Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Portman Fisking

Nothing (NOTHING) fries my bacon worse than the handling of immigration by our elites.  Nothing destroys the character of a nation faster and depresses wages worse than what they're doing right now.  The fact that they need to make what they're doing even worse is bad governance on steroids.

I can understand some lefties to an extent since many of them hate America and would love to import people until it is properly destroyed.  However, even with lefties I'm puzzled since it would seem like they would want to defend the big government that they purport to love instead of saddling it with higher costs while further endangering the environment that they (supposedly) seek to conserve. 

In the case of the Republicans, idiocy abounds from every corner of their ill thought out plans:
  1. Hispanics will vote for us... (No, they won't, ever)
  2. Chamber of Commerce loves it... (Way to refute the idea that you're the 'party of rich elites' by siding with rich elites over the lower classes).
  3. We need 'talented immigrants'...(Because your native countrymen are too stupid?  Beyond that, using their current methods, for every ounce of gold they get they're going through ten tons of sand; what's the point?)

With the passage out of the Senate committee of their 'reform' bill (that's actually nothing of the sort) I messaged the people in Congress that represent me (well, supposedly...).  The law was bad enough to begin with, but then Orin Hatch found that he could only support it if it sold out the middle class via H1-B in addition to low skilled labor.  Rob Portman (RINO-OH) replied back with a nauseous, vapid spool of text that I feel must be picked apart:
Our immigration system is broken and is in need of reform.
And what exactly is broken about it? In Portman's mind, I'm guessing what is broken is that we have any immigration system at all. What's actually broken is that laws go unenforced while the ones that are enforced do things like set Islamic terrorists up with free school/food/housing, etc.
America is a nation of immigrants, and immigrants have enriched our great country.
This is feel-good nonsense and revisionism. America is a nation of settlers, and immigration has been a mixed bag. To the extent that it has been a success, the fools in Washington aren't making any effort to figure out what worked and what didn't.
We are also a nation of laws, and those laws must be enforced. It is the federal government's duty to enforce our immigration laws at the border and in the interior, to stop illegal entry of those who seek to harm us.
And? Well? Is the Federal government incapable of performing this or is it just unwilling. How will a new law solve this?
We need effective immigration regulations that will uphold our laws while continuing to bestow the privilege of American citizenship to those who pursue it through legal means.
How allowing people who have gamed the system to jump ahead of those who are playing by the rules is supposed to make sense then I don't know. It seems like at a minimum that a nation would favor immigrants who, you know, trouble themselves to not break the law as a matter of course.
We must never forget that the United States owes its solid foundation to the hard work of generations of legal immigrants. We are strengthened by being a nation of immigrants. This means that we should keep the doors of America open to those who come legally and enrich our society and contribute to our economic prosperity.
I doubt that even made sense to the person who wrote it. Proof for your assertion? None needed when it's PC boilerplate.
We should continue to welcome innovative entrepreneurs and skilled workers, as these men and women fuel our nation's economy by creating jobs, and promoting new technologies and ideas here in the United States.
In other words: have fun getting your wage diluted Mr. Sandmich, we don't like you anyway.  How about an American economy fueled by Americans?  Is that too much to ask for?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cincinnati Dog Incident

Interesting:

Mr. Marx was sitting on a bench with his wife and friends watching his dogs play. Homer, the small Shih tzu started to scream and cry. An 18 year old woman's pit bull attached itself to little Homer's neck, pinned him to the ground,and shook him violently.
...
He shot the dog straight in the back with the bullet going into the dirt. He is an experienced gun owner and he took precautions to make sure the bullet could not possibly hit anything but the pit bull.
...
Marx is a licensed concealed-carry permit holder, police said. But Cincinnati police Sgt. Jim Perkins said that, under Ohio law, a dog is considered "property," and a person cannot legally use a firearm to protect property in Ohio.
There are a couple things about this that are worth mulling over.

The Brits were kind enough to post a picture of the pit bull owner and the other party, Mr. Marx, is a 74 year old man who has more fake parts than real. With that in mind, I must point out to the uninformed how incredibly strong pit bulls are.  I hit the gym a bunch and consider myself decently strong, but a friendly encounter with a cousin of the pit bull, the bull dog, left me wondering if there was any strength that could be obtained (naturally) by a human that would allow them to physically control such an animal.  The only thing I can equate it to is imagining the leanest, strongest muscle on your body, and then taking that and making a whole animal out of it, then putting a set of lethal teeth on one end, and then giving it a tendency to drift into violent moods.  There's a reason that they sell collars like this; a 74 year old man and an 18 year old girl (who doesn't weight much more than the dog) were never going to be able to convince that pit bull to do anything once it set it's mind to it.

