Gone are the days when I spent three hours each morning reading blogs. Some reasons my lifestyle has changed are obvious -- I used to read blogs at work, Charlie chewing on cords is a big distraction -- but I've also just experienced a general leveling-off of my fervor. I hope to spike again one day, but for now, I've just got other things on my mind, I guess.
Thus it took a Cold Fury post to point out a Bleat to me. Reading Lileks used to be like brushing my teeth, but now it's sadly more like brushing the dog: I don't do it nearly as often as I should.
Lileks found an article that he says "should be taught in J-schools. This is Pulitizerian. Stick with it, and you’ll see what I mean." I read The Peekaboo Paradox and was blown away. This article is masterful. If you want to see true journalism -- not the crap that gets cranked out at Reuters -- read Weingarten's piece.
I had read that Google was going to be censored in China, but it didn't really sink in until I saw this post at LGF:
Make sure you click them both to see the power of censorship.
Over the weekend my mother, husband, and I traveled to France to visit our relatives. Somehow at one point someone brought up Scientology, which apparently is illegal in France. You can't be a Scientologist in France. For the French relatives, this seemed totally natural: Scientology is weird and cultish, and so it should be outlawed. But later I pointed out to my husband that this conversation typified a fundamental difference between Americans and the French (or insert a variety of other nationalities). I too think Scientology is a bit out there -- what else can you say about a religion that was started on a dare -- but I think people should be allowed to be Scientologists if that's what they want. I really had a gut reaction to hearing that ideas could be illegal.
When I was teaching ESL in grad school, I opened up our argumentative unit with a brief discussion of hate speech. I played devil's advocate, arguing both sides of the issue in front of the class so they could get an idea of how to write an argumentative paper. So on one hand, I argued that although many of us are repulsed by the KKK and Matt Hale, they should be allowed to have the same freedom of speech rights that anyone else does. And a Korean student promptly filed a complaint against me with the department, saying I was intolerant and bigoted.
I'm proud that in my country you're supposed to be able to say anything you want. The free exchange of ideas helps people understand the world; censoring things that make us cringe makes the world a smaller place. I'd rather refute Matt Hale than exile him.
Well, it's already time to take mom back to the airport. I can't believe how little it feels like you can do in 15 days!
Lileks is right to be upset that newspapers change certain quotes to avoid "giving offense to readers". What kind of garbage is that? If someone said "Chocolate City", then by golly you print it so everyone can decide for themselves. You don't edit it out so people can't be offended. What is wrong with these people?
I read Joel Stein's op-ed on why he doesn't support the troops. A lot of people on the Right apparently are bashing this guy, but I give him two thumbs up. Say what you really think. If you're against the war and against the military, then I'm pleased you don't put a yellow ribbon on your car. Good for Joel for speaking the truth even when it sounds crass; more people should adopt this behavior.
And lastly, a funny quote from John Hawkins:
After all, why would a normal man want to go see this film? Men don't even want to go see relationship movies that feature men and women, so why would they want to see a movie about two gay cowboys hopping in the saddle together?
Maybe if the gay cowboys were secretly ninjas sworn to avenge their masters or kill crazy ex-seals out to stop a team of Al-Qaeda terrorists from blowing up school buses full of kids, it might be a movie that could appeal to most guys -- assuming they didn't get all touchy-feely and start grabbing each other like the Hobbits did at the end of "Return of the King."
I'm still busy running around with my mama...and battling our radiators: we've had DPW (maintenance) to our house twice already this week and scheduled for today and tomorrow too. For some reason, the house just doesn't want to warm above 60 degrees.
But here are some links:
Want To Cut Down On Abortions? Make Them Illegal (via RWN)
Why Hollywood Loves Johnny Cash—and not Merle Haggard (via Cold Fury)
Cold Fury articulates something I've been thinking for a long time:
If the libs want government health care, gun control, and cradle-to-grave nanny-statism, there are plenty of places they can go to get it — and planes, trains, buses, and ships leaving every day. But this country is the only hope for those of us for whom liberty and respect for individual freedom and responsibility is paramount. It’s time we reminded them of that. We might not be quite on the right track just yet, but we’re definitely at the station and heading for the ticket window.
