Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The entryway into this cul d’ sac, the street consisting of carefully placed stones, creates an echo and magnifies any sound that bounces off of the cinderblock and cement, so that all of the daily residential business becomes heard no matter what. There is a tamale vendor that comes twice every day, once in the morning and once in the evening, driving a small car with a speaker mounted on the top. Slowly, the car rolls in and turns around, finally exiting from where it came.

"Tamales ricos, de elote, de carne, de chile verde!"

The voice is pre-recorded, a pleasant sounding young woman, announcing the offerings over and over again on a forever-looping cassette tape.

Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, no fewer than four propane trucks roll in, honking over and over again, the propane tanks rattling around as the vehicle bounces over the unevenness of the terrain. A tank of propane costs four hundred and twenty five pesos and will cost even more in no time at all. For fewer than fifty dollars, I have gas for a month, so every thirty days or so I step out of the door and flag a truck down.

Like most of the small houses in and around Tijuana, there is no outside access to the back of the house where the tanks are stored. I have a hand truck, the propane vendor uses that to get the new tank in and take the old tank out, so that the alternative method of rolling the tank at an angle won’t crack the ceramic tile in the house. He gives me a receipt, for no apparent reason. I keep the receipts, in case someone comes along and asks me for them.

It has been over sixteen years, and no one ever has.

* * * *

Whenever I visit someone in the United States of America, the relative lack of noise in the suburban neighborhoods there always amazes me. I have become accustomed to the noisy affairs of life down here, where only in the dead of night is it truly quiet. For over a decade of my time here, I lived up the hill from where I live now, sometimes I still miss it. I went back up the hill the other day, Rocio’s parents have lived there for over twenty years, and I went to see the old neighborhood.

Where we used to live a couple of houses down, the new residents have built a little store in front of the house. This is common in Tijuana and throughout Mexico, that in the sprawl of the larger cities, the convenience of a small shop a few yards away can generate money from neighbors that don’t mind spending a couple of pesos more to spare the longer walk or a taxi ride down the hill. City zoning is relaxed, and no one really minds. Besides, where is someone supposed to build a supermarket in the densely populated hillsides of Tijuana?

Infonavit Latinos isn’t unlike most of the government-built neighborhoods in Tijuana, designed to provide affordable housing to the working class. Condominiums are five stories high, while houses are either one or two stories, built compactly and snuggled next to each other in order to maximize space. Cinderblock is the building material of choice, and the roofs are made out of cement. This has the opposite effect that would be desirable in the climate of Northern Baja, it makes the inside of the dwelling extremely cold in the wintertime due to the lack of insulation, and hot as an oven in summer due to the heat-conductive qualities of the cement.

Still, no one complains much.

These dwelling are well constructed in some ways and poorly constructed in others – the basic structure is sound, but the details are shoddy and often times fail quickly. The contract to build a section of an infonavit is awarded to some engineering firm, and once that the basic designs are approved, the engineering company then subcontracts the construction to a low bidder. Many times, the low bidder will subcontract, and then the subcontractor will subcontract, and by the time the actual builders are awarded the deal, in order to make money corners are cut wherever possible. The wiring is often faulty and the electrical receptacles are cheap and there is only one per room; doors and windows are wracked and fail over time; and to save time and money, the waterlines actually run underneath the foundation which makes repair extremely difficult.

In a country where many still live without running water or electricity, even with their faults these houses and condominiums are more than adequate. And the progress over sixteen years has been quite remarkable. It used to be rare to find anyone with a telephone line and the entire system was analog, and inefficient. Now it is rare to know someone without a landline, much less cellular access. Six years ago, dial-up internet was a luxury, and now asymmetric digital subscriber lines are available everywhere except for the most remote areas of Baja.

Soon, housing tracts will be constructed with underground electrical and telephone lines. And while the infrastructure of the existing parts of Baja make it difficult to overcome the fact that, basically, the cities were never built to hold a population of their size, new additions are becoming modernized in terms of planning. Sewer systems are better, roads are more easily navigated, and freeways are being built in order to carry the explosion of vehicle-owning residents.

Baja will continue to become modernized, because it has to.

* * * *

Every day at around lunchtime, here in this cul d’ sac the same sound can be heard.


