Category Archives: Philosophy

Manifest Destiny Must Be Nice

Every society has good and bad in its history. Sometimes we want to forget the bad, such as slavery and the Confederacy, but there is a risk. It’s amazing to me that even with eye witness testimony, including perpetrators and victims plus meticulous records from the Nazis, there are those who deny the holocaust ever happened.

Probably the most audacious example, though, is when Europeans forced Native Americans off their land—but we use their words to name cities, rivers, and other features. It’s kind of like, “Get out or we’ll kill you, but to make it up to you, we’ll name this area Ahoskie as a tribute.”

Goodbye to an Old Friend

Long before my time, Theodore and Milton Deutschmann started a business to cater to the new field of wireless—specifically, amateur radio. They called their business Radio Shack.

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Why? Ships were among the first to adopt wireless communications, and since early transmitters created a signal by generating a huge spark, there was the risk of starting a fire. To minimize risk, the radio equipment was placed on the main deck, in a separate small building, which came to be called the radio shack.

Ham radio operators (no one knows for sure why they’re called “hams”) tended to call the place where their radio station was located as the radio shack, or ham shack. Amateur radio was shut down during both world wars, but hams returned to the air as soon as it was legal to do so. The end of the Second World War provided an added advantage with huge selection of inexpensively priced military surplus radio equipment.

When I was a youngster, there were a few radio stores around town where you could buy components or tools. However, periodically the mailman would deliver a catalog from Lafayette, Allied, or Olsen Electronics. The Sears Christmas toy catalog couldn’t compete with these for the pure lust they generated. I remember building a set of Knight Kit walkie talkies, purchased from Allied.

In the late 1960s, Allied began opening stores in malls, outcompeting most the other companies, which gradually faded away. Allied purchased Radio Shack, but the combined Allied-Radio Shack was determined to be too monopolistic, and the two companies were split up. Allied became the industrial supplier while Radio Shack stayed as the retailer in the malls. Radio Shack sold things that you couldn’t find elsewhere. The TRS-80 computer was one of the first personal computers. They introduced a pocket-sized computer and one of the first laptops. Radio Shack had a niche market—the nerds—but nerds were paying $2,500 for a radio shack computer before the general population knew personal computers existed.

You could find all the parts to build a stereo from tuner to speaker wire. How about a multimeter and a soldering iron? They sold CB radios, of course, but also some ham radio transceivers. Most everything was manufactured by someone else, but carried one of Radio Shack’s brand names.

If you were working on a project and need a 47 ohm resistor (usual price, 10 cents—Radio Shack price, two dollars) you could drive to the mall on a Sunday and finish your project before dinner, even on a Sunday afternoon. Yeah, their components were overpriced, but the convenience made it worth it.

Then, one fateful day, the brainless
pencilnecks management of Radio Shack decided to sell the same products (e.g., cell phones) that you could buy for less money at Best Buy, WalMart, RiteAid, etc.

I’ve been told by Radio Shack managers that the really profitable part of the store was the parts section with those overpriced resistors, capacitors, and semiconductors. You know, the ones you could buy whenever you needed them? The parts selection went from a large section of wall to a metal cabinet with multiple drawers. I think the cabinet got smaller, but in any case, there were fewer and fewer parts available. Cell phones—no problem. Parts? Sorry.

I hear that Radio Shack is still sort of, kind of, in business, but you couldn’t prove it by me. The last local store is now empty. Like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, you only hear about someone who knows someone whose brother-in-law saw one. It’s too bad—they could have coasted a few more years just on what I spent there.

Write? Right!

Most of my writing time has been allocated to preparing training materials for hurricane season. Amateur radio operators provide the additional communications needed in a disaster or backfill communications systems that have failed. I’ve been teaching classes each month for one to two hours, so that takes time.

I’ve also been working on my story/mini-novellette/novelette or whatever. When I wrote a series of short stories, I could imagine a scenario and know how the cast of characters would react. This is different because I do not yet intimately know the characters. However, it is coming along better than I expected. I’ve always been fascinated by the side plots and unexpected twists and turns in good stories. What started out as a linear story is developing its own twists and turns and is insistent when I need to add a new character.

I hope that once it’s all done, it’s worth reading.

Fantasy

I’m working on my story that might be considered fantasy, horror, thriller, or who knows what.

I don’t care what genre it fits, just so long as it ends up a good story. However, it’s nowhere near finished, therefore, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

I hope it’s worth the wait.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day isn’t celebrated-it’s observed. Memorial Day—once known as “Decoration Day” dates to just after the Civil War when various groups selected a day to lay flowers on the graves of those who fell in battle. Both North and South began similar traditions; eventually ending up on the last Monday in May. Veterans Day recognizes those who have served; Memorial Day is for those who, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “Gave the last full measure.”

