We're Moving!

Check out the new site at thehyacinthgirl.wordpress.com!

06 January 2009

New stuff.

I've posted some new material at the new site. It's still a work in progress and I'm still getting used to the format, but I think it's going to work out well. I'm very excited.

Oh, FYI: don't waste your time on the newest XFiles movie. It's basically a very long, very slow episode as riddled with plot holes as many of the episodes in the show's nine season run. But the gag reel is very funny.

05 January 2009

Under construction.

I am working on something big--a move, an upgrade, a journey to a strange land. I like Blogger and have been with it in one form or another since 2002, but I am looking for something a bit more professional. I'm scoping out Wordpress, and I'm currently working on the new site.

Don't worry, I'll give you all plenty of advance notice if I go this route, and I'll try to make this site redirect automagically when and if I make the switch. I hate making big moves, but Wordpress is so configurable and so slick. I also hate coding and I know nothing about CSS, but WP makes it easy for lazy people like me. We'll see where this goes, and I'll keep you posted. (No pun intended.)

Update:

If you to check out the work in progress, here's the url: http://thehyacinthgirl.wordpress.com/. Let me know what you think.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

I haven't listened to Nirvana in about ten years, mostly because I don't think I could have handled hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit one more time. Nirvana exploded halfway through my first year of high school, and I'd been listening to them for about a year before that, so I had a tiny bit of seniority when it came to grunge and whatnot at my school. I loved grunge--I actually still enjoy some of the stuff I listened to back then. So today, when Teen Spirit popped up in the shuffle, I let it play, apparently less sick of Nirvana than I've been in over a decade. It was the same as I remember, contagious and lazily contemptuous. And I still know all of the words.

I was struck by how well the line "Oh well, whatever, nevermind" sums up my generation. Our apathetic cynicism is legendary, a generation of kids who affected such world-weary disdain for anything and everything outside the realm of Self that it became real. I've got it, sometimes finding myself so complacently jaded that I can scarcely rouse myself when my supposed moral boundaries are infringed upon. War on Christmas? Who cares? Not like anyone cares about the reality of Christmas anyway. What began as a Catholic usurpation of a pagan fertility rite and became a massive glut of unbridled consumerism is now supposed to take on its pure and most noble meaning (the birth of the Christian Messiah) because the heathen atheist liberals are saying "Happy Holidays?" Yeah, okay. Whatever.

I have to fight it, but in truth I say "whatever" far too frequently. I should be more concerned about stuff. And though I write obsessively about current events, politics and pop culture, I still find myself battling inertia when it comes to caring about my subjects or taking many things seriously. Glib is the go-to reaction of my generation. Oh well. Whatever.

03 January 2009

Shut up and hold on.

Happy 32nd birthday to me. I bought myself a red velvet cupcake at Barnes & Noble and got my truck working. That's right, I drove my girl today. I'd forgotten how much fun she is. You don't drive the '79 Bronco, baby--you ride her. Just shut up and hold on.

Birthdays are snoozefests anymore. I suppose I'll have a mini-meltdown when I turn 40, but until then, I'm content with buying myself a book and a red velvet cupcake.

02 January 2009

Priorities.

Obama has no problem stating his opinion on the Blagojevich debacle, yet remains obstinately silent on the Gaza situation. Not that this is surprising. Obama seems absolutely disinterested in the details of events in the great big world, unless they pertain to his golden person directly. Granted, Blago may be fresh in his mind, being as "dirty Chicago pol" is not the figure he's keen on cutting as he takes office. Well, we all reap what we sow. And so on.

The Gaza situation is a bit more pressing than the crazy governor from Illinois. I know he's unstable in a particularly Tom Cruise way, but I think that the President-elect should have at least some opinion on current events outside of his home state.

But what do I know? I'm just some provincial hick from Arizona. I've never been to Europe and I can't order in French, being the arrogant American that I am. I even drive an SUV! I'm sure Obama is simply deep in thought over the current war between Israel and Hamas, biding his time until he can unleash his brilliance upon the world, blinding us with his keen insight. Or something.

01 January 2009

Clever.

My new favourite website. I don't know about you, but I trust the IDF pr folks more than I do al Jazeera or the Beeb. Just sayin'.

Question answered.

What does it mean? Well, I think Allan Sherman’s English translation really gets to the heart of it:

I know a man, his name is Lang
He has a neon sign
And Mr Lang is very old
So they call it Old Lang’s Sign.

