Thursday, September 27, 2007

BlogCatalog Against Self-Abuse! [in aid of "Bloggers Unite"]

(Actually, what with the Earth's rotation and all, more than a few places around the planet have reached Zero Hour. In the interest of candor, THIS VERY ENTRY is coming out Somewhat after Midnight, EDT. )

Before we go any further, A Disclaimer:


[That said, I wish I understood the mechanics of "language translation". Not so much, the idea; more the nuts and bolts. After all, the potent English word "Self-Abuse" may or may not have equivalents in other languages. I need someone to translate these missives from English to, say, Italian. Then a second translator, who had not seen the original, would be charged with translating the translation back into English. 30-minute time limit. - MR]

BESIDES PEOPLE, even I don't have the nerve to completely trash "BU" during a major show of force. (Hey guys, I'm a member and all. I know the Rules...) And, as the Quicker Thinking among you have no doubt realized by now, it's Another form of "Self-Abuse" that's on the Table.

Being Specific, I mean the abuse we hurl almost continuously on ourselves. Understand, please, that I am not against a regular "self-examination"; What I'm bringing up is the kind of things that most of us [well, a lot of us, anyway] do occasionally, and Quite A Few, I Expect do entirely too much

Take a 'mo:

Circumstances Against Your Control - You're beating yourself over the head for things that are under the complete control of: God, Allah, The Buddha, The Boss [However you interpret that term], Coleman Hawkins recordings, You Know What I'm Getting At Here. Do you have a CLUE how unhelpful and unhappy the makes not only you[On principle, I think how you want to feel, so far as it's in your control, ought to by Law be your choice. After all, you're really the Only One who spends 24/7 with you.], but those of us who have to put up with you [we have our limits...]?

Circumstances Rigged To Explode In Your Face - 98 % of the time or so, you should not only be able, but should "feel obliged", to dismantle the bomb in question. FOR PRACTICE, if for no other reason [And I don't mean to kiss your employer's ass, either. Consider the benefits of being able to dismantle, then rebuild, those menaces, Knowledge Is Power!]

Situations Lost Because Of Legitimate Ignorance - Understandably, forgivable. In a world where Learning is frequently parcelled out by the size of one's purse, instead of one's abilities [Sorry for that very Franklinian touch - when you're confronted with the depth, breadth, and length of Franklin's file of Inventions, a frequent first reaction is to yell out, "arright, Franklin, you're the biggest bloody genius of the early-American-era. We'll just FORGET one bloody Thomas Jefferson". Fortunately, bouncers stepped in before further harm took place. Mr. Riley added that he had never had better treatment by what he termed "a bloody mini-army, just waiting for an excuse, or even a mis-read gesture, to begin the Earth's "Armageddon" [the real, and final Armageddon is, and always has been: Forces of Satan - vs Forces of God. I believe that God's Forces win. But it may hot be as big a walk-over as I'd like it to be...].

(You, no doubt, can add to this list. No you can't. You can only add to the "Comments" section. Damn. Maybe you could put your additions to this list in as "Comments. Just a thought...)

The point is, we trash Ourselves a great deal more than others. So knock it off! [Imagine that Slogan on the side of a dumpster in Your Town! We'll pay you less than you want, but almost as much as those sleazebags that operate the trash-collecting company that gets your [not THIS] area's "outsourced" trash-pickup business]. After all, can't we all get along with ourselves?

Not as much of a parody as you'd think...

-Mike Riley

PS: A special 'Thank You" to the sponsors of this little journal, for allowing us to carry the "BloggersUnited" poster; instead of carrying on a disgraceful "price war" over sponsoring this Historic Issue, they agreed to leave the space unpurchased. In gratitude for this unprecedented gesture, PLEASE VISIT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM TODAY! (Whether or not you end up buying things is Your Business, although I try not to put companies that have a bad reputation on this page). - MR

PPS: I would never call the two facts related. But the GM-UAW strike was settled WITHIN SIX HOURS after this space printed a brief look at the overriding dance between Labor and Capital. (Unlike "Dancing With The Stars", neither side is permanently eliminated. Frequently, in fact, they've both been on the Outs with the Outside World, sitting in some symbolic Penalty Box...




