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Friday, July 28, 2006

I Think I'm Turning Japanese, I Think I'm Turning Japanese
I really think so (do da do da da da da)

I've hit one of those points where I haven't written in so long (of anything of consequence, anyway) that I don't really know what to say.

I leave for Japan tomorrow, which I'm excited about. I'm packing and trying to solve tough questions such as what kinds of shoes, are shorts acceptable, etc. It's going to be hot as hell and humid as all get-out, so I really want to wear shorts. I'm not sure how acceptable shorts are in Japan, but my friend Charlie (who lived on Japan for a few years) seemed to think that shorts and tank tops are fine...but most Japanese don't wear shorts because they don't see them as fashionable. Also, I want to wear my birkenstocks because of the heat and (like in Korea) you have to take your shoes off a lot. But I think it also might rain a lot when I'm there...and then sandals might be annoying? But do I want to bring along an extra pair of tennis shoes that I'll have to carry around?? Man, the tough questions. Then again, whatever I do I'm sure will be fine.

I'm super annoyed because suddenly out of nowhere my computer monitor has this thin vetical line running down it, a bit left of center. It's bright blue (about the width of a pixel). Against light backgrounds it's barely noticeable, but against darker backgrounds it very annoying, especially when watching tv shows on my computer (such as 'So You Think You Can Dance' and 'Project Runway' and 'Stargate'). I did minimal research on it (perused the Dell forums) and it seems like it's probably an unrepairable problem with my LCD display and it'll have to get replaced. Which means I'll have to wait until I get home. Then I freaked out because it's apparently pricey to replace the screen and I thought my warantee would have just run out. But then I looked up my warantee on Dell.com and I guess I have it for another year. Phew. What's up with these friggin' monitors?? They really good when they're functioning properly, but crikey--Upon arrival of my computer the LCD screen was 'broken' and had to be replaced, and now, only a year later another issue has come up. They don't build things as they once did. (That last thing was for you, Liz--in one Stargate episode Teal'c said that in reference to 'an old Jaffa saying') :)

I got a haircut. Pretty drastic. As opposed to my last haircut when I asked for bangs and didn't really get them, this time I got them...and shorter than I wanted. Plus, she layered my bangs so they look almost feathered at times. The rest of my hair is about chin-length, maybe a bit longer. I'm not a fan of it. It just looks kind of shapeless or something. It reminds me of that 'Friends' episode where Phoebe cuts Monica's hair. Monica told her she wanted to look like Demi Moore, but Phoebe thought she meant Dudly Moore...resulting in a bad short haircut. And I thought I was communicating fairly well with the hair cutting lady. Apparently not. I was a bit worried because the style in Korea right now is what I like to call "the shaggy dog" look. Oh well. Hair grows. I'm sure you'll all see loads of pictures of it when I get back from Japan and post my Japan trip pics.

I've been organizing my iTunes library the last couple of days. Which is very tedious and time-consuming. I'm going through every song and making sure it has the proper album, year, and album art attached to it. I have found wikipedia to be most helpful in easily locating all of the above. When that fails I search through cdnow. I'd say I'm a bit over half done (I have over 2000 songs). Have I mentioned that I think I'm a bit OCD?

I got a notice in the mail about my Visa expiring soon. After I get back from Japan I have to try and extend my Visa (it expires on the 14th). I hope I can manage to do it alone, because my co-teacher is going to be in the US. Not like she would have gone with me anyway.

Which reminds me--my co-teacher is going to visit her sister in North Carolina (I think she leaves either today or tomorrow). She asked me last Monday about money. She is bringing $3,000 worth of cash with her. Wtf?? A bit much??? Anyway, she wanted me to tell her what kind of denominations to bring! I said hundreds, but then she said she was bringing $1,000 in hundreds, $1,000 in fifties, and she wanted the remaining $1,000 to be in twenties, tens, fives, and ones. ????? I didn't even know what to say to that. The thought of carrying $3,000 around with me was absurd. I think she's really nervous about tips and stuff. She wanted to bring $100 in ones!!!! I was like, "No." I think I managed to talk her down to $20 in ones, which is still stupid. She's going to have this gigantic stack of cash with her. Then I started to get nervous about her. Korea is still very much a cash carry society. They've never had checks, but they do have credit cards. But people don't use them as often as they do cash. And the biggest bill in Korea is the equivalent of $10. So you see people with big wads of cash a lot, and they don't really hide it. So I got nervous that she'd be in the US and be waving around stacks of money. So then I told her to be careful with it and to keep it hidden and stuff. I think that just freaked her out into thinking that she's going to get robbed and attacked. Koreans think the US is really dangerous. Numerous teachers have said to me, "I thought about teaching in the US but I'm scared because it's so dangerous to be a teacher in America." No, it really isn't. Most places, anyway.

