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People Lie October 4, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Last night, John and I were sitting on the couch in our PJs discussing how people “Other” God when I had a life-shaking revelation.

We’d just finished a rolicking debate when I popped open the computer to look up something on the Internet.  Of course I ended up on Facebook, where one of our RELATIONS* had a status update.  Of course, it looked like someone had hacked his/her facebook account, but the status update read like this:

“UNNAMED RELATION sits on the computer and Skypes with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend all day and never goes to class.”

I laughed, because this RELATION is a freshman in college and, as we all know, freshman year is rife with mistakes.  Also, I’m not entirely sure that this RELATION’S status is a lie–honestly, not going to class and hanging out with the boyfriend/girlfriend sounds about right to me.  The only problem is that this RELATION’S parents are also on facebook, so they caught wind of the update and had some choice comments.  (By the way, how much drama must friending your parents cause?  Thank God both of mine are computer illiterate and I’ve blocked any other family member that might cause me problems).

I read the update to John, and I laughed about how, since RELATION doesn’t have a scholarship and has no academic distinctions to compromise, it would be impossible to know what his/her GPA is.  John just sort of snorted and laughed and was like, “Yeah, and even if s/he talked about it, there’s no way to know if s/he’s telling the truth.”

It was like two semi-trucks full of cymbals had collided IN MY BRAIN.

People lie about their GPAs?  I grew up in a city where I couldn’t go out alone at night after dark, and yet it had never occurred to me that people would lie about that.  GPAs are like…sacred.  It’s not like lying about your weight, which is really anybody’s guess.  It’s like lying about your innate character, your capabilities, and your competency.  It’s one of those WHOPPER of a lies, one of those lies that is so incredibly unethical at its center that it pretty much qualifies you as the scourge of the earth.  What’s the use of going to school and working hard if I can just fake how well I did on my resume, application, or otherwise?  I’ll just tell everyone I got a 6.0 because I’m awesome like that and move on.  I get that not everyone does well in school, sometimes through no fault of their own.  Fine–then leave your GPA off your resume, or make sure that you can address it with honesty, candor, and effectiveness in your interview.  It makes me think that students right out of college with no job experience should have to turn in transcripts to their employers or something, to keep them honest (don’t eat me in the comments, I know this is a poorly thought out and rash idea).  It makes me want to find people who lie about their GPAs and kick them in the throat.  Hard.

*Name unspoken because I cannot afford another one of those hoo-rahs**

**Last time I had a blog, I posted some things that John’s family found controversial and it was a big, awful, HUGE mess.

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So Now What Do We Do? June 1, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Oh, so you heard that BP’s top kill method of plugging up the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn’t work?  I’m assuming that you weren’t distracted by what is effectively the beginnings of The Korean War Part Deux Only With China This Time or that little tidbit of Israel Going Batcrap Insane And Boarding A Turkish Aid Flotilla In International Waters And Killing Some Folks (sidenote: John and I don’t agree on Israel.  He’s an Israeli sympathizer whereas I think their failure to compromise makes them big bullies).

Anyhoo, there’s still oil pumping into the Gulf of Mexico.  Just a little bit.  Over the weekend, BP announced that they’re going to cut below the damaged pipe to get a clean surface, then try to put another containment vessel on top of the leak.  You know, like that containment vessel that didn’t work the first time.  As of this morning, Gizmodo is reporting that this new method of correction could put 20% oil into the Gulf. Since BP has done such a wonderful, bang-up job so far, I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot more oil in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days.  Let’s just pray that those relief wells get dug sooner rather than later.

Sorry dolphins, sea turtles, and various avian life.  It was nice knowing you.

What the Crap, BP?! May 26, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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OH MY GOD.  It has been umpteen thousand million days since this whole fiasco started (read: over a month), and still no solution.  An article in USAToday says that BP is trying a “top kill” method of plugging the spill that works on aboveground leaks, but it has never been tried underwater.  Their estimate for success?  Somewhere between 60% and 70%.  I don’t know about you, but those are unacceptable grades for a math test, much less the last desperate idea to stop ecological travesty.

Let me just get this out of the way before I continue on:  SCREW YOU, BP.

