sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

August 31, 2015

My Problem with Carly

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 12:54 pm

She’s the kind of woman someone with my sensibilities finds persuasive, exciting even.  Her very existence is the proof that Hillary Clinton is a fraud, and boy she can argue healthcare and market freedom to TV hosts!  And yet, after being emotionally invested in these issues since O took office in 09, I, like many others, feel that Carly Fiorina’s seemingly heart-felt defense of capitalism is not enough.

What difference does it make that she can mount a persuasive defense of capitalist democracy before the American people if our President can conspire to bring trainloads of illegals and SCOTUS rules that, effectively, non-citizens can vote in US elections?  For all I know, the DC and business elites figured that if they dig in their hills for a few election cycles, Latin Americans will sway US demographics, transforming American citizenry into obedient subjects.

We are bringing the voters legally, of course, via H1-B visas which Fiorina champions.  Those are also largely a Democratic constituency, and it boggles my mind that a Republican or a conservative would want more of them in the country.  Most of the rest of the Republican field are on the same page with her, mind you.  I’m still waiting for them to deflate Trump by taking his signature issue away from him.

Putting aside the fact that new immigrants taking the electorate places I don’t want it to go, I have more immediate reasons to fear high tech immigration.  My husband’s employer, one of the largest in California, is getting rid of the American workers and bringing in the Indians.  Would not even look at American applicants, and not because the locals refuse to take a pay cut.

I never worked in IT, but people who do have been saying for decades that American programmers are still the best.  Foreigners, however, are better employees.  Here’s how my husband explains it: suppose the boss says “We need to move the Statue of Liberty from New York to San Francisco by tomorrow morning.” Americans are socialized to be straight forward.  “Impossible!” they say.  Foreigners say “Yes, sir!”*  Come next morning the Statue of Liberty is in New Jersy, which is, in and of itself, an admirable feat.  Nevertheless, it’s an American guy who’s now tasked with moving the landmark to the West Coast, somehow.

But guess who the management likes — the “Yes, sir!” crowd.  And who is FIorina?  The management.  Obviously what’s going on in tech companies right now can’t go on forever; things will shake up somehow. In the meantime, do we need a president with Fiorina’s blind spots, and, more importantly, doesn’t sovereignty trump business needs?

Than there are the labor issues.  Many foreign tech workers are here temporarily and are willing to work longer hours to take the pay to their home country.  There are very few jobs Americans are doing on which foreigners are not willing to spend more hours. And who loves it? The management.

It’s not just IT that’s affected, but related fields, like graphic design, sound editing — all good, creative jobs for which the middle class blesses their kids to go to college.  And it’s not like there is an excess of blue color jobs for for the native born; in fact, all new jobs now go to foreigners.  Even if there were low skill, low pay jobs left over for our kids, we’d have to admit that if we bring planeloads of foreigners to give them the best jobs in the country, we have a problem…  It’s hard to believe that only a generation ago one could move to San Francisco for the rock-n-roll lifestyle and land a tech job.

Younger Americans are not getting any offers and the older ones get fired.  The Dig Your Own Grave practice, when IT professionals are asked to train their South-East Asian replacements with severance pay held as a bargaining chip, received some media attention this summer during the South California Edison congressional hearings. Workers told the their stories, the lawmakers listened — and then passed Obamatrade with bipartisan support. Meanwhile, Disney instituted the same policy.

So yes, I would very much like to see Fiorina in the GOP debates because she, being a natural sales girl, is perfect at delivering a message, but please keep her out of the Oval Office.

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*Indians in particular are refreshingly frank in other ways.  One former co-worker of my husband’s, for instance, wasn’t shy to express her fascination with Ayn Rand at a meeting.  If she’d only knew how many taboos she’s breaking…

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August 14, 2015

Ukraine: You Can Take A “Republic” out of The Soviet Union…

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 9:41 am

Ukraine’s been off the headlines lately,* which is exactly how Vladimir Putin wants it.  Not because he’s prepping a major invasion but because he’s counting on a steady deterioration of normal life, and Ukrainians are his best allies in that endeavor.

In the year and a half since the ouster of Yanukovich, the country’s economy crumbled and the Soviet mentality asserted itself.  I’m not just talking about the Novorossia faithful, who imagine themselves refighting the Great Patriotic War,  but the fire-breathing nationalists and the scarredy population.

Since the ouster Ukraine went through several bouts of political repression aimed at dissociating itself from Russia.  Ukraine was formed as a result of confrontation between Russia and Poland and the periodic take over the land from Poland (and the Ottomans) by Russian Empire.  Throughout the 20th century ethnic Ukrainians contributed their talents to Soviet life and culture, which was, in broad terms, Russian life and culture.  The break up of the Soviet Union left Ukrainian state in search for its own identity, something they are now executing in the best Soviet traditions.

