Everybody knows the fight was fixed, 20

5 10 2015

I’m not generally a fan of violence nor specifically a fan of assault.


I cannot dredge up even the smallest bit of concern at the sight of an Air France executive chased over a fence by workers:

Kenzo Tribouillard , AFP/Getty

These workers are fighting for their jobs. They’re literally doing to the executives what the executives would—metaphorically—do to them.

I have no illusions that labor violence in the US would not be met by even greater police violence, nor that the citizenry would support the workers. Whatever our paeans to ‘plain-spoken hard-working salt-of-the-earth heartland’ types, what we Americans really respect is money.

If you have to work to get it, okay, fine, but if you’re out there doing what someone else can do (cheaper), shut up and get back to work.

There’s an incident recalled in Adam Gopnik’s essay “Trouble at the Tower” in which a tourist (British? American?) was prevented (roughly?) from getting off at the wrong platform by the elevator operator. She complained, he was fired, the rest of the tower workers went on strike until he was restored to his position.

Naturally, sympathy in France gathered quickly around the wronged operator and his striking friends, while sympathy in the Anglo-American side gathered around the roughed-up lady. . . [S]he was just trying to have a good time, we think. But he was only doing his job, they think.

Gopnik elaborates upon and, honestly, overplays the disjuncture between the customer/producer mentalities (just as I overplay the respect for money/work disjuncture), but I think he does get at something about cultural defaults: the French sympathy tends toward the worker, while the American does not.

In France, the storming of the offices of the jobs-cutting executives (or the blockade of roads by tractors) is not a horror, but a tactic. In the US, workers respond to cut jobs by reapplying for the same position at a lower wage.

And if corporations kill workers? Oh, well.

(Is it worth noting that the one of the few corporate executives who’s going to jail for killing people is doing so for killing customers, not workers? I think so, yes.)

There are plenty of us (in both countries) who would set the switch differently, but we’re straining against custom. What they (we) take as right we (they) can scarcely imagine here.

So to see what is possible—that fighting back is possible—well, if I’m not exactly thrilled by the assault, there is a certain grim satisfaction in that man’s ripped shirt.

Now eleven million later, I was sitting at the bar

3 06 2015

Many years ago, when my friend T. and I were both broke (she no longer is, I’m, well, I ain’t at her level), we’d fantasize about how we’d support ourselves in old age:

“Let’s rob banks, and if we don’t get caught—helloooo Costa Rica. And if we do, then it’s at least three hots and a cot.”

That’s if the lottery didn’t work out for us.

Well, it seems some seniors have beaten us to it:

Elderly Crime Rates Increase - Bloomberg Business'e

Never was much of a golf fan.

If you don’t want to pay some more

18 03 2015

So. I made considerably more money this year than last—which is good, sure, that’s good.

But: this means that instead of getting a state tax refund, I’ll be paying. Which is not good.

Yeah, yeah, I choose to live in a high-tax locale, and I generally support redistribution blah blah, but I’m not going to let a little political hypocrisy get in the way of some personal complainin’.

Anyway, since I owe NY money, I’ll wait to file that return: it’s almost the same amount that I’m getting back from the feds, so right around the time that money comes in, it’ll be time to pay out. BASTARDS!!!

I do have one question, however: if I made so much more money, WHY AM I SO BROKE? Where did all that money go?


Sittin’ on the dock of the bay

12 03 2015

My back is killing me.

Now, the initial reason has to do with introducing a new lift in my weight routine—my form was fine, but the initial weight was too heavy, hence the strain—but the strain is exacerbated by the fact that my current desk chair is. . . no longer adequate.

It’s been more-or-less fine for years, but over the years it’s moved more toward the “less” side of the spectrum. Because I’m working my second job from home, I’m spending a LOT of time in the chair, and thus have a lot of time to reflect on its inadequacies. And while I don’t expect a chair to fix my exercise mistakes, I also don’t want it to magnify the effects of those mistakes.

So: search for a chair. Search search search. Read the reviews read the reviews read the reviews, consider the features, select, delete, et cetera.

