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Published on July 1 2007

Funny how last week I was stressin' BIGtime on the Research course, and wondering if maybe I was reaching too far and trying to do way too much all at once. Maybe I should just take some time and rethink this "going to school" stuff. The paper was kicking my butt, and I started thinking....what if I'm too dumb for this? What if I don't have whatever-it-takes to do this? Writing does not come easy to me, and doing these classes online seems to mean there are a lot more papers than back in the old sit-in-lecture days. Last week's "research paper" was an exercise in writers' block and swallowing panic. I don't think I'll ever post this one, because I disagree with nearly every word I wrote-- but I wanted to try to write something from a different perspective. Don't think I'll be trying *that* again soon, lol. Anyway, once again class ended with a completed paper turned in on time, and now the waiting for the grade begins. While waiting, I hit the catalog to pick out my next 8 weeks of self-torture. I have a month before it begins, and I. already. can't. wait.
SS303 International Law 3 Semester Hours Introduces the student to the basic principles and practices of international law and legal regimes. Examines traditional and emerging topics in the field: human rights, the Law of the Sea, the Law of Armed Conflict, War Crime Tribunals, and the International Criminal Court. [Students who enroll in this course may also receive a Certificate-of-Completion from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.]
and immediately after that one, we have:
MH304 American Foreign Policy 3 Semester Hours An examination of the historical context of American Foreign Policy from the entry of the United States onto the world scene at the turn of the 20th Century. The foundations of American attitudes to foreign engagement and the US role in the world is traced from Washington’s Farewell Address, to the Monroe Doctrine, and to the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny.
P.S. The stressin' must have helped. The GPA is maintained for another three months.

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Published on June 29 2007

....um, let's see. 73 credits down. 47 to go. FORTY-SEVEN????!!!! That's like....like.... THREE MORE YEARS. Dear lord. Now I almost wish I hadn't counted. But then again, in three years I'll be age [bleep] WITH the degree instead of age [bleep] WITHOUT it. Plus I will have had the experience of writing more nightmare-ish papers like this last one--I'll be able to pump out ten-pagers without even blinking! Always look at the bright side, right?

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Published on June 28 2007

"When the writing is blocked, the blocked must go shopping". Maybe I can buy some inspiration. Or a good punching bag, at least.

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Published on May 27 2007

Here I am, writing a "research proposal" for the big paper in my "Reasearch and Analysis" class. "Research Proposal". [snort] They're preparing me to write a Master's Thesis, when I'm still struggling with how to write a %*^$ correctly-formatted citation without resorting to NoodleBib or Citation Machine. I am so out of my element here, and feeling very much like I'm in over my head. But... here goes nothing......
Research Question This paper will attempt to explore reasons behind the controversy over the United States-led War in Iraq. Unlike the First Gulf War of the early 90’s, the Second Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq has been the source of much opposition and tension between states on the international front; as well as opposition on the domestic front. I would like to examine how and whether the theory of jus ad bellum was used as a justification for the current conflict in Iraq. Working Thesis This paper will posit that the current conflict in Iraq did not conform to the theory of jus ad bellum in the classic sense of intrastate relations. At the same time, the classic theory may be changing due to the changing nature of warfare due to the rise in terrorism.
How's THAT for a lousy thesis?! Just once, I'd like to make a damn statement without trying to see both sides.

