Sunday, September 28, 2008

The life

In 4th grade, every day, we had reading time. I don't remember how long the reading time was, but I think it was actually kind of significant, like a 1/2 hour. The teacher had a bookshelf in the back of the class that you could pick books from, or you could bring your own. I don't remember much about the books I chose. I remember two that I picked in particular. 

Saga of Old city was a book about some kind of thief. I don't remember why I picked it up. I hadn't read any fantasy novels before, and I had no idea what to expect. I probably picked it up because it was thick(compared to other books). I either wanted a thick book that would last a long time, or a thick book that would seem impressive. I don't remember my motivations at the time. The book itself left little impression, it was probably standard adventure fantasy fare. 

The second book I remember is Time of the Twins. The first few pages were difficult for me, because they were detailed descriptions of places and people I didn't know. This book was written about characters we were supposed to know already, in a world you were supposed to love already. So it was difficult at first for me to get past the description of a wizard toiling up a hill to meet with a priest. And I didn't understand what it meant that he wore black robes, and that she wore white(although I probably guessed, as you just did). But after a time, I was entranced by this book. I loved the way the characters spoke to each other, how there seemed to be more understood between them than was said. I loved that there was a sense of history, and great feelings that had not yet passed. My favorite character was a warrior past his prime, drinking away his comfortable years, missing the opportunity to build his own life, because he doesn't know how without his twin brother. Somehow, even though the world I knew was nothing like the world in the book, I could picture and understand the characters. 

Now, lots of people look down on fantasy novels as merely entertaining. Some even view it with the same disdain you might feel for romance novels, with their bare-chested men, and constantly pulsating nouns. I can agree that some are "merely" entertaining, and that some fail to do even that. I can agree that some authors are churning books for money, spending less time on the art of writing, and more time on the practice of writing.

Others ignore fantasy novels because they are unrealistic, and they "can't get into them." That's true too. If you can't get into them, then you can't. For some people, the fake maps, the fake languages, the fake names, all throw them out of the book and into their heads. I can understand that.

When I read this book as a 9 year old, I wasn't looking for much more than entertainment. I wanted to enjoy my 30 minute reading time. I was in the middle of a magnet class, which had kids from India, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico(by which I probably mean Latin America in general), and all kinds of other places. I was used to names that were strange. So when I started reading a book about Raistlin, and Chrysania, I didn't think about how strange their names were, but only how I should pronounce them in my head. I loved hearing about tree houses built in giant trees, bigger than the sequoia redwoods that I had seen on a field trip.

I began to seek out more books like this one, that were in a world where people rode horses, wore armor, and fought with swords. Some of my friends also began reading similar things, and started a reading circle(where we passed a book down from one friend to the next after we finished reading it), reading Piers Anthony books. His books were lighter, and full of puns, which was great for a 4th grade sense of humor. At first, I only read books set in two worlds, the Xanth of Piers Anthony, and the Ansalon of the Dragonlance novels. Through them I learned about all kinds of creatures that are standard in fantasy, and the rules that are common to fantasy novels. I learned that heroes must undertake journeys, ask questions of wise men, and be true to their companions. Then I read The Lord of the Rings. I was slightly older, 5th or 6th grade now. This is where all those rules had begun, and where many of the creatures had been standardized, if not exactly invented. 

At the same time as I was reading these novels, I was learning words. I didn't usually know that I was learning a word(exception: feign), but scintillating, oscillating, and resilient, were all words that I understood in the context of my reading. I was really good at spelling, because I was looking at the words all the time. 

There were times where my reading had consequences. I often read the entire 45 minute bus ride home, and then read as I was walking home from the bus stop. Sometimes I read while the bus went right past my bus stop. Sometimes I read when my mom thought I should be practicing piano. Later in life, I would read when my mom wanted me to be helping her with chores or just spending more time with the family. She once snapped, and said, "Stop reading that trash." I'm pretty sure she didn't really mean it, and was sorry for calling the books I read trash almost immediately, but she was frustrated with my penchant for holing up in my room with my books.

At some point, I started to enjoy the way the battle between evil and good was so obvious, even though it wasn't necessarily clear. Even in the first books I read, the heroes were an ambitious mage seeking enough power to defeat the goddess of evil, so that he could take her place, and a pure cleric who was necessary to his plans, and wanted both to help him gain victory and also reform the mage. She learns that her own desires, while righteous, are full of pride, and ambition. Unlike real life, the battle is direct, with clear clashes of power and persuasion. But like real life, the right choice is not always clear, or easy.

