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Diary
By lm (Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 07:38:08 AM EST) (all tags)
We're running up against the laws of human nature.

Blather entirely unrelated to that follows.



On Friday, I got a shave and a haircut. The shave was self-inflicted. The haircut I paid for. It cost far more than two bits, even accounting for inflation. Wiki sayeth that the earliest documented `shave and a haircut, two bits' jingle is from circa 1899. If one could really get a shave and haircut for two bits, that would come to about six dollars today if the inflation calculators are right. But the haircut alone cost me twice that.

There are two types of people I like getting haircuts from. The first, and most preferable, is the grizzled old curmudgeon that's been giving haircuts since I was in grade school whose movements are a study in efficiency and who can do a proper flattop from a ragged mane of unkept hair in mere minutes. Regrettably, these sorts of barbers are getting more and more difficult to find. And sometimes if you do find a grizzled old curmudgeon, he's hung on just a bit two long and ends up giving you a flattop that looks like small cove of joshua trees sticking up out of the desert.

But failing that, I'm more than happy to my hair cut by a skillful woman with a soft touch. There's something about the cold metal of the scissors on the back of my neck that I find comforting.

I seem to have found the latter at the barber shop just downstairs and around the corner from the apartment. There is a slight communication barrier. Most of the stylists seem to be from southeast Asia. My first guess is Cambodia. But my ear isn't all that great at placing Asian accents. Regardless, there was something of a disconnect between the haircut I asked for and the haircut I received. It's not a bad haircut at all, just not the one I thought I was going to get. next time, I'll take a picture.

:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Art history suggests mild revisions to the conventional view of womanhood in Ancient Greece in The Glory That Was Greece From a Female Perspective. Though, as usual, they take the Athenian experience and extrapolate it to all of Greece. I understand why so many in the field do that, but it's problematic. Athens was probably not the norm any more than Sparta was. Most of ancient Greece was small to medium sized city-states.

Wonderful? Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life contrasts the the traditional view of It's a Wonderful Life with both reality (in hindsight, Pottersville would have been much more viable over the long term as a resort town rather than a suburban manufacturing center) and from a suburbs as dystopic sensibility.

The Atlantic has a great interview with a Chinese financial wiz who offers some rather obvious advice, Be Nice to the Countries that Lend You Money. The interview has some really great insights, like the brain drain that's been happening in the finance sector:

Many of the brightest youngsters come to me and say, ``Okay, I want to go to the U.S. and get into business school, or law school.'' I say, ``Why? Why not science and engineering?'' They say, ``Look at some of my primary-school classmates. Their IQ is half of mine, but they’re in finance and now they’re making all this money.'' So you have all these clever people going into financial engineering, where they come up with all these complicated products to sell to people.
Such a brain drain not only takes the best and the brightest away from other sectors but it also leads to the kind of abstract and complicated investment vehicles that no one really understands. When brain power is put to making money for the sake of making money, it shifts the basis of the economy from the real to the abstract. The whole interview really is chock full of pragmatic analysis of the current situation. Another good bit is, ``it’s not relevant to discuss how Americans `should' think. We should discuss how Americans might think.''

The NY Times explores the continuing influence of Thomas Merton in Trappist Monk's Mass Appeal. Merton was an interesting writer and certainly influential. A side of his influence not covered in the article is that I met an Eastern Orthodox monk that had at one point been Trappist. Certain of Merton's writing (and the way they were received) was part of the 1-2 punch that drove him away from the Church of Rome.

John Anderson argues that The only good Nazi on film is one that is ridiculous. After all, there was no heroism on the part of any the Nazi-era Germans.

The NYT magazine re-examines the literature that lead to the phrase A Culture of Poverty.

:: :: :: :: :: ::

``The Left'' is starting to chew Obama a new one over the issue of Rick Warren speaking at the inaugaration in Obama's Choice of Pastor Creates Furor. That article doesn't really capture the passion I've seen online. The dKos has an electric, visceral response, concluding with the assertion that everyone that disagrees is a bigot:

You call yourself a progressive and swear you're not a bigot? Well, if you're not with us, completely in support of our full and unconditional equality with straight citizens including marriage equality, then you're a progressive who's also a bigot -- even if your bigotry is a side-effect of your religion.
By that metric, Obama and almost all other US politicians are bigots.

