fad had me laughing out loud. At work. Big guffaws.
Go check out this post, where he announces his intention to become a big-time blogger, and then start scrolling up.
You know you spend too much time at the computer when you recognize everyone he's mocking.
What part of the word illegal do these people not get?
It's been hard coming back to my Real Life after a vacation. I have to catch up on all the math I skipped last week. I have to prepare for the next class I'll teach. I have to finish grading the things that came in late from last term. I have so many things to do around the house: grocery shopping, laundry, planting bushes, etc. I have two blankets, a pair of socks, and a sweater to make as soon as possible. I have to enjoy my mom while she's still here. I don't like Real Life; I want to go back to the week when the only stress I had was whether we'd get all the red jellybeans put together.
I heard a wonderful story, via my favorite reservist, that I am printing here with his permission. It's an anecdote from Kuwait when he was leaving Iraq for his R&R:
This morning at around 0530, I was walking to breakfast. I noticed the flag raising detail was in place but haven't heard any music so I kept walking. I passed a First Sergeant that was standing at attention and in front of him, a Marine, also at attention. I snapped to attention next to him and remarked that I had not heard any music. The First Sergeant relaxed and said that it hadn't started yet. So we both continued to walk towards the Dining Facility.
I pointed to the Marine still standing there at attention. The First Sergeant called over that it was still going to be a few more minutes if he wanted to keep walking. The Marine looked over and said, "No, I'm going to wait. It's been a long time since I've seen our flag raised."
That stopped me immediately. It has been a long time since I've seen our flag raised as we're prohibited from flying the Stars and Stripes in Iraq. I turned to the First Sergeant and said, "He's right, I'm waiting." A few minutes later the music started. The three of us snapped to attention and saluted.
I know he's not coming back. I know. But it seemed so final when I read this post that I actually began to cry. His was the first blog I ever read. His was the first blog I checked every morning. He was the one who catapulted me into blogging about a year ago. And he has given me something for which I will always be grateful: the slow, painful journey of learning how to think.
I just miss him, that's all.
I found common ground with a porcelain artist in Nove, Italy.
You all know that I love my identity as a military wife, but the worst feeling in the world is that split second right after you have to answer the "Why are you living in Germany?" question. You never know what to expect from your European questioner. Most often you get that "oh", that bit of surprise that you're not here to bum around Europe "finding yourself" by getting drunk with Australians. Sometimes you get that recoil, and you feel the mood of the conversation change. Sometimes you get the look of pity, like it must be so miserable living under the thumb of the New Hitler.
And sometimes you get the, "Sure, I know where you live. I used to train in Grafenwoehr when I was in the Italian military."
Mom and I had a wonderful talk with this porcelain artist, and we could find enough common ground to really try to understand each other. He confessed to full support of the war in Iraq -- he likes the flypaper concept -- but admitted that he doesn't always think President Bush is best for the world. He he thought that a president who would kiss France's butt a little would be better for other countries in the EU. I can see where he's coming from: As an American, I don't give a flying leap what France and Germany think, but I can now see better how the smaller EU countries do have to play the cooperation game, even though this Italian man rolled his eyes and agreed that it was farcical. Mom was extremely forthright and asked him many questions to which I feared the answers, but we learned a lot from him, and hopefully he from us.
So I didn't get to meet Serenade, but we met his kindred spirit.
Overall, I found Italy to be quite pleasant. All of the people we met seemed to be genuinely happy to meet us Americans, and one of them even went on and on about how much she loved Wisconsin. Really. I've never heard a foreigner speak of anywhere but NYC, LA, or Vegas. The loving way she spoke about Wisconsin was quite touching.
The Italians also seemed thrilled that I had spent a day teaching myself a bit of Italian. All I did was teach myself a bit of non parlo italiano and quanto questa, but I guess the effort went a long way. I found the language to be quite easy to pick up, albeit on a superficial level. I crutched on my French and guessed by saying the latin root with an Italian accent a couple of times and managed to get along quite well. I also had a not-ugly-American moment when we wanted to ask a shopkeeper a question and my Italian simply wouldn't do: we asked if he spoke any English, and he shrugged apologetically and said, "Non...Deutsch." Well then, I thought, and asked the question auf Deutsch. Heh. And I speak two other languages that didn't even enter into the picture, buddy. Now go tell your friends that there are Americans who aren't monolingual jerks.
The Italians loved pointing and whispering about my American-issued license plate, I ate the same pizza at the same restaurant three nights in a row, it was that good, and I burned a ton of gas driving up and down those mountains. What a week.