So: I’ve found what seems to be a decent chair. I like that the arms are padded (current chair? no) and flip back, I like (I think) the syncro-tilt, and I like the price.

The problem? There’s only one review. Positive, but still: one.

I’ve search for more reviews, but no luck. The price isn’t outrageous—130 bucks or so—but this is out of “what-the-hell” territory. There were a couple of other chairs I looked closely at, and the reviews were helpful in deciding to eliminate them: the negative/meh reviews were over twenty percent and a fair number of them were quite recent and about the same problem, while the in-depth 4- and 5-star reviews were all older. That there are negative reviews doesn’t bother me, but if out of 300-400 reviews a solid 25 percent are negative, well, I think I’ll look at something else.

(I bought a small vacuum cleaner recently, and in trying to figure out which of two to buy, that the negative reviews were recent and pointed toward the same problems with one machine pushed me toward the other. Which works fine, in case you’re wondering.)

Anyway, the specs on this chair seem decent, but then, so did those on the chairs I ultimately eliminated.  *Sigh*

I have to admit that were I to have the cash, I’d buy a Herman Miller. Not necessarily the Aeron chair—I’ve never sat in one, and you betta believe that before I plunk down a thousand bucks I’m plunking my ass in that chair—but this Eames lounge chair, and precisely because I have sat in it.

Sister, it is worth every penny.

When I was in grad school I took a course in human rights, which meant that, in doing research for my papers, I had to trudge from the Social Science tower over to one of the upper floors of the law library, where the human rights collection was located. It was there that I discovered this amazing chair, tucked in a windowed niche—and it was to there I returned, long after the class had finished, to sit and read and, on more than one occasion, doze.

(Sometimes it wouldn’t be there, and I’d find it had been dragged somewhere else on the floor. I clearly wasn’t the only person who liked that chair.)

I became a little obsessed, so much so that I finally flipped the chair over and ripped the fraying product manufacturer tag off. Then I went on a hunt through furniture store after furniture store—this was pre-internet—until a woman at a place in north Minneapolis said “oh, that’s a Herman Miller. There’s a store in [Edina? Hopkins? one of the nearby suburbs].” I then got on my bike (no car) and rode out to that store, frayed product tag in hand, and began the process of ordering myself a Herman Miller.

That was, oh, over twenty years ago, so it was nowhere near $1800 bucks, and that I’d buy it directly from this store  would mean I could probably get the cheapest version for less than 500 bucks. (I remember the person who worked with me as professional, helpful, and a bit bemused at the sight of this broke-ass grad student trying to figure out how to afford a freakin’ Eames chair.)

I didn’t buy the chair: incredibly, that I didn’t want the cheapest chair was kept me from following through on the purchase. No, I decided, I’d get a Herman Miller when I could [afford to] get exactly what I wanted.

I still have the product brochure, by the way, though the tag seems to have gone missing.

So, huh. Is there a point to this story? No, no point, other than, perhaps to point out (ha!) that I am willing to lay out crazy money for chair I know is comfortable.

But if I don’t know? Then 130 bucks seems a lot.

Everbody knows that the captain lied, 16

19 01 2015

This seems like a singularly bad idea.

I mean, sure, the airlines are more than willing to screw over the lumpenproletariat mashed like potatoes into the cheap seats, but how will they deal with the haute bourgeoisie up front who number too few to gain priority over other flying buses?

And will they do these on an absolute or relative basis? Total number of first class seats sold or percentage of First-to-last class? Total dollar amounts spent on first class?

Or maybe this could be the greatest selling point (from the airlines’ point of view) for first-class seats since the invention of first-class seats: pay more to increase your odds of landing before the fuel runs out!

Now that’s service.

Everybody wants a box of chocolates, 12

2 11 2014

This is what every left-thinking political actor should say whenever any right-thinking political actor worries about higher wages among the lower classes:

“I understand. . . companies have to make money. They don’t have to make it all”

This bit of clear-thinking is courtesy of retired coal miner Charles Tipton.

Mr. Tipton is a wise man.


Brothers in arms

21 05 2014

Given recent news, how about a rerun?

Originally posted March 1

Let us compare two votes, shall we?

