Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I saw four things today that seem to me to be signs of the times. These are not things I spent all week gathering. These are today! Good grief.

In the first, a man named Mardin Azad Amin was arrested last week at O'Hare. There was something in Mr. Amin's bag that the TSA folks thought looked like a grenade. And, let's be honest. His name is Mardin Azad Amin. So TSA asked him what the thing was. Amin told them it was a bomb. He was promptly arrested. What was the thing really? A component from a penis pump. Why did Mr. Amin say that this was a bomb instead of saying what it was? Because his mom was nearby, and he didn't want her to know he was taking a penis pump to Turkey with him. Apparently in that family a bomb would be OK, but a sex toy would be waaaaay out of bounds. P.S. Mardin: she found out anyway, dumbass.

In another sign of the times, the United States has apparently ended a practice known as "catch-and-release." Analogizing people crossing the border to fish, the catch-and-release practice was to allow non-Mexicans caught sneaking into the United States while requiring them to show up for a hearing later. Naturally these people promptly disappeared into the United States without regard for their hearing date. In what is billed as "getting tough" but is really "applying common sense" these people will be detained until they can be returned to their home country. Don't get me wrong, I am a big critic of many of our immigration policies (see the May 2 post), but telling someone committing a crime, with no permanent U.S. address, and posting no bond, to show up for a hearing that will lead to their deportation is a better deal than even low-level criminals get. If you are going to bother to patrol the border, you can't just let people in this category walk away after you catch them. By the way, this change in practice is irrelevant to most Mexicans, since they are immediately returned to Mexico anyway. Oh, and by the way, 1,000,000 sneak across the border a year, according to the article. In six years the number of illegal aliens has risen by 3,500,000. Either (a) there is tremendous mortality among illegal immigrants, or (b) we are getting some repeat customers.

In a third sign of the times, apparently the new New Orleans telephone book was issued. Somewhere Navin Johnson is ecstatic. However, because New Orleans is still down roughly half of her population, the phone book is much smaller than it was. The article does an interesting analysis of the change in the sorts of ads that are thriving. "Antiques" are way down. "Roofing services" are way up. However, that is not so much the sign of the times as the fact that the "district sales manager" knob quoted in the article was somehow unable to turn off sales-lady mode for three seconds for a quote. She is quoted as saying "every single thing that people need to rebuild their lives is literally in that book." Yes, and if I let my fingers do the walking, I will find what I need. Jeez. Marketers never stop, do they?

In the last sign of the times, Japan has apparently proposed an Asian free trade zone, which would include Japan, India, Australia, China, and 12 others, including Malaysia and Thailand. What is interesting about this is the definition of "free trade." Japan just failed to move forward in the Doha round with some of these same countries. Also, do the Japanese really want duty free movement of goods between China and Japan? I am pretty sure they do not. Anyway, one sign of the times is unrealistic, grand trade proposals. See also Middle East Free Trade Area Initiative, Free Trade Area of the Americas.


Blogger Larry F. said...

This is sounding a lot like a work blog today.

2:46 PM  

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