First, get a sense of the size of this spill.  One of John’s coworkers mocked up these images yesterday, and it really puts things in perspective, though you’ll need to click through to see the full size image:

Here's an outline of the spill in the gulf. It's already big, right?

Here's what the spill would look like on land in Northwest Arkansas

I feel awful that people died in this catastrophe, but their deaths are far outweighed by the outrageous awfulness that is this oil spill.  Scientists estimate that 7 million gallons of oil have already leaked–oh, excuse me, GUSHED–into the Gulf, and if this last minute attempt at plugging the hole doesn’t work, there will be “significant down time” before another alternative can be implemented.  That’s compounded by the fact that scientists say the oil plume is actually getting darker, which implies that the oil coming out is more polluted and even more dangerous.  The dispersants that BP originally used to try and break up the oil are just as flawed; now there are giant plumes of oil floating willy-nilly in the water column.

The water is so toxic that they won’t let divers go in with ANY SKIN EXPOSED.

What really pisses me off is that this whole disaster could have been avoided if the platform had redundant shut-off valves.  When oil companies–including BP–were approached about this by regulatory committees, they pooh-poohed it off as overly expensive and unnecessary.  Now BP is facing a piddling $4300 dollar per barrel fine (which, by my estimates, totals somewhere near $30 billion dollars in addition to clean-up costs.  Lots of people are wagging their fingers at BP, but we should also be looking at Deepwater Horizon (which owned the rig) and Halliburton (which set the lines).  Even more so, we should be glaring down a gunsight at OSHA, which is in charge of inspecting and regulating off-shore drilling rigs.

This should make Obama’s push to open new offshore drilling sites even more infuriating that it was when he backed out of his campaign promise to stop the expansion of such drilling sites.  This wasn’t an old announcement, either–this hit the wire a mere three weeks before BP blew the Gulf of Mexico all to heck.  Don’t read this as an indictment of the Obama administration, because I know full well that McCain would have done the same thing. Consider this an indictment of the American political system that has been sleeping with Big Oil for the past century.

People are screaming at the government to get involved in this process, but that’s not feasible, either.  What is the government going to do that BP isn’t’ already doing?  Obama has assembled a team of scientists to deal with this issue, but they’re going to need as much time as BP is to get in there and fix this thing.  Not only that, but why waste taxpayer dollars on this when you can run a company into the ground instead?  I really think that BP is trying to do everything they can to stop this leak to save the company itself.  Any more of this and they’re going to go under: hook, line, and sinker.  In an effort at self-preservation they’re going to do anything they can to get this mess cleaned up.  The government would be no faster, more efficient, or better.  The only thing it could do is get more manpower on the scene, but with 21,000 BP employees already on the ground and countless American scientists and volunteers, how many more people do you need right now?

The real tragedy here is that it doesn’t matter what we do now.  Even if we plugged the spill today, we cannot feasibly undo the damage to the gulf.  The ecosystem will take decades to recover, but with the current state of affairs–global warming, oceanic acidity, pollution, et. al–it may never, ever recover.  EVER.  All of the regulation, restrictions, and nay-saying that will come in the next few months isn’t going to fix anything.  It may prevent another spill of this magnitude, but it’s not going to help out the Gulf Coast now.

I hope you all are PISSED OFF at the lack of planning, initiative, and competency evidenced by everyone involved in the offshore oil drilling industry. I sure am.

Wherein I Refuse to Recognize Arizona as a State April 30, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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Have you people seen this?  Today, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would require police officers to ask for documentation if they suspect you are illegal, and it makes being in the United States illegally a state crime.  Additionally, it invests citizens with an inordinate amount of power

Other provisions [in the bill] allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

Holy God, Arizona.  Have you lost your ever-lovin’ minds?

The issue of illegal immigration is a conflicted subject for me.  On the one hand, it’s illegal to come into this country without proper documentation for various reasons.  First, and foremost, is the effort to keep out the riff-raff, like criminals who are trying to evade charges in their own countries.  I get that.  I don’t want murderers waltzing into the United States for safety.  Then there’s that whole thing about taxation and job loss, not to mention the vaccination scare.  In El Paso I had to get all sorts of additional vaccines because–obviously–I would be coming into contact with people who would not be inoculated.  So yeah, I get that you need papers for a reason.  On a personal level, my family was able to come into the country legally, so I think that everyone else should do it the right way, too.  Elitist?  Maybe.  Honest?  Yes.