Ukraine went through bouts of censorship, banning Russian TV channels and airing of Russian miniseries and film and establishing the ministry of truth to comb through Ukrainian programming. To “combat separatism”, Ukraine banned several publications including one titled Russian Rock and several that had the word “Russian” in it and were dedicated to pedagogy.  Presumably all, at one time or another, included Russian nationalist materials of sorts.

Then there is the law concerning “everyday” separatism, a thoughtcrime punishable by 7-12 years of penitentiary. SBU (former KGB) organized what they call an “information campaign” throughout the South-East urging their countrymen to turn each other in in case they “see something” or “hear something”.  Ukrianian media laughed: Russians are “standing on their ears”, but Ukrainians don’t snitch; they just need to be informed about the consequences.

This poster in Kharkov urges citizens to turn each other in for “everyday separatism”, a crime involving desecration of national symbols or awaiting the return of the “Russian world”

At the time this was happening American Libertarians were concerned with the fate of Ukrainian journalist avoiding draft.

What made the most noise in the West, deservingly, was the law banning communist and the Nazi ideology and symbolism, while simultaneously forbidding the questioning of the legacy of “fighters for Ukrainian statehood”.  The “fighters” in question being, notably, the Ukrainian Nazis of OUN-UPA.  OUN was a standard-issue Fascist organization which originated in the 1920’s and went on to collaborate with the Nazis, participating in the Holocaust and incineration of Belorussian villages.  Their greatest crime against humanity, however, was the massacre of ethnic Poles in Volynya and Galicia.

For reasons mysterious to this blogger Western journalists keep inserting the bit about the UPA (or Banderovites, as they are known in Russian and Ukrainian) fighting both the Soviets and the Nazis in their reports.  I suspect that the journalists are simply lifting from each other’s pieces because most of the literature on the subject is in Russian, which makes it immediately suspect.  But here’s Marc Solonin, a Russian supporter of EuroMaidan, on how there is no reference whatsoever on Banderavites fighting the Wehrmacht.  To the contrary, Solonin says, Banderovites were nothing but obedient German lackeys, fascists and murderers.

Anyhow, the above-referenced Ukrainian law stipulates the removal of all Soviet symbols everywhere, including every red star.  Think Holden Caulfield.

That will pacify the fire-breathing nationalist, right?  Wrong.  The Right Sektor faithful, who always had a rather uneasy relationship with the establishment, marched on Kiev.  The reason behind the stand off was decidedly non-ideological; it followed the division of protection customs area in Zakarpatia, along Ukraine’s Western border.  At the time Zakarpatia governor Vasil Gubal opined that “The distribution of revenues from smuggling should proceed in accordance with the law”.

In the light of all that Poroshenko, who multiplied his wealth since taking the office, popped up in Wall Street Journal to remind us:

“We aren’t demanding that British, American or French soldiers come here and fight for us,” Mr. Poroshenko says. “We’re doing this ourselves, paying the most difficult price”—here his voice breaks momentarily—“the lives of my soldiers. We need just solidarity.”

What he meant by “solidarity” is lethal aid.  That he will need more loans co-signed by the US to keep the country afloat was left unmentioned.

The fact that many Ukrainian soldiers and militiamen paid with their life and limb for the war in the East should not be mistaken for resolve of the country as a whole.  I touched on the subject of Ukrainian draft dodging before; it’s massive. And yet with whatever forces both sides can mount, the war in Donbass can go on for a long time — and this is just like Putin.

At the same time, the war is not about the territorial status of Donbass, a run-down industrial region/buffer zone with an epic Soviet past.  Truth is, nobody needs Donbass, at least not in and of itself, which is why Kremlin signed of on it having a special autonomy status within Ukraine.  The southern port of Odessa, on the other hand, has strategic value.  This third largest Ukrainian city is a destination for our non-lethal military aid.  Its governor and fugitive former Georgia president Mikhail Saakashvili boasted that the US is paying the salaries of his team — the US immediately denied it.

Another problematic area is the highly nationalistic Galicia, or the three westernmost regions which contributed the majority of protesters to Maidan and vote enthusiastically in the post-Maidan elections.  The area is majority Catholic and its economy and culture is more integrated with Poland than the rest of the country.  So what’s the problem?  Russians insist, and I think they might be just right about it, that in the event that Ukraine will be denied EU membership, the area will demand independence, stressing their central European roots, and try to join the EU without the rest of the country.  A Galician autonomy demonstration did take place recently in Lviv.  Putin is known to support separatist movements everywhere.

