Friday, April 07, 2006

On 'immigrants'

I have a door on my house. Originally, the purpose of such doors was to keep the elements, rain, wind, out. In fact, I remember well that, when I was a kid, we didn't even bother to lock our doors when we left the house. (yeah, shocking, isn't it?)

Now, however, we always lock up when we leave our abode. It's necessary because, failing that, we'd be leaving our home open to less scrupulous folks who have the belief that what's mine is theirs, if I don't lock it up.

You might be saying, "What's that got to do with immigrants? They just want a shot at the good life in the USA." First, let's get clear on the word 'immigrant'.

We have laws that determine the nature of immigrancy. We have processes through which prospective immigrants must proceed, lawfully, to arrive in and stay within the USA. Failure to abide by these processes does NOT make you an 'undocumented immigrant', anymore than failure to procure a personal invitation into my home would make you an 'undocumented guest'. The desire of undocumenteds to live better is not exculpatory, anymore so than an 'undocumented guest's' desire to live in my comfy home would be.

Now, back to doors. If my house needs a door to keep out elements, it has a lock on the door for the entirely different reasons. Logically, any nation, like any home, without a lock on its door is a place begging to be pilfered. There's probably 85% of the people in any third-world country that'd dearly love to be in America over where they are presently. Only the lack of proximity limits their MIGRATION. Mexico is the lucky one. Just cross the border and escape from the hellhole THEY've created for themselves and walk into the USA. They've done this in the millions. They can do this because we have no lock on the door.

Suppose you and I were each building a car. We both put our efforts into it and, at the end, I have a running vehicle, but, yours is just an abject failure, won't run. A smart person might examine what I did right and emulate it, to make their own car. Instead, what we are seeing today is the demand, the RIGHT, for you to ride in my car, because, after all, we both want to go places.

So, maybe I'll give you a ride. Just keep in mind that it's my car and I make the rules. You don't get to drive, or tell me what speed to travel at, or what route to take. You're here by my sufferance, not because you have a right to go places. Likewise, you don't secure those privileges
just because you hid in my trunk or hid behind the seat. It's still my car and you didn't even ask for permission to ride.

We still use some doors in the USA. Did you know that half the criminals in jail in California are illegal 'immigrants'? I'm betting there are locks on THOSE doors.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

For a better blade

It's not easy getting respect. I know this because I've raised children. There are a lot of ways for kids to get into trouble, really bad trouble, and a parent imagines each and every one of those ways every day, hence my gray hair. ( I like to think of it as silver, though, cuz that seems so much classier)

Anyway, a parent's toughest job is preparing their children for the days when they make decisions that could scar or break them should they decide unwisely. That's a key word, 'unwisely'.

You see, wisdom is the domain of the elder, not the child. Children' experience is, perforce, limited, thus they make their decisions either by whimsy or based upon received knowledge. If, as a parent, we limit their received knowledge by avoiding tough subjects (drugs, sex, etc), we are setting them up for a likely failure because, without our sage preparation, their only teacher will be 'experience'.

If the sole arbiters for their actions are their, likewise, knowledge/experience-limited peers, then, we should not be too surprised when they dabble where angels (ie, grownups) fear to tread. It's said that you can lead a horse to water, but, you can't make him drink. On the other hand, if you never show him the path to water you should not be surprised if he follows his own nose and wanders off the safe path.

For instance, you wouldn't give your child a '1st place' ribbon for a race he'd never even run. You'd be conflating the mere possession of the goal with its achievement. So, you teach that any goal, love, money, success, whatever, that comes without a race is valueless. You teach that failure is just an obstacle in the race, not the end of the race.

Take Donald Trump. If you thought he's driven by the possession of wealth, you'd be wrong. Money is just the measure of of his success, not it's goal. For 'The Donald' it's the race that matters. The ribbons, i.e., money, are just acknowledgement of his skill in the race. If making the finest swords were his goal, a finished blade would be just another ribbon in the race to make a finer blade.

