{    Cnytr   }

{Wednesday, June 30, 2004  }

This makes me want to be a lawyer...

In case you can't tell, one of my pet things is porn -- I hate it with a passion, and consider it (practically) the root of all of society's evils. And so today I bought my very first newspaper (USA Today -- we have the local paper delivered daily) because of this big, bold headline:

Justices block limits on Net porn

"The justices affirmed a lower court's order blocking the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which bans commercial Web site operators from posting sexually explicit material that can be seen by those under age 17. The law makes the operators responsible for installing age-verification systems. Violators can be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. The law has not been enforced."

I find a few things wrong with that:

1) there are, in all reality, no age restrictions on the internet. Any schmo can set up his own private porn site, or move them around before the gov't cracks down on it. It's the internet ... it's as flowable and mutable as water. Look how hard it is for them to crack down on downloading music files. I got away with it for years (I don't anymore). Yes, they're cracking down on some, but there's no way they can prevent all of it. Furtheremore, there are some good pre-17 year old hackers out there. Furthermore, any idiot can grab a credit card, even if it's not theirs.

2) "The law has not been enforced" ... possibly because it's close to impossible to enforce?

"The court's majority suggested the law is likely unconstitutional, and it suggested that perhaps parents, rather than lawmakers, should take the lead in screening kids' Web access."

I will say that is a goodish argument. However -- and this is what makes me want to be a lawyer -- there MUST be some legalese way to prove that pornography is first and foremost a violation of the rights of women, and therefore cannot be protected by "free speech". I wonder how many hairs you can split to defite "free speech", though that might be a dangerous route. Augh... I wish I knew how to speak this language.

"Dissenting justices countered that COPA is the least restrictive way to regulate speech, and they noted that the law does not censor material."

..."the law does not censor material" ... hmmm... something about that picks at the back of my brain. It does in wartime ("Good Morning Vietnam" comes to mind)... I suppose foul language and porn out of newspapers and most magazines is ... what, that code of journalism thing or something... I remember being shocked by newspapers/magazines in London when my family went there when I was 12. There was pornographic material and foul language in advertisements and regular articles in normal newspapers and magazines.

What makes American journalism more decent?

"Justice Stephen Breyer acknowledged that the law puts "some burden on adults" who want to view porn, because age-verification software usually asks for credit card numbers. But he said such a burden is "modest."

Breyer disputed the benefits of filters and noted that not every family has the money or interest to install them. He was joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice Antonin Scalia dissented in a separate opinion"

I ditto the latter paragraph.

That's it, I'm calling up a Catholic lawyer and writing up an anti-porn case.

You know ... I wonder if it's possible to shadow a lawyer and see what they do. It seems to me that being a lawyer is tricky business, especially when it comes to honesty (like being an actress; if you want bread on the table, you usually have to compromise your morals somehow, otherwise you don't get hired). I have almost no direction to my life right now. I'll just throw "law" into the pot of "possible practical professions".
posted by Lauren, 10:46 PM | link | 0 comments

This is a post in response to SarahMc's comment on my fuming about why terrorists get the benefit of the American justice system:

We give terrorists the benefit of the American justice system because America was built on that whole "all men are created equal" thing, where we all have certain rights that we need to keep a hold on and extend to all others no matter what... anyway, it's called the American *JUSTICE* system, not the American *be-pansy-on-terrorists* system, so one would assume that, if the system works at all, they'll get what they deserve. And hey, if they don't, there are probably some vigilante types out there who will take matters into their own hands, so don't worry about it.

That's right ... America was built on "all men are created equal" thing. Terrorists are (for the most part) not American. Therefore, non-Americans do not get the benefit of *being* American, which includes the benefit of the American justice system. And I would take that same phrase: "American *JUSTICE* system", and re-emphasize it "American *JUSTICE* system". Terrorists deserve justice ... but their own country with their own whatevers.

(Furthermore, Vigilante's in this case are undesired and irrelevant.)
posted by Lauren, 10:41 PM | link | 0 comments

You know what's really neat? The fact that I can post on my blog via email.

I was in the DC area yesterday, and because of this I listened to a lot of news (you can't help it in DC, if you don't land on WTOP news-radio, all the regular music station have news updates every four minutes, practically). And a few things came up ...

...first of all, why are we giving non-Americans, *terrorists*, no less, the benefit of the American justice system?

Second, the Army is recalling many of its retired for service in Iraq. This isn't reinstatement of the draft (but a very clever way to get around it), but the first thing I want to know is what is the criteria for being called up again? Surely they must mean the recently retired, and not people who have been retired for 5-10 years. Otherwise, holy cow ... my dad is retired military. Of course he was in the very un-hooah Dental corps. He was all ready to go to Iraq for the first Desert Storm, but they deactivated his unit when right before they would have been called up (that's the Clinton administration for you). But what about the very-hooah recently retired, like my West Point liaison officer? Or the not-recently retired (again 5-10 years) but really good-at-everything-especially MI and nuclear whatchamacalit, like Mr. Laird and Mr. Harpin?

According to this news story, they say that those who will be called up will have "recently" left the service (define "recently"?) and who "have the most up-to-date skills"... "The Army is pinpointing certain skills in short supply, like medical specialists, military police, engineers, transportation specialists and logistics experts. Those selected for recall will be given at least 30 days' notice to report for training, an Army statement said."

Well this is a bit more comforting...

"Those in the Individual Ready Reserve are former enlisted soldiers and officers who have some nonactive-duty military service obligation remaining, under terms they signed when they signed on but who chose not to fulfill it in the Guard or Reserve....
The Army frequently must integrate reservists with its active-duty forces, but it rarely has to reach into the Individual Ready Reserve. The Army has about 117,000 people in this category of reservist; the Navy has 64,000, the Marine Corps 58,000 and the Air Force 37,000."

I don't really know what all that means but it kind of sounds good. I don't think my dad will be called up. He's too fat. [G] But that would come close to ruining us financially. And that would be scary. But that's alright, the same thing has happened to a bunch of other peoples' dads. Scary is okay. I've this insane notion that, if he were to be called up, I'd enlist under some MOS of which he'd have command and see if I can request his unit or ... something. That wouldn't work, but that's what's been going through my head.

The war is touching closer and closer to home.


And in other news, my astute commentary of Ragtime coming soon.
posted by Lauren, 9:38 AM | link | 0 comments

{Tuesday, June 29, 2004  }

By the way, congrats to all the New Cadets who survived R-Day at West Point yesterday. Go '08! Go New Cadet Ahern! ;)
posted by Lauren, 6:25 AM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, June 28, 2004  }

By the way, I in no way meant to insinuate that Vatican II is properly "liberal" as the liberals seem to think it is. Vatican II definitely does not mean throw the baby out with the bathwater.


(This is odd... I have no idea who my blogging audience is, I don't know when is a proper time to give disclaimers or not; should I take this time to explain Vatican II?)

Sometimes I wonder about people out there ... "is anybody there? Does anybody care?"

I started this blog as a way of giving witness by leading a semi-normal Catholic life. Since I've attempted to eject all parts of my personal life from this blog having moved it elsewhere, I don't really know what to write here. I don't really have a target audience anymore. Most of the hits I get are from when I post news stories here... another vast majority come from Catholic Ragemonkey, The Curt Jester, and Kate F's blog (a cadet at West Point). Kind of a wide mix there ... Catholics who know what I'm talking about, Army people, and people who surf in looking for news and get my (very bad) commentary, or who surf in looking for porn.

And for that I want to revise my post on porn.

Yes, it's official, ever since I replaced the "0" with the actual letter "o", no longer hiding the word from search engines, I've been getting hits for that, not only people looking for that picture of John Kerry's daughter at Cannes, but for pictures from the ultra-pornographic movie passing as "film", Ninesongs. I've gotten other kind of random hits I've had to read and delete ... I wonder what those people think when they find my blog. I purposefully added "Innocence" and "Modesty" as icons to this blog. This blog is a piece of myself in that way -- dying to give witness through practicality and daily life, "sometimes using words" as St. Francis of Assisi would say; but at the same time wanting to reach such a wide audience of people from all walks of life, which means not being overly preachy. One thing I dislike intensely is the Bible-thumping person who's got the whole durn thing memorized backwards, forwards, and sideways but doesn't bat an eye when their faith is called into question through action. When they preach Christianity but act un-Christianly ... that's something I can't abide. I know it's something we all do to some extent... but it's worse to see a Jesus freak constantly fall from grace. Part of my weakness is also being just plain dumb. There have been multiple times I've challenged greater minds than my own to dialogue, and come out frustrating, seemingly having "lost" the discussion. I want very much to be a great mind ... St. Thomas Aquinas is one of my *favorite* saints, I would love to be just like him (as opposed to those saints one may love, but want to be nothing like. I.e., St. Rita). Or C.S. Lewis -- I wish he were Catholic, but he reached *so* many in his writings on Christianity, on several levels -- on a literary, natual-law level in "Abolition of Man", on an allegorical level in children's stories in "The Chronicles of Narnia", in expressions of his own life both in "Surprised by Joy" and "A Grief Observed", and a very direct level in his talks on the BBC radio network which were eventually compiled into "Mere Christianity". I love that man. I wish J.R.R. Tolkien had been a bit more like him in this respect, although there is *so* much Catholicism in his "Chronicles of Narnia", especially in "Return of the King" (my favorite book).

I'm the person people point to as "cute, but dumb". I strive to be an intellectual but fall short by a long shot. So if the only way I'm going to give any kind of witness is by living my faith then, by golly, I'm going to do it.

