Sunday, June 30, 2002

Seemingly no breaking news out there at the moment, so I'll provide glimpses into the more trivial aspects of my life, for those who care to proceed...

The blog of Sergeant Stryker has a hilarious rant about the life and death of his insubordinate Sim "Billy" As someone who committed about two months of free time to this addictive "game", I can totally relate. A pastor by the name of Dave Trowbridge has conjured up an interesting sermon on the lessons that might be learned by little Billy. See -- playing the Sims isn't a total waste of my time!

What I'm Reading for anyone who may care: Welcome to My Planet by Shannon Olson (reviewed by kevin holtsberry) and Handbook for the Soul compiled by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield.

As those who know me will attest, I am quite the 80s addict. I contend the problem with this newest 7-disc box set is that it just isn't large enough to hold all the interesting songs from that decade (BTW, Disc#3 seems to be my favorite). It's generated some interesting commentary on Slate. As they noted, how does one decide between "Tainted Love" or "Centerfold"? "Come on Eileen" or "Africa"? "Don't You Forget About Me" or "War"? "Walk This Way" or "Mickey"? "Take Me Down to Paradise City" or "I Think We're Alone Now"? The scary thing is that I'm only half-kidding here. I think I am much more likely to know all the lyrics to these songs in ten years than any given Britney Spears, Eminem, or Brandy song. Heck, I know more of them now.

In a desperate attempt to get some comments going, I am posing a question to you, my readers. If you could only take one of the 7 discs with you onto a deserted island, which one would it be and why? Assume for all practical purposes this island comes complete with a stereo system, subwoofers built into a palm tree. Let's go -- amaze me with your reasoning!
Seems I've disappeared from Blogger. Trying to get back up with this post...again. Finally reappeared a couple hours later though.

Friday, June 28, 2002

What's up my few brave readers? It is Friday night now, and I am updating just because I haven't in a few days. Usually in any given week, I will read a variety of things that I feel are interesting on the net and want to comment. Felt that way at the beginning of this week but since...not so much interesting seems to have happened. Lots of good issue/debates occurring on the internet and in blogland, but I have had far too little sleep this week to write anything coherent regarding my thoughts on the subjects. Instead, it's time for the return of Link-o-rama....

For those of you who care, aforementioned basketball boy went #32 in the draft. Asked Illinifiance if we could drive down to New Orleans for our honeymoon and hit up a Memphis Grizzlies game enroute, as the NBA games should start by October. Only half-kidding...

Megan McArdle has an interesting debate on the implications of the pledge decision this week. A caller on WLS this afternoon reported that "under God" was originally inserted into the pledge in the 1950's to prove to those Russian commies that we were a God-fearing nation. I am not sure if this is true, but I agree it does seem a bit superfluous in the pledge. At the same time, come on! See Megan's comments on how this isn't what the founders were hoping to avoid with the separation of church and state. She's right -- there is a difference between burning non-believers at the stake and uttering a word that makes someone slightly uncomfortable.

More McArdle: an MBAs explanation on why Southwest should charge extra for those individuals who require two seats. (That isn't offensive like saying fat people, right?) . Also if anyone gives a fig what is happening at WorldCom, she gives a good explanation here.

Everytime I hear a study that gets me somewhat panicky about my diet, a column pops up on FoxNews to further explain each study's inadequacies. Bottom line -- you would have to eat 182 pounds of McDonalds french fries of 312 pounds of Cheerios each day to have the same proportion of acrylamide that has caused cancer in rats. Back to a big pile of fries and my original position -- all foods are fine in moderation in the long run.

Finally my favorite story this week...the Rutgers University Marriage Project has reported that young men are deciding not to buy the cows because they can sample all sorts of heifer milk for free.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Hi ladies and gents. No serious commentary tonight, because the younger sister is due to arrive here at any moment. Did spend some time cleaning up the page and adding a comment service from enetation. Post away -- it seems to be in good shape so far.

As I'm gradually trotting the Illinigirl blog out to the masses, I realized I probably state that I have not ever attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Spent fun times there in high school, grew up going to the football games, always thought I would grace its massive lecture halls with my presence someday. Alas, the liberal arts and a scholarship were calling my name...there's always grad school. Basically, illinigirl sprung from my lack of naming creativity, strong feelings that I and my 1/16th Fox fiance have for the honorable mascot Chief Illiniwek, and my 2001-2002 fascination with certain yummy Illini basketball of whom may be close to getting drafted as I type. (Not Frankie although I'm curious what New York was thinking). What are Damir and Lucas up to now? Are my other boys in Europe?!?

