Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mitt Romney for President in 2008?

I recently discovered a great article on Mitt Romney, the current governor of Massachusetts in the Weekly Standard. Romney also happens to be a member of the same church I belong to, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon church). The article describes Romney's political background and explores the possibility of a Presidential run in 2008. In addition, the article is one of the most objective magazine articles I've ever read on Mormonism (unlike one that came out in the New Yorker a couple years ago). So if you're interested in learning a little about Mitt Romney and his beliefs, this is a great article. Romney is definitely a rising star in the Republican party.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day 2005

Memorial Day has always been special to me and I've always felt a respect for the men and women in the Armed Forces. When I lived at home, our family would drive up to the cemetary on Memorial Day to lay flowers on the grave of my grandfather who served in WWII as a navigator over Europe. Many members of my family have served in the U.S. military going as far back as the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. My two other grandfathers also served in WWII--one in the Army, and the other as a radio operator in the Navy. My Uncle served in the Army during the Vietnam War. My father served in Germany in a medical unit during Operation Desert Storm. My younger brother served in the Army 82nd Airborne Division a few years ago and my cousin and her husband are both serving in the Marines right now.

I feel lucky that none of my relatives were seriously injured during their service. Other families have not been so lucky. They've lost their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, or brothers in the many wars that have been fought for freedom.

Today, I'd like to honor the memories of all those who have fought and died for our country. And I say a prayer for all the soldiers that are still fighting for us today all over the world.

There are some moving Memorial Day tributes here and here (via my brother and Free Republic).

UPDATE: Denita of Who Tends the Fires has a great Memorial Day round-up.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Carnival o' Cats #62

Thanks to everyone who contributed this week.

The first part of this week's carnival is dedicated to the memory of my cat Fluffer who passed away 3 years ago and to contributors that have lost their furry companions. Fluffer (a.k.a. Fluffmuffin or Fluffy Beast) was about 14 years old and was suffering from kidney failure and arthritis. My parents decided that putting her to sleep was the best choice since she was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. I took this picture of her under my bed with my first camera when I was 13 years old. We named her Fluffer (or some variant) because she was super fluffy. She was abandoned as a kitten, but we believe she was part Maine Coon cat. She had a very sweet, gentle temperament. Where ever you are, Fluffer, I hope you find the comfiest chair in cat heaven.

In Memorium


Trish remembers Mulder’s strong dislike of pumpkins. Mulder passed away this week, so please send Trish your condolences.

Frightwig at Sundappled Wood presents In Memory of Abigail, her beautiful calico cat.

Julie at i-pets.com blog presents Buddy, the wanderer in memory of her orange tabby, Buddy.

Jazz Shaw’s cat Colin is still with us, but is extremely ill. Her vets are stumped, so if you can help please go check out her blog Running Scared.

Let’s lighten things up for the rest of the carny. I’m sure most cat lovers would like to know what their furry little friends are thinking. Most of their thoughts probably involve food, sleeping, and getting rid of the competition (other cats, dogs, significant others, etc).

Things a Cat Thinks About

“I could have sworn I heard the can opener.”
--Chandler, co-owner of Lisaviolet at lisaviolet’s cathouse.

“This looks like a good spot for a nap.”
--Norwegian Blue, owner of Russ at TacJammer.

“We fear change.”
-- Pica, owner of Labkat, when asked about the prospect of moving.

”I just know my human would appreciate a freshly killed little rabbit for supper.”
-- Sophie, owner of Vicki Bennett at OutsideIn, presents When Bad Things Happen to Good Bunnies.

“I know she put that tuna fish in here somewhere!”
--Milo, friend of Janette Stripling at Common Sense Runs Wild, presents Caption This! 5/27.

”The next person to come up here without a treat for me will meet a horrible end!”
--Blur, owner of Chuq Yang at 7610, presents Blur, the Stairmaster.

“Ah, now this is the life.”
--Kady, owner of Nuthatch at bootstrap analysis, presents friday cat blog: tower of fun.

“Must kill mouse-like object.”
--Amber and
--Mouse, co-owners of Storyteller at Scribblings, presents Feline Friday...Fun fun fun.

“Touch me while I’m eating and you’ll lose a finger!”
--Loretta’s kitty at Dust My Broom presents Is it Friday already?

“Look into my eyes…you are getting sleepy. Now go fetch me some tuna, human, and make it snappy!”
--Lola, owner of m0nkyman at Aptenobytes, presents Lola at the table.

