March 21, 2006

Worth a Look

I got this from Ashley, in a forward...

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary, Sunday, 12/18/05:
Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife. Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. If this is what it means to be no longer young, it's not so bad. Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke, it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her “How could God let something like this happen?" (Regarding Katrina)Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said,"I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"


In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."



Funny, how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

March 10, 2006

Headlines of 2005

I got this in a FWD:

THE YEAR'S BEST [actual] HEADLINES OF 2005:

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
[No, really?]

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
[Now that's taking things a bit far!]

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
[What a guy!]

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
[No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so!]

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
[See if that works any better!]

War Dims Hope for Peace
[I can see where it might have that effect!]

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
[You think?]

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
[Who would have thought!]

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
[They may be on to something!]

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
[You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?]

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
[He probably IS the battery charge!]

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
[Weren't they fat enough?!]

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
[That's what he gets for eating those beans!]

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
[Taste like chicken?]

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
[Chainsaw Massacre all over again!]

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
[Boy, are they tall!]

And the winner is....
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

We all need a good laugh, keep laughing it will keep you young....

March 8, 2006

Quotes From "All Quiet on the Western Front"

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death in not an adventure to those who stand face to face with is. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though thy may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.” (Introduction, page before title page)
This is a quote given by the author explaining the purpose of the book.
This is important because it tells the readers how to think about the novel. It is intended to help people understand what a particular group of men had to go though to fight for their country and in all of their effort to help, they were still left devastated.


“To no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier. When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell-fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and security; she shelters him and gives him a new lease of ten seconds of life, receives him again and often for ever.” (Page 55)
Paul’s thoughts right before a bombardment.
The story again refers to nature, or “mother earth,” as a symbol of peace. This quote also shows that the dirt and earth are the only real unchangeable things in war. Everything else, from friends, to food, to clothes change, but the ground is the same everywhere and always, thus creating a calming feeling.

“We have lost all feeling for one another. We can hardly control ourselves when our hunted glance lights on the form of some other man. We are insensible, dead men, who through some trick, some dreadful magic, are still able to run and to kill.” (Page 116)
Paul’s thoughts during a battle.
Through experience and training, killing has become a natural part of the soldiers lives and they do it with little question in their mind. They have also managed to live longer than it seems fate should allow them to. The battleground is increasingly dangerous making is unbelievable for them to be alive.

“A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.” (Page 193)
Paul thinking about his relationship to the Russian prisoners.
The men fighting as soldiers in the war are most often not offended personally by something done by a person on the opposite army. They are all men, just the same, and they all have lives that are similar to those of the opposing army. If it were not for the political leaders telling them to kill each other, they would likely never have met.

“He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come." (Page 296)
A brief account of Paul’s death.
This quote reassures the reader that Paul was welcome to death. He has suffered so much from the war and already new that because of this he was not going to be able to lead a successful post-war life. Death was a release from all of his pain and suffering.

"We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war." (Page 88)
Paul thinks to himself after a conversation of what the men will do after the war.
The boys were strongly encouraged to join the military by one of their teachers. The boys agreed without really knowing what lie in store for them. They were only young and looking for adventure. They did not want to be torn away from everything they had, nor were they ready for that. However, that is what the war brought with it.

“We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? That is long ago. We are old folk." (Page 18)
Paul mocking a letter from Kantorek and reflecting to himself.
Though all of the boys are young physically, they have aged mentally. They have had to face emotional issues as well as matters of logic and planning that are ordinarily dealt with by adults. They have been forced to mature to thus fit their environment.

"We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important to us.” (Page 21)
The reason why Müller was asking for Kemmerich’s boots.
The boys lived in a harsh, down to earth environment where one’s most important job is to stay alive. This is what constantly occupies their minds and what must if they are to live.

“The war has ruined us for everything.” (Page 87)
A statement made by Albert after a talk about what his comrades were going to do after the war.
The war has stolen away their youth and their mind. Time that could have been spent learning and trying new things is now devoted to killing. Also, their once young minds have been aged by the trauma of war. Their entire mindset has been altered and everything they once knew has been replaced with a new brutal knowledge of war.

"But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade.” (Page 223)
Paul is speaking to a French soldier that he has just killed.
The men are taught that the other army must be destroyed. Therefore, the soldiers think that they are only fighting savage beasts that do not understand life. Paul is shocked when he stabs a Frenchman, killing him. He realizes that this man had a family that loved him, and job. He was just like men he had know while living at home, despite he being the enemy.

