Herman I. May

Herman I. May


28 March 2006

Suspect Activism

An issue of potentially dire consequenses is brewing in our local megalopolous. Students have been skipping classes for the past two days in "protest" of pending Congressional legislation.

These protests were rather tame, yesterday, with a rather modest number of teens walking out of class during second period and converging downtown at City Hall. Today, however, things took a much more serious turn when some of the miscreants began spalshing about in the reflecting pool in front of the municipal government building and "invaded" building itself; running up and down the hallways, pounding on doors.

It would appear these hooligans do not understand the concept of peaceful, non-violent protest. Actions such as those exhibited today do not project any legitimacy to the cause and definitely do not contribute to the fostering of support. Quite the contrary, these kids are simply reinforcing the opinion that the legislation is contention is rooted in a legitimate concern for the intentions of the target group.

A few of the more dedicated student protesters have been interviewed by members of the local press. Almost without exception, their arguments are lacking in merit. The target of some of their most strident comments is the tired and erroneous impression that illegal immigrants are willing to take jobs that the average American is not. The truth is that the native born population is loathe to take some of these jobs because they do not pay a living wage. Companies — whether large corporations or local contractors — have fought legislated increases in the minimum wage tooth-and-nail. For the average worker, the current wage, at $5.15/hour, would represent an average annual income of $10,712/year (this assumes an 8-hour day; 40-hour work week with no overtime and no time off).

Almost everyone wants a family; a unit defined as a couple and at least two children. HHS guidelines establish the poverty line for a family of four to be $19,320/year. Thus, for this hypothetical family of four, both parents would have to work full-time in order to barely exceed the threshold. This level of income would exclude expenditures for anything but the very basics of food, clothing and shelter. There would be no higher education savings; no health savings; no retirement savings; no reliable, personal transportation options. People do not want these jobs, because they cannot survive on the meager income; they cannot better themselves; they cannnot strive for the "American Dream".

Who will take these jobs? The single; the desperate; and those here illegally! The latter category is particularly applicable to this situation. Sure they work hard, but they keep their mouths shut about their meager incomes for fear of being discovered and deported. Most work two jobs and/or overtime six or seven days a week and still manage to only just get by.

I digress, but do so to make the point that the capitalist economy of the United States drives the so-called need for those to fill these positions "Americans don't want." Require employers to pay a decent living wage, provide benefits for full-time, loyal employees and sacrifice a little of their capitalist greed and more of the indigent population will takes these jobs. That excuse by both the illegals and those acting on their behalf rings hollow. Effort should be expended to mandate better pay and benefits.

Back to the students...

Many lament the ill treatment they perceive. They do not like that their parents and relatives are seen as criminals; they argue that the Unites Sttates was built on the backs of immigrants. The latter is true and the former specious. The United States was built on the backs of immigrants ...and indentured servants ...and African slaves, but these immigrants came to our shores and crossed our borders legally. They applied for admission and,, for the most part, were granted that entrance. The individuals and issues the legislation is meant to address are not here legally. They crossed in the dark of night, without proper authorization and now expect to given equal consideration with those who have followed our immigration rules.

This concept of amnesty is a joke. Our government offered a similar program back in 1986. Millions, mostly illegal Latinos, were granted amnesty with the thought that it would be too costly to round them up and send them back. We were assured that the borders would be more closely watched and a similar situation would not occur in the future. Here we are, twenty years later and the situation is unchanges — nay, it is worse. The Reagan amnesty gave instant legalization to around 2.7 illegal immigrants of mostly Spanish speaking origin. By contrast, the Bush proposal would grant the same prize to over fifteen million illegal aliens — enough to populate fifteen cities the size of Dallas.

Finally, there is the act of skipping school itself. Protest or not, legitimate cause or not, it is illegal to be truant from classes. DISD administrators have indicated they will give the skipping students an unexcused absence. More coddling. Cite all of the scofflaws and require them to appear in truant court. Make a note in their permanent record. Make them realize that there are legal means at their disposal for civil protest — like those being planned for 09 April.

Personally, I am a bit elated to see that Republicans and Democrats alike seem somewhat united in opposing this Bush initiative. W has spent his so-called "political capital". More accurately, he has squandered it. It is good to see that even members of his own party see this and are willing to act against a bad idea.

To the students: Get your asses back in school and try to learn the basics of critical thought and how to apply it to your own existence.

24 March 2006


An article appeared in Tuesday's DMN, which had the potential of creating quite a stir in ecclesiastical circles. Scientific analysis has disproved the event as a miracle and local news coverage appears to have been misleading — no surprise there.

Apparently, a child in a local parish was administered a host which was subsequently spit out. (Is that not sacrilegious?) For some unknown and arguably fraudulent reason, the unleavened bread was placed in a glass of water. It was later seen to have turned red and taken on the appearance of a "blood clot". The unscrupulous (or is it incompetent) local media outlets reported the story, but gave the impression that the event occurred this past weekend — not explicitly mind you, but implicitly by not supplying a contextual timeframe. The misunderstanding was similarly disseminated by other religious dialects.

