MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

(Cross posted from Enough Is Enough 2006:)

An alternative to DINO Feinstein on June 6th

Hi all...

Originally I was going to put a protest write-in vote for Cindy Sheehan on my ballot. However, I now see there's an alternative candidate worthy of my vote.

Ladies and Gentlemen may I introduce you to Colleen Fernald, activist from Sebastopol, CA. Here's her platform:

  • Restore Our Military for Defense, not optional conflict. Return the National Guard now; our troops next.

  • No type of nuclear weapons or use of torture.

  • A Trustworthy Voting System.

  • A Sustainable United States - Promote the local economy & living wage using smart development with a focus on natural resource preservation, climate protection, green building, affordable housing and clean, renewable energy. Provide a government supported healthcare system for all US citizens, and affordable higher education.

Doesn't that sound better than DiFi?

Anyway, I have no illusions about Ms. Fernald having any chance to actually win. DiFi has such a safe seat that she hasn't bothered to run a single campaign commercial. And yes, I will hold my nose, vote for DiFi in November, and continue to write her nastygrams whenever she votes Corporate instead of Blue like she should. Because the realistic alternative to DiFi in the general election is Repugnican Dick Mountjoy, who is a certified and certifiable Right Wing Nut Job. We can't allow California to become a Red State.

However, in the Primary, we have the luxury of being able to register a protest vote. You could do worse as a protest than Ms. Fernald. And what if she wins? I like her platform. She's more progressive than even Barbara Boxer. Much more. Win-win. I like that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

(Cross posted from Enough Is Enough 2006:)

Markos Moulitsas is pissing me off.

Markos Moulitsas, aka "Kos" as in DailyKos, posted a screed on DK where he talked about how he wants to "throw out my Absentee Ballot" because of the current ad warfare between Phil Angelides and Steve "Ah-nuld Lite" Westly.

I know it doesn't make it right, but WESTLY STARTED IT. Right after he made a solemn, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die pledge to run a positive campaign. I have been trying to find the picture where Arnold and Westly are shaking hands during the Recall Election, but haven't found it. It seems the piccy has gone down the "memory hole." Oh well, here's a reminder of who the real enemy is:

We need to get this steroid-damaged, Bush-fellating fuckhead out of the State House. Ah-nuld der Gropenfuhrer in the Governor's chair for four more years, with no need to campaign anymore due to his being "termed-out" after the second term, able to do whatever the hell he and Karl Rove and George W. Bush want, is a nightmare. Who can defeat him? Not "Ah-nuld Lite." Angelides is the "Anti-Schwarzenegger." He's bright, he's legitimately Progressive, and he will provide a compelling alternative to Schwarzenegger.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cocina Internacional: Curry Casero

One of the funkiest, strangest things I've ever encountered in the store locally is Curry Casero, which is an adaptation of Japanese Kare Raisu roux to what House Foods America figures is Mexican-American tastebuds. House Foods is the huge Japanese food company that pretty much popularized Kare Raisu in Japan, and made it so easy that even C-Ko from Project A-Ko could make it. Here's the history of the dish, per House Foods and per Wikipedia. The executive summary is this: it's from India by way of Britain by way of Japan. And with Curry Casero, the Mexican-American influence is added. Whoa.

The package has a recipe for "curry enchiladas," and if you use your imagination you can figure out other Mexican/Mexican-American recipes that would lend themselves well to adapting. Curry burritos? Well, as far as I'm concerned, growing up in a town where not only the burrito was invented but the Oki Dog as well, it's a natural. Curry tacos? Hmm...maybe if you boosted the meat-to-sauce ratio to the point where the sauce becomes a binder for the meat. Curry tostadas? Sounds good. Bring it on.

I can get all po-mo and speculate that this is a metaphor for Los Angeles as international tossed salad, as a curried mulligan stew of different cultural influences. Or I can just smile, open my mouth, and eat it.


Friday, May 26, 2006

There is a reason why I went to Universal Studios Hollywood today. There is also a reason why I left at the time I did. And that reason only became apparent on the trip back.

I met up with a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen since the mid-'70s. Well, maybe friend is an awkward turn of phrase to use, because he didn't treat me like a friend should back in the day. However, he actually broached the subject of having bullied me in the past, and apologized.

This is huge. It took all the control I had not to break down in tears.

If you have been bullied, there is a part of you that never grows up. There are wounds that never heal, there are scars that are always with you. I have been given a gift today. I feel some of those wounds are beginning to heal because of this meeting this afternoon.

This is going to take a while to digest. But it's undeniably a good thing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

(also posted on Enough is Enough 2006)
An especially truthy factoid to ponder:

Apparently more people voted in the final "American Idol" voting than in any Presidential election in American history. This sucks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Also on

Can I get a Hell Yeah?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lucas disappoints yet again: the "Original Version" movie DVD release will use the 1993 Laserdisc Masters.

According to Lucasfilm this is the best they can do. I am of two minds with regard to this. I know that 30-year-old color film that has been poorly stored can look worse than century-old nitrate black-and-white film. I also know that when Paramount Home Video put together a release of Spumco-made Ren & Stimpy episodes they could not find a lot of the episodes in their as-aired versions, and the time between airdate and release on DVD was less than half the time. It seems like the Big Media companies are pretty cavalier about how they treat film history.

