Monthly Archives: March 2008

4,000 troops dead in Iraq

Over this Easter weekend, the 4,000th U.S. soldier was killed in Iraq. Monday at work I was listening to NPR as usual, and two different times I heard the journalists say the death toll reached a new high. I couldn’t believe the absurd misuse of language to say the death toll reached a new high. Well obviously every time someone dies, the death toll reaches a new high. It’s not like a death toll ever goes down. After a couple hours of contemplating this strange phrasing, I realized that the true absurdity of the story lies in the facts not the incorrect language used to convey them.

Bush’s March 24 remarks to the State Department (read or watch)included the phrase “every life is precious” and his assertion that one day there will be an “outcome that will merit the sacrifice.” If every life is indeed precious, why did he ever persuade us to use military force without international backing, without a strategy, and without a legitimate justification? And this “outcome that will merit the sacrifice”…has the outcome—the goal—ever been clear? Stop terrorists, hmm no connection between Saddam and bin Laden. Weapons of mass destruction, nope never found any. Establishing democracy, who decided that was our role in the world? He’s just hoping that whatever is going on when we leave is an okay thing, and he can give his little shit-eating grin and tell us it was worth it.

The other thing that continually strikes me and came up again from hearing this speech, was the general American acceptance of how things are going over there. Sure, an opinion poll shows that 70 percent of the population disapproves of the invasion or the war or how the surge is going, whatever. And I’ll admit I’m guilty of this too, but how are we showing our disapproval? Telling ABC, USA Today, CNN, or Facebook that we don’t like the war doesn’t change anything.

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Creationist tour of evolution exhibit…

Check this out

Sorry I tried to put the actual video in my post, but wasn’t sure how. Anyway, can I just say how glad I am that I was raised Catholic and not by people that honestly believe the world is 6,000 to 10,000 years old. I think debating whether pregnancy begins when the egg is fertilized or when it implants itself in the wall of the uterus is one thing…telling kids that t-rex lived at the same time as man and chomped only on veggies is another.

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Catching the guy who catches predators

chrishanson.jpgMy friends and I like to play with the idea of meeting Chris Hanson.  We would go to teen chat rooms and try to get invited to kids’ houses.  We’d go to the houses and wait for the girl to say something like “I’ll be right back after I put in this laundry” or “hang on, I gotta let the dog out.”  When they didn’t do that, our heads would drop, “Chris Hanson isn’t here is he?”

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ombudsman update

I got a reply from her office yesterday. In part:

“Making decisions about covering the events that impact our everyday
lives is never easy. We make every attempt to ensure that the segments
and stories you hear on NPR programming, and the attention devoted to
them, are valid and appropriate.

We welcome praise, as well as criticism, and your thoughts will be taken
into consideration.”

I know they can’t cover everything that ever happens in the world, but I thought they could at least take a minute’s break from their perpetual election coverage to mention a horrendous hate crime. After reading that reply, the first thought in my mind was “they don’t think this impacts many people.”

At least Ellen thinks it’s important.

And I agree with her that this is tragic not just for Larry and his family, but also for his murderer Brandon. Honestly, as a society we’ve let Brandon believe that being gay is so wrong and awful that it’s okay to kill someone over it. You become a murderer at age 14, what’s your life gonna be like?

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The Way I (don’t) See It #287

Today my mocha quoted Madeleine Albright:

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

At first it sounded like a reasonable enough opinion. You always hear how women tear each other down and how women are very intolerant of other women’s flaws, or not even flaws, just being anything other than quiet and subservient. This has especially been in the public attention with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Okay, back to the quote, the word “sexism” came to mind. Sexism is prejudice and that while normally considered bad, prejudice can be any preconceived bias for or against something. Of course I don’t agree with disliking someone just because they are a woman, I also cannot accept a blanketing notion that I should support someone just because she is a woman. Judging people collectively must be rejected because it devalues the individual, whether the opinion is good or bad.

After I wrote this post, a quick Google search revealed a similar sentiment and article from Christoper Hitchens.

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and I like to think I am on top of the current events

So how does a person who listens to NPR every second they’re at work miss the news that a 15-year-old boy was shot in the head at his school by a classmate for being gay?? This happened February 12, and I only found out about it today by seeing that a friend had joined a Facebook group about it.  I searched NPR.org for his name (Lawrence King) which only yielded one relevant result.  And really that story was about tolerance and only mentioned Larry briefly, it wasn’t like it was a news story about his murder.  I’ve emailed NPR’s ombudsman asking the same question.  I’ll share her reply if I get one.

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A specific and legitimate reason I don’t like Hillary Clinton…

“Morning Edition” February 20, 2008:

In an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio last fall, Clinton explained why she was the only candidate who did not agree to New Hampshire’s request that she take her name off the ballot in Michigan.

“It’s clear: This election they’re having is not going to count for anything. I personally did not think it made any difference whether or not my name was on the ballot,” she said.

Read and listen at NPR.org.

Then on today’s “Morning Edition”:

Hillary Clinton says the results of Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary should count, even if Barack Obama’s name did not appear on the ballot.”That was his choice,” she says in an interview with Steve Inskeep.

Read and listen at NPR.org.

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Progress?

Is the direction we’re going today really progress? An NPR Morning Edition story today talked about how the increasing number of toys since 1955 has changed children. A cultural historian observed that in the 19th century, play was about activities and now it’s about objects. Why is this a bad thing? Toys dictate very narrow scripts for children to follow, whereas more imaginative play requires them to make up their own roles and rules. Psychology experts say that being self-directed leads children to have more discipline and impulse control, among other things.

I agree with the story that it’s very sad that today’s 7 year olds barely have the self-control of 1940s’ 5 year olds for some tasks in an experiment. I shared this story with a co-worker, and he compared it to anecdotes of how today’s high schoolers aren’t ready for college and college graduates aren’t ready for work. On the other hand, younger and younger kids have their own cellphones (and not just for emergencies) and stores like Limited Too let 8 year olds dress like miniature women. Psychologically less mature and given the liberties of older kids… I don’t call this progress.

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