May 12, 2009

FROM SMALLVILLE TO GITMO

So I'm still watching Smallville, even though it jumped the shark long ago.  I can't give up this far into the game.

I've always wondered if the writers intentionally make parallels to the GWOT, or if it's coincidental that I find these metaphors.  And lately, Clark Kent's slavish adherence to his moral code has begun to grate on me.

Green Arrow is a good guy, but he doesn't see the world as black and white like Clark does.  He killed Lex Luthor to save Clark.  And he nearly killed again last week to save Clark again.  He's a good guy, through and through, but there's some Jack Bauer in him: he sees that the ends justify the means in some cases, and he weighs the fate of one against the fate of many.  And to him, the fate of Clark Kent is intensely important.

He and Clark have butted heads in recent episodes, namely because Green Arrow wants Clark to kill Doomsday (I know, I know, stay with me just a little longer) but Clark wants to try to save him.  Then Green Arrow admitted that he had killed Lex.  Their animosity culminated in this exchange last week:

GA: You don't have the guts to take out that murdering bastard, so I  come in and mop up your mess, and what do you do?  You get all self-righteous on me.  We do what we have to do, Clark.

When Clark isn't buying it, Green Arrow says that even though they don't always see eye to eye on methods, they're still on the same side.  Clark looks him dead in the eye and says, "No we're not."

Clark's life and work is made inherently easier by the fact that Lex Luthor is no longer alive.  He is now free to save lives instead of battling Lex, and Lex can no longer try to kill him.  Instead of thanking Green Arrow for saving his life and helping neutralize the threat, he insists that, in killing his enemy, Green Arrow has now become his enemy.  He denounces Green Arrow and says they're not on the same side...because Green Arrow killed a murderous megalomaniac who was hell-bent on killing Clark Kent, the last, best hope for mankind?

I find that frustrating.

GA: How many more lives are you willing to sacrifice if your plan fails this time, Clark?  Put your ego aside; you have a responsibility...

CK: My only responsibility is to do what's right.  Like it or not, we stand for something.  We set an example for others to follow, and if we don't, then we're no better than the people we fight.

Does that sound like a waterboarding debate to anyone else but me?

What has been bugging me about Clark Kent lately is that he calmly accepts fallout from not taking action.  Doomsday has killed hundreds of people, but Clark refuses to kill him out of morality.  It's wrong to take a life, no matter whose.  And killing Doomsday instead of trying to rehabilitate him is outside the bounds of Clark's code of conduct.

And I call baloney on that, like Green Arrow does.

Clark had the chance to kill Doomsday last episode and he didn't take it.  So the body count keeps rising as more innocent citizens of Metropolis keep dying.  I don't understand how Clark is making the more moral choice.  He doesn't want to be responsible for taking a life, but by refusing to act, his inaction is causing the death of far more people.

In fact, Clark's morality is so black and white that he refuses to even kill in self defense.  And I suppose that's a sustainable position for the Man of Steel, but for those of us not blessed with bulletproof skin and the ability to turn the earth backwards on its axis, things may not be so stark.

I find parallels here to the current discussion of enhanced interrogation methods.  For me, it's not black and white.  There are factors we can't know and can't control.  There are choices that have to be made, and the fate of one does have to be weighed against the fate of many.  Moreover, I personally find the whole discussion after the fact to be disingenuous.  It reminds me of an opening thought experiment in The Black Swan:

Assume that a legislator...manages to enact a law that goes into universal effect on September 10, 2001; it imposes the continuously locked bulletproof doors in every cockpit (at high cost to the struggling airlines) -- just in case terrorists decide to use planes to attack the World Trade Center in New York City. ... The legislation is not a popular measure among the airline personnel, as it complicates their lives.  But it certainly would've prevented 9/11.

The person who imposed locks on cockpit doors gets no statues in public squares, not so much as a quick mention of his contribution in his obituary.  "Joe Smith, who helped avoid the disaster of 9/11, died of complications of liver disease."  Seeing how superfluous his measure was, and how it squandered resources, the public, with great help from airline pilots, might well boot him out of office. ... He will retire depressed, with a great sense of failure.  He will die with the impression of having done nothing useful.

