June 29, 2007

1,2,3 WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?

In keeping with yesterday's theme, what do Rosie O'Donnell and jihadists have in common? They both dress their kids up like insurgents.

Quiz: Which one is Rosie's kid and which one is the Palestinian?

rosie_kid.jpg

Would you be able to tell if the skin tones were the same?

The Palestinians mean it when they dress their kids up like this. I have no idea what Rosie was thinking. Supposedly she's anti-war, but the fact she dressed her kid up with bullets suggests that maybe there is something she'd be willing to let her kids fight for. Obviously it's not the United States, though.

(found via One-Sided Exposition)

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June 28, 2007

THE BEATLES

What do Lileks, Annika, and I have in common? We don't really get The Beatles.

I discovered The White Album when I was 12, and then heard everything else. That's doing it quite backwards, to say the very least. And I was a fan back then, from age 12 to about 15, buying cassette tapes and hanging out in freaking head shops downtown looking for memorabilia. But somehow a weird resurgence of Beatlemania hit my high school in 1995 and the Fab Four completely jumped the shark when the annoyingly popular girls from my school were camping out on the sidewalk outside Best Buy all night to buy the Anthology album. And got interviewed for the newspaper for it. I kinda dusted my hands off and thought, "Well, OK, that was fun while it lasted." I stopped listening to the most popular band of all time because they got popular. Heh.

But now, even though I'm old enough to not pick my music based on what's cool, I still can't listen to The Beatles anymore. I just don't feel the music. When I was 13, songs like "Mean Mr. Mustard" were cool because they were weird for the sake of being weird. Now they just feel weird.

I still very much enjoy the song "I Will." That's about it. I've come to think Quentin is right: I'm an Elvis fan, and you can't be both.

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June 25, 2007

USEFUL IDIOT

Dear Cameron Diaz,

The next time you're in a country to "participate in a television show that celebrates Peru's culture," make sure you learn a little about the culture before you show up. Like learning that your Chairman Mao purse might tick the locals off, you know, since the Shining Path spent a decade killing Peruvians. And when you apologize with "The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it," you reveal just what a dumbass you are. If you can't understand the hurtful nature of Mao Zedong, you really need to get a clue.

Sincerely,
Sarah

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WORKER BEES

When I have a knitting class scheduled, I have to call in to the store in the morning to find out if anyone has signed up. I am always amazed at how put-out the cashiers seem when I call. I am always cheerful and it only takes them a second to look it up. But I always get gruff, one-word grunts from these sullen people. Is there anyone in my class today? "Hang on. Nope. Click." Do they not know how rude they sound?

I work for Michaels. I make about $50 per month, which is so low it makes me laugh. I can spend that in supplies for the class. But I love teaching people to knit, and Michaels gives me that opportunity. So I do everything I can to make people happy in the store. I take people's email and phone numbers and go home to find information for them. I type up patterns for them. Currently I am helping an elderly lady change her lace pattern to a larger size. Not easy. And she already knows how to knit, so I get nothing out of it. I don't get paid to do it, and she'll never take a class from me. But I want her to have a good experience in the store. That's part of my job, right? They didn't hire me to be stingy and grumpy.

I taught my mother-in-law to knit when she visited, but she was having trouble with a stitch once she got back home. We were unable to figure out the problem over the phone, so she decided to drive up to her local Hobby Lobby to ask for a little help. She brought her needles and yarn and just wanted someone to watch her to see what she was doing wrong. They refused to help, saying it was against store policy to spend time helping customers on individual projects. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? My mother-in-law put the yarn back on the shelf that she was intending to buy and left. They could've taken ten seconds to help her purl and then would've made $15 in sales. Instead they got nothing.

I don't understand most workers. Yeah, it may just be your crappy minimum wage job to answer the phone, but your grunts and gripes aren't even worth eight dollars. Take some stinkin' pride in what you do instead of doing the bare minimum, and think about something larger than yourself for five minutes. You represent a company, and they don't owe you a paycheck for mediocrity.

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THEY HATE US

At the risk of repeating myself for a third day and using again the phrase Aristotelian gods, here is a prime example of lefties looking down their noses at us country bumpkin Republicans and saying that they know so much better than we do what's good for us:

Even with the low poll numbers, liberals still feel stymied in conveying just how bad this administration is. It's been the ultimate frustration to consider the people who don't see Bush's malevolence: In 2004, rural America cited national security as their number one reason for voting for Bush. But people in the major cities, where there's actually a chance of being victimized by terrorism, people voted against Bush. Frustrating. In the cities, where most people are utterly at two with nature, people cited Bush's raping of the environment as a major reason to vote against him. In rural America, where people fish and hunt and generally do things outside, they voted for Bush. Sooooo frustrating. On Sutton Place and in Harvard-Westlake, where kids go to college after high school, they vote against Bush. In rural America, from where the majority of tragically killed kids in Iraq soldiers come, they vote for Bush.