It's been raining cats and dogs here well nigh on 2 days and nights.

I have to do my dishes before leaving but I don't want to.

I don't know how much cash to being to Japan. Apparently it's hard to find international ATMs in Japan, and many places don't take credit cards. So with food and accommodations, I don't know what I'll need. And Japan is expensive. Maybe I'll just bring $3,000 to be safe. :D But Japan is one of the safest countries to travel in. Unless it gets bombed my NoKo. ;)

Ok, I should go now. And finish packing. And sleep. And all that jazz.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What Is Wrong With Koreans???
(rhetorical question, but if you have an answer feel free to contribute it)

Ok, so an update on what's up. After 2nd hour the phone in my classroom rang. It was my co-teacher. She says, "What are you doing?"

"Uh, I'm just in the classroom wondering what's going on today..."
"I am in 6-1 room. [6th grade class 1. Late last week she taught that class because the teacher was sick]. I will be here tomorrow, also."
"So you have today free."
"Ok, thanks. I'm sorry for you!"

Is it just me, or would it have been more prudent to let me know this before school started instead of after the 2nd class of the day? Also, I still don't know why I didn't have my 1st hour class since I teach that with a different teacher. Oh well. I feel bad now, like I should be planning all kinds of camp stuff. But I don't want to...I'd rather wait and finish my camp stuff the week before camp when I have to come in to school and...plan camp stuff. I have a feeling the teachers are beginning to think I'm really lazy about school stuff. Which is partly true, but more just that I have no idea what's really going on so I don't feel I can do anything.

I officially have no idea what's going on right now.
(big surprise, eh?)

It's Monday morning. Usually on Mondays my first class starts at 9. It's a class I don't teach with either of my main co-teachers. Most days it starts about 20 minutes late because generally there's an all-school assembly on Monday mornings. I went to my classroom this morning and my co-teacher was not there yet. Which isn't entirely unusual because we have 2 English rooms and she likes to hang out in the other one when there's no class. So this morning there was no assembly, so I assumed I would have class at the normal time. 9 o'clock comes and goes and no class. Ok...so maybe they'll just be late? Time keeps ticking away, still no class. Finally, 9:40 comes and the bell rings for class to end. Ok, so I had no 1st hour.

Do I have a 2nd hour? I'm expecting my co-teacher to come in now becasue we teach the rest of the day together in this classroom. She doesn't come. Neither do students. It's halfway through 2nd hour and still no co-teacher or students. Hmm. Do I have ANY classes today? (It's possible I don't since tomorrow is the last day and it's just an assembly). I think maybe they have no electives today. But then I notice that there is a class in the music room next to me. Hmm. So I went down to the other English room to ask my co-teacher what was going on today. No one is there.

So here I am sitting in my classroom not knowing what to do. Do I have class today? Do I not have class today? Is my co-teacher even here today? Maybe she's sick and called in and they canceled my classes because of that...and decided it wasn't important to tell me. I really don't know. But as far as not knowing what's going on goes, not having class is the best kind of confusion I can have. I guess.

Twiddling thumbs.

Huh, there was just an announcement over the intercom. Too bad I have no idea what it said.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Get into it.

Last week my co-teacher showed a movie the last 20 minutes in class. Which I'm more than fine with, but I was also more than confused by the movie selection. It was a Japanese animated movie (Japanimation?). So they were speaking Japanese. And the subtitles were in Korean. In English class. Please, someone tell me how that at all is beneficial in an English class. I mean, I feel bad enough showing an English movie with Korean subtitles...

