July 31, 2004

FAHRENCRAP

I just got back from watching Fahrencrap 9/11 with some friends; the one husband mailed his bootleg copy from Iraq, so we thought we'd give it a look. I thought I'd have a lot to say after I watched it, but I only have three words for Michael Moore. Boring. As. Hell. Seriously, my friend put it best when she said it was like watching one of those videos in middle school where you knew there would be a quiz but you could barely keep your eyes open. Maybe it was because I've already read so much commentary about the movie, but I found myself looking at my watch a lot. There were a few funny bits that kept us going, but that's not saying much; there were funny bits in Dude, Where's My Car? too, but it ain't winnin' any awards. I can't believe people had to pay money to see this movie.

Oh, and I could've gone my whole life without hearing Michael Moore say "who's your daddy"...

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July 26, 2004

MANUAL

My mom let me in on some happenings in P-town: seems one of my high school friends' dads has been voted as principal of a local high school. Big whoop, right? Well, he's white and the high school is predominantly black, so

Members of the NAACP, Citizens for a Better Peoria and the 'African American Leadership Alliance' held a press conference Friday morning. They say they are concerned about the process by which William Salzman got approved as the new Manual High School principal.

Apparently "local black leaders have complained for months that a core group of board members have discussed district matters in private and without input from the board's two black members." OK. Whitey's getting together in secret and trying to keep the man down. Riiight.

Ross said she's "not one to cry racism" regarding the hiring, but the surprise vote shows a "lack of sensitivity" on the part of some board members.

Lack of sensitivity towards what, exactly? I know I don't know the whole story, but Salzman was already the assistant principal, he received over 100 letters of support from faculty and parents, and the summer is coming to a close and they need a principal.

Why on earth can't a white man effectively principal Manual?

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July 22, 2004

SPITTING

What's with the spitting? I have been known, at the height of my athletic days (read 16 years old), to spit. But to spit on someone? I'm not sure I could ever do that. (I can barely stand the episode of South Park where the moms are trying to get the kids chicken pox; they make up a game where Kenny spits in Kyle's mouth...ugh.) So how can people spit on Lance Armstrong? Spitting on someone is the most degrading thing I can think of, and they do this to a man who overcame cancer and is on the way to winning his sixth Tour de France. I'll never understand.

(via Smash)

MORE TO GROK:

And look at this horrible photo.

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July 18, 2004

LORE

This, via Greyhawk, is one of the funniest things I've heard in a while:

I had to pull radio watch in the War Room last night, and somebody left a copy of the April edition of People Magazine there. So on radio watch, I read how Survivors Rob and Amber are in Love, Kelly Osborne is in Rehab, Omaarosa has a suprising past, and how Reese Witherspoon and hubby Ryan Phillippe bought a house in Los Angeles for 4.9 million. And you know what, after reading that magazine, for a split second, I was glad I was here in Iraq, and not back in America.

Hawk talks in the same post about the lore that people spout off as fact, namely that no one is interested in joining the military anymore because of the deployments. I understand that to not be true, even though I've heard several of my students say the same thing. We talk often in our class about avoiding "lore", like Americans are the fattest people on the planet or more black men are in prison than in college. These common-knowledge bullcrap statements are thrown around all the time because people think they could be true and never bother to research them. Same with the enlistment: it seems plausible that people would no longer want to join the military knowing the dangers involved, but it seems that recruitment and retention rates are steady. That article took me ten seconds to find; why don't most people bother to take those ten seconds before they propagate lore?

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July 17, 2004

FINE LINE

There's a strange fine line you walk when you're a white girl who likes rap music. One of my students was writing his paper on the FCC and he wanted to use Eminem as an example of censorship but couldn't think of a good way to work it in. I quoted him a couple of lines from an Eminem song that I thought he could use, and he looked at me in awe: "You know Eminem?" We then talked at length about different rap albums, he made a couple of recommendations that I haven't heard yet, and we had a nice time. He even dared me to teach class in ebonics and encouraged me to use more slang! It was a pretty funny conversation, but it was nice that I never once got the feeling that I was "stealing his culture", which is the feeling I often get when I express interest in rap. I told him I especially enjoy the music for the language and that I can relate a bit to Nelly's Midwest tales, but I know that I certainly can't relate to many of rap's messages the way that he -- a young black kid from NYC -- can. I would never pretend to.

Which is why what John Kerry did at the NAACP looks especially foolish and freaky to me. You can express respect and admiration without making yourself part of the in-group. You can share common ground, but there is a fine line you need to respect.