There's nowhere else in the world as far to the right as the United States. If you want to live in a world that's further to the left, move to Europe. But we Americans who want a world that's further to the right have nowhere else we could go. We just have to hope our country doesn't drift left.
MORE TO GROK:
I read the first few comments and realized that it just wasn't worth my time to clarify. This morning there are double the comments, and it seems some people out there did understand what I meant.
If I were somehow the exact same person that I am right now, but I got dropped off from a spaceship and was told to choose where I want to live, I could only choose the United States. It's the only country that comes close to representing my value system. (My husband smirked and said, "Well, there's Hong Kong and Singapore, but then again we might get put in jail for dropping a gum wrapper.") However, for people who are strongly in the left camp, if they got dropped off from the same spaceship, there are perhaps several countries they could choose to fit their values: Canada? Sweden?
I never said "love it or leave it". However, I certainly respect people who do this. My good friend from college sold every belonging she and her family had and moved to France. They knew certain aspects of getting settled might be rough, but they wanted to be in France. And I respect and admire their determination. I applaud them for having the gumption to pack up and move to somewhere that better fits their way of life. It wasn't easy for them to disrupt their life so, but they did it out of conviction. Sadly, the experiment didn't work: a year later neither of them had found a job and they moved back to the US. Interesting that her French-citizen husband got a job much more easily in the US.
I admire this couple for giving it a shot. They're like the reverse of immigrants who came to the US a century ago looking for a better life. If I thought that there were anywhere on earth that would suit my values better than the US, I would do everything I could to move there. Show me Galt's Gulch, and I'm there. But the US is the closest we've got. That's why we on the right really worry about it shifting closer and closer to countries that already exist. We've got nowhere else to go...
I never said lefties have to leave. But they've got the option to if they want.
I haven't written because my mother arrived here in Germany on Wednesday. We've already had many adventures -- from having to unexpectedly buy new tires to trying to get a train schedule in Poland -- and I'm sure there's more to come.
In the meantime, two things have happened. For one, I got to participate in solving The Mystery of the Christmas Box. And secondly, I learned a valuable lesson:
If someone contacts you via your blog and says she's moving to your town, be nice to her. She might eventually become the employment coordinator for your post, and then one day she'll find out she can hire a secretary and she'll give you a job. That's how I just got a new job working for The Girl.
LGF points to two views about the recent study showing many deaths in Iraq could've been prevented with more body armor: on the one hand, writers at the left-wing site Daily Kos are wringing their hands and blaming bureaucracy, and on the other hand soldiers are saying that the armor they already wear is sufficiently clunky and cumbersome and that more armor would make them less effective. R1 voiced the soldier side:
The armor I wore was a big improvement over any other armor I've seen before. But it was still hot, heavy, and contributed to heat and fatigue casualties. So what's better? Losing one man to a gun shot wound or losing five to heat stroke?
The other night my husband and I caught an episode of that show Over There. The plot in a nutshell was that the Americans had captured an insurgent who knew information about where stolen missles were. At the end of the episode, the insurgent agrees to tell the Special Forces officer where the missles are (on a farm) as long as the Americans promise not to kill the farmer and his family. Long dramatic pause as the officer promises...cut to the next scene of the farmer feeding his goats and his farm getting blown to bits from an air strike.
Naturally, I got wrapped up in the moral dilemma of the issue. Why would the director of this show have the officer promise and then just blow up the farm? What was the underlying agenda behind this move? I turned to my husband and asked him, "Would that really happen?", meaning would someone be able to so easily renege on a promise like that and just blow up a family of civilians. The answer I got was not what I expected...
