November 30, 2008
The du Toits are done blogging.
And so, it has come to this.
Preaching to the Choir
I can't even say any more.
I am crying.
Thomas Sowell's Ivan and Boris Again:
It may tell us something painful about many Americans today, when so many people are preoccupied with the pay of corporate CEOs. It is not that the corporate CEOs pay affects them so much. If every oil-company executive in America agreed to work for nothing, that would not be enough to lower the price of a gallon of gasoline by a dime. If every General Motors executive agreed to work for nothing, that would not lower the price of a Cadillac or a Chevrolet by one percent.
Too many people are like Ivan, who wanted Boriss goat to die.
November 28, 2008
I am thankful for...
Nelson Ascher's Forget The Idiots Today
Lilek's Notes From the Olive Garden
Den Beste's Cultural Cross-Pollination
Marc Miyake's Pariah Against a Prophet
The Dissident Frogman's Consecration
Bill Whittle's Courage
Varifrank's Thank You For Delaying My Flight
Kim du Toit's The Pussification of the Western Male
Mrs du Toit's Fight or Flee
Greyhawk's On Leaving
AWTM's Trick or Treat
Joan d'Arc's I'll Make It Up To You
Rachel Lucas' You're Decent, But Just Confused and Stupid
CaliValleyGirl's Permanent Party
Crazy Aunt Purl's Fat Girl
I know I have forgotten posts and that there are many more that I am thankful for. But I have been working on this for over two hours, and I just have to let it be.
Please leave links in the comments if you have blog posts you are thankful for.
November 26, 2008
Something caught my eye in the MSNBC article:
Alex Chamberlain, a British restaurant-goer at the Oberoi, told Sky News television that the attackers singled out Britons and Americans. He said a gunman, who appeared to be in his early 20s, ushered 30 or 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and ordered everyone to put up their hands.
"They were talking about British and Americans specifically. There was an Italian guy, who, you know, they said: 'Where are you from?' And he said he's from Italy and they said 'fine' and they left him alone. And I thought: 'Fine, they're going to shoot me if they ask me anything and thank God they didn't," he said.
Perhaps he just meant that they would recognize his accent, but the way I read it was that he would tell them the truth. If that's the right reading, he is very brave.
What would you do? Would you say that you're an American or would you lie and say you're Canadian or fake a French accent?
I think I would tell the truth. I hope I would.
Jeff Russo says the decline of the textile industry left his family business, Greenville Industrial Rubber & Gasket Co. Inc., with about $1.5 million less in annual revenue.
So he can't understand why the federal government is now spending billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail out financial-services firms and, possibly, domestic auto makers.
Russo was so upset by the government bailouts that he started flying the U.S. flag upside down outside of his business on Poinsett Highway as a protest. Russo said he got no objections for about a month. Then a veteran complained, and a local TV station aired a report about his gesture, and he got a slew of e-mails and voice mails.
Tuesday, Russo said he loves his country and turned the flag upside down -- a sign of distress -- because he's concerned for its future.
"The government never once bailed the textile industry out. You're talking hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in this area, including my company. We lost a million and a half dollars a year," Russo said.
"You know what the government told us? Re-educate yourself. Go after new markets. They didn't give us a bailout. I'm trying to represent every small businessman in the country. We don't get bailouts. We're responsible for our business, our employees. The buck stops here. They never have given us a bailout, never will give us a bailout, and we are the backbone of this country.
"By doing this I think I am a patriot," Russo said. "I love this country, and I don't want to see it go down the tubes."
From The Flag Code:
(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
In searching for the article, I found other examples of upside down flags:
- "discontent about not having a VA hospital in the Rio Grande Valley" [here]
- "to show they didn't agree with the way the presidential election was conducted" [here]
- "unhappy with the results of the presidential election and the general state of the U.S." [here]
And these are all just from this month!
Some veterans have apparently complained in each case, saying it's disrespectful to the flag and not the distress signal that was intended in the flag code.
What do you think?
Personally, if I had heard any of the other three stories I bulletted, I wouldn't have bothered to write this post. But that first story really intrigues me.