In the end, one might offer that our children are our own effort to make a finer blade, a better version of ourselves, in our own race for posterity. So, do a good job, if for no other reason, do it for yourself because your children are the mirror of your soul.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Socialism, Europe's religion of 'Cargo'

During the Second World War, the advancing Allies needed bases closer to the Japanese front and they carved them into the wilds of New Guinea. They stumbled across a primitive tribe. Those primitive people were amazed at the wonders of these strange new people, perhaps gods, with strange craft that flew, with new foods in astonishing amounts, blades of metal, and other wonders. Just imagine flying a B-17 into Pharoah's Egypt. That scale of shock and wonder.

Eventually, the war moved on and the Allies moved on, abandoning the new bases and leaving the primitive tribe behind to ponder that brief visit from the gods. The primitives wanted them back! So, they did what the limitations of their experience allowed, they emulated what they'd seen in order to induce the return of the gods. With mocked-up airplanes, built of wood and grasses, with praises and prayers, they tried to induce the occasional overflight to, again, return with its mana, the 'cargo'. The 'Cargo Cult' was born.

To quote Arthur C. Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". The people of the 'cargo cult' had no comprehension of how the wonders came to be, but, they knew they wanted them. With no understanding of technology, they called upon the magics of prayer to deliver.

Now we segue to Europe where, through a retrograding of education via the discipline/religion of socialism, they are devolving into a new cargo cult. The birthplace of the industrial revolution is in the process of forgetting the lessons they once taught the world, how to create wealth and wonders. As a people, Europeans are greatly interested in receiving the 'cargo' but much less interested in its creation. Socialism is the religion of 'cargo', mana received by those who cannot create their own. The creaking governments of Europe are destroying the sources of their wealth/cargo, through burgeoning taxation and stultifying regulations, even as they promise their dwindling populations ever greater portions of the cargo.

I read of an American entrepreneur who'd bought a part interest in a factory in a former Warsaw Pact country. In discussions with the workers he'd be employing he was asked why the company had to make a profit. He was stunned, of course. Here was a people who wanted the wealth capitalism could produce but had not a clue as to how that wealth might be achieved. At least two generations under communist regimes had been reduced, unknowingly, to cargo cultists. They looked forward to receiving the same wealth that Westerners could display and fully expected that their governments would provide it. That, in essence, is the cargo cult. Substitute Gods for governments and the beliefs are similar.

Meanwhile, in Western Europe, vast numbers in their populations had, likewise, been schooled to disdain capitalism's flaws while learning nothing of its benefits. Simultaneously, the demands for the wealth created by capitalism grew while the promises of 'free' cargo, through the beneficence of government, were continually expanded. Homes, jobs, health, and wealth were all to be had, so long as the peoples continued their praise and prayers. When, as is happening, limits are reached and the wealth dwindles, the peoples are exhorted, not to produce, but, to believe. The peoples are urged to shun 'Anglo-Saxon Capitalism' lest they lose they lose their kinship with the cargo gods of Socialism.

Predictably, Europe is being surpassed by nations that converge on capitalism and reduce their enthrallment to socialism. Asia, as a whole, is advancing upon Europe, while individual nations make astonishing leaps forward, India and China, notably. Having cast down their false priests they've emboldened their people and opened up to greater possibilities. The difference is that one must pray to the Socialist shrine that will be built. Under capitalism, people understand that one needs to make bricks in order to build.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Europe gets mugged... by a cartoon

It's often said that a liberal is a conservative that has never been mugged. If there's any truth to this, then, Europe is presently learning the lesson of conservatism.

The recent publication in a Danish paper of cartoons depicting Mohammed has resulted in protests that have avalanched into embassies burning and cries for the murder of any westerner within reach. The French can claim a fair share of credit/blame for it because a French paper re-printed the cartoons, followed by papers in numerous other Euro countries. The effect has been the enraging of the Middle East against this show of European solidarity for Denmark's cartoonists.

