Sunday, August 13, 2017

The correct amount of immigration

Riffing off my last post regarding the meaning of the word immigrant, I thought I'd throw out my argument for the correct level of immigration.

Approximately zero.

Yes.  Zero.  No temporary workers; no cousins, uncles, and aunts; no refugees; no lottery.  None.  Approximately means that I'm OK with someone marrying a non-American and bringing their new spouse and dependent children home.

Why Heresolong, you racist!

Nope.  I don't think we need more people.  We don't need more white people, we don't need more brown people, we don't need more yellow people.  I have nothing against foreigners or their cultures.  I have traveled the world, lived overseas, and enjoyed much of what I experienced and saw.  It's just that we already have plenty of people.  Forty  years ago we had 220 million people, today we have 325 million people.  I don't think this has been an improvement.  Forty years ago the city I grew up in had about a million and a half and it was a nice place to live. Now it has three and a half and it has become a somewhat less nice place to live, overcrowded and expensive.  Many of these people are immigrants so it hasn't just been a matter of the natives having children.  Again, what was the benefit to those of us who lived there already to the importation of millions of foreigners? 

What is the rational and scientific argument for more immigration?  We have high unemployment so it can't be for workers; we have plenty of diversity so clearly don't need more of that (as an aside I'd be interested in seeing the scientific studies that prove that diversity is better as that's what we are always being told to believe.  Not saying it isn't, just saying that I haven't seen the science); it can't be for productivity as there is no particular relationship between population and wealth. 

So what is it for?  I have my suspicions but perhaps I'll keep them to myself for now and just ask, "why do we need more people?".

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Words have meaning: immigrant

I mentioned some time back that I am not going to sit by silently while people misrepresent facts about the political scene anymore.  I'm tired of sitting there listening and at the risk of alienating some co-workers, I'm going to push back a bit.  So here's another tidbit to help you push back.

Words have meaning.  The left has done an excellent job of redefining the language in order to win cultural battles, whereas conservatives and libertarians have not.  Examples: Pro-choice means killing babies, Marriage equality means redefining marriage to mean something it has never meant, etc.  For more excellent examples read The Politics of Deviance by Anne Hendershott.

One that came across my radar the other day was the difference between "immigrant" and "alien".  We are constantly inundated with the slogan "people can't be illegal" in reference to illegal immigrants.  OK.  I concede the point.  Instead let's push back on the improper use of the word immigrant.

From the United States government:

Immigrant: An alien who has been granted the right by the USCIS to reside permanently in the United States and to work without restrictions in the United States.

So there's no such thing as an "illegal immigrant" because by definition they haven't been granted permission and so can't be an immigrant at all.

I will now correct people who use the phrase illegal immigrant, making it clear that people who cross our borders illegally and reside here without permission are not, in fact, immigrants of any sort.

This old garage: Drainage day one

Garage needs drainage and it has cooled off a bit here so decided to tackle the south side of the garage.

Back breaking work when you aren't used to it but good news all around.

Set a string line 48" from the garage as I am laying a row of concrete bricks to separate the gravel from the grass, then dug out along the string line.  Matock and shovel work to trench out where the corrugated drain piping will go.

 While trenching discovered that there is a line headed towards the house just to the left of the garage door which, when hose was inserted and turned on, drains.  A T-junction will allow connection of all garage drains to this line.

Then discovered that there is a line coming out on the SW corner of the garage that is clear to the NW corner of the garage, which means that I can trench out the north side, connect to the NW corner, and connect the SW corner to the line I am laying now.  Much easier than I thought, since I was expecting to trench all the way to the edge of the yard by the street.

Off to the local hardware store for connectors where I picked up two Ts, a 90 degree connector, and a downspout connector.  Turns out you can connect the gutter downspout right to the drain line.  Who knew?  (Everyone except me probably but I grew up in one of those "plumbers have to make a living too" homes where I didn't learn how to fix much of anything.)

Hooray.  A giant sense of accomplishment plus I stopped early enough that I hopefully won't be in agony tomorrow (being in shape for martial arts, weightlifting, and paddle-boarding does not, as it turns out, mean that one is in shape to dig drainage ditches).

Tomorrow a truck full (Toyota so a small full) of 1-1/4" crushed clean gravel and I'm going to try to get the pipe laid (minds out of the gutter boys), the gravel back filled, and the rest of the blocks laid.  Then all I'll have to do is the north side which should be easier since it has only one connection.

PS 1-1/4" crushed clean because I was told that it packs down nicely, whereas drain rock doesn't so is hard to walk on.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jellyfish freakout

Took the paddleboard out into the bay for the first time yesterday.  Up til now I'd been at a local lake several times

Lake Padden Duathlon | Regaining my healthy lifestyle
and the harbor a few.

Drayton Harbor - Picture of Blaine, Washington - TripAdvisor
Pretty fun and nicely calm so that I didn't have to worry too much about waves throwing me into the water.

Thursday I went exploring to find a decent access point to the bay.  We don't really have much in the way of sand beaches on the marina area downtown, probably since it isn't natural but is buildup from the fisheries that used to line the water.  The edges that aren't commercial are rip-rap with gravel beach.  There are also quite a few pilings left over from the fisheries and canning facilities so I had to worry about whether a launch point might have hidden obstructions.

Beach at Blaine Marine Park

Found what appeared to be an OK spot.  No pilings that I could see which would allow me to paddle straight out to deeper water and a decent access trail that included flat piled rip-rap that could be used as steps.   So yesterday at high tide, right around 6 pm, I headed over there.  Got launched pretty easily, paddled out super slow while scanning the water for pilings (I am pretty paranoid right now as I took a header on a submerged rock in the harbor the other day.  It was Titanic-ish when my board hit the rock that I could not see in five foot deep water.  If there had been pilings around that rock it could have been much worse but as it was I and my board sustained a few scrapes and it was all good.)

Got out into deeper water and paddled west towards the end of the marina.  Figured I would cruise over by the old pier that I've walked out to a bunch of times.  It's a popular destination for walking and hanging out as it looks out over the sound to the west.  Great for sunsets and just general relaxation.  As I approached, however, I happened to look down into the water.

Now keep in mind that I'm pretty comfortable around water.  I'm a strong swimmer, I've surfed for quite a few years, I don't get freaked out by water.  The whole "what's beneath me while I'm swimming thing" doesn't affect me at all and I usually go for a quick swim after boarding or surfing, just to stretch out a little and enjoy the water.  When I've been out on the board I've never worried about whether I fell in or not and so far, in the calm of the lakes and harbor, I haven't.

Moon jellyfish at Gota Sagher.JPG

Ack!  Dozens of the damn things.  Moon jellyfish.  I don't think they are harmful but now I'm freaking out about the possibility of falling in because I don't want to be swimming in a big bloom of jellyfish.  Any idea how much harder it is to NOT fall in when you actually care if you fall in?  Turning around with a bit of a swell coming in from the west rocking my board, paddling back out to the center of the bay where I hadn't seen any, although it turns out that I just hadn't been looking.  There were, however, a lot fewer of them out there, and I paddled back to my launch point and headed home.

Will I go again?  Of course, but I probably won't paddle out to the end of the marina where there are jellyfish blooms.  Maybe I'll head across the bay next time and see what's on the north coast.  Hopefully not more jellyfish.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The dishonest attack on "assault rifles"

I was just walking through my house on the way to get some laundry and stopped to admire my AR-15.  It is a very good looking rifle in the form follows function mold.  Everything has a purpose and they all blend together well.

I wondered, as I walked by, why this particular rifle engenders such hatred by the anti-gun crowd and it occurred to me that it doesn't.  It is just the latest popular firearm that they can attack so they have adopted a strategy that works.  If there were no AR-15 or other "assault weapons" (a phrase I hate by the way, since it is meaningless and inaccurate as applied by the media and the anti-gunners) then they would be attacking some other aspect of firearms ownership.


The Gun Control Act of 1968.  Wasn't an assault rifle to be found unless you count surplus M-1 Garands being sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

1972 Creation of the BATF to regulate and control firearms sales.  Still no assault weapons to be found.

During the 80s there was the fake "cop killer bullet" controversy, the fake "plastic gun" controversy, the "Saturday Night Special" ban, none of which were real issues.  Cop killer bullets weren't, plastic guns weren't, and the definition of Saturday Night Special basically meant "guns that poor people can afford to buy for protection. 

1990 Crime Control Act bans the manufacture and importation of "assault weapons", a phrase that came into use sometime in the 80s.  Interesting side note, according to Wikipedia, the only weapons ever referred to by the military as assault weapons were a grenade launcher and a rocket launcher.

Moving on, in 1997 the Brady Law severely restricted the purchase of handguns, in 1999 a bill requiring that a trigger lock be provided with every new firearm passed the Senate, in 2005 California bans sale of .50 caliber rifles.  None of these had anything to do with assault weapons (notice that I've gotten tired of including quotation marks, so you can fill those in in your head as you read).  Each of the three examples I've provided restricted non assault weapon firearms, either making them harder to get or more expensive (oh, in case you were wondering, a 50 caliber rifle used to cost about $6000 and weighs almost 30 pounds, so not the kind of thing that criminals are generally using to hold up liquor stores and shoot each other).

So when someone brings up the topic of "sensible" gun laws and wonders aloud why anyone "needs" an "assault weapon", you can just ignore them.  They were restricting your ability to own a firearm before the phrase assault weapon was even invented to describe a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and other features that make it more comfortable or easier to shoot (you know, things like handgrips, adjustable length shoulder stocks, flash hiders, accessory rails), they haven't stopped trying to keep you from owning any other firearm simultaneously with their attack on assault weapons, and if assault weapons were to magically disappear tomorrow, their "sensible" legislation would still be pushed against every other gun you own.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Redefining normal

100% of the time when I call Verizon Wireless Support I get a message informing me that call volume is higher than normal.

Friday, June 30, 2017

51st State or an independent country

Puerto Rico voted 93% in favor of statehood.  At least the 25% of eligible voters who turned out did.  Wait, 93% of 25%, that's 23% of Puerto Rican voters who want to become a state.  OK.

The Governor announced that it was important that the United States respect the democratic wishes of the people of PR.  Wait, what?

I'm pretty sure that the people of the United States have no obligation whatsoever, none, to respect the democratic wishes of anyone outside the United States regarding our internal organization.  Hey buddy!  You are asking to join our union!  You are asking for a favor from us!  Your "democratic wishes" are not binding on us and irrelevant EXCEPT to the extent that we may wish to add a new state to the union.

More from the Governor: "3.5 million citizens seeking an absolute democracy".  How about if the Governor does a little basic research into the history and civics of the nation that he wishes to join and figures out that we aren't an absolute democracy but rather a representative republic.  If he doesn't even understand our system of government maybe he isn't the guy to lead them into statehood.

However, I have a better idea.  Given that Puerto Rico is a dump completely dependent on welfare payments from the United States, and given that making them a state would not only increase the amount of welfare that we would send due to eligibility for all sorts of federal programs, I say that we instead push for nationhood.  From the United Nations, a body that I generally despise:

The UN's Special Committee on Decolonization has often referred to Puerto Rico as a "nation" in its reports, because, internationally, the people of Puerto Rico are often considered to be a Caribbean nation with their own national identity. Most recently, in a June 2016 report, the Special Committee called for the United States to expedite the process to allow self-determination in Puerto Rico. More specifically, the group called on the United States to expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence. ... allow the Puerto Rican people to take decisions in a sovereign manner, and to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty"

I vote yes.  The people of Puerto Rico should be able to fully exercise their right to self determination and to take decisions in a sovereign manner.  Absolutely.  Good for them.  This does not mean, however, that they have a right to become a state and it does not mean that we should have to pay for any of this.  They need to address the policies that they have adopted that have caused their unemployment, marginalization, insolvency, and poverty, namely socialism.  They have a public debt that is higher than their GDP.  The course they are on is unsustainable but it needs to become "not our problem".

Cut them loose, give them freedom, and let them do with it what they will.  There are plenty of Puerto Ricans in the United States, many of them good, hard working people.  They can, if they so choose, support their country by returning and working to establish a system that will benefit the people and the nation in the long run.  Or they can stay here and continue doing what they are doing. Either way, it should be up to the people of Puerto Rico to sink or swim as a nation.