February 21, 2008
Then, if you're not freaked enough, watch Ha Ha America. It's like a train wreck; I can't look away.
(via Kim du Toit)
February 20, 2008
On the radio today Medved and Hewitt both asked Obama supporters to call and say why they were supporting their man. Specifics, please. The replies were rather indistinct. He would end the division and bring us together by encouraging us all to talk about common problems, after which we would compromise. He will give us hope by giving us hope: for many, the appeal has the magical perfect logic of a tautology. It's a nice dream. But compromise is impossible when you have a fundamental differences about the proper way to solve a problem. I believe we can achieve a fair society by taking away your house and giving it to someone else. I disagree. It is my house. Then let us agree to give away half of your house. Compromise! But that is not a compromise. You have taken half my house. We have compromised on your behalf with those who would have taken it all. Let us not return to the politics of division. There are strangers living in my spare bedroom. Then we have truly come together. Look, this isnt a matter on which we can compromise, because we have conflicting premises. Youre pretending matter and anti-matter have the same relationship as Coke and Pepsi. They dont.
He goes on with more awesomeness. My pal Amritas once said that Lileks is the Mark Twain of our time. I love that. I just love how Lileks writes.
(You did say that, right, Amritas? Did I mix you up with Bunker?)
We got the camera out while Charlie was standing right in front of the TV, staring at the dogs. He circled and laid down on the floor right when we got the camera ready, so the picture sucks. But it was hilarious to see Charlie watching his own kind on a dog show.
Also, Rachel Lucas goes off, and it is good.
February 19, 2008
Past delicious cakes include:
Saddam's broken neck
Zarqawi in smithereens
Milosevic burns in hell
Bush wins and Arafat croaks
Saddam being dragged from that nasty hole
Uday and Qsay get what's coming to 'em (before I blogged)
February 18, 2008
I made a list of things to say
But all I really want to say
All I really want to say is
Hold her and keep her strong
While I'm away from here
--R.E.M. Green Album
The other day, my husband asked me how I think I'll feel when the next deployment rolls around. And I wondered why he'd asked; he said softly, "Well, you know, nothing's been the same since Sean Sims." And he's right.
I've given up with the pretending too. When I'm quiet for too long and he asks me what I'm thinking, I've given up lying. "I'm thinking about what happens if you die," I now answer. And it's awful how often the thoughts creep in. It is so sick, this anticipatory grief. He's right here beside me, and it's weird that sometimes I can't even enjoy him because I'm planning for some imaginary future that I hope never comes.
And I wasn't like this before. He's right; nothing's been the same.
Sacrifice is no longer theoretical when you've watched someone live with it for years.
Also, this is the man who likes to joke that he only wants to travel when he gets to go armed. Uncultured, indeed.
My colleague and co-blogger Alex Tabarrok makes an interesting point. If you knew your life were much shorter you would travel to those places you always wanted to see. If you knew your life were to be much longer you would have more time to travel; again you would travel more. So, are you trying to tell me that your expected lifespan is just at that length where you shouldn't travel more? I don't buy it.
In case I haven't solidified my weirdo credentials enough on this blog, I will add more fuel to the fire: I don't really like to travel, and I'm not convinced I'd do more of it if my life were shorter or longer.
Maybe I'm just traveled out; I have been a lot of places. Or maybe I don't like the opportunity costs; I seemed just fine with travel when my parents or my college scholarship were footing the bill. I traveled the world on someone else's dime with nary a peep. But now that it's my money where my mouth is, it's suddenly not so important. I am sure that if we ever have kids, it will become more important to us, to help them see the world. It might be worth the cost then. But for now, we are oh-so-content to spend free moments in our own house.
There's no place like home, right?
I've also never been able to let go of something Paul Theroux said, that "travel is an expensive kind of laziness." You take pictures of stuff you know nothing about, just so you can show other people that you've been somewhere cool. And then speak with authority about the place. God, I hate the authority in travelers' voices. Spending the weekend in Venice does not mean you understand Italians or their way of life. I lived with a Swedish family for two and a half months, and all I can really say is that I understand that particular Swedish family. I don't delude myself that I now grok what it is to be Swedish.
