June 30, 2006

RETURN TO THE BLEAT

I've kinda gotten away from the blogosphere. I didn't read any blogs while we were moving, and it's been hard to get back in the habit, to be honest. When you're gone for a while, I think you forget what you're missing, that is until I read The Bleat today. I missed Lileks. I had forgotten how...comforting it is to read his bleat. Sometimes I wonder what Gnat will think in fifteen years, how she'll feel about growing up in front of everyone's eyes. It's like being a child celebrity in a small circle. The Bleat is the most intimate blog out there; it's easy for us to rant about politics, but Lileks bares his soul. And gets hate mail, go figure.

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June 28, 2006

READ

Christopher Hitchens: Four Projects for Righteous Anti-War Types

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COOL

Last night I started working on my first double knitting project. That's where you knit a double-sided piece, working the front and back at the same time so it's reversible. It's a bit of a challenge to get started, but it's a whole lot of fun once you get going. I just grabbed two shades of green to make a scarf for the practice, so here's the front and back; you can see how the colors are reversed but there's no right/wrong side. Cool, huh?

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If you're interested in watching this process, a video is available at the awesome site KnittingHelp.com!

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June 27, 2006

REQUIEM

Rob of Gut Rumbles passed away yesterday. That man had a scathing personality and I sure wouldn't want to get on his bad side, but his blog always had something original to say. He often made me laugh, usually at something that no one else would ever say. His voice will be missed.

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June 26, 2006

GORE

Al Gore was just on Keith Olbermann a few minutes ago; they compared global warming skeptics to flat earthers and people who thought the moon landing was faked. That's a bit of a stretch, people. Then Olbermann said that people who don't believe in global warming are usually people who only think the earth is a couple thousand years old, and Gore starts quoting scripture on why people should pay attention to climate change. What? There are scientists who disagree with the hockey stick and data on carbon dioxide levels, but Gore just dismissed them all as "outliers" and shills. I'm amazed that Gore feels comfortable dismissing a paleoclimatologist as wrong and uninformed: what exactly is Gore's science background? He didn't even bother to memorize some data to refute Patterson; he just waved his hand and declared global warming to be a fact. How convincing...

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June 23, 2006

MUSTARD GAS

I've heard some people are dismissing the "WMDs" that were found in Iraq because they're old. Actually, when I did some googling, I found that Fox and CNN interpreted an AP article quite differently.

Fox:

A defense official told FOX News that the weapons probably can't be used in their current form because of their age, but the report notes that they are still hazardous and possibly lethal to coalition forces.

CNN:

A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were not considered likely to be dangerous because of their age.

Those convey considerably different meaning, huh?

Anyway, Kalroy reminded me of an email he sent me two years ago. An old WWII round was found off the coast of Delaware in 2004. When EOD came in to detonate the 11-inch round, the mustard agent was released. And this is what happened to the EOD person who came in contact with the round...

(Be forewarned that this photo is disturbing.)

I don't mean to gross anyone out; I know I haven't been able to get this image out of my mind for the past two years. But this round was obviously not too old to be dangerous. I don't know any specifics on the rounds that have been found in Iraq, but if an 11-inch round that's 60 years old can do this to someone who was opening it in a controlled situation, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to say that these rounds in Iraq are too old to be used as weapons. I know I wouldn't want to take my chances.


(Thanks to Kal for reminding me of this and providing the information. I'm also glad you're not working in this field anymore!)

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June 22, 2006

SARIN

I happened to be flipping channels this morning and saw Santorum talking about the sarin shells that have been found in Iraq. It's not exactly a fat man and little boy pointed straight at NYC, but it's something at least worth talking about. The Fox and Friends people asked Santorum why Bush isn't shouting this from the rooftops, and he said that the White House is no longer interested in debating the reason we went to war in the first place. And the Fox people simply reamed the president. They said that he has a duty to discuss this because most of the country is still discussing it, and that since we as a country are paying for this war, we deserve to still talk about the reason it happened. They went off, and I think they have a point.

I personally believe that history will be on President Bush's side. No one liked Lincoln at the time, but now he's the only president many people can name, and I have a feeling that history could treat Bush similarly. But sometimes I get annoyed that he seems to be sitting back and letting history take her sweet time. 500 sarin shells isn't all we expected Iraq to have, but I think the American public needs to know it was found. Santorum shouldn't have to go on a crusade to present information that most Americans would be interested in hearing. I don't think it should be a "ha, we told you so" revelation, but the info should be put out there. I think those Fox people were right: much of the country is still quite wrapped up in the WMD debate, and they need all the facts in order to hold informed opinions. And this fact somewhat justifies the president; I have no idea why he wouldn't want to put it out there.

But what I don't understand could fill a warehouse.

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June 20, 2006

SQUEAKY

Many people who work for the Army in certain aspects -- finance, housing, health clinic come to mind -- hate their jobs because if someone's in their office, he's probably mad. My husband realized this when he started working in Finance: it used to frustrate him that people always came in guns blazing, so he and I have always tried to be extra understanding and extra benefit-of-the-doubt-giving in these offices. But we're slowly learning the lesson of the squeaky wheel.

