April 30, 2007

CONSERVE

Here's an excellent Cold Fury post about "putting the ‘conserve’ back into conservative." It is the most sensible argument for going a little green I've ever read. My husband and I love to play the Stick It To Chavez Game. Every time we buy a new lightbulb or purchase a car, we try to imagine which choice would hurt Chavez the most. And if we save the environment a little along the way, all the better.

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WE SUCK

A great Jonah Goldberg article about how pointless public opinion is:

HUGE NUMBERS of Americans don't know jack about their government or politics. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, 31% of Americans don't know who the vice president is, fewer than half are aware that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House, a mere 29% can identify "Scooter" Libby as the convicted former chief of staff of the vice president, and only 15% can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader.

Also last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales' firing of eight U.S. attorneys was "politically motivated."

So, we are supposed to believe that two-thirds of Americans have studied the details of the U.S. attorney firings and come to an informed conclusion that they were politically motivated — even when Senate Democrats agree that there is no actual evidence that Gonzales did anything improper. Are these the same people who couldn't pick Pelosi out of a lineup? Or the 85% who couldn't name the Senate majority leader? Are we to imagine that the 31% of the electorate who still — after seven years of headlines and demonization — can't identify the vice president of the United States nonetheless have a studied opinion on the firing of New Mexico U.S. Atty. David Iglesias?

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April 26, 2007

NAMING IT DOESN'T MAKE IT SO

Mark Steyn is awesome, as usual: Let's be realistic about reality

But you can't do that at Virginia Tech. Instead, the administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they've created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.

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April 23, 2007

WORK

Interesting study on how women need to quit their bitching: Surprise -- Men Do Just As Much Work As Women Do
For the record, my husband works way more than I do. He always has. Even when I had two jobs and felt like I was going nuts, he was deployed. So he always trumps me.

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April 22, 2007

TRAVEL

I'm back home visiting my parents for the weekend, so I have not been on the computer. Blogging will resume in a few days.

On Friday, my flight schedule was pretty lame. I had a one-hour flight, a four-hour layover, and a 1.5-hour flight. Ugh. As I sat down to whittle away at those four hours in the airport, I realized something horrible: I had left one of my knitting needles on the coffee table at home. Four hours with no knitting and nothing to do except try to drown out the endless CNN loop above my head. I was miserable, as any true knitting addict would be. But I called a knitter friend and laughed at my situation: Here I was in an airport that's a major R&R hub, where I saw dozens of soldiers obviously anxious to get home, and I was ready to cry because I couldn't knit. I joked with my friend that I should tell one of these soldiers how much harder my life is than his because I was having knitting withdrawals.

Ah, that Perspective again...

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April 18, 2007

LINKS

Hilarious line from Steyn: "Apparently, when two hip-hoppers are up on stage doing their 'Who was that ho I saw you with last night?/That was no ho, that was my bitch' shtick, they're just keepin' it real. When a white guy does it, he's just keepin' it real unlikely he'll find gainful employment again."

And from an article by a civilian contractor in Baghdad: "Why are the Democratic Party, the mainstream press, the human rights groups, the UN leadership and the "social justice" crowd currently pushing policy that virtually guarantees an Iraq genocide? Are they not familiar with what transpired after the US abandoned South Vietnam to the communists? Can they not see that their cries for US withdrawal threaten to take Iraq to the same places as the killing fields of Cambodia and Bosnia and Rwanda?"

Also, I've been reading the book The Tipping Point, and I wanted to plug it here, to be a maven for the book, if you will. It is so good, I am reading it with a giddy smile on my face. I love this book. If you're looking for something interesting to read, check The Tipping Point out.

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I'M TWO TODAY!

I met a very shrewd homeless man yesterday. He was camped out in front of the doggy bakery. What a clever idea: nothing says "I have extra cash" like a lady buying sweets for her pup. I had to give him my change after that display of decadence.

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Today is Charlie's 2nd birthday. It seems like an eternity since we celebrated his 1st. This year he doesn't have any friends to invite over, but we're working on it. I think I may have found a rottweiler for him to be friends with.

Charlie's come a long way from impersonating a sweet potato.

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He's a good dog. Mostly.

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April 17, 2007

ANGUISH

Do you know what one man has taken away from this earth? "One of the top five biomechanics researchers in the country, working on movement dynamics in cerebral palsy", and another professor whose "research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures." Not to mention the countless contributions to society these Virginia Tech students could've made after they graduated. I can't even find the words to explain how utterly disgusted and sad I feel.

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FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME

When I was a substitute teacher, there was some sort of verbal exchange going on in the back of the 7th grade classroom. I intervened and must've said something about respecting the students around you -- I don't remember my exact wording, but I'll never forget the reply I got -- and the girl said, "My mom says I don't have to respect anyone who doesn't respect me first." Sheesh. I think about that girl often, especially when I saw one teenage girl who lives in my neighborhood walking down the street wearing a shirt that said "Respect Me!", as if respect is something you can demand without any give-and-take.

