February 13, 2008

THE OLD AND THE NEW

My friend here has a 19 year old son. I was alone with him for a while at their house yesterday and, not knowing what else to talk about, I asked him about music. We began trading favorite songs and bands. He knows all the new stuff -- he knew of Weezer because of "Beverly Hills" but didn't know the blue album, for heaven's sake -- and none of the old. Shoot, he was born in 1989; I loved hearing the question, "What is Styx?" (In all fairness, my husband reminded me that Styx is even before my time; I have my dad to thank.) He taught me some new bands and I filled him in on some old and some esoteric; he now knows what alt-country is (he liked the Jayhawks and Wilco, but Uncle Tupelo was "too twangy" for him). And I confessed that I had indeed been to a Snoop Dogg concert; I think that solidified my coolness.

You know, my new cell phone is also a music player, but I have no idea how to use it yet. I also don't listen to music like I used to. When I was in France, I practically wore out my cassette walkman. Riding the bus all over that town, I was constantly in my own little world of music. I don't do that anymore, I don't walk through the world with headphones on.

But talking to this kid yesterday, I have taken a second look at my CD collection with fresh eyes. I have pulled out stuff I haven't listened to in years. And it takes me back...

It also makes me want to spend more time with this kid. I could show him Seu Jorge and Jude. And let him listen to "Come Sail Away."

Man, I remember vividly the first time I listened to "Come Sail Away."

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VIGILANTE

Most bloggers talk about current events; I, on the other hand, like to discuss movies that are ten to sixty years old. That's how I make sure I'm not saying the same thing as everyone else. I talk about the outdated stuff.

At any rate, the husband and I watched the movie The Boondock Saints last night, and it got me thinking about vigilantism. Many of our modern heroes are actually vigilantes: Batman, Spiderman, Jack Bauer, Dexter. They right the wrongs that slip through our justice system.

But, I mean, why are there so many wrongs to right?

I re-read last night Bill Whittle's section of Responsibility dealing with prairie justice. He's right that if you read that section to someone from 1880's America, they wouldn't get it.

The idea of punishing the property owner while rewarding the thief would so violate their common sense, their keenly developed sense of responsibility, that they simply could not believe what they were hearing, and that is because for those people, cold, hard reality stalked them right outside their front door, and moronic inversions of cause and effect would quite simply get you killed. That’s why it was called common sense…it was the Minimum Daily Requirement of intelligence and logic that one needed to survive on a daily basis. Those who didn’t have it were too stupid to live, and had been eaten by wolves or prairie dogs, depending on just how stupid they were.

Reality has receded far from the front porch in modern America, and in those isolated towers of law offices, bureaucracies and faculty lounges, all manners of thought inversions can grow and prosper. I recently heard of a woman who sued a car dealership. It seems her son had stolen a car from said dealership, gone on a joy ride -– drunk, of course -– and gotten himself killed. The woman claimed that if the dealership had maintained adequate security, her son would not have been able to steal the car and he’d be alive today.

This is madness.

What has happened in the last 100 years that has made us, as Whittle puts it, lose sight of "the difference between perpetrator and victim"? How did we get from Jack McCall to OJ Simpson?

We watch these vigilantes on TV and we cheer them on for doing the job that our police and courts cannot do. But isn't there something inherently awful about that? Why do criminals slip so easily through the cracks?

I think the best part of The Boondock Saints was the very end where they interview folks on the street for a documentary about the making of the movie (here on YouTube, at 2:30). The opinions were split on whether the brothers' vigilantism was moral or immoral. That end segment made the movie.

Prairie justice was harsh, but I'm not sure we're always better off these days. Sometimes I just want Dexter to go chop up some bad guys.

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February 11, 2008

LINK

American Princess writes about why feminists don't stand up for women in the Middle East. Well said.

