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Archive for September, 2002

racism

Monday, September 30th, 2002

Nelson Mandela is an amazing man but what the hell is he talking about? Apparently he said today that the reason the US is “challenging” the UN is because the Secretary General is black. What? Ok, George Bush is a fuck up, and this whole “war on Iraq” is, to say the least, a questionably fiasco, but I don’t think race has anything to do with him ignoring the UN—I think politics has more to do with it.

I agree with this;

“No country, however powerful it may be, is entitled to act outside the United Nations”

Then in the same interview Mandela said this;

“now that we have got the black secretary-generals like Boutros Boutros Ghali and now Kofi Annan, certain countries that believe in white supremacy, are ignoring the United Nations.”

But I really like this one;

“when the secretary-generals were white, we never had the question of any country ignoring the United Nations”

because I can’t agree with it, haven’t we always ignored the UN if we disagreed with what they said?

Racism is a problem in the world, and Mandela knows that as well as, or better than, anyone but screaming that someone (or a whole country) is racist everytime they disagree with someone of a different race IS RACISM, and it makes the world MORE RACIST, not less.

political silence.

Thursday, September 26th, 2002

I got a Job! With Lockheed Martin in Reston! Yea me. Anyway more on that as it develops—I don’t know all the details yet! But this brings up an interesting thought: I want to live in DC, someplace hip, cool, happening, whatever you want to call it—someplace with stuff to do, things I can walk to. Ok fine, I know I am going to have to pay a little but I’m ok with that. The problem I have with DC is not the rent; it’s the politics! Forget the fact that DC cannot seam to elect a non-crack addict to it’s mayors office they don’t have any real power anyway… which brings me to the root of the problem.

The reason that the Mayor of DC has minimal power is because anything that requires money has to be approved by congress! And the real bitch: DC does not get a vote in congress! This has been a sticking point for DC’ers for years, in fact their license plates say “Taxation without representation” right on them. I’ve never really thought much about it, I have always thought it was wrong, but never cared that much. Now if I’m going to live in DC, and especially given the current state of politics I would like to have a vote that counts (not like those people in Florida!) I don’t care if they make DC part of Virginia or Maryland’s Congressional districts, but come on, that whole war against the British was about taxes and representation wasn’t it? Or did I miss something? You think anything would happen if I refused to pay my taxes and then handcuffed myself to something in the capital till then gave DC a vote? I mean anything besides me getting severally beat down, very skinny and fired? What do you think would get congresses attention on this?

warhawks and doves

Wednesday, September 25th, 2002

The news is filled with commentators and guests talking about the speech Al Gore made a few days ago about the possibility of going to war with Iraq (note: It’s only a “war” if congress declares war which it has not done in the “war on terrorism”, and the military actions taken by the US have been taken under the War Powers Act which dates to the Vietnam war!) Rush Limbaugh said that he almost stayed home because he was so livid at Gore’s speech. One of Limbaugh’s callers called Gore un-American.

Un-American? Now this guy has a right to his opinion and to voicing his opinion. But I wonder how well he understands what being American and un-American mean? Dissenting viewpoints and open discussion of things are at the core of what is American. I mean, get over yourself. Say that you disagree, say that Gore is a flower child and should be ignored, whatever, but to accuse someone of being un-American because they hold a different point of view from you tells me that your emotions are ruling your words not your intellect.

As for the idea of more “war” in Iraq? I don’t like it, I think we need more Al Gores and Scott Ritters out there voicing concerns. I agree with what Scott Ritter is saying; that we need to send the UN Weapons Inspectors back in to Iraq, and if they are harassed or not allowed to perform their duties then, with the support of the UN we should take action. Then we have an argument grounded in an international forum. Today with Iraq telling to UN to bring back the inspectors and George Bush and Tony Blair saying, forget what Saddam is saying, we need to got to war now, it’s Bush and Blair that should like blood thirsty war mongers.

What really pisses me off is the politicalization of the war talk. Chaney saying that the dissenters are un-American, and that people should vote for republican candidates because they are pro-war on Iraq. It’s obvious that there will be no war till after the November elections, because the republicans think they can get more seats in congress on war talk. Bush will most likely hold off any military action as long as he can so he can drag any war and its aftermath out to the next presidential election. Politics as usual.

“I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
-Voltaire

censoring movies and parental responsibility

Tuesday, September 24th, 2002

So there is this big controversy over the censoring of movies on home video. The company doing it says that they are making movies suitable for viewing by the whole family by cutting out violence, sex, profanity and other things people object to. Some big name directors have filed a lawsuit against the company to stop them, saying it violates the directors copyright.

It’s an interesting case because it pits consumer rights against copyright integrity. While I think that a consumer should be able to do as they please with a product they have paid for (provided they don’t try to make some sort of profit off it that would violate the copyright; i.e. rebroadcast a move.) I don’t think a company should be able to cut a movie and then sell it to consumers. We all know that, for instance, Saving Private Ryan would be a completely different movie without the cussing and the graphic violence—it would lose all its impact and reality. (Yes you can make a war movie without showing the graphic violence, but part of what makes Private Ryan such a good movie is the emotions that seeing the graphic violence forces the audience to feel and deal with.)

