June 17, 2009

HE BRINGS TEH TOPICAL HUMOR

One last thing: my husband cracks me up.  At lunch he said, "I'm going back for seconds.  If the waitress comes by, tell her I could use a drink refill.  Actually, she'll probably figure it out herself; she's a wise Latina."  Snorfle.

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VEGAS FOOD UPDATE

We had the Bellagio buffet for lunch, which was quite good and which I preferred to the Paris one, I think.  (I vote Bellagio for food and Paris for dessert.)  They had some good curry duck and rack of lamb and stuff.  The highlights for me were the asparagus -- perfectly crisp; mine at home is always too mushy or too raw -- and the tiny cheesecakes for dessert.  Oh gosh were they good, and I am the type person who would normally choose seconds of the main course over desserts.

And afterwards in the bathroom, there was a girl puking.  Either she gorged herself, in which case I feel sorry for her, or she's a bulemic.  I had to think about that for a while: is Las Vegas a bulemic's dream or nightmare?  On the one hand, you get all these yummy foods before you barf, but on the other hand...you just paid twenty bucks to gag all that food up?  Weak.

We went to the gym this morning, so that totally counteracts the buffet, right?

Chuck Z suggests the Rio buffet.  Gourmet magazine recommends their seafood buffet as the best in Vegas, so it was on my list of potential things I want to spend $40 on.  I'm trying not to be a cheapskate and do one nice meal per day, and then cook something here or do something light for the opposite meal.  Tonight we will have a small dinner before heading to a saucy show.

It's hard for me to part with $75 each for show tickets, but I had a talk with myself this morning: In six months when my husband is gone, would we pay $150 to sit together in a dark room watching a sexy show?  Absolutely.  So why not do it now while we have the chance.

We're having fun.  Really, I don't need to spend money to have fun; I just like doing anything with my husband.  Sitting in the hot tub, being on the internet, riding on a movable sidewalk, all of these are even satisfying as long as he's here with me.  (And the movable sidewalk, that's one of the good parts of life!)

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TOLDYASO

You know what I really hope is happening? I really hope over breakfast, George Bush points out stories in the paper to Laura and smugly snickers, "Dude, I told you this would happen. I told you once he got in office, he'd start to grok the enormity of the job."

Via CaliValleyGirl:

The Obama administration is declining to release documents that would identify visitors to the White House, embracing a legal position taken by the Bush administration, according to a watchdog group that filed a federal lawsuit over access to the records.

The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed its lawsuit after being denied access to Secret Service records, including White House entry and exit logs, that would identify coal and energy industry visitors.

The government's refusal to release the records contrasts with President Barack Obama's pledge of transparency.

I also got a chuckle out of Roseanne Barr's rant that everyone has gotten snowed by Obama because he's not really doing anything different.  And the Bill Maher rant was excellent.  Choice bit:

I mean, selling the personal part to stay popular, I'm all for it, but you got us already. We like you, we really like you! You're skinny and in a hurry and in love with a nice lady. But so's Lindsay Lohan. And like Lohan, we see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something.

And this:

Obama needs to start putting it on the line in fights against the banks, the energy companies and the healthcare industry. I never thought I'd say this, but he needs to be more like George W. Bush. Bush was all about, "You're with us or against us."

Obama's more like, "You're either with us, or you obviously need to see another picture of this adorable puppy!"

I hope George Bush is enjoying his toldyaso.  And listening to the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" often.

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UP LATE IN VEGAS (BUT FOR THE WRONG REASON)

Luggage was delivered last night at 3 AM.  And we had to get out of bed and go down to pay for it.  Guh.

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June 16, 2009

FLAN

Our bags still aren't here, so we went out and ate anyway.  We went to the buffet at the Paris hotel, and my goal was to eat things I don't make at home: duck, crab legs, salmon, etc.  But the true joy came at dessert time: mousse, creme brulee, crepes, and...flan.