For a long time Europe rested comfortably under the laurel of multiculturalism, secure in the belief that their tolerance of radicalism would co-opt the radicals of Islam. Belatedly, they have learned that they are in a war of ideas and that Europe was getting whiplashed by dutifully turning the other cheek. Indeed, they had not enough cheeks to turn to appease their abusers.
Europe is finding that they cannot enact laws fast enough or wide enough to satisfy those whose ultimate desire is Sharia law without depriving themselves of the body of laws which permitted Europe to flourish.

Many Europeans are now asking themselves why they'd been so blind, or lead so blindly. Must be a real shock to them to have found the 'root causes' they so wished America would seek in response to 9-11 are, in fact, in Europe. All we can say is, "Welcome to the real world'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pacifist and pitbulls

A guy named Joel Stein wrote, in the LA Times, that he doesn't support the troops in Iraq. There's a flurry of responses in the blogosphere and elsewhere now.

Mr. Stein, it seems, is a pacifist who's determined that moral rectitude lies with those who decline violence under any circumstances. Well, we're Americans, so, we believe he's entitled to his own opinions/beliefs/voice, etc. And his voice is loud, coming from a major newspaper, so he's getting, at least, a fair share of justice for his views. If it's okay with Mr. Stein, I'll grab my own, though lesser, megaphone now.

There are no pacifist nations, only pacifistic enclaves within nations. Indeed, if any pacifist nation ever existed it would be but a footnote in history for it certainly was absorbed by a less morally constricted neighbor.

There have been some admirable pacifists in history, and some admirable pacifist groups, as well. Ghandi's name comes to mind easily. One can certainly admire the depth of his belief, his faith. Yet, a Ghandi-led India would've been marched into the ovens of a Nazi Auswitz or a Soviet gulag to die, if not for the fortunate lack of proximity to the butchery and the protection of more martial nations. Pacifists proudly proclaim their willingness to be herded to what ever fate or slaughterhouse a forceful sheperd desires. They survive only by the protection offered by another who is less morally straight-jacketed.

Pacifists pride themselves on the virtue they perceive derives from their denial of aggression and, even, defense. I wonder, though, what might be a pacifists' response if he, or his child perhaps, were attacked by two or three pitbulls?

Does one lose his virtue if he picks up a stick to beat off the dogs? Must he, simply, permit himself or a loved one to be mauled? Perhaps he might just grab the offending animals and try to pull them off?

So, does the pacifist fight in this scenario? If so, then their belief is either very shallow or very false. Maybe you'll posit the case that a pitbull is a lower animal and, thus, not protected. Well, these things do vary, don't they? Cows are sacred in some places, rats and snakes in others. I guess it depends upon where you believe the starting point is when respecting life. The religious can, at least, explain that having a soul sets the threshold. The non-religious have to set themselves a much more arbitrary, and far less logical, threshold. Species-ism, anyone?

Mr Stein, you, and those like you, are permitted to survive ONLY because me, and those like me permit you your moral cocoon. Do us, your moral inferiors, a courtesy and don't assail us for our permissive nature. To people like you, the only good soldier is Cindy Sheehan's son. Without us (and him), you and yours could not indulge yourselves.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Children's Games and other trivia

Imagine, if you can, what a child's life was like in the early 1300's. The Black Plague has struck Europe and everyone is dying. This plague will kill almost half the people in Europe, alone. Still, a child is a special kind of person and they need only little things to bring out their natural resiliency, like games.

One game, which you almost certainly have played, dates back to those days. A group of children will join hands in a circle and, rotating their circle, they recite a short poem until, upon reaching the last word of the poem, they simultaneously drop to the ground. In my old neighborhood we called it 'Ring around the Rosy'. It goes like this:

Ring around the Rosy!
Pocket full of posies!
Upstairs! Downstairs!
We all fall DOWN!