The first thing my husband did when we got our cell phones was to go in to Inbound Transportation and give them our phone number. They assured us that they would call us when our household goods arrived. It's been two and a half weeks since then, and we've started getting antsy. Eleven days on an air mattress can do that do you. So my husband went by their office today to see what was going on. Our stuff has been here since 6 June, but "they didn't have our phone number." My husband watched someone write it down on a paper in our file on 2 June, but apparently that paper is lost and no one in Transportation seemed to care that much. And it gets worse: they are so busy that they can't deliver our stuff until 5 July. So we'll live in this city for six months, and our stuff will languish in storage for a month of it because they lost our phone number.

And I knew I had a bad feeling about it. Some of our friends got their stuff two weeks ago, and I knew that our stuff couldn't be this far behind. But I didn't want to be the guns-blazing type who goes into Transportation every day and demands her stuff. I figured that I would give them their space since they assured us they'd call. Silly me.

Two years ago my friend's husband didn't get his reenlistment bonus. He politely pointed this out to Finance three times, each time to no avail, and his bonus came a full year late. My husband joked that he hates when soldiers go straight to IG with asinine complaints, but my friend's husband sure would've gotten service faster if he'd headed straight to the top instead of putting faith in the system. If he'd come in guns blazing, someone would've helped him. The squeaky wheel tactic works.

I want to be an understanding and cooperative family, especially if we're staying in this system for another 16 years. But I am already tired of getting screwed over. There are medical appointments if you bark loud enough. Reenlistment bonuses come when you shout. And your household goods get delivered a month earlier if you pester Transportation.

From now on, I guess I'm squeaky.

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WHEW

A refreshing and rejuvenating blog post: How far is far enough?

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HUH?

This article is a bit old, but I couldn't believe it when I read it via Powerline. Just wow. An older married couple gets all hot and heavy and "forgets" to use birth control. The lady can't get the morning after pill in her area, so she gets pregnant and has an abortion. And she blames Bush for her abortion. Wow. How 'bout blaming your freaking self for not being smart enough to calm down for two seconds and use some danged birth control? Do people ever take personal responsibility for anything these days?

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June 19, 2006

GRITTY

My friend Vonn alerted me to a knitting show many months ago, so when I got to the US, I looked it up. I've been happily watching Knitty Gritty since, and even though a lot of the shows are pretty basic for me, I find I've learned a lot. In fact, yesterday I learned that I yarn over incorrectly, and today I learned a much better way to pick up stitches from the heel gusset of a sock. The show is great because I can actually see someone knitting, a bonus for me since I learned to knit via the telephone! I only ever had two knitting lessons with my teacher, so everything else I've learned from a book or made up as I went along. I think Knitty Gritty is a great tool for beginner knitters...too bad that all my students are still stuck in Germany!

I also think it's hilarious that my mother-in-law watches the show. We found it last month at her house and she watched all the episodes with me, but she keeps watching it! And she doesn't knit! If she keeps watching the show, she's gonna learn how to knit whether she likes it or not.

By the way, my mom wanted to see my latest scarf:

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The details don't show up very well online, but it's dainty and pretty.

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GRR

The NY Post reports that Jerome Armstrong went on stock trading chat sites and hyped up stocks without mentioning that he was paid by the company. That's so dishonest I can't even believe it. I found the link via LGF and then followed it to Daily Kos to see what they had to say about the article. Several people seemed troubled by Armstrong's past, but many commenters flat out said that they were skeptical of the information because it came from the NY Post.

Frankly, I'm tired of that crap. Fox News is usually on the receiving end of that kind of nonsense: how many times have I heard someone sneeringly say something like, "Where'd you hear that, Fox News?" Fox may come off as pro-American, but people like to act like Fox is making up news stories. That's complete crap.

Armstrong was charged by the SEC in 2003; there's a civil suit on record. The NY Post didn't just make that up out of thin air. It disgusts me that people find it so easy to dismiss news just because they don't like where they heard it.

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June 18, 2006

DAD

I wish our household goods were here so I could post my favorite photo of my dad. But it will have to wait until the end of the month for his birthday (our stuff better be here by then!) He said if the weather was nice he'd go fishing but if it rained he'd go to the office. Hope he went fishing...

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June 17, 2006

GRADES

Ann Althouse posts about a high school with 41 valedictorians. Apparently that school rewards everyone with a GPA over 4.0, regardless of rank. That sucks. I thought my school's system was fair: 4.0 was the highest GPA you could get, but there was an entirely different ranking system for weighted courses. Thus someone who took all "basic" classes and got straight A's would receive a 4.0 but would not be anywhere near the top of the class; someone who took all "advanced" classes and got one B would be salutatorian, and those who took all advanced classes with all A's would be valedictorian. We had 8 valedictorians and 2 salutatorians. (Or was it 7 and 3? See how important it turned out to be?) Among the top 8, we all knew who really deserved honors. I went to high school with people who did relativistic physics for fun and calculus in their sleep. There were also valedictorians who simply knew How School Worked and did what it took to get the necessary A's. It's a shame there was no way to really distinguish between the geniuses and the rest of us folks, but I suppose what they've done after high school is the real proof of their smarts.

