Thursday, January 31, 2019

Fecking amateurs.

Or, Another Museum Horror Story.

It is astounding how much damage people can do when they don't have a clue as to what they're doing. This is especially true when they think they're doing something good. For example, I've experienced many a day spent quietly weeping, figuratively speaking, over labels written in ink on photographs and documents, especially labels that weren't necessary or were positioned on the front instead of the back. You name a practice or activity that is an absolute Never Do This for archival documents or museum objects and I can say with certainty it's been done at our local historical society museum, and done multiple times by people who were sure they were doing the right thing.

The latest nightmare: because there's no heat in the building, I decided to take uncatalogued archival material home to sort through, scan, and get into the PastPerfect database. I figured out back in December it's hard to work with documents when you're wearing mittens. There's been a clear tote packed full of documents sitting unsorted since I began volunteering in 2012. It's about a 40 quart size. I popped the lid on it awhile back to get some sense of what was in it. Didn't take long to figure out the overall theme for the stash was "schools." I'd grabbed a few things out of it in the past couple years, like some rolled up diplomas that I flattened and encapsulated, but never penetrated very deep into what looked to be a spectacular mess.

That changed this week. The last time I went into town, the S.O. and I stopped by the museum. I dropped off a stack of material that will be filed once things warm up a little and grabbed a fresh stack from the "schools" box. It is indeed a mess. Today I weep.

Why do I weep? Because salted in with a lot of odds and ends are pieces that were obviously pulled out of a scrapbook -- the residue of scotch tape adhesive is a telling clue. A ticket stub from the Milwaukee Road, matchbooks from Chicago restaurants, and other souvenirs. A few have "senior trip" scribbled on them. I have a strong hunch where they came from. Last year I inventoried several scrapbooks that belonged to a woman who graduated from Baraga High School. One had a lot of gaps in it, spaces where things had been removed. Of course, I have no way of knowing that these things came from her scrapbook other than the fact that a souvenir program from the senior girls' tea has the woman's name and adhesive residue. That constitutes a suggestion that the other ripped from someplace else items might have been hers, too, but there's no way to ever know for sure.

So what's the result in the end? If this were a crime investigation, I'd say the chain of custody has been broken. In museum terms, provenance is now unverifiable. And just in general interpretive thinking and cultural history, what happened is some well meaning amateur took a scrapbook that if left intact would have provided a really nice slice of late 1950s high school life, a coherent picture of one person's history, and turned it into a stack of miscellaneous out of context incoherent junk. All that senior trip stuff, for example, if it was still in the scrapbook would have been really nice to incorporate into the schools' exhibit with the album open to those pages. As it is, even if a matchbook has "senior trip" written on it there's no way to know which school, what year, who the student was, or anything else. In short, a potentially valuable piece of local history got converted into garbage. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Yes, it's cold. So what?

It is minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit as I type this. It's cold outside. It's also January, a month not noted for balmy breezes or warm, sunny days. The fact it's cold outside should come as a surprise to no one.

It's also sort of snowing. Not especially dramatically, but an occasional flake or two has wafted down. Also not a surprise at this time of year, especially when we get hit with lake effect all the time. The Upper Peninsula sits between three of the Great Lakes: Superior to the north, Michigan and Huron to the south. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, if those lakes aren't solid sheets of ice, somewhere in the U.P. lake effect snow will fall.

We are, in short, having what for us Yoopers should be viewed as totally normal weather. It's not some sort of bizarre, unexpected natural disaster. It's winter. Hazardous driving conditions, including possible whiteout conditions, and life threatening cold temperatures are the norm up here from early November well into April. So why did everything shut down today? I have no clue, unless all the hype by the news media over the cold polar air pushing deeper than usual into southern states convinced various persons that an actual emergency existed. I can see closing schools in Missouri when it gets into negative numbers for kids waiting at bus stops; I can't see closing them in Michigan where we cope with this crap all the time.

What is truly bizarre, though, when it comes to coping with what is actually pretty ordinary winter weather is the number of businesses that shut down. Bars. Restaurants. Stores. I find all the closing announcements to be more than a tad unreal. Am I the only one who thinks that if snowmobilers and ice fishermen are able to go about pursuing their hobbies as usual there is no major winter storm event going on?

I will confess I tend to be a tad blase about winter cold. I still remember the fun times during my youth when there were cold spells that lasted for multiple days with temperatures hovering down around minus 30 for longer than I care to recall. It's a real joy to wake up in the morning and realize the feeble space heater in the living room did not manage to keep your bedroom above freezing overnight, the layer of ice in the water glass on the nightstand providing a strong clue the robe and slippers must be donned with lightning speed.

The Younger Daughter called from Arizona to ask how we were coping with the cold. I reminded her that 10 or 20 below at night is nothing. "Don't you remember," I asked, "that it was 30 below in the middle of the day when you were born?" Apparently her memory of the event isn't as clear as mine because, no, she doesn't remember it being super cold when my body finally expelled her. She arrived more than two weeks past the due date. At the time I was sure she'd heard just how cold it was outside and didn't plan to emerge until Spring.

I then reminded her about the Winter in the 1990s, the one where things stayed so cold for so long that I was sure we'd be seeing Frost Giants any time and municipal water lines froze that hadn't frozen since they'd been installed a hundred years earlier. We survived while living in a poorly insulated shoebox of a mobile home. She doesn't remember that one either. She was in Alabama staying with my sister while taking classes at the local community college.

I did tell her that if she's really concerned about her aging parents having to deal with Arctic air her dad and I could always come stay with her until things warm up here. We'd have to be house guests because the Guppy isn't running at the moment. Oddly enough, that's when she changed the subject from fretting about aging parents staying warm to hoping there's not another government shutdown this year because she really doesn't want to sit through another 4-hour staff meeting ever again. 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Spam magnets

What, I wonder, turns a blog post into a spam magnet? About two years ago I wrote a post about one of the National Park sites in Arizona. It got two comments at the time, which is about par for one of my on-the-road posts, time passed, and then spam began appearing. Because I moderate comments a notice would pop up in my Hotmail account. I'd take a look, and the comment would be obvious spam: a very bland, meaningless sentence that could apply to any post with a suggestion that I check out a link.

Sometimes there wasn't even the meaningless sentence, just a link. They all seemed to originate in southeast Asia, e.g., Malaysia or Indonesia. I never clicked on the links, of course. I have days when I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even barely awake and non-caffeinated I'm not stupid enough to click on links in spam.

There was another one of those spam comments this morning. Same post. You'd think that after a couple years passed the spammers would latch on to a different URL to target, a more recent post, but apparently not. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

If you're going to write a book, do some research

I managed to depress myself recently by reading This Is The Way the World Ends, a thoroughly researched and remarkably frightening book about the rapid pace of climate change and just how thoroughly screwed we are. I decided I needed some mind candy, a piece of fiction that wouldn't require much thinking at all. You know, a break from reality. I'd check out a mystery, but nothing too dark, something from the Janet Evanovich school of writing instead of James Lee Burke or John Sandford.

For the uninitiated, Evanovich mixes romance and/or sex with the crime and corpses. Her lead characters are young women who manage to stay alluring while eating whatever they want (usually donuts and cupcakes), bumble their way through crime solving, and end up being saved by some dude who is the requisite tall, dark, and handsome (white horse to ride in on is optional). You know, classic female fantasy material. Evanovich also manages to be funny -- if Bob the Dog is involved, odds are there's going to some laugh out loud shenanigans happening -- so definitely mind candy. The mental equivalent of dining on gum drops and Snickers.

My expectations when reading fluff are not especially high. As long as the writing is reasonably smooth and the author doesn't commit too many howlers, I don't feel like it's been a total waste of my time. I'll flinch when I stumble across something that's a blooper, like referencing a cultural icon like a killer car and then saying that Christine was a Ford Pinto when she was actually a Plymouth Fury, but it doesn't matter what you're reading; with most fiction there's going to be blemish or two.

When that blemish turns into a severe case of creeping green crud, a fungus that permeates the entire work, however, I tend to get a tad annoyed. The latest annoyance? Holly Quinn's A Crafter Knits a Clue. I should have known, given the excessive cuteness of the title, but I really didn't expect it to turn into an incoherent hot mess. The first few pages weren't bad.

