I am sharing with you something that made me laugh. It is from a little book called "Catku" which is haiku poems that your cat might have written, plus a couple of short and mildly satirical prose sections. It is by Pat Welch and would be a good stocking stuffer except that it is, sadly, out of print. (Though it is available for Kindle. There is another book with the same title that I cannot vouch for. This one is entertaining.)
The setup: a zen master has taken his student out at night for a lesson.
On this night, they were accompanied by the temple cat, but this was unusual: A cat's eyes are designed to see in the dark, and the excessive ambient light from the lantern was a hindrance to his navigation; his presence was due only to the fact that the student had a number of sardines secreted about his person.
[following an obscure and obfuscatory discussion, the master:]
"Do you now understand the difference between a brick and a tuba?"
[the student] "I'm pretty sure I do."
At this point, the cat stumbled on a rock and swore, as cats will.
"You know," said the student, "I've been on this rock for a year and a half, and in all that time I haven't heard a dozen words that make sense."
The cat suddenly stepped in a hole. He swore bitterly.
[the master] "You believe the sun will rise, but you don't believe you can play the piano."
[the student] "I play the tuba. And I believe the sun will rise because it always has, and I don't believe I can play the piano because I never could."
The cat walked straight into a prickly hedge. He cursed shockingly.
[the lesson continues]
The cat stepped off an invisible ledge, but, being a cat, was able to save himself from falling. His copious swearing warned the master and the student that they were at the edge of the cliff.
[the master says one too many elliptical things and, long story short, both master and student go over the cliff to their doom]
The cat took a moment to allow his eyes to adjust, then turned back to the trail. "I don't know where those jackasses went with the sardines," he said, "but at least they've shut up and I can finally frickin' see."
File this under "decluttering."
A while back, I wrote about collections, and the relative utility of hanging onto them. Since then, changes in the nature of media storage (in particular, cloud computing and streaming) have made my arguments kind of ... invalid.
It is still quite true that owning a lot of books, movies and music ensures a baseline level of entertainment, regardless of what happens with the outside world; and further ensures that if, in the future, money should be painfully tight, one does not have to resort to a public library (that may or may not exist in a reasonably accessible location).
Let me hasten to add that I am a big fan of public libraries. I'm just well aware that they are perenially on the chopping block of city and county budgets.
Anyway, recent developments have made me more willing to divest chunks of my collections. I've been picking away at my books for years, and now my eye has turned to the movies. Oh! the movies. The hundreds of movies.
The notion that we would choose to watch a movie on DVD versus catching it on cable/satellite has proven false. There are some movies in our collection that we have seen several times (each) on the teevee instead of firing up the DVD player and getting the disc either queued up, or out of its box.
I still don't really see a problem with keeping our jukebox full. After all, if it's sitting there, it may as well be full of movies. But I am now unwilling to give any additional space to movies. So the discs that are in boxes, or elsewhere, are either going to get loaded into the jukebox (which will entail pulling some things OUT of it) or simply given away.
I am looking forward to getting some of the marginal titles out of the jukebox. The ones that are constantly on teevee, or the ones we can stream for free on Amazon Prime.
The really sad part, and the part that makes me more determined to do this, is that some of the discs we own have never been viewed at all. Not many, but some. Clearly we are choosing other forms of entertainment.
I am dedicated to watching everything before it goes. We bought it because we were interested, right? So we owe it to ourselves to at least view everything once. But having done so, the disc has really earned its keep. We do not need to keep everything just in case we want to see it again.
Chances are, we will see it again ... on the teevee.
Read my 2010 post here: In Defense of Collections
I am not one of those people who will stand in a queue at the crack of dawn in order to get into a department store and then race around trying to score a "deal". I am closer to the opposite end of the consumerist spectrum, in that I have a very narrow range of things I shop for, I tend to buy iterations of the same thing over and over (I have the same pair of pants in 4 colors, for example, a certain shirt in 4 colors and another in 6), I have a really short gift list, and I just really don't Go Shopping.
I shop. For the things I need or want. From a list. And it's not that easy to get on the list.
I will use a coupon if I have one, but generally when I need a new shirt or whatever, I just order one.
To me, an extra two hours spent on an errand that trivial is a waste of time that will never be made up for by a holiday discount.
