30 August 2010

Here is the Scoop



Let me explain what is going on.

I am well into the second year here. The same fiestas a second time. The same hikes. The same ruins. The same tennis courts. I had run out of things to say, not that I had much of substance to say in the first place. When I found myself offering commentary on public issues, politics, and society in general, I started to feel pretty pathetic.

Therefore, I decided to post elsewhere for a while. I am not abandoning this blog. Just taking a break to freshen up a bit while I mail some stuff in elsewhere. When I have finished freshening up, I will take this one up again.

I have always enjoyed the on line magazine, Salon. They have a blogging area that is a self-contained thing called Open Salon. The home page of Open Salon is here. There are some very good writers there. And many that are unintentionally amusing.

The point is that y'all are welcome to look in on my blog there. Many of the entries consist of material that has already been posted here albeit reworked a bit. Read those again. Or not. Comment again. Or not.

Do me a favor though. If you visit my blog there, open the latest entry and rate it. By that I mean click on the little thumbs up icon at the top. . .unless of course that particular entry is so obnoxious that you cannot bring yourself to do that. I would like to make it onto that home page with a blog entry some day.

Oh, Christ, come to think of it, you will probably have to register. . .well, if you are willing to do that.

The Solipsist is now active here. Also, check out some of the Open Salon people that I follow shown on the right side of my page.

By the way, for those of you who blog yourselves, there is an import feature over there. Once you set up your own home page there, you can further implement an import feature that automatically imports your blog entries here in Blogger or in Wordpress or elsewhere into you page at Open Salon. Candy has had some difficulties getting it to work. My import went very smoothly until I shut it off.

A purely selfish thought. If you were to do that, I could keep track of you more easily.

22 August 2010

Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe. . .Part 2



I am having trouble with Part 2. I admit it.

I keep getting hung up on this from Stephanie Rosenbloom's article, But Will It Make You Happy?

At the height of the recession in 2008, Wal-Mart Stores realized that consumers were “cocooning” — vacationing in their yards, eating more dinners at home, organizing family game nights. So it responded by grouping items in its stores that would turn any den into an at-home movie theater or transform a backyard into a slice of the Catskills. Wal-Mart wasn’t just selling barbecues and board games. It was selling experiences.


I will come up with the appropriate passage from Thoreau as soon as I am through with the sheer fun of mulling this over.

14 August 2010

Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe. . .Part 1


The day that I blundered onto Stephanie Rosenbloom's report in the New York Times, But Will It Make You Happy?, was a happy day for me indeed. It has been a never-ending entertainment on so many levels to the extent that I have read it several times. I find it hilarious, but then I am easily amused. . .as this posting will no doubt demonstrate.

09 August 2010

Is Everyone in the World Writing a Book?

Is everyone in the world over the age of 12, and some under that age, writing a book?

Do not get me wrong. I have nothing at all against anyone writing a book. I love the concept of Stonermom's book in progress, for example, and have told her so. I look forward to reading it someday. In other words, it is certainly not my intent here to mock those involved in the noble endeavor of writing books. If that were my intent, it would be quite obvious. And I would not give a damn by the way.

Nonetheless, the implications of so many people writing books are staggering. The United Nations estimates that next year the human population of this world will number 7 billion, a number that probably well exceeds the current population of the next world. This is an enormous infestation of the planet by our species. Enormous!

Let us just say that only 1/7th of the world population is writing books right now—a billion people approximately. I will grant you that this is not an infinite number of monkeys typing away on an infinite number of keyboards, but it is a number that is getting up there. What if 2 billion people or 3 billion people writing books is a more accurate number? We might as well be talking about an infinite number of monkeys. That number will continue to grow, too.

I contemplated Shakespeare's situation. Had he known that an infinite number of monkeys actually were typing away at an infinite number of keyboards, would he have gone to all the trouble to write Hamlet himself? Why would he not have simply waited for one of the monkeys to type it for him? The answer is obvious. Shakespeare did not have time to wait on those monkeys. He was working under a deadline and therefore, would still have had to compose Hamlet himself.