Civil gay marriage is something I support pretty much unconditionally for a number of reasons, chief of which is that I think it's an implied right in the US Constitution for anyone to pretty much define marriage as he or she sees fit so long as it involves consenting, human adults. Yet, I don't think calling the majority of the country bigoted is a very effective means of striving towards a political end. Every single state that has put an anti-gay marriage question on the ballot has seen it pass and in most cases, by a super majority. (In 2004, Ohio's passed by a 2/3 majority and Kentucky's passed by a 3/4 majority.) So far as I've seen, California's is the only one that was even close, before the California measure the narrowest margin was Oregon's where the proponents of the measure beat the opponents by almost 15%. And the ballot measures are growing increasingly broad. Ohio's measure, for example, prohibits not only gay marriage but also civil unions and the recognition of any form of same sex civil union by the state for any purpose.

From a purely political view, calling over half the country bigoted doesn't seem to me to be a very good method of moving forward one's agenda. Given that the US is quasi-democratic, one needs to win over those bigots instead of casting about pejoratives. But I'm also aghast at the intellectual narrow-mindedness that refuses to see the way that law and  religion shared much of the same heritage for most of history. Not only were the oldest examples of laws religious in nature but certain elements of the legal code were adopted for religious reasons. Further, this shuts down the dialog in the same way that that right wingers do when they call their opponents traitors and un-American. Dialog becomes impossible under such circumstances.

:: :: :: :: ::

I clocked in at one pound overweight this morning. That makes me sad. Well, not really. One pound over the line isn't going to kill me. The general pattern for the past couple months has been my weight creeping up over the weekend and then falling back off as the week progresses. I suppose I could eliminate the weekend bump by running on the weekends as well. But enough is enough in my book. I don't think taking the weekends off will kill me.

And at least some of that new weight is muscle mass. This morning, save for the shoulder presses, I easily did three full circuits on the weight equipment. I'm stuck at half the reps for the shoulder presses. I expect that to change with time. The present short term goal is getting the reps on the shoulder presses even with everything else. After that will come increasing the reps by 10 all around. After that I might consider increasing weight but I may not. I'm not trying to end up looking like Charles Atlas. I just want to be in what I would consider to be reasonably healthy condition and not be fat.

Let me just say that running a mile outside when the thermometer reports the temperature as sixteen of God's own degrees is one of the few things I've done that makes me consider that it is not always to a man's advantage that he has outside plumbing. I should invest in a pair of sweatpants.

:: :: :: ::

It was bound to happen sooner or later. My eldest daughter finally figured out that she is able to read my `livejournal' here at HuSi. I've never actively attempted to hide it from her (or anyone for that matter). She's old enough that she can probably make some sense out of it. I think the things that I want to keep secret from her, I've used coded language well enough to put it just outside of the extent to which she can abstract. She's a very bright kid in quite a few ways. But she tends to think very concretely. For example, she's quite good at math is she's given a formula but she has a good deal of difficulty translating word problems into equations. Or when it comes to books, she likes books that have characters that she enjoys imagining herself as or interacting with. But she has trouble abstracting the themes, especially if the characters are unsympathetic in her eyes.

Usually this irritates me. But in this particular case, it may be a good thing. I have a full disclosure policy with both of my girls. But with some things, I don't intend to disclose the particulars until they reach a certain point of maturity.

:: :: ::

The weekend was very nice. There was more interaction than usual with some old friends, one of which is moving out of the area. It was nice to have folks over here and there to break up what is usually two days of housework and recovery from the week. I stayed up too late watching bad movies, which is always fun.

The highlight had to be Sunday. Aside from a visiting priest from Indonesia who put the typical American middle class lifestyle in a global perspective with a good deal of fist pounding on the lectern and shouting, there was also the annual nativity play. I've never seen a bumblebee at the manger before.

I started another batch of hard cider. This one, I'm going to let age longer than a month. Hard cider is easy to start up. The local Whole Foods has organic apple juice in very nice glass gallon jugs. I just bring one home, pour in the champagne yeast and put on an airlock. This time, though, I do intend to add more sugar after the first racking, and maybe after the second racking. The last batch was a bit too bitter for my liking. I also racked the white whine I started last week, although it looks more amber than white.

I should probably by a hydrometer so that I can measure the specific gravity before I start a batch rather than playing it ad hoc. I didn't want to buy a whole lot of equipment to start out with as I wasn't certain that this was something that I was going to keep up. Now that I've tried my hand at it and I think it's fun, it's time to look at buying a few of the things that I need to do it properly.

:: ::

My wife took an online depression inventory. She scored in the seventies which puts her in the last category: 54 and up (Severely Depressed).