Happy New Year!

I literally read this essay a couple of weeks ago, but the holidays have apparently shorted out my short-term memory. Well, now we know.

Tie a string around your finger.

Don't forget that Steyn is guest-hosting for Rush tomorrow. It's like the radio gods are giving me an early birthday present. (My birthday's on the 3rd, although I'm sure you've all had that written on your calendar already.)

I love Rush, but Mark is so terribly entertaining, I always look forward to his guest-hosting stints. What a great way to ring in the new year.

It's 2009. Here's hoping it's better than 2008. Personally, 2008 was superfab for me, but I understand it was kind of crappy for everyone else.

Any way, have a safe & happy night!

31 December 2008

I still don't know what "auld lang syne" means. . .

. . . but I read an excellent column on it in Steyn's A Song for the Season.

Happy birthday Mom.

And Happy New Year to everyone else!

30 December 2008

Useless idiot.

This woman is such a tool.

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, standing beside a damaged yacht, Tuesday accused the Israeli navy of ramming the vessel to halt the delivery of medical supplies to the embattled Gaza Strip.

“Our mission was a peaceful mission,” McKinney told CNN after she and 15 others aboard the boat made it safely to the harbor in the Lebanese seaport of Tyre.

McKinney, the recent Green Party candidate for U.S. president and frequent center of controversy, is the most prominent political figure to join the relief voyages sponsored by the Free Gaza Movement.

McKinney was slated to travel by car to Beirut where she was expected to conducted media interviews and meet with Lebanese government officials, said Paul Larudee, a co-founder of the California-based Free Gaza group.

Larudee said the organization was determined to continue the relief mission, the sixth such trip to Gaza and the first to be interrupted.

“We’re going to get it repaired,” Larudee said of the “Dignity,” the cabin cruiser which he said sustained damage to the hull, the bridge and the engine room.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Tuesday that U.S. diplomats had issued no protests to Israeli authorities. “When you enter a zone of conflict, then you have to realize that it’s very, very dangerous,” the spokesman told reporters.

I have so much to say about Cynthia McKinney, but it's past my bedtime. She's a tool and I'm pretty sure she's nuts. Her little band of merry terrorist-sympathizers tell a story that differs from the official Israeli version, but that should come as no surprise. I'd take the word of the Israelis over that of Cynthia McKinney, (who, as we all know, can be a bit of a hysterical freak), any day of the week and twice on Shabbat.

I need to go to bed.

Voting present?

This is why I could not vote for him. He appears to freeze up every time something major goes down. I may be wrong, and it may be that he will come up with some devastatingly brilliant insight and turn the entire Middle East around, but my bet is that the One is once again voting "present."

Remember, when Bush golfed as chaos reigned, he was disaffected and cold. But Obama is the most ubercool dude to ever grace the White House, so he's just chilling, right?

That settles it.

Via Steyn, a Russian analyst is predicting the bust-up of the US. Yawn. These predictions get old, but at least this one comes with pictures.

If these things come to pass, I'm moving away from the California Republic as soon as is humanly possible, hightailing it for the Texas Republic. I doubt it will fall under Mexican influence (have you ever met a Texan?), and I'm pretty sure it'll be one of the last places personal freedom will be respected. Also, I've always wanted to visit the deep south.

Tarnished?

After pushing a third faux memoir loaded with inaccuracies and fabrications, ABC is wondering if Oprah's brand is tarnished. She is the queen of schmaltz, the empress of melodrama, the shameless promoter of wildly unrealistic expectations (for her viewers) and the celeb asskisser-in-chief. Her endorsements are usually a signal to me that I should steer clear of the book in question, but to a lot of people, she is the sole literary authority in their lives. Which makes me sad.

I am exceedingly pessimisstic when it comes to the prospect of dethroning of Oprah. For some unfathomable reason, people love her. She's ridiculous, and her apparent cultural importance says more about us than it does about her. We thrive on schmaltz. It's depressing.

28 December 2008

Sick.

Speaking of sick, fourteen Afghani children between the ages of 8 and 10 were murdered by a bomb-laden SUV on their way to their last day of school. It is so hard to understand what motivates a person to intentionally target unsuspecting, innocent children. These fuckers have no honour, no dignity. They are cowards and deserve to die slowly and painfully. As a mother, I am simultaneously sickened, horrified and angry. I want to take the bastards responsible apart with my bare hands. The hate is there, I can feel it mixed in with the sorrow for the parents of these children, the soldiers who were unable to help them, the entire country of Afghanistan as it wrestles to free itself from this cancer of violence and brutality. God blesses the little children, gathers them to Himself, sometimes saving them from this evil, evil world. We can't know why He allows these things, and often faith alone is cold comfort. I look at this world and the evil within it and know that we deserve to be extinct. But there is goodness here that can't be ignored, shining like bright spots in the darkness.

