Monday, December 30, 2002

Random Notes

National Review Online has up its predictions for 2003. Generally they are a hoot, although some of them are disconcerting this year. Let's hope Mark Steyn isn't right on his idea that there might be a need for mass smallpox vaccinations somewhere in the next 12 months.

Speaking of Mark Steyn, he has an interesting column up over at the Sun Times this week: "GOP underperforms but Dems are laughable"

Why ask us to look for these five particular men? Why now?

A FoxNews columnist has up his top movies of 2002. I do think there were a lot of interesting films this year -- it's a pity that I haven't had time to see half of them. I saw Catch Me If You Can this weekend. A bit slow in the plot department, but the movie is a treat. I definitely thought it worth the money -- Frank Abagnale is a fascinating character. To his credit, Leonardo DiCaprio does a fabulous job portraying him and seems to break out of his Titanic sappy-acting mode here. At least once during the movie, my husband thought he was Matt Damon. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Josh Claybourn has up a rather lengthy, interesting piece on the college dating scene. Worth a read -- although I'm more interested in judgment on the matter myself. I'll be offering my own take on this topic later in the week if time permits.

Not sure if I'll be by tomorrow, so have a nice, safe New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Supreme Court Resemblances

If you haven't seen the quiz on "Which Supreme Court Justice Are You?", I found it highly entertaining. My results seemed in-line with my ideology:

#1 Rehnquist
#2 Scalia
#3 Thomas
#4 Kennedy
#5 O'Connor
#6 Breyer
#7 Souter
#8 Ginsburg
#9 Stevens

FYI, I found this link via a Yale Law School blog to which Instapundit had linked recently. Check out the Kitchen Cabinet and Steven Wu's Legal Ramblings if you are interested.
What Santa Brought (inspired by Josh Claybourn's list):

Assorted Clothing
Two CDs full of my favorite 80s music (thanks to Target's Pure Gold Hits collection)
Rowenta iron (Far too excited about this gift -- I've gone domestic)
Various DVDs (from Ya-Ya Sisterhood to a full season of Buffy)
An autographed copy of Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring
An Unlikely Conservative: Transformation of an Ex-Liberal by Linda Chavez
U2's Greatest Hits Vol. ???: 1990-2000
Bruce Springsteen's The Rising
Extra place setting of wedding china
Republic of Tea: Ginger Peach Tea
A Zoppini modular charm bracelet
All sorts of food, candy, and restaurant gift cards
Time with family & friends
And we're back

After a few weeks of rest and recuperation, I felt a desperate need to stop by and blog tonight. Life, my dear Internet friends, has been keeping me busy the past few weeks. Where to begin?

The honeymoon was wonderful. Nevermind that we were greeted at the New Orleans cruise terminal by a somewhat frightening sight. A sign that read something along the lines of "Greetings Carnival passengers, we regret to inform you that 240 of the 4200 passengers on the Carnival Conquest last week developed a gastrointestinal illness. At this point we are treating this as an outbreak of the Norwalk virus." They offered us a full refund or rebooking on another sailing. However at this point, we had already spent several hundred dollars to fly down to New Orleans and stay overnight -- we were getting on that boat!

So we boarded armed with several anti-bacterial soaps and sanitizers that Sunday afternoon. We took a few minor precautions and finished out the week Norwalk-free . To Carnival's credit, they took a LOT of precautions while we were on-board. During our cruise, 80 people developed a Norwalk-like virus; however, crew members accounted for forty percent of that number.

We got back into Illinois on December 23rd and have spent the past week shuttling back and forth around the state to see various family members. I also worked a couple days and spent most nights battling a nasty sinus infection that I developed while in Cozumel around the 20th. Never fly with a sinus infection if you can help it. Never a good thing.

Suffice it to say that I am back, and I will be returning to my regular blogging habits as of this week. Very sorry for the extended absence, and thanks for checking back. (FYI for future cruisers -- shipboard internet access currently runs at least $60 for 100 minutes!) For any interested parties, I am working on a description of the trip that I will try to post in a few days, as well as a few comments about my first Christmas as a married woman. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, that you enjoyed the holiday with friends and loved ones, and that you were able to reflect on the true significance of Christ's birth.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Interesting conversations...

It really is a shame that I've been so busy lately, because I feel like there are some interesting conversations occurring out there. Just going to point out a few interesting conversations here -- hopefully I will have time to chip in my thoughts on a few of these tomorrow night.

Suzanna Cornett echoes my thoughts on the Trent Lott fiasco. He just says stupid things regularly, okay? I think both the blogosphere and Democratic politicians are making mountains out of molehills here. Similar props to Central-Illinois native Jim Bowen over at No Watermelons for his comments on the matter.

However, I will give Kevin Holtsberry that these comments are bad for the general public's perception of Republicans as racist good ole boys. There is some irony in the whole situation though. Who would have thought fifteen months ago on September 11th that one of our biggest worries would be the implied meaning of a bad joke at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party?

Mark Byron has an interesting post on the possibility of Northeastern RINOs breaking away to start their own Centrist party. My reaction as I read this post: until you get to the hypothetical platform for the party, Mark gives a pretty good description of your average Republican. With a few notable exceptions -- I would buy that your average Republican is more likely to be religious and centrists would likely be more in favor of environmental restrictions -- I am having trouble determining which centrist qualities in this description are not really Republican-lite ideas. Mark or anyone else -- want to take a whack at it? Convince me.

Josh Claybourn has an interesting post up on greed. I am in agreement with him here on most everything he says. This post immediately made me think of the excellent Sopranos finale that I had the pleasure of viewing last night. I hope to tie these two together in a post later this week, so check back soon!

Free at last...

As Josh Claybourn recently noted, college bloggers are going to be quite busy this week. This also applies to lunatics like myself who decide that it will be great fun to put in a 40-hour workweek and THEN take masters classes part-time. I spent most of my weekend slaving away on a 10-page single-spaced paper on Internet2 technologies, and then finished a rather large group e-commerce project tonight.

My husband finished his exams this evening as well. Between that and the fact we are taking off on our belated honeymoon this weekend, we definitely have cause for celebration tonight! We'll be traveling to the Big Easy on Saturday and exploring the Western Caribbean the rest of the week. We'll get home just in time to celebrate Christmas with both our families. Between now and then, blogging may be limited. The ship is rumored to have an Internet cafe though, so don't be surprised if I stop by to say hello from the road.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Thursday, December 05, 2002

FYI, Benjamin Kepple has up a great post about the sorry state of network programming and what should really be considered degrading to women on television. And Ben, my husband is a "short skirt, long jacket" type of guy as well. He knows just where you are coming from...although I'm not sure how my stock dividends are doing at the moment. (Hoping the 401K had NO United stock in it!)
Illini linx

My boys are back in town! Not sure if I have mentioned it on the blog before, but I have an unreasonable attachment to the Illinois men's basketball program. Last year was suppsed to be THE year, but things just didn't come together for my boys Frank Williams, Robert Archibald, Damir Krupajlia, and Lucas Johnson. Now the team is left to "rebuild" with Brian Cook, Sean Harrington, and one of the best freshmen recruiting classes in the country. Alas, Tuesday evening's 92-65 whomping of the North Carolina Tarheels proved that this team has been underestimated. Looks like it could be an interesting year in Big 10 basketball.

Liam over at Hey Listen has linked to a controversy I hadn't even realized was happening. The Daily Illini last week published an ad from the One Truth Foundation. It apparently hit a little too close to home for some of the thought police, and Illinois has a great big freedom of the press controversy on its hands. I particularly liked Liam's vote for how the paper should have handled the situation -- check it out.

The Daily Illini also has an in-depth profile on Erika Harold, Central Illinois's own Miss America 2003.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Diversity and Debate

World Net Daily last week reported that a Kodak Eastman employee in Rochester, New York was fired because he replied to a company memo instructing employees on how to be supportive during National Coming Out Day. What hurtful and unacceptable comments did he make that led to his dismissal? He replied over e-mail "Please do not send this type of information to me anymore, as I find it disgusting and offensive. Thank you, Rolf Szabo" This doesn't seem to be a smart career move on Szabo's part. At the same time though, I doubt he ever realized he would be fired after 23 years of employment because he expressed his disagreement with a company policy.

I've gone into this on the blog before, and I'll do so again. I don't hate gay people -- I've always held a hate the sin, love the sinner attitude towards homosexuality. I have co-workers who are gay -- people whose friendships I valued long before I realized their significant other was of the same gender. I don't begrudge homosexuals anything in the workplace -- they deserve to be treated with the same level of professionalism and respect afforded to any co-worker. But I still believe homosexual acts are sinful, and I don't think such issues should be forced down everyone's throats as "diversity" in the workplace. If corporations were truly celebrating all types of diversity equally, they would be holding an annual "Celebrate Heterosexual Relationships Day" as well. I really don't see that happening anytime soon.

