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On Monday I was in the audience of a keynote session at the New York Public Welfare Association (NYPWA) annual summer conference in Saratoga Springs. One of the presenters stated that in the next year, the U.S. expects 90,000 children from Central American countries to cross the border to the United States to seek asylum. New York State is making foster care slots available in vacant buildings and shelters for about 900 of these children. State officials expect that many of  them will end up on the welfare rolls for childcare, food stamps and various other services and warned the counties to get prepared for the onslaught.

Elsewhere I read that in June, about 350 children a day crossed the border to give themselves up. Multiplying 350 a day for the year somewhat corroborates the 90,000 number independently.

Many politicians blame Obama for “leaving the border open.” I did some research and came up with this chart:

Border Agents

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

This shows that there were 3,444 border patrol agents stationed along the nation’s southern border in 1993, under Clinton. There were 9,840 agents there in 2003, under Bush. And under Obama, in 2013, there were 18,611 agents.

Claiming that Obama isn’t putting the manpower on the border is simply factually wrong.

Today there were headlines that Texas Governor Rick Perry is going to deploy the National Guard to protect the border. This makes no sense to me. If desperate Central American children run away from their countries,  across Mexico, across the hostile desert, in the summer, and into the United States just to give themselves up as soon as they get here, what are men with guns going to do to keep them away – to “keep our border secure?”

In 1993, an American Marine shot and killed an American 18-year-old boy along the border for reasons not understood.

Our Border Patrol agents are trained to apprehend people, stop drug smugglers and secure the border. The U.S. Military or the National Guard are not. We have enough agents there already. This is not a “crisis” as it is made out to be.

It’s a disaster resulting from terrible conditions primarily in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, partially fomented by errant intervention policies by the U.S. government in those countries decades ago.

If we had more reasonable and workable drug policies in the U.S. and if we consumed less of the stuff, conditions in those countries would not be what they are and there would not be a flood of child refugees.

I believe that a large majority of these children will eventually become productive Americans, grateful to this country for taking them in, and committed to the Constitution of the United States for life. They will be called immigrants in a country of immigrants. Some of them will become American soldiers.

I am an immigrant and I understand what they are and how they feel.

And I am proud to be an American.

Today I drove into Lake Placid, New York. Every time I drive into this city, I cannot help but be in awe of the Olympic ski jump ramps, giant structures soaring over the woods.

Olympic Shadows 1

[click to enlarge]

At the beginning of June, during another visit to Lake Placid, we stopped by the Olympic arenas. Here is Trisha imitating the form of a speed skater, on the very rink where Eric Heiden won an unprecedented five individual gold medals, and set four Olympic records and one world record in 1980.

Olypmpic Shadows 2

[click to enlarge]

Olympic shadows are strong in Lake Placid, even 34 years later.

Scars upon the Land

[click to enlarge]

The hill in the background is in San Marcos, California. It used to be all covered by brush. The peak on the far left is Double Peak, the highest point in San Diego North County. Now somebody built a house on it (green arrow), and cleared his property all around it. The gap is visible for miles from many directions. It will be there for a very long time.

Scars upon the land.

Earth from Moon1

Three people were circling the moon that day. They took this picture, containing all of humanity in one shot. Then two of those people proceeded to land on the moon. It was a giant leap for mankind.

Norbert Haupt:

Here is a delightful summary of why parents should not text. Ever.
Oops, I am a parent. What am I saying?

Originally posted on The Journal:

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View original

Zygote: a cell that is formed when an egg and a sperm combine : a fertilized egg. There are people in our country that say that a zygote is a person and should receive the full protection of the law based on that personhood.

There are also people who say that say that children that are in our country without documented citizen or resident alien status should be sent back to where they came from, no matter what the conditions. Are they thinking of those children as persons?

Does the zygote have citizen papers? No. So if he or she is eventually born in Mexico, tough luck.

I must admit, I am baffled.

 

News abound about looting going on at the crash site of MH17 in the Ukraine. People are going through luggage, taking electronics, any valuables they like, wallets and money. To me, this is astonishing on many levels:

1. The local government and law enforcement does not have their act together sufficiently to secure the crash site and perform a proper investigation. I must be naïve about the integrity of the area as it relates to the “almost” civil war.  Make a ring of troops around this area – we know you have enough manpower, and lock the place down!

2. Human beings living in the local area are poor and desperate enough to rifle through other people’s stuff, people who boarded an airplane in far away Amsterdam to go to far away Malaysia and just happened to pass through. Their moral code is lacking the concept that this stuff lying on the ground belongs to other people who, in this case, were extremely unfortunate and had very bad luck by being killed. They don’t understand that these objects might be very important to the relatives of the victims and that they might want them back. There are thousands of people who lost somebody in this disaster. Every one of those people is cringing in pain knowing that looters are going through the wreckage, disgracing their loved ones and their belongings.

3. Shooting down an airliner is one of the most heinous terrorist acts or mass murder imaginable. It does not happen very often, but when it does, the entire world usually grieves. I grieve for the victims. My world is not quite right, and I am thousands of miles away, safe and removed from the reality. However, people living in the villages right there obviously are not grieving, since they have the strength to scour the site and take away other people’s stuff as theirs.