So now in hindsight we're trying to assign blame and point fingers, when we -- the general public, those of us who are not privy to top secret documents -- have no way of knowing what was prevented by some of these "enhanced interrogation techniques."  And hell, in one case we do have a pretty good idea of what was prevented: Khalid Sheikh Mohammad spilled the beans on further attacks in other US cities.  Like Clark Kent, we get self-righteous.  We say what we would do in the scenario, but we just simply don't have all the information to make that call.  So we discuss it in our homes and our coffee houses, from a position of safety, because other men shoulder the burden of protecting us, thereby enabling us to sip coffee with clean hands.

For me, there is a lot of gray in this issue.  There is a line to be drawn, and I believe we should discuss where that line falls.  I suppose I have a modicum of respect for people who say they wouldn't use waterboarding even if their own kids' lives were on the line, because I too have said that my values aren't relative, and that I wouldn't abandon my values to save my own family.  If you're willing to put your money where your mouth is, I can respect that.  It's not my position, but I try to respect its lack of hypocrisy, the same as I do for people who are strictly pro-life in all cases, including rape and incest.  Not my position, but at least it's internally consistent.  So I can muster respect for the worldview, even if it gives me pause.

Because I still think there is a debate here.  I find myself frustrated by people like Jon Stewart, and like Clark Kent, who insist there is no line at all.  That doing anything -- even just forced nudity and sleep deprivation -- to protect American lives makes us no better than terrorists. 

I just don't think it's that simple. 

And the simple-ness of Clark Kent has been bugging me lately.

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HEH

I heart Chuck Z.  His latest post made me LOL, srsly.

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KIDS IN THE HALL

AWTM always reminds me of things that I like. Weeks ago she put up a link to a Kids In the Hall sketch called "Seven Things To Do." I was reminded of how much I love that show and prompted to go buy three seasons of it.

Here's another good one I found, which I think is especially germane today...


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LINKS

Via Conservative Grapevine:

Melissa Clouthier's Poor, Poor Put-Upon Moderates

This is the problem right now. Being a Republican means nothing. Well, according to the Left and the disgruntled moderates, it means closed-mindedness. What is especially galling is that moderates continue to attack what they say is their own side when it’s impossible to differentiate them from the Left.

Fred Barnes' Be the Party of No

Improving the party's image is a worthy cause, but it isn't what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now. They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda.

Mark Steyn's Climb

Consider this cooing profile of Secretary Powell from Todd Purdum in the New York Times back in 2002: “Mr. Powell’s approach to almost all issues — foreign or domestic — is pragmatic and nonideological. He is internationalist, multilateralist and moderate. He has supported abortion rights and affirmative action.”

So supporting “internationalism,” “multilateralism,” abortion, and racial quotas means you’re “moderate” and “nonideological”? And anyone who feels differently is an extreme ideologue?

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VERIZON EVENT HORIZON

Whenever I start to get nervous about the danger of my husband's job, I remember that we've made a formal pact to die on the same day when we're old.  Neither one of us wants to live without the other, so shortly after we got married, we just decided we were going to die on the same day.  (The black hole idea is a more recent manifestation of this pact.)  I know it's basically the Team America "I promise I will never die" fallacy, but when the going gets rough, we find peace in the thought that we'll have our whole lives full of happiness and togetherness and then our matter will be crushed together into infinite density.

Last week, my cell phone died.  White screen of death and all.  I ordered a new battery, but it doesn't seem to want to hold a charge.

Last night, my husband called from training on a borrowed cell phone.  Seems his phone -- a different make and model -- also mysteriously died and won't hold a charge.

Apparently our cell phones also love each other so much that his couldn't live without mine either.  They didn't die on the same day, but it was close enough to make us think we put out some serious connected vibes.

And if my phone doesn't get itself charged up here soon, I may throw it into a black hole.

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May 11, 2009

SERVICE COMPLETED

Continuing in my streak of always hitting the smaller percentage, I was one of the group of potential jurors who were released early when they ended up starting fewer trials today than expected.  It was bittersweet: I am glad to have the rest of the week free and all to myself, but I was a little disappointed to not see the inner workings of the judicial system.

But I am severely glad that I didn't have to spend another minute stuck in a room with daytime television.  I know these shows have viewers, and I apologize if you are one of them, but I cannot stand the talk shows that pepper the day.  Moreover, I am just simply not a big fan of public TVs.  I was far happier for the first quiet hour with my book and knitting than I was when she turned on that danged TV.  If I had to hear any more Dr. Phil, I might've had to plead temporary insanity myself.