My spits and giggles, I took the same test and scored a 5 which puts me on the opposite end of the spectrum, ``not likely to be depressed.'' I bet if I would have taken it a year ago, the results would have been different. Two years ago, the results would have been more different still. And in 2002 or 2003, I'd probably have ranked right up there with my wife's score.

Well, maybe not. Still, those weren't great years for me.

::

Most of today and tomorrow will be spent getting ready for the holiday trip to Ohio. I think it's funny that the drive to Toledo from DC is shorter than the drive to Cincinnati. But such is the way the freeway runs. To get to Cincy, one has to drive about 60 to 70 miles north to catch the right east-west Interstate and then drive that same distance back south. Additionally, the interstates between here and there tend to make right angled turns. So despite, Cincy only being about 20 miles or so north of DC, the trip takes longer than the trip to Toledo which is closer to 200 miles north of DC. The freeways from DC to Toledo go in almost a straight line.

< I wish they all could be California girls. | Oh, JEEBUS, I Hate Moving! >
We have to give money to the charities we have and not the charities that we wish we had | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
How many people are motivated by money for careers by garlic (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:10:55 AM EST
? Are the sorts that are motivated by money going to be good engineers? I don't know because that's not my motivator for engineering. I know my cubemate and his twin choice engineering in college based on monitary reasons, but they both seem to be in it now because they really enjoy it.


and by garlic (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:11:49 AM EST
while they claim to desire to be rich, they aren't making the choices and changes that would lead them to a path of riches, over their current careers.


[ Parent ]
Plenty, I would think by lm (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:26:55 AM EST
The problem is probably larger in places (like China) where one's parents traditionally have a larger say in what one studies at the collegiate level.

But even here in the states, I think there are quite a few people with the capacity to be either a good financial analyst or a good engineer. I think it reasonable to think that a significant number of those will decide on what to study based on expected salaries after graduation.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Bingo by miker2 (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:28:03 AM EST
I just read a hacker news article last week about this.  In India, the focus of the piece, getting money from being a doctor/engineer from a US based company is HUGE and is to be done over personal wants and desires.  I wouldn't doubt that the situation in China is quite similar.

Also, some anecdotal evidence, I went to an engineering school (literally one B.A. grad every couple of years).  We washed out A LOT of prospective engineers who then went into other areas of study.  Maybe the desire to be an engineer is strong but the coursework to get to that point is rough.


Ah, sociopathy. How warm, how comforting, thy sweet embrace. - MNS
[ Parent ]
Not just money. by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 05:29:58 AM EST
I used to think that Dilbert was a documentary. Now I am beginning to think of his career as a best case scenario.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
various by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:23:15 AM EST
well, it's a kos link. As you point out about shutting down dialog, by demonizing your opponent (bigot, unpatriotic) you don't have to listen to anything they say, since they are "bad". Didn't that fruitcake Chompsky write about the use/abuse of language for such ends ? (I want to say, he wrote positively about it, whereas I see thoughtcrime written all over it).

Hydrometer: buy a radiator tester, if it's got the right gradations.. Probably a lot cheaper (?) Plus, you can use it for yer car, and who says only the french put anti-freeze in their wine ?

Cider: When you say bitter, do you mean bitter, or very dry ?

I don't know how much radiator testers cost by lm (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:31:51 AM EST
Hydrometers cost five or six bucks. And I'm about due for a run out to the home brew store anyway. I'm out of airlocks.

As for shutting down the conversation, I believe the context Chomsky put it in is one of intention. In this particular case, I don't think that there is a goal of shutting down dialog. But that is the consequence.

The cider was both bitter and dry. A large part of the bitterness was probably due to not letting it age long enough. I think it had that `hot' taste you were trying to describe a while ago. Regardless, it needs a touch more of sweet.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I thought the idea was no dialog at all .. by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:56:16 AM EST
The name calling being line ad hominem -- make your opponent sound bad by calling him bad names that have large negative connotations attached. Thus, whatever that person says no longer holds any value since they are such a bad person. You don't have to listen or even rebut the points the other side raises, because anything they say must be invalid because they're a bad person.

Thus, you silence your opposition by making them out to be a boogeyman guilty of thoughcrime. You control the debate by controlling the language -- that's the idea I'm pretty sure Chomsky forwarded, with such thoughtcrime intonations attached to it.

Like Godwining a thread, really.

