Just a little blog about me and mine.

still here… December 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 10:38 am

So my idea to do a quick “Today I…” blog post didn’t work either for keeping me posting regularly. Work has been busy, trying to finish everything by the end of the year, which really means by the 18th since most of us are out the next two weeks. PL has law school finals, so we don’t see each other more than a few minutes a day, it’s cold, the dogs are needy, the cat is fussy…so yeah, that’s where I’ve been.

But some good things, large and small are happening. We’re going to see one of my favorite bands Girlyman this Saturday. At least I’m going with a friend of ours, PL is hopefully going but studying might get in the way. I made an awesome pot of chili for supper last night, and then stored it on the deck in the cold weather overnight which was amusing, even if the weather isn’t. After taking a break for finals, there will be more college basketball games again this weekend, including a women’s home game at Tech on Sunday afternoon that I’ll be attending.

But to help make sense of it all, I’ll close with a terrific quoted shared with me by my boss Stephen:

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” -E.B. White


It’s Just War… December 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 7:29 pm

When President Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize (no further comment on that) in Norway this week, two statements in his speech stood out to me:

“Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world,” Mr. Obama said. “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”

“I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.”

Obama discounts non-violent movements as being effective, at least in some situations, and later invokes the theory of just war. First, I have to preface anything I’m going to say next with a remembrance that having our President even mention just war is a step forward. It is my understanding, both from my own observation but also from that of important witnesses in the periods leading up to our current wars, especially in Iraq, that just war, as a theory or as a tool, was never considered. So, kudos for that, I suppose.

But, with the concept of a just war now re-entering our vocabulary, I wanted to spend some time remembering, thinking, and ultimately sharing with any of you reading this, what just war theory is really all about, and what it’s not, both from a more secular moral/philosophical standpoint as well as from the perspective of Christian ethics. Just war theory can serve as a guide to form personal conscience as well as a way to structure public debate.

In it’s origin just war theory is a synthesis of Greco-Roman philosophy and Christian ethics–so in a nutshell, Aristotle, Cicero, and Augustine. The original position of the Christian church was one of pacifism (for several centuries in fact), and you can think of just war as a very gray area between pacifism and crusade/holy war on a long continuum. The development of just war in the Christian tradition might best be viewed as a reluctant abandonment of non-violence in the face of the very real injustice and violence that exists in our broken world. Pacifism has an absolute presumption against war, just war theory has a prima facie (first look) presumption against war, but can envision cases where the presumption against war would be overridden with exceptions. Just war then: condemns war as evil, limits the evil that war entails when it happens, and humanizes the conduct of war. So, at it’s best, a just war is barely within the boundaries of morality, and there is an assumption that war and conduct during war is subject to moral deliberation.

The just war ethic asks 3 questions: Why? When? How? Or if you prefer Latin: jus ad bellum: concerns the justice of going to war; jus in bello: concerns justice in the conduct of war; and jus post bellum: concerns the justice of termination of war and peace agreements.

Ok, so there’s three parts to just war theory, how do we apply them?

In jus ad bellum, concerning going to war, there are six criteria, and each must be met–it’s all or nothing.

1. Just cause.
-to protect innocent people from unjust attack
-to restore rights that have been wrongfully denied
-to restore the basis of order necessary for decent human existence (yes, this would allow for justified
2. Right intention.
3. Proper authority and public declaration.
4. Last Resort.
5. Probability of Success.
6. Proportionality.

Now for jus in bellow, justice in the conduct of war:
1-proportionality of means: only use enough force to accomplish tactical goals
2-noncombatant immunity

In jus post bellum, just as much thought and stringent demands go into ending a conflict–turning over of power, dealing with prisoners, and establishing treaties and agreements as is required in the other stages.

So, take your favorite war, run through these, and see how far you get. Remember, it’s an all or nothing game.

My own belief is that I’m a just war adherent who believes the criteria for just war are so stringent that no war would ever pass the test and can be considered moral, therefore I’m a pacifist…sort of, mostly, in theory, sometimes. I’m not a total pacifist–if I call the cops, I want them to show up at my house with guns, for instance. I also have more serious struggles with pacifism in light of the need for humanitarian intervention (Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc…). So, I lean more towards the Realist camp, like Reinhold Niebuhr, who concede there are certain situations in which morality should be sacrificed for justice (and honestly, self-preservation). Niebuhr recognizes that we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people (who have some limited moral resources to draw on–such as an ethic of nonviolence in our religious tradition that might still influence us), and therefore pacifism is a political impossibility even if it might be a moral good.


