“There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)”

— Michael Moore, admiring his admirers

Another opinion poll

So I got a call at home today, asking me how I felt about Bush, Arnold, illegal immigration, and, in particular, driver’s licenses and health care for illegal immigrants.

As usual, there were some questions I couldn’t answer honestly, due to the phrasing. As usual, some of the benefits claimed by supporters of the current bill were either borderline lies or outright fantasy. Fortunately, one of the options was “I think this statement is not true”. I used that one a lot.

Most interesting was the very short list, by comparison, of reasons to oppose the bill. Either the opposition thinks they’ve got a slam-dunk and don’t need to give a long list of justifications, or the folks who commissioned the survey were stacking the deck in their favor. Personally, I didn’t find their list particularly persuasive, but I didn’t notice any obvious lies.

The final question was freeform, and asked how you think the illegal immigration issue should be handled. My answer was, more or less, “expand legal immigration instead; we need the workers, they want to come here, so do it right”.

There’s a giant lettuce field three blocks from my house. I drive by several more every day, and I know perfectly well that most of the people working on those farms are in California illegally. I don’t want to throw them out, I don’t want to turn them away at the border, but I also don’t want them to become accustomed to breaking any law that gets in the way of how they want to work and live. Giving them driver’s licenses simply rewards them for breaking the law.

I want to see them coming across the border openly, officially, with a clear legal status in both countries, good documentation, and a set of well-understood rules on what will get them sent home. And I want those rules to be enforced consistently and fairly, on employers and immigrants both, something I don’t think is the case today.

One interesting note in the survey. I was asked my opinion of three groups of people: legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, and “undocumented workers”. I asked him to define the third term. He had not been provided with a definition, and had to guess.

The sort of Christians I can’t stand…

I’m a generally live-and-let-pray kind of guy. I have no personal interest in worship, but if you do, great. As long as you don’t burn science textbooks, blow up people, or show up at my front door to save me, we’re cool.

Unless you say things like this:

The first seminary class graduated in 2002. "They walked down the aisle in their rented caps and gowns, and their families cried," Cain says. "One mother came to me and said, 'I can't understand my emotions. My son came to prison and found Jesus, and he's graduated from seminary. He had to do this terrible crime to get to here.' I told her maybe the victim didn't die in vain."

No, of course not. He didn’t die in vain, he died in fear and pain so some vicious thug could become a minister. I feel so much better now. I’m sure the victim’s family does, too.

Investigating Abu Ghraib

A quick note to the folks who are pointing at the prisoner abuse scandal as proof that America is no better than Saddam Hussein: when his people did these things (and far, far worse), they were doing their master’s bidding; when some of our soldiers do it, they’re investigated, as high up the chain of command as the rot goes. Then they’re punished.

That is, Hussein ordered torture for punishment, while we order punishment for torture. Big difference.

Update: timeline of events surrounding the incidents.

Living with toxic waste

This list of Superfund reports covering the somewhat unpleasant contents of the Powell Road Landfill in Huber Heights, Ohio will not be of interest to many people, but it does matter to me.

Y’see, the landfill is located at 4060 Powell Road, and I spent the first seven years of my life living at 3970, approximately 200 yards away. I wasn’t surprised to hear that it was a Superfund site; one of the former owners quietly admitted to having received “suggestions” from obvious Mob types on what sort of dumping to allow. Since he had grandchildren, he kept his mouth shut and sold the place as soon as possible.

Coincidentally, this happened at about the same time that he encouraged us to move.

Under the rust, I found…

…more rust.

Spent the weekend at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse. After an oddly compelling dream and the subtle prodding of a certain Mr. Lion, I felt the need to at least investigate riding a motorcycle again.


The Triumph of Saint Hubble

If the Fundies are going to insist that science is just another religion, I think it’s only fair that we have our own religious art.

Bug Nebula

Update: hubblesite.org finally has a page up with details and more images, so I updated the link.

Oh, sure, I’ll play along

I guess I’m just an Internet Lemming at heart:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
The Tōkyō Metropolitan Area 首都圏 in particular, although less than 2.0 percent in terms of area, has a concentration of 23.4 percent of the national population.

This is from Japan: Profile of a Nation (Kodansha International, 1999). Surprisingly readable, despite the high information density.

Not livin’ the lifestyle

Food magazines are usually about food. Gun magazines are usually about guns. Computer magazines are usually about computers. Some of them creep over into “lifestyle” territory, but not as far as many car or motorcycle magazines. Mags like Cigar Aficionado are clearly about the lifestyle its readers would like to be living, making only a token effort to actually discuss cigars.

What brought this on? Yesterday, my mailbox included a stiff brown envelope containing the latest issue of Lexus, a free magazine sent to Lexus owners. The contents are equal parts lifestyle and advertorial: organic oysters in Scotland, what to do in the Maldives, concept Lexi, titanium bicycles, overpriced gadget “reviews”, wine-making classes, etc.

But the best part was a non-ad for one of the cooler features in new Lexi: the backup camera. Since they already had a color LCD display in most of the new models for the GPS navigation system, they went ahead and added a small digicam just above the rear license plate, to transmit video to the dash when the car’s in reverse. Very handy for getting in and out of parking spaces.

But how do they lead into the “story”?

Anyone who's ever backed up over a hand-made Italian racing bike left casually in a driveway knows that awful crunchy sound, and equally awful feeling.

Just in case the table of contents had left me with any doubts, this confirms that I am not in their target demographic. I’m not sure which aspect of their opinion of their readers is worse: that they’re prone to conspicuous consumption, or that they’re stupid enough to leave a “hand-made Italian racing bike” behind a parked car.