Monday, September 06, 2010

The Latest Outrage Against Arizona And America

The latest betrayal of the nation came with the State Department’s submission of its “Report to the UN Council on Human Rights” on August 27. In this document, the Administration attempts to make the case that its opposition to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 constitutes an effort to restore human rights in the Grand Canyon State. Conversely, the effort by Arizona to stem the invasion of illegal aliens from Mexico must be presumed as an infringement and abuse of those rights.

Reality has long ago been driven far from the entire illegal immigration debate. Whereas throughout the rest of the world, flagrant and horrific abuses of human rights have occurred against oppressed citizens at the hands of their own imperious governments, which have often forcibly and violently prevented them from escaping from their control, the ostensible “victims” of the Arizona law are attempting to unlawfully enter and remain within the purview of this nation, facing at worst, the potential for eviction from its borders.

In the Administration’s despicable world, America is no longer a nation with legal boundaries, put in place to preserve and protect its assets and its culture for the ultimate service of its own citizens. Instead, it is merely an accumulation of ill gotten material wealth, which should be rightly distributed amongst those who covet a portion of it. To deny anything to such people, on any basis is, in the thinking of Obama and his leftist minions, to violate their “rights.”

Nowhere in this discussion is any consideration given to the fact that each fragment of America being doled out to an illegal invader was first produced though the toil and industry of the people of the nation. Obama’s “compassion” and “generosity” amount to a pillaging of those resources from the people who forged and built the nation and now seek to pass its blessings on to their posterity.

Efforts by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to protect the lives and property of the good people of her state are, in reality, no infringement whatsoever on the “human rights” of law abiding people. And in fact, they are the surest guarantee that all future legal citizens of Arizona, or any state in this nation, whether immigrant or natural born, will benefit from the opportunity to thrive and flourish in a safe and wholesome society, free of the encroaching dangers of a burgeoning subculture with neither a reverence for its heritage nor a concern for its future.

In contrast, the Administration’s latest betrayal of Arizona and the United States is not the behavior of a sincere patriot who holds any serious regard for his oath of office. Rather it is the sordid conduct of a committed leftist and his political minions who maintain no allegiance to the nation or respect for its institutions and integrity, and who regularly demonstrate their intentions to undermine and ultimately eradicate it.

By now it has become grimly obvious that their despicable actions will continue unabated until “We the People” decide that we have had enough, and correct the mistake of ever having so cavalierly allowed such unworthy and malignant individuals access to the hallowed reins of power.


Anti-men tirade

No comment on hesitant women drivers wasting fuel, apparently

Men waste more than $3,000 in fuel costs because they refuse to ask for directions when lost, according to a British study released as motorists across the U.S. prepare to load up their cars for the long Labor Day weekend.

The research, commissioned by British insurance company Sheila's Wheels, revealed that male drivers travel 276 unnecessary miles each year because they stubbornly reject help when lost.

In what might not be shocking news for female passengers, the survey found that more than a quarter of men polled said they would wait at least half an hour before asking for directions when lost. One in 10 male drivers refuses to ask a stranger for help at all, the survey found.

The survey suggested that "lost drive time could cost as much as 2,000 pounds [just over $3,000 at current exchange rates]" in gas in a driver's lifetime.

The survey results also found that three-quarters of women polled had no problem with asking for directions. "Men aren't quite as confident behind the wheel as they make out when it comes to navigation," said Jacky Brown, a Sheila's Wheels representative.


Age discrimination in Silicon Valley

It would be amusing to see somebody trying to prosecute this. "Disproportionality" could easily be proved

An interesting paradox in the technology world is that there is both a shortage and a surplus of engineers in the United States. Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What gives?

The harsh reality is that in the tech world, companies prefer to hire young, inexperienced, engineers.

And engineering is an “up or out” profession: you either move up the ladder or face unemployment. This is not something that tech executives publicly admit, because they fear being sued for age discrimination, but everyone knows that this is the way things are. Why would any company hire a computer programmer with the wrong skills for a salary of $150,000, when it can hire a fresh graduate—with no skills—for around $60,000?

Even if it spends a month training the younger worker, the company is still far ahead. The young understand new technologies better than the old do, and are like a clean slate: they will rapidly learn the latest coding methods and techniques, and they don’t carry any “technology baggage”. As well, the older worker likely has a family and needs to leave by 6 pm, whereas the young can pull all-nighters.

At least, that’s how the thinking goes in the tech industry.

In their book Chips and Change, Professors Clair Brown and Greg Linden, of the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics and census data for the semiconductor industry and found that salaries increased dramatically for engineers during their 30s but that these increases slowed after the age of 40. At greater ages still, salaries started dropping, dependent on the level of education. After 50, the mean salary of engineers was lower—by 17% for those with bachelors degrees, and by 14% for those with masters degrees and PhDs—than the salary of those younger than 50.

