Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Mindless Musings From Mexico

(Random thoughts and observations from my recent journey south o' the border)

* After our plane landed in Houston from Minneapolis the steward welcomed us to 'Houston Intercontinental Airport'. Now I've flown into Houston a number of times and the proper name is 'George Bush Intercontinental Airport'. They've even got a statue of Papa Bush in the terminal. This was the first time I've ever heard the Bush name missing from the title and I gotta think it wasn't an accident.

* I brought two books along for my reading enjoyment. The Libertarian Reader is a collection of essays through the ages by the likes of Mills, Locke, Von Mises, and Hayek edited by David Boaz. It's an excellent read for traveling as the longest essay is only twelve pages in length. You can pick it up and put it down often without missing a beat.

The other book is what the movie Fargo (1996) could have and should have been. Fargo had its moments and played well to a national audience but I found it to be way over the top. The novel Death Rat by MST3K's Mike Nelson on the other hand delivers the goods with a very humorous yet subtle look at Minnesota. It's filled with references and character parodies that anyone familiar with the state will recognize and enjoy. Nelson passes over the obvious "ya sure ya betcha" clich├ęs and mines Minnesota culture to produce gems like:

"Mr. Ryback," he said in the hostile but officious manner of Minnesota’s service industry, "there is a phone call for you."

And:

"What do you want?" asked the bartender, a tall, pleasant-looking blonde in her mid-fifties wearing a sweatshirt whose front featured an embroidered loon.

Now that’s Minnesota.

* There's been a lot of talk about what a future Iraq will look like and what kind of country it will or should resemble. I've even heard mention of it becoming a "Switzerland of the Middle East". Let's be realistic about this and look a little closer to home. Ten years from now if Iraq could be where Mexico is now I think we'd be pretty happy. Mexico today is far from perfect. The last election was the fairest in Mexico's history but corruption in government is still a major problem and it's a hazy democracy at best. There's far too much poverty and lack of opportunity for those at the bottom rungs of society. But it's getting better, slowly but surely. Some people would claim that the flow of illegal drugs and immigration into the US threatens our security but it's not like Mexico is developing weapons of mass destruction to use against us or helping terrorists to kill our citizens. The drugs and immigration problems are issues because of the border we share with Mexico. And while Mexicans don't always agree with US policies (see war with Iraq) they don't hate us and most of them welcome better relations between our countries. Iraq as Switzerland is a pipe dream. Iraq as Mexico is possible.

* Many Americans have problems with the food and their digestive systems when they visit Mexico. I've been fortunate enough to avoid any such complications in the course of my many trips there. I pretty much eat and drink anything I want, possibly offsetting any potentially harmful bacteria by consuming generous amounts of alcohol in the evenings. In fact the only time I felt even slightly nauseous on my last trip was when I tried to relax by the hotel pool only to witness a half dozen, skinny, pasty white, Polish guys hanging out (literally) in Speedos that left little to the imagination. (shudder) Here's a quick reminder to 99.99% of all the guys out there, especially the Euros. You do not, repeat DO NOT, look good wearing a Speedo no matter how hard you try to convince yourself you do. Please cease and desist this practice immediately. Gracias.

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