However: this is STAR WARS we are talking about. Adjusted for inflation, the first of the Original Trilogy movies grossed over a BILLION dollars. It is second only to Gone With The Wind in alltime money-making at the Box Office. The Empire Strikes Back is 12th on the list, Return of the Jedi is 14th. Star Wars is also on the Library of Congress preservation list, and #15 on the American Film Institute 100 Greatest Films list. It might not be the greatest example of American cinema, but it is certainly important to the history of the movies. It deserves to be seen in the best possible light: as an anamorphic transfer from the best possible extant 70MM prints, with the original 6-channel audio mixed to 5.1.

Lucas might look at the original theatrical versions of the Original Star Wars Trilogy as being "work prints" but not everyone does. This is film history that he's thumbing his nose at. Sure, I will buy the upcoming DVDs...I was pondering buying bootleg laserdisc-transfer DVDs this year at Comic-Con anyway. And if I remember correctly, the laserdisc transfer was the best technologically they could have done in 1993. I didn't buy the Special Edition DVD version of Episodes 4-6. I didn't go to see the Special Edition when it was out in the theatres. I didn't want to spoil my memories of seeing the originals as they were. Now that Lucas is finally bowing to fan pressure and putting out the Original Trilogy as it was, I am content to get it once and for all on DVD.

But I still will always think of what might have been.

Fan discussion of the revelation here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

It's BAAAACK.... is back on the air.

Watch this space for further details.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The difference between America's animation scene and, say, that of certain parts of Europe is this: We see what the Japanese are doing and try to replicate it in live-action. It seems like in Europe, they see what the Japanese can do with animation and follow their lead in using animation as another way of making movies.

I mentioned Tachiguishi Retsuden earlier on in the month. That looks like it's going to be quite interesting. Today Cartoon Brew has featured a Danish partially-animated feature called Princess. No, it's not what you think it is. This movie is the farthest thing from a Disney Princess movie you can get to.

A young minister finds out his sister, a porn star, has died of a drug overdose. He has to begin caring for his sister's 5-year-old daughter, and also he becomes obsessed with somehow associating his sister's life with something other than pornography. The movie uses animation and live action to tell the story in hallucinatory detail. A Flash trailer is here.

The French have answered with Renaissance, a movie that is quite literally a "film noir" set in the future. Remember how the backgrounds of the TV show Batman: The Animated Series were painted on black cardstock so that the whole look would reflect a city completely seen by night? Renaissance does the same thing, but completely in black and white. Since I don't speak French I have no idea what's going on here, but whatever it is, it's beautiful.

I guess you can argue that A Scanner Darkly is the American horse in this race, but I have a hard time seeing rotoscoping, even rotoscoping in the painterly, hallucinogenic way that you saw in the movie Waking Life, as being truly animation. Sorry Fleischer Bros., sorry Bakshi, but it never looks as good as something truly drawn.

I don't know if we'll see any of these movies other than A Scanner Darkly in American theatres. I hope we do, but I don't know if anyone at any of the Majors is going to take a chance on it. Too bad, this all looks really good.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Apparently Dubya is a Beach Boys fan, but he heard the lyrics wrong. He thought that one song went "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran..."

The British media seems to get the scoops on these sorts of things. Voila: Dubya's "contingency plan" to turn Iran into a smoking cinder.

Looks like this is the "October Surprise" for 2006. Fuck.

Lee Sevilla update

The article that Steve Lopez wrote about Lee Sevilla, the 71-year-old woman who lives in her car in Playa del Rey, has resulted in an outpouring of love and caring that has succeeded in melting this cold, callous and cynical heart of mine. She's going to be OK.

However, the article also stirred up some old business in Sevilla's life, business that was the direct reason why she was out on the streets in the first place. Apparently Ms. Sevilla ran afoul of the IRS, and was latched onto by a Javert-like overzealous prosecutor. The unpaid tax bill was $12,674, but due to a law in Illinois that this prosecutor was itching to try, she became liable for a much larger bill. Most of the charges against her were thrown out, but she was convicted on a sum of $34.91. This was originally vacated, but the conviction was reinstated and the tax bill began ticking upward again. A warrant was issued for her arrest...a big surprise considering she thought she had been cleared. In 1990 she was arrested in LA for the Illinois bench warrant, and had a heart attack in jail.

Long story short, this legal mess was finally cleared up, and there is no more warrant against her. And now she has a new to sift through the three mail trays laden with contributions, offers of housing, art commission requests, etc. etc.

Here's the Rest Of The Story (tm) on the LATimes site. Yes, soul sucking registration required. Use Bugmenot if you are not inclined to allow the Times to swallow your soul.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reality check from last year:

Dubya wasn't so enthusiastic about border security when he had to actually dig down in the budget and pay for it.

Just a thought to think about when you hear Dubya talking about calling out the National Guard.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Danke schoen, T-Mobile...

While my landline company (Verizon) gleefully sold me out to the NSA, it looks like my mobile phone company is hanging tough and telling Uncle Sam NEIN! T-Mobile is my cell phone company, and is owned and operated by Deutsche Telekom AG. It's ironic that a German company is more vigilant about protecting my rights than an American company, but good on them nonetheless. 'Tis a pity that if I changed my landline company I'd lose my DSL, so I'm kind of stuck with the traitorous Verizon.