In other goofiness, since I get paid for a day as a juror and only was there for a short time, I will almost make as much today as I would've made for the same time at my real job.  Which is in itself a tad depressing.

But no time to be depressed: I have a whole week with nothing scheduled.  And I literally mean nothing.

It sounds heavenly.

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JURY DUTY

My husband left this morning for a week of training, and I have been summoned for jury duty.  I have no idea how the experience will turn out, but I just hope I'm done in five days.

More later.

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May 10, 2009

A FAMILY

Need more perspective today?

A family came into the store this morning: a father and four pre-teens, probably ranging from age 10-15.  They were there to buy a memorial bouquet to put at their mother's grave.

I barely managed to keep the tears in.

My life is good.

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THE WEEKEND IN PICTURES

Charlie's best friend came to visit for the weekend.



AirForceDog showed up for wrasslin' and tomfoolery. He's got a few pounds and a lot more muscle on Charlie, so most fights end like this:



But Charlie gives as good as he gets. You can't imagine how disappointed I am that this photo isn't in focus:



It was a fun visit, but it made me content that we only have one dog.

We also sadly lost a pet this weekend. Our betta fish, honorifically named Bunker, passed away from old age. I had seen it coming for weeks now, and I'm glad I didn't have to help him along like I did my last fish.

He was a beautiful fish and his empty bowl makes me a little sad.



So it's Mother's Day, and it's been a little bitter for me to receive the blanket "Happy Mother's Day!"s that I have been getting at work this weekend. But I got an email today that made me feel better. It was from the de facto president of our knitting group, who is also childless.

Even if you have no children or grandchildren, to me, we are all mothers and grannies when we knit, crochet, quilt or sew our items to donate to preemies and babies.

Amen to that.

Plus, I have my own mother still, while others do not. I am grateful for that and am choosing to focus on that today.

I wrote cryptically about it when it happened, but my second miscarriage showed me what it means to be a mother.  My mother was right there in the bathroom with me, holding my hand, coaching me on, and even (close your eyes, squeamish people), reaching in to pull stubborn uterine lining out for me when I panicked.  She didn't ewww, she didn't rush to wash her hands, she just helped me and never made me feel like what I was having to go through was weird or gross.  It was amazing.  Either she would've had an excellent career as a nurse, or she was just being a mom.  No one else could've filled those shoes that day.  I got to see as an adult that I will always be her child and that she will always be there to help me.  And that mothers clean up bodily fluids for their kids whether they are 3 or 30.

I said I had a similar reaction when my father lent me his eyeglasses.  I have learned so much about parenting from my own parents in these recent years.  And every year, I just want to give my parents grandchildren on Mother's and Father's Day.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama.  I'm still working on getting you the biggest present of them all.

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May 09, 2009

WE'RE GONNA NEED A TRACKING NUMBER ON THAT PACKAGE



At the end of my appointment yesterday, the genetics counselor said that I seem remarkably well-adjusted and calm about my predicament.  I told her that some experiences have been easier than others, and when I started explaining a few of the more difficult ones, I got choked up.  Especially when I explained how I feel frozen in time while everyone else around me moves forward with life.

I sometimes forget how deeply this cuts.

When I first learned of the balanced translocation, I went through a vengeful stage.  I wanted to knock on the door of everyone who told me to just relax and punch them.  I wanted to point out everyone's wrongness and tell them to their face that it was even worse than they could've ever guessed.  I wanted them to feel bad for all the stupid advice over the years and for their nonchalance in telling me I just haven't been patient enough.

I'm kinda over that, mostly.  Somedays moreso than others.

The genetics counselor said that my specific translocation isn't the worst one in the world, and that if my husband and I wanted to keep trying the natural way, we'd have about a 50% miscarriage rate.  We've flipped three tails already, but with a large enough sample size, we'd eventually get a heads.

When I pointed out that my husband is gone for nine-month chunks and I'm 31 1/2 and we don't have a great track record of getting pregnant quickly and we're just flat out done with gambling, she agreed that PGD might be a good option for us.  Especially since I already have a military fertility doctor to offset some of the $20,000 pricetag.

The next step is meeting with my doctor to find out how quickly we can get started and which company we will do the PGD through.  She guessed it would be someone in New Jersey.  Then I asked how that works, like do they run a test on the embryo and mail the data to NJ for interpretation?  She said more likely they would have to send the entire embryo to a cellular-level specialist.