Fantasy novels are an escape. They, like most fiction, offer entertainment that takes us out of our world. I loved them from an early age. I feel that sometimes, they can help us to clearly see the conflict in our real lives, and in our real world. Renegade's Magic is a story about the conflict between civilized, technocentric culture, and a nature-oriented, tribe-centric culture. While the obvious parallel is historical, with the expansion of the United States into Native American territory, another parallel is evident, with America's current cultural presence (pressure), and much of the world's resistance to it.

I love to read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Body Image

How many books can you name that are about fat people? How many of those are "message" books(They are supposed to make you "see" from a different point of view)? How many books use getting fat as just a normal plot device?

I'm reading a book where the hero gets fat. It's just a fantasy book, and it's not groundbreaking, but I found it interesting. Everyone goes through changes in their bodies over their lifetime. Everyone has a certain image of themselves in their mind.

I don't often look in the mirror, other than to shave. I don't ever scrutinize my face. I think Melinda has a better idea of what I look like than I do. Is that common? How often do you look in the mirror? How well do you know your own face?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Education, a response to a response

My sister's response. I've excerpted some of her responses.
I believe the inequality in opportunity starts even before the students reach school age. It seems that a huge problem is actually in the home. Many parents don't realize the importance of education, and children, because of their inexperience, don't realize the importance of education until it is too late (in their own mind at least).
This is true. The problem stems from parents who won't or can't help and monitor their kids' homework. Some parents have an adversarial relationship with teachers and schools. They want to protect their children, and feel that fighting the schools is how they can do that. Some parents feel that homework isn't a good use of their children's time, that extracurricular activities of the parent's choosing is more appropriate. Some parents work too much, and just aren't around enough to know what's really going on in their lives.

The problem is that Govertnment can't mandate parent responsibility. They might encourage it, but I don't even know how. (Melinda suggests tax breaks for PTA meeting attendance :).
As far as school and teacher quality, there are programs (see New York Teach and Teach for America) in place that attempt to put recent college grads or successful professionals in cities or schools that normally do not attract quality teachers. I do not know if this is enough.
Looking at Teach for America, they recruit for teacher to teach for two years in the inner city schools. They're trying to create a concerned community, who has experience with the problems in inner city schools. They're not trying to be the solution, but rather create a community which can find the solution. Which sounds like a very good thing. I think their concept is powerful, and could create the group of "experts" which will be needed to really guide the experimentation.
It could be possible that we should be looking towards private organizations and individuals to alleviate problems rather than trying to overhaul the whole educational system.
What kind of authority would you give these private organizations? How would they interact with our schools? Volunteer organizations can help, but I don't think they can make a difference on the scale that is needed. They can help a couple classrooms in each school(being optimistic), but they can't reach every child in every school. There's just not enough volunteers.
In regards to No Child Left Behind, in a recent statement to congress, Bill Gates (in speaking for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's research) stated that the program, though it had its faults, had greatly improved education. So it could be that No Child Left Behind just needs a few tweaks rather than throwing it out.
One of the biggest problems with NCLB is that it puts a lot of power in the Federal Government over education. The other problem is that the NCLB is designed to increase test scores. It does increase test scores. When you look at test scores, education is improving. However, test scores are not the only, or the best measure of education. Other good measures of education is college admission, job placement, where the graduate is 5 years later(income, job security).
By better choice however, I am not thinking about actual 'ranking in school' or test scores, but rather a choice in a variety of specialty schools. If a student is interested in music, they can attend a school that emphasizes music. If the student was interested in machinery, there would be a school that had a better mechanic program.
I really like the way this sounds. It would be important to make sure that there continues to be an emphasis on liberal education. Specialties should be secondary to the primary goal of a good basis in core subjects.
However, even then, I wonder if that would be the result of privatization. Privatization may only further divide schools and students from one another in equality of opportunity.
This is the biggest worry for me. It definitely needs some thought. I was hoping that denying the rich the ability to add to the voucher, we could create a level playing field where each child has the same amount of money. That is based on the assumption (probably false) that every child, in each location, requires the same amount of money to get the same quality of education. If you introduce different levels of allowances for different locations, and different learning disabilities, then you need an agency that makes decisions about which child gets which money. That's dangerous.
Students with low incomes would continually receive a worse education and school would continue to struggle with funding.
Two points. With privatization, schools should become more efficient. Markets drive innovation and streamline the supply of goods. Since vouchers don't actually take any money away from schools--the same amount of tax dollars go to schools, they just go through vouchers--schools should have the same amount of funding, but be more efficient. Even if the gap between poor and rich widens, the poor should get a better education than they do currently. That's if you believe(and I mean that in a religious sense) in Free Markets.

