April 30, 2004


I got a postcard from Nerdstar today, in response to the birthday card I sent her a while back. It's amazing how the blogosphere can connect two people who would've never met and bring them together to support each other. That makes one letter from an acquaintence soldier and zero from my "best friend" from back home. Perspective.

Posted by Sarah at 03:15 PM | Comments (4)


I've been looking over the results of the morale survey posted on Blackfive's blog. There are two things about this survey that interest me.

1. TABLE 15
Amazing results. UN-sanctioned involvements ranked much lower on the "how do you think [country of deployment] will be after American soldiers leave" scale than Iraq does. In the other missions, the soldiers thought that their involvement meant very little in the long-run, but in Iraq it appears that they believe their presence will make a positive difference. That says something huge! Our soldiers appear to be saying that the Iraq deployment has focus and that, being run by Americans, has a much higher chance of success than if it were run by the UN. Fascinating finding, in my opinion.

2. TABLE 17
There is a big difference between officer morale in OIF and in WWII; in OIF there's a much higher percentage of reported low morale. Reasons for this? Other than the fact that maybe officers feel more comfortable griping these days, I can't come up with anything.

However, this was a survey of only 389 soldiers, so that means only 54 people out of all of the deployed soldiers said they have low morale. I have no idea how they got the results from WWII, but if the sample size is different, then the results mean little. I have not been able to find the original, and Blackfive didn't post a link, so I'm not sure where the WWII data comes from.

See, I did learn something from How To Lie With Statistics!


Since I am a grokking tyro, I enlisted the help of a bigger mind to check out the numbers. Mr. Den Beste wrote me back last night; as usual, he thinks of things I didn't catch:

Given your specific situation, it's easy to see why you'd be concerned about

I'm not so sure that the difference to which you refer is really very significant or very mystifying. Officers, quite naturally, feel more responsible for a situation than enlisted, and the situation in Iraq is not really the same as it was in Europe. Americans knew more about Europe and understood the local culture much better, for one thing. Iraq is a more alien place.

A different thing I find myself wondering about is just when it was that the WWII survey happened. If it was about one year after VE day, that would be a
lot different than if it was perhaps three years after VE day. Europe was also pretty unsettled in the first year, but by three years things had stabilized quite a lot. Thus officers, feeling responsible, would have indicated greater comfort at the three year point than at the one year point.

Frankly, I didn't really see anything in that report that I found too surprising, or anything that worried me deeply. (Obviously I wish it were better than it is...)

Posted by Sarah at 02:46 PM | Comments (3)


I don't know exactly why reading this at Medienkritik triggered something in my mind, but it did. Back when I was in my Swedish class, our teacher was trying to briefly explain the Swedish political parties to us. She drew a sort of spectrum line on the board and put the various parties along the line from left to right. Someone in our class asked where our American Republican and Democrats would fall on the Swedish spectrum; our teacher put the Democrats on the far right edge of the spectrum and said that the Republicans would be located in the next room. We all laughed.

But it's something to keep in mind. There's no such thing as my sort of thinking in Europe. Well, there are some Americans Born Elsewhere, but for the most part, everyone is to the left of me. My Swedish friend just this year met the very first Swedish person in her life who supports the death penalty. The very first one she's ever met. She's 25. In contrast, we were making a sample outline in my ENGL class the other day, using the generic topic of the death penalty as a sample, and when I asked if they wanted to make the sample as for or against, they shouted For! in unison. No question in their minds. On questions of the government's role in health care and social programs, no one can touch how far right I go. There's just no such thing over here, at least not that I understand (correct me if I'm wrong.)

On a related tangent, Tim wrote the other day about patriotism and flag-pride in other countries. While living in France, we bought the same Swedish friend a Swedish flag patch to sew onto her bookbag. She wore it while she was in France, but she said that it was a little weird to sport it in Sweden. I can't say if she's representative of other Europeans, but I can't think of any other country -- besides flag-drenched Canada -- where the flag means so much.

Our flag means so much that people everywhere burn it. That says something.


Awesome. A blog in Sweden! With links to other blogs in Sweden. Fantastic -- now I have a way to prevent my Swedish from being completely eaten up by my pathetic German. I'm having tons of fun going through his posts -- did you know that Hans Blix participated in a WMD joke on a Swedish talk show that sounds quite similar to the scenario that Bush got ripped a new one for? Dude, he's so blogrolled.

By the way, he says that there are right-leaning folks in Sweden, but they are even deeper in the closet than I am.

Posted by Sarah at 10:31 AM | Comments (9)


A couple of links:
Lileks is good today, especially if you're one of those recovering young people.
And be prepared to cry when you read the story of CPL Chance Phelps.

Posted by Sarah at 10:14 AM | Comments (4)


Andrew Sullivan linked to an article from an embedded reporter in Fallujah. The relevant bit comes at the end:

Well, it's surprising, to be honest. ... I have spoken to a lot [of Marines] who have been engaged in some of these firefights. In fact, I was in one of the combat surgical rooms where they were working on a couple of these guys.

Two of them had been ambushed, not where the main fight is going on tonight, but their unit had been ambushed east of Fallujah. And seven people rolled in. There were two that had gunshot wounds. And they pulled a huge slug, a bullet, out of the leg of one of the Marines. And another one had a bullet wound right through the back.

And, amazingly, they were trying to convince their commanders that they were ready to go and go back out. I have been really surprised at ... the high degree of morale that these Marines have shown. Remember, they have only been here for a month and a half. Many of these units that are here now engaged in the initial invasion last year and were in Iraq for several months.

Now they're back. But they seem to be engaged. They're taking casualties. But it's really surprising. You don't see much head-dragging or anything like that. I mean, you know, what you see is kind of more encouragement for these guys.

And, for example, the one who had the gravest -- the bullet in and out through his back -- was trying to convince his commander that he'd be back. And his commander actually promised him that his spot was still going to be there. Another soldier who was injured in that huge firefight yesterday who I spoke to earlier this morning, he wanted to get back out there. But the only problem was, was that half his shoulder was missing around his firing arm.

But he was convinced he would be able to sit there on a roof and not have to run anywhere and he could contribute that way. So it's been surprising. But ... the Marines that are here certainly appear to be geared up for whatever the future holds.

One of Sullivan's readers makes a simple point:

The line that struck me as most interesting in that piece from the embedded CNN reporter is near the end where he writes 'So it’s been surprising'. I would love for him to further explain why he finds the actions & attitudes of these men 'surprising'. I would take a guess & say that this is this man's first exposure to our men in the military.
I was an Army brat from the day I was born until I was halfway through college, and my father was an Airborne ranger most of those years. This reporter's observations of our soldiers don't surprise me at all. Anyone who has spent anytime around our soldiers would not have expected anything different. These men take their code and their duty seriously. The fact that the reporter is 'surprised' I think reveals more than anything his (and no doubt a significant number of media people's) disconnect from what most people know, either first hand or instinctively, about our military personnel. We have the best military known to mankind and one of the primary reasons is the simplest one: The people who are in it.

Once I got my taste of military life, I never wanted to live any other way. Having taught soldiers, I never want to teach anyone but. I decided this morning that if my husband ever decides to separate from the military, I will require that we live near a military post so I can continue to work with soldiers. Once you see the caliber person the military fosters, you never want anything less.

Posted by Sarah at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)


Mail takes about two weeks to and from Iraq. Apparently email takes three days. Just this morning I got an email that my husband sent me on Tuesday. Weird.

Posted by Sarah at 10:04 AM | Comments (4)

April 29, 2004


"As far as we know, Senator Kerry got three Purple Hearts for risking his life in Vietnam and President Bush got a dental examination in Alabama," Pelosi said.

This little quote tagged onto the Cheney-is-a-chickenhawk article is disgusting. I don't even know what else to say about it. It makes my blood boil to see such spin.

Posted by Sarah at 01:52 PM | Comments (7)


A storm's a-brewin' over at RWN where Hawkins is discussing women vs men bloggers. The background is too complex to summarize here -- you can read it on RWN -- but Hawkins goes on to ask an interesting question:

So let me branch out: Why are comparatively so few female bloggers of note in the political blogosphere?

Personally, I have come to suspect it's just a numbers game. On the whole, women aren't as interested as men in politics, so therefore there are a lot less women than men writing about politics, and hence there is a much smaller pool of female bloggers with the talent to move up the ranks.

Some people probably won't like that answer, but hey, why aren't there as many women who are sports fans as men? Why are there a lot more women than guys who enjoy romance novels? Maybe it's nature, maybe it's nurture, maybe it's some combination thereof, but men and women on the whole don't have the same level of interest in politics.

As an aside, I see nothing sexist in that quote at all. I'm reminded of a heated argument that erupted a few years ago when one of my female friends took extreme offense when my brother made an offhanded comment that his college basketball team could whoop any WNBA team. Cries of Sexist! insued, but there's nothing sexist about saying something that's probably true. But I digress.

Maybe that's why I'm having a hard time finding wives who want to talk about this stuff with me. Maybe that's why I was so disappointed to find out Kim du Toit is a man. But you know what -- it doesn't really matter. I started to write "it's too bad women don't want to blog about politics" and then I erased it because it doesn't matter. Who cares if you're a man or a woman; in the blogosphere, it's ideas that count. Reynolds and Green do a lot of recipe blogging, which should be a "woman's" topic. Who cares? They say important things on the majority of their posts, so they can write the occasional post about chicken, or whatever. I don't care if I'm writing back and forth with a man or woman, as long as we have common ground and we a trying to help each other grok.

I sometimes write about girly things like knitting or how I think Stephen Green is cute. But I most certainly will never give up trying to grok politics and current events so I can, as Hawkins joked, "have more time to blog about make-up and house plants." I can't even do make-up -- I've never bothered to learn how to apply it properly, and it shows -- and I have one houseplant that I just remembered to water after reading Hawkin's post. Make-up and plants ain't never gon happen on my blog.


By the way, I just got introduced to Cassandra and Debbye through Hawkins' post. So far I like what I see. I need to check back in with them often.

Posted by Sarah at 09:01 AM | Comments (5)


Tim has a good post today about what's going on in Fallujah, from a military strategy standpoint.

Posted by Sarah at 08:35 AM | Comments (3)

April 28, 2004


I'm way too young to know anything about the Vietnam era, which is why I found Mrs. du Toit's new post quite interesting. Have a look.

I spent all night last night up sick, so blogging is the furthest thing from my mind. I'm skipping German and crashing tonight. More tomorrow.

Posted by Sarah at 04:02 PM | Comments (3)


The secret that I was keeping a while back is now not really a secret anymore, so I can tell you all the good news: my husband is getting his tank! One of my students had to deploy to send the tanks down to Iraq, so that's how I found out about it, but now that it's common knowledge around our post and in the Stars and Stripes, and the tanks are on their way, I can happily say that I kept my mouth shut the whole time.

Posted by Sarah at 09:15 AM | Comments (3)

April 27, 2004


I know there's some expression about things getting darkest right before dawn or something like that, but I can't put my finger on it right now. Nonetheless, it fits me today: I've had two really great conversations today and I feel like the friend situation here is really looking up. It was a tide-turning day.

Posted by Sarah at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)


I wonder if my husband is happy to no longer be in Najaf or bummed that he didn't get a piece of the action? Probably a little of both.

Posted by Sarah at 10:17 PM | Comments (3)


Depending on your connection speed, this might take a while to load, but it's most definitely worth it if you want to feel close to our servicemembers...