And waiting a few moments, just to listen and try and figure out whether what one just heard was real or imagined, the next thing that one would hear after a few moments:


The old man pushes his ice-cream cart into the bumpy stones, slowly and hopefully, like so many vendors that roam the Tijuana streets trying to make a living. Nieve means snow in Spanish, technically, but the man is selling ice cream and snow cones. Often, people go door to door and sell cheese, too, made at nearby ranches where sometimes an overabundance of dairy products are offered at a good price.

Sometimes, when I walk a couple of blocks to the store, I pass several other sellers that have set-up shop on a street corner. Elote is corn, the carts contain steamers and you can get some steamed corn on the cob, or the more popular way which is cut off of the cob into a disposable cup with butter and picante sauce and dry cotija cheese and a plastic spoon so you can eat it right there on the street.

There are always taco stands and hot dog carts and regardless of how many fast food franchises that appear in Baja, this gringo will always embrace whatever part of this place that can’t be ruined by its necessary progress. It isn’t about putting up with the sounds and noise of the neighborhood and the street vendors and so on, it’s about finding beauty in it, serenity from it, and meaning out of it.

So many years ago, when I first came to this place, before I learned Spanish and anything about Mexico, I would look out toward the Eastern Tijuana valley and wonder about all of the twinkling lights, contemplating the lives of everyone down there. I am part of it now, and it hit me the other evening about how maybe someone else is up there at night looking down on the twinkling lights, thinking about the people that live down below. Someone else is probably up there listening to similar sounds that I hear every day, looking out at night and wondering if we hear the same things down below.

We do, amigo. We do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rubber Hose

The elementary school that I once attended through the sixth grade, as that school was structured back then, still stands many decades later. It is called an academy now, which means that some of the innocence of grade school has probably been turned into something more serious, that the students who currently attend through the eighth grade are probably asked to achieve more lofty goals. Of course, there were no computers back then, no video games, and no cellular telephones. Us neighborhood kids had each other, and baseball and football and after-school recreational activities. And, seemingly, we all had a dog.

In order to keep our snot-nosed, rascally, energetic minds concentrating on all things other than mischief in the summertime, the school district used the local elementary schools to sponsor various events. I remember that they showed movies sometimes, and sold candy on the cheap for us to put into our mouths during the movie, to keep us quiet enough to listen to the films. I remember winning two cakes one Saturday at a charity carnival of sorts, in the cakewalk I got lucky for a quarter each time, my parents left wondering what we were going to do with all of that pastry. But mostly, I remember a dog show, the first dog show I ever attended, it seemed like there were hundreds of dogs there.

Our dog was just one of a lot of dogs.

* * * *

There are a lot of dogs here in Tijuana, too. Obviously, the dynamic is different here, so far as pets go, and especially so far as dogs go. Here, some dogs are family pets much as they are in the United States of America like when I grew up. But there are also derelicts, unwanted mangy mutts, along with packs that roam wild up in the hills just south of me. Here, dogs aren’t so much intentionally mistreated as they are irresponsibly abandoned.

You get used to it, or you leave this place after a while.

Cultural attitudes differ where dogs are concerned all over the world. I’ll never forget one incident when I lived near Los Angeles, and I worked in aerospace and somehow many of us mingled accidentally during lunch. The topic was about dogs for whatever reason, and I recall one young quality engineer who was going on and on about his house and his dog, and how big and beautiful his canine specimen was. Engineers and people who worked in quality control and inspection were exchanging stories, and he was claiming how superior his dog was to all others.

One Filipino, a good inspector with an extremely heavy Tagalog accent and a highly entertaining mischievous streak was listening intently, when the young engineer’s story finally ended.

"So, where do you live again? I mean, exactly?" the Filipino asked, while doing the best that he could to keep a straight face.

'Oh, I live in the..."

Our laughter cut the engineer off in the middle of his answer, and only then did he get the reference to Filipinos occasionally considering dogs as a food source.

While this is a funny account and was, in essence, nothing more than a humorous exchange, dog is indeed consumed in many parts of the world. In conversations that I’ve had with people over the years, North Americans are particularly disgusted by the thought of it, which I find amusing. In India, where cows are sacred, I have to wonder what they think about North Americans eating beef. Or like here, in Mexico, where there isn’t any part of the cow that goes to waste, and like in many Middle American and South American countries as well.