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Proved I've still got it this morning -- was able to cram a semester's worth of good studying, note-taking etc. into the last five days before the exam and get a decent score. Ah, the good old days.

Been working on a post for a good hour now, but I am seriously lacking the brainpower to finish it off. Must Get Sleep! Anyways, just a link to this interesting piece on the September 11th Generation , to which I believe many of us early-twenty-somethings belong. Dr. Drew makes some good points here. Read and hopefully I will offer intelligent commentary in the near future!

p.s. I have settled down somewhat about the Palestinian state. Actually found points to appreciate in Bush's speech, such as `I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life.' quotation. However, I still remain skeptical that this will cause the Islamofacist terror to cease.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Two posts in fourteen hours...amazing I know. Back from work and soon back to studying for this dreaded exam tomorrow, but first I have a couple thoughts.

This Lileks piece on college students more idiotic ideas about the war on terror manages to be both funny and incredibly perceptive. Funny in its explanation of why 55% of college students know the head of the Palestinian Authority and only 19% can identify our National Security Advisor Condi Rice (ie. "Single Black women cannot be Republicans, therefore she does not exist. She has been digitally inserted into news footage by George Lucas.") Perceptive in that he provides several appropriate questions at the end and brilliant logic at the end against "developing a better understanding of the values and history of other cultures and nations that dislike us" is a better approach to preventing terrorism". Go read it. Why are you still here?

Just kidding. One more thing to rant on -- I love WLS but I hate listening to ABC News reports on the way home. Example "President Bush is working on a speech to present his plan for peace in the Middle East, just as Israel is preparing to begin its invasion of the Palestinian territories. The president said he is waiting for an 'appropriate time' to announce he supports establishing a Palestinian state." First of all, I was bothered by the implication that Israel was doing something improper here. They are retaliating with an obvious, pronounced military response. They provided forewarning to these people -- warning them they would be going back into these territories until the suicide bombings stop. Are they supposed to quit because there hasn't been an unannounced, cowardly attacks that just aims to kill their civilians in three days? Because no grandmothers and innocent little girls on their way home from kindergarten parties have been blown to bits so far this week?

Just the fact that the President is even writing this speech -- when two attacks happened the week after it was leaked he would support a Palestinian state -- it sickens me. Not as much as President Clinton negotiating with two-faced supposed leaders like Arafat, but I am disappointed just the same. I understand that President may feel like he has no choice here, and that he doesn't want WWIII - Islam versus the West. But that doesn't change my disappointment in this policy. Mark my words here. If we give them an inch, they - the Hamas, Hezbollahs, Talibans of the world -- aren't going to be happy until they have a yard. They are going to see that their cowardly guerilla attacks are helping them get the results they desire. The suicide bombings, the terrorist attacks...they will continue in hopes of getting more land, more converts to their twisted interpretation of Islam. And when they get bored with Israel, who do you think they'll come after next?
Ah, my weekly posting night arrives! In all fairness, I had a great big write-up with some super links done on Thursday evening. I hit one link from Arts & Letters daily to an article in The New Yorker and wham! There goes an hour worth of rantings. In the interests of my poor eyelids that will be drooping at work tomorrow, I'll be providing a brief summary of Thursday night's rantings below.

But first an update on my weekend! Filled with two major events -- my long anticipated 5k race and a TON of studying for a work-related exam I am taking this week. Let me just say that no matter how boring computing might be at times, I am SO happy not to be an accountant right now.

Back to the race though... Sometime late this winter, I started feeling a bit my own clothing. Now I'm not the world's biggest fitness guru, but I hate buying bigger clothes. Between that and my dad's Dr. Phil book that I had the misfortune to stumble on, I started feeling like I needed a new challenge to tackle. Hence big "Run a 5K by June" plan. I came up with a plan, and I pretty much stuck to it..some weeks better than others. Worked up from 1 mile 5-6x a week, 2 miles 4x a week, finally 3 miles 3x a week. I finally capped it off with a Fun Run in 90F+ heat at 9 am Saturday. Nothing like President Bush's time this weekend, but I did come in at 29:59, slightly under 10-minute miles. Given the lack of shade and a slipped band-aid that turned into a bloody, painful blister, I think it was an okay first effort. Think I'm running another in July, and I'm expecting a better time. I'll keep you posted.