I was on the subway on the way home from Cheonon. The subway car was probably almost half full. This Korean man frantically runs down the subway train. He stops and turns to me and says, "Handuh-pone?" I say, "Handuh-pone upsoyo." ["Cell phone?" ..."I have no cell phone."] He points to my backpack and says again, "Handuh-pone?" I again say, "Handuh-pone upsoyo!" He then gets frantic again and runs off the train. WTF? A few things confused me about this encounter. 1)He chose the one non-Korean in the entire car to approach to ask for a phone...and it's not like he even spoke English. 2)There were at least 5 Koreans within 10 feet of us who had cell phones out and were tooling around on them (playing games, texting, whatever it is people with cell phones do). So why he approached and asked me for a cell phone, I have no idea. Whatever.

I thought it was funny that Jaclyn and Will (and some other people) were in North Korea the weekend after the NoKos test fired their missiles. Generally, Americans aren't allowed in NoKo, but there are some tours you can go on to go there. Although you only get to go hike this mountain, not go into actual cities. And they make a make-shift passport that you have to wear (they can't stamp your actual passport or else you'll have to pay a big fine when you go through US customs). I guess it was pretty interesting--they have North Koreans watching your every move when you're there. It cost $450. Which I thought was a little steep, especially since it's only hiking on a mountain and not really going into NoKo. Plus, technically I have been in NoKo...at the DMZ on the NoKo side of that one building. Even though that's even less NoKo than the mountain. Whatever. Here's a movie clip/news clip that I just saw on CNN.com today. It's a lady doing a report from the DMZ talking a little about it. You should watch it. It's pretty interesting and you can see what I saw: News Clip from DMZ.

There are a few places in Korea that are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. I've been to most of them (A few things in Gyeongju, Suwon Fortress, a palace in Seoul, a Buddhist temple in Seoul). I was looking at the UNESCO sites in Japan and I think I'll go to quite a few of them. I was curious as to how many UNESCO World Heritage sites the United States has. Since, you know, we're not that old. Apparently there are 2 categories of sites--I can't remember the official category names, but it's something like cultural and natural, or something. We have 13, I think. All but 2 or 3 of them are national parks. One is the building the Declaration of Independence was signed in (which I think is kind of weird) and another is the Statue of Liberty. Also, there are a few Native American building sites down in Arizona/New Mexico. Hopi buildings, perhaps? Anasazi? Did we go to those? I think we did...

So, the 9th Annual Boryeong Mud Festival was pretty fun. It was on Daecheon Beach. Which is southwest of here. It's on the Yellow Sea. It was rainy the whole weekend, but I guess that doesn't matter much for a mud festival, right? It wasn't as muddy as I thought it'd be. I thought it'd be a giant mud pit. But it was pretty much a beach. With containers of mud that you could paint onto yourself. And some mud games. But I got nice and muddy. I played a mud bungee game, which was fun and messy but it ended up scraping my knees and elbows up pretty bad. Then we swam a bit in the Yellow Sea. There were some pretty big waves, so it was fun. Now I've been in both the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan (or the East Sea, as the Koreans call it).

On the train on the way home there was some really pretty scenery. It was rainy, but we went by some rice paddies that were super green. There were mountains in the distance with lots of mist and clouds around them. We tried taking some pictures, but they don't do it justice because they were taken out of a moving train with water on the windows.

The more I learn about Oprah, the more I like her.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Sweat drippin' over my body
(pardon the Christina Aguilera quote)

After much frustration and confusion over attempting to buy plane tickets, we finally have our tickets to Japan reserved. Woo-hoo! They're $455...you'd think tickets from Korea to Japan would be cheaper since they're so close, but apparently not. So I will be going to Japan July 29 - August 5. Well have 6 full days in Japan. I think our schedule will be pretty tight. We haven't planned anything yet, but I believe we want to go to: Osaka (which seems kind of stupid, actually, but that's where we're flying in and out of), Kyoto (which was one of the few major Japanese cities not bombed during WWII because academics were able to persuade the military to avoid it because of its cultural assets), Nara (ancient capital), Himeji (has a cool old castle there), and Hiroshima. It'll be a day in each place with 2 days in Kyoto, probably.

Tomorrow I'm going to Daecheon/Boryeong to the Mud Festival with Elissa, her mom, and Meghan. It should be fun. I'm coming home Monday night (we don't have school on Monday because it's some sort of holiday).

