Sunday, April 23, 2006

I am in Barcelona, Spain!

I am in Barcelona, Spain to attend the 2006 IEEE INFOCOM Conference. After arriving yesterday morning, flying redeye overnight from New York's JFK airport, I staggered to the hotel and showered. Then I picked up my camera and went on a walkabout to stay awake until evening so that I could sync to the local time, six hours ahead of what I'm used to in Maryland. I had a good time and sat and people-watched quite a bit, although after looking at the map this morning, I covered quite a bit of ground on foot. Barcelona is obviously a college town, with at least several universities in the area where I am staying. Interestingly, after gritting my teeth and listening for years to all the calumny against Pope Pius XII, the Princesa Sofia Hotel is located in ... Pope Pius XII Plaza! On the other hand, Spain is known as a Catholic country, or at least as Catholic as any country in Europe is. This afternoon I am attending a conference tutorial. Tomorrow will be the same and the actual conference begins on Tuesday. Before going to sleep last night, I channel surfed on the hotel television and I found CCTV Chinese state television, a Russian-language channel, an Iraqi station, a German-language station, BBC television, and even a couple of American stations (Conan O'Brien on CNBC and CNN). No Fox News Channel, alas. The Russian channel was televising some sort of Russian Orthodox procession. Having recently read the biography of Pope John Paul II by George Weigel, this interested me. According to Weigel, one of the principal goals of Pope John Paul the Great was to reunite the Catholic and Orthodox "lungs" of Christianity.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Immigration Rallies

I want to clarify my motivation for writing Cardinal Mahony about his grandstanding (hat tip to National Review) on the issue of illegal immigration and amnesty. I am annoyed about the propensity of a large percentage of the USCCB to change the subject from sexual assaults on minors by a small percentage of the Catholic clergy, and how it is exacerbated by their hesitation to root out tolerance of non-celibate behavior in some Catholic seminaries. Despicably, they would rather talk about immigration right now, just as they wanted to talk about other topics either unrelated to or directly opposed to that with which they should concern themselves. Examples of what their professional interests might include are orthodox Catholicism, loyalty to the Pope and loyalty to the Magisterium. For as long as I have been an adult, they have obsessed about other fashions, such as vocal support for the feckless nuclear freeze campaigns in the 1980s and often-vocal sympathy for idiotic liberation theology in the 1970s and 1980s. They make me want to shout at them: JUST DO YOUR JOBS!

And now about the immigration rallies: I am for legal immigration and but I am not necessarily opposed to blanket amnesty for aliens already in the country. There is an argument against amnesty that points out that illegal aliens overwhelm public services, including public education, fire, police, infrastructure, etc. But it seems logical to point out that if these people were no longer illegal, they would start paying taxes and the money for the infrastructure would soon appear. Another argument is that Mexican immigrants do not want to learn English, presumably affecting their ability or desire to assimilate into American culture. Based on my own experience – spending the first forty years of my life in the southwest United States – this is false. First generation Americans often never become proficient in English. But their kids do. And isn’t this what has happened with EVERY wave of immigration to the United States? According to my own reading of American history, the answer is “yes”. Another argument is that, even if they do learn English, this particular wave of immigrants will never assimilate. That was just as emphatically said about every other group of immigrants and it has never been true. Immigrants may or may not stick to the ethnic enclaves in the major cities but their kids have iPods and assume a distinctly American attitude mirroring every other group of kids moving through the school systems. And besides, take a look at the southwest United States: the Mexican culture is, in fact, assimilating just as all the others have. Just as Americans always have, we keep the stuff we like and we gradually abandon the stuff that isn’t so useful to us in the context of living in this country.

Forgive my usage of what has become cliché among engineers in a constantly changing technological world; but we, as a country, have to “evolve or die”.