Monday, October 31, 2005

Grrr.

My roommate has been turning the TV to M*A*S*H* and then not paying any attention to it again. The problem is that if I turn it off because I think she's not watching, she wants to know why. I can't tell her that I hate that show because it's whiny, illogical and demeaning to the military--she wouldn't get it. I just want to punch Alan Alda right in his smug, smirky, whiny face.

Then I come to teh Interweb to get away from it all and I see this headline: "Seven More U.S. Troops Die in Iraq." At the risk of sounding callous, whoop-de-doo! Come back when it's seventy. Seven soldiers dying in a combat zone is not news. Tell me what they were trying to accomplish. Tell me what's good that's going on over there. Throw us a bone here, people!

And they wonder why the homefront's morale is low.

UPDATE: I finally read through the entire article and it almost made me sick. The anti-American bias in the second half of the article is almost tangible. The worst part? I had to read it for my job, because it's going to be on the front page of tomorrow's school paper. With any luck the stuff at the end will get chopped off, but it'll probably just end up on the second or third (or worst, the back) page. There's no one I can complain to because A) the people who wrote the article aren't here (and it's a good thing, too), and B) the news editor is such a flaming liberal she'd probably drum me out just for bringing it up. I'll give you an example: remember when I blogged about "Conservative Coming-Out Day" back in September? Well, I was at work the next night and I overheard her talking to one of the reporters about it. She was complaining about the stickers we got (an inverted triangle like the "gay pride" emblem, only with a flag pattern inside it) and wondering if we knew "how offensive" that was. A moment later, she said something to the effect of "They're not coming out in my newsroom!" I turned around and looked at her at this, but she raised her voice for it so I don't think she realized what I was thinking. If I recall correctly, I was thinking something along the lines of "Who died and made you editor-in-chief?" Unfortunately, it's not just her. It's like being part of an underground resistance movement. I feel like a partisan working in the enemy's headquarters. I suppose this is just a taste of what my professional life is going to be like, but I'm not about to change my views just so I don't get death ray glares from my coworkers.

Boy, if they ever found this blog, they'd have a fit. The janitors would be scraping exploded grey matter off the walls for weeks.

Good news, bad news, weird news

It's time for the first ever installment of "Good News, Bad News, Weird News" (or as I like to call it, "GBWN")! Let the excitement begin!

First up, the good news: President Bush seems to have caught on and nominated someone with some actual experience for the Supreme Court. Cue streets, dancing, etc. Now, I don't know enough about this right now to really express an opinion, so I'll let older and wiser heads than mine do the talking while I read up on it. Go read them in the meantime (RWN is a good place to start).

Next up, the bad news. Muslim immigrant youths in Paris are rioting for a fourth straight night. If this is the first you've heard of this story, don't worry: You're not alone. The MSM has been pretty much ignoring (or worse, burying) this story since it broke over the weekend. Why? Because it doesn't fit with the "Religion of Peace" image they've been trying to promote ever since 9/11 (heck, ever since the '70s if you wanna go way back). Read through the last several days of Little Green Footballs if you want the articles that ran previous to this one.

Finally, the weird news (or scary news, depending on what part of the world you're in): a Malaysian university has ruled that non-Muslim women must wear the hijab while on campus, and the Malaysian government is backing them up. Now, here's the weird (or scary) part: according to the article linked above, about 60% of Malaysia's population identifies as Muslim. This is probably less than the percentage of people who identify as Christians in the U.S., but I bet it's still close. If a university here decided that, say, all their students, Christian or not, had to wear, say, cross necklaces (not likely, but bear with me), there would be national and international outcry and the school would either back down or get a severe legal spanking. So, this blogger wonders, where is the outcry over this Malaysian university forcing Islam on non-muslim students?

Anyone?

*crickets*

And that concludes our first Good News, Bad News, Weird News roundup! How about a big hand for my lovely assistant?