Curiously, Brown and Linden also found that salary increases for holders of postgraduate degrees were always lower than increases for those with bachelor’s degrees (in other words, even PhD degrees didn’t provide long-term job protection). It’s not much different in the software/internet industry. If anything, things in these fast-moving industries are much worse for older workers.

For tech startups, it usually boils down to cost: most can’t even afford to pay $60K salaries, so they look for motivated, young software developers who will accept minimum wage in return for equity ownership and the opportunity to build their careers.

Companies like Zoho can afford to pay market salaries, but can’t find the experienced workers they need. In 2006, Zoho’s CEO, Sridhar Vembu, initiated an experiment to hire 17-year-olds directly out of high school. He found that within two years, the work performance of these recruits was indistinguishable from that of their college-educated peers. Some ended up becoming superstar software developers.

Companies such as Microsoft say that they try to maintain a balance but that it isn’t easy. An old friend, David Vaskevitch, who was Senior Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer at Microsoft, told me in 2008 that he believes that younger workers have more energy and are sometimes more creative. But there is a lot they don’t know and can’t know until they gain experience. So Microsoft aggressively recruits for fresh talent on university campuses and for highly experienced engineers from within the industry, one not at the expense of the other.

David acknowledged that the vast majority of new Microsoft employees are young, but said that this is so because older workers tend to go into more senior jobs and there are fewer of those positions to begin with. It was all about hiring the best and brightest, he said; age and nationality are not important.

So whether we like it or not, it’s a tough industry. I know that some techies will take offense at what I have to say, but here is my advice to those whose hair is beginning to grey:

1. Move up the ladder into management, architecture, or design; switch to sales or product management; or jump ship and become an entrepreneur (old guys have a huge advantage in the startup world). Build skills that are more valuable to your company, and take positions that can’t be filled by entry-level workers.

2. If you’re going to stay in programming, realize that the deck is stacked against you. Even though you may be highly experienced and wise, employers aren’t willing or able to pay an experienced worker twice or thrice what an entry-level worker earns. Save as much as you can when you’re in your 30s and 40s and be prepared to earn less as you gain experience.

3. Keep your skills current. This means keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in computing, programming techniques, and languages, and adapting to change. To be writing code for a living when you’re 50, you will need to be a rock-star developer and be able to out-code the new kids on the block.

My advice to managers is to consider the value of the experience that the techies bring. With age frequently come wisdom and abilities to follow direction, mentor, and lead. Older workers also tend to be more pragmatic and loyal, and to know the importance of being team players. And ego and arrogance usually fade with age. During my tech days, I hired several programmers who were over 50. They were the steadiest performers and stayed with me through the most difficult times.

Finally, I don’t know of any university, including the ones I teach at, that tells its engineering students what to expect in the long term or how to manage their technical careers. Perhaps it is time to let students know what lies ahead.


Scholar says West should treat radical Islam the way Byzantine generals did the Huns

We should use intelligence, not 18-year-olds, to fight terror, argues Edward Luttwak. There is something in that but the Byzantines are not a terribly good role model for a modern secular society. There were religious fanatics: Christian fanatics but fanatics all the same. So they had the courage of their convictions.

Lutwak's point about recognizing the enemy is however of central importance. The failure to recognize that hostility to the West is central to Islam is unbelievably stupid and blind to both the present and the past

The Byzantines brought three skills to their foreign policy: intelligence, diplomacy and military force. Their superiority in each kept the eastern half of the Roman Empire intact for a millennium after the famed legions of the West fell to invading barbarians.

Today, in the contemporary West, we don't even begin to approach the sophistication in these skills of Byzantium, later known as Constantinople and now Istanbul, according to Edward Luttwak, author of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire.

"The Romans had fought approximately 80 different foes in the process of [their] imperial expansion," Luttwak said from Washington this week, on the eve of attending the Creative Innovation conference in Melbourne. "And then came one more: the Huns. They had such superior weapons, such superior agility on the battlefield and rapid mobility across vast spaces . . . The Romans were completely outclassed."

But the Byzantines in their surviving Eastern Roman Empire figured out how to manage the Huns with skilful intelligence gathering and wily diplomacy.

The best historical sources on Attila the Hun are still those intelligence reports, Luttwak says. "Intelligence in the broadest sense. Not just counting how many spears the enemy has but knowing where he's from, how he dresses, what he eats, what frightens him, what he hopes for.

"Intelligence blinded by ideology cannot see. . . . You need to have an open mind and you need to have the freedom to call a spade a spade. They did and we can't."

Luttwak's scholarship is contested and his politically incorrect views may leave readers gasping. But there's something about his logic: in a jam, you don't want an idealist covering your back but a hard-nosed pragmatist.

The most obvious spade we can't name is Islam. We pussyfoot around motives for going to war. And we lack the intellectual curiosity that fuels serious intelligence gathering.