Let that sink in for a second, because it was the most interesting thing she said all day.  My husband and I would start babies here with our doctor.  The babies would then be FedEx'd to an embryologist who will take one of their eight cells out, test it, give the babies the thumb's up or down, and then FedEx the babies back to us so they could be injected into me and hopefully nestle in for nine months.

FedExing a replicating and growing baby.  Of all the wonderments...

I definitely will be following that tracking number.

If we manage to have a baby through this process, imagine telling our kid that story someday, that we loved him so much that we swaddled him in bubble wrap and sent him on a trip to a doctor to make sure he would grow up healthy and strong.

Or her.  Or them.

Hopefully them.

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May 07, 2009

CONSPIRACY

Oh my heavens, how come no one told me about the Army Combat Shirt?
Makes me wish we were still babymaking...

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THE BADNESS OF OBAMA

Amritas pointed me towards a Lawrence Auster post that is the perfect explanation of how I too feel:

I have not been posting nearly as much about the actions of the Obama administration as might have been expected. One reason for this is that the badness of what Obama is doing, and the amount of it, and the complexity of it, is overwhelming and I frankly find it hard to take it in and form a view of it. When every day there are things being done by the administration that are off the chart, outside the scope of anything ever done by a U.S. president, how do you find adequate words to describe it and do it justice?

And when we combine this with the fact that Obama is extremely popular according to opinion polls, with 73 percent saying that he "cares about people like me," meaning that three quarters of Americans feel that this manifest anti-American president represents people like them, I frankly find it hard to get a handle on the situation.

I too am overwhelmed by the events unfolding in our country.  And I agree with the further comments at that Auster post and the Tea Party guests on last week's Glenn Beck show that our country has gone so far off the tracks that a McCain presidency would've only been incrementally less bad.

I'm frankly battered by the idea that there seem to be so many regular Americans out there who think like I do and want the kind of country I want...and none of them are in Washington.

And all that keeps running through my head is "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another"...

I'm with John Wall: I'm ready for a divorce.

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THEY DRINK OUR MILKSHAKE

Looks like I'm not the only one who's annoyed about granting the Democrats their premises...

(Via CG) Dr. Melissa Clouthier asks who owns the Republican brand:

I’ve got bad news: The opposition owns the Republican brand. Oh yes, they do. Democrats define Republicans and the Republicans accept the definition by operating from their false premises.

How do I know Republicans are owned by the Left? Because the Republican message is consistently negative and defensive: "I’m not mean." "We don’t believe that." "I’m not extremist like them". And by them, Republicans are defining themselves against the press-Obama-grassroots caricature of Republicans. In doing so, the Republicans with a national voice diminish their own party.

The Republicans will never be strong until they stop operating from a defensive position.

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May 06, 2009

DOWN THE MEMORY HOLE

I was looking for an old blog post and stumbled upon something remarkable...

Here's an interesting little dig I found in the MSN movie review for Day After Tomorrow:

The Story: A paleoclimatogist (Dennis Quaid) races to save the world and his Manhattan-trapped son (Jake Gyllenhaal) from an impending Ice Age brought on by the effects of global warming (or, as the gun-shy Fox marketers call it, "global climate change"), which causes cataclysmic hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, hail, heat and a colossal tidal wave. Not for the weatherphobic. [emphasis mine]

Amazing what a difference five years makes.  Nowadays, it's not a right-wing conspiracy to call it "global climate change"; it's the preferred nomenclature!  (Pssst, because we're not warming anymore.)

Who knew that Fox was the vanguard of global warming terminology?

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May 05, 2009

MEET THE NEW CLINIC, SAME AS THE OLD CLINIC

Now it's my turn to rip on civilian medicine.  My case manager here on post called the civilian doctor's office and said I needed genetics counseling, and they booked me with the wrong guy.  I wasn't supposed to go to that doctor yesterday at all; he is just a regular maternal fetal medicine doctor.  Absurd screw up on their part, costing me $14 in gas and a day's worth of confusion.  Oh, and costing my fellow taxpayers the amount of the worthless visit.  Which I'm sure is sky high.  I hope Tricare sticks it to them by only paying the bare minimum.

New appointment with a genetics counselor set for this Friday.  I have high expectations for this one.  I want Punnett squares and PowerPoints and a much higher level of detail than found on Wikipedia.