But I imagine that even in the Philippines the family dog is spared the rotisserie skewer.

* * * *

It happened when I was so very young that I can’t recall the exact account of how the dog came into our home. I only remember that he was found in the desert, or the high desert, or somewhere else that rabbits live, because I was told that he chased them down in order to survive. He was a miniature poodle, medium-sized and black and in his youth probably the quickest dog I’ve ever seen. I remember the first time I saw him as he tore through the front yard, nothing could catch him, and it really was quite an amazing sight.

My father wound up with him, and named him Tiger.

Tiger became the family dog rather quickly, he was smart, and he loved my father more than anything. But he loved my brother and me too, and he wasn’t very demanding. He would want to be let out back to do his business occasionally, and he was fairly efficient at it so far as dogs go, and when he was ready to come inside, he was patient, and sat at the door. Tiger rarely barked without a good reason - if that dog got loud, then there was something unusual going on.

My father took him to the vet at some point and had him neutered, in the best interest of everyone.

When we let Tiger out into the front yard, he never strayed into the street, he had a great sense of what boundaries we wanted for him. He regarded strangers cautiously, but respectfully, although when taunted he wouldn’t hesitate to nip at some moron who might pose a threat to him or his family. When everyone was in the living room watching television, Tiger was there. Not on the couch, but sitting on the floor with his chin resting comfortably upon the coffee table.

One summer’s day my brother and me told my father about a dog show at the school we both attended, that the summer program was going to give out ribbons to the winners in the various categories. And it was free. The next day after he came home from work, my father got out the shears and gave Tiger a nice trim, and the dog never looked more handsome. Saturday arrived, so off we went. We never even bothered to bring a leash.

On Saturday, disappointment came quickly. The ribbons were going like hotcakes at the church breakfast, and my brother and me were looking pretty screwed. The first thing that they did was to have us walk our dog in a circle, which, when my turn came, I did without any problem. Even without a leash, Tiger just kept to my right side, and calmly walked the circle twice, and we returned to our seat beneath an olive tree where he sat and watched.

All of the dogs on leashes, perky and curious, didn’t seem to interest him.

The judges then went around and measured noses and tails and so on. Then, any dogs that could perform tricks were invited to compete, and they did, and some of the tricks were amazing. Unfortunately, we never thought to teach Tiger to perform a trick, it never occurred to us. I comforted my little brother, I told him that at least it was something to do. The afternoon went on, it was hot but not too hot. The dogs panted sporadically, but through it all, Tiger just sat and took it all in.

The last of the ribbons were being awarded. Tiger performed no tricks. He didn’t have a short or long nose, a short or long tail, any short or long hair. We were coming to the realization that, regardless how we ever felt about him, there really wasn’t anything special about Tiger except that he was our dog, the family dog, and even part of the family. I remember coming to terms with that, and being happy for it, almost proud of it.

The last award to be given out was for best of show. I was sure that it would go to a certain spaniel that had learned the amazing capability to throw a dry piece of food off of its nose and into the air, and then catch it in its mouth upon command. And what a beautiful dog! Third place was announced, and that very spaniel took white, which surprised me because I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than that trick. Second place went to some other dog, but I knew that we had no real chance at winning anything once that the spaniel had secured third place.

I was so proud of Tiger that day. Most of the other dogs, even the talented spaniel, were constantly overly curious about each other, and they would have rather sniffed some canine ass than to do anything else. Tiger looked on as me and my brother looked at each other and shrugged, so I started to get up and leave as the last ribbon was going to be awarded, there were a lot of people there and I was ready to get a head start home. The amplified voice cut through my pre-pubescent thoughts.

"And first place, best of show... Tiger!"

Somewhere in all of this mess of mine that made it through the flash floods of my past, I probably still have that ribbon.

* * * *

Tiger lived on, through my awkward teenage years and into high school. He got old, went blind, and then deaf, and had to rely on his sense of smell after that. He used his nose in order to know when my father came home, and always went crazy when dad walked through the door. It was all that Tiger had to look forward to in the end.