Right now I am at the part where Cherryl Taggart realizes that Jim isn't who she thought he was.
"Jim, what is it that you want to be loved for?"
"What a cheap shopkeeper's attitude!"
She did not speak; she looked at him, her eyes stretched by a silent question."
"To be loved for!" he said, his voice grating with mockery and righteousness. "So you think that love is a matter of mathematics, of exchange, of weighing and measuring, like a pound of butter on a grocery counter? I don't want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself -- not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself -- not for my body or mind or words or works or actions."
"But then...what is yourself?"
"If you loved me, you wouldn't ask it."
Last week, I met a neighbor, one of those people who likes to psychoanalyze everyone. I made a joke in the group about how my husband has never been described as "nice," which is true: my husband has many wonderful qualities, but "nice" doesn't really suit him. The neighbor asked me what quality first drew me to my husband. I sat for a moment, deciding between his intellect and his integrity. As I thought on, I realized I ought to indicate his intellect, since his integrity is something that I have grown to see over the years and not necessarily something I knew right from the beginning.
The neighbor interrupted my thoughts, saying that I was taking too long, that a real answer would come from the gut and not require so much deliberation.
I said, "His intellect." The neighbor looked at me like that was a cheap thing to be loved for.
What I wish I'd answered, what I thought of later that night, is that my love for my husband doesn't come from my gut; it comes from my brain. I love him with my mind, not with my heart. A quick response to that question would be false, because the response has to come from my thought process.
My husband and I were in the same friend group for about six months before we began dating. I remember vividly at one point telling a mutual friend that I could see myself marrying someone like Mr. Grok. I was reminded of that today when I saw who Cherryl thought she was marrying. And I realized that the love that developed for my husband was similar to what Dagny feels for John Galt: she loved him even before she knew he existed. I loved my husband's qualities before I ever had any inkling he would become my husband. In fact, he had declined my suggestion that we date. Weeks later, he came to me with his mind and said that he had made a mistake and we should be together. We figuratively shook on it, and that was that.
Effectively, our love was transacted like a pound of butter on a grocery counter.
My husband earned my love. I too had to earn it from him, and it took him two weeks longer than I to weigh the merits of it. And the moments when I feel the most love for my husband, the moments when it feels like my heart is swelling, it is really my brain swelling. It happens when he has excelled at a task, when he has become frustrated with himself because he didn't live up to his potential, or when he has displayed his sharp wit or keen intellect.
I don't think my neighbor would've understood that.
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
November 25, 2008
For "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)", Pink Floyd needed to record a school choir, so they approached music teacher Alun Renshaw of Islington Green School, around the corner from their Britannia Row Studios. The chorus was overdubbed twelve times to give the impression that the choir was larger. The choir were not allowed to hear the rest of the song after singing the chorus. Though the school received a lump sum payment of £1000, there was no contractual arrangement for royalties. Under 1996 UK copyright law, they became eligible, and after choir members were tracked down by royalties agent Peter Rowan of RBL Music, through the website Friends Reunited, they sued. Music industry professionals estimated that each student would be owed around £500.
Does anyone else find this sad? It's not enough to say that you were a kid who got to sing on a Pink Floyd album? Instead, 15 years later, you sue the band to get 700 bucks.
And I love the idea that some "royalties lawyer" went hunting around for these forty year olds to let them know that they could sue.
I think we have collectively lost our everlovin' minds on this planet.
November 24, 2008
The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.
Read the other nine.
Just wanted to make sure that you didn't slip in the shower or anything...no long email needed, just a sign of life!
I am here, just busy. Worked all day Saturday. Stayed up until 3 AM online with Amritas. Babysat yesterday. Eek. I came home from the experience thinking that there's no way I can be a mother, that I will do a horrible job, that I don't have the patience.
And then I caught my favorite episode of Scrubs ever, and realized that I probably will find the courage.
I got in bed last night and grabbed my Atlas Shrugged. And I remembered something that I hadn't thought of until last night: the men of Galt's Gulch only lived there one month of the year. They weren't allowed to wall themselves off from the reality of life; they had to keep jobs and live amongst the looters. But they returned to the gulch once a year to be with likeminded individuals.
