Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rant about unions... sort of

Despite having some conservative tendencies (more economic, not so much social), I do see a vital place for unions in fighting for what's good (long term) for workers and stopping injustices against workers and holding management accountable.

... I do get very uncomfortable if unions stray too far from their core mission, lose accountability to their members, get entirely submerged in political action with minimal member benefit that may alienate many members, or get too much into a short-term "us versus them" mentality with management.

... To a large extent, I'd like to see unions actually work WITH management and stockholders in helping keep jobs in the USA, in upgrading the quality of the jobs, and in making companies more efficient by helping them work smarter. To my mind, it does little or no good to fight hard for a wage increase if it means that a company will move jobs offshore, especially to countries where workers have few if any rights. Unions need to help our country compete if we want to maintain our standard of living.

... On a whole different tangent, while we might not agree about so-called "right to work", ideally unions would do an effective, skilled job of selling their benefits to potential members regardless of whether they are in a union shop or right-to-work environment. In other words, even unions that enjoy having a closed shop should hustle and behave as if they're in a right to work environment. If a local has to rely on a closed shop agreement to recruit members, maybe the union leaders aren't doing their job very well.
End rant!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ship of the desert...interim stop at Elephant Butte Lake

A ship of the desert arrives in the mountain lake setting of Elephant Butte Lake, here for some fitting out and sail testing some time during the next few weeks.

View aft, toward the south with Turtleback Mountain and Caballo Peak behind our Hobie, to be named "Bruja".

One of today's chores was getting our (new to us) Hobie away from the house and down to Elephant Butte Lake. I also paid slip rent for Carol Anne's Etchells, "Black Magic" for the coming marina year at Rock Canyon Marina. Soon we'll need to make time to rig the Hobie and then work on outfitting her (need to order VHF fixed mount station and various other gear) and learning to sail "Bruja".

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Misquoted: "When fascism arrives in America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross"

A saying that is likely to be revived among the fears of this year's political contest in the USA is

When fascism arrives in America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross,

attributed to Sinclair Lewis in his 1935 book, "It can't happen here".

But, it appears that Sinclair Lewis never said it, at least not in that form, even though the quote seems to fit right in with the book.

The quote seems to reflect a general summing up of statements by Sinclair Lewis and others, perhaps stemming from a mix of Sinclair Lewis and comments about his work.

"Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner.'"
Harrison Evans Salisbury, "The Many Americas Shall Be One", 1971

"If fascism comes, ... it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution." James Waterman Wise, Jr., The Christian Century, (V) Feb 5, 1936, p 243.

" When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled "made in Germany"; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, "Americanism." " Halford E. Luccock, "Keeping Life Out of Confusion", 1938

From http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sinclair_Lewis

What Sinclair Lewis DID say in "It Can't Happen Here":

The Sarason-Macgoblin ode, entitled "Bring Out the Old-time Musket,"
became to Buzz Windrip's band of liberators what "Giovanezza" was to
the Italians, "The Horst Wessel Song" to the Nazis, "The International" to
all Marxians. Along with the convention, the radio millions heard Mrs.
Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch's contralto, rich as peat, chanting:

Dear Lord, we have sinned, we have slumbered,
And our flag lies stained in the dust,
And the souls of the Past are calling, calling,
"Arise from your sloth—you must!"
Lead us, O soul of Lincoln,
Inspire us, spirit of Lee,
To rule all the world for righteousness,
To fight for the right,

To awe with our might,
As we did in 'sixty-three.
See, youth with desire hot glowing,
See, maiden, with fearless eye,
Leading our ranks
Thunder the tanks,
Aeroplanes cloud the sky.

Bring out the old-time musket,
Rouse up the old-time fire!
See, all the world is crumbling,
Dreadful and dark and dire.
America! Rise and conquer
The world to our heart's desire!
(pp 48-49)

Almost daily, Windrip, Sarason, Dr. Macgoblin, Secretary of War
Luthorne, or Vice-President Perley Beecroft humbly addressed their
Masters, the great General Public, on the radio, and congratulated them
on making a new world by their example of American solidarity—
marching shoulder to shoulder under the Grand Old Flag, comrades
in the blessings of peace and comrades in the joys of war to come.
p. 248

... yet didn't Mr. Windrip speak beautifully about pure language,
church attendance, low taxation, and the American flag?
p. 255

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Un hombre mascarando: ¡Qué sorprendente!