We went to a concentration camp today. It was raining and I was very cold, but not as cold as they were. I was frightened by the enormous pyramid of ashes, but not as frightened as they were. I felt angry when I heard some German start yelling, but not as angry as they were. And I cried when I was by myself, but not as often as they did.
We had access to CNN World on our TV, so we watched it periodically to get an idea of what was going on in the world. I never watch the news, so the whole thing was quite infuriating. There were several times I wanted to throw something at the news anchors for the obvious way they were leading their interviewees (One guy badgered the Nigerian president with the same question asked four different ways because he wasn't getting the answer he wanted to hear. And then he shrugged and basically accused the president of lying!) I wanted to rip the larynx out of Richard Quest.
I started trying to catch up on everything I've missed this week, but I realized it was futile. If you can think of something that I should read that was posted or was not presented on CNN World this week (heh), then mention it in the comments and I'll check it out.
In a normal week, I drive perhaps 15 or 20 miles. This week I drove 1300. In a normal week, I do three things: work, knit, and blog. This week I didn't do any of those activities. It was a week of doing things that were out of the ordinary.
I painted my fingernails. That may not seem so exciting, but I realized that I hadn't made the time to do that small task in nearly a year. I read 500 pages of my book. I worked obsessively on this puzzle. I went to see this man. I bought a set of these. And when I walked out of our residenza, this is what I saw.
We went to a ski resort in September. There was no snow, there were no people, and there was nothing pressing to do. The resort owner seemed embarrassed and apologetic that we had come at such a boring time, but it was exactly what I wanted. For me, a true vacation is about doing nothing. I did a lot of nothing this week; it was wonderful.
My life this week has been filled with hurry-up-and-relax. I race to work, race home, race back to class, race to find time to spend with my mom, and race to sleep. But I'm done now; it's vacation time. In two hours, Mom and I will pile into the car and head here. For a whole week. With no plans, no alarm clocks, no superscript th, no work, and no stress. And likely no internet. I'll return next weekend; in the meantime, enjoy the sidebar.
Amritas weighs in on subtitling Fahrencrap 9/11 into Farsi at the screening in Iran. I started emailing him but then decided to post my thoughts here too. When I lived in Angers, there was one movie theater that didn't dub movies, and that was the only one we ever went to. I saw some pretty interesting movies with French subtitles, and I can certainly say that there were numerous jokes that went right over their heads. Often they didn't even bother to try to translate stuff. Some movies just don't translate well: The Big Lebowski, Buffalo 66, and Smoke. The subtitling for these movies was pitiful; there's no way the European viewers got even half of what we got out of the movies. We would be cracking up, and they'd stare at us like we were nuts. And that's just the actual dialogue; the culltural references didn't make sense, even to the English-able Brits. There's one scene where these gangstas come by the store, and the Brits were laughing at them: "They don't look so tough; I bet I could take that guy," they said. An American friend dared them to come to her neighborhood in the States and roll up to a character like that!
On the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, there are snippets of dialogue from the movie. My French roommate in college borrowed the CD from me and was visibly shocked when she heard the diner dialogue, you know, the one with the "sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie" bit. She made me play it over and over again, repeating the dialogue more slowly so she could understand, and she swore up and down that she had never heard that in the French version she saw. She claims that the exchange never even happened, not even something similar to it. I've always wondered what the French version of Pulp Fiction was like, but I've never seen it myself.
Maybe on the next trip over the border.
I read this long interview with John Kerry (thanks to this comments section), and I don't think I understand him any better. He naturally goes through a long list of reasons why the W stands for wrong, instead of answering the direct, completely un-vague question that was posed.
IMUS: What is this plan you have?
KERRY: Well, the plan gets more complicated every single day because the president...
IMUS: Try to simplify it for me so I can understand it.
KERRY: Well, Don, I realize that, but the fact is that the president is the president. I mean, what you ought to be doing and what everybody in America ought to be doing today is not asking me; they ought to be asking the president, What is your plan?
He rambles for a bit, and then the interviewer throws him a ba-zing:
IMUS: We're asking you because you want to be president.
Indeed. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas in Cambodia. But what are you going to do about it, Kerry? Stop saying what we should be asking the President and start explaining why we should vote for you. What would you do differently, and don't give me this bullcrap about bringing allies to the table. No single country has agreed to do anything differently, even if you're President. You criticize the President for "not having a plan to win the peace"; explain why you think the world will be more peaceful if you yank all the troops out. Explain it, please. Cuz last year you said
Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president.
More stuff from the interview:
IMUS: Did you read "Unfit for Command?"
IMUS: Did anybody on your staff?
KERRY: I have no idea.
IMUS: Why wouldn't you want to know what's in it? It's the No. 1 "New York Times," of course, it says nonfiction bestseller.