So really, we have this gulch. The gulch is any time we get together, at the Milblogs Conference, at a SpouseBUZZ, at a house in Ohio, or even just typing on the internet until 3 AM.
Seems like we've had our gulch all along.
November 22, 2008
I sent an email to my husband asking him what his thoughts were on Victory in Iraq Day. He hasn't gotten back to me, so I don't have his opinion on the matter yet.
But Michael Yon's opinion counts for a lot in my book, and the fact that he left Iraq and headed to Afghanistan, saying, "The war is over and we won," well, I think that means something.
So today I quote from Bill Whittle's Victory:
"America bring democracy, whiskey and sexy!" said that unknown Iraqi man. This is not a trivial statement. He is saying that for the first time in thirty years, he will have his own chance for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I thought his English was dead-on.
I hope these people stagger out into the sunlight of real freedom with a willingness to do those two simple things that seem to work so well: work hard, and trust each other. I think they will. They started civilization. They have earned, and well deserve, the chance to enjoy the fruits of it once again.
I hope they will resist the temptation to let oil revenues steer their future. It is not, in fact, a blessing. They are about to start to reap the benefits of the wealth of their nation. I hope they have the wisdom to channel that wealth into their people, into their education, their technical and artistic skill that was once so well represented in the cradle of law and good government. I hope for world-renowned universities in Baghdad and in An-Nasiriyah, producing respected scholars and scientists. I hope for productive farms in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, feeding the millions of the entire region, just as there were thousands of years ago. I hope for high-tech factories in Basra and Tikrit, textile mills in Kirkuk and cell-phone design firms in Mosul. And above all I hope they have the courage to read and study history, and to implement a system that looks something like the ones that allow these daily miracles in the West.
I hope that some day they might be able to forgive us the pain we had to cause them to get rid of that devil, that threat, and his evil toys. Many already do. I hope, and believe, that many more will do so in the years to come. We are still so very, very early in this long and difficult process. But perhaps, some day, they will be able to see that not only Iraqis died for a free Iraq. Americans died. Britons died. Australians and Poles and many others put their lives on the line as well. It would be arrogant and vile to expect gratitude, but I do hope, I deeply hope, that they will be able to understand why we did what we did and how much it cost us, in those poor, shattered homes across America and Great Britain.
And I have one final wish, which I know seems very unlikely, but which I will share anyway.
I fervently hope that someday, perhaps decades from now, Iraq will have a really top-notch soccer team. I hope that one day, they will get to the final round of the World Cup, and when they do, I hope it is Team USA they play for the championship.
I hope that the Americans play a tough, aggressive, masterful game, that they use all of the speed and skill and power at their command. And then I want to sit there watching TV as an old man, and watch the faces on the Iraqi people when the game is over, because I want to see that the most relieved and joyous they can conceive of being, is the day that tiny Iraq got out on that soccer field and kicked our ass.
This time around, I sent 45. Granted, we had more regular contact via internet, so there was less to say in letters. And he was deployed for half as long. But still...
I think I am proof that people abuse privileges they don't have to pay for.
November 21, 2008
I think Lincoln was just about the greatest president in American history, but I sure don't want to need another Lincoln. Six hundred thousand Americans died at the hands of other Americans during Lincoln's presidency. Lincoln unified the country at gunpoint and curtailed civil liberties in a way that makes President Bush look like an ACLU zealot. The partisan success of the GOP in the aftermath of the war Obama thinks so highly of was forged in blood.
I have knitting ADD. I wasn't always that way; I used to only do one project at a time. But in the past few years, I have needed variety. So I always have a few things going at once. I only have a couple of truly unfinished projects. I started a sweater two years ago that I know will be to small for me. I hate to rip out the entire back of the thing, but I know I can't continue it, so it has sat for two years. I also started another stuffed animal back when I was teaching knitting classes, but with no baby to get excited about, that project petered out too. I started myself a DNA scarf that is about a third finished, and I started a double knitting scarf for my mother that takes more concentration than I would like and has sat there all year. Yeah, it was supposed to be her Christmas present. And I started an Aran sweater that takes even more concentration than mom's scarf: I tried to do a row while watching TV, and I spent 45 minutes knitting and then unknitting the row. Can't talk or watch TV during that project.
