Friday, June 29, 2007

Seen on the way to work

...on the side of a Tri-Met headed south on I-205:
" I did have a lot of catnip last night. But I swear I thought that raccoon was just a big cat with really bad breath. Glad they took me to Dove Lewis"
Sounds like Miss Lily's been talking to Wieden and Kennedy again.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What kind of country is this?

Well, we got the referral p-work filled out and off to our agency. They, in turn, are supposed to translate and send it on to their agent in the PRC for submittal to CCAA. So the next several weeks will be ones of anxious waiting and hoping for the Letter of Acceptance to come back.


So as you can imagine I haven't been following the news as tightly this week. Nothing seemed as important as the little telenovela showing in the little house on Amherst Street where Mojo and Peeper and I talked and organized things to get nearer to little Mei-mei.

So it was a bit of a surprise today when I read about the decision handed down today in the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of two cases involving school desegregation: Parents v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Ed.

I'll let Scott Lemieux over at Lawyers, Guns and Money break down the salient points of these decisions. But the bottom line is that the Court said today that it is not constitutional for local governments to do anything about de facto segregation through school integration.
But I consider it sufficient to reduce the argument against this decision to this: is it in our (yours, mine, our children's, the nation's) best interest to perpetuate the racial concentration of poverty and disenfranchisement that we live with now?
Apparently the Roberts Court thinks so. Apparently the conservative position - since the 5-4 decision was crafted by the "right" side of the Court - is now that the sort of thing pictured on the left is past and forgotten, our dark legacy of slavery and oppression deep in the bosom of the ocean buried .
One of the reasons that this hit home is that suddenly, immediately, I'm thinking about...

...THIS sort of thing.

How do I explain to our little daughter that despite the fact that her ancestors were designing great works of engineering, culture and society when my ancestors were wiping their backsides with leaves and looking for stuff to eat it's still okay in a huge part of our country to publicly brand her a "China Doll" or a coolie or a nerdy little brainiac who can't drive?
And, especially if you're black, you just need to stay with your own kind. Apparently the intellectual concept of Bush-era-conservatives as typified by the SCOTUS includes the notion that this is OK: that so long as your government isn't doing anything to keep you segregated, it shouldn't try to do anything to keep you integrated, either.
One of the things that always amazes me about 20th Century "conservatism" is how often the packaging sounds so sensible and attractive but when you look at what the product does the result is often quite loathsome. It's like those flavored lotions that they sell in adult stores. The idea sounds appealing, but you get the lights turned down and the music low it turns out that the stuff tastes like licking a Barbie's ass and feels like WD-40 when you smear it on your skin.
I'm not sure what the right answer for the problem of de-facto concentrating poverty in minority groups in America is. But I'm sure of what it isn't. And the "what it isn't" is what the SCOTUS just told us today is our first and best option.
I'm sorry, kiddo. Sometimes some of us adults are just plain stone-blind stupid.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things to do in Portland (while writing your daughter's referral acceptance letter)

Look up where she lives (Lianjiang City) on Google EarthTM

Find out what "polydactyly" means and what to do about it.

Watch hella freakin' wierd Pobaby "Porro/Zorro" video. Seriously, check this out. We're talking goofy translated synopsis of the plot of hella freakin' wierd Pobaby Porro/Zorro video, awesome Xiao Ya, Pobaby's baby girl inamorata, and her buttless Chinese red baby chaps (yo, girlfriend is, like, the femme Tom of Finland model of the pre-continent set), Pobaby as Crouching Diaper, Hidden-Don-Diego, and the porcine antics of Pobaby's enemy, San Jie. I find this whole Pobaby camorra intriguing. Here's more oddball Pobaby stuff: this time Ya vs. The Giant Chicken. With an NBA theme. Wierd? Ya think?

Wonder what she's gonna sleep on, how to help her get along with the Peeper, who she is and what she'll be like...


Just Dream.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drawn in venture

I don't want to say more than this: she was born in Lianjiang, probably in March of 2006.

We think we already adore her, little extra bits and all. If hoping and wanting were physical things she would be sleeping in her little bed here tonight. But right now we're still hoping. And wanting. And waiting. And hoping that it's our turn for blessings on the ascending turn of the bhavacakra.