Ah, flan.  Flan is apparently my version of Proust's madeleine.  It took me back twelve years to the halls of my school in France.  There was a vending machine that dispensed this delightful treat.

Yep, flan from a vending machine.  The French are so la-di-da.

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FORTUITIOUS OR SERENDIPITOUS

So today started out...um, well...bad.

We live 80 miles from the airport.  We allotted three hours for travel.  We missed our flight.

I have been in far harder rain storms, but apparently (we now know) flooding backed up traffic all over town.  It took us over an hour to go a few measly miles.  Thank heavens for Garmin; we eventually exited and took back roads to the airport.  I honestly thought there had been some sort of terrorist attack or evacuation, because the highways were a nightmare of traffic but there was not a car to be found on the roads in town.  It was eerie.

So we missed our flight, but luckily for us, the 6 AM flight had been delayed five hours.  Sucks to be its original passengers, but we lucked out and ran to the gate just in time.  We still managed to barely catch our original connecting flight, so we did some serious Mr T style recouping of our day.

And, without a dictionary, I wondered if the final turn of events had been fortuitous or serendipitous.  I think it's more the former, though I detect an element of the latter.

Unfortunately, we're out a good chunk of change in extra parking fees, since in our hurry to make the flight, we chose short-term over long-term.  And our bags didn't make the flight, so now we're sitting in the hotel waiting for them to be delivered.  For a $25 fee, of course.

But our hotel room is teh awesome, so score.  Full kitchen and everything.  (We're talkin' four burners and a full-size fridge, plus dining room table!)  And we overlook the Bellagio fountain and the Eiffel Tower.  So, sweet.

Come on, luggage.  Sarah wants to hit the buffet.

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June 15, 2009

LADY LUCK, PLEASE LET THE PENNY POKER STAY HOT

Both laptops are getting turned off and packed here in a few minutes...
We're off!


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OUR BABY'S ALL GROWS UP

Four years ago today, we brought little six-pound Charlie home to be our dog.

You can even see the green ink on his ear where he got tattooed.  (Oh, and don't think we didn't make lots of jokes about Germans and their fondness for tattooing barcodes on people...)

We dropped Charlie off tonight for his week at the boarder's.  He barely looked back at us as he ran off into the room filled with 32 other dogs for the week.  He is going to have the time of his life.

But five minutes after driving away, I said, "OK, I miss him already."  I was mostly kidding.  Mostly.

My husband says we'd better hurry up and have a kid, lest we turn into the Swans.

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LIFE EXPECTANCY

Mark Steyn:

According to the U.N. figures, life expectancy in the United States is 78 years; in the United Kingdom, it’s 79 — yay, go socialized health care! On the other hand, in Albania, where the entire population chain-smokes and the health-care system involves swimming to Italy, life expectancy is still 71 years — or about where America was a generation or so back. Once you get childhood mortality under control, and observe basic hygiene and lifestyle precautions, the health “system” is relatively marginal. One notes that, even in Somalia, which still has high childhood mortality, not to mention a state of permanent civil war, functioning government has entirely collapsed and yet life expectancy has increased from 49 to 55. Maybe if government were to collapse entirely in Washington, our life expectancy would show equally remarkable gains. Just thinking outside the box here.

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INSOMNIAC

My husband hasn't been sleeping well lately.  He is overwhelmed by how much there still is to learn about Afghanistan.  He is keeping himself up at night worrying that he hasn't learned enough geography, culture, and history.  He invested five years of his life into learning Iraq, and now he's changing horses midstream.  He wants to make sure he's prepared for this new mission, and it's been on his mind constantly.

Today is our seventh wedding anniversary.  I joked, "You're becoming an insomniac like me!  See, it's true what they say about people turning into each other when they've been married for so long.  It only took you seven years."  He snorted and said, "But I don't want to be like you in this area!"  When asked what area he would like to be more like me in, he replied, "You know, how you're organized and remember birthdays and stuff."  Heh.

We're leaving tomorrow for block leave: a week in Las Vegas.  In addition to festivities and fun, we will be working on learning Pashto together.  Just another thing to shove in our suitcase...