First current events link: Interesting that this piece on how the government received warnings of Islamic terror acts on government buildings just weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing comes out now. My friend Rich speculated this was released to help us how inept Clinton's administration was at fighting terrorism and that we owe the state of our nation's intelligence to his administration. While I can't argue with his point, I think they may be releasing it for a different reason. Remember all those conspiracy theorists that claimed Tim McVeigh had an assistant from Iraq? Between this article and the Padilla / second OKC bomber picture comparison, I'm starting to think they weren't so crazy after all.

In related matters, Stanley Kurtz offers an interesting take on why we may need the draft to go after Iraq.

Larry Elder makes a valid case for why conservatives should boycott the movies produced by the babbling liberal idiots in Hollywood. Well duh! Although I will admit I didn't realize that Will Smith and Chris Rock were such race-baiters, I have refused to enter movie theatres for Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, and Ben Affleck movies for a few years now. Notable exception would be a couple Kevin Smith movies (get rid of Affleck already!) and watching their films on digital cable. Elder notes a few out-of-the-closet conservative actors, but forgets to add a great one to the list -- Larry Miller, the only character actor / conservative political commentator around. Read his t-ball column in this week's Weekly Standard for a good laugh. Pretty funny in Princess Diaries & Ten Things I Hate About You as well.

Found Linda Chavez's column of advice after 35 years of marriage this week somewhat inspiring. As a soon to be wed, I really like reading insight like hers as opposed to this New Yorker compilation of all the newest theories on why marriages are doomed to fail. Had another good scary link to an ABC news piece warning American women not to marry Saudi men due to lack of rights in that country, but I can't seem to find a link at the moment. It's getting late, so I'm going to say goodnight. I'll try to be more on the ball next week!

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Ah, what a busy weekend! I just spent the last two days celebrating my little sister's 21st birthday and Fathers' Day. I'm now wondering where exactly my weekend went. Spent some time adding links to the sidebar and changing archive formats tonight - let me know what you think. Technically, the web diaries, cubs, and illini basketball links should also be under my "guilty pleasures" section, but who's keeping track? I will gradually be introducing this site to friends and associates over the next few weeks -- attempting to add links and comments suggestions. If you have any feedback, I'd love to hear from you at Thanks!

Thursday, June 13, 2002

I haven't seen the Sum of All Fears yet, and I'm not sure if I will eventually. To begin with, I am a bit paranoid about all things nuclear and terror related. I'd like to still be able to sleep at night. Secondly, I despise Ben Affleck. Kevin Smith movies aside (I can't believe his next one teams up this ninny and J-Lo), I have always despised his characters. His obnoxious political statements during the last elections didn't help. But finally, I agree with Michael Medved that Hollywood is guilty of white-washing Islamic terror. Terrorists are terrorists, and if they were Islamic militants in Tom Clancy's book...why do they have to be Neo-Nazis in the film adaptation? Because only homegrown terrorists not tied to any under-represented minority group could perpetrate this kind of terror? Sorry guys, I think September 11th proved you wrong on that one. (Disclaimer: I realize this movie and Bad Company were both written before 9/11 ). These two movies missed good opportunities to remind Americans why we are fighting this war on terror, but ambiguous Neo-Nazi groups and Serbian Christians just don't scare me like the Islamic Jihad. Nice try.

After reading that last paragraph, let me reiterate one thing here. I am not taking offense to the Muslim faith or claiming that it sponsors terrorism. I have several tolerant, peace-loving Muslim friends who I totally respect in their faith. However, that brand is different from the kill-everyone-who-doesn't-worship-the-same-God-we-do, war-mongering stance of the Islamists. Lou Dobbs was correct and justified in making this distinction. I just wish that Hollywood and the media would do so as well.

Ben Domenech's take on who is really a conservative senator? Please Zell Miller, come play for the winning team! You'd win this in a heartbeat. I'll throw in a positive quip for Peter Fitzgerald. He's not my favorite guy in the world, but he has a decent voting record and knows how to keep up a filibuster so we don't the Senate steam-rolling O'Hare renovations.

If you aren't responsible for what food is placed in your mouth, then what are you responsible for? Good heavens. Megan McArdle makes a great point in asking "Can We Sue Our Own Fat A**** Off?"

This story just struck me as kind of sad, and something that might be of interest to my several Spanish-teaching friends. It details some of the problems with bilingual education in the children of first-generation, Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Knew there had to be a reason I liked Everybody Loves Raymond. Patricia Heaton and I both dig this organization.

Finally, I give you an e-mail in response to Jonah Goldberg's column yesterday on why professional feminists suck.