Second, where population is more dense, there is more voucher money. Where there is more voucher money, there is more incentive to build a school. In fact, there is more room in a high-demand market for niche suppliers. In theory, there should be more innovation in the inner city, where there will be more room for it. In theory, inner cities would be the first to benefit from privatization of schools. In practice, it might not work that way. In practice, the whole thing could go kablooey. It's a big step, so not one I would think we should take immediately, but rather work towards, so that if we see pitfalls, we can turn another way.

P.S. If vouchers work for education(a universal resource), could they work for Health Insurance?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Lots of americans will tell you this is the land of equal opportunity. Everyone gets a fair shot at achieving the american dream, the house, the car and the picket fence. That's mostly true. There's a good chance for almost everyone to get at least a high school education, and at least education for a trade. The fairness and equality of our way of life depends on the equality of opportunity, since we have decided not to go the route of equality of results(and thank goodness for that).

Our education system is the cornerstone of fairness and equality in our society. Many people lament that certain demographic groups are overrepresented in high positions(namely, white males). Certainly there is some prejudice that accounts for the discrepancy. The various areas blamed are hiring, promotion and retention. I believe these to be account for only a small percentage of the discrimination. I think that in the corporate world, a large majority either no longer have, or no longer allow prejudices when making these kinds of decisions. Certainly, there are exceptions, and in particular, women in the workplace have difficulties with fairness in promotion and retention. However, most of the discrimination occurs at the level of preparation for a job. White, middle-class children come out of public schools(or private ones) better prepared for college, or an entry level job, than inner-city kids of any race. Kids in Japan are better prepared than either group here.

With that in mind, our education system needs improvement. It needs a fairer distribution of funds and resources, a more efficient use of those funds and resources, and just plain more money. Any solution to our problems should address all three of those issues.

Many conservatives advocate the application of market principles(through vouchers) to education in order to increase the efficiency of the system. They ignore or are ignorant of the importance of equality in education to the core equality of our society. It is possible that a free market approach to education would increase fairness, but by no means is it guaranteed.

Many conservatives want to use federal oversight to increase teacher accountability(no child left behind). The federal government is the wrong level of government to tackle this problem. Teacher accountability can only be determined in the classroom. It is a state and local problem. However, much of the money for education is federally controlled. This needs to change. In fact, it is a problem not specific to education. Many programs that are state-run, or should be state-run, are federally funded, meaning the federal government pulls the strings. To fix this, states need to raise taxes, and federal taxes need to be lowered. Same amount of money, but different allocation. States are more able to experiment and learn from each other, and as smaller beauracracies, are better equipped to change.

To fix our education system, we need experimentation. For example, there are studies that link effectiveness to class size, with smaller classes being more effective. Yet public schools have not adopted a smaller class size. Two reasons this is so:

1. Lack of money. It costs more to have smaller classes. It means more teachers per student, more classrooms, and possibly new schools.
2. Lack of motivation. Public schools have little motivation for change. Money is tied to test scores(due to no child left behind) and student attendance. Thus, those are the things they try to fix. Ask a teacher, and they'll tell you that getting good test scores means teaching to the test. And teaching to the test does not mean better education. In most cases, it means worse.

The reason conservatives want to apply market principles is that markets are designed to use resources efficiently. A side effect is increased research and experimentation in business models. Using resources more efficiently is one way to increase available money. But it only increases funding to the point that the current system is using the funding inefficiently. There may be need for further increases in funding.

But to preserve/enhance equality, vouchers should not be augmented by personal funds. This limits the ability of the rich to have advantages over the poor. They may still opt out entirely of the voucher system, but still are required to contribute to the taxes that fund vouchers.

