Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina - Many Americans need help

The Picture Says It All, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Thousands are feared dead

The world reacts in different ways

And relief is on the way

Everyone can help through, some avenues that you may wish to use are:

American Red Cross

Relief Online

Catholic Charities

My heart and prayers goes out to all who are suffering.

UPDATE: World Aid is being offered and accepted.

Posted by mightymerk, 12:06 PM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Saga of America's border with Mexico - Part I

This is Part I of a two part post that discusses the American - Mexican border and the controversies that have surrounded it.

I have posted two different times concerning 'contemporary' issues concerning America's border with Mexico - A bad answer to a big problem and Mexico's Self Help Guide.

The problem with America's border to Mexico is now reaching critical mass. Millions of illegal immimgrants are crossing our borders each year. Though it is clear most are just looking for opportunity to put in an honest days work and earn an income that will provide for their families, more sinister infractions ( a rise in crime and drug traffic) is now becoming a alarming biproduct of having such loose borders.

Now I do not want to address the 'current' issue as it is being written about and addressed by media outlets and individuals fairly extensively. Rather, I want to expand the current 'border problem' by looking at the history of the border and why it has been so kinetic for over 150 years. At different times a place of opportunity, oppression, violence and cultural mixing.

A History:

Historians may dispute what the cause of the Mexican War was. Some blame it on Mexico's intention to stop secession of the Republic of Texas while others believe it was pure 'land grab' by the United States.

President Polk in his diary confides this (referring to the intent of the war):

"to acquire for the United States — California, New Mexico and perhaps some other of the northern provinces of Mexico."

and later when it was won...

"There will be added to the United States an immense empire, the value of which 20 years hence it would be difficult to calculate."

Nine days later prospectors struck gold in California. ∑

The Mexican and U.S. governments agreed upon the exact location of the border with the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty in 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. Prior to any 'border' there had been Native American communities established in the same areas between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The eastern region of the border, the Rio Grande, was regarded as more hospitable and became a focus of development as many towns grew in this area. Often times these 'towns folk' had a stronger Mexican identity then an American one. The Rio Grande, which constitutes more then half of the border, is in effect its own symbol of separation. It was the capital and mercantile enriched U.S. cattle barons from the East and Midwest that came to dominate the landscape after the Mexican-American war. U.S. - Mexican trade was dominated by these barons, the spoils being that they began to acquire large tracts of land in Texas. By default, the earlier Mexican and Spanish settlers were put in a position of being oppressed (more or less) and large cultural and economic divides began to form.

With the Mexican Revolution of 1910, brought an increase in the border population as many moved their to seek refuge. American economic recession brought a wave of violence with it as efforts were made to push immigrants back to Mexico. Between 1914-1915 a "winter of violence" was exprienced as Texas border patrol agents hunted down and murdered Mexicans crossing the border at this time. †

The Great Depression of the 1930's served as another example of worsened economic conditions leading to the deportation of thousands of immigrants.

The inconsistent policy and enforcement of the borders continued through the latter half of the 20th century. As it directly pertained to the United States, the 1965 INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) laid early groundwork for the mass immigration (legal and otherwise) that we are seeing today. This was done because the INA created a 7-category preference system for relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent resident alients and for those with special occupational skills needed in America. It also established a category of immigrants not limited in to numerical restrictions (parents spouses and children of U.S. citizens). This is the core portion of the law that ultimately led to more immigration from Meixico and its southern neighbors. The decade between 1980 and 1990 became the second-highest in terms of immigration, some 8 millions most coming from Latin America and Asia.π

In 1986 Congress passed the Reagan Immigration Reform and Control Act, on one hand making it a crime for an employer to hire anyone 'knowingly' in the United States illegally, but it also granted amnesty to all existing illegal aliens within the country. This created more problems, rather then solving them, as former illegal workers left their lower paying jobs they had previously filled, which created new gaps in employment, and further a new need for cheap labor (from illegal immigrants) would need to be satisfied (one way or the other).