[ Parent ]
Right, that's the Chomskyian line by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:52:14 AM EST
I don't think the article I linked to was taking that line. Rather it was simply emotional venting.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
There's no good reason to oppose gay marriage. by Captain Tenille (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 05:36:31 PM EST
"But the $SCRIPTURE  says it's wrong, and we have our god-given right to hate on the queers!" is not a good reason.

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/* You are not expected to understand this. */


[ Parent ]
There's no good reason to wear tartan today by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:05:32 AM EST
either.

And you still fall into the bigot/hate trap.

[ Parent ]
You still fail to answer the question. n/t by Captain Tenille (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:47:07 AM EST



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/* You are not expected to understand this. */


[ Parent ]
not arguing the question by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:55:15 AM EST
arguing why the debate is cut off and the tactics used to do so, as you equally duplicated.

[ Parent ]
I've got something better than circuit training by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:48:04 AM EST
for the cost of a round trip travel and three easy payments of $59.99 each, I can let you in on the snow shovel workout. It's got strength training and cardio.

The Times is wrong, Bedford Falls is based on Seneca Falls in Seneca County, not Erie.

If I had to do it over, I might have chosen something financial over engineering. 


If I had to do it all over again ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 09:56:32 AM EST
... I would try harder to not flunk out the first time around. I suspect doing that might broaden my available options.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I can get a haircut for $2.99 by theboz (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 11:42:22 AM EST
There are plenty of cheap places around here, and most of them are run by Vietnamese people.

As to your complaints about the gay marriage proponents using terms like bigot, how would it be any diffrernt than blacks calling out Obama if he invited David Duke to a place of honor at his inauguration?  While it's true you don't change minds by calling people bigots, if they are bigots and you are upset by it, the onus is not on you to change your behavior.

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That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
Rick Warren is no David Duke by lm (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 12:17:53 PM EST
If Obama had invited Fred Phelps, I'd gladly cede that point. But to compare Warren to Dukes is idiocy. Their respective views on sexual identity and racial identity are in no way analogous.

The analogy to racism and/or slavery breaks down when looked at from the viewpoint of history. There has always been a moral controversy over slavery and racism. Even the thinker most commonly used to support `natural' slavery, Aristotle, raised  many questions over whether slavery was morally permissible under any circumstances. Racism also has a long history of being opposed by many. The abolitionists and civil rights movements in the US, in many ways, were the culmination of ideas that had been worked out over millennia.

In contrast, the notion of gay marriage is relatively new on the scene. While you can argue, and I truly believe, that is in many ways the culmination of the ideology represented by the US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the fact of the matter is that it is a new development and reasons for opposing it exist that don't necessarily have anything to do with bigotry. Sure, the anti-gay-marriage movement has it's share of bigots. But not everyone that would argue against the state sanctioning of gay-marriage does so because they're bigoted.

Consider miscegenation laws. There were some black separatists movements in the US that believed in equality between the races but also in keeping racial purity. The underlying theory is that every race and culture has much to offer the rest of the world and that by racial blending, the entire world loses out on those unique characteristics. Would you argue that those such groups which supported miscegenation laws were all bigoted?