Sometimes Tiger would lie sleeping and he dreamed as all dogs do, whimpering occasionally. I always imagined that he dreamed of chasing rabbits. He walked with his head on a swivel, in case his memory and sense of touch somehow deceived him, so that in case he ran into anything, he was prepared to defer to the static object in front of him. One day, I was eighteen. Other dogs and cats had come and gone, I had buried most of them in the backyard and thought nothing of it.

One morning, my father called me into the kitchen before he went to work.

"I can’t do it. Here’s some money, take him to the vet and have him put down, bury him out back."

I nodded. I knew. It was time.

I grabbed a shovel and went out back, found a spot I had never dug into, and went deep. Tiger wanted to be there, so I let him witness me digging his grave. If I was going to cry, it would have been at that moment, but I thought about how maybe the kindest thing that we could do was this. I was strong. I dug six feet down, and grabbed a cardboard box.

"Sorry, boy, but you’ll be so much better off," I remember telling him.

I threw the box in the back seat, and Tiger in the front, and I rolled down the window for him. We took off, and for the last time, Tiger enjoyed the wind on his face, sticking his head slightly out the window and letting the air fill his nose. The vet was fairly close by. I carried the dog and the box inside. The veterinarian appeared.

"If you want, and it would help me, you can come inside and hold him," he said.

I entered with Tiger in my arms, it was as if he knew, he was calm, happy, resigned. I stood him upon the metal table, and the vet wrapped a thin-diameter rubber hose around the upper portion of one of Tiger’s limbs. A small needle attached to a small syringe was injected below the rubber hose. The vet then quickly, with one deft motion and nimble twist of fingers, undid the rubber hose and Tiger fell instantly into my arms, lifeless, heavy, and gone.

One six-inch long section of thin rubber hose is sometimes all that stands between life and death, between childhood and adulthood, between hello and goodbye.

* * * *

I drove home quickly with Tiger's body in the box in the back seat and then laid him to rest. The soil, dark and still moist, was heavy on the shovel, and at the end I replanted the sod that I had so carefully carved out and set aside two hours before. I went for the garden hose and watered it all down in order to make it less obvious that I had planted my childhood deep into the ground behind the house that I grew up in.

That one goodbye taught me that life hangs by the thin thread of a rubber hose, but I was, and remain, grateful for the lesson.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Doomsday Paradox

"Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty."

- Plato

* * * *

It certainly is not unreasonable to presume that almost everyone on the planet desires to help humanity to have everything nicer than it is. Some people look to achieve this through producing art, others through living their life as an example of what a good human being should be like, and still others by means of charity or generosity at appropriate times and in appropriate measures. In the United States of America, every four years the majority of people satisfy this longing to make the world a better place by voting for the president of their country.

People really believe that by voting for their candidate, then the world will somehow change for the better; and for this reason, I think that humanity fails because it is probably destined to fail.

Slightly more than one percent of the entire population of the United States of America is currently incarcerated in some way, for some offense committed against its society. This statistic means that slightly more than one in every one hundred people are defective in some way, that their sensibilities stopped functioning at some point and they abused the liberties granted them by their society. These defective people were then turned over to a prison for rehabilitation, a process whereby other people who are equally defective can help them in some way to become not defective and, eventually, regain their sensibilities and return to enjoy the liberties that their society grants them.

Obviously, this almost always fails to work, but society still seems to want to believe that its current practice of incarcerating criminals is the best alternative available.

Concurrently, thousands of people board airliners every day and the sky is filled with large jets that carry people all over the place, and these planes mostly take off and land without incident. Failure of a passenger jet to take off and land properly is rare, and accidents are scrutinized regularly to keep defective flights within acceptable limits. Currently, only one in eleven million passengers will die in such circumstances of failed aviation, and people seem to be generally pleased with this statistic. Apparently, society is much better at defying the laws of gravity than at fixing its own defective units. It would be unheard of to allow one percent of people that fly to be involved in a defective aeronautical incident, but it seems perfectly acceptable that over one percent of society is in jail.

The illogic of this paradox suggests that perhaps a lot more than just one percent of society is defective in some way. And this is just one paradox and one type of paradox, and I am only considering the United States of America in this one example of this one type of paradox concerning paradoxes relating to humanity all over the world. But this one paradox reminds me that I am not here to present solutions, I am only here to try and see everything as clearly as I can and to report on it at infrequent intervals, in case someone wishes to understand what the problem really is. I can’t present solutions because I am not qualified to do so.