The only landline company that seems to be taking a similar tough stance is Qwest. Oddly, Verizon Wireless says that they aren't giving up documents to Pig Brother either. Cingular and Sprint/Nextel are remaining mum on what they are doing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's all over but the posting...

Social Psychology 3 units B+ 3.33
Self And Society 3 units A 4.00
Developmental Psych 3 units A 4.00
Scene And Story 3 units A 4.00
Early Mod Pol Phil 3 units A- 3.66

Total for S2006 3.80 GPA
Total GPA 3.73 GPA

I know this because Prof. Johannsen sent me this note today in my email box:


You got an "A"



OK, time to celebrate! w00t!

UPDATE 5/16, 3:45pm: these exact results went up at Woodbury IQ Web Monday at Noon. I don't know why I forgot to post this until now, but whatever. This past couple of weeks have been very low-energy and very high stress. I'm a mess.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Immigration debate, part 2 of 2

Point: Kara Wild

In response to your points:

1) I completely agree that political/economic reform has to happen in Latin American countries before the demand of their citizens to cross into our country will die down. I think that the United States ought to be giving aid toward their infrastructure, as well as the infrastructures of other undeveloped counties that send us a large number of illegal immigrants. It gives me hope to see democracy slowly taking shape in Mexico, where two of the presidential contenders have vowed to create jobs at home.

At the same time, we don't know how many years it would take for reform to set in, or how thorough it would be. Meanwhile, we are suffering from the effects now. Americans with a high school diploma, who once could count on working certain jobs to get ahead, are struggling to stay afloat. Do we just tell them, "Sorry. Gotta wait until social reform happens in Latin America"?

Moreover, in order to stay consistent, those who argue that people from impoverished countries should settle in the United States would have to advocate for open borders. Otherwise, where do you draw the line? When do you tell illegal immigrants that it is no longer enough that they are impoverished and desperate? I think a more realistic approach would be to acknowledge that while hundreds of millions of impoverished people would like to settle in this country, we can only accept a certain amount if we want to maintain not only a competitive wage, but our superior infrastructure. Even though we're not Europe, we still have an admirable social safety net; but if there is an unchecked number of low-income people vying to use our social programs, the system becomes so strained that no one, legal, illegal, or citizen, gets the help that he or she needs.

2) I agree that American history is dotted with unhealthy strains of nativism, but you need to be careful to distinguish between Confederate flag waving racists who want to build a white Christian America and the much larger group of Americans that supports diversity, but is also sincerely anxious about unfair job competition and the effect of illegal immigrants on our social programs. Concerns about unfair competition from cheap, exploitable labor can be irrational and unhealthy, but they are not inevitably so. For instance, in the years leading to the Civil War, a "free labor ideology... grew up [in the north] that celebrated the dignity of labor and the opportunities available to working men. Slavery was seen as unfair competition for men attempting to better themselves in life." It was largely because of this aversion to easily accessible, exploitable labor that the institution of slavery was toppled.

I'm willing to bet that quite a few people would back a program to legalize the millions already in this country (with penalty fees and an English requirement) if it could be guaranteed that millions more wouldn't sneak in and, ten years from now, demand the same treatment. Otherwise, we would just have the same problems, only the newly legalized individuals would be amongst those facing an uphill battle against exploitable illegal immigrants.

The Tom Tancredos and Minutemen would probably fade into obscurity overnight if just one rational middle-of-the road politician took these workers' concerns seriously. Instead, union workers receive lectures from John McCain about which jobs they will and won't do. Smug liberal activists inform them that concerns about illegal immigration are just distracting them from the "real" issues, as if we were all George W. Bush, incapable of considering more than one issue at a time. Editorials in the Los Angeles Times assure them that their anxieties are nothing more than narrow-minded reactions to economic trends, and that they should just get over it, because the trend will inevitably shift. If that's the case, why bother worrying about anything, much less the long-term effects of George W. Bush's policies on America, because in the grand scheme of things, it won't matter?

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is scared to take any position, except for Ted Kennedy, who compared the recent marches to the Civil Rights Movement. Certainly there's no real plan to stem the flow of illegal immigration, or provide relief to those who are adversely affected. It's this same mixture of blindness and political correctness that caused blue collar workers to flee the Democratic Party in the first place. Now that we have the chance to win them back, why would we want to alienate them all over again?

I think that a solution that takes their concerns seriously, while not hanging all 12 million illegal immigrants out to dry, can be reached. However, it requires politicians to risk the possibility that the most extreme red state and Latino voters will turn away from them because they won't get everything they want. So... I don't expect to see that legislation in the near future, especially given the bills being considered now.

Counterpoint: Michelle Klein-Hass

OK, first of your points first. What to do with the underprivileged who either don't have a diploma or have a high school diploma and nothing more? Education, education, education. Our priority should be making the good jobs available to our citizenry by educating our citizenry. Americans are more literate than they have ever been, ever, but the problem is that the good jobs require more literacy than ever before. I would like to point you to the website of Dr. Stephen Krashen, one of the best advocates we have for science-based literacy. (As opposed to the faith-based "literacy" programs imposed on schools by the No Child Left Behind Act.) Krashen was the first to point this out, something which would seem to be axiomatic but which isn't entirely obvious.

