Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Today begins 2007. May you have a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Pray for Peace.

The past week has been so busy that I haven't had time to write - too much going on with work. The events of the past week (and the end of 2006) have pretty momentous: first, the death of President Ford (at 93 he lived a long and fruitful life, but I still worry for his wife and family - they will miss him, nonetheless), and the execution of Saddam Hussein, which it turns out became a public execution after all, thanks to a cell phone and the Internet.

Before I comment about Saddam, I wanted to talk a little bit about President Ford. He was, as many have said, the "Accidental President", because he was not elected to office and ended up there due to the mistakes of his predecessor. I was in high school during his time in office, and one of the things I distinctly remember about him was that he seemed to me to be very down-to-earth. I got the feeling at that time that if he were a member of my community that he would be no different than any of the other parents of my friends. He seemed approachable, he did what needed to be done in a very tough time for our country, and he treated those he dealt with equally. His family also seemed to be very much a "normal" family, at least as normal as any could be. His children and grandchildren have been very good at staying out of the view of the media and are living lives that are no different than the rest of us.

I had a great deal of respect for him personally. He was a man with a strong sense of personal integrity and courage. He showed that, after all, when he pardoned President Nixon. I'm sure there are many who would disagree with me on that, but it's true; it took considerable personal coverage to do that, and I believe he knew he would not be elected in his own right because of that action. At the same time, I believe he didn't want to be elected; I think he wanted to get out of office. And I don't blame him, if that were what he had in mind.

As for Saddam Hussein, there are so many who have spoken volumes about him recently. I'm not sure what I could add to that, either. However, I do have some opinions regarding his execution, and I'm sure that there are some who would disagree with them, as well. But that's fine; differing opinions are what make us all unique. First, I am not sorry he was executed. Although I personally would have liked to have seen him serve out a life sentence, I don't believe that the anyone, especially the current Iraqi government, was going to allow that to happen. Also, he was not one of those people who had the well-being of his nation at heart; at least I don't believe that. Look at all of the things that happened after the first Gulf War; he ordered the wholesale massacre of Shi'ites in the southern part of Iraq, not to mention the damage he inflicted on the Kurds in the north. One of the other things to consider is that the Middle East is not known for being stable with respect to government and those who would see them fall. My opinion is that if nothing were to ever have happened over the past 20 years (Gulf War I and the events that preceded it as well as all of the events that happened after that war ended), I'm not convinced that someone wouldn't have tried to take Saddam out otherwise. I think the choices he made would ultimately have led him to a violent death; it just happened that he was executed by his own government.

As I write this I think about one other event that happened in this part of the world over the past few days: snow! We actually had some snowfall over the weekend. However, since we got the snowfall it has turned to ice and mush due to temperature fluctuation and some rain. I suspect that winter is mostly here to stay.

One of the gifts I received for Christmas is a AM/FM/shortwave radio receiver. It's not that I don't have audio equipment; I do, but I've always really liked listening to shortwave radio broadcasts. It's a kind of hobby of mine, and one of the more obscure fascinations I have is with Numbers stations, as I wrote about in an earlier post. While I'm typing away here, I'm listening to a Russian-language station on the 49-meter band. I believe it is Radio Moscow's Russian service, but I'm not certain as I can't understand a word of it. While I can recognize a number of languages, and I can speak some Spanish and a smattering of French in addition to the trouble I have with my native English :-), I don't speak any of those that I can recognize. One of the things I need to invest in is a guide to DX and shortwave broadcast stations so that I can get a better handle on what I'm listening to. A bit earlier I was listening to Radio Havana in English. Very interesting to listen to someone else's worldview, especially one that is 180 degrees opposite to the traditional American view of the world. I sometimes will also listen to the World Radio Network on the satellite radio I have in my car. That is also fascinating, as I pick up news broadcasts from different parts of the world (in English) that also display their own unique world views. I find it to be very educational, as it helps me to be less ignorant of the things going on outside of my own limited perspective.

Now - onto a little bit of research on antennas.


Bhuvanesh KSG said...

good to hear from a fellow Dxer. Eager to read more about your Radio adventures

manchmedic said...

Thank you! As I stumble around on the SW bands looking for programs to listen to (I'm sure I'll also use a frequency guide as well) I will write about them.