This notion of automatic respect is detrimental. You can't preemptively demand respect when you've done nothing to earn it. A person earns respect through his actions and words, not just by saying he wants it. I'm afraid as a society we're starting to get the concept of respect backwards, especially in these days of multiculturalism where everyone is supposed to be respected and revered no matter what.

I thought of that seventh grader today when I read about this poll out of the UK:

There have been calls for a wider debate on whether it is appropriate for the full veil to be worn in public at all. But a Gallup Poll to be published this week found most Muslims firm in the belief that Islamic women should be free to wear it.

While 55 per cent of all those polled thought that removing the veil was vital for integration, only 13 per cent of Muslims agreed.

Instead, they thought that the Government needed to change its economic and political policies toward Islamic countries and show greater respect to Islam.

That last line was the kicker for me. They don't have to do anything to earn the respect, they just should automatically get it. Most British Muslims are just regular upstanding people, but there's still a scary contingent out there that thinks the London bombing was justified and that "Western society is decadent and immoral and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end." Explain to me why people like that deserve respect when they certainly don't give it.

I'm kinda tired of this whole "you must respect me" nonsense, especially from a religion that has major global problems. I think Islam needs to start earning respect.

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WHAT PEOPLE EARN

I just got around to flipping through the weekend's Parade Magazine, and it was pretty depressing. It was the annual edition of "What People Earn," complete with articles about how only rich people make any money. Sigh.

By most economic measures, 2006 was a great year. Despite rising interest rates, high oil prices and the sharpest housing downturn in 15 years, inflation was low, productivity rose steadily, corporate profits reached a 40-year high, the stock market soared and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6%—the lowest level in more than five years. Strong hiring in service businesses like education, health care, finance, travel and entertainment more than offset big job losses in the auto and housing sectors.

But in the midst of this booming economy, more than two-thirds of Americans told pollsters that they don’t believe life for their children’s generation will be better than it has been for them. Only 27% of those surveyed last year thought the nation was headed in the right direction; and this year, 71% of respondents said the country was on the wrong track.

Why are the American people so stupid? Have we really become a country where we don't think we're making progress? That is just sad.

“I’m sorry to say I feel the rich are getting richer, and the rest of us are fighting to survive,” says DeAnna Forman, who made $25,000 as a bartender in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “I feel like I’m always trying to catch up.” Kirk Kuchera, who earned $8,300 as a behavioral counselor for youth in Austin, Minn., agrees. “It appears to me that the lower middle class continues to work its way down the economic ladder, while those at the top of the corporate ladder move higher and higher at an unbelievable pace,” he says.

It appears to me that you need to take an economics class, or at least read a Thomas Sowell book. I know, when we type up the section not-so-cleverly entitled "The Rich Get Richer," let's not actually quote any rich people! Let's just quote bartenders and other player-haters who have a chip on their shoulder! Great idea, roll presses. How about actually asking one of these elusive Rich People™ how much money he had to spend in order to become rich, or how high his blood pressure is, or how many times his cell phone rings when he's on vacation. Then ask the bartender the same questions.

Experts are concerned about wage inequality too. “We’re in an economy that provides outsized, almost lottery-style gains to certain people in certain professions,” says John Challenger, president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm.

"Lottery-style gains." Nice wording. Nevermind how many years you go to college or how hard you work or how creative or inventive you are...you've simply won the lottery if you strike it rich. It's just, like, so unfair, man, that the florist and the yoga instructor can't make as much as the CEO of Halliburton. (Yes, that's right, they put the CEO of Halliburton's salary right next to the Air Force staff sergeant's, coincidentally right above the salary for someone who works in product placement.) I should totally be able to be a high school counselor and have weekends and holidays off and also get lottery-style gains! Stupid rich people.

In summary: The future of this country is going to hell in a handbasket, except for all these Clampetts who somehow managed to become CEOs. And life's not fair.

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April 16, 2007

TOKEN

There's an argument going on at Political Radar over Hillary Clinton's qualifications for being president. I thought this comment by "colin" was spot-on:

Yeah it would be nice to have a woman be our President. But we cheapen the historical significance of such an event by putting our hands over our eyes to the weaknesses of a female presidential candidate just so we have a skirt at the podium with the seal of the President of the United States.

That's how Halle Berry won an Oscar, and it's the driving force behind affirmative action. When you pick someone based on anything other than his actual qualifications, you are screwing up. Who wants a token for a president?

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April 15, 2007

SPOUSEBUZZ LIVE

It's called SpouseBUZZ Live. Here are just a few of the key ingredients: dynamite, pole vaulting, laughing gas, choppers -- can you see how incredible this is going to be? -- hang gliding, come on!

