Thursday: 27.January.2005

Auschwitz: 60th anniversary

Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Sixty years ago today, the Russian Red Army rolled into Auschwitz and liberated the infamous concentration camp from Nazi control. PBS is broadcasting a 6-part series (2 parts at a time) titled: Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.

I've seen the first 4 parts so far. This series is particularly interesting because it attempts to reveal the Nazi mindset behind Auschwitz and their reasons for trying to exterminate a whole race of people.

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I've always been interested in understanding how things work .. like a nuclear reactor, for example, which is why I enlisted in the Navy's nuclear power program. (Dumb reason, I later discovered.)

But one thing I've never really been able to grasp is the mindset behind the Nazi passion to exterminate the Jews, even their children. I mean, if someone wrongs me (and I've been wronged plenty of times) we will have words. We might go to court to settle things. If wronged badly enough, we might even come to blows.

But you would have to be *really* angry to go after a person's entire family. And then if you extrapolate this anger to an entire race .. well, I'm simply not able to fathom that kind of anger or hatred.

And it wasn't just one man (Hitler), or even his feared SS division, or the Nazi state as a whole, but it seems an entire nation felt this way, or at least a good majority of them. So it's difficult for me to dismiss the notion, as some say, that Auschwitz is the result of a single deranged madman (Hitler).

Rather these were educated, rational people who felt this way. American soldiers who fought the Germans in WWII described them as well-trained & well-disciplined. I mean, they came frighteningly close to taking over the entire world. You don't conquer the world with a nation of crackpots.

I have no answers today, just more questions. I have asked some online-friends who live in Germany about this (why did it happen, the Nazi mindset, the national anger), and they were likewise unable to provide satisfactory answers.

Anyway, that PBS special is excellent. I've never been to Auschwitz myself, but friends who've visited say it's eerie there .. that you can feel things. I would like to go sometime. I hear Poland is beautiful. Nizkor's Layman's guide to Auschwitz is posted here. As usual, Wikipedia did a nice job here.

Monday: 10.January.2005

US Nuclear sub runs aground

Been getting mail & phone calls asking, "Did you hear about the nuclear sub that ran aground near Guam?"

I spent a few years stationed aboard a nuclear sub. It was home-ported out of Pearl Harbor, but we spent several month-long stays in Guam ("Where America's day begins"), which is in the middle of nowhere. [aerial photo]

My memories of Guam are not pleasant. We worked long hours (not a problem when you're 20 years old) and it's hot & humid there, even at 5AM. I remember pulling dirty clothes out of my dirty clothes bag, because they were cleaner than the ones I was wearing. But that's another story.

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Apparently one person died and 19 were injured in the accident. You gotta hit something pretty hard to *kill* someone in a submarine. I can't imagine what happened. The Dog & I were trying to figure it out. We suspect they hit an underwater mountain.

I had a buddy serving aboard the USS George Washington when it hit a Japanese freighter (the Nissho Maru) while surfacing in the China Sea, sinking the freighter (on 09.April.1981).

My buddy had less than a month to go before he was schedued to get out (which he eagerly anticipated). At the moment of impact, he said (not knowing what happening), "I was kinda p*ssed cuz I thought I was going to die with less than a month to go." =)

The captain of George Washington was relieved of his command (fired) and I suspect this captain will face a similar fate. But maybe things have changed in the military. When I see how the officers in the Abu Gharib prison scandal eluded prosecution, it makes me wonder.

When I was in (back in the day), officers were held to a higher standard than enlisted folk. Now however, it seems they use enlisted men as scape goats and claim ignorance. When I was in, "I didn't know" was never an excuse. In fact, it was *worse* than saying "I screwed up," because it indicated incompetence. If you didn't know what was going on, you were quickly replaced with someone who did.

But now, of course, we now have presidents using ignorance as an excuse. And if the boss is getting away with it, it doesn't surprise me that those under him have adopted similar tactics (blame the Navigator). So it will be interesting to see how they handle this one. More info at CNN, USAToday, Pravda, Reuters.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 10January2005 | Comments (0)

Sunday: 09.January.2005

Adware semantics

In reference to the post from 06.jan.2004, about the new software (Answer.com) from the folks at GuruNet, which claim "no adware" yet present an ad-supported model, here's their 'answer'.

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Hi there, Sorry for the delay on that question. Generally, ad-ware implies intrusive pop-ups and pop-unders, and other interruptive techniques for getting ads in peoples' face. It's in the same class as spyware. Here are the definitions from Answers on the topic:

• 1. (AD vertisement WARE) Software that periodically pops up ads in a user's computer. Adware is considered "spyware" and is installed without the user's knowledge. It typically displays targeted ads based on words searched for on the Web or derived from the user's surfing habits that have been periodically sent in the background to a spyware's Web server. See pop-up and spyware.

• 2. (AD supported soft WARE) Software that is given away for free because it contains advertising messages. See adserver . The less common, but literal, meaning is software that is based on ads.
I do agree with you that we fall into the second definition, but as we do state that we are now being supported by targeted, yet unobtrusive ads. We believe that most people are much more concerned with the first type of disruptive and interfering ads, and so we advertise that we do not use that type of marketing techniques.

Additionally, I have forwarded your concern to the webmaster, to take your comments under consideration as we continuously edit our site. Again, feel free to keep the questions coming! Mimi
RAD response:

There's nothing wrong with the ad-supported model being used by many sites, such as yours and Google. But I do feel it's deceptive to claim "no adware" by resorting to semantics. I would remove the questionable claim and proudly state that you're able to offer valuable software free of charge by employing a proven ad-supported model.

