Saturday, May 26, 2007

Who hasn't spent time thinking about other jobs? Sometimes my thoughts drift to "what other truly interesting occupations are there?" While I find most jobs have a much wider range than it appears at first glance there are a few occupations that have a special hold over me.

This job is something I have always dreamed would be exciting, interesting, and fulfilling. I have no idea what the decision making process involves and how much responsibility there is (I suspect a lot), but just the act of being around huge, powerful machines in a dangerous environment is attractive. Sometimes when I am talking to other people about dream jobs I bring up the position of "the guy who shoots the airplanes off the carriers", snap off a crisp salute, and crouch down, touching and then raising my hand from the deck while holding the other arm over my head to restrain my imaginary helmet from the blast wave. This performance almost always brings a smile and a nod to those I am describing the job to. It seems everyone is familiar with this position and when reminded of it finds it cool.

Another job I have long thought about is the person who names racehorses. Now I know there isn't a job titled "Senior Thoroughbred Name Analyst" or somesuch but we are just having fun here. Go to your own dreary job, think of some technical terms specific to that job, and tell me they wouldn't make great racehorse names. In the gas industry I have already come up with "Delivery Pressure", "Non-regulated", and "Third Party Damage" as potential names. I know there are many more in my industry and other industries as well. After a little googling, it seems like while not a vocation, this might be an avocation.

Probably the most realistic fantasy job I spend time thinking about is "Talk Show Radio Host Sidekick". While I don't need to be the head nut on a radio talk show, many times they have sidekicks. A famous TV example would be Ed McMahon, who served as a foil for Johnny Carson on the Tonight show for so many years. For some reason the radio variety seems much more enjoyable to me, though. One big reason is there often seem to be jokes going on that the listener is only faintly aware of. These sidebars, while often cited by the personalities, always leave something to the listener's imagination. That is one of the things I like about radio-at least a part of what is going on is different for each listener, they complete the picture in their mind rather than having it projected on a glowing screen for them. Listening to a good talk radio team allows you to multitask-your physical view can be on whatever you need to be doing-driving is a common task-yet you can have a picture in your mind of how the host(s) are delivering the material. You have some freedom as to how things are unfolding. And as the sidekick of the host, you would be able to help deliver the information and entertainment that your listeners are using to construct the mind's eye view of your discussion. It would be fun. What more can you ask from work?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The most recent NY Times article revealing a classified anti terror program set me to thinking-what is the best way for the "average" person to respond to this type of action by a media outlet?

The conclusion I came to was that I need to work to make advertisers aware of the fact that people do associate their advertising with the irresponsible reporting on terrorism in the Times. The first advertiser I noticed on the Times website was Liberty Mutual Insurance, with their motto prominently displayed-"Responsibility. What's your policy?". That seemed to fit. So I dashed off this email to them.
Mr. Coyle:

I recently checked the New York Times home page to learn who the advertisers supporting the paper were and your company was the banner advertiser. I am writing to express my disappointment that your firm would support a media outlet that is so committed to undermining support for legal intelligence gathering operations being conducted by agencies of the United States government. I take your advertising to be an endorsement of the borderline illegal reporting the Times has been conducting to "expose" classified programs, most recently financial tracking of funds that support terrorists.

Of course I understand that no publisher clears stories with advertisers prior to publication so your firm cannot be held responsible for this report being published. However, you do have a decision to make after the fact as to whether you will continue to support any newspaper that knowingly prints classified information.

I ask that you express your disgust with the reporting practices of the Times by immediately cancelling your advertising with this publication. I am very interested in hearing what your decision on this matter is and understanding the reasoning behind that decision. If I do not hear from your company regarding this matter I will have to assume that you are not concerned about supporting the behavior of the NY Times with your advertising dollars and approve of the actions of their reporters and editor.