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Bottle Rocket quotes aside, if you're anywhere near California in mid-May and want to come to a fun event, SpouseBUZZ Live is the place to be! Click on the logo for more info.

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April 14, 2007

DREAMS MORE PRESSING THAN KNITTING

Victor Davis Hanson has a dream:

In this dream, I heard our ex-presidents add to this chorus of war-time solidarity. Jimmy Carter reminded Americans that radical Islam had started in earnest on his watch, out of an endemic hatred of all things Western. I imagined him explaining that America began being called the “Great Satan” during the presidential tenure of a liberal pacifist, not a Texan conservative.

Bill Clinton would likewise add that he bombed Iraq, and Afghanistan, and East Africa without congressional or U.N. approval because of the need for unilateral action against serial terrorism and the efforts of radicals to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

George Bush Sr. would in turn lecture the media that it was once as furious at him for not removing Saddam as it is now furious at his son for doing so; that it was once as critical of him for sending too many troops to the Middle East as it is now critical of his son for sending too few; that it was once as hostile to the dictates of his excessively large coalition as it is now disparaging of his son’s intolerably small alliance; that it was once as dismissive of his old concern about Iranian influence in Iraq as it is now aghast at his son’s naiveté about Tehran’s interest in absorbing southern Iraq; and that it was once as repulsed by his own cynical realism as it is now repulsed by his son’s blinkered idealism.

And Bill Whittle has posted Seeing the Unseen Part 2

Reader Oda Mae had a visitor when we lived in Germany who came to work on a project with Germans for a few weeks. He told a story at dinner that the Germans told him they could never imagine living in the United States, that it is so scary that the government could just make a person disappear. Oda Mae's friend looked at them puzzled and asked what on earth they were talking about. They replied, "Well, we've seen it on Enemy of the State." They thought a Will Smith movie was the truth about the US government.

Wow.

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April 13, 2007

LIFE IS GOOD

You know your life is remarkably good when your dreams are filled with knitting angst. If the hardest thing I have to deal with in my life is whether the best way to connect all these colored squares I've been making into a blanket is whipstitch or single crochet, then life is good indeed.

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SMOKING

As someone who has a hard time falling asleep, I found this utterly hilarious.

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ROYALTY

I heard this story on the radio yesterday -- that British swans were turning pink and some American scientists found a cure -- and what struck me and made me laugh is that the swans on the Thames river belong to the Queen, because apparently in the 12th century the Crown claimed ownership. Ha! Royalty is so weird.

I'm reminded of my Swedish class; our teacher used to organize these debates about social issues, and they were always a lot of fun. But I'll never forget the time she tried to divide the class to argue for and against having a royal family. No one could think of a single reason to argue for it! So we ended up as a class debating the teacher. We kept asking her how a people who are so intense about equality and lagom could be content to pay up to 60% of their income in taxes while another family got a free ride. You see this dress Victoria is wearing? You paid for it! Our teacher clearly didn't understand our protestations, saying that Swedes liked the royals and thought it was a good tradition. But she didn't get any takers among the Americans to argue for royalty.

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THE RIGHT BOYS

I got my first kiss while I was wearing a tuxedo.

It was a friend's 13th birthday party, which was the same night as the Morton Pumpkin Festival. (Yeah, that's not a joke. I love the Midwest.) We would attend the party for a while, and then my friend and I would rush to the festival where we were performing a lip sync of "The Chapel of Love." (This story didn't feel that ridiculous until I started writing it down.) Anyway, I was the groom in this dance number, so halfway through the birthday party, I went off to change into my tux. I came back to say goodbye, and my darling boyfriend took me over by the window and gave me my first kiss under the moonlight.

I was reminded of how wonderful that moment was when I read this paragraph in a long letter to surly teenage boys:

Look all people in the eye, even the haggard mother-types. Women like me, the ones who buy baby wipes and supersize tampons and organic milk and a guilty 24-inch Slim Jim and Us Weekly? We remember you. We remember you well. Not you in particular, but we remember how those of your age and species treated us at an early and difficult age, and it mattered. It mattered more than you knew at the time, more than we knew at the time. What you do now, how you treat the young women in your life after your shift at Big Y? I am here to tell you that it matters very much.

I am a lucky woman. I am lucky because I somehow managed to associate with boys who treated me well at the age when it mattered.

This boy from the birthday party, he was a dream. He still is. He is still one of the nicest men I have ever met, and I try to remind his parents of it every time I see them. He was a hopeless romantic, constantly writing me love letters and bringing me potted violets to the school dance. He was adorable and thoughtful and wonderful, and when I went to my high school reunion, my husband jokingly reminded me not to go home with this guy when it was over. He is the exact perfect first boyfriend anyone could ever want for her daughter. I was so lucky.

