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    • Visiting The Hospital In Canada
      So, last night, after a few days of illness, getting worse, I took some codeine and a sleeping pill, lay myself down to sleep, and couldn’t. Right then, obviously serious enough that I needed to go the hospital. I arrived, at one of Toronto’s (Canada’s largest city) largest hospitals. There was no one else in […]
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Labor Day and Look-ahead

Happy Labor Day to everyone taking the day off. This year, it’s a paid holiday for me. Last year, it wasn’t. I paid for this day off out of my own pocket. That’s the price you sometimes pay as a contractor. There are a lot more contractors since 2008. The number one problem with this economy as I see it is income instability. That’s when you can’t count on your hours, that the site will stay open, that your start-up might close, that your second job is shopping yourself for the next gig. That’s what’s undermining the middle class. You can’t buy a house, buy a car, have a family, save, take a vacation or keep our consumer based economy going strong when you’re always looking over your shoulder for the guy who is going to lay you off.

Some billionaire entrepreneurs will tell you that fluid labor laws are essential to innovation and making piles of cash. This is not true. Piles of cash were still attainable when we were all gainfully employed in steady jobs.Maybe the piles weren’t quite so high but how many yachts do you need?

In any case, people need breaks or they burn themselves out. So, today, remember the union guys who picketed and stood their ground and gave us the weekend and Labor Day.

Joe Biden and Tim Kaine are in Pittsburgh for a speech and parade. I got up too late to attend but will try to follow up on this later today.

“Let’s fight the right wing, all workers unite”

Best way to fight: VOTE. Pennsylvania residents have until October 11 to register. Do it now.

 

*******************************************************************

Looking ahead:

1.) Today the press starts flying in the same plane as Hillary instead of trailing behind her jet. That should be fun. Her crew has probably thoughtfully replaced the flotation devices in their seat cushions with anchors and the oxygen with nitrous oxide. “Oh, yeah? Who’s laughing now, Andrea??” Maybe Bill will plan the in-flight meals. All vegan. But not the tasty vegan. More of the macrobiotic vegan from 30 years ago with nutritional yeast and bean sprouts. Yum.

2.) The New York Times seems to be going out of its way to Gore Hillary. I’m not linking to any of the articles because why give them clicks? But I will say that after registering voters in predominantly black neighborhoods for the past 6 weeks, I see no lack of enthusiasm for Hillary. The comments on the article were turned off so volunteers can’t give their point of view. Well, we don’t really count anyway, right?

3.) Speaking of getting Gored, the media went on the attack against Gore in 2000. It probably cost him the presidency. Sure, Naderites helped but it shouldn’t have been so close going into the final stretch. Same with Kerry. He was Swift-boated mercilessly and that really contributed to the closeness of the race. Now, it’s Hillary. It’s ALWAYS been Hillary.

I’m trying to find a good explanation why the media seems to be doubling down on her when the alternative is indisputably worse in every possible way. Simplest explanations tend to be the most accurate so I’m going to say that a very large part of it can be attributed to the fact that she is a woman. I say this because the drumbeat of negative coverage of her has been relentless since she went to Washington and from the very beginning defined herself as an atypical first lady. She was clearly feminist, intelligent and not about to let herself get relegated to teas and decorating. There was a cadre of women a little older than her who just missed the cultural revolution, the pill and feminism. And there were plenty of men who weren’t used to talking to a woman as an equal in the halls of power. They weren’t going to let her skirt their rigid rules of gender behavior and get away with it.

But you know, this has gone on for way too long now. Hillary has become a formidable politician in her own right, separate from her husband. It hasn’t stopped the attacks or the coverage of her using the Clinton Rules:

1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and mainstream media outlets

2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.

3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there’s hard evidence otherwise.

4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America’s royal family

5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit

As we have seen, it’s not just the Clintons that get this kind of coverage. Gore and Kerry also got it, although Clinton’s seems to be an order of magnitude worse and this has been backed up with a Harvard study.

Curiously, Obama did not get this kind of coverage.

There could be several reasons for this. One is that racism was a shameful thing 8 years ago. Two is that it was a “change election”. Three is something a little less tangible and something I have been trying to explain for 8 years now: Obama is one of them. He is from their class. He’s the Harvard educated lawyer with a fondness for the conventional values and ambitions of the country club Republican class. Note that Michelle was not actively (or publicly) involved in creating policy. She’s the Stay At Home Mom with the garden. That was dog-whistling to the media that he wasn’t going to break any new ground culturally. He’s the guy the financiers love because he’s got status written all over him. He was their human shield against the rabble who wanted the bankers’ heads and higher taxes for the upper crust. Well, we couldn’t have that. They’ll never trust Hillary because they suspect she’s just a bit more liberal than they’re comfortable with.

