Google Analytics

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's scary?

Coming home from a trip to find out that just a very short distance (~6 km) from the hotel you stayed in an urban war is breaking out! And had you been there now, there would be a real possibility of being trapped in a hostile environment in a foreign country.

Sometimes we need to stop and take stock of the relative civility and order that we enjoy compared to some places in the world. Things here in the US could be better but they could definitely be much worse.

Where credit is due

I had forgotten about this but when Stossel leads a blog entry with “Go Barney Frank!” it makes you sit up and listen. What I forgot was that Barney Frank is currently pushing legislation that would in effect revoke existing law, giving every American citizen the right to gamble online.

The illegality of doing something online that is actually legal in some states and has even caused the WTO to rule against the US because our gambling ban actually causes damages to Antigua and Barbuda and others.

So in the same spirit, I must repeat "Go Barney Frank!”

Friday, May 7, 2010

When cops don’t shoot the dog

They call this guy. The Reluctant Paladin demonstrates how a total stranger can walk into an angry pit bull’s own yard and immediately get him to back down without touching him. Its an excellent lesson in the behavior of pack animals. It should also shake up all of you who think you have a big mean attack dog protecting your home.

Unless your dog has had specific, guard/attack dog training at the hands of a professional - I can neutralize him as a deterrent with nothing more than a stick in a matter of minutes and get to you in your house. No matter how bad ass you might think he is.

Its also interesting to note (as he does) how the same dominant behavior happens between him and the cops who are afraid of the dog and had already made things worse by pepper spraying it.

It’s all about attitude.

<HT: Borepatch>

LOL is the canned laughter of the internet

(Warning: Internet Curmudgeon mode is enabled)

Everyone please stop LOLing at yourself. If you post something funny or giggly on facebook, twitter or thenextsocialnetworkoftheweek, do not put “lol” at the end of your update/tweet.

e.g. “I did [this really stupid thing] last night! LOL!”

Its either funny or its not. Your friends will let you know if its funny by responding “lol”. More than likely they will be laughing at you and not with you. When you do it on your own its like canned laughter and just as appealing. Yeah we get it. You want me laugh with you here. Thanks for the hint.

OK – now back to your regularly scheduled internet.

The impossibility of immigration papers

All of the discussion on illegal immigration and whether the new Arizona law is good or even constitutional is missing a huge point.

It is impossible to determine quickly and easily whether someone is here legally.

Most people seem to assume that there is a giant list of immigrants. As if the local police officer can call an 800 number and verify the green card number he has been presented with. There is not. There is a bureaucracy instead.

There are actually legal ways to be in this country without being able to prove it.

Most people also assume that since the law requires legal immigrants to carry their papers with them that they will have proof on them at all times.

Even if an immigrant is here legally there are issues with the current federal processes which can create edge cases. I recently watched a friend of mine achieve his citizen status and just coming from Canada it’s a bizarre narrative which would be unbelievable in a movie script.

Your legal documentation can expire without being replaced while you are waiting for some INS process to move forward. In that case you are not an illegal immigrant. You’ve been given an implicit extension, but if asked to provide the documentation (which you are legally required to carry at all times) you can’t because the documentation you have shows an expired date. What do you think an AZ police officer is going to do with that?

God help you if the Feds just sort of forget about you and accidently just lose your file (as I saw it happen).

How the hell do you tell an immigrant from a citizen?

Yes they are actually discussing this one but it bears repeating because it is extremely important. A citizen carries no papers. An illegal carries no papers. The only people you actually can identify are immigrants who are here legally who are trying to comply with the law because they have papers (which as mentioned before may not be proper). As I see it the only thing asking for papers will do is

  1. Violate my right of free movement without the need to carry identification
  2. Falsely accuse legal immigrants of illegality when they are caught in a screwed up process
  3. Assume everyone with a foreign accent and no papers is an illegal alien

None of those is particularly appealing and are generally downright offensive.

If someone can come up with a law that enables you to really identify illegal aliens without having to require me carry around identification I’ll listen. But until then the real issue is fixing the immigration process, because you cannot enforce laws surrounding status without being able to identify that status in the first place.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Amtrak needs money. Surprise!

Amtrak has a press release stating

“Long-term, sustainable funding is the key and without it Amtrak and the whole system will continue to limp along failing to live up to the promise of what we know rail can do for the nation,” said Joe McHugh, Vice President, Government Affairs and Corporate Communications.

I could do with some “long-term, sustainable funding” myself. Then I wouldn’t have to go work for it either! McHugh’s congressional testimony amounts to “We need more money from you because we can’t make it on our own.” Really? Then maybe you need to shut it down.

I was watching Bill Maher last night and he and his guests were bemoaning the fact that we just won’t give Amtrak a chance. Its stunning to see them beat this dead horse in the face of the real fact that even on of Amtrak’s own VPs admits they can’t succeed on their own.

I also love their little company bio at the end of the release

Last fiscal year (FY 2009), the railroad carried 27.2 million passengers, making it the second-best year in the company’s history. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, Amtrak operates more than 300 trains each day—at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph)—to more than 500 destinations.

Its all about how great it is that they move people around. That assumption being that their transportation volume, not the economical efficiency of transporting those people, is the ultimate goal. I see lots of numbers there but no dollar signs. The also conveniently leave out the fact that they only carry about 0.1 percent of passenger travel in the U.S. That 27 million doesn’t look so big anymore, does it?

<HT: The Antiplanner>

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tie a gray ribbon around the old oak tree…

How did I not know it was Zombie Awareness Month?

Supporters of Zombie Awareness Month wear a gray ribbon to signify the undead shadows that lurk behind our modern light of day.  From May 1 through May 31, Zombie Research Society Members and friends take this small step to acknowledge the coming danger.

That cheeky little GM CEO

I too had heard the commercials by General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre claiming that that GM has paid back its bailout "in full and ahead of schedule." I’ve been wondering how in the world General Motors could have paid off its federal bailout loan so quickly when their business is still hurting. Turns out, they didn’t quite do that. They used some of their TARP money to pay back their other TARP money.