That's the beginning of my thoughts on education. What do you think?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Netflix pressure

So, I just added a new stress to my life. I didn't realize what I'd done until my brother pointed it out to me. I now have a queue of movies, a to do list. It's about 100 movies long. The pressure is starting to get to me. If I don't watch this movie soon, the next one will never get here, and if I don't whittle down my queue, I'll never get to the end!

edit: I just found a discussion about this on Slashdot

Netflix has a feature that allows you to watch certain movies on your computer. Since we have our computer hooked up to our tv, that's actually a fantastic way to watch movies. Since signing up for netflix on July 1, I have watched:

Charlie Wilson's War
The Hot Rock
La Vie en Rose
The Way We Were
Seven Years in Tibet
The Candidate
Les Miserables
Empire Records
Mean Girls
Vanity Fair
Noi the Albino
Once upon a time in China
East of Eden
I'm Reed Fish
In the Time of Butterflies

Yes, that is 18 movies in 10 days. You may wonder, how do you watch almost 2 movies a day? Don't you work? don't you eat? don't you have eyes, legs, and a brain? I'm odd. I have trouble working in silence. When it's quiet, I start to fidget. My brain gets uncomfortable, and tries to distract me. So, when I'm working at home(which is every day), I usually try to have some background noise. Music is ok, but conversations are better. I have certain podcasts(from NPR) that I listen to, and I have some shows that I download. When we had television through iProvo, I would have espn sportscenter on in the background, or Law and Order reruns on TNT(they're infinite). Summers have always been a bit more difficult to find content, especially now that we don't have cable. So now netflix takes up the slack. Plus these last two weeks have been really slow at work. Summers are always a slow time for us.

Monday, June 23, 2008

zBudget Importing instructions.

One of my own ongoing personal projects is a budgeting program. Here is some documentation I'm working on. It's rough, and doesn't follow rules of good technical writing, but it's a start.

Login to

From the accounts page, choose comma separated(.csv) in the drop down box, then click download.
I always choose to manually enter dates, because usually there are transactions in limbo, meaning they have been posted to the bank, but not finalized. These transactions do not get downloaded until they are finalized. When downloading all transactions since the last download, the transactions that were in limbo last time will not be included in the new download. So I always just enter a date a few days before the last downloaded date(shown to the right in the table above). In the above example, I would enter 06/15/2008 - 06/28/2008(or the current date).

You may notice that these accounts all have nice names, you can change the names of your accounts by going to prefs(at the top right)->change account preferences, and changing the nicknames of your accounts. If you have already imported some transactions, be aware that the budget program will not recognize the accounts as being the same when you change the name, and so duplicate transactions can be created when doing an import after the name change. These duplicates can easily be deleted after the import.

Make sure that you can find the file after it is downloaded.

Now login to zBudget. On the left side of the screen, click on "Import Expenses".
[todo: screenshot]
Make sure that the correct format for the downloaded file is chosen, the click browse to find the file you downloaded. It will likely be named download.csv, download(2).csv or higher numbers if you have downloaded more times. The most recent is probably the file with the highest number. Click import.
[todo: screenshot]
You will see a screen listing the most recent transactions in your account. Use the drop down boxes to set a category, then click done. You will have a chance to do further editing if needed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Golden Compass, A review of two levels

I recently finished the last book of "His Dark Materials" by Philip(?) Pullman. When I first decided I wanted to read the book, my sister had said something about how it was written by an atheist, and that many christians were boycotting the movie. My thought was, what's all the hullabaloo, it's just a fantasy story. If a christian can write a fantasy story, what's so wrong with an atheist doing the same?

On one level, the series is an interesting story, with fun characters and some darker(complex) moments. The adventure is entertaining. It's not as good as say, Harry Potter (aimed at the same age group), but it doesn't need to be to be fun.

On another level, the series is the author's response to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The Chronicles of Narnia are a set of fantasy stories that loosely parallel christian values and doctrine. C.S. Lewis weaves his beliefs subtly, with symbolic links to Christianity, but without direct collisions. No one is named after or directly related to a figure in christian belief. The closest he comes is "Sons of Adam" and "Daughters of Eve". It's possible that something more overt leaks through, but there will be no questions from children for their parents, asking: "Will Aslan come and breathe into my nostrils after I'm dead and then go on a journey past the end of the world?" And even if they do, there's no collision in their minds with the things they are taught on Sundays.

Pullman's "Dark Materials" are much less subtle. For most of the first two books, there is little that anyone could claim as controversial. The story of a little girl overcoming obstacles through audacity is charming. Any mention of religious topics is mostly commentary on organized/established(in the governmental sense) religion. Most everyone agrees that established religions are a bad idea. A couple mentions of angels, and the Authority(Pullman's version of God), are a bit critical, but quite short. One character is aiming to destroy the Authority, but he's not cast as a hero, but a surprise villain, betraying others to fulfill his goals.

