Sunday, February 27, 2005

When Was the Last Time You had a Weekend?

Yo, dude, if you have a life like mine, you never get to experience a real weekend. You do one of two things on the days that most people term "weekend" days (for our purposes we'll call them Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

One: Sit on your butt writing papers at your computer or reading book after book after book to catch up with the classes you're already too far behind in to even dream of catching up.

Two: Travel to someplace far away to spend two days arguing with people about topicality, perms, the Constitution, President Bush, Criminal Justice System, or whether pigs have wings.

It's a hard knock life all right.

And for your information, I did not break into out rounds this weekend. In fact, three of my opponents during the tournament broke into out rounds so I know I lost at least three rounds. I suck. There's a tournament this weekend, but I have to do a CCA run. I really wanted to go to the tournament. I did not know it would happen until now.

I am whining a lot. I suggest you go see what Finn and Joe are up to. They never whine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I am not dead

I simply do not have time to post. I am around here somewhere. Actually I am writing a paper that I do not want to start so I am sitting here posting on my blog.

I had a debate with a friend today. Halfway through the debate I realized that I totally agreed with my friend. So I just said, "Actually, I agree with you." He lost steam really fast. It was funny. However, we had a good time dissing the people we know who take the side that I had argued for fun at first. It was worth arguing about it because we realized that we are on the same page and that our page makes a lot of sense.

Speaking of arguing, have you ever made a friend by arguing? I made two friends that way. Neither of them talk to me anymore. I had an insult war with one person and we were very good friends for a very long time. And I had a philosophical debate with another person, who was my opposite. We were good friends for a while, until he disappeared. I wonder if arguing is a shaky foundation for a lasting friendship. I cannot think of any other friendships that began with an argument for me, so maybe it just never works. Or maybe my friends were deadbeats.

I discovered at a young age that 90% of humanity is made up of deadbeats. This means that if you want people to do things you have to prod them until they get off their butts and act.

Speaking of deadbeats, I still have that paper to write.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Reality and Idol

Today I will talk about something that is related to politics, but not political. In fact, I have no idea how this relates to politics at the moment. This is about people's lives, and people's pipe dreams. It will all make sense soon, do not worry.

I took two guys, neither of which was my fiance, to the movies today. Tony and Josh, my classmates in African Political Systems accompanied me on a 45 minute drive to watch "Hotel Rwanda." This movie concerns the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Something America did nothing about. The UN was of little help either. At that time the Europeans also abandoned the country of Rwanda.

I cried several times during the film. It is an intense drama, although not as sad as I thought it would be. In fact, not to give anything away, but the main characters ended up better off than I expected. It is the true story of a hotel manager during the Rwandan genocide who tried to save a lot of people's lives. Without showing much gore or violence the director portrayed a heartrending saga of events.

How does one explain what I saw in that film? It was torment to know that the United States did nothing to halt the genocide. It was torment to realize that even if our armed forces had been sent in to help little or nothing could have been accomplished that way. The only way we could have kept more than a million people from dying would have come through the establishment of refugee camps. The United Nations set up a few badly organized, small refugee camps and saved some people. They did not save enough people. Refugee camps came into play only after the Tutsi rebels had erected a boundary between themselves and the Hutus. Then the UN made camps and started shuttling people out of the country. Prior to that, security remained too feeble to do anything for the people. Safe havens, a way to get to those havens, and a way to keep those havens safe could have rescued many lives. But all that came late and even then the organization remained lacking.

At one point in the movie I saw the face of Bill Clinton smiling on the front cover of a magazine in the background. All I could think of was his pathetic apology to the Rwandan people in 1998. He said something to this effect, "Who could look at one of these adorable Tutsi children and then bash their brains out." (PARAPHRASE, not a quotation) The logical response is as follows: "These people did exactly that, whether it is fathomable by us or not."

The director showed the Western response to the genocide clearly: all non-Rwandans, American or European, were evacuated from the country. They left behind the UN peace keepers who were not allowed to shoot anyone and the people who lived every moment in fear for their lives and the lives of what family they still had. A missionary arrived at the time of the evacuation, delighted that he could get his people out of the country. The European troops evacuating Europeans and Americans quickly destroyed his joy. Only white people could leave the country, all Africans stayed.

In contrast to this horror, I watched American Idol, my favorite tv show at 8pm. I had a difficult time watching the show after the movie I had seen earlier. Silly people bounced about, either excited about the prospects of moving on to another round, or upset over the homeward turn their Hollywood experience had suddenly taken. Randy and Paula entered two rooms in tears because they had to send people home. Yet in Rwanda, eleven years ago, hundreds of thousands were massacred.

There is nothing wrong with a little excitement over a fun tv show. Nothing wrong with following a dream to become a star like the previous American Idol winners. Heck, I have lots of fun watching American Idol.