Everytime I consider shedding my mask of anonymity and "going public" with Illinigirl, I stumble across an article like this. This one in particular hits close to home, as I have encountered similar situations as of late. Situtations where I felt like I couldn't say what I really thought, no matter how much I wanted to. The subject was already out-of-bounds, beyond the limits of debate. Question our love of diversity and you may not be here much longer! I have pondered the fact that perhaps I shouldn't be working for a company where I can't express my viewpoints, Christian, political or otherwise. It makes me a bit more reticent to put my own ideas out there -- at work or outside of it -- for fear of potentially impacting my career/employment. I am sure that Kodak was probably within its legal rights as an employer, but it just seems to me that in a society with freedom of expression, employees shouldn't have to deal with these sorts of concerns.

Peggy Noonan's Opinion Journal column last week was titled "Stand Up and Take It Like an American: In a free society, sometimes you pay a price for your beliefs." She was discussing the Daschle/Limbaugh feud, and basically explaining why she thought Tom should quit his whining. When you stand up for something you believe in, there are going to be people who disagree with you. Occasionally you will have to deal with people criticizing you and with idiots threatening you. In this case though, the price that Rolf Szabo paid for standing up for his beliefs seems to be a bit too high. Here's to hoping that Kodak realizes it and makes amends. In the meantime, I'm considering switching to FUJI film.

Monday, November 25, 2002

On Daschle and Limbaugh

The Weekly Standard has an interesting piece on last week's brouhaha. Everytime I hear Tom Daschle (and Al Gore) talking like this, I do two things -- laugh and wince. Sometimes it's at the exact same time, sometimes the grimace precedes the smile, sometimes I chuckle before my mood turns sour. I laugh because the Democrats are truly getting ridiculous, Gore looks like a fool, etc. I wince because there is a segment of the American electorate that takes its moral guidance from Will & Grace and its political knowledge from men like Dan Rather who will report Daschle's comments as if they are the Gettysburg Address. Like it or not, I think a large portion of the electorate that is tremendously uninformed and will believe most of what the major network, PC-liberal media types tell them. The only real consolation I find in this (as even shock jock Mancow has noted on Fox & Friends) is Rush seems to have taken the high-road on this one and Daschle comes off looking like a heel.

If you don't like whining, I'd skip this post. I just took one of the most ridiculously long and overly difficult exams of my life. It's not like I currently attend MIT, but I have an incredibly difficult, self-absorbed, exceedingly technical professor who happens to think that everyone can just memorize the syntax for creating a web servlet, JDBC/ODBC database connections, and SQL query syntax within a few weeks. Well, that's not entirely true. He gave us an open book exam, but the sheer volume of questions prohibited all but those with the most technically-proficient memories from completing the exam.

I test well. From kindergarten on, I've proven this time and time again. I never had a problem with the school's achievement tests, the SAT, the ACT, the GRE. But I get bogged down in details and put under incredibly tight deadlines, I clam up and shut down. My perfectionist tendencies take over and refuse to let me produce anything at all. I came out of this exam this afternoon a bit frustrated. I'm a hard worker, a fairly smart cookie. In theory at least, I should be able to handle most graduate programs at any school in the country. But here I am muddling through a masters program for a subject that I don't really like. Do any readers ever feel that way? Like you're pursuing a degree or a title or a designation just because you should be? Because it's the right thing to do or it will earn you the necessary degree of prestige?

Anyways, I think I'm going to stop. This graduate program that is. As much as I like learning and continuing my education, I don't think programming is where my interests really lie and you have to do FAR too much of it to get a computer science masters. Mostly though, I'm having trouble with balance. Basically that between work and this course, I have been far too stressed to find any balance the past three months. (This professor hasn't helped things. He's enough of a slavedriver that he refused to give me an extension on 15 points of an assignment that I wanted to turn in five days late because it was assigned three days before my wedding. I mean come on, for crying out loud!)

I'm going to try doing things I enjoy for a while. Spending time with my husband, visiting friends and family more often, and devoting more time to blogging / writing. Anyone have suggestions as to where a young twenty-something female might get somewhat conservative opinion pieces published? :) I also found out that I am finally receiving a long-sought transfer at work into a human factors / interface-design type role. The psychologist and design guru within is starting to emerge again, and this, dear readers, makes me happy.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

He is the what?

I will never understand the People who think like this. I mean Ben Affleck? I would deem pretty much anyone he has been in a movie sexier than that man. This includes but is not limited to: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Josh Harnett (Pearl Harbor), Brendan Fraser and Chris O'Donnell (School Ties), Jason Biggs, Jason Lee and James VanDerBeek (Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back), Samuel L Jackson (Changing Lanes), Bruce Willis and Michael Clarke Duncan (Armageddon), and perhaps even Matt Damon and Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting) over him. I couldn't bring myself to put Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, and Steve Buscemi on that list, but I definitely think they are better actors.

Excuse my little rant, but pop culture really baffles me sometimes. Of course, Ben Affleck is right up at the top of my "Blowhard Liberal Stars Whose Movies I Boycott Because of Their Politics" list. He's right up there with Cameron Diaz for her "Hell no I won't vote for that son of a Bush" t-shirt, Julia Roberts for her "He will never be my president" comments about George W, and Sarah Jessica Parker for telling the press that she was worried Bush would cut the welfare programs her family depends on. I mean come on -- you make millions of dollars a year and can't help support your own family? But I digress...

Monday, November 18, 2002

Special ps to my readers

I apologize for the sparse postings on Illinigirl as of late. Basically, my class and work responsibilities are pretty intense at the moment. I'm currently spending between 9-11 hours of each day staring at a monitor. Even if I have thoughts to blog at the end of each day, I can't bear the thought of sitting down at my computer to type them out. Posting may be light for the next three weeks or so. After this, it should grow more regular as I'm focusing on career opportunities this spring and putting grad school on hold. Bear with me & thanks for checking out the page!

Amendment to my PS (11/21): I just sat down and re-read my last few blog entries. The spelling and grammar in them is atrocious, and I sincerely apologize. I haven't been taking time to proofread, and I've been editing my thoughts mid-stream. Thanks for hanging in there.
Twenty-some women I admire the most...

Josh Claybourn and Paul Musgrave are discussing the men they admire the most. I must admit that many on their lists would also be in my "Top 23 People of all time" list: Ronald Reagan, CS Lewis, Dwight Eisenhower just to name a few. Not to take a feminist tack on the issue, but I noticed that women were markably absent from these lists. So if Illinigirl had to make a list of women she admires, who would be on it? My list is extremely contemporary and in some ways quite random, but many of these are just as valid in my humble opinion.

Margaret Thatcher
Mother Teresa
Golda Meir
Peggy Noonan
Michelle Malkin
Jessica Gavora
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Linda Chavez
Barbara Olson
Condoleeza Rice
Karen Hughes
Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Patricia Heaton
Carrie Chapman Catt
Susan B. Anthony
Harriet Tubman
Clare Booth Luce
Phyllis Schlafly
Nancy Reagan
Laura Bush

I'm cutting it off at twenty, because I was starting to reach here. Barbara Bush was next, but I couldn't name off much she'd done. Grandma Moses and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were under consideration for different reasons. Grandma Moses just because was exceedingly cool to take on a second career and paints such interesting interpretations of the world that her age. Elizabeth Barrett Browning just because I love her poetry. There has to be someone more significant though. Who have I forgotten? Want explanations of who is on this list and why? Sound off in the comments section!

PS (11/21) This has started a good discussion over in the comments at Reading others' ideas over there got me to realize that my list is also exceedingly personal. A lot of the women on this list are writers or people with some political inclination. I hope to follow in their footsteps someday, perhaps if I decide to stay home with kids or encounter a mid-life crisis. Hence the inclusion of Kay Bailey Hutchinson (how many female conservatives have been in the Senate that long? ) and the Jessica Gavora / Michelle Malkin / Peggy Noonan jag.
PPS (11/21)

Friday, November 15, 2002

On Public Television and Bill Moyer

One of my posts that Blogger ate last week was a little rant about Bill Moyers. Last week, Matt Drudge linked to Moyer's online rant about the Republicans' takeover of the Senate. It's a piece of work, full of exaggerations, conjectures, and positively hostile statements towards the Republicans in Washington. Some of this can be found in the excerpt below, as Moyer discusses George W's "agenda for which he now believes he has a mandate":

"That mandate includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to give up control over their own lives.

It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.

It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable.

And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you liked the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what's coming.

And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture. These folks don't even mind you referring to the GOP as the party of God. Why else would the new House Majority Leader say that the Almighty is using him to promote 'a Biblical worldview' in American politics?

