Saturday, March 25, 2006

This Land is Your Land

Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets all across the country yesterday to demand, essentially, that the United States abolish its border with Mexico so that anyone who wants to come into this country can do so. The logical outcome of an open border, of course, is a massive population shift of Mexicans into the U.S. with all the demands on public services that that entails.

Congress is considering bills that would make it a felony to be illegally in the United States, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border. The proposals have angered many Hispanics who believe it is their God-given right to live wherever they want.

We're curious as to why the sponsors of the bill wish to limit the fence to a mere third of the border. Run it the whole way, for heaven's sake. Good fences make good neighbors, we've been told.

One protestor, Malissa Greer, 29, who joined a crowd estimated by police to be at least 10,000 strong, was quoted as saying of the illegals: "They're here for the American Dream, God created all of us. He's not a God of the United States, he's a God of the world," whatever that has to do with anything.

In Georgia, activists said tens of thousands of workers did not show up at their jobs Friday after calls for a work stoppage to protest a bill passed by the Georgia House on Thursday. That bill, which has yet to gain Senate approval, would deny state services to adults living in the U.S. illegally and impose a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers from illegal immigrants.

Tens of thousands of Georgians apparently believe that illegal Mexicans have a legitimate claim to your wallet. They wouldn't put it that way, of course. They'd say that they're good for the economy because they do work that Americans won't do. That, however, is not the point. If we need them as workers then there should be a way of bringing them into the country in a lawful, orderly fashion.

In the meantime, if they're illegal they should be sent home and prevented from returning. If the administration doesn't soon provide some common sense leadership on this issue then Bush's approval numbers will continue their descent into political purgatory, and he'll deserve it.

More Clever Ads

No Left Turns, having pointed us to the way-cool beer commercial the other day, links us today to a couple of new car ads that are also cleverly done. For the first go here and follow the link. For the second go here.

You'll need your sound on.

You Are What You Eat

Here is scientific confirmation of what everybody already knew to be true:

Playing violent video games changes brain function and desensitizes chronic players to violence, according to a new study led by University of Michigan researchers. The study, to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, was conducted by Brad Bushman, a professor of psychology and communications studies and a faculty associate at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research; Bruce Bartholow, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia; and Marc Sestir at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Researchers asked 39 male undergraduates how often they played their five favorite video games, and how violent the games were. The researchers also assessed participants' irritability and aggressiveness, asking them how much they identified with statements such as: "I easily fly off the handle with those who don't listen or understand" and "If somebody hits me, I hit back."

The researchers outfitted participants with electrode caps to obtain EEG data, including the average amplitude of a particular type of brainwave, known as P300, which is believed to be an indicator of how people evaluate a stimulus, such as a photograph.

The researchers found participants who routinely played violent video games responded less to violent images, as measured by diminished P300 brainwaves. This was not true of their response to other, equally negative, nonviolent images.

Just as our body reflects what it is fed, so, too, does the brain. Feed the body fat, and it becomes fat (I know this from personal experience). Feed the brain violence, and it becomes violent, or at least more tolerant of violence. It's nice that science frequently just confirms common sense.

Is Polyamory in Our Future?

William Saletan, writing in Slate, doesn't think much of the argument that legalizing gay marriage will make polyamory (polygamy and group "love") inevitable. He states that human jealousy insures that such unions don't last, do not work, and that there will not be a large constituency for them.

His premises may all be correct, it may be true, for instance, that jealousy is an ineradicable human trait, but his conclusion that it would prevent people from wanting to form marriages between multiple partners simply doesn't follow. Just because certain kinds of unions are inherently unstable doesn't mean that people won't want to try them. It only takes a few people who wish to push the envelope, even if they themselves are not interested in a life-long commitment, to challenge the law. And when they do there will be no logical or legal justification for denying them the right to try to make the unorthodox arrangement work.

Another human trait is that people have a tendency to pull down every stop sign along the highway to total freedom, especially sexual freedom. People can be found who will try to do whatever they think they can do. Once the gender of those entering into marriage is no longer legally relevant there will be no justification for arbitrarily saying that the number of people entering into a marriage is legally relevant. Mr. Saletan is simply naive if he thinks that the human predisposition toward jealousy will insure that the law will not give way to logic.