Thursday, September 28, 2006


I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week, but the past few days have been pretty busy for me. I have collected my first set of essays from all five classes, so I've spent a lot of time grading--time I could have been blogging at the office! This busy spell will likely run until the middle of next week, so I may not post much.

Compounding the situation, tonight I'll be spending the night at the doctor's office getting a sleep test to see if I have sleep apnea, so tonight I get to sleep with wires connecting me to all sorts of machines that will measure all sorts of stuff. I hope I sleep!

I'll talk to y'all soon.

Update: They woke me up this morning just about the time I got to sleeping good. Actually, all the wires didn't bother me that much--it was the blood oxygen sensor that I had to wear on my finger all night that nearly drove me crazy.

When the guy came in to wake me up and take all the electrodes off, I asked him why he hadn't brought me any coffee. He said he didn't know how to make coffee. What's a girl got to do to get a guy to bring her coffee in bed?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Bother?

Last night Husband and I were sitting on the couch watching Survivor (yeah, yeah, I know) when a political ad came on—one of those where one senate candidate bad-mouths the other senate candidate. When it was over, I threw my hands up in the air and said, “I give up. I’m finished with the whole mess.”

Husband replied, “I’ve been trying to tell you that all along. It doesn’t make any difference who you vote for; they all lie and they all do the same s**t once they get elected.”

“You’re right,” I said. “I should’ve listened to you years ago.” Husband was very satisfied with that response, as you can imagine.

Last night when I said I was finished, I really meant it, but this morning I’m not so sure. I find myself lately going back and forth on whether to vote. All my life I have heard that voting is a right, a privilege, and, in fact, a duty for all good Americans. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” I’ve heard. “Brave men fought and died so that you can exercise this choice that others don’t enjoy,” people say. I’ve heard all the rhetoric.

The problem is that if I vote, I want my choice to be a responsible one. I feel that if I decide on a candidate based on what the political ads say, I’ll be basing my choice on misinformation. Candidates frequently use these ads to tout their own voting records and criticize the voting records of their opponents. “So and so voted against increased funding for education; he doesn’t care about our children.” “Candidate Q voted for allowing convicted criminals to walk free without serving all of their sentence; he’s not tough on crime.” What these types of statements don’t tell you is that the education bill that So and so voted for had an amendment that would allow millions of dollars for the study of blue-headed desert fish in Alaska or other such nonsense and that the bill Candidate Q voted for was simply to clear the prisons of petty criminals like shoplifters and recreational marijuana users. Most political ads are designed to play on the emotions of the voters, rather than to convey really useful information.

If I want to make a truly informed choice, I have to spend tremendous amounts of time researching each candidate’s background; I have to read the entire text of bills that he or she voted on, bills that the candidate probably didn’t read all the way through; I have to attend town-hall-styled meetings and question and answer sessions—if the candidate is brave enough to take questions from an audience; I have to listen to debates; the list goes on. All this research takes up valuable time that could be spent on much more productive activities (like writing this blog). The truth is that most voters will not take the time to do the research necessary to make an informed choice. Instead, most voters will decide on the basis of half-truthful political ads and on the flyers they receive in the mail. Some voters will even decide based on which candidate is better looking.

None of this even takes into account the election scandals that have become so frequent lately. The newspapers are full of accounts of voter fraud in various places. The Diebold company has received plenty of criticism on how easy it is to hack into their touch-screen voting machines. I am not necessarily more confident in the machines that I was with the "chads" system in Florida.

All things considered, I believe that voting is much more trouble than it’s worth. Why go and vote if I’m not going to take the time to make an informed decision, and why take all that time away from other activities that make better use of my time?

If I really believe what the bible says in Romans 13:1, I would not even give a second thought to the political process. Paul tells us that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” In verse 4, Paul goes on to say that the ruling authorities are “God’s ministers.” Daniel 2:21 agrees with Paul’s sentiment, stating, “[God] changes the times and the seasons; he removes kings and raises up kings.” Lest we believe that only the ‘good’ rulers are appointed by God, we should remember what God said about the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar: “Therefore the LORD Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin” (Jeremiah 25: 8-9). God called Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” and used him to fulfill a plan that God had in mind.