(My stream of consciousness response to his criticisms by the way? #1 The government isn't asking for any control -- it didn't force this woman to have sex and it won't keep her from putting an unwanted child up for adoption. It's simply asking her to respect the life of her offspring. #2 This is opposed to the power the government currently exercises -- to take massive quantities of wealth from those who earn them and distribute them to the poor through entitlement programs. As of 1999, the top 5% of taxpayers accounted for well over half of all income tax receipts. #3 I'm quite certain every corporation's main goal is not to take away vital portions of the environment. #4 Our government already involves secrecy, and Clinton didn't appoint judges with political agendas for life? #5 The entire Republican party does not formally refer to itself as the party of God. As for individuals who do care to announce that God influences their politics, we do have this thing called freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. First Amendent I believe - look it up Bill)

This week, Stephen F. Hayes over at the Weekly Standard has written a piece mulling over this article and whether our tax dollars should be financing such propaganda on public television. He eventually comes to the conclusion that very few people watch this yahoo anyways, so why not leave him on public television where only a few radicals will seek out his "wisdom"? He goes even further and suggests that PBS give him a raise and a daily show.

I just can't buy into that approach. This sort of propaganda is precisely the reason that I will never donate to a public television fundraising drive, no matter how much I enjoy watching Anne of Green Gables for free and providing my hypothetical offspring with Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow. Aside from a few such worthwhile shows, most public television these days seems to be leftist propaganda. With the advent of the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the Learning Channel, and Noggin, most PBS content could be produced as well or better by private cable outlets. Perhaps bigots like Bill Moyer (and yes I do consider him prejudiced against conservatives and Christians from his comments in this article) should serve as a reminder to us that public television is past its prime. Almost $2 billion dollars of federal funding went towards PBS last year. Why not put those tax dollars towards defense or some other important federal function and leave the cable outlets to televise such senseless tirades?

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Random links

Stephen Moore has up an interesting list of winners and losers in the wake of last week's elections.

Jay Nordlinger is on fire today with a great Impromptus touching on Mondale's "inappropriate" use of the term pro-life, Jennifer Granholm's telegenic qualities, Jeffords retribution, Nancy Pelosi's bully pulpit with the media and more...

Josh Claybourn points out a fabulous passage from James Lilek's latest, greatest bleat. I do like Lileks. One of these days when I have some time, the template will be updated to add his site, as well as some other interesting sites like Hey Listen to the sidebar.

I'm with Bobby Allison-Gallimore on this one: I don't think banning partial birth abortion is a poor political move. I think it's one that most reasonable people would support. Personally, I would celebrate when said bill was passed, but that's a whole other story.

Mark Byron has an interesting piece on selling macroeconomics to the average voter in response to Jason Steffans post on honest pro-corporation campaigning last week. I've got to say I agree with both. Jason -- it'd be wonderful to see that kind of honesty in campaigning. Corporations aren't malicious monsters -- they do hand out the jobs after all. Mark -- readers of your blog (heck any of our conservative-leaning, politically-minded blogs) are not your average voter...and I mean that as a compliment!
Twenty-somethings: Career and Direction

Really not meaning to be a slacker here folks. Blogger has eaten two of my posts over the past four days, and the real world has been demanding quite a bit of my time this week. Between some wedding thank-yous and pesky web development assignments, I've been getting ready to interview for a new job at work.

I graduated from college in mid-2000, and I was one of the lucky few to land a good entry-level IT position at the end of the economic boom. I was pretty naieve and idealistic, but apparently I was also enthusiastic and convincing. I landed an offer on my third real interview. It wasn't my dream position, but it was a solid, fairly generous offer with a good company. Besides, this job was just something that I was going to do for a year or two, until I decided what I really wanted to do for a career. I was one of the dreamy-eyed Phi Beta Kappa elitists, planning to head back into academia ASAP to study artificial intelligence or cognitive science or something similar. Who knows -- someday I still may. As I get farther removed from the ivory tower though, I find it harder to convince myself that I want to subject myself to all the annoying, politically-correct hassles of academia again.

So here I am after paying my dues as a programmer for two years, finally looking to get into human-computer interaction field and land a position that truly interests me. The funny thing is that two years out in the real world has only left me more confused about which dream I should pursue. My mother's dream for me was to become a rich, famous doctor of some sort, find a cure for cancer at say age 30, marry someone else of similar stature who was exceedingly well off, and retire to be a stay at home mom. My dad's dream for me was to be a writer. I have written in one form or another my entire life -- fiction stories as a child, newspaper columns as an adolescent, the blog as a young adult. My dream? I think part of my problem is that I've never had just one. I wanted to be a writer, an architect, a judge, a college professor, a CEO, a politician, an internet pundit, a mom. As part of the generation that grew up thinking "women can have it all!", it has taken me quite a while to realize that you really can't have ALL of it. Tough choices have to be made along the way. Not good news for a girl who has taken two hours to decide between a pair of shoes.

So which degrees are worth something, and why should we get them? Fox News ran an article this morning on employment prospects for people that recently earned MBAs. Let's just say this article makes it readily apparent that an MBA isn't worth too much in the present economy. Josh Claybourn recently pointed out the sudden spike in law school applicants which seems to stem from the fact that...well there just aren't many entry-level jobs right now.
So how do you know what your ideal career path is? I guess my answer is that I don't know right now. I'm still searching. In the long run, I think my dream job would be to become the Peggy Noonan of our generation. Now I just have to figure out how to get myself there, not to mention my writing skills! I'm grateful for my present job though and enjoy where I'm at right now...and I will much moreso when/if I land this new position.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Return to reality

The news from the history-making midterm elections of 2002 has now had a couple days to soak in. Things aren't as rosy as when I went to bed Tuesday night, but the political landscape for those of a conservative mindset is better than it's been in well over a decade. I am guardedly optimistic that this will make the president's agenda easier to implement .

No brilliant insights tonight. I'm just taping Journeys with George and watching bits and pieces as I get ready for bed. Two impressions so far: A) President Bush unscripted is more likeable than the man with the teleprompter. B) The Dallas Morning News reporter seems like a real jerk. It's a pretty fascinating documentary though - even more interesting given who her mother is, Nancy Pelosi who may become the House minority leader shortly.

The best articles that I've seen so far about the election follow.

"How Sweet It Is" by Stephen Moore from Club for Growth, over at National Review Online

The NRO editors' take on the election results. It's key message is the same as that endorsed by Rush Limbaugh on election night: get cocky and overreach, get confident and realistically go after the agenda.

Dinesh D'Souza's sarcastic take on what the Democrats could "start standing up for" to silence their critics.

Kevin Holtsberry has started an interesting discussion about the proper role of God within the Boy Scout system. I am personally of the belief that private organizations should have the freedom to specify any/all conditions for their membership. Apparently this is just too hard a concept for present day America to grasp though.

That's all for tonight. Variety of articles will hopefully follow tomorrow evening.
On Rod! and his promises...

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article about how it will be impossible for Rod Blagojevich to keep all the promises he made to Illinois voters during the campaign,. (Registration required - which is why I rarely link to Tribune articles anymore). Here are some of the best excepts:

"The ambitious Northwest Side congressman has made countless pledges to voters about what a Blagojevich administration would look and act like. It somehow would put business, social service and education interests first--all at the same time... The biggest question mark hanging over Blagojevich is what his agenda as governor will be. The priorities he voiced on the campaign shifted depending upon which audience he was trying to woo.

He told working-class and impoverished minority crowds that he would increase the minimum wage. He told business leaders he would raise private money and leverage it with state resources to launch a venture capital fund to aid small start-up businesses. He told seniors of a program to supply prescription drugs at cut-rate prices.

All the while, he tossed out ambitious education initiatives, such as universal preschool for 25,000 impoverished 4-year-olds, an $80 million program targeted to be in place by the end of his first year in office. And he vowed to local officials that he would match federal funds with state money to hire 1,000 police officers and an unspecified number of firefighters.

He said he would end subsidies to the racing industry and put a stop to legislators' pork-barrel spending.
Such promises won a wide spectrum of support from interest groups that will be expecting him to come through.
"These people are going to want a lot from him," said one Springfield lobbyist. "It's a question of what they want and if he can deliver for them.""

Although Blagojevich bemoaned the size of Illinois government and pork-barrel spending during the campaign, the article notes that Democrats from Chicago alderman to trade union heads will be seeking jobs in Springfield. Rod! won support from all sorts of special interest groups by promising them something. As a downstate lobbyist noted "These people are going to want a lot from him. It's a question of what they want and if he can deliver for them."

Not mention how he's going to do all these things from a $53 billion basketcase of a state budget. Will Rod be able to keep all his promises? More importantly, will he do so without raising the income on poor Illinois voters to pay for his crazy schemes? Unfortunately folks, I will have to stay tuned and find out. Or move...keep those suggestions rolling in!