The second boyfriend was also a perfect gentleman. He was darling and nice and sweet and we could kiss until the cows came home. Oh, how we kissed. I can't tell you how many movies I was supposed to have seen in 1991 that I completely missed because I could sit lip-locked with this boy for hours on end. It makes me giggle to think about how naive and sweet we were together, just holding hands and kissing endlessly. And he too has turned into a wonderful adult. He's a C-17 pilot, and in fact I saw him a few weeks ago as he passed through town after shuttling soldiers to Iraq.

My third boyfriend never got the chance to turn into a wonderful adult. He was killed in a car accident when we were 16, so in my mind he'll always be the eccentric 8th grader who was really into Canned Heat and The Doors at a time when everyone else was out buying Vanilla Ice. I told him I loved him after we watched Pink Floyd's The Wall, and he broke his nose trying to sneak over to my house in the middle of the night. He's been gone for half my life, and I still miss him and wish I could've seen him grow up.

I had other boyfriends in my life, and some were better choices than others. But no one -- save my husband -- can top these three, the three who perfectly capture how teenage boys should treat girls. During middle school, when so many kids have a rough time, I met some of the best men I've ever known. I love these boys and always will. If I have a daughter, she will know these stories; if I have a son, he will have big shoes to fill.

I remember exactly how I was treated at 13. I was blessed.

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April 12, 2007

SLAG OFF

Lileks writes about Hewitt's new book on Mitt Romney:

The point is made with greater clarity in Hugh’s book, which cautions against putting Belief into the mainstream pundit’s meat-grinder. Because once Faith is a fair target, every aspect of faith will be put under the microscope. If you can dismiss a candidate for his belief in the golden tablets, then transubstantiation is next on the list. You want to snigger about Mormon undergarments? Fine; the next time a Sikh runs for public office, quiz him about the same issue. You want to probe a Mormon for the ways in which their Jesus narrative varies, you’d best do the same to a Muslim candidate. And if you can’t see yourself standing up in a press conference asking a Muslim candidate whether Christians will have a problem with him because he doesn’t think Christ died on the cross, you’d best throttle back your zeal for digging into a Mormon.

Amen to that. I can understand how a person can believe one religion and reject others, how he might think someone else is wrong or misguided or ignorant, but I cannot stand it when someone thinks another's religion is weirder than his.

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WAR

I started watching War in Europe tonight, and I realized I had never before heard Roosevelt's Washington's Birthday Speech as the US entered WWII. Boy, how I wish I could hear this speech today. The whole thing is awesome, but this was the part I heard on the movie:

We know now that if we lose this war it will be generations or even centuries before our conception of democracy can live again. And we can lose this war only if use slow up our effort or if we waste our ammunition sniping at each other.

Here are three high purposes for every American:

1. We shall not stop work for a single day. If any dispute arises we shall keep on working while the dispute is solved by mediation, or conciliation or arbitration -- until the war is won.

2. We shall not demand special gains or special privileges or special advantages for any one group or occupation.

3. We shall give up conveniences and modify the routine of our lives if our country asks us to do so. We will do it cheerfully, remembering that the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land.

This generation of Americans has come to realize, with a present and personal realization, that there is something larger and more important than the life of any individual or of any individual group -- something for which a man will sacrifice, and gladly sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his associations with those he loves, but his life itself. In time of crisis when the future is in the balance, we come to understand, with full recognition and devotion, what this nation is and what we owe to it.

And Roosevelt discussed the flypaper strategy long before Andrew Sullivan:

Those Americans who believed that we could live under the illusion of isolationism wanted the American eagle to imitate the tactics of the ostrich. Now, many of those same people, afraid that we may be sticking our necks out, want our national bird to be turned into a turtle. But we prefer to retain the eagle as it is -- flying high and striking hard.

I know I speak for the mass of the American people when I say that we reject the turtle policy and will continue increasingly the policy of carrying the war to the enemy in distant lands and distant waters -- as far away as possible from our own home grounds.

But imagine anyone accepting this from today's president:

Your Government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn, have complete confidence that your Government is keeping nothing from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of truth between government and the people, but there must also always be a full use of discretion, and that word "discretion" applies to the critics of government as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told, the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do, and they will pay little attention to the rumor-mongers and the poison peddlers in our midst.

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EXTENSION

Deployments have been extended to 15 months. I understand this. I know why it has to be done and why it makes sense. I consider us lucky that we even have deployment "ends", unlike in WWII when they fought until they were dead or the war ended, whichever came first. I know all of these things logically, and I accept them as a consequence of war. But. I know what my husband was like after 13 months of non-stop work. I heard his voice around the ninth month, right before R&R, when he sounded robotic and detached. I felt his monotony and f*ck-it attitude in every conversation we had. That's a long time to be at war. I feel sorry for these soldiers who will have to ball up and tough it out.

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