There is a symbol, and on special occasions, a brief ceremony to honor the fallen, and especially those who are missing in action or prisoners of war. It is commonly known as the “White Table” or “Missing Service Member (initially “man”) Table.” The following is read, explaining the significance of each item on the table. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_man_table

Table Ceremony Script

Preferably, the table is being set while the script is read.

The table that stands before you is a place of honor. In setting this table, we acknowledge those missing from our celebration today. And we remember them. (ring bell)

The table is small, and set for one — Symbolizing the vulnerability of a lone prisoner against his captors. Remember! (ring bell)

The tablecloth is white — Symbolizing purity of intention in responding to the nation’s call to arms. Remember! (ring bell)

The chair is empty, for they are not here. Remember! (ring bell)

The wine glass is inverted — They cannot toast with us this night. Remember! (ring bell)

The slices of lemon — Reminding us of their bitter suffering. Remember! (ring bell)

The grains of salt — Representing the countless tears of the families. Remember! (ring bell)

The single red rose — Reminding us of loved ones who keep the faith awaiting their return. Remember! (ring bell)

The burning candle and yellow ribbon — Symbolizing everlasting hope of a reunion with the missing. Remember! (ring bell)

Remember! — All who have served alongside them; we who have donned the same proud uniform, being sworn to the same faith and allegiance — We will never forget their sacrifice. Remember! (ring bell)

Remember! — Until the day they return home, or find eternal peace, we will remember. (ring bell).


One Shot

We all get one shot in this life—one shot to make a difference. One shot to leave an indelible mark behind us.

I read about the suicide bomber in Manchester and am appalled that anyone—and it appears to be quite a few—believes that the way to please God is to murder innocent children. The media feels compelled to share this information with everyone, repeatedly, with no good reason.

I know that for every sociopath there are millions who help neighbors; for every psychopath there are millions who donate time and money to worthy charities. I thank God for that. It’s too bad that the news media has a fetish for sharing all the details they can find about Salman Abedi Flaming Idiot 201705#1—where he grew up, where he went to school—and dropped out,, as well as his family. The police and intelligence agents trying to prevent future attacks need detailed information, not the general public. he should be treated as the nameless, faceless creature who chose to not be part of the human race. He squandered his one shot.

The only reason for the media to dwell on the details is to sell more advertising. Are they advertising hemorrhoidal cremes, erectile dysfunction drugs, or something else. Why don’t we just label these in-depth stories for what they are—recruiting ads for murderous fringe groups? The media glorify the worst among us. This is easiest for those who have only a casual relationship with the truth, malleable social mores, and no concept of one’s responsibility to society.

Twenty-two killed, 64 who were injured with 20 in critical conditions—most of them will never have their one shot.

Flaming Idiot 201705#1 used his to kill and wound the innocent.

The media pissed theirs away long ago.

Now—how are you going to use your one shot?

 

Untied Airlines

Well, United is in the news again, this time for charging a $200 overweight baggage fee to an American service member returning from Afghanistan. Why was his baggage so heavy? Souvenirs? Illicit goods? No, in his government issued bag was his government issued body armor, Kevlar helmet, etc.

Why does United keep committing so many faux pas? I have a pretty good guess.

This behavior is consistent with a micro-managing senior leaders who have never dealt with real, actual customers. Instead, they generate reams of regulations meant to cover every possible situation with the focus on protecting the bottom line. While there may or may not be harsh penalties for failure to adhere to the myriad rules, the message from top management is clear—you employees are not to make decisions on your own. Employees when faced with a potential customer relations fiasco no longer see the craziness, because the rules must be followed. I’d not be surprised to hear the following in the employee-only areas, “This would be a great job, if it weren’t for the customers.”

The cure, a change of culture to one focused on the customer.

Step one? A wholesale change of top managements, starting with the financial types. Change the focus from dollars to customers and the company will do better. Will some stockholders balk and sell off their shares? Yep, but they’ll sell out soon anyways. Those stockholders are the ones who only want the quick buck—a big return this quarter. If this puts the company in a death spiral, they don’t care, because they’ll leave as soon as big quarterly gains or dividends slow.

Let the stockholders know that the airline will be customer focused—that it’s in the business for the long haul. Wise investors understand that. Stockholders who don’t like that approach should invest their money in Pan American, Eastern, Braniff, TWA, or their current equivalents.