When in Mexico…

Federales badge“In Mexico, if you have a problem and turn to the police, then you have two problems.” — Mexican historian Lorenzo Meyer, as quoted in Mark Greany’s Ballistic.

Humorous, yes, but it’s no joke.

Be careful down there. I am from Latin America, am totally fluent in Spanish, live within 100 miles of the Mexican border — in other words, I am the type of person who should have no problems at all in Mexico and should be welcome there. But I never, ever go into Mexico — it’s just not worth the risks. There are so many other places one can go without running such risks of corruption (not to mention the drug cartels, street crime, etc.) that to me it just doesn’t make sense to go into Mexico.

And it’s a shame, too. The Mexican people themselves — of which there are many north of the border too — are, as a whole, some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever known. But Mexico as a country  — let’s be blunt here —  really sucks.

In the meantime, if you want to do something positive to help free the unjustly jailed Sergearnt Tahmooressi (the story is amazing — a huge travesty of justice; read the other articles linked here) start by signing the White House petition to see if the American President will at least pick up the phone and talk with the President of Mexico about it. It’s the least he could do, but hasn’t yet.

Celibates on Mars, de-stinking New Jersey, a face-punching Father’s Day tribute…

  • Travel to Mars without leaving Moscow: UniverseToday offers a video tour of the Mars500 capsule, a facility in which a multinational crew of six will be sealed for 520 days in an environment simulating a voyage to Mars (minus the cold, heat, solar radiation, particle impacts, and the terror of being a hundred million miles from the nearest Starbucks). In two minutes we get to see the sleeping quarters, exercise room, rec room (complete with Nintendo Wii), shower (allowed only every 10 days), and bathroom facilities. (I could have done without the explanation and video shot of the urine sample bottles.) The whole thing is housed in a warehouse in Moscow, which will help keep the participants from trying to get out. Mars500 is applying some of the lessons from Biosphere, the most important lesson being not to build things like Biosphere.
  • Mars looks so desolate without women

    The Mars500 experiment is actually in its third and last phase, the first having been a 14-day isolation experiment, the second a 105-day experiment in extended isolation, and the current 520-day full-mission simulation. It’s interesting to consider the composition of the three crews, listed below. One would be forgiven for wondering how Mars will ever be colonized if women are not allowed more than two weeks from Earth. Or is it that Russian men cannot be trusted around single women more than two weeks at a time?

    • Phase 1 (14 days): Five Russian men, one Russian woman.
    • Phase 2 (105 days): Four Russians (including the commander), one French airline pilot and a German military mechanical engineer. All male.
    • Phase 3 (520 days): Three Russians (including the commander), a French engineer, a Colombian engineer, and a Chinese individual listed as “professional astronaut.” All male.
  • Americans being denied banking overseas: In March President Obama signed a law which requires foreign banks to reveal the accounts of Americans citizens living and banking abroad with balances over $50 000, else the banks would face a 30% tax penalty on all payments made to them in the U.S. That gives the American Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a long, long reach to anywhere in the world. It’s also seen, by both Americans overseas as well as foreign banks and governments, as a very arrogant action, in effect claiming that American tax regulations apply outside the U.S. and must be enforced by banks all over the world. The aim of the law was to ensure that Americans aren’t “hiding” money overseas, but the effect has been that banks all over the world are telling their American expat customers to take their banking elsewhere. It has also resulted in an unprecedented rate of Americans being led to resign their citizenship, and I predict it will also lead to a bumper crop of banks that trumpet their avoidance of any presence in the U.S. and even existing foreign banks pulling out of the U.S. Full story at the Wall Street Journal (with thanks to Instapundit). Things are just getting better and better.
  • Does New Jersey stink? Quick: In five seconds, think of three good things about New Jersey. (Brief Jeopardy! “Think” music.) Did you think of three good things? Naw, I couldn’t either, and I’ve spent time in the “garden” part of the Garden State. (Is that the Pine Barrens?) Well then, you need to check out JerseyDoesn’tStink.com. It’s a new site designed to convince people (starting with people in New Jersey) that New Jersey isn’t a terrible place. There’s even a video of a guy dressed like a giant pine-scent air freshener (I’m not making this up) going around asking New Jerseyans (yes, that’s correct) if they think New Jersey stinks. Unfortunately, almost all the New Jerseyans he asks think New Jersey does stink. A lot of work to be done, I think.
  • And while we’re at it: The Jeopardy! “Think” music linked above was originally called “A time for Tony.” It was a lullaby written by entertainer Merv Griffin for his son Tony. Merv Griffin was the creator of Jeopardy! (and several other game shows) and wrote the various themes used in the show over the years. That’s totally useless knowledge, but since I went through the trouble to look it up I thought you’d like to know.
  • A Father’s Day tribute: John Nolte of BigHollywood.com crafts a Father’s Day lesson from a famous scene in director John Ford‘s classic How Green Was My Valley. (It’s the same lesson I learned from my father, a police officer, and it upset my mother just as much as it did young Huw’s mother in the film.) It’s perhaps a politically incorrect message in today’s era of the metrosexual male, but Nolte cites Ford’s film as a tribute to the role of fathers across the land, most of whom deserve more thanks than they get.

Simple facts about a simple law from a simple …frog?

It seems many (most?) of the critics of the new Arizona immigration enforcement law  have chosen to criticize and condemn without even reading the law (which is a short, easy read — a few pages long). So for simple people, a simple message — from a talking frog.

Read the law. For a state law it’s short, simple, and not at all what its critics have claimed it to be. It’s essentially a mirror of Federal Immigration Law, and yes, it requires non-citizens to carry proof of legal immigration — just like Federal immigration law has for decades.

It’s fine to debate things like this, but let’s debate based on reality, not partisan spin. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Personal experience: I myself was a non-citizen living in the U.S. for 23 years and I dutifully, as required by Federal law, carried my “green card” (resident alien registration card) with me everywhere. Neither I nor anyone else I knew thought that was any kind of burden. A sovereign nation is, after all, entitled, indeed required, to police and control its borders. I thought that then, and I think so now.