On the other hand, have you seen what daily life is like in Mexico?  I can’t blame anyone for wanting a better life than that.  The problem is that trying to get entrance into the United States is incredibly difficult.  The tests you have to take are in English, and this predicates two things: that you know how to read and write English, and that you know all about the history of the U.S.  I mean, the last isn’t so hard, right?  Oh wait, except that the poor who are running the border haven’t had any education to speak of.  The tests themselves create a barrier that keep out the people who want to come in.

But all of this is sort of beside the point.  The fact is that there are illegal immigrants in the United States, and under current immigration law, they should be arrested and deported.

In theory, Arizona’s law seems like a good idea.  The only real way to catch illegal immigrants is to figure out that they’re illegal, and unless they have contact with the police or a health care professional, that’s awfully hard.  The issue with Arizona’s law is really very small, really…nothing more than BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Case in point: this morning on Good Morning America, political pundit Lou Dobbs was defending the Arizona bill.  When asked what an illegal immigrant looked like, this was his response: “Well, an illegal immigrant looks like someone with no legal documentation.”  (This is a paraphrase, but you can see the full video on the GMA website).  HOW do you know someone has no legal documentation, exactly?  Do those people have flatter pockets than others?  Perhaps your left eye turns green when you don’t have your license on you?  No.  People with no documentation look like poor, dirty, uneducated MEXICANS who have poor English skills.

This is racial profiling at its best.  All of you guys who might look like Mexicans better watch out–I’m talking to you, Native Americans.  Oh, and you Middle Easterners better wear headgear or burkhas or whatever to distinguish yourselves (and so you can be discriminated against in a completely different way.  Lucky you).  Even more terrifying is the power that the bill invests in the citizenry.  Under the bill, citizens can make “citizen arrests” of illegals.  Except…wait!  How will they know who is illegal?  The same way Lou Dobbs does, obviously.  I can’t wait for all of those “wrongful arrest” lawsuits to start piling up.

This law is terrifying, and it scares me that there are people in legislatures that think that this kind of categorization and violation is in any way justified.  I sincerely hope that one day they feel persecuted for something out of their control, and made to feel like an outcast in their own country.  May THEY be afraid to look underprivileged, have a certain color skin, or speak with a specific accent.

In conclusion: screw you, Arizona.

EDIT:  I just found this addendum to the Arizona bill:
“HB2281 states that any course, class, instruction, or material may not be primarily designed for pupils of particular ethnic group as determined by the state superintendent of instruction. State aid will be withheld from any school district or charter school that does not comply.”
This directly attacks Chicano studies programs.  Ummmm.  Really?  I’d like to see that bill get passed about African-American heritage classes.  This place would burn there would be so much outrage.  I dare you to tell me this isn’t racial profiling.

I Hate to Even Post This March 10, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet.
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Today I was squirreling around the internet searching for birthrates out of wedlock.  The first link that came up led me to the Stormfront.org forums (I’m not going to link to it because, seriously, the site doesn’t need any more hits).

The source article was fine; it was just embedded a link to a New York Times article–40% of all American children are now born out of wedlock, according to this source.  But as I read through the replies, I was increasingly horrified.  One commenter blamed the increase on “race-mixing whores.”  I figured this guy would get lit into, but as I kept reading, there were all sorts of racist comments.  People were blaming the increase on Hispanics and African-Americans, citing their dependency on the white man’s tax dollar.  I couldn’t believe it, until I realized that I was on a white nationalist message board.

Oh. My. God.  I knew some crazy stuff happened out there on the internet, but SERIOUSLY?  A whole forum dedicated to WHITE SUPREMACY AND RACISM?  No lie, the boards were broken up topically and globally. Turns out, if you’re a racist neo-nazi in Switzerland, there are some folks who really want to hang out and chat with you.  The really disgusting thing was that there were, literally, tens of thousands of posts.  It wasn’t like this was Alabama John Doe’s backyard project.  It’s popular, and that’s terrifying.  Crazy people by themselves are bad enough, but crazy people en masse are dangerous.  Very, very dangerous.