Any future business I or my family and friends would consider doing with your business hinges on this decision. If your organization chooses to continue to support this behavior I will choose to not do business with you and encourage others not to as well. Thanks for your consideration in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jim Ramnes
Wadena, MN


I also sent one to Continental Airlines and will continue to contact other advertisers.

When we as Americans make the decision that we associate advertising in publications that act irresponsibly with support for those irresponsible actions, and follow through on that decision by refusing to do business with those who support these irresponsible actions, we will have made a start at cutting off the oxygen to those who would like nothing more than to continue to attack anyone who wants to see us lose the War on Terror.

Note-this has nothing to do with what editorial position a publications takes. This is aimed at publications that intentionally publish classified information as "in the public interest" with no concern for how it affects the very lives of people across the world. I support fully the right to express views, but their is no right to share information that threatens the lives of not only American military people but citizens in their homes.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ok, I am a little torqued off. I have been stewing about this Congressman Willaim Jefferson thing and I finally decided to speak up. Here is what I sent to my Congresscritter, Oberstar:

What is your postition on the investigation into the alleged crimes of Rep. William Jefferson? I want to know if you support the postion of the House leadership that maintain that Representatives have some "special" privileges that protect them from criminal investigations. Do you agree with the postition taken by Hastert and Pelosi, yes or no? I want an answer by email. If you do not reply I will have to assume you support this travesty.


And here is what I sent to Hastert:

Every American deserves an explanation from you and all other congressmen who object to the way the investigation into the crimes of William Jefferson is being conducted. I have been a Republican all my life, and I have been active in the party at various times, including convening precint caucuses. I will do everything in my power to see that no member of Congress that supports your position on this issue in any way is ever reelected to any position including dog catcher. Your actions show absolute disrespect for not only the Constitution but all law abiding Americans. You should immediately apoligize for this outrage and take whatever actions neccesary to accomodate this investigation. Your actions make me sick and break my heart. I fear for the future of this nation when the Speaker of the House of Representatives would advocate a position that Congressional Representatives of "the people" are not subject to the same laws as the people they supposedly represent. I don't expect to hear a reply since you have no interest in doing what is right. I hope you are defeated in the next election. You have done your nation great harm.


Of course I don't expect to hear anything from either of them. This goes way beyond party. Throw the whole bunch out!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On Friday night I was channel surfing and was lucky enough to come across "Saving Private Ryan" just beginning on one channel. Since I am a sucker for watching something I liked over and over, and I had not seen the first half of the movie for years, I settled in and turned the volume up a little.

The very beginning, where an aged Ryan walks through the cemetary on French soil, made me think about what is going on in Iraq. Seeing all the graves you can't help but think of all the young Americans who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past few years. These thoughts were even more focused as the movie progressed into the Normandy landing and the carnage that occured there. You have probably seen it, and for me it is hard to watch as soldiers who are younger than my 20 year old son are shot, blown up, decapitated, drowned, disembowled, and generally just killed in the worst possible ways. I cannot help but wonder at the courage these men showed in leaving the relative safety of a landing craft and advancing up the beach, knowing that many of them would not live to see that evening. How were they able to do it? Presented with the same situation, how would I react? Am I a coward compared to these heroes?

If these scenes had been available in real time on cable news television back home, what would the reaction of parents, other family members, and politicians have been? How could this slaughter be justified in defeating an enemy who had never attacked or threatened us? Surely, the bloody battles in the Pacific were justified to avenge the deaths at Pearl Harbor and defeat the Japanese regime, but why were we sending America's best into the teeth of withering machine gun fire to defeat an enemy across the ocean who had no way of threatening our homeland?

I could not help but compare this to our situation today. We are assaulted daily with claims that we have no business in Iraq, that there was no immediate threat to the United States from this Facist state. We are sending our sons and daughters into harm's way for nothing. More than 2000 American servicepeople have died needlessly. There is no way we will ever establish a representative government in Iraq.