Posted by Sarah at 08:11 AM | Comments (5)


I think this morning I'm going to limit myself to writing about uplifting things. And, man, have I found something that makes my heart sing: the running totals for money donated by bloggers to Spirit of America. Three groups of bloggers, headed by Castle Argghhh!, Dean Esmay, and A Small Victory, are raising money for alternate media sources in Iraq. So far they've raised over $30,000! And bloggers are starting to auction things: an original Cox & Forkum, a picture from Saddam's palace that Chief Wiggles took, plane tickets, bayonets, everything!

I didn't join up with any specific "team" for the competition, and it's probably too late to join in since it ends Thursday. If I had been paying more attention to getting in on this, I would've knitted a sweater for the reader who pledged the most. Instead I will just have to encourage you to go pledge through someone else...

And now that I see how much money everyone else is giving, I have to go donate more! $30,000! Look at the impact we bloggers can have.

Posted by Sarah at 07:58 AM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2004


I started to formulate a post while talking to Tim over the weekend, and it just came together on the exercise bike. I've managed to nail down more firmly why I feel I have a hard time fitting in, why I relate so well with my students but not as well with other wives.

Soldiers signed up for this; wives didn't.

I realize this will take some generalizing here, but bear with me. Soldiers know what they're getting into when they raise their right hand. They know the risks and agree to take them. Wives, on the other hand, seem to have a sense of "why me" when they fall in love with someone who has chosen to take that oath. There's some crossover of categories -- conscientious objectors, anyone? -- but for the most part, soldiers are willing participants in the war on terror and wives are dragged along kicking and screaming.

The majority of wives I know either suffer in silence or express their bitterness at any appropriate moment. None are hooah the way I am. They look forward to the day their husbands leave this mess behind and get a regular job, and though they feel a vague sense of pride that their husbands are doing a noble job, they would welcome him home in a heartbeat and flip the Middle East the finger if they could. They seem to think that since they never took an oath, they are exempt from any obligations to portray Army Values and to selflessly support the mission.

I don't think I've met anyone yet who feels the way I do (except for Tim, but he raised his right hand a while back.)

I don't suffer. Sure, I miss planting kisses in my husband's dimples, but I don't feel the bitterness many wives feel over the separation. I don't feel angry at the President for forcing us to go through this, nor do I feel like I've been cheated out of 14 months of my life. I don't have any illusions that his return next April will signify the end of our family's involvement with all things Muslim, nor do I plan to inform him that I have personally decided he's leaving the Army when he gets back, as some wives will.

My husband is contributing something to this world in a way that many wives just don't seem to grok. I think that's why I feel more comfortable with soldiers than wives, because there's common ground in the idea that soldiers are supposed to soldier. I'm having a hard time seeing that understanding in the wives I know.

On Saturday, Tim asked me how I cope with the deployment. To be honest, I do most of it alone. But when I need empathy in a rough patch, I turn to Tim or Mike or Carla. When I need someone to be sympathetic and get my mind off of it, I turn to Marc. When I'm down, I turn to the blogosphere for support.

I turn to you guys to help me cope. Thank you.


Amritas adds some insight.

Posted by Sarah at 09:29 AM | Comments (8)


Hey, do you collect anything? I collect lots of stuff. Not nice things like china patterns, but real dorky collections. Touristy magnets. Bottle caps. Matchbooks. Buttons. Tourist t-shirts from Las Vegas. Weird stuff. What do you collect?

Posted by Sarah at 08:28 AM | Comments (17)


The only blog I read where I can remember precisely the first entry I ever read is Lileks'. It was his post on Ed Harris. Ed Harris, you say, Mr. Link on Andrew Sullivan? I like him. Let's go see what this so-called Lileks character has to say about him. How's that, Harris said something moronic? And this Lileks guy writes about this kind of stuff every day? I'm hooked.

That was January 2003. I've followed Lileks ever since; he holds a sweet spot in my heart, though he'll never know it. I listen to all the crappy music he makes. I look at all his regrettable food. And I feel a certain connection with him today when he apologizes for not making more time for his readers. And he means it, you can tell he really means it.

He makes me smile.

Posted by Sarah at 08:15 AM | Comments (6)


In addition to finishing my book on the train, I also finished my current knitting project.
Well, 50% of the project...


Posted by Sarah at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)


I finished reading Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong? on the train, and one thing really caught my attention. I'm no expert on the history or nuances of Islam, but Lewis is, and I trust his analysis when he says

Christians sometimes speak of "The Synagogue" and "The Mosque" to denote the religious institutions of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. But these are inappropriate terms, the projection of Christian notions onto non-Christian religions. For the Jew or the Muslim, the synagogue or the mosque is a building, a place of worship and study, no more. Until modern times and the spread of Christian norms and influence, neither ever had, for its own worshippers, the institutional sense of the Christian term.

When the Marines bombed the mosque in Fallujah, Charles Johnson said

The wire services are already reporting that 40 “worshippers” were killed at one mosque in Fallujah. But the simple fact, borne out by hundreds of posts here at LGF, is that mosques in places like Fallujah are not simply “places of worship;” they are centers of incitement, and hiding places/staging areas for murderers.

Before reading Lewis' book, I thought Muslims were disgusting, hiding their weapons in places of worship. I figured they knew their religion was so intricately tied to jihad that it didn't really matter if they defiled their mosques. Now I wonder if maybe it's just our Christian upbringing that makes us unable to grok how a place of worship could be full of RPGs. If to Muslims a mosque is simply a building, then it's no wonder we see photos like these:



And now I feel even less sorrow at bombing that Fallujah mosque.

Posted by Sarah at 07:35 AM | Comments (3)


Catching up on the weekend:

Check out the lame demonstration against Caterpillar in Peoria. My mom said no one even noticed.

Read about Drill Sergeant Rob's hero.

Check out the making of a good news story.

Posted by Sarah at 07:19 AM | Comments (3)

April 25, 2004


The moment you've all been waiting for: the before and after of my trip to visit Tim.
You can also read Tim's infuriating before on his blog.

I've had some extra thoughts since I got home. The funniest one is that my mother encouraged me to go meet a total stranger from the internet. I think we look at blogging in a different way than we look at internet dating...

Posted by Sarah at 01:39 PM | Comments (5)

April 23, 2004


Remember when Roger Simon went to Paris and met The Dissident Frogman, Merde in France, and Nelson Ascher? Man was I jealous. I wanted to make a blog trip too. I want to meet these people whose lives I follow every day, more closely than I follow any of my friends' lives.

So I bought a train ticket yesterday.

That scenario could lead me off in a whole different direction, by the way. I could talk about how I tried to put to use the German I've been studying and say Ich möchte am Samstag nach Frankfurt fahren bitte, and how the girl behind the counter gave me this exasperated look when my German wasn't as fast as she would've liked, and how finally I just gave up and let her do it all in English, and how I walked out of the train station fuming and wondering why I even bother to study German in the first place. But that's a diatribe for another day; we need to stay on track.

Last week I decided that I needed some support. When my friend remarked that my house is entirely too quiet and that she doesn't know how I can stand to be alone like this, I started to think that I'd like to spend some time with someone who knows exactly what I've been thinking since day one.

So the grokkingest girl on the planet is going to Frankfurt...to meet Tim.

We had planned to meet once CPT Patti returned, but after last week's extension and missions, I figured there was no time like the present to just make it happen. So I'm going tomorrow to meet my first fellow blogger.

I'm a little nervous, to be honest. First of all, I have no idea what Tim looks like! I referred him back to my sweater photo and told him to be on the lookout for me at the train station. He also promised me a big hug -- something I have not had in two months -- and I'm honestly afraid that I might break down weeping there in the Hauptbahnhof. But it might be the best thing for me.

The hardest part about making this trip is explaining to people around here where I'm going. Do you want to come over on Saturday? Actually, I'm going to Frankfurt. What are you doing there? Visiting a friend. Are you staying the night? No, just a day trip. That's eight hours on the train -- why not spend the night? Because it's probably not appropriate to get a hotel with someone else's husband and a man I've never met before. Wait, who are you going to visit?

Just joking on that last part; I haven't said that because I know how odd it sounds. I've circumvented the whole thing really, just saying that I'm going to visit a friend. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Blogging resumes on Sunday, starting with what Tim looks like...

Posted by Sarah at 07:39 AM | Comments (11)


Yesterday was a rough day for my friends here. The two of them work in the Quartermaster: they tag and sort soldiers' uniforms and TA50 to be laundered. Yesterday PFC Ludlam's laundry came in. My two friends tearfully and carefully tagged every piece of clothing PFC Ludlam had here in Germany, to make absolutely certain that all of it comes back to them clean so it can be shipped home to his family. Their hearts were breaking as they did this, as mine did when I heard the story.

I know some of my readers know PFC Ludlam's family. They can be assured that my two friends are doing everything they can to respect his belongings and make sure they make it home.

Posted by Sarah at 07:37 AM | Comments (5)


If all soldiers wrote as well as Drill Sergeant Rob, I'd be out of a job. Thanks, Bunker.

Posted by Sarah at 07:16 AM | Comments (4)


This is a phenomenal story. Why why why was it reported in the UK and not at home? Why isn't this news, why do we Americans have to go digging around to find positive stories about our servicemembers?

Posted by Sarah at 07:00 AM | Comments (5)

April 22, 2004


First Spain, then Honduras, and now the Dominican Republic.

Do you remember when Stan contracted vaginitis? Seems there's an epidemic going around the Spanish-speaking countries.

Posted by Sarah at 07:22 AM | Comments (4)


From Mohammad:

I wasn’t like this before. I was afraid most of the time. I have always looked for safety above all. I lost faith in the whole world and I wasn’t ready at all to make the slightest sacrifice for the sake of others. I was trying to leave my country and find a better job in a safe place, BUT, The brave solders (who don’t hold shares at Halliburton or Bechtel) who crossed seas and oceans and came to my country to fight for our freedom -and don’t anyone dare say the opposite, as I met so many of these soldiers and had hundreds of letters from them and there families and I know their motives; they fight for their country’s safety and for our freedom and they are proud of what they are doing- gave me the faith and showed me that man should not care only about himself, his family or his country, these are not enough to make a human being. These guys are MUCH better than me because I have to fight for my issue and they fight for me. They deserve the respect of the world and so do the people who support them. They always give me hope to go on no matter how difficult it seems.

A couple of my soldiers wrote yesterday that they don't think the military belongs at our elite universities because somebody smart enough to go to Harvard should do bigger and better things than the military. They're going to get yelled at today.

Yes, there are smart folks at Harvard. But so much of elite academia is self-perpetuating horse manure. I've never been to Harvard, but I did go to a fairly rigorous university, and many aspects of it were a joke. The students weren't that motivated, most of them simply wanted to regurgitate on the test and then go to their frat party, and a great number of them are now America-bashing MA students, cycling back through the system. In contrast, my students work their tails off to attend classes in addition to their more important job of PROVIDING FREEDOM!

I'm extremely disappointed to hear my student soldiers denigrate themselves like that. At Iraq the Model a soldier's inherent worth is obvious; why isn't it obvious to them? Maybe I should smoke them at the start of class...


Well, I tried to smoke them, but I got choked up. They were looking at me with the most interesting look on their faces; I realized that most of them consider their job to be nothing special. They don't think they're heroes, so for me to get choked up when I praise them is probably a hoot.

But they're all heroes to me.

