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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tiny Steps

A reenactment (with some license) of an argument with my Libertarian father:

Dad: Governmental regulations designed to protect a population from itself are seriously flawed and inefficient. You can't always save people from hanging themselves, or blame yourself for allowing them to buy some rope.

Me: Agreed... although successful programs like Social Security suggest that while these programs are difficult to design correctly, it's not impossible.

Dad: But take an idea like affirmative action. It is inherently unfair to both sides, and will never create a better society.

Me: Maybe you're right... I'm not totally sold on existing affirmative action plans either. But, I'd argue that it hasn't worked out as badly as some people contend.

Dad: I don't like the idea of someone less skilled getting promoted ahead of me at work simply because of the color of his or her skin.

Me: Has this ever actually happened to you?

Dad: There was this one guy who got promoted to foreman. He definitely wasn't the best machinist in the shop.

Me: Okay, but what about other factors? Did he have seniority? Did he have managerial experience or a degree? And surely you aren't saying that the best machinist would necessarily be the best manager? It seems you are suggesting a true meritocracy, but how does labor skill translate into foreman skill? It's not that simple.

Dad: Yeah, I guess he did have seniority over the other candidates, but a lot of people felt he got the job because they wanted to hire a minority.

Me: I think that's just what I'm talking about. There's a perception of "unfairness" out there related to affirmative action and people jump to conclusions without looking at the whole picture in order to justify their outrage. You assumed it was purely an affirmative action appeasing hire, but he could well have been the best candidate.

Dad: Well he wasn't much of a foreman.

Me: And what does that prove? How many managers have you met that knew what they were doing?

Dad: Point taken.

Me: Look, Dad, let us agree that growing up as a minority in America comes with it's share of difficulties... that there are a lot of little traumas and probably a few big ones that go along with that path. And let's also agree that as two white guys, we can't really relate to that experience.

Dad: Okay. I think that's true.

Me: Now let's look at another population... one that you relate to more: Viet Nam war vets. The guys coming back from Viet Nam had definitely gotten a raw deal. They were fucked over by their government, exposed to chemicals, spit on by citizens back at home. Plus they were exposed to some of the most awful war conditions any Americans had ever faced... unable to distinguish friend from foe, asked to torture people, etc.

Dad: Yeah, now that's trauma.

Me: Okay, so can we agree that when these guys got back from Viet Nam all fucked up... mentally and physically wounded because of our society's structure... that we owed them some help? Isn't it fair to say that these men and women deserved good, free mental health services, help with finding jobs and reintegrating back into normal American society?

Dad: Absolutely, but your talking about people that really got shafted here by their own government.

Me: Regardless of which power structure did the shafting, these people deserved the benefit of affirmative action-style legislation in order to overcome the trauma. They deserved special privileges which are inherently unfair.

Dad: Yeah, in that particular case I'd agree. But that's a short term problem with a short term solution. How long are we supposed to pay for people to overcome race trauma? 150 years? I don't see the Chinese people failing to thrive in America, and they were brought here as slave labor to build the railroads.

Me: I don't know. Maybe we need to figure out better ways to pay that bill. But you don't just walk away from the table. Something is obviously still wrong. I refuse to believe that certain races are better than others, so you have to look at social conditions and history to explain why we're where we are now.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mexico Photo Blogging

Here are a few preliminary pics (click for big versions) from Todos Santos. Now with "splanations" :

Mom on beach
Mi madre a la playa

Showdown con mi padre
Mi padre en el camino

Eduardo Toasting
This is Eduardo, a doll made by my mother in Dia de los Muertos style.

Bird Silouette Small
I thought this a lovely silhouette of a spiky desert tree
with graceful bird.
Doesn't it look like a business logo?

Roasted Onions
One of my favorite shots. Taken at an outdoor hot-dog-eria.
Roasted onions fresh off the grill.

Pelican Lagoon
Pelicans flocking in a fresh water lagoon.
Seen from the terrace of a lovely hotel where we ate dinner.
Note how the pelicans aren't actually in focus... ooh! Tricky!

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hola Muchachos

Todos Santos, near where the Tropic of Cancer crosses the Baja Peninsula en Mexico, seems to be the latitude where electronics go to die. So far today I've seen a battery charger go on the fritz (superheating batteries... thankfully there were no explosions,) a gas detector alarm start going off randomly, a digital camera (thankfully not mine) completely freak out for a couple of hours (scuttling my mothers attempt to photograph a doll she created and is hoping to get published in an American doll-making zine,) and a computer suddenly fail to boot (thankfully not the one I'm using to blog right now.) Perhaps something about climate, dust, humidity. I don't know. Of course, I'm also caught in the vortex of chaos that tints the atmosphere surrounding mis padres. Maybe that's what's up. Whatever the cause, the universe is giving me lots of lessons in the last day. I'm currently operating at a gamma-level Buddhist detachment wavelength. For example, I could watch an elephant suddenly fall through the roof of this cafe, and I wouldn't bat an eyelash.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

One Day Til Mexico

Tomorrow is my half berfday, which means it's been a year and a half since I quit smoking. Mostly I did it just because Soapy implied I couldn't. I guess I showed that bastard.

Here are fun photos from Discovery Park.
Danger Baby

And here are ugly photos taken in an abandoned industrial area on the way to Discovery Park. Bummerman's favorite is still Danger Baby though!
Still Life with Nail Bed
Excellent Rust Wall


Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday Musings V

We're only a month away from Stave It Off's one year blogo-versary. When the day comes, I'm going to celebrate by making some acerbic comments about pop culture. I'm sure everyone will will be shocked.

In a moment of PURE GENIUS, I decided to wait until one day after April Fool's Day to play my practical joke. Thus, no one was suspecting when, on April 2nd, I appeared to fall backwards off the side of a cliff! Diane, Silvio and Eric watched as I jogged over toward the edge of a bluff at Discovery Park, yelled at them to take a picture of me and then intentionally stumbled backward over the edge. Of course, moments before I had scouted the spot and seen that there was a lovely sandy ledge five feet below what seemed to be a dangerous precipice. Ah, good times.

Later Eric decided to torture us all with an amazing Malaysian dinner. He combined sour, hot and bitter spices with tofu and veggies in a soothing coconut milk broth, poured it over rice noodles and garnished each bowl with loads of fresh basil leaves, green onions, ground peanuts and cucumbers. At about 4 stars spicy, I'm sure we'll all enjoy it again sometime later today.

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