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Friday, October 30, 2009

Pic o' the Day, Day 6

A pic of the farm I grew up on, taken a month or two ago.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Photo o' the Day, Day 5

My spirit the past few days...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Photo, Day 4

April Koopman

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obligatory Political Rant

Words, words, words...

Can't people get their terminology straight? This is driving me nuts. Seems whenever someone in the government does something goofy, they're immediately labelled "Socialist," "Nazi" or "Hitler."

I shall address the last item first. Hitler killed 6 million Jewish people. There is NOTHING our government is doing that is even remotely akin to that atrocity. When President G. Walker Bush started wiretapping American citizens in a frenzy of paranoia, that did remind one a bit of Hitler's maniacal obsession with control, but President Bush's actions were nowhere near the killing of 6 million citizens. Calling President Bush or President Barack Obama "Hitler," or painting mustaches on posters, is just plain absurd, and in the long run minimizes and marginalizes the pain and atrocity the Jewish people suffered. Please stop.

Socialism: This is not a dirty word. Many countries use aspects of a socialistic government to good effect, especially socialized medicine. Basically, socialism is the theory that big businesses should be owned and operated either by the workers or by the government rather than by a small elite group of people who control a nation's capital (money or resources). Would a completely socialistic society work? Probably not (the Soviet Union was communist, not socialist -- there ARE differences), but some aspects of a socialistic worldview can be advantageous in certain circumstances. Welfare, food stamps, Title 19, VA hospitals, Social Security, the GI Bill -- these are all aspects of our government that have socialistic roots, and these are all (despite their flaws) GOOD programs that have helped millions of U.S. citizens through rough times.

Is the United States becoming a socialistic society? Not even close. Is President Obama advocating socialism? Not even close. Are we considering socialized health care? No, not even close. In order to have socialized medicine, the government would need to control all aspects of health care. In other words, the government would own all the hospitals, would pay all the doctors, would handle all the billing. This is NOT going to happen -- what the current government is proposing is health care reform, not socialized medicine. The government wants to limit some of the control insurance companies have over our health care, and offer a cheap alternative to those who need it. This is capitalism (economic competition) at it's finest, NOT socialism.

I saw an e-mail this morning that complained of "Comrade" Obama raising the deductible of military veterans' insurance from $100 to $500. I don't agree with that move, and while I've not researched the proposal, I have a feeling someone got their facts wrong. But in any case, I thought it was funny that the person who wrote the e-mail complained bitterly of "Comrade Obama and his socialistic buddies" taking away their freedom to enjoy cheap, government-provided (socialistic) insurance. Again, I'm not advocating we raise the rates on veterans' insurance -- I'm just saying that the author of that particular e-mail was obviously trying to use the word "socialism" as a trigger, not aware of it's true meaning, or that the program he was defending from the evil socialists was actually socialist itself.

My grandfather fought against the Nazis... It's sad that in the two generations since World War II we've forgotten what "Nazism" truly is. I hear people from the political right call liberals "Nazis." That doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me... Nazism, while containing philosophies from both liberal and conservative ideologies, was undeniably a right-wing, conservative political movement (using modern terminology).

Nazism was very statist and authoritarian. A Nazi believed in ultrapatriotism and unquestioning and unwavering support of their leader. The Nazi leadership believed that they were above the law and could act independently of consequences. Nazis were anti-Semitic and were responsible for killing 6 million Jews, as well as millions of Gypsies, homosexuals, and mentally ill.

There is NOTHING the current or past administrations have done that has any likeness to the evils of the Nazi regime. Not even close. It bothers me that some people toss the "Nazi" term at the Obama administration, which consistently pushes for open democracy and an open government. It made a bit more sense to throw that word at the Bush/Cheney administration -- they were very anti-gay, authoritarian, and enjoyed controlling all aspects of government (you could be jailed for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt to a Bush rally, while Obama allows people their second amendment right to bring weapons to rallies if they so choose) but the Bush/Cheney administration was still nowhere near the evilness of Nazism.