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


I just took a look at CNN, and it seems that the Republicans are having a great night everywhere but Illinois. As Spoons put it, the Illinois results are simply horrifying. Perhaps it's upstate ballot-box stuffing, but Jim Ryan and Joe Birkett have been thoroughly stomped in early returns. Therefore we will have plastic blowdried Rod! as our state CEO and whiny, annoying nepotist Lisa Madigan as our Attorney General. Anyone have a suggestion as to a nice conservative state that I should consider moving to? Election nights here are thoroughly disheartening. The only redeeming bit of Illinois news is that John Shimkus has retained the 19th district in the battle of the incumbents.

Other than that, everytime I look at returns I feel like a kid in a candy store. Coleman's beating up on Mondale! (Take that Terry McAuliffe and smarmy Clintonites!) Colorado Senate seat retained! Jim Talent is up in Missouri! Mary Landrieu will probably face a runoff! Chambliss won in Georgia! As of this moment, Simon is leading in the California governor's race. Let's hope it still sounds this good when I wake up in the morning...
My predictions...

Too late to join Ben Domenech's party at Prediction Central, but I'm going to throw in my two cents here. Mostly based on gut feelings, not in-depth analysis of the races.

Senate: 50 Rep, 48 Dem, 1 Ind, 1 runoff
House: 213 Dem, 221 Rep, 1 Ind
Governors: 26 Dem, 23 Rep, 1 Ind

Prediction: The Windy City's own smarmy, sniveling weasel Rod! will squeak into office by less than 6%. That's my gut feeling, but I really hope I'm wrong here. Either way, I tip my hat to Jim Ryan and Carl Hawkinson for closing the gap.

Posting will be light tonight due to a huge programming assignment & watching election returns. Hopefully, this will be a better, shorter night than the last time...

Monday, November 04, 2002


Girl on the Right has up a neat post -- Peggy Noonan's take on this morning's Coleman versus Mondale debate. Peggy thinks Coleman won the election this morning by not being divisive in this morning's debate.

Bobby Allison-Gallimore throws in his two cents on the Simpsons Halloween special last night, which the Illininewlyweds have taped but not watched yet.

Paul Musgrave sticks his neck out, offering his odds on some of major election races.

Jason over at Antioch Road has an post on a Time article that I read this week. I found their perspective on it interesting as well. It's fascinating that they can ooh and aah over the in-utero development of a newborn but fail to acknowledge it as a human life.

Fox News has fallen victim to the dreaded pop-up ads. Where to head for news now -- anybody have suggestions? Pop-up ads are just too annoying, especially when taking a quick peek at the news from work.
Election Eve - Stream of Consciousness

I am pretty much shocked and amazed by how politically apathetic I have been during this election cycle. When I was in college, I was one of the most politically active students on my small liberal arts campus. I spent my first three years very active in its College Republicans chapter. My involvement waned my senior year due to a personality conflict and my senior honors project, but I know the entire grassroots campaigning process inside and out. The mapping out precincts, the literature drops, the election day poll-watching, the get out the vote phone calls.

Just after I graduated and started working, I sought out the county GOP folks in my new hometown because I wanted to campaign for George W. Bush. I worked pretty hard the last few weeks of that election -- I guess because I was excited that we might finally have a president that we could respect again. Even Americans that disagree with our president on policy matters -- I think they have respect for George W. Obviously he had some issues when he was younger with substance abuse and the like, but the man has admitted his mistakes and worked wonders in turning his life around. He has a great family that he seems quite devoted to -- what's not to like about the guy? I think independents and even well-meaning liberals have a hard time disliking President Bush, and that's why he has coattails at the present moment. (FYI, by well meaning liberals I mean those who don't buy into the Clintonian mindset and somehow really just believe socialism work out best for everyone. I know a few such well-intentioned souls. But I digress.)

Perhaps it's because I got so worked up about the 2000 election and the two months of electoral limbo that followed. This time around something's missing. I haven't felt the magnetic pull to get involved. I think part of it is that the GOP races in Illinois all seem somewhat hopeless. All the races that are really up for grabs or seem important...the GOP hasn't really had a chance in them. Senator Dick Durbin seems to be a shoo-in for re-election -- although his campaign ads this week instructing the Illinois voters on the spelling of his name show that his camp is a little nervous about uninformed voters confusing him with GOP challenger Jim Durkin. The only interesting congressional race around here is John Shimkus versus almost Blue-Dog Democrat David Phelps. When Illinois lost a congressional seat, these two strong representatives were redistricted out of a seat in an incredible case of gerrymandering that state Democrats pulled off during redistricting last year. President Bush was in Springfield to stump for Shimkus yesterday, as this is a very close race in a Democrat-leaning Southern Illinois district. I've met John Shimkus; he's an incredibly neat guy that's basically the opposite of a career politician. I would vote for him in a heartbeat if I could.

Alas, the only race I care about tomorrow is that of the governor. As regular readers know, the fact that one particularly slimy Democrat named Rod! is soon going to occupy the Illinois governor's mansion perturbs me to no end. What's not to like about Rod Blagojevich? In the past two weeks alone, he has been caught grandstanding as he attacked Jim Ryan for not stepping into the federal investigation of the Illinois license for bribes scandal, with the Chicago Machine'sStreets & Sanitation workers campaigning for him on the city's dime, and running all sorts of the negative campaign ads that distort facts.

Over the last few days though, the general public here in Illinois seems to have woken up to the fact that Rod Blagojevich is a sleazy chameleon of a poltician -- the untrustworthy sort that will say and do anything to get elected. There have been two major polls in the last five days that show the Ryan-Blagojevich contest in a dead heat -- including a St. Louis Post-Dispatch Zogby poll. This poll has given me a small seed of hope. Although Ryan is not the most inspiring candidate, he is SO much better than the alternative. I am a bit embarassed that I haven't worked harder on his behalf, realizing that the Democrats might blow their lead at the last second. I have spent the past two days pestering my conservative-leaning friends, family, and co-workers to head to the polls tomorrow. If turnout really is going to be historically low, it really does matter who shows up to vote. If you happen to know anyone who lives in Illinois (or any of the major "battleground" states for that matter), consider doing a few "get out the vote" phone calls yourself. Maybe a few races really are hopeless -- but it can't hurt to try right?

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Quick rundown...

Kevin Holtsberry posted a gem of a comment on the Chicago Bears season...check it out for yourself. I can only say that because I'm an Illinois resident. :) I could have told you the season wasn't going to go well when they changed hotels after blaming a preseason loss on a 45-minute bus ride in from a Decatur hotel. I'm kind of disappointed that their season in Chambana hasn't been more competitive, but on the other hand a lot of people at work have tickets for December games they are selling. Dirt cheap. Hmmm...

I'm liking Paul Musgrave's site a lot. He has an interesting article today on the idea that college perhaps shouldn't be for everyone. Agreed. Sometimes I wonder how much a four-year degree is really worth in today's marketplace. Nobody has been beating down the doors for resumes of those with bachelors' degrees in my neck of the woods.

The hub and I took a brief "honeyweekend" up to the Wisconsin Dells. Well, we actually drove around the Dells and decided they were pretty tacky, but they might be a lot of fun if it wasn't 40F outside when you were wanting to play mini-golf or go on boat rides. The main attraction for us was the indoor waterpark at our really nice resort (Great Wolf Lodge). Highly recommend it to anyone passing through that "Moscow of the Midwest" area of Wisconsin. A real honeymoon is rumored to be happening in December...stay tuned.

Josh Claybourn and Bobby Allison-Gallimore brought my attention to, a sort of online gathering place for young female Christians with moral scruples. It's a really neat site, and I think it could be a great resource for late-teens women looking to find some friends and acquaintances that share their values. I have mixed feelings on their approach to dating though. Personally, I think that dating is an effective way of getting to know someone. I think it works much better when done in the right mindset (God first, others second, yourself third). On the other hand, I think I swore off men to my roommates sophomore year of college by saying something like the following, "God can just make himself at home here, because I have a feeling he's the only guy I'm going to be spending a lot of time with for the next few months." What happened about three weeks after that? My husband and I suddenly decided that we were such good friends, we should start spending more time together and the rest is history. I guess my advice on it would be to trust God on this one -- he'll handle your love life as he deems appropriate. Easier said than done I know :)

On the Wellstone/Mondale ordeal -- typical. Take one of the few genuine, well-meaning liberals that there are left and replace him with a prop for the phony, manipulative DNC attack dog types that now control the American Democratic party. I think I knew that "memorial" was going to be a disgrace from the second I heard that Cheney had been "asked not to attend". Props to both Trent Lott and Jesse Ventura for refusing to take the abuse lying down. Now if Jesse would just really show the party and appoint a Republican for the remainder of the term so that the MN GOP will get their "equal time".

Think that's it for the time being. Posting may be sporadic this next week, as I am trying to catch up from a week of ignoring my web classwork, but I will be around much more regularly. Take care!
Mrs. Illinigirl returns and gets personal...