Remember these parents tonight, remember the children who survived, and remember the Afghani people.

Protest.

So my video did not come out the way I had hoped and the pictures were terrible as well. I was forbidden from wading into the throng (there had to be over a hundred people on the corner of Camelback and Central this afternoon) as I have an ever-vigiliant, level-headed bodyguard. I was shaking, I was so angry. I managed not to use coarse language or rude hand gestures, because there were a large number of children present, and regardless of how brainwashed those children may be, it's never right to use profanity in the presence of children.

Any how, there were plenty of anti-Israeli signs and calls for motorists to honk for peace as the leader of the protest led the crowd in a rousing call to push the Jews into the sea. A depressing number of Arizonans honked as I fought the urge to vomit, watching children dancing around, placing fliers on the windows of motorists stopped at the lights. A trio of young girls carrying the Palestinian flag walked across the street and stood in front of me, the seething girl on the corner, and my companion warned me silently--in a way only he can--to refrain from giving in to my anger and disgust. A bright spot was when I heard a man joking with his family as he crossed at the light, "If they want peace so bad, maybe they should stop bombing Israel."

I left disgusted and sad. It's never going to end, is it?

Happened upon an anti-Israel demonstration this afternoon in Phoenix. Shot a short video & got some audio. Feel nauseated. Will properly blog later this evening.

27 December 2008

White noise.

Near the end of Steyn's excellent weekend column there is a line, a brilliant observation (amongst a sea of brilliant observations) on the state of western society.

Best not to take any chances. That's another way societies seize up – by obsessing on phantom threats rather than real ones.
Though the column is on the faltering world economy, taken out of context, these lines could very well apply to nearly all of the cultural neuroses that plague my country. Aside from the obvious "global warming is a greater threat than global jihad" nonsense, there are myriad bogeymen prowling the edges of American imaginations.

The Independent and the Times online each have an article chronicling the scientific illiteracy of many of our most prominent public figures, including both of America's recent presidential candidates.

To its credit, the Independent takes on the frightfully widespread belief that preservatives in children's vaccines can cause autism.
"We've seen just a skyrocketing autism rate," said President-elect Obama. "Some people are suspicious that it's connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it," he said.

His words were echoed by Mr McCain. "It's indisputable that [autism] is on the rise among children, the question is what's causing it," he said. "There's strong evidence that indicates it's got to do with a preservative in the vaccines."

Exhaustive research has failed to substantiate any link to vaccines or any preservatives. The rise in autism is thought to be due to an increased awareness of the condition.

The Times echoes this in its column. I see so much of it in southern California, even among women I believe to be on the higher end of the intelligence scale. I used to work out with a paediatrician who lamented the rise of "Jenny McCarthy science." "I see this all of the time with the parents of autistic kids; they need someone to blame, so they blame the vaccinations. And you get some bimbo who goes on Oprah claiming that her son's autism was caused by vaccines and then the movement gains national attention, which legitimises it. And then I get to deal with kids becoming gravely ill and dying from easily preventable diseases, things we haven't seen in forty, fifty years. It's irresponsible." Even if the science did support it, the benefits of not losing one's child to whooping cough outweigh the minuscule risks.

So while there is a real war going on, a war waged on the west by backward religious radicals whose aim is to throw civilization back a thousand years or so and restore the global caliphate, we are worrying about junk science and faux food allergies. [H/t: Kathy Shaidle.]

[An off-topic aside: Why is my browser's spellcheck dictionary still speaking to me in British English?]

It's too bad.

I'm terribly sorry that all of those people had to die because Hamas won't stop lobbing rockets into Israel, but I'm not sure the message has been received. I can only hope that Israel stays the course and sees this through. It has ceased to surprise me that the international community is repeatedly taken in by the distortions, manipulations, and downright lies of these so-called Palestinian freedom fighters. In these conflagrations, high civilian casualties on the Palestinian side are all too common, primarily because the "freedom fighters" hide amongst the general populace while carrying out their war on the imperialist occupiers. Israel, like any grown-up, civilized country, has a real military that actively avoids waging war from suburban areas. Putting the large number of casualties into perspective is paramount in these situations, but I'm not holding my breath. The world will condemn Israel because it is the easy, trendy thing to do.