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Published on May 8 2007

National Security Strategy of the United States In his March 16th, 2006 introduction to the publication of the National Security Strategy of the United States, President George Bush opened with the simple sentence “America is at war.” In this report, the first since August 2002, the White House stood by its policy of “preemptive war” in the defense of the nation, but the emphasis of the strategy has changed from one stressing unilateral military power to a policy leaning more toward diplomacy and cooperation with our multilateral allies. The introduction states “Our strength is not founded on force of arms alone. It also rests on economic prosperity and a vibrant democracy [and] strong alliances, friendships, and international institutions.” The 2006 NSS is based on “two pillars”: the promotion of freedom, justice, and human dignity; and the confrontation of challenges through the leadership of the growing community of democracies. These pillars are broken down further into essential tasks but the overriding theme of the 2006 strategy is the policy of the United States to “seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world”. The strategy reasons that since “democracies are the most responsible members of the international system”, the United States should be most aggressive in the promotion and support of democracy. To lay the foundation for this far-reaching “generational” goal, the United States will work toward the accomplishment of several tasks, beginning with addressing terrorism, limiting the threat of weapons of mass destruction, and defusing regional conflicts. The 2002 NSS stated that the “first priority will be to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations”; the 2006 documents carries this a step further by stating that in the long run, winning the war on terror means winning the battle of ideas as well as the military battle. If terrorism is the primary threat to US security, the causes of this threat need to be understood. Terror networks are less centralized, and therefore strategy must be preemptive to causes as well as preemptive to immediate threats. While the 2002 document stated that “no cause that justifies terror”, the 2006 document acknowledges root causes of terrorism such as political alienation, grievances that can be blamed on others, sub-cultures of conspiracy and misinformation, and ideologies that justify murder which can and must be addressed. The counter to each of these causes and to the larger causes of regional conflicts in the long term is democracy, with its offer of ownership in one’s society, its rule of law in the settling of disputes, its freedom of information and ideas, and its respect for human dignity. Short term steps to be taken towards this goal are: preventing terrorist attacks before they occur, denying weapons of mass destruction to rogue states and their terrorist allies, and deny terrorist groups the sanctuary of rogue states’ protection and support by keeping them from controlling any nation. Addressing larger regional conflicts through conflict prevention, intervention, and stabilization will require “effective international action—and the international community is most engaged in such action when the United States leads”. While the 2002 NSS argued that the US should do everything possible to maintain its position as the sole superpower by maintaining a military capability that was so far ahead of potential rivals that those states would not seek to compete; the 2006 document calls for the US to “strengthen alliances” and “work with others”. In some respects, this is being done. The United States spurned the United Nations in its decision to invade Iraq in 2003, citing Iraq’s repeated serious breaches of UN resolutions, Saddam Hussein’s abuses of his own people, and the danger to the rest of the world should Hussein use the weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have obtained. The current administration also showed its early unilateralist tendencies through its withdrawal or disengagement from international organizations and treaties ranging from the Kyoto protocol to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to the International Criminal Court. However, more recent developments show the administration’s willingness to cooperate with other countries in multilateral diplomatic efforts. An example of this is shown by the US approach to both Iranian nuclear aspirations, which are being dealt with in closer diplomacy within the United Nations Security Council; and in dealings with North Korea’s nuclear program, where the US has rejected direct bilateral negotiations with North Korea in favor of six-party talks in concert with China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea. A second thrust of the larger US strategy in promoting democratization lies in its approach to economic globalization. The document states “Promoting free and fair trade has long been a bedrock tenet of American foreign policy. Greater economic freedom is ultimately inseparable from political liberty”. The document also points out that “weak and impoverished states…are susceptible to exploitation by terrorists”, tying economic reforms firmly to the war on terrorism. The United States proposes building long-term stable and peaceful societies by working to open markets and integrate developing countries, diversifying energy markets to ensure energy independence, and reform the international financial system to ensure stability and growth. Pointing to its successful implementations of 14 Free Trade Agreements on five continents, the administration proposes to advance the opening of markets with several more FTAs and helping countries such as Russia to join the World Trade Organization. Noting that in some cases “oil revenues fund activities that destabilize regions or advance violent ideologies”, the United States proposes to diversify energy sources through technologies such as nuclear energy and other “clean” sources of energy, as well as reducing reliance on foreign energy sources. Discussion of the US strategy to reform international financial system includes encouraging adoption of flexible exchange rates, which is of particular importance in the US dealings with China in recent years. China rates a warning in the 2006 NSS document due to its continued reliance on global trade imbalances through the manipulation of its currency that the US may “hedge against [the] possibility” of China’s not working with the United States and other major powers to correct these imbalances. In its previous trade policy, the United States has refrained from making accusations that “nonmarket” economies such as China’s are illegally subsidizing their export trade, but recent Commerce Department decisions may lead to tariffs and duties on Chinese imports to the US. The 2006 NSS document goes further to encourage China to “follow the path of East Asia’s many modern democracies, adding political freedom to economic freedom” and to become one of the “close allies and friends with whom we share common values and principles”. The US strategy assumes that greater economic freedom will produce greater political freedom which will, in turn, produce greater security for the United States and the world. As George Bush stated in the introduction “Peace and international stability are most reliably built on a foundation of freedom” and the 2006 National Security Strategy states that the United States is prepared to lead in the promotion of free and effective democracies throughout the world. References The National Security Strategy. Retrieved April 25, 2007, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss/2006/intro.html. National Security Strategy - September 2002. Retrieved May 2, 2007, from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/national/nss-020920.htm. Foreign Policy: Democratic Enlargement: The Clinton Doctrine. Retrieved May 2, 2007, from http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=1557. Foreign Policy—National Interests - Global Issues. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ForeignPolicy.asp. Gaddis, J.L. (2002). A Grand Strategy of Transformation. Foreign Policy. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=180&print=1. In US security plan, more realism | csmonitor.com. Retrieved April 27, 2007, from http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0317/p01s03-usfp.html. James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy Rice University. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from http://www.bakerinstitute.org/. The New National Security Strategy and Preemption. Retrieved May 2, 2007, from http://www.brookings.edu/comm/policybriefs/pb113.htm.