After a week of emotions running wild, exhaustingly long days, and spiritually overwhelming experiences, I have returned to the blog a married woman. The wedding was wonderful. I don't even know where to begin. The few days beforehand were a complete blur. They involved tons of errands, numerous appointments with florists and beauticians, and far too much time spent twisting tulle to make favors and pew bows. Note to Ben Domenech, future Central Illinois blogger Spoons, and any other engaged folks out there in the Blogosphere -- the Bowdabra is a useful but frightening decorating tool.

To get serious about the wedding though, it was an incredible experience. I never expected to be getting married at twenty-four. I had totally bought into that idea out there in popular culture has adopted the idea that you are supposed to be perfectly established when you get married. As young people, we are supposed to be wild and free until we hit a certain age. Then after we've finished up all our adventures and become established in your career by age 26 or 29 or 33, then you are supposed to settle down, put down roots, strap on the old ball and chain. In my grand scheme of things, that age was 28. I figured I would have it all figured out by then.

Alas, life didn't go according to plan. I had a somewhat different experience. My husband and I met almost six years ago now. We met at a time when neither of us knew what we wanted -- from our careers, our relationships, our lives. He was 21, and I was just barely 19. In theory we were Christians, but our relationships with God were practically nonexistent. Watching our friendship and eventual love affair develop, I swear that God must have been guiding our every step along the way. There's no other feasible excuse for us weathering all the storms we have faced and growing into the people that we are today. The longer we were together though, the closer he and I became and the more difficult it was for us to keep leading separate, independent lives.

I wasn't very nervous before the ceremony, but I was near tears when I finally walked down the aisle with my father. When I got to the front of the sanctuary, I found my groom looking like he was about to pass out. I remember saying a really short prayer at that point, asking God to guide us through the ceremony. A few seconds later, a chill ran down my spine during the intercessory prayer. I looked up to find my groom beaming at me and from that point the ceremony flew by. Before I knew it, we had been pronounced husband and wife. We both seemed to be floating on cloud nine the rest of the day. (I generally consider that a cheesy, trite expression but it seems appropriate here).

If there's any real point to this post, it's this. For me at least, getting married didn't feel like any sort of ending. It felt like a miracle happening, like we'd just received a huge gift from God. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders, as we were finally free to begin our life together, free to be a family and live our lives according to whatever plans God might have for us. Plans that we are confident will be revealed in due time.

My favorite snippets from the ceremony.

We had traditional vows but personalized it with our scriptures and a poem we thought appropriate

Philippians 4:4-9 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think aboutf these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."

From Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman: "Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?"

Friday, October 25, 2002

T-Minus 22 hours and 30 minutes and counting until the big event. Apologies for the lack of posts this week, but I've been a bit busy. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Mean, Lean Fries at MickeyD's

Not that this is a pressing issue of any sort, but let me offer a review on McDonalds' new french fries here. Blech. Gross. I want the old ones back. The past two weekends my fiancee and I have consumed value meals in two different cities while on the road completing various wedding missions. As soon as I dug into my little red cardboard container, I knew they were not the same french fries that I once knew and loved. Instead, they are a sanitized imitation of their former selves. They also leave a not-so-pleasant, greasy taste on the roof of your mouth like Steak N Shake french fries did several years ago. McDonalds is trying to mask the taste by drowning them in salt, but the overall verdict: D+ as opposed to their former B+ grade. I really think their business is going to suffer if they don't rework their "french fry formula" soon.

While I'm on the topic, why not start another discussion topic for the blogosphere...which fast food restaurant has the best fries? Here's my two-cents: Culver's A, Arby's B+, Dairy Queen B, Burger King B-, Hardees C+, McDonalds D+, Steak N Shake D.

This little tirade was brought on by a Friday report from Rush entitled "Keep Your Hands Off My Whopper". Apparently Tommy Thompson and the folks over at Health and Human Services are asking the fast-food giants to offer and "aggressively advertise" more fruits and vegetables, re-evaluate supersize portions, and basically offer healthier food.

I'm a bit torn on this issue. I think the folks over at HHS definitely have some valid points. Supersize portions ARE ridiculous, but I think the American public should be responsible for what it puts in its mouth. We should pay more attention to what we eat and not order so many french fries, but it should be our choice. It would be nice to have healthier fruit/veggie choices, but I don't think the American government should bully the fast-food giants into doing so. They will do so if their customers demand it. I don't have a problem with Health and Human Services educating the American public about the calorie content of fast food and telling them us that french fries aren't exactly health food. However, I do think our federal tax dollars could be better spent at this point in time.

I think Rush makes some valid points in the article about the school lunch program. As with restaurants, what is fast and cheap for school cafeterias to produce isn't always healthful. Even back in the 80s / early 90s, I can remember school hot lunches consisting of pizza, sloppy joes, chicken patties, etc. French fries and mashed potatoes were standard vegetables, syrupy cocktail mix from a can was the extent of the fruit offered.

In terms of restaurants, I can think of a few that have done well developing tasty, reasonably-priced products that the average American consumer wants to eat. Subway comes to mind. However, the fiancee and I don't go to McDonalds for diet food. We break from our healthier eating habits, forget about calories for a meal, and head to McDonalds for mouth-watering french fries...or at least we used to.
What US city is illinigirl?

I'm not sure what this says about me, but let's just say it's not a big surprise to anyone who knows me. I was hoping to be Chicago though, so it's a bit distressing. (Link courtesy jane-blog)

Congratulations, you're Washington, DC., the capitol of the United States.
What US city are you? Take the quiz by Girlwithagun.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Quote of the Day:

"Politics has hit a new low in Illinois,'' Ryan said. "I have never met anybody in politics that would say what he said. He wears a nice suit and he's got a nice-looking face, but you better worry about his character.''

-- Jim Ryan regarding last night's governor debate.

I think that's the smartest comment I have heard Ryan make throughout this whole campaign. I'll comment on Rod!'s comments when time permits. Until then, check out this report on last night's shouting match.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

You've got a friend in George...

The biggest news buzz in Illinois this week has been about our beloved lame-duck governor George Ryan and his latest attempt to go out in a "blaze of glory": reviewing the sentences of inmates on death row in Illinois. As FoxNews notes in this article today, these 142 convicted felons are currently making their cases for the jury to commute their sentences to life in prison. What kind of criminals is Gov. George hoping to spare?

Here's one example from the Fox News report: ""They got their trials, they have had their appeals. It's time to put them to death," said Sam Evans, whose pregnant daughter, Debbie, and two grandchildren were murdered in November 1995 in suburban Chicago.
The three assailants in the Evans case repeatedly stabbed the 10- and 7-year-old children, then shot their mother to death. The killers, one of whom was the father of the fetus, then cut open Debbie Evans' stomach and kidnapped the full-term baby. The boy, now 6 years old, lives with Sam Evans."

That's just one example of the atrocities that are coming before the prison review board this week. Twenty-seven year olds shot while they were working at liquor stores, senior citizens murdered in their sleep at rural farmhouses, women kidnapped from gas stations just off the interstate and brutually murdered for her automobile...the list goes on and on. In recent weeks, Governor Ryan has announced he thinks the system is "deeply flawed and in need of repair". Therefore, he has been hinting that he may commute all death sentences after his commission on the death penalty found flaws in the system and made 85 recommendations for change.

Needless to say, the victims' families are outraged. First they endure a trial to convinct the people who put their loved ones to terrible deaths. After testifying and sitting through sentencing hearings once, I'm sure these individuals thought the worst was behind them. Instead, here they are in Springfield testifying before state review boards about how their loved ones' died, trying to keep these animals from truly facing the consequences of their actions.

Where does Illinigirl stand on this issue? I'm not sure of much here, except for the fact that George's approach to this situation disgusts me. I may not have articulated it on the blog before, but I generally consider myself against the death penalty. Let's just say that it is a blend of religious, philosophical, and practical reasoning that has forced me to this conclusion. Religious in that the Bible promotes respect for all human life, philosophical in that I am not sure humans are justified in deciding which human beings get to live and die (an echo of my pro-life stance here), practical in that the legal process for the death penalty often costs more than keeping these disgusting excuses for human beings in jail their entire lives.

On a less idealistic and philosophical level, I think these sentences should stand. These prisoners knew they could face legal consequences for such horrendous actions. They made the choice to commit them regardless. You do the crime, you do the time. While I understand there may have been flaws in this system in the past, emerging forensic technologies have made it much less likely that any innocents will be put to death. Unfortunately though, the protection from double jeopardy doesn't apply to the victims' families. Instead, the state of Illinois is putting them through a terrible ordeal all so that George Ryan might have a "legacy". George Ryan had better hope these inmates appreciate his efforts. They may be the only friends he has left.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I'm still alive....

Hi folks.... just been swamped with assignments and wedding preparations the past few weeks. Eleven days left now!!! I did take a brief break to attend a college football game last weekend, and I even had a brief run-in with Brian Urlacher in the flesh. Eat your hearts out fantasy football players!!! I will be around as time permits the next 10-12 days, and I shall return in full effect before Halloween.

My condolences to all the St. Louis Cardinal fans out there. As a life-long Cub fan, I generally still root for any teams in the area that make it into the playoffs. In some parts of Central Illinois, there is a very black and white issue. You either root for the Cubs or the White Sox, the Cardinals or the Cubs. Lee Bockhorn wrote a nice piece on the Weekly Standard last week, discussing why the St. Louis Cardinals should have been America's Team. Knowing what a nice guy Darrel Kyle was and how that jerky Arizona shock jock taunted his widow, I feel quite sympathetic and was rooting for the Cardinals myself. Alas, it was not meant to be. As we Cubbie fans know all too well, there's always next year!

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the sniper-affected states. I really hope we get to the bottom of this one soon. I'm beat so I must take off for the moment, but I hope to follow up with serious controversy at some point soon.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Where do I fall on the cruncy con spectrum?

Very little time tonight, so this will be brief. I just took a look at today's Goldberg file over at NRO, debating the various arguments for/against cruncy conservatism. While I do think some degree of crunchy conservativism exists in our society, I don't think simple black and white does this issue justice. Specifically, I can't buy into the "you're either a crunchy conservative or a normal conservative" argument. There must be dozens of different behavioral detours in between crunchy and normal. If you really sat down and took a poll, you would find that almost everyone has a liking for certain cultural pleasures that we currently view as liberal. Here's a short run-down of my list:

Crunchy, stereotypically liberal likes: Coffeehouses, "alternative sports" like soccer and lacrosse, Ani DiFranco, most art films (although my enthusiasm is usually dampened when one contains a blatant endorsement of moral relativism), art exhibits, eating fish, fowl and fiber in the interest of staying fit, old houses, volunteering and donating to charity, the fact that I'm probably going to use my maiden name as my middle name after the wedding in a few weeks.

Not-so-crunchy, stereotypically conservative likes: Shopping malls, SUVs, somewhat expensive clothing, red meat, television, 80s music, technology and gadgets, the convenience of cell phones, men who practice chivalry and lead in my ballroom dance class, the Bible as the source from which I derive right and wrong, the fact that I am in favor of reducing welfare programs whenever feasible.

So what does that make me? Not a crunchy conservative. Not a loony liberal. In my opinion, likes and dislikes do not necessarily dictate our political viewpoints. While writing this post, it struck me that perhaps it's more of a spectrum from crunchy to normal to materialistic. I'd estimate that 80% of the population doesn't belong at either end of the spectrum. So why limit ourselves to a couple stereotypes when most of us fall somewhere in the middle?

Monday, October 07, 2002

Hate is hate...

Good piece on National Review today in which David Klinghorfer attempts to define the faulty reasoning behind hate crime legislation. One line of this piece sums it up brilliantly in my opinion -- "Murder's murder, assault's assault, rape's rape." The concept of hate crimes has just never rung true for me, because all physical assault is an expression of hate in my book. I know a few homosexuals, friends/acquaintances from college and beyond. They were simply aghast when they learned that I was against hate crime legislation. Basically in their minds, it boiled down to the face that I didn't want to "protect" them.

Frankly, I don't believe hate-crime legislation really protects anyone. Like the death penalty, it rests on the concept that stiffer punishment will deter individuals from committing a heinous crime. However, this crime is only heinous when it is committed against individuals who belong to a "special" protected class. Here's your hypothetical situation: three teenagers are walking down the street, a homosexual teenager named Billy holding hands with his boyfriend and his younger sister Suzy who was walking a half-block ahead of them down the street. Three guys jump out of the bushes -- our actors in this little hypothetical situation (Billy, boyfriend, and Suzy) are each beaten to death with baseball bats by one of these men. With the hate crime legislation these people in West Hollywood are suggesting, the man who beat Suzy would spend at least two years more in the slammer. Why is her death any less of an atrocity than that of her brother and his friend? Why is it "better" to kill straight people in the eyes of such protestors?

In no way am I encouraging violence against anyone. I am a hate the sin, love the sinner sort of Christian. I think homosexuals should be protected by our law enforcement as much as anyone else. In my opinion though, someone crazy enough to commit such a crime in the first place is not going to balk at the prospect of spending two more years in prison if he hurts a homosexual. Even if it was, who is our government to judge that the lives of its homosexual citizens are worth more than the lives of the heterosexuals?
Tonight's speech...

Drudge Report is linking to an article on how the "Big Three" television networks have all declined to air the president's speech tonight! I'm a little bit conflicted on this issue. Since we live in a free society, they are perfectly free to do so. Similarly, people that pay for cable (like yours truly) are perfectly free to turn off Seventh Heaven or whatever else is on and switch our televisions to the speech FoxNews, MSNBC, or CNN. As for myself, I have been waiting for President Bush to make the case for Iraq for months -- to lay out the facts about Sadaam's usage of chemical/biological weapons against his own people and his desire to use them against Israel and the West someday. I won't be missing this speech, and I hope I won't be disappointed.

I do feel sorry for those dependent on rabbit ears who would like to see the speech. In some respects, here the media is truly controlling the knowledge fed to the masses. For those that can't afford cable, I suggest finding the speech on a local talk radio station. That's how I heard President Bush's "axis of evil" speech last winter, and it struck me as a wonderful medium for such a message. When you aren't concentrating on the President's tie or the faces being made by Senator Hillary in the audience, your mind is free to truly digest the words in such a speech and think about their significance. If more people did so tonight, perhaps they might understand the gravity of the situation in the Middle East and how it may drastically affect their lives if we don't do something to stop Sadaam soon.

Friday, October 04, 2002

News rundown:

As always is the case on Friday mornings, Peggy Noonan has a nice column up on New Joisey and the problem with Toricelli. In other news, I salute the Republicans in the U.S. Senate for having the guts to appeal this case to the Supreme Court. Let's hope they hear it. I realize this is a political issue in some respects, because it affects who controls the Senate. But in my mind, this is about so much more -- like upholding the rule of law when it comes to our electoral process. The Democrats in New Jersey have no shame. FYI, Kevin Holtsberry threw up some great comments about this on his blog the past few days.

FoxNews is running an interesting article on the hard knock lives of poor, unfortunate celebrities before they were stars. Boo hoo, Britney Spears had to wear hand-me-down clothes as a child. No sympathy child. Now Billy Joel saying that he just wants to "love and be loved like everyone else does"? I can handle that. Despite all his troubles, his heart seems to be in the right place -- one that's not spoiled and self-centered.

I can't decide whether to believe that September 11th was the first of three planned attacks, or whether this is some trite line that AlQaeda trained Lindh and other detainees to tell the authorities in the event of capture. Either way, it makes my blood boil to think about it.

Keep the folks in Montgomery County, Maryland in your thoughts and prayers today. Fox News has an interesting article noting that an Inspirations...from the Book of Jabez prayer book caught a shooting spree bullet. Perhaps not a sign from the heavens, but I think it's definitely appropriate symbolically.

Have a good day everyone. Posting may be light this weekend as I am headed back to my hometown for showers.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Ups and Downs:

It's been a really hectic week, the first of four more I'm about to face. Between work, classes, and wedding prep, I am pretty much exhausted. Lots of ups (my mood tonight, the temperature outside) and downs (my internet connection and blogger the past two days, Illinois's bowl chances). I don't really have much time to blog tonight, but I just get cravings to stop by and post here. I hate to neglect the blog and my readership -- thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to stop by and read illinigirl. I'm going to work on a serious long post or two this weekend, so make sure to stop by soon.

Disclaimer: Just for the record after tonight's pathetic work at the Metrodome, this blog is in no way intended to reflect support for the Illinois football team. It seems somehow that two mediocre quarterbacks have already shot the area's bowl chances for the year. Basketball starts soon though, even if it will be a rebuilding year for the Illini and we no longer have Damir, Lucas, or Arch the Grizzly Bear. But I digress...

Found a really cool site the other day while prowling around Ben Domenech / Kristin Knox's sites: Chasing Hats. The site's self-proclaimed missions is: "There is a certain feeling God has endowed man with - a feeling some try to supress. It's a feeling of absolute childlike joy, of the wonder of seeing a grand thing for the first time, or from a new viewpoint. The feeling you felt at your first live concert. The first time you saw the Statue of Liberty. The first time you realized the complexities of a single blade of grass. This feeling is what this site will be about - through essays and stories - experiencing that feeling, and the fight to hold it when you begin the slip into a bored state." That sounds interesting, but it's even moreso when you consider a later portion of their mission statement: their sense of wonder is based on principles found within classic Christianity. They see joy as God's special gift to man, to enjoy life and therefore glorify him.

I highly recommend going to this website and reading the organization's mission statement. It bears a lot of relevance for my life at the moment. I am by nature both a perfectionist and a pessimist, but I've been experiencing a lot of those little moments of joy lately as I prepare for this wedding. I had a wonderful time away on my "girls weekend out", my relationship with my sister has improved by leaps and bounds this year, my parents are finally coming to grips with the fact that I am making my own choices and living life on my own timetable, my fiance and I are finally making plans to start our life together. Although I spend a ton of time worrying about the little things -- deadlines at work, grades on assignments, how to fit everything into the 24 hours I'm given each day -- I occasionally stop and realize that life is good. Tonight as I tried on my wedding get-up one last time before the big day, I was struck by how blessed my life really is at the moment. Even with all life's messy complications, nights like tonight I can really see that God has been so good to me, to all of us. If you haven't chased a hat lately, I highly recommend it. I'm trying to do it more often myself.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Random Thoughts

Wonderful weekend, horrible cold. That about sums it up at the moment, as I awoke with an incredibly stuffy head and croaky throat at 4am this beautiful Tuesday morning. I poked around online last night, but I couldn't find many interesting stories to blog about. So I'm just going to offer a few random comments here.

Jason over at Antioch Road pointed out that Google now has a news site -- pretty cool stuff. It doesn't seemed to be very left OR right leaning somehow. Of course, I think Fox News is objective (albeit sensationalistic), so what do I know?

I know very little about Iowa politics, but he also has an interesting assessment of a liberal Des Moines editorial writer's assessment of Doug Gross's campaign for governor in the state. Nice bit on peaceniks trying to convince us to stay out of Iraq with poetry too.

Louder Fenn has a nice post about apple cider, and how ready availability of hot cider in the fall is a great benefit of living in the Midwest. I just thought I would throw this in here, since I totally agree. Love apple cider so much I considered serving it at the wedding, which incidentally is less than four weeks away now...

MarcV over at Spudlets has a nice piece on free will and surrendering to God. Links aren't suffering from the blogger curse though, so you'll have to scroll down to September 27th.

I really wasn't happy to see Torricelli pull out of the Senate race yesterday, although I do think he's a criminal. I am pretty certain that the New Jersey Democrats have devised a way to illegally substitute a new candidate, whether it be Bill Bradley or (heaven forbid) Ex-Prez Clinton as they have speculated over at NRO. I hope the Republicans fight it every step of the way.

Friday, September 27, 2002

On Central Illinois...

Turns out that J. Bowen over at No Watermelons Allowed is a Central Illinois native. He and two other aspiring bloggers, Bill Dennis of Bill's Content and Mark Draughn of WindyPundit, have started the Central Illinois Blogging Webring. I will be adding a female perspective to their webring in the near future and look forward to some interesting dialogue from my geographical neighbors here.

Just for the record, where is Central Illinois? Contrary to the belief of many Windy City residents, anything below I-80 is NOT Southern Illinois. This is an issue that many Illinois residents care passionately about, for a variety of reasons which perhaps I will discuss at a later date. But back to the subject Central Illinois is the area in middle of the state, a few hours south of Chicago and a few hours north of St. Louis. I would say it includes but is not necessarily limited to the cities of Bloomington-Normal, Champaign, Decatur, Lincoln, Peoria, Pontiac, Rantoul, and Springfield. Towns that could also argue for inclusion are East-Central: Charleston, Danville, Mattoon, West-Central: Jacksonville, Galesburg. Aside from the Chicago, Quad Cities, and St. Louis metro areas, we hold a great deal of the state's population. We're home to many of the state's major universities, corporations, factories, and the state government. I personally think it's a wonderful place to live, but I am a bit biased. We've got a wide variety of political perspectives represented in this area, and hopefully the webring will reflect this fact and promote some good debate soon.

Hope to post something more interesting soon, but I am desparate for sleep at the moment. Welcome to my site and come back soon!
Letters on Sadaam...

A hypothetical letter from Saddam Hussein to Madame President Clintonista, circa 2007. (credit to Eugene Volokh at National Review Online). Best argument against appeasement I have seen in a long time.

Lileks writes a hypothetical future letter to Iraq, circa 2040. Futuristic yet still somewhat frightening.

Barbra Streisand spews sheer idiocy regarding Sadam to Gebhardt, circa 2002. Freakin' unbelievable that the Dems even give her the time of day.
So little time, so much to blog....

Hi there folks. Despite the fact that my time is a precious commodity, I am having trouble staying away from the blog as of late. Although the news these days is slow, I have a multitude of somewhat personal / faith-based topics I would like to post about at the moment. Unfortunately, they are being squeezed in between wedding planning, my graduate course, and a full-time job. But I am here, because I want to be...although I don't want to be starting serious post at 11:15 pm. Yes, I am in my twenties, but I am exhausted and my bachelorette bash (basically girls' weekend out) starts when we leave for Chicago early tomorrow. It's off for a weekend of art exhibits, shopping, fine dining, and quality time with my girls. While I may like the traditionally male "sports" of politics and college athletics, I enjoy competitive shopping as much as the next girl. I have several marriage-related posts floating around in my head at the moment. I will work on refining them and attempt to get them up soon. In the meantime, have a great weekend & come back soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Ready for a haircut...

I have no time to blog, but I feel compelled to leave my thoughts here on one issue tonight. Barbershop. If nothing else, Jesse Jackson's whooping and hollering has upped its box office the price of one admission. I hadn't heard very little about the plot of this movie until I read Rod Dreher's piece over at National Review today. In this piece, Rod Dreher basically asserts that Jackson wants MGM to censor this film because black people are saying things of which he does not approve, not to mention mocking the Reverend himself. At one point in the movie, one of the men in the barbershop says "You'd better not let the Rev. Jackson hear you talk like that!" To which Eddie the veteran barber replies "**** Jesse Jackson!"

Any film that tells the Reverend Jackson to kiss off is fine by me. After the horrible fuss he caused the Decatur school district a few years ago, he quickly rose to the top of my "least favorite people" list. Top that off with his Clinton-defending antics, his divisive politicing regarding the 2000 election, his blackmailing of major corporations like Toyota, his tendency to attempt to grab the media spotlight by "negotiating peace" in war-torn areas (i.e. sympathizing with the Palestinians). It's hard to find much to like about Reverend Jackson. Now he wants to censor the views of artists in his own community? Dreher likens this to Stalinist Russia, nothing that Jesse not only wants these comments removed from the film -- he wants us to pretend they never existed.

What comments could be so offensive to the "good reverend"? Try this on for size: Veteran barber Eddie at one point tells the other men in the shop that "Black people need to stop lying," and proceeds to outline three "truths" he believes blacks should acknowledge: 1) "O. J. did it;" 2) "Rodney King should have got his ass beat;" and 3) "Rosa Parks ain't do nothin' but sit her black ass down." Apparently these men also discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's wandering eye.

What's wrong with these comments? Nothing really except the fact that they are too close to the truth for the Reverend's comfort. Instead of acknowledging this, he race-baits and dwells on the fact that something unflattering might be said about any African-Americans anywhere. Unfortunately, the color of one's skin doesn't absolve one from having faults. A lot of the "lessons" that seem to be emanating from this movie could be applied to folks of all races. For example, at one point in the film a young man says "We don't need reparations, we need discipline. Don't go out and buy a Range Rover when you livin' with your mama." A good lesson could be learned there by young people of all races and genders -- don't live beyond your means. It's something that many people my age need to hear and think about, even if it hits a bit close to home.

Black or white, this movie sounds like it's thought-provoking and funny. I'm ready to run out and see it the next chance I get. I really hope that the film powers that be withstand the censorship pressure from Jackson and his cronies. I could really use a humorous, uplifting, moral-promoting filmgoing experience right now. Even as a young, white twenty-something girl in a somewhat-small town, I think I could take that away from this film. Just replace "African Americans" with people in the following quote from Rod Dreher's column:

"Barbershop argues (alas, a bit too ham-fistedly) that young African Americans need to quit dreaming about the glamorous life, cease obsessing over racial consciousness, knock off the victimhood fantasies, ignore the pieties of Jesse Jackson, and get serious about building their futures. That a movie preaching such a message has been the No. 1 film at the box office for two weeks running is very good news."

Hear, hear.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Here she is...

Of course, you know that a blog named Illinigirl would have to mention this story! After another negative Illinois story was found the national news spotlight last Thursday, it was refreshing to have a positive piece of news. Even better -- it was about Central Illinois for once. Urbana native Erika Harold was crowned Miss America on Saturday evening, and she seems to be quite the impressive beauty queen. She won the pop-culture quiz segment, performed a beautiful aria from Carmen, and will start at Harvard Law School next fall. Sure that's impressive stuff on paper, but here's what impressed me. As Joel Mowbray explains on National Review Online today, it seems she is also a conservative. Interestingly enough, the issue platform that she won with Saturday night was not her original choice. While obviously violence prevention is a worthy cause, it appears that Miss Harold had to switch her platform due to "internal pageant politics". What was her original platform? Promoting abstinence to teenagers. What's incredibly shocking about that in my book? She won the Miss Illinois pageant while stumping for this cause. That in and of itself is quite admirable in this state.