Another issue is the whole 'property' thing.  No, I don't mean that dogs should be considered something other than property, but that someone (in Ohio) should be allowed to defend their property with a firearm.  I've written elsewhere (too lazy to find) that someone can ruin your life just as readily by doing harm to your property as they can to your person.  Just as a brief example, if someone is stealing a car that I use for my livelihood, why should I not be able to at least threaten the thief's livelihood in order to save mine?  Specifically to this case, besides a firearm (depending), I'm unable to think of a weapon more dangerous than an ill bred, uncontrollable pit bull.

In regards to this whole issue, I expected better from Cincinnati law enforcement.  I expect that kind of lunacy up here, but stuff like that should never even be brought before a grand jury.  How exactly do they expect that they're going to 'win' this for harassing a 74 year old man who was protecting cute pooches?

Lastly: dog parks are bad news.  They're like kindergartens where all the kids (who haven't been potty trained) have sharpened knives taped into their hands.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Remastered Trek

My doctor buddy related how he was envious of my acquisition of the DVDs  of the remastered three seasons of the original Star Trek series.  I thought that he was being funny (it's just Star Trek!), but I have to say that there's something to it.

I'm sure we've all had the experience of watching something as an adult which we enjoyed as a kid only to be embarrassed on some level that nostalgia fogged your mind as to the poor quality of the original product.  However, with these remastered episodes, it's like someone went back in time and made the show, not as it was, but how you remember it.  As well, I'm not sure where they found the prints, but the original show was barely 'standard definition', but most of the shots on this disk set look like they were filmed yesterday and polished with some 60s era styling (it's only noticeable because every episode seems to have a short shot or two which was obviously beyond salvage).

Sports Improvements

The Pro Bowl has been in the news continuously for ways to make the spectacle watchable.  This article puts forward the idea of a draft to draw interest.  I've heard different variations, but the one that sounded the most interesting was when the top vote getters in the AFC and NFC draw from a pool of pro bowlers irrespective of conference.  Commentators also put out the idea of putting serious money on the line.  The amount of money is unknown, but I would imagine that the amount would keep increasing until the players actually played.

Even then though, it's unknown how many players would risk their career for a one time payout.  I'm sure there would be a few, but it would be hard to get a whole team to gel around the idea (let alone two).  The idea of switching to flag football has also been brought up as an idea to minimize injuries and encourage more spirited play.  An even more interesting idea that was batted around was that a game shouldn't be played at all.  Instead, since being selected is an individual achievement, a series of challenges would be set out that all the players would compete in, such as throwing accuracy/distance, kicking accuracy, etc.  This might prove interesting in seeing what linebackers have the 'stuff' to pull off even a fifteen yard field goal.
---------------------
On the sports radio show they had a guy on who was decrying the designated hitter rule and predicted it's inevitable demise.  I got to thinking about football though and the fact that players don't play 'both sides of the ball'.  Before continuing, I should point out that even for football that the idea of having players play 'both sides' has been put out as an idea to improve game safety as teams would favor long-term speed and endurance (cardio) over refrigerator sized players who need oxygen after every two plays.  But anyway, point being that in football they want players who can excel at individual positions on offense or defense.  In sports like soccer or rugby, the best ball handlers also have to try and be the best defensive players as well, which keeps players from being a true master of any one aspect of the game.

The designator hitter rule would seem to be an acknowledgment of this fact, but still, baseball can be boring (face it).  Might it make sense to allow for roster expansions so that teams can field whatever offense they feel gives them the best advantage?  I previously defended the DH because of the poor batting quality of pitchers, but catchers, generally, aren't too much better and often bat at towards the bottom of the order.  As another example, it probably wouldn't boggle the mind to come by strong first basemen who can't hit.  Some 60/40 batting rotation of DHs and (probably) outfielders may only kick off an arms race where defenders get better and better along with the batting, but if football is any guide, defense can't keep up.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Phillip K. Dick Books