It's incredibly humid here right now. The temperature's not insanely high, but it feels like it is because of the humidity. Sometimes I get sweat dripping off me when I'm doing nothing but sitting in my apartment. It's gross. It's been raining all day. It's weird because it starts and stops with no warning. And when it gets going, it really pours. I guess August is even hotter, but I've also been told that it's not as humid, so that will be nice.

I went to a demo class on Friday. The meeting afterwards was attended by the Gyeonggi guy in charge of all elementary school native English speakers. Whose wife happens to teach at my school. I didn't know that until a few weeks ago when she told me that. At one point in front of the whole group he looked at me and asked, "Why are you not staying another year?" Ahhh...I gave some bullcrap answer. I don't think anyone would have appreciated me saying, "Because I hate Korea." He said I'd "be welcomed back at any time." He then asked all the native English speaker teachers there to ask questions or give comments on our contracts. There were like 4 other whiteys there. No one said anything, so I finally spoke up and said how I didn't like how the elementary contracts were different than the middle and high school contracts. Which prompted one of the whiteys to ask how they were different. The Gyeonggi guy obviously wanted to avoid talking about the differences and just said, "Oh, they are only little different." Then I answered the guy and explained how the middle/high school teachers don't have to be at school if the Korean teachers don't, that they teach a maximum of 2 weeks of English camp during their vacations, and they get paid more. But the Gyeonggi guy said that they were making the contracts the same for all teachers next year. And I learned that people think I'm leaving because I don't like my co-teacher, Ms. Lee. I have no idea why people think this, but it pisses me off.

Oh, I also think I figured out what I'll have to do that one week in August when I don't have camp but it's after my vacation. According to my co-teacher, the vice-principal told her that I'll have to come in every day in the morning and prepare for my English camp that next week. But then I guess I can go home after lunch. Well, at lunch time...I don't want to eat at school...esp since they don't serve school lunch so I'd have to pack something or order food with other teachers (if any will be there)...which would be food I don't want, most likely. So anyway, I'm very relieved I don't have to teach a camp. However, this is Korea. That could change.

One and a half months to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

I haven't bought tickets yet, but I'm almost assuredly going to Japan for a week during my summer break. Yay!!! I will be going with Jaclyn, a member of the Pyeongtaek gang. We haven't planned out any kind of itinerary yet, but we have decided that we will be flying in and out of Osaka, not Tokyo. We will not be going to Tokyo. This is due to time constraints. We want to go to Kyoto and nearby Nara as those cities are the cultural centers of Japan. Tokyo is just a big city. I can do without it. Also, we want to go to Hiroshima and that is even more south. It just would not be possible to go to Tokyo as well as all the other places in a week.

One of my co-teachers (Ms. Lee) is going to the US over summer break to visit her sister who lives in North Carolina. Because of this, she is missing the English Camp. Also because of this, the principal and vice-principal are very not happy with her. I personally think it's a good thing to have your English teacher visit an English speaking country, but hey. What do I know? Then I found out today that my other co-teacher (Ms. Kwan) had been planning on going to England this summer but had to cancel her plans because she has to be at the English Camp. I felt really bad. Stupid English Camp.

Will has a plane ticket to fly home to the US this Thursday (until mid-August sometime, as he's renewing his contract). However, he woke up last night and could hardly breathe, and ended up taking a taxi to the hospital at 4am. Turns out he might have tonsilitis. I say *might* because he really has no idea what's going on because no one there speaks English. I went to visit him in the hospital today and he looks pretty bad (but apparently looked a lot better than he did in the morning). Anyway, the doctor there wants him to stay in the hospital until Friday. Uh-oh! Remember, he is supposed to catch a plane home on Thursday! The doctor thinks that Will should be completely healthy before flying while Will just doesn't want to die on the flight home. So they're at odds. Also, the thing is that Will's brother is getting married that Saturday...so he has to be home for that! Man, poor Will. Well, his brother is getting as close to married as possible since he's gay.

I was watching Oprah last night (it's on TV here) and it was about gay people and the struggle they've had with acceptance and stuff because they were gay. It gets me SO angry. I really just can't comprehend how such a blatant form of discrimination is sanctioned by pretty much every state and the nation as a whole. Gay people should be able to get married, adopt children, serve in the military openly (if they so wished...), etc. Honestly, I don't understand the intolerance our country has with people who are gay. It sickens and saddens me. The fact that so much of it can be rooted to religion doesn't help up my opinion of religions, either. Ugh. Ok, I don't want to get into a big diatribe now, so I'll stop.

