Thursday, May 25, 2006

When the moon is in the trees

Acidman rises like the moon in the trees and pens blogger
poetry:

Did you ever see a DOZEN of those hairless salamanders in the North Carolina mountains--- up there where those prehistoric and skinless LIZARDS make a noise like a stameding herd of wild hogs when they run like lemmings into your CAMPFIRE AT NIGHT???? When the fucking MOON is in the trees?

When you didn't have to POKE them into the flames with your fire-stick as you screamed like a girl, and while your drunken buddies just kept snoring and left you to fend for yourself?? When those ick! ick! ick! things ran right across your farking LEG, and you pissed a stain in your pants, and the damn things KEPT RUNNING right into the fire? Where they curled up and resembled burnt popcorn?

Huh? Remember how stoned you were? And how you dragged a burnt lizard on a stick out of the fire, studied it for a moment, SNIFFED IT and ATE IT???? Just to see what it TASTED LIKE??? To see if you COULD??

When you follow the moon, you can do some crazy shit.



Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Economics, wages and osmotic pressure

Glenn Reynolds links to a good article that describes the
mexican economic reason for the flood of immigration and
why south america is moving leftward politically.

Apart from the macro-economics, croneyism and lack
of education, another big driver for the northern migration
is low pay and the way that people in mexico are paid.
People are paid flat salaries (salario fijo) with a per month wage,
and are expected to work the hours necessary to get the job
done.

During the 10 days I just spent in mexico, we had two company
drivers who were on duty for the same number of hours as me.
Working from 6 in the morning until 10 at night is pretty normal
in the oilfield during drilling operations, and we get paid well for
that. The drivers picked us up, drove us around all day then
brought us back to the hotel, then drove back to the cheap hotel
they stayed at. (not my idea)

They make a flat wage for that, and the minimum wage in mexico
is 50 pesos per day. One driver said his cousin is working in the US
and working two jobs and in 4 months has saved enough to buy a house
in Villahermosa.

Just do the math and it's easy to see the osmotic pressure-like force
driving people northward. Even if you get paid $3/hour here, but you
work 16 hours per day you can make $48 dollars per day, which comes
out to 500 pesos per day or 10 times what they make in Mexico, and
they aren't working that much more in the US than in Mexico.
You'd have to be a fool not to come up to the US, and if I were in
their shoes I'd do it too.

The best fence in the universe won't keep people out with that kind of
force behind it, witness the transport of drugs. Anytime there is a huge
profit margin like this wage differential, the drugs or the people will get
through.

One possible answer is to not just 'give' mexico a guest worker program,
we should ask that low wage workers in mexico be given the opportunity
to select a per hour wage, as well as demanding economic reforms to make
mexico's economy more like Chile's and less like, Mexico's.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Pres speaks too soon

I didn't get to see the speech, but I read it on instapundit, and
he linked to it on video here. I liked it, it agrees fairly well with
what I'd like to see and in a more rational world it might even
pass congress.

I think it's too soon though, he should have waited until after
the mexican presidential elections in two months. Now the
radical presidential candidate will be able to cherry pick items
from the speech to demand mexican immigrant rights, and
get votes.

It's also too soon because I'm still in Mexico, he could have waited
two days until I'm safely across the rio grande to give this speech.
I'm sure the spit content of my food will spiral out of control in
the next 48 hours. Oh well.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

From the renaissance to the end of western thought

When I planned our recent
vacation I thought that we'd
stop at places where I could
point out the what happened
in the trajectory of history,
from Rome to Venice to Florence
to Paris. From Ancient Rome
to the Middle Ages to the
Renaissance and up to the
modern age. Maybe my wife
and I could learn something
while vacationing.

I really didn't know enough art
history to know that the beginning
of the Renaissance could be
localized to a city, and a person.

The doors in this picture were
installed in the Baptistry in front of the Cathedral in Florence.
They were designed after a competion between Ghiberti and Brunelleschi
and several others to decide who would design the bronze doors.
Ghiberti won the competition and designed and made these doors,
with scenes from the old testament. The work took 20 years, and
the panels change from the flat perspective of medieval art to 3d
perspective of the renaissance. Ghiberti then went on to design
the "gates of paradise", which are the doors on the side of the baptistry
facing the cathedral. Brunelleschi gave up metalwork and art,
and learned architecture. He designed the Cathedral dome,
which is a story from a motivation course, when life gives you lemons,
build a giant lemon shaped dome and amaze the world.

It amazed me that all these events happened in one town, so quickly
after 800 years of things not changing. Similar times as today, where
I remember not having color TV as a boy...and right now I'm listening
to phil collins on my ipod while blogging on a wireless network in my
mexican hotel room.

The downside of change is that I just watched a show on TV where a
tattoed idiot paid another idiot to shoot him to create "body art".

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Photoblogging italian art

Here's a photo from
the roof of the Sistine
chapel that my wife
took while the guards
shouted "Silence,
no photos!" I thought
at the time how much
it must suck to work
in the most beautiful
room in the western
hemisphere, and your
job is to say "Silence,
no photos!" every 45
seconds.

We made two trips through there, once with a tour group and the 2nd
time by ourselselves, truly awe inspiring. Made me not want to see any
more art after that day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Funniest. Screed. Ever.

James Lileks outdoes himself with a letter from the Iranian
President to Bush:

. . and Jack Bauer will not be able to save you this time, my friend. If there is an attack on our country we will double our aid to the Iraqi patriots, double our funding to Hezbollah and its female auxiliary wing Sisboombah, and double again our attempts to secrete through your borders weapons both chemical and biological.

Ah – er, reduce everything I said in the previous paragraph by half. We will START doing those things. Yes, that is the thing that is the ticket: start. We will also use our fearsome weapons of unspeakable lethality to destroy your planes before they are even built, let alone launched. We can sink your mighty aircraft carriers by shouting in unison, so great is our national will.


Yes, that thing is the ticket. Go read the whole thing.

Still in Mexico

Well, I'm still in Mexico, now in the state of Veracruz in the most
difficult to pronounce city in spanish, Coatzacoalcos. Seems like
a nice enough place, or the hotel is nice anyway. I haven't gone out
this evening, since it seems like there's no place I could go that I
wouldn't get into some kind of trouble.

During my 3 hours in the car this morning I watched the countryside
and the people, and it seems pretty empty. My driver was quizing me
about costs in the US, and he said he wanted to go to the US to work.
I hope I talked him out of it, but more likely I talked him into it. I'm
no salesman.

I was really struck by a billboard for mexico's team in the world cup,
that said that the population of mexico is 100 million people, and they
support their team. If there is 11 million illegal aliens in the US and most
are mexican...that's 10% of the population of mexico is in the US. It's like
a plague or a war, every person must be thinking can I do better in US,
and if your job is to drive gringos around southern mexico, the answer
appears to be yes.

Another striking feature are the military checkpoints, 3 between
villahermosa and coatza. I asked the driver what those are for and he
said "para gente illegal". I hate checkpoints in the US for drunk drivers
or seatbelts or whatever, but it is worse when the guys stopping the cars
have assault weapons and are covered by a guy in a bunker. WTF.

I really have no answer for the illegal immigrant problem. It's strange,
but I have less problem with the people moving to the US to make a better
life for their family than I do with people going to the US for a job and returning
home without paying taxes (when I worked in colombia I paid taxes). I just
want the immigrants to learn english and become 'americans'. we also need
some way to control the flow, with a wall and a mexican Ellis Island. At
the end of the 19th century not everyone was allowed into the US, they
were sorted and some rejected at Ellis Island, after being presorted by having
to cross the ocean.

Here's my proposition:
-First build a wall
-Create a guest worker program for the migrant workers so I can have my $1
lettuce, this will remove a big percentage of the illegals, they can come, work, pay taxes
and go home.
-on the mexican side create a reception area for immigrants where we can sort
out the diseased and the criminals, then they can walk across the border in safety
to a border town.
- If "walkon" immigrants keep their nose clean and pay their taxes, after 7 years
they can apply for citizenship, or after military service.

Of course this plan doesn't work, it will just create a huge wave of immigrants sneaking
into mexico to get into the US. Whatever we do, first build the wall then we can look
at the next step. A lottery? Easier entrance for the best and brightest from the rest
of the world?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

back from vacation, traveling again

Well, we got to spend a couple of weeks vacation in Europe,
and it went better than should have any right to expect, with
the only partial hiccup being not being able to get a night train
from paris to venice, instead burning up most of a day
watching the french countryside and the alps stream by.

We went from paris to venice to florence to rome. Strangely
enough, I think italians are ruder than french people. The
french waiters that were rude seemed like they had attended
a class in rude, but now they are just trying to achieve c+, they're
really not striving for that A grade anymore.

The italians that were rude seemed more like they were saying
'why the heck are you coming to my country and taking my job?'.
Except of course we there to buy $8 ham and cheese sandwiches.
Which to me it makes the treatment that mexicans get in the US
even more astonishing. They are there to literally steal our jobs,
and yet there are no riots, mass lynchings, firebombings, car burnings
that you'd expect from our imperfect america. Funny.
(funny strange not funny ha ha).

Here's where someone pipes up to say that they are doing jobs
that no one else wants. I call bullshit. When we lived in louisiana
I cut my own grass because it was something like $200/month
for a lawn service. Now in texas we have a guy that does it for
$80/month, and my allergies haven't felt this good for 5 years.
Our guy is a legal resident, but he has to charge the same cutrate
prices that the illegals do. There were people that could run a lawn
service with legal workers and pay them a decent wage, of course
they only cut rich people's lawns...now that doesn't exist. The owners
make money, the workers make nothing but that's ok because
they are living 5 to a room and don't have the overhead of taxes,
social security, car insurance, etc. No health insurance? go to the
emergency room, they have to treat you.

Now the highway workers are majority mexican. How many of those
are legal? Can companies that hire citizens compete effectively? no.
Bang! those jobs are going away. If you are poor or black (or both)
you are now effectively screwed. Once our current crop of illegals
is legitimized, a new batch will swarm it's way north, until our fair
republic will look a lot like mexico looks now, with vast swarms of
hungry people surrounding enclaves of rich lawyers and doctors.

I'm down in mexico now for work and that's how it looks to me.
The only way out I can see is for us to control the only thing that is
under our power to control, which is the border. Close the border,
then we can negotiate everything else. You want to send guest
workers, send us cheap oil. To avoid forcibly evicting most of the illegals,
we'll accept deep and lasting reforms in the mexican economy.

Mexico has resources, hardworking people and potential. Rather
than sending us the hardest working risk takers, they should allow
those people to build a new mexico, instead of cutting our lawns.