Then Quinn decided to turn high school basketball into a major plot point. First, she gets the season wrong. She has the sport being played much too late in the school year. Winter is over, daffodils are blooming, people are running around without winter jackets, but it's not even tournament season yet.. In Wisconsin. Let that sink in for a moment. The daffodils are a possibility, especially in the southern part of the state, but it's definitely not the end of Winter yet when basketball wraps up for the year. The Wisconsin state tournament is in mid-March. Maybe she'd never heard the term "March madness"? I can remember March Madness in Madison; there were still snowbanks. Disgusting, melting slushy snowbanks, to be sure, but still definitely not let's run around in just a tee-shirt weather.

Then she makes her teenage character a senior. It's getting towards the end of the school year, he's supposedly hoping to go to U-W on a basketball scholarship, but he hasn't been recruited yet. I used to be a college basketball coach's secretary. I know how this shit works. If a player is worth offering a scholarship to, the college coaches want to see them in action a lot earlier than the end of the season their senior year. They scout kids when they're juniors, sometimes earlier if their names keep popping up in sports reporting, check them out at summer basketball camps, and by the time it gets to be Christmas, they're angling for verbal commitments -- and when it gets to be National Signing Day (February 6 this year) they want the prospective players' signatures on paper. If there are college coaches or their minions at late season basketball games, they're not looking at the seniors. They're eyeballing the younger players and making notes on who to track as a possibility for a year or two down the road. 

There are multiple additional inconsistencies and bloopers in the book. Quinn really could have used a good editor. In one chapter her heroine is described as having a hard time juggling her purse, a bratwurst, and a soft drink but in the next paragraph she does a both thumbs up salutation to a friend -- and then is immediately back to dealing with both the brat and the drink simultaneously. Does she have four arms? The heroine gives out a slew of $50 gift cards for her shop but then thinks that it's a good thing sales were brisk that day because maybe she'll finally be out of the red. The handing out the gift cards made no sense in terms of plot development anyway. It seemed to be tossed in just to emphasize a little more what an extremely nice person Our Heroine is. End result? It feels sloppy. 

I suppose it could have been worse. One thing that grated a bit even if it didn't qualify as a blooper is the heroine refers to her full-grown golden retriever as her "puppy." Over and over. He's a puppy, not a dog, and although I think it's fine to baby talk to your dog regardless of his or her age in the real world it just reads as childish on the page. Not sure why that was irritating, especially when it could have been worse. Our Heroine could have been thinking of the beast as her fur baby.

Quinn apparently has fantasies of this being the first novel in a series. She may succeed in that ambition. Most readers won't pick up on the stuff that bothered me. Her attempts at humor fall pretty flat (she does definitely channel Evanovich, right down to having a good looking police detective as a romantic foil for the heroine), but they aren't offensive, just ineffective. The writing may be sloppy, but it's not hard to read. Readers who less fussy than I am might actually like the book. Stranger things have happened.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Feeling a tad depressed

It's odd how one thing going wrong can throw a person off for the rest of the day. I decided yesterday that I felt like going out for lunch, that the S.O. and I should indulge ourselves for a change. We'd have lunch at a restaurant we've gone to many times, enjoy the view of Keweenaw Bay and the Certainteed plant over on the L'Anse side, and relax a bit before going to the museum to do a little work.

Ever have a meal where anything that can go wrong does? From a waitress who was basically just going through the motions of working to a meal that included the world's worst French onion soup and deep-fried fish with batter that was still doughy, things did not go well. My meal was flat-out not edible. Of course, the S.O.'s experience was not much better. He ordered a cheeseburger that arrived sans cheese. He let it slide because it didn't make any difference in the price -- and it could have been worse. At least the meat was there. 

Not a happy experience, in short, but salvageable if -- and this is the big if -- I hadn't had to argue in order to get the charge for the inedible dinner taken off the bill. You know, when you're in a restaurant and food arrives at the table that is not cooked, if the restaurant then tries to tell you "Pay for it anyway" you're not likely to head for Yelp and leave a glowing review. All it would have taken is a server who had brains enough to be apologetic, but, nope, the not-the-sharpest-tool-in-the-shed young woman chose to debate instead.

She really was a terrible waitress. Really bad. Cute, but incompetent. I was reminded of a story the Older Daughter told years ago. She's worked in food service since she was in high school. At the time, she was a server at a family restaurant that had hired several high school students for the summer. One of the students went off on a long rant one afternoon about the incessant demands of the customers. "They want water. They want menus. They want their coffee refilled. They want this. . . .they want that." The O.D. looked at her and said, "You mean they want you to wait on them?" "Exactly!" "What's your job title?" "Waitress." It'd be nice to think a great light then dawned, but probably not.

In any case, the bad meal put me in a miserable mood for the rest of the day. We did manage to accomplish a few things at the museum -- got the trashed case moved out of the way, emptied the rocks out of the box car (no gold, but there is some nice obsidian and specular hematite) -- but probably not as much as I would have felt like doing if I'd actually had something for lunch. Cold, hungry, and annoyed is not a particularly productive combination.

A few of the box car rocks did have labels on them, which suggests they were stashed in there by a now deceased volunteer who slid quietly into dementia a few years before she stopped volunteering. She did some very odd things the last several years she volunteered, but because she'd been so well-organized for so long no one realized she was slipping away until she started becoming aphasic and then told everyone that something was happening to her neurologically.

The museum has had several hard-working volunteers in the past decade or so who succumbed to dementia. I've found some very odd things while cataloging and, to be honest, I worry occasionally about just how weird I'll get before anyone notices. Will there be a place where the information going into the PastPerfect database turns really weird? Will the collections guides end up with sections that look like they were written in Klingon? Just how much will my successors curse me?

More immediately, in a few days we're going to Marquette. Now I'm wondering if I dare suggest lunching at a favorite restaurant there -- what if it turns out to be crap now too? I'll be stuck eating my own cooking indefinitely.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Exactly what is Trump trying to prove?

Assuming he's trying to prove anything at all, of course.

I read a long article this morning about Trump's visit to McAllen, Texas, a town where the mayor and most of the residents say no actual physical border wall is needed, the current system is working more or less just fine, although the Border Patrol could use some improved technology (e.g., more cameras) and increased staffing at the ports of entry. And Trump agreed with them. The meeting included a show-and-tell of stuff intercepted at the ports of entry (drugs, weapons, various types of contraband) and the consensus was yep, the checkpoints are working. And then Trump told the folks at the meeting that he doesn't really mean a physical wall after all, he's speaking metaphorically, he just wants enhanced border security.

What the fuck?! The government has been shut down for three weeks now because Trump has stated over and over he wants a Wall, a real Wall, a concrete and steel barrier that would be a major physical barrier to anyone trying to cross the border illegally. He's had multiple hissy fits over the fact that Congress will not dedicate $5 billion to his wet dream of a construction project. And then he goes to Texas, right to the border, and says, oh, I'm just talking metaphorically. I repeat, what the fuck?!

He has said something similar in other meetings over the past couple of weeks, but every time there's an actual face-to-face meeting to negotiate an end to the budget impasse, he reverts to ranting about concrete and steel. It's bizarre.

If he doesn't want an actual wall, why the hell did he shut down the government? Just how senile is he? And if he doesn't want an actual wall, why are hundreds of thousands of people now forced to sit and wait indefinitely to be allowed to go back to work?

Maybe somebody should tell him that Obama wanted to build a wall. There's nothing quite like invoking Obama's name to get Trump to do the exact opposite.

Trump is infamous for constantly contradicting himself. Just about every incoherent speech he gives starts off with him saying one thing and ending with the complete opposite a couple hundred mangled words later, but he's definitely topping himself on this wall mess.

[I am, for what it's worth, feeling relatively proud of myself for making it all the way through six paragraphs in which I mentioned Cheetolini multiple times without once referring to him as a wank nozzle, orange shit gibbon, or some of the other phrases that come to mind when his name comes up. I'll just pretend to be an academic and save the good terms for this footnote.]

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Another museum mystery

A new year, a new mystery at the museum. This time a minor one, but a mystery nonetheless. Why is this little pink box car stuffed full of rocks?

Seriously. It's full of rocks. It's part of a homemade model train set that was in the back of a display cabinet. In the process of shuffling stuff around in the museum we discovered not only could we not move the display cabinet while it was still full of stuff, we actually needed to jettison the cabinet entirely.

We being the S.O. and myself, of course.

The original intent was merely to shove the cabinet back closer to the wall -- there was a gap of almost two feet behind it -- to make it easier to move some other things past it. I cleared away some objects that were sitting on the floor in front and on the sides of it, and told the S.O. it was ready to shove. We were about to when he took a closer look at the beast and discovered it was racked too badly to move safely. The corners were spreading, there was significant crack in the base, and there were other issues.

