January 11, 2005

*Random Fate Interview, Part Two

It's the Random Fate interview!

In the extended...

Being the centrist you are, who do you think would be good for both
sides to have run in the next election?

That’s difficult to say, because as near as I can determine, all major
politicians have essentially sold their souls to get into the positions
of power they have now. So, in essence, our selection process for
President is to find the WORST man for the job. There are no “major”
politician/potential candidates that do not suffer from this fatal flaw
that I am aware of. Sorry I can’t give names, but that’s why I’m a
centrist, I don’t like ANYONE in politics.

And who do you think would be a good President to get us out of this
current mess we're in?

Other than me?

Seriously, it will take more than a President to fix what I perceive as
the problems the United States has both domestically and in the world
as a whole right now. Snarky comments about a “global test” don't cut
it, either. We need true leadership, not just in the Executive Branch,
but in the Legislative Branch as well. I’m not sure anyone currently
well known is capable of that kind of leadership (including the current
administration). To paraphrase what was said so eloquently by our
Secretary of Defense, we go to war with the politicians we have, not
the leaders we would like to have.

If you could have any job other than the one you have, what would it
be, money being no object?

Well, I had my “dream job” right out of graduate school, although I
didn’t know it at the time. I had a job in R&D, lots of resources, and
few constraints. An incredible amount of freedom for a man in his late
20s, full of “piss and vinegar” who wanted to discover the secrets
nature had hidden away. In the aftermath of that experience (a long
story that I may one day write about), I tell people that I hope they
don't get their dream job until late in their careers. Like the
dilemma that Neil Armstrong faced, once you've walked on the Moon as a
young man, what do you do with the rest of your life?

Thirteen years later, there are several things I have as desires and
possible options for my retirement, but those are “retirement jobs”,
although I certainly wouldn’t mind doing any one of them now. I wish I
would make time to write (fiction or non-fiction), because that’s a job
that has always appealed to me. Spreading ideas...

If you could go back in history and meet any WOMAN and really get to
know her (on any plane *wink*), who would it be? (She must currently be

Hmmmm... Difficult to say. Queen Elizabeth I would be interesting to
know simply because she was a survivor in a time that it wasn’t easy
for a woman to be in power. Katherine the Great of Russia would also be
interesting, along with Lucrezia Borgia. However, Katherine Hepburn was
a beauty in her youth, and intelligent to boot!

I don’t spend much time thinking about women from the past. I’m more
interested in figuring out the people who are around now.

Are you really going to the Jawja Blog Meet this spring?

After Eric called me (an international call) and personally invited me,
how could I not go? I plan to go, pending any insanity at work that
might prevent me from traveling.

Where can we find a picture of you?

Why would you want to see my ugly mug? If you really want to, I posted
a photo as part of my 1000th post.

How many blogs are you involved with these days?

Depends on how you mean “involved”. I’m helping blog-sit
sortapundit (although I’ve done a terrible job of it), and I recently joined Chris Noble’s blog The Noble Pundit as a co-author. I’m also a co-author
on the recently renamed Iraq Elections
, a project by the Commissar of The Politburo Diktat that went a bit awry from his intentions. I haven’t posted much there because I just got back
from a home-leave trip to the US, and I didn’t have time to put
together posts that followed his original guidelines for the site,
which I plan to follow regardless of the hijacking by the other
authors. I’ve also got the keys to a few other blogs where I’ve posted
when the owner was away.

I’m also thinking of starting a “secret” blog where I can be a lot more
cynical and bitter when that angry mood strikes me. I wouldn’t tell you
the URL for it, though...

What happened to the "We the People" blog?

I'm surprised anyone remembers that! That blog died an ignoble death
due to neglect, shortly after I moved to France. I didn’t have time to
help keep it up and encourage people to post to it. I was and still am
planning to resurrect it, but I had used Bloghosts.com as my hosting
service, and not only have they gone out of business, but they did not
transfer domain names as promised. I have lost control of my personal
domain name that I set up as a permanent email for folks who wanted to
get in touch with me in France, but I haven’t found a new host for “We
the People” yet. I’ve had some expenses recently (like a huge property
tax bill on my house in Austin) that preclude me from getting a new
host right away, but I do have the URL paid up for the next two years

So, if anyone out there wants to help me run a blog focused on
discussion about issues rather than simple partisan name-calling, a
blog focused on being “for” things rather than “against” things, let me

With Donnie being gone along with several other bloggers...and with all
the new blood, who would you say influences you now, blogwise?

I’d have to say I don’t have nearly as many conscious influences now as
I had a year ago. I don’t know if that’s because I’m following my own
path or because my ego is keeping me from seeing who is affecting my

Unfortunately, if you follow your own path, unless there is something
remarkably compelling in what you are doing or writing, often you have
few people who follow you down that path.

Are your quotes inspired by life events?

Only occasionally are they are related to what’s going on in my life,
far more often they are related to what I see going on in blogworld or
the real world. I use them as indirect commentary because often they
say in a succinct statement something that would take me paragraphs to

Any plans to update the look of your blog?