KERRY: Because they have right wing people to buy them in bulk, and that's what they're doing.
Can't possibly be individuals who want to search for the truth themselves rather than buying what CBS is peddling? It's gotta be Karl Rove buying books by the crate and turning them into fertilizer for Bush's secret cocaine stash. Please. You can't be president if you believe in a book-buying conspiracy. (By the way, none of these conspiracy nutjobs are mature enough to be president either.)
Here's a zinger of a question:
IMUS: Back in May of 2001 on "Meet the Press," you said you yourself have committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers in violation of the Geneva Conventions. And my question, Senator Kerry, is, is there a difference between what happened in your case in Vietnam and what happened at Abu Ghraib, in that both were acts in violation of the Geneva Conventions?
KERRY: There is a difference.
IMUS: What is it?
KERRY: There is a difference. What I was referring to in that testimony was the general categorization of free-fire zones in Vietnam and the general categorizations of some of the weapons that were being used, which were in violation of the accords. We didn't learn that until we came home. I didn't know any of that while I was there. I didn't know any of that over there, nor did most soldiers.
That sounds mighty different from what he said before about Jengis Khan. That wasn't just weapons types, that was
They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
Why can't we get a straight story out of this man?
IMUS: Do you think there are any circumstances we should have gone to war in Iraq -- any?
KERRY: Not under the current circumstances, no, there are none that I see.
But he just got done saying something that sounds different...
KERRY: Let me explain it to you. I felt in 1998, and I said that Clinton ought to have the power, the authority to use force, in order to force Saddam Hussein to have inspectors, to be able to disarm. The only way to get the inspectors in was to be tough, to have the threat of force and the authority to use force. I was prepared to use the force if he didn't do what he needed to do. But I warned the president, as did many people, take the time to build up the international coalition, don't rush to war, because the most difficult part is not winning the military part of the war; it's winning the peace. [emphasis added]
Kerry would've gone to war if "he didn't do what he needed to do." Who is "he"? Saddam, I guess. What did he "need to do"? "Have inspectors" and "be able to disarm". That's an extremely vague sentence, and it would be nice to know what exactly the last straw would've been for Kerry. What exactly would've made him decide it was time to go to war? What exactly would've made it too imminent for him?
What exactly is his platform?
I just heard part of John Kerry's speech to the National Guard, just the live snippet that the news played. In it he criticized the President, saying that 95% of the cost of the Gulf War was paid by our allies. That was shocking to me, so I looked it up. The two figures I found amounted to only 88%, so I'm not sure how he got 95%. But still, 88% is a big number. A closer look revealed that more than half of the cost was shouldered by Kuwait (makes sense) and Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure I want Saudi Arabia considered one of our "allies", as Kerry's speech classified them. Japan paid a big chunk of change in 1991, much appreciated, and Korea paid a bit. Germany forked over a bit more than $5 million. Appreciated too, but I'm not sure what point Kerry is trying to make today. He criticizes the President for not getting our "allies" to help pay in 2004 like they did in 1991, but France isn't even on the list. And isn't that really who we always mean when we talk about "getting allies on our side"? And would we really be happier with the current war in Iraq if Saudi Arabia were helping to foot the bill? I'm not sure I would be.
I can't find a permalink, so you'll have to scroll, but I enjoyed reading this 17 August post called "America has failed".
And I know that this isn't really fair, because I know you could find some unflattering photos of me, but I loved the photos of the President.
One Iranian boy had the same reaction that I did to Fahrencrap 9/11: "I was bored from the middle, and I wished we had gone to see "Kill Bill" instead."
When my students do course evaluations, the overwhelming suggestion they offer me is to be tougher on them. They think I'm too nice and encourage me to put boot to ass when it's needed. I'm getting better about being strict -- it's something I work on all the time -- because I know that I'm not doing them any favors by letting them walk all over me.
I thought about that today when I read this article on the difference between how the US and the EU want to deal with Iran. The US wants to put boot to ass, while the EU wants a vague timeframe and an evalutation from ElBaradei. Iran is going to turn out like some of my students, the ones who come up with every excuse and lie under the sun for why they need extensions and special treatment. And the EU is going to fall for it, like I did when I first started teaching.
Believing the best in people is good. Believing the best in people when they've given you no reason to trust them is dangerous, especially when nukes are involved.
I missed the chance to talk about a milestone from Monday: the assault weapon ban expired. From what I understand of the issue, and from the passionate papers my students have written on the topic, I think that's a good thing.