Don't worry, we're such nerds that we chose our hotel based on who had free wifi.

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June 12, 2009

STAND BY FOR YOUR RIGHTS

Neal Boortz on mirandizing terrorists (of all the ridiculous...):

If the world is so sure that these Islamic goons have Geneva rights, let's give them those rights.  Under the Geneva Convention enemy combatants dressed in civilian clothes can be summarily executed.  No Miranda rights necessary.  "You have the right to stand up against this wall.  We have the right to put a slug in you.  Stand by for your rights."

Heh.  That last command made me snort.

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I MUST BE HIGH BECAUSE I DO NOT GET THIS

My brother just told me about some legalization of marijuana stuff that he was commending Pres Obama for. I decided to look it up, and I am more confused than ever.

I used to get so annoyed when people would blame anything bad that happened on Pres Bush. Didn't find the WMDs after giving Saddam months of advance notice that we were invading? Bush's fault. Economic troubles that started under the Clinton administration? Bush's fault. Hurricane hits New Orleans? Bush's fault.

Similarly, I will be quite annoyed if a trend starts where everything good that happens is attributed to Pres Obama, even if he opposes it and has nothing to do with it.

After four decades of mindless prohibition and draconian prison sentences for addicts and casual users, the first four months of the Obama era have seen a rapid turn toward rationality.

So far so good in paragraph one. Let's see what Obama has been doing in the realm of weed, because I simply haven't been following it. So then I get to paragraph three:

But while states like California and New York are challenging the fundamentals of prohibition and punishment that have governed America's drug policy since the Nixon era, the Obama administration is largely staying the course. The president, who has blasted the drug war as an "utter failure," has nonetheless delegated oversight of drug policy to one of the chief architects of that failure: Vice President Joe Biden, who coined the term "drug czar" and steered the passage of the nation's harsh drug sentences as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Far from scaling back funding for drug interdiction and law enforcement, the administration's 2010 budget increases the levels established under George W. Bush. And despite the growing bipartisan discussion among state leaders about decriminalizing marijuana, Kerlikowske tells Rolling Stone that legalization is not up for debate "under any circumstances." [emphasis mine]

So, pray tell, why does "the Obama era" get the credit for any of this? Obama doesn't seem to have done squat; the rest of the article gives most of the credit to Schwarzenegger and Webb.

Political pressure to end the War on Drugs is building in surprising quarters. In recent months, three distinct rationales have converged to convince a growing number of politicians — including many on the center-right — to seriously consider the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Huh? Center-right Republicans are becoming more open to the idea of legalization, and somehow Obama gets all the credit in the opening paragraph?

And then there's this: 366-day sentence for pot dispensary owner

I have followed that story, and that man should not be in jail, period. Get your federal laws off him; this should be a states issue. But let's see what credit Obama gets here:

A federal judge sentenced the owner of a Central California medical marijuana dispensary to a year and a day in prison Thursday, spurning the Obama administration's push to give the defendant five years imprisonment in a test case of new federal policies toward state pot laws. [emphasis again mine]

Oh wait, the Obama administration pushed for a longer sentence. All hail the Obama era!

Obama hasn't done anything to help legalize marijuana or let people off who were clearly in the right under state laws. Rolling Stone needs to stop attributing anything to "the Obama era." And to think that McCain was called McSame during the campaign...

Wouldn't it be awesome if the intrastate commerce clause folks who are working on gun rights in Montana teamed up with the intrastate medicinal marijuana folks in California and turned the 10th Amendment inside out? Guns and weed, teaming up together for Change We Can Believe In!

****

For the record, I don't smoke pot, have never smoked pot, and am about the biggest anti-pot person you can meet, for the reasons South Park lays out:

Well, Stan, the truth is marijuana probably isn't gonna make you kill people, and it most likely isn't gonna fund terrorism, but...well son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored and it's when you're bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. If you smoke pot you may grow up to find out that you aren't good at anything.