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February 10, 2008

HELPLESSNESS

Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness. That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.
       --Bradford Wiles, quoted by Glenn Reynolds

The other night when we were out walking Charlie, the neighborhood watch guy was out. He warned us that they were looking for two stray dogs, a pit bull and a rottweiler, who had been roaming the neighborhood. These dogs had already mauled and killed another dog, right in front of his owner on her front lawn. Animal control had been out and set a trap, but they weren't having any luck luring the dogs. He told us to be careful.

We just got back from a walk again today, and as we rounded a corner in the neighborhood, I spotted the rottweiler coming slowly from between two houses. We immediately turned, and I don't think the dog ever saw us. But it certainly was unnerving to walk the rest ofthe way home with our backs to where we'd last seen a dangerous dog. I couldn't help but wish we had some way to defend ourselves. I remembered reading Glenn Reynolds' article again the other day, and I felt Bradford Wiles' sense of helplessness.

And my husband is now uneasy that we're safe in our home while danger lurks outside. He's a sheepdog, and he feels awful about letting the wolf roam free. But we don't know anything about the legal ramifications of the situation; can one just go outside with a pistol and Atticus Finch a dangerous dog? Animal control has tried and failed to catch this dog, so the whole neighborhood is at his mercy.

I also worry about the many dogs in the neighborhood who are tied up outside. A vicious dog could come attack them in their own yards, and they'd be at a serious disadvantage if they're on a ten-foot leash.

And I worry about taking Charlie on another walk tomorrow.

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THANK YOU, MSNBC

MSNBC is always good for blog fodder.

Article #1: The best-kept secret to home-heating savings

Solar panels look bold on a rooftop, and a Toyota Prius looks hip in the driveway. Geothermal heating and cooling has none of that sex appeal, yet perhaps unlike the others, it can clearly save you money -- and a lot of it.

"The problem is that we don't have some big, fancy piece of equipment outside," says John Kelly, head of a Washington trade group for geothermal companies.

This is just too rich. You know there are people out there who are dying to go green, but only if it's ostentatious. You mean geothermal is the way to go, but my friends and neighbors won't be able to tell I'm doing anything? Nevermind. What a riot -- it's good for the environment, but they're having a hard time marketing to ecotards who only want solutions that shout "Look at me, I'm saving the planet!"

Article #2: Smoky bar triggered fatal asthma attack

The secondary title on this one was "First case of secondhand smoke causing an immediate death, study says." You know they couldn't wait to print this one. A girl goes to work in a bar and dies from an asthma attack. Smokers killed someone! Smokers killed someone!

But she wasn't exactly winning any Healthy Teen awards:

Rosenman said the woman had asthma since age 2. Her asthma was poorly controlled. She had made four visits to her doctor in the year before her death for flare-ups, and had been treated in a hospital emergency department two to three times that year.

Although she had prescriptions for an assortment of drugs to prevent and treat asthma attacks, she was reported to only use them when she was having breathing difficulty.

On the evening of her death, she had no inhaler with her.

Maybe the headline should instead read that secondhand smoke triggered a totally unnecessary death. It's a shame that she didn't take her life-long asthma seriously enough to be properly prepared for an attack. That's not smoke's fault; she could've walked by a lady with massive perfume overload and had the same result. And don't work in a smoky bar if you have asthma, for heaven's sake. Smoking is gross, but this hysterical secondhand smoke nonsense is too much for me. And now we have some study that says that a teen with asthma just walked into a bar and straight-up died because of the smoke in the air. What a boon that will be for the End Smoking Everywhere types.

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February 09, 2008

WHO PICKS THESE MOVIES?

I felt an a-ha moment when I saw today that Crash made the list of Worst Oscars Ever. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it was an overrated piece of garbage. And I disliked it for the same reasons that I disliked Brokeback Mountain: it was all agony and no hope. It was depressing for the sake of being depressing. I couldn't stomach a straight love story with that message.

And now I just spent twenty minutes looking for an old quote I read about Transformers so I could tie this blog post up with a pretty bow, but I can't find it so I am giving up. No poignant ending.