Captivity March 1, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Orca attack at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.  Tilikum, a male Orca with a history of attacking humans, killed his trainer last week in what Sea World has called “an unfortunate, tragic accident.”  Of course, this has brought another, older debate to the surface: should animals–especially dangerous ones–be held in captivity?  And, on yet another level, what do you do with an animal like Tilikum?

I, of course, have an opinion on this, but to get there, we first have to talk about ponies.  I. LOVE. HORSES.  This almost goes without saying, I know.  I share the sentiments of most 7 year old girls in that horses are pretty much the best animals ever.  Not only that, but I’m incredibly attached to them.  I can remember the individual foibles of all the horses I’ve ridden, and even though I don’t know where many of them are today, I can look back at many with fondness.  My horse, who died tragically when I was a sophomore in college, was my best friend in high school.  When I heard she’d died, I cried for months.  I’ve still not taken out the pictures of her that I boxed up; even remembering her now is incredibly bittersweet.

Yet, I’ll be the first to tell you that of all the animals that I’d be comfortable letting a 7 year old girl hang out with, horses would be at the bottom of my list.  They are crazy mo’fos.  Totally unpredictable.  You can have a horse for 20 years and never have him freak out at a bird, and then one day…BAM.  You’re on the ground and Trigger is running terrified from a pigeon.  You just can’t predict their behavior.  Some horses, though, are much more dangerous than others.  Those horses you have to kill.  You can’t sell it to someone and have it hurt and/or kill a kid.  Sometimes the only place they can go is the glue factory.

This reminds me of the story of Magic Pony.  I cackled with glee as I loaded him up on the Dog Food Trailer.  That’ll teach you to roll on my brand new saddle, you jerk.

Anyway, this has everything to do with the debate at hand.  What do you do with a killer whale who kills people?  Heck if I know.  My instinct is to terminate it, but the issue is more complex than that.  The whale (or dolphin, really) was just doing what it instinctually does.  It’s not like a horse in that it is WILD, and no matter how many hoops you teach it to jump through, it is not a puppy, pony, or kitty.  It is an apex predator that abides by you when it wants to.  Not to mention, there’s no telling how many instinctual triggers you can trip in a given day that might scream, “I am yummy and delicious FOOD!” and get you eaten.  I don’t really think you can punish it for that.  To wit, you can’t release the thing into the wild either, because it’s just domestic enough that it isn’t equipped to deal with the Darwinian system.

This is the textbook definition of rock and hard place.

What I do know, though, is that you absolutely cannot start hating on Sea World because it has killer whales in captivity for a couple of reasons:

1.  It’s not like Sea World went out and snagged a baby Orca from its momma.  Tilikum, like many of Sea World’s orcas, was actually bred in captivity.  The whales, dolphins, sharks, and other assorted creatures that aren’t from a captive breeding program are almost always rescues.  Animals that otherwise would die in the wild are given a pretty nice life with lots of food.  Sea World, like most zoos, does its very best to not to take animals out of the wild for a life in captivity.

2.  Sea World, like zoos, are incredibly important for educational purposes, and I’m not just talking about understanding how these things live, eat, and breed.  Do you know why little girls love horses?  Because they can go out and pet them, ride them, and otherwise get to know them.  That’s why there are more people fighting for America’s wild mustang than fighting against open ocean pollution.  Ponies are majestic.  They’re wonderful.  Everyone’s met one that they thought was beautiful/awe-inspiring/the poo.  The key to conservation efforts is allowing people to understand why these animals are important.  When you go to a zoo and see the elephants, all of a sudden the shrinking African savannah seems like a much more important problem.  Sea World banks on the fact that at least a few of the people who visit will start driving Priuses and switch to compact flourescencts when they realize that the way they’re living is killing Shamu.

What Sea World–and other zoos–understand more than ANY of that is that children must be educated to actually make a difference.  If a kid falls in love with bottlenose dolphins, maybe he or she will become an eco-conscious adult.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I can’t see people getting pissed off about captivity.  I mean, yes, I understand when animals are kept in inadequate conditions.  I’m not even touching that part of the argument.  What I’m talking about are places that make every conceivable effort to keep their animals healthy and happy.  What it comes down to for me is this: if 20 whales, scattered across America, can help educate the public and encourage environmental awareness about the 100,000 whales in the wild, then that’s fine by me.

