Thursday, May 24, 2007

The most charitable explanation I can think of for the president's current attempt to ram a "comprehensive immigration reform" bill through the legislature (even before the bill is hot off the presses) is that it is a logical extension of his faith and desire to "love [his] neighbor as [him]self", with the neighbor in this case being our neighbors to the south.

Of course, that explanation does nothing to explain the high pressure tactics of the bill's senatorial sponsors (McCain and Kennedy)...

In reality, the rush through the senate is perhaps designed to ensure passage of a law by lawmakers before they have time to reflect on the fact that two thirds of Americans want to see the current immigration laws actually enforced before any sort of amnesty -- and this regardless of party affiliation.

The bill itself seems to be designed to fail, if success is defined as actually having control on who and how many immigrants and/or laborers come into the country at a time. With the law mandating Z-visa issuance WITHIN 24 HOURS of the request, how is an immigration bureaucracy that currently takes years to process legals to gain ANY information on those who are receiving visas? Perhaps the bill's sponsors are under the sway of the powerful "Want to be INS officials when we grow up" lobby, and are attempting to create a huge number of new jobs for functionaries?

In all seriousness though, despite the bill's manifest shortcomings, I wonder whether reaction from the conservative side of the aisle is misdirected. As conservatives we're supposed to believe that government will be ineffectual at best and actively FUBAR-ing at worst, so it ought not surprise us when even elected officials on our side of the aisle propose entirely idiotic legislation. Perhaps we need to take steps ourselves and work outside of the government in this case...

For instance, since the government has evidently only built 2 out of 700 miles of fence that the already authorized (and indeed don't even have plans for the 698 remaining miles), might private citizens not band together to purchase lands in a stretch along the border and simply build their own fence? Of course, this might provide large monetary incentive for cheaters, but even then, at least private US citizens would be getting the coyote payoffs, and at worse the situation stays the same as the status quo.

Another thought is that private citizens should organize more private, free classes/lessons in English and civics, and offer them to our immigrants. If they're just going to keep coming, we should at least do our utmost to turn them into citizens that have some conception of our common law traditions, and the language that inspired them. I'd be willing to teach such a class if someone else can help organize it...
I like night, but night without light wouldn't be right.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

And now for a story not at all related to my life, now or in 2030...

Part II:

Back in his car -- it was a foreign mid-size sedan of the type that never draws any attention from either the owner or other motorists -- Robert looked through the rear-windshield as he backed out of the parking stall, his purchase sitting in the front seat next to him. He maneuvered out of the lot and back onto the road, slipping into the stream of midday commercial traffic when an SUV paused to let him in. Soon sitting at a stop light, Robert glanced over at the plastic bag in the passenger seat. It was foolish since he had planned this trip carefully, but he was still nervous.

The only thing that could go wrong, he reminded himself, was if his wife had an emergency and tried to call him at work. That wasn't likely. But... no, no, he had to operate on the assumption that everything was fine. Still, what if... no, the plan was proceeding smoothly, nothing would go wrong.

Roberts echoing thoughts accompanied him as he drove to his home. An off-white colored two story, neither the largest nor smallest in its subdivision, with an increasingly weathered basketball backboard over the garage, and a regularly mown though not fastidiously manicured lawn, the house was now five years from being fully paid off. A finger to the garage door opener, Robert turned into his driveway and pulled forward into the garage, pushing the button on the opener a second time to close the door behind him. While neither the neighbors nor his wife were the type to gossip, there was no need for flaunt his presence at this time of day.

Walking into the house through the laundry room which opened to the garage, Robert kicked off his shoes onto the mat reserved for such purposes, and made his way upstairs, carrying his plastic bag from the drugstore. He turned left at the top of the stairs into the master bedroom out of habit, but stopped at once and turned around, heading to what was still known as the kid's bathroom, despite one being married and the other in college. It was not used often these days, and consequently only cleaned once every other week -- and then usually only a superficial dusting unless company was expected.

Still, despite no expectation of a close spousal inspection, Robert was deliberate in his actions so as to avoid leaving behind any sort of evidence of his presence. Setting the plastic bag down on the counter-top by the bathroom's sink, he took out one of boxes containing a darkish hue dye which he judged the most likely match for his natural color. Reading through the box-back directions two times, he felt he had a grip on the process, and was pleased to learn that it would take only twenty minutes. Out of care, he removed his shirt and work pants and folded them carefully, walking back down the hall and placing them on the bed in the master bedroom. Then, standing in boxer shorts and white teeshirt, he proceeded to apply the dye to his head.

