Jeremy J. Jones – Stranded in Thought

February 25, 2009

The Hypocracy of American Democracy

Filed under: History,Opinion — Jeremy @ 2:27 pm
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I can believe almost anything about how immigrants were treated in the past in the U.S., especially blacks and Hispanics. I remember last Spring, during a U.S. History course, having the slightly amusing realization that in Jamestown in the early-seventeen century, people were starving to death, essentially because it didn’t occur to them to simply go out and grow some corn, despite the fact that the local tribes were trying to teach them how. Instead, they raided the tribes, killing and looting the corn. I think that falls under the definition of failing to “learn how to fish,” and even killing the teacher.

Of course, once the colonists found out that tobacco was worth money as an export crop, farming became rampant; everyone moved away from camp and got their own farm, so they could buy all the food they needed with their tobacco proceeds. That is the epitome of the flaws of a capitalist economy, and what is wrong with our economy today. Don’t misunderstand; capitalism is still the best economic model invented, but we see the effects today of the notion that the best way to provide sustenance is to sell as much of something, however harmful it might be (not that the Jamestown settlers knew it), to generate wealth, and therefore gain the power to purchase huge houses and what-not. Once these settlers realized they could earn far more money, and spend it even faster, by forcing Africans and other forced immigrants to do the labor, they had it made.

This comes to mind as a result of a recent e-mail conversation with my father about our family tree. He recently mailed me a host of information he gathered in the 90’s so I could pick up the trail, and felt the need to apologize since much of it is probably inaccurate. He cited the fact that his mother, and several of her cousins, were all married on the twenty-first birthdays. Remarkable coincedence, isn’t it? Furthermore, most everyone knows the story of a person’s ancestors who came to the states and changed the spelling of their name, simply because it was easier to get into the country that way.

It seems that 200 years later, we’re no better. I have a Swiss friend who was called an idiot by immigration, coming into (of all places) New York one day. This despite the fact that he has a working visa and had lived here more than two years at the time. I’ve heard a number of European colleagues tell me that they had waited their whole lives to come to the United States, and when they came into New York, the place they had dreamed of seeing since childhood, the trip quickly becomes scary when the immigration area is made intentionally uninviting, and the attendents in the area are beyond businesslike; they are downright rude and condescending to immigrants.

It’s a wonder anyone at all comes in the legal way, when it’s so much easier to swim in and not deal with being put down for being foreign.

I just hope that someday we can all get past that, and deal with some real problems.

February 24, 2009

Loyal Support for the President?

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Jeremy @ 8:53 am

Maybe I am missing the memo, but the New York Times has reported in a recent article, Survey Reveals Broad Support for President, that a majority of 1,112 adults polled last week approve of Obama’s job thus far. I think he is trying, yes. But I definitely don’t approve.

Here’s what gets me: three-quarters of those polled, including 6 of 10 Republicans, believe that the President is working hard to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans, yet only 3 in 10 people say that Republicans are doing the same.

I will not say that Republicans are working hard with him, but I can’t say I blame them. I’d hardly call railing against them for two weeks attempting to mend the divide between the parties. On the contrary, Mr. Obama essentially bullied the Republican Party into signing a bill that many would call, at best, irresponsible, loaded with speculation about huge amounts of money dedicated to strange purposes. He then ignored all criticism of the bill, citing the Americans’ need for quick and decisive action, rather than explaining his beliefs in each and every line.

It’s likely that people are so worried about our futures, that we would accept any policy that the new, feel-good President proposes, regardless of its contents. Of course, most Americans never actually listen to the details; rather, they hear “I can help you!” and vote for that person, trusting anything he or she says thereafter.

When President Bush refused to explain himself, people called him a criminal, a thug, an arrogant man, et cetera. When Obama does it, he gets a 63 percent approval rating.

Somehow, I’ve been unwillingly caught on the boat to socialism. I’d like to get off, please.

February 18, 2009

Airline Disasters Aplenty

Filed under: Opinion — Jeremy @ 10:02 am

While staying at the Hartford Marriott Downtown over this past weekend, I was privy to the news Friday afternoon of another plan crash, this time by Continental. Unfortunately, this case had a far more tragic outcome than last month’s crash in the Hudson River.

There were a couple of men at the bar with my wife and me, both in town for Connecticut’s Mortgage Crisis project at the Hartford Convention Center. We got to discussing the reasons that crashes seem more prevalent lately, and I had a theory: worker performance at the airlines is declining.

I justify this opinion thus: our government (and by extension, we) spends far too much time policing things that ought better be left alone and not nearly enough policing that which ought to be tended to.

