A search for opinions...

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Still Catholic Afterall...

I'm encouraged by this little nugget dug up by Andrew Sullivan. Now, I could be cynical and suggest that this is a little bit of pandering by representatives of the Church to assuage guilt-ridden souls or recent detractors of the faith into re-gaining interest in the church, just so the "club" doesn't lose any more membership. Or it could well be an outstanding summary of the true bastions of Catholicism. I'd like to believe the latter, and I know that several sects of the Church promote such beliefs. However, I've learned that some people like to play by the rules in recent weeks (through an unfortunate incident in my "rec-level" volleyball league). The Catholic Church has well-known rules, and there is much debate from those within about how/when/if they should be enforced. It is great that the Church is reflecting on many issues, but aren't they just pointing out the underlying hypocrisy of modern religion? It seems to me that the major religions figured out a long, long time ago what they believed in and then determined how their constituents should run their lives (see Moral Compass). Re-interpreting the faith appears to be a novel idea in modern society, but now you approach the slippery-slope of coddling every special interest for the sake of "inclusion". Well, for Catholicism or any major religion to remain legitimate, it has to sustain a belief system. If you can't abide by the beliefs, then perhaps that religion isn't for you - go find another. Though I was raised Catholic, and tend to have had my life steered by its wake, I haven't been committed to it whole-heartedly. But if the Pope decides that pizza is the true Eucharist(is there any doubt?) and it is served in mass, then I'm there...


So why do I think about terrorism every time I hear about something like this? It occurs to me that it would be incredibly easy for Al Qaida to disrupt people, if not kill them, with these types of actions. Do we have any assurance that we will be able to stop them? It's amazing that there have not been more instances of malice against the western world since 9/11, despite the persistent threats from our enemies. Is anyone else willing to give our own government some credit for allowing us to maintain fairly normal lives since we were attacked? Let's whine a little less about the inconveniences and perceived trampling of civil liberties from the Patriot Act, and let's consider what has been going right with all of our newly implemented security policies.

Monday, May 31, 2004

just a game

Never has the phrase "just a game" seemed so appropriate. It's Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of our fallen military heroes, and the Naval Academy is playing in the men's lacrosse national championship. There are several players on the team who will be playing today, and then packing for immediate departure for flight training or service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other hot spots in the world. Any pressure on these guys to win? Not much, I imagine. After an awesome effort which resulted in a great, great game, Navy didn't win and now a large portion of the team moves onto the next stage of their lives - tomorrow. Even if they had won, they would not have had the opportunity for the parades, welcome-home celebrations, and other events associated with sports victories. The game certainly was a big deal, enough to have several ex-Navy players, now enlisted and active in the armed forces, make trips from around the world to support the team this weekend. But these are not the kinds of folks who will live off the laurels of their past achievements - they will be achieving every day. Now it's time to root for these guys all over again, for something a little more important than a game.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

so much crap, so little time...

I'm constantly impressed with how much effort is put forth by the left trying to oust W. from office. They have engaged every resource they have in an attempt to pick apart every element of the administration, hoping to convince voters, and perhaps themselves, that the answer to all of our problems will be provided by the person who replaces W. The logic is that ANY alternative will be an improvement. To sustain this mindset, there have been a series of catch-phrases issued to smear President Bush, such as labeling him a Fascist (here's an example). I don't believe these kinds of terms are to be thrown around lightly, and should only be reserved for genuine occasions. The anti-Bush crowd perpetually resorts to this kind of extremist rhetoric, and it's very, very hard to take. If just one iota of the effort they use to bash the right was to be used constructively, they might actually develop an original idea that could be used productively to solve some of our problems. Instead, the political gap will be widened with unsubstantiated propaganda by people such as Ms. Ivins, and those in agreement will consider less and less the solutions, and continue to just dwell on the perceived problem. Are the pot and kettle around to witness this?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

What I want to be when I grow up...