So please, if you're wanting to call a government official names, don't go with "Nazi" or "Hitler." It just makes you sound like you don't know what you're talking about, and it belittles those who truly suffered under the Nazi regime, and those who fought to remove it. If you use socialism in an argument, please be aware that it's not necessarily a bad thing -- you probably have enjoyed socialistic programs yourself. (Am I a socialist? No. But neither do I fear limited socialistic applications to some of our current problems.)

Photo, Day 3

Photo o' the Day

I saw this guy on my neighbor's roof...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Photo of the Day

The Independent Riders for Children and Charities
on a fundraising mission last August.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yeah, okay...

Apologies and Promises

So I've been neglecting this blog... Sorry. (For those of you reading this on FaceBook, what you're seeing is a feed from my blog at http://radloffthoughts.blogspot.com/ -- you probably can't see any of the photos, links or videos or anything from FaceBook, so you may wanna traipse over to the blog if you feel you're missing something.)

It's not that I don't have anything to say -- on the contrary, I have plenty of stuff floating around in my bean. But I'm busy. I hate not writing, but it's hard to find time... So I hereby pledge to at least TRY to blog more often. I need to for my own mental health. I'm gonna try to do the "365" project and post a photo a day for a year. With luck, that'll spur me into writing a bit more, too.

I'm still tracking down a photo, so I'll start by trying to get some of the random thoughts that have been collecting in my head out in public.

H1N1 Sucks

I'm sure most of you have heard about Dagmar's trip to Mayo (if not, you can read about it HERE). It seems cosmically unfair that as soon as she started truly recovering from an illness she's been suffering for a decade we both come down with H1N1. My poor Viennese Snickerdoodle has been ill the last ten days (as have I, but she's worse).

What's even more unfair is that as soon as she started feeling a bit better and was considering going back to work, the flu came back. She's STILL sneezing and sniffling and feeling miserable...

Personally, I'm feeling better, but I still have trouble staying awake a whole day. The H1N1 flu really zaps your energy! I've never slept so much in my life...


I was lucky enough to be able to go on the Siouxland Honor Flight, a program where they raise money, charter a 737, and take WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to see the various monuments -- notably the WWII monument. It's quite an experience!

Right now it's 5:15 in the morning. The Honor Flight was about 11 days ago, but I'm still going through the photos; I'll put 'em on the Honor Flight web site, and we'll make DVDs to give to the 108 vets that were on the flight. I've been working on the photos an hour or two a day... I'm sorting through the photos of the veterans getting off the airplane at the end of the day right now.

The flight left at about 6:30 on a Tuesday morning. We arrived in Washington, toured the memorials, and were back in Sioux City by 2 a.m. Wednesday -- we did it all in one long day. Needless to say, we were tired when we got home! On the plane on the way home I reflected on what I heard one man say earlier that day. "You know, when I came home from the war, I simply got off the train, found a job and went back to work. There was no big hoopla. It wasn't any big deal."

They let media people off the plane first so we could take photos of the vets as they came off the plane... As I walked down the aisle on my way out I heard more than one vet wonder if there would be anyone at the airport. "I'm sure my wife's home asleep. I hope I can find a ride home..." and "I bet even the airport staff is asleep by this time."

Once off the plane I ran down the connecting walkway, cameras flapping in the breeze, hoping to find a good spot to get photos of the guys. Around the corner zipped the exhausted hippie, to be confronted by about 50 cheering people standing on either side of an aisle of American flags. Nearly everyone was waving small flags. The American Legion, Legion Riders, Patriot Guard, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Legion Auxiliary all had representatives there, veterans of Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, Desert Storm, Iraq, standing at the ready. There was a full brass band set up in the corner.

I skidded to a stop and got my camera set up. The first veteran came around the corner, wiping his eyes blearily.

"They're here!" someone shouted. The people in the flag line came to attention. The band started playing. A cheer went up from the crowd and everyone started clapping, applauding.

Slowly, one hundred and eight World War II veterans, all in their 80's or 90's, walked (and in some cases rolled) down the avenue of flags to meet their loved ones -- finally welcomed home from a war that ended 64 years ago -- with a bit of hoopla.

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