Thursday, July 26, 2007

Your 'Ol pal Huckleberry posits some thoughts on human nature and one concept of Fear.

What is that characteristic that makes fear such a unique quality among mankind. It is true that animals have fear, but the fear experienced among animals is that of predator and prey; the shock of the unexpected; the tenuous and unfamiliar; and the anxiety that comes—like the Pavlovian ringing of the bell—from an associated experience or training. Mankind shares all of these petty fears with the animal kingdoms and then some. We develop fears of things where none would occur to the beasts of the field. And unlike the animals, we require no ringing bell or heavy-handed master to wring fear from our soul—we teach fear to ourselves.

Each of us can close our eyes and imagine ourselves. This is unique to us amongst all creation. As we do so, often we do not like what we see. There will be elements that we do like—other things we are unsure of. There are undoubtedly pieces that we see as simply bits of us that are neither good nor bad. All of these are jumbled up alongside other bits of baggage and treasures that we have carried along for the ride—imposed upon us through relationship and experience. But surely there is more. For none of us can ever be fully aware of how we understand ourselves fully. Just as there are unconscious pieces and bits that inform our peculiar tics and behaviors, there are unconscious bits and pieces of our definition of ourselves that we do not understand and may never be fully aware of. In any event, the mosaic of our self-definition only takes shape when viewed with some distance—like a fine mosaic of ceramic and glass, each shard of glazed clay and chip of stained crystal has sharp edges and smooth spots and various shapes and forms that are incongruous until one stands back from that whole. A few paces back, the colors blend and the shapes blur into form and an image appears. Many of those pieces were laid by our own had and are fraught with bits of denial and deception. This is, after all, our self-image—not necessarily our true image—and we added the denial and deception to fill in the gaps and missing pieces in vain attempt to see ourselves for ourselves. At some point then we think that we have a picture that is relatively complete.

We live our lives seeing all that happens to us in the light that bounces off of this self image. Eventually we convince ourselves that this image is reality--or at least it is "our" reality as if there were more than one.

There are those who then project this self image outward. They take their image and place its strictures onto the people and the world around them. Think of the man who cheats on his taxes or steals from, his employer because he believes that everyone cheats steals. He cannot accept the good in any man because he cannot find the good in himself.

There are others who project their image inwardly. Think of the person who believes himself worthless because he believes in conceit that others see him as worthless.

There are those who construct their opinion of themselves based upon this self-appraisal.

  • The captain of business who believes himself superior.
  • The master of a craft who sees himself defined by his skill.
  • The well-ordered mind that sees all within his control.
  • The disciplined athlete who sees himself as a physical sculpture of flesh.
  • The glutton who finds pardon and comfort in his girth.
  • The self-defeatist who satisfies his excuses in the vagaries of fortune.
  • The manic who justifies himself in his production of work.
  • There are so many more.

Each of us wraps the definition around ourselves as a blanket. We use it to shape our understanding of ourselves, our world, and all that we experience. In this it is comforting. But is it real or a distortion. Consider that each of us has anxiety, fear, despising, and dread of all things, experiences, people, and ideas that challenge this self-imposed mosaic of our soul.

Be well,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mac Magruder Supersizes Ignorance in the Illegal Immigration Debate

Mac Magruder, prominent Arizona businessman and owner of several MacDonald’s franchises, appeared on NPR radio on July 6th, 2007, in an attempt to support his position against Arizona’s new law that toughens employer penalties for knowingly hiring illegal workers.

It is painful to hear Mac Magruder fumble and flail has he tries to make his points (listen for yourself- ) If I may summarize, Mac says that this law is bad because
  • The verification pilot program mentioned in the law is flawed—because Mac says so.

  • If the dictates of the law are followed to the letter and even-handedly applied to every applicant, that’s profiling. (This comment does not make sense in any language.)

  • It is un-Constitutional now because if we change the law, it will then be unfair. (Um…excuse me?)

  • The Governor knew the law was un-Constitutional when she signed it because it usurps Federal jurisdiction. (State Business licensing usurps Federal Law?)

  • No business is knowingly hiring Illegal workers. (He actually said that.)

  • Businesses that are hiring illegal worker deserve to be punished. (But, didn’t he just say that…Oh, never mind.)

  • People and jobs will flee the state. (Perhaps only the illegal ones will flee.)

  • We have entrapped all of the illegal workers by offering them jobs. (If they are entrapped, how can they flee?)

  • It’s really a racial issue—because Mac says so. (Forget all that “rule of law” mumbo jumbo.)

  • “Most of the people we are talking about are brothers and sisters down South; that are hard-working, wonderful people…they came here to build a better life….” (Since no one is hiring an illegal worker, who do you think Mac is talking about?)