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Published on May 6 2007

It's been a busy week. So busy, in fact, that I had to ask for an extension on the final paper for my IR2 class. I have a month, but I am NOT going to go past tomorrow before turning in the final. I have never had to extend before, and I feel just awful about it. The pressure is on for the Mad One. Soooooo.....today is "paper day" for me. Anybody got any tips on assessing a National Security document and not sounding like a complete idiot? Okay, you can all stop giggling now. I mean it. Don't make me go "mom" on you. [UPDATE: It's done. Done. DONE. #:-S Not too much happydance, though--the next class begins TOMORROW. So much for spring break in, say.... Florida.... Jamaica.....wherever... for me!] There is a little a lot of procrastination involved here, oh yes there is. As well as a little hangover from paint fumes-- my bedroom is almost done, save the second coat of sand paint which requires *another* trip to the Depot de Casa. And the kicker came last evening. I cracked the glass top on my stove by not turning the burner off completely with an empty teapot sitting on it. (I swear I shut it off!!) Lucky I didn't burn the place down-- the pot sat on the burner empty and melting for well over an hour before I wondered what the strange smell of something cooking was. Guess now I can go get the noisy whistling teapot I always wanted, but wasn't allowed. At least I got the lawn mowed ( and the cars registered after I happened to notice that the tags on BOTH of them said "March 07". Oooops.) ..... time to go make some of that breakfast booze and hit the books. And hope that next week is a better one.

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Published on April 26 2007

Woman, 95, to be oldest college graduate
HAYS, Kansas - When 95-year-old Nola Ochs graduates next month, she will be the world's oldest college graduate. The record Ochs will break, according to Guinness World Records, belongs to Mozelle Richardson, who at age 90 in 2004 received a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma.

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Published on April 19 2007

This week, class is into Syria and Lebanon, the Hariri assassination and the resulting UN Mehlis report. It's times like this that I realize how little I know about the world. I have realized one thing, however-- I don't do well with this "six countries in two days" overview type of class (especially ones where the lecture portion appears to have little or nothing to do with the question at hand--I never was much good at connecting dots spaced so widely). I need more detail, and a greater amount of time spent on a subject. I think this week would make a good semester-long class. I need that much time, lol. Next up... 7-pager on Iran's nuclear program, and then the finale for the course -- an assessment of the 2006 National Security Strategy of the US. I need waaaaay more time. I also need a better note-taking system; this is the most disorganized mess of paper and computer notes it's possible to make. They say a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind--I wonder what a six-inch-deep pile of paper on the dining room table says? Back to the books.

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Published on April 14 2007

I am sitting here laughing almost to the point of tears running down my cheeks at the way these parents handled their teenage son and his best friend after the kids' attempt at an embarassing practical joke on Mom.... Note before reading: Hopefully you will know what "finger cots" are. I actually use them for hand quilting on the hand opposite the thimble. I used them while working on a group quilt frame and you should have seen the looks on the faces of the ladies of the Guild when they realized what I was wearing!! Then they wanted to know where I'd bought them and exactly how I came up with the idea of using rubber finger... ummm... "protectors".... for hand sewing, lol. Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper: Filed Under: Parents 1, Smart-Ass, Teenage Son, 0
My son and his friend, Julio, spend most of their time huddled together, whispering about boobs or XBox or the latest crisis at school. They are good boys, but my son will occasionally have a brain fart. As I was driving them around the other day, the gas bubbled up and spilled over. "Hey, Mom. I need you to stop at Rite Aid." He turned in his seat and looked at Julio and they both smirked. "Why? Are you out of something?" "No, not really. I need something, though. It starts with a 'c' and ends with 'dum'".

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Published on April 13 2007

...before I finished writing out this paper. It was sorta the point I tried to make, but I wound up babbling for two and a half pages where Krauthammer gets the point across in two sentences. Sigh. Charles Krauthammer - Britains Humiliation -- and Europes - washingtonpost.com
Why was nothing done? The reason is simple. Europe functions quite well as a free-trade zone, but as a political entity it is a farce. It remains a collection of sovereign countries with divergent interests. A freeze of economic relations with Europe would have shaken the Iranian economy to the core. "The Dutch," reported the Times of London, "said it was important not to risk a breakdown in dialogue." So much for European solidarity. Like other vaunted transnational institutions, the European Union is useless as a player in the international arena. Not because its members are venal but because they are sovereign. Their interests are simply not identical.

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