"We will not leave our land, we will not raise white flags and we will not kneel except before God," Haniyeh said.
The thing is--and I make this statement with much certainty--that most Israelis do not want the Palestinians to leave their land or kneel before anyone. Israelis would just like to be left in peace, without the daily threat of rockets indiscriminately falling on the border cities, without psychos bulldozing pedestrians, without suicide bombers detonating themselves in Tel Aviv marketplaces or shooting up religious schools. Apparently, this is just too much for the Palestinian leadership, who feel compelled to push and push until the Israelis are forced to take action.

It's a shame that all of those Palestinians have to die because their leadership views their lives as valuable for propaganda purposes only.

26 December 2008

Ouch.

Heh. Ouch.

President-elect Obama stopped by the Marine Corps base in Hawaii Kaneche Bay where servicemen and -women were eating Christmas dinner in Kailua Thursday evening.

“Just wanted to say hi, hey guys,” Obama said as he walked into the Anderson dining hall which was decked out in Christmas decorations.

The diners represented seven military units -- Marine and Navy -- some of whom were joined by their families for Christmas dinner.

As Obama entered the room, it was absent of the regular fanfare of cheering and clapping. The diners were polite, staying seated at their respective tables and waited for the president-elect to come to them to stand up.

He can't expect to be embraced by the military enthusiastically, not after he trashed them for most of his campaign. For the most part--and the Blackfive guys can correct me if I'm wrong--our soldiers, sailors, airmen, et. al, don't necessarily appreciate being told that they're fighting and dying for nothing, for oil, for Bush's cronies, or whatever the lefty conspiracy du jour may be. I'm also pretty sure that our guys don't like the prospect of cutting and running from a war they've worked so hard to win. And I'm fairly certain that our military does not enjoy being portrayed as hillbilly illiterate children with no other prospects, forcing them to turn to the volunteer armed services, and then being pandered to and patronized when political expediency dictates. Our guys aren't stupid. They're not about to disrespect their commander in chief (having, for the most part, an understanding of things like honor and respect--unlike those who choose to disregard them), but you can't expect them to get too excited when he takes time out of his busy workout schedule to photo op with them.

As Gateway Pundit notes, Obama's no George W. Bush.

25 December 2008

Obsessed.

Eh. I've seen better. In person. Obama's such a prissy peacock, it's hard to not become nauseated by the media's obsession with his mediocre physique. It's not like we've never had a fit president before. George W. Bush is in wicked shape, especially for a man of his age. He's in better shape than men much younger, but, you know, he's evil and Satan incarnate and whatnot. All hail the kwisatz haderach or something.

[Just to be clear, I've never seen the nude torso of Leonidas in person. I'm just using him as an example of the complete opposite end of the spectrum. And while Leonidas' physique has had the benefit of cinematic magic, I have literally seen bodies as close to perfection as humanly possible in person. What can I say? I CrossFit.]

A good man.

Interesting. Reviled in his own country, lauded in eastern Europe.

Kosovo decided Wednesday to name a central street of its capital Pristina after outgoing US President George W. Bush for his support of the territory's split from Serbia.

Backed unanimously by Kosovo's cabinet, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said the move was "a sign of the huge state and national respect and appreciation" for the United States' contribution to independence, declared earlier this year.

He's a good man. At least there are those out there who recognize this.

Merry Christmas, dhimmi style.

I know that everyone has been atwitter about this for the last week, but I've got to weigh in on this. Unbelievable, this man. More unbelievable is the comfort with which the British have settled into dhimmi status. I know it is not inborn, as we in the US come from the same stock, my only explanation is that decades of the brutal imposition of state-mandated multiculturalism and an intrusive nanny state have rendered the proud and noble English complacent and apathetic.

Now, I've got a real problem with an unbeliever telling me how to be a good Christian, let alone claiming to know the mind of the Son of God, in whose divinity Mahmoud does not believe. He and his co-religionists call Christians polytheists and idolaters, and yet here he is, soft spoken and decidedly less crazy-eyed than usual, choosing his words carefully so as to lead the sheep to believe that somehow the three Abrahamic religions aren't so different after all.

As would be expected, our friends at JihadWatch have the details>, as well as the proper context in which to put this tiny tyrant's statements.



