July 15th, 2005

Jamie Aug 05

Meditations On a One and Half Year Old Boy

I've been wanting to post about several things, all too depressing for me to work up the motivation. We had lots of fun on 4th of July weekend. I went out to game with the local Browncoats, we went to the ORAC meeting, and had friends visiting. Independence Day we celebrated with a reading of the Declaration, Patrick Henry’s "Give me Liberty or give me Death!" speech, and watching 1776. By bedtime celticdragonfly was wiped out so I put the kids to bed by myself. In honor of the day I gave them a patriotic goodnight song—The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

I’ve been reflecting on a line from that since:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free

That sums up a big part of the current war. Not that I’m part of "us" for this one. The Air Force has no interest in calling up reserve 13S’s (unless things get really horrible). The positions for civilians in Iraq don’t match my skill set . . . and let’s face it, expertise in building rockets is one of the things we went into Iraq to remove. So I’m on the home front.

Jamie, on the other hand, may be part of the "us" if this is still going on in seventeen years. Which is probably will, at some level, unless it gets bad enough for me to be called up. When he’s old enough I’ll get him the info on the options, including the pros and cons from my own experience. I’ll also point out its an important and necessary job that somebody has to do. celticdragonfly will handle the case against signing up. No armtwisting or guilt trips—Jamie is not a vessel for dealing with my survivor guilt, he’s a free person with a mind of his own. But I want to make sure he hears the case for serving.

I’m not sure he’s going to hear it from anyone else. Bush’s speech last month was a competent rehash of the reasons for the Iraq campaign, but he shouldn’t have given it to the troops. He should’ve gone to a high school graduation and focused on "This is why it’s important, and we need YOU to help" instead of giving recruitment one sentence. From what I’m hearing the Army’s recruiters aren’t talking about duty or the mission either, just cash benefits (the Marines are apparently doing a better job). Bush needs to remember why he was given that political capital he’s spending—voters care about the war a lot more than social security. He needs to focus on maintaining popular support, not wander off to other issues.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to vote for someone, instead of against.

The London bombings weren’t a surprise to me. War is something where the other side shoots back, and comes up with ways to trash your plans. I expect we’ll have more in the next couple of years. Rome and Copenhagen seem to be next on the list. Horrible as it was it wasn’t as bad as 9/11 and the Madrid bombings. Hopefully that means Al Qaeda and their fellow Islamofascists are continuing to weaken. It’s at least a data point that the "flypaper" strategy (sucking Al Qaeda’s money and recruits into Iraq to grind them up) may be working. Though "gambit" might be a better word for it than "strategy", at least from the viewpoint of the Iraqis and our troops.

(As an aside, here’s an article comparing AQ’s behavior to a traditional blood feud. An interesting analysis, but bad news if true. Ending the blood feud tradition among my ancestors required long-term occupation by foreigners and converting everybody to a new religion. If that’s what we’re headed for there’ll be a lot of work left for Jamie.)

The identities of the London bombers make think this is a fractal war. Britain and other nations have little islands of unassimilated Muslim immigrants, sustained by welfare payments. That’s a small-scale version of the world with the Arab nations refusing to assimilate into the global system while receiving piles of cash for oil they didn’t create. And an even smaller scale seems to be the case of the bomber whose family was assimilating and working hard while he spent his time at the mosque. If we can’t deal with it at all those levels we’re going to face the worst-case outcomes of the war. Iraq is an attempt to assimilate at the national level. America seems to be doing a better job of assimilating Muslim neighborhoods than the European nations, hopefully some of that can be transferred (but that might conflict with the existing European doctrines). The individual level is going to have to be handled by Muslims within their own families and neighborhoods. If they can’t fully assimilate into modern society, we need the Islamofascists to become like the Amish—isolated religious communities that practice their own ways without threatening their neighbors. Otherwise this will be a long war with only horrible ends possible.

And it sure would be nice if Jamie could say "No, Dad, we’re at peace, and they don’t need me. But I’ll think about it."
karl and maggie

Out and About With the Kiddies

Maggie got her first visit to the dentist today. She was eager for it because I told her the dentist would give her a new toothbrush. "Presents!" She was very good. The dental tech said Maggie was the best behaved out of a whole bunch of children that day. There were lots of presents, too. A regular and an electric toothbrush, stickers, and sunglasses. Plus a coupon for a free ice cream cone (drumming up more business, ya think?). She was happy and wants to go back. I need to go back myself, but knowing the work I need done I’m not nearly as cheerful about it.

Oh, and there will be pictures of it when celticdragonfly gets back from Conestoga.

So Maggie got her ice cream, followed by naps all around. Well, I vegged out, which is close enough.

Then it was time to head out for the monthly zoo demo at Borders. This month they’d changed the day to coordinate with the Harry Potter festivities. I got there a little early, only to find that as well as changing the date they’d changed the time from 7:30 to 8:30. So clearly the "have dinner afterwards" plan was out the window. Going home wasn’t an option, an hour would leave enough time for one diaper change between the drive each way. So I took them over to the chicken place for dinner. Just walking would’ve been a very good idea if I’d had the good baby stroller. With just the umbrella stroller it was a pain in the tuchis, since wheels suddenly turning and jamming is much more annoying in the middle of a real road than in a store aisle.

So we got back in time for the animals. First was an eleven-foot burmese python, same as Harry freed in the zoo. The zookeeper didn’t mention that—must not be a fan. Just a baby python, though. Full growth is 22-25 feet. At which point I think they won’t be taking it out in public anymore. Second animal was a great horned owl. Pretty bird. Calm, too, especially compared to last month’s hawk. Maggie was fascinated. Jamie lost interest and got noisy, so I took him to the back of the crowd. So we were surrounded by a swarm of sorta-gothy teens too cool to go watch the owl up close but too interested to wander away completely. When it ended I picked Maggie up for a close look at the owl. She liked him.

Then home, and a bit of HP&tSS so they can see the same animals again before bed.

Now that’s more like it

The chinese-character logo Serenity posters haven’t done much for me. But Universal came out with a new one and I like it:

Spaceship, check. Characters to empathize with, check. Good slogan, check.

"The Future Is Worth Fighting For" is a slogan I can get behind. It has a nice double meaning—that creating the future is something worth fighting to do, and that the future in Serenity is one good enough to fight to protect. Would make for a nice icon, too (hint, hint).