November 3, 2013 archive

Nov 03

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Fast Food Workers Movement – The Ants on the Elephant by Geminijen

“We are the Workers, the Mighty, Mighty Workers

Everywhere We Go,

The People Want to Know

Who We Are, So We Tell Them…
.”

 photo ed7bfc5c-559a-453a-94c8-393154d74dd9_zpscaa5eb88.jpg

As I walked toward the demo of the Fast Food Workers in Union Square, I heard the words and sounds of this song and couldn’t help but grin.  We were back!  The workers that is – not the “middle class,” not the “deserving poor”, not “the 99%.” As a working class kid from a union factory family, I got it.  Not only because you can’t really go around shouting “Middle Class of the World Unite” or “We are the Mighty Mighty Middle Class” – let’s face, it, it just doesn’t resonate – but because the very concept of “worker” which this movement seems to grasp intuitively changes the very nature of the struggle.  

“The Middle Class,” “the poor” and even “the 99%” define us in terms of how much wealth we have or do not have, regardless of how we got it, in the upwardly mobile mantra of Capitalism. As workers we are defined, instead, by what we do, how we appropriate the materials and provide the services necessary for the survival and comfort of the human species. And that is a pretty important difference.



Obama’s “middle class” framing of all that is good and important in society (and god know we all want a better lifestyle) is no more than the standard capitalist divide and conquer, the promise of individual upward mobility for the few at the expense of the many.  You too can be one of the chosen. And we often buy into it. We want to see ourselves as “better” because we have been able to buy our own home, or send our children to “private” or “charter” schools.  And we rationalize that it is because we deserve it – we’re smarter, more industrious, stronger, our skills are more necessary–not due to the whim of the time and place we were born into or that our skills and success are built on the back of the skills and hard work of others.

All of us have known an aunt who raised kids, worked outside the home all her life, carried on intelligent conversations about the world’s problems, worked for the community and has ended up relatively destitute.  What is her value? Is she poor because she deserved it?  How about many of our young people today who bought the American Dream, worked hard, even went to college if they could afford it and now, through the vagaries of capitalism are jobless or working in low paying jobs that will not allow them to get that middle class dream (unless they can still inherit it from their parents)?

 photo 19bf65ef-a905-4248-8fd7-47b921838287_zps085764a6.jpg



The term “workers” reunites the labor movement by removing the distinction between the mostly white, working middle class (who usually got their middle class lifestyle through union benefits that their grandfathers fought for) and the less affluent workers who are often people of color, single mothers, immigrants, and increasingly young college educated workers who missed out on the brass ring due to the recent failing economy. As one worker put it:

“I don’t care if you’re blue collar, white, collar, pink collar or no collar — all of us have value.  Have you ever stopped to think how hard people work?  The people who cook for you, the bus driver who drives you to work in the morning?  The people who clean your house and your clothes?  Have you ever stopped to say ‘thank you’?  If you don’t know how to do that job, or if you don’t want to do that job, the best way to say thank you, no matter how much you make, is to stand in solidarity with us and RAISE THE MINIMUM wage!”

Nov 03

Organlegging

Organlegging is the name of a fictional crime in the Known Space universe created by Larry Niven. It is the illicit trade of black market human organs for transplant. The term organlegging is a portmanteau combining the words “organ” and “bootlegging”, literally the piracy and smuggling of organs.

The crime developed as a response to the Organ Bank Problem, a concept featured prominently in the early Known Space stories, particularly those set in the 21st and 22nd century.



In Niven’s universe, it was possible to transplant nearly any organ in the body (and prevent rejection) by the mid 21st century. Since any organ could now be replaced, in theory one could use the organ banks to extend life indefinitely. To maintain communal organ banks, one needs donors (i.e. dead people). When the death rate is reduced (via the organ banks), the number