Esto mañana, era una sorpresa. Yo estaba trabajando en mi jardin, estando cavando la tierra por creación de un paisaje de desértico. ¡Miré para arriba, y muy proxima, cierre de inmediato, hubo un hombre enmascarado! Tambien era vestido en botas, y sombrero (al igual que los sombreros de soldados de caballeriá de la Unión en la guerra civil de EE.UU.), y llevaba un capa (cabo) larga y suelta. Toda la ropa era negro con excepción de una letra "Z" en oro en el sombrero. Él también el llevaba un látigo, pero, afortunadamente, no parece que hay que usarla! ¡Esto era un visito por el señor Zorro!

Él no hablaba mucho, pero lo me pareció entender, cuando era hablando de mi trabajando en mi jardin, y él se realizó un inspección de mi jardin. Él se fue como habiá llegado, en silencia.

Estaba una experiencia inusual. Quien era eso hombre enmascarando en un traje como eso de Zorro?

A bite in Anthem

Double brisket platter

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Immigration violators

As a border resident who was reared within sight of our southern border (literally and not in the Sarah Palin sense of "seeing Russia"), I have long had feelings and concerns about immigration issues and policy.

One particularly hot topic is the term "illegal alien". Immigration rights advocates would rather that phrase not being used, preferring "undocumented immigrant", and often repeating the statement that people can't be illegal and the more refined point that not all violations of immigration law are criminal. Some applaud the advocates and some might call them quibblers.

What's at issue here are distinctions and subtleties in immigration law and policy that don't come through in political sound bites.

To simplify things quite a lot, someone who knowingly and willfully crosses the border by evading border officers or by using fraudulent documents is definitely breaking the law. But, someone who comes into the USA with a valid visa or border crossing card that subsequently expires is guilty only of a "status violation" and is subject to only a civil proceeding and likely deportation.

It can be hard to sort out the unfortunates whose intentions were entirely lawful, but who got caught up in the complexities, contradictions, expense, and difficulty of our immigration laws, from those whose intentions were less honorable, or from those who were simply careless, who took a chance on not getting caught, who got caught with a DUI/DWI or similar violations, or who never took an opportunity to acquire regular status when they had a chance.

Some immigration advocates seem to try to paint all status violators as entirely innocent, and would have us believe that they're all entirely innocent and blameless, and that every one of them is a good, moral, hard-working person whose presence strengthens our nation by doing work that natives eschew. And, on the other side of the immigration debate border, are anti-immigrants, nativists, xenophobes, and protectionists who believe that every violator is lazy or evil, filled with criminal intent, and is part of a sinister plot to destabilize and undermine the country. Wouldn't it be shocking if not all immigrants were the same and that neither extreme was always right?

Also, intentions are hard to prove or disprove and often the system doesn't bother to try. So, the relatively innocent and guilty may be lumped together and simply deported, without bothering to prosecute first-time offenders who may have in fact deliberately violated the law. Some immigration advocates might try to paint all status violators who face deportation as relative innocents, yet the brutal fact is that among them are some people who intended to overstay their visas, and others who succeeded in evading border officers in their initial crossing.

Public opinion might be a bit more forgiving of immigration supporters if some supporters didn't push the presumed innocence angle too hard and instead acknowledged that many violators didn't have purely innocent intent... even if many individuals were never convicted of a crime and instead faced only civil deportation. Individuals may be given the presumption of innocence of deliberate lawbreaking by our officials, but public opinion can be much harsher to immigration violators as a collective.

Repeat violators are considered to be guilty of a much more serious crime under our laws than first-time violators. And, then, there are the out-and-out criminals; coyotes who smuggle people into the country, narco-traficantes who smuggle drugs and weapons, and other criminals.

Some critics of the term "undocumented immigrant" might accept use of the term for relatively innocent status violators who have tried to comply with the law, but many would be very angry at those who would apply the phrase to those immigrants who deliberately evaded border officers or used fraudulent documents. "Lawbreaker" is about as kind or gentle of a term as can be expected for immigration foes to apply to those latter.

In any case, the various immigrants who violate the law are quite a variety of people to lump into one category.

The best nomenclature I can come up with is a sort of continuum or spectrum...

(1) innocent status violations -- people who crossed legally whose permission (visa, border card) expired despite good intentions and attempts to comply with the rules.

(2) foolish or desperate violations -- people not currently legally present who got caught with a DUI/DWI, didn't regularize their status when they had a chance, etc., got bad advice, didn't pay close attention to the rules, took a chance on the rules not being enforced, couldn't afford immigration counseling, etc.

(3) illegal immigration -- people who knowingly evaded border officers or used altered or fraudulent documents

(4) criminal aliens -- those who crossed illegally in the commission or furtherance of a crime; coyotes, narcos, etc.

Not really in these categories are children -- too often the victims of families divided and torn apart.

It seems obvious to me -- but may not be to others -- that our country's response should not take any sort of one-size-fits-all approach.

(1) I believe that people caught up in number one deserve some leniency and in particular some help in complying with our laws. Certainly their record in the community, family ties, good behavior, and attempts to comply with the law should count for much.

(2) This is a more difficult category, since many of these people brought their situations upon themselves, whether through ignorance, desperation, poverty, or carelessness. There must be consequences, and legal residents and citizens shouldn't have a legitimate reason to believe that immigration violators are being given special, unearned privileges. Still, extenuating circumstances should get some consideration, and these people should be treated in a humane and respectful manner. And, I think that a rigorous, but do-able process could be provided to give those who are willing to work hard for it a chance to get back on track for regular status.

(3) Those who deliberately broke the law deserve humane treatment, but no special privileges. There have to be consequences severe enough to deter repeated lawbreaking and to meet the country's goal of protecting its borders. These people definitely need to go to the back of the line; perhaps they might eventually get some sort of second chance but it would not come quickly or easily.

(4) Lock these people away in a strict prison for a very long time. Perhaps the super-strict anti-immigrant types would enjoy putting them to work on a chain gang ... building walls or such.

Or maybe, given the confusion and uncertainty, complicated laws and inconsistent policies, and mixed feelings we have as a nation, maybe what we need is not so much a border wall, but rather a gigantic border maze. Somehow, that fits.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

First sighting; we meet someone with two dogs and a boat...

This Friday, Gerald and I drove to Riverside, California (though according to Gerald, it's not particularly fashionable to admit to traveling to or living there, the town did seem okay to me.) The reason for the trip was a certain "vehicle" resident at the Riverside Municipal Airport -- a boat. After checking into our motel room, we arranged to see the "Jada Yachta" that evening and get a quick first look at her.

Gerald on deck. The owner let us into the secured part of the airfield and we followed him past parked airplanes to a hanger that in daylight would have been almost in the shadow of the airport control tower. I suppose that keeping the boat at the airport and close to the control tower was an appropriate decision -- because this is, after all, a racing boat.

Port side of a slender thirty-three-foot sloop. We wound up spending more than two hours getting a good overall tour of the boat and her systems and a bit of her history. Jada Yachta isn't a simple stock boat, but instead has some great history as well as all sorts of customizations.

Owner on deck, showing us various boat systems. The boat came with quite a lot of optional equipment. The unusual tower astern is designed to hold a radar dome, but can be removed for short cruises and races.

Owner in cockpit

Keel, raised into position for travel. When lowered, the keel is secured by four large keel bolts and the top of the keel well is sealed with a gasketed cover.

Detail of electrical panel added by the boat's previous owner. Most boats of this type have only a couple of cabin and navigation lights and nothing else but this boat has some systems more typical of a blue-water yacht.

Ship of the desert...

Boat with saguaro cactus and desert landscape in foreground. We didn't really notice, on the way back from California, but somehow something seems to have followed us home to the desert. Could it perhaps be some sort of "ship of the desert"?

Another view of a boat that should soon be receiving a new name.

Starboard aft view shortly after arrival in Mesa.

View from port forward of a rather sleek sailboat, with an overall length more than four times her beam and a very low profile on the trailer, enabled by the retractable lead keel.

The tower can be removed for buoy-racing regattas. When it remains on board, it is used to house the radar dome and GPS/chartplotter antenna. We've purchased an emergency beacon and will be installing a radio transceiver as part of preparing the boat for ocean racing requirements. No doubt there will be quite a lot of other equipment that will be wanted for the more ambitious sorts of voyages.

Now we just need to find a good mast-up storage location in some place like San Pedro, Long Beach, Marina del Rey, or perhaps in Orange County or San Diego. An ideal place would be moderately priced and equipped with a boat-launched crane or lift.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Prepping for the departure runway

Preparing for takeoff under visual flight rules.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The problem with a cutesy boating site title...

Rant: Why I HATE the cutesy title of a boating site:

I can't bear to 'like' "Making waves in a no-wake zone" because it sounds like it's trying to be cutely subversive or rebellious in glamorizing illegal and dangerous behavior in its title -- and anglers and sailors both suffer plenty from drunks or druggies or just plain criminal idiots trying to swamp or crash into our boats, damaging boats in marinas, trying to guillotine swimmers with their propellers, scaring off wildlife and fish, eroding shorelines, killing marine mammals, etc.

I can put you in touch with a marine safety officer who has seen enough gore, horror, tragedy, and smelly dead human bodies and body parts to last more than a lifetime, thanks to on-the-water maniacs. And, it's hard for me to take something like this lightly, given that I had a friend drown in a boating-related accident just far away enough that I couldn't help, except to be part of the search. (His body took about three weeks to surface but was well-preserved because of the cold water.) Unfortunately, whenever I see this boating website's name, it reminds me of gross reckless irresponsibility, mayhem, tragedy, and death. /end rant

Monday, February 13, 2012

Free-spirited Buccaneer... entangled in paperwork

Aaaaarr matey! We be making slow way through yon doldrums in ye Sea of Red Tape.

The Buccaneer sloop I picked up the other day took a couple of extra trips to round up parts and paperwork. Installation of an extension to the wiring harness brought illumination to the trailer. But today the fun really began when I tried to register the boat and trailer.

It seemed logical to request a permanent registration permit, which is allowed in New Mexico for small trailers. That's when the motor vehicle clerk discovered the first flaw. The registration paperwork gave a weight for the trailer, but not a capacity number. That meant that a clerk qualified as a vehicle identification number examiner would have to examine the trailer. That would have been easy had it not been for the small detail that the boat and trailer were at home. And the wheels were at a tire shop getting new tires put on them. And the independent motor vehicle office was going to close in about an hour.

Whoosh! I rushed to the tire shop, waited around a while for the new tires to get balanced on the old wheels and counterweighted, then went hope, put the wheels back on the trailer, and went back to the office to get the trailer registered. The VIN examiner did his trailer examining, put in the correct numbers, and got the trailer registered for me.

But that was only half the job, and sure enough when it came time to register the boat, the clerk found another flaw. The original owner had initially donated the boat some years ago to a group that never used or registered the boat, and wound up not wanting it, and so the title form had needed to have the sale date updated. Unfortunately, writing in a new date was not a valid option -- the change would have to be made on a form to be completed by the last registered owner, signed, and notarized. So, I drove twenty miles across town to give the paperwork to the owner, who should mail it all back to me in a few days after completing his portion of the magic paperwork dance.

Once this paperwork is done and the boat is registered, we can then go on to satisfying the paperwork requirements for a municipally-owned Tempe Town Lake mast-up storage lot. It should be interesting. Then maybe some day we'll get to fill in the appropriate forms to race the boat.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quick Sail Update... another lovely winter day of sailing

This year is starting out with a better sailing focus than last year. Although it's only February, several days of sailing have happened and some sailing projects are underway.

Today Carol Anne and I got together with "Zorro" on his Etchells and sailed in some fairly stiff breeze at Elephant Butte Lake in southern NM; we also got to see some sailing friends at the marina and afterward. The graph gives an idea of just how breeze... winds got past 25 mph while we were sailing, with enough fetch along the long axis of the lake to brew up a rough chop and plenty of whitecaps.

A couple of weeks ago we also got to do the same thing, also in pretty good breeze, probably a mix of anything from 5 to 20 mph.

In January, I got in three days of sailing and racing on a J/80 in Arizona while Carol Anne was on the race committee signal boat (as timer and general cat herder) and Gerald got to race on our Santana -- for the first time that anyone in our family had raced it our tried out the chute).

Last week I picked up an older Buccaneer sailing dinghy which should with a little work be a good boat for sailing at Arizona's Tempe Town Lake.

And, we have made an offer on interesting boat in California that Gerald and I and perhaps Zorro should get to inspect next weekend.

On a more minor note, we should be receiving a shipment next week from one of our favorite on-line chandleries that will include some new bottom paint for Carol Anne's Etchells, a new inflatable PFD for me, and a personal locator beacon (safety item, with integrated GPS). And I chatted with some folks in Texas about volunteering to help with a regatta there in April.

Oh and a P.S.; We arranged for Tim at the Rock Canyon Marina to start diving on and cleaning the bottom of Carol Anne's Etchells "Black Magic" later this month.

Friday, February 03, 2012

They follow me home...

Starboard view of 1973 Buccaneer sloop

Starting this Wednesday, an eighteen-foot Buccaneer sailboat began following me home. Today came the paperwork and Monday is supposed to come the tiller. Some minor repairs and tweeks will be needed.

View from port aft
The boat, an older, 1973 Buccaneer called "Cair Vie", had been donated by a friend to a Navy Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps program at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque. After a few years the ROTC program instructors didn't have any immediate use for her, but could use funds for their program and eventually were convinced to sell the boat.

HIN (Hull Identification Number) plate and decal showing 1973 model year for Buccaneer

Mast partner area (wooden mast partner has been reglued and needs to be screwed and bonded into top of cuddy trunk)

Mainsheet block and aft end of keel trunk

Starboard access port to forward portion of Buccaneer

Port bow, with old registration sticker (numbers need to be spaced properly, too)