After having read more articles and blog posts on the topic than I ever would've thought possible, I am now fairly certain that the CBS memos are fakes. Given that they are fake, I now wonder what the person who made them is thinking. Did he create them to make President Bush look bad? If so, is he kicking himself that he used MS Word and two superiors who were already out of the military by 1973? Is he banging his head against the wall that the discussion centers around superscript th and kerning instead of Bush's attendance? Or did he create them to make the mainstream media look bad? If so, is he like the guy who hid the box cutters in the airplane bathrooms just to prove the point that security isn't tight enough? Did the memo forger assume the media would run with them and want to make them look foolish? I'm insanely curious as to who would make these memos and why. I hope we find out someday.
James Lileks took something very interesting away from his encounter with a young DNC canvasser:
“Tell me what you believe,” I said. “Tell me what you feel in your head and heart about John Kerry.”
Whereupon she said that the War in Iraq was wrong and was “killing all those innocent soldiers,” and someone the other day said that if we didn’t elect him Bush would have another 9/11, but she didn’t know who said it.
“But tell me why I should vote for John Kerry,” I said. Gently, mind you. With a smile.
“I don’t know,” she said.
I said I would think about it; I thanked her for her time and closed the door.
I mention this not to prove that DONKS ARE ALL IDIOTS because that’s as boring as REPUGS ARE ALL CROOKS or whatever. Yes, everyone on the other side is evil. Noted. I bring this up because it’s the third time the DNC has sent a canvasser to my neighborhood who’s utterly lost as soon as she gets beyond a talking point. Which means nothing, perhaps; it’s a safe district. Send out the newbies to learn on the job. But I kept thinking of the way she phrased the deaths in Iraq: “all those innocent soldiers.” That’s how some see the soldiers in Iraq.
If asked to describe the attributes of a Marine, “innocent” would not be among the first 100 adjectives I’d employ.
When we inprocessed here, we went to a week-long German language and culture course. Sitting right behind us that week was PFC W, a 21W. He was an 18-year-old mason for the Army, a quiet farm-boy type who called my husband "sir" at the beginning and end of every sentence. He was the poster boy for innocence.
And two weeks later he was on his way to Iraq.
I haven't seen him since he returned, though I did see that Stars and Stripes had interviewed him once. I would wager that he's not the same person that he was when he left. Actually, I'd wager that my impression of him, sitting shyly in that German class, was not entirely accurate either: he was most likely less innocent than he appeared. Perhaps he boarded the plane like some others I've heard of, Soldiers who were immaturely eager to kill some %$ Iraqis. Now that they've killed, they want nothing more than to never have to do it again.
There are two meanings here for the word innocent: "naive" and "not guilty". Our Soldiers are not naive. Anyone who joined the military thinking he'd never have to participate in anything dangerous or aggressive must have been delusional. Even those who signed up pre-9/11 (as my husband did) should have known the risks involved. Our Soldiers aren't innocent dupes; when they signed the paperwork, they agreed to do a job that most people don't want to think about: they agreed to give their lives for our country.
But if this young woman meant that our Soldiers were "not guilty", then I'd agree with that. We Americans are not guilty of the heinous behavior that many on the European and American Left like to saddle us with. We did not deserve 9/11; we were not guilty. But we certainly were naive. Unlike our Soldiers, who signed a contract and contemplated the dangers beforehand, most of us regular citizens never imagined that we were a target. 9/11 took away our innocence, just as killing the first insurgent took away our Soldiers'. We'd love nothing more than to go back to 9/10, but we can't.
Some commenters here yesterday told me to get over the WTC. 9/11 wasn't that bad; just get over it. 9/11 was bad: it was the day we lost our innocence. That's why I refuse to just get over it.
Many people do watch the news and the deathtoll and wonder why each individual servicemember had to die. What did PFC Poindexter ever do to deserve this? Why should all these young innocent men have to die? Unfortunately, individual Soldiers and Marines have to die so that our country doesn't have to face another 9/11. Why should any of us have to die at the hands of "Islamobarbarians", as Nelson Ascher called them? None of us deserve that, not PFC Poindexter, not those in the WTC, not Nick Berg, not a one of us. We were all innocent, but we are no longer naive.
Lileks is right: innocent is not a good word to describe our Marines. Bad-ass is much better.
Wow. Ever since I decided to start deleting people, it seems they are just trying to push my buttons. Zapping them has been fun, but this comment from "Dufus Galant" (IP address 220.127.116.11 for anyone who knows about those things) literally made my jaw drop. I'm not even deleting it; everyone should go and see the cruelty that exists in this world.
Folks, it looks like Mom and I are on the mend. Nothing like spending a chunk of change on a plane ticket to Germany and then ending up sick in bed for four days. But now -- several pieces of plain toast and 13 episodes of Smallville later -- we seem to be doing better. We might even leave the house today!
A thorough post from a typographer.