The Doomsday Argument supposes that all currently living human beings, given that they are existing in a random place in the linear timeline of the history and future of humanity, are in all probability near the center of the duration of humanity’s existence. Therefore, statistically, it can be assumed that the end of humanity can be calculated in some form, in order to predict the future. The Doomsday Argument does not take hardly anything else into account. It does not take into consideration such factors as nuclear weapons, the depletion of natural resources, economic collapse, mass starvation, genocide, or plague. The fact that the argument begins with the empirical observation concerning living human beings and ignores empirical evidence that would doom humanity regardless makes the Doomsday Argument a paradox.

Perhaps it should be called the Doomsday Paradox.

* * * *

I walked back from the market the other day - I had just entered the narrow alley fit only for one-way traffic, a skinny sidewalk on one side and a broader path that I took on the other side. In one hand I carried a bag full of almost five liters of bottled Tecate, in the other hand I toted eight dollars worth of ingredients for chicken cacciatore, and the sun was hot and the breeze felt good. Traffic was light, it was just before rush hour, otherwise I wouldn’t have heard the voice from behind me.


It was Anna, she had just passed by the alley in the taxi and noticed me from behind, then had the driver quickly stop, and was now chasing me as I turned and waited. She held out a hand as she approached, offering to take some of the burden off of me. Five liters of bottled beer gets heavy, even more so over the course of a couple of blocks.

"No, I’d rather carry all of it, both sides weigh about the same, so it’s easier to walk if my right and left sides are balanced," I told her.

She shrugged and then we walked together, the full-blooded gringo and the half-bred gringa, down the alley and cutting in through the pedestrian corridor that leads to the cul d’ sac and then to our front door, all the while explaining what chicken cacciatore is. Anna enjoyed the chicken Tetrazzini last week, so I figured that the cacciatore would be a nice balance, the tangy red sauce versus the cheesy white sauce. She often stops into the kitchen while I cook, watching mostly, asking questions sometimes, but enjoying her sense of smell whenever I lift pot lids for her.

"Balance," I told her when she asked about the chicken cacciatore.

Anna looked at me, awaiting an explanation.

"White cheese sauce, red tangy sauce," I told her.

I was thinking politically, too. Like, some sort of a balance of power, the Republicans and the Democrats, the Pristas and the Panistas, how you really couldn’t appreciate or understand one without the other. Anna didn’t much care at that point, she got busy downloading music into her ipod. Then, Dr. House came on television and we suddenly had something in common. We both wanted the patient to have lupus, but again, it never quite works out like we think it will.

Except that the chicken cacciatore was outstanding.

* * * *

Monday, I left later than I wanted to leave, and I hadn’t crossed the border into the United States in many months, I was reminded of how much I hate it almost immediately. In the taxi collectivo, the driver had the radio on loud and we all heard about the prison riots that happened the day before. People were calling in and giving their testimony, many civilians were apparently trapped in the madness. Mexican prisons are very unlike those in the United States of America.

Ironically, the taxi passed right by the penitentiary during all of the radio banter, and nothing seemed out of the norm.

Mexican prisons are like little cities, sometimes the family of the convict lives inside of the prison. If the convict’s family has money, then the convict can buy privileges, even a firearm. This seems surreal in comparison to other countries, but in Mexico it is something that everyone is aware of. No one seems happy about it, but since it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s life on the outside, it is something that is considered to be distastefully acceptable. Like prostitution, while it isn’t legal here, no one seems to care enough to try and eliminate it.

By the time I made it up to San Diego it was past noon, and I found Scott at our rendezvous point, reading the Los Angeles Times. We caught up, it had been a few months. He was wobbly from a bad encounter with some canned tomatoes that he had attempted to cook up in a rice cooker the night before, but he was recovering nicely. We spent some time inside of a nice Borders bookstore, and then walked the streets of downtown San Diego, we paused and I lit a cigarette. We chatted.

"Hey, Saints!" said a man dressed in a Steelers jersey, toting a backpack.

"I’m from New Orleans," he slurred in perfect Cajun, pointing at my hat.

"Really? What part?" asked Scott, smirking with amusement, politely engaging him for no apparent reason.