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I strongly disagree by theboz (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:05:13 AM EST
If Obama had invited Fred Phelps, I'd gladly cede that point. But to compare Warren to Dukes is idiocy. Their respective views on sexual identity and racial identity are in no way analogous.
Both of them are vile in their views.  Here is a quote from Rick Warren:
"But the issue to me is, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."
Many racists, prior to the civil rights movement of the 60's, were good people who cared for others and didn't necessarily hate blacks.  Even David Duke doesn't seem to think there should be a holocaust of blacks or anything like that.  He has specifically spoken out against violence of non-whites, despite wanting all the "races" to live separately.  So the comparison between Rick Warren and David Duke is appropriate.  The only difference is that we haven't had a gay civil rights movement in this nation yet, so it's still considered to be ok to oppose gay civil rights.
The analogy to racism and/or slavery breaks down when looked at from the viewpoint of history. There has always been a moral controversy over slavery and racism. Even the thinker most commonly used to support `natural' slavery, Aristotle, raised  many questions over whether slavery was morally permissible under any circumstances.
Since homosexuality was a normal behavior during Aristotle's time, and basically throughout history until Christianity became a major player in the religious scene, history treats it differently.  From Aristotle through the Caesars, they didn't see anything wrong with homosexuality, and when you get to Rome, homosexual sex with young men was sometimes considered a rite of passage or the way things were.  That's why I found it so amusing that the movie 300 was considered by many Christians to be allegorical for their struggle, because in reality the Spartans were so gay that when they married women, the women often had to get their hair cut like a boy and dress like a boy to turn their husbands on.
In contrast, the notion of gay marriage is relatively new on the scene.
It's only relatively new because the idea of prohibiting it has only been around for hundreds of years, while slavery has been around for thousands.
While you can argue, and I truly believe, that is in many ways the culmination of the ideology represented by the US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the fact of the matter is that it is a new development and reasons for opposing it exist that don't necessarily have anything to do with bigotry.
I've yet to hear a valid reason to oppose it.  In fact, bigotry is the only explanation, because quite frankly as a heterosexual it's none of my business what consenting adults do with each other, and who they choose to marry.
But not everyone that would argue against the state sanctioning of gay-marriage does so because they're bigoted.
It is tyranny that the state is involved in marriage at all.  It's really a personal matter, and for most a religious matter.
Consider miscegenation laws. There were some black separatists movements in the US that believed in equality between the races but also in keeping racial purity. The underlying theory is that every race and culture has much to offer the rest of the world and that by racial blending, the entire world loses out on those unique characteristics. Would you argue that those such groups which supported miscegenation laws were all bigoted?
Of course that theory is bigoted.  There are racists and bigots of all colors and backgrounds.  The underlying theory you propose above is bullshit, and is against reality.  Skin color does not dictate culture, and elements of culture that are good can be joined with other cultures.  I think music, for examples, has proven that theory completely wrong.  We have gotten to a point where almost all white music is derived from what was originally considered black music.  However, white people have put their spin on it, and turned it into modern rock n' roll, pop, country, etc.  The merging of the two cultures in this regard have been a major success.  I am a firm believer in the success of the U.S. being based off of the blending of cultures, much as ancient Rome and other major civilizations have been.
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That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
Your history is all wrong by lm (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 07:34:13 PM EST
We're not talking about homosexuality per se. We're talking about recognition of same sex marriages. As openly as some Greek cultures accepted homosexual behavior, they did not accept same sex marriage as marriage. To the extent that your reply addresses homosexuality itself rather than same sex marriage, it's off topic.

As for your view of David Dukes, you've bought into his attempt to revise his own history. You do know that he was convicted of inciting a riot don't you? Outside of his direct role in the leadership of the KKK, show me one Warren quote that compares to David Dukes saying: ``White people don't need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals.'' In the world of David Dukes, only only blacks (and other non-white races) commit such crimes as rape. In the world of David Dukes, blacks are not fully human. Rick Warren, however, will state that gays and lesbians are fully human. The analogy doesn't hold.

Furtheri, If you really mean that the only opinion that can be opposed to yours is based on bigotry, then there is no room for dialog. There is no reason to continue the discussion. Feel free to feel that way. It won't get you very far, though. It means that the only people you can have a real discussion with are people that agree with you.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Warren by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:21:58 AM EST
The progressive militants are missing the boat.  My guess is that Obama is trying to bridge the gap between Christians and progressives.   Christians have far more in common with progressives than they do with conservatives.  Feeding the poor, turning the other check, and redemption are all progressive and Christian virtues.  Christianity and progressive politics go hand-in-hand, but the progressives have consistently allowed the conservatives to lie, cheat and steal into the minds of the Christians.  Obama is the sharpest progressive politician I've ever seen.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
The only good Nazi by duxup (2.00 / 0) #21 Sun Dec 28, 2008 at 04:48:05 PM EST
I remember a documentary about WWII where they interviewed a German solider who talked about getting swept up in the Nazi movement and about how his parents desperately tried to convince him to stay away from it.  He talked about his experiences and how when serving in Russia he was boarded in a home with a local Russian family and fell in love with the young daughter of the family and how that confused him as they were supposed to be less than human.  He talked about as the war went on how he remembered what his parents told him and how they were right about it all.    I remember thinking that was one of the few stories directly dealing with the nazi movment that I thought was truely fasinating and would make for a good film if done right.  Of course, it wouldn't have awesome lines like "in effect" and Tom Cruise.

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Do you happen to remember the documentary's title? by lm (2.00 / 2) #22 Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 12:12:07 PM EST
That sounds like a really neat story. I'd like to hear it.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I wish I did by duxup (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Dec 29, 2008 at 01:37:56 PM EST
However, it was one of those generic WWII documentaries, only a small part focused on the most interesting interview.

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[ Parent ]
We have to give money to the charities we have and not the charities that we wish we had | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback