News Article Round-Up...
It's been awhile since I've done a "new article round-up" blog post, but given how little blogging I've done this month, this is a quick and easy way to get new content up.
California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience
The gist of this one is that California farmers are short of workers due to prior immigrants getting too old to do the heavy work, native-born Americans not wanting the jobs, and increased border security keeping out new illegal/undocumented immigrants who ordinarily do this kind of work. It's getting to the point that these fiscally-conservative sorts are considering voting Democratic due to the Republicans lack of interest in immigration reform.
Now, one could say that these farmers should increase their wages and that'll attract native-born workers, but many farmers, especially the smaller ones, won't be able to afford that and will go out of business. This would lead to a further concentration of agribusiness that might not be desirable.
A solution to this particular problem might be a revival of the old bracero program, which ran from the 1940s until the 1960s. Obviously the old program had some issues, but the point of studying history is that we learn from it.
This'll horrify some of my fellow conservatives, but I've given some thought about how an overly-strict concern about illegal immigration has actually infringed on the rights of the native-born. There's no natural right to have cheap labor, but how I need to produce documents in order to have a (non-contractor) job is annoying. "Your papers, please" is something one generally associates with Communist countries. And lest anyone think this is something that's been in place too longer to change, the I-9 form and what-not have only been requirements since the 1980s. That's after I was born.
Heck, if I wanted to be really radical, I'd start advocating open borders. After all, before WWI, international travel without a passport was pretty easy and passports were viewed by many as an unpleasant government imposition. Of course, in an age of international terrorism, that'd be pretty reckless, but on the other hand, the 19th Century had in the Anarchist movement its own version of al-Qaeda.
25 Drug Companies Agree to Limit Antibiotic Use on Farms
This is excellent news. Although people in the medical field complain about patients demanding antibiotics for viral infections and the like, if anything's contributing to a coming antibiotic-resistant super-plague, it's going to be stuff like this. The SCALE is just so much larger than stupid patients. I've got a doctor friend who straight-up advocates banning antibiotic use in agriculture.
Voluntary steps are good first steps, but if this doesn't drastically reduce the reckless use of livestock, it might be time to get more regulatory. I'm generally a fan of less government regulation, but risking the end of the antibiotic era and a return to the time one could die from a scraped knee is a pretty scary thing. My great-grandfather and my infant great-aunt died of pneumonia that could've been treated by antibiotics, just to make it personal. And one of the big killers of childbirth is actually puerperal fever, not more immediate problems like bleeding. For Westerners, death in childbirth is typically something one reads about in books and that's something that shouldn't change.
What Makes the Muslim Ms. Marvel Awesome
Those of you who know me know that I'm a conservative, but on the issue of increasing minority representation in media, particularly the field of speculative fiction, I've lined up (some) with the obnoxious Internet Social Justice mob. I'm not going to act like portraying Muslims as terrorists on TV is worse than the existence of al-Qaeda, but let's be frank. If I were an Arab or a Muslim, I'd get sick of one of the the dominant media portrayals of my demographic being bomb-throwers pretty quick even if on an intellectual level I might recognize it as having a valid basis.
Besides, this makes good business sense. The United States is a lot less white and a lot less Christian than it was in the 1930s through the 1960s, when most of the major superheroes were created. If media creators ignore this growing market, they do so at their peril. I've made some money thanks to Arab fantasy writer Saladin Ahmed tweeting "The Beast of the Bosporus" to his thousands of followers, many of whom I imagine are Muslims/Arabs/Middle Easterners who'd like to see characters like them.
Furthermore, I've complained in the past about filmmakers' reluctance to have non-Western villains, with the rather Aryan "Mandarin" of Iron Man III and the British Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek Into Darkness being particular targets of my ire. This isn't solely due to Hollywood PC-ism (although it's certainly there)--foreign markets are increasingly important and one doesn't want to offend audiences (or governments which will keep them from audiences--even democratic India banned Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). It'd be easier to have historically non-Western villains like the Mandarin or Khan (or some kind of superpowered jihadist) if there are more non-Western characters on the side of good.
One suggestion I remember to avoid the political problems of an Asian Mandarin would be to have a particular character (who I think was a female employee of Stark Industries of Chinese background, but I can't find her online) filling in for that kid in Tennessee. If they'd made the Mandarin primarily Asia-based, Tony could travel over there to fight him and after a gratuitous beat-down, Stark Industries' Asian staff could help him get ready for the second round. There's also the Red Ronin, who could team up with Tony on an equal basis rather than just being a helper.
(Since it's been revealed there's a real Mandarin with a cult-like army out there who isn't pleased with being impersonated by a British crackhead, maybe we'll meet him someday. Since the Ten Rings is portrayed as being similar to al-Qaeda, I'm wondering if the Iraq-based Desert Sword superhero team can make an appearance. Perhaps in the Marvel Cinematic Universe they can be an Iraqi spinoff of SHIELD established after the fall of Saddam.)
Hmm...the Muslim Ms. Marvel's brother is depicted as a fundamentalist. Maybe he becomes some kind of super-jihadist and they fight each other in their superhero forms not knowing who the other is? That could get real tragic real fast.