*same crickets, only louder and more obnoxious*

Ah, never mind. (The assistant's just a cardboard cutout anyway.)

A quick side note: Am I the only one who thinks it's weird that Charley Tuna actively and happily encourages us to eat his fishy brethren? I'm never gonna look at that little blue traitor the same way again. You'd think the mascot would be an orca or something; it'd at least know what it was talking about (I think) (do orcas eat tuna?).

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Congratulations, it's a nut!

Remember back when we thought that Iran's new president was one of the 1979 embassy hostage-takers? Remember when we decided that he wasn't? Well, I don't think it makes much difference anymore. The guy's a certified nutcase.

First, he says that Israel should be wiped off the map (scary part? People agree with him). Then, he says that nothing would solve his country's stock market problems like . . .

A few good hangings.

Now, I know that lots of people have made similar comments over the years--"kill all the lawyers," etc.--but only a few nutcases have been serious about actually doing it. Now, one of those nutcases is a world leader with what looks like a rapidly-developing nuclear arsenal. Today, the stock market; tomorrow, the world! If this guy thinks that hangings will fix his country's economy, just imagine what he might try if he decides to "fix" the Middle East?

On the upside, he's currently pinned between two American-held countries, so he probably won't try anything really nasty for the time being. Once we leave, though, there's no telling what he might do.

UPDATE: On the other hand . . .

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Filler post

I think this is one of those "This space intentionally left blank" moments. 'Cause, you know, if that's written there, then the space isn't really blank, is it? And if I make a post to say that I'm not blogging, then that's blogging, right?

I think I'll take up time travel instead. At least those paradoxes pretend to make sense. Black is white! Up is down! The Singularity approaches!

Personally, I don't think the singularity will happen (go read Instapundit to find out about the singularity--he mentions it about once a week, usually). Nothing in nature follows that pattern. My personal theory is that human knowledge is going to rise and then plateau because let's face it, even as we gain more technological know-how, we keep forgetting things about the past because people keep dying and nobody thought to ask them "what happened when . . . ?" So, no singularity for us. Besides, while knowledge is infinte, the human mind is not. It can only handle so much before it breaks.

Huh. This turned out to be a pretty fruitful blogging day after all. I should not post more often.

Thought-provoking comment of the day

or

This title is almost as long as the actual post

My generation is the last to have actual memories of living with the Soviet Union.

Everything seems profound at three in the morning.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Adventures of a College Conservative

I stood up to my newswriting professor today.

Remember last week when I posted complaining about how my profs were wasting my time by spewing their political opinions in class? Well, they tried it again today. Mr. TV went off on a tangent that basically said "oh, the horror, we 'tortured' prisoners; therefore, we're no better than Saddam Hussein." After a couple minutes of this I raised my hand and said "I didn't sign up for this class to listen to a lecture on politics. I signed up to learn how to write news."

I won't lie; I was shaking and my heart almost beat right out of my chest when I did this. But he immediately backed off, giving some BS line about looking at news in "context" (we'd just had a current events quiz--don't get me started on those). He dove right into the lecture after that, and when he went off into commentary, he said so. We'll see how long this lasts. Honestly, I'm not very hopeful--I'm just one person with unpopular opinions. But I'll speak up again if I have to. I'm not worried about my grade, either--I know where to go if there's trouble on that front.

The Cost of War (when it's not supported at home)

When my grandparents moved last year, they found a dozen or so "Life" magazines from the late '30s and early to mid '40s. My dad stayed up 'til two a.m. for a week straight reading them until my mom put her foot down, but I don't blame him: they're a fascinating look at American attitudes in the years shortly before and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. One of the most interesting things was the attitude toward American deaths overseas.

About a year into our involvement in WWII, thousands of soldiers had been killed and many more wounded. The magazines, while covering the losses, refused to treat these deaths as tragedies. They knew that these young men had signed up with the full knowledge that they could--and probably would--die or be badly injured.* They knew that the best way to go was to focus on what was getting done over there, not on how many got killed doing it.

Compare this to our news media today. A quick search on Little Green Footballs for the words "grim milestone" shows eleven results, all from the last four days. (It also shows a disturbing lack of creativity by the media when it comes to catchphrases, but I digress.) What happened in the last four days? What was this so-called "grim milestone"? It was the 2,000th death of an American soldier in Iraq.

This may sound callous, but so? 2,000 dead after two years is not a horrible number. Compare this to a single battle in WWII and the number pales in comparison. Compare this number to the Battle of Iwo Jima or the D-Day Invasion. More men died in a few days in those encounters than died in the entire Iraqi conflict to date, and yet the newspapers and the radiomen did not spend their time wringing their hands, calling for the troops to be brought home. They knew that those brave men had to finish what they started, or we would all lose. Propriety of comment seems to have gone out the window in modern news, following the ethics code and followed by the dictionary.

A year or two ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote a column claiming that if Ernie Pyle were writing today, he'd be fired. I have to agree with him. The simple fact is that a soldier's job is to put himself in danger so his children won't have to. If that means he dies, then he dies. He signed up for it.

Some people (I can't remember exactly who) have said that "2,000 deaths is too many." When I told this to my mother, she very insightfully said that no, 2,000 soldier deaths in war wasn't too many. 3,000 civilian deaths on a bright September morning was too many.

*"It's called wounded, peanut. Injured's when you fall out of a tree or somethin'."--Band of Brothers

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Quandry

What does one do when one lives with someone who constantly makes annoying noises, makes inane conversation and watches even more inane TV shows, but doesn't seem mature (or even really smart) enough to realize it and would be crushed if one said something to her about it? You don't have to solve my problem or anything; I just needed to vent real quick.

And yeah, I know: I make my own share of annoying noises too. To be perfectly blunt, I can be pretty hard to live with. But at least I'm aware of the fact and I try to work around it.

Anyway, that's my rant.

[Later in the evening] Do you remember the scene in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" where Snoopy is sitting on top of his dog house eating bones? Remember that sound? That systematic, relentless crunching that never stopped, just kept going and going and going?

That's what my roommate sounds like when she eats.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Observations

My roommate is small and nervous. She reminds me of a frail little dog that wants to be friendly but is scared you'll step on it. She works as a GA right now, and I just heard her tell her boss that she doesn't want the kids whose paper she's grading to get mad at her. She always second guesses herself, and her laugh (especially on the phone) sounds very nervous (you can hear the tremble in her voice). She constantly worries. On Sundays and Wednesdays she runs the Powerpoint presentation at my church, and every time she asks me if she messed up too bad. Usually she just bobbles a slide or two; it's no big deal. Last Wednesday I finally told her that I didn't think anyone cared that the show wasn't perfect.

She always has the TV on for background noise. When she actually sits down to watch something, if someone else is watching with her she'll constantly say things like "Wow" and "I bet that was expensive" in a very obvious, please-acknowledge-my-existence sort of way. It makes me sad. Two years ago, I probably would have snapped and told her to grow a spine by now. Luckily, I'm not that person anymore. I have to tread very carefully with her, because the slightest bit of meanness or cruelty would probably crush her. She's like a very fragile, pathetic egg.

Update (later in the evening): she also likes to eat dry cereal by the handful and crunch it up with her mouth open while she watches reruns of sitcoms like M*A*S*H* and The Golden Girls.

Soul-searching confessions and other fun stuff

Okay, so here's my soul-searching confession for today: I've dropped the ball in almost every class this semester. I don't think I'm failing any of them, but between two jobs and getting used to a new apartment, I'm doing poorly in all but one class. This happens when I move to a new environment; I'm just glad I got to this point after only eight weeks instead of the usual 16-40 that it usually takes. I guess that could count as a sign of progress. Anyway, it's only midterm and if I do really well in everything (which I know that I can; it's only a matter of doing) then I should be able to pull off Cs and probably Bs in everything (except Creative Writing; that I'm doing well in--should get an A).

