Friday, April 30, 2010

SB 1070 - anti-illegal immigration law

People are talking about this all over the place. Most have shown a remarkable lack of understanding of the law and its implications. I'm not interested in getting in flame wars in those places, so I'm just going to outline a few points here that you may not have thought about and then I'm not interested in talking about it any more:

- Police officers already have the power to arrest illegal immigrants and turn them over to the Border Patrol. This law will allow people to sue the police for both NOT enforcing the law and for racial profiling. It's an untenable law that even police think is BS. They will be damned if they do and damned if they don't.

- It requires police to make an effort to determine immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion". That is left within the police's discretion. How does an illegal look? I'll tell you, in the eyes of the police, he looks brown. That gives the them the right of asking legal American citizens for their proof of citizenship. If someone was in the country illegally from say, Canada or Ireland, what would make them identifiable by the police? Absolutely nothing! So, what makes our police so special that they can see something we cannot? They can't. That's the point. If you are brown, you are going down.

- If you are for this law, then you must be for all citizens carrying proof of their citizenship at all times and being required to provide it at the police's discretion. Sound familiar?

- In a already down economy, Arizona is doing something that is going to isolate them from the country in the world in a manner similar to what it did during the MLK day fiasco. I have personally spoken with business owners here who are getting cancellations by the truckload for resorts, hotels and conventions. There is a very real chance that Major League Baseball will relocate next year's All-Star game from Arizona. If our leaders want to be backwoods, ignorant xenophobes, do it somewhere else, because it is affecting the ability of non-racist people to make a living. This law, though signed, will not go into effect for at least 90 days. With all of the costly court challenges sure to come, I would suspect it may never go into effect. So, what has been accomplished? Nothing is done to help illegal immigration. The state will lose hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. The world will laugh at Arizona. Congratulations, Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, and Jan Brewer ... you are sure to go down unfavorably in the long list of Arizona political fuck-ups (Evan Mecham, Fife Symington).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is "success"?

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a story that helped give some perspective to our daily lives: Mayor of Central Park

Anyone who walked or ran on the famous Central Park Reservoir running track in New York would see him. They called him the Mayor of Central Park, and he claimed to be the first person to jog around the reservoir when there was just a little path. Since 1937, Alberto Arroyo was there every day, and when he retired he was often there the entire day, waving and saying hello to everyone. When he couldn't run, he walked. Then he used a cane, then a walker, and finally, after a stroke, a wheelchair. Arroyo died last month at 94.

... For some 75 years, Alberto Arroyo ran in Central Park. He claimed to be the first runner there, the first to run around the Central Park Reservoir, long before there was a running track. Later, with his weather-beaten face and white hair, he was still there, no matter the season, waving, talking and encouraging people.

Yesterday, the running track was dedicated to Arroyo ...

MARGOT ADLER: As some 150 people lined both sides of the reservoir track near the bench where Arroyo often sat, they left a wide space so that runners could pass by throughout the service. He would've insisted, they said. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said Arroyo was like the mail carrier neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night kept him from his rounds.

Wendy Mondreresena(ph), a mother of three, said she would return to the reservoir after each child was born and Alberto was always there.

Ms. WENDY MONDRERESENA: I was always so out of shape and I felt so crappy, and you know, he always really brought me up and made me feel good and said I could do it and I could get back in shape. He was such a positive thing in my life. I wonder if he knows that...

Ms. LORI BRAUN: Always gave you time, always. The smile, just a genuine person.

Ms. RUTH PAGON: I did the power walking. I didn't do the jogging like he did. But he got me hooked and I looked forward to coming here every single day just to see Alberto. He was just a wonderful soul ...

ADLER: Arroyo, who died last month at 94, was a very private person. At the memorial service, a longtime friend, Edmund Maring(ph), said he only learned late in his friendship that Arroyo had taken a vow of poverty at an early age and had given all his money away. He lived in a single-room occupancy hotel on the Upper West Side.

Mr. ADRIAN BENEPE (Parks Commissioner): With just a hot plate and a phone that only dialed 911. Alberto said that you have to be able to be happy with nothing. He had cereal in the morning. He said that he had fresh air in the afternoon. And then he'd have Chinese takeout for dinner. What's more New York than that?

ADLER: Edmund Maring said Arroyo told a filmmaker he didn't mind dying. You just go from one apartment to another. This was his place in the sun, he said, the Central Park Reservoir, even on a rainy day, his last apartment on earth. But most runners said they still keep thinking they'll see him when they round a bend.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

It kinda makes you think about what we define as "success". This man had no money, was not some storied businessman or celebrity, yet profoundly impacted more lives than any of us could ever hope to.

