Monthly Archives: August 2006

Feeling morally, intellectually confused?

Donald H. Rumsfeld, our Secreaty of Defense gave a speech Tuesday to the American Legion post in Salt Lake City. The text of the speech can be found here. 

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann wrote about Rumsfeld’s speech. Here’s an excerpt from Olbermann’s article:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

 

Click here for the full article.

 

 

 

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The MySpace Experiment

Jerry Pournelle, one of the tech industry’s venerable pundits (who also claims to have started the first blog), was a guest on This Week In Tech a couple of weeks ago. As an almost offhand remark, he mentioned that he has a fictitious character on MySpace. He’s a 13-year-old girl. He mentioned that it’s somewhat disturbing to read some of the comments his character receives on MySpace.
Now this could be interpreted a numbver of ways, but I took it as an interesting opportunity for some first-hand sociological research.
The scenario: set up MySpace account, posing as a teenage girl, to see if it’s possible to make friends, establish an on-line persona successfully.

I plan to do this primarily because I have young daughters who will grow up in the Internet Age. I want to have first hand experience with what sorts of dangers my kids may be facing in the future so I can be a more informed parent. I feel part of my job as a parent is to protect my kids, of course, but also to know as much as I can about the things they will find interesting. By informing myself, I believe that I’ll be better able to make smart decisions about how to educate my children.

When I was  a kid, the biggest dangers I faced were the school bully and falling off my bike. The Internet, for my kids, will open up opportunities for learning, and viewing the world in a global sense, but it will also open them up to dangers that my parents never had to think about. In the spirit of taking the good with the bad, I’m going to conduct some research into what might be out there. I’ll report the results and findings here.

If you have any sugggestions, I’d love to hear them!

-CA

On Profit and The Bible

Bob Pritchett wrote a book recently that has received some notoriety. It’s called “Fire Someone Today (And Other Surprising Tactics for Making Your Business a Success).” In addition to being an author, Bob is a successful entrepreneur. He claims to have started his first business at age six, and is currently president and CEO of Logos, the largest developer of Bible software.

The bible says a lot of things about a lot of things, and one would presume that someone who runs a company devoted to making it easier to study the bible would also be a devotee of its message.

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous. The bible and business have long had an interesting relationship, and a great many people have used biblical principles as justification for advancing their careers and making a profit. But when I see such an obvious example as the one I found on Bob’s Web site the other day, I’m troubled.

Click here. Now maybe Bob’s just being cute. And I’m sure this kind of humor is very popular among business readers who feel that the Profit Motive is one of the highest callings imaginable. This web site, which Bob calls an “Interactive Business Tool … Just For Fun!!!” Asks readers a simple question:

“Is It Profitable?”

If the user clicks “No”, the interactive tool answers “Don’t Do It.”

If the user click “Yes”, the tool says “Consider It.”

This message seems to go directly counter to the overarching message of the bible Pritchett makes his money on.

I’m no biblical scholar, but I seem to hear a lot about biblical messages of charity and giving. And I seems to recollect that it says a lot about the evils of avarice and greed.

To Mr. Pritchett, I would say that there are a great many things that are not “profitable” that should be done. Providing health coverage is not profitable. Paying people a livable wage is not profitable.

And this is precisely why companies like Wal-Mart are so profitable. Because they’ve taken the advice and philosophies of people like Bob Pritchett too literally: if it’s not profitable, they don’t do it.

But even if the company doesn’t pay for those things, the burdens are shifted to the rest of us.

While that may be profitable, how can it be right and just? And what does the bible have to say about these immmoral practices, Mr. Pritchett?

Using all the letters

You probably remember the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” as being the shortest meaningful sentence that uses all the characters in the Germanic alphabet.

We recently discovered the following, more “grown-up” alternative, which accomplishes the same task:

“Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”

Something in the water?