Okay, if we can't move it safely the obvious thing to do is empty it, get it out the door and to the landfill, figure out a substitution for it short term, and think about investing in a totally new display cabinet for the long term.

Pink box car is hiding behind stuff right in the middle on the bottom shelf.
Minor digression (aka short rant). All the cases in the museum are apparently ones that came from retail businesses. They're all used and in various states of decrepitude. Some are quite decent; a few are pretty damn old with glass tops that are so scratched up you can't see through them. I can understand hanging on to the really old ones, the ones that look like they came out of a 19th century mercantile, but do not get why the museum felt compelled to keep the pretty modern looking but falling apart case the railroad stuff was in. The museum isn't rolling in money, but it could afford to drop a few hundred dollars on a decent display case. I checked the KC Store Fixtures catalog. A comparable case, one with the equivalent amount of shelf space, can be had for under $300.

Then again, the museum was apparently allergic to spending money on things museum professionals would consider essential, like archival storage boxes. As one of the sweet little old ladies told me when I first began volunteering, "Why should we spend money on boxes when we can get them for free from Larry's?" Larry's being a local supermarket. Well, for one thing, if you spend money on actual file boxes they'll all be a uniform size, they'll have lids, and you can stack them in the attic or the storage building without them turning into a leaning tower of weirdness. But back to the box car full of rocks.
Depot model on case. Notice the large gap between the case and the wall. Given that the case was full, that gap made no sense, but then many things at the museum didn't (and still don't).  
I began emptying the display case. I started with the top. There was a model of the Baraga railroad depot sitting on one end. It sat on a substantial piece of wood. I'd never paid much attention to the railroad stuff until this week when I got forced to deal with it -- it's one of those areas that fell into the I'll get to it eventually category -- and had assumed the wood was the base for the model. You know, the model was attached to the large chunk of wood, which measured about 18 " x 18", basically covering the entire end of the case from front to back. When I tried picking it up, it didn't move. That's when I discovered it was screwed down to the end of the case.

Curiosity compelled me to unscrew that chunk of wood. I already knew as soon as I saw those screws that sure as shit there was going to be a significant hole or a crack or some other flaw under it. I was right. That end of the display case had a hole in the top that you could drop a six-pack of cheap beer through and not worry about it hitting the glass anywhere as it fell. So why the heck did the museum keep that display case to begin with? At one point the museum had a surplus of display cases -- I was told the historical society gave a bunch to the Covington Township Museum when they were getting set up. Why give away good cases but keep a crap one?! But I'm veering into a rant again. . .
Whoever made the model put little green Army men into the cab of the engine. There's also one standing in the door at the back of the caboose. 
Back to emptying the case. I got the top shelf emptied. It turned out to be the usual weird mix of stuff where things were stuffed in there that had no relationship to railroading at all but apparently there was an empty spot of the shelf someone felt a need to fill sitting side by side with some really nifty stuff from the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic. No interpretive labels, of course. I should have gotten into that case years ago.
I am simultaneously impressed by the effort and appalled by the results. 
Then on to the bottom shelf, starting with the homemade model train at the back. It was a little strange (and I don't just mean the upcycled materials it's made from). There were large rocks sitting in the gondola car and the coal tender for the locomotive. Okay. Rock samples. Someone stuck them there to mimic a load, I guess. That sort of makes sense. I take out the locomotive and tank car first. They weigh next to nothing, which is what one would expect when something's made from old plastic bottles and paperclips. Then I grabbed the box car.

It was like trying to pick up a cement block one handed. The thing weighed a figurative ton. I get it out. I open the little sliding door. What do I see? Rocks. The box car is packed full of rocks.

At least I'm assuming it's all rocks. I did not have the energy yesterday to actually empty the box car. I'll do that the next time I'm at the museum, tempted though I am to just inventory the car as is and stick it out in the storage building for some other person to wonder about a few years from now. The one thing I've learned about the museum in my six years of volunteering is to never assume a stash of anything is just junk. Maybe all those rocks are just the equivalent of pit-run gravel, but it's just as likely that hiding in there will be a nice small piece of float copper or some decent Petoskey stones. Maybe there are some gold nuggets a now-deceased member brought back from prospecting in Alaska years ago. When it comes to the museum and it's never-ending odd little mysteries, you just never know. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why is common sense in such short supply?