Mrs. Sandmich bought me a Kobo at the going-out-of-business sale at Borders.  I was rather unenthused, until I got the idea that my primary 'shopping' site for intellectual content, PirateBay.org, might have some content that I could put onto the device.  It wasn't long before I had sucked down my primary target, a handful of Phillip K. Dick novels. 
----------------------------------
This post has actually been sitting in the ol' draft bin for quite some time and the Kobo has been dead for more than a year now at this point, but since a buddy of mine expressed a possible interest in some PKD novels, I figured I'd finally wrap this thing up.  Below is are my brief thoughts on various PKD novels, but I should point out that there are many that I have not read, and will probably not get around to reading.
  • The Simulcara.  John Derbyshire had once written that short stories are the natural format for sci-fi which I've found to be true.  Coming up with one clever idea is hard enough, but coming up with enough clever ideas to pad out a whole novel is a bit of a challenge.  In this effort Dick gets around the restrictions by basically going 'Pulp Fiction' and cramming the novel with a bunch of short stories that eventually intertwine.  The only downside is the ridiculous number of characters, but it is one of the few PKD novels that doesn't go off the rails into la-la land towards the end.  It's interesting too in that it pokes fun at various tropes that he uses in his other novels.
  • Lies, Inc.  This was a particularly egregious example of a PKD book straying far 'off the plantation' since it spends basically the back half of the book leaving the reader ungrounded to anything that happened earlier.  Late in the book Dick uses a literary device to provide a back story to the current events which in themselves make little sense, but by then it's too late.  Right when the rubber was hitting the road I turned to the next chapter hoping to see the novel finally form into some sort of coherent mess only to see "About Phillip K. Dick".  Huh?  It turns out the novel was originally presented as two parts and then a bunch of extraneous material that was near and dear to Dick was stuffed in as well.  Needless to say, it reads exactly as it sounds.  One interesting tidbit was that a pinch hitting author had to be brought in for one of the original reissues because some of the original pages were missing (I get the impression that the full version of the novel was the last thing published with Dick's name on it); that poor dude, it'd be like trying to graft a outboard boat motor onto a motorcycle.
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (i.e. Blade Runner).  I'd once heard that if anyone had read the novel, that they would know that Decker in Blade Runner was a replicant.  I can firmly say that anyone who says that is full of themselves.  By the end of the novel it's gets hard to tell if Decker even actually exists, let alone if he's a replicant. 
  • Our Friends from Folix 8.  While The Simulcara may be my favorite of the bunch, I have a soft spot for this one even though it's chock full of typical PKD devices.  Since the story revolves around efforts to bring down a corrupt government run by tyrannical, above-the-law elites, you may see why it has appeal to me.
  • A Scanner Darkly.  A cautionary tale against drug abuse, this story is basically a retelling of some of PKD's own experiences with a slightly futuristic spin.  The last few overly introspective chapters should have been trimmed down though; I found myself skipping whole paragraphs lest I fall asleep while reading it.  (The movie adaptation is notable for making the mistake of sticking very close to the text of the novel).
  • Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said.  Essentially a tear down on celebrity status, the few good sci-fi ideas (different grades of genetically engineered humans, drugs which allow a person to bend reality) sadly are only briefly touched upon.
  • The Crack in Space.  One of his better efforts at time travel/alternate reality stories.
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.  There was a lot to like in this story about an intergalactic villain (Eldritch) and not very altruistic businessman's efforts to thwart him; but by the end I couldn't help but think that the story might have been better told by someone else.
  • Time out of Joint.  A good example of PKD's novels which view the future from a 50's "present" and follows a man who is trying to unravel a world in which he may be being manipulated.  This novel's most notable point is that since a lot of PKD novels become unglued towards the end, the ending of this novel is pretty much a mystery right up until the end.
  • Ubik.  Another novel where PKD uses a futuristic literary device to allow him to write about a past about which he is more familiar.  Although by this point, nonsensical story lines had become familiar to me in PKD's novels, this one went on for far too long and it probably should have been edited down to a short story.
  • The Man in the High Castle.  A clever story that revolves around an alternate history where the U.S. never entered WWII and the Axis powers are hunting down a man who wrote a story about an alternate history where the Americans did enter WWII and the Axis powers lost.  It's a very good take-down of this Pat Buchanan novel, though written several decades earlier.  It must be said though, that the novel really isn't sci-fi.
Notable short stories:
  • Minority Report.  It's interesting that the awful movie reversed the plot of this great  conservative law and order story into a liberal mess of 'release all prisoners now' gobbledygook.
  • Pay Check.  John Woo directed the movie which is about the only thing that I can fault it for.  This adaptation sticks pretty close to the excellent short story and actually improves upon it.
  • We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (i.e. Total Recall).  The short story is good (and rather short for even a short story), but if someone didn't know that the movies were based off of it, only the most careful reading would reveal that fact.
A final note, although some may find PKD tropes (perverted old men, mind altering drug use, poor editing, etc.) annoying, none is worse than when he goes on page-long rants in German.  If you encounter these, just skip them as he rarely explains what it means; I guess he expects his readers to be fluent in it.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Jobs Americans Won't Do

Freeing themselves from a basement dungeon, the tormentors of three kidnapped women are apprehended:

The men were identified as brothers, Ariel Castro, 52, the owner of the house and a former Cleveland school bus driver, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.

My feeling on this is that American justice is a joke and that the women shouldn't shouldn't press charges so that the fate of the suspects can be left to a pitchfork wielding mob.