I think I agree with the directors on this one. If a consumer wants to buy the movie and all the fancy software to edit it then they should be able to, or maybe send it to a company to be edited after the fact then ok. But a company that wants to buy these movies and then sell them seams to me to be violating the copyright in that they are editing a copyrighted move and then selling it as new.

The real objection I have to this (we’ll let the copyright lawyers figure out the legality of it.) is that parents would want to show these movies to their kids but not allow the kids to see the sex, violence, drugs, et al that are in the movies. I don’t have kids so feel free to ignore me or flame me on this one but I think that that is a form of putting off a parents responsibilities. If you are going to show the kid the movie, or allow them to watch it, the show them the whole thing and talk to them about stuff. To me the whole idea of buying censored movies, books or music is like living in some sort of fantasy. Anything that the kids would be exposed to in these things in their raw form the kids will be exposed to in daily life and on the news. Kids are not dumb and def, we all know they know this stuff.

Rather than showing a kid some fairy tail about World War II show them Private Ryan and say, “this is why war sucks, but we did it because of this…” and then show them Schindler’s List and say “hate sucks just as much.”

lockheed interview and other thoughts

Saturday, September 21st, 2002

So I had an interview (which actually turned out to be three interviews!) with Lockheed Martin on Friday. I stayed up in NoVa Friday night to see S——, J——- and K–. But before we get into too much detail I have to say something; Driving back from NoVa today, I got passed by a Silver Mustang convertible around the Warrenton interchange. The car was weaving in and out and passed when it got behind me was trying to push me—and I was not going slow… Well about thirty miles later I came over a hill and see flashing blue lights. There in front of a state cop is the silver Mustang and the lady driving it being handed a ticket! Now, not to be an ass hole and a gloat, but there a few things in driving that feel better than seeing the bitch or bastard that passed you being served a nice fat ticket! Yea.

Anyway, the Lockheed Martin interviews went well. Three groups within the Tech Ops and Management Systems department interviewed me. All top-secret work so not much info but the interview went ok. Two of them where just ok but the third one I think went well. At this point it is hard to be too hopeful about the prospects of getting a job but I think I have a good chance this time. Cross my fingers!

Now for the other thoughts. Have you ever had a dream about someone you have not seen or talked to in years? And in that dream the person is portrayed in a where you never thought of the person? Get your mind out of the gutter—nothing like that! But the dream was a little disconcerting. It was just a dream but took all morning to shake the feeling of “I wonder if things could have been that way if…” Strange man.

Last thing: I misread someone this week; talking with the person over the Internet I got a feeling, that something was wrong. It turned out to the feeling was wrong but I sent the person an email thinking that something was wrong and the email scared the person into thinking that there was something wrong with me. The problem with only talking to people over IM or the phone—no body language! I hope I did not confuse the person too much.

interaction

Wednesday, September 18th, 2002

First off: Happy Birthday C——-! Hope you have a good day, and get lots of cool presents. Wish I could be there.

Second: Does anyone read this? If so leave a message… J——-, S——, C——-, C——, Rachel… just press the “post comment” link and say hello… It’s really not worth doing this if no one interacts.

joblessness

Sunday, September 15th, 2002

Today is the one-year mark from when I left Genesis to get ready for my year in England. I still don’t have a job. I do have another interview this coming Friday with Lockheed Martin. I have a ton of forms to fill out for them, so they can look into who I am… They want an entire ten-year background on the application and the name and contact info of someone who can verify any periods of unemployment. Nosy bastards aren’t they?

one year

Wednesday, September 11th, 2002

Three hundred and sixty-five have come and gone since the day it happened. The Earth has come full circle and once again faces the Sun from the same direction. Day to day life has returned to normal or at least to what will constitute normal from now on. There is really not much to say that has not already been said. Remember those who died, and get on with living your life.

fish fetish

Tuesday, September 10th, 2002

One of my fish has disappeared, again. They do this from time to time. I never see the bodies anymore. Haven’t in years. There is too much in the tank to ever see a body, they just disappear.

I have never written about my tank in my journal, mostly because from the time I started this journal it has been in my parent’s basement while I finished school and looked for a job. It is still there—the difference now is that so am I again. Since I have never talked about it, and I have nothing better to talk about now, I’ll explain my tank, my own personal fish fetish.

First of all, it’s not really a fish tank though that is what most people would call it. It is really a Reef Tank. Meaning that while it has fish in it the main attraction, at least to me, is the “other” stuff. The coral, shrimp, starfish, crabs and other more exotic life in the tank are what I like. There are some fish that I like in it, mostly ones that are small, and live in the rocks.

My tank has been up for five years now. It’s 75-gallons of salt-water with a 20-gallon sump tank, 88 pounds of live rock (rock from the reefs around Fiji) and 100 pounds of crushed coral to cover the bottom. This all adds up to roughly half a ton of water and rock. There are also a bunch of pumps to move water around and a huge light fixture which houses 4, 55-watt Power Compact lights—each light puts out 4 times the light of a regular 4-foot florescent. 2 lights are white, and two are blue, because blue light penetrates water better if you remember your physics class you will remember why.