For what price of a whisper in the ear of Guanyin, to help us turn it a little further upwards?

"My brother kneels, so saith Kabir,
To stone and brass in heathen wise,
But in my brother's voice I hear
My own unanswered agonies.
His God is as his fates assign,
His prayer is all the world's--and mine."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Go look! Go read!

I have Naomi and Ryan's South American adventure blogrolled and hopefully if you've stopped by my place you've gone and checked them out. But this post really cries out for your attention. It's better than anything the Travel Channel will ever do. It's better than anything I will ever do. It's a wonderful trip into the heart of Central Bolivia, told in some of the cleanest, brightest prose you could read.

Please, please, please: give Naomi and Ryan a bit of your time. I swear you won't regret it.

Little Runaway

We've had a remarkably domestic weekend around here. First, it rained cats pretty much both days, so we didn't get the yard work done we wanted to, except reparing the giant cat ass-crater Miss Nitty has made in the little raised bed where the poor carrots are trying to grow.
We went to Home Depot and ordered a monsterously expensive door for our remodelling project, went to Goodwill and Peep found an enormous snake (now called Jake and living in his bed along with the other four gajillion bed friends), cleaned house, cooked, played with trains, read, napped, went out for a latte or three...
We also went to out little St. John's Library and checked out about a zillion books and a video: The Remarkable Riderless Runaway Tricycle.
That was Saturday afternoon. We have now finished our fifth viewing of the RRRT. Shea is still undecided about which is the best scene: was it where the RRRT avoids the junkyard magnet? Where the RRRT outfoxes the police car? Or evades the street sweeper? No matter - Peeper-double-thumbs-up is the review of the RRRT. Future repeated watching appears inevitable.

What is mom-and-dad funny about this video is the pure artless Seventies-ness of it. It's got everything: Chevy K-cars, Mark Spitz mustaches, joggers in knee-sox (ass-hugging shorts, gold chains and more-mark-spitz-mustaches). It's like this wierd little hommage to disco, polyester and bluegrass. Plus there's no dialogue, so the kid actors can't ham it up. Joe Bob says: check it out.

So in honor of the RRRT and just to prove that no decade has a lock on pure-D wrong fashion choices, here's the Peep doing his "lost-member-of-the-Village-People" impression. We finally got around to Goodwilling a bunch of Mojo's maternity clothes (no more need for that stuff, thankyewvurramuch) and we found a bunch of his baby- and early-toddler things. He loved some of them so much he refused to part with them and even slept in this little ensemble.

Fortunately my little hunka hunka man-meat is now in a less...umm...tittilating ensemble.
As Donna Summer would have said: toot toot heeeeyyy beep beep...

Getting this off my chest

The largest single operation planned in U.S. military history, the invasion of the Kwanto Plain to capture Tokyo was code-named "Coronet", not "Kill Jap Dagger".

It was "Market-Garden", not "Death from Above" or "Ripcord Slammer".

The landings at Inchon in Korea were code-named "Chromite".

In Vietnam we had operations with code names like "Cedar Falls", "Bright Light" and "Phoenix". Normal, sensible, every-day kinds of names.

But the invasion of some crappy little Caribbean island is code-named "Urgent Fury"?
(This is young Doc Chief and his buddy Doc Clyde doing some emergency splinter surgery during a lull in the fighting during "Operation Urgent Fury")

Bitch-slapping the PDF is called "Just Cause"? Doing the Taliban is "Enduring Freedom"? Invading Iraq is called - wait for it - "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (cunning, guys - those Ba'athists'll never guess what THAT code-name is hiding). And now the latest spectacles brought to you by Bushco: Operation "Arrowhead Ripper" and "Phantom Thunder"?

"Arrowhead Ripper"???

WTF is wrong with us lately?

