Wednesday, May 03, 2006

So Little Time

Wow! There is so much going on in the world in general and my life in particular that I do not even know where to start. Rather than play my usual game of have four partially written posts that never get done I am going to go ahead and embrace Tami’s method of doing one ginormous post about a bunch of things.

Bumper Sticker Truism

On the drive home from work on Monday I say a bumperstick that said:
Religious freedom is measured by the distance between Church and State.
Amen. You can view the sticker here and purchase it here.

A Day Without Immigrants

While I was in Korea I was discussing the current immigration debate with a couple of my brother’s friends. They were very interested in what I had to say since being from Houston puts me, in their words, on the front line of this particular issue. My feelings are first that any attempt to deport or criminalize the 11+ million “illegal” immigrants that are currently here is just plain dumb. The mere logistics of doing this are mind-boggling. Where are we going to put these 11 million people? This is a population roughly equivalent to that of Cuba. To put it another way, there are 229 countries listed on Wikipedia’s List of Countries by Population. The countries with populations of 11+ million are Zambia, 71st on the list, Senegal, 72nd on the list, Cuba, 73rd on the list, and Greece, 74th on the list. This means our population of 11 million is larger than 155, or 67.68%, of the countries on the list.

Then there are the economic ramifications of attempting to do this and these happen in two ways. The first would be how much money the government has to spend to process and move these 11 million people. I do not even want to get into that. The second economic impact would be in the market place. How many jobs would be left unfilled? How much spending would be removed from the economy if these 11 million people were to disappear?

The Day Without Immigrants boycott was intended to illustrate this second point. The problem with this boycott is that I live in Houston, a city where 37.41 percent of the population was Hispanic/Latino of any race according to the 2000 census, and I did not notice anything different. You would think that in a city where over a third of the population is Hispanic there would have been a noticeable effect. I saw about the same number of guys waiting for work by the hiring hall I pass on the way to the office. As far as I know all our Hispanic staffers were in the office. The guy who refills the paper products in the bathrooms was here as was the lady who empties our trash and all of the girls in the deli where I buy lunch far too often were working. When I went to get dinner at Whataburger (mmmm) the gentleman who took my order was Hispanic and while I was in the comic shop I noticed a couple of Hispanics engaging in commerce. From my limited experience it appears that the Day Without Immigrants boycott was a failure here in Houston.

To my mind this is not necessarily a bad thing. The people that the immigrant cause has to win over are middle Americans. You know, the people without boats who keep electing the G-Dub All-Stars. Taking a day off work and refusing to spend money seems to be a better way to alienate this crowd, particularly if you are allowing and even encouraging your kids to skip school. I am not sure how you can win over these people, as logic no longer seems to do the job.

All I really know is that we need to find some way to bring these 11 million into the process. We need an abbreviated path to citizenship for people that have been here and contributing for those that want it and for those that do not we need a guest worker program that is easy for the applicant/worker to navigate and the government to administrate.

English as a National Language

This debate has been reignited, or rather brought back to the fore, by the current immigration imbroglio. My feelings on this are pretty straight forward. We should have English as the official language of the United States. I appreciate the desire to maintain an ethnic identity by continuing to use your mother-tongue and I am not suggesting that we should outlaw languages or anything along those lines, however I do believe that all official business should be conducted in one language and that language should be English. More than any other reason, I believe this is important to begin the process of acculturation and build a new sense of community as Americans, which we are all first and foremost regardless of whether we were born here or came here seeking something more. I also believe that requiring government and other services to provide service in every imaginable language constitutes an undue and unnecessary strain on these entities. I am not saying we legally require people to speak English, however if you do not speak English then you should be ready to make the accommodation to have a translator available to you rather than the other way around.

Colbert vs. the Bush White House

I missed the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend, or more importantly I missed Stephen Colbert’s keynote speech. This is sad because Saturday night I was passing in and out of consciousness in my hotel room as I battled whatever strain of the Asian Bird Flu I managed to bring back into the country and I even flipped passed CSPAN a couple of times in my quest for Saturday Night Spank-o-rama fodder (there was none to be had.) If only I had known I was missing perhaps the defining moment of faux-punditry.

In a word his performance was, as Jon Stewart said, ballsalicious. I could not believe that he got up there in front of the White House staff, including the President, and the White House Press Corps and called them out. I am also saddened that it is the guys from Comedy Central that are speaking these truths and not the hallowed fourth estate. In fact the press’ general reaction to Colbert’s speech speaks volumes about the current state of journalism in this country.

For those of you that missed the speech should be able to be viewed below, however if they do not it can be found in parts here, here, and here and there is a transcript on Daily Kos, here.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And here is bonus Colbert from 60 Minutes. This could serve as a FAQ for his show.

Other Updates

I almost have all of my pictures from Korea and the air show uploaded to Webshots and sorted. As soon as I finish I will get posts about them knocked out. I also have a couple more posts in me about my experiences in Korea, however they may be some time in coming as I want them to be mostly serious and thoughtful, which means I have to work on them rather than shoot from the hip. I also have a post about my weekend in Wimberley on the way and judging by how long it is taking me to write it should probably be printed and required reading of all the children in the land. Also there is at least one more Engrish post in the works as well as my meditations on why Japanese candy is so much better than ours. Of course this is on top of getting back in the saddle with my comics reading (I have a stack of fifty books to hammer through before the end of the week), three trade paperback reviews I have to write, and the book No god but God to finish and review. Oh yeah, there is also porn out there, or as the cool kids say, pr0n. Every time I see it written like that I can’t help but think of prawns and those are the two great tastes that do not go great together, if you catch my meaning.

Finally, Corey, if you’re reading this email me. I sent Charlie an email asking for your address and the little crap weasel has yet to reply.

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