My husband said the scene was complete horse manure because you don't just call in air strikes on some random farm where you think there might be missles just because some prisoner told you so. He said Iraqis were notorious for lying about weapons caches: they'd have a beef with a neighbor and then run to the Americans claiming the neighbor was a terrorist just to get him in trouble. Husband said what would really happen would be that they'd raid the farm looking for the missles. If you just aerial bomb the farm, you have no idea what you just blew up. Maybe the missles were there, maybe they weren't, so you're no closer to knowing you're safe.
I fell for it. I fell for the tug-at-your-heartstrings nonsense that the director of Over There wanted me to. Hook, line, and sinker. But that's because I'm a dumb civilian, just like the majority of people watching this television program. The writers sent me right down the garden path towards Moral Dilemma, so I completely missed the tactical errors. I don't have the military training to notice the things my husband noticed about this show.
I can't help but think that the people at Daily Kos have gone down the same garden path. They've never worn any body armor, but if someone says it saves lives, well then coat the soldiers from top to bottom in it. Make their bodies bulletproof and none of them will die. The only problem is that soldiers don't just stand out in the street trying not to die. They need to move around, run, jump in and out of HMMWVs and Blackhawks, and react to whatever comes their way. They can't be standing there like the un-oiled Tin Man because they're weighted down in body armor.
I used to joke with my husband online in Iraq that he needed to sleep in his body armor. I told him I was going to make him kevlar pajamas to keep him safe. Then he got home from Iraq and put his body armor on me, vest and helmet. I had it on for maybe two minutes and I felt like I was being crushed. He wore it every day for 13 months.
Sometimes we civilians think we can see things as clearly as our soldiers do. We think we know what's best for them, or we think we can see the Moral Dilemmas just as well as they can. I'm just not sure we have the knowledge and experience to make that call. Our hearts can be in the right place -- as I'd like to believe this Kos writer's is -- but sometimes all the empathy in the world doesn't match up to experience.
Usch, I can't believe I walked right into that stupid tv plot.
A few years ago, my brother started a firestorm in our basement when he said that his high school basketball team could beat any WNBA team. There was much shouting, but my brother held his ground. One of my friends remembered this fight when he saw that a high school hockey team beat the women's Olympic team. Maybe we should organize that basketball game and see what happens...
Let's hear it for CaliValleyGirl, who lays out the perfect rant answer to the dreaded question from non-military folks: “So how many more years does he have in?”
You know what? I have no idea how many more years my husband has in. Officers don't have ETS dates really, they stay until they renounce their commission. I know if my husband goes to the career course, he tacks on more time, and since he started taking tuition assistance to get his MBA, he tacked on more time for that as well. But I really have no idea when he could get out of the Army if he wanted it. Some days he fantasizes about getting out and working in the civilian world...other days he fantasizes about retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He's staying in until he doesn't want to do this job anymore.
And I too have heard the "brainwashing" thing, most notably from my German co-worker back when our friend got his torso ripped out in Mosul. Here's what I wrote back in 2004:
I printed out this article at work and mentioned to my co-workers how amazing I thought it was that LT A intends to stay in the Army despite his injuries. They retorted that he must be really brainwashed, that he wasn't "fighting for his country" but for lies, and that someday I would see just how brainwashed people like my husband really are. I had to leave the office, I was so disgusted. I can't believe someone would say that to my face, completely unprovoked. I'm proud of our friend for standing up for what he believes in; if they disagree, they can politely nod and keep their opinions to themselves, like I do all the freaking time here at work. What is wrong with these people?
My husband and I aren't looking any gift horses in the mouth: we know we've got a good thing going here. He makes great money for a 25 year old, plus we pay no rent, no utilities, and have free health care. If he can do better in the future, we'll consider it, but for now we think ourselves pretty darn lucky to have the resources we have.
The other day, a few friends told me that the grass is always greener. After having lived in France, Sweden, and now Germany, I've grown into a person who thinks the grass is always greener in the United States. I don't see myself coming back to Europe ever again, unless someday we have a child stationed here (God forbid we're still in Europe that far into the future.)