Most fish tanks have some kind of mechanical filter on them, they tend to hang on the back of the tank and, in one way or another pass water through charcoal and mesh and other filtering material. The only external form of filtration on my tank is a Protein Skimmer, a device to take help take solid waste out of the water—the solid waste is dissolved and the protein skimmer used tiny air bubbles to float it out. Ever been to the beach early in the morning and seen the foam at the tips of the waves as they crash into the sand? Same thing, just nature’s immense version of it. The protein skimmer is really just a clever system of pipes and air tubes. A pump pushes water into the large vertical tube where it mixes with tiny air bubbles. As the air pushes to the top it passes through a bottleneck. Solid matter gets trapped on the top of the rising bubbles forming foam (more physics and a little chemistry!)

Inside the tank the real filtration takes place, see the protein skimmer takes out the solid matter that’s in a certain size range, but bigger stuff falls to the bottom and deteriorates and really small stuff just passes through the skimmer and breaks down. What happens to it all when it breaks down? I won’t bore you with the details—you’ve already had them once, back in biology class, it’s called the nitrogen cycle, look it up. Bottom line, nasty chemicals build up and must be broken down so the fish do not die from the toxicity. This is what the hundred pounds of crushed coral and eighty-eight pounds of live rock come into play. See the reason for the live rock, the reason it’s called live rock, is because of the stuff living in it. The bacteria. This bacterium builds up in the rock and the crushed coral over time, and its job is to break the nasty chemicals down into not so nasty chemicals, thus making the water good for the fish and corals. The bacteria are good at this that once the tank is established there is very little cleaning required. In fact a well-established reef tank needs less cleaning than most goldfish tanks. Every couple of weeks I stir up the crushed coral and take about ten gallons of water out of the tank and replace it with ten new gallons of clean salt-water. Other than that the only thing is to feed the fish and coral (oh yes, you have to feed them too, they don’t live totally off light—they need calcium and a few other things) and I also spend a few minutes cleaning the algae off the glass once a week. Of course there are lots of little problems that come up over time, but if you do the maintenance very rarely does anything serious happen. Mostly a fish gets sick now or then, which is usually a sign that you need more maintenance or did something wrong. And every time you put a new fish, coral, or other in the tank things can go wrong—they die from being moved, they fight with what’s in the tank already. It’s kind of like growing pains.

My tank has had its share of growing pains; sudden coral die offs—I lost half my coral in one week and never found out why. Fish jumping out—I gave up on Diamond Watchman gobies after four jumped out in less than three months, and the first one was in the tank for six months before he jumped out! Then there are aggressive fish, three of my oldest fish seam to want to beat up any new ones I put in the tank.

Right now I am a little short on coral, never really recovered from the die of since I was at Mason and not here to buy coral. I have some nice ones, but need more. As for fish, the new ones seam to die off but the old ones never do. I have one fish that has been in the tank since the beginning—five years ago! Four more that are more than three years old. I have a starfish that has been there for almost five years and a oyster that is almost as old.

The biggest problem now is that I am board. Every time I put something new in it dies, or it is just a replacement for something that died. The fun of a reef tank is in setting it up and stocking it, sitting in front of it for hours looking at the things you just put in it, every fish, every coral, every crab or snail is different and unique and getting to know then is the fun. I would take everything out and star over, but I don’t have the money. When I get a job and a place to live I have to take the tank with me. I think I will just take it down, give the fish to the fish store and sell the tank. Then when I am settled into a new place I’ll start over, from the ground up so I can get to know new fish and coral, new crabs and snails.

midnight musings: extra food

Saturday, September 7th, 2002

Did you know that the US government pays farmers to not grow food? Or to plow it under? And if for some reason a crop is not worth much at harvest time many farmers will leave it in the field to rot and then plow it over? Does any of this sound ludicrous to you? I know that farming is an unforgiving and hard profession—my grandfather is a farmer—eking out a living is very hard. To keep prices up the government pays some farmers not to grow or harvest certain crops thereby keeping the supply inline with demand and keeping the price high enough to support the farmers.

These farm subsidies and supply control measures ensure that the farmers can make a living and that there will be people to do the hard work and provide food for the rest of us here in the US. But when we consider the whole world, I can find no way to justify letting food rot in the ground or not planting all the land that is available. (Except as crop rotation and fallow ground techniques demand to keep the ground fertile) The famines in Asia and Africa, the refugees who have fled their homes and therefore their food sources, they need food and we let it rot in the field. Rather than pay farmers not to plant or to leave food to rot, this food should be taken by the government and donated to UN or other relief agencies. The government could continue to restrict the supply and pay farmers, thereby keeping them from bankruptcy but take the food and put it to use. Rather than farmers leaving their crops in the field to rot because it cost more to harvest than it is worth, the government should step in and say, “we will pay for you to harvest he food and then take it and give it to people who need it.” This food could save many lives around the world.