In his last book, Pullman begins to truly state his case. He describes life after death as a prison. The ability to die and truly be dead is a blessing. He takes a hero from the Bible, and transforms him (with little cause) into a lusty, controlling, betraying angel. After he has described this angel, he explains that the angel was Enoch during life. He describes the Authority as a withering old man, incapable of withstanding a light breeze, confined to a crystal coffin. Rebel angels, who defied the authority are heroes, admired for their bravery and loyalty. Angels and church officials are bootlickers, incapable of original thought. Servants of the Authority torment the dead with the worst shame of their lives.

Pullman's book does not use proxies for his philosophy. He doesn't use traditional fantasy modes to create characters and societies that resemble ours. When he talked about the Authority and the Church lying about Heaven, it's obvious that he's saying that pastors, preachers, and priests are all lying when they talk about Heaven.

The lack of subtlety weakens his arguments, and often detracts from his story. His story could easily have been told using some other set of creatures as parallels. Eagles and Crows in place of angels, a powerful Lord of Eagles instead of the Authority. He didn't need to connect his villains to Biblical figures in order to present a critique of Biblical belief. Doing so shows an insensitivity that is exactly why many religious people feel very strongly about atheists. There is an arrogance, and a dismissal, that makes any conversation a stupid shouting match.

Well, having said all of that, I am good at compartmentalization, and I liked the book. I wouldn't recommend it for children though.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gay make out in the media

So, my sister asked this question: What kind of behavior is appropriate and useful when you are faced with behavior in the media you believe is immoral?

First, we must acknowledge that there are a large number of people who are more liberal in this issue, and consider your and my position on homosexuality to be barbaric, ignorant, and akin to the racism of the early 1900's. Considering the distance between the two positions, it is easy for offense, misunderstanding and dismissal to limit the value of any interaction between the two. An extreme reaction to a television program causes a few different problems when there are people who disagree with you.
  1. It reinforces the idea that people who think homosexuality is immoral are ignorant, and have come to their position hastily, without good judgement.
  2. Your reaction implies that no one should be ok with what they are seeing, so even those who agree with your premise, but see no harm in viewing the program are told that they are wrong.
  3. Discussion of the topic is discouraged by such extreme reactions, so no common ground can be found.
What is important to realize is that rational, moral people can come to different conclusions when they have different basic principles. Our basic principles include a belief in God, and in scripture, including scripture outlawing homosexual relations. They also include belief that the purpose of family is to provide safe places for children to grow, learn and develop faith. From there, you determine that the practice of homosexuality is damaging to both individuals and societies. However, starting from a different set of principles, people can come to a different conclusion. So instead of assuming everyone shares your conclusions, or even discussing your conclusions, we should discuss our principles.

Finally, I think that Dad's most recent article has something to offer to the discussion.

When I was a kid, the rules for the Sabbath day made perfect sense. You couldn’t attend sporting events, but you watch them on television. You couldn’t go furniture shopping, but you could go with the Priests Quorum Advisor to buy doughnuts between Priesthood and Sunday School. Today the rules seem less logical. You can play catch in the back yard with your brother, but you can’t play catch in the front yard with your friend. You can stop and help a stranger who has run out of gas, but if you run out of gas, you have to walk home.
Church standards change because our understanding of the underlying principles changes and grows, and because the world in which we live requires different standards. We in the church expect those out of the church to respect the standards we have set for ourselves. Sometimes inside the church, we forget to respect that my standards are not the standards. When the media shows two girls making out, it may offend your senses. It definitely is not the lifestyle our church approves of. And yet, it is a lifestyle, and it is an important debate going on in our country right now. Should we ban any public display of affection between homosexual couples? Should we ban the media from discussing the issue? Should we remove ourselves from the public debate? I think it's conceivable to come to the conclusion that it's ok to view a program with that kind of content. I think it's also conceivable to come to the opposite conclusion, but both are personal decisions, and should be respected.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I am now 29. I often don't remember my age. When I do, I think I'm old. Short list of my accomplishments:

1979: I was born, and despite being 2 weeks late, I did it rather well.
1980: I probably started walking, maybe saying a few words.
1981: I wore some awesome clothes this year. My mom has pictures and is proud of my wardrobe to this day.
1982: This is the fateful year that I lost the extra 6 inches I was supposed to grow to my older brother. (It's true, my doctor at the time even said so)
1983: I learned to say shalom at a presbyterian preschool.
1984: I learned newspeak.
1985: I attended kindergarten, where I got many half-stars(for incomplete homework), for even then, I had a difficult time scheduling myself. Should I play in the sandbox, or color my worksheet? I think I'll just go on the swings.
1986: I set records for most walks on my t-ball team.
1987: I played first baseman for a team coached by Spenser for hire.
1988: I witnessed Kirk Gibson's home run, and my dad is first mistaken for Orel Herscheiser.
1989: I was Puck in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
1990: I contributed to the unity of my elementary school class by bringing a small football to school, and organizing touch football in the mornings before school started.
1991: A trip to Yosemite with my 6th grade class leads to scintillating observation: Yosemite falls sounds a lot like: "Yo, somebody falls!"
1992: In my final baseball season, My on-base percentage of .473 is forever memorialized, after my last at bat is a suicide squeeze, scoring a run.
To be continued...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


So, going out to eat is kind of a production around here. It takes at least a half hour to choose a restaurant, and there aren't any that are withing a 10 minute drive, so we always end up going pretty far. We tend not to like the big chain restaurants. Or maybe it's just that they don't interest us, since their food is generally fine, it's just a regular experience. We enjoy going places that aren't well known, or are the more authentic ethnic foods. Here's a list of some of the most recent ones:

  • Johnny Carino's Italian Restaurant: The salad was really good, and they had toasted garlic for dipping the bread in. Melinda had the bowtie festival, which had a great bacony taste. We loved it. The waitress suggested an apple tart dessert, and it was perfect. It's near Costco, 106th south in Sandy, UT
  • Sam Hawk: This Korean restaurant has been one of our favorites for a long time. If you're ordering chicken, try the chicken fusion kalbi, but their other meats are more interesting. Also consider the stone bowl bibimpop.
  • Sushi Express: The best sushi we've found in Utah. Really good, and pretty cheap too. The nigiri sushi is extra fresh, and the Las Vegas roll is a nice spicy, crunchy surprise. The sushi chef is from Japan. Like, really, from Japan.
  • Belgian Waffle and Omelet Inn: This place had great waffles. We were especially impressed by the fruit toppings, which weren't the oversugared, preservative laden pie filling-type you'd get at IHOP. There's also a little punk vibe going on, with the server's tatoos and piercings and being right across from the high school.
  • Lollicup: They have great boba drinks(tapioca balls in a smoothie). Try the taro snow.
  • Bombay House: Great indian food, worth trying. Make sure that you get some Naan to go with your order.
  • Bambara: This was the most expensive place we went(it's more like 50$). They had a sensational breakfast, and the atmosphere was great. For fancy dining, we really recommend it. Their pancakes have crack in them, and the eggs benedict was awesome.
For now, that's our list, but there's more places in our queue.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why Democrats should stay in Iraq

I'm in the process of watching a movie. Before I tell you about the movie, I'll tell you that:

1. I'm a republican.
2. I think it was a good idea to invade Iraq
3. I acknowledge that Iraq is in a bad state, and we did them no favors by invading.

I'm watching "No End in Sight", and it's educating me about how what I believe was a good idea, became a tremendous mistake. I hoped that the United States could go and invade, rather bloodlessly(which did happen), and the help the Iraqi people build a democracy and then enjoy the freedom and education they could then provide for themselves. I'd like to think that I didn't believe(As many in the administration apparently believed) that it would be a quick in and out type of deal. I think I thought of it more in terms of what the United States did for Japan. I thought that we would be there for a few years, maybe even a decade or two, but that at the end, Iraq would be a modern nation, able to secure itself, and not wishing harm upon its neighbors. Instead, we are in Iraq, and we have been unable to get to the point where they don't wish to harm each other, and us. We haven't helped them build an economy, and their democracy is unwilling to serve at least a third of it's people. Democrats think we should leave, and as soon as possible, within a year or two. I think we should do better, and I think we can do better. I think that idiots have run the occupation, and that they put us in a bad situation that we are slowly digging out of. And we are digging out. Things are better now, but we still haven't done what we promised. I acknowledge that Iraqis say they want us to leave, but I claim(with little proof) that they want us to leave because of the idiocy that went on before, and have little faith in us to do better. I think we can do better, with a different president, a different administration, and a congress that doesn't call for us to quit every couple months. I don't even care if that different president is Republican or not, just so long as he is a good adminstrator, who will find smart, experienced people, and give them the money and authority they need. The only Democrat I know who isn't outright claiming that they will abandon Iraq is Hillary Clinton, so if that's what it takes, I would vote for her. At least I know that President Clinton(former) was good at choosing his subordinates, and I can hope that Hillary will do as well.