See, here's what ticks me off. I haven't seen anyone but Dan Rather and his unnamed experts defend these memos (and no one has claimed the $10,500 reward). And now the AP is asking retired servicemembers what they think about the memos, without any hint that they might be fakes.
Majied, a Democrat from Albany who served 30 years in the Navy, including five years as a SEAL in Vietnam, said the memos support his belief that Bush was a "playboy" during his service years.
"He had enough money to get what he wanted," Majied said. "I think his main concern was not to go to Southeast Asia. I bet he never dreamed it would come back to haunt him."
This man obviously hasn't read this story:
Finally, Killian said his father told him a story in 1980 or 1981, when the two sat in an officers' club in San Antonio, Texas, about Lt. Bush having twice volunteered for duty in the Air National Guard "Palace Alert" program, under which fighter pilots in the Guard could serve a year on active duty in Vietnam.
On both occasions, the younger Killian said, Lt. Bush was turned down because he did not have more than 500 hours of flight time. Killian cited Maurice Udell, later a commander of the 147th Fighter Group, in which Lt. Bush served, and Col. Buck Staudt, later a brigadier general, as the individuals who turned Lt. Bush down.
"We have pilots with thousands of hours in the F-102," Bush was told, according to Killian. "Why would I send you?"
Majied seems to already have his mind made up (and could potentially be another Micah Wright), but it's shoddy reporting that allows people to base their vote on utter nonsense. If the MSM weren't so gung-ho Kerry, they would report things like that the F-102 was actually dangerous and that President Bush wasn't roasting marshmallows around the campfire in the Guard. They would report that President Bush seems to have tried to get sent to Vietnam but was turned down, in contrast to Kerry, who tried to get out of going to Vietnam but was turned down.
The media's job is to provide us with facts so we can make our own decisions. It seems these days that they're making the decisions ahead of time and then providing us with the facts they like.
In times like these, it can't hurt to go back and read Nelson Ascher's post Ignorance and Journalism.
This week I have been thinking a lot about a post I read on D.G.C.I.:
First, a little background. This is a conservative blog. We aren't shy around here about professing our support for President Bush and other Republican candidates. If you had missed that point, let me invite you to take a look around.
We (the authors of this site) are Conservative Republicans. We write about Conservative Republican matters to our audience, who are mostly (go figger) Conservative Republicans. Makes sense so far, doesn't it?
But over the last couple of months in particular we have noticed an increase in comments from Liberals. Not just trolls, although God knows we have our share of them, but from self-professed Liberals, Kerry fans, who sometimes even make a semi-intelligent argument, even if they're usually wrong.
I don't hold that against them. For the most part, they're just misinformed.
But what I have to wonder is WHY? Why are they here? We certainly don't have anything to offer them and their belief system.
I have wondered the very thing time and time again, but what struck me the most was this exchange in the comments section:
Three words: Know your enemy.
You want to see blogs with some serious followers? Go check out Atrios, with its comments in the hundreds for every post. Go check out Pandagon, with its everyday readers of 25 or more. Go check out dailykos, and tell me Democrats are giving up and don't really like Kerry anyway.
I dare you.
Posted by: Norah at September 8, 2004 10:47 AM
Three words: Know your enemy.
And there's the basic difference between us. The only enemies I have are Islamofascist terrorists who want nothing more than to see both you and I dead.
And the sooner you figure THAT out, the better off we'll all be.
Posted by: dgci at September 8, 2004 06:13 PM
And that's when it hit me. Laser beam.
Last September 11, I was focused; I knew who the enemy was and my laser beam was strong. This year I find that I have gotten off target. (Actually, I get off target a lot because I'm a hot-headed person. Red 6 and I have discussed this extensively, since we're two peas in a pod in that respect. We both admire my husband for his ability to shrug off idiotarians and forget about them; Red 6 and I stew. We've recently learned to vent to each other, since both of us were previously dumping everything on my husband!) Returning to Nelson Ascher's post is a way for me to re-center. I wrote about this back in November:
I write often about laser beams, because that symbol has helped me gain perspective. On September 11th, I wrote a long email to family and friends about what the two-year anniversary meant to me, especially as a military wife. I read everything that all my favorite bloggers said that day and felt the same emotions they felt. I also had a different friend from college who has her own blog, and I went to see what she had to say on that momentous date. Nothing. I tried all of her links, and no one had even mentioned September 11th. I tried all of their links, racing through the internet trying to find anyone in their circle of "liberal" friends who thought that this date still held significance. I found one person who said that he had written a post about September 11th but then deleted it because "it is important to remember the events of 9/11, but let's not dwell on them."
I got so angry.
And then I found Nelson Ascher's post.