The living-wage jobs that are being created in America right now are not the kind that a person with "some high school" or a high school diploma can just ease into. They are professional jobs. They are jobs that require at the very least a BA. What exists for those who are not in that charmed circle? I'll give you four words: "Want fries with that?" And we all know that those kind of jobs are not living-wage jobs. We have a professional sector and a service sector. The manufacturing jobs that brought the generation who came home from World War II into the Middle Class do not exist anymore. That horse has left the barn for China and Thailand and South Korea and places like that, and no amount of locking the barn doors will do us any good.

Wage arbitrage is defined as pitting workforces in the Third World, with lower standards and costs of living, against workforces in the First World, which has a higher standard and higher cost of living. Many of the policies of the Reagan and Bush I administrations encouraged this flight of manufacturers from high-wage to low-wage countries. For a while, wage arbitrage helped, not hurt, the Mexican economy. For a time Mexican and Central American maquiladoras made for better lives for impoverished urban residents South of the Border. However, the race for the bottom continued, and the Mexican and Central American maquiladoras priced themselves out of the market when compared to places like China. The maquiladora boom went bust, and the tide of immigrants washed over the border once more.

Another thing that is pushing Mexicans across the border is the damage that NAFTA has done to Mexican independent farming. It mirrors the same process that is decimating family farms in the United States to enrich big agribusiness. Just as American family farmers are having to sell out and get out of the business, Mexican family farmers are having to sell out to large combines.

By the way, in some respects the Mexican social safety net is better than ours is. People are not leaving Mexico to get better health care or better social welfare. They could stay in Mexico and have a single-payer system that in a lot of respects works better than our own. Mexico has an infant mortality rate more like that in the United States, which is one of the worst in the industrialized world, than to the Third World that Mexico is still numbered with. No, Mexican immigrants are going where the money is. Their use of our horrifying medical system is just incidental: they get sick and have accidents here. It comes with the territory.

To address the exploitation issue, we needn't institute new laws that are punitive of immigrants themselves, but need only enforce laws against the hiring of undocumented workers that are on the books right now. The corporate exploiters who employ compliant, fearful "illegals," paying them less-than-minimum wages for hard, dangerous work or tedious, mind-numbing work need to be busted and busted hard. A stronger labor movement could be helpful, but 12 years of ReaganBush eviscerated the legal protections that were put in place in the 1930s with regard to unionization.

When Wal*Mart was caught with their hands in the cheap labor cookie jar, they were let off with a wagged finger in the face and slapped wrists. "Naughty, naughty!" The management people responsible for the decision to hire undocumented workers on cleaning teams should have gotten jail time, and Wal*Mart should have been fined a King's Ransom for the infractions. The laws to do this are on the books now. However, it comes down to the prime unspoken rule of the George W. Bush administration: It's OK If You Are A Republican. The rentiers who inherited the Wal*Mart empire after the death of Sam Walton are heavy GOP donors. So are the lords of the huge agribusiness combines who have built their businesses on the blood, sweat and tears of generations of undocumented labor. They loves them some Mexican cheap labor. If the laws on the books were enforced, they would have to pay higher wages to attract labor. They would have to play fair. And they don't like to play fair.

We need to attend to our borders. Both borders. The Al'Qaeda terrorists have used the open, almost non-existent Canadian border to get in to the US to work their deviltry. The guy who was stopped from bombing the Seattle Space Needle and the guy who was stopped from dynamiting LAX were both stopped from the Canadian border. The 9/11 hijackers and Zacharias Moussaoui came into this country from the Canadian border. However, unless Darth Cheney has a cloning facility on Planet Kamino to make new National Guard CloneTroopers, (tm LucasFilm) the current humans in the National Guard are sick, tired and battle-fatigued and stretched horribly thin. We are going to have to create a new infrastructure on both the Canadian and Mexican borders to make them less likely to be violated. And the government currently doesn't have the will to spend enough money to create this infrastructure. It's like the problem we have with our ports. They are soft targets for terrorism right now. Shoring them up would require real money and real hiring of people. That takes political capital and political will the Dubya Administration simply has not been able to conjure up with all their "Mandate" talk in November 2004.

The problem of stubborn unemployment amongst the underclass, the problem of porous borders, the problem of the nudge nudge, wink wink attitude towards employers, the problem of economies next door that need reform and development badly and have for a century, these are big and systemic and complicated and can't be legislated away or wished away into the cornfield. We need government to think big again, to think like FDR did when faced with the Great Depression. A works program would do wonders to accomplish a lot of the things we are both talking about. Take some of these anxious long-term unemployed and retrain them to police our borders. Take some of these people with high school educations and put them to work building a better and more controllable border system on both our northern and southern frontiers. Take some of these folks and give them law enforcement training so they can inspect companies for undocumented, underpaid workers. Allow them to trade their service in these works programs for free-ride scholarships in universities so they can move up into the Middle Class. Start a "Marshall Plan" for economic rebuilding of Mexico and the Central American archipelago.