And if I'm buying a gift, well .. that is something specific. I am far more likely to find the right thing over the course of a leisurely year of internet browsing, or better yet while on vacation, than in a frantic scurry through the mall.
So Black Friday is, to me, primarily a source of head-shaking noncomprehension.
But I still buy stuff. Right now I am in a bit of a home-improvement phase because we are hosting a holiday party. We haven't done this for a really long time, and when we did we didn't really "decorate" for it; so this time, I am choosing to buy a few purely decorative items that I know will make our apartment look special. And that will make our guests feel special.
What I am doing on November 29, however, is re-doing my closet. Not in any major way; all I've bought for the project are a new shoe/bag organizer and some shelf liner. But I'm taking it apart and re-organizing it.
My closet is a case of "what's the cheapest way we can do this." It is a reach-in, 12 feet wide. There is a single long shelf above the rod(s). Years ago, I confected additional shelves using white particle-board planks and glass blocks from Home Depot. For a long time, these shelves were occupied by a huge collection of movies on DVD and another huge collection of Star Trek books.
Most of the books are gone now. And the movies are mostly in our jukebox. I will be purging that collection soon, too, but at the moment my biggest concern is putting down the shelf liner, because the original long shelf is rough wood and it is a pain in the tuchis getting towels or sheets up or down. I mean, you can't slide anything.
I actually did a re-do on the closet earlier this year and it was a big improvement. But after living with that for a while, I knew it could be better. And this is something that's in use twice a day (at least), every day. A small investment in improvement will mean better quality of life.
Of course in order to put the shelf-liner in place I have to take everything off the shelves, then take out the planks and blocks, wipe down the wood shelf ... eh. It's not a complex job but it's going to take a while.
The perfect project for a day best spent at home.
For the midyear re-do, click here: Summer Closet Re-Do
And for the one before that: Glory
In the holiday season, it is even easier than at other times of year to say "I am too busy" and let good sleep habits slide. Here is an article from Steve at Nerd Fitness about what good sleep habits actually are: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/11/19/are-you-making-these-mistakes-with-your-sleep/#more-13558
This ties nicely into two short news snippets from The Week. The first that I had clipped for comment is titled "Sleep washes the brain." There's an image, eh?
A recent study on mice by University of Rochester neurologist Maiken Nedergaard, as reported by BBC.com, found that "during sleep, the cells in a mouse's brain shrink dramatically, increasing the space between them by some 60 percent. That allows cerebrospinal fluid to circulate more freely and wash away cellular waste. Upon waking, the brain cells enlarge and the flow slows to a trickle. Among the residue removed from the brain during sleep is beta-amyloid, a plaque-like substance that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's."
So essentially, the brain seems to have a built-in rinse cycle. The shrinking/expanding mechanism of the brain cells permits the body's cleaning fluid to circulate. This is analogous to the blood/lymph cleaning fluids that circulate through muscle tissues.
We can help that process by self-massage and other soft-tissue mobilization techniques, including stretching; but there is no way to stretch the brain. So SLEEP.
The other short piece that relates nicely to Steve's article is titled "Why novels make you nicer," which is kind of funny. (They don't, actually, if you just leave them on the shelf.) But reading novels might well make you nicer, and the reason is that reading fiction trains the reader to empathize. The reader learns to identify with the protagonists - and other characters - and imagine herself in their circumstances. Putting yourself in another person's position is, of course, the core of empathy, and empathy is the core of compassion.
The New School for Social Research did a psychology study and found that subjects who read a short piece of fiction were able to identify the emotions of others more accurately than subjects who read a piece of non-fiction.
Study author Emanuele Castano says that fiction "forces you as a reader to contribute your own interpretations, to reconstruct the mind of the character." This makes you more effective at interpreting real-life interactions. And the more accurate your interpretation, the more you understand the other person, the more likely you are to be kind in your dealings with him.
So, not only will reading a novel help you get to sleep, it will probably improve your emotional intelligence. Win/win!
For more on how *I* manage sleep, click here: a proper night's sleep
I have never done this before, but here I am borrowing the entirety of a lengthy comment made in response to a book review (linked here: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/dance-with-me-by-emmie-dark ). I am doing that because the comment so well expresses a point that I failed to address in my rant about "The Sheik." Thanks and apologies to "Renee," whoever you are.