Well, I'm glad that's off my chest. Now I have to go study for an exam that will greatly improve my chances of getting a good internship. Ta ta!

Of course, I have yet to tell my parents about my grades. I'll wait 'til the weekend for that.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sad hands

There's a young man who's staying in the loft of the church where I have my apartment. He's staying there because the girl he was going to marry left and now he's trying to get to a commune up near Chicago. He has tattoos up both arms, heavy piercings in both ears and a little boy's slender, hairless hands. He confuses me because he says he's a christian but he watches Tarantino (and he got tattooed). He's very sarcastic without being mean, and he doesn't seem to realize that a person can have a different frame of reference from him and still be normal. He seems totally turned in upon himself in a painful way and I wish I could do something for him, but the only thing I know how to do is to talk to him and maintain my own self in the process. I think that being around someone who knows who they are can sometimes be the most helpful thing for a person like him. He seems to have no feeling of what it's like to like himself for who he is. I'm praying for him.

Random rambling rant of the day

I will be perfectly honest here: I am disappointed in my News 201 instructors.

This is Freedom of Speech Week on campus, complete with a free showing of the new movie Good Night, and Good Luck. The movie (which I did not see--I had to work) focuses on Edward R. Murrow's broadcasts targeting Senator McCarthy. My instructors, seizing their moment, used a good twenty minutes of class time to speak to us about the (insert scary music here) danger to our constitutional freedoms. To quote my normally level-headed instructor, what happens when they go after middle-aged white men with red hair and cowboy boots? And I thought, why would they want to?

This provides my biggest beef with the paranoid left: Joe Schmoe is just not that important for the government to notice. There are problems in the world that we need to face, and one of those is the fact that Muslims--especially radical Muslims--are not just like us, no more than the Khmer Rouge was just like us. There are serious differences between our culture and theirs, and if we try to wish those differences away then we will fall.

Right, so I got a little off-track there. Back to my instructors: this class is a large seminar team-taught by two different instructor (mine's the one with the boots). The other instructor is a veteran of TV news, loves to hear himself talk (sometimes to the detriment of the lesson) and can't seem to manage the computer system in the lecture hall. The way I see it, if you're going to present something off the Internet, make sure the computer has the needed software before you try it!

About two minutes ago (I'm liveblogging this), Mr. TV turned the course of the lecture to the actual technique of writing news. This happened exactly one hour into the class. We have less than fifteen minutes of classtime left. This is not what I paid for when I signed up for this class. I want craft, not constituional lectures. Spend a couple minutes at the start to give us some resources so we can make our own decisions; don't waste my time with morality lessons and instruction on what to think.

On the upside, I got an absolutely adorable little hat at the knitting club's sale today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thank you JESUS!

I have two things to be happy and grateful about this week. One, God worked a great healing in me this weekend and helped me through the anger I had against Him over the whole mess with my sister. Doesn't mean I'm not still sad, but I don't have that core of bitterness and ick at the center of me anymore. So that's good. Thank you very, very much, God.

Two, remember when, in a previous post, I talked about how I'd be at the paper until one or two o'clock in the morning two nights a week because the pages took so long to come in? Well, now there's a big sign on the window of the editor's office that says, in big letters,

Deadline is MIDNIGHT. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE IN THIS PROCESS. Be ready to get BUGGED by your editor or even thrown off a computer so someone faster can do the job.

Oh yeah. God is good.

Also, this weekend my church had a Lord of the Rings marathon where they showed one movie a night, starting Friday night, on the big screen with the big speakers. Well, I missed the first two movies because I had to go to my cousin's wedding (more on that later), but I got back Sunday night when Frodo was running through Shelob's cave, which meant I was in time to see the charge of the Rohirrim onto the Pelennor Fields. That is my favorite part in the entire trilogy, and it's even better in the book. Also, I got to see Sam carry Frodo up the side of Mount Doom, which is just the best. thing. ever. Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Punctuate correctly or feel my wrath!

