February 28, 2009

CONVERSATIONS WITH HISTORY

I spent the day with some of my favorite people: I watched the Conversations With History interviews of Mark Steyn, Christopher Hitchens, and Victor Davis Hanson.

And I totally snorted when I saw at the end of the video that the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of University of California, Berkeley. Heh. No joke.

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BOOK LIST

I'm going to post short reviews of all the books I'm reading for my George Bush 2009 Reading Challenge. I thought I'd break it up and do ten books at a time. And I've just finished my tenth.

FEBRUARY

10) Economics In One Lesson (Henry Hazlitt)
I got this book because it was mentioned in the article Why The New Deal Failed. It was originally written in 1946, which makes its lesson even more frustrating than when I read Milton Friedman. 63 years ago he warned us of everything that President Obama and Congress are doing right now. And the most depressing part was the last page, when he talks about hope for the future:

In addition, there are marked signs of a shift in the intellectual winds of doctrine. Keynesians and New Dealers seem to be in slow retreat.

Thank heavens Henry Hazlitt has passed away, for I would hate for him to see what has become of his Hope.

9) Animal Farm (George Orwell)
I told you I was gonna read this book! And it only took one day. I hadn't read it since high school, so it was nice to revisit it.

Good Omens (Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett)
AirForceWife lent this book to me, and it was pretty funny. I read I, Lucifer last year, and it was funny to read another book of the same genre. My absolute favorite part was when four bikers wanted to be additional Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That part had me laughing out loud.

7) The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery (Massad Ayoob)
A Christmas present from CaliValleyGirl, in lieu of another knitting book. I learned a lot of interesting facts from this book, such as why most policemen carry Glocks, and I was reminded of other things, like the racist origin of gun control laws. My only complaint is that it's not exactly written for true beginners. Ayoob doesn't define his terms at all. For example, in the chapter Point Shooting vs Aimed Fire, I didn't know the difference between the two and had to read the entire chapter and use a little deductive reasoning to figure out what the heck each one of those terms means based on how they were contrasted with each other. A one-line definition at the beginning of the chapter would've been much appreciated. But overall it was an interesting and helpful book.

6) The Bookseller of Kabul (Åsne Seierstad)
My husband gave me this book for Christmas. I recommend this book and also The Places In Between for a look at Afghanistan. But it's bleak. I just found myself so thankful throughout this book that I was not born a woman in the Middle East.

JANUARY

4) A Personal Odyssey (Thomas Sowell)
I got this book as a Christmas present from Amritas. I had no idea Sowell was so old! It was fascinating to read about his life in the 30s and 40s. And you'd never know by reading him today that he used to be a Marxist! Very good autobiography. I basically read the whole book while waiting at the emergency room.

3) You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation (Deborah Tannen)
I always enjoy Tannen's books, and when I saw this one, I bought it for my mother but wanted to read it before I gave it to her. I really enjoyed it and learned two things: 1) My mother and I get along better than I thought we did and 2) maybe having a girl wouldn't be so bad...

2) The Night of the Hunter (Davis Grubb)
Everyone knows the image of the prisoner with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his hands, but I never knew where this image came from. Boy, that Preacher was one scary villain! Worse than Bruce Dern in The Cowboys.

1) Liberal Fascism (Jonah Goldberg)
I learned a lot about WWI-era politics. I also knew very little about Mussolini and Woodrow Wilson before this book. Quite worthwhile.

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FOR A BOY OR A GIRL

Remember the gender-less baby I was knitting for? The sweater and blanket got finished and delivered.

trix.jpg

The buttons are little puppy faces. I think it turned out really cute.

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IMPRESSED

Christopher Hitchens is one crazy sonofagun, but I was downright impressed when I read Michael Totten's account of their run-in in Syria.

“The SSNP,” I said, “is the last party you want to mess with in Lebanon. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you properly. This is partly my fault.”

“I appreciate that,” Christopher said. “But I would have done it anyway. One must take a stand. One simply must.”

Would you have had the guts to deface a Syrian Social Nationalist Party sign in Beirut? I think Hitchens is nuts, but I have to respect him for this.

I think a swastika poster is partly fair game and partly an obligation. You don't really have the right to leave one alone.

Wow.

He's probably lucky to be alive.

