While these should be wide-ranging views on a variety of topics, they will likey revolve around movies, technology, gadgets and the Green Bay Packers.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Time to create my 2010 Christmas playlist

Here is my list from last year – thought I posted it here, but I guess not. Looking to find my favorite 20 songs for this year. I have not decided if I will allow duplicates or not.

Christmas Songs for 2009

Stay tuned for updates…

Netflix = Clean

I love Netflix. Great selection of movies and TV shows online. Get a disc when I can’t find something online. The thing I really love is the condition of the disks. Redbox is fast and convenient, albeit with a smaller selection, but the disc quality varies dramatically.

I’m assuming Netflix runs the disks through a cleaner of some sort when they receive them. Everyone looks great and does not have a collection of fingerprints and other smudges of questionable origin. This is not the case with Redbox or BlockBuster.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Profile Pic…

I believe I selected that when I created this blog. Been a fan of the show for awhile and just saw the movie today. It was fun, they did a very good job of brining the series to live action.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Down Under Follow-up

I have a friend who recently visited Australia and was able to obtain a few books from the series (Ranger’s Apprentice) that have not yet made it to the US. Very cool as I am now almost caught up.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Made a difference did I

Got this in the mail today, was surprised since it was so long ago (see two posts down).

Dear Earth Hour Supporter,

Please excuse me if this thank you note seems a bit impersonal, but the fact is I really owe millions of thank yous – 50 million to be exact. That’s 50 million amazing people, including you, who took part in Earth Hour 2008, and switched off their lights for one hour to show they care about our living planet. Thank you!

By taking part this past March 29th, you helped make Earth Hour 2008 an extraordinary success by any measure – and there were plenty. In fact, here’s a short recap by the numbers:

  • Some 50 million people around the world switched off their lights for one hour
  • More than 370 cities, towns and municipalities took part
  • Earth Hour was held in more than 35 countries across all seven continents, including Antarctica, covering 18 different time zones

All told, Earth Hour was the biggest voluntary power down in history; this simple act not only heightened awareness about the challenges of climate change, but also inspired individuals and businesses to take practical action to reduce their own carbon footprint. The event exceeded all of our expectations to bring attention to the issue of climate change. But while Earth Hour was an incredible achievement, there is still much to do for our environment every day.

And that’s the mission of World Wildlife Fund, the group behind Earth Hour.

As the largest multinational conservation organization in the world, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.

I welcome you to learn more about WWF and ways to support our great work by visiting our website at www.worldwildlife.org.

Again, thanks for helping to make Earth Hour 2008 such an incredible success.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Moss
Vice President and Managing Director, Climate Change



Well, here we go again. After a painful Guzzlefish death came light with DVDSpot. The Spot was a nice place to track DVD's as well as have fun with the community. All was well until today. I haven't been to the site for a few weeks and visit today only to discover it's shutting down tomorrow. Tomorrow! Well, in one sense they at least made a decision and did it quickly. But on the other hand, it blows.

There is a refugee forum that was created to help keep a sense of community. This helps. And now back to the eternal quest - the best way to maintain a DVD collection.

I'm open to ideas...


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Make a difference tonight...I am

From http://www12.earthhourus.org/

On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.

Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. View cities involved around the world.

We invite everyone throughout North America and around the world to turn off the lights for an hour starting at 8 p.m. (your own local time)–whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.

What will you do when the lights are off? We have lots of ideas.

Join people all around the world in showing that you care about our planet and want to play a part in helping to fight climate change. Don’t forget to sign up and let us know you want to join Earth Hour.

One hour, America. Earth Hour. Turn out for Earth Hour!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Cotton" Trees

There is a small one or two week period in the spring that I love and as an added bonus usually pops up as a surprise to me. The Bradford Pear flowers in the spring bradford flowering pearwith white buds that when I first saw them reminded me of cotton - hence my nickname. A good year will have the flowers stay for a good two week, with bright, full tree coverage. They then begin growing green leaves and resemble a normal tree.

It is really a nice surprise when they bloom in spring. I am aware that they will do this each year, of course, but I tend to forget when it will happen. This is a very popular tree in my area (and in most that are hospitable to the tree) and makes for a truly splendid viewing. This year was a little different as we had a rare snow storm. I was enjoying the snowy look of our town and thought that was a lot of snow on the trees. As I looked more closely, I realized that my cotton trees were blooming as well. It was cool seeing the whole area white, then as the snow melted the Bradford Pears trees in full bloom. Some are still blooming now - this is truly a great year!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

United States Imperialism?

I've read and heard much about America's imperialistic designs. From the war in Iraq to our military bases around the world (Gitmo, Okinawa, etc.). I'm not a scholar on this topic, but my question is this: What does it mean to be imperialistic? Clearly we have periods in history that help define this. Countries and rulers built empires. These had a common "look and feel". The army came, conquered and stayed. There may have been a local government - but it had a formal, subservient relationship to the empire in question. The goal was clear - the country had resources or some other intrinsic value to the empire (which could be as simple as wanting to rule everywhere) so the empire kept it. In time, all empires fell. Too much ground to cover with too few resources combined with a determined local population leads to a shrinking empire. It is interesting to note that even after the empires shrink, some countries still retain a loose association with the "empire". Canada and Australia are independent but yet retain ties (recognize the crown?) to England.