Is there something in the water, or is this a new job search method being taught somewhere? I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve received ANOTHER one of those grossly informal cover letters. I appreciate that these candidates are eager and want desperately to stand out, but this is not the way to go about it. Again, I’ve changed the name to protect the innocent offender.

To Whom It May Concern:

I don’t like to boast, but I am not one of the perky multitude whose cover letters are full of adjectives like eager, enthusiastic, and energetic. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if you’re reading about a person, or a puppy. I prefer the more traditional traits of resourcefulness, determination, and creativity.

I am interested in the [intern] position you recently advertised. I am a recent graduate with a degree in writing, and I am especially interested in pursuing a career in promotions and advertising.

My experience in the field has been limited to freelance and internship work on a small scale, but it has been positive experience. I am comfortable working with minimal direction, though I also understand that this is a highly collaborative business. I learn quickly, and have some experience in graphic design and film production.

Thank you for your consideration. I will include one or two short writing samples to counter-balance my sparse resume. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jason Ludwig

New trend in job hunting?

I hope not.

I’ve recently posted an internship position. I’m looking for someone with some experience (so they have a rough idea what is going on), but not too much (so they become opinionated and arrogant). Someone who’s dependable and resourceful. I’m looking for someone who will take direction without needing to hold my hand. Sound familiar? Everyone who’s hiring an intern is looking for this person.

I’m looking primarily for someone with a bit of humility, and someone who knows the game of job hunting and knows how to play it. I want this because it shows me that the candidate understands the value of convention and process.

This morning, I received the following cover letter from a would-be candidate. I’ve changed his name to protect his identity. But I want his mistakes to serve as a lesson to all of you who are looking for internships. This guy has just graduated from college, and in my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be so informal. If you want to stand out and be different, then work on the quality of your writing, work on your spelling and usage. Above all, don’t try to be cute.

Read his letter, and don’t write anything like it. (Note: The only words I have changed are the author’s name. The rest is posted here exactly as written by the candidate.)

**************************
To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Jonny Callison and I am your man. With the utmost confidence I can guarantee amongst the sea of applicants you may be receiving, none have the personal drive that I myself hold. I have a personal record of obtaining the job I want after every interview I have had. You see, once you meet me face to face, it’s hard to deny my enthusiasm for learning the ins and outs of the company. I am a fresh out of college kid who is ready to be molded and sculpted to perform any task at hand.

I have worked several retail possessions in the past which have taught me a great deal about multitasking, handling extremely stressful situations all while holding on to my patented smile. The area that I most excel in is small group interactions. I tend to take charge in situations to lead successful discussions. My years studying communications have taught me a great deal how to react to any communication situation, getting those who would feel otherwise uncomfortable in interactions to speak their valid opinions. I know how to motivate everyone around me and I know how to ask questions. It seems to me that in today’s world, people in general have become too proud to admit they need help. If I am unsure of a point, I will ask for help.

I have perfect attendance with showing up to work on time, because my work ethic has taught me when you have a responsibility, your personal life goes out the door. When there is a task at hand, you complete that task as soon as possible. On top of all these personal attributes, I am an extremely fun person to have around. Despite my own horn tooting this letter has been, I am a very modest person with a terrific sense of humor. People love to work with me, because I am able to maintain a positive, fun nature about me without affecting my professionalism. I am the best worker you will ever come across, and I have a list of references that would easily back up this statement. All that I need from you now is a chance. Once I’m in the door, you will see how true these points are. You needn’t look any further, you’ve found Jon Callison.

Thank you!

Universal Airport Wi-Fi Now!

SALT LAKE – 5:30 p.m. August 10, 2006

Dateline Salt Lake City International Airport. Sometimes I think it’s a shame we live in a capitalist nation. The fact that wireless internet access is so cheap to offer makes it perfectly suited to offering at a ridiculous cost ($10 per day in this airport… at that rate, my home internet would cost over 300 bucks a month). The ISPs are cashing in.