“Whew! Good thing I’ve got 8 more lives left!”
--Mak, owner of Andrew Hecht at American Idle, presents Down to Eight Lives.

“I command you to bask in the radiance of my beauty!”
--Lady Radiant, owner of the Robot Vegetable at Middle-Fork, presents Lady Rampant.

“I think I’ll read a little before I doze off…zzzzzz…”
--Maggie’s kitty at maggies meanderings and shameless plugs presents sleeping kitty.

“I am Si-a-me-ese if you ple-ease. I am Si-a-me-mese if you don’t please.”
--Chloe, owner of srp at Melange, presents Chloe: a "Proper" Siamese.

“I am NOT a morning person!”
--Dust Bunny, owner of Josh Poulson at Josh's Weblog, presents Feline Friday.

“Few humans understand the significance of the ancient craft of Feline Crop Circles.”
--Aunty Holly at Aunty Holly presents Rampage of the Lawn Beast.

“You know you want me.”
--Russ Mitchell kitten at Boxing Alcibiades, presents You know you want to adopt me.

“It’s alive!”
--Cow Kitty and Fatty at Feline Queen present Rotating Poopie Boxes.

“I’m not fat, just big boned. More Friskies over here, garcon.”
-- Babatounde, owner of Tom at hamstermotor, presents Babatoundeblogging.

“It’s so hard being adored by everyone. I’m going to have to fire my human if he can’t keep those pesky fans away.”
--Gizmo, owner of Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy Blog, presents Carried in on a Litter.

“Urp! That canary was delicious!”
--Tommy’s kitty at almost average.

“Mmmmm…dreaming of a bowl full of goldfish.”
--Emily, owner of Catherine at Cathcoll.net.

“My human can’t go out in these jeans! They have no scent! Heh, I’ll take of that.”
--Jackie, owner of Enrique at the Blue Parrot.

“This house ain’t big enough for the both of us”
--Hi and Mischief, co-owners of Gir at your moosey fate.

“Get lost! We’re eating!”
--Elisson’s kitties at Blog d’Elisson.

”You can run, but you can’t hide.”

“I love the smell of catnip in the morning.”

--Meowsa, owner of Mog at Mind of Mog.

”Hmmm ... If dogs serve humans, and humans serve cats, why can't we cats ever get these STUPID dogs to do anything for us?!"
“Did I do that?”
”Don’t speak to me of nuance. Just bring on dinner!”
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
--Baby, co-owner of Sissy at sisu.

“Is there something I'm not getting when humans make noise with their mouths?”
--Velma, owner of Diane at Ded Space, while observing the French Open.

“If you were a mouse, I’d swallow your head.”
--Smudgie, owner of Romeocat at CatHouse Chat, presents Less stress; more catblogging!

“I am a princess... and, yes, you may pet me. Oh, no, I insist.”
--Lyra, owner of Kimberly at Music and Cats, presents Feline Friday: The Princess.

“One must be sure to train one’s humans well.”
--Venus, owner of Alicia at The Venus and Mercury Cat Blog, presents well-trained.

“Hey -- no kidding, I'm sure that's the can opener.”
--Ferdy, owner of Bruce the Human Pet at Conservative Cat, presents Emergency Catblogging.

“Dogs make useful pillows.”
--Spike, owner of SB at Watermark, presents Comfort.

“This had better be a dog-free zone, or I’m going back into my room.”
--Mac, co-owner of Mira at The Oubliette presents mac ventures out.

“I proclaim this box mine!”
--Noah, co-owner of Mira at The Oubliette, marks his box.

“Argh, I gotta scratch that itch.”
--Morris, owner of Martin Lindeskog at EGO, presents MORRIS IS GOOD AT JOB ROTATION.

“Damn it, I said I wanted it over ice!”
--Anonymous drunk kitten via Jack Cluth at The People's Republic of Seabrook.

“Do I get bonus points if I trip you?”
--Molly, owner of BJ at Quite Early One Morning

“Why doesn't the government do something about dogs?”
--Nardo's Israeli Cousin from Rahel at Elms in the Yard

“Yeah, I shredded your curtains. Now just try to come up here and get me!”
--Random cat via Rahel at Elms in the Yard, Wednesday Cat Blogging.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”
--Smudge, owner of Pipsqueak at The Common Room, presents Our cat Smudge.

“Bow before my angelic gorgeousness, or the fern gets it!”
--Sam, owner of Firefly at Bioluminescence, presents Sam.