" Who on earth gave you a column? Who thought you could write? But more importantly, why do you express such ridiculous opinions in the 21st century? You are the most rabid misogynist I've ever had the misfortune to read. You wouldn't recognize a feminist if you stepped on one barefoot - which is where you'd no doubt have all women - underfoot.

What kind of cretin are you that you would call women "chicks?" Even men MY age don't call women chicks. They know it's the equivalent of calling a black person the "N" word. You don't grasp that, do you?"

Funny letter. Just for record, I never take offense to being called a chick. It's more of a friendly term of reference in my book - like calling a man "dude". Some people just take life too seriously. I may occasionally be one of them, but not to this degree. See you later!

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

First of all, for once I am happy that Peggy Noonan was wrong. June 11th is almost past, no catastrophes in sight. No nice long updates either, but here are a few interesting links:

To snap us out of political preoccupation...Kevin Holtsberry debates whether we can both live the American Dream and obey God's will. (aka Revolutionary vs. Existential Interpretations of the New Testament).

Dirty nuke suspect and OKC Bombing assistant? This picture shows the eerie resemblance. Coincidence?

Nine Months Ago Today: Two columns written after September 11th, to help us remember why we must keep fighting:

Why did it have to be a perfect morning? By Andrew Sullivan
We'll go forward from this moment... By Leonard Pitts Jr.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Another weekend with very little written. I've been working on a few rambling pieces in my head, as I torture myself running every other afternoon. It's torrid weater for mid-June in Illinois, so my jogging adventures have been moved from a leafy, scenic trail with squirrels to air-conditioned health club when my entertainment consists of closed-caption CNN, ESPN (USA/NK World Cup game this afternoon rocked though), or soap operas. Where's Personal TLC when you need it? Anyways, today's interesting links follow below.

I had today off work, so I heard part of Rush in my car as the "dirty nuke arrest" story broke. He had some interesting insights, so I had to check out recaps on his website. Lots of good material there today, such as the three links below.

This poster is priceless. Apparently, major network newscasts showed it on the air last week along with Rush's quotes on why the government should MYOB when it comes to national security. Made me laugh and think of the "CIA creates super-secret spy team" headline from last week. A quick reminder that sometimes our government shouldn't broadcast everything it knows.

I echo Rush's sentiments on this one. A great big thank-you to the intelligence community for stopping Jose Padilla in his tracks and for preventing all the other foiled plots that we don't know about.

The One Country, Two Cultures piece echoes my Friday evening ramblings and Peggy Noonan's WSJ column on Friday. Step one has been taken -- we realize this problem exists. Now how are we going to convince every one else that we need to take the threat of terrorism seriously and stop playing pre-9/11 games before the next big terrible thing really happens?

Try taking this quiz. It makes a good case for certain types of profiling...

As does Jonah Goldberg's column today on 20/20 hindsight, 9/11, and profiling. Make sure to check out the last few paragraphs on today's dirty bomber arrest. Jonah makes an important point in his piece -- "This dirty bomber may have been born Jose Padilla but he goes by the name Abdullah Al Mujahir now. Indeed, while there are examples of non-Arab members of al Qaeda, there's not been a single non-Muslim one."

Fun and useful links for the politically-possessed gift-giver. You won't find any donkeys on these sites though:
Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation
GOP Shoppe - Weepublicans!

For those who would rather live in a tv-world where Martin Sheen is president...this picture may make you think twice.

I'm not a huge country music fan, but I will attest to the fact that Toby Keith is a gentleman. I met him in late September 2000 when he "opened" for Dick Cheney at a rally on the Peoria riverfront. He chatted with my parents and I for several minutes as Bob Michel spoke, then finally took the stage. He admitted that it was the first time he had performed at a rally, but he was honored to do so and support the Bush/Cheney ticket. He then played several schmaltzy yet touching songs that my Iowa-born, country music loving roommate was jealous that I got to hear. He seemed like a big, lovable teddy bear, which makes this entry by Rich Lowry on The Corner about the Country Music Awards all the more amusing:
"Most noteworthy was a song performed (for the first time) by Toby Keith `Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.' Here is part of the text (transcribed by me, so perhaps a couple mistakes):
Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist
And the people will fly, and there’s gonna be hell
When you hear mother Freedom start ringing her bell
And it’ll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you
All brought to you courtesy of the Red, White and Blue
Justice will be served and the battle will rage.
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage.
And you’ll be sorry that you messed with the US of A.
We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way."