IMO this is all part and parcel with the "selling war as fun for the whole family" thing. It's bullshit, it's being sold to the press and the public as bullshit, and if I was the Magic SecDef I'd download a list of about 20,000 one-word codenames into the server at the Five-Sided Funny Farm and force my service chiefs to use them in alphabetical order.
OK, they could petition me to avoid stuff like, say, "Operation Stupid" or "Operation Smegma" as they worked through the S's. But otherwise: that's the end of "Operation I'm Ready For My Closeup" operation names.
"Arrowhead Ripper"
Sounds like some 19-year-old private thought that up after a night of sitting up drinking vodka and Red Bull and playing "Worlds of Warcraft". "Whoa, dude, Arrowhead Ripper, that's fuckin' sick, dude!" But this is our multi-billion dollar Department of Defense?
Now that's fuckin' sick, dude.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday junk fiction blogging: worlds and wenches

I had an odd week this week: lots of work but large chunks of down time while things like the drillers breaking their mud pump and trying to fix it happened. So I got to do a bit more reading than usual. And I chose to re-read an old favorite: A Planet in Arms, by a fella named Donald Barr.

Barr sems to have been an interesting character: educator, engineer, former OSS agent, and the author of a slew of books on everything you can imagine: kids books, tech manuals and two science fiction volumes, this one and the slightly less-political Space Relations.

The thing is that Barr is just a good writer. He has a knack for creating people you enjoy meeting, as well as how those people talk (providing you could talk as cleverly as you'd like to talk), is erudite without being obnoxious about it, and - this is the most critical part - writes clearly, passionately and vividly. His gift for words lift these little books above the standard genre space-opera fare. They're out of print but you can find them at Amazon for surprisingly cheap prices...

Now Mojo knows my taste in junk fiction as well as anyone, which is why she picked up a copy of "The General's Wench" for me the last time she was at the Goodwill. I bring this up only because it drives home the distinction between well crafted junk fiction and junky junk fiction. The Wench was my other take-along novel. and, well, Barr's work is junk fiction: it has no deeper meaning, will not change your life, but it is written with care and love and will return you an investment in images for your time, a sort of little literary scrimshaw valuable for its own craft.

But The Wench? Well, no matter how many wenchings, whippings, skulduggeries and times Sabrina's bosom (a prominent feature of this thing) gets agitated when she peeks through her window and sees Sir John "take a running jump and land ploof" (seriously, no shit actual quote) alongside Molly, the referenced wench, it's still utter crap. And not even really fun crap. The rotten writing, slow pace, poor plotting and wooden characters make it hell to wade through.

So just as there's a big difference between Jane Austin's elegant prose and the tortured morass of Sir Walter Scott, there's a world of difference between the effort put in and the reward obtained from these two throwaway paperbacks.


Mine Clearing: not for the stupid

Yikes! Now there's a scary thought: imagine that lumbering towards you in some E-ring corridor. Talk about a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem to be born...
I had a hard time trying to focus on a think piece for Friday (as you can tell: it's early Saturday and I've been up since 3 - thanks, Miss Lily. I'll remember this come next WinCo run; no more salmony goodness for you, girlfriend - it's turkey gizzard Little Friskies for you, my wench).
Thing is my mind kept drifting sideways into memories of my time in the Sinai with the Multinational Force & Observers. Dunno why. Ever had that, where you try and discipline your mind to think about, oh, work, or a chore, or school, and the damn thing keeps haring off after wierd stuff like Turkish drummers, or who invented the steam jenny, or why are there echidnas or what your neighbors look like nude?
I mean, there's so much fucked up stuff to talk about. Dick to Congress: drop dead. More dead people. Protection under law: useless fiction or outdated sentimentality? Even Hammerin' Hank isn't safe - some juicer is chasing his record. It's a sad old world out there. And yet for some reason I couldn't focus on any one thing to talk about. My thoughts just seemed a blur of stupid people and bad government.
And that's when it hit me.
Why I was thinking about the Sinai.
When I was in the Sinai with the Multinational Force back in the 80's we were occasionally tasked to support the Egyptian troops stationed there (either their Army or one of their multiple "police" outfits) clear the many mines that have been scattered around that place. The typical mine-clearing detail consisted of an Egyptian "engineer section", usually about 10 privates and a sergeant with an officer along for the ride, and three Americans: a lieutenant, an RTO and a medic.
(Here's a couple of typical "tourist police" from another website. They looked like any other soldiers to me, except for their deal where they'd take their boots off and hang them around their necks by the laces. The interpreter at CP-3A explained that this was because when you stand before Allah you have to take your shoes off. Either you're pulling my leg, I replied, or this bad attitude explains a lot about why the Israelis kicked your asses back in '67.)
Their method was simple yet horrifying. They would walk out into the desert (usually the bottom of a wadi where the things had washed in) looking for mines. When they found one they would pick it up and carefully place it in a pile. Once the pile was big enough they'd shove some demo into gaps between the miles, scamper behind their truck and blow the pile.

