAC tonight and I wanted to address it. It's a very normal point of view for a European to have, the same point of view I've found in most of my European friends. It is, I believe, the biggest dividing factor between Americans and Europeans and the source of our value differences.

It's also related to Bill Whittle's social vs. individual responsibility.

When I was a senior in high school, I was trying to decide whether I should go to a public or private school. I really wanted to attend this small private school I had chosen, so my dad decided it was time for a lesson in economics. He knew I wanted to be a teacher, so he made me figure out how much of an average teacher salary would go towards paying off $50,000 in student loans. He asked me if it would be worth going to this school to pay perhaps half of my monthly income towards loans. I agreed that it would not and decided to go to the public school. Only once I had started school did my father say that if I had believed that it would have been worth $50,000 of my own money, he would've helped me go to the private school. But since it wasn't worth my own money, it must not have been that important to me.

That's an awesome lesson that my father taught me, one that I personally think applies to my American worldview. You spend your own money far more frugally than you do your father's, and certainly far more frugally than you do the government's. People are simply more responsible when they have more responsibility to take care of themselves. We saw that with today's link about sharing: you end up with more Hershey Kisses if you're in charge of your own.

The biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is responsibility. In the US you're individually responsible for far more (and not nearly enough, in my opinion) than you are in Europe. I was responsible for paying for my own college, so I chose wisely and finished quickly. In many European countries, you can take as long as you want to get your degree; it's someone else's Hershey Kisses. I wish we were in charge of our own Social Security in the US, because I could do a much better job of managing it than the government can, to where I could pay for both medicine and travel. Me, myself, paying for it, not the government.

When my husband and I met with a financial advisor, he asked us how much money we wanted to set aside for our children's college funds. We slowly looked at each other, looked back at the advisor, and sheepishly asked if "nothing" was an acceptable answer. We both paid for our own college educations -- he through ROTC, I through academic scholarships -- and we expect our children to do the same. I don't plan to pay for my own child's college; there's no way I would want to pay taxes to make it free for everyone. I don't even like thinking about the tax dollars that fund the Pell grant.

PAC's opinion is completely understandable, given his background, but completely incomprehensible given mine. I can respect that he feels that way, but I certainly don't want my government emulating Europe in that manner.


Response to good to go above.

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I started this blog as a way to try to understand the world we live in. Some days I do just fine. Other days I can't believe the monsters who breathe the same air as I do.

It started last night with this opinion column on the ROTC ban at Columbia:

Joining the military is flushing your education down the toilet. Why would people come here if they were just going to enter the military upon graduation in the first place? It’s like, “Well, I just spent four years learning about mankind’s accomplishments, but all I really want to do is kill people.” I’m not really sure how the Core curriculum is going to come in handy when you’ve been ordered to stack a group of naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid.

I, and I suspect most students on this campus, embrace the “civil-military” gap that ROTC bemoans. The fact is, I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to be in the military at this juncture in American history. Meanwhile, our campus is one of the few remaining places where as students, we can be free from the ever-increasing “let’s roll” mentality that is becoming so dominant in this nation.

Wow. I am shocked someone would say something so nasty. But we're talkin' college kids here, so I'm not that surprised. What did in fact surprise me -- shock the bejesus out of me, to be frank -- was this email Greyhawk got, shocking because it's from a Department of Defense high school teacher:

I hope that your children's teachers offer you children the type of education where they see what a close-minded, blood-thirsty individual you are. You are the type of person who will fight for freedom, all right, as long as it is for the freedom of white, American males. Hitler loved people like you. Of course, like you, I am strictly judging you by your comments, not by actually knowing anything about you or your motivations. And, of course, like you, I am taking everything you say out of context without knowing anything about you. The difference is is that I am actually literate. In fact, aside from judging you to be a bigot, a sexist, and someone who probably didn't do very well in school at all, I would further judge you to be someone who has a hard time passing a pt test. Why don't you "ping the wife" about this one? She is probably happiest when you are not pinging her at all.

A teacher employed by the US Army wrote that letter to Greyhawk. I will never, never grok this world we live in.


Neal Boortz

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Heh, this is why my hair is down to my waist!
When Liberals Are Honest About The War In Iraq
I like Lileks today too.
Selfishness is bad, right?

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February 16, 2005


Perspective: I may be feeling blue, but at least I'm not the soldiers who are face down in 6 inches of snow at the firing range today.
Realization: And it's hard to stay blue when you've got Taco Bell in your tummy and "MMMBop" is on the radio.

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In honor of Annika's poetry Wednesday, I offer a selection from This Is My Beloved, my favorite book of poetry of all time. It was my grandmother's book, and I used to read it sneakily in her house and titter at some of the more intimate passages. When my grandmother moved into a nursing home and whittled her belongings down to one cabinet, I got the book. Now that I am older, I no longer titter. I could read this book a hundred times -- I have -- and still find new delights. Today's passage reflects my mood...

                I waited years today . . . one year for every hour,
all day -- though I knew you could not come till night
I waited . . . and nothing else in this God's hell meant anything.

I had everything you love -- shellfish and saltsticks . . . watercress,
black olives. Wine (for the watch I pawned), real cream
for our coffee. Smoked cheese, currants in port, preserved wild cherries.

I bought purple asters from a pushcart florist and placed them where
they would be between us --
imagining your lovely face among them . . .

But you did not come . . . you did not come.
You did not come. And I left the table lit and your glass filled --
and my glass empty . . . and I went into the night, looking for you.