 

Of course, it goes without saying that the people who travel and use laptops in airports are the same people who can afford to pay ten bucks for a brief internet connection. So I should be able to afford to pay to send the emails sitting in my inbox right now. But I don’t want to. That’s my point. I don’t think I should have to, especially in an airport.

 

I think it should be part of the deal. Part of the ticket price, maybe. The airlines could easily afford to shell out a few bucks out of the millions of tickets they sell each year to provide free wi-fi in all airports in which they provide commercial service. It would be a welcome and inexpensive perk that many travelers would enjoy. It’s not like it would be a cost-intensive build-out, the bandwidth is already in place, serving te ticketing and reservation systems and the countless other IT services provided to the airport’s permanent customers.

 

For those of us who pass through and have time on our hands, it would be nice to just turn on the computer and send some email without having to line the pockets of the monopolizing ISPs.

 

 

 

 

I missed my flight

SALT LAKE – 5:10 pm

 

I missed my flight. On accident.

 

I’ve never done this before. I’ve traveled all over this country and a bit in Europe as well, and never missed a flight unless there were mitigating circumstances (a late arrival, for instance) or I deliberately intended to do so.

 

This time, I was just blithely sitting in the food court when at 4:40 I looked at my cell phone and thought “Holy crap! My flight leaves in 5 minutes”. You see I had a 4:45 departure here in Salt Lake and my connecting flight had arrived at 3:50. I had PLENTY of time. I was wandering around, window shopping, having a sandwich, enjoying the view. And I just totally missed the flight. I have no one to blame but myself.

 

I just hope they can get me on the next one, which is the last one before tomorrow morning. I really did not intend to spend the night in Salt Lake. In fact, I try to spend as little time here as humanly possible. We’ll see if I get lucky. I’m on the standby list.

 

UPDATE at 6:02 PM. I managed to find the Worlds’ Niceset And Most Helpful Ticketing Agent. He graciously agreed to sign my ticket over to United Airlines, who had seats available. On my way to Denver! Yay! I don’t have to spend the night in The City of The Blue Vatican!

On attending a high school reunion … as a spouse.

I’ve just attended my wife’s high school reunion. This was a new experience for me.

 

It has to be one of the peculiar experiences of life. There you are, shaking hands with people you’ve never met, and aren’t likely to see again for at least ten years, and your wife knows them all. In most cases, it isn’t like they’re good friends of each other. They just remember each other as they were. It’s vaguely surreal.

 

A few observations, from a complete outsider:

 

The first thing I noticed: Ladies, you look GREAT! Almost without exception, all the women look terrific. They’ve dressed well, they have for the most part taken care of themselves, and everyone looks fabulous.

 

Right after that, I noticed how many guys have shaved their heads. I have to give it to these guys. They’re losing their hair, and they’re not ashamed, they’re going for it, just shave it off. On most guys, it actually looks pretty good. It made me feel fortunate to have my genetics, however… I have more hair now than some of these guys had when they graduated from High School. Even so, to all my brethren who are getting plugs, or trying regrowth medications, I say “take a cue from the cue ball.” There’s no shame in losing your hair.

 

Then I became aware of the poor spouses. The spouses began to trickle out (as did I) fairly early in the evening. Before they left, they lurked supportively in the corners of the room, nodding friendly acknowledgements to one another. A faint camaraderie, but no real conversation. They’re all good sports, coming along to a dreadful event where (at least to some degree) their husband or wife will revert to some semblance of their 18-year-old self and hoot and holler and scream and giggle. In many cases, the reuinioners seemed almost to forget that they came in with someone.

 

But that seems to be what a reunion is all about. A reunion may be the closest thing to a true fountain of youth. At your reunion, except for a few extra pounds and a bit less hair, it’s as if no time has passed. It’s preferable that most of these people don’t figure prominently in your life, because you can revisit your youth once every ten years or so, and everyone will take you as you were.

 

I’m looking forward to my next one.