Now take me and my situation in contrast to Shakespeare's. I have nothing but time until my own demise. I am under no deadlines, monetary or otherwise. Writing a book is lonely drudgery. My approach is to relax and work on my tan until one of the monkeys writes my book for me.

It is bound to happen. It may not happen until something like, say, 7,000 years after my death. But I am not so solipsistic as to think that time will stop when I cease to exist. My reaction to the appearance of my book within that kind of time frame is simply “better late than never.”

The truth is that I really do not care about authorial credit either. Authorial credit is only an ego thing. One of the monkeys is more than welcome to take authorial credit for my book whenever he or she finishes it. In the context of geologic time, what does authorial credit mean anyway?

My only concern—and it is a big one—is whether the planet itself can hold out until my book gets written.

That, my friends, is a very serious concern.

05 August 2010

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986



Snappy title, huh?

I am going to finish the discussion of immigration reform for a couple of reasons. First, I am stubborn. Second, while for the time being this discussion appears to be a yawner, the information here will be useful for a full and complete enjoyment of the comic political theater next year when immigration reform is taken up.

We are skipping by the problems involved with temporary seasonal agricultural workers and border enforcement because those problems are straightforward if the real problem is addressed. What is to be done with the untold numbers of Mexicans who are now in the United States with their families on a permanent basis and who went there without proper documentation, that is, illegally? This brings up the hot issue of “amnesty.” Because it is hot, our President prefers to use the phrase “getting right with the law.”

Many people who lean the same way politically as I used to lean when I was political propose a mechanism whereby undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for a certain number of years can apply to legalize their status and get on the road to citizenship. Readers who lean the other way simply want them deported.

Any discussion of this, in my view, must begin with a look at the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 passed under President Ronald Reagan. With regard to the issue we are looking at, this law provided an amnesty—purportedly one time only—for immigrants in the United States illegally since before 1982 as long as they undertook certain steps such as, among other things, registering for the draft and learning English. Some two million took advantage of this amnesty program. Illegal immigration dropped for a time and then took off again for the following reason.

The Act was also designed to shut down the job market for illegal immigrants in order to stem the flow in the future. For the first time sanctions were imposed on employers in the United States who hired illegal immigrants. Also, employers were required to verify the immigration status of their new hires by requiring documentation of that status from the prospective employees and filling out a Form I-9 for each new employee reflecting that this had been done.

Here was the rub though. A great many employers in the United States need and want to hire cheap, unskilled labor and really do not care about the immigration status of the people who supply that cheap, unskilled labor. The upshot was that the lobbying effort on behalf of employers successfully watered down the provisions of the Act designed to shut down employment of illegal aliens in the United States.

For example, the requirement that the employer verify the authenticity of documents presented by prospective employees concerning their immigration status were removed from the Act before passage. The practical result of this was that a prospective employee could waive a forged document that he had purchased for ten bucks in front of the employer and be hired without fear on the employer's part.

Another important glitch ultimately built into the Act was that an employer was not required to verify the status of workers for a subcontractor hired by that employer. A subcontractor's employees are not the contractor's employees. Employers could safely hire a fly-by-night subcontractor with a phalanx of undocumented workers on the subcontractor's payroll.

Thanks to the lobbying effort on behalf of the employers that removed the teeth from these and other new requirements of the employers, the job market for illegal immigrants was not shut down. The fix was in.

To be fair, let us give space to the employers' main argument. They argued that they should not be made proxy enforcers of the nation's immigration laws. That is the government's job. There it is. That was their main argument.

This illustrates for me why employers in the United States bear every bit as much responsibility for the illegal immigration problem—perhaps more responsibility—than the illegal immigrants themselves. If there is no job market for illegal aliens up north, they will not go north. If there is a job market for illegal aliens up north, then they will go north. No fence is going to stop them. I cannot say that I blame them. There seems to be a mental block on the part of the vast majority of citizen-consumers of the United States that prevents them from recognizing that fact. Citizen-consumers up north are simply inclined to scream about these immigrants, "They broke the law! They broke the law!"