I felt like I had other things to say but I don't remember now. Soon I need to figure out how to go about 1) extending my visa, and 2) applying for my pension refund. My visa is only valid until Aug. 14, but I'll be here until Sept. 1. You only have 10 days after your visa expires to leave the country, so I need to extend my visa to the end of my contract (Aug. 31). Also, all year I've been paying into the Korean pension fund, but because of an agreement Korea has with the US, I should get it all back. So I have to go fill out forms and the government will then transfer the money directly into my US bank account. Also, for working in Korea for a full year you get a bonus month's pay. So I need to figure out who gives it to me and how I go about getting it. Unfortunately, my school is absolutely clueless about everything. Also, they'll probably send me to do it myself and the forms will all be in Korean or something. Bah. Well, it'll all work out. I hope.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bombs Away!
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

My teacher kept asking me about nuclear weapons today. Or something. Because of North Korea testing their missiles. I couldn't quite figure out what she was asking me, though. It could have been: 1)What does the United States think about nuclear bombs? 2)What does the United States think about what North Korea just did? 3)What do you think about what's happening? Or something else. She said, "How does America feel about nuclear weapons?" I didn't know what to say to this, however. "Uhhh...we don't want other people to have them...but we have about 10,000 of them. We're also the only ones to have used them against another country..." I think she was wondering if we were worried about North Korea. I told her I wasn't. She asked if I was worried that it would start another World War, or another Iraq situation. I said it seemed very doubtful. I said that their military sucks and no other country would probably join with them. She then said that she was worried Russia and China would. I said I found that highly unlikely. I think it's that the Korean War wasn't that long ago and it devastated Korea...so people are worried another war will be fought in Korea and the same thing will happen. I like how Kim Jong Il tested them on the 4th of July to "embarrass the US." Yeah, big embarrassment. What a tool.

A couple weekends ago we celebrated Charlie's birthday. We went to her apt and had a picnic on the roof of her apt building. Then we went to dinner and had shabu shabu. Later that week we all got together at Charlie's again and made burgers. Here are a few pictures:

Monday, July 03, 2006

America the Beautiful
...And not so beautiful

I have a slew of comments on various news articles that I've seen/read recently. And I will comment on them here...because I can.

1. So the other day I was attracted to a news article entitled, "Lawmakers decry Christian film's PG rating." So I clicked on it and read it. Then I got annoyed by it. A bunch of Congressmen (including the House Majority Whip...whose job it is try to get all Repubs to vote with the other Repubs...which doesn't really have any bearing on this article but I think the title is funny...he has to "whip" everybody into shape)...where was I? Oh yeah, a bunch of congressmen (conservatives, no doubt) are all getting their panties in a bunch over a Christian-themed movie about a football coach's faith in God receiving a PG rating. Apparently they're under the impression that it should only be G and the film rating people (MPAA) gave it a PG rating because it talks about religion. The MPAA says they gave it a PG rating because "any strong or mature discussion of any subject matter results in at least a PG rating...This movie had a mature discussion about pregnancy, for example. It also had other mature discussions that some parents might want to be aware of before taking their kids to see this movie." I personally thought only animated movies got G ratings. Really, how many "real-person" movies only get a G rating? Not many, I'd wager.

What peeves me off is that these conservatives seem to think that this movie deserves to only be G rated because it's religious--therefore it has to be wholesome, filled with morals, and good for everyone, right? The Majority Whip then whipped out this idiot statement: "This incident raises the disquieting possibility that the MPAA considers exposure to Christian themes more dangerous for children than exposure to gratuitous sex and violence." Uhhh...what? Seriously, this guy needs to take a logic class or something. How many movies with gratuitous sex and violence are rated PG? Now, if the MPAA consistently rated violent and sexual movies PG but non-violent, non-sexual, religious movies R, then he'd have a point. As it stands, the only point he's making is that he's stupid. And that's all I have to say about that.