Posted by Sarah at 06:59 AM | Comments (9)

April 21, 2004


A popular bar had a new robotic bartender installed. A fellow came in for a drink and the robot asked him, "What's your IQ?" The man replied, "130." So the robot proceeded to make conversation about physics, astronomy, investments, insurance, and so on. The man listened intently and thought, "This is really cool." Another gent came in for a drink and the robot asked him, "What's your IQ?" The man responded, "100." So the robot started talking about football, baseball, and so on. The man thought to himself, "Wow, this is really cool." A third guy came in to the bar. As with the others, the robot asked him, "What's your IQ?" The man replied, "70." The robot then asked, "So, are you Democrats really going to nominate John Kerry?"


Posted by Sarah at 10:10 PM | Comments (6)


Found via Annika: a wonderful post on the term Uncle Tom. May I just say how nauseated I was when I saw the uncle tom slurs on Kos last week? This post is a much better reaction than I would have done -- mine would've had too much swearing and punching.


Yeah, it's a lefty blog, but it's a really good post!

Posted by Sarah at 04:09 PM | Comments (6)


My students had to write a short reaction to an article on anti-militarism in universities. The responses varied, as they would vary in any cross-section of the public, but does it seem like more than a coincidence that the only student to use the phrases "imperialistic government", "ducking the texas national guard", and "barbarian invaders" is the civilian who's already studied at a university in the US? I refrained from writing snide comments on his paper even though I could have torn his argument to shreds, and he still got the same grade as everyone else. But I certainly noticed the difference in tone.

Posted by Sarah at 03:49 PM | Comments (5)


There he is! I was wondering when we'd hear more on Saddam.

Posted by Sarah at 07:36 AM | Comments (3)


A buddy of Amritas' started a new mu.nu blog called Rishon Rishon, and I really like how he came up with the name for it.

Posted by Sarah at 07:27 AM | Comments (3)


Wow. On a bad day, I think I could have written this article.
People are beautiful, the world stinks

Thanks, LGF.

And I thoroughly enjoyed this informed fisking of Michael Moore.

Thanks, Synthstuff.

Posted by Sarah at 07:06 AM | Comments (4)

April 20, 2004


Ye-ah, P-town is in the house! (Sorry -- silly me, trying to "represent".)
Too bad I don't know this Marine from my hometown.

Posted by Sarah at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)


Sam is dealing with a troll, and he had some very insightful remarks:

Not to forget; that no single Iraqi accept and like to see the occupation of his country by a foreign troops. We all would like to see an end to the occupation but not by the way of chaos, looting, robbery, blood shed, abduction, killing innocent people, terrorist attacks, destruction of power stations and of oil and water pipes, dirty power seeking militias, force using to impose their own way of life on women and men, assassinations of university professors and doctors and intellectuals, and so on and so forth. A scale is of a complete havoc and destruction. This is not resistance at all. What happened in Falluja and by Sadr are part of what I listed above. Thugs are seeking power or money or pushed by terrorist of Wahabi origin to commit their crimes.

Those who clap and shout slogans to Sadr on last Friday are the same people who did the same and more slogans for Saddam! Those who kill in Falluja are the same people who did the crimes of mass graves and tortures and Halbja chemical attacks by Saddam. Those who negotiate for them the Sunni Group and mediate for the release of hostages are the one who cried and regret the fall of the most tyrant regime on earth.

Yes we have been liberated from that regime with the help of the coalition troops and the USA admitted that it is an occupying force. GWB and his aides and Ministers etc, always said that they like to help to build a free, democratic Iraq with open and strong economy. This sound very good for us and we would like to see it started as soon as possible. We know that it is delayed for a little while but the reasons are very well know? It is the others who do not like to see it started and we are always said that it should start sooner rather than latter. See who kidnap and kills the contractors and bomb the oil pipes and the water pipes? It is the above groups who do not like to see security and reconstruction as well as the regional countries.

Posted by Sarah at 03:06 PM | Comments (5)


Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -- Benjamin Franklin

The hardest part about being a spouse is keeping things opsec. Last week I got myself in trouble by being too informed: I keep up on the news and know what's going on, and our rear detachment SSG got upset that I told another soldier what I had learned; he thought I had gotten the info from down range instead of from Associated Press! I am trying to be very cautious about what I talk about now, even if it's already in the news, but it's really hard for me to not share information with other wives who are just as concerned as I am. For example, I just found out something very interesting, but I don't think I can trust anyone else not to spread it. If I let myself tell just one person, and then she lets herself tell just one person, and so on, then I might as well tell everyone. I hate to keep the information inside -- I feel like I could explode right now -- but I know it's best if I don't share. I've already seen how fast stories can circulate, and I don't want to contribute to that. I have to learn to keep it quiet; man, is that a skill I don't have!

Posted by Sarah at 01:46 PM | Comments (5)


So the first quote that I pull from Mexifornia has nothing to do with either Mexico or California. But it relates to something that happened here yesterday:

Europeans who drive their safe government cars to the beach, work seven hours a day, enjoy six to eight weeks off yearly, and have nearly all their medical problems, tuition, natal care and rest home worries taken care of by a maternal government see us as impoverished. Yet Americans find Europeans' tiny homes, solitary small cars, single televisions, and outrageously expensive food, clothes, entertainment and gasoline a real poverty that restricts the individual's ability to satisfy his cravings.

I honestly don't have that much interaction with Germans. I go to restaurants occasionally, but usually to the same ones over and over, and I have some German friends, but they're pretty Americanized (it's hysterical to be with a group of German women who are trashing Germany mercilessly.) I have never really had any run-ins with Germans, so I'm fascinated by the stories the Conflicted Reservist tells. He started working for the Germans about two years ago and has thus lost his support from the US military. He is engaged to a German and owns a house here and for all intents and purposes is living the German life. And he faces deep troubles with Germany and her citizens.

His neighbors won't let their kids play with his daughter because she's American. He tried to help a neighbor jump start his car once, and the neighbor refused his help, saying, "You're an American." Two weeks ago he had his motorcycle tires slashed by a German biker who growled "American" in his face. This Reservist is trying to fit in to the German world, and he's facing shocking opposition.

When we first moved here, my husband went to get his haircut and had to listen to the German barber go on about how the US doesn't have any real freedom because once she was at Walmart and wanted to try on bras in the middle of the store; security wouldn't let her, thus we have no freedom. Europeans might have more freedom to take their clothes off whenever they want, but there are other realms I'd rather have freedom in.

The Reservist's fiancee just had a baby last week. They went to get their new daughter's birth certificate, and they were told they cannot name their child what they want. First of all, the Germans wouldn't let them give the child the Reservist's last name since they're not yet married. Second of all, they won't let them name their daughter Haley Amber because it's not German-sounding. So their child doesn't have a name yet. Legally, the Germans can tell you what to name your children -- an appalling governmental control, in my opinion.

Just as we define poverty differently, as Mexifornia shows, we seem to cherish different expressions of freedom. The Germans may look at our inability to tolerate boobs in the Walmart as being one step away from a police state, but I see the inability to choose a child's name as a more important freedom that's being denied to this Reservist.

So the Reservist is fed up; he's moving to Spain.

Posted by Sarah at 07:53 AM | Comments (5)


Sometimes I just have to laugh when I think of how the terrorists are starting to mimic what they hear on the American media. I don't for a second believe that these terrorists give one fig about Kyoto or Halliburton or a peace treaty with Europe. These people are not dumb; they know what the transnational progressives in the West want to hear and they give it to them. They listen to the protestors, and then suddenly a "new bin Ladin tape" comes out and says exactly what the moonbats want to hear. It's all fascinatingly silly to me.

Posted by Sarah at 07:29 AM | Comments (4)

April 19, 2004


After reading this new Amritas post, I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank Marc Miyake for being such a good friend. Sunday in an email I mentioned that I was feeling rather down, and he called me to make sure I was doing OK. Some people I have known for years have not called or emailed me once since my husband left for Iraq, yet a virtual stranger loses sleep at night worrying about me. Not only is he insanely smart (the dude taught himself Japanese), but he's also extremely caring and a wonderful friend.

(And he'll probably kill me for broadcasting this...)

Posted by Sarah at 10:39 PM | Comments (5)


It's entirely depressing when the WaPo hears about my husband before I do. Oh well, at least I can find out info somewhere. Here's an article about an ambush my husband's convoy encountered last week.


Of the $87 million allotted for Iraq, 75% of it was supposed to go towards military expenditures, CavX recently taught me. Never forget that Kerry voted for this proposal before he voted against it. If Kerry had gotten his way, we probably wouldn't even have the HMMWVs and body armor that we have now...

Posted by Sarah at 11:05 AM | Comments (8)


Read Greyhawk.

Posted by Sarah at 10:08 AM | Comments (3)


Sometimes I worry about my husband getting killed in Iraq. Thank god I don't have to worry about him getting shot by someone who's supposed to be on the same side.

Posted by Sarah at 09:58 AM | Comments (5)


When Kos said "screw 'em", he ticked a lot of people off. He ticked Deskmerc off enough that he's considering becoming a mercenary. Does anyone know how we can help him?

Porphyrogenitus is joining the Army and Deskmerc is becoming a "merceneries" (as Kos spells it). There are men of honor and action in the blogosphere.

Posted by Sarah at 08:00 AM | Comments (1)


I had a wonderful dream last night: somehow we spouses were taken to Iraq to visit our soldiers. It seemed more like a 10 minute prison visit than R&R -- dozens of couples standing around together just hugging and smiling -- but I was there with my arms tight around him laughing and talking. It was just about time to leave when my alarm went off, and I tried desperately to go back to sleep so I could see him one more time. But at least I didn't have to say goodbye again.

Posted by Sarah at 06:57 AM | Comments (5)

April 18, 2004


I saw via Amritas that James Hudnall wrote an analogy using The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The thugs and criminals of the Middle East have had a free ride for far too long. The only way to civilize a place that has known only oppression and terror is bring the rule of law. A good John Wayne movie really illustrates that point. It's called THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALLANCE. The story illustrates the same thing that's going on in the Middle East. The place is the Wild West. It needs to be tamed if there is ever going to be peace there.

The husband bought the movie right before he left, and since we owned it but I'd never seen it, I watched it today. I see what Hudnall was saying, but I also saw another parallel to the Middle East.

Stoddard tried to bring law and order to Shinbone, but law and order only work when they're respected. To a man like Valance, a man with no regard for the law, threats of incarceration and jurisdiction meant nothing. The only thing that kept Valance in line was the threat of force. Personified by the extremely cool John Wayne.

The EU and the UN would have us negotiate with terrorists, but you can't negotiate with people who have no respect for law and order. The only thing that terrorists respond to is force. Only when those who have no respect for the law are removed -- only when Liberty Valance was shot -- can law and order start to rule a land.

All the law books in the world won't help when the other guy is holding a pistol.


An Amazon reviewer of the movie was thinking along the same lines, and phrased them in a much nicer way than I did:

The liberal left has viewed the war on terror as a legal issue to be resolved through the court system. Preemptive strikes against terrorism are considered by the left as brutish Republican behavior. Evidence must be gathered, the terrorist rights must be protected, and courts of law must adjudicate the issues. But, terrorist, like Liberty Valance are evil. They feed off of the fear of others. Until we put the law books down, and pick up our .45s, terror will reign. Civilization was brought to Shinbone only after Liberty Valance lay dead in the street, his body riddled with bullets. The war of terror will only be won by the West when those who perpetrate it are killed. It is not a nice thought, but a necessary one.