I also know that one bad experience (or conversely, one good one) can change the way you feel about an entire country. I hated every aspect about living in France, but I'm self-aware enough to know that I lived a series of unfortunate events that molded my opinion. If I'd lived somewhere else with different people, like my distant relatives, I might view the entire country differently, and I probably would've continued my French career path. My bad experiences in France contributed enormously to who I am today: I discovered anti-Americanism and spent months defending my country to prejudiced Europeans. The irony is that I wouldn't be as American as I am today if I hadn't spent time in other countries, arguing why the United States is not the Great Satan.
The thing about this "expensive kind of laziness" is that travel is emotional while educating yourself is dry. My feelings about France are gut not brain, and quite separate from any knowledge I gained in my ten years of French study. My husband has never been to Iran, but I'd wager he knows more about Iranian history than many Iranians do. Because he reads books and learns facts. Sure, he doesn't have the glossy tourist photos to prove he knows Iran, but ask him about the Iranian Revolution and he starts a hundred years ago with names and dates. That's more valuable than a picture of us smiling in Tehran ever could be.
All in all, I think travel is overrated as a means of learning about the world. If you want to go see some place that you've studied and explored intellectually, I think that's fabulous. The most rewarding trips I took in Europe were to see things I'd studied: my visit to see the Iceman and my quest through the streets of Paris to find where Jean-Paul Marat was killed. But a picture of me in front of the Sphinx is no substitute for reading a book.
And I guess I'd rather read the books in the comfort of my own home than travel somewhere to get the photo taken.
The notion of ecoanxiety has crept into the culture here. It was the subject of a recent cover story in San Francisco magazine that quotes a Berkeley mother so stressed out about the extravagance of her nightly baths that she started to reuse her daughters bath water.
My husband and I have ecoanxiety, but our eco- is for economics. I get so excited when I find balls of yarn on sale for a dollar, but I stress too because it's an extravagance I don't need. We could be saving that dollar. I wrestle with myself in stores all over town because even though we save plenty, there's no such thing as saving too much for the future. So I guess I understand the feeling, even if I don't understand tying oneself in knots over the environment.
February 16, 2008
And finally, after Iowa something changed. I am what you might now call an Obamamaniac and am 'emotionally involved' as you say. But it's not because I think he is some Messiah. I haven't fallen in love with him. His campaign has made me fall in love with this country. His campaign has made me rethink assumptions I had made about huge swaths of this country. My only thought of North Dakota was a place not to go because of the color of my skin. Now, after Iowa, I realize my own small-mindedness and my own cynicism. Sure, some people out there will not want me around but I'll wait until they make that clear to me.
And that is just really, really cool.
February 15, 2008
My favorite is the Avogadro one.
(And the comments are hilarious too.)
Also, I still think that this is romantic, but I am a dork at heart.
(Thanks to C.G. for the link.)
We have watched several episodes so far, and I really like how nuanced the show is. It shows all the different types of Muslims: the "jihad means inner struggle, Islam is a religion of peace" type, the "jihad means killing every single American" type, the "we should kill soldiers in Iraq, not plot terror attacks on innocent Americans" type, the conflicted "others are hijacking my religion" type, and even the goofy white kid who becomes a Muslim to tick his mother off. Plus it shows white people who mean well but who just don't get how hard it is to be a non-psycho Muslim today. I think it's really well done; it lures you into feeling sorry for some of the characters, and then you have to shake yourself and remind yourself that they're murdering a-holes. It's complex, and I like that.
I give it my stamp of approval too.
February 14, 2008
Despite how attached I am to the internet age, I am still a fan of writing letters. I love old fashioned correspondence. And those letters from my grandmother are cherished.
Good for you, Adam Shepard.
(This is my favorite Valentine's Day tradition; I now think this is one of the most romantic songs ever. See here if you don't get the joke. And yes, I know I'm weird.)
See also: another favorite Valentine's Day tradition.
February 13, 2008
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