One authorizes war; another authorizes benefits* for veterans of war. How well do these votes match up?

Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL, voted in favor of the Iraq War; Senator Jeff Sessions voted against benefits for veterans of war.

Senator Richard Shelby, R-Al, voted in favor of war; Senator Shelby voted against benefits

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, voted in favor of war; Senator Murkowski did not vote on benefits.

Representative Jeff Flake, R-AZ, voted in favor of war; Senator Flake voted against benefits.

Senator John McCain, R-AZ, voted in favor of war; Senator McCain voted against benefits.

Representative John Boozman, R-AR voted in favor of war; Senator Boozman voted against benefits.

Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, voted in favor of war; Senator Nelson did not vote on benefits.

Representative Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, voted in favor of war; Senator Chambliss voted against benefits.

Representative John Isakson, R-GA, voted in favor of war; Senator Isakson voted against benefits.

Senator Michael Crapo, R-ID, voted in favor of war; Senator Crapo voted against benefits.

Representative Mark Kirk, R-IL, voted in favor of war; Senator Kirk voted against benefits.

Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA, voted in favor of war; Senator Grassley voted against benefits.

Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS, voted in favor of war; Senator Roberts voted against benefits.

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, voted in favor of war; Senator McConnell voted against benefits.

Representative David Vitter, R-LA, voted in favor of war; Senator Vitter voted against benefits.

Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, voted in favor of war; Senator Collins voted against benefits.

Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, voted in favor of war; Senator Cochran voted against benefits.

Representative Roger Wicker, R-MS, voted in favor of war; Senator Wicker did not vote on benefits.

Representative Roy Blunt, R-MO, voted in favor of war; Senator Blunt voted against benefits.

Representative Richard Burr, R-NC, voted in favor of war; Senator Burr voted against benefits.

Representative Rob Portman, R-OH, voted in favor of war; Senator Portman voted against benefits.

Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK, voted in favor of war; Senator Inhofe voted against benefits.

Representative Pat Toomey, R-PA, voted in favor of war; Senator Toomey voted against benefits.

Representative Lindsay Graham, R-SC, voted in favor of war; Senator Graham voted against benefits.

Representative John Thune, R-SD, voted in favor of war; Senator Thune voted against benefits.

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT, voted in favor of war; Senator Hatch voted against benefits.

Senator Michael Enzi, R-WY, voted in favor of war; Senator Enzi voted against benefits.

Those who voted for the war and for benefits:

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
  • Senator Thomas Carper, D-DE
  • Representative/Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA
  • Representative/Senator Ed Markey, D-MA
  • Senator Harry Reid, D-NV
  • Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY
  • Senator Tim Johnson, D-SD
  • Senator Maria Cantwell, D-WA
  • Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV

Those who voted against the war and for benefits:

  • Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA
  • Representative/Senator Mark Udall, D-CO
  • Senator Benjamin Cardin, D-MD
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD
  • Senator Carl Levin, D-MI
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI
  • Representative/Senator Bob Menéndez, D-NJ
  • Representative/Senator Tom Udall, D-NM
  • Representative/Senator Sherrod Brown, D-OH
  • Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR
  • Senator John Reed, D-RI
  • Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT
  • Representative/Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT (sponsor of benefits bill S.1982)
  • Senator Patty Murray, D-WA
  • Representative/Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-WI

If you don’t want to pay for the consequences of war, then DON’T VOTE FOR WAR.

And, goddammit, if we do go to war, then you pay to take care of those who fought the war.

Even soldiers in a stupid, shitty, pointless war deserve care.

*Technically, this was a cloture vote (requiring 60 votes to succeed), which is to say, a vote to stop a filibuster; voting yes on cloture would end debate and allow a majority vote on the legislation to proceed. The vote failed, 56-41.


According to Alan Fram of the Associated Press,

Republicans criticized how most of Sanders’ bill was paid for — with unspent money from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the winding down of American military involvement in Afghanistan. The GOP says those are not real savings because no one expected those dollars to be spent as those wars ended.

I’d go back and see how many of these. . . statesmen voted in favor of war-time tax cuts, but I really don’t have the heart.


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