What I’m Reading–Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese November 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 11:41 am

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Monday, November 23, 2009 November 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 10:53 am

Today…I cleaned the house even more. My parents are coming tomorrow, and it’s finally clean–the dogs sure did their best to bring in more mud as we were trying to get rid of the mud that was already there. PL did more cleaning than I did-she vacuumed and mopped everything. She says near the top of her “Things I’m Thankful List” is the pet hair Dyson that we got earlier this year. Sometimes I think the Dyson might be higher on the list than me, but she reminded me that without me she wouldn’t even have dogs or a house full of dog hair–I’ll take that as a compliment.

Then PL and I baked Fruitcake cookies for my dad, using my grandmother’s recipe. I’m not really patient enough to bake, and this recipe is easy but uses lots of bowls and can get messy. I was already frustrated after having to run out for one item we forgot to buy this weekend for the cookies, and the store was a total zoo. So baking was frustrating more than fun, but PL came and helped me finish the cookies. While the cookies were baking, we watched a couple of our favorite tv shows–among the only shows besides Grey’s Anatomy we ever really make time to watch regularly–How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory.


Sunday, November 22, 2009 November 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 11:11 am

Today we went to Sunday school and church, and then stayed for a potluck and a little bit of the Advent Festival. It was a really rainy and cold day, so almost as soon as we got home we lit a fire in the fireplace and enjoyed it all evening. We were smart enough to start pea soup in the crockpot that morning, once again somehow picking the nastiest of days to get to come home to soup–I had planned to do that last Tuesday, not knowing at the time that it would be pouring down rain. We just relaxed on the couch in the afternoon, reading, playing on the computer, and snuggling the dogs. That evening, we just sat around even more, did a tiny bit of pre-Thanksgiving cleaning, and watched several episodes of Criminal Minds on tv before going to bed.

When I was getting ready for bed, Oliver went with me to the bedroom, and when I came out of the bathroom, he had made himself comfortable.

Yer bed. I made it warm for U.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 11:06 am

Today I got up early, but not early enough, to get to the DeKalb Farmer’s Market to do Thanksgiving shopping. It was crowded but people were generally friendly and patient. We decided most of the people there were regular shoppers like us and knew how to behave and deal with the crowd. Then we went to Kroger to finish up the Thanksgiving shopping. I actually have a longer story about that…

The List.

The parking lot at 9:30am. FYI-they open at 9am. Fun times.

One of our Thanksgiving desserts is going to be Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake. It’s a Cooking Light recipe and it combines fat free cream cheese with reduced fat cream cheese to make it a little less bad for you. At our Kroger, the dairy section is the last section you come to before reaching the end of the store. So we had a cart nearly overflowing, and just needed the cream cheese and one or two other things before we were totally done shopping. We get to the section where the cream cheese is located, and they only have the regular kind–no fat free, no reduced fat. We look around a bit more and still can’t find any, and realize we’ll have to go to another store.

Then a guy who was behind us restocking the ice cream asks if we need help. We ask him about the cream cheese, he goes to check some of the other cases since sometimes they have things on sale in other cases. There’s none there, but he tells me to wait and he’ll check in the back. PL goes to get our last items, while I wait. He comes back a few minutes later, apologizing that he couldn’t find fat free but that he found the reduced fat kind. We thank him several times for being so helpful, and I make sure to look at his nametag to tell a manager on the way out how much we appreciated his help. When we were on the last aisle, he tracks us down with a box of fat free cream cheese that he found after looking some more through other cases in the back. He asks what we were planning to make, does an adorable swoon (we were 90% certain he was family already, 99.99% after that). As we were leaving the store, we see him going out of his way to help another customer as well. On perhaps the busiest grocery shopping day all year, he took the time to help us find what we needed, saving us a trip to another store and being incredibly friendly the whole time. Later that afternoon I called the store and told them how helpful and nice he was and that I wanted his supervisor to know he was an excellent employee. He said they get thank you calls about this particular guy quite often. So thanks, Robert in frozen foods at the DeKalb Industrial Kroger, for being the awesomest employee ever.

After our shopping adventures, I picked up my cousin Dee and took him with me to the GT Women’s Basketball game. We had a great time, GT won (but who knew Florida Gulf Coast a) existed; b) had a basketball team and c) had several great 3-point shooters). I’m sure he’s still talking about how Buzz sat down with us, hitting me in the head with his tail and then knocking Dee’s drink out of the cupholder.


Friday, November 20, 2009 November 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 10:41 am

Today I worked incredibly hard, getting so many things crossed off my to-do list. It felt really good.

My in-box.

Then we had a nice evening at home, watching a strange but excellent movie, Lost and Delirious. It was a teenage, lesbian coming of age film that takes place at a boarding school, so you can imagine how dramatic and angst-filled it was. At the end, I commented, “that was a really good movie until the last minute and a half.” PL replied, “no, it started getting strange when she stopped washing her hair.”