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LINK

My husband found this this morning, and we're just fascinated by it: The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough

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AMERICA: HATING US IS SO NORMAL

I missed a day of Lileks, and it was a good one. Recommended reading: Thursday's Bleat, in which Lileks channels Hate America Firsters.

Nations are bad enough, but we’re something else: the only nation that has ever fought a war, acted in self-interest, had a good opinion of itself, permitted slavery, elected leaders who lacked a certain Olympian quality, had a popular culture that included simple catchy melodies and bright pictures, harbored racist attitudes, had a strong religious element, and contained a sizable amount of stupid people.

And scroll through the slogans. And be sad.
But enjoy #218. And laugh at #486.

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February 08, 2008

REASON 8 MILLION WHY LIVING IN GERMANY WAS A PAIN IN THE NECK

Yes, we're still feeling the effects of our lovely OCONUS move.

We paid off our first car while my husband was in Iraq. The lienholder mailed us a letter saying to complete the title, we needed to go to our local DMV. Um, our local DMV was a bunch of Germans working on post in the pseudo-licensing office. The German lady looked at my documents and shrugged. I think I remember her saying at the time that we might run into problems later down the road.

We sure did. But that was nearly four years ago, and I didn't think much of it.

We moved back to the US and reregistered our cars in our state of record. By mail. That car has not been back in Missouri since we bought it back in 2002. Which meant the problem was never noticed...until today. We went to register our cars in our new state, and our lien was never shown as lifted.

So now what? How do I undo a problem that was created four years ago, and 1000 miles away? And through the fricking DMV, of all headaches.

What an unnecessary pain in the neck it was to live in Germany.

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February 07, 2008

RACHEL LUCAS IS RIGHT

I want to go on the record as agreeing with Rachel Lucas. She has apparently been taking a ton of heat for saying that conservatives ought to vote for McCain in November if they don't want someone worse. I said it in a short version recently, but she lays it out in far more detail than I did. If you want to follow her argument, which I think is completely sound, here are the relevant posts:

Dear People, You have lost your minds. Love, Rachel.
I feel like I've been at an illegal cockfight for 2 days
I can stand the heat so I’m staying in the kitchen. (But I will not make you a sandwich.)
This debate is like crack

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CASABLANCA THROUGH ADULT EYES

The husband and I watched Casablanca tonight. He had never seen it and I hadn't seen it since high school. And the movie meant a whole lot more to me now than it did back then.

My husband remarked how absurd it would seem to modern viewers to have a woman leave the man she loves to stand for a cause. Nowadays, you'd never break up true love at the end of a movie, especially not for war aims. Rick makes Ilsa go because "the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." Few people talk like that these days. Fewer still think like that.

But Casablanca came out in 1942, long before the outcome of the war was certain. It was a beautiful story of sacrifice in difficult times. Rick and Ilsa gave up love for the greater good.

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HEH

I'm officially too old for my new cell phone.

I went to set the ringtones, and absolutely none of them are appropriate for my age group. This one's techno. This one's gangsta. Eww, this one sounds like s-e-x. The "oriental" one, that's just racist. I have it set on just plain ringing like a phone because I cannot imagine using any of the provided files.

I am a fogey...

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PRIMARY DISGUST

OK, I'm irritable. Our state primary isn't until May. May, for pete's sake. Nothin' like having zero say at all in the primary process. I imagine my choices will be McCain and Pon Raul. Gee, thanks.

So in theory, Michigan was right. Even though they forfeited their delegates, they still got to influence the outcome. They get no votes later, but at least they got the media reaction. Meanwhile, states like mine get nothing at all, no influence, no delegates that matter.

So we still have about 20 states left, and it's done. And my candidate was out after only six states. Maybe if the primaries weren't spread out over five freaking months, he might've had a better chance. Or someone would've had a better chance. More importantly, people would've voted for the candidate they agreed with, not the candidate that the media steered them towards by telling them their first choice had no shot.