Posted by Sarah at 07:51 PM | Comments (6)

April 17, 2004


This is good news. No one wants money instead of their loved one, but it's a generous idea.

Posted by Sarah at 11:02 PM | Comments (2)


These photos can only be properly viewed while AC/DC's Thunderstruck is playing...

Firefighter as sexiest job? Pshaw.

Posted by Sarah at 09:10 AM | Comments (3)


The Friday, er early-Saturday, Five

I've never done one of these, but this one at Triticale caught my eye. Any opportunity to rave about my students will be taken.

1. What do you do for a living?

I work as a college registrar for an overseas branch of an American university that offers college classes to overseas-stationed and deployed servicemembers. Currently I am also teaching my first term of ENGL 101 (and just Wednesday got hired to teach it again next term.)

2. What do you like most about your job?

Working with students who want to be there. For the average college student in the US, college is just something you do right after high school, and any excuse to miss class is welcomed. In contrast, my students now are doing everything they can to squeeze in courses. Most of them are on block leave after returning from a year in Iraq, and rather than use that month to go on a vacation or go home to the US, they've chosen to stay and get some courses taken with their free time. The ones who are not on leave hate to miss class for a day at the range or an unexpected CLass A inspection. They're working 40-50 hours per week and still manage to come to class nearly every day (during their lunch hour!), turn in their assignments, and turn in optional re-writes on their papers the very next day. Some of my students used to be in jail or in gangs, and they appreciate the value of getting their education and making a better life for themselves in a way that regular college kids could never understand. (See also here and here for why I love my students.)

3. What do you like least about your job?

I have a master's degree and I make less than $15,000 per year. But pickins are slim on an overseas post, especially when you insist on working in higher education. You take what you can get.

4. When you have a bad day at work it's usually because...

As a registrar, it's when someone barks at me for something I have no control over, like a soldier arguing with me because I can't give him copies of sensitive documents.

5. What other career(s) are you interested in?


Posted by Sarah at 08:53 AM | Comments (3)

April 16, 2004


When we were registering for wedding gifts, the only thing my husband wanted was a waffle iron. I thought that was a good idea; my dad made us waffles often when we were kids, and I thought the idea of making waffles for our kids in the future sounded charming and traditional. So we got the waffle iron, and we make waffles quite often, though I hate cleaning the waffle iron just as much as I hate cleaning the George Foreman. Now that my husband is gone, I don't make waffles just for myself, but I can't wait for the day he comes home next year so I can start making him waffles again.

(If you don't get the joke, see here.)

MORE TO GROK: Spectra called my husband Mr. Grok the other day. That's kinda cute. Actually, I like LT Grok; maybe I'll start calling him that instead of "the husband" in the future.

Posted by Sarah at 02:36 PM | Comments (7)


I just got a phone call from a soldier who bet another soldier $20 that there was a grammar error in the NCO Creed. They called me to be the judge. And they're not even my students; they're soldiers in other classes who know I work here.

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Posted by Sarah at 01:54 PM | Comments (5)


This Italian is a hero.

Posted by Sarah at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)


Hook asked his soldiers Rooney's questions.
His soldiers destroyed Rooney's claims.

Posted by Sarah at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)


Can I just say again how much I love my students? Yesterday I got accused of not being pro-American enough in class. Me. Not pro-American enough. Hysterical. I spoke somewhat cynically about how our justice system doesn't always work as well in practice as it should in theory, and one of my students jumped on me for being too critical. As he and I "argued" back and forth, I realized we were basically saying the same thing, and when he concluded with "Well, I don't care because the United States is still the best country ever", I had to smile and realize that he was simply hurt that I had spoken ill of something he values so much. And believe me, I know how that feels.

It's just so nice to stand in front of a class that groks the same things I do. When I say the word media, I hear boos in the back row. When I said that images of 9/11 cause a strong reaction in many Americans, one soldier (an immigrant American) mumbled, "Yeah, they make us want to get the mo@#&%kers." When I ask them to write about an incident in their life that makes them who they are today, the majority of them wrote about joining the Army and how it changed their life; they had been drug dealers, gangsters, and battered wives who have found personal strength and meaning in military values. They're my students and I adore all of them.

If I could teach writing classes for soldiers forever, I would.

Posted by Sarah at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)


I forgot to mention that the other night in German class, while practicing reflexive verbs, my teacher asked me Kämmen Sie sich vor dem Spiegel? (Do you brush your hair in front of the mirror?) and thought I was joking when I answered Nein, ich kämme mich vor dem Computer.

Posted by Sarah at 09:00 AM | Comments (3)


My friend wrote me an email and echoed Erik's sentiments in the comments below; her father has Parkinson's, so stem cell research is close to her heart the way national security is to mine. But I did have a quick thought.

Den Beste is not personally affected by the war as a software engineer. Lileks has little chance of seeing an attack near Jasperwood. Amritas doesn't have any friends or family in the military. But all of these men, and countless other bloggers, rate the war on terror as the highest on their list. I've heard that numerous bloggers shifted hard to the Right after 9/11 only based on terrorism. None of their other views have changed, but for these folks -- most of whom don't have a husband who's sitting outside Najaf as we speak -- the war on terror trumps all other hands.

Yes, I have big issues with the current restrictions on stem cell research because I'd really like to see our medical technology move forward. But how can we as a country continue to move forward when an entire section of the globe is stuck in the fifteenth century and determined to convert us to their antediluvian ways? If we did ignore the Middle East and focused instead on new research, we might miss the fact that they were doing research of their own, that which leads them to nukes. A radical Muslim with a nuclear weapon is the most frightening thing I've ever imagined in my life, and I believe this war on terror is aimed at just that fear.

I'd love to focus more on the US and her internal problems. But to me right now that seems like trying to study for a test while someone keeps hitting you with spitwads. Sooner or later you're going to have to go over and deal with the nuisance before he graduates to a slingshot, and studying will have to wait until you can concentrate. I believe the terrorists will never give up or get bored or look for ways to improve their own health care system, so until their threat is abolished we must remain diligent.

That's not just the military wife in me talking.

Posted by Sarah at 07:08 AM | Comments (8)

April 15, 2004


Sometimes the simplest things can teach us the biggest lessons.

I had an extremely informative IM chat with an old friend this evening. She and I had never talked politics, but the phrase "I like Kerry" came up, so I decided to gently explore. What I found out was remarkable in its simplicity.

I'm surrounded by the military community, a segment of the population that intimately feels the burden of the war on terror. I spend all my free time reading blogs about terrorism, Iraq, or US foreign policy. I completely take it for granted that these are pressing issues that deserve immediate attention and steadfast determination.

Others don't.

When you're a regular 26 year old, working a good job in the Midwest, terrorism couldn't be further from your mind. The things that matter to you are often the more domestic social issues. Not the socialist junk like health care -- you've got good benefits -- but the role of a conservative government with respect to 21st century social issues.

I agree with my friend that I am concerned about the marriage amendment. I agree that I prefer less government control on issues like abortion. I agree that stem cell research is high on my list of beef with Republicans. As I listened to her reasons why she currently intends to vote Kerry over Bush, I could relate.

Except there's a war on.

I explained my view to her that, although the war affects me personally as a military wife, it also affects all of us as Americans. When there are radical Muslims out there who have sworn to kill Americans by any means necessary, all else must come secondary, in my opinion. "Stem cells and abortions won't matter when we're all anthraxed," I said. And she thoughtfully listened to me and said that I had given her important things to digest.

I hope we both learned a little from our exchange tonight; I certainly did. I realized that there are voters out there who don't see the war on terror as the pivotal issue; there are some people who don't care one way or the other whether the UN is with us in Iraq, because Iraq is not their top priority. She doesn't prefer Kerry because he's multilateral; she prefers him because his party represents certain social issues that she thinks are important. I can respect that. I don't even know how to counter it, because I agree with all of the things she said.

But I'd still like her to entertain the idea that terrorism, if left unchecked, could someday become a pressing issue in her own life in the Midwest.


See above.

Posted by Sarah at 09:48 PM | Comments (8)


I hadn't checked my email account in a few days, and what I found brought tears to my eyes. Some Milblogs contributors are fighting to see who can donate the most to Spirit of America. Then Greyhawk jumped in and promised part of his tax refund, and also pointed out that our wounded servicemembers in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here in Germany are in desperate need of toiletries and essentials since they've been medevac-ed. Soldiers' Angels fired back a response:

We have sent 100 backpacks to Landstuhl filled with needed items ie socks, clothing, cd players, hygeine items att phone card
we have also sent over 100 boxes of needed items. We also are sending the backpacks to the combat hospitals in Mosul and Tikrit and EVEYONE has been used.
West Point class of 55 is donating we are trying to send more and they need it. A big call for slippers and tennis shoes, our guys are mostly coming in with no boots.
The need is great there and Soldiers' Angels would be honored to work with you in providing for the wounded.

It really touches my heart to know that so many people are donating and reaching out to our servicemembers. Now I need to go earmark some of that tax-free money the husband's been making for Castle Argghhh's contest...

Posted by Sarah at 04:04 PM | Comments (9)


Beth points out a good article called Did I Get the War Wrong?

But what are the facts? The Human Rights Center in Kadhimiya has been set up by Iraqis themselves from the ashes of Baathism. They have been going methodically through the massive -- and previously unexplored -- archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC has found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone.

Those who lament the deaths of the 880 Iraqis this month are right to be sad that life has been taken. But perhaps we should step back for a moment and remember how many lives have been saved since Saddam was removed.

Posted by Sarah at 03:15 PM | Comments (3)


The French Connection, found via the comments section of a new-to-me blog, Random Observations. I had heard about Hussein draining the Iraqi marshes, but I had never heard it connected to the French before.

NRO: You accuse France of actually encouraging genocide — it seems like an outrageous charge.

Timmerman: It's a very specific charge, made by Hoshyar Zebari, who is now the Iraqi foreign minister. Zebari was referring to the massacre of the Marsh Arabs who used to live in the Howeiza marshes along the southern border between Iran and Iraq. In the mid-1990s, at the urging of the French, who worried about sending their oil engineers into the area, Saddam drained the marshes — an area the size of the state of Delaware — turning the rich, fertile homeland of this ancient people into a dust bowl. Then he sent in the Republican Guards, massacring thousands of civilians. Why? To make the area safe for French oil engineers and French oil workers.

Posted by Sarah at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)


I saw an AP article with the intriguing title Iraq War Proves Thorny Issue for Kerry. What struck me was this unrelated paragraph towards the end:

During his day on campus, Kerry promoted his plan to give a free college education to students who agree to public service. He said he would pay for it using $13 million that banks earn for issuing government-backed student loans.

Huh? So I decided to check it out. First I found a little more info in the original article from Iowa:

Kerry proposed the "Service for College" initiative to help make college affordable and strengthen America's security. According to this initiative, for two years of service to the United States, every young person can earn the equivalent of the state's four-year public college tuition. Students could also get two years of college tuition in exchange for one year of service.

"It is great because it offers tuition to students and at the same time helps out the whole country by getting students involved in service like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps or the military," Schoenthal-Muse said.

We already have that for the military: it's called ROTC. Still not satisfied that I understood exactly what Kerry is proposing, I went right to the link at his website.

