May 20, 2003
So I got my passport yesterday, yay...I got my old passport for my "summer before college" trip to Portugal in 1992, it had expired since our last international trip. We hadn't noticed, so last week we got expedited service. Anyway, I was looking at this FAQ on German Visas (to try to figure out what most easily constitutes proof of health insurance) and I felt a little sad I had no need for a Verpflichtungserklärung, an official affidavit of support from friends or relatives.
Gotta love German. It's like legos for words!
News of the Moment
Ugh. Asia Times thinks that "the next targets could be in Europe, and soon." Yay, just what I want to hear before heading out. On the other hand--what are the odds? Everyone thinks that they're special, singled out for good or bad fortune. That's not the way it works though.
Actually, I've been thinking about our nation and risk aversion. While I have no doubt that our soldiers hold their own in terms of bravery on an individual basis, on the institutional level, our military is much more cautious than say, the British, and that works to our detriment. When the British took off their helmets and started wearing their berets, when they got out of their tanks to talk with the locals--even though in one instance it cost a British soldier his life--they were able to connect to the population, to foster a positive relationship that our guys couldn't. We project an image of faceless, untouchable soldiers, and the more we do that, the more distanced we are from the populations we're theoretically trying to help.
Similarly, Jane's wonders if our decision to remove troops from Saudi Arabia is seen as a bit of a victory for Bin Laden.
All in all the situation isn't as bad as it could be. The fact that terrorists are picking softer targets and haven't conducted a jaw-dropper attack since 9/11 indicates that some of our efforts are paying off. I wish all this stuff wasn't happening right before our trip, but overall I'm confident the odds are in our favor. And if not...well, I've had a pretty good life in all. From a global and historical perspective, I've been way up the high percentiles. (My one request would be that my collective family friends and/or fanbase (heh) try to keep the Love Blender going and find a permanent way of archiving this site...)
Link of the Moment
Hemmings Motor News presents Oddies but Goodies, oddities from the history of cars. Some really cool stuff in there...the 1939 Antarctic Snow Cruiser (with its 10 foot wheels, built-in darkroom, and optional attachable biplane accessory) was pretty amazing, and this 1931 idea for adding some shape symbology to traffic lights (so that colorblind people can more clearly see what's going on) makes so much sense it's not even funny. (I only had time for the first dozen or so, but I plan to come back and read through 'em.)