And you know what's really weird? It actually works. There have been so many times I have been near despair; it seems I hadn't been *doing* anything. I hadn't engaged anyone in outright dialogue, but if a topic came up I would defend the truth to the best of my abilities (and by "topic" I don't even mean a specifically religious topic, like transubstantiation). I don't want to push too much, because that turns people off sometimes. And to tell you the truth, sometimes I feel like a wimp because of it. Not at the time, mind you, but later when I think of all the things I *could* have said that maybe would have swayed the person one way or another or caused them to think. However, whenever I feel quick on my feet and think of something like that while still in conversation and when I say it, I usually has the opposite effect. You can't change a person's mind in a minute through dialogue. Or... at least ... I can't. Evidently, that's not what God wants me to do, not my place in life right now. That is not to say I shun the dialogue, not at all. But other people have frightened me half to death coming up to me later and saying that they're impressed by the way I do this or that, the way I live my life. Or even in smaller ways, people will just notice that certain things make me uncomfortable in conversation without my saying anything, and out of respect for me they will stop doing those things in conversation... sometimes permanently. I found this most to be the case in ROTC. It was amazing, I didn't say anything. And what's even cooler, the one time someone noticed this unspoken code and started abusing it, one of my battle-buddies ragged him for it. I had other people defending my innocence. That was cool... I didn't think I was doing anything ... but apparently I was.

It's odd. Really odd. But it's wonderful. People will notice. They may or may not say something, I've learned, but they notice.

I suppose I should take that attitude here ... it doesn't matter if people say something or not. Keep praying, and keep doing that Christian/Catholic thang, and hopefully you'll influence people ... by prayers, and by example.

Keep the faith, my friend.
posted by Lauren, 10:59 PM | link | 0 comments

First there was Ave Maria Singles...

I was on The Shrine of the Holy Whapping, and for some reason noticed their Google syndication ad at the top of every free-blogger account thing. It was quite amusing:

Latin Mass Singles

Many Traditional Single Catholics; Real community of Catholic Singles

Alriiiiight! Sign me up! (Not)

But one of the nice things advertised on "Exciting Events for Catholics" was "Steubenville/Pittsburgh Weekly Adoration". So if they have the Steubenville community there, it can't be too bad.

You know what's terrible, and one of the million and a half reasons I'm glad I never went to Steubenville? There are, of course, a plethora of good Catholic men there -- hoorah for the ladies, as these seem to be few and far between in the regular college scene. However, one very common reason for breakups is that the gentleman says he feels called to the priesthood. Often this was merely an excuse to break up and they were not *actually* feeling a call. That's hoooooorrible. I've been on the receiving end of that excuse before, but whatsisface wasn't fibbing.

Kind of makes me wish I was born in the Eastern Rites.

But speaking of the Western Rites, and the scourge that is Haugen and Haas, I will stand up and say that there are a few -- very few -- modern hymns in that wretched green "Gather" book that aren't all that bad. One that seems to be following me around lately is "Center of my Life" based off of Psalm 16, a familiar Psalm from evening prayer. I was apparently done in 1947 by Paul Inwood.

In the ideal world of a Western-Rite-wide Liturgical re-reform, we could make everybody happy not only by tossing out the disgusting "Gather Us In" songs and keeping the old goodies that "nobody" seems to want to hear (I'd like to find this "nobody") like "Vexilla Regis Prodeunt", but to keep people who hold Vatican II as their liberal banner happy, keep things like "Center of My Life" or this one Easter Alleluia Song ("Why do you look for the living among the dead? / He is not here, He has been raised / To new Life, Alleluia, Alleluia"). There are SOME good modern hymns. I wonder if I shall be stoned for saying this, but I will stand by it.

There are also some bad older hymns. Of course, when I say this I think of certain African-American spirituals what have been adapted as "hymns" -- like "Wade in the Water". I sang that once with a group (not for Mass, thank goodness), and it's a fun spiritual... but it doesn't belong in church. Like there are certain instruments that are mostly associated with modern pop music (guitars, drums) that don't belong in church because when you hear them, you don't think of church, you don't concentrate on the Mass, you think of "dude, that sounds like a Brittaney Spears song", or other popp-y thing. It doesn't draw your mind and heart upwards as it is supposed to do.

A grey area here would be something like Steubenville. There's good Theology in those lyrics, and the music isn't bad either. It also touches a specific group uniquely. Hmm. Maybe because of that, it's alright in Steubenville where you would expect it, but not in regular parish Masses. But then again, I think of songs like "The Cup of Life Outpoured" ("Who am I that I should recieve / The cup of Life out poured? / The bread of Life, the cup of Christ / The Body of my Lord... / Lord I believe, help my unbelieve / Cause me to see you as you are") etc. I wonder if it would be the same adapted from guitars to piano... or even better, the organ.

I myself prefer a mass in an Abbey, half in Latin half in English (best of both worlds) with half-chant and half-traditional music stuff on the organ. I have seen this done exactly once -- Easter Vigil Mass at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. It has always been a dream of mine to find a Benedictine or Dominican abbey somewhere in the middle of rural France or Spain and hear Mass in Latin, entirely chanted by the order. I think that would be awesome.

I forgot why I went on this tangent.

I wonder what Dr. Frat would say. I can almost see him shaking his head at me before launching into a very long response about the evils of any amount of modernity ("qua modernity"), even though I would argue that "modern" hymns aren't modernity per se; indeed modernity has absolutely no place in the church, as one of the tenents of modernity is an utter rejection of ... almost everything, including tradition, Tradition, and God. A hymn that reeks of modernity would likely be something entirely cacophonic, played upon a mixture of obscure tribal and classical instruments with no vocals whatsoever, unless they were to be chanting nonsense.

That's a bit of a stretch, actually.

Anyway, here is the hymn that has been following me around lately. I think God is trying to tell me something. Enjoy:

Center of My Life
O Lord, you are the center of my life
I will always praise you
I will always serve you
I will always keep you in my sight

Keep me safe O God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord "You are my God,
My happiness lies in you alone,
My happiness lies in you alone."

O Lord, you are the center of my life
I will always praise you
I will always serve you
I will always keep you in my sight

I will bless you, Lord, you give me counsel,
And even at night direct my heart.
I keep you, Lord, ever in my sight
Since you are at my right I shall stand firm.

O Lord, you are the center of my life
I will always praise you
I will always serve you
I will always keep you in my sight.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad
Even in safety shall my body rest
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
Nor let your beloved know decay.

O Lord, you are the center of my life,
I will always praise you
I will always serve you
I will always keep you in my sight.

You will show me the path of life,
The fullness of joy in your presence,
At your right hand, at your right hand
Happiness forever.

O Lord, you are the center of my life,
I will always praise you
I will always serve you
I will always keep you in my sight.
posted by Lauren, 1:42 PM | link | 4 comments

{Thursday, June 24, 2004  }

I'm going to stop stealing these things off Sarah's blog...

How to make a Lauren

1 part pride

1 part arrogance

5 parts
Blend at a low speed for 30 seconds. Add a little cocktail umbrella and a dash of lovability


Personality cocktail
From Go-Quiz.com

I just did that one because it's weird. "1 part pride, 1 part arrogance, 5 parts"...? 5 parts what? 5 nondescript parts? 5 parts creator's discretion... I'm just whatever someone wants me to be? Or there are only 5 parts to me on the whole -- I'm a simple person? Meh?

They got the pride and arrogance right. duh.

"Lovability"... that's like something happy and fuzzy that bounces around like "Look at me! I'm so loveable!" Ewww.
posted by Lauren, 4:39 PM | link | 0 comments

And I will play the penniless, tango-dancing sitar player!

He will sing like an angel, but DANCE like the DEVIL!

Note to self: read something that exposes the mind of Baz Luhrmann and his artistic influences; write paper on Shakespeare, the play-within-a-play and how it affects the plot and what it meants, the phrase "all the world's a stage"; the stage and theatre in Shakespeare's plays, comparing it with Moulin Rouge and how it follows (or doesn't) the traditions set this way. Also, a comparison of the visual symbolism of the movie with the verbal symbolism of Shakespeare. Comparison of Shakespeare with Moulin Rouge.

It fits the bill. Shakespeare for his time was avant-garde, bawdy, musical, witty, tragi-comical, and intended for a wide range of audience, from the ill-educated peasant ("duuuude... it's, like Nicole Kidman! She's sooo hott") to the better-educated upperclass and royalty ("and clearly the occurrances of the avian imagery vividly elucidates the vicissitude in which the main character finds herself"). And it blends in pop culture ("Love is a many-spleandored thing, love lifts us up where we belong -- all you need is love!")

"And in the end should someone die?"

Now I wasn to know ... did Baz Luhrmann come up with this all by himself? Who wrote the script, who conceptualized this movie? That person is absolutely brilliant, and they definitely have the potential to be a modern Shakespeare. Unfortunately, I don't think the modern public is ready for another Shakespeare. I remember reading bad reviews of the movie when it came out. Critics pretend to be educated ... bah.

One day I am going to write a book about this movie.

Disclaimer: I said the movie was a bit racy. I in no way condone the raciness. Also, the seduction scene in the beginning is just embarrassingly bad. I have this whole theory of how Satine is not actually a courtesan (not even defiled at all, in fact), and thus doesn't actually have any clue of what she's supposed to be doing. A real courtesan is someone like Nini who makes horrible/disgusting puns, and is embittered and base... every thing you see in the streetwalkers singing "Lovely Ladies" from the musical Les Miserables. By comparison, Satine is sweet and innocent. The "Diamonds" scene in the beginning is just ... play, nothing more than a stage-act. She is so beautiful and desireable precisely because she is untouchable. Mind you I'm not holding her up as a model for chastity.