The diocese had the host tested by researchers at the University of Dallas and found it to be nothing more than "a combination of fungal mycelia and bacterial colonies that have been incubated within the aquatic environment." Furthermore, the same posting indicates that the glass of water had been sitting about in the chancery(?) for around a month!

It would appear that the parish priest was simply looking for a sensational news story to bring attention to his congregation.

20 March 2006

Charitable Hubris

Two recent experiences have simply reinforced my belief that many people are simply petty whiners in search of personal gain and reward at all costs. In both cases, an individual has admonished a relative or friend for selling something at a profit and not sharing the fruits of that sale with the giver. To me, that represents the ultimate in gratuitous greed.

The latest example stems from a recent advise column appearing in a local paper. An individual wrote in search of advice about a relationship issue with a friend. In the missive, the author relates the story of a recent home sale. The property was placed on the market. Within a very short time, an offer was made which was very near or, perhaps, below the asking price. A "friend" and confidant was consulted, who suggested waiting a few months as the market was due to improve and the seller was likely to be able to realize a greater profit.

Several months did pass and the property was eventually sold for a greatly higher amount. When this information was relayed to the individual from whom advice had been sought, the latter had the audacity to suggest that they were entitled to a portion of the greater realized profit due to the fact that it had been their recommendation which had led to the increased margin. This was assumed to be a joke at first, but subsequent references of a right to the perceived commission and off-handed comments to mutual friends led to concern and guilt on the part of the correspondent.

A second instance of this sour-grape mentality was manifest in a potential dealing of a personal nature. I was invited by a relative to discuss the prospect of purchasing a plot of land which had been in the family for a great deal of time. The terms never really ever approached a point at which I would be willing to give serious consideration to the prospect, but an anecdote surfaced which gave me pause for serious concern.

During the course of discussing the particulars, it was mentioned that one member of the selling partnership experienced a similar family related distribution of property. In that case, it was an inheritance issue and some cousins had come to own some land as the result of a bequest. Though they welcomed the gift and were appreciative of the legacy, they really had no use for it. Within a short period of time, this relation had decided to place the parcel of land on the market. It sold and they realized a healthy profit from the sale. Trouble then eruppted from the branch of the family who had distributed the gift to the cousin.

Rather than being happy for this individual, the originating family became incensed. How could this cousin sell family land given as a gift? Even more astounding, some members of the family were of the opinion that this cousin should share the realized profits from the sale of the land.

Both of these examples reflect a sinister undertone in our society. The idea of the "American Dream" has so corrupted our lifestyle that some are easily led to entertaain the destruction of family ties and lengthy friendships in the name of financial reward. A note to the reader: Once you voluntarily part with a piece of property — whether it be a gift, a sale or intelectual iin nature — you no longer havve any legitimate claim to it of any future (or immediate) benefit it may bring to the new owner. Be happy for their good fortune and savvy; do not let the green beast cloud your judgement.

09 March 2006


We are often informed that ignorance of the law is no excuse. My response has long been to ask about which law is being referenced. A recent exchange on a mailing list to which I am subscribed led me to the conclusion that many are ignorant of the laws of physics and reality.

The discussion centered on the subject of some props for an upcoming event. A subordinate member of the group was lamenting that they had only recently been informed that a pair of full-size, 1:1 scenery elements would be required. The interlocutor was conveying the specifications and mentioned that the constructs were to be two-dimensional. This immediately conveyed that they needed only be flat or silhouette representations. Though technically as misnomer, we all knew what the requirements would be.

Within moments, the director of this production responded, in part, with the following:

"Just to clarify: the requested [props] are not 2-dimensional. They are 1-dimensional cut-outs..."

The mind boggles at the task of trying to even comprehend how a one-dimensional object would appear. Technically, nothing can exist in only two dimensions; defined as having length and width, but not depth. Everything, no matter how negligible the thickness, has three dimensions of length, width and depth. A line drawing on a piece of paper exists in the third element of its depth below the surface ((if drawn with a pencil) or its height above the plane (if drawn with a pen).

A strand of hair comes closest to a one-dimensional existence. The novice thinker may consider it so as it would appear to have only length. Nevertheless it is a cylinder and, as such, has width and depth as well. The rules of fractals. Even in today's realm of fundamentalist religious ideologues, those incapable of critical thought are not so ignorant as to proclaim that an object as large as, say, an automobile could exist in anything but two or more dimensions — even when represented as a full-size silhouette!

07 March 2006


Another primary election season has arrived. Once again, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to recognizing ballot casting for the election of officials who will represent the populace in public office as a required duty.

Stopping by the polling station on my way home this evening, I was little surprised to find fewer than a handful of voters. The Secretary of State has estimated an overall voter turnout of around 13% statewide. Upon placing my ballot in the recorder, the ticker incremented to the number "61". Perusing the early voting records for my precinct revealed that only two individuals from precinct 2104 cast ballots. Combined with the number on the ballot box would suggest that only 64 of the thousands (5096 according to 2000 census data) of registered voters bothered to execute their civic duty today.

Always astounding to me is that those who seem to whine the most about the conduct or quality of representation seem to be among those least likely to bother to vote in the first place.


continue to the January 2006 archive

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last BBEdited: 2006.04.27