The National Review article goes on to detail her work with Project Reality, a statewide abstinence education program that I had never heard of before. Turns out she also worked for Patrick O'Malley, who ran in the bitter three-way primary for the Republican gubernatorial normination last spring. Not surprisingly for those who know anything about O'Malley, she is ardently pro-life. I'm only two years older than Miss Harold, and our high schools were in the same conference division. I'm quite disappointed that our paths haven't crossed, because she seems like a fascinating person. Would I have ever known this without the National Review article? No. Even in Central Illinois, all the newspapers have been lavishly heaping praise on her all her politically-correct achievements. Her admission to Harvard Law, her "beautiful soprano voice", her insistance on checking "Multi-racial" on the census form. (Ala Tiger Woods, her mother is African-American and American Indian, her father of Greek, German and Russian heritage). Typical press coverage I suppose -- why dwell on the courageous moral stances she's taken and volunteer work that she has done, when you can simply rehash the same politically-neutral feel-good stories that we've have heard time and time again?
Random thoughts

I've had a rough weekend juggling things here, as the number of balls I have in the air at any given moment seems to be spiraling out of control. Fighting off a sinus infection, a trip to get bridesmaid dresses fitted, oodles of work for the graduate class I am in at the moment. As much as I like blogging, it's coming a bit lower on the "To-Do" list as of late. Bear with me here -- thanks for sticking around.

I've been watching the debate on conservative environmentalism with some interest. As I spoke of last week, I do not 100% buy into the concept of global warming. I don't think that makes me an environmental monster though. I recycle. I walk or ride my bike to conserve fuel when possible. Although I don't have a problem with urban sprawl from a free market, give-the-people-what they-ask-for standpoint, I am disgusted by it in practice. I get irritated when it takes me more than 15 minutes to drive across town. I do acknowledge some environmentalist viewpoints may be logically grounded. I think our energy resources are finite. Eventually, we will have to come up with an alternative to a simple oil-reliant internal combustion engine. We need to come up with creative food production methods. While recycling may not be terribly cost-effective, I do it because it leads to landfills filling up less quickly. I'm not going to pretend to be any kind of environmental expert here, but I definitely think these gentlemen's posts are worth reading: Orrin Judd, Kevin Holtsberry, Joshua Claybourn, Mark Byron, Paul Cellas, and Christopher Badeaux. Check them out if you are interested, and let me know if you reach any conclusions.

Larry Miller has a funny column out today, that somehow effectively users an analysis of stand-up comedy to make a good point about Iraq. Check it out if you're interested. And can anyone confirm that was him of Mind of the Married Man on HBO last night?

Speaking of HBO, let me just say that obviously the academy voters have no taste in drama. West Wing over the touching, heart-wrenching episodes that Six Feet Under put out last year? Puh-lease. HBO continues to put out the best television there is, with the possible exception of Everybody Loves Raymond (which I am off to watch as I eat dinner in a few minutes).

While still somewhat on the topic of HBO and The Weekly Standard, I want to link to an interesting article I found over there about the "misery" of Sex and the City's fifth season. This writer simply thinks that the plotlines have become tired, definitely lost their edge. I have a different take on the situation -- more along the lines of the Sex girls becoming tired of the empty lives they were leading. Alas, that commentary will have to wait for another day since I have dinners to eat and javascripts to write. Until then!

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Full disclosure on youthful indiscretions...

In the interest of full disclosure, I am doing another post on youthful indiscretions. This comes after reading Mark Byron's well thought-out response to my "Because Rod!' Got High" post. At one point, Mark pays me a compliment that I don't deserve:

"When Eileen and I have teenagers, she can speak on substance abuse from a sense of purity (having avoided drugs and alcohol as a youth) while I can speak from experience, saying that those things aren't good for you, that I was sinning against God when I did them and such activities should be avoided. It's better not to have done those things, and I give Illinigirl her due props for steering clear of those temptations."

In my earlier post, I spoke of some poor decision-making when I was younger. If you include alcohol in the definition of illegal drugs (as I generally do not), my earlier post was inaccurate. I was a weekend problem drinker for about a year of college. To make a long story short, it prompted me to make a fool of myself on a regular basis. Concerned friends watched out for me, and I am lucky that nothing worse than a hangover happened in some of these situations. I woke up many Sunday mornings feeling terrible, embarrassed by my actions the previous evening, and convinced that God was probably ashamed of me too. Yet I still had a hard time escaping from this cycle of self-destructive behavior where I used alcohol and temporary admiration/affection from young men to make myself "feel good".

How did I rationalize my behavior at the time? I was a college student, I was supposed to experiment, I needed to have a good time. I was far from alone in using such excuses to rationalize my behavior. Such excuses are the norm in the college environment these days. At some point, I realized I really didn't respect myself much anymore. It took months of soul-searching and encouragement from friends (including one now known as Illinifiance) to help me change my ways. I curtailed the abuse, got involved with school ministries again, and soon afterwards really started growing as a Christian.

While I do not personally believe social drinking is wrong, I do think that irresponsible drunkenness is sinful. I fully agree with Mark's assertion that "there aren't too many sins that I know of that are physically or emotionally good for the person in the long haul". He also posts three good guidelines towards acknowledging such missteps and discouraging younger folks from making the same mistakes. If Rod!'s admissions had been more in line with such guidelines, I doubt I would have gotten so teed off in the first place. I apologize if my first post came off as thinking myself above such useful indiscretions to anyone, because that was not its intent. I just wanted to elaborate here in the interest of protecting my "bloggeristic integrity".

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Quotes for the evening:

On Marriage: "Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one aother with the affection of brothers. Anticipate one another in showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord." -- Romans 12:9-10

Otherwise: "Luck is not chance, it's toil. Fortune's expensive smile is earned." -- Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Because Rod! Got High...

Illinois has not been having a good couple weeks in the media. First we lead the nation in West Nile cases/deaths, and now this gem of a story. Ya gotta hand it to Rod Blagojevich for knowing how to grab the media spotlight. (Note: I am tired of typing his last name, so henceforth on Illinigirl, he will be known as Rod!) On Monday, in a "careful response that took 10 seconds to craft following a reporter's question", Rod! admitted,

''Did I try marijuana when I was young? The answer is yes. Did I use any other kind of illegal drug? The answer is no...I don't know if I did or not. I never liked the smell of it, but it was a smell ... all of our generation is very familiar with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one in this room who can recognize that smell...I probably didn't. You're using a Clinton line on me here. I just don't know. I did it twice. And I was so inept at it, I don't know whether I did or didn't."

Any regular Illinigirl reader will know that I don't like Rod Blagojevich for a host of other reasons. I guess I should respect him for his blatant honesty on the topic, but I detest this response. Couldn't he come up with anything better than "I probably didn't inhale" and complaining that the press is subjecting him to a Clinton line here. I mean -- you're running for governor of the fifth-largest state in the country. Couldn't you forsee the fact that the press might try to drag such skeletons out of the closet? Couldn't you craft a more intelligent, well-thought out response? Couldn't you try to explain that it was wrong?

That's what bothers me the most about this entire exchange -- Rod! made no mention of pot being wrong. No admission of the pot-smoking being a mistake, no regrets for having done it. Regardless of this admission, I think Rod! is still going to win this race in a few weeks. What kind of message does that send to all the young impressionable minds out there? That it's no big deal. Go ahead -- smoke pot or whatever you want, you can still be elected governor or even president as long as you claim you didn't inhale! Take no responsibility whatsoever! You'll be fine!

I'm really not trying to be judgmental here. He who once lived in a glass house should not throw stones. I really don't buy into the "experimentation is a normal thing" mentality anymore though. I made some bad decisions when I was younger, but I now fully realize and admit they were stupid choices. I will actively try to dissuade my (hypothetical future) children from making the same ones. I am proud though that I can honestly say I have never used an illegal drug. I went to a pretty liberal college and was handed bongs on several occasions. What were my two primary reasons for turning it down at the time? The idea that I would have to tell my kids about it some day and the thought it could become an issue if I ran for political office someday. Guess kids have one less reason to "just say no" these days.

* Side note: I do feel a bit of sympathy for the libertarian that "inhaled" the hash brownies. But why he felt the need to voluntarily enter the "Past Marijuana Use Confessional" tm sun times, I do not understand.

Updated: Mark Byron seemed to interpret this post a bit differently than I intended, so I'm publishing my response comments here for clarification:

"Not really meaning to blast people in that post Mark. I realize that most people have a youthful indiscretion (or two or three or a few dozen) in their pasts, myself included. I simply said that I'm happy mine didn't include marijuana use. Sorry if it came off as sanctimonious.

I primarily object to the fact that Blagojevich didn't express any regret or publicly say that it was wrong. I wasn't trying to say that past substance abuse should disqualify anyone from running for office. The angle the media is taking on this now is "Hey, it's no big deal." That is what I am really objecting to here."