I’m Lovin’: Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!!! December 21, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Lovin'.
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PREACH IT SISTER>>>!!!!

Need a pick-me-up?  I swear to God, the reviews of this book made me laugh so hard I cried.  Also, bless my soul, you can look inside!  Trust me, IT IS ALL CAPS FABULOUS* BECAUSE JESUS THE HOLYGHOSTCHRISTCHILD TOLD ME>>>: ALSO I’M NEVER ROBBING GODTHESAVIOREMMANUELL OF CHILLIN’ FOR HIS PRIESTHOOD THANK YOU FOR CHANGING MY** LIFE!

Update on Offensive Facebook Status Updates December 7, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Crazy Magnet, Life, Loathin'.
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I’ve written three papers in six days.   Yes, you heard me.  My entire weekend was devoted to researching and writing two, and I have one more (as yet unstarted) that’s due on Wednesday.  Basically, by brain is slowly liquefying in its own literary juices.

So, for FIVE MINUTES, I hop on facebook to unwind and revel in other people’s finals week stress.  Do you want to know what the first thing on my status feed was?  DO YOU?

Anonymous Poster is I listened to her scream for about 7 minutes while she searched around for the shield. I continued to pinch my nipple, so it would protrude, and she finally did it! I got her to nurse on both sides without the shield… Now, it took A LOT longer than normal. We’ll see how it goes in the middle of the night :o)

I. Am. Not. Kidding.  I have no idea what a shield is (and I’m way too afraid to google it for all the ta-tas I know I’ll see), nor do I care.  Nipple pinching?  ON FACEBOOK?  Totally inappropriate.  Good Lord.  If you want to talk about the challenges of motherhood, there are PLENTY more avenues to use–your own personal mommy-blog, private notes on Facebook, the telephone. Just…please.  Spare the rest of us (who, again, don’t care) the gory details.

So, Vaccines… November 4, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Recently, I read this article about the anti-vaccination movement in America.  It’s long, but if you have the time to read it, it’s fascinating.

Vaccines have been all over the news lately.  From swine flu to cervical cancer, vaccinations have people all worked up, and I can understand.  I, myself, am not getting the swine flu vaccine for many reasons, not the least of which is its lack of availability in Arkansas.  I am leery of any medicine that has been rushed through trials, and it looks like swine flu really isn’t any worse to have than the regular flu.  A good 48 hours of bed rest and some popsicles, and you’re all better.

I’m also really invested in not making the cervical cancer vaccine mandatory as well.  You might remember when Texas decided that it was going to make all middle school aged female children get the Gardasil vaccine.  It later came out that Merck, the company responsible for making the shot, was a huge campaign contributor to then-governer Rick Perry.  Additionally, the shot would not be covered by many insurance companies, forcing families to pay the $70 per shot out of pocket.  This is not to mention the actual health dilemma: the vaccine was released in 2006, and although it had already gone through thorough medical testing, there were no statistics on the vaccine’s long-term effects.

Optional vaccines are optional for a reason.  However, what I have an immediate concern with are the folks who refuse to give their children mandatory vaccines.  The Wired article proves the point better than I ever could, but I still wag my finger at you, crazy parents.  The reason we vaccinate our children is not because we’re necessarily afraid of little Ricky catching measles, but to keep measles “extinct.”  The problem with not vaccinating your children is that every time a kid comes down with an “eradicated” disease, the disease has the chance to morph. I realize that this is a minute possibility, but follow me down this path for just a second.

Last month, John came home frustrated because the producer on one of his jobs was working out of his house and couldn’t come in to proof some mock-up shelving units for Pantene (I think, I don’t know for sure).  Anyway, the guy had been quarantined by the CDC because his son had come down with pertussis, i.e whooping cough, one of those “invisible” diseases you’re supposed to be inoculated for before you go to school.  Turns out this guy had vaccinated his son, but a stronger form of the germ was going around the kid’s daycare.  Where it came from the CDC couldn’t say, but they were trying to get it taken care of before the germ spread.