  • The economic benefits of illegal workers far outweigh some of costs people are associating with our “friends coming from Mexico.” (Where do I begin? Outweigh some of the costs?

  • The economic benefits of who, exactly…since there are no businesses hiring illegal workers? Mac thinks all the illegal workers come from Mexico?)

It seems that Mr. Magruder cannot decide which argument to use, so he is trying them all on for size—supporting none of them effectively—and contradicting himself most of the time in the process. Mac has followed up his performance on NPR with several additional interviews on radio and in print that have added only consistency to his comments—but not quality. His thoughts are ill-informed and poorly presented, and so they remain unsatisfying on every level.

It is fitting and a touch ironic that Mac Magruder is in the business of fast-food—because, like the products he sells, his thoughts are over-cooked and quickly thrown together in a way that is not really good for any of us. How can one man, ostensibly a successful and savvy business leader, twist so much double-speak, ad hominem, and non-sequitur into a four-minute interview? Doesn’t he know that this is what we have Senators for? On the plus side, if this burger restaurant deal doesn’t pan out in the long run, he appears to be honing his skills for a career in liberal race-baiting. But I digress.

Big Mac is serving up a super-sized helping of self-serving sophistry with a side order of unpleasantness that will carry a price for Arizona far beyond the limits of any Value Menu. He is harming our wonderful state and its citizens of every configuration by degrading the valid arguments of his opposition and dragging honest dissenters through the grease-trap so that we all come out sticky and smelling bad. This technique failed when the Senate tried it, it failed again when President Bush tried it—it will fail now as well.

If the quality of one’s position is truly to be judged by the quality of one’s argument, then Business leaders like Mac Magruder and pro-illegal politicians have very weak positions indeed. I challenge “Wake Up Arizona” to stand legitimately on the field of ideas and present their case without the quick-fried fluff. I await their reply. Mr. Magruder, I suggest to you that Arizona has already “woken up” and that is precisely what is causing you so much angst.

Be well,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Global Spider Monsters

In 1960's horror films, a normal creature--usually an insect or lizard--wanders helplessly into some man-made disaster and is transformed. Let's say it's a spider. Anyway, this spider gets blasted by nuclear radiation, lasered by angry aliens who think we are wasting our planet, or poisoned by a toxic chemical spill and the next thing you know...Bam! The spider is sixty feet tall and munching down on poodle-skirted contestants from American Bandstand. (I always was a bit suspicious that Dick Clark was an alien mutant--but I digress)

The sheer number of movies and TV shows that followed this template is daunting. To use the term "ubiquitous" would be an understatement. But the formula works and is rather simple: Man-made disaster plus recognisable yet mildly creepy animal equals a sixty-foot tall reversal of the food chain and box-office success.

But what if the horrible monster created by unfeeling and wasteful mankind was, say two inches tall? Would the theatrical President of the United States call out the military or seek out the female scientist (who is a bit too attractive to be a scientist in real life) to solve the unsolvable? Would anyone really care? If the spider that is normally, say...1/2 inch high were to mutate into a fearsome 3/4 inch high, it is likely that the heroine would have to save mankind with a rolled up Sunday paper and no one would ever know the difference. In fact, would anyone suspect that there was ever a monster or mutation at all? We have all seen big, creepy spiders and--if we saw one just a little bit bigger or mildly creepier, we would likely think that this was just another big spider in the normal context of the realm of spider-dom. But if the spider were just a little larger than average no one would get scared--which is, after all, the whole point of the exercise.

Fast forward to today. Global Warming is the big, sixty-foot tall monster that has been created by bad and evil mankind. It is going to eat us all unless the President calls out the Army and good-looking scientists get free reign to solve the problem...whatever the cost. Mother nature has innocently walked through the exhaust emissions of our SUVs and coughed-up a disaster of unimaginable proportions.....right?

The problem is that, just like there are big spiders and little ones, the Earth has been at times a very warm place and at other times it has been a pretty cold one. Even the most aggressive and extremist prognostications by green-tinted socialists projects a scenario that is within the normal range of Earthy temperature fluctuations. The Earth has been warm enough for Greenland to be very green indeed, for grapes to grow well in England at one point, and for Mammoths to roam the Siberian plains which are now frozen tundra. In addition, good 'ol Mother Earth has been so chilly at times that glaciers covered huge swaths of the landmass and the sea-levels were so low that early man inhabited caves now submerged dozens of feet below current sea-level. These types of climactic shifting are the norm for our dear planet. Sometimes the changes happened rather swiftly, indeed. And these are just the examples at the extremes. Science and history provide us with evidence of hundreds if not thousands of lesser fluctuations in average climate. Even these lesser climactic oscillations were on the order of dozens of average degrees--still a multiple of what the fringe Global Warming pundits conjure in their nightmares.