Engineers are losers. I had an engineer tell a room full of engineers something very much to that effect today at a seminar I attended (did I mention I was an engineer?). Anyway, I don't know too many of us who really enjoy our jobs - we tolerate them due to decent pay and reliable work schedules that allow us to have pretty normal lives. However, the work is pretty taxing, is often stressful due to a regular dose of deadlines, and in many instances it's pretty boring stuff. The quote from the speaker today was (I'm paraphrasing), "so-and-so developed a slick product for a particular application on these types of projects. He used to be an engineer, but became a contractor when he discovered that engineers die broke and contractors make all the bucks." Well, that really made me want to stay in that room as the feelings of contempt for my profession rushed through me for the first time in about 3 weeks. I usually attribute my decision to becoming and engineer to the belief that every guidance counselor in America received a memo in the mid-80's that said that they needed to push the engineering profession on anyone who even knew how to spell Calculus. We were duped. The sales pitch usually involved some statement that engineers made some of the best salaries of any profession right out of college. That is entirely true. The rest of the facts were withheld - the ones that showed that engineers' incomes only rose at the rate of inflation after that, and that they were not likely to get rich, even with very hard work. Very hard work is inherent in the field, and college curriculums are demanding to prepare you for the rigors. Well, I suppose I'll always have a little job security, but I really need to not look into the future and realize that I won't ever be able to retire - and 40 hour work weeks are going with me to the grave. It seems that switching occupations is an option - unfortunately, once an engineer... yada-yada... sigh...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

HIlton Head

It's my last night of a short stay in Hilton Head, SC visiting some relatives. Attended the MCI Heritage golf tournament which was played on the immaculate Harbor Town Golf Links (the one w/ the fake lighthouse on the last hole). I will be playing this course next year, before the prices get ridiculous - the greens fees are still a reasonable $260.

I discovered something very encouraging on this trip - old people party, and they can party pretty hard. Hilton Head is a combination resort/retirement community filled with a plethora of folks that are semi-retired, thus are still pretty active in their lives and not yet counting if they have all their pills for this hour's dose. It has a very vibrant social scene for the 50+ crowd, most of whom have been quite successful and thus have quite interesting backgrounds. Cocktail hour starts at first consciousness, it seems, and ends soon before that. But at the same time, it's a quiet, orderly, and perfectly manicured locale. It's not the liveliest area for people my age, but I'm an old soul, and I can appreciate what they have going on here - it's almost a fraternity and sorority atmosphere where many of the same dick jokes are told. It's funny how some things don't change in life. Either a majority of these folks have never grown up, or the place just brings out the kid in everyone. I'll reserve talking about the price tag in hopes that we can all imagine that we will be in a similar place in our golden years.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

sAIN'T John

I know a few folks who have abandoned the Catholic Church, most with an unwavering conviction to never participate again. Whether you agree with their beliefs or not, it's easy to respect their decisions if they are consistent about it. Then there is John Kerry, who has regularly taken positions on both sides of issues, including his religion. He's acting Catholic, yet protesting against the Church at the same time. Throw in a little grandstanding...

...it was the Kerry campaign's idea to look for ways to highlight the candidate's rebellious position in the church by looking for a conservative diocese or parish that would refuse him communion in front of press...

.... and what have you got?....a damned opportunist. Is there a worst kind of person in the world? He plays up his Vietnam experience and argues that he's a patriot, yet he was a very vocal opponent of the war; he has supported, then opposed, then supported, then (what's today, Wednesday?... ok) supported again the Iraq war... I'll refrain from mentioning allegations that he makes moves on the rich widows of his closest Senatorial colleagues months after they die in plane crashes...

I realize he's floating alot of trial balloons in preparation for the presidential race, and has been reluctant to take a stand on anything. It's apparent to me that he really has nothing to stand on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

People from Tennessee are Smart

It's always encouraging to see government in action, doing the right thing. In a landmark vote, the Tennessee state senate has voted to allow its citizens to let their dogs ride unleashed in the backs of their pickups. Were these poor senators really forced to spend time on this subject? Chalk one up for the childless granola-crunchers and other weenies in the world acting on their misdirected emotions towards animals - they had their say - and actually almost won. I'm glad that dogs in Tennessee will remain unrestrained in their pickups. They remain in control of their own well-being while riding, and won't be subject to potential strangulation by their leashes. We've already been down the road of airbag legislation, and have witnessed the consequences - here is just one example.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Love it or Leave it, Ted

I need a little help. What would compel Ted Kennedy to exclaim "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country needs a new president"? Jonah Goldberg tried to answer this in National Review Online. He makes several great points about all of the destructive elements of this type of language. Kennedy's outburst is yet another example of the Left pointing fingers without offering substantive solutions. It's also an example of the dangers inherent in today's internet age. Teddy may have only been trying to send a skewed statement to the Democratic constituency, but it also instantly ended up in media outlets throughout the world for both our friends and enemies to observe. Whether he intended to or not, Sen. Kennedy did our country a disservice by undermining the authority of the Bush administration. Couldn't he just offer a little bit of support while expressing his dissatisfaction? No, old Ted just decided to tell the world that Bush is an incompetent that apparently has radically different views than a majority of Americans. Nice work. I'm glad he's doing his part to keep our troops out of harm's way, and trying to stick up for our policy of promoting democracy in the world. Do you think he speaks French? If so, I suggest he go use it somewhere permanently...