Anyway, we’re all worse off because the media decided to jump on the bandwagon to gore Gore and Swift-boat Kerry. Hillary seems to be holding her own right now. Trump seems to have a ceiling because he’s only been able to capture the white male vote. There’s a good probability that Hillary is going to be president. But there’s still some volatility too. None of the volunteers I work with are taking this race casually. And we are still getting people who are volunteering voluntarily. I witnessed this yesterday when one of my young black female millenial volunteers registered another young, black millenial female who then OFFERED to volunteer for us.

Take that, New York Times.

I get the feeling that the media right now is reveling in the scads of money they are making off this election. Pumping up Trump and Sanders paid off big for them. It narrowed what should have been a blowout for Hillary. And they sort of have to keep the pressure up now because the candidates are so unequal in every way that to portray them accurately at this point would make it clear who the president should be. There really is no question. But the media needs a photo finish. I guess they think that even bad news is good and if the worst happens, they can always tell Trump that they made him and they can unmake him.

That’s a dangerous game because this guy will hold a grudge forever and use every trick in the book, which is formidable for a president, to take down his enemies. We aren’t talking about a Nixon here. Nixon was subtle compared to Trump. Letting this genie out of the bottle will backfire badly for the media. They need to think this over and decide if they can live with a Madame President who’s a feminazi libtard or a malignant narcissist with his own white nationalist militia and the power to make their lives a lot more miserable than alfalfa sprouts and squishy veggie burgers on Hill Force One.

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Happy Labor Day!

To those of you who are employed and those of us who are unemployed, may your work be full of joy.

Although I am out of work now, I look back on the past couple of years as the best years in my career.  The pace was insane, the working space was unworkable (one structural biology lab spread over two buildings and three floors) and the atmosphere pretty stressful.  And yet, I can’t remember when I had so much fun.  I looked forward to going to work every day and was so wrapped up in it that I found myself still at my desk at 9pm, my hand clenched so hard around my mouse that I couldn’t flex my fingers.  I never wanted it to end but sadly it did.  My goal is to get back to that frantic pace and insanity because, weirdly enough, that’s where I think I function best.  So, good luck to me.

Tell me about your best job and what made it so rewarding to you.  And thank someone whose job it was to help you today, including your gas station attendant (if you live in NJ) or the waitress or the handyman who is going to help you hook up your dishwasher.

All work has dignity.  All workers deserve respect.

Happy Labor Day!

Run for the Employable

Ahhh, that’s better.  So much more optimistic, right?

My gears are still turning about this event.  My goal is still Labor Day.  Can we do a 5K?  That’s just 3 miles.  I know what some of you are thinking.  “Whoa!, I just come here for the posts and the free nuts.  Don’t put me in a pair of running shorts. ”

Yes, but good intentions don’t mean anything if they’re not followed up with actions.  This requires very little on your part.  But for those of you who are serious about planning an event that will get attention, email me.  We need to talk about how to organize this.

In the meantime, I found a tool for those of you who can’t run or think they can’t or dread all of the gasping for breath and sore knees.  It’s called Couch to 5K.  It’s a graduated program that teaches you how to run the right way.  There are several apps in the Apple Apps store that will get you started with Couch to 5K.  I’m using one called Get Running.  It follows the Couch to 5K 9-week program. Hmmm, 9 weeks to Labor day is July 4 weekend.  It will be hot.  Run in the morning.  You can add your own playlist to the Get Running app and track your progress with your running mates on twitter and facebook.  The coach is a enthusiastic female voice with a charming British lilt.  If you’re the kind that needs someone to tell you what to do and motivate you, this app may work for you.

Of course, running might not be your thing, for medical reasons or just because you’d rather be waterboarded.  So, walk.  Or dance.  Or zumba.  The goal is to get out and get noticed.  And this is just the beginning.  That Chinese saying about “the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” is true.  We think we are alone but some of us have to go first so that others can join us. Don’t be scared.

Can we do this?  Are you with me?

More music for my run playlist.  This week I added some pop:

1.) That’s Not My Name- The Ting Tings

2.) The Heartbreak Rides- AC Newman

3.) Firework – Katy Perry (one of the best running songs.  What a surprise)

4.) Fireflies – Owl City

5.) Real Wild Child- Iggy Popp

The State of Labor

Every now and then, someone will sum up a concept so clearly and elegantly that truth cannot be missed.  I only wish Dean Baker had written it last year when Chris Bowers and the rest of Whole Foods Nation were in the “You like me!  You really LIKE me!” stage as the Obama campaign was fluffing them.  Here it is, all you need to know about the working class:

“Most of us work for a living; the rest are bankers.”

If you are not a banker or someone who owns a huge chunk of an international corporation, you are working class.  You depend on a banker of a corporate owner for your livelihood.

And you are incredibly vulnerable.