But just because I think it's lame doesn't mean I think it should be illegal.

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TBIM!

I got to talk on the phone with AWTM today, on the heels of a long phone call with her yesterday too. I for one am super happy that she's not working anymore, because it's much easier for us to reach each other.

Also, I'm glad she's not living the office life anymore...


I also had to call Guard Wife and break up her love getaway to ask a question. Her husband answered, so he and I chatted for a bit, which was fun. Which reminds me: At the last SpouseBUZZ Live, somebody turned to Chuck Z's wife and said, "I got the funniest email from your husband the other day." Only among bloggers would that be normal.

As I told Wife Unit the other day, while she was dropping her dog off at my parents' house where he will now live as my brother's new dog, "I love teh internets."

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PALAU 4, AMERICA -200 MILLION

Am I crazy? I'm starting to think I'm crazy.

While British officials publicly slammed Bermuda, they were privately annoyed with the U.S.
[...]
President Obama's aides told Britain the Gitmo group was headed to Bermuda less than 24 hours before the ex-inmates' chartered jet landed there, the Daily News has learned.

Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown said, "We are confident this decision is the right one from a humanitarian perspective."
[...]
Bermuda will also receive an unspecified "small sum" to cover their costs, said a U.S. official.

The "small sum"? $200 million. Kimberly Morin says it best:

Humanitarian? How about monetarian? I’d be willing to bet $200 million that the Palau government would not have taken these detainees without Obama bribing them with a cash payout. Of course the White House says that the money has nothing to do with the detainees. It is for development for the country of Palau. What is to develop? They are a gorgeous tropical island whose economy is based on tourism. Why would we be giving this tropical island money for development in the first place? Earth to Obama - horrible recession, highest unemployment in 25 years, non-stimulus doing nothing and you are going to give $200 million to a country that does not warrant development and has absolutely nothing to do with our economy.

It costs somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million per year to run the entire facility at Guantanamo Bay. So there's two years of operating costs to unload four guys. Furthermore, Palau's GDP is apparently $164 million. Hooray, Obama just doubled their yearly intake!

Seriously, when did the whole world become the Mad Hatter's Tea Party?

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MUST-Y SPEAK

Mark Steyn:

When President Bush used to promote the notion of democracy in the Muslim world, there was a line he liked to fall back on: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Are you quite sure? It’s doubtful whether that’s actually the case in Gaza and Waziristan, but we know for absolute certain that it’s not in Paris and Stockholm, London and Toronto, Buffalo and New Orleans. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make their own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and eventually (as we already see in Europe, Canada, American campuses, and the disgusting U.N. Human Rights Council) what you’re permitted to say and think.

I too used to naively think that all men desired freedom.  But that's must-y speak

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June 11, 2009

SEVEN YEARS

My husband has a summer birthday, so he was always the youngest in his class.  That also has made him the youngest in his year group in the Army, so he has always been the baby of the group.  At OBC, a prior-enlisted guardsman flipped out when he learned my husband was born in 1980: "I was pickin' up chicks in my Trans Am in 1980!"

But he's started to realize that he's been in the Army for seven years now.  And suddenly, he's older than most of the NCOs he works with.  He's not the baby anymore.

I took his team a homemade lunch today, and they gushed and thanked me and called me Mrs. and Ma'am.  And I realized that I'm no spring chick either: I am nine years older than the medic on his team.  I must seem like such an old lady to him.

On Monday, my husband and I have our seventh wedding anniversary.  We've known each other for almost ten years.

It feels good to be a grown up.  But it took me by surprise today.

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CAN'T TOUCH THIS

The two videos in this Rachel Lucas post made me laugh until I cried.
The Denny's thing was awesome Idiocracy material.

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CREATED OR SAVED

What have you created or saved?