New baseball rule - whenever a current player reaches a significant record, he has to validate the achievement by submitting a urine sample. I'm not saying I'm suspicious of Barry Bonds' last 400 home runs, or so, but dude used to be as big as Chris Rock. He matched his Godfather's (Willie Mays') career total in home runs (660) today, so there is a reason to believe he reached the record legitimately. I can't imagine he would be able to live with himself with a hall-of-famer so involved with his life. Then again, how big can an ego get? Is there a measuring system? I'm afraid there will be a day in the not-so-distant future when a whole bunch of asterisks are going to be showing up in the baseball record books qualifying how the records were arrived at.

Hitting Home

It's fairly easy for most Americans to read the news as casual observers, not really being affected by the incident being reported. Reading the following headline gives me a bit of a chill since I have a step-brother doing contract work in Basra. In case you didn't know (you would have trouble finding this in the mainstream press), there are areas of Iraq that are actually being successfully rebuilt, and the citizens are very grateful. My stepbrother, in a purely mercenary move ($600 per diem, tax free), accepted a contract position to re-build the power grid in southern Iraq. His work has been a resounding success, as his outfit, escorted everywhere by British soldiers, has nearly completed their work - nearly 2 months ahead of schedule. There has been the occasional instance of sabotage on their work, but things in general have gone very well. There is no telling whether the infrastructure will be secure when the troops and contractors have picked up and left, but that will be determined by the will of the populous. The news out of Iraq seems to constantly be negative - people living normal lives without incident don't make a good story. The news from my step-brother counters most of what the public hears in the news. I am encouraged by what he has to report. But I will certainly be more encouraged when he has returned home.

How a Dog Forgets its Homework

The following story would have been a little more interesting if a cat were involved (read story). I'm still glad someone in the world made the effort to write 4 lines about such an event. Do you suppose the writer works for Hallmark full time and has forgotten how to make a point that is not succinct?

Lefty Wins

I remember the day I became a Phil Mickelson fan. It was at the Players Championship being played at Southern Hills in Tulsa. I was wandering the course with my buddy, and came upon Phil and Nick Faldo - that's a pair worth watching. As we walked around, we noticed a very cute blonde girl walking the same holes with us, but watching the action alone - we couldn't help talking to her at some point, and found out it was Phil's fiance, Amy. It was at that point that we also witnessed quite an impressive ring on her hand. What a great person - it was apparent that she was in no way ever going to become a golf widow. She talked as if Phil was simply out playing a casual round w/ the guys instead of doing it for a living. There was no doubt that he had established a great balance between his career and his personal life. Some may have questioned his competitiveness in his lack of winning a major up until this point. Perhaps there is some truth there. But, there has never been questioning of his talent, and it finally won out. In a profession where devotion to the craft is typically treated as the utmost time-consuming priority, it's wonderful to see somebody succeed on their own terms. Congratulations Lefty for winning the Masters - now go win the grand slam.

Happy After Easter

So how did you spend your day celebrating the resurrection of Christ? Did you hit any of those great sales? I hope so - Jesus is always satisfied when his congregation is getting a good deal. More importantly, did you spend some time with your family? If I had one, I'm sure it would have been a priority - instead, I worked - and pondered my position in life. I should probably have a wife and kids by now, but I really don't feel fit for that endeavor. I probably have to get a date first, huh? Anyway, I'm a proponent of marriage, but not for religious reasons. The proposed marriage amendment is a bad idea - laws are made to be broken, and the perceived "threat" of gay marriage is quite silly. The threat of a loveless marriage is much more severe. There seems to be a bunch of them - see divorce statistics. I was certainly a product of one, so I've learned to not pursue marriage for the sake of getting married. The government really has no business promoting marriage in any form unless it provides a definition of what marriage should entail, and how it is beneficial to the country - which it undeniably is. The statistics indicate that people are becoming less and less dedicated to maintaining their marriages. The persistent advocating of individualism throughout our society is surely an influence in this trend. If the government wants to get involved, its role should entail the promotion of the benefits of marriage, not defining who should be excluded. People might feel a little more compelled to stay married realizing it's for the sake of the country. It's at least a tangible measure of commitment outside of the personal relationship. The Fear of God no longer seems to be up to the task.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