I've been thinking about "the wall" lately. It's hard to avoid doing so when the federal government is shut down because the Toddler in the White House is throwing a hissy fit over not getting his way. I view this obsession with a medieval technology as yet another sign that the man is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Then again, considering that his most ardent supporters are equally obsessed with putting up a humongous wall to keep the close to nonexistent hordes of desperate women and children out, maybe he's just got an even lower opinion of his supporters than I do. If the only thing that will keep his deplorables happy is doing something stupid, then he'll do something stupid.

The whole emphasis on "securing the borders" by putting up a physical barrier to keep undesirables out has always baffled me. Walls have never worked. You can scale them with ladders, break through them, tunnel under, or walk around it blowing a trumpet (Joshua 6:1-21) but sooner or later the wall fails.

In fact, the wall, such as it currently exists along the southern border, is already failing. It's not keeping out undocumented immigrants. Most of them arrive by airplane clutching tourist visas in their hands and simply don't leave when the visa expires. It's not keeping out drugs. The absolute most devastating drug on the market in the U.S. today is fentanyl. It's coming in cargo containers from China, not being carried in backpacks through through the New Mexican desert. It's not keeping out foreign terrorists -- according to the FBI, the bad guys have figured out it's a lot less hassle to come down from Canada than it is to try to come up from Mexico. Among other things, quite a bit of the border between the U.S. and Canada can be crossed in a bass boat.

So if a physical barrier is a dumb idea, what would be a smart one? Well, if most of the people coming across the southern border claim to be refugees fleeing violence of various sorts, how about increasing the staffing levels for the federal workers who process those claims? People complain about the "catch and release" aspects, such as the fact there are long delays between the initial application for asylum and when the hearings are held. Right now asylum seekers arrive knowing there's going to be a long gap between when they get here and when the U.S. government decides their fate. They also know that if they manage to avoid being summarily targeted for expedited removal they'll be released on parole to await the hearing.

Here's a common sense notion: speed that process up. We don't need a wall to slow people down or more border patrol agents to arrest people. We need paper shufflers to speed up the pace of the bureaucracy. Hire more lawyers, more judges, and let the word get out that the time frame is shorter. It's a pretty sure thing that the number of asylum seekers will drop. It's one thing to make the trek to the U.S. knowing that after you turn yourself in you're going to have one or two or even three years to work here and send money back to the family in whatever poverty-stricken village you'e from and quite another to contemplate doing it when the turnaround time drops to a couple months. After all, Jeff Sessions claimed that close to 80 percent of the asylum seekers' claims are denied. That isn't exactly true but it's a handy talking point for this argument. If that many are denied in the end, then the common sense thing to do would be to speed the process up to get the ineligible applicants on to airplanes or buses faster.

Granted, it's not quite as manly, doesn't lend itself to a lot of posturing and macho bullshit about how tough someone is to say "I hired more lawyers" instead of "I ordered the troops to lay down concertina wire."

Actually, a truly common sense idea would be to stop freaking out over "illegals" and go for open borders. Sure, maintain border security in the form of customs enforcement at established border crossings but get a system set up where anyone coming in to the U.S. could work if they wanted to. Foreign nationals can be issued tax ID numbers now and pay income taxes while they're here; that part of the system is already in place. If everyone was working legally there'd be no incentive for employers to hire undocumented workers for less than legal wages and it would be harder to get workers willing to tolerate unsafe working conditions. If you can't hold the threat of La Migra over people's heads, they'll put up with a lot less crap. It would eliminate a lot of human trafficking -- who's going to bother paying a coyote thousands of dollars to sneak them across the desert or smuggle them in a cargo container when all you need is a bus ticket?

Yes, I know there are people who go ballistic at the idea of open borders. They're the same people who are convinced every Spanish speaker they encounter is here illegally and desperate to steal their jobs or sponge off welfare, usually simultaneously. My own thought has always been is that if you're so incompetent or unskilled that the only jobs you can find are ones that will hire people who do not read, write, or speak English and where the major work requirements are a strong back and a willingness to put in long hours for less than legal wages, you've got bigger problems than fear of competition from foreigners.