The game is the story of the plague, from a child's view. One symptom of the plague was buboes.
That is a swelling in the lymph glands that was particularly painful. They could be recognized by the red, or 'rosy' central swollen area surrounded by (a ring) of blanched skin.

Strangely, it was thought that the inhalation of 'bad air' caused the plague, hence, special masks were often worn, incense burned, or, one might carry flowers to provide 'good air', a 'pocket full of posies'.

The plague respected not rank. Both nobles and peasants were afflicted. Rich, poor, high, low, upstairs(the wealthy), downstairs(the servants), all were struck down impartially(we all fall DOWN).

Interesting, no? It occurs to me that, when I was small, we called out little injuries 'boboes'. Coincidence?

While we're on the subject of olden times, I know you've heard of small pox. That also goes way back. There was also a 'large pox' in those days. We now call it syphilis. Going yet farther afield, did you know that syphilis was EXTREMELY common in the 1700-1800's? I was reading about the Lewis and Clark expedition in which virtually everyone on it suffered from syphilis. It was considered just one of life's miseries, like the common cold.

Lastly, the yoke harnessed animal power to the plow and made it possible for one to farm five times as much land and pull much heavier loads. When they took the yoke off the animal's neck to lower on its chest, and stopped choking off its wind, they doubled their productivity. A little thing, but, very important.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Truth + Bias vs Honesty

There's been two trains of thought that I've been tossing around lately that I want to write down before they're lost as I move onto some else. The first is Truth + Bias vs Honesty. The second is a characteristic shared between lawyers and terrorists, that of loophole abuse.

The MSM is generally truthful. I say that despite Rathergate and other such defamations. For instance, when the Washington Post trots out a story with a poster child that demonstrates how social security reform will hurt that person, that may well be truth. But, is it honest? The facts of their story can be totally accurate but honesty demands that an opposing argument be made. Bias enters when no opposing argument is offered, at all.

If a reporter accurately relays a quote which savages someone, say Bush, that's truth. If that reporter then asks Bush for his response, he's probably being dishonest. If the quote is truly newsworthy, it should be placed in context and the validity of it should be appraised. The purpose of the quote should be determined. Is the reporter merely to carry water for those quoted? If so, then he's not a reporter, merely a repeater.

And, that's the problem with the MSM today. They are truthful, but, biased and, therefore, not honest because they usually only present the argument which their bias approves. They repeat the arguments of those they support and require those in opposition to do the work of honestly reporting their side from outside the MSM.

That second thought, that most confuses me. We live under laws that try to provide for the social body a environment in which people can live and prosper while maintaining their freedoms. The laws that protect our freedoms were created to prevent those who have power in our society from abusing that power. Lawyers typically seek loopholes through which their clients can skirt the law and continue actions the law was created to prevent. Clever lawyers get paid well for their innovative use of loopholes. Society must endlessly upgrade its laws to cover the loopholes that clever lawyers find.

Similarly, terrorists use our laws against us. Or, in this case, the Geneva Convention. Clearly terrorists have no intention of obeying the Convention. Indiscriminate slaughtering of civilians is a common attribute of terroism. However, the Convention is an accord between its signatories, agreeing on what is permitted in wars between them. Why should terrorists be allowed the benefit of such an accord? They are neither signatories, nor nations. This is a case of abusing a loophole, that being that nations which submit to the Convention are then called upon to treat terrorists as actual nations, and signatories. At least, that is the argument that some offer, particularly terrorists.

What about torture? Our laws forbid torture because it was frequently used by the powerful, and criminal, to extort confessions, admissions of guilt, etc. We protect the individual by forbidding torture. But, what about a terrorist who knows the location of a bomb or bio weapon? Do we protect the indiviual's rights by permitting the killing of many individuals because we won't torture a terrorist for information? I admit it, I'm confused by this issue. This is the kind of thing that persuades people to relinquish, or weaken, a right for the purpose of security. I'd be interested in others thoughts.....