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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Ta-Dah! 

It’s Finished! Not really. But The Term Paper From Hell has been officially turned in. It wasn’t actually complete, but I think I was at least able to address the central issue in the conclusion, even if the body of the paper had huge holes in it. It feels so odd to not have it hanging over my head.

Now on to other projects that I have been putting off for way to long – important things like assignments for my other class. And it might be nice to actually have a job this summer, preferably one that actually involves getting paid. (suggestions welcome) And maybe I can actually start thinking about things, which was the whole point of keeping this blog.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

NEWS FROM THE FRONT 

Background: I have this Term Paper From Hell that has been hanging over my head since last semester. I love the topic (South Korea) but I am so completely sick of writing papers and have been so bogged down in other projects that I've made virtually no progress in several weeks. When I realized that I didn't have class today because I'm not taking the midterm in my one Tuesday-Thursday class, I decided that a new tactic was required, and (insert suitable music here) THE TIME HAD COME.....

D-DAY! -- The launch of a full-scale frontal assault on The Term-Paper From Hell. Conditions are such as to necessitate an immediate large-scale assault on TPFH beginning at 0900 hours. The first objective is small, but the high threat of intense resistance and low moral has prompted a more cautious plan of attack. Stay tuned for further updates as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: The first major objective of the offensive has been achieved! The advance paused briefly around 1145 hours to allow troops to regroup briefly before the final push to the objective. Threats of small, squad-level attacks on the periphery present unique security challenges, but success in fending off these attacks and the securing of the first objective has improved moral and strengthened the resolve in the battle-weary troops. Progress remains slow, yet casualties have dropped with the securing of a stronghold and adequate cover. The next phase requires a change in tactics as information remains sparse. Small patrols will be advancing to draw out pockets of resistance and fill in missing intelligence while the main force hangs back, securing the area and preparing for the advance to the next objective. Stay tuned for further updates as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Well, THAT offensive stalled out. After fairly good progress, I got stuck….again. Back to banging my head on the wall.

Monday, March 01, 2004

In Other News... 

My friend in the VA National Guard shipped out today – off to Afghanistan. I’m not particularly worried about him, but it’s good to know he’ll be in good company. My (very small) school has a Service Star Banner hanging in the dining hall for him. I know we’re not technically family, but we have such a close-knit community here that he really is like a brother. Hopefully it will stay until he returns -- the Powers that Be are usually pretty cool about stuff like that.

Whoa.... 

....Collision of worlds! I was processing mail at my congressional internship today, and I came across an e-mail from a a guy who maintains a blog that I read on occasion! (I won't link it for privacy purposes.) As my sister says, "I was, like, totally weirded out." Ok, so she watches too much Strongbad. In any case, this brings up a topic of constant, and increasing annoyance. When you write to your legislators, PLEASE remember that SOMEone (ie, ME) has to read it, assign it an issue and response letter, and enter your name and address into the computer. This is a mind-numbing, tedious, never-ending task that is threatening to make my eyes cross permanently. Therefore, here's a couple of rules to keep in mind:

1. Keep it short, simple, and to the point -- I don't need to hear about your 95-year-old Grandmother's second cousin's hangnail and how her pain directly affects (or not) your right to keep and bear arms.
2. Clearly state the issue you're writting about
3. TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK!!
4. At the bottom of your letter or e-mail, type your full name as you wish it to be in a return letter, address, and proper zipcode so I don’t have to search for it or try to pick it out of the form crap that the automated e-mail thing leaves behind when you print the “write your congressman” emails.