Incidentally, several of us got together once when we were graduating from college and compared when we had finally broken our 4.0s. One friend was bummed that he was the first to lose it, but we had to remind him that getting one B at Princeton was nothing to be bummed about!

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June 16, 2006

TALK

My husband and I were talking about global warming the other day. We both think it's sad that many people don't even allow room for talk on the subject. I'm no scientist, and I've done zero research on climate. However, I am interested in any research on the topic and am not 100% convinced that there's anything like consensus or that we'll find definitive answers any time soon. I do think it's a shame that global warming has already become a "fact"; several scientists apparently don't consider it a fact at all. But I guess that I shouldn't be surprised that people would rather argue than talk.

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LINK

A long article on the threat that is political correctness. The crowning example:

Political Correctness can reach absurd levels. Early in June 2006, Canadian police arrested a group of men suspected of planning terror attacks. The group was alleged to have been “well-advanced on its plan” to attack a number of Canadian institutions, among them the Parliament of Canada, including a possible beheading of the Prime Minister, and Toronto’s subway. However, the lead paragraph of newspaper Toronto Star’s story on the arrests was: “In investigators’ offices, an intricate graph plotting the links between the 17 men and teens charged with being members of a homegrown terrorist cell covers at least one wall. And still, says a source, it is difficult to find a common denominator.” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell said that the suspects were all Canadian residents and the majority were citizens. “They represent the broad strata of our community. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed,” he said. However, there was one common denominator for the suspects that wasn’t mentioned: They were all Muslims. The front page article in the New York Times (June 4), too, was a study in how to avoid using the dreaded “M” word. The terrorist suspects were referred to as “Ontario residents,” “Canadian residents,” “the group,” “mainly of South Asian descent” or “good people.” Everything conceivable, just not as “Muslims.”

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FOUR YEARS

When we got married, we had extra space in the back of our wedding album, so we decided to take an anniversary photo every year to keep the album going throughout our marriage. Our four years include moving into our new house in Germany, being apart during Iraq, getting a new puppy, and sitting in an empty apartment waiting for our household goods. Have we aged at all? I don't think so, but I can't wait to look back on these four photos in about 20 years!

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June 15, 2006

TODAY

The best decision I ever made was to tell that boy across the hall from me that I had a crush on him. If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have been standing across from him four years ago today. And then we wouldn't have added that silly puppy to our family one year ago!

We're celebrating our anniversary by going to the port and picking up our car, which has made its way across the Atlantic. And hopefully we can stop at The Bell along the way.

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June 14, 2006

UGH

I'm thrilled to be back to watching South Park on TV. It's been three years, so we're behind on new episodes. We happened to catch the Paris Hilton episode the other night, and I loved the moral of the story: "Being spoiled and stupid and whorish is supposed to be a bad thing, remember? Parents, if you don't teach your children that people like Paris Hilton are supposed to be despised, where are they gonna learn it?" I couldn't help but think about this when I was flipping channels today and happened across The View. Apparently Paris Hilton is going to guest on the show tomorrow, and the women were all excited and defending her when some audience members tsk-tsked. Now, maybe they don't get any say in who is a guest, so maybe they have to pretend to be excited even if they hate Paris Hilton, but since when should someone like Barbara Walters ever say that Paris Hilton is a "cute and sweet girl"? What has the world come to when a 77-yr-old woman is defending the honor of a girl who answers her cell phone during sex on a porn video? I don't understand why she's even on The View, or why anyone even cares about her at all, but I guess that's the whole point of the opening scene in this South Park episode...

Bebe: Come on, Wendy, we're gonna miss it.
Wendy: We're gonna miss what?
Bebe: Paris Hilton is making an appearance at the mall.
Wendy: Who's Paris Hilton?
Red: "Who's Paris Hilton?"
Annie: You don't know?
Announcer: [someone takes a picture as he approaches the mic.] Hello, everyone! [drumroll] The Guess Clothing Company is pleased to have as its new spokesperson model, a woman all you young ones can look up to, Ms. Paris Hilton. [she appears and flashbulbs go off amid squeals from females in the crowd. She then lifts her bra and shows off her breasts]
Bebe: Wow, that's really her! Paris! Over here!
Wendy: I don't get it. What does she do?
Annie: She's super-rich!
Wendy: ...but what does she do?
Red: She's totally spoiled and savvy.
Wendy: [annoyed] What does she do?!
Man: [walks by and overhears] She's a whore. [takes his camera and snaps a few pictures]

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YAY

armybirthday.jpg

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