It stays at the top of my list of crucial reading, and I don't see anything bumping it out of the way. It has brought me great comfort ever since I read it.
On this side of the world it has been 911 again for over 6 hours. I swear I'd rather not write anything today. I'd rather remain silent and just spend the day feeling that my anger and hatred are alive and well. They're stronger indeed. I also know I should avoid reading much today, because many, probably most things that are and will be published will make me even angrier. And the problem is not that I don't want to be angrier: I do want. The problem is that I do not want to waste a miligram of my anger on all the idiots who have been getting ready to show us how idiotic they are. We're at a point where to be too angry at, say, Chomsky and the BBC, Old Europe and ANSWER, second and third rate entertainers and academics is to give them a kind of victory. They deserve disdain. Anger needs to remain concentrated like light in a laser beam, we must direct it toward its rightful target: Islamofascism first and foremost. If we spend too much time getting mad at those who are but idiots we run the risk of forgetting, even if only for a second, that it is the Muslim/Arab religious fanatics who are the ENEMY. In a way, that's the idiots' main weapon: to attract a wrath that could be more usefully directed to the really dangerous enemies. Whenever we're not thinking about the Jihadists we are losing some very precious time. And anger.
My anger has grown concentrated, like a laser beam, like Ascher proposed. I feel that anger burning inside of me every day when I read Little Green Footballs. I feel the anger when I watch the Palestinians dance in the streets, when I look at the Child Abuse Slideshow, or the Terrorism Promo Videos (now deleted but forever burned into my brain) that promote killing our President and soldiers. Writing my blog is a way for me to release that anger and hopefully connect with others who feel as I do. It is a way for us bloggers to remind each other that there's a reason we write: we're in a war of ideas, and as often as imams and Arab media spread theirs, we'll fight with anger and passion to spread ours. And it's a way for us to fuel our precious anger so that another September 11th will never happen.
But I need to re-focus. Sometimes I too feel like our Spaniard, "Being the only one with one idea, while virtually all the people around me is against it." But that is a distraction from the true target of my anger, the laser beam I have worked hard to focus, and I need to take his wise and eloquent words to heart:
"I just don't care about the criticism I receive every day, because I know the cause I defend is right."
I feel that my comments section has been pulling me off target for a long time now. Seb is not the enemy, though I send a hundred mental middle fingers his way. Neither was Florian or Rfidtag or any of the others who have tried to sidetrack me. You wanna know who the real enemy is?
And the guys who orchestrated this.
They are the enemy. All this other nonsense, all the forged memos and hats from Cambodia and plastic turkeys, is just a distraction from what's really important. D.G.C.I. told Norah that the sooner she figured it out, the better. I too could learn that lesson. My laser beam has scattered, to where points of light are now aimed at the likes of Michael Moore, John Kerry, and Seb. I need to refocus.
I have thin skin. It takes about one week of getting to know me before you realize that I take everything to heart, everything personally. Blogging was supposed to be an exercise in toughness for me, a way for me to cowboy up and take the heat, but I find I've only improved by a fraction. And I've found that I don't care to work any harder at becoming less sensitive. Thus, my comments section can sometimes feel like more of a burden than a blessing. Every unkind word about our servicemembers, every personal insult, and every moonbat theory is like a bullet through my heart. The easiest solution I could think of is to close down my comments section, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that because there's nothing I like better in the morning than an encouraging word from Tammi or Bunker or John. But I have to do something because lately I have been feeling depressingly distracted. I started my blog as a way to release anger, but at times it feels like it has become the source of my anger.
Jim of Parkway Rest Stop once told a story about Basic Training that has stuck with me: his tale of having to "police the brass". I think I've decided to police the brass of my comments section from now on. I'll walk through my comments section, and every bullet that pierces my thin skin will be picked out and discarded. The wounds will still burn, but perhaps the act of taking control over my own area -- the blogspace that I pay money to write in -- will have a calming effect.
Tim already advised me to do this a long time ago -- "Frankly you have had the stress heaped upon you of your husband in a combat zone with car bombs going off like so many popcorn kernels. ...you are now waging a two front war. One in Iraq, one at your PC. I'm afraid it will consume you. I'm not betting you can make yourself not care...so perhaps you may want to remove yourself as a target." -- I'm just now going to take his advice. I think a good way for me to maintain focus and hone my laser beam is to police the distracting brass.
At any rate, I really believe this year that we're all out of focus. This election is making us all point at each other instead of focusing as one nation on the looming threat that is Islamofascism. We're all drowning in a sea of Purple Hearts and superscript "th"s that have very little relevance to the current war we fight. And while we stand and point fingers at each other, those men in the photos above have not lost focus. They work diligently every day towards one goal: killing infidels. They'd kill Audie Murphy and Abbie Hoffman with the same indifference. We can't let ourselves forget that.