I do not hate President George W. Bush anymore. Here is how I regard President George W. Bush now that I have mellowed out in Mexico for awhile. President George W. Bush was no more stubbornly ignorant than the citizen-consumers of the United States who elected him. President George W. Bush had the same low level of decision-making skills as the citizen-consumers of the United States who elected him. In other words, President George W. Bush was a walking, talking example of Plato's fears of democracy set out in The Republic. President George W. Bush is not to be detested simply because he did not rise above the level of the electorate who put him in office. Those citizen-consumers won and got exactly what they had asked for.

Having said that, President George W. Bush did attempt to implement immigration reform again in 2006 and was blocked from doing so by his own party. Edwin Meese, the Attorney General for President Reagan at the time of passage of The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, wrote a relatively thoughtful opinion piece that appeared in 2006 in the New York Times looking back at the 1986 Act and its failures in the context of the George W. Bush initiative. (Jesus, I never thought that I would cite that guy with any approval. The passage of years does wondrous things.)

For a nice analysis of the 1986 Act by Daniel Gonzalez of The Arizona Republic, albeit riddled with typos, along with a brief interview at the end of Senator Alan Simpson, its Republican sponsor, see this site. Also, there is an informative article here regarding the impact of the Act from the Latino point of view.

My point is that a good start on the project of immigration reform next year would be to undertake a dispassionate look at the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and its failures. However, that will not happen. It will not happen because there is no such thing as “dispassionate” when it comes to this subject. Republican former Senator Alan Simpson said it. This issue arouses "emotion, fear, guilt, and racism." This issue is not a discrete problem that the United States of American can approach rationally with a view toward solving it. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism are precisely why the show is going to be so entertaining next year.

04 August 2010

Terse Wisdom, Awkwardly Expressed



Sorry. Been busy on a project. I will return more often henceforth.

I encountered a bumper sticker today that at first glance appealed to me.


I'D RATHER BE
HERE NOW

At first it seemed apparent to me that this was a cute expression of dissent from such sentiments as:


I'D RATHER BE AT
WALT DISNEY WORLD


After pondering it awhile, however, I began to wonder if it had some more ominous or even sinister import. If when the driver is behind the wheel of that Subaru, he would rather be there then, then where the hell exactly is he really?

This would perhaps make sense if the guy went north leaving his car here, and just before he left he stuck this bumper sticker on it. In that case, however, he would clearly have to remove the bumper sticker immediately upon his return. Still and all, that seems to evidence a pathological identification with his automobile in the sense that he trusts the automobile to express his sentiments for him in his absence. What if he changes his mind while he is up north and decides he would rather be there now?

They were California plates after all. Anything is possible.

All I can say is that if I were to come up on the rear of this car and read the bumper sticker while someone was driving it down the street--not unoccupied and parked as I did encounter it--my first inclination would be to shout, "You are here, you moron! Pay attention."

He might simply be trying to say something like, "I would rather be here than be in Pasadena." But the addition of the word "now" screws that up because it makes it clear that right now he is not here. Or does it?

I guess he might be saying something like, "I would rather be here now where I am than be in Pasadena where I am not now." With that however, we are getting beyond the ambit of sentiments expressed on bumper stickers. Maybe.

It is the conditional present tense of "I would rather be. . ." with an implicit "if-clause" that is the problem, compounded by the use of the word "now. . . . ." no, no. That is not correct. Come to think of it, "I would rather be here now in Mexico than in Pasadena now," makes some sense, although that construction, "I would rather be here now. . . ." still injects some doubt into the whole scenario as to whether the guy really is here in Mexico. Or in Pasadena. Doesn't it? Is not there still some implication of, "I would rather be here now than where I am now?"

I know that I am making too much of this. Obviously, if the guy is driving this Subaru with this bumper sticker on it all over creation from Central Mexico to California, he does not really care where he is or he likes it everywhere. I suspect the latter. I suspect that he is just a newbie Buddhist imperfectly embracing the injunction to live in the moment. And he probably makes it a point not to drive the Subaru anywhere where he does not want to be.

I admit that

I PREFER TO BE
HERE NOW


makes poor bumper sticker text particularly if the guy only wishes to make fun of ones that say, for example,

I'D RATHER BE AT
WALT DISNEY WORLD