My case manager here was horrified and very apologetic.  I said that she ought to hear the litany of screw-ups over the past two years.  She said, "I know, and I was trying to stop that cycle, not make it worse!"

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May 04, 2009

UNPRODUCTIVE

I would wager that the internet has had a profound effect on the medical field.

If I had discovered my balanced translocation 15 years ago, I would've been completely overwhelmed.  To find any information on the topic, I would've had to visit my local library and use the card catalog for books or the goofy old Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature to find articles.  It would've been far easier to have an expert just explain it to me.

But in 2009, within an hour of coming home from the doctor two weeks ago, I had a basic understanding of a fairly specific genetic problem.  By the end of the day, I was educated on two chromosomes in particular, the risks of PGD, and had even managed to find a medical article from 1982 on someone with my specific translocation.  Eventually I even read about translocations in Swedish.

So let's just say that when the doctor at my appointment today started drawing chromosomes on a paper, I had two thoughts: 1) "It's much clearer if you do it with play-doh" and 2) "No, you're doing it wrong, chromosome 22 is one of the short ones and you've drawn it equal in size to chromosome 7."

Therefore, all in all, the appointment was a disappointment.  The man was neither a geneticist nor a genetic counselor.  I don't quite understand why I had to meet with him and what we were supposed to accomplish.  I plan to spend tomorrow trying to answer those questions.

I did learn one thing though: this process could even be harder than we originally thought.  I got another blood test done today to see if we're at risk for eggs carrying 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.  Fantastic.  If so, it means that even fewer of my eggs will be able to create a healthy baby.

Just one more frustrating and unproductive day to add to my collection.

[A special hat tip to my librarian cousin for reminding me what those goofy green books in my high school library were called.]

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May 03, 2009

I HAVE TEH SWINE FLU

[Update: It's not swine flu (obviously.  I never really thought I had it; it was just fun to joke about.)  Am waiting for results of a strep test.  In the meantime, I plan to drink lots of hot whiskey.  Either it will sooth my throat or make me not care it's hurting.]



Yesterday I started joking with my husband that we have swine flu.  He is caughing and snuffy, and my throat hurts like all get-out.  Today, it's less funny.  I had to call in sick to work and I am headed to the weekend med clinic.

I thought all that bacon we eat was supposed to inoculate us...

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May 01, 2009

MILBLOGS CONFERENCE

My husband is definitely not a blogger.  He reads Abu Muqawama, so I was excited that Andrew Exum was at the conference.  After the final panel, I excitedly asked if he'd like to go talk to him.  My husband shrugged and said, "Nah, it's no big deal."

Definitely not a blogger.

I asked my husband on the way home what he thought of the conference.  He said it was interesting.  I asked him what he thought of the content as a non-blogger, because I think that's an element that's rarely addressed in our discussion.  Are milblogs relevant?  Asking bloggers is going to elicit a different response than asking non-bloggers.  We touched on this during last year's conference, when one non-blogger audience member suggested that maybe blogging was not the highest priority for the chain of command.  That stuck with me; those who aren't completely sucked in to the world of blogging don't see the same level of importance as we do.

But it's hard for my husband to really have an opinion right now.  Even if he had the desire to blog, the job that he has now is absolutely not bloggable.  All of the interesting stuff he does is opsec, and the stuff that bloggers can write about, the non-opsec stuff, is less interesting to him.  It doesn't float his boat to read milblogs because his life is a milblog.  So he comes at the whole thing from a completely different angle than the rest of us, which I find interesting.  Someone who has no internal push to put his every thought online is always going to look at this activity differently.

But still I think he should've at least said hi to Exum.

(I will say that I impressed the heck out of him by getting a big hug and smile from Bill Roggio.  To him, Roggio is big-time, and the fact that Mr. Big-Time was all excited to see his wife, well, he thought that was pretty cool.)

(He also came home still oblivious to the fact that people wanted to meet him.  I had tried to explain that some people have been reading about him for about five years, but I don't think it sunk in until we were home.  Then he said, "Maybe I should've been more charming."  Sigh.  I told you no one would describe him as nice.)

I still want to write about the content of the conference...someday.

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ARMY OF ONE

I got lucky and there's an opening with the geneticist this coming Monday morning.  Unfortunately, Monday morning is the only day next week that my husband has training he cannot skip and cannot reschedule.  So it was either go to the appointment alone, or wait three weeks for the next available appointment.

I think they need to designate Army wives as the Army Of One.

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