We slave each day at our jobs for some elusive carrot. What is that carrot? For some, it is money. For some it is the security that money may bring so that they can do other things. For others, it is accolades. Are those bad goals in and of themselves? No, of course not. But the path you take to that goal is as important as the destination. I don't care if you are giving a bunch of your money to charity if you are screwing some homeowner with a shady mortgage to get there. I don't care if you are volunteering each weekend if you are knowingly peddling some financial derivative that you know is toxic during the week.

Don't be a hater. Don't just be generous to "your" people. Love need not see color or gender, so don't tell people who they can't marry. Religion and patriotism are not cloaks of protection that allow you to be a bigot. If you believe in God, then practice what the book preached:

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you ..."

"Do not judge, lest you too be judged"

"Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions ..."

"You cannot serve both God and money"

If you don't believe in God, those are still not too shabby of things to live by. You only have one life here, so don't waste it.

There is no inherent merit to collecting wealth. Being rich doesn't make you a better person.

So, go out there, do your thing, be successful. But me mindful of your journey. The way in which we impact this world is through our relationships with others and how we impact our surroundings. Don't be remembered as "that guy" that may have died with a lot of money but had no friends.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Movie Review - Clash of the Titans

We went and saw Clash of the Titans this last weekend.  I'm usually a bit of film snob but will make exceptions for the latest big-budget sci-fi/fantasy flicks.  Plus, Alex has been reading the Percy Jackson books and thus has a new found fascination with Greek mythology.  As in the 1981 version of the movie, the story is based on the myth of Perseus, son of Zeus.  It follows him battling Medusa, Hades, the Kraken, etc.

Those that don't like the new movie because they are nostalgic for the "original" need to gets some perspective. Have they watched the earlier one lately? It has a certain campy charm, but it is hardly the Godfather.  I mean ... honestly, is that Land of the Lost?

L.A. Law actor Harry Hamlin played Perseus in that version.  That gives you some idea how high-brow it was.

Some of the dialogue in the new movie is cringe-worthy. There's the obligatory Braveheart ("They can never take our freedom!") / Aragorn-at-the-gates-of-Mordor speech.  But that kind of corn is almost expected and doesn't necessarily detract from the movie.

But the cast is good: Liam Neeson as Zeus, Sam Worthington as Perseus and Ralph Feinnes as Hades. But it's a bit creepy how Feinnes brings just a bit too much Voldermort and Amon Goeth to the role (this movie is a reunion of sorts with Schindler actor Neeson). Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace and the upcoming Prince of Persia) is very attractive as Io.

The special effects are fine.  We saw it in 2D, as I want to make of point of only seeing those movies in 3D that were actually designed that way, not done afterwards, as Clash was.

Also, is it just me, or is the Kraken in the new movie just Rancor from Return of the Jedi?

The movie certainly embellishes the myth of Perseus, but isn't that the point?  The myth itself is fabricated and has been embellished for time eternal.  There is no over-arching theme or attempt to give Titans some modern context, at least none that I could gather.  But that's OK.  Sometimes, you just go to a movie to have fun.  And ... we had fun.  A pleasant diversion.  Grade:  B-

Friday, April 23, 2010

Isaac Asimov

"If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul." -- Isaac Asimov

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Arizonans are morons

"Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins." -- Ayn Rand

... well some of them anyway. Like those of the Republican persuasion in our state government. In one week they have managed to do the following:

Starting later this summer, U.S. citizens 21 and older can begin carrying a concealed firearm without a permit in Arizona.

...It eliminates the requirement for a concealed-carry weapons permit ...

"I believe strongly in the individual rights and responsibilities of a free society, and as governor I have pledged a solemn and important oath to protect and defend the Constitution," Brewer (AZ Governor) said in a news release. "I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well."

... Arizona joins Vermont and Alaska in not requiring such permits.

"If you want to carry concealed, and you have no criminal history, you are a good guy, you can do it," bill sponsor Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, has said of his bill. "It's a freedom that poses no threat to the public."

Governor Brewer is a piece of work but Pearce is a skidmark on the underpants of society. He really has no redeeming qualities. Check out his Wikipedia page in the Personal Life section. It lists him as Mormon (big shocker considering his backward views on marriage, immigration, minorities, etc.) but additionally says, "He is also a douche". Too funny. Obviously, most of his followers are too stupid to check up on the accuracy of the data on his page. I would suggest that it IS accurate.

More from the article on concealed guns:

... Brewer last week did sign a separate law that exempts guns made and kept in Arizona from federal regulation, including background checks.

... For those who do choose to get a permit, the education requirements do change under the new law. Classes are no longer required to be a set number of hours or include any hands-on use of the weapon. Those who don't get a permit would not be required to get any training or education.

Retired Mesa police officer Dan Furbee runs a business teaching permit and other gun safety classes. He said if most people choose not to get a permit, it will put several hundred Arizona firearms instructors out of business.