So this means that even if we were to turn off all "green-house gas emissions" tomorrow, the Earth may warm up anyway--and could go even hotter just to spite us. It also means that such an extreme warming (and by extreme I mean the most dire Global Warming prediction of 5 or 6 degrees) is not even a blip on the Earthly scale. This spider--even in its worst-case--is only a little bit bigger than the one uncle John squashed for Aunt Martha on the back porch.

Statisticians call this gap a standard deviation. In other words, the range that is normally expected to occur in a dynamic system. For example, when the weather man says that the "normal" temperature for the day is, say 90 degrees, what he is really saying is that the "average" temperature is 90 degrees--sometimes it's hotter and sometimes it's colder. In fact, it is rare that the actual temperature on any given day is the average temperature because MOST times it is either a little hotter or a little colder. As long as the temperature is within it's standard deviation, nobody should be surprised at all.

Well, welcome to Global Warming folks. Even the absolute worst sky-is-falling-chicken-little-scenarios of the Eco-tyranny Movement fall well within the standard deviations of good 'ol regular climate. In fact, it leaves one wondering whether Mother Earth has even noticed that 1/2 half of us drive cars a bit bigger than we really need. It might also be worth noting that, according to the Earth Sciences, Earth at one time had an atmosphere that consisted ONLY of so-called "green-house gasses" (CO2, methane, and ammonia) and that this was the cradle of life. But I digress.

Suffice it to say that, since all of the temperature forecasts are in the"normal-range" and the Climate could randomly decide to go all "warm" or "cold" on us at any time without consulting Greenpeace or Al Gore, is there really anything that we can or should do about it? The truth is that, even if there is a monster, it is only about 1/2" inch tall and it would be better to leave the President alone (he has a bunch of other issues to attend to). It may be more productive to whack Al Gore with a rolled up newspaper and call the issue done.

I'm not saying that we should ignore important issues. Far from it. But it is vital that we keep our perspective. If we were to adopt the positions and policies advocated by the Global Warming proponents, the world would sacrifice trillions of dollars in real value and productivity to effect a world-wide average temperature correction of +/- 3 degrees centigrade one hundred years from now in the off-chance that Mother Nature will not decide differently. Mother Nature (in the form of sun spot activity, water vapor, volcanic activity, plant growth, etc.) can--and often does--toss up changes to climate trends. It's not that she is trying to mess around with us, it's more like she is unaware that we are even here at all. Actually, Mother Nature has no conscience or reason--she just is.

In fact, recent history is full of examples. Just the other day another Woolly Mammoth was discovered frozen in time--wholly preserved because the last cold snap happened very quickly--and millennia before the first SUV rolled off the assembly line. Woolly Mammoths roamed the Siberian Stepps and ate trees and grasses because....drum-roll please.....the Earth was a much warmer place. Far warmer that a couple of metric degrees above today's averages. The ensuing cold snap caught them largely unaware and thus we occasionally find caches of Woolly Mammoth frozen solid and ready for defrost and a quick Bar-B-Q. (Mammoth; the other white meat!)

So, to sum up: It will be difficult to determine how much change--if indeed there is any--is associated with CO2 emissions because Mother Nature plays a shell game with the climate on a regular basis and--even if the climate were not a moving target--the amount of temperature change impact would be indistinguishable from normal temperature fluctuations. Everything else is just scary music and theatrics. It may sell movie tickets, but you do not set economic and environmental policy based upon a movie....Do you?

Be well,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

To Kyl or Not to Kyl?
(With appologies to the Immortal Bard and Hamlet himself, 'Ol Huckleberry struggles with the conservative quandry that Jon Kyl--a fine man--has put us in.)

"To Kyl, or not to Kyl: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in politics to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous legislation
Or to take arms against a sea of illegal immigration
And by opposing, defeat a Senator?
And by defeat to say we end
The heartache and the thousand taxes and lies
That politics is heir to, ‘tis a royal screwing!
Therefore devoutly we wish to defeat him,
In defeat, perchance, to replace him: ay there’s the rub;
For in the joyful replacement what sophistry will come
When we have shuffled off the offending cur
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so free a democracy
For who would bear the whips and scorns of the devil we know,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of interns coddled, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
Within the voting booth? Who would fardles bear,
To grunt and sweat under heavy taxation,
But that dread of something after tar and feather applied,
The unknown quality of Senator new from whose bourn
May put lie to election returns, puzzling the will
And makes us rather bear those Sophi-crats we have
Than to fly to others that we know not of?
Thus non-confidence makes consenters of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
The fair Liberty! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all these sins remember’d."

Be well
(read the related article at PHXNews here: )