2. Continuing with the movie theme: I'm not privy to the details on this former law, but until earlier this year Korea had some sort of law that enforced quotas on Korean theaters. Meaning, a certain percentage of movies shown had to be Korean-made, limiting the number of foreign movies (namely Hollywood) a theater could show. Which sucked for all us English-speakers in Korea but was good for the Korean film industry as it lessoned competition and helped the Korean film industry grow. Anyway, the US got all annoyed by this and said that Korea had to slash the quota (allow more foreign movies to be shown) in order to be a part of some free trade negotiation thing between the 2 countries. Which I personally (and selfishly) like because it means the number of movies I can see will rise. However, it kind of annoys me that we're (the US) being all demanding.

3. From movies to actors: So I see that the Secret Service has gotten involved in hunting down some guy who had taken pictures of Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) while they were in Africa and then put a few up on the Internet. Seriously, you know you have connections when the freakin' Secret Service will do that for you. As if it's a matter of national security. That just seemed bizarre to me. As a funny aside, I had my students fill out a survey and one question asked who their favorite actor was. I was reading over them and was temporarily befuddled by one kid's favorite actor being, "Bread Peat." Then I realized he meant Brad Pitt. Then I laughed. Because it's funny.

4. I saw a headline that I thought said, "Mutants tunnel into Israel for surprise attack." Wtf? When did the X-Men actually become real-life? Then I re-read the headline and realized it actually said, "Militants tunnel into Israel for surprise attack." Ahhh...makes much more sense now. Before I was thinking that perhaps the focus of the article should be on the fact that there are mutants, not the attack on Israel. Not to be anti-mutant or anything...but come on... :D But alas, no mutants. Only militants.

5. I was reading about Supreme Court decisions and how votes have been going this year (what with O'Connor leaving and Alito joining). I was reading synopses on various key cases in different categories (environment, civil rights, etc). There was one case called House v. Bell. In this case the court ended up ruling that death row inmates can use DNA evidence to attempt to show innocence even years after convictions. I find this a very good thing, but what I don't find good is that it was a 5-3 vote. Apparently Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas didn't agree with this ruling (Alito didn't participate). Who in their right mind wouldn't agree with this?? "Hey, I know you're going be killed for this crime, and even though there's DNA evidence that could exonerate you, we really don't think it's fair for you to use it. I mean, a trial's a trial and you've been convicted. Sucks to be you, eh? Maybe next time!" Even if it wasn't a death row case I would hope that new DNA evidence could be used to exonerate a person who may have been unfairly convicted. Granted, I only read a tiny summary of this case so could be missing some key points, but how much could you really be missing? Btw, I think the death penalty is stupid. Does Minnesota have the death penalty? I don't think so. I think I remember Utah still having the death penalty and being killed by a firing squad is still an option there. Weird.

6. There was an article about how "green" burials are growing in popularity. Basically, when you die and are buried your body can't be embalmed or otherwise chemically preserved. It also has to be buried in biodegradable caskets without linings or metal ornamentation and you can't have standing tombstones or monuments at the site. I like this idea. The thought of attempting to preserve your corpse is just gross to me. You're dead. Who cares what you look like? And the amount people spend on coffins? Who cares if a corpse is laying on cushions and pillows?? It's a friggin' corpse! I used to want to be cremated, but this article also pointed out that cremation still can cost a lot (why spend money on someone who can't appreciate it?) and it also has an environmental downside as it uses energy and releases dioxin and mercury into the atmosphere. I'd like my dead body to be donated to science. What they do with my remains, I don't care. Anyway, the idea of a green burial appealed to me.

7. I read that there's talk of getting rid of the penny because of its lack of worth. Actually, I think that this year it cost more to make a penny than it was worth. Granted, pennies are kind of annoying, but I think it'd be a little sad if they were to be no more.

8. There was this article about who makes a "true" American patriot. I liked it. With all this fervor about patriotic Americans being those who support The Troops, The President, The Government, etc., I enjoyed and agreed with this other point of view. Namely, a true patriot isn't someone with unquestioning loyalty, but is someone who isn't afraid to stand up against the majority to fight for what they believe are the rights of American citizens. It then focuses a lot on American librarians and their fight against the Patriot Act regarding giving public library book check-out records to the government. Among some other groups.

Here are a few quotes in this vein in which to end this blog entry, for your coming 4th of July enjoyment:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."
-Edward R. Murrow
(one of the guys the Good Night, and Good Luck movie was about).

He also said, "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair."
-H. L. Mencken

"The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them."
-Mark Twain

"When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-Teddy Roosevelt