Rich people are not like you and me.  Wait, I think someone else said that.  Well, he’s dead now, he won’t mind.  He was right, of course, the very wealthy and well connected are Jet Setters.  They think globally, not locally.  That whole citizenship/patriotism/pride in country thing is soooo outre.  Everyone knows that labor is cheap everywhere else in the world and people are swappable like new widgets.  And if your own workers are too expensive or still covered by a bothersome union, have no fear!  You only have to shutdown your American research facilities and with the money you save, you can buy up some struggling little companies with  good ideas.  Buy them up!  Drink their milkshake!  Corner the market on innovation.  Never think beyond the next resort season.

It’s all about power and accumulation and not having to answer to anyone and a huge, global game of Monopoly where you can charge rent on everything from St. Charles to Park Place.  Don’t worry about the proles getting in a high dudgeon about it.  Hire a bunch of mindf$^&ers who will convince the gullible to vote against their own interests.  Or tell them that losing their jobs is a sacrifice for the greater good.  Keep them from associating with each other.  Make them call each other racists and teabaggers.  Sit back and watch the fun.

But seriously, folks, when the mindf%*(ers convinced the Whole Foods crowd to vote for Obama, the neofeudalists won.  It is going to be very, very hard to work our way out of the predicament we are in.  Unless we can wake up the working class in the next couple of years, we will not be able to turn this around.  We will have turned ourselves into a highy stratified society consisting of the superrich and everyone else.  We won’t mix.  There will be no equality.  No innovation.  We’ll have our own caste system.  Even higher education will be pointless.  There will be no jobs.  It will only be the masters and their servants like Jane Austen’s England. And don’t think that Sonia Sotomayor is going to make a bean’s worth of difference on the USSC.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she were just the kind of justice the bankers (and their bonuses) love.  We shall see.

We Clintonistas were the canaries in the coal mine, last year.  We saw where the working class was headed when the Democratic party abandoned us.  And we tried, desperately, to get the attention of the Whole Foods crowd, to no avail.  But the truth is, the self-identified “creative class” were *always* one of us.  They just didn’t know it until now.  And until they accept us as their equals and join with us in solidarity, we will have no power as a Union.

Happy Labor Day.


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Labor Day: There is Power in a Union

Money speaks for Money, The Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
The comfort for the widow, the light to the child,
There is power in a union.

Message to the DNC,

We, the voters of the United States who voted in good faith for Hillary Clinton, demand that you give Senator Clinton the day off.  She’s worked tirelessly for your slacker nominee since the day when you stole her delegates from her.

We demand that you compensate her with vacation time and overtime pay.  She has gone above and beyond the call of duty, giving up her own right to promotion in order to sing the praises of the man who hasn’t met a opponent he couldn’t derail or voter he couldn’t brutally suppress.  We estimate that the amount of time that Senator Clinton has put in so far entitles her to take off the rest of the year.

As to the matter of monetary compensation, it goes without saying that we support equal pay for equal work.  You record in this department is sorely lacking.  Hillary Clinton has clearly outworked her opponent and yet you awarded the nomination to him.  We will be filing a complaint with the EEOC accordingly.  We also intend to make sure that you aren’t just paying lipservice to the concept of equal pay in the rest of your organization and will expose you when we find evidence of any discrepancy.  Considering that Senator Clinton is a giant discrepancy, we advise you to remedy the situation immediately.

We demand a benefits package including a guaranteed benefit pension plan, a dollar for dollar 401K retirement savings account, life insurance at group rates and accidental death and dismemberment at 2.5 times Senator Clinton’s salary.  We demand that Senator Clinton be afforded access to a universal health insurance plan for life with a drug benefit, mental health benefit and access to reproductive health services.  This plan should be made available to all people on a sliding scale according to income (not to exceed 10% of total gross income) with tax credits and automatic enrollment.

We also condemn the use of women to do uncompensated work with no definite endpoint and have determined that is reminiscent of human bondage.  We are particularly concerned that Senator Clinton’s statement regarding Governor Palin’s incipient breaking of the Glass Ceiling was met with “will do, for now” from Barack Obama.  This indicates to us that Mr. Obama will continue to insist that Senator Clinton save his bacon in the 2008 election and no reward will be forthcomeing for her.  We believe this is a violation of Senator Clinton’s human rights and an affront to her personal dignity.  We therefore demand that you release Senator Clinton from any further campaigning on Barack Obama’s behalf.  Any further uncompensated work forced upon Senator Clinton in this regard will be referred to Amnesty International for a formal investigation.

We have no expectation that you will bargain in good faith since your recent record is deficient in the extreme.  However, you should note that the true and loyal Democrats have found that there is indeed Power in a Union and we look forward to making the powers that be in the DNC, the powers that were in November.

Enjoy your Labor Day while it lasts.

Sincerely,

The PUMAs

(People United Mean Action)