Now, I was a little disgusted when I read the opening paragraph

On September 11th, 2001, America experienced the most terrible and deadly attack in its history. Yet, President Bush's response was to call on Americans to wait in long lines at airports, go shopping, or wrap their windows in plastic.

which has nothing at all to do with education, but somehow Kerry ties it in to making our nation stronger by calling on young people to get into public service. I don't know what that has to do with 9/11 or the jab at Bush, but whatever.

So I finally got to the pdf file of his proposal, and I see that he's offering

a simple deal to hundreds of thousands of America's young people: If you will serve for two years in one of America's toughest and most important jobs, we will pay for four years of tuition at the typical public university. Young people will also be able to use their educational awards to pay off student loans if they have already finished college or to enter job training, start a small business, or buy a first home.

Forget for a moment the big question of where the money will come from to implement this plan and focus on some fine print. My big question is whether you get a salary while you're doing your two years of service. Are those two years done for no money and then you just get tuition at the end, or do you make some sort of salary for the service in addition to the college tuition? That's a big difference, and it's not addresed.

If you're working and making a salary for two years, plus you get free college, then that's a lot of money that has to materialize out of nowhere. I'm nowhere near competent in economics or business (wish the husband were here), but this sounds fishy to me.

Does anyone else understand how this could work?

Posted by Sarah at 02:45 PM | Comments (6)

April 14, 2004


If this headline isn't the most hysterical thing you've ever seen...

Arafat Warns U.S. Could Kill Middle East Peace

Posted by Sarah at 10:09 PM | Comments (3)


Found an Andy Rooney editorial via Bunker, and the headline makes my blood boil.

Our soldiers in Iraq aren't heroes:

We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.

As a veteran, he should be ashamed of himself for belittling our servicemembers like that. They're not perfect, but they're all risking their lives so we don't have to. Shame on you, Rooney.


Tim organizes our servicemembers into a fisking. He also invites Rooney to visit the America he lives in.

Posted by Sarah at 03:24 PM | Comments (6)


Historical revisionism, Esotericus-style. Ha.

Posted by Sarah at 03:03 PM | Comments (3)


These are my boys.


This is their mission.

US Troops Set for Showdown with Cleric

Get 'er done, boys.

Posted by Sarah at 07:38 AM | Comments (6)

April 13, 2004


Andrew Sullivan got an email from the sister of a career NCO. His view of the war is decidedly pessimistic, as is his view of the future of the Army.

My recurring disclaimer: I am not in the Army. That said, I think that one paragraph in this email is based on her brother's guesses; as a warblogger, I have a differerent view based on things I've read.

His most pessimistic views were reserved for the future of the US military, especially the Army and the reserve forces. The Army's longterm morale appears to be at severe risk due to its being so overstretched. Re-enlistments by the very backbone of the Army (senior NCO's and Officers) are going to start dropping like a rock unless the situation changes in the estimation of my brother. This is doubly the case with the Reservists, upon whom the military has become so dependent. In addition, our military personnel are terribly underpaid given the missions that they are called upon to fulfill during this wartime era. Many military families live at near subsistence level incomes, are required to make huge sacrifices in terms of risk to loved ones and constantly having to move, and struggle to make ends meet.

I agree that morale is probably not as high as it was during the late 90's, when no one in the Army had to do much except train, but I know of a lot of soldiers who are proud and eager to be deployed. I know of one on rear detachment who is positively livid that they've left him here. Some soldiers really do want to soldier; that's why they took the job in the first place.

As for re-enlistment, so far it has been steady. Our gut reaction is that no one would willingly sign up to do such a nasty job, but the military is right on track for the enlistment goal at this time of year.

And, yes, all soldiers are "terribly underpaid" when you consider that they're on call 24 hours a day for a year. But, as I linked to the other day, military pay is something that is more nuanced than it appears.

Even in their first year of service, E-4s pull in more than $18,600 per annum, and more than $19,600 in their second year of service, and that's in base pay. Throw in BAH Type II for a married soldier (assuming 0 differentials. He earns more money if he has children) and he's really making $25,887 per year in his second year of service.

The military pay scale is all laid out for you here.

Except that while he's deployed, he's also getting hostile fire pay ($3,000 per year), family separation pay ($3,000 per year) and an allowance for per diem expenses of 3.50 per day, or 1,277.50 per year. So now we're up to $33,164.50.

But money earned in a combat zone is exempt from federal income tax. So assuming the soldier's in the 15% tax bracket, that income yields an after-tax equivalent of $38,139.18 per year.

And we haven't even figured in the value of free food for the soldier while he's deployed, or free medical care for the soldier's dependents.

So Ehrenreich's $16,000 per year figure--while not far off the mark if the soldier's a screw-up and doesn't get promoted and you only count base pay--is wildly inaccurate when it's vetted by someone who actually knows what he's doing.

And the LT? The first year 2nd Lieutenant while deployed in Iraq, makes an after-tax equivalent of $61,462.67 (somewhat less than that, actually, because he's in a marginal 15% bracket, not an effective one. But you get the idea.)

Where ELSE can you be 19-24 years old and pull in that kind of salary?

Yes, we military families make sacrifices. No, we don't want anyone to have to be deployed for a year. But a soldier's job is to soldier, and a military family's job is to be supportive of the mission. Many of us understand what that means and the sacrifices it takes -- we know about deployments and the pay scale when we sign up -- but the rewards of supporting and defending our country outweigh the grievances.

Posted by Sarah at 04:11 PM | Comments (4)


This is so true.

Posted by Sarah at 03:43 PM | Comments (4)


I'm not sure of the weight of these two stories, but the two articles on the main Stars and Stripes page look significant to me: Abizaid asks for two brigades’ worth of firepower to quell unrest in Iraq and U.S. to stop patrols after 50 years, give more duties to S. Koreans.

And Tim takes the NYT to task for claiming the Armed Forces is losing their monopoly on news to troops.

Posted by Sarah at 03:35 PM | Comments (3)


A powerful letter written upon the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Even today many people still recognize Americans as a sign of good. I know they do.

Posted by Sarah at 07:16 AM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2004


I met an American tonight.

I saw trouble coming a mile away during my German class while we were going over discussion questions for the genitive case. Question #8 was Wer ist der populärste Politiker Ihres Landes? (Who is your country's most popular politician?) Of course the Conflicted Reservist was first to insist that it is Kerry, bringing up the "fact" that Kerry is a Vietnam hero and Bush was AWOL. And then an amazing thing happened.

There's a woman in our class from Italy. I believe she's married to a soldier, so I'm sure she's legally an American, but she proved herself a grokker tonight. She put the Reservist in his place faster than I could bat an eye. She turned to him and rattled off facts about Kerry's Vietnam record -- his Purple Hearts, his relationship with Fonda, his throwing away "his" medals -- that brought a look of utter confusion to the Reservist's face. It was immediately apparent that for all his grandstanding and prattling on and on about Kerry, he actually knows nothing of Kerry's background. Another soldier listened to my classmate's rant in disbelief; "no way" was the expression used.

I learned two things from that exchange tonight: I'm not as alone as I sometimes feel, and most people don't know the first thing about current events.

And that Italian woman is now my favorite classmate. As she turned back to her German worksheets in disgust, she said, "You need to do some research before you start talking."

Posted by Sarah at 10:34 PM | Comments (6)


I completely related with what Andrew Sullivan called the snooty liberal self-parody.

"I was sitting in therapy describing an in-law I like, and quickly heading for a "but." "He's a loving, caring, selfless man -- but his politics are all about hatred," I said. "He's not educated, and more significant, he's ignorant -- he actually listens to Rush Limbaugh."
I waited for a "Whoo boy!" or a sympathetic smile, but my shrink just stared at me, expressionless.
"I assume you're not a Limbaugh fan," I ventured, assured that this woman, so nuanced in her thinking, couldn't possibly be a Dittohead. She was so reasonable that I couldn't imagine her getting off on Rush's demented tirades. She didn't seem square enough for his politics, and I was certain no hate radio fan was capable of her intellectual sophistication. Besides, she was an educated urban Jewish professional, and Rush's audience consisted largely of white suburban males.
She held my gaze a few excruciating seconds longer. "Actually, I am," she said. My moral compass began spinning wildly. I was suddenly sitting with someone new. The levelheaded sage in whom I'd confided for nearly a year had been replaced by an off-the-rack ideologue.
There were five minutes left in the session, and I felt like running. "Well, this could devolve into a whole political discussion, so I'll just finish the story," I rallied.
For the next week, I struggled with an overwhelming sense of betrayal."

It's an article in Salon by a woman who doesn't trust her shrink anymore because the shrink likes Limbaugh (don't bother registering; it's not a whole lot longer than this, and just more snotty). I've dealt with this before, when a friend told me she couldn't believe I leaned Right because I was so interested in other cultures and points of view.

And the Right's supposed to be the intolerant side.


Wow. Annika got slammed for no reason.

Posted by Sarah at 10:19 AM | Comments (6)


Last week I explored the Left-leaning tendencies of the textbook I'm using in teaching my ENGL 101 class. Today I started studying Chapter 9: Example.

The sample topic:

Write and essay that uses at least three extended examples to support the thesis that poverty exists in your neighborhood, town, or state.

Poverty is all relative; slums in the US are affluent neighborhoods in many places in the world. Wanna see what Iraqis live in near my husband?


But OK, fine. Some people are poor in the US by US standards. It's just the unquestioning assertion that "poverty is everywhere" that bugs me somehow.

Because the topic is already specified in the wording of the assignment, the aim of your prewriting efforts should be to find the area of poverty in your neighborhood, town, or state you wish to cover and to amass specific details that you can include in your examples. If you are like most of us, you will find poverty just around the corner. As a prewriting activity, we suggest you take a drive to the affected area and look it over for yourself. [emphasis mine]

That's not an objective sentence for an instructional textbook.

I also laughed when I saw that one of the essays in this chapter, given as a model of good example writing, is by Maureen Dowd. If you don't think my textbook leans Left, you're smoking crack.

The real kicker was at the very end of the chapter. There's ususally a photo writing assignment, where there's some photo that's supposed to make you think. This writing assignment makes me ashamed to be using this book:


The photo of a young girl peering from among a group of burka-clad Afghan women is an example of how a garment can represent a strong tradition. Write an essay in which you use two or three other examples of clothing that represents a tradition among some group.

In my world, the burka is not equal to lederhosen or a grass skirt.

Posted by Sarah at 09:23 AM | Comments (12)


Nelson Ascher says the insurgents are expecting us to roll over like Spain did.

But, though they’re repeating over and over again their tired routine, there’s no sign that America will behave like Europe and I think that it is this very difference in the behavior of the Europeans and Americans that mystifies the Islamic radicals. As it happens, they’re much more acquainted with the European mentality than with the American one and that simply because so many of them were born or have been living among Europeans. Thus they have arrived to the false conclusion that the US was nothing but Europe writ large.

Posted by Sarah at 07:19 AM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2004


In Albany, Ga., barber Marty Ford keeps the television in his shop tuned to Fox news so customers can get the latest from Iraq.

"Time," is a word he emphasizes.

"It's only been a year. We got rid of that government and things are on the mend. It just takes time," said Ford, 46.

I spoke Friday out of frustration. I'm still frustrated. I read all the reactions here about what we should do, and I feel every one of those reactions every day. My emotions are on a cycle, but my resolve is stalwart; we will see this through and we will succeed.