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 09January2005 | Comments (0)

Wednesday: 05.January.2005

The Tsunami

The tsunami. I'm getting letters, from all over the world, asking why I haven't mentioned the biggest natural disaster in our lifetime. For days now, I've been meaning to say something, trying to find the right words, but honestly don't know what to say in the face of such devastation. And regular readers know I'm rarely speechless.

I usually start my day by checking Google News. Back when the death toll was at 20,000, I thought it must be a type-o. I mean, I could see 200 deaths. Maybe even 2,000. But 20,000 couldn't possibly be right. Yet it was .. and that was just the beginning. What I'm saying is that I'm having trouble comprehending the magnitude of this thing.

So I apologize if I seem callous. I can see how one might get that impression. I'm trying to grapple with the impact of this disaster. Maybe this is why I've tried to post content that is uplifting and light-hearted the last few days.

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I lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, back when I was in the Navy (stationed on a nuke sub home-ported at Pearl Harbor). So I'm familiar with the term tsunami [from the Japanese tsu (harbor) nami (wave)]. The name itself sounds rather ominous.

I've stood on the North shore (of Oahu, at Waimea), with hundreds of others, while storms raged at sea, and watched the 30-footers come rolling in .. one after the other .. for hours .. so loud you couldn't hear the person standing next to you .. unless he shouted in your ear. So I'm also familiar with the power of the ocean.

Nevertheless, I feel woefully inadequate to express my sympathies. They seem so insignificant in relation to such devastation. And things just seem to be getting worse. But I think about it a lot. And those of us who live near the coast, especially those of us who live in California, realize it could've just as easily been us.

Those who reside in affected countries should know the entire world has been moved by this tragedy .. in a big way. If the rest of the world feels anything like I do, I suspect they are also somewhat overwhelmed the magnitude of this thing, and trying to grapple with how to understand it.

Can't mention the tsunami without asking, where was God during all this? If there's anything that falls under his jurisdiction, it would be natural phenomena. I mean, he supposedly designed and created the whole thing.

Everybody I know has contributed as they are able. We are sending letters to our senators and congressmen asking they do more. I only wish I could do more myself. (I feel inadequate to help in a way that will be meaningful.) We have Colin Powell on the job, and he is one of the most competent people in Washington. Those who likewise feel compelled are encouraged to HELP. Our prayers are with you and help is on the way. Hang in there.

A map of the earthquake's source and the surrounding countries affected is posted here. The BBC has posted a simplified animated guide. Here is a Flash animation. The videos are simply incredible (need Bittorent). The most comprehensive explanation of what happened can be found at Wikipedia (source here). See here for a timeline of events. Here's a Google search for the term: tsunami.

Monday: 03.January.2005

Blogs Surge in Popularity

The Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted a study that found a big boost for blogs in 2004 (58% jump over last year). The study, whose findings are contained in this 4-page summary (PDF), found that if you are familiar with the term blog, you're most likely:

• male (57%)
• young (half are under age 30)
• a broadband user at home (70%)
• an Internet veteran (82% have been online for at least six years)
• financially well-off (42% live in households earning over $50K)
• well educated (39% have college or graduate degrees)
• good-looking (90% are described as either 'beautiful' or 'handsome' by a jury of their peers)

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Actually, I made up that last one myself. But if they surveyed for the variable, there's no doubt RADIFIED readers would score highest of all. =)

More coverage at BBC, ABC News, Boston Globe, Christian Broadcasting, News Factor, Motley Fool, Internet News, MSNBC, National Business Review. Again, you can get it straight from the horse's mouth here (4-page PDF). For me, blogging is a form of therapy. No telling how much it has saved me in shrink bills.

The official Rad blog is here:> Ye Olde Rad Blog. The site's home page may appear bloggish (new word?) but has actually been created with Macromedia's Dreamweaver (not known as a blogging program, per se).

If you'd like to join the 8 million U.S. bloggers and start blogging yourself (hey, it beats the bottle), and want to avoid the hassles of setting up the software yourself, check out TypePad, which offers a 90-day free trial (using code: movable). Another bit of blogging software I've been hearing good things about is WordPress. Let the healing begin.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 03January2005 | Comments (0)

Saturday: 01.January.2005

New Years 2005

Feliz año nuevo. We went to a party here in Laguna last night where it seemed we were the only Americans. Everyone else hailed from some other country. Most were French. There were several Brits, a handful of (white) South Africans (Germans), a real German or two and even a Pole. Oh, I almost forget the Scot. But most were French.

The conversations were something else. Everybody spoke multiple languages. I've always been intrigued by the perspectives of people from other cultures, which is what made me want to go.

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There was more pâté at this party than at the local French deli. They even broke out the foie gras (pronounced: FWAH GRAH, literally: "fat liver" or goose liver) after midnight. When it came around, I had some to say I tried it.

The party was hosted by a friend of a friend of a friend. You know how those things can go. They're usually either real good or real bad. Fortunately, it was the former. No riff-raff at this party. In fact, the folks were so refined & sophisticated that *we* were the riff-raff. My friend said, "You know you're at a good party when *you're* the riff-raff." =D

Plenty of French champagne. Lively French music. Roaring fireplace. Attentive hostess (elegant South African). Hors d'oeuvres galore. Dancing. Two pregnant ladies with big bellies (neither one drinking), and even an ancient gray-haired granny to tell you how it was "back in the old days". All within earshot of the ocean. Had a little trouble locating the place, and then finding a parking place, but once we arrived, I knew we'd gotten lucky. How 'bout you?

Was surprised to learn that some of the couples there had met online, thru a match-making service. I must admit, they seem perfectly-suited for each other. I also noted that people from Europe, especially France, talk much more openly about s-e-x, especially the ladies, even older ladies. Not used to that.