The lack of Arabic and Pashtun language skills in US intelligence, even as the US was leading the coalition into the Middle East after 9/11, is legend. Luttwak refers scathingly to Michael Scheuer, the bestselling author of Imperial Hubris, who headed the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden for three years, not knowing Arabic, not trying to learn it and not ordered to by his superiors.

This lack of professionalism, in all three spheres in which Byzantium excelled, is Luttwak's core message. A senior associate at the conservative Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, he has advised the White House, the State Department and all branches of the US military, and clearly relishes telling truth to power.

"Look at the casualty lists from Afghanistan," he says. "Some of the people who have been killed there are 18 years old, which means they went to Afghanistan with less than a year's training.

"A Byzantine general would be horrified by the idea of sending someone into combat with less than two years' training."

It's not a matter of resources, he says, but philosophy. The Byzantine empire went to war as a last resort, but when they did, they went with superior forces, not with cannon fodder, and with concrete goals: to preserve the tax-paying lands of empire and defend the Orthodox faith. Our philosophy, by contrast, is ideological.

"Why are we in Afghanistan? To bring democracy?" Luttwak asks rhetorically. "The US is spending $US7 billion [$7.7bn] a month doing things like funding the Afghan parliament. What has a frigging parliament got to do with Afghanistan? All the generals and statesmen who make these wars are slaves of words and concepts. The Byzantines fought for real things, not to save this or liberate that. Their soldiers were skilled craftsmen of war, and you cannot be skilled craftsman of war if you are an 18-year-old boy."

Phew. Mostly, Luttwak seems to think we should keep our noses out of other people's business. And we should think very carefully before we blunder in. He uses the example of Americans arriving to save Europe during World War II, and the speed with which they called up millions of men, gave them "shake and break" training, and sent them off to fight.

The Byzantines would have sat down and said: "Hitler's not very nice guy but, after all, if we defeat him with the Soviet Union, the next thing will be a conflict with the Soviet Union. So we should just take him down several pegs first, make sure these real bad guys get replaced by good German army people, and then we'll wean them off some of the more embarrassing things." Then "you call in your army chiefs and say, 'How long would it take you to get the army ready to go over to Europe?' and they will say, 'For proper training we'll need 18 months' ."

But what about the Holocaust? You can't take a long-term view when that is in train.

"But, as you know, they [the US] did nothing about that," he replies without missing a beat. "What interrupted the Holocaust was the advance of the Russians. And the Russians advanced because they were counter-fighting. They had been attacked first.

"The Holocaust should have been a reason to go to war. I'm Jewish myself, I would have been very happy if it had been interrupted. But it was not even attempted."

Luttwak was born in Romania in 1940. The family fled while he was a toddler and fetched up in Italy, where the battled-scarred environment moved him not to play soldiers, he says, but to wonder about the causes of war, the conditions for peace.

"I wanted to look at who were the really good practitioners, and they were the Romans, the Byzantines and the Mongols. Everybody else was second league."

He studied at the London School of Economics, then earned a doctorate in Roman Empire strategy at Johns Hopkins University. Next he tackled Byzantine strategy.

Post-Enlightenment prejudice against Byzantium, a society permeated with religiosity, was so intense that scholars had barely touched it. Instead of the organised wealth of primary sources he was used to, Luttwak had to hunt down documents and often translate them himself (he is fluently multilingual). His studies reinforced an uncompromising view of the world.

He says the Rwandan genocide could easily have been stopped if the world had had the will.

"All you had to do was fly in 3000 European troops," he says. "Not UN troops in their baby-blue berets standing around watching while the massacres take place. Combat troops, and you tell them to kill any Hutus they see carrying machetes. And Sudan -- which is a cardboard government with a cardboard army and jellybaby influence -- has killed at least 200,000 people in Darfur. But nobody has gone in, knocked off the Sudanese, and stopped it cold."

Which brings us to Luttwak's view of Islam. He pays no lip service to the idea of Islam as a religion of peace: it has been militaristic from the outset.

"We are actually fighting Islam exactly as the Muslims say we are, but we pretend we are not," he says. "If you take Islam out of the picture in Afghanistan, who would you be fighting? Politically, militarily, or culturally, absolutely nobody."

What we have created in Afghanistan, he says, is a cargo cult. "All you have to do, if you have a really tin-pot no-good nuisance country, is get a few men together, get them to wear long beards and go round saying death to everybody, and next thing you know the Americans will come and build schools and hospitals for you. And they will give you lots of money so you can build all the villas that are going up in Kabul and stash money in Swiss banks."

The reality, he says, is that we ought to be fighting Islamism. "But we should be doing it Byzantine way: by staying out of their territory, securing our own and leaving them to fight each other. Instead of going in to your neighbour's garden to straighten up his weeds, look to your own garden."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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