-Chant in Buffalo's HSBC Arena, when

the opposition to the Buffalo Bandits

[pro lacrosse] pick up a penalty. - Also MR

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From Point A to Point B (and how we got there)

(Note: Sometimes one writes, not to solve a problem, but to attempt to state the circumstances fairly. Once a matter is presented even-handedly, it sometimes becomes easier to consider solutions. - MR)
As I write this, the United Auto Workers, one of the few major unions left in the United States, is on strike against General Motors, one of its largest corporations. I'm not taking sides in the dispute, nor am I making any predictions about how long the strike will last. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of more expert voices across the Blogosphere who have opinions on all of that. But the situation got me thinking of deeper issues [Not that I'm any more an expert on them, but I haven't seen them addressed before].
The rise of unions in the US was paralleled by the rise of industry. Small companies either grew or were absorbed into larger ones. These new giant corporations needed capital to expand. They sold stock or borrowed money to finance the new growth. Those who put up the money for this expansion, understandably, expected some kind of return on their investments. Companies were placed in the box they remain in today; a need to find competent workers, balanced against the necessity of keeping operating costs low, so as to return an acceptable profit to investors. As this happened, it became more difficult for individual workers to protect basic safety and security rights. Unions arose to give workers rights by collective negotiation that they would not have had dealing with employers individually. (In a way, it also made things easier for Big Business, as they were creating one standard agreement with thousands of workers at the same time. They could then set up cost projections for the length of the contract based on a predictable figure for wages and other benefits.)
The result of generations of such negotiations was, on one hand, an envied standard of living for the American workforce and, on the other, the need to charge more and more for goods to help make up the increased costs for labor. In an effort to reduce some of those costs, corporations began to manufacture more parts or finished products outside the US. It made it possible for them to pay these foreign workers lower wages, based on a lower standard of living. This has led to growing concerns among American workers that their jobs will be "outsourced" and increased calls for job security at contract negotiation time. As corporations turn more and more to foreign labor, they believe they can negotiate for lower wages or benefits or, at the very least, unchanged compensation for work. (There are other tools Big Business uses, such as offering special compensation for employees who agree not to unionize their workplaces, but that is not within the scope of this article.)
As the UAW-GM strike continues, workers in manufacturing plants that sell goods to GM are beginning to feel the pinch through layoffs. While the strike goes on, factories in other countries will soon fall silent. A pebble that drops in one place may cause an earthquake in another...
I wish I knew an answer for all of this, but I confess I don't. Some people have proposed Socialism, or even Communism, as a solution to the ills of American Capitalism, but years of failed attempts to bring these systems to the forefront prove that this nation will not accept them. Some hope for enlightened leaders in the unions or business, but one man's enlightenment is another man's madness. As a non-union worker, I am frankly curious to see how matters will work themselves out.
-Mike Riley
PS: If you are reading this on September 26th, please check back tomorrow. This blog will be taking part in a BlogCatalog-sponsored effort to raise awareness on the issue of abuse. For more details, click on the "poster", or smaller "BloggersUnited" banner. - MR

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


This day in 2001, I came home after work [then, as now, the all-night shift on the radio]. The Woman I Love woke me up about 11 AM. I don't remember her exact words, but she told me that terrorists had crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, while a third attempt had failed, with the plane crashing somewhere in Pennsylvania [only later were we to learn about the determination of a group of passengers on board Flight 93]. I don't remember saying, "You must be kidding", but I remember thinking it...

Sadly, no one was kidding that day. As death estimates rose that day, and the horrific days that followed, I remember first of all a feeling of anger, that such a murderous act could take place on our soil [that's illustrative right there: our soil, our country was violated, its citizens, as well as citizens of many other nations, slaughtered in a wanton act of mass murder]. There was a feeling that our nation should do whatever it took to find, try, and punish those responsible [well, to be very honest, trials weren't necessarily on every one's mind; finding those responsible, then killing them by the most painful method possible was a popular early option]; that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Osama Bin-Laden reportedly plans to commemorate today's anniversary by reading the last will of one of the airplane hijackers in a new video.

While I've never been really comfortable with large public displays of Americanism [as opposed to patriotism, its more benign version], such things happened over the following days and weeks. Thousands of families buried their dead. Millions of dollars were raised to ease the burden of those who were now deprived of a wife, a husband, a brother or sister, a life partner or a life-long friend.

The memorials go on this year, although complaints of politics have come up over the New York tribute [then-mayor Rudolph Guilliani, now a Republican candidate for President, plans to speak, as he has at each memorial service]. The crowds that turn out each year get smaller and smaller. This is, I'd guess, inevitable.

But let this nation never forget the bravery of rescue workers who rushed into burning skyscrapers, who breathed fetid, lung-damaging air as they worked to save, and then recover, those trapped by the carnage. Let us never forget the bravery of airline passengers who thwarted another bombing attempt with their own lives. Let us never forget the feeling of national grief, of national unity, of the national will to go on. These things must be the true legacy of 9-11, not a sense of national impotence at the failure to bring that murderous gang to heel, not a feeling that the national leadership took advantage of the bombings to move its own agenda forward, or a sense that our spirit has been fatally crushed. Pray God, nothing could be, must be, further from the truth.

-Mike Riley