If I believe that back then God had a plan for the world and put rulers and kings and governments in place to accomplish that purpose, then the same must be true today. Does God need me to vote in order to make sure that his plan is accomplished? I think not. Why, then, do I feel that I must vote? Because society says that’s what I must do.

That said, when election day comes along, despite the fact that I have not spend an adequate amount of time researching the candidates, I will likely go to the polls and cast a vote. Instead of trusting that God really is in control of such matters and that all authorities are in place because of him and not because of me, I will likely cave into the pressure that society places on me and stand in the line in order to be able to say that I did my duty.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Week Offers an Opportunity for Real Diplomacy

According to, “diplomacy” is defined as 1) the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations, and 2) skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility. A synonym listed for the word is “tact.”

President Bush has said that diplomacy is the best way to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Certainly this is correct. However, I have to wonder just how hard the Bush administration has tried to achieve real diplomacy. From everything I hear and read in the news, no real diplomacy is occurring. It seems that the only “negotiations” going on between the U.S. and Iran is for our government to make a demand and for Iraq to defy that demand. As far as I can gather, no real face to face negotiations have taken place.

Tomorrow both President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are scheduled to speak at the United Nations. This seems to me the perfect opportunity for the two leaders to sit down at the same table and speak to each other frankly about what each of them wants. However, the Bush administration is going to great lengths to keep the two leaders from even passing each other in the halls of the U.N.:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims he'll dog President Bush this week at the United Nations to force the U.S. leader into a face to face debate over Iran's nuclear program, but the White House is taking extreme measures to keep that from happening.

For starters, Ahmadinejad won't be attending a welcoming reception for world leaders that Bush is hosting Tuesday night at the U.N. Asked if Ahmadinejad had even been invited, a senior administration official told the New York Daily News, "Definitely not."

The Iranian press quoted Ahmadinejad saying last week that Bush officials "did not accept this debate, but I hope that they agree and this debate takes place."

The White House also isn't pleased that Bush and Ahmadinejad are both scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. U.S. officials were quietly working to see if the Iranian's talk could be moved to later in the week, hoping to avoid a confrontation between the two leaders in the halls and ensuring that the always colorful Ahmadinejad doesn't steal the day's headlines. (Read the rest of the article here.)

Bush says that he wants diplomacy to work, but instead of taking the opportunity to speak to Ahmadinejad while he is here in the United States, Bush is going to snub the man that he claims he wants to come to an agreement with. This attitude does not resemble anything like “tact.”

What would be so wrong with the two men sitting down together and each laying his cards on the table for the other to see? The Iranian leader claims that he wants a debate, so why not give him the chance for one while he is here? Would Bush look weak for sitting down with his adversary? On the contrary, I believe that if Bush were to meet with Ahmadinejad, he would look stronger. Right now many people perceive Bush as a little bully, someone whose slogan is “my way or the highway.” By meeting with the Iranian president, he could tremendously improve his image and gain respect as a leader who is sincere and truly confident in his convictions. If Ahmadinejad is not sincere in his call for a dialogue with Bush, then that will become evident, and a meeting with Bush will expose him as a fraud. Bush would then be able to tell the rest of the world, “I told you so.”

Bush’s cloak of confidence is actually a prideful, egoistic conceit. Instead of listening to his handlers, our president should be the confident leader that he claims to be and take Ahmadinejad at face value. A try at real diplomacy will expose both men’s true intentions. Maybe that’s what our president is afraid of.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I know you've been waiting with baited breath!

"Musings From the Chariot" has finally been updated, for those of you who are interested.

What does baited breath smell like anyway?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


From an actual conversation between some girls in my class as we were waiting for time for class to begin:

(The conversation was about concerts that they had been to lately and concerts they'd like to attend.)

Girl #1: I'd like to go to a Motley Crue concert. (This was really funny because she's such a sweet looking young little 18-year-old. I couldn't imagine her listening to '80's metal bands.)

Girl #2: Who's Motley Crue?

At this point, my jaw dropped to the floor in amazement.

Girl #1: They're a classic rock band. My dad listens to them.