This semester, I'm working as a copy editor for the school paper. Copy editors handle things like grammar, spelling, style and (for lack of a better term) elegance of language. We're also supposed to fact check, but the section editors do most of that.

Good Lord, I love it. It's a huge power trip; for the first time in my life, if I'm reading and I find a mistake, I can fix it! I have absolute power over apostrophes! Commas cower at my approach! Semicolons worship me like a god! I am the defender of correct speech, the last line of defense between grammar errors and the general population. I am all powerful!

I love my job.

UPDATE: Of course, there are some downloads to my job. For instance, it's 1:07 AM and I still have four pages to check and laundry and homework to do when I get home. At least I don't have class until ten tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ecgh.

From the hardworking reporters at Reuters and the brilliant, innovative researchers publishing in the Journal of Applied Physiolgy: "Exercise can trim deep abdominal fat."

Still no cure for cancer.

Friday, October 07, 2005

You can have my blog when you pry it from my cold, dead laptop.

Scary scary scary scary scary.

See, near as I can figure (and don't quote me on this), there are these humongous main servers that run the Internet and make everything work. These servers are in charge of making sure that when you type in http://rfaa.blogspot.com, it takes you to this site and this site only.
I think (just guessing here) it's kind of like the federal/state/local government model: there's one big organism at the top that makes the main rules, and everything else lower down just sort of hums along and handles things further down the food chain. I think. Anyway, these big main servers are currently owned by a private US company (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) that workes for the United States Department of Commerce. This means that the US, global safe haven for free speech and freedom in general, pretty much controls the entire Internet. Some countries, like "Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states" (like Tunisia) want their slice of the pie. The enlightened minds at the United Nations (and the Guardian) think this is a great idea.

Okay, first off, have you ever heard the story of the little red hen? These other countries remind me a lot of the cat and the dog and the other animal (whatever it was--I think it varies). You know: the US (esp. the gov't) did probably 99% of the work developing the personal computer and the Internet, and most likely did an even larger percentage of the work for keeping those things clean and running smoothly, but now that the dirty work's done, other gov'ts want a slice of the pie (or bread, or whatever the LRH made). Does this seem fair to you? It does not.

Second, Cuba? China? Iran? Are they serious? These countries are some of the most notorious squashers of free speech on the planet today, and they want to control of the Internet? Over my dead body! Yahoo!'s already in cahoots with China (see: Chinese blogger tracked down, jailed with Yahoo!'s help), and Iran likes to persecute bloggers who criticize the mullahs and try to stir up that pesky democratic sentiment. Cuba is, well, Cuba.

I'll come back and edit/add more to this later; right now I've got a panel discussion to go to.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I. HATE. M*A*S*H*.

Or rather, I hate its theme song. One of my roommates likes to turn the tv on just so there's noise in the background (which I am decidely NOT in favor of, but it's not enough of an issue to say anything about it unless something nasty comes on). She likes to tune into things like "The Golden Girls" and the aforementioned sitcom (if you can call it that). I cringe every time I hear that stupid flute (and I play the flute, if that tells you anything). It's becoming almost impossible to write when that squawking box is on, and I frankly don't see how my roommate gets much of anything done, either. Back to M*A*S*H*: the only character I like on that show (and have yet to even try to sit through a single episode) is Radar, because my dad picks up on helicopters like he does. Oh, and "Hot Lips" Hoolihan? More like "Grotesquely Malformed Lips Topped By A '70s Haircut When The Story's Supposed To Be In The '50s" Hoolihan. Give me a break. Don't even get me started on Hawkeye Pierce. You wanna see a good story about medics in the field? Watch "Bastonge" from "Band of Brothers." Better yet, just watch the whole series two or three times. I can guarantee that you'll never look back. And for all you people who say that war is the worst thing there is: watch episode nine and then come talk to me.