I disagree. I think that if we had been able to witness the goings on during the Second World War as we can now, the outcry would have been as strong as it is today to stop the carnage. It is only human nature to be revolted by the scenes described to us now on a weekly basis, just as the opening minutes of Private Ryan revolt any reasonable person.

Yet the arguement will be made that Hitler deserved it, yet Saddam was no threat. Let's compare them. Hitler, death camps. Saddam, advocate of eliminating Israel from the face of the earth, and paymaster to the families of suicide bombers who venture into Israel to murder innocent Jewish citizens en masse.

Hitler invaded neighboring countries and instituted facist rule over them. Saddam must have pleasant memories of walking over Kuwait and annexing it to Iraq. That he was thrown out was a very near thing. Remember that the United State Senate agreed with this mission by one vote.

Let's not forget that Hitler invaded a country we feared, the Soviet Union. After a bloody four year campaign he was expelled. Sounds like a trick Saddam decided to emulate with his invasion and eight year war with Iran, another country we hated and feared.

There also seems to be a real fascination with WMD's as well. The way I remember history Hitler's Nazi regime used poison gas to attempt the extermination of the Jews. The next widespread use of poison gas in the world that I am aware of was Saddam trying to exterminate not just Kurds, but using it in his war against Iran.

I don't know if Saddam possessed WMD's when we invaded. I suspect he did and they left the country just before the invasion, but I can't prove it. What is beyond question is that he had proven multiple times that he had the capability to manufacture and deliver them, and that he was willing to use them. I am not aware of any other current regime in the world that has demonstrated this capability and willingness.

My point is that Iraq is a very hard battle. Thousands have died, on both sides. How do we decide if invading was the correct decision? I think the comparison with Hitler above helps in deciding. Our choices were bad (invade, with all the negatives that entails, including deaths and financial cost) or worse (leave Saddam in power to continue his war on the free world, rewarding of terrorists, and murdering thousands of Iraqis every year to maintain his hold on power). Sometimes there is not a good and bad choice, there is only bad or worse.

There is no question we have made mistakes, many of them, throughout the campaign. However, we are where we are, and need to work forward from here. Remember, the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam. We are killing terrorists in Iraq, and they deserve to die. Millions of people have had the opportunity to participate in free elections and decide their future. Every American who has served in Iraq can be proud of what they have accomplished. Did they enjoy it? Probably not, but neither did the young Americans who liberated Europe 60 years ago. Remember, you can take pride in an important job well done whether it was pleasant or not.

In conclusion, thanks to all Americans who have made freedom possible for billions of people across the globe. I salute you, and recognize the sacrifice you have made. I will never forget your comrades who died making this possible and feel eternal gratitude for their sacrifice. Thank you!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The recent battle over the Danish cartoons and the reaction to the cartoons in the Muslim world started me thinking on how I really feel about the "Religion of Peace". Of course, as an American, I have been steeped in a belief in freedom of religion and the accompanying right to worship however you are called without interference. I think almost all Americans react to religious faith in this way and rightly so. This is one of the foundations of our society and culture, and one of the building blocks of our culture.

The last few years of the War on Terror has no doubt taken a toll on many Americans' outlook toward Islam and especially the "classical" Muslim of the Middle East. Why is this?

As I thought about this, a few things came to mind. First, I thought about the terror attacks on not just the United States and her close allies, but also countries like India, Russia, Bali, and the Phillipines conducted by Muslim extremists. To the best of my knowledge this encompasses the great majority of terror attacks in the world over the last decade or so. I am not aware of radical Christians, Hindus, or any other religious group with cells all over the world conducting terror attacks across the globe in the last 10 years.

But even more telling, in my opinion, is the lack of outrage on the part of followers of Mohammed objecting to this cavalcade of murders. While I don't trust the media to accurately report all the goings on in the world, I do think that I would have heard somehow if there was a groundswell in some Muslim society somewhere objecting to this slaughter of innocent victims. I have heard of no such thing from the Saudis, Kuwaitis, or even CAIR, much less any of the countries that passively or actively support the terrorists. While I don't think this signifies overwhelming support for terrorist operations among Muslims, I do think it means that most Muslims accept it as a valid tool in the battle between societies. And this worries me.