Merry Christmas!

24 December 2008

Freedom of expression?

Regardless of whether you agree with the man, the Pope's got a right to say whatever the hell he wants to say. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, he's the leader of a conservative Christian religion, and he's got to speak what he believes to be true according to the Bible. So, his freedom of expression should outweigh any concerns about political correctness, right?

Ha! Keep dreamin'.

Congratulations are in order.

Congratulations to my trainer and his wife on the birth of their long-awaited, long-anticipated, much discussed twins yesterday afternoon. I've seen pictures, and those babies are hella big for twins, and very, very cute. His wife is a superhero.

Muse.

I don't care. The Boss was before my time, and anything I've heard of his sounds dated and lacks that timeless quality inherent to really classic rock. I remember the theme songs from Philadelphia and Jerry Maguire as sappy, with Springsteen warbling on about sad things and social consciousness and other boring things. I'm not even illegally downloading his shite. If his hatred of Bush gets him up in the morning, so be it. What's he going to do for inspiration now that his reason for living is gone? I'm sorry, but it seems a tad pathetic when your muse is someone whose very existence you deplore. My muses tend to be creatures I desire, find beautiful, am intrigued by, &etc. I mean, why not keep a thing of beauty in one's mind when creating something? When you single-mindedly create around an obsessive hatred, your work tends to come out small and petty. Just look at Hollywood's recent box office bombs.

I'd love to sit and talk muses all day, but it's Christmas Eve. I'd share my Christmas list with you, but that'd be wildly inappropriate.

Party poopers!

These guys are the worst. The worst! Talk about party poopers. One day, scientists will find a way to convert the self-satisfaction of ecovangelists into electricity and thus tap into a power source that can last us for an eternity.

Last act.

This is a neat story, though it might not help to ease the minds of the paranoid "Israel Lobby" conspiracy theorists. Oh well, they can suck it.

What Charlie Winters did all those years ago is a righteous act. I can say without much doubt that I'd have done the same and willingly served time for it. In the months and years immediately following the discovery of Hitler's atrocities, people still remembered the horror of what had been done and how very close Hitler (with the help his cronies, many high profile Muslims included) had come to accomplishing this goal. The urgency of a Jewish homeland was recognized as imperative, and Charlie Winters took action to make it so.

God bless President Bush for pardoning this man and clearing his name, for though he did not live to see it, his children and grandchildren will now have that comfort.

Brilliant!

I was just reading "David Kahane" at NRO, who refers to Obama as the Kwisatz Haderach in his newest piece. Brilliant! If only I had thought of that, as I am a huge fan of the Dune series. Truly, the media may very well believe that Obama is Muad'Dib--at least that's the conclusion I've come to, based on the obsessive fawning and worship I've observed. Just as long as the One doesn't start a massive jihad to convert entire solar systems to a brutal, totalitarian hybridization of hyper-violent future Islam and Buddhism.

To tangent briefly, having read the Dune series well before 9/11 brought Islam to the attention of the modern world, I had not realized how much the more violent strains of Islam were featured in Frank Herbert's world. The future as he sees it belongs to Islam. It's been at least one hundred centuries since Earth was abandoned and yet Wahhabi-esque strains of Islam are still viral in the most desolate pockets of the wide universe. It's very interesting. The series is fantastic for its studies of morality, the dangers of blending politics and religion, the ethical ramifications of scientific intrusion into the natural world, and the limits, if any, of scientific progress. Herbert's examination of messianic prophecy and objective morality are worth reading the first three books. His future is bleak and cynical, a universe with no use for innocence and kindness, but it is quite thought-provoking. Herbert addresses social planning, benevolent dictatorship, the role of government in the lives' of its subjects, the willing capitulation of truly free men when they are convinced that the man they follow is their Messiah, the Change that they've been waiting for.

I would recommend the first three books only to non-scifi folks, as the books grow ever weirder and more intensely philosophical. Kind of like the third installment of the Matrix, only more coherent and interesting.

I'm done with my tangent now. Great reference, Kahane. Pure scifi gold. I'm going to try to remember that Obama is now the kwisatz haderach.

23 December 2008

Surprise! Obama's economic policy is wrong.

As you know, economics is not my strong point. Numbers and whatnot are, speaking candidly, a bore to me. Which is no excuse for ignoring such an important issue, but it is my reason. Thankfully, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity has been releasing a series of videos aiming to educate the economically disabled, such as myself. Here is an especially informative one on the obsession with Keynesian policy in the coming Obama administration.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to develop my weaknesses in all areas, from CrossFit to mathematics. I'm not looking forward to extra box jumps and reviewing algebraic formulas. Yuck.