Florian quotes Riverbend, not one of the Iraqi blogs I read. No common ground. In response, I quote Healing Iraq:

It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", or "replace them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess to the end. Only a deluded utopian (or an idiot peace activist) would believe that Iraqis would all cosily sit down and settle down their endless disputes without AK-47's, RPG's, or mortars in the event of coalition troops abandoning Iraq. Please please don't get me wrong, I am not in the least saying that I enjoy being occupied by a foreign force, I am not a dreamer who believes that the USA is here for altruistic reasons, I am not saying that I am happy with what my bleeding country is going through, believe me when I say it tears my heart every day to witness all the bloodshed, it pains me immensely to see that we have no leaders whomsoever with the interest and well-being of Iraq as their primary goal, it kills me to see how blind and ignorant we have all become. Iraqis are dying inside every day, and we are committing suicide over and over and over. Some people call me a traitor or a collaborator for all the above and for speaking the truth as opposed to rhetorical, fiery speeches which have been our downfall.

Zeyad too is going through the cycle of reactions. No one wants to see people dead, but war is sometimes the only avenue to peace.

My instincts tell me that.


Re-reading what I wrote back in November helps too.

Posted by Sarah at 08:53 PM | Comments (5)


The husband called this morning. He said that they had been talking about R&R before all the Fallujah stuff started. As the Platoon Leader, he had to rank his soldiers by who he thinks deserves R&R the most. He put himself at the bottom of the list.

I'm so proud of him.

Since most of his guys were also nine months in Kosovo last year, he thinks they all deserve it more than he does. He also said he's not sure how big of an effect this list will have anyway, since they've stopped all talk of R&R since Fallujah. I told him I was impressed by his integrity and that we'd take R&R if we could but I'll be proud of him if we can't.

I'm so lucky to be married to such a selfless soldier.

Posted by Sarah at 04:39 PM | Comments (4)

April 10, 2004


Five things I really hate:

1. when orange juice turns sour
2. cleaning the George Foreman
3. when people leave their porchlight on during the day
4. the sound of a fork scraping on a dish
5. the expression "anywhoo"

Posted by Sarah at 09:46 PM | Comments (11)


This is either the husband or the best friend.
I told you they'd bring the heat.

Posted by Sarah at 06:16 PM | Comments (2)


Many times when I visit blogs, someone will say "read this" and I skip on by. If the name Mark Steyn or Victor Davis Hanson catches my eye, I'll linger, but often in my hurried mornings I'll miss out on an article because the blogger has not stressed how important it is.

I'm adding this old piece (from 2002) called The Civic Education America Needs to my crucial reading list. (I'm also printing it and sending it to the Best Friend and the Husband.) Bunker dug it up and wrote about the citizenship grades he also received in school. I struggled to find a paragraph that would characterize this important piece:

Restoring civic education—from the daily practice of its rituals to real mastery of the elements of Americanism—will not be easy, but such a shared sense of values is critical in such a vast nation that is otherwise not defined by a shared religion, common race, or dominant ethnic affiliation. After September 11, most Americans, in their slogans, flags, and posters, yearned for greater accord: “United We Stand” and “One from Many,” read some of the ad hoc banners. We are coming to realize that we cannot survive as a nation under today’s pernicious conventional wisdom of division and separatist cultural protocols—ideas based on misconceptions and outright untruths about the American past. Even the most jaded among us is beginning to sense that al-Qaida hates Asian, Hispanic, black, and white Americans alike—our women as much as, or more than, our men; Catholics, atheists, Protestants, agnostics, Jews, Buddhists, and Sikhs as infidels all. Our enemies see us as one united people even where we ourselves do not. And we are slowly re-learning the age-old lessons of war, that the spiritual is far more important than the material: that all the F-16s in the world will not guarantee us victory unless our pilots who fly them, mechanics who service them, and taxpayers who pay for them feel that they are shooting, repairing, and working for the preservation of their own common civilization that must not fall prey to barbarism.

In the America I live in, citizenship is important. Belonging to the greater whole that is the United States is important. Working together to set aside our differences and build a more perfect union is important. Being an American is important.

I'm taking a break from the computer today to go read my students' essays. Many of them wrote about what it meant to them to join the Army; that's just the pick-me-up I need today.


Apparently the America I live in doesn't include Hawaii, where Amritas points out the proposal to create a new ethnic-Hawaiian school district:

The curriculum portrays the United States as a colonial oppressor of the Hawaiian people, and is designed to train children to become skillful advocates for race-based political sovereignty.

God help us all.

Posted by Sarah at 10:00 AM | Comments (8)


I don't really consider myself a cryer, but something about this week has put my emotions on edge. Last night I cried out of frustration. This morning I cry out of respect:

But asked if he ever wondered about the decisions of generals and policymakers, he said, “I support them. I’ve got faith in them. If they’re telling us we’ve got to stay here, it’s for a good reason. Good will prevail. Ma’am, if the nation needs us to stay and fight, we’ll stay and fight.”

This soldier, staying for an extra four months of duty with 1AD, groks.

Posted by Sarah at 09:38 AM | Comments (3)

April 09, 2004


This photo made me start crying.


The caption at AP:

On the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, an American soldier removes posters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that were hanging Friday April 9 2004 on a statue on Firdos Square in Baghdad, Iraq. One year ago, U.S. soldiers pulled down Saddam Hussein's statue from this very place. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

One year ago today, I was so happy for the Iraqis. I sat on the sofa at Fort Knox and cheered wildly as they tore that statue down. I wept for the Iraqis and their newfound freedom; now I weep for their newfound vengeance.

If you remember, the statue of Saddam wasn't the only thing to come down from that pedestal last year. The American flag an overzealous soldier hung up there was quickly taken down, lest the world think we came as conquerors. We were there to give Iraq to the Iraqis, and they've repaid us by burning our dead and hanging them from a bridge.

I just finished reading Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. It was written by an Australian woman who spent years studying Muslim women throughout the Middle East. The last chapter was the most interesting, where she recounted her frustration in dealing with women who accepted the status quo. No matter how many times she tried to point out that the oppression of women is a distortion of Muhammad's words in the Koran, the Muslim women refused to believe that the way they were living was not in accordance with Allah's will. You open the Koran and point to a specific passage, and it still doesn't help.

We can point to all the good things we've brought to Iraq -- removal of Saddam, strengthened economy, freedom of speech -- but it doesn't seem to do any good. They hate us. They chose to hate us even before we showed up, and nothing we point at will make them change their minds.

You know how Plato said that stuff about the ideal chair and the real chair? One year ago my mental Iraqi was the ideal Iraqi. I imagined that they cowered under Saddam and longed for freedom in the way I would long for it if I were oppressed. I imagined that they would be grateful to be rid of such a foul leader and ready to start anew in Iraq. The majority of Iraqis, in my mind, were the ideal. Turns out there are a lot more real Iraqis and less ideal Iraqis than I had guessed.

I look at that soldier and wonder what he must be thinking. Damn, are we here again? Full circle, with just another hateful man's face atop this pedestal? Have we made any progress at all in this past year?

This week it feels like we haven't. This week I want to say, "Give the Iraqis their al-Sadr and let's go home." This week I've lost sight of the reason all of this matters. My laser beam has burned out, my ideal chair turns out to be some junky armchair at the side of the road, and my tears are flowing for that soldier who has to climb to the top of that pedestal again one year later and tear down the image of another dangerous leader.

Posted by Sarah at 11:36 PM | Comments (6)


As I watched South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut the other night, a parody formed in my mind:

Men, when you’re out there, in the battlefield, and you’re looking into the beady eyes of an insurgent as he charges you with his bootleg DVD (or whatever he has), and people are dying all around you, just remember what the Left says: "Horrific, deplorable Iraqi civilian deaths are OK, as long as Saddam caused them and not the USA." That is what this war is all about!

Posted by Sarah at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)



Get 'er done, guys.

Posted by Sarah at 10:00 AM | Comments (4)


No word from my husband, but I can assume he won't be calling for a while. His best friend emailed me to say that my husband signed for a lemon tank, so he was working as hard as he could to replace the broken track before they left. Best friend said he was sent to the email specifically by my husband to write me and tell me he loves me.

A secondhand love letter (riddled with soldier swear words) is better than nothing at all...

Best friend concluded with

But trust me...you have nothing to worry about...he's going to do a mission that you can be very proud of. It's a big one.


Spoke too soon; the husband just called. Ten minutes sure goes fast.

Posted by Sarah at 07:17 AM | Comments (27)

April 08, 2004


Offical word came through this evening that my husband is in fact moving closer to the heat. I haven't heard from him personally, but he will be leaving sometime soon to move to an area "where he's needed". This move could be for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months; my only hope is that wherever he goes, he's safe. And that maybe he gets to contact me somehow. As I joked with my father-in-law tonight, our communication system sure can't get any worse! Maybe his moving will have some advantages.

Hell, I can hope so, right?

I can't say I'm not worried -- he's my best friend and my whole life -- but all I can do is remind myself that he's smart and prepared. That thought gives me the confidence and fortitude I need to accept his new mission.

And if there's something I've learned from life, it's that there's always someone who has it worse.

Time to listen to I Won't Back Down again...

Posted by Sarah at 08:55 PM | Comments (5)


When my friend from high school told me about spiders in Afghanistan as big as your head, I thought he was exaggerating.



Posted by Sarah at 05:36 PM | Comments (17)


I have a nervous stomach today, but it helps me keep things in perspective and keep my laser beam focused to read warbloggers.

It helps to hear Bill Whittle say this:

Then be silent and introspective, for today our men and women are dying for the one idea worth dying for. And take from their sacrifice not defeat and sadness, but a solemn and sacred appreciation that three or four nations throughout an entire world that quivers in fear of these savages has the guts and the courage and the will to finish this job and bring freedom and security to a people that may not yet have earned it.

It helps to hear Zeyad say this:

No one knows where it is all heading. If this uprising is not crushed immediately and those militia not captured then there is no hope at all. If you even consider negotiations or appeasement, then we are all doomed.

It helps me to hear from my husband's best friend that he's jealous of those who get to take it to the enemy. His enthusiasm and confidence is catching.

Posted by Sarah at 03:07 PM | Comments (2)


They're talking about shuffling troops around in Iraq, moving people where they're needed during this volatile week. My husband is located in a relatively safe section of Iraq; his main concern so far has been how to get supplies to the neighboring Iraqis. I have a feeling he won't be in that area for long when he's needed elsewhere.

After reading the news yesterday night, I awoke this morning to a feeling of anxiety. No phone call in the middle of the night. No email. Nothing telling me what's going on in my husband's company. I couldn't even read blogs; after half an hour I just shut it down and went back to bed. And when I felt like I couldn't stand it anymore, I knew what I wanted to do.

I wanted to call a friend.

My definition of friend has changed tremendously since last year. I've really reflected on who I want to share my life with, and I've narrowed the list of people I'd approach in a crisis. Here on post, there's a feeling of walking on tiptoes, not wanting to stress anyone out more than they are already. No one wants to hear my problems, because they are all looking for ways to deal with their own. And as much as I trust my favorite friend here on post, her husband is on rear detachment, so it's sometimes hard for her to relate.

So I called Tim.

He talked about the agony of being so near the finish line and seeing the goalpost move. I talked about the agony of uncertainty, of not knowing where my husband is or what he may be doing. We just talked, venting our frustrations for a few minutes, as friends do.

And I feel a whole lot better.

Posted by Sarah at 09:28 AM | Comments (5)


Read Blueshift and Annika today.
That's all I can muster right now...