The drunk guy reached into his backpack while reminiscing with Scott about the Big Easy, and he unscrewed a new bottle of conspicuous looking wine and staggered noticeably.

"I asked my sister for a hundred dollars and she sent me two hundred. Fuck yeah. I’m waiting for my girlfriend so I can take her to the movies or something," he told us before pulling the first long drink from his bottle.

I made an excuse and we left him behind, drinking his bottle of wine on the sidewalk outside of the bookstore. Scott and me went west for no particular reason, and reached a corner and waited to cross the street. Then Greenpeace greeted us; I was assuming that they wanted money.

"Hi, we’re with Greenpeace! We would like to talk to you about the environment."

We could tell from their shirts.

"Well, we need to cross the street," Scott told them.

"We’ll follow you," one of them said, and they did.

I must have made a good target for activists with my now-long hair in a ponytail and a few days of stubble on my face. They were nice, although I consider anyone wanting my attention on the city streets to be no different than someone who wants me to join their church, or their political party. They had no clipboards, no pamphlets, and no obvious propaganda to offer, except for the logo on their shirts. They attempted to engage me.

"I’m sorry, I don’t live in your country," I told them.

This works the majority of the time. It didn’t work this time. I should have just started speaking Spanish, instead.

"Where do you live?"


"Oh, that’s great, we’re trying to do a lot of work down there…"

I held up a hand and chuckled.

"Good luck with that, they have their own idea about conservation," I said.

"Right, and that’s why we need people like you down there…"

We wished them a good afternoon and went about our business, catching up on what we had read and what we had written. We talked about how sick we both were listening to the banter about the upcoming presidential election. We eventually got into the trolley and talked about anything all of the way back to Mexico, where after we crossed the plaza on the south side of the pedestrian over the Tijuana River, he went his way and I went mine. I grabbed a cab and thought about how it was the first time over three months that I had seen another gringo other than my own reflection.

Scott is very liberal, to the point where, for a while, we couldn’t even talk about politics for a minute before he would go into a tirade about how George W. Bush should be tried for treason. I told him that he was ridiculous, that all presidents are simply puppets of the money that put them into office, that he was, in essence, wanting the head of the dummy and allowing the ventriloquist to remain free to simply find another dummy. We would always abruptly stop talking about it in those days, Scott was hell bent on his opinions.

Yet, Monday afternoon in San Diego, we could talk about politics coherently and rationally. I wondered if he had mellowed his radical mouth-foaming ranting because he had actually listened to anything that I had to say, but probably not. Scott has reached a milestone, in all likelihood. Sometimes it takes a good amount of time living out from the trees in order to see the forest for what it is.

Maybe Scott is seeing the true political machine of the United States of America for the first time.

* * * *

The region of Chiapas has always been a base for rebellion, from the pre-Columbian era through the Conquest of Spain, into the assimilation period during Mexico’s civil war and subsequent revolution, and even now the indigenous Mayan tribes are not happy with the treatment they continue to receive. Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico, but the richest in oil and natural resources. Yet, some of their indigenous people toil in maquiladoras for three dollars a day, working six days per week, barely making enough money to survive.

Fueled by ex-president Vicente Fox’s Plan Puebla-Panama, a proposition that the region from Mexico’s State of Puebla all the way down to the country of Panama should become a corridor for improvements in infrastructure and manufacturing, factories are suddenly appearing. The plan is explained as providing an economic boost to the regions, as a way to attract private investors and create jobs and wealth in low-income areas of Middle America. This all sounds wonderfully capitalistic, like an economic utopia of sorts, and that it is in the best interest of everyone; but it isn’t.

It is a last ditch effort to compete with the Chinese.

Soon, the indigenous work force will stop showing up, their rock-bottom wages and the inability to change their pay and conditions will cause them to retreat. Some will return to the jungles and forests and a small percentage will eventually wind their way here, where the wages are slightly more generous. But those factories down there will eventually flounder and the railroads will become unused, and China will continue to pound out Nike shoes for two dollars a pair and then sell them for two hundred, until the Chinese workers decide that they, too, have had enough.

The solution to rebellion does not include political will, religious conversion, or the creation of an enclave economy.