[As an example of how much I do not want to work on my weaknesses, I initially typed that I was going to "work on my strengths" during the new year. Can we say Freudian slip?]

A dream has been realized...

I've been linked in Steyn's Song of the Week. He's probably right; I've probably heard the song a thousand times during my last thirty-one Christmases but never paid attention until this year. In my defense, as a kid Christmas music all started to blur around December 14th, when I'd been listening to it since October 31st. (My mom's a bit of a Christmas nut, and ever since I moved away I've avoided Christmas music as much as possible.) It absolutely sounds like a song my mother would love, and I'm going to break out the CD for her tomorrow.

The song did get stuck in my head, and I can't help smiling every time I hear it--which seems to be every time I walk into a department store. I love it. Steyn is such a weirdo, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I admire his fearlessness, which, coupled with the wide array of topics about which he is knowledgeable, always makes for an interesting, adventurous read. I mean, I've never heard a Jonah Goldberg single or seen KLo putting on a festive dance number, (though I'm sure she'd do very nicely). And I can't imagine Ann Coulter churning out an Anne Murray cover album. (Why did I choose Anne Murray? I've no idea.) Although, to be fair, I can definitely imagine Kathy Shaidle in a punk band. That would be awesome, and I'd pay for those tickets.

Any way, being linked from the SotW this week is indeed a magical experience. Merry Christmas to me! (Which reminds me, I need to hang some mistletoe on this blog.) As I've mentioned a zillion times, the SotWs are my favorite, always introducing me to the most interesting music. I recently downloaded a grip of Sinatra just to have the song "I'll Never Smile Again" in my iPod playlist, having recently learned the sad story behind it from A Song for the Season.

I must now bow out, having driven 8+ hours through rain, slush and extreme boredom. I've got to get some sleep.

21 December 2008

The sweetest Christmas.

Okay, I'm not happy with my previous post. I wrote it too quickly with a small one leaping from the back of the couch onto my head, which did nothing for my concentration. I will probably rewrite it at some point this week.

During the holidays, it is so easy to lose perspective. I'm stressed about money, stressed about getting everything packed up for the holiday trek east, stressed about the dogs and bills and any other excuse I can find to be stressed, so that the holiday itself becomes just one more day. I have the freedom to go to a Christmas Eve service or to light the candles on a menorah or refuse to celebrate anything at all and yet I choose to fret about transient matters, missing out on the limited time I will be able to spend with my family. It becomes routine.

But this Christmas, something decidedly less routine is happening in Baghdad. Iraqis are celebrating Christmas together, openly and without fear. From the CNN website comes this beautiful account of the first Iraqi public celebration of Christmas in modern memory. It's a great reminder of just how good we have it, and just how close the Iraqis are to becoming free, permanently.

On a large stage, children dressed in costumes representing Iraq's many ethnic and religious groups -- Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Arab Muslims not defined as Sunni or Shiite -- hold their hands aloft and sing "We are building Iraq!" Two young boys, a mini-policeman and a mini-soldier sporting painted-on mustaches, march stiffly and salute.
[. . .]
In the middle of the park there's an art exhibit, the creation of 11- and 12-year-olds: six displays, each about three feet wide, constructed of cardboard and Styrofoam, filled with tiny dolls dressed like ordinary people, along with model soldiers and police. They look like model movie sets depicting everyday life in Baghdad.

Afnan, 12 years old, shows me her model called "Arresting the Terrorists."

"These are the terrorists," she tells me. "They were trying to blow up the school." In the middle of the street a dead "terrorist" sprawls on the asphalt, his bloody arm torn from his body by an explosion. Afnan tells me she used red nail polish to paint the blood. A little plastic dog stands nearby. "What is he doing?" I ask. "He looks for terrorists and searches for weapons and explosives," Afnan says.

I don't know what Iraq will look like in five years, but this sort of thing was unheard of less than five years ago. The progress made is taking root and millions of children's lives will be better for it. I find dark irony in the fact that Muslim schoolchildren are celebrating with the Christian minority in Iraq without the ACLU getting involved, while American schools are so bound up by the fear of offending someone, holidays have become bland, joyless, empty ritual. It's pathetic.

Merry Christmas, Iraq, and here's to many, many more.

 
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