And finally Steve of HockeyCat.com didn’t have an entry, but sent a letter telling us that all of the cats featured on his site in the past have been adopted. Keep up the great work Steve!

UPDATE: I fixed the broken links. Thanks for your patience with my newbie-ness!

UPDATE: Here's a last minute addition to the carnival.

"I'm taller, smarter, and better looking than you!"
--Claudius the magnificent, owner of Susan at Pages Turned.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Babyblogging: Crazy Hat Friday

When I worked in a biochemistry lab at the University of Utah, the grad students and I decided that Fridays were Crazy Shirt Fridays. We'd wear the brightest, loudest, most obnoxious shirts we could find. So in that tradition, I proclaim today Crazy Hat Friday. Here's Preston modeling his crazy sun hat. Poor kid will probably require therapy if his friends see this when he's older.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Revenge of the Sith: The Nature of Evil, and Redemption

I finally saw “Stars Wars episode III: Revenge of the Sith” (ROTS)on Saturday. My husband and I had to see it separately since we couldn’t get a babysitter. But I don’t normally talk much during movies in theaters. At home it’s another story. My husband is continually exasperated by my numerous questions.

Anyway, on the whole I was pleased with the movie. I thought the visual effects and the pacing of the movie were good. The acting was adequate, although the lack of chemistry between Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) and Natalie Portman (Padme Amidala) was consistently annoying (as it was in Attack of the Clones). Most of the time Anakin looked at Padme like he was stalking her and Padme looked either unexpressive or like she was a little girl meeting her hero, Mickey Mouse, for the first time. Nonetheless, I was very moved by the story of a hero who turns evil and destroys everything he’s ever loved.


I was also annoyed by Lucas’ politicization of the movie by throwing in a few lines here and there that apparently were taking jabs at the Bush administration. The worst one was when Anakin said something like, “You are either with me or you are my enemy” to Obi-Wan who replies, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.” This line made no sense because earlier (Or is it later? I guess I’ll have to see it again.) Obi-Wan says, “Palpatine is evil” (an absolute), to which Anakin replies, “From my point of view it is the Jedi that are evil (moral relativism)." The Jedi seem to be the ones dealing in absolutes with their fight for freedom of members of the Republic (e.g. the Wookies), and Mace Windu (Samuel Jackson) determining that he must kill the evil Palpatine to save the Republic because the Senate and the courts have been corrupted. Palpatine, on the other hand, exhibits moral relativism by telling Anakin that it’s all right to use the dark side as long as you’re helping others e.g. saving Padme from death.

Based on these lines and by what he said at the Cannes film festival, it appears that Lucas is either politically ignorant, or playing to an anti-American crowd to sell tickets in Europe. Lucas claimed that "the parallels between Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."

Um, yeah, right. Vietnam and Iraq are so similar. Let’s see. In Vietnam the U.S. was fighting to keep communist North Vietnam from conquering South Vietnam. In Iraq, the U.S. removed a murderous dictator so that Iraq’s people could form their own government In Vietnam, we decimated the forces of the Viet Cong during the Tet offensive, but paid a heavy toll in casualties. The U.S. eventually pulled out and left the South Vietnamese to twist in the wind. In Iraq, the U.S. rolled into Baghdad and totally obliterated all of Saddam’s armed forces along the way with relatively light casualties—complete victory. Then the military stayed in Iraq, at the request of the new Iraqi government, to help rebuild Iraq and ferret out the last few terrorists. Vietnam is full of jungles and nasty bugs. Iraq is full of sand and nasty bugs. Besides nasty bugs, and the U.S. promoting democracy, there’s not much similarity between the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. But Lucas, like many in Hollywood, is an ignorant commie-loving hippy who happens to have talent making movies. Don’t quit your day job, George.

Anyway, there were two things about the ROTS that bothered me. First was the rapid transformation of Anakin into Darth Vader. It seemed a little forced and implausible. Anakin goes from regretting helping Palpatine kill Mace Windu, to slicing up little kids at the Jedi Temple in the next hour--all because he wants to save his wife from dying in child birth. I don’t buy it, unless somehow he was possessed by the Emperor and totally lost any ability to make choices of his own. It was all a little sudden and far-fetched in my view.