But still. That's another argument.

Gosh I love that movie.

One day I'll fly away...
posted by Lauren, 12:35 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, June 23, 2004  }

So I made a new blog... open to the public, I just wanted to separate the content from here. That blog, An American in Italy, is located at FallRomer.blogspot.com . Other University of Dallas Rome people might find it helpful. If somehow you are a '04 Fall Romer and you stumble across this blog or the Rome one, please drop me an email.

While I'm in Europe, I'll be posting pictures and amusing anecdotes there... so long as uploading works. Anecdotes will definitely be forthcoming, however.


("That's I-talian for 'food'!")
posted by Lauren, 1:33 PM | link | 0 comments

{Tuesday, June 22, 2004  }

USMA Girlfriends

I was looking at my site stats today to see who was visiting, and one of the search engine hits was "USMA girlfriend". I followed this search and founf usmagirlfriends.net, put together by, surprise, girlfriends of cadets at USMA. The website is rather juvenile and very girly, but cute and with good intentions.

I remember when I was a USMA girlfriend. It really stinks. Of course it doesn't stink nearly as much as the toughest job in the Army -- the Army wife. And kudos to all those soldiers' girls.
But it's still difficult, not only because of the distance involved but because, at first, it's a different world. A person can get sucked in and go overboard. I wasn't Jon's girlfriend at the time, but when he was there during the first semester of his first year, he was hardly the Jon that I knew, and I told him so. (The irony now is that *I'm* getting so fired up about West Point, that I hear myself repeating a lot of the things that he used to say...) There are also so goshdarn many rules, it's difficult for people on the outside to understand the whys and wherefores. There's a whole different mindset there, at times it can be a different culture. One of the most annoying and dismissive things I kept hearing was "you're not here, you wouldn't understand". And then there's additional emotional strain... everybody hates West Point to some degree (except, I think for Aubrey), and sometime a cadet's just gotta complain. And there's not a darn thing a girl can do about it, except maybe what I did which was to justify whatever... "oh, there's a good reason and a higher purpose for that..." I'm sure that got equally annoying.

I hated West Point while Jon was there (and we when we were dating). Funny, now I want to go there.

But anyway. Any girl dating a cadet at West Point should know what she's getting herself into first. Hopefully she'll be lucky and end up like this:

posted by Lauren, 8:05 PM | link | 4 comments

When will these barbarians ever stop? Nick Berg, Paul Marshall Johnson, and now this Korean Kim Sun-il.

I know it's easier said than done but we need to find these people, and they need to be tried for war crimes and executed. If this were a Dantean contrapasso, it would be in some weird but very fitting manner.

In fact, Dante puts Mohammed in hell with the warmongers and the violent. The punishment for them is violent laceration:

...As one I mark’d, torn from the chin throughout
Down to the hinder passage: ’twixt the legs
Dangling his entrails hung, the midriff lay
Open to view, and wretched ventricle,
That turns the englutted aliment to dross.
Whilst eagerly I fix on him my gaze,
He eyed me, with his hands laid his breast bare,
And cried, “Now mark how I do rip me: lo!
How is Mohammed mangled: before me
Walks Ali weeping, from the chin his face
Cleft to the forelock; and the others all,
Whom here thou seest, while they lived, did sow
Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent.
A fiend is here behind, who with his sword
Hacks us thus cruelly, slivering again
Each of this ream, when we have compast round
The dismal way; for first our gashes close
Ere we repass before him.

~Dante, Inferno XXVIII.24-40
(courtesy bartleby.com)

Unfortunately that is the vengeance of God, not meant for man. Otherwise they would stand in this circle, holding their own heads, much like Bertrand de Born (except that Bertrand de Born is depicted with his head cut off because he sewed emnity between father and son ... figuratively cutting the head (father) from the body (son). Thus, the Dantean contrapasso).

But back to the task at hand: I'm hoping the handover in Iraq will do something. Obviously these sick and twisted infidels (to use their terminology) want to kill Americans. And it makes most pro-American Americans (unlike the anti-American Americans, aka Democrats) want to kill Iraqis. Get them before they get us. So by pulling out of Iraq and letting the place collapse in on its own head, hopefully they will 1) be nowhere near us, 2) have no more reason for hating us (now we can point at them and say "it's your own stupid fault now"), 3) be out of reach of us. This will not solve the problem of Al-Qaeda, of course, (and recognize that some of the above is entirely the wrong attitude to take; it is merely a rant) but it will SHUT THE REST OF THE WORLD UP.

Forgive me for sharing the following moment of horror, but I wish we could bash it over the liberals' heads. Do they realize what the people in Abu Gharib did under Saddam Hussein? from The Daily Star:

Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."

If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:

"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."

"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."

"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."

posted by Lauren, 4:11 PM | link | 0 comments

A cursory glance of the safety of these places via travel.state.gov:

1. Switzerland: "The potential for specific threats or acts of violence involving American citizens in Switzerland is remote; nonetheless, travelers should always review their security practices and be alert to their surroundings. The Consular Agencies in Zurich and Geneva may close periodically to assess their security situations. Americans are encouraged to check the Consular Affairs home page for updated travel and security information... Switzerland has a low rate of violent crime. However, pick-pocketing and purse snatching do occur in the vicinity of train and bus stations, airports, and some public parks, especially during peak tourist periods (such as summer and Christmas)... Liechtenstein has a low crime rate. Travelers may wish to exercise caution on trains, especially on overnight trains..."
2. Austria: "Austria has a low crime rate, and violent crime is rare. However, crimes involving theft of personal property have increased in recent years. Travelers can become targets of pickpockets and purse-snatchers who operate where tourists tend to gather. Some of the most frequently reported spots include Vienna’s two largest train stations, the plaza around St. Stephan’s Cathedral and the nearby pedestrian shopping areas (in Vienna’s First District)."
3. Italy: "There have been occasional episodes of violence in Italy, most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. At various times, Italian authorities have found bombs outside public buildings, have received bomb threats and were subjects of letter bombs. Firebombs or Molotov cocktails have been thrown at buildings or offices in the middle of the night. These incidents have all been attributed to organized crime or anarchist movements. Americans were not targeted or injured in these instances... Demonstrations may have an anti-American character. Even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn into confrontational situations and possibly escalate into violence..." and GOSH there's a huge thing on crime, calling petty crime a "serious problem". No wonder I'm so paranoid about being robbed, all my experience is in Italy where this stuff is commonplace. Next to Greece, Italy is probably the least-safe place I'll be, I'm guessing.
4. France: "Over the last year, arrests have been made in France in connection with various possible terrorist plots... In the past, political assassinations and random bombings have occurred in France. The Basque Separatist Party (ETA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC) continue to operate in the south of France and occasionally bomb local government institutions, banks, travel agencies, etc. There have been numerous politically motivated bombings on the island of Corsica and there have been two bombings on the mainland near Nice following the conviction and sentencing of several prominent separatists in France... while the overall crime rate has fallen slightly in recent years, the volume of crimes involving violence has increased in France..." darn, a big amount of petty crime in France, as well. I lied, it probably goes Greece, France, Italy.
5. Spain... looks like France, except more violent crime. So, Greece, Spain, France, Italy.

Maybe I'll just move to Switzerland. Set up shop there. Marry a Swiss guard. Haaaaa. The first time i went to Rome, I was rather taken with the swiss guard, all of whom are young, handsome, and Catholic. I have a whole page devoted to pictures of them, with ridiculous little hearts of red, yellow, and blue.

I think I'll have a few places I have to go (Cascia, Florence -- to visit JohnE, Switzerland and aforementioned places), and then kind of wing the rest. See who wants to go where. Even though I don't know anybody going to Rome in the fall, 90% of the people I know are going in the spring. I'm going in fall so I can hurry up and get out of Dallas, though they say it's harder to leave after you've been to Rome. However, I have my insurance against that: I don't want to be a classicist anymore and, in fact, I want to learn Arabic, something which UD does not offer.

Golly, I didn't realize how late it is. I'm going now.
posted by Lauren, 12:27 AM | link | 0 comments

So this is exciting. A trip to Greece is mandatory. I confess this is something towards which I was not looking forward. But this makes it a little more exciting:

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Greece shares with the rest of the world an increased threat of transnational terrorism. Civil disorder is rare, although strikes and demonstrations are a regular occurrence. Major international public events in Greece, such as the upcoming Olympic Games, are likely to draw significant numbers of protestors, and the possibility of protestor violence is heightened during these events. Visitors should keep abreast of news about large demonstrations and avoid places where demonstrators frequently congregate, such as the Polytechnical University area, and Exarchion, Omonia, Syntagma, and Mavili (near the U.S. Embassy) Squares, and Aristotle Square in Thessaloniki, at such times. In 2003, Greek authorities made significant progress toward combating domestic terrorism with the trial and conviction of the leader and key hit men of the “November 17” group. Other domestic groups continue to pose a threat to American interests in Greece. Of special concern are the Greek and international anarchist groups which have targeted U.S. commercial interests with small explosive devices in the past and may continue sporadic attacks and participate in demonstration activity during the 2004 Olympics.


Ugh. Big, dirty, crowded Athens. Not my cup of tea.
posted by Lauren, 12:23 AM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, June 21, 2004  }

I SO just bombed my pre-calc test. Like, there is NO way I passed it ... and I have no clue how that happened, because I knew that stuff. I'm going to need a *miracle* to pass this class. This is definitely not helping the chronic nausea I've had since Saturday.