Again, this is the story.  It could be false.  Regardless, that’s the issue with swine flu, isn’t it?  The danger that it could morph into something not unlike avian flu with a high kill rate is possible, and that’s why the medical community is trying to get a handle on it.  Why contribute to the problem?  I know that many people are afraid that vaccines cause autism, but with no definitive proof, the argument doesn’t seem to hold water.  Additionally, most pediatricians now subscribe to a delayed vaccination schedule that space out the shots over a longer period of time to give the child’s immune system time to cope on the off chance that there are side effects from having too much thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) in the system.  This seems like a happy medium to me.

Anyway, just had this kicking around in the ol’ noggin’ today and thought I’d share.  What are your perspectives?

BookLust: The Devil’s Highway October 16, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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Tough read.  Important read.  Must read.

Tough read. Important read. Must read.

I’m going to post this separately from a recap about Luis Alberto Urrea’s visit to campus, just for posterity’s sake.  Oh, and also, then I have TWO blog entries.

I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction.  Unless it’s a cookbook, craft anthology, or magazine, I tend to gravitate towards fiction.  When I’ve got a down moment, I’m much more likely to pick up Lorrie Moore than I am Jon Krakauer, in other words.  When we were told that we had to teach this in class, I didn’t quite know what to expect, not only from the book but from my students.  I have to admit, I thought the book would be a series of redundancies for me–after all, who better to know the border than a girl who grew up there?  The fact that the book had been a finalist for a Pulitzer didn’t really sway me one way or the other; I expected a dull read full of outdated statistics, gross over-generalizations, and liberal propaganda (honestly).

What I found was an absolutely riveting piece of creative non-fiction.  Urrea writes beautifully.  He carefully picks his language and metaphors so that they are honest but impactful.  The story itself focuses on the Yuma 14/Wellton 26, a group of illegal Mexican immigrants who lose their lives in the middle of the Arizona desert.  Instead of starting from the group’s first step into Arizona, Urrea begins at the beginning, and the book’s success and readability hinges on this move.  He sets up the book by giving the reader an in-depth look at the border patrol and the Devil’s Highway, and explains key terminology which factors into the rest of the text.  I have to admit, the first part of the book is slow going and a little schizophrenic; Urrea frontloads The Devil’s Highway with information, and hops around substantially while he delivers it.

If you can stick with the book, it skyrockets in parts two and three.  Urrea is incredibly careful with the story he has been given. Urrea’s compassion for the men and their families colors the text as he paints the “walkers” in vivid detail.  The reader is immediately taken by the dramatic irony in the book, for Urrea never lets us forget that as we meet these “real” people, we are doomed to powerlessly follow them to their deaths.  We walk with the illegals step for step as Urrea painstakingly pieces together their story from survivor testimonials.  In terms of perspective, I felt like I was reading a first-person account of the tragedy rather than investigative journalism.

The real beauty of this book lies in its humanistic take on illegal immigration.  From the border patrol to the gang that organizes the death march, Urrea portrays each person as an actual person, not just a “group.”  For example, the reader gets to know many of the Yuma 14 along with their motives for running the border, and we realize that these people are more than just “Mexicans who steal our jobs,” but are fathers, sons,and providers.  The border patrol agents do their job and do it well, but The Devil’s Highway shows them as “missionaries” of a sort, a kind of cavalry dedicated to saving the lives of immigrants just as they protect the American people.  Though the book is tangibly biased, Urrea’s opinion is fairly hard to pin down: he seems to sympathize wholly with the immigrants, but he’s understanding of the American fear that surrounds the immigration issue in general.

Not only did I learn a ton from the book itself, I could not help but be moved by the Yuma 14’s story.  It’s tragic from beginning to end, and I honestly had to set the book aside more than once because the horror had become too acute.  Urrea pulls no punches and tells it like it is, even in death.  He forces us to count the steps to one man’s final resting place, watch as the men go insane from hyperthermia, and experience the tragedy of rescue.  The work is beautifully done, and I think that it should be a must read for all American citizens.  Though he sometimes downplays the complexity of the immigration situation–who truly understands it?–the work he does to make immigrants more than just a group is astounding.

The scope of this book is undeniable.  Regardless of your stance on immigration (and regardless of your citizenship!), you will learn something about yourself after you close the back cover of The Devil’s Highway.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5 (a gripping and critical text)