OK, that probably sounds like a lot. But by knitter standards, that's not so much. I will finish the scarves and the Aran eventually. Probably the stuffed animal too. One day I will get brave enough to rip out that sweater and start it over.
But I say with pride that I do not have any mate-less socks in this house.
I'd trade the diamond bracelet for the one made of Reardon Metal any day of the week.
November 19, 2008
I talked to my mother today, and we decided to organize a family shooting day the next time I go home. Neither of my brothers has ever been shooting, and it's been decades since my parents have been. I think it will be a fun family outing.
And my mom just laughs that her daughter is now a gun nut.
I am fantastically happy with this project, but the second sock will be put on hold for a while while I start a very fulfilling project to fill a need. Cryptic, I know. But I can't wait to write about it later.
November 18, 2008
Too many times, we let liberals get away with making fun of Republicans and those of us who do not agree with them politically. This needs to stop and the only way to do it is to speak up in the classrooms, public and at work. Remember that we are 56 million strong--those of us who did not vote for Obama. We are hardly alone.
As you know, I have been reading Atlas Shrugged again. Every time I read it, I remember how empowered it makes me feel. My husband mentioned a small dilemma today, and I said, "Tell them how you really feel; let them have it!" Then I laughed and said, "Sorry, I am being a bit too Reardon, aren't I?"
Reading this book makes me want to speak the truth.
On my flight the other day, while discussing the Obama book with my row-mate, the conversation turned to health care. This man, who was not an Obama supporter, said he agrees with "free" health care and thinks that it's something that the United States can do for its citizens.
I didn't say what I really wanted to say: Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.
And looking back, I kind of wish I had said that. At least the conversation would've turned a different way and perhaps it would've made this man think new thoughts. Instead I took the wimpy way out and reminded him that nothing is "free" in this world. I wish I had been more assertive in the conversation though. He was asking my opinions and I held back, for fear of sounding cold.
As I said in an email to a friend a while back, I wish I were more like an Ayn Rand character. I wish that I didn't worry whether my positions sound nice or not. The Nuge is right: we need tougher love in this country.
I wish I were bold enough to tell a stranger on a plane that I don't believe everyone is entitled to cheap health care. I'm not there yet.
I wonder how many times I'll have to read Atlas Shrugged before I have that confidence...
I wish it were always that simple and touching.
Instead, I also met two ladies who openly scoffed at my woes. They heard my entire story -- dead babies, failed fertility treatment -- and looked at me derisively and said that I just haven't been patient enough. Apparently I am just being silly in thinking that two years is a long time to try and that 31 is getting a late start. Nevermind the fact that they weren't that much older than me and their kids are teenagers. Wait, did I say "kids"? I meant their "whoopsies" pregnancies. Oh good golly, am I pregnant, how did that happen? Whoopsie! They got done telling me about their whoopsies and said that I am just impatient.
And I sat there and took it and then excused myself and left. Because I am polite.
I wish it were possible to type their tone of voice. I'm glad I had a witness to this conversation who assured me later that I wasn't overreacting.
People never cease to amaze me.
But I am trying very hard to be content with the people who were grateful I told my story, instead of dwelling on the naysayers. Guard Wife offered to throw hands for me, but I told her that it's really my problem and that I need to take a deep breath and not let it ruin my night. I kept reminding myself of this:
The first line of the most popular book in Buddhism, The Dhammapata, goes something like this: All that we are is determined by our thoughts. It begins where our thoughts begin, it moves where our thoughts move, it ends where our thoughts end. If we think thoughts like he hurt me, he stole from me, he is my enemy, our life and our destiny will follow that thought as the wheel follows the axle. And if we think thoughts like he cannot hurt me, only I can hurt myself, he cannot steal from me, he cannot be my enemy, only I can be my enemy, then our life and our destiny will follow those thoughts.
There will always be naysayers and boorish people. The only thing I can control is how I let it affect me.
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