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February 27, 2009

HISTORY OF HOME VALUES

When I saw this last night, I was floored. I completely recommend watching it:

Thank you, Glenn Beck, for doing this research and laying it out so succinctly.

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ANNOYING

OK, so I love my husband a little less right now.

I need something on his laptop. It is turned off. It is password protected.

I figured I could guess it. My husband is the only person in the world who could know my password based on the prompt question, but he would know it instantly.

My husband's prompt question is absurd. I have no idea what the answer is.

I can't get into his computer until he gets home.

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HA

A good article about left-wing symbols like Che Guevara shirts:

These T-shirts send a message, which effectively boils down to this: I have vague left-wing sympathies but don't read history. I am educated enough to want nonconformity but not intelligent enough to avoid conformity.

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HOW MUCH I LOVE MY HUSBAND

Last night I dreamt I ran into my husband on post. Not very likely or realistic during SERE school, but OK. We stood there and talked for a few moments before we had to say goodbye. And a voice in my head was saying, "Tell him you're pregnant! Tell him!"

I didn't.

As I walked away from him, I had the urge to turn around and blurt the news to him. It would be so easy, to just tell him. But I held myself back for two very practical reasons: 1) he needs to focus on SERE and not be distracted and 2) I am not at all confident that the pregnancy will last and I hate to get his hopes up.

As bad as it got last night -- and it was bad, and painful, and confidence-shattering -- I know it's not nearly as bad as my husband has it right now. I can bear this burden alone while he bears his. I wouldn't tell him right now even if I could.

That's how much I love my husband.

I wonder how he's doing...he should be heading into the nasty part...

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February 26, 2009

IDLE RAILCARS

A link from my friend BigD:
Sales of “Atlas Shrugged” Soar in the Face of Economic Crisis

It's coincidental that she sent me this today, because my jaw hit the floor when I read this article this morning:

Tens of thousands of boxcars are sitting idle all over the country, parked indefinitely by railroads whose freight volumes have plummeted along with the economy.
[...]
The nation's five largest railroads have put more than 30% of their boxcars -- 206,000 in all -- into storage, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Now if that doesn't make you think life is imitating art, I don't know what will.

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PUPDATE, LUCAS STYLE

In dog news, Charlie has decided that he wants to be Charlie Bronson and make a Great Escape.

Our backyard is a disaster, with dirt on one side and sand on the other. It's like a spectrum running from Mildly Crappy to Completely Worthless. Charlie recently discovered that sand is easy to dig and wriggle through. Thus, he keeps escaping. I bought those cheapy wire garden dividers, and I even strategically placed an old flowerpot so he couldn't get out again.

He still managed to escape.

To put things in Rachel Lucas terms:

greatescape1.jpg

He can still manage to squeeze out of that space. This means he can't have unsupervised backyard time, which is a real pain in the neck.

greatescape2.jpg

Very annoying. I will have to go steal some dirt from the construction site in our neighborhood to put on top of that sand to keep the danged dog in the yard.

greatescape3.jpg

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UPDATE

I figured I should give you a small update re: baby.

So here's the deal: You take women who are extremely freaked out about miscarriage and you give them a medicine which prevents miscarriage but which also has the absurd side effect of irritating your cervix and making you bleed.

(I'm reminded of the scene in Futurama when Fry says he can't swallow a pill that size, and the professor says "Well then good news!" because you don't swallow it. Ahem. Oh, and they're refrigerated.)

Anti-Pressure_Pill.jpg

So basically now it's just a waiting game until I go for my ultrasound in two weeks. I won't know anything until then, but even then I won't feel great: the last time, you'll remember, we managed to become one of the 5% of people whose baby has a heartbeat and then subsequently dies.

I may be a while before I feel confident. Please don't try to convince me I should get that way right now. I won't breathe easily until I make it to a milestone that I haven't reached in the past. Like seeing a doctor. I've never even done that yet.

So we wait it out.

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February 25, 2009

HEH

An awesome tagline found in a comments section:

ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS
Should be a convenience store
NOT a Government Agency

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UNSETTLED

I'll admit that I've been watching too much Glenn Beck lately, but I have worked myself up pretty good this afternoon over the future of my country and the world. Hugo Chavez cancelled Valentine's Day, China said flat-out that they hate us, and Iran and Russia are testing nukes together.

We're boned.

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February 24, 2009

LINKS

This is the most realistic tattoo I have ever seen. Wow.