After signing the law, President Reagen would go on to say:

"This country has lost control of its borders. No country can do that and survive."

End of Part I

As demonstrated, America's border with Mexico has been far from 'settled' throughout its history. Though the concerns and controversies have varied throughout the years, one things is certain, the issue at hand today is a biproduct from the history.

In Part II I look to review the more positive aspects of the American-Mexico border and the contributions made by the settlers on both sides.


Posted by mightymerk, 4:18 AM | link | (1) comments |

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Summber Break!!

Vacation Time!!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

When you start to draw pictures like the one i did is time for a break!!
Actually I am on a planned holiday and don't expect to post or be on the computer much unless we get rain.

Stay Strong!!

Posted by mightymerk, 8:02 PM | link | (0) comments |

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Duct Tape - The Silver Savior of our Lives

Not a large part of the NASA budget, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Many of us by now have heard about if not seen, Discovery astronaut Stephen Robinson rip out two pieces of filler that were dangling from the space shuttle's belly. There was concern that the filler mighty potentially overheat during re-entry and lead to another Columbia-type disaster. As know now, the mission was successful, and although the space-walk itself is a generally grand undertaking, the actual operation was completed in just a matter of moments.

There was an aspect to the whole process that caught my attention and it had to do with the make-shift hacksaw that the Discovery engineers put together just in case the filler material were not to rip away too easily. The ideas was that they would saw through the material if needed. The device (pictured above) is that the near 'Star-Trek' looking device one mighty expect. In fact it is not even something you would see at the local hardware store.

Basically NASA put on its own version of 'Junkyard Wars' and crafted this fine hacksaw out of several materials, the most important (and conspicuous) being the very liberal application of Duct Tape. That caught my eye and my interest.

Duct Tape - History and Application

Duct Tape was first manufactured by the Johnson and Johnson Permacel division in 1942.
It is originally referred to as "Duck Tape", not only because it was waterproof, but also because it was made from cotton duck, similar to what is used in medical tape (sort of like its closest cousin in the tape family)
Its first use was to keep moisture out of the ammunition cases for the military but it wasn't long before military personnel discovered just how versatile this tape was and began to use it to fix their guns, jeeps, tents etc.
After World War II the tape color was changed from Army green to silver, as it better matched the heating and air conditioning ductwork it begant to hold together (its new use in the housing industry). It begant to be referred to as Duct Tape from this point on.

Duct tape is a strong tape that is composed of three layers. The top layer (1) is a resilient plastic (Polyethelyne). The bottom layer (3) is a rubber-based adhesive. The middle layer (2) is a fabric mesh. Duct tape was manufactured by pressing these three layers together. Now, some manufacturers have created a process that makes the same strong, three layer tape in just one step. While there are stronger tapes (like filament tape), duct tape, when doubled over onto itself can pull a 2000 lb. car out of a ditch, and has the distinct benefit of not requiring any other tools to cut it - you just rip it with your bare hands.

My personal feeling is that there are three guarantees in life:
You will die.
You will pay taxes.
And you will use duct tape.

I personally have used duct tape to repair fishing rods, hold carpet together, patch up the canvas roof on my parents car (very stylish), repair dings on my surfboard, and to repair a garden hose.

I even know someone who on occasstion will use duct tape instead of a band aid, or stitches (no joke).

If you want to check out some other funky uses for duct tape, check out these links:

Duct Tape Fashion - some wild looking fashion items made from the silver savior
Ductigami - The Art of the Tape (in paperback)
Duct Tape Guys - in a way...we are all Duct Tape Guys

Believe it or not there are fan clubs and annual contests and scholarships for Duct Tape and its uses.

I close by including the final quote I found on the web:

"One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop."
--G. Weilacher

WD-40....the other miracle household item.

Much of my source material was found here

Posted by mightymerk, 10:59 PM | link | (2) comments |