This of course will take huge amounts of money we don't have. If we hadn't gone on our damn-fool adventure in Iraq and we hadn't given huge tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of Americans maybe we could have done this, and still had money left over to convert our pitiful, expensive and broken health care system to a healthy single-payer system. Thank you, George W. Bush, for squandering the economy left to you by President Bill Clinton on adventure and cronies and bullshit.

I said it before, I'll say it again: this is a problem that is too big for simple solutions and pat answers. Really addressing it correctly is something nobody has the will to do. And by addressing it I don't mean jackboots and Berlin Walls and mass deportations. The wet dreams of the Tancredos, Sensenbrenners and Simcox-es and Gilchrists of this country are precisely the wrong answer to the problem.

Update 5/13/2006, 9:54 am:
I was remiss in mentioning the worst anti-worker scam that has been perpetrated, which is the H1-B Visa scam against American tech workers. Both the Senate and the House bill jacks up H1-B Visas so that American tech firms can bring in compliant, docile workers from India, Pakistan and the Former Soviet Union to write code and do tech support for peanuts while ignoring the fact that THERE ARE STILL A WHOLE SHIPLOAD OF UNEMPLOYED AMERICAN TECHIES WHO NEED THE WORK. I am a refugee from the tech sector which collapsed under the combined weight of the Dot-Com bust and 9/11.

I left the tech sector because it became clear to me that American companies have taken advantage of the same wage arbitrage conditions that caved in US manufacturing to outsource as much as possible of the tech infrastructure to Mumbai and Moscow and Warsaw and Islamabad. For those jobs that can't be offshored, the companies cry "there are no qualified workers here" and whine for more H1-B workers. Bullshit, there ARE lots of chronically unemployed workers who need work in the tech sector.

I figured that counseling would be a safe professional job to have, in that you really can't offshore it. Whether it be as a school counselor or as a counselor in an assisted living facility or in a clinic for underserved people living with the hazards of life in the ghetto, these are one-on-one, face time, person-to-person kind of jobs. I can't see this being shipped off to Bangalore anytime soon.

The offshoring of vast swaths of the tech sector is a story that is not being talked about in all the furor about "illegals" from South of the Border. These H1-B workers are largely caucasian, from places we don't hear talk about anymore. India. Pakistan. Russia. Poland. Hungary. Rumania. They don't stir the blood as much as Indios from Mexico and Central America. You don't hear Chris Simcox braying for them to be ejected from the US. Because they look too much like Chris Simcox.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scoreboard: Spring 2006

Social Psychology 3 units B+ 3.33
Self And Society 3 units unk
Developmental Psych 3 units unk
Scene And Story 3 units A 4.00
Early Mod Pol Phil 3 units A- 3.66

Total for S2006 3.66 GPA
Total GPA 3.66 GPA

And I think I have a good sense of where the other two grades will wind up. Both Self and Society and Developmental Psych will have at least an A-, if not A. So in the worst case, with two A- grades, the average works out to be 3.65. So I think it's safe to say that I am continuing with the A- average I carried over from last semester. I can live with that. And it could be higher too. So yeah, at the worst case, I will likely have a 3.66 GPA in total. That's nothing to sneeze at. Or cough at, which I have been doing a lot of since last weekend due to what I think is allergies.

Update: 12:45pm

Social Psychology 3 units B+ 3.33
Self And Society 3 units A 4.00
Developmental Psych 3 units unk
Scene And Story 3 units A 4.00
Early Mod Pol Phil 3 units A- 3.66

Total for S2006 3.75 GPA
Total GPA 3.70 GPA

OK, one more to go. I was pretty much expecting that A in Self & Society, because I got that 100/100 grade in my final project. I just didn't want to jinx it.

OK Prof. Johansen...time for you to sound off...

Point/Counterpoint: Immigration

Point: Kara Wild

I read your most recent blog about the Minutemen and felt compelled to respond. Since the e-mail function only allows 300 characters, I'm responding via regular e-mail.

All right, I ain't for the Minutemen and I ain't against them. However, blogs like the one you've linked to won't convince me one way or the other, given how clearly biased they are to begin with. This is a case where looking at all of the information the mainstream press has to offer is more helpful. In any event, there are crazies in every movement, including the anti-war movement. Does that mean you would prefer not to be considered anti-war?

Me: I'm against illegal immigration, though I don't know whether I would be in favor of deporting 12 million people. However, those who claim to sympathize with illegal immigrants don't seem to have *any* solutions for very real problems in this country, to which illegal immigrants contribute, though they aren't the main cause.

Open borders? A billion people want to come here. How many people do you think this country can sustain?

They take the jobs Americans won't do? Tell that to African Americans with a high school diploma, with their 10% jobless rate. Tell that to a resident of New Orleans who was denied the opportunity to rebuild his or her city because the contractors hired illegal

On a recent Saturday Night Live sketch, they mocked the fears of lower-income Americans by claiming that illegal immigrants only took really trivial jobs like handing you towels in the bathroom. God, what elitism... toward *both* groups.

Target the employers? With what, the laws already on the books? After initial sporadic enforcement, the enforcement level has been nil for the past several years, until recent attempts to utilize racketeering laws. And in spite of the fact that the feds are going
after the employers, there is still an outcry from some illegal immigrant supporters that it is unfair to them. Some employers have even claimed that cracking down on their hiring of illegal immigrants is racist, because it might make them more hesitant to hire Latinos in the future.