All Quiet on the Western Front: Questions and Responses

1. Does the novel have an interesting title? What does it mean?
The title of the book, All Quiet on the Western Front, represents the end of the war and beginning of peacetime. This is opposite of what is happening in the book, though. The war rages throughout the whole story with only rumors of peace. By giving the book a title like this, Remarque was able to make a reader believe that the main characters would see peace once more, and in turn force the reader to continue in reading the novel.

2. What is interesting about the way the story is told so far?
A big part of how the story is told relies on being written almost entirely in present tense. By writing as if the events were just happening, it adds to the realness and intensity of the story line. The events are not always connected to one another, this, however, can represent the instability of a war from day to day. By providing many different scenes, including scenes with brutality, deep psychological discussions, and daily life, the novel captures the essence of human nature and the changes that war forces it to undergo.
Because this is a book about war, many high action and extreme events can be automatically expected. As the events in the story unfold they take sudden turns and rarely turn out as one expects them to. One such twist was when Kemmerich, who appeared as if he would get well, suffers from an illness caused by his injury and must get his leg amputated. Though mercy would have him pull through readers face the stunning reality the many amputated soldiers lost their lives. Another unsuspected turn appears when Paul rushes the wounded Katczinsky to receive first aid. Even though it seems like the two will make it to the doctor, Katczinsky dies just before reaching safety.

3. From whose point of view is the story told?
The story is told from the point of view of a young soldier by the name of Paul Bäumer. Paul’s account gives the reader an up close view of what military life was like for a trench soldier during World War I. It also helps the reader see into the personal of war. One who reads the book will be able to become familiar with the way Paul feels about a variety of topics as well as see his friends the way he does.
Because Paul is so young and honest, yet experienced and intelligent, his viewpoint not only presents the facts but can provide a deeper sense of reason for nearly every subject. An example of this takes place when Paul returns home on a short military leave. As he sits in his room he ponders the things that once brought him joy, and how eerie it is to be reunited with them. All throughout the book he also wonders on what the coming peacetime will be like for those who fought in the war.

4. If characters change during the novel, describe their progression.
The main character, Paul Bäumer, changes throughout the course of the story. When he first goes into the military, he is a nineteen year old boy. He enjoyed reading books and learned a lot about the outside world from them. He enjoyed the world, collected butterflies and even wrote poetry. For him the war became a huge turning point. His new environment required him to be quick and logical. These new ideals replaced those he had before and he became detached. Though this detachment saved him from immediate emotional pain caused by the war, it made him unable to live a normal life when he returned home. Despite all of this, Paul still dreams of a day of peace, when he can enjoy nature and the beauty of the earth.
Paul also develops his own philosophies, and learns those of other soldiers. Together they determine what war really is, as well as other aspects of life. These discussions do not only enlighten readers, but they give insight into Paul’s emotional growth.

5. What role does nature play in the novel?
One use of nature in the novels is to represent peace and serenity. The most common symbolism of peace is the poplar tree. Paul often refers to rows of these trees in his wandering daydreams. To him, its shimmering leaves and colorful bark are the physical representations of joy and happiness.
Quite opposite of the poplar trees are the horses that get caught in the middle of a battle. As they lie dieing in the field they moan and make other horrific sounds. This alone is enough to depress the men. These horses symbolize the brutal, unforgiving nature of war. The horses are hurt and then left to suffer, providing the reader with a disturbing image of war.

6. What is the novel’s theme?
The book’s theme relies heavily on comparing the power of war to the mind of man. By showing the affects that war and death had on the soldiers, one can easily observe that the war tears them apart from the inside. If they manage to survive physically, their mind will never be the same again. It is impossible for a person to witness so much terror and agony and continue thinking the exact same way. That is what the novel originally set out to prove, as illustrated by a brief disclaimer from the author.
This theme is demonstrated in the way that Paul thinks about what his life will be like after the war. He realizes that the war has changed him and that he may never be able to recover. His discouragement alone is enough to prove that the war has destroyed his soul.

7. Consider the main relationships between the characters.
Paul and his fellow soldiers rely on one another a great deal because they are each other’s only companions. Many of the boys attended school together; therefore they share a common childhood. Other men they come to know just by living with them. The same war that is constantly tearing them apart, manages to bring them closer to one another. Merely by sharing the same war experience these men have become good friends, and in most cases they have come to fill the need for family. They talk, joke and care for each other just like brothers.