Posted by Sarah at 08:56 AM | Comments (2)

April 07, 2004


Kate is right: if our military is forced to take down American flags in Iraq during this horrible month of fighting, then we must fly them on our blogs in their honor. It's the least we can do...


Thanks, Jim.

Posted by Sarah at 05:52 PM | Comments (9)


Jason Van Steenwyk eloquently fisks the "Market forces ensure that a volunteer army will necessarily be an army of the poor" article in the Progressive.

The plus side of the deployment is that my husband is making more money than we know what to do with. Our grocery bills have shrunk by $200 per month since he's gone, we saved $500 cutting him from insurance, and he's making much more than he did before he left, due to his promotion and deployment benefits. We may miss each other immensely, but we're sure not poor.

Posted by Sarah at 01:52 PM | Comments (2)


After reading this, it really made me feel better to read this.

Keep up the good work, Tim.

By the way, everyone, CPT Patti is scheduled to come home this weekend...


Or perhaps she's not. Poor Tim.

Posted by Sarah at 08:03 AM | Comments (2)


Twelve Marines are dead, and this is what I read:

[Coalition spokeswoman Paola] Della Casa said the Iraqi attackers used civilians as human shields, and a woman and two children were among the dead.

I've always tried to maintain my resolve throughout this war. When other wives say that they wish we could just nuke Iraq into a parking lot and bring our husbands home, I always tried to remember that what my husband is doing there is necessary for the future of the Middle East. I've maintained my optimism and idealism, even saying "Our soldiers are lucky to be part of something so monumental in history. When the puzzle is complete, all their work will make sense, and a beautiful new Iraq will emerge from the pieces."

But today I'm not so resolved. We're fighting to save a country from itself. As Victor Davis Hanson said Sunday, "Are the citizens of Fallujah the victims of Saddam, or did folk like this find their natural identity expressed in Saddam?" I'm starting to wonder about that myself.

Posted by Sarah at 07:33 AM | Comments (4)

April 06, 2004


We interrupt this back and forth over my English textbook to bring you some much-needed humor.

Deskmerc puked on a bum

Kennedy, Daschle Fined for Celebration Over Rice Testimony

Super Mario: Reloaded (via Esotericus)

Posted by Sarah at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)


My parents live in P-town, so this is probably something they should be aware of. Maybe they could go stage a counter-demonstration. Dang, I wish I were home right now!

Activists will protest the use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy Palestinian homes, at the company's annual stockholders meeting April 14 in Chicago. An "International Day of Action Against Caterpillar" demonstration will be staged April 23 at corporate headquarters in Peoria.

Posted by Sarah at 10:36 AM | Comments (3)


I finally got a call from the husband last night. At 1240, which is 0240 in Iraq. This is the only time he could find in his day to call me, which makes me feel a little crazy. Apparently, the commander has said that no one is allowed to go to the phones unless they all go together, which would mean a group of 18 driving over to use four phones. None of them have five hours to kill waiting in line with each other, so they never get to go. The husband could technically go since he's the LT, but he doesn't go if his soldiers aren't allowed, which is the reason why 15 days passed between his phone calls. I'm really disappointed that they have this rule there, not for myself but for him; he sounded really beat down. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, "I'd be doing better if I could talk to you more often." I think soldiers need contact with their families as a way to unwind and vent, and I'm disappointed that his company is being denied phone use. But they are moving to another camp in the next two weeks, so when the phones are right there instead of three kilometers away, perhaps the rules will change a little. I hope so; that was the worst I've heard him so far.

Posted by Sarah at 08:16 AM | Comments (4)

April 05, 2004


I didn't check my email until it was too late, so I didn't get to participate in the Right-Of-Center Bloggers Select Their Favorite Contemporary Dinner Guests over at RWN. The list sounds pretty good to me -- I wouldn't mind eating dinner with most of these people -- though my list would have leaned more towards bloggers. I can safely say I'd feel more honored to meet Victor Davis Hanson than Condoleezza Rice, more excited to eat dinner with James Lileks than Mel Gibson, and more nervous to meet Steven Den Beste than just about anyone in the world.

Posted by Sarah at 09:48 PM | Comments (3)


David from Photon Courier asked for more details about the textbook items I discussed this weekend.

These examples came from an exercise on sentence generating in Chapter 3 The Sentence: Combining, Generating, Judging, which had nothing to do with persuasion, argumentation, or anything other than grammar. In fact, on the first page of the chapter where it introduces independent and dependent clauses, the sole example given is:

The level of poverty and squalor in large cities is appalling when one considers our country's wealth.

Can you pick out the dependent clause? Ha. The directions for the sentence generating exercise were to add a clause or phrase to each sentence provided (to practice working with dependent clauses and description). Thus these three sentences:

a. One of the odd things foreigners notice about Americans is their intolerance.
b. This intolerance frequently extends to race, creeds, and role expectations.
c. It often baffles foreigners, many of whom regard the United States Constitution as enshrining just the opposite principles of tolerance and understanding.

were fleshed out into this example given at the end of the chapter:

One of the odd things foreigners notice about Americans--whether Republicans or Democrats, urban dwellers or country folks--is their intolerance. This intolerance frequently extends to race, creeds, and role expectations, carrying with it a willingness to shun and physically punish the ones perceived as different. It often baffles foreigners, many of whom regard the United States Constitution, with its emphasis on respect for individual freedoms, as enshrining just the opposite principles of tolerance and understanding.

And the other sentences didn't lean Right by any stretch. My quick version of their topics:

1. A new real admiral takes over a fleet and waits for the enemy.
2. Baby boomers worry about infation and interest rates.
3. We must worry about nuclear holocaust.
4. Americans are intolerant.
5. Tennis is a sport for the millions.
6. We all struggle over physical traits that make us feel different.
7. The government should provide jobs for everyone.
8. Imagination is more important than knowledge.
9. Geoffrey was far from his goal of climbing the hill.
10.My anthropology teacher loved teaching.

The other seven are blandly non-controversial. Why the examples about intolerance and socialism?

How about another example from the chapter?

The pure individualist is an unhappy person whose memories of selfish behavior haunt her.

Compare that to the non-controversial example that follows it:

Newton's analysis of the light in a rainbow was a brilliant achievement that few people have matched.

There was one example of sentence combining that was not really biased either way:

a. The trouble between the Israelis and Palestinians is a clash between two cultures.
b. These cultures are fighting for supremacy in the Middle East.

(That one could have been a lot worse! Or a lot better...)

The only Right-leaning sentence example I could find was way down in Chapter 14 Causal Analysis:

Admissions quotas based on sex, ethnic background, or age are bad because they discriminate against the capable student.

No Right-leaning sentences in Chapter 3, though one of Joanne Jacob's readers says that we can find the same number of Right-leaning examples as we can Left-leaning, so this doesn't mean anything. On the contrary, I think there are more Left-leaning examples in Chapter 3 than I'd consider balanced.

Posted by Sarah at 05:01 PM | Comments (3)


I'm growing as a person.

When another dissenting reader first used to come around here and leave comments, it used to make me so mad. I would absolutely fume at home, complaining to my husband that I wished this guy would leave me alone and that I really thought he was wrong, but didn't know how to counter him. I would lie in bed thinking about it, wondering what I could say, and I would be overcome with anger and worry.

I resolved on New Year's to learn to be bemused. So far I think I've been doing a great job of reaching my goal; at least now I don't let things affect me so much to where I can't sleep at night.

Look, the title of my blog is trying to grok. Trying. I would never be one to say that I've got the world all figured out, or that my way of thinking is the only one. I'm open for suggestion. But there's a difference between suggestion and beating someone over the head until they give in. There's a difference between Joshua coming here to have a healthy debate about Israel/Palestine and someone coming here to insult me on three different comment threads.

And, I'm sorry, but the idea that my disgust with vandals who care more about putting Bush down than respecting a historic monument would dishonor my husband makes me laugh instead of fret. Laugh. I'm at the point where I can laugh at this stuff, which means I've done a whole lot of personal growing since I started this blog.

Deal with this: I'm bemused.

Posted by Sarah at 04:08 PM | Comments (14)


I've said before that I think many on the Left use the empty Support Our Troops claim to soften the blow when they rally against President Bush. (Others just say what they really mean.) Most of the time I doubt their sincerity, because you can't fully support the troops without understanding them. So I wasn't that surprised when I found this today on LGF:

Sometime overnight, someone used yellow spray paint to write “Kill Bush” on a section of the memorial where names of local veterans are displayed on a sloping wall. The same slogan, along with others, was repeated on the back of the memorial.

A lot of people will do whatever it takes to get their point across, even if it comes to vandalizing something as significant as a veteran's memorial. As long as word gets out that Bush is evil. I've come to expect this from the Left, and it really makes me sad.

Comments of some others who stopped by the memorial Saturday morning are unfit for publishing in a family newspaper.

I wish I could have met and talked to those people.

Posted by Sarah at 07:43 AM | Comments (7)

April 04, 2004


If you're not reading Cavalier's Guardian Watchblog, you should be. I found Cav via the comments section at Right Wing News months ago, and everything he's written has been high quality. His post from this weekend refuting all of the attacks on President Bush is phenomenal. Go read it.

Posted by Sarah at 08:26 PM | Comments (2)


Two of my students already seem to have figured out that I like to have fun in class. Their homework last week was to add their own clauses to the sentences in the exercise that included the Lefty examples. Their responses:

"Too many jobless people with nothing to do are beginning to overpopulate Starbucks; that is why our government must provide a job for everyone who is willing and able to work."

"One of the many odd things foreigners notice when they come to the United States about American people is their intolerance, but most of them are the same way when Americans come to their country."

Good to see they have a sense of humor.

Posted by Sarah at 03:25 PM | Comments (4)


One of those "mercenaries" Kos derides speaks out on what he does and why he does it. When you want to serve your country, you'll do whatever you can.

Posted by Sarah at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)


Last night I went to see The Passion of Christ.
This morning I'm going to the circus.

If there's any bigger clash in activities, I don't know what it is.

Posted by Sarah at 08:51 AM | Comments (3)

April 03, 2004


Is there any doubt that academia leans to the Left? Check out these examples on independent/dependent clauses from the textbook I'm using in my English class:

3. It may seem profitless to worry about a nuclear holocaust--a third world war in which entire continents could be wiped out. However, after we study the historical trends of world powers and realize how simple it is to create nuclear power, common sense dictates that the possibility must be confronted honestly.

4. One of the odd things foreigners notice about Americans--whether Republicans or Democrats, urban dwellers or country folks--is their intolerance. This intolerance frequently extends to race, creeds, and role expectations, carrying with it a willingness to shun and physically punish the ones perceived as different. It often baffles foreigners, many of whom regard the United States Constitution, with its emphasis on respect for individual freedoms, as enshrining just the opposite principles of tolerance and understanding.

7. When a poor, unemployed woman, struggling to keep her children clothed and fed on a paltry welfare check, sees her neighbor working as a waitress even though the neighbor's husband has a steady job as a mechanic at the local Chevrolet dealer, she may become resentful. The waitress, of course, may feel guilty, knowing that she has a job whereas her neighbor has not been able to find one. That is why our government must create an economy that is healthy enough to provide a job for everyone who is able and willing to work.

So no matter what I say in my classroom, I'm unwillingly supporting this textbook whose blatant Leftist agenda makes me cringe. Americans feel guilty about their wealth, are going to cause a nuclear holocaust, and are so intolerant that other countries look down on them.

