Monday, November 19, 2012

Long Distance Call

I had an interesting phone call over the weekend. I spoke with someone that I have known through various virtual media for some time but had never held a real conversation.

I was a little nervous. At times in the past I have made comments/expressed opinions that really annoyed this person. And this person pulled no punches once and really blasted me. That's okay. At times I think we try to be too nice for the sake of not rocking the boat and the expense of dialogue and honesty.

I enjoyed the call. It helped me fill in some gaps of knowledge, erase some assumptions, and confirm others. I had the chance top get some of my questions answered. It made my night. I wonder what this person, who I do claim as a friend, got from the call? I suppose it is not for me to know, ultimately.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review (Brief)

The last time I was in the local library I saw this book on one of those shelves were books are displayed covers out rather than neatly organized in the stacks. I am glad that librarians go this effort. If they did not, I and I imagine many others would miss out on a number of good reads, this one included.

Karen Fisher-Alaniz's father, Murray, served in the USN in WWII. He was, ostensibly, a radio operator in Hawaii for the duration of the war. At least that was his story, if asked. But one day Karen was given a stack of letters that her grandmother had saved, the correspondence her father had written home during his time away from home.

What unfolds is a daughter's discovery of her father's real contribution to the war effort as well as an old man's battles with PTSD. I found it to be heartwarming and quite the page turner.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Political Hangover

I am a bit of a political junkie. Early in my post-college career I was offered a post with some friends to help manage and run a political campaign with a number of college friends for a contender for a seat in the House. It was a tempting thought. The fellows who were forming this team were incredibly bright and we had spent countless hours in college in class together arguing and even more outside of class doing the same, discussing both political theory and practice.

I had been very active in campus politics for my four years at university.And yet I declined the offer. I had a job of sorts and didn't want to take the risk. My friends went on to win the campaign, and two of the five are still very much involved in politics One is major wheel in local politics in our college town, the other is a smaller fish in the D.C. pond but has found his niche and has built a couple of nice companies and is what one might call "financially secure."

These days I follow politics, but my interest waxes and wains, depending on the season, the politicians and the issues. Neither of the major party candidates excited me, but the issues of the day certainly do. It seems that as a nation we are becoming increasingly polarized on issues and that our leaders are unwilling to compromise and broker deals.

That's a shame.

Politics does have winners and losers, but it is not a zero sum game. If we constantly bully  and push the 'other' around then what kind of system are we building? I had hoped (in vain) that the Libertarian party would break the 5% threshold this year and become a national voice and a viable option to the two parties in power. I have looked at some of the parliamentary systems with their multiple, fractious parties and see some value to those systems, although they are not without their flaws. But it does seem that in those systems the brokering of deals among groups becomes more important for getting things done.

On a side note, how different might presidential politics be if more states opted for proportional representation in  the electoral college rather than a "winner takes all" approach? Only two states don't use this approach but it might certainly get the nation a step closer to the notion of the a truly popular vote to elect the president, if that is what one wants.

Enough of politics for now. I still do have a bit of a news hangover.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jud's Movie Reviews of the Week

I have a DVD player and occasionally watch a movie on long car trips. This weekend I took just such a trip and had the occasion to watch three films.

The Avengers - big budget, Josh Whedon super-hero movie. It was a nice, if long, romp.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a fun, if somewhat predictable comedy. The story follows a diverse group of British pensioners that move to a retirement community in India. An amazing cast, a decent script and a delightful setting make this a fun film.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - another romantic 'comedy'. Follows the hair-brained scheme to bring salmon fishing to the high desert in the Yemen. Delightful fun. Oh, and Kristin Scott Thomas had a nice role and she makes my heart go pitter-patter.