And if that's not enough, let's throw a big heaping tablespoon of malice in with the condescention. Malice and condescention pie, yummy.

You could argue that even the world's worst fascist dictators at least meant well. They honestly thought were doing good things for their countries by suppressing blacks/eliminating Jews/eradicating free enterprise/repressing individual thought/killing off rivals/invading neighbors, etc. Only the Saudi royal family is driven by the same motives as Bush, but they were already entrenched. Bush set a new precedent. He came into office with the attitude of "I'm so tired of the public good. What about my good? What about my rich friends' good?"

This is how they see conservative values, folks. We're worse than fascist dictators. We really don't believe in things like supply-side economics; we just make policy like that up because we want to screw as many people as we can. We want to help rich white guys and blow up the levees around black guys. Bwahahaha.

The comments section would be funny if I didn't know it was true. They really think we don't care about the troops, hate Mexicans, look to our "pastors" for voting advice, seek to destroy the Constitution, and that AM radio is the same thing as Hitler's Beer Halls.

I really don't understand how human beings' brains can be hardwired so differently.

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June 22, 2007

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WHY

Tonight we watched The Bridge on the River Kwai. Never have I seen such glowing reviews for a movie I disliked so much. None of the characters were even remotely honorable. Heck, none of the characters even existed; for a movie that was supposedly based on historical events, it sure played loose with the facts. 16,000 Allied POWs died building that stupid bridge, and the movie didn't show a single one. Oh, did I say POW camp? I meant Happy Camp, where Japanese and British got along swimmingly. What a load of crap. If I were one of those real-life POWs who surreptitiously tried to sabotage the construction and survived the war only to find a movie made ten years later in which I collaborated with the Japanese and built them a purty lil' bridge, I'd be pretty f-in' steamed. And to sit through a movie where the main message is that all soldiers are mad, war is pointless, and bad guys and good guys are all the same deep down? I'd be out of my mind.

You remember how Neil was looking into publishing a book based on his Armor Geddon blog? You know why he didn't publish it? Because no one was buying what he was selling. They wanted more "internal conflict." They wanted him to struggle with his role in the war and the world. They didn't want to hear that the only regret soldiers like Neil have is that they weren't able to kill more bad guys.

War does not make all men go mad and lose their sense of right and wrong. But apparently making a movie in which they do will get you a 95% approval rating.

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June 21, 2007

WE CAN DANCE IF WE WANT TO

Via Photon Courier, an article about the effect of protecting children too much:

Children are so cocooned by their parents that they rarely venture far from home and have little concept of space, volume and how the world actually works, David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, said yesterday.

The area in which children were allowed to range freely by their parents was a ninth of what it was a generation ago, he said.

CaliValleyGirl and I have discussed this at length and how we hope to address it when we have our future children. And boy do I think it's tricky today.

Remember when Lileks wrote about the new Winnie the Pooh character?

This year the new Pooh series will introduce a six-year old girl in Christopher’s stead. I’m sure she’s spunky and adventurous and kind and empowered, and I’m just as sure my daughter will find her boring, because kids can smell pedantic condescending twaddle nine mile off. (It’s one of the reasons many girls love Arthur – his little sister is sixty-five pounds of smart, devious, narcissistic, naughty sass.) Here’s the part that makes me truly sad:

The little girl wears a bike helmet.

Because you could fall down in the 100 Acre Woods and hurt yourself.

I swear, they’re going to put airbags on Barbie’s Pegasus next, and require thick corks on the point of all unicorn horns.

That's how ubiquitous safety has become: cartoon characters need helmets.

On my last day of fifth grade, my mom let me ride my bike to school. Some of my friends who lived closer to the school got to ride their bikes often, but we lived in a neighborhood that was further away and so I was a bus-riding kid. (Oh, and every day my brother and I walked down the street to the bus stop and waited alone.) But finally my mom said I was old enough to earn the right to ride my bike to school. I just google mapped it, and it seems I rode roughly two miles. And I felt SO COOL. I was one of the big kids now. I was independent. I had Done Something Awesome. And without a helmet.

My mom and I talked about that not too long ago. She says looking back she can't believe all the parents let their kids ride bikes to school. And she's not sure she'd let me do it today. Even she has a hard time remembering when cartoon characters didn't need helmets.

I needed to ride that bike to school. Heck, I still remember it. As a crowning achievement, as a milestone, as a step on the way to Growing Up. The thing that scares me is wondering if I will be able to let my kids take those steps too.

"A study by the Children's Society found 43 per cent of [British] adults thought children should not be allowed out with their friends until they were 14 or over." And apparently there's a debate in England over whether kids should be allowed to climb trees.

I fell out of a tree once. I also broke my front tooth playing tag once. I broke a kid's finger playing flag football in school. And once I fell in a ravine and couldn't get out, which was perhaps one of the scariest moments of my childhood. And I didn't tell my parents about it because I didn't want to lose my freedom to go play near the ravine.