Also at Cannes, regarding how a good man turns himself into an evil man, Lucas said, "Most of them think they're good people doing what they do for a good reason." I don’t agree with this. Does Saddam consider himself a good person who murdered all those Iraqis and Kuwaitis for a good reason? It’s possible he deludes himself with that belief now, but I don’t think he was always that way. Saddam started out like the rest of us—as a baby. Mormons believe that all children under the age of accountability (around age 8) are pure and without sin. We don’t believe that small children must be baptized in order to be saved, but we believe that they are saved by virtue of Christ’s atonement. Therefore, any infant that dies is automatically received into heaven—he or she, by virtue of their innocence belongs to Christ.

Furthermore, I believe that each of us has a conscience given to us by God and that it is developed as we grow up. At some point, Saddam, Hitler, and Stalin each had a conscience and knew good from evil. But by continually suppressing their consciences, and justifying their evil deeds, they soon became desensitized to any feelings of good. They may have lied to themselves that the ends justify the means, but deep down I believe they knew they were wrong. But how could an evil person live with themselves if they acknowledged that their deeds were evil? At first, Anakin feels remorse for killing Mace Windu, but then Palpatine helps him justify what he did and then what he does later. I think Anakin still felt that what he did was wrong, as exhibited by his tears after slaughtering everyone on the volcanic planet.

I was also disturbed by Obi-Wan leaving Anakin to die on the volcanic planet. Anakin was no longer a threat to Obi-Wan and was mortally wounded. I tried to figure out what bothered me so much about this scene. I think it was because Obi-Wan had an opportunity to show mercy to Anakin, and didn’t. He seemed to decide that Anakin was beyond redemption and deserving of a slow, painful death. I mean, he could have ended Anakin’s suffering with one stroke of the light saber, but he didn’t. It didn’t seem very Jedi-like and certainly not like someone who considered Anakin to be a brother or son.

I don’t believe any of us, even Saddam, is ultimately beyond redemption. Don’t get me wrong, I support the death penalty if the crime is heinous enough. I don’t think mercy should rob justice, and I think Saddam should be executed for his numerous crimes. I believe that those that don’t get justice on earth will get it in heaven. Mercy is God’s greatest gift and is a very powerful tool. If Obi-Wan had saved Anakin’s physical body, he may have been able to save Anakin’s soul and prevented him from becoming Darth Vader, the half-man, half-robot monster. But then again, maybe not.

Of course, ROTS is not about redemption. That comes later in Return of the Jedi. Note how Luke never gives up on his father, while everyone else does. Anyway, I just had to keep reminding myself that this was only a movie, and if Lucas had done things my way, then the whole series would have been messed up. I do wish that instead of Obi-Wan coldly leaving Anakin to die, Lucas had somehow caused the two to become separated, making Obi-Wan’s recovery of Anakin impossible. However, Obi-Wan’s lack of mercy in ROTS does go well with Obi-Wan’s unspoken remorse masterfully displayed by Alec Guinness in A New Hope.

All in all, annoying dialogue notwithstanding, I had to give ROTS two thumbs up. I plan to see it again this weekend.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Carnival of the Cats Coming This Sunday!

Calling all cat lovers! The next edition of Carnival of the Cats is being hosted by yours truly here at Ripe Bananas. Please submit your entries by 6 p.m. (Central time) this Sunday, May 29th at cats(at)isfullofcrap.com. I'm looking forward to all of your cat-related posts.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that this week's Carnival o' Cats is at thisblogisfullofcrap. Enjoy the cat crap.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Babyblogging: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, it seems our comcast cable is working well now so I have some catching up to do. Over the Mother's Day weekend, I flew up to Salt Lake City, Utah with my son and husband to attend my brother's graduation from the University of Utah. It was Preston's very first plane ride and he had no problems. He sleep most of the way, woke up for some dinner, and then spent the rest of the time watching the lights outside on the ground. Here's a picture of him strapped into his car seat in the airplane.


We spent part of the weekend with my brothers and their wives, my mother and grandmother, and my father and his wife. Of course, everyone was excited to see Preston again. Never mind about the parents, just leave the adorable infant with us please! I gave my mom, my grandma, and my stepmother each a framed picture of Preston for Mother's Day. Behold, the power of the smiling baby picture. Just try not to say, "aww...how cute."


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Comcast is the Devil!

Our Comcast cable connection has been in and out over the past three weeks. It always seems to work when my husband's using the computer, but the minute I want to blog or check email, it goes down again. We finally got Comcast to send out some repairmen and it's working now. Hopefully, I'll get to post more later.