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RECYCLING

Bunker wrote about recycling the other day, and I was reminded of his post this morning when I saw a news clip on the Pentagon Channel here about a recycling program at Ft Knox (no hit on google though). Apparently they're tearing down some old housing, and they've decided to recycle what they can. People in the area are encouraged to come take cabinets, doors, wood, etc while the buildings are still standing. One man interviewed said that he was using the wood to start a new business -- a campsite for kids -- and that he's saved $35,000 so far in supplies from being able to take wood from the recycled buildings. Ft Knox also has saved over $100,000 in not having to pay to dump the materials. Now THAT is a recycling program I completely support, one that pumps money back into the community.

This morning the AFN News channel was on and on about Martha Stewart. I switched over to the Pentagon Channel and caught their news broadcast instead. Top stories: the tale of a group of MPs in Iraq who are transferring duties over to the Iraqi police, the birthday of the Army Rangers, and the recycling program at Ft Knox. Much more interesting, in my opinion, than Martha Stewart.

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July 16, 2004

MINORITY

California education chief calls preschooler 'stupid dirty girl'. See also Anger, Boiling over. (via Allahpundit)

The California State Education Secretary made fun of a little girl's name. The NAACP got involved, saying it never would've happened if the girl were white. Um, the girl is white. And when the NAACP figured that out, they said

"Race is not a factor in this issue," Dymally said in Thursday's statement, adding that Riordan had apologized a second time. "It is time for us to move on."

So the State Education Secretary makes fun of a six year old, and it's no big deal, as long as she's not a minority. For the love of pete.

Reminds me of a story back in high school. Our teacher was calling roll on the first day and came to our Indian friend's name, which she proceeded to make fun of, saying it sounded like the noise you make when you sneeze. He was a little taken aback, but retorted with the funny quip, "Well, at least I'm not a Pollack," since her name was obviously Polish. He was kicked out of class and sent to the Dean. As he got up and walked out of class, he said, in a calm tone I'll never forget, "But you sneezed my name."


Come to think of it, those two stories aren't that related. Well, except that they both involve jackasses.

MORE TO GROK:

My bad: Dymally is not associated with the NAACP. They made ridiculous errors and bad judgement calls independent from one another.

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July 12, 2004

CLASS

My class this weekend was pretty good. We all thought it would focus on the current terrorist events, but instead the prof mostly lectured about terrorism in the 70s and 80s. It was interesting because I didn't know that much about pre-9/11 terrorism, and it helped me gain better perspective on terrorism as a whole. I appreciated the experience.

And I loved being in class with Soldiers. A long while back I wrote about a professor who was using his class time to discuss his anti-war views, and I thought that active duty soldier students shouldn't have to be exposed to that in a class the military is paying for. However, after this weekend, I trust that Soldiers can hold their own. There were several students who actively challenged the prof when he said things they disagreed with, and there were also two clowns in the back row who were calling bullshit under their breath and mumbling quips about making parking lots. When the prof said things that we didn't agree with -- that Europe's position on the death penalty is much more enlightened than the US's, that al-Qaeda was nothing to be worried about, that we should understand the root causes of the Palestinians' beef -- there was always a hand in the air to voice an opinion. Even though the prof knew his stuff, none of the students simply took his more opinionated statements at face value.

Bunker's back in the building with a great post about the relationship between government and society. There was an interesting, and tangential, moment in class when the prof said that the US was no better than Iran or China for having the death penalty, and that even though roughly 85% of the population supports it, a civilized society would not allow it. He pointed to Europe as being more modern and classy for having banned the death penalty. I went home that night and checked on the stats; I found that support is declining in the US but rising in Europe. (Here's another interesting site.) I just don't see how abolishing something that anywhere from 50 to 70% of people support is a sign of civilization or modernity. Why should a government say, "We know you want this, but we don't think you're capable of making such a grown-up decision so we're just going to decide for you"?

Another thing that came up in class was the "America has no culture" meme. The "American culture is nothing but Coke and Nike and Big Macs" crap. And then the prof said that American culture is no different than European culture. I strongly disagree. (Den Beste's said it all before; see here and here and here and here. And many other places too.) The many problems we're facing today vis a vis alliances and the UN are a direct result of the widening gap between cultures. We're not, as one student jokingly said, "not good enough to be British." We do indeed have a culture that goes beyond Supersize. Just ask Abkow Edow and Madina Idle.

All in all a good experience. Some bits I disagreed with, but for the most part the prof did a good job of just reporting the facts, which is hard to come by in education today.

MORE TO GROK:

David of Rishon Rishon points out two posts on the difference between American and European culture: The Freeholders and Happy Independence Day, USA.

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July 07, 2004

RIDDLE

Q: What weighs the same as a rhinoceros but is missing from the homepages of the major news sites?

A: The uranium found in Iraq

RIDDLE #2:

Q. What is the appropriate response to the UN when they whine we didn't ask permission to transport uranium that could be used for dirty bombs?

A. The same response the American delegate made at the UN in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut when the Canadians condemned the actions taken by American in apprehending Terrance and Phillip.

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