I don’t think we’re any holier than the Ukrainians. If a plane went down in the rural United States, I can imagine that there could be looting, too, if the authorities didn’t lock down the site. The difference is, the authorities do lock down the sites pretty quickly here, so this does not happen. But remember Katrina, remember hurricane Sandy and the images of people carrying television sets out of stores.

The fact that our moral codes break down as soon as “the law” can no longer enforce a code shows how weak our civilization is. The smallest upset in the order of things, like a natural disaster or a terror strike, can remove the shackles of normal civilized ethics, and the concept of property disappears.

The frightening thing is: it’s not just the concept of property. The next step is that without “the law” bullies with guns will start extorting food, water and ammunition from others that don’t have guns, and they will pillage and rape. I am not saying that everyone becomes lawless, but it does not have to be everyone. If only one in a hundred thinks that they now have rights over other people’s properties or bodies, that’s sufficient to plunge us back into the Bronze Age.

Disasters like the MK17 terror strike brings out the worst in us.

Try to ask Siri whether it can give you directions using Google Maps and see what happens:

U-Sing-Along

Not only does it does it do this, but it launches Apple Maps and proceeds with directions from wherever you are to some location in Los Angeles, where there is presumably the U-Sing-Along Music Store.

Siri obviously has a very twisted sense of humor.

Time Travel

 

I am going on a time trip. I need to borrow some weapon, though. Does somebody have any weapons I could use for a minute?

No matter how long I’ll be engaged down-time, I will return exactly one minute after I leave, so we could arrange that you come to my place with the weapons. You give me the weapons, you just wait for a minute until I come back from my time trip, and I’ll give you the weapons right back.

But first I need to write to this guy in Prince George, BC.

As it turns out, a large percentage of the people onboard Malaysian flight 17 were top AIDS researchers on the way to Melbourne, Australia for a conference.

The conference will have a somber mood, with so many participants missing this year. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald shows details.

The insanity of ethnic strife and suppression, as evidenced in Ukraine, and of course going in on Syria and Iraq, is both depressing and agonizing.

Put the guns down, people!

And the rockets!

Here is a Verizon customer who found that his Netflix videos don’t load. This guy is an expert, and he did the research and discovered that Verizon purposely throttles traffic from Netflix.

He pays Verizon for 75 mbps down, 35 mbps up on his Fios connection. His research shows that a Netflix video streams at 375 kbps (or 0.375 mbps) at the fastest.

This is 0.5% of the speed that he is paying for, or 200 times slower.

Check out the article here and how he works around it now that he knows it’s going on.

I don’t care what the arguments between Netflix and Verizon are. However, I do care that my service provider gives me the product they promised and contracted for. It says nothing in this guy’s contract that Verizon gets to throttle Netflix.

Now I have to check my own connections with Cox.

Here is something I thought I’d never read: Steve Forbes is worried about birds. In the Forbes July 21, 2014 edition, in his signature column Fact & Comment, on page 23:

ForbesBirds1

ForbesBirds2

Put fossil fuel burning in jeopardy and, as it looks, Steve Forbes would start writing columns protecting the California Gnat Catcher, too.

AlmostAdam

What if a tract of land in western Kenya had remained untouched by humanity and influences of evolution and essentially remained stuck in the Pliocene (1.5 – 5.0 million years ago), complete with living tribes of australopithecus afarensis?

Ken Lauder, the protagonist in Almost Adam, is an anthropologist who works with his Kenyan friend Ngili in a remote area. They come across foot prints and fossils that indicate that there might be ancestors of humanity living right now.

The story involves much scientific explanation and a lot of speculation into what life might have been like for early humans living in the Pliocene. It also delves deeply into African politics (albeit fictitious) and scientific competition and intrigue.

The result is a complex story full of youthful dreamers, murderous villains and a lot of sexual tension. I enjoyed the bush episodes the most, where we followed Ken into the savannah and bush, watching him slowly lose his modernism and turning into a prehistoric human full of the raw emotions and needs, consumed by the simple and vital needs of finding food, water, shelter and fighting off foes of all kinds.

I could have done without all the complicated machinations of Kenyan politics and the lives of the elite. The most difficult character to accept was Cyril Anderson, supposedly a world-renowned anthropologist, but a maniacal egotist who does not think twice before stealing the finds of others and taking the credit, and who is willing to kill to meet his endless need for glory and fame. The Cyril character was just too far-fetched for me to accept and therefore never seemed real.

Almost Adam is a very entertaining and educational story about the dawn of humanity. The book is 600 pages long and my only criticism is that it was probably too long. Popescu could have told the same story with the same impact in 400 pages.

However, I learned a lot about the evolutionary development of human genitalia. Did you know why the modern human vagina is forward facing and not exposed to the back? Why do modern apes have large testicles and very small penises, and why are human penises so disproportionately large? Popescu knows a lot about penises and why size matters. If you also want to know, you will just have to read Almost Adam.

Rating : ** 1/2 (out of 4)

 

Here is a blue light special that I knew nothing about. High profile civilians in Russia get to drive with police-like lights and sirens and bully their way through traffic jams. Thanks goodness we don’t have this in the U.S. Can you imagine what it would be like if rich people and government officials got to slap lights on their Lamborghinis?

The class system seems to be alive and thriving in Russia.

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