not much to say - yet

I'm having difficulty devoting time to this site, despite the fact that all I have is time. Work has been getting in the way, as I have a million things to do before I take a little trip next week. I might have the world's worst attention span, so completing anything, unless I have complete quiet and nothing in my vicinity to distract me, seems to be quite a chore. Recently, I've discovered this to be even more of a problem. For the past several months I have been trying to fill some voids in my life by constantly trying new activities, including this blog. Among my other current endeavors is learning to play the mandolin, re-learning Spanish, keeping up with current events through magazine subscriptions and voracious scouring of the internet, skiing (soon to switch to hiking), fixing up my condo (lots to do), short vacations (about every 3 months), pencil drawing, digital photography, tricking out my bad-ass new Toyota 4Runner (got into a wreck in January, and bought something very inexpensive and sensible - it's actually neither of those), reading some of the dozen books I have in a 6-month-old pile, and.... oh, yeah, throw in that job (I've been averaging 50-hour weeks since the beginning of the year). Anyway, I seem to have been purposely exhausting myself and filling in free time w/ wanton activities to avoid my life, which at this point should probably include a wife and kids. A family actually isn't a priority of mine, since I've unfortunately recognized after several failed relationships over the last decade that I am probably one of the least suited people I know for getting married. I pretty much suck at relationships (more on this another day, perhaps) so for the past several years I have tended to nip the whole process in the bud and haven't dated very much. When a relationship doesn't work out, I get hypercritical of myself - not from disappointment that it didn't lead to marriage, but probably more for the fact that I failed at something. It still makes me feel awful, but it usually has much less to do with the other person than it does with the realization that I really suck at something. Unfortunately, I'm one who avoids doing things that I suck at, so here I am in my current state... At least I'm not bored. This is bound to evolve into a commentary on the proposed Marriage Amendment, but it will have to wait... Back to work... Oh - Happy Easter...

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Cooked Rice

The Bush administration seems to have taken a pretty big hit today - Condi was frank about the information that was available pre-9/11, which appears to have presented a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Her testimony made it clear that the administration was aware that something was definitely up on the terrorism front. Enough so that many people are quite convinced that the government could have actually done something about it. Was there actually anything that could have been done, short of arresting all of the suspected individuals that the various agencies had on record that were potential perpetrators? The "20th Terrorist", Moussoui (remind me to check that spelling) keeps being used as an example as one that should have been brought in - he was actually investigated by the FBI when he was taking flying lessons in Minnesota, and was strongly suspected to be up to something. But would that have changed anything? The point is, nobody has come up with any solid suggestions for what could have been done to prevent what happened. I think Condi realized this at the time, and tried to make that point today. Many will perceive her performance as an attempt to cover for the administration. She wasn't really covering anything, she just provided an unapologetic statement of what was known, and a practical admittance that they couldn't reasonably act on anything that they knew. I accept that. They simply didn't want to act on speculation. Perhaps recognizing the failure of not acting at that time is what prompted the move into Iraq, which was largely driven by speculation that we were on the verge of being attacked with WMD's. That doesn't seem to have worked out too well for the administration, either.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

What a Bargain...

Here's an example of the government playing by the rules, regardless of how absurd the rules appear to be (read article). The government has sold the mining company Phelps Dodge Corporation a nice little plot of land near Crested Butte, CO. for the exhorbitant sum of - $875, or $5 per acre. Even I can almost affort that. Unfortunately, I don't have the means to extract molybdenum from the ground, thus I can't make an offer. We are reminded in this case that our country has been around for a little while, and our means of living and our lifestyle choices have changed a bit over time. When the laws were created that allowed such sweet deals between the government and mining companies, it was certainly in the nation's interest to take advantage of its natural resources during the industrial revolution as we established ourselves as a worldwide economic player. At that time, the land designated for potential sale was perceived to be inaccessible wastelands, thus an attractive price was set to lure companies with the capacity to mine the land to make the attempt. Today, much of the same land is perceived to be invaluable for the purposes of recreation and spectacle. The laws have not kept up with this transformation in land use. It's easy to blame the government for not dealing with these issues appropriately, but I see them playing the hand that they were dealt. They simply don't have the manpower to deal with these issues - remember that they operate on our dime, and budgetary decisions have resulted in an understaffed BLM. If they are offered what appears to be a credible application for a mining operation, it is their only obligation to consider national interests first - mining of natural resources fulfills a national interest economically and in our defense needs, regardless of the public's perception of the mining company's real motivation. These days, the odds of developing a functioning mine are pretty slim, so the furor created by the environmentalists is unfounded. The fact that the property is legally undervalued is significant in this regard - not enough of the population has cared over the years to do anything about it. This is still the case. The priveledged few who can appreciate the land will fight and fight to keep it undisturbed and open to the public. Most people would consider this a worthy cause - but in a nation full of worthy causes, just where does this stack up?