Then there are the employers who actually *do* mean to hire only legal employees but have never been trained properly to spot forgeries. To punish them would be unfair, yet right now, too many employers get away with claiming that they "just didn't know."

Repeal NAFTA (as one Kossak suggested)? Um, sure... and in 20 years, when that's accomplished, what will the illegal population be?

Raise the minimum wage and enforce the minimum wage laws? Great idea, except that if there is always a surplus of labor in a given market, unscrupulous employers will find a way to hire more under-the- table illegal employees. Big Business is the Republican base and they thrive on cheap labor. They won't surrender it easily, even if the Democrats win a majority in Congress.

Everyone against illegal immigration is a racist? I guess there are a lot of black, brown, and yellow racists, too, in addition to white. Whereas Latin Americans with their "day without gringos" aren't racist at all.

My points aren't aimed strictly at you; rather, they are responses to the various arguments I've heard on the Dailykos and Mydd. Respondants in the immigration threads tilt toward pro-illegal
immigration, but there is quite a sizeable group that is opposed, filled with many respectable members of the Kos community, many of whom are immigrants themselves, and many who are fighting hard to stop all exploitation of people. As for me, I feel as though in this country, we are so strained as is, with a social safety net in tatters and so many citizens who need help, that we *can't* absorb unchecked numbers of foreigners, especially low-skilled, low-income people. At least legal immigration allows for the process to take place in a somewhat orderly fashion, allowing for communities to anticipate and prepare for the growing population. With illegal
immigration, you never know how many will be coming, and therefore communities cannot adequately prepare.

I feel like I'm invisible to both liberal bloggers like Markos and to big media news sources like the Los Angeles Times. To them, those who oppose illegal immigrants are racist Confederate flag-loving baby eaters who gladly exploit illegal immigration, then claim that they need to be deported. Meanwhile, the "sympathetic" L.A. Times features exclusively Latino (mainly Mexican) illegal immigrants, doing its part to further the stereotype that all illegal immigrants
are from Latin America. I'm just so fucking sick of their self- congratulatory hypocrisy. I'm so sick of reading that people who think our country is so fucked up under Bush that the next generation is doomed, yet that we can magically absorb unlimited numbers of people and everything will be A.O.K. I'm sick of those sympathetic toward illegal immigrants screaming racism toward anyone with a different opinion, yet always being the first to trot out "Mexican
power" or Mexicans' "right" to claim part of or even all of the U.S. due to a misguided notion that having *some* tribal blood means that you are related to *all* North American tribes... something that many tribes in the U.S. would dispute.

I don't think militias like the Minutemen are helpful or wise, but they do attract attention to a real problem in this country, one that both parties have been trying desperately to ignore.


Counterpoint: Michelle Klein-Hass

I just can't go through this point by point. So I'm going to have to respond generally. My grandfather was an "illegal." He was supposed to emigrate to Canada from the Ukranian SSR in 1922. Instead of staying in Canada, he went across the (open) border and eventually wound up in Chicago. And I will raise the ante even further: he got the only "job" he could as a person who barely spoke Russian and for whom Yiddish was a first language: he ran rum for the mob. Remember, this was Prohibition. Hotels and restaurants all had their "speakeasy" downstairs. They needed a steady flow of the illegal hooch. Guess who supplied a lot of them.

By 1933 and Repeal, my grandfather made lots of connections with hotels and restaurants, so he went into the institutional food business. By then he also spoke fairly good English, and lost a lot of his Russian. By 1946, he and his family took the trip on the Super Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles and settled here.

The issue of illegal immigration is big and tangled and complex and cannot be solved by extremist attitudes on either side. No, we cannot absorb everyone. But we cannot just ship every single one of them back. The solution that dare not speak its name is economic development and economic justice for Mexico and Central America. The recent events in Bolivia and Venezuela suggest that there exists now a will to beat back globalization by the people who actually can and should do it: the people of these respective countries. It is they who will eventually see that NAFTA and CAFTA was a sucker's game and only enriched the elites of their countries. There is a similar movement to our attempts to be the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party down there in
Mexico. These folks are not happy with globalization and the rule of elites in Mexico...they want the pie made larger and they want more people to get a slice. They will inevitably be branded as "leftists" and "Marxists" by US interests. The US government might even find it necessary to move against them. But they are the hope of the impoverished many in Mexico.

Until there is social justice in the countries from whom the majority of so-called "illegals" are emigrating, the tide will continue. Any effort short of turning the stretch of land from San Diego to Brownsville into an armed, turreted Berlin Wall with "shoot on sight" orders will be like King Canute and his vain attempts to command the North Sea. Do we really want to descend to that level?

If we don't, we are going to have to come up with an intelligent, fair plan to reunite families and turn honest immigrants, with papers or without, into taxpaying, contributing American citizens. The status quo means that unscrupulous business people can exploit a permanent underclass perpetually in fear of La Migra, and strain the financial resources of state and local
governments because these unscrupulous business people never pay for things like health insurance. The status quo is not the answer, nor is a draconian "head 'em up and move 'em out" push, which would require the resources and the precision of a Final Solution. We are talking a projected 10 to 14 million immigrants here without papers.