What, you don’t like my homemade graphics and generic MovableType

Seriously, though, yes I do plan to update the look of Random
Fate. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps have delayed the new design. I
hope to have the new look up before the end of January.

How's the money in blogging?

For me, there is no money in blogging, unless you mean how much money I

What did you do for New Year's Eve?

Spent the evening with friends in Austin I hadn’t seen in a while
(because I moved to France!). I fortunately did not get sick from the
combination of Scotch, wine, and tequila shots.

Tell us, are you still available?

Yes, for parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals...

As a follow-up to your first interview, what is your weight and shoe

Geez, now I need to go look at the first interview to find out what
question this is a “follow-up” to.

Believe it or not, I don’t have a scale here in France, so I’m not sure
of my weight, other than my clothes still fit. I stopped my
weight-lifting (the gyms here suck), so I’ve lost a bit of muscle mass
in the shoulders. I plan to restart the weight-lifting workouts soon,
I’m buying my own equipment here. Shoe size? 42 (European) which I find
rather amusing... The geekier crowd will understand why.

You once said, "Would you turn down a chance to live in Europe for
three years with someone else picking up the tab, especially if you
were a single guy?" Do you still recommend it?

Yes, I recommend it highly. I’ve been able to visit places I’ve only
read about, and I’m gaining a better understanding of history, the
actual “feel” of history. I know I come across as all about
rationalism, but I also have an intuitive side that has helped me
immensely in my research: sometimes I just know the right path to
take. The “feel” I’m getting is from being surrounded by so much from
so many different eras. For example, within 100 yards of the door to my
apartment building there is a church that was built in the 13th
century, and I have to pass a section of wall built by the Romans as
part of the town defenses back in around 40AD. When I drove through
Tuscany to go to the wedding of some friends, I got to see first hand
how every ridge that extended into the plains of Tuscany had a town
with a castle and defensive walls, and how the towns are not very far
apart. I’ve looked out the windows of the Palace of the Popes in
Avignon over a vista that hasn’t changed much in 600 years.

I’ve also learned more about people. Actually living in a different
culture (which I have done milder versions of moving from Memphis to
Phoenix to Portland, OR to Austin while working with people from Japan,
China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland,
Russia, South Korea, Australia, and other places) has taught me a great
deal about what is common among the vast majority of people and what is
from cultural influences.

I’ve gained a lot.

Besides the exchange rate, any regrets about moving?

Moving almost always has some regrets associated with it, even if the
move isn’t international. There are friends I left behind in Austin
that I miss seeing, and there are things I did in Austin that I can’t
do in Grenoble (like sit on the deck of Opal Divine’s and use the wireless internet connection while drinking some fine single-malt Scotch). I had lived in
Austin for 8 years when I moved to France, before that I had never
lived anywhere as an adult for more than 5 years, so I had been feeling
pretty uneasy living without a major upheaval for so long, not that the
previous upheavals had been pleasant. The move to France satisfied that
strange need for upheaval, and it hasn’t been bad (other than the
stinky cheese... I live in a country with over 300 varieties of cheese,
and NOT ONE OF THOSE VARIETIES IS CHEDDAR... I’m *dying* here... I
*love* cheddar cheese).

My move to Austin was prompted by my divorce, so it was really a new
start in my life. Somehow after living there 8 years, it still felt
like a “new life” instead of becoming part of my life. My recent visit
back to my house in Austin suddenly forced me to realize that I had a
history in Austin now. I haven’t felt I’ve had a “home” for over 20
years, and now I do. It’s an odd feeling for me.

How are you treated in France, being American and all?

Quite well. Certainly no complaints. Usually people assume I’m French,
then when I say I’m not, they assume I’m English or German, then when I
tell them I’m American, they are very, VERY friendly and outgoing,
asking questions and telling me how friendly they think Americans
are. They don’t understand why George W. Bush was re-elected, but they
don’t say “America is bad” or anything like that. It’s hard to
describe, but there’s a definite separation between who *I* am and what
the government of my country does.

If you could spend a month anywhere in the world, money not a
consideration, where would you go?

“In the world”? See, otherwise I’d say “the Moon” or “Mars” or “Titan”
or “in orbit around Saturn”.

Hmmm... depends on if I’m alone or with someone. Alone, I’d spend that
month traveling around, seeing first-hand all those places I’ve read
about (like what I’m doing now in Europe). With someone, probably
Hawaii or some other tropical location, with an isolated, private

When given compliments, do you acknowledge them, or suggest you don't deserve them?

Hmmmm... I wonder who asked this question...

I try to acknowledge them, but I also try to minimize them. I have a
long history that makes me feel uncomfortable with compliments, a
history that I won’t go into here.

Now I really want to know what prompted this question!!!

Posted by Jennifer at January 11, 2005 05:30 PM


Yay! Great job, Jack!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at January 12, 2005 12:03 AM