This is going to turn into yet another bullet-point item that opponents to the Bush administration will use to try to kick him out of office. Fine - kick away. There have been HOW many presidents since the 1870s? Isn't it also their fault for letting our land management issues get to this point?

Monday, April 05, 2004

The 'burbs

Finally, a chance to slow down the rapid influx of people into Colorado from neighboring states (read article). While not a overwhelming trend at this point, there are signs that people may once again find some attraction in living in small rural areas, away from large metropolitan areas. Granted, there are some amazing incentives that are currently in place in several regions of the plains to try to re-establish populations. But the quality of life in these areas is likely to be very good, and quite appealing. Unlike the areas of the country still in decay, where the trend of depopulation continues, the areas receiving financial incentives will be inhabited by motivated citizens, more ambitious than most, who realize that they have a genuine opportunity to manage their lives as they wish. I believe this trend will continue, as people become more displeased with their situations in rapidly growing cities. Have you seen what it costs to live in the suburbs these days? I'll be back with some statistics...

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Outta the money

So concludes a pretty unproductive day. I've been in the midst of housework for about a year and a half now. Seems like things keep getting in the way of progress... like the NCAA basketball Final Four games (am I still allowed to write that without having to pay CBS?). No, I wasn't there in person, but I had a reservation for one on my ragged futon, accompanied by a couple of Anderson Valley ESB's and some savory tortilla chips. Well, I think watching the paint dry I had applied earlier in the day would have been a little more exciting that the Duke-UCONN game. Sure, it's always fun to see Duke lose, and it was particularly great to watch a shocked Coach K lose it at the end of the game and see him resort to screaming at the refs to call a foul or two in their favor. But, it was apparent at the end of the game that the officials had worn their whistles out. What should have been a great up-tempo game between two star-filled teams turned into a free throw shooting contest in-between commercials. I'm having a difficult time remembering an instance in the game where a complete minute of play occurred without a whistle. Perhaps I've become a bit of a basketball curmudgeon, but the game was nearly unwatchable, despite the drama at the end of the contest. Either I've matured a bit, and I realized that there were more productive things I could have been doing... or the referees inadvertently took control of the game, took the outcome away from the kids, and made it utterly uninteresting... it was the most disappointing experience I've had watching a basketball game in several years...

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Air America Radio

It's certainly difficult to distinguish yourself from others in the world - it seems like we've all been there and done that. But shouldn't people at least try a little to be creative in their ventures? The liberal counter-network to conservative talk shows is finally up and running - Air America Radio. It's currently only broadcast in 6 markets in the U.S. - mine isn't one of them. Al Franken is considered the main spokesperson and talent for the network. He would presumably be the "smart" one in the group and have the most compelling set of ideas to make their stated case, which is to promote the Democratic Party all day, every day up until the election in November. They must have something to say about the party if they've gone through the trouble of putting a network together. Perhaps they can stir a little debate and present some new and bold ideas. So let's see what Franken's show is called: The O'Franken Factor. Boy, is that clever. It seems to be, although I'm not entirely sure, a take-off of the name for conservative Bill O'Reilly's program, The O'Reilly Factor. I dare you to say "The O'Franken Factor" out loud without laughing. Are you kidding me? Is this really the best the left-leaning folks have to offer? I'm still waiting for an original thought from Franken - he has been making a living leeching off of others' ideas, and then berating them. Never is a counterpoint uttered by him - he simply bashes someone else's ideas by twisting them into jokes. Using someone else's program name for your own is, well, pretty lazy. Al is not very smart. How he has gotten to this level in the media is a little perplexing - is nobody from the left challenging him? Do the Democrats really support this guy? I hope I never have the chance to listen to his program - something tells me I will have already heard it.