If I am correct, and there is no "grass roots" opposition to terror in the Muslim world, I am afraid there is no alternative to the confrontation escalating to the point of religious war. Obviously, there are some Muslim leaders who are actively working to bring this about as they feel it is the fate of their religion. If they are wishing for this battle they are doing a poor job of interpreting history. Western culture, including both the United States and European nations, have shown in the past that they are capable of conducting total war with no qualms when the provocation becomes strong enough. The US, England, and France have shown that they will try to avoid war by every means possible but when pushed into it will do whatever it takes to win. Witness the trenches of WW1, the strategic bombing campaigns (conventional and atomic) of WW2, and the economic battles of the cold war. Any Muslim leader who doubts our will or capacity for battle is condemning his followers to a brutal death.

I do not want to see it happen, but the only way out that I can find is for Islam to accept the accomodating culture of the west and I can't see that happening without a major cataclysmic event in the Muslim world. I hope you can look back at this and laugh in 50 years. But I doubt you will be able to.

Friday, December 16, 2005

New Victorian: A Message From Karl Rove: "You are hereby ordered to post this message verbatim on your blog December 16, The Year of Our Savior 2005. Please ensure that it stays at the top for the next 24 hours. Any violation will result in termination. With the completion of the Iraq Phase II and Insert Dean operations, The Five Unkown Beings have directed that their roles, their moles and their exquisite controls over current and future events be revealed to all the world. My part as First Loyal Servant of the House is also to be made public. That the President is actually a highly-developed cyborg controlled by an invisible three-dimensional 'glove-joystick' attached to Mr. Cheney's right hand, ditto.

It has been determined that our plans have reached such an advanced stage of realization that resistance is futile. Democrats, trial lawyers and the ACLU--read this and weep. The secret prison camps in an unidentified '-stan' country are ready. Join us or be assimilated.

As always, our sincere thanks to the members of the Vast Right-Wing Cabal of Bloggers.

Have a pleasant day.

Karl"

Nice.

h/t New Victorian via Glenn

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Retreat and Defeat is an accurate comparison to today's reaction to the "perception" that things are not going well in Iraq and the feeling at one point during the Revolutionary war that things were not going well. I am sure you have heard the phrase "These are the times that try men's souls" but I was not aware it stemmed from a dark time during the American Revolution when things were going less than swimmingly.

Read the above linked story for a unique and revealing comparison and contrasting of the then and now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Here is an interesting graph. Given that the Bush Administration's tax cuts for the rich have supposedly removed any tax liability from the wealthy in America, I find it hard to understand how the Federal Government collected $2.15 billion in FY 2005. Interesting that this just happens to be the highest level of federal reciepts in history, no?
Take the US Citizenship Test!

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

This is cool-take the test here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I have been looking at this long-neglected blog and my (very short) blogroll and comparing it to what I still read on the web. Out of the four that were listed, I still read two of them regularly, one occasionally, and the final one is out of business. The two I still read, Instapundit and James Lilek's Bleat, both have withstood the test of time and remain valuable. If Steven Den Beste were still producing USS Clueless I have no question I would still be reading it. I have drifted away from Patterico, I think because I grow tired of the political battles that are the center of so many blogs.

What am I reading now? Well, model railroading forums from Model Railroader and Atlas are must-reads for me. I really enjoy Vodkapundit. I like that cracker bastard, Velociman, for a change of pace.

Other than these, there isn't the form to my web content consumption that there used to be. I just don't feel compelled to read the entire internet like I once was. Perhaps I have seen enough of it to know now that no matter how far I travel in the virtual world I am not going to find perfection.