The glittering pile, Manhattan, swarmed like an uncovered dung heap.
Along the waterfront
manlike shapes all shoulders and collar walked stiffly like shadow figures.

Later, the half-moon rose.
                                        Everywhere the windows falling dark.
By St. Mark's church, under the iron fence, a girl was crying. And the old
steeple was mouldy with moonlight, and I was tired . . . and very lonely.

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When I was chatting with my husband last night, all I could think about was him. He's the one who's devastated that he's not coming home when he thought he would, and he's the one who's ten days longer from toilets, showers, kisses, and rangoons. I honestly was completely focused on his needs...until I was getting ready for bed and realized that all of my friends except one will be snuggling with their husbands this weekend. And I will have three weeks where I have no one to hang out with, no one to be sad with, and no one who still feels like there's a war on. Except for my one friend whose husband will stay as long as mine, and thank heavens I have her. She reminded me last night of what Tim called THE POWER, and she made me laugh that Bunker had told me not to count down on the same day that we realized the count would be different.

Oh, and Red 6 will be here. It sounded like fun to hang out with Red 6 for a week before my own husband got home, but now that I know there will be three weeks between their arrivals, it doesn't seem that fun anymore. On Monday I felt happy for wives whose husbands come home soon. I don't feel so happy for them today, but I am going to try to work on that. Even though mine will be the only soldier-less house on the block, I still will be waiting for the best soldier in the Army to come home. (Best white soldier, huh Kel?)

So I crawled into bed last night with a bowl of ice cream and finished State of Fear. It was a great book. And today is a new day, and my husband comes home in the middle of March. The old arrival date goes down the memory hole and we start fresh. If Tim could do it, so can I.

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February 15, 2005


Bunker's right, I shouldn't start counting down: my husband just found out he has to stay 10 days longer than originally planned. Naturally everyone else is still on schedule to return sometime in the next seven days; he'll be back in mid-March.


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And I'll have to sew the CCB on for my husband. He always tells me he's going to nominate me for the CWB (the Combat Wifeing Badge).

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If the story actually happened the way LT Pantano says it did, then I'm about sick and tired of our soldiers and marines getting charged with murder in Iraq. If I may quote State of Fear...

If someone tried to kill you, you did not have the option of averting your eyes or changing the subject. You were forced to deal with that person's behavior. The experience was, in the end, a loss of certain illusions.

The world was not how you wanted it to be.

The world was how it was.

There were bad people in the world. They had to be stopped.

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I think this is disgusting. In a comparative religion class, no one should be forced to bless Muhammad. Must they also refer to Jesus as "Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior"? I find this outrageous. Comparing religions should be a factual analysis of traditions and customs; students shouldn't have to participate in those customs in the class.

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When I lived in France, I developed an enormous crush on this boy at my school. I got all fluttery when he was around, I always tried to find a way to work him into conversations with my friends, and my eyes were constantly on him whenever he was in the hall. For four months, I turned into a mess of butterflies whenever he was around. And then one day he was gone.

I never even spoke to him.

I know nothing about this boy. I don't even know if he was French or an exchange student like me. I don't know what classes he was taking or where he lived or what his name was or anything. And by the time I had worked up the courage to even think about talking to him, he was gone. I have no idea what happened to him, but I never saw him again for the remaining six months of my time in France.

When I realized that my friendship with my husband was turning into something more than friendship, I knew I didn't want to make the same mistake twice. So I flat out told him one night, told him that I really liked him and that I was starting to think about him all the time, and asked him how he felt. He was quite taken aback, and that's when he gave his famous "well, I like you, but I'm not going to marry you or anything" line. He wasn't quite sure what to think, but he slept on it (for two weeks!) and finally told me that he wanted to be with me too.

That was five years ago today.

I still wonder about that boy in France. Maybe he was irritating, boring, or rude. Maybe he could've turned out to be a really special guy. I'll never know, but I'm grateful for the lesson he taught me. I wouldn't be with my husband today if I hadn't told him how I felt. I learned that taking a risk can be a beautiful thing.

I'll never forget that giddy moment five years ago, sitting on the floor in my husband's dorm room and deciding that we were going to give us a shot.

Greatest moment of my life.
I miss you, husband.

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February 14, 2005


Dear Husband,

A song for you on this special day...

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

I choo-choo-choose you.

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On culture front, we're losing war by Mark Steyn
Arrogant censorship by David Limbaugh
"Dresden Bombing Is To Be Regretted Enormously" interview with Frederick Taylor

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So 20/20 runs the story of Abu Ghraib, and that photo of the hooded fellow shows up on every news site and I-told-you-so blog. It's on the cover of newspapers and magazines, so everyone knows the Official Symbol of Abu Ghraib Torture.

Friday night, 20/20 ran a story about the UN workers who are raping children in the Congo. They have photos of a French man having sex with hundreds of girls. And what is on the main page of the 20/20 website?

Corey f-ing Feldman.

Oh sure, after you click around, you get some fuzzy photos of freaking nothing at all. I'm not saying we should see this monster with a little girl, but surely there's something a little more damning than that purple wallpaper. Surely there's a Defining Photo that should go on the front page of newspapers and magazines.

Heaven forbid that an investigation of 50 aid workers involving hundreds of raped children -- while Kofi himself said that sexual abuse has "haunted peacekeeping operations for decades" -- should be bigger news than Abu Ghraib.

I guess Corey Feldman's more important.

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