And I love Cracked. Srsly. 5 Ways People Are Trying to Save the World (That Don't Work)

And this makes my heart swell: Eleven States Declare Sovereignty Over Obama’s Action. Go, States, go! It's about time somebody gave a crap about the 10th Amendment.

[All links via CG.]

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February 22, 2009

UPDATE

I had a little bleeding today, which sufficiently destroyed my enthusiasm and optimism.
I won't be blogging about it anymore for quite a while, at least not until I know something one way or the other.
I am OK, but I would prefer not to talk about it, so no need to phone.

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February 20, 2009

OY

From the latest cartoon hubbub:

"Just the fact that they put a monkey with gunshot wounds in his chest, it gives the idea of an assassination," said Peter Aviles, 48, a building superintendent.

I sure hope Peter Aviles was sufficiently outraged when Death Of a President came out. You know, the movie about assassinating George Bush, not just a drawing of a monkey that some people think was meant to be Obama. (Which I think was a lame cartoon, but not a depiction of Pres. Obama.)

Give me a break.

I like Powerline's take:

If the President is a Republican, it's fine to call him a "chimp." In fact, it's morally superior. But if the President is a Democrat, you can't call a chimpanzee a chimp lest someone think you might have been referring to the President.

It all makes perfect sense.

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February 18, 2009

LINKS

Some links from Conservative Grapevine before I hit the road:

5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't)
It has everything: naughty language, cute animals, Cristal snowcones...

Breaking News: Late-night comedy shows make fun of Pres. Obama
The clip of The Daily Show is funny, but isn't it interesting how Jon Stewart makes fun of Obama for being slow and boring and then makes fun of O'Reilly for saying that Obama is slow and boring?

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February 17, 2009

BUSY

Real life superseded blogging life today and will continue to do so for a few days as I make my way to visit CaliValleyGirl. I will try to throw up a link or two if I can, but I will be out of the loop for a bit.

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February 16, 2009

GONE AGAIN

I dropped my husband off for SERE school this morning. I was cold just sitting in the car for 30 minutes; I shudder to think how cold it will be for them outside during the escape and evade parts.

Yesterday, a friend asked me what in the heck SERE even is. There was a CNN Presents about it some years back. From the article:

What goes on at the school is three weeks of "stress inoculation" via a course the Army calls Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE. The school provides a realistic setting for soldiers to learn how to live off the land if they are cut off from friendly forces. Students also learn how to evade the enemy and escape if hunted down and finally how to resist if captured, imprisoned and tortured.
[...]
Much of the school's training is classified. But Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant credits the training for helping him survive 10 days in captivity in 1993 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting was shot down in Mogadishu, Somalia.
To prepare commandos who are at high risk of capture, the course includes sleep deprivation and food deprivation -- severe enough that, over the course of survival school, a student typically drops 15 pounds.

The article has photos of guys eating worms and being taken prisoner. The last photo breaks my heart.

I can hardly bear the thought of someone hurting my husband, even in training. This is going to be a long three weeks for my heart...and his poor body.

He got out of the car and loaded himself up with at least 50 lbs of gear. And as I looked at him, "three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: 'You're so cool. You're so cool. You're so cool.'"

It was harder for me to let him go this morning than it was last year when he deployed.

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February 15, 2009

MEETING OUR FUTURE

Yesterday I had to work at a demonstration of various science kits you can buy at the store. I was kinda dreading it because it was going to be a huge mess, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Most kids just wanted to get their hands dirty and sticky. But one family made it totally worthwhile.

A mother and two sons showed up specifically for the science demonstration. I was just getting to the end of mixing "quicksand": cornstarch and water. I filled the pan and showed the older boy (probably 9 years old) how your hand sinks in and it's hard to pull out. The boy looked at me and said, "Well, that's neat, but what's the science behind it?" Awesome. So I pulled out the paperwork that came with the kit, and we had a discussion of non-Newtonian fluids and the Law of Viscosity. And then we demonstrated together how the viscosity could be changed by applying pressure. He learned some science, and heck, so did I!

When I start to despair for the world, I am going to remember that kid and how I am sure there are others like him out there, kids who will be the pillars of our society in the future.

I needed to meet that boy. I'm glad I did.

And I am also glad that I have a monkey's job where I get to learn about non-Newtonian fluids.

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