Not happy.

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February 06, 2008

DISPENSIBLE

The Flag has to come first
if freedom is to survive.
--Col Steven Arrington--

Every once in a while, something on the internet takes my breath away.

Over Our Dead Bodies

This is something I don't like to talk about because it makes me seem cold and cruel. I also think it makes me somewhat out-of-the-ordinary. And some will think I'm plain psycho for even thinking such things. But I believe in the premise of this article, that man is dispensible for the greater cause.

My husband is one of those dispensible men.

I have tried to come to terms with exactly how that makes me feel. And Lord knows I don't ever want to have to put my convictions to the test. But should I have to, I will come back and read that article again and find solace, and I will try very hard to remember in my grief what I knew to be true before grief struck.

I have thought about this a lot over the past years, as you must when your husband's job is war. But I've thought about it in other scenarios too. There was an episode of 24 where terrorists hold a wife and kid hostage and send dad out to provide a detonator to the man holding a nuke. Dad would do anything to save his family, even enable a nuclear weapon.

No way.

I put myself in those shoes, and I just couldn't do it. There's no way I could kill 20,000 to save my 2. I'm not going to go Keyser Soze on my family, but there's no way I will cooperate in arming a nuclear device just to save my husband.

He and I have also talked about this in regards to Jill Carroll and the Brit hostages. I will not beg and grovel, I will not trade his life for the lives of others, and I will remember in my heart the brave Fabrizio Quattrocchi as I do the hardest thing that could ever be asked of a person.

My husband is dispensible.

I do not say that lightly. Not at all. The moment I typed the words, I felt the beginning of tears.

But my personal happiness is not more important than my country. I will do my best to remember this, even when I often think that the Middle East is not worthy of my husband. I will remember that surely there were wives who thought that their husbands' lives were not worth taxation without representation, the end of slavery in far away states, or fear of the domino effect. Yet they sacrificed their husbands, and I would do the same.

That is our profession. Harooh.

I think the movie 300 took people by surprise. The Spartans were not a perfect society, not by a long shot, but they lived by the credo that men are dispensible for Sparta. And the movie resonated with people because they still want to believe that such men are out there. They want to believe that 300 would step up and defend our country too, risking all.

But I think they're afraid that those 300 don't exist. Most of the moviegoers don't number among them.

Some have asked me how I'd feel to get pregnant before my husband deploys. The thought makes me sick to my stomach. I want to raise a child with my husband or not at all. But I asked him while I was pregnant if it made him feel better or worse that he would leave a child behind should something happen to him. He said he did find comfort in thinking like the Spartans, that only men with progeny should be sent to battle. Thus I pray we get pregnant before he leaves again soon, so he has the peace of knowing that his legacy lives on.

And as hard as it is for me to think of my husband as dispensible, it will be all the harder to think of that child as dispensible too.

But the flag comes first.

(Thanks to Kim du Toit for the article and for writing "Not all of us are at the mall. We are with you as surely is if we’re going out on patrol with you, or standing next to you in the chow line back at camp.")

********

I sat on this one for a while, mulling it over. And in the meantime, I came across an article that Baldilocks' father wrote.

If you are so convinced that an ideal is vital for your society, then shouldn’t you make it your duty to live long enough to help your society to realise it? Once you are dead, of what use are you?
...
But, clearly, a soldier is much more important than a tool. That is why the law on self-preservation is even more significant to humans. Sure, a good soldier fights bravely in battle. But his bravery must include every stratagem that helps him to return to base unharmed.

Only then can he be available for another battle. Hence the saying: Live for your country: never deliberately die for it.

Trust me when I say that we also know this to be true. No one was more diligent about not dying needlessly than my husband was the last time he was in Iraq. (That's why he put two soldiers in jail when they failed to ensure the safety of the other men.)

My husband is the last man to promote swashbuckling or chest-thumping. But some must go to fight the Dragons, and those men must be ready to be dispensible.