As 2001 slips further and further into our memory, we can't lose sight of the reality we face. We can't let smoke and mirrors sidetrack us from our goals, nor should we sidetrack ourselves. We owe it to all of the victims of WWIV, and especially to these people, to never let our laser beams scatter.
I'm working on my laser beam, every single day, and I sure could use your help.
You know what I want? More people in my immediate day-to-day life who would laugh at an off-the-cuff Micah Wright reference. Heck, I can't even get away with a Jayson Blair joke in class without my students looking at me blankly. I'd kill to have one person walk into my office and say, "Oh, you're reading blogs?" Sigh.
According to LGF, "By 8:30 pm Pacific, an investigation is underway at CBS" about the forged memos. It's now 1130 in Germany, a full six hours later. So why is the MSN homepage still running this link up top? And where's Seb's post about how, sadly no, they're not real?
And why is freaking CBS still running the story? I can't even find anything on their news site that says they're investigating the matter.
There's something up there now (it's 2023; I don't know at what time the story was added.)
And here's a memo someone dug up on Kerry (via Bunker).
Ha, I had forgotten I said this back in February:
The whole point of his post is just to let you know that Sarah's dumb. Nice. I think my brother said the same thing when he was seven, but that wouldn't make for a very interesting blog.
I can't honestly believe that Seb has been reading my blog for an entire year, looking for things to nitpick. I get bored of his after five minutes. But you keep up the good fight, huh Seb? From now on, your comments are deleted here.
This latest Cox & Forkum made me really sad.
I truly believe in basing my life around my values. I changed my career plans away from being a French teacher because, after my experience in France, I didn't think I could promote the culture in good faith. My husband and I also tried to change our living plans: we never intended to get stationed in Europe -- we even tried to find a way to trade our slot away -- because Europe is generally the antithesis of all that we value. I believe firmly in making choices based on principles, and I applaud others who do the same.
In that sense, I can sympathize with these DUers who want to leave the country if President Bush is re-elected. I personally don't see their arguments, I sure think calling it a "junta" seems over-the-top, and I can't begin to crawl inside their minds. But if that's what they believe in, then they should act on it. They should be decisive and alter the course of their lives based on their convictions and values. I completely support that. I wonder, though, how many of them will actually back up their words with actions. And I wonder how easy life will be in another country for someone who is unemployed and broke in the US right now. But I wish them all the best of luck, and I hope they feel more at home elsewhere.
MORE TO GROK:
Here's everything I like about the US. Heh.
And yes, I learned to heh from the Instapundit. I had never heh-ed in my life before I started reading Reynolds.
My mom and I got sick yesterday. I went in to work but had to leave early, and I'm playing hooky today too. Actually, it's not so much "playing hooky", seeing as I feel like I could die. What a vacation, huh? But I can't sleep any more -- I have slept 11 hours already -- so I'm reading blogs in between getting sick.
So I hear this morning there are some fake memos floating around? (in my best Ace Ventura voice) Reeeeally? Blame Bush! has copies of the memos, and I don't see how anyone could have fallen for them in the first place.
Laughing seriously hurts today.
MORE TO GROK:
Deskmerc brings to mind the Underpants Gnomes from South Park:
Gnome 2: Phase I we collect underpants.
Gnome 1: Ya, ya, ya. But what about Phase II?
Gnome 2: Well Phase III is profit. Get it?
Looks like my mom might be staying here for a while. Heh.
I smile at the fact that English, in Vietnamese, is the "heroic language"...
Tanker sends me many good links all the time. Here are a few:
And from Oda Mae:
Blackfive points to an op-ed called A European Conversation. I've certainly been there and had that conversation, and I sure wanted to bust their chops too. He also points to an article about how one in five Germans wants the Berlin Wall back. I know of at least two Germans who blame all their country's economic troubles on the former East. I can't say if they're representative, but they make no bones about how they feel towards the former East freeloaders.
Incidentally, I thought Europeans in general were against walls. I guess they're only against one of them.
Blackfive ends by pointing to a Kim du Toit post about how warmly he was received in Paris. Many of the commenters echoed his sentiments; I wish I had been as lucky as they were. I majored in French and studied it for 8 years before moving to Angers. I won all sorts of awards in high school and won French Student of the Year in my college. I placed into the top level of French study when I moved there to study abroad, and I found the French to be quite rude to Americans. They would pretend not to understand me, even with the simplest sentences. (How hard is it to figure out that I'm asking for stamps when I'm in the post office?) Our teachers would praise the Taiwanese and Japanese speakers and then cringe when the Americans spoke and say things like, "Oh, you really need to get rid of that horrible American accent." Some landlords even banned English in the home, even when three English speakers lived together. Once when four of us Americans were walking down the street, a French person started yelling at us for speaking English to each other, telling us to go home if we wanted to speak English.