In and near San Cristóbal, Chiapas, the Tzotzil Maya in eighteen hundred and sixty-seven had had enough, too. What was left from the elite Spanish after the Mexican civil war was still factional in the same way that they were when Spain had ruled Mexico. There were elite Liberals and elite Conservatives, and they ruled the region propped up by a still-powerful Catholic Church, their charge coming from support of the wealthy ranchers and land owners, and their society serviced by the indigenous people surrounding them. The elite Conservatives were in power at the time, and the elite Liberals bade their time waiting for the tables to turn. Both parties attempted to divide the indigenous support. The indigenous people were trapped in the middle, forced to attend Catholic churches and work at mostly conservative endeavors, and became restless and annoyed.

Near the indigenous village of Tzajalhemel, a Chamula woman discovered some magical talking stones, and the old mystical ways of the Maya were again realized by several of the surrounding communities, and soon, Tzajalhemel became the religious center for the indigenous community. The elite Liberals, wanting to wrest power from promoting the lack of indigenous support from the elite Conservatives, went out of their way to encourage the Tzotzil and other tribes to withdraw their support from the elite Conservatives. Tzajalhemel then became autonomic in the minds of the indigenous, they established markets and schools and a monetary system based on a complicated yet highly effective method of barter.

The elite Liberals soon realized that they had underestimated the negative effects that the new cult was having on San Cristóbal; the churches were empty and local markets were almost vacant. This forced the hand of the elite Conservatives, who repressed the cult, seized the church, school, and market, in Tzajalhemel and then arrested the natives. The lack of a stable economy prompted new taxes to be imposed. Obviously, the natives retreated once again, and their society in Tzajalhemel was gutted permanently. After some of the natives decided to strike back, the elite on both sides slaughtered hundreds of Mayans, and this insurrection goes on and on.

Here we are in two thousand and eight, and even though the story changes from time to time, the tune remains the same.

And Greenpeace is preoccupied with saving whales while politicians are preoccupied with elections, while the media is preoccupied in informing society what elite money wants them to hear. Meanwhile, people suffer because of a struggle for power that will only culminate with the very few with money enough to control the outcome of the struggle ensuring that their money will buy the eventual winner of the struggle.

This happens in the United States of America as well - another seemingly irrelevant factor to throw into the Doomsday Paradox.

* * * *

The problem with electing a president of any country is that the president isn’t really the elected party, it is the money that is behind that person that is actually elected. Less than one-third of one percent of the population of registered voters in the United States of America constitute the money that backs both primary candidates, and in order to protect their holdings, they often hedge their bets on both candidates. This ensures that their holdings, in the form of corporations and investments both in the United States of America and abroad are secure and protected by the government in power. Below is a diagram to help and explain how this works and where I see myself in the scheme of its system:

(How the election process in the United States of America really works and my role in all of it.)

The media is the key to assuring that people are distracted enough from the real process in order not to see it. The ideological differences in the platforms of the political parties are exploited, keeping potential voters embroiled in argument that is actually irrelevant. The truth is that liberal politicians will be conservative and conservative politicians will be liberal in order to gain election or re-election. This morning, the conservative president of the United States of America announced that the treasury would magically make a half-trillion dollars appear in order to infuse a collapsing economy with new life. Economically, this is the most liberal act that has been performed by an administration since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Does anyone really think that politicians decided this? Or perhaps, was it the money that elected the politicians?

People would rather believe the media is simply reporting the truth. These same people see themselves precisely where the media has placed them, pigeonholed and seemingly enjoying it. Perhaps it is satisfying some crisis of identity within society, maybe people just want to know how they are fitting in. Below is a diagram that shows how the media perceives the voting public in the United States of America:

(How the media in the United States of America views the voting public.)

None of this provides anyone with any answers, and since I lean toward empirical evidence that humanity exists only to destroy the planet that it lives on, then many of these observations are nothing more than irrelevant musings. I am delighted to point it out, regardless, should anyone wish to consider that there might be a solution. Maybe anthropologists will discover a way to fix everything, maybe the answers lie in the past, with the Maya. The Mayan calendar ends in four years, is it possible that they discovered their own version of the Doomsday Argument? When the Tzotzil retreated to Tzajalhemel in order to re-form their civilization all over again, maybe they were onto something that could have provided some missing clues.

Perhaps certain astrophysicists and philosophers should stick all of this into their Doomsday Paradox, maybe the answer lies there.