So I've decided to become suicidal and go to the Arab world while I"m in that hemisphere. Haaha. No seriously, I have this weird weird desire to go to Libya. And right now, there's this guy who is pretty much straight Italian who grew up in Libya, and speaks passable Arabic. I told him if he wants to go there between August and December and wants to take me, I can meet him in Tripoli.

What I really need right now is a map, and the US State department guide. And probably the CIA Factbook.

List of places I want to visit:

1. Libya (best preserved Roman ruins in the world -- "Pompeii pales in comparison"; beautiful beaches; Ovid was exiled there)
2. Casablanca (partially because of the movie, and partially just ... because)
3. Gilbralter (Robert said I could have it --inside joke--)
4. Jordan (for Petra -- the place where "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was filmed)
5. Afghanistan (mostly because I want to go spelunking looking for Osama-yo-mamma ... with the Army)
6. Egypt (good Lord, man, it's EGYPT, do you HAVE to ASK?)
7. Saudi Arabia (Mecca and Medina...I'll walk from one to the other, and then I can add the name "Mohammed" to my name; I'll be Lauren N B Mohammed. Or would I be Lauren N Mohammed B? Maybe I'll just change my first name to "Mohammed". You can call me "Mo" for short.)
8. The Holy Land
9. The UAE (United Arab Emirates); a few girls who did online school with me (a different one) lived there. We did journalism class in 2001-2002. That was interesting after 9/11 (we had class on 9/12). I lost all respect for journalism after taking that class. This guy was recommending Abu Dhabi to me.
10. Now I'm just saying things to be weird: Qatar, because there's no "u" after the "Q".

No, seriously. I hate travel. So while I'm hating travel, I may as well ... ummmm... the logic made sense to me a second ago. Like, "I'm already wet, I may as well go swimming". I hate travel because of confusions between currency, language; travel time in general (I hate flying), terrorism, anti-American sentiment, and generally being out of my comfort zone. Something like Italy is manageable for all of the above -- the Euro's there I believe, I can fake the language, terrorist cells aren't so bad there, I can pretend to be Italian if they hate Americans, but it's hot there. I'm sure I'll get over the hating eventually. (And get this -- one of my good friends JohnE will be in Florence; theoretically I could hop a train every weekend and go have tea with him, more than I'm able to do *now*, though he lives in NY and I live in VA -- quite a manageable distance. However he lives in the Bronx, and his family have said "don't come here" for fear of my getting killed. Greaaat.)
So I'm already wet in the things I dislike about travel, it wouldn't matter if they were exacerbated... so let's make all of the above factors a million times worse. African/Arabic countries: where I'd have to fly from Rome, where the currency and the language is totally non-fakeable, where I don't really have a chance of hiding my Americanness unless beneath a burqa, where terrorism abounds, and where it will be hotter and more yukier than anywhere I've ever been in my life.

Bring it on. ;) It's the different stuff that nobody would do.

I have a desire to be different, and sometimes it can get irrationally. Right now I'm feeling like my life is terrible (though I know it could be much worse), so why not be a little wild and crazy, live life on the edge, wake myself up to how bad it COULD be. That, plus the fact that it's weird and nobody in their right mind would ever do that makes it very appealing to me, in addition to the reasons mentioned above.

Of course I'm being silly and divorcing these ideas with any kind of real threat in my mind, partially because I'm still upset about flunking pre-calc. I really have no idea what effect that's going to have on West Point.

Okay. Breathe, Lauren. You didn't flunk pre-calc yet, you can eat, sleep, live and breathe pre-calc from now until the final and bring your grade up (O for the days of extra credit). Besides, you know you know this stuff. Also, it's not going to matter if you flunk it here even if you know the material because credits don't transfer to West Point: you'll just have to figure out why you did flunk it (IF, indeed, you really *do*) and fix it before then. It's not so bad. It's not so bad. It's not so bad. (Keep telling yourself that ... "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful... I feel good, I feel great, I feel wodnerful...")

So back to my insane travel plans.

I also think it would be cool to go to India, but ONLY if I went with someone who absolutely knew what they were doing. When I think of India, I have two images in my head:
1. Mysterious, exotic jungles full of vampire bats and Hindi ruins; lots of history, the Indu-Kush river civilization; ... Stuff. Emphasis on the mysterious and exotic.
2. Eating beatles and monkey brains, poverty conditions, unwashed foreigners, hot, muggy, hot, hot, muggy, hot, hot, muggy, muggy, mosquitos the size of bluejays, all kinds of scary and disgusting vampiric venomous arachnids and insects and flea-bitten monkeys. Bubonic plague. Dead people floating in rivers. Or just the Ganges river.

On another note, I think i could handle the weirdness of Japan. However, a plane ticket from Rome to Tokyo is close to $700. I spent that much in a month last time I was in Italy. It would also be a disgustingly long plane ride.

I also think Vietnam would be cool. A guy named Quang, a biology major, who lived in my dorm came from Vietnam. However, unless I'm researching the war, I'd probably only go there with the Army.

Hey. I didn't know Macdedonia was still its own country. I thought it was sort of absorbed into Greece after Alexander the Great. Huh. Geography changes from 323 BC. Go figure. (That's my problem, my knowledge of geography is pretty dated. I recently wanted to know where Siam was. Also, I still thought whatchamacalit was a Greek state. Stupid classicisity.)

The slavic countries have absolutely no draw for me. So let's think about realistic places I could go:

1. The Alps are a must. I will not leave Europe without seeing the Alps. I'm in love with mountains. Thus, Northern Italy and Switzerland are on the list.
2. Austria, because I've seen "The Sound of Music" too much. Also because of Vienna, "the city of music". I'm too much a Mozart fan not to go.
3. France: the French countryside, everything I've read about in "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (especially my favorite, the very very obscure "Sir Percy Hits Back") and all those quaint paintings. Also, Paris because I've seen "Moulin Rouge" too many times and I want to go into the villaige Mon Marthe and join the Bohemian revolution. (I said something the other day, someone said "what's this about?" I said "It's about love overcoming all obstacles..." I almost broke into the Elephant Love Medley). Speaking of which, I saw a poster at a poster sale in the mall that I'm in love with and want to buy:

I love that ... "Above all, this story is about Love"

*ahem* anyway. That's rather funny, the Monsignior on Sunday (who, incidentally, is from Kilkenny, Ireland) said that when he was young, he and his best friend were all fired up to go on a pilgramage to Lourdes. They gave themselves a week to do it. They took a boat and went to Paris. One week later, they returned to Ireland hungry, broke, and completely having not gone to Lourdes. The next time they attempted that, they skipped Paris ...

Eh, I could probably pick out a few other things in France I would want to see.

Spain is thrown on the list grudgingly. I think it would be neat to make a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Dominic, though I think the place he was born doesn't exist anymore.

You know ... I don't know anything about Belgium.

When I think of the Netherlands, I think of the flagrant sexuality and homosexuality. And marshes. No thanks, I'll pass.

Sweden... when I think of Sweden, I think "bort bort bort!"

I also don't know anything about Portugal. I think I'll go there.

Also, England, Ireland, and Scotland (and Scotland only because I've never wanted to go there. This would seem to be a violation of Aristotle's law of non-contradiction; I say it's just me being ornery again).

Grandaddy Brannon went to Reykjavik, Iceland. When I think of Reykjavik, I think of "Journey to the Center of the Earth", and how the guy didn't speak Icelandic so he communicated to everyone in Latin.

Also I think a hiking/camping/riding tour of New Zealand would be AWESOME, but that's not exactly in the same hemisphere, not really doable. In fact, half these places aren't doable. Let's put some reality on this:

Mom is probably coming my last week there, so we'll have a week to travel. In that time, I was thinking either England/Ireland/Scotland, or Austria/Switzerland/France. If the former, it would probably be the obligatory trip to Edinburgh and Oxford, then mostly in Ireland. In fact, that would probably be easiest, since I'd porbably have a hard time doing that on 10-day unless another student could afford to fly out there with me. This is unlikely. It is also questionable as to how we'd get around, since we're not old enough to rent cars. Travel in the most of Europe is easier because of the Eurorail.

To fly to countries the train doesn't go (assumed flying out of Rome):
Abu Dhabi: $560
Tripoli: $635
London: $119
Dublin: $154
Cairo: $386

And everywhere else I can get to by rail. Ahhhh... nothing like a good, healthy dose of Reality. No Arab-speaking countries for me. This is good, because dad said he didn't want to have to pay my ransom. Of course I could always run around Germany doing stupid stuff, that ought to wake up the myriads of Al-Qaeda cells there.

You know what's crazy? How small and varied Europe is as opposed to America. I remember riding from Rome to Assisi. That's a goodish chunk of Italy in 2 hours or so ... that's like my driving up to Alice's house in Arlington, VA.

I wonder how accurate Mapquest Europe is. It covers Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Darn I need a good set of maps right now.

I am going to go to Cascia, because I've always loved St. Rita. However, I have yet to figure out how I'm going to get there. I think a Sr. Marie Celine I know went there, I should somehow magically find out how she got there. Like maybe her parents know. *cough*

So there's the bratinness of my planned European travels for my now-mandatory semester in Rome studying things I don't plan to use ever.
posted by Lauren, 10:40 PM | link | 0 comments

My life is complete. My blog came up on a search for "50's sexy librarian look". (Note to self: take pictures of Bye Bye Birdie skirt)

Pray for me today, please -- I have a midterm in pre-calc for which I'm not prepared. :P
posted by Lauren, 12:21 PM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, June 20, 2004  }

I am buying this season of The Simpsons if/when it ever comes out on DVD. The best episode, or one of them, just played. Homer Simpson as Pie Man... and every Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Spam-man reference in the book was used (actually, Spam Man is my own superhero, a former unassuming, mild-mannered German/Math/Religion teacher at my old Catholic school...). It was hysterical! Though I must confess my weakness for the cheesy comic-book hero-type thing. Even though I've never watched an episode of Batman, and I have yet to see a Superman movie. I am a product of a later generation, and I feed the whatchamacalit on this new rash of movies put out by Warner Brothers and Marvel Comics. I will one day, eventually, get around to the old Batman shows and the Superman movies.

One superhero I love that probably nobody's ever heard of, a REALLY old-school guy: The Shadow. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? ... the SHADOW knows ... mwahahahahahahahahahahaaa!!!" (One of the best talks given by Fr. Benedict Groeschel was one in which he compared The Shadow to Christ [it was his juvenile understanding of Christology]). They made a movie of The Shadow with Alec Baldwin in the 90's, I think. And we have copes of the old 30's radio show, with all the advertisements for soap and blue coal. Fantabulous stuff, and I've always had a thing for gumshoe detectives, film noir, and 20's crime drama since. Philip Marlowe is my hero. I will say "The Maltese Falcon" (the book) is overrated; Bogart, however, is priceless in the movie. Rocks SO much.

*homage, homage*

The odd thing is the culture's taking of the superhero to the vigilante. We go from things like Spiderman ("with power comes great responsibility, that's the chatchphrase of old Uncle Ben; if you missed it don't worry, they'll say the line ... again and again and again", to quote Weird Al; still a good phrase) to ... Daredevil (I LIKED that movie ... though I hated Ben Afleck in the role and there was some pathetic acting, there were some great butt-kicking scenes, and someone *died* -- a very rare thing, and why I hate Luke Skywalker [<-- this is my Mara Jade-ness coming through]) and other things like Boondock Saints or flat-out revenge films like Kill Bill.

Anything about the most basic, most classic, most parody-able superhero and villain hold a lot of interest for me, for some weird, weird reason. I used to love watching "Rollie Pollie Ollie and the Great Defender of Fun" with my niece Grace when she was 2ish. I loved Gloomius Maximus, the bad guy -- he was just so classic.

When I first met my friend Fr. Paul, I was a dumb little 13-year-old. In fact, I believe I met Fr. Paul on my 13th birthday, with my dorky braces and totally lost expression (as indeed I was ... I could not find my youth minister or youth group anywhere; I was in the middle of a zillion seminarians and kids from all over the MD/DC/VA/PA area, and was quite lost). As we got to be better friends, he introduced me to this book he was writing about the Cosmic Caped Crusaders. Originally it was just his characters, Colonel Smirk, and Agent X (and the original story was VERY classic), but eventually I talked him into expanding it. And I'm so mean, I wrote myself in as two characters. I'm my own evil twin -- Lieutenant Lauren is the evil personal, Colonel Smirk's second in command on their quest to make the universe a more miserable place (gosh! how could I predict my college-age self when I was 13? haha... just kidding ;)), and Mild Mannered Miss Mara: kind of flighty, very optemistic and silly and fun, always daydreaming and getting yelled at it and for flunking math tests, and being left at home alone by her parents. Fabulously, she and her friend Astro Angie get recruited for the good guys to help save the world.

It was a great little story. I got to write in a few scenes. Hopefully Fr. Paul will finish and PUBLISH this thing soon. Six years later it's still in the works.

I want co-author credit.

Also, according to my computer, I wrote this in November of 2002:

The Lady or the Villain?
A completely non-unified amusing bundle of thoughts brought to you courtesy of
Lauren B.

Having seen Spiderman again, I’m prompted to ask myself: generally, is it better to be a damsel in distress or the villain in some kind of classic comic-book-type scenario? Such an intellectual question requires in-depth analysis, starting with pros and cons.

The classics “damsel in distress” might be fun, as all she needs to do is run around looking pretty and getting into trouble. Sooner or later, the superhero will swing out of nowhere and rescue her from certain death, even if she’s stupid enough to do something such as run down a dark alley alone pursued by malicious antagonists. (“Oh no! I’m being pursued by malicious antagonists! Surely I’ll be safe in this sinister yet deserted street!”) The only other thing the damsel does is croon, “oh (blank)-man! You’re so (adjective)!” or words to that effect, depending, of course, who the superhero is. However, what would one say to “Birdman”? “Oh Birdman, you’re so… feathery?” How romantic.

What, then, of being a villain? This must be more fun, as one can gallivant about, saying such mysterious and extremely subtle things as, “We’ll meet again, (blank)-man!” or, “It’s time to die!!!” (My favorite Spiderman line) One also has the advantages of mindless minions running around at one’s beck and call, and the creative freedom of scheming various ways to take over the world. However, I’m told that the best part of being a villain is torturing one’s adversary once he is caught. Of course it is undesirable to kill him quickly: as a villain, one is obligated to put him in an extremely complex and highly escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death. We villains are far too busy taking over the world to actually watch the hero die, however satisfying – it is necessary for us to leave the room so that he can escape.

I say “we” because I was recently given an online “what kind of villain are you” test, and my results said that I am a “professional villain” – that is to say, the classic comic-book villain. I've suspected something like this, although I think my particular villain-ness will reveal itself much later on in my life. It would have to for the sort of villain hideout I’m planning.

Oh, here’s an interesting and somehow relevant fact: when the continents first began to drift apart umpteen millions of years ago, the northernmost continent (what is now North America, Europe, and Asia) was called “Laurasia.”

I like it.

In fact, I think we should rename Asia/Europe/North America “Laurasia,” it would be much easier than attempting to remember the respective names. Who was the brilliant mind behind the name “North America”? You know, when I (villainously) become a zillionaire and have my multi-billion dollar mansion/secret lair, I’m going to call it “Laurasia.” Some people have “Pemberly Park”, “Bludleigh Court”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Riverside Manor” -- mine's going to be “Laurasia.” First a corner of a mountain, then the world! In the meantime, I think I’m going to suggest that one of the Dakotas be called “Laurasia”. I mean, there’s two already. We don’t need two Dakotas. What a waste of good names! At least the same guy who named the other continent didn’t get ahold of them. I mean, the other continent was called -- get this -- Gondwanaland. Who’d want to live in a place called “Gondwanaland”? You can’t live there with any sort of dignity.

(It’s like the Kickapoo Indians. How did they live with themselves? What would they do if they met other Indians from other tribes? “What’s your tribe?” “I’m Algonquin. What about you?” “I’m Kickapoo.” *Algonquin guy snorts*)

But back to my current villain status: right now, the only person to incur my unholy wrath is my three-year-old niece. This little two-foot-tall demon knows how to push every single one of my buttons in the shortest amount of time possible, and then somehow get away with it - but only when her mom (my sister) is around. When we two are alone, I feel an overwhelming desire sit on her and watch her flail her little arms and legs. Unfortunately, she would probably scream far too much for me to get away with it. Alas.

However, this is somewhat ironic: when I went overseas last summer with the University of Dallas, I had a wonderful time, and when my mother would occasionally call me to ask how I was doing, I told her I was fine. When she asked if I missed her, I said of course I was not. I was having too much fun with 500-year-old dead guys.

But then, it happened: I missed the little demon child! Somehow, in some way, she snuck up on me. I started missing her mischievous little face, her cute little turned-up nose, her muddy-green eyes and infernal flaming-red hair! I couldn't wait for her to start innocently lacerating the sensitive flesh on my feet as was her custom, the wretch. Of course when I got home and she did just that, I didn't miss her anymore.

I sat on her. Hah!
posted by Lauren, 8:30 PM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, June 18, 2004  }

Anyone know about traveling from Rome to Libya? If I can do that, maybe I'll go to Rome.
posted by Lauren, 11:34 AM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, June 13, 2004  }

In other news ... haha:


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator
From Go-Quiz.com
posted by Lauren, 9:54 PM | link | 0 comments

{Saturday, June 12, 2004  }


I did it.

I made a few corrections, added a word or two here or there, moved this and that around, and decided that since absolutely nobody was going to help me, I'd proof-read it myself. My academy nomination essay, I mean. So I did. And I found it worthy. And I mailed it.



*scaredscaredscared* Now it's time to seriously get my butt moving on being able to pass the PAE!
posted by Lauren, 6:27 PM | link | 0 comments

{Thursday, June 10, 2004  }

First-ever post from school (local comm. college where I take pre-calc & Western Civ; tonight it's Western Civ --

First, a brief rant. THE MOST OBNOXIOUS WOMAN IN THE WORLD sits in front of me. She attacked our teacher when he described a Greek sculpture of a woman in agony, saying "you can almost feel her pain." First she accused him of sounding like Clinton, then she said it was shallow and selfish to say we could ever feel her pain because "YOU can never really feel her pain." I attempted to talk to her later, but I got as far as saying "Miss Dawn, I was wondering if I could ask you..." :P She turned around, looked at me, gave me a cold dismissal, and walked away as I was in the middle of speaking to her. However this shall prompt a long post later of why she is wrong, and why that is a ridiculous thing to say. I wonder what its origin is.

Anyway, this is awesome:

Boy, 6, Critical After Saving Girl's Life

CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. -- Six-year-old Donnie Hauser-Richerme knew he couldn't swim, but he also knew the little girl in the murky, debris-filled swimming pool was in trouble.

Donnie jumped in and helped save 5-year-old Karah Moran's life before becoming stuck in five feet of blackened rain water and muck at the bottom of the deep end. Paramedics eventually rescued him, but he was in critical condition and on life support Thursday.