Sooner or later, I am going to get off these political links and start writing a bit more about culture. At the top of my list is a commentary on this book, but until I can write it check out Neil Seeman's piece on Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children. That's it for now though. Toodles!

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Now that I'm done with my lengthy organized rant for the day, here's another link of interest. Hopefully I'll be doing some serious catch-up blogging again this weekend and update again soon!

Illustrating why the American public needs to be more informed about world events...if a slightly-scary Middle Eastern man had asked you questions about buying planes to load with highly-combustible fertilizers and threatened to destroy major landmarks in Washington, DC, wouldn't you have thought something was up? This lady didn't -- even when Mohammed Atta told her that Osama Bin Laden would be known as the greatest leader of the world someday. The truly ironic part is that it's likely if Atta and co. had secured the USDA loans for crop-dusters as they wished, the casualty count might have been much lower and the World Trade Center might still be standing today. However, I doubt we would have realized the enormity of the threat we are facing from Islamofacists.

Friday, June 07, 2002

Peggy Noonan's column in today's has prompted me to make a long overdue update. I must thank her for writing such an eloquent piece that expresses the thoughts I can't get out of my head these past few weeks.

Within the past months, I have noticed our media and our culture seem to be gradually shifting back to their pre-9/11 ways. In the six months immediately after September 11th, news stories relating to attacks were commonplace. We had our share of doom & gloom stories and what-if scenarios. However, it also seemed like we had inspiring stories on a daily basis -- about newly-discovered disaster heroes, the victims' families who were determined to keep going, even the government officials who were trying to face newly-discovered security risks and make our country a safer place. Stories that while not terribly important, they were not trivial. They were meaningful in that they helped us realize our loss and remember what the terrorists took from us that day. They helped us remember what was truly important in the midst of our recovery from the tragedy.

The past few months there seems to be a trend in the opposite direction. It seems the media is focusing on the trivial, mundane stories again. I've found myself increasingly disgusted with the television news I'm watching, the stories that pervade the radio airwaves, the headlines on each day's newspaper. For days at a time, the media has again become preoccupied with the mundane -- new evidence in the Chandra Levy murder, near-worship of the Osbourne family, worries over replacing Oprah's book club. Even today I found a wonderful example of such ridiculousness -- J-Lo's impending separation from her husband of seven months qualified as a "leading" news story on both FoxNews and CNN. It's almost as if they don't realize we still have more important things to worry about.

While I thoroughly enjoy a good diversion, I wonder why we aren't discussing the more important aspects of lives as Americans at the how to protect ourselves against the next "big thing". In terms of the war, all the news networks seem to be providing are a flurry of experts on whether fingerprinting potential-terrorists from the Middle East will impede their human rights and whether the FBI's new powers to surf the net are the beginning of Big Brother's ascent in America. Or they are obsessing about who needs to be fired from the FBI/CIA/NSA for not passing along a memo, for not connecting the dots in the intelligence. Or they are worrying over all the relevant information was not passed along to members of Congress since they are the all-knowing governing body in our nation and seem to think they personally could have stopped these attacks.

It's alarming that government seems to be taking such a nit-picky approach to these matters and ignoring the obvious. While I give President Bush and his men credit for the recent actions they have taken in hopes of making us safer, I worry about the issues they aren't tackling. I feel safer knowing that we will fingerprint travelers entering the U.S. from terrorist-sponsoring countries; hopefully this will keep more attackers from getting in. But what are we doing right now to prevent attacks from the sleeper cells already here? While bureaucratic reorganizations and congressional investigations may help in the long-term, I'm kept awake at night by my short-term worries. I can't help but wonder if we'll be prepared for the smallpox attack, the dirty-nuke, the suicide bomber at the mall, the Middle Eastern men who are allowed to board planes while frail senior citizens are frisked so we won't be unfairly "profiling".

September 11th is often compared to a scene of horrendous devastation in a movie. After this terrible event passes though, the survivors generally pick up the pieces. They reevaluate their way of life and take steps to make sure they don't faces such horror again. If we are to have the happily-ever-after ending, America needs a hero at this point. A president, a senator, a congressman, a September 11th widow, a well-known blogger, a former mayor of New York...I really don't care. We need someone to stand up and ask why we are screwing around with Congressional investigations when we've got bigger fish to fry. We need someone to call for an end to the finger pointing and set in motion the security enhancements that our country so desperately needs at the moment. We need someone to stand up and tell us what we can do to help, what we should do in case of an emergency. We need someone that we can thank for making our country a safer place and for doing all he or she can to make Americans sleep better at night. Who's going to step up to the plate?