Yet the show lacked something for me tonight. It lacked reality. These people, so caught up in their little pipe dreams had no sense of reality. Reality does not have to be cold and hard. However, it ought to have some foundation in the things that happen in this world. It ought not to follow only one person's pursuit of singing for "America." When the losers in American Idol walk off the set acting as if their lives are over it strikes me as incredibly silly. After all, they are under thirty. There is so much more they can do with their lives. They have grounded their future on one tv show that probably will not go on for more than a few more seasons if that.

And all around the world people have died because those who have stuff do not pay attention to the reality that exists beyond their idols.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Excellent News

The News: grad school acceptance letters are coming in earlier than Craig and I thought they would. And the good news is, he has at least one offer for a full tuition paid ride through grad school along with a pretty decent stipend for a teaching assistant position. Furthermore, it's from one of the schools that was in our Top Four. It's the fourth pick, but that's still awesome.

I might be able to start job searching!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Michaelangelo's Failure

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the stunning color and powerful form of Michaelangelo's art. His sculptures are beyond compare, and his painting is perhaps the most striking I have ever seen. That is, until he attempted to sculpt and paint women! That man never looked at a woman. And his mother must have been an incredibly ugly ogre. In every painting and on every sculpture of a female the breasts look like halves of cantalopes or grapefruits stuck on their chest. And the muscles! It's like Hercules wearing a very stiff coconut bra. Michaelangelo's brilliance was without question until he tried to replicate the female form in his art.

Anyway, now I'm gonna have a bunch of weirdos coming to my blog because they put interesting words into a search engine.

I am an aspiring sculptor, I try very hard to make things look right. They tell me to "study the masters," and the greatest sculptor who ever lived could only sculpt men.

Reading and writing tasks await me in plenty. I have obviously not checked the news today.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lincoln's Squinty Eye

First off, if you click the title you can look at some analysis by actual Israeli and Palestinian, uhm, analyzers on the truce. It's good stuff. They do not seem too hopeful, but at the same time there's some interesting news in there. Aparently prisoner returns will be arranged and Palestinians will be allowed in Israel again.

Second off, I have an exam, so this will be a short post.

Third off, I went and had my photo taken and it was a great photo of me with Craig. However, in every picture I could see my squinty Lincoln eye. It drives me up the wall. Sometimes photos of me look fine, but when you take a photo straight on the squinty eye is always there. It reminds me of Honest Abe because one of his eyes was set back farther in his head and turned in a little so it always looked weird in photos. I think my eyes are similar in that they are not placed symmetrically and it only looks weird in photos. Anyway, I'm sure you think I'm full of myself by now. And I'm sure I am. I still need God, dontcha know.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Not quite in the usual Political Mood

I went to a speech on missile defense today and it was interesting. My fiance came with me. The speaker was discussing using lasers and "interceptors" to shoot down missiles from space (space based defense system). I could hear the little wheels in my fiance's (the physics major) head turning. It was cute.

Other than that, I've spent my day working on things and worrying about the exam I have on Friday.

I am supremely annoyed about one small thing. American Idol was moved to 9pm! I wanted to watch it at 8pm. I had planned my day so I could. They changed it at the last minute. If it had been changed earlier I could have gone to a speech or something. Stupid Fox!

For news, if you click the very appropriate title up there you can look at some commentary on Israel and Palestine's truce. Here's a quote that I thought made a lot of sense, this is by Dennis Ross the former Middle East Envoy from the U.S.:

"No. 1, Yasser Arafat is gone and he basically countenanced the violence. Abu Mazen (Mazen is the new leader of Palestine, otherwise known as Mahmoud Abbas) is someone who is against it. No. 2, Abu Mazen is riding a crest of popular support. And Hamas in particular understands that. And they do not want to put themselves opposite what the Palestinian public wants. It isn’t only that Abu Mazen was elected. It’s also that in the exit polls after the election, it’s very clear that 84 percent of the Palestinians wanted to see law and order established among Palestinians. And 81 percent wanted to see the economy rebuilt and restored, and they wanted a normal life. Hamas understands that, so they won’t be quick to disrupt it. But at this time, they won’t do it. I don’t know how much time we will have however."

Very interesting. This is so intense. It's like watching a movie in real life. Except here, you wonder what will happen for real because it affects lives of those in many countries including our own.

And one more time, man, I am glad that Arafat is gone. To be kind, he did not have to die, he just had to descend from power. I am glad he is not in control of Palestine anymore.

Of course, in the end God is in control of all. And so what happens may happen whether it seems bad or good to us makes no difference. Those of us who trust Christ have nothing to worry about.

Still interesting. . .

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hope for Peace?

Today, I will write in a happy green color. I have had a very good last few days in many ways. I ran around far too much, and I had my driving skills criticized unduly by both a friend and by Dr. Walter Williams (go figure). However, I also met several really cool people the last few days. Over the weekend I went to Pittsburgh on a debate tournament and one of our teams broke into the semi-finals. One student on our team received the top speaker award for the novice division. That was exciting. Furthermore, I spent time with our teams and got to know them all a little better. They are quality people and I feel privileged to have them here. On Sunday I met a really cool prof who teaches here. And last, but not least, I met Brian Kennedy the president of the Claremont Institute today. He is a down to earth, genuinely nice person who is interested in others and it was great to meet him. I look forward to hearing his speeches the next couple of days here.

But I am happiest of all because of the article I just read. Here's another link to the New York Times article on this news:
It's really long, I need to learn how to do the html where you put the link in some flashy colored words like "read this" or "here." In the meantime, there's the link. Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas have declared an effort to work out peace between Israel and Palestine.

Did I ever mention that I am so happy Yasser Arafat is dead? I am. Now that he is gone people can negotiate. And perhaps there is hope for the future. I realize that a critic would say, "Perhaps there is NOT hope. Perhaps the ceasefire will end within a week like all the others that came before." I have no response, I agree, all the ceasefires did not last long. I do not know enough about Mr. Abbas to say whether he will be able to keep his side of the agreement. He does not have full control over Palestine. Chances may be slim for a complete peace even though Ariel Sharon has put a lot of work into peace efforts and Abbas has fine intentions. It is good news that Abbas has begun his leadership by posturing for peace. But it's hard to tell what may come.

I would also point out that neither leader mentioned the word "ceasefire." This could be a bad sign: neither is willing to fully commit. But it could be a good sign as well: both realize the danger of speaking too soon and take that seriously. Both know that certain factions will not immediately go along with them and so they do not commit all at once. There are times when good things must be achieved slowly, and consent gained gradually. This is one of those times. It will be interesting to watch this issue as it progresses (or goes the other way, for all I know).

I know it may not last, but I propose to hope. To hope until there is no reason left for hope, and then to hope some more. Many have prayed for peace in Israel and Palestine, and many have pointed fingers and argued over the years. That does not mean nothing will ever change.

In conclusion: "the day was filled with the symbolism of renewed hopes, as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders sat at a large round table with their host, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah II. In the hall, the Israeli flag was displayed next to the Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian flags, Israeli spokesmen spun their messages on Egyptian and Arab television stations and both Egypt and Jordan announced that they would soon return their ambassadors to Israel." (NY Times article)

I have a test on Friday, and it's a difficult one. Time to study.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Ah, a daker red, for a darker post... Actually, it will be a normal post.

I'm going to Pittsburgh tomorrow! I've never been there. I'm kind of excited about this. I'm sad to leave Craig for two days.

This morning in class we watched a very sad movie about Africa. It had to do with British colonization and dominance in South Africa. Actually, the movie started with slavery and continued through the life of Cecil Rhodes. One of my friends over-simplified its thesis. "It basically said that anything done by a Christian is inherently evil," he explained. I agree to some extent. The skeptical-bordering-on-cynical host did suggest a couple of times that it is wrong to think your religion is better than someone elses. He implied briefly that such a thing leads to exploitation. However, that was very brief. Mostly the movie showed that Africa had been tyrannized during colonization. It was probably an accurate depiction of the events. It bordered on a "hate all white males" sort of film. And it de-emphasized any atrocities committed by Africans. I took from the movie that all sides of the issue were the wrong side to be on. On the other hand I have read other accounts of the settlement of South Africa, and I know that what was done to the South Africans was very wrong and sparked problems that exist to this day.

Breaking News:,2933,146320,00.html The "Oil for Food" scandal is making headlines at last. It is still not fully investigated. But you can see that for yourself. It's ridiculous that anyone thought Saddam Hussein could be trusted to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq.

I have to organize a lot of stuff now.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Last Minute Note

Here's a post I tried to publish yesterday!

A few days ago the president of our college reflected upon the Iraq elections:

"It's wonderful that they got all these people out to vote," he said. "But there is one question to ask: What did they vote for!?"

I thought his words focused on a part of the elections which needs to be considered. We can go on and on about how awesome it is that 72% of the people voted. Yet in the end, the concern remains, did they elect a decent administration that will act for the good of the people, or did they accidentally expand despotism? Furthermore, only the length of years will show whether the current state of liberty will last. The triumph of the moment must be extended to create the triumph of the ages. Without hard work and dedication freedom never lasts.

And for all my words here, what have I done to help?

Good question. Very good question. Other than hopes, prayers, and seeing friends go off to fight I cannot say most of us have done much. But I applaud those who have been in a position where they could help in this endeavor. And I sincerely hope that their work will not have been in vain.

I hear the Pope is in the hospital with the flu. This is somewhat sad news. I hope he regains his strength. He is a historical figure who came into his office at a time when he was very needed. I am not Catholic, but I can feel nothing but respect for Pope John Paul II.

On to more mundane issues. It's Wednesday, I am feeling much better today. And I have to go to a studio art class in five minutes.