At this point, I was shocked. "Oh my God," I said in complete amazement and horror. "Oh my God!" For a couple of moments all I could say was "Oh my God" and shake my head back and forth in disbelief. The realization hit me that people I went to high school with, if they started having kids right out of high school, could actually have kids attending college now. That idea, coupled with the idea that Motley Crue is a "classic rock band"--well, I don't have a word for how I felt at the moment except for hurt.

My students realized that I was having "a moment," and they were sympathetic, but they could never understand the gravity of what I was experiencing right then. After a few minutes I was fine and class began and I forgot about it. But yesterday at 9:35 a.m. I inched a little farther away from youth and a little closer to middle age.

I Was Rendered Speechless for a Moment

My mouth nearly hit the floor when I read this just now. You can read the entire article here.

Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," said Wynne. "(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press."

If he really feels that way, I think he and his friends should be the first guinea pigs. And why stop with non-lethal weapons? Why not just go ahead and test how effective the lethal ones are while they're at it? As bad as that sounds, I think it may come to that one day.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Guilty Without Proof

In an effort to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek retribution from their alleged perpetrators years after the statute of limitations has expired, the Ohio legislature has enacted a law that would create a “civil registry” of people who have been accused of but not charged with or convicted of sex offenses. The registry would be very similar to criminal sex offender registries in that those listed would be subject to the same types of restrictions—community notification requirements, restrictions on where he or she can live—as convicted sex offenders. The law allows a victim to petition the courts to add the alleged perpetrator’s name, photograph, and address, where it would remain for six years, whereupon the alleged perpetrator could petition to have his or her name removed if no other accusations have been made and the judge believes that he or she is not likely to abuse anyone.

Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Ohio had wanted the government to lift the statute of limitations for one year so that they could sue their abusers, but instead the Catholic church apparently endorsed this alternative solution.

This is a terrible idea. One would hope that a judge would not add a person to the registry unless compelling evidence existed to substantiate the claims of abuse. How many accusations would be sufficient to add someone to the registry? One? Another problem is that a tremendous potential exists for the misuse of this law. Who is to say that someone with a grudge could not convince (or pay) a judge to add a name to the registry?

The fact is that those added to the registry will have been merely accused of a crime, not convicted in a court of law. The stigma that goes along with being a sex offender is bad enough for those who actually have committed the crime. Imagine being wrongly accused and having to live under that oppression. Ohio’s supreme court needs to put a stop to this law before it causes irreparable harm—and before other states decide to adopt the law as a model.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Re-Running 9-11

Beginning this weekend, nearly all the media outlets will be broadcasting special programming concerning the attacks on September 11, 2001. Many news stations will be replaying the original live footage from that day.

Do we really need this? What is it supposed to accomplish? Cynical me thinks it's all a ploy to make the republicans look better just before the election. "See, don't forget, this is why we're fighting wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Never mind the countless contradictions and the ever-shifting explanations for why we are in Iraq. Just watch this re-run and let your thinking mind go numb and give in to a spirit of fear."

I sure hope there's an Andy Griffith marathon on at the same time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dinner and Supper

I mentioned the other day that I have a very rambunctious group of freshmen that meet on Thursday afternoons. I guess that late in the day they have gotten their second wind--either that or they're so tired that they're just crazy. They really keep me on my toes, but they are a good bunch.

Yesterday in class we were discussing grammar, and the discussion morphed into a conversation about differences in the way people from different regions pronounce the same word. One of my students, a young man from Chicago said, "Last week you said the word supper. That was the first time I had ever heard that word, and I had to go ask somebody what it meant." Everyone else in class gasped (except for the girl from Northern Virginia--I think she was familiar with the word but could understand why he didn't know it) in amazement that this guy had never heard the word "supper." He explained that it was "dinner" where he comes from, so I asked him if he knew what dinner is here. He guessed that dinner was lunch, and I told him that he was partially right. I told him that if you have a sandwich at noontime, it's lunch, but if you have a hot meal at noontime, that's dinner. Everyone in class seemed to agree with this idea.

Getting to meet people from different places is one of the most fun things about being a college professor.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eleven years ago right now. . .

I was putting on the big, white, poofy dress and getting ready to take the long walk to marital bliss. Little did I know that with a new last name, I'd also get a new title: the ol' lady.