Anyhow, in the interview above Poroshenko channeled neo-con:

Are you together with the barbarian or together with the Free World?

But Petenka, who are you calling a barbarian? I am a bit of a Rusophobe myself, and I can say lots of unpleasant things about Russia, but Afghan cave-dwellers Russians are not (and Porosh is no Bibi).

Beloved Russian actor Mikhail Tabakov (who is no tool, mind you) recently found himself in hot water after airing of his private telephone conversation in which he called Ukrainians “shabby”.  A song was immediately dedicated to the scandal (say what you want about Ruskies, but they know how to do sarcasm):

Tabakov was compelled to explain himself, and his explanation was by no means original.  Ukraine is cutting its cultural ties to Russia and, as a result, is risking to be left with nothing but peasant blouses.  Ukrainians are quite proud of their peasant blouses, actually; those became a symbol of independence.  In the days following the Maidan victory half the country paraded in peasant blouses.  At that very time Russia staged the closing ceremony of Sochi Olympics during which they flashed the portraits of famous Russians, many of them with ethnic and/or biographical connections to Ukraine.

A shot from Sochi closing ceremony. Front row middle portrait of Kiev-born Mihkail Bulgakov, far left — ethnic Ukrainian Vladimir Mayakovsky

This brings me back to the point about Ukrainians and Russian culture.  Ukraine is a large and diverse country — linguistic diversity only begins to describe it.  What ties together cities as different as Kharkov and Odessa is Russian high culture. And residual Stalinism.

How can Ukraine keep itself in one piece?  If they are lucky, they will get somebody like Pinochet; a dictator to usher in free market reforms, but I doubt this will happen.  Most likely they’ll experience petty oligarchs and petty tyrannies before getting back into Russia’s embrace.

OK, it took me about a month to finish this post (mom’s life) so Ukraine is back in news with speculations of a major DNR/LNR offensive.

August 6, 2015

Dedicated To The Second Republican Presidential Debate

Filed under: California, elections2016, politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:08 pm

Fellow Republicans, chose your poison.

On a different note, the septologist, observing the dandelions on the dead grass, asks: “Mommy, remember how you told me that if people water their lawns they will be fined?” Me: “Yes!” Septologist: “Well, do they use the money to get more water?”  An 8-year-old can run this state better than governor Brown.

August 3, 2015

Forget Cecil, Do You Know Anyone Who Touristed Spain?

Filed under: whatever — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:31 am

What kind of earth-shattering event could possibly force your humble hostess to interrupt her telling her readers what they don’t want to hear about Ukraine?  Why, a poacher killing a lion — because it makes for  pleasant smalltalk.

The twitter outrage over Cecil made me suspect that after SCOTUS established gay marriage and allowed foreigners to vote in the US elections, the Left is out of wish list items — but not of the zeal to punish.

On a positive side, the enviro-freaks are defending a large “magnificent” mammal, which they should not do if they properly and fully deconstruct the great chain of beings theory. Lions are valuable to humans because they are complex creatures and more like us than worms and catfish, but a committed environmentalist should see all species as equally important ecosystem inhibitors.

Behold the beauty of a single-cell organism!

My extended family has an unfortunate tradition of yearly Monterey Bay Aquarium reunions.  Me and DH already decided that the best aquarium is at Mandalay Bay in Vegas, and that the thing to do in Monterey is go to the Dennis the Menace playground, but, I guess, we still have to do Monterey Aquarium, observing exhibit after exhibit of jelly fish.  This year we endured the Aquarium’s lecture about the importance of jellies, about how these types of creatures is so wonderful because they are much more common than humans and, therefore, more representative of life on earth.  And, wouldn’t you like to know, there are so many jellies out there, many of them yet to be studied –if only Monterey researchers could get their hands on more money.  After the end of this dehumanizing ordeal we had to explain to the kids that there is nothing wrong with being rare, and that what makes man superior is his complexity and intelligence.

Because of our superiority to all other creatures, it’s incumbent on us to protect them, hence laws against poaching.  I find it hard to be outraged about the poor Cecil who, at least, died quickly when each year revelers from all over the world visit Spain where they feel obligated to observe corrida, a spectacle of a perfectly fine mammal slowly tortured to death.  Bovines are not endangered — things we eat usually aren’t because we find ways to manufacture more of them for our consumption — what bothers me is the pointless cruelty.

The motives of the Minnesota dentist are easy to discern, but why do tourists flock to bullfighting?  The sport might be traditional in the Iberian peninsula, but tourists don’t partake in or observe an authentic ritual. If that is the goal, they’d be better off eating tapas.

If women today can be persuaded to forgo childbearing to save the bugs of the Amazon forest, is there any surprise that we bleed large mammals to death for no discernible reason?

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