That said, I know there will be some things that I will miss from time to time. I'll miss spatzle from Herman's, garlic soup, and all the other uniform German menu items that drive me nuts now but will sound so yummy when I haven't had them in a while. I'll miss calling my mom for two cents a minute. I'll miss going into a public restroom and knowing that the stall door locks will never be broken. I'll miss magpies. And I'll miss eating my weight in warm sugary almonds every Christmas.
Most of all, I'll miss the military community we live in. There's something about plopping a few thousand Americans into Nowhere Germany that brings people together. We might never live on another post again, and I'll miss knowing that all my neighbors are going through the exact same experience as we are. It might be a long time before I can show up at another neighbor's house with knitting and Bud Light and stay until midnight. I'll miss bumping into friends at the commissary (except I can't wait to stop bumping into some of those jerk high schoolers!) I also love how there's only about two degrees of separation between people here, so you're always finding out that the Jennifer your friend works with is actually the Jennifer who's your neighbor, or the wonderful experience of teaching an adult at the university and then finding out you're teaching her son in seventh grade.
I've been reading the thrilling book In Cold Blood, and apparently it's really gotten into my head: last night I dreamt a man with a shotgun tied up my brothers and me. I think it's superbly written, and I can't put it down.
In the chapters I read last night, a detective read through the daughter's diary, hoping to find clues as to who had murdered the family. I started thinking about people going through stuff that I own. If something happened to the husband and me, there are a few things that would embarrass me, even after I'm dead. For example, I've kept a journal for years. I haven't written in it as often since I've started blogging, but I used to write in it every day, and I still have journals from years before I met my husband. Would I want my mom reading that stuff? How about the 215 letters I sent to my husband while he was in Iraq? I want to keep those things, but I'm not sure I want anyone else reading some of the more intimate ones! Would I want my mom going through my underpants drawer? Aggh! I suppose all of it is moot if I'm dead, but still. Everyone has secret aspects of his personality, and I'm not sure I want anyone knowing about mine.
Beth sent me a link to 2005: The Year In Military Heroism, which includes our good buddy Red6. Incidentally, Red6 returns to Iraq next week, this time deployed with his wife. I look forward to hearing new tales of armor geddon.
Well, we finally crossed over the '05-'06 barrier, and now we're less than five months from moving back to the US. Longtime readers will know how we've longed to see this day on the horizon. You know what I'm ready for?
I'm ready to have one vet, one doctor, one optometrist, and one car mechanic, all of whom speak English. Monday I had to go to a German clinic and buy new glasses, all in German. I speak terrible German, but the glasses guy said I speak it better than anyone else he's worked with. That's pathetic. I'm tired of feeling anxious about not knowing words like timing belt and prolonged diarrhea (which the dog had, not me). I'm sick of the sinking feeling in my stomach when I realize I have to go Out Into Germany to take care of business. And I'd really rather get itemized receipts, instead of having the vet hem and haw after he's done with Charlie and go, "Mmm...41 Euro?"
I'm ready to buy a variety of groceries and beauty products. Gruyere cheese? Can't get it at the commissary. Nor can we get tamari, ground poultry, or chipotle chilis. My neighbor, who happens to be the best dentist in the world, suggested I use ACT mouthwash. I bought one bottle and then waited three months for the PX to restock. Finally I gave up and bought it online. Do you know how hard my mom laughed when she heard I had bought seven bottles of mouthwash online? But we can't get it here. They've also been out of Woolite carpet spray for pet stains since July. Sigh.
I'm ready to go to a freaking Taco Bell.
I'm just ready for peace of mind. I'm ready to know that I can buy or do anything I need to. Or I can at least call and ask for information. (Ahh, to make a local call for free -- what a treat.) I'll be able to take care of myself, instead of begging German acquaintences to help me read my mail and call the phone company for me (on the English Hotline, where no one speaks English.)
I'm ready to go home.
Mark Steyn: It’s the demography, stupid
Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?
This ought to be the left’s issue. I’m a conservative—I’m not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I’m with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant?