Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Today was an okay day. It had its ups and its downs. I actually received two messages today. One was that a dear friend of mine was doing OK and was no longer sick. The second message was that my goddaughter had fallen very ill a few days ago. I guess what happened was she fell and lost consciousness and stopped breathing, a parents nightmare of course. I went over to visit and she is doing great. She is awesome she kept trying to get me to dance with her. For any of you who know me, I am not a very good dancer, i try but its not something that flows naturally. But she was dancing around as a two year old would. It was a good time.
I also had a lot of things to think about today. I was pondering about relationships and what they actually are. I thought. Well a relationship is a connection, a vibe, a desire to be with someone else. But that is the nature of these and why do they drive everyone crazy. Honestly? I think it is the nature of man to always be social and hence the person you can be most "social" with would be your partner. Anyways that's just a side note because i have no idea where that one was going.
I do however want to write about "fear". I am scared of it. But not scared because of what fear is but scared of actually having it. I think that if you fear something you are inhibiting yourself from ever being able to overcome it. Hence you have to push yourself, which can be a good or a bad thing.
The distinction is what you push yourself into. If it is the case that your fear drives you to be reckless then you are not only scared but stupid. However the same applies if you never push yourself at all. You simply become a complacent individual who has never challenged themselves to something better. You know in the Bible there is the story of talents. The story summed is that there are a few people who God gives talents too. To one he gives ten, another five and a third two. (i am not sure of the number but this is a synopsis). Anyhow two of them double there gifts because they use them and gain others. However the one who only has two talents does not use them. He hides them so they stay intact. When God comes back and asks what this guy did with his gifts and finds out he did nothing and simply hid them in a hole God takes them away and gives them to the guys who worked with their gifts. Moral of the story, work with what you have. Not recklessly but not to conservatively so you become a productive individual not a pathetic person who does nothing.
In this thought during this week I went to a casting that a friend was invited too. She is gorgeous and has a great personality; I am sure will do great in the entertainment industry. I decided to join her on her journey and take the classes with her. I think I decided it not because i want to become an actor or anything, ha me an actor. I did it to support her and also to gain interpersonal skills. As most of you know, or anyone who called my voice mail in the last couple of weeks I am a pretty cold person. Not cold like I don't care, but instead cold like lets get to the point...last things first. Yeah i have gotten some negative feedback so I have since changed my voicemail. But honestly i was getting some annoying messages telling me to call back and not citing a reason. I mean come on..no. I am not going to call you back unless you can either establish a relationship to me and i know what its about or if you tell me what your reason for calling is...why the heck would i waste time calling someone back to be blindsided by an issue i was not prepared for, nah no thanks. Yeah anyhow... I am going to take acting classes. It should be fun and it something else to do. I figure the worst that can happen is I will at least learn to fake a smile when people are say something ignorant or stupid.
That really bothers me and i have never known why. I feel the need to correct people when they make a mistake. Now i recognize that it is wrong and that i should not be doing that because it causes uncomfortable and sometimes confrontational situations but come on! Why would you say something or state your opinion if you have no reasons for it. For example I had a discussion about illegal immigration the other day. This is a subject that interested me a lot. I tend to reserve my opinions because, no offense, there are very few people who can argue or discuss a subject without letting it get to them. I mean they will bust out these elaborate sayings and personal experiences and at the end feel hurt that you do not side with them or switch to their side. The beauty of a friendship is knowing that I can have the completely opposing view as someone and still be able to say..."let go grab a brew" after. its tough to have those friends. I have a few. They are good people and i value their opinions not because they sometimes oppose my own, but because they have reasons to back them up. Most people that I talk to just go with the crowd. Its Nietzsche's herd mentality. They just go with the crowd. Oh well if CNN said it or the BBC said it that's the truth. No, form your own opinions and quit piggy backing on others. The following quote is something to think about.
Kurt Vonnegut from Quotes of the Day
Saturday, June 2, 2007
The Car Industry - American Dream
This morning at work I had a great chat with some gentlemen who tend to come into the office for some coffee after morning mass. In the last few months I have come to really appreciate there insights and observations. They are usually three guys with different backgrounds and ages but who all have a very realist idealism. These guys are not fake, phony, or ignorant; they simply have well formed opinion but are ready and willing to listen to opposing opinions in order to more clearly shape there own. Today the topic was cars. I know most of the time when guys talk about cars it is to see which is the fastest, most beautiful or most extravagant item on four wheels. Today the topic was the car as a symbol of the American Dream. The mentioned brands, not my car because I drive a Nissan, were Oldsmobile, Buick, Ford, Cadillac and GM in general. These later brands in the 50s to the 80s were the ideal of what America wanted. They were large comfortable cars fully operational and completely reliable. Now when young America thinks of a vehicle we think of GM or "American" cars as unreliable or inferior to foreign goods. To my surprise one of the gentlemen stated that GM back in the 70s had developed and owned the patents to the first fully robotic assembly line which actually built the Chevy Vega. However because of the great amount of negative feedback from Detroit Unions the technology was handed over to a small firm at the time called Toyota; amazing. Our unions are great things and I am not against a union that services the needs of employees and employers to create better products. But if the Unions had allowed GM to use the robotic line I wonder how different the world would be today. I say world because up until a few months ago GM was the leader in sales but has recently fallen to #2 after, you guessed it, Toyota. Unions are great when they serve a purpose like protecting human dignity and workers rights, but to what level is a Union beneficial to the common good. Will unions eventually destroy the American Car? I doubt it. But have the negatively affected the "American Car", yes. I remember in the 80s and 90s my parents had a few of these American Cars. We had a Buick 1977, a Grand Marquis, and Oldsmobile. Heck I even remember the Buick being so huge that we had those sidewalk scrapper things because it was impossible to parallel park. I miss those days, not because gas was cheap and you could afford to drive that car, but because the American Dream was that; a big comfortable car the family could ride in. I miss that. Sometimes I think, wow I am going to get a caddie. But then I look at the pocketbook and the gas ticker is way to evil right now. I still remember the Buick had a read cloth interior and the belt buckles were the kind that just went around your waist with the GM stamped right on there. Nostalgia setting in. The American car of legend was a symbol of elegance, refinement and power. It seems like we are all happy now riding on gas saving tin cans. I doubt if America will ever revert back to that era when the family car was a family car and not a minivan. Not that minivans are bad. But honestly there was just something special about those old time cars. A mystique of what we’re all about. Good values, ideals and moving forward with home grown companies serving home grown children. What ever happened to that America? Now we are a media hub. All we see who our social elites being a group of idiots who no one looks up to. Of the wealthy people you know or admire who do you actually respect? For me it’s about 5% if that. It’s sad that the top crust of America is no longer a product of American Ideals but instead a product of American Consumerism. I will write about that next time. Thanks for reading the rant.
“The entire police force in the Mexican city of Tijuana is to be investigated on suspicion of being involved in drug trafficking and organised crime.” (http://www.bbc.com/). Even the title of this article is ridiculous to anyone who has ever visited the boarder city of Tijuana, Mexico. Upon entering the city you become instantly aware of the limits of the suspension your vehicle has. As you weave the maze of potholes, assorted house items such as sinks and homeless dogs you realize that you should be paying attention to the other maze weavers as well. Oh and by the way, you have California license plates, shiny sparkly white plates with blue letters; a bull’s eye for and “federal” that has not had lunch or needs a few extra dollars.
As the police officer comes to your window he asks for your license and proof of insurance. Why? I honestly have no idea. I personally think this guy has probably lived in the US and could not handle actually working for a living. This guy in the US no position of any sort of authority and refused to work to achieve one so he settles for harpooning California Plates out of traffic. So he prefers to simply rob others as they come to TJ for business of pleasure. He explains the gravity of your self preserving weaving and then lets you know that he is a nice guy. That he is willing to settle the debt right here and now; a favor that he will graciously extend to you because he is just that nice of a guy. However it has to be done on his terms. He will not openly take the money from you because that would be bribery and that’s not right. He instead will ask you in one of two ways. Grab the cash and wrap it tightly and then place it in his hand; or he will open his ticket book you act like you are signing the ticket…slip the bills inside and thank you have a nice day officer.
Now you mean to tell me this story which has happened to me and even predates my parents barely set off alarms in 2006? Of course drug trafficking is directly tied with law enforcement in Tijuana Mexico. Are you kidding me? I was at La Presa Rodriguez one day down by the water. I saw a home that looked over the lake that looked straight out of South Beach, FL or Newport Beach. It was something ridiculous. It was so lavish surrounded by such inferior houses I could not help but think, is that a hotel? Along the stroll along the side of the lake we saw a police officer painting a sign that had been vandalized by local thugs. I asked the police officer if the building in the distance was a hotel or if it was a home. He said that it was a home said to be of the Arellano family. It took him all of two seconds to respond. The drug dealer’s whereabouts are common knowledge for cops in Tijuana, why, because they had better stay away or they will be shot, killed, maimed, or murdered; simple as that.
Know the governor of Tijuana a member of the PRI party, Jorge Hank Rhon, according to the BBC article felt pressure from the local business who threatened to move away if the situation with the Baja California cartel did not improve. So what does he do? Well as we know he cannot get burned or take the heat himself because he is probably on the payroll. No I am not making a formal accusation but come on. He dishes it to the federal government to do an investigation. The investigation is going to take some time to begin and it’s the opposing party so he will be free of guilt regardless of what happens. “In the words of Tijuana's mayor, Jorge Hank Rhon, everyone from the policeman on the street to the state superintendent will be the subject of this extraordinary investigation.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5415018.stm) He left someone out of this statement? Can you guess who it is? Biggest boarder with the biggest consumer of drugs in the world and no one ever gets caught and until now you figure out that the local “law” enforcement may be involved?
I am willing to bet they are going to hang a few dirty low level cops and that fat cats are going to get away, as usual. Another interesting point is that this investigation is begun after the US Senate agrees to a wall to be built along the US-Mexico boarder. Does Baja California need to protect its legitimate sources of income at this point? I think so. The US is placing a lot of attention in the coming elections the immigration issue. The US seeks to protect its boarders and republicans will have to show results and/ or some indications that there is a lot of danger there so we get scared into voting for them again. Democrats are going to have to show that they are not scared to tackle the big issues like drug trafficking and homeland security. So with all of that attention and a state that is run by the drug dealers its not surprising the mayor of Baja California tapped out and requested fed help. So if the Mexican government cannot produce results and business move away as they threatened too…US-Mexico relations will be damaged to the economic point that the next race for president of Mexico will be an ace in the hole…not bad huh? Dam politicians.
“The US Senate has overwhelmingly endorsed the building of a fence along part of the border with Mexico, in an effort to curb illegal immigration.
The bill was approved by a vote of 80-19 - with leading Democrats such as Hillary Clinton joining the Republican majority that had proposed the measure.” (www.bbc.com)
There are a lot of topics that I am not clear on a side. Not because I do not have a firm grip on what they are but rather because of all of the possibilities and contingencies that they drag with them. The issue of elongating the fence between Mexico and US is one of those issues. In a lot of ways I see the proposition as a good thing, a tool to deter possible terrorists a method of deterring individuals to cross into a place from which they may never return; on the same token I wish there was another way, I wish the Berlin Wall of the Americas was not real, but it is.
First of all I am going to state my point in regards to why the elongation of a fence is a good measure. There is political pressure to create the illusion of safety for Americans. We as Americans do not want our children living in fear of a possible attack. The US/Mexico boarder has historically been a hot zone for human trafficking and well as drug trafficking. As many of you know recently the Mexican government caught one of the most notorious drug dealers in the world Javier Arellano Felix ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4800285.stm ) of the coats of Baja California; one of the heads of the Arellano Felix Organization which is considered by many to be the top importer of cocaine and marijuana into the US. Threats such as drug trafficking added to the terrorism threat arising from Al Qaeda sleeper cells and well as the common knowledge that hundreds of illegal immigrants any of which could be associated with these larger more deadly organizations slip into the US unnoticed is cause for alarm.
A second reason in favor of a wall is the safety of the individuals crossing. The boarder between US and Mexico is one of the most heavily guarded in the world. And there are threats on either side, both the Agents out in the field as well as to the individuals and families seeking a better future in the land of opportunity. Now you may ask how is a wall keeping them safe? It is keeping them safe in the sense that they are no longer going to attempt to cross in that area and hence by limiting the area that they can cross the Immigration Patrols can more safely apprehend them in areas where there is no wall present. This however is a double edge sword. Now on this same topic…where are they building the wall? I know it’s not in the wilderness of the near Chihuahuan Desert nor the Sonoran Desert. So where are immigrants going to go? If you guessed through the desert you are right.
A few years ago I was in “La Casa del Imigrante” in Tijuana, MX with a group from school and we asked the director if people crossed through to the US via Tijuana. He said that not as much anymore because of the wall that was built in the mid nineties. He said that the majority of people he took in where people who had been deported out of the US. So all of the people have been moving east, away from the California – Mexico boarder and crossing often times unprepared through some of the roughest terrain in North America. Now if we take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of the immigrants the wall is bad. The wall is going to cause two main things; creativity and death.
People seeking to cross to the US are now forced to be more creative in there attempts; often times traveling in trunks of cars, in spare wheel compartments. A random story; I frequently visit Tijuana and one day after waiting in line for a few hours to cross over the boarder an agent asked me to open the hood of the truck I was driving. Are you kidding me? He had heard of cases of people switching v8 engines out of large trucks to smaller v6 or v4 engines in order to fit people under the hood, making horsepower a thing of the past. But seriously as humans we always attempt to break the rules, skew the system, and get an advantage. But is it worth a life?
Why consciously build a wall that will force people into situations that will cost their lives? Why not build a wall across the desert deter people towards more populated areas where at least they will be spotted if they get into trouble. I am an American and I like my safety but at what price? Is the point just so some representatives and senators can rest on their laurels and weather through the next elections? This wall idea is a patch that will not only cost tax dollars and ironically may even employ illegal immigrants to build it. Yes I want a “wall” no I do not want a wall. I want that protection of my family and my way of life but never at the cost of the other. That “other” whom I will never meet and never know is still my brother, my sister, my fellow human. A wall would help but a structure is nothing without the law and the options to assist it.
If we build a wall and not create some sort of temp-guest worker program or some laws that can assist individuals seeking a better future what kind of pathetic government do we have? Let’s patch the hole in the boat but not fix the engine. I support a “wall” with everything that includes both physical and legal. I want people to share in the opportunities we have in America through a legal means but also I want those who cannot go through a legal process because of other situations whether it be economic or personal to be able to have assistance and get help in doing things the “right” way. Will a wall help? Yes it will help voters decide who to pick; will it help you or me? No, you will be willfully taking the easy way out. You will be the pathetic one. Demand the government provide solutions, not patches, not excuses. We are all human and have human dignity…do not build a wall that can rob people of that, do not be ignorant because you know what is going to happen. Man has reached space do you honestly think just another wall will do the trick?
In recent days I have been dwelling a lot on what makes man similar or in the image and likeness of God. Most of the time I come to two general conclusions. The first is that man is in the image and likeness of God because he has the use of reason. The use of reason is what helps man distinguish himself from the animal kingdom and it has served man to put him above the natural realm. The whole "I think, therefore I am" line of reasoning often times is the line that i follow. Becuase it makes sense. The reason argument is safest. It is safe because no one has been able to prove that other animals rationally think. Heck we have a hard enough time determining if other humans rationally think. Hence the whole criminal insanity or temporary insanity cause that so many criminals use. So when we say we are like God in that we can think and reason we are selfish in a sense because we are arguing something that only we can prove to ourselves and we never have to leave our comfort zone. What if dolphins or bears actually reason? Maybe not to the same level that humans do or else there would be more evidence in nature; but what if they did? We are all creatures of habit. What if our idea of reasoning or to reason is simply a blueprint as Plato would have it. It may be we just have more wires in there, not really more ability just more of whatever wires or connections in our brain that make us think we are thinking when in reality we are just following instructions. This line of questioning will obviously lead to questioning the universals. Which I do not have the desire to pursue at this time. However...
I take a step back and i think well maybe it is like the eastern philosophers have said. The reason humans are different is because we can be benevolent. The idea that we can give that which we need or that which we shouldn't for the benefit of another is a big thing. i know in recent days i have given things that should never be given. I have done things that should never be done. But the idea that doing something that you shouldn't for the benefit of another is a huge deal. The fact that you can. Animals we know will eat and then share, or the dominating male or female will eat first then the others. As humans we choose. Anyone ever heard of "women and children first"? Its that whole idea that the more defenseless of people should be taken care of first. In nature we see the opposite. I am not saying women are defenseless in any way. I know a lot of women who could wipe the floor with me but the point is that we as humans will seek to be benevolent.
But in recent days a third item has come to mind when considering the same question. That is that humans have free will. As humans we have the ability to chose what we want to do. We can come to grips with the world in any way that we want. The last few weeks have been very tough on me. I have thought a lot and done a lot in the name of benevolence, reason and free will. i have made choices that many would call foolish or stupid and others would call genius. But the combination of my choices has come down to a choosing itself. If I was only a rational being i would have chosen via reason and for myself or if i was choosing via benevolence i would be choosing in the best interest of another. In either case the ability to choose i think is what makes me most human and most like God.