"It's going to hurt," he said.

But he said what really concerns him is that the new law will allow people who have had no education about Arizona's laws and no training on the shooting range to carry a concealed gun. The eight-hour class currently required to get a permit includes information on state law and gun safety, as well as requires students to be able to hit a target 14 out of 20 times...

"I fully agree that we have a right to keep and bear arms," Furbee said. "But if you are not responsible enough to take a class and learn the laws, you are worse than part of the problem."

He said it's not uncommon for students to walk into his classroom and pull a new gun out of a box with no idea how to hold it and no understanding of the laws surrounding it.

"If you are going to carry a concealed weapon, you should have some kind of training and show that you are at least competent to know how the gun works and be able to hit a target," he said. "You owe the people around you a measure of responsibility."

Basically, anybody that buys an Arizona made gun can do so without a background check and can carry it concealed without any previous training or proof of competency. Unbelievable. Republicans here say they are for business but these laws are already scaring away tourists and being responded to negatively by businesses, expecially restaurants and bars.

And if I hear one more person try to tell me this is about freedom, I'm going to punch them in the ear. Freedom has a cost, and it is responsibility. These laws provide no burden of responsibility and endanger those who have no interest whatsoever in carrying guns. This is not anarchy. People have rights to do things (drive, vote, work, etc.) but with limits based on age, competency, safety, etc. The NRA would have no restrictions whatsoever except the judgement of "good guys", as Pearce puts it.

Republicans are not content with loosening gun laws. They are voting Monday on a law that "would require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card" or be fined. I won't talk too much on this one since it hasn't officially been signed into law yet. But, there is every indication that the senate will pass it and Brewer will sign it. There is already big time racially profiling being done in our county by cowboy Joe Arpaio. This new law will basically give free rein to police to shake down any Latino they want. Scary days.

An already backwards state is becoming more so. There is so much to love about Arizona, but the vision of its leaders is not one of the things.

"People are bringing shotguns to UFO sightings in Fife, Alabama. I asked a guy, "Why do you bring a gun to a UFO sighting?" Guy said, "Way-ul, we didn' wanna be ab-duc-ted." If I lived in Fife, Alabama, I would be on my hands and knees every night praying for abduction." -- Bill Hicks

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Political/Cultural Song of the Day - Dogma by KMFDM

"Dogma" by KMFDM

All we want is a headrush
All we want is to get out of our skin for a while
We have nothing to lose because we don't have anything
Anything we want anyway...
We used to hate people
Now we just make fun of them
It's more effective that way
We don't live
We just scratch on day to day
With nothing but matchbooks and sarcasm in our pockets
And all we are waiting for is for something worth waiting for
Let's admit America gets the celebrities we deserve
Let's stop saying "Don't quote me" because if no one quotes you
You probably haven't said a thing worth saying
We need something to kill the pain of all that nothing inside
We all just want to die a little bit
We fear that pop-culture is the only culture we're ever going to have
We want to stop reading magazines
Stop watching T.V.
Stop caring about Hollywood
But we're addicted to the things we hate
We don't run Washington and no one really does
Ask not what you can do for your country
Ask what your country did to you
The only reason you're still alive is because someone
Has decided to let you live
We owe so much money we're not broke we're broken
We're so poor we can't even pay attention
So what do you want?
You want to be famous and rich and happy
But you're terrified you have nothing to offer this world
Nothing to say and no way to say it
But you can say it in three languages
You are more than the sum of what you consume
Desire is not an occupation
You are alternately thrilled and desperate
Skyhigh and fucked
Let's stop praying for someone to save us and start saving ourselves
Let's stop this and start over
Let's go out - let's keep going
This is your life - this is your fucking life
We need something to kill the pain of all that nothing inside
Quit whining you haven't done anything wrong because frankly
You haven't done much of anything
Someone's writing down your mistakes
Someone's documenting your downfall

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Found at Atheist Revolution. Funny pic. Great blog.

Going Green Update

I'm not sure which is weirder - that my wife bought me a rotating compost bin for my birthday, or that I thought it was the coolest gift ever? Probably a little bit of both. Here is the beast:

I'm planning on putting it together this weekend and getting started making dirt. Sweet! BTW, Costco has this on sale for $99 right now ... quite a bit cheaper than the quoted price on the manufacturer website.


We went to the Glendale Family Bike Ride a few weeks ago. Had a nice ride, if a tad bit windy. They had a nice "green fair" post-ride with different vendors and government agencies promoting sustainibility plus kids' crafts. Good stuff.

I love that Alex didn't take his helmet off the entire time we were walking through the fair.  Our little "special" kid.

 We're doing the Peoria Days Family Bike Ride this weekend.