No one in Washington is trying to make airline industry CEO’s limit their own salaries (many of which are in excess of $50 million), but these companies continue to layoff workers, usually in maintenance divisions, resulting in declining performance, until the airline either goes out of business, or the taxpayers grant them billions of dollars so they can squander it again.

Humans tend to only deal with problems when they become insurmountable. For instance, nothing was done to shore up the levies or move the population in New Orleans until a major tsunami came, resulting in many unnecessary deaths. This was despite the fact that scientists had been warning for two or three decades of the likelihood of a catastrophic death figure should a tsunami ever strike the city.

For a present-day example, consider the case of Seattle, Washington and Mt. Rainer, a mere fifty-four miles away. Scientists have been saying for at least ten years that if Mt. Rainier ever erupts, it is sure to create a pyroclastic flow that will likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Seattle area, due to its lying in the path of least resistance from the mountain to sea level. Yet we as a society are ignoring these facts, merely hoping that the mountain won’t erupt. Unfortunately, it eventually will. It is active again, and time is the only question.

I lived between Salem and Portland, Oregon at the time of the Mt. St. Helens eruption. It is no joke, trust me. A solution in the Seattle area would certainly be quite difficult to reach, but I know we will never reach it if we merely wait.

February 16, 2009

Historic Statements Are Often Most Apropos

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Jeremy @ 10:07 am

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul” (George Bernard Shaw, Everybody’s Political What’s What?, 1944, ch. 30).

I cannot think of a more appropriate statement than this in today’s American political climate. It really says all there is to say on the matter.

February 10, 2009

Change We Can Believe In?

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Jeremy @ 9:31 am

status-quo

As much as I didn’t want a Democrat in the White House, I am inclined to give our new president a chance. However, in his first three weeks, he has sorely disappointed me by apparently putting up a porkbarrel bill and then continually berating Republicans for failing to support it.

If his bill isn’t full of the supposed non-stimulus items, why isn’t he saying so? Instead, he seems to see fit to muscle the minority party into passing the bill.

I hope we get to a resolution soon, and I really hope that the president plans to deliver on his campaign promises – that he would be entirely different from all the other politicians out there. In the meantime, my rapidly rising dissatisfaction caused me to create an “obamicon” at http://obamiconme.pastemagazine.com/. This picture is the subject of this message.

February 7, 2009

Sourdough Rising

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Jeremy @ 8:35 pm

I have successfully completed a sourdough bread. Though it really isn’t that sour. Had help from active yeast, but my next step will be to make a starter with only flour and water. Might need to get bread flour for that for the added protein.

But we’ll be using that loaf for French toast in the morning, so that rocks. It was a nice, dense loaf of bread.

My First Loaf of Sourdough

My First Loaf of Sourdough

A Mighty Recession?

Filed under: Opinion,Politics — Jeremy @ 5:30 pm
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Faced with the grim news that the U.S. lost 528,000 jobs in January (the largest number in one month since the Autumn of 1992), and the fact that our unemployment rate has risen to a striking 7.6%, I am, not surprisingly, crestfallen. However, one would be hard-pressed to find evidence of such an economic downturn at Corbin’s Corner today in West Hartford.

My wife and I traveled up to the area to visit Trader Joe’s, a semi-local grocery chain, and had to park halfway across the lot from the store. It was a madhouse. The West Farms Mall across the street was no less busy. I wonder if this is not a result of the U.S. Senate’s passing of the $728 billion stimulus last night, or if people in Connecticut aren’t feeling the pinch as badly as we are hearing.

Furthermore, I learned last evening that on Tuesday, February 3, Denny’s restaurants offered a free Grand Slam Breakfast. Given the huge lines at Denny’s that day, many regulars ended up visiting other breakfast restaurants in Southington that day, most notably the Pepper Pot on Center Street. Despite having several inches of snow, the Pepper Pot had one of its busiest days of the last months. I encourage Denny’s to continually stimulate the economy in such a way.

Moreover, gasoline prices have apparently risen for eight consecutive weeks, despite that crude oil hit a new low early this week in Asian trading. Oil and gasoline continue their enigmatic waltz.

February 3, 2009

What’s On My Mind?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 1:51 pm

I don’t know. Or many things. The first two weeks of the Obama Administration have shown us some positive things, and some things just per the status quo. Probably good was Tom Daschle’s withdrawal from contention for Health and Human Services Secretary, because it at least removes the possibility of question of his ethics and qualifications.

However, one wonders who is next on the list and if we will see any problems there. I’d hope not, but we’ll see.

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