Monday, May 21, 2007

So, with my sister newly back in town, I went to the parents' place for dinner, and then we all headed to church. Afterwards -- due perhaps to either the nature of the sermon, or the contents of a letter shared at dinner -- my mother posed the following question to me: "Do you think your generation believes in absolute truth?"

I felt it would be rather perilous to answer a question about such a large group of people with a simple 'yes' or 'no', so rather than answering at all, I thought about it a while.

From a practical standpoint, I would say that nobody does not believe in absolute truth... they may think they do not, they may proclaim that they do not, but in the end, they will behave as if they do in fact hold some beliefs as absolutely true. Indeed, often those who most loudly proclaim the equivalence of all beliefs, are loudly proclaiming in order to influence others to drop one or more of their "intolerant" beliefs.

I do think however, (particularly after reading Lewis' "The Abolition of Man") that there is some memetic pressure in western society to abandon "old" or "traditional" beliefs (generally those received as traditionally Christian) in favor of what might superficially be regarded as relativism i.e. an abandonment of belief in anything absolute. Still, such individuals as succumb to this pressure then adopt some other set of beliefs absolutely, whether those be Gramscian, hedonistic, mystical, paranormal or others.

A more interesting question is the question of where people of my generation look to find truth which they can then believe in. To my mind, the two best sources of truth are science and scripture, the first being the best means we currently have of investigating God's general revelation, and the second being our best compilation of his special revelation. Both of these disciplines can be approached only through reason, and the faculties of the mind.

What seems to me the most likely explanation for what my mom evidently perceived of being a lack of belief in absolute truth, to me seems therefore to be more of a lack of reason. More often it would seem that people are impressed to simply believe however they feel, which in turn explains some of our nation's politics much better than any analysis of our polity which assumes it to be made up entirely of rational actors. Of course, reducing people to believe whatever they feel leaves them at the mercy of populists and demagogues...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Perhaps there was a reason Ronald Regan got elected...

A certain sense of dramatic (or comedic) timing.

Unlike our current prez, or e.g. that woman who wishes to be the next prez, I think I could actually listen to speeches if this fellow was giving them.

Plus, I mean come on.... "...Russkie don't take a dump without a plan son."
Ohhh!! Ohhhh!!! Yes, there IS something new coming from Blizz... yesterday Warcrafts I and II were highlighted, now they've moved to the right along the timeline and Diablo and Starcraft are highlighted... At this rate we'll get to the giant question mark at the end of the timeline by Friday!!!

I better get out my battle-reporting trench coat and chapeau... if it's SC2 coming out, I'd expect to have a renaissance.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I don't know what Blizzard's homepage usually looks like, so perhaps it's normal, but as I type this it seems to indicate that there may be something new forthcoming... it lists their existing product line at the bottom along a timeline, and then at the end has a very bright "?". Of course, I'm prone to agree with the thinking that with how many million subscribers to WoW, they don't need to spend much time thinking about other products, but, it would be interesting if they're getting ready to announce... SC II for instance...

We shall see...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

And now for a story not at all related to my life, now or in 2030...

Part I:

Robert was fifty-five years old when he first dyed his hair.

He was careful and deliberate this first time. At the drugstore, he stood in front of a shelf full of dyes and colors. He perused the various shades displayed on the boxes. As he did so, he wondered why eighty percent of the boxes had women's faces on them. He crouched down, inspecting the shades available on the bottom half of the shelves. Another customer's footfalls passing in the aisle behind him caused him to stand up again and wander a little ways down the aisle so as to end up looking at high strength dandruff shampoos. That was little better.

He was nervous.

It was pointless of course. Certainly many men his age dyed their hair, and he would be no different... well, slightly different Robert thought.

Back in front of the hair dyes, he at last selected three boxes that he guessed might most closely resemble his natural hair color. Then, carefully balancing the three, he took one more box from the shelf, this one gray in color. He carried his selections up to the counter, glancing left and right as he got in line behind a geriatric buying perfume and a shifting teen-a-something who bought a pack of prophylactics and a Slim-Jim.

This was of course the most nerve-wracking part of the shopping trip. Robert's muscles remained tense and his mind alert, ready to either jump behind a merchandise display or fast-talk any interlocutor into believing the haul in his hands was destined for a home improvement project -- seriously, just slap some lacquer on top and it works even better than Minwax.

No coworkers or old friends of parents of his children's friends disturbed him before he made it to the front of the line and handed the four boxes to the clerk. Robert was glad that he had taken the trouble of shopping at a store on the far side of town from his home and workplace. He opened his wallet and paid in cash, and as soon as the cashier bagged his purchase Robert made for the door, and walked out into the noonday glare of the parking lot.