The Harm Caused by Genetic Engineering

Current research of cloning and genetic engineering has become the obsession of both the media, and the American people. DNA tracking has led to many solved mysteries that would have gone cold or been incorrectly solved some time ago, many now, though, question the imminent uses of this newfound knowledge. The greatest controversy concerning genetic experimentation is cloning. From a distance, it appears that this would be a great step in scientific discovery, but many factors, such as disadvantages, discrimination, and losing the value of life, arise when closely examined.
As with every invention and advancement, the first genetically altered and cloned children would be strict property of those with a higher economic standing. Millions of dollars would be poured into the creation of a perfect child, one that could excel further than their peers. The general public would not have the same opportunity to create their own altered children and thus unfairness and disadvantages arise. Social standing would stop varying, instead enlarging class separations by maintaining a constantly set amount of people with not only the genes to achieve, but the opportunity. Though the price of cloning would eventually fall, it would not be without tearing what exists of society.
Along with class divisions, and the disadvantages of the poor to create cloned children, would come discrimination. Many people all over the world, both past and present, have worked to rid the earth of discrimination. To endorse a project that would only revive more hatred would be a crime against those people. Businesses and colleges would reject many hopeful applicants based on their genetics. Those who were not scientifically built or whose parents could not afford to do so would be judged without thought of their merits or personality. They would be subject to higher insurance rates, and possibly the target of elementary school bullies. Discrimination would become a leading problem all over the world.
Moving away from the affects of cloning of society, are the affects that cloning would have on the human mind. Though, essentially the genes human race would remain unaltered, in that some people would be good at some things and others at other things, there would be no reason to live. One of the reasons that life is so different for each person is because each is each working to find what they are good at. By being born with a list of what you will succeed in would take all of the personality out of life. Lives are shaped by what they must endure, both the failures and successes. There would be a lot less happiness as there would be no embarrassing moments to laugh at later in life. Every day would become as dull and monotonous as the last and so on until death. Life would lose its point entirely.
Cloning should not be pursued for many reasons, especially due to the influence it would have on social organization, and humanity. Anything that did not involve science and caused so many problems to arise would be dismissed immediately. It is only world’s infatuation with the subjection of nature that has kept cloning in the spotlight for so long.

Ahmad al-Jawad: A Good Muslim Husband

In World History we did a unit on Islamic history durring which we read the first chapter of "Palace Walk" and wrote a brief report on whether or not the charactor al-Jawad was a good Muslim husband based on the chapter and "Muhammad's Last Sermon."

The first chapter of "Palace Walk," written by Naguib Mahfouz, provides the reader with a new perspective of Muslim life. Despite the thoughts of many that the wife, Amina, is being terribly wronged by her husband, Ahmad al-Jawad, this is simply not true. By comparing the story with Mohammed’s Last Sermon, it can be determined that he is in fact a proper Muslim husband.
In Mohammed’s Last Sermon, the duties of a husband and wife to one another were set out. Husbands have two obligations to fulfill under the prophet’s teachings. A husband must not only treat his wife as a helper, and companion, but treat her with kindness. A husband owes it to his wife after all that she does for him and their children. A husband also has set obligations. He may decide who his wife’s friends and associates are, and keep his wife from committing adultery. As long as a husband treats his wife with respect, he has complete control over his wife. Applying these standards to the story, one must conclude that al-Jawad is a good husband in Muslim society.
In the book, Amina has a comfortable life. She lives in a large house overlooking a busy street, has a few children. Though her husband is often away from the house until the late hours of the night, she remains faithful to him, ever fulfilling her duties as a wife. In turn he treated her with dignified respect, just as he is commanded in Mohammed’s Last Sermon.
By following the guidelines set forth by Mohammed, Ahmad al-Jawad proves that he is a proper Muslim husband. Not only does he treat his wife with kindness and respect, but he provides her with the best life he can.

Symbolism in All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front provides few examples of symbolism. Though things such as youth and beauty are destroyed by the war, this is merely a reflection of actual behavior during warfare. One constantly reoccurring symbol is Kemmerich’s soft airman’s boots. These boots, originally belonging to an enemy pilot, were taken by Kemmerich after the man’s death. After Kemmerick dies in the hospital, Paul delivers the boots to Müller. Later, when Müller is killed, Paul takes the boots to be his own. He is, in turn, killed in the war, while the boots assumedly survive.
The ability of the boots to outlive their owner symbolizes the weakness of humans. While bodies are being massacred by shells and bullets, the boots live on to serve others who are destined to die in the war. The fact that Müller was more concerned about inheriting the boots than about the dieing Kemmerick, also shows that the something as simple and inert as a pair of shoes is more valuable than the humans that possess them.