My experience with my extended family is the only thing that redeems France for me. They have never been anything but kind and encouraging. I wish I had met them first instead of the awful people I met in Angers.
Avery's got me rethinking the importance I assign to celebrities vis á vis their big mouths. Which is good, considering I can't go to a movie or listen to music these days without encountering someone I wish had just kept his/her yapper shut. I guess I should just give up and enjoy the entertainment, but boy do I hate putting money in idiots' pockets.
I feel like I should say something about the 1000 servicemembers who have died in Iraq, but I really don't know what it is I should say. Should I point out that, statistically speaking, one is more likely to die in a car accident -- as my boss' son unfortunately did over the weekend -- than in Iraq? Should I point out that 1000 war deaths is, historically speaking, a blessing? Should I point out that I consider those combat deaths to be part of the larger deathtoll that includes 9/11 and Afghanistan, in which we passed the 1000 mark on the first day? I really don't want to point any of that stuff out; it is what it is. My regular readers don't need it pointed out anyway.
This list of notes taken at the American Political Science Association panel is hilarious. Or at least it is if you find the sport of blogging to be as funny as I do. Maybe I should've played Dungeons and Dragons in high school too.
Ain't irony grand?
MORE TO GROK:
It is, it isn't, it is, it isn't. More gun stuff at Instapundit.
When I was 18, my grandmother gave me an address for a distant relative in France and asked me to write to him. He and I corresponded for two years, and then when I lived in France, I went and met him and his brother. I returned a few months later with my mother and uncle, at which point they rolled out the red carpet in our ancestral village and we drank champagne with the mayor. After a disappointing year of study in France, I came home, changed my career goals and really felt bitter towards all things French, even my distant family. However, I wrote a month ago about how this kind man passed away recently and how I regretted letting politics get in the way of family. So Mom and I packed up and went.
First of all, I can't believe it takes five hours to drive across an entire country. My husband and I lived five hours apart while we were dating! Mom and I traversed all of Germany and crossed the border to find a freaking plethora of roundabouts. I had forgotten how much the French love their roundabouts. (Unfortunately, on the way there, Mom and I took three lefts off these roundabouts and ended back up in Germany!) We made it safe and sound back to see the family I had neglected for so long.
And the reunion was a wonderful one. My French was a little rusty, but one of my "cousins" had worked for a year in the US, so he helped with the translations. We ate, we chatted, we met even more extended family, we ate some more, we hugged, we laughed, and we ate again. They invited me for Christmas, and I just might consider it.
I swore I'd never set foot in France again, but I'm glad I went.
If we don't help out, Mudville Gazette will be gone in a few weeks...
What to do: catch up on blogs or study for my test?
For the link-hungry:
Cerberus writes about Zell Miller (via Bunker)
Bunker's gonna be on the radio
Mark Steyn: No other word for it but slaughter
Two must-reads: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold and Deserving Victory (via the Rottweilers)
It was a heck of a weekend: I went back to France, which I never thought I'd do. I did a lot of thinking; I'll write about it after I get my stats test out of the way tomorrow. Read this in the meantime.
OK, I need help. I've been looking for over an hour for an article I read the other day on someone's blog. It was a study of how the economy does not have a significant effect on crime. I'm getting really frustrated that I can't retrace my steps; does anyone else know which article I'm talking about?
Things that make me snicker:
1. "Obviously the failure of Bush to volunteer for the SEALs and spend a season raping and pillaging like Ghenghis Khan 35 years ago is more important than his record as president."
2. "U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?"
3. "Do you mean Senator Kerry (D-Vietnam)?"
I know I've been a really lame blogger lately. I was entirely too busy with the class I taught last weekend, my stats class, and my mom's visit. Things will settle down after this weekend and I'll be able to concentrate again.
In three hours my mom will be here!
Of course, now that I've weaned her off of TV news and she's addicted to the blogosphere, we're going to be fighting over the computer...
I got an update on our friend LT A today: he's home and doing much better. His wife says he is "tube-free" and except for the temporary colostomy bag and the shots of blood thinner, he's doing very well. I'm so relieved.
I can't get the link at C-SPAN to work, which is disappointing because I'd really like to hear Gov. Schwarzenegger's charming voice as he gives this speech. I'm with Lileks: I like him.
MORE TO GROK:
Kalroy's link worked. Heh. Arnold just said "girlie-men", and George H.W. Bush and I both cracked up!