Just tossing out a passing thought. In looking at the views about the war in Iraq that are becoming prevalent,Glen refers to it as a "sudden ooze of defeatism", I noticed how many analysis of the situation are essentially passive. Things "happen" or things were "screwed up", but there is little talk of actual events, changing situations and adaptation, or proper strategy. In other word, what there is, is passive observation that seems almost remote from ongoing events. So I started to wonder about passive, essentially observational occupations, and active, make things, occupations, and try the experiment of classification. Of course, most jobs are a mix, with observation feeding back into actions. What I mean by active, by the way, is influencing events. Anyway here is a very preliminary first cut.
Journalism -- Journalists don't make things, they report.
Sociology, english, history -- All examine what others produce.
Theoretical physics -- without experiment it is philosophy.
White collar jobs -- record keeping, responding to regulations.
Farming -- deal with weather, animals, and markets, or else.
Construction -- mostly follow plans, but it has consequence.
Soldiering -- in war, the consequences can be extreme.
Medicine -- misdiagnosis or wrong treatment matter.
I see that what I call active are actually occupations where one's decisions have material consequence for oneself and others. All of us face this in daily life, but for many of us it is not part of the job. I wonder how much difference it makes to the tenor of this country that the number of jobs that "don't really matter" is on the increase?
And yeah, it is easy to poke holes in all this. It is just for fun.