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SPEAKING TRUTH TO PREMISE

I may come off forceful and set-in-my-ways here on the blog, but I assure you that I'm not like that in real life.  I rarely speak my mind, especially not in polite company.  I never reveal my true opinions and values to strangers.  It's part of that dilemma I've been writing about for five years:

When we get emails like this, or when our co-workers praise Fahrencrap 9/11, what is the proper response? I can't help but think of a passage from The Demon-Haunted World:

Imagine that you enter a big-city taxicab and the moment you get settled in, the driver begins a harangue about the supposed inequities and inferiorities of another ethnic group. Is your best course to keep quiet, bearing in mind that silence conveys assent? Or is it your moral responsibility to argue with him, to express outrage, even to leave the cab -- because you know that every silent assent will encourage him next time, and every vigorous dissent will cause him next time to think twice?

Sagan ends this section with "Figuring out a prudent balance takes wisdom." I just don't know what to think anymore. On the one hand, I think that some people will never see what I see, no matter how articulately I might lay it out, and it's not worth my sanity to try to beat them over the head with Truth. On the other hand, people are going to be voting next month based on bullcrap like this email forward on the draft, and unless we make a serious effort to counter the media and the junk science, we run the risk of losing President Bush.

And I'm starting to wonder if maybe I oughtn't dip my toe into impolite waters.  If maybe I should start speaking my mind in public on occasion.  Because five years hence, I still feel as frustrated and impotent as I used to.  I still walk away incensed and wishing I had spoken truth to premise.

Yesterday I heard two separate diatribes against The Rich.  They were offhanded things, premise things, deemed uncontroversial by their speakers.  Both assumed that their listeners would chime in and agree that the world is economically unfair and somehow the scales need to be righted.  I never chimed in with anything, just tried to ignore both interlocutors and change the subject quickly.  But looking back, I wish I'd replied. 

No, as a point of fact, I do not believe that, since we are all created equal by God, it is a travesty that most of the world's wealth is held by so few.  Nor do I believe that our current economic crisis was solely caused by greedy CEOs.  I also don't believe that your boss should have to give up his Mercedes because you think he doesn't do as much work as you do.  Nor am I horrified at the thought of someone making a "three-digit salary" (It was obvious from context that this person meant "six-digit," which leads me to conclude that, really, you might want to rethink your argument that you deserve more money than your boss.)

Absent actual evidence, I am not inclined to automatically assert that The Rich don't deserve their money.  I will not side with you in thinking that life is unfair and you know how to fix it.  I do not share your delusion that you are a better arbiter of how much money people should make than the free market is.

I think next time I might cautiously speak out and see how that feels, because I remain dissatisfied with my long-standing policy of avoiding controversy and thus having to suffer through others' treatises on How The World Should Work.

What I really ought to start doing is following Sean Hannity's lead and wide-eyedly asking, "So what you're basically saying is 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need' then?"

And point out that you, with your fancy cell phone and comfortable house, better watch out you don't reap what you sow, because I am sure there is someone else in town who thinks you don't deserve your five-digit salary.  Those who fall middle-class should tread lightly on the class envy issue, for they have more riches than the majority of the people on this planet.

I will update the first time I speak truth to premise.  Gulp.

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June 10, 2009

THIS ONE'S FOR GUARD WIFE

A friend of ours has been on a few dates with a girl.  I asked what she was like, and he answered with adjectives like "sweet" and "nice."  I said that was all beside the point.  I needed to get to the heart of the matter: What is her stance on Charles Krauthammer?  Because really, that's all I need to know to make new friends...

Show me your feelings on Krauthammer and I'll show you your future.

What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.

A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn't even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.

What left me slack-jawed was the fact that she, like the cohort of mainstream journalists she represented so perfectly, was so ideologically blinkered that she could not fathom the plain fact that the liberal media were presenting the news and the world through a particular lens. The idea that it was particular, and that there might be competing ones, perhaps even superior ones, was beyond her ken.

That's why Fox News is so resented. It altered the intellectual and ideological landscape of America. It gave not only voice but also legitimacy to a worldview that had been utterly excluded from the mainstream media.

I'm proud to be part of this televised apostasy.

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