Every generation has its nativist movement. It usually occurs at low points in the business cycle, but the last one came during the '50s and the height of Cold War paranoia. That was a rare time when the nativist movement did not coincide with financial ruin or a hot war. There was a big nativist push during the Civil War days in the North: watch the movie "Gangs Of New York" for a taste of it then. There was huge anti-Immigrant movements during the economic panics of the Turn of the Century. The KKK moved North, to where they were able to gain political representation in Indiana, during the time of and immediately after World War I. And during the Great Depression there were attempts to deport "Mexicans" of all statuses, some even Chicanos who
were second-generation Americans. There is a great Woody Guthrie song called "Deportees" about that period.

We are going through bad financial times and some of the worst, most disempowering political times ever. It's not the Great Depression again...not yet. But the cycle has come around, and the rough beast of nativism slouches towards California to be born anew. However, this time there is a push back. If only we had the same resolve as those who have been protesting en masse on the streets! If we had the same resolve and cohesion we could tie up the streets and close the shops until George W Bush, Dick Cheney and their whole machine were brought into the dock to answer for the High Crimes and Misdemeanors that have been woven, warp and woof, into the fabric of their administration. But we don't. What a pity.


(This is the beginning of a series.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You might not have seen this series on Orcinus' blog. However, I think it's high time everyone got a look at it, because this is the naked face of who the Minutemen really are.

I don't mean these guys:

I mean these guys:

Yeah, these guys:

Siggy siggy sig heil, baby.

If those pictures don't prove it, read Orcinus' reportage.


Part 1: What's in a name?
Part 2: Their leaders
Part 3: Their followers
Part 4: A brief history of vigilantism
Part 5: The mainstream embrace
Part 6: Standing up to them


Somebody do something, because this guy is spinning around in his Pedro grave because of these bastards. :-(

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The land of Kawaii and Sugoi vs. Japan: an interesting perspective.

If you look at the right-hand column of my blog, you will notice a new link. I'm now linking to the blog of Patrick Macias, a Mexican-American expatriate living in and writing about Japan. It is concentrated Ota-kool. The guy's got a podcast, "Hot Tears of Shame" which is half his own whacked out stories and half conversations with some of his fellow Gaijin expat buddies.

One of the tidbits found on the blog is info about Oshii Mamoru's newest project: Tachiguishi Retsuden. From the trailer, it looks like this is a weird mixture of animation, live action and live action footage digitally "reanimated" to turn humans into super-deformed cartoon characters. Whoa momma! This is going to rock and rock hard. Some of the biggest names in Anime are "actors" in this movie, including composer Kawaii Kenji, character designer Kawamori Shoji who is legendary for his Mecha design for the Macross series, Studio Ghibli producer Suzuki Toshio, and President of Production IG Ishikawa Mitsuhisa.

You'd better have a good noodle shop or Japanese family restaurant near the theatre when this finally makes it to theatres in the US, because you are probably going to walk out of this movie about as hungry as you were after seeing another movie about the Japanese obsession with food, Tampopo. This was put out in Japan by Production IG, so I suspect that since they have some really tight connections with the American movie industry now this will get licensed and released, at least as a direct-to-DVD. Perhaps Sony Classics, which was responsible for the release of "Innocence: Ghost In The Shell II" might be the responsible party.

Oh yeah, the title is rendered by Production IG's English-language site as "Tachigui: The Amazing Lives Of The Fast-Food Grifters." Another rendering of the Japanese is "The Legendary Masters of Eating While Standing." I think perhaps a good title for American consumption would be "Want Fries With That?" This movie could be a neat bookend for the upcoming Clerks II. Itadekimasu!

Monday, May 08, 2006

This story will break your heart.

According to the article, she lives in her car and it's parked somewhere near Playa del Rey. Someone fucking help this woman, please! I can't, but someone who's got enough money to get this woman on her feet please fucking help her!

OK, I've checked the original LA Times article and here's her mailing address:

Lee Sevilla
P.O. Box 5484, Playa del Rey, CA 90296

She is doing commissioned artworks: $60 per postcard-size sketch. But somebody's got to help her find a place to live. She has a dog and she needs a place to live that will allow her to keep her dog.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Scoreboard: Spring 2006 Semester

Social Psychology 3 units B+ 3.33
Self And Society 3 units unk
Developmental Psych 3 units unk
Scene And Story 3 units unk
Early Mod Pol Phil 3 units unk

Total for S2006 3.33 GPA
Total GPA 3.61 GPA

So making that extra effort and sending in a revised version of my final paper actually goosed my grade up a little. Good. Social Psych was the grade I was the most worried about due to knocking heads with both my prof and my classmates. The rest should be in either the same ballpark or better.
I will continue to update as info rolls in.

A little digression from the Sports Page: hubris goeth before a fall.

The Lakers are history this year. Say bye-bye. Gone. Hasta la vista, baby.

I have always thought that when Kobe and Shaq had their very public spat a few years ago, the Lakers should have fired both of them. Cleaned house. It would have meant that the Lakers would have been in "rebuilding mode" for a few seasons, as a teamful of rookies would have to learn and hone their craft on the hardwood court. But by now, the team would have probably had enough experience to make their move. Provided these rookies had the talent for the game, and a good coach like Phil Jackson, they would be contenders by now.