I don't have kids yet. I nearly had a heart attack when brand new Charlie puppy ran out into the street in front of a car, so I know that I am going to battle overprotection. But it's a battle I'm going to have to have with myself if I want my kids to at least grow up with the independence I had, much less what my parents had.

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June 18, 2007

HEH

Mark Steyn:

There are immigration laws on the books right now, aren't there? Why not try enforcing them? The same people who say that government is a mighty power for good that can extinguish every cigarette butt and detoxify every cheeseburger and even change the very climate of the planet back to some Edenic state so that the water that falleth from heaven will land as ice and snow, and polar bears on distant continents will frolic as they did in days of yore, the very same people say: Building a border fence? Enforcing deportation orders? Can't be done, old boy. Pie-in-the-sky.

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June 04, 2007

THAT'S AN EXPENSIVE FRIENDSHIP

My very first blog post was actually an email to Steven den Beste about a lecture I overheard at our on-post college. The professor was spending an awful lot of time bashing the US instead of teaching the subject matter. One of the things I overheard was:

he was lecturing about how, despite what any sources say to the contrary, the American government does not give any humanitarian aid to foreign nations. He said that all American aid comes with strings attached, unlike aid from other countries like Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany. He said that the US does not donate any money in the world for purely humanitarian causes. I couldn't help but be shocked by this statement, considering that he was lecturing to 16 American soldiers and family members. I thought it was rather gutsy of him to make such statements.

Four years later, this statement doesn't bother me as much as it did that day. I have come to understand that aid without strings is pretty stupid, and there's no reason to fault our country for wanting something in return for our help. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. By all means, string away! I think we could use more strings attached to the things we do (both at home and abroad).

However, I still think we give a heckuva lot of aid out that gets us very little in return. This is a perfect example.

AT-Bridge-005.jpg

That's a picture of construction being done on a bridge between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

By summer 2007, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team hopes to open a $43 million, more than 2,200-foot steel-span bridge that will link the two sides.

The bridge — which will span the Oxus River, famously crossed by Alexander the Great during his conquests — will provide a valuable trade route straight from Tajikistan to the ports of Pakistan, allowing overland movement of essential goods and hopefully, economic development in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian nations that avail themselves of the trade route.
...
Currently, the only way to cross the river is via a ferry that costs $15 per person, a stiff price for Afghans, whose average annual income is $800.

Project staff could not provide figures as to how much each side — Afghan or Tajik — would benefit economically from the bridge. But both sides of the bank already appear to be steeling themselves for a boom — new hotels have popped up on either side and residents and government officials from both nations say they’re optimistic.
...
Walls, who in addition to serving as project manager is also a resident engineer and the contracting officer’s representative, said he also hopes the completed project will send a message to those who use it.

“The people of Afghanistan and the people of Tajikistan see we’re building something constructive,” he said. “It shows America as doing something to help the country.”

The United States gets absolutely nothing of economic value from Tajikistan. They don't have oil. Their main export is cotton, grown at the expense of their environment and the Aral Sea because of stupid Soviet planning. And Afghanistan means nothing to us save the terrorism aspect.

There's only one conclusion: We spent $43 million dollars to win the hearts and minds.

Seriously, I'd love for this professor to explain to me the selfish reasons behind fronting the money for this bridge. Halliburton didn't make any profit, and there's not a drop of oil crossing the bridge. We simply paid $43 million dollars so people in that region would like us and maybe think twice before joining al Qaeda. That's it.

The next time someone tells you that the US never does anything for humanitarian reasons, remember this bridge. Nothing in the world is a free lunch -- not even in Sweden, despite what this prof says -- but building a $43 million bridge just so people in the area will like you comes pretty damned close.

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June 03, 2007

INJUSTICE

Our best friend from college is Indian. He got a computer science degree and then got a work visa from his employer. And unfortunately, to my understanding of the system, his work visa is tied to the job he applied for, so he hasn't been able to be promoted once in the past five years. He's waiting patiently in line for his green card so he can advance in his job and become a bigger asset for his employer.

He's also one of the smartest and most informed people we know. He's the guy my husband calls when he wants to talk politics or foreign affairs. And if he has to get in the same line as Mexican fruit pickers, I will be royally disgusted with my country.

(this article also via Hud, who calls it the nail in Bush's coffin)

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June 01, 2007

ALPHA MALES

Found this article via today's Bleat:

As America comes to terms with our diminished omnipotence in the wake of 9/11, the Iraq War and President Bush's international unpopularity, we're growing weary of Teflon-coated John Wayne stereotypes of masculinity.

Says you, maybe. As for me, I stand by my original assessment of what is hot. And for me, it's definitely still alpha males.

John Wayne is not a stereotype; he's an archetype.
And a hot one at that.

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