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WORTH IT

How do I love my pal Erin? Let me count the ways...

sweaterbefore.jpg

Erin's first knitting project was this baby sweater, intended for a pregnant friend. But I wasn't there when she started it, so she didn't know that she could float the yarn up the side of the work instead of cutting at every color change. When she finished all the pieces and saw the tangle of mess she had to contend with, she picked the whole thing up and placed it in the garbage can.

Luckily, I was there at that moment, and knitting -- no matter how heinous -- does not belong in the garbage. I took it home and dumped it in a box of yarn, where it sat for three years.

And if Erin had adopted a girl, it would've sat there until eternity.
But Erin had a boy, and I had work to do.

sweaterafter.jpg

I cursed those tails as I wove them in, but I did it because I couldn't wait to hear the awe in Erin's voice when she realized that the first knitting project she ever made would actually be worn by her new baby.

And it was totally worth it.

"Tucker, look what your mommy and Aunt Sarah made for you," I heard her whisper over the phone.

Yep, totally worth it.

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February 05, 2008

CELL PHONES

toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

Our cell phone contract is almost up, which means we're eligible for phone upgrades and such. We went in today to find out about fancy-pants phones like Blackberries. And the sales lady looked at us like we were the freaks for not wanting to pay $140 a month towards cell phones. Um, nope.

And if that weren't enough, we spent the rest of the day at the DMV.

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February 04, 2008

I HAD A THOUGHT...

CaliValleyGirl once said that the reason she started blogging was so I would notice her and be her friend. Now that I am her friend, she sends me enormous emails about her thoughts but doesn't blog anymore.

So I hereby announce that I am no longer certain that I want to be friends with her. Heh. Maybe that'll get her to post again.

P.S. Why didn't anyone tell me that Annika was blogging again? For pete's sake, she's been at it for months and I had no idea. Also she wrote about Tom Petty last month, which brings me full circle today. Also I want to hear more about The Karate Kid. Incidentally, I had to bite my tongue hard not to ask CaliValleyGirl to take me to Reseda or the Golf n Stuff when I was in L.A.

And now I'm full circle within this post.

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HOW CAN WE MAKE JACK BAUER A PANSY?

The husband hated the last season of 24. I was not ready to let go just yet. But somehow, I think I might be able to stop watching now. Also, Butterfly Wife might need a new name for her hubs; seems Jack Bauer is going wuss on us.

On May 31, the show’s head writers went in for a meeting at the studio to present their first big idea: sending Jack to Africa. In various incarnations, Jack would begin the season digging ditches, building houses, tending to orphans, providing security for an embassy or escorting around a visiting dignitary. “One of the themes we discussed was penance, that Africa was a place Jack had gone to seek some kind of penance. Some sanctuary too, but also penance for things he’s done in his life,” Mr. Gordon says.

You know what would make 24 even better? They could feature a big gay pile to stop terrorism.

AirForceWife lent us Sleeper Cell; looks like we'll watch that instead. And I could use more Deadwood when they make it.

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THREE CHEERS FOR OLD PEOPLE MUSIC

I loved this exchange between mom and teen about the Tom Petty halftime show.

We were surprised that they chose Tom Petty. Pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless. I half expected 50 Cent to come out halfway through and start doing a rap version, followed by Marilyn Manson screeching "Mary Jane's Last Dance" with Faith Hill on backup or something. Looks like they've maybe given up on the "get artists from all different walks of life and make them sing a song together" idea. "Also, make one of them wear a sweat sock on their arm. That will appeal to the youngsters." Blech.

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February 03, 2008

FOOTBALL

Liveblogging the Super Bowl...no, just kidding. But I thought the Declaration of Independence segment was touching. Makes me feel so proud and embiggened.

And I am about to burst, I ate so much junk. Yum.

FYI, Super Bowl knitting includes another SWS Danica for Love My Tanker and a dishrag for my brothers' new apartment.

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