So back to America. What is America doing in the places we remain? Are we in charge of host country? No. Do we want to be? No. Do we gain anything from being there? Yes and No. Yes, there is some reason we are there - usually this involves a strategic military location. Having troops available to jump into some remote hotspot. Do we enjoy special favor with the country? Do they recognize the US or President as leadership for their country? No. Not even close. We pay to be in these locations. We normally have to bend over to appease the local country to remain (rightly so as we are requesting the right to stay). I won't get into the reason or perceived reason we need to be there in the first place, but the fact remains we desire to have a US presence there.

Definition according to dictionary.com


–noun 1. the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies. 

Now, according to the definition above, my understanding seems right. People are misusing the term imperialism. However, a closer examination of what this could mean has created another view.

Wikipedia discusses broadening the definition:

Currently, there is an effort to broaden the definition of "imperialism" so it applies to any instance of a greater power acting or being perceived to act at the expense of a lesser power. Including 'perception' in the definition makes it circular, solipsistic, and subjective. Under this broader definition, 'imperialism' not only describes colonial, territorial policies;but also describes economic dominance and influence.

European dominance of the east through economic exploitation and political rule, (as distinct from the word colonialism, which usually implied establishment of settler colonies often with slavery as the labor system), the word was coined in the mid-nineteenth century.

This is interesting and does seem like the next logical evolution of the more "colonial" definition. However, the question still remains, is the US acting with imperial intentions? I believe the answer is complex. America has long held the belief that democracy is the right way for people to live. We have no tolerance for dictators or oppressive rule. Early in the history of the country (no wise cracks here Europe - early relative to our existence<g>), we believed all people should live free but we didn't do much to help effect change. US foreign policy was directed by the Monroe Doctrine (which itself was formalized based on the reality of US behavior to that point). Essentially, we would not involve ourselves with international issues and wars unless the United States was pulled into an event or otherwise threatened. Isolationist is one of the terms used to describe America and this policy. It's interesting to note that there has always been two sides to this:

1. That's fine - stay out of others affairs.

2. That's no good - you have the means to help others - so do it!

There was a period where Roosevelt extended the "borders" of the doctrine to extended to Latin America. A few years later the Roosevelt Corollary was repealed. This lead to resentment from in Latin America where the term "America for Americans" was coined implying we are only interested in what's good for the United States. Anywhere you go, there are folks on either side.

For the most part, the Monroe Doctrine has guided American Foreign Policy since it's inception. Communism was seen as a major threat to America and as such, the Presidents extended and modified that doctrine accordingly with the main goal of either containing or defeating Communism. Things changed radically in the wake of 9/11. Here the Bush Doctrine was born. In my mind, this replaces completely the Monroe Doctrine and it's subsequent changes. It started with the assertion that countries that harbor terrorists would be considered terrorists themselves and subject to attack. Since we are at "war" with the terrorists, this could be viewed as a positive policy change. The notion of fighting a war in the traditional sense was gone. The Administration believed that this was the way to end the threat. The bigger, more controversial addition to his doctrine was the policy of preemption. This is basically a blank check to depose leaders in countries through force if they are a direct threat to the United States now or may be a threat in the future.

So let's bring this all the way back, is the US imperialistic? If you subscribe to the definition that Wikipedia has put forth, the answer is maybe. The US is definitely out there influencing world affairs. From peace keeping efforts in various locations to the liberation (yes, and all that that implies) of Iraq. But to say that the US has economic dominance seems like a stretch - certainly not in recent history.

At the end of the day, after all the discussion and debate, I have to ask myself, is this all worth it? Are the actions were taking good? Do they help the world at large? Even with the claims of imperialism and the poor world opinion of the US? The simple answer is yes. Using the lightening rod issue of today, you can't argue that Saddam was evil and needed to be removed. There was no change on the horizon from within. The fact that he was harboring terrorists allowed President Bush to invade for a different (and incorrect) reason still resulted in the removal of an oppressive, exploitative dictator making the world a better place. Now, are there issues with this? Absolutely. Strategy for withdrawal? Non-existent or at the very least not working as quickly as everyone would like. What does the future of the Bush Doctrine hold? This is unclear. That the upcoming election will result in change is clear, but how much is the question. The US has been put into the role of "World Cop" since WW I and has since helped make the world better. Period. Argue all you want, but the bottom line is that there is a net positive (I might argue big positive) result due to American involvement in broader affairs. Taking action creates change. Putting yourself out there incurs risk. Not all decisions are correct. Not all actions work as planned. But if you don't try, what's the point? You are simply taking up space and marking time.



As an aside, this was an interesting exercise. I didn't do weeks worth of exhaustive research, but rather leveraged what I already knew and infused some new content and ideas. Some of these thoughts have been bouncing around my head for awhile and just needed a spark to make me write them down. I was really looking to educate people on what imperialism means and to choose a different word/idea for their arguments. In the process I learned some interesting stuff. I still don't think America is imperialistic. Altruistic is not entirely correct either (we certainly have ambitions for making things better here as well) but in my heart that seems closer to our intent. Consider this Version 1.

The spark, for those interested, was the alleged rape an Okinawan child by a US Soldier. For the record, my stance is crystal clear. There are bad people everywhere and they must be held accountable for their actions. With that, innocent until proven guilty. If found guilty, penalize to the maximum (and yes, that includes local penalties). I really do expect our military be held to a higher standard where ever they are located. This may not be fair, but that's just the way it is.