And why is it that the only people that ever call are the 75-year-old veterans from Texas? They’re great old guys, and always have great stories. And I really appreciate everything that they’ve done for our country, but I’m not their “sweetheart” or “honey” or really even a “sweet little girl.” I wish I could sit and talk to them, but don't they realize that I have an 8 inch stack of e-mails from people just like them that have to be processsed?? Oh, the questions that plague our lives.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A Lesson from Mike the Marine 

Mike the Marine posted an interesting contemplation of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and what it means to be a Marine. As he so elegantly put it, "The word Marine means pride, skill, determination, leadership. It means a life spent dedicated to something larger than yourself. It means something that precious few outside its ranks will ever understand, and will never be able to fully appreciate." These traits of pride, discipline, tenacity, and leadership, are ones that I’ve tried to develop in my own life, and I am extremely grateful for parents who encourage me in this, and have taught me the great responsibility that goes along with this. But I’ve never been challenged in them the way that my grandparent’s generation was, or the way that Marine recruits are challenged on a daily basis.

I also appreciate what Mike, and many others, have said about the importance of tradition and history in the Marine’s development. It is a lesson that the rest of the nation could stand to learn. Sometimes it seems like we fight a hopeless battle to preserve the traditions and values that make our nation great. The more we work to ensure the preservation of basic human rights and the benefits of democracy in other parts of the world, the more I see those values declining here. But when I feel consumed by cynicism, I hop on the metro and cruise down the Hill to the mall. I read the quotes on the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, and wander through the Korean and Vietnam War memorials. The Korean memorial is especially poignant as I see how the South was preserved, and the economic success that has come out of it. It reminds me of the incredible sacrifice that was made to preserve a small corner of the world, and that there is hope to preserve freedom, even when all seems lost. Then I go back to my office and slip back into cynicism-for-survival mode, while humming the Marines hymn.


Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Friend Appreciation Day! 

When I first heard Valentine’s Day called Singles Appreciation Day, I considered it the ultimate in single girl’s desperation. Yet the older I get, the more I see some value in this. I am learning more and more about the value of a good friend. Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily have to be about the person you’re romantically involved with. It can also be about friendship and appreciating those whom you love as friends. This evening, I went out with several friends for desert, and then briefly crashed a dance party. What freedom to be able to just relax and not worry about how I look or what I say or whether or not the person I’m with is truly being honest with me. The pleasure of a spirited, unencumbered conversation is one of the finest on earth. But instead of Singles Appreciation day, how about Friend Appreciation Day?

On a completely different note….I found out this evening that a friend of mine’s VA National Guard unit has been called up. Deployment is scheduled for early March, possibly to Iraq. Consequently, he won’t be able to complete the semester and will have to postpone graduation. That will make one students and one graduate from my very small school over in “the sandbox.” The other is a civilian working with the rebuilding efforts in Baghdad. My prayers are with them and all our troops. The longer this draws out, and the more I learn about the world out side of the US, the more grateful I am to be an American and the more determined I am to do all I can to preserve our liberties. My reasons for not joining the military are getting harder to listen to all the time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Hurt Not the Earth 

The following is a paper I recently completed as an assignment. It is also one of the few papers that I am actually pleased with how it came out.

Hurt Not the Earth: The Christian's Role in the Environment

Today’s media is replete with articles on global warming, water and air pollution and the depletion of the ozone layer. The endless bombardment of environmental propaganda is often ignored by conservatives, and especially Christians, as being extremist and “new-age-y.” Eco-terrorist actions such tree spiking to prevent logging, and the vandalism of SUVs by groups such as the Earth Liberation Front help to support these notions and serve to distance more conservative elements. While these illegal actions should certainly be condemned, involvement in environmental issues should not be abandoned because of the actions of these extremist elements. In fact, Christians have a responsibility to take interest in environmental issues and work towards policies and practices that promote long-term sustainability of resources and the natural beauty of nature, because of their unique responsibility to take interest in the things that God values.

Environmentalists can be divided into two philosophical camps: preservationist and conservationist. The preservationists are those who want to completely eliminate human impact on the environment to preserve the environment in its completely natural form. They frequently advocate preventing access to undeveloped land, reducing either industrial or residential development, and zero impact management practices. In contrast, the conservationists advocate protecting undeveloped lands while still utilizing them for long-term, sustainable and multi-use development. These groups often support permitting the exploitation of natural resources such as natural gas and oil, mineral deposits, and timber when proper procedures are taken to limit the environmental impact as much as is reasonable. They work towards practices that ensure the sustainability of natural resources, both for aesthetic pleasure and economic advancement.