Tell that to Sweden, North Korea, and France, respectively.


Yes, I was indeed a last-minute hire (hired exactly eleven days before the class started), but it wouldn't have mattered anyway. The school I work for has campuses all over the world, nearly everywhere that servicemembers are stationed. They encourage uniformity of text and syllabus so that someone who takes this class in Germany is getting just about the same thing as someone taking the class in Bosnia or Okinawa. The decision on the texts is made at a much higher level than little ol' me.

And one of the students did comment on these sentences when he turned in his homework. He said, "What's with all the depressing examples?"


Check out my students' examples from their homework.


See a detailed look at Chapter 3 here.

Posted by Sarah at 03:00 PM | Comments (27)


Only on the internet could a blogger come up with a great product idea and have it made, marketed, and sold in less than two weeks.

(Thanks, Overtaken By Events.)

Posted by Sarah at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)


Just keep scrolling through LGF today.
Everyone's there: Hitchens, Simon, Hanson, etc.

The short version for my mama: Daily Kos is the biggest left-wing blog out there. When the contractors were killed in Fallujah, he wrote this:

I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Then he deleted it (but not before lots of people saw it) and put a longer more nuanced post up instead. I read it and dove into the comments section until I felt like choking and had to look away.

Here's what I don't like:

Back to Iraq, our men and women in uniform are there under orders, trying to make the best of an impossible situation. The war is not their fault, and I will always defend their honor and bravery to the end of my days. But the mercenary is a whole different deal. They willingly enter a war zone, and do so because of the paycheck. They're not there for humanitarian reasons (I doubt they'd donate half their paycheck to the Red Cross or whatever). They're there because the money is DAMN good.

Kos, if I may use your own words, Screw you.

I don't want someone like Kos even thinking of my husband. I don't want him commenting on his bravery or defending his honor or talking about him or even thinking about him. The thought makes me sick, to be honest. The idea that someone who doesn't care one bit about the death of Americans who are working in Iraq to try to bring infrastructure and economic growth gets all sappy and noble when talking about soldiers makes me sick. I don't care for Kos' empty Support Our Troops claims, and I'm fairly certain my husband doesn't either. My husband is not there to "make the best of an impossible situation"; he's there to clean up the Middle East so that people like Kos never have to face a terrorist.

A commenter:

It doesn't matter what the Falluja attackers saw in these 4 men. I see in them war profiteers who's interest in Iraq is soley pecuniary. I am not obliged to consider them my representatives nor to feel any sympathy for them. As a member of the human race, I am obliged, and I do, feel sympathy for their families; no one should have to see the bodies of their loved ones desecrated in such a way. These guys should've thought of that possibility before signing up.

What is conspicuously absent from Kos' comments section is a condemnation of the f-ing Arabs who burned these bodies and beat them with sticks. Instead, these four deserved what they got because they were out to make a profit.

I'm so nauseated right now I can't think straight.

Posted by Sarah at 08:42 AM | Comments (4)


Instinctually I imagined that the war on terror deters young people from enlisting in the Army. In fact, it doesn't seem to have a negative effect on enlistment rates, which is wonderful. Our soldiers grok.

I want to see many more photos like this one.

Posted by Sarah at 07:50 AM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2004


I've had a sticky note on my desk for a while now with chicken scratches for a future post. I think today might be the day to knock it out.

Donald Sensing, among others, commented Wednesday on a female airman who refused the order to get her Anthrax shots. He found the story via Texas Native:

"I have a kid to take care of," said [Airman Jessica] Horjus, 23, the mother of a 2-year-old, who lives with her daughter in military housing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. "The Air Force can always fill my slot with someone else, but who's going to fill the mommy slot?"

She got demoted, and another SGT who also refused the shots can't seem to understand why he's in trouble. Andrew Olmsted minces no words; he says these people should not pass Go and definitely shouldn't receive their $200. (He also has a lengthy collection of reasons why one would serve; the first letter was extremely interesting.)

The idea that people join the military and then balk at doing what it takes to be a servicemember is not surprising. I'm reminded a post by Sgt Mom and my favorite comment by Lori:

Classroom full of uncanned relish in Basic training, USAF. First day of instruction. Our TI goes around the room asking people why they volunteered for the service. A variety of answers are given - everything from 'money for college', 'travel', 'adventure', 'family tradition', 'opportunity to get myself out of my small town', etc. After everyone was done, the TI's response was 'You joined the Air Force to die for your country. Everything else is secondary'. Talk about a reality check.

I may not have ever been in the military, but I work directly with the "secondary" that Lori talks about. Working in the Education Center here has been a very rewarding experience so far, but it offers an interesting window into some people's priorities.

One of the great military "secondaries" is the education benefits. The Army will pay for you to get your education, up through a PhD if you so desire. (Unfortunately, there are some major flaws here, which I will discuss in another post.) However, your getting your education is in fact secondary to your duties as a soldier. When I hear soldiers complain time after time that their unit isn't giving them time to take classes or that they have to deploy and are never going to get done with their degrees, I have a hard time sympathizing. The Army does not need to give them time to get a degree. If they can squeeze it in, great. All of our classes are offered nights and weekends to maximize the chances of them squeezing it in, but no one ever guaranteed them that they could get it done. Their education is secondary.

I've also heard family members complain that Veterans' benefits are not transferrable; that is, the soldier can't give his free tuition to his spouse or kid who just graduated from high school. There has been talk of this happening in the future, and I personally think it's not appropriate. Soldiers earn this secondary benefit because of their service; if their children want the benefits, then they need to serve as well. The father cannot decline an education but pass on the monetary value to someone else. Education benefits are the reward for your service, not a gift certificate to be passed on to whomever.

I've met and heard of several soldiers who joined the military to get free college. My husband also started out with this idea. He needed to find a way to pay for school, and he looked into the Reserves before deciding to go the ROTC route. He earned those benefits too, only getting five hours of sleep most school nights and devoting most weekends and all of his summers to the military. Throughout his three years, he learned that the hours he put in to ROTC did not quite equal out to the monetary value of the education benefits he received, but he had gained something more valuable than money: he was a leader in the best military in the world.

Military benefits are always secondary to being a soldier. If you want to be a student, then you shouldn't be in the military, you should be in college. And even if you did join the military for the benefits, you can't change your mind once the going gets tough. When my husband signed the dotted line, he was not thinking about al Qaeda, but when the time came, he balled up and met the challenge. So must all soldiers. Yeah, there are no Education Centers in Iraq for you to work on your degree, and you might not have enough computer access to take an online course. But you can't bitch about it. Your job is to soldier, not to study.

Posted by Sarah at 03:35 PM | Comments (4)


I wrote above about military education benefits and how the system has a few flaws. Here's what I've seen so far that makes me scratch my head.

Not all educations are equal. My husband went to Truman State University. He got 100% tuition assistance through ROTC; the 2004-2005 in-state tuition is $5410 per year. My husband's best buddy went to Johns Hopkins. He also got 100% tuition assistance, which for 2004-2005 is $28,730. Ouch. My husband's entire college career cost less than one year for his buddy. That seems a little lopsided to me.

Another trick comes when you fill out your VA paperwork for your GI Bill. There's a space for whichever degree you are working on, and the catch is that this answer is binding. If you say Associates Degree, then the money cuts off after you get your AA. When filling out this paperwork, always put PhD; you can get less education than you requested but not more.

But by far the biggest flaw I've noticed in the system has to do with the withdrawal rate for active duty soldiers. We hold classes in 8-week blocks. A soldier must request a tuition assistance form, get it signed by his commander, and turn it in. Theoretically, in signing the TA, the commander acknowledges that the soldier will be busy with this class, and a commander should not sign the form if he anticipates that the soldier will not have time for the course. However, this never happens in practice. The Army wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars each year paying for classes that soldiers cannot finish: they deploy, they have CQ a couple of times and can't get caught up, or they go to the field. This is terrible. If a soldier withdraws himself from a class, the tuition is deducted automatically from his paycheck. But if the Army withdraws the soldier for mission-related activities, the Army still pays the college the full amount for the course. On our post alone, we get roughly 100 withdrawals per year. That's $50,000 that the Army pays to the school, and the soldier gets no college credit whatsoever. And that's only on our small post; multiply that by all the schools on all the military posts around the globe, and it's some serious cash. The Army will also pay for the soldier to take the same class again at a later date. It's shocking how lax soldiers and commanders are about the tuition assistance. I have a real problem with it, but not for the same reason the soldiers do. They complain because they're never allowed to finish their courses; I complain because our government is paying for them to never finish their courses. Sometimes things really do come up unexpectedly, but it's a real waste to keep registering soldiers for classes they're never going to complete.

Posted by Sarah at 03:16 PM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2004


Today was supposed to be the calm day after three hectic days of class registration and beginning a new job. I've already worked 42 hours this week and I still have to work Friday and Saturday. But today was a normal 8-hour shift with nothing going on in the evening.

It was supposed to be calm.

Instead I turned on the computer this morning to this LGF post:

I’m just going to ask one simple question.

Why hasn’t the United States already launched an overwhelmingly armed operation to recover the remains of our citizens murdered today in Fallujah, and punish those responsible?

Their body parts are still hanging from that goddamned bridge.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Uh oh. What happened? Scrolling, scrolling. Oh my god. The photos. The disgust. I don't care if Satan himself were killed on Times Square, American adults would shield children from seeing the carnage. We'd cover their eyes, distract them somehow, pick them up and carry them away. We wouldn't give them f-ing sticks to poke at burned bodies.

Not calm.

Then at the end of my work day, I got an email from my little brother: Mom's in the hospital because of her blood pressure. Told myself that someone would have written a more pressing email if something were really wrong, and came home to call Dad. She's OK now, just her blood pressure was 202. I blame it on blogs; I knew the stuff posted on LGF was bad for your health.

Not so calm.

And then I sit down to Lileks, finally...he kept me waiting all day, you know. But it was well worth the wait. Lileks is not calm today either. He's switched on. He's on fire. He's ticked. It was worth the wait to read his take on how Kerry should have answered the questions on MTV, to feel his outrage at Kerry's distortions and selective memory, and to nod my head as he works himself into a frenzy.

Is the world angry at North Korea for killings its people? Angry at Iran for smothering that vibrant nation with corrupt and thuggish mullocracy? Angry at Syria for occupying Lebanon? Angry at Saudi Arabia for its denial of women’s rights? Angry at Russia for corrupt elections? Is the world angry at China for threatening Taiwan, or angry at France for joining the Chinese in joint military exercises that threatened the island on the eve of an election? Is the world angry at Zimbabwe for stealing land and starving people? Is the world angry at Pakistan for selling nuclear secrets? Is the world angry at Libya for having an NBC program?

Is the world angry at the thugs of Fallujah?

Is the world angry at anyone besides America and Israel?

Not calm today. But then no one ever said knowledge of how the world works was the best thing for your blood pressure.

Posted by Sarah at 09:32 PM | Comments (7)


NotDeskmerc has an inspired post today about what happens to you when the war on terror touches your life. Amritas once said that blogging has made the abstract real: soldiers are now real people, like my husband or Smash or Hook. They're real people who miss their families, excitedly take photos of camels, and wear 100 extra pounds of gear in 130 degree weather. They're real.

Please take a moment to go read NotDeskmerc's post. It's the story of a real soldier.

Posted by Sarah at 03:33 PM | Comments (5)