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Bernie Ziebart

The Engineering Perspective

The blog is a view of life, science, politics and education from an engineering perspective. As engineers, we are taught to view the world objectively. We can hope, believe and calculate a particular outcome, but natural laws are inflexible and pay no heed to who we are or what we believe. We must approach the objective dispassionately, while compensating for our own distorted perceptions. Balance is also a key element; balancing between the ideal and the pragmatic, balancing cost and functionality, balancing analysis with action, etc.

Scheduling routine critical self-analysis is the foundation to objectivity. If we do not fully understand and compensate for our own failures, tendencies, habits and skewed thought processes, we will not see the world as it is. Without a regular critical self-analysis we will see the world as we are and then fall prey to self-delusion.

Failure is a great teacher. When failure is coupled with perseverance, it produces the fruit of patience and humility. An engineer, fresh out of engineering school is typically set up for failure early and often. The failure breaks the new engineer of any ideas of self-importance, arrogance and book smarts. Only then can the new engineer be formed and molded into a productive element in the industry.


The immigration issue

There is a tremendous influx of children coming across our southern border. According the DHS secretary, Jeh Johnson, the DHS has projected 90,000 unaccompanied children for 2014, and said to include about 70,000 from Central America.

A Politico news report featured two girls, 7 years old and 8 years old, from Guatemala, who were apprehended by border agents. The girls were taken to a facility that is housing thousands of children who made the trek from Central America.  These girls are not the norm. It is believed that 70% of the unaccompanied minors are 13-17 year old boys.  

I can’t comprehend any of this. I wouldn’t send my 14 year old daughter through Mexico by herself to a country in which she doesn’t know the language.   First, my daughter would get lost. (Recently, she got lost while walking the dog and had to call home.) Second, she can’t go two hours without food, phone, bathroom, etc., much less 2 months. Third, she is way too fearful to attempt something like this.  Fourth, Mexico isn’t the most hospitable country. Fifth, I can’t imagine the gut-wrenching decision made by the parents to agree to this. Sixth, sending kids across the country can’t be cheap. 

There are questions that need to be answered.  What where they promised in return for this life-risking decision? What are their expectations? How did they get the money to embark on this trek?

My heart goes out to these kids. I fear what might happen to them. About 5000 of them have been sent to live with the nearest kin, but there are many without such a hope.   I would love to take at least a few of the children into my home and give them a warm bed, food, love, shelter and protection.  I will learn some Spanish while teaching them English. Somehow I will make it work.

Somehow I think that the administration is behind much of this for their own nefarious purposes, but I can’t get over the human element of suffering.  

I have outlined a plan below;

1.       The US should put the children up for adoption. Thousands of agents will be needed to insure that the children are being placed in a good environment. But I don’t think that the background checks, interview process, and investigation should take more than 6 months.  I am torn about sending the kids back. It is obvious to me that these kids would rather die trying to get here than stay in their third world country with no hope and no future.

2.       Stop the incentive for children to risk their lives by coming here by improving the conditions in those countries.  

3.       Close the border.   We can build a lot of fence for the $4 billion needed to deal with the immigrant children.  An open border is overwhelming the system.  Our lifeboat has a gaping hole in it and yet we are pulling more people on board.

4.       We need compassion for these suffering children, while maintaining a high degree of disdain and cynicism towards this administration for using these children as pawns in some political scheme.

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