Most conservatives agree that proper management of the earth’s natural resources for long-term economic gain requires caring for those natural resources and their surrounding ecosystems to ensure sustainability. Yet the prevalence of the preservationist mindset in the modern environmental movement and the violence and destruction that many of these groups support, has distanced the more moderate elements.

When God created the earth, He took interest in his creation and poured into it His perfect creativity and skill as a designer. When He was finished, he called it “good” and gave newly created man the responsibility of naming and caring for the individual species in creation (Genesis 1:25-26; 2:19-20). Matthew 6:26 says that God feeds the birds of the air and verse 30 says that He clothes the grasses of the fields. He notices when a sparrow falls and not one falls apart from His will (Matthew 10:31). In Psalm 50 verses 10 and 11 He says “every beast of the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” Even in His judgment of the earth, He shows concern for His handiwork. When God decided to destroy His creation because of Man’s sinfulness, He spared not only Noah and his family, but two of every species of animal as well. In Revelations He takes care to order the preservation of the earth and its contents until due time (7:3), and even promises that at judgment He will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18).

One can also see the caring and concern that God shows for man through the creativity and variety expressed in creation. God could have created the earth to be purely functional, without variety or color. Yet He chose instead to demonstrate His love for man and His love of beauty by creating a world full of artistry, and diversity.

Based on these conclusions, Christians must take an active role in caring for the earth for two reasons. First, Christians are called to imitate Christ (I Corinthians 11:1). As such, they are commanded to value the things that Christ values, including the environment. Second, Christians have a responsibility to acknowledge God’s benevolence by respecting and caring for the gift of nature as God would wish. This theme is most apparent throughout the Psalms where one can see that the earth is the Lords, and that it was given to man for His enjoyment and to illustrate the majesty of God (Psalm 19:1, 136:5-9).
However, the most basic argument for Christian involvement in environmental issues should also be the most persuasive. Christians are commanded to care for the earth. This concept of stewardship is first introduced in Genesis, when all the animals are brought to Adam to receive names, and Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it (1:28, 2:15, 20). It is seen in the laws through instructions for cultivation and even in specific commands to preserve trees (Deuteronomy 20:19) and care for animals (Proverbs 12:10, Deut. 25:4).

In conclusion, one can clearly see why Christians have a special, Biblical responsibility to take interest in the natural world and to work towards the preservation of the environment. The current trend towards extremism in the mainstream environmental movement increases the burden for involvement in order to steer the ideology back towards a common-sense, conservationist approach to management. By allowing the preservationist forces to dominate the political scene, Christians allow policies that either cause environmental harm, or cause public harm through extreme preservationist practices. Christians must use their God-given reason to examine the science and issues surrounding environmental policy, and work to support those conservationist policies that place both man and nature in their proper Biblical context.

Me and My Big Ideas 

I had this brilliant idea to create a blog of my very own, but in the novelty of doing so, I forgot what I wanted to say. So a brief introduction will have to suffice for now. I am a college student in the Washington, DC area -- a condition which often feels perpetual, but I hope to overcome sometime soon. Although I am majoring in government with an emphasis on intelligence and foreign policy, my interests also include ecology and anything involving being outside, history, and anything else that may catch my fancy at any given time.

I am currently interning in a congressional office, and often have the opportunity to attend briefings on any number of topics. Consequently, I hope to use this space to contemplate the things I see and hear, and hopefully draw out some useful lessons for the future. Although I may, at times, digress into random musing on life in general. Comments and constructive criticism will always be welcome and encouraged, however I reserve the right to ignore and/or respond in kind.

And that’s all I have to say about that. For now.

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