"I’ve been struggling over forming a reply to this review since I first saw it yesterday. I’m going to apologize in advance for the length of my comment, but this is really bothering me.
I think the thing that is so offensive about this character is that he is a character.
Here in reality we have to deal with all the horrible thoughts that pop into our head and all the terrible things people do to each other. There’s a lot of great stuff out here in the real world, but there’s also a lot of random ugliness. Novels aren’t meant to be like that. Novels are supposed to be realistic, certainly, but they aren’t reality. They’re supposed to engage us, and open us up to new ideas and new ways of thinking about things in our real lives. But they’re primarily considered a form of entertainment.
It’s true that people have horrible random and sometimes not-so-random thoughts and we can’t reasonably condemn someone for what happens in the privacy of their own head. But a novel is written to paint a specific picture. There’s not really any such thing as a throw-away thought in a novel. Everything you read was put there by the writer for a reason. Usually several reasons, in fact.
I’m not saying every sentence is meant to be fraught with ponderous meaning. Such a novel would collapse under its own weight long before it ever got all the way out into the world. But these things don’t just get slapped down on the page by accident. That author deliberately gave her male main character (I don’t really feel comfortable calling him a “hero”) thoughts about potentially sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, apparently at multiple points if he’s still thinking about the idea later. He’s turned on by her again while they’re dancing and his thoughts don’t jump back to some random sexual fantasy he’d spun earlier in the evening while they were out on their date. He thinks about how he wanted to rape her.
It’s not just a random thought. We don’t hear every random thought that runs through a character’s head in a book. We don’t know when they need to pee or notice that their shoe is untied or that they thinks a BLT might be a good thing to have for lunch. The author doesn’t go into detail about what the female main character’s breath smelled like when she got up close, or what she looks like when she chews her food. And if his hindbrain is really just a horny lust machine, an assertion I don’t necessarily agree with but am willing to concede for the moment, then why isn’t he pondering the potential of scoring with any of the other women he must surely have passed on the street or in the hotel while we’re in his POV?
On some level, however unconscious, the character will have theoretically noticed all of those things. But because he’s a character and not a real person, we don’t have to sift through it. We only have to hear the interesting bits, the thoughts that are relevant to the story. The author chose to call out these specific thoughts for that, chose to use these ideas from his head to paint a picture of his character for us.
If sexual assault was relevant to the story, maybe because the woman had such a tragedy in her past and she needed to overcome her resulting distrust of all men as part of her character growth, or because he was being contrasted in some way with another potential love interest who would have taken advantage of her, then maybe putting those thoughts into the novel would make sense. Or, I don’t know, maybe if the mysterious thing he was searching for was a prophesied woman he could use but doesn’t, then that would be a context for it. Maybe his character arc could be that of a man realizing he is sexually turned on by that type of BDSM someone mentioned that involves having sex with an unconscious person. I’ve read stories about people discovering their inner Dom and not being comfortable right away with the way that squared with their conventional understanding of sexual dos and don’ts. When they’re done well, it’s a powerful and interesting bit of character development.
I’d have no problem with any of those stories. But this isn’t a story like that. At least, I assume it’s not. I haven’t read this book but I feel like that information would have been relevant enough to make it into the review. This is a guy who is being portrayed as “normal” and “nice” and we’re meant to understand that about him from the fact that he could have raped a woman and chose not to.
That’s the part that offensive to me. That the author is, whether intentionally or not, using the fact that he didn’t rape someone as a way to let us know what an awesome guy he is. We shouldn’t be holding up not committing sexual assault as a measure of what makes a good person. That he later goes on to lie to her and use her carelessness as a means of controlling her only further reinforces the fact that he’s not a good person.
Now some people like to write ideas like this off. “Oh, it’s just a novel. It’s not [like] we’re pulling aside young men and telling them to go rape helpless women.” Except that we are. A culture is as much defined by what it deems entertaining as anything else. This is a contemporary romance novel published recently and it’s sending the message that thoughts like this are not only normal, but romantic. And it’s not a unique idea. It’s a pervasive element of art and entertainment, at least here in America, and that kind of thing does effectively pull young men aside and tell them rape is okay. That women secretly want it and fantasize about it.
I won’t go so far as to speak for women at large here, but I don’t find it romantic. I don’t find thinking about a woman as just a warm place to stick something charming. That’s not my definition of love or even attraction. I don’t find lying sexy either. Maybe some people do, and that’s their prerogative. But if that’s the brand of entertainment this novel offers, then I won’t be putting it on my TBR.
I applaud this review. And it’s important to remember that we’re talking about a book review. This isn’t a condemnation of a person for having bad thoughts. It’s a rejection of expressing the idea of those thoughts as a form of entertainment. And if people don’t stand up and say “this idea is not okay with me; I don’t find this entertaining” when they come across something like this, then rape culture is never going to go away."
I've had a couple of weeks to think about it, and that's my assessment. This book is not the worst-written book I've ever read. It is not the worst-plotted. It is not even the worst-researched.
But its underlying assumptions are so vile that I seriously wanted to throw it against the wall. I finished it ONLY because it is considered a "classic of romance," and I kept waiting for something to happen that justified that.
Whatever you do ... do NOT read it. I am planning to cut out the pages and shred them and turn the binding into a trivet. And I am not a person who defaces books. This one deserves to be defaced.
I am talking about "The Sheik," by E.M. Hull, published in 1919 and the basis not only for a couple of movies starring Rudolph Valentino but for pretty much all modern bodice-rippers and the general run of "category" romances of the 1970s (at least). I picked it up for a couple of bucks in an antique store because I remembered Elizabeth Peters making fun of it in "Die for Love." Deservedly.
First point of ragey raging, and sufficient unto itself: RAPE IS NOT ROMANTIC.
Second point of ragey raging: STUPID "HEROINES" ARE NOT ROMANTIC.
Third point of ragey raging: ABUSIVE "HEROES" ARE NOT ROMANTIC.
This rant is going to be full of spoilers, because I don't want anybody to read this book. It's still in print, and it gets multi-star reviews on Amazon, so people are still reading it. They shouldn't.
"The Sheik" is a piece of crap that provides in 300 pages the worst of the sexist, racist, classist worldview of the wealthy white person circa 1920.
On top of that, it has so many trauma triggers, it's not even funny; and I don't care that it's 90 years old: this stuff was NEVER OKAY.
The male-female ethics in this story are approximately circa 1400. I am not kidding.
Synopsis and Armchair Psychology
The purported heroine (it may be worth noting that there is not a single useful female character in this thing), Diana Mayo, is a spoiled rich girl at whose feet worthy males chronically and instantly fall, because of her fatal beauty. She spurns them all because she has been brought up from infancy by her older brother, who didn't want to take care of a girl so treated her as a boy.
Consequently she is good at guy things like riding and shooting, but completely incompetent at having a civil relationship with anything female, as well as at understanding the least little thing about her own values, talents, goals, or strengths. Her education is sketchy and self-directed, and because she is only 21 and has spent most of her time indulging herself, she has not figured out how much she doesn't know. She is, in short, socially dysfunctional and largely ignorant.
Diana considers herself both cold (emotionally) and strong. The first is absolutely true and the second is absolutely false. She is a victim of the misconception that always getting what you want means you are strong. What it means, in her case, is that she is strong-willed - and rich.
The backstory is that Diana, accustomed to traveling the world shooting things with her brother, has decided to make a solo month-long excursion across the North African desert. This has never been a good idea for a single woman, but of course our heroine doesn't think of herself as a woman. She thinks she is the equal of any man just because she can shoot straight. That is, when someone doesn't tamper with her guns which she doesn't check because that's something servants do.
In this case "solo" means "accompanied by several native guides and bearers," because Diana's self-defined strength is, in reality, entirely contingent upon who she can hire to do things for her. Anyway, Diana and her brother have a fight about this trip, but she insists on going; and he leaves her to it. I would have, too.
The precipitating event is arrived at early on. Diana's pack train is attacked, and she is pursued and kidnapped. By a tall, powerful, good-looking, believed-to-be-native warlord type of guy who carries her off to an oasis and proceeds to forcibly rape her for two months. This winning individual is called Ahmed, but his French servant (plot point) calls him Monseigneur, and Diana just thinks of him as The Sheik.
Early on, Diana ceases to resist the rape, because our charming hero Ahmed "hurts her less" when she does not resist. Isn't that adorable? Later on we find out that Ahmed saw her in the city, instantly had to have her because FATAL BEAUTY, and stalked her. It just gets better and better, doesn't it? Oooh, stalking, that always makes me feel SO LOVED.