Karah called Donnie "my hero."

"I can't say enough about this little guy," said Chicago Ridge Police Chief Tim Baldermann. "It's amazing that this little kid, old enough to understand it's a dangerous situation, was so brave. Without thinking about himself he instinctively jumped in to help his friend."

The rescue happened Monday as Karah, Donnie, and his 4-year-old brother explored the apartment complex where their families live. Karah, who was visiting her grandmother at the complex, knew the location of an empty swimming pool on the grounds.

"She wanted to show the pool," said Karah's aunt, Bernadette Choate. "She didn't expect the gate to be unlocked."

A maintenance worker had been sent out to the pool that day to do some work, Baldermann said. Faced with a locked gate and no key, the worker cut the lock to get in. He wrapped a chain around the gate and left, but the children were able to remove the chain and get inside.

Karah either climbed or fell into the pool's shallow end, where there wasn't any water. But the bottom was slick with dead leaves and algae, causing her to slide down into the muck-covered deep end.

Donnie jumped into the shallow end and reached toward his friend to try to pull her to safety. But Karah weighs about 10 pounds more than Donnie, and between the weight and the slick surface, the boy slipped and both ended up in the water.

Karah's mother, Melany Moran, said her daughter told her that as the two were struggling in the water, Donnie helped her reach the ladder.

As somebody called 911, adults hurried to the pool area, but the water was so filthy, so filled with debris, that they couldn't see Donnie. Another maintenance man, Andre Mitchell, said he poked the water with a long aluminum pole used to clean pools but turned up nothing.

By the time the paramedics found Donnie, he had been under water anywhere from five to 20 minutes, Baldermann said.

He said prosecutors decided not to file charges against the owner of the complex after learning the maintenance man had cut the lock.

Melany Moran said she is worried about her daughter and plans on getting her into counseling "when this all dies down."

"Last night she had a nightmare," she said. "She was screaming, 'Help me, help me."
posted by Lauren, 8:02 PM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, June 09, 2004  }

Heyyyyy... that last post was post #500! Happy 500th post to me ...

I just had to post to call some attention to some great Holy Whapping posts...

(one short thing in a post I haven't read, which was discussing "How to dress like an architect", was "Memo to self: avoid chorus girls named Evelyn Nesbitt." Hahahaa. If you like Ragtime, you'll think that's funny. I still think I'm going to go see it on the 24th of this month...)

One was Man Allegedly Assaults Taco Bell Employee With Chalupa

Another was about the new Playmobil nun

Yet another Christopher West and Fr. Hogan ("from my diocese", says Emily -- sounds an awful lot like the Arlington diocese, yay!) talking about "Theology of the Body" in the NY Times. Rock on!

And the last I'll leave to Andrew in his own words, on "Why celebrate the passing of the seasons with fasting? Doesn't sound like celebrating, to me."
posted by Lauren, 4:25 PM | link | 0 comments

I thought NoVa businesses were off because of Regan's funeral. Apparently not. Anyway.

Tomorrow is the final day, I am sending my nomination packets in TOMORROW. I just realized in a panic that it is June and I have done next to nothing to prepare for the PAE. I HAVE HAVE HAVE to do well on the PAE. I feel that the PAE will be key to my getting in to West Point. Fortunately, Steph this morning invited me to train with her for the women's 4-miler (*dies*) which will meet 7:45 am outside UVA. Hopefully this will add structure and physical fitness back into my life.

I'm posting way too much personal stuff on my public blog (and I changed the subdomain name of my personal blog -- if I missed telling you what the new one is, email me). I suppose my justification for this is ... pray for me!
posted by Lauren, 3:18 PM | link | 0 comments

Ever do something and then ask yourself "why did I just DO that?"

I'm an idiot. :P
posted by Lauren, 2:05 PM | link | 0 comments


Ha. Ha. HA!

My ego has been inflated. I'm not totally worthless.

Dig this: I just got accepted to the Virginia Military Institute VMI).


Now the delimma, and I may very well be mad for even having this sort of reservation: I'm slated to go to Rome with the University of Dallas this fall. I don't really want to. I've already done the Rome thing, for a month. I don't really want to go in the fall of an election year, especially given the current anti-American climate. Especially not for that long. Three months is a long time. And it's obnoxious to pack for overseas for that long. And customs and this and that and all the annoyances of overseas long-term travel. One is now required to wear passports on their person, in case the Italian Polizia randomly want to search them. Just what happens if I get robbed blind by one of the zillions of gypsies?

Yes I'm absolutely insane.

However, what as an alternative? Stay ... go to VMI? But I haven't heard from West Point yet. Go through that Ratline crap for a whole year, then get accepted to West Point and have to go through plebe year? Have my head shaved for nothing? (Well, not shaved -- I talked to a lady there; women's hair must reach their ears -- the tops of them -- and then be tapered in the back, allowing a maximum length of one-inch long. And I was growing my hair out so I could tie it back. I'll look like a boy for six months) I think not. At least I know that I am military-academy material.

I wonder if I can use this information in my West Point application. "Hey look, I got accepted to one military academy. Now let me in and give me a free computer and an M16."

This makes me very happy. I may have been turned down from UVA, but I've been accepted to Catholic U and VMI. Very good, very good ... there is hope for me yet.

(If I don't get into West Point -- I shall hear next march -- I'll apply to VMI again; if they've accepted me once, I have confidence they'll accept me again. Adios, civilian life.)

BY the way, dad says that outside of VA, no one's ever heard of VMI. Patton (as in, General George S. -- and his forebears) went there first before he went to West Point, because he wasn't good at testing (go figure), as did General George C. Marshall, and Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson, and a bunch of VMI cadets participated (and died) in the battle of New Market, and, uh ... uh ...

Yeah, Ike, MacArthur, Lee, Grant, Patton, Pershing, Bradley, Schwartzkopf -- I realize West Point has a lot more famous graduates than VMI. Objectively it doesn't take a whole lot of brainpower to realize that West Point is a whole lot better than VMI. But I'll take what I can get, here.
posted by Lauren, 12:48 PM | link | 0 comments

Anger over 'torture' memo

And one more post.

I wonder if people are aware that Iraqis want to KILL AMERICANS?

I wonder if people are aware that Iraqis don't distinguish between civilians and military personell?

I wonder if people are aware that Iraqis, when they get American civilians, murder them, abuse them (physically, sexually), drag their bodies through the streets, hang them from bridges, and cut off their heads?

I'm beginning not to care about Abu Gharib with the excuse of "they deserve it".

Blahblahblah, I know, we're the good guys, we can't descend to their level. I'm still not excusing our soldiers. But I wonder why people are surprised. I wonder why people are shocked.

I say kill them before they kill us.

"...a 23-year-old driver, said: "My mother praises me for fighting the Americans. If we are killed, our wives and mothers will rejoice that we died defending the freedom of our country.

"I killed two Americans in Kufa only 10 days ago and I felt very proud. Now I just want to kill more and more. We will give our last drop of blood."

Know what? So should we. Iraq would benefit from a razing.

To anyone who would jump the gun, let me qualify a few things: I'm not really serious about some of this stuff. Yes, we should be shocked about the prison stuff, but not all that shocked. I think the press should report about more brutality the Iraqis do to Americans, and then see how people react when things like Abu Gharib come out. Who would have done this in WWII? "*gasp*! American soldiers put German soldiers' heads on pikes!" Yeah, freak out after reading about prison camps. Those weren't even Americans. This hits closer to home, almost. Our very countrymen.

I suppose my point here is my personal mantra: Chill out, everybody.

I also think people would benefit from more of their sons and daughters joining the armed forces (as may happen as the 9/11 generation grows up). It brings things like this closer to home -- what do those people say to the Nick Berg incident? I'm sure parents, if they've raised their kids right, are much more concerned about the evil men with AK-47s and what they might do to their child than what their child might do to them.

I really wonder what the statistics are like for people my age (19) and younger in terms of how 9/11 has affected their career choice, or goal in life.

Anyway. That was a random outburst.
posted by Lauren, 12:09 PM | link | 0 comments

(Note: if this post bores you, skip to the bottom and read the outrageous editorial from our local paper about Kerry and help me write a response)

For No One

Yesterday I went to the new World War II memorial in DC, along with the holocaust museum. And I impressed two little kids (actually not all that little, 12 and 15) with my vocabulary. I could say totally bogus things, I figured out, if I explained them in a certain tone of voice and used words like "indubitably", "hence", "quod erat demonstrandum", and anything with four or more syllables. Ahhhh, I love feeling old and smart.

I haven't been to DC since I was a kid. I rather miss it, even though unless you have some kind of pass or permission to get into the governmental buildings, it's kind of boring. This is much unlike Manhattan, a very tourist-oriented city where they try to sell you a million things on every street corner. While I'm not overly fond of the tourist-stuff, I do like to laugh at some of the ridiculousness of it, like the street-vendors selling bootleg copies of movies. I think that's hysterical. I also think the really cheap stuff in Chinatown is fun to look at. And of course there are bright lights and neon signs everywhere, that in the uptown areas just look classy, as opposed to the outer-Dallas neon lights that are almost always worn out and look rather trashy. I'm sure there's enough trashiness around New York city, but I've been fortunate enough to avoid it. I keep my innocense. Or however you spell it.

All that to say, ala Homer Simpson, "I never realized how boring this [city] actually is." Of course it holds a lot of interest if you're interested in government or (like self) intelligence.

And what was really neat and really dorky was, when we were walking to the WWII memorial, I stopped Fr. Paul and the two girls (whose names I don't think I used at all, and I don't think I remember them either) and inquired about the building I was facing far across the ... thingy. Sure enough, it was the White House. And cooler, I could turn around and see the Lincoln Memorial. That was neat. (And it's not that I don't know what the White House looks like, it's just that I wasn't sure. You know, an "is-that-what-I-think-it-is" moment.)

Also I bought half a dozen roses for mom for $5 outside of Ballston mall in Alexandria. They were really gorgeous roses, too -- white on the outside of the petals and red on the inside.

We also did the Holocaust Museum. Definitely a good museum. There was a whole exhibit on the lower floors about the eugenics involved in creating the master race. It was really rather off-putting, as a lot of it made me think of current events, i.e. wanting to abort children if they're deformed or have autism or something ("genetic illness" the Nazis would have called it), wanting (to the point of attempting to obtain by unnatural methods) perfect children, and something that reeked eerily of the movie "Gattaca", a poster that showed a German couple standing at the edge of a cliff with a caption that read "Don't go blindly into marriage!" And talked about the 10 commandments of choosing a (genetically) good husband. In the movie Gattaca, there's a scene where it shows young women on dates who kiss their significant other, or otherwise collect a DNA sample, and go to these random stations to have their lips swabbed or to analyze the piece of DNA they brought (i.e. a hair), to see if their date is genetically "good enough".

What was the more frightening -- and still we see this especially in Africa -- forced sterilization. The exhibit itself was kind of graphic about most things, most especially this. They were talking about how it was a relatively simple and harmless process for men, but for women it required general anesthesia and this involved proceedure, and 90% of the people who died from sterilization were women. People considered "genetically diseased" (i.e. mentally ill -- though alcoholism was a good enough excuse) were given "voluntary sterilization".

Also I am going to write my first ever letter to the editor. I found this in the editorial section of our local paper today:

Kerry has dignity, high character

(Now if that isn't enough to make you ill, read on):

"We'd follow him anywhere, any time."

"We know the real John Kerry, the man who saved our lives and made us proud, in a profound way."

"He was tough, tough, tough."

These statements, quoted in "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War," are from the men who served under Kerry in Vietnam. They admired him for his courage, toughness, intelligence, and regard for them. (in 1972, President Nixon's team was questioning his Vietnam experience. Kerry was No. 1 on their "enemies list." Thirty-two years later, it's happening again.)

Kerry's emergence at a Senate hearing was not an overnight phenomenon. Since his teens, John Kerry had a keen interest in politics and public service. In Vietnam, where he served out of patriutism but with deep reservations, he kept a detailed and reflective journal. Uknown to most, he later made 17 trips to Vietnam on behalf of MIAs. That effort won him the admiration and friendship of the hawkish John McCain.

This books reveals a most thoughtful and principled person. It also shows an all-around guy -- athlete, adventurer, naturalist, and loyal friend. He is most comfortable with his Vietnam brothers, most of them blue-collar. He is no snob.

Personality has played an important role in our elections. Ronald Regan's affability and Al Gore's arrogant streak won and lost votes. Like Gore, Kerry comes from a background that expects a reserved public persona. We might wish that John Kerry had amore of John Edwards' warmth. However, Kerry's reserve shouldn't be interpreted as remoteness. Testimony by friends, family and war buddies counter that interpretation.

I think that what we see in him is dignity -- a refreshin notion for a president, considering Wild Bill Clinton and George "I'll Bring the Keg" Bush. Our current president got the inspiration to get into politics because he was such a natural at glad-handing fans at the ball-park. It wins votes, but in this complicated world it should be thought of as mere mustard on the hot dog. Easy charm ... we should look beyond that.

We should look beyond Kerry's dignity to his character. He has shown it throughout his thoughtful, purposeful life.

Jim Barns

..... to quote a valley-girl I used to know, "Like, gag me with a spoon!"

Kerry, dignity? A man who goes out of his way to help mothers kill their children. Yeah. Real dignified.

A man who -- and this is what boils me more than anything else -- filps off one of his "Vietnam buddies" (and I am tempted to call them "keg buddies") AT the Vietnam Memorial on Memorial day in front of children ... I'm going to write a very polite letter to Mr. Barnes telling him and Senator Kerry to go to Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire.

Anyone who treats a Veteran in that way -- especially acting as a possible leader of a country, esPECIALLY in front of CHILDREN (*steam pours out of ears*)... it wouldn't be so bad if the kids weren't there. It would still be a terrible thing, but it is one million times worse... an R-rated gesture in front of elementary children!!! They're going to go to their parents and say "mommy and daddy, what does this mean? Senator Kerry did that to a man today..."

I have a bunch of other things to say, especially about the way Bush wins votes. That's just an inane and uneducated thing to say, like the people who say W is doing the Iraq thing as a father's-day gift for his daddy (a Canadian said that to me once).

How dare Kerry. He deserves a good old-fashioned slap, like the kind women routinely gave wicked men in old movies.

And the notion of looking beyond dignity is also stupid. What is beyond dignity? Character is not beyond dignity, the two things are not separable. If you are dignified, then it is in your character to be so -- the phrase implies it.

Augh. That just makes me mad. Freaking Kerry.

(Your turn, ensco)
posted by Lauren, 10:54 AM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, June 07, 2004  }

O Constantinople! to open on Broadway

from theoniondome.com.

The hottest new show opening on Broadway this season is O Constantinople! — a light-hearted musical romp through the Council of Nicea.

Wokka wokka wokka! I'd pay money to see that. That would rock. Forget that Harry Potter musical I tried writing when I was 14...

Also I didn't know the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club existed ... cool.
posted by Lauren, 4:37 PM | link | 0 comments

For thee I'll lock up all the gates of love,
And on my eyelids shall conjecture hang,
To turn all beauty into thoughts of harm,
And never shall it more be gracious.
~Much Ado About Nothing 4.1.106-109

She was fighting his fight, too.
She, whose lips to him were red
As the wine at Cana... yet-
She lost.
posted by Lauren, 11:45 AM | link | 0 comments

Kerry 'Flips Off' Vietnam Vet [in front of children]

(This is an oldish news story, but I didn't hear about it until recently; I don't know how many people reported on it but it OUGHT to be all over the Bush campaign)

Kerry 'Flips Off' Vietnam Vet

Former Congressman John Leboutillier reports on a Memorial Day confrontation between Sen. John Kerry and a fellow Vietnam veteran:

Democratic senator - and certain presidential nominee - John F. Kerry gave the middle finger to a Vietnam veteran at the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Memorial Day morning, NewsMax.com has learned.

Ted Sampley, a former Green Beret who served two full tours in Vietnam, spotted Kerry and his Secret Service detail at about 9:00 a.m. Monday morning at the Wall. Sampley walked up to Kerry, extended his hand and said, "Senator, I am Ted Sampley, the head of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, and I am here to escort you away from the Wall because you do not belong here."

At that point a Secret Service officer told Sampley to back away from Kerry. Sampley moved about 6 feet away and opened his jacket to reveal a HANOI JOHN T-shirt.

Kerry then began talking to a group of schoolchildren. Sampley then showed the T-shirt to the children and said, "Kerry does not belong at the Wall because he betrayed the brave soldiers who fought in Vietnam."

Just then Kerry - in front of the school children, other visitors and Secret Service agents - brazenly 'flashed the bird' at Sampley and then yelled out to everyone, "Sampley is a felon!"

Kerry was referring to an incident 12 years ago when Sampley confronted Sen. John McCain's chief aide, Mark Salter, in a Senate stairwell after McCain repeatedly offended POW families at a Senate POW hearing. Sampley, whose father-in-law at that time was MIA in Laos, followed Salter into the stairwell and, when they emerged, Salter had a bloody lip and a broken nose.

Sampley's group, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, has garnered huge national attention and has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country." Tens of thousands of Vietnam vets have registered their opposition to Kerry through Sampley's group.

Clearly Sampley has gotten under Kerry's skin once again.

Although not enough media attention has been given to it, the woman in charge of the Military Police brigade responsible for the Abu Gharib scandals is being removed from command. She is not being ignored or having an easy time of it just because she is a woman:

Gen. Karpinski removed from command

WASHINGTON -- Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the overall commander of the military police accused of abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison--and who was disciplined for "serious deficiencies" in handling her troops--has been removed from command of her brigade, officials said Monday.

Karpinski commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which temporarily included the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company and seven of its soldiers who were criminally charged. She has been reassigned to the U.S. Army Reserve Readiness Command at Ft. Jackson, S.C., said Al Schilf, a spokesman for the Army Reserve.

"This was done not as a punitive measure but a temporary reassignment of duties pending review of her situation by the commanding general, Army Reserve Command," Schilf said, referring to Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the commanding officer. "Gen. Helmly is reviewing her case in light of Maj. Gen. [Antonio] Taguba's report and other information."

The Taguba report, which found widespread abuses at the prison near Baghdad, recommended that Karpinski be relieved of command and be given a letter of reprimand for 11 deficiencies in her command. Those included failure to ensure that her soldiers were trained and were following procedures.

Karpinski's removal from command of the 800th, which she took over last year, was expected. She had already received a letter of admonishment in January from the American commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, saying that poor leadership "permeates the brigade," according to the Taguba report. The report added that there were "serious deficiencies in her brigade."

Since the scandal broke last month, Karpinski has mounted a vigorous defense of her leadership in TV and newspaper interviews. She has increasingly placed the blame for the scandal on others, including Sanchez.

I would like to point out a few things here -- 1) she is not being court-martialled because she did not actively act in the case, she herself didn't go and abuse Iraqis. Nevertheless she ought to be punished for the poor leadership of her subordinates. 2) Note that the 372nd was only temporarily under her command (that stinks), and so it could be that she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time -- could be.

On the other hand, there is this report from the Washington Times, trying to paint her in a better light.

I would like to point out, to the brothers comments at the bottom of the article, that Disney and the Army are a bit different, and middle management is supposed to tell you when your soldiers are getting out-of-control. Thus, the middle management is equally to blame, but so is Karpinski... because the middle-management is even closer to her than the PV-1s.

I would also like to point out that Brigadier (one-star) General is below the guy they are punishing -- a Lieutenant (three-star) General. (More on Karpinski's higher-up, Sanchez)
posted by Lauren, 10:29 AM | link | 0 comments

{Saturday, June 05, 2004  }

Did I mention I was accepted to Catholic U?

Catholic U. Won't Recognize NAACP Chapter

WASHINGTON (AP) - The president of the NAACP is criticizing a decision by Catholic University of America not to recognize a chapter of the civil rights group on campus. "It is outright discrimination and intolerance all rolled into one," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said Friday, just outside the campus and surrounded by about 20 activists and student chapter leaders from other universities.

He said it was the first time in decades that a university had not allowed a student chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He threatened to sue if the group was unable to come to an agreement with the Roman Catholic university.

The university rejected a student's attempt to start a chapter in April on the ground that the campus already had two groups that represent black students: the Black Organization of Students at Catholic University of America and Minority Voices, an umbrella group for minority organizations.

"He did not demonstrate in the view of university officials ... that this chapter of the NAACP would fill a need that isn't already being met by organizations in existence," said Victor Nakas, university spokesman.

William Jawando, 21, who tried to start the chapter, dismissed the school's reasoning, saying there are no civil rights groups on campus.

"I think they're scared of the NAACP name and protests," said Jawando, a recent undergraduate, who will attend the university's law school in the fall.

School administrators also raised concern about the group's support of the April 25 "March for Women's Lives," an abortion rights rally. Nakas said student groups are not allowed to advocate positions that are contrary to the teachings of the church, which opposes abortion. But he said that was not the main reason for rejecting the NAACP chapter.

Official NAACP policy does not take a side in the abortion debate, Mfume said.

Nakas said the university's president, the Rev. David M. O'Connell, hopes to meet with Mfume next week. University officials plan to meet with students interested in the issue this fall. Jawando said about 30 students were committed to joining the campus group.

The NAACP has chapters at 150 colleges, including Georgetown, Fordham and St. John's universities and Trinity College - all Catholic schools.

Yeah, all sucky Catholic schools.
posted by Lauren, 3:25 PM | link | 0 comments

These are the kind of people who don't believe in Santa Claus...

Duxbury schools banish birthday cupcakes.

That stinks. And are you kidding me? I remember when I was in school, it was a rare thing to have birthday cupcakes, and inevitably over half my classmates had birthdays during the summer when school wasn't in session. I was lucky enough to have a birthday in February.

And oh boy, birthday pencils! :P Not. What kind of kid cares about their pencils? They're always losing them or trading them or breaking them. You get 30 millions pencils a year.

As Andrew at Shrine of the Holy Whapping says, "They're in greater danger from that birthday pencil than from a desert. I remember stabbing myself on those stupid orange pencils that the sharpener makes too sharp; I don't remember getting a heart attack because I liked sprinkles."

Uh. Sure.
posted by Lauren, 11:56 AM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, June 04, 2004  }



Why oh WHY did I not apply to UVA as a freshman!?

And John Dillery ...

Hooooooly cow. These people worked with *Loeb Classical Library* publications, you know those books that any fool buys when they want both the classical and translated text of a work. I have a bunch of those, I was going to get Xenophon's Anabasis next, which Dillery "thoroughly revised".

DANG. I didn't know these people were HERE in CHARLOTTESVILLE.

I thought for fun I'd poke through the credentials of UD classics professors and UVA classics professors and maybe check out some of their respective publications. Turns out I already HAVE.


Yes, this is irrespective of the fact that I don't really want to be a classicist anymore. I could still say "Haha, I studied Greek with Kovacs" and peopls' eyes would bulge and they would go "really???"

I applied and got turned down for fall. I'm applying again for spring, no doubt about it. And somehow I'm going to have to get chummy with somoene in the classics department.
posted by Lauren, 1:41 PM | link | 0 comments

Last night, I decided to torture myself because I was bored all day yesterday. Knowing I have an overactive imagination which was strangely not active at all yesterday, I decided to drink caffeine to keep myself awake all night, and watch a really scary movie.

I, however, went into Blockbuster and fourn 30 other movies I wanted to watch besides a scary one. The first one I grabbed was an Israeli film in Pashtu with English subtitles called "Osama".

I tell you what, that gave me more nightmares than "The Shining" ever could.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I rented "The Shining". No, I am not endorsing it or advocating it here on my blog. In fact I will say "don't watch it" and I will tell you why ... right after these messages).

It was about a 12-year old girl living with her mother and grandmother. Her father died, and they were starving... they needed a boy to go to work and earn money. So they cut the girl's hair , dressed her in her father's altered clothes, and sent her to work with a man who fought beside her father against the Soviet Union. However, the Taliban (a menacing presence behind every turn of the movie) found her and made her go to school with other "boys" her age, where they would learn various Islamic rituals (i.e. abulitions), learn to read the Qu'ran, and learn their 'military lessons').

The utter poverty in which these people live, the oppression of the Taliban ... what's more frightening is that this is not entirely fiction.

I'm not sure what I could say about it as a film. As a film might give it a four out of ten. But I am looking less into the art of the thing and more into the culture it portrays. I'm sure if I knew a ton about Afghanistan and whatnot, I wouldn't like it as much. But this is the first time I've put a face to the burqa.

And from this ... I'm renwed in my quest to want to learn Arabic. In fact I found a bunch of links off this site, and I'm going to try to teach myself the script, at least.

Hey, don't knock teaching yourself. I got a head start on teaching myself Greek for a while, which is part of the reason, I think, that I was able to knock off so much Greek during highschool.

At a cursory glance, this site is good for the fundamentals of Arabic script (the official name of which I confess I do not know), and this site shows you how to write the characters and gives you the names of each.

I'm sure these sites have flaws, but I haven't found them yet.

I had a teacher in middle school I'll never forget -- Mr. (Peter) McClellan, or "Lord Peter" as his fanclub (myself, my friends Brett and Stephen, his daughters Lee and Molly) called him. He was our history teacher in 7th and 8th grade. I will never ever forget that man, one of the most amazing teachers I know. He influenced me so very much. He passed away from liver cancer on October 14th, 2001, a day which I mark every year, and the 14th of every month on my calendar bears his initials. I will miss than man forever. Since 9/11 I've wished more and more that I could talk to him, just random things, but also history things. I remember in 7th grade when he was teaching us World History, he brought in a copy of the Qu'ran to show us. He also had random tidbits of information, like whenever you write "Mohammed" you have to have some kind of blessing, the most common of which is "PBUH" which stands for "peace be upon him". Also about how every Muslim is, I think, supposed to go to Medina to a certain Mosque at least once in their lives, and then they can put the name "Mohammed" somewhere in their name. There was some speculation as to what was in the Mosque (probably nothing), though Mr. McClellan asserted that there was a meteor "the size of Jeffery Semler's head" (it was universally acknowledge that Jeff had a big head... he did have a rather large forehead). It was great, he read us a newspaper article about that certain Mosque, and I remember he pretended to read about a man dying who said that he "can now die in peace since I have seen the rock the size of Jeffery Semler's head." It was hysterical.

Haha, on a test once, we had a question about where the whatchamacalit that Mohammed made -- whatever you call the journey from Mecca to Medina -- was from, Mecca to ___________. And we were supposed to fill in the blank. Mr. McClellan was also a big, big fan of "West Side Story" (one of our last days of class in 7th grade, we watched that; we also watched "Empire of the Sun" and "Monty Python's Quest For The Holy Grail"). Thus, to the tune of the very famous solo by the lead character Tony, he sang "Medinaaaaaaaaaaa.... I've just been to a place called Medina..."

*hero worship, hero worship*

I miss him.

I did a google search on him ... his name still shows in the white pages. Or at least, it's very strange that another Peter D McClellan would be there who lives within the same general area, Staunton/Afton/Swoope.

I have a tribute to Mr. McClellan on the index pages to my cstone.net directories. It includes the Macbeth passage because Mr. McClellan really helped me get in to Shakespeare. I read some Shakespeare on my own (The Tempest, Julius Caesar, the Merry Wives of Windsor) when I was 7, 11, and then however old you are when you're in 7th grade. I didn't understand a whole lot of it, so he encouraged me to read "Macbeth", and if I had questions to ask him about it. He himself was very, very proud of his Scottish heritage. At his funeral, there was a table set up with pictures of him, and there was a picture of himself an his daughter Molly at a Scottish debutante "coming-out" ball; they were both wearing kilts.
I did, and we discussed the play, and he drew my attention to interesting points and nuances, and all the famous quotes. Sometimes he would randomly come into a room, quote the play, and leave. ("Methought I heard a voice cry out, 'sleep no more, Macbeth doth murder sleep!'") It used to be that every day before I would leave school, I would poke my head into his classroom where he would usually be with his young daughter Lee (then in 2nd or 3rd grade, I believe), and I would say "Out out, brief candle!" he would respond, "Life is but a walking shadow", and sometimes he would continue on and quote the whole thing. Eventually he encouraged me to recite it, and I did.

Ah, Lord Peter, you are missed.
posted by Lauren, 12:41 PM | link | 0 comments