With Kobe in the driver's seat, however, the team is basically Kobe and the n minus 1 dwarves. (How many guys are on a basketball team? I know that five are up at a time, but how many are backbenchers?) Kobe dominates, everyone else is an also-ran. This is the reason why the Miami Heat continue to suck even with Shaq on the team.

Kobe has had a great year, complete with some spectacular games where he racked up as much as 80 points in a game. However, one player doesn't make a team.

The Clippers are rocking the house because they are a team. They play as a team. There are no stars there. Just five guys playing their asses off. I hope they give the Suns hell. I hope they hand them their butts in a bag and send them back to Arizona. It would be neat if this perpetual also-ran, Cinderella team went all the way to the finals.

It would also be nice if the Dems were able to emulate the Clippers' example and play as a team to beat the Republican juggernaut. They don't even have superstars anymore dominating their team...they have has-beens. Keep your eye on the ball, guys.

Update 1:41pm...the Miami Heat *are* in the playoffs. Apparently they aren't sucking as badly as I thought they were. Still, I think both Kobe and Shaq are babies who need a good spanking. Kobe got his. Maybe Shaq will get his in the next round. Told you I was not a big sports fan. :P

Saturday, May 06, 2006

OMGWTFBBQ??? More defections from the nutjob Right wrt Dubya:

Doug McIntire Apologizes

This guy is still a crackpot and an asshole (vide his nativist bullshit in other places on his site) but this is just fucking breathtaking. When you've lost the caveman right wing radio hosts, you've lost America. w00t!

Apple is being retarded.

They are suing SomethingAwful.Com because of this picture: (SFW)

(click for a better view)

Anyone who has built computers knows that YOU DON'T USE THAT MUCH FRICKING THERMAL PASTE ON A FRICKING HEAT SINK!!!! These instructions are the reason why the MacBookPro is toasting laps and ruining men's chances for fatherhood as well as possibly SHORTENING THE LIFE OF THE CPU AND OTHER CHIPS ON THE LOGIC BOARD.

A little dab will do ya. Just a thin application of Arctic Silver should solve the problems.

Apple is trying to silence someone that's making their engineering department look bad. This is not a fucking DMCA issue. This is what Fair Use is all about. Bite my shiny aluminum ass, Apple.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Update-o-rama from Miller Hall Computer Lab, beautiful downtown Woodbury.

1.) It looks like I'm *not* going to be able to graduate until the end of Fall 2007. After Spring 2006 and Fall 2006 are in the books, there will still be 21 credits to go. Which means I have to attend Spring 2007 and Fall 2007 semesters. The good thing is this: I can take a couple of classes that are "want to take" rather than "must take." Before I leave here I want to sit in on Charles Solomon's History of Animation course. True, I will probably be told lots of things I already know. But it would be an opportunity to hear it from one of the premier experts in animation history next to people like Jerry Beck and Steve Worth and Leonard Maltin.

2.) I definitely am getting an A in Self & Society. My report on the Fannish subculture got a 100/100. And that was a biggie. I also got a 20/20 on an extra credit project I didn't have to take. Add this to the A or A- I'm getting in Developmental Psych and the B I'm getting in Social Psych and I know 3 out of 5 of my grades for the semester. All this intel *before* I get my official report on IQWeb. Why do I care so goddamn much about my grades? Because I have to. I need to keep one eye on the requirements for matriculation to Cal State University, Northridge as I go. If I decide to go with the Masters in Social Work program there, I will be able to get in without taking the Graduate Record Exam if I have at least a 3.0 GPA. And the bigger the GPA the more impact I will have.

The program at CSUN seems to be brand spanking new, so right now they are pending accreditation. However, accreditation should happen after the first MSW class graduates in Spring 2007. I would have to start at CSUN in Fall 2008, unless I could somehow swing a situation where I am co-enrolled between Woodbury and CSUN.

As I have mentioned before, my applying at CSUN is contingent with the results of the 2006 elections. If everything goes in a "reality based direction" then I'll be going there. If the Rethugs retain control of Congress, I will be looking in the direction of foreign study after I finish things off here at Woodbury.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Beginning to see daylight...

I have one more piece of writing I need to do before Spring 2006 finally goes into the record books.

A word of warning: I will have a 16 UNIT COURSE LOAD this Fall. I am hoping to get the fsck out of Woodbury after Spring 2007. This *will* include a math class: Statistics For The Behavioral Sciences. Hopefully the heavy reliance on SPSS will mean that I will be spared a lot of the arithmetical grunt work which seems to be my true problem with math. Hopefully this won't drive me too batty. One of the courses will be over and done with by the end of September so I'm hoping this will mean the rest of the year will be a bit less stressful.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Voting rage flares in Ohio during FUBAR-ed Primary Election.

Daily KOS discussion.

I will be back and blogging by this weekend, because this is FINALS WEEK and once this is over I have a few months of liberty before I go back to school again.

However, I do allow myself a little time to slack off even now. And this has got to be the ultimate answer to the ultimate geek question: who would be the last man/woman standing in a battle royale between pop culture heroes?

Here's your answer.