Several times the blast launched a mine or three over the road we were parked on - these were sphincter-tightening moments, especially as the mine pop-up hung in the air and you had to guess: is it...long? ...short? between...awwwwshit!

Several of these "engineer" teams took losses, as you can imagine: stepping on mines, mines landing on them... One in particular impressed me, wherein the Egyptian lieutenant showed his troops how a Russian "shoebox" mine worked.
It did.
Our lieutenant reported that mine-clearing operations were on hold waiting a "resupply of Egyptians".
It occured to me that these fucktards probably thought they had a plan. And that their plan was the best possible plan they could think up.
And it made me sad, because if that was true then they were as energetic and hopeless as a squirrel crossing the interstate, and just as doomed. And all of these sad, sorry, fucked up news stories made me think of them. So there's the tie-in. Dick and Dubya, their christopithecine preacher friends, the bloody-handed idiots cutting deals and stranding their workers or constituents or troops down by the jersey barrier facing the oncoming the words of PFC Ahlers, Balboa boulevardier and M203-gunner to the stars: "What a freekin' goatscrew...!"
I loved the Sinai back in the day, and had some great times then - probably the most useful, certainly the most peaceful thing I ever did in the Army - and I'd like to tell some of them. If nothing else, to tell you the story of these three not-so-wise men.
But for now - to bed, insh'allah.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday Random Ten: Kid TV

1. The reality of life in 21st Century America is that unless you live in a yurt, have the emotional and intellectual steadfastness of Marcus Aurelius or your offspring are less visual than mine, if you have a child you will encounter Kid TV. This morning I was blogging and thinking about the pre-daycare-tantrum to come and what we do in the mornings when the Peeper and I both wake up. We have a big sippy-of-milk-with-a-valve-all-the-way-to-the-top (coffee for me) and eat our toast (pop-tart, sometimes, for Himself) and cuddle on the couch. And often we watch "something good for me" which usually means a cartoon.

2. There's my fave up on top: Kipper. I think you'd like Kipper , too. He's quiet and thoughtful, in his cartoon doggish way. He has little adventures with his friends Tiger and Pig and is kinda the sort of cartoon person who, if he was a real person you'd probably enjoy spending the afternoon with just hanging out doing nothing in particular. Do people still do that? Peep likes Kipper when he's in a quiet mood - which is a lovely time for me because it's so rare. He's really sweet and huggy when he's quiet.

3. I've talked here before about Dora. Her giant cartoon head scares me, and several of her cartoon aspects are entirely too screechy and/or irritating (and yes, I'm talking about YOU, "Map"...) The Peep enjoys Dora but doesn't actively seek her show out. We'll watch it when it comes on if we're looking for "something good for me"...

4. Diego is one of Peep's favorite cartoons, which I've discussed at length earlier in the blog. Both Dora and Diego are relatively parent-painless (except for the fucking Map)

5. "Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks" is purely a Guy Thing. We love Meteor and watch him every morning before daycare. All the stories tell little lessons about stuff like friendship, honesty and caring. But we really watch it because we like to see Junkboy get all dirty. Peep and I, we like our trucks dirty.

6. I have nothing to say about the Berenstain Bears except "The horror! The horror!" It seems like this cornpone nightmare gets inflicted on us every time we watch PBS's "Good Night Show". My loathing for this has become a family joke, with Peep insisting we watch it so he can enjoy my groans of "No! Not the Bears! Anything but the Beeeaaaarrrrsss..!"

7. The funny thing is that the GNS exposed me to Peep's first crush: he luuuurves him some "Nina", the ectomorphic hostess of the show. Who, I admit, is pretty cute, and how cool is a kid's show host who does yoga? And since in PeeperWorld two people can't like the same thing (that is, if the Peep says "I like diesel engines" then I can't like diesel engines, I have to like steam engines, or hotcakes, or something...) I have to like Star. In fact, the person I really liked was Melanie, Nina's predecessor. Melanie turned out to be a very smart, articulate young actress who was canned for making a funny commercial suggesting that teaching kids "abstinence" was as useful as encouraging them to have anal sex so they wouldn't technically lose their virginity. And you thought that KidVid was all cartoon animals and things that blow up!
8. OK. Get real. How many 4-year-old boys would want to follow the adventures of a cartoon mouse ballerina. Not to mention that Angelina whines, like, all the time. Worse than friggin' Caillou. Nah, nobody whines more than Caillou. Michelle Malkin, maybe.

9. Scooby Doo. OK, how wierd is it that your kid is watching and enjoying a show that YOU watched and enjoyed when you were a kid.

The Scoobster hasn't changed, and the jokes are still just as dumb and the "ghosts" and "monsters" just as silly. The animation sure is better, and as the picture at right shows, the Scooby Gang has been slicked and updated for the 21st Century. But Shaggy and Scooby are still gluttonous cowards, Fred still stalwart, Daphne still heroic and Velma still cute n' nerdy.

Which, BTW, brings back the most divisive question of my adolesence: Daphne or Velma: hot, or not?
I was and am a confirmed Velmist: she's totally hot in a geek-girl, Janeane Garofalo-way. But the Daphneites have sound arguments, too.

Let's face it: a four-year-old could care less. But that's the Daddy's job - to guide little feet towards a proper manhood, to nurture the little fellow into an appreciation of geek-girlhood (and -womanhood) and the understanding that knee socks, a pleated skirt and baggy sweaters are the epitome of feminine coolness.

10. I hear the stirring of little Peepers and mommies. Time to go to work - see you again around here later in the week.
Update 6/21 p.m.: well, Mojo reports that we did have the monster tantrum about going to daycare, so daddy will have some discipline issues when we get home tonight. At least the whole "I want a toy every minute" whining is getting less constant. And - for the record - I am in complete agreement with wzgirl (see comments) re: the New Velma - smokin'!! Love the new hair - and the glasses? You're a knockout, kid.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oscar comes to visit

No, he's not related to this Oscar. Or even this one (for which he gets down on his pectoral fins in gratitude every morning). Oscar is a cichlid and the house pet of our friends the Wilsons (Christine and her two sons). They are on the road at the moment, still moving away from the summer of 2006 in which her husband drowned himself rather than deal with his alcoholism and the breakdown of his marriage. Their house is sold, their belongings stored, and all that remained was to find a place for Oscar the Big Honkin' Fish. A fish, by the way, which had the temperment of a rhino with a toothache and the appetite of Jaws the shark. His bloody past (swallowing his first tank-mate; biting through a hapless mouse) was gleefully described by his two young masters, who considered Oscar a sort of Godzilla in a tank only twice as cool.

The Peeper was entranced with the idea that he could become the Fishmaster of Oscar the Big Honkin' Fish. He explained in great detail how he would feed Oscar, show him where everything in his new room was and keep the cats out so they wouldn't try and catch Oscar the Big Honkin' Fish.

Miss Lily, who knows that fish are best found in small aluminum cans, was skeptical of the project, as you can see.

So was my bride. As you can also see. Note Miss Lily is displaying some mild interest in the new resident of the Fire Direction Center. But not so much as to be vulgar.
The whole Oscar Project turned out to be a circus of such intense death-defying thrills as to make Barnum and Bailey pale with envy. The wretched fish fought violently at being transferred to his moving bucket (his tank being too large to move full) and broke the tank heater. Christine and I both forgot to unplug this gadget, which then arced in the water, throwing Oscar against the glass with a spectacular sizzling. Apparently unfazed by this, the ginormous bastard fought being caught up in the little fish-net-scooper and got himself entangled.
After a wild melee in which the fish was traumatized and my fingers repeatedly poked by his sharp little dorsal spines he was transferred to the bucket, the tank drained and moved, and the Big Honkin' Fish himself replaced in it. All the while three boys 4, 6 and 11 rioted about and Mojo tried to clean up after the fish move and control the furred-pet detachment. Worst of all, Oscar quickly began looking rather shop-worn, lying dazed in the bottom of his tank in a decidedly getting-ready-to-shuffle-off-his-mortal-coil way, and I began dreading explaining to a bereft four-year-old about how little pets sometimes die even when we don't want them to. (N.B. - scroll down to "the raccoon story" for the reference)

Jesus wept.

But...happy ending! Oscar the Big Honkin' Fish was just to big and mean to die. Sunday morning saw him still with us, and by Monday he almost took the tip of my finger off lunging for his Cichlid CibbleTM. Yay. Death, where is thy sting, or, the Fish Too Mean to Die.
So Sunday everyone stayed in bed late and had a nice snuggle. And then we went to the new organic coffeehouse in St. Johns and had some lovely jamoke (with a milk chaser for the Peep).
Miss Lily agreed - Saturday had been a very tiring day!

Crazy Busy (w/ a note re: Immigration)

Sorry no post on all things Peeper this weekend: it's been crazy and I'll try and explain why tomorrow.

I did want to link this little note re: the whole "it's your business when your neighbor's house is on fire" theme from last Friday.

The money graph from John Robb's article linked to above: "The Zetas (a drug cartel originally formed by 50 Mexican special operators, some with US training, recruited by the Gulf Cartel as enforcers) has ballooned to a network of 2000 members, including recruits from Guatemalan counter-insurgency forces called the Kabiles."

So what I said: border-crossing hispanics aren't a disease: they're a symptom. Much of Latin America is politically and economically sick and getting sicker, NAFTA or no NAFTA. If we'd get our head out of our American Idol ass we might recognize that for the potential train wreck it is.

Will we? Doubt it. Our politicians are too busy scoring off each other, and the massive money flooding the system is being used to direct our attention to Big Shiny Objects.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

By the North Gate (Immigration & NoPo II)

Charles Krauthammer, as always predictibly an echo chamber for the Neolithic Right, weighs in on the immigration issue here (I hate to link to this goober, but since I'm quoting him I suppose I have to.)

Also typically, his answer to the terrifying invasion of the Little Brown Meskins is to throw up a wall and, presumably, mine, shoot and/or harpoon those who will insist on trespassing.

His money quote re: all this contravallation? "The Chinese had success with it, as did Hadrian. In our time, the barrier Israel has built has been so effective in keeping out intruders that suicide attacks are down over 90 percent."

Well, I hate to use artillery to flatten one weasel-like conservative columnist, but let's stop and think about this for a moment:

These societies were or are AT WAR with their enemies on the other side of the wall. Their choice was simple: keep the enemy out or fight them constantly. Is this what Krauthammer is saying? That we're at war with the Terrorist Beaners? That it's win or die, the barbarians pour in over the wall and we're all burning alive in the rubble of our villas, without even our lawns mowed, babies diapered and food processed? Heavens!

Or is this just the typical vaporing of a conservative idiot, whose knowledge of history is as self-serving as his political orientation?

Ya think?

I note with some grim humor that the Hammer of the Krauts doesn't add to his list this wall, equally useful in controlling movement across an international border.

Perhaps because he doesn't want to remind us that governments who build walls between peoples often find themselves building walls and barriers against their own people. Or that even the most fearsome barrier can and will be overcome if the people trying to cross it are desperate and brave enough.

The real issue - the one Which Dare Not Speak Its Name - is that the institutional poverty, misgovernance and social maladjustment of most Latin American countries is so profound and so destructive that to address it would take every penny that the U.S. has spent on poorly planned foreign adventures and more. Much more.

So instead we get this idiotic argument that all we need to do is fence these little heatherns out and everything wil be Good. God will once again be White and in His Heaven, the food will magically get harvested, processed, cooked and served by Real Amurikans (actual Citizens) who will suddenly, magically, want to work for the pittance we want to pay for these jobs to prevent our food, clothing and service costs from reflecting what it would cost to pay humans actually living wages to do these things.

As Hadrian himself might have said: Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet.

It is your business when your neighbour's house is on fire.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

El Norte y El Sur (Immigration & NoPo I)

So this week it seems that St. John's isn't famous just for it's world-class StarbucksTM and the view from the big green bridge. We made the papers because our local "Fresh del Monte Produce" got raided by whatever-the-hell the INS is called now that it's part of the Department of Homeland Security (I'm sure those arrested still knew it as "La Migra").

This brought out all the usual suspects for comment: those of the Left, [including, interestingly, Portland's mayor and former top copper] complaining of targeting poor hispanics simply trying to make a living, while the letter column of the Oregonian filled with the normal carping of the Right, complaining about the Brown Peril and the immanenet demise of Western Civilization because of the hordes of dusky little invaders.

Now the Chief is probably more Left the Right, but most plainly he is White, which means that he and his were the beneficiaries of the most bare-faced illegal immigration scam ever perpetrated, so he feels it only proper that he should STFU about other people getting over on immigration laws. The warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu is supposed to have said that the only excuse for breaking the law (in his case, rebellion) was success. Us white folks are the biggest immigration-law-breakers in history; for us to be lecturing people trying to sneak into the Land of the Big PX now smacks more than a little of the rich robber-baron beating up on the small time sneak thief.
What's more, all the grumpy Anglos piffing about the dirty Meskins taking our jobs don't seem to be hustling up to Marine Drive to cut broccoli. As far as I can tell the people crossing the border illegally are just trying to do what every person since the first homo habilis hunter crossed into better hunting grounds has been trying to do: make life better for them and theirs. Mexico and the Latin American countries are desperately hard for the poor, and in Latin America as in El Norte, when you're poor you tend to stay poor. As evidence, here's a study that claims that something like 40 people - you heard right; not 40 families, 40 people - hold 30% of ALL the wealth in Mexico.
Well, fuck THAT. I'd be swimming that river, too.
(Thing is, though, we've seen here, and here, and again here, that a nation that becomes a hotch-potch of disparate ethnicities often isn't a nation at all anymore unless it shares strong bonds of language, history and custom. I think we need to keep that in mind. But - that's not the thing that's getting people busted in St. John's.)
All of this takes me back to the nonsense coming out of Washington about the "problem" of immigration. It reminds me forcefully of the horseshit being talked about Iraq; how somehow if we do this or fight that everything will be shiny happy and we'll all get a pony. Here's the Chief's data solution for this target: look, folks, things in Latin America suck if you're poor. Nobody I know WANTS to up and leave their home and family and go to a foreign land. But if you have any gumption at all you are going to try and go where you can have a chance to make a better living. No walls, no fences, no laws in the world would stop me from going where I needed to go and doing what I had to do to make things as good as I could make them for Mojo and the Peeper.
So: any "solution" to the "problem" of hispanic people trying to get into this country that doesn't begin with the words "In order to improve conditions in the home nations of the citizens of the nations of Latin America..." is snake oil, smoke and mirrors and should be treated as such.
Tar and feathers are the recommended specific for the vendors of said "solution" Congresscritters and presidents, take note.

Update: Sunday 6/16: Tbogg links to this James McMurtry song which says everything I've said and want to say about this but says it better.


Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin

Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in

Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today

No I hate the men sent the jobs away

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams

All lily white and squeaky clean

They've never known want, they'll never know need

Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed

Their kids won't bleed in the damn little war

And we can't make it here anymore

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Da Levee Bruk

Imagine a wall of ice nearly half a mile high. Glacial ice: sere and deep blue, the blue of a newborn’s eyes, or of a serene summer sky. Ice formed in the high, cold plateau of the Canadian Arctic from snows a thousand winters deep. Ice that has flowed and crept and ground its’ way down from the north to close the gap across the canyon of the Clark Fork River. An ice wall, a dam, across the river, now fat and swollen glacial blue with the meltwater of that great ice sheet. An ice dam that now impounds an inland sea; 1,000 feet deep, 200 miles long and dozen of miles wide. 500 cubic miles of water.

500 cubic miles. Cubic. Fucking. Miles.

Of water.

Glacial Lake Missoula.

Imagine, then, the pressure at the base of the dam. The ice wall, seamed and fissured by pressure, by the stresses of traveling thousands of miles from the snowy field of its origin. And the water, beneath tens of millions of gallons of water above it, forcing its way into the cracks, wedging into those fissures. Fingers of water driven by incalculable mass; melting, shearing, driving deeper and deeper into the glacier. Wedging the frozen mass away from the bare rock on which it rests. Burrowing ever closer to the far side of the monster jumble of ice, snow and rock. Closer…closer…

And then, finally, a jet of water from the base of the ice dam. Another. Three more, a dozen; the first block tumbles from the bulging pile. Groaning, shrieking, the ice wall collapses, the water boiling through.

Another flood has begun.
I’ll turn the blog over to a couple of experts. First, the National Park Service:

“When Glacial Lake Missoula burst through the ice dam and exploded
downstream, it did so at a rate 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world. This towering mass of water and ice literally shook the ground as it thundered towards the Pacific Ocean, stripping away thick soils and cutting deep canyons in the underlying bedrock. With flood waters roaring across the landscape at speeds approaching 65 miles per hour, the lake would have drained in as little as 48 hours.”

Now here’s Dick Waitt, from his brilliant 1985 paper on the floods as "jokulhlaups", glacial outburst floods:

“From stratigraphic successions of approximately 40 rhythmic beds at exposures in Montana, Washington, and Oregon, Waitt (1980b) inferred that approximately 40 great jökulhlaups had escaped last glacial Lake Missoula. The number "40" is a minimum; there were at least that many huge floods during the last glaciation. Although problems remain on the number and correlation of events attributed in various areas to successive Missoula floods, regionally scattered sections indicate that there were more than 40 colossal last-glacial floods, probably more than 60. “

Thanks, guys. I'll take it from here.

Of all the geologic acts that shaped my home here in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps the most dramatic and greatest were these: the Missoula Floods. Everywhere I go, every day, I see the work done by the last of these inundations. Even our little house, way up in North Portland, is set on the tail end of the monster pendant bar of Alameda Ridge, a pile of boulders, gravel sand and silt that settled in the calm water behind the volcano we now call Rocky Butte, the then-conical hill serving as a flowbreak and being ripped to pieces in the process.
The floods ripped channels, tore down hills, dumped tons of everything from boulders the size of cars to acres of silt and clay across the entire Willamette Valley. The floodwaters, contained by restrictions in the Columbia River channel further west, formed a lake that backed up into the valley south of Salem and beyond. This “Lake Allison” must have been an incredible sight for decades after each flood, stretching from Coast Range to Cascades and full of everything from tree trunks to icebergs, like the one that deposited this “glacial erratic” on a hillside above the little town of Sheridan, Oregon.

I am always amazed at just how incredibly cool geology and the way the world works are.

One of the questions I was always asked by my students during our PCC geology field trips was: “Were there any people who could have actually seen the floods?” As of today no fossil remains have been found in any of the flood deposits, although we know there were many large animals living on the Columbia Plateau at the time. When Harlan Bretz’s flood theories were accepted our notion of human arrival in North America postdated the last flood by about 1,000 years. Those ideas are in the process of changing. So it is possible, and even likely, that small bands of firstcomers were abroad on the high plateau at the time.
Picture that moment, now part of our Pleistocene prehistory. The night is cold, but the nights are always cold. You aren’t really aware of the chill, just as you’re not really aware of the hunger ache in your belly, or sore feet from the day’s hunt. They’re a part of you, like the ice-bright stars above your head in the depthless velvet sky. You’re tired, but for some reason you can’t sleep. You stretch propped up on your elbows amid the little group sleeping around the dying fire.

Maybe it’s a tiny tremor in the ground beneath you. Maybe it’s a sound, a breathless hush of a sound, just below the threshold of true hearing. Maybe it’s just a feeling inside you, like the feeling you’ve learned to trust while hunting, the feeling that something has changed. You sit up, then you stand up. You stare out into the darkness, willing your eyes to see whatever it is that is pressing on you like a stone on your chest. You know, now, you know that something is out beyond the ring of firelight, something moving, something vast, something frightening, but you can’t see and don’t know what it is.

Perhaps you have time to wake your companions. Perhaps you all jump up, try to run, try to hide, dissolve into hopeless panic before the wall of water sweeps you all away into chaos and the darkness of the vanished years.

Or perhaps you can only stand there, transfixed, staring at the long white line across the black horizon, as the first cold puff of wind racing out before the waters shivers your cheek like a lover’s last caress.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lake County Babylon

Posted in a men's room in Fort Rock, Oregon, population 78.