And please note that almost every word out of The Sheik's mouth is cruel. He isn't just physically brutalizing her. He is a mean, bad-tempered, volatile son of a bitch who is punishing her for being English (plot point) while indulging his urges. Their dialogue alone makes me want to burn the thing.
So anyway, after a couple of months of hating herself AND her captor - an appropriate state of mind - Diana has an opportunity to escape. She takes it. She doesn't do too badly aside from not knowing where the hell she is or which way she should go. In the end, of course, she is recaptured. And here is where it goes from bad to worse:
While half-smothered in the firm grip of The Sheik, in front of him on his horse, returning to her captivity, Diana decides it's not so bad. In fact, she decides, it's great! Because she loves him! But she can never tell him because that would give him even more power.
What you have here is a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, in which someone with no perceived power to control her terrible situation decides that the situation is okay and, in fact, groovy. Because making that decision gives her the illusion that she is choosing the situation, and that she therefore has some power, and because she has chosen to comply with this abusive person and situation she must love the person. And he must love her. He doesn't mean it. She shouldn't make him mad.
It's complete bullshit, of course, but it's very common in abused women.
There is still a lot of book to get through. Suffice to say that after more months of oh-it's-not-rape-anymore-because-luuuuurve, a couple of The Sheik's European friends show up and recognize Diana. Of course they fall in love with her FATAL BEAUTY. But they see The Sheik as not a bad guy, and think he must be in some way justified.
FOR RAPING HER CONTINUOUSLY FOR MONTHS.
Long story short, there is a war between The Sheik and a neighboring warlord, he gets badly injured while rescuing stupid Diana, she is isolated and hovering on the edge of a psychotic break while his European friend nurses him back to health. At the end of this drama, Diana finds out that The Sheik is actually, by birth, an English lord (of course he is!! Because that makes all this okay!!) and the friend convinces The Sheik to let her go.
But she doesn't want to go. She proposes to shoot herself. The Sheik stops her and confesses that he loves her. OF COURSE HE DOES. That's why you brutalize someone for months.
The implication is that they will marry and live happily ever after in the desert after he claims his title. I personally hope they both get buried in a sandstorm.
If you want to read a GOOD turn-of-the-last-century book about a lost lord, with a leagues-more-believable love story, read "Tarzan of the Apes."
And if you see anyone about to read "The Sheik" please try to talk them down off the ledge.
On one side of my high-walled cubicle I have a gorgeous Imus Geographics map of the United States. Some days when I am feeling somewhat confined and restless, I like to study the map and plan imaginary road trips.
We might end up taking some of these, sometime, down the line; on the other hand there's a good chance most of my mind trips will never materialize. There are so many places to go, just on the North American continent; and only so much vacation time (and money). Some of the trips aren't even properly road trips: I mean, I'd love to cruise up (or down) the St. Lawrence River.
My longest road trip was when I moved from Georgia to California. More recently Mr. P and I drove from L.A. to the Olympic Peninsula and back - a fun trip I'd like to do again, taking more time for it. Least recently, there was a Christmas trip from Georgia to New Hampshire.
I like road trips (generally speaking), especially now that air travel is such an unrelenting PITA.
I like being able to stop when I want to and really see where I'm going.
Over the roads, I have visited, or at least driven through, twenty-five of the fifty states. Of course, I had to take airplanes to get to Alaska and Hawaii.
The road trip I was contemplating most recently would run from Spokane, WA to Rapid City, SD on Interstate 90. This trip would wind through the Bitterroot Mountains and skirt the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park before cutting across the corner of Wyoming to finally end at Mt. Rushmore. I'd bag four more states this way.
It's a really long trip - about 900 miles - which seems frightful until you remember that we drive from L.A. to San Francisco pretty regularly and that's over 400. It could be done in six days with less than three hours per day in the car.
And again, that seems frightful until you remember that it takes forty minutes just to drive from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. We Angelenos don't reckon distance the same way as other people!
*Note: according to a Sunset magazine food issue (and wow, if you weren't hungry before ...), the Land of Magic Steakhouse, which would be right on this route, is apparently well worth the short detour. It's 25 miles west of Bozeman between the I-90 and the Gallatin River. Crappy steakhouses are ubiquitous; a good steakhouse is not all that common.
Another one I'd like to do would start in Madison, WI and go via the car ferry to Michigan, all the way across the Lower Peninsula to Port Huron, skip across the bottom of Ontario to Niagara Falls, and back into the U.S to hit the Finger Lakes.
This would get me three more states (we lived in Wisconsin at one point but I've never driven there), and four of the Great Lakes (and I've already been to Lake Superior, though I was a little kid and don't properly remember it).
The top three North American road trips are rounded out by the far East - Maine, that is. I'd love to drive from, say, Portland up to Acadia National Park and then to Mt. Katahdin. From there it's not all that far to Quebec; so maybe that would be the start of the St. Lawrence cruise. I'd only get one more state this way, but hey.
North country trips are best planned for spring or fall, and I'd probably - if I were to actively start planning any of these - choose fall. For one thing, there's the forest colors; for another, we'd be less likely to hit snow-related road problems.
There are lots of places that I'd like to get to and then stay awhile, like several areas of Oregon. There are also lots of places in the U.S. that I'd like to visit but not drive to, if you know what I mean. Like Philadelphia: tons of great historical sites, but in the middle of the NYC-DC megalopolis. I drive megalopolis anytime we go from L.A. to San Diego; it's not as much fun as driving out in the country. At least here in SoCal, there is ocean within sight for big chunks of the route.
And there are plenty of places in the U.S. that, at this point in time at least, I don't aspire to visit at all. I don't feel the need to put a notch in every state. I'm a lover of water and mountains and trees and cool temperatures. There's a lot of that good stuff out there.
I have no problem with Veterans' Day. Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I - it's been around a long time in its various guises, is not just a U.S. holiday, and is much more properly a "national" holiday, in my opinion, than (e.g.) Christmas.
So this rant has nothing to do with the holiday itself. It has to do with the shallow, sentimental, and ahistorical nature of most observances of it.
People thank "the veterans" for preserving "our freedom." And that's not what our veterans have done.
Except for oft-forgotten and shamefully genocidal battles against Native Americans, there has not been a battle fought on U.S. soil since the Civil War. Even the strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941 does not qualify: it was not a battle; it was a highly successful foray, legitimately categorized as a sneak attack.
We have not been invaded. Our federal government has never been in serious danger of toppling due to military action by an outside force. Our soldiers, in other words, since the Civil War ended have been fighting for quite different ends than "preserving our freedom."
The U.S. is under no existential threat. The most damage any other nation has ever been able to do to us has been when we joined our allies in fighting mutual adversaries on foreign soil. The two World Wars, as ghastly as they were, really did not come close to threatening the existence of the U.S.
We lost a lot of (mostly) men, certainly, but not enough to kill the economy or our ability to function as a nation. World War II in particular was a death-dealer, but as a percentage of population did we lose more men then than in the Civil War? I doubt it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war
All of this is not meant to minimize the important work done by our military members past and present. Quite the contrary.
We've fought some colonial battles. We tried to take certain territories by force, or to install by force a government of our choosing; in some cases we were successful. We're still doing some of that, and I personally wish we would stop. The colonial age wasn't glorious, and it wasn't much of a success in the long term - certainly not an unqualified success. But that also is not, in the main, what our military veterans are doing or have done.
What our veterans have done, and what makes them particularly worthy of being celebrated, is to defend our allies. To defend their freedom. To defend their territory.
The men and women of our military do far more than fight in self-defense. They fight, in loyalty to their commanders and our nation, FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
Thank our veterans, by all means. But thank them for what they really do: form the front line against dictators, terrorists, religious fanatics, oligarchs, and others who think it's okay to use force to subjugate, to oppress, or to conquer.
They're not just fighting for the U.S. They're fighting for a free world.
And the vast majority of them do it regardless of their politics or personal opinions. They follow their orders. Sometimes the orders are ill-advised or, frankly, stupid.
But that doesn't mean, and shouldn't mean, that we think less of the military professionals who carry out the orders. That means that we turn around and smack the crap out of the politicians who came up with that particular strategy.
In fact, I can't think of a better way to celebrate Veterans' Day than by smacking the crap out of politicians who continue to pour lives down the drain in the service of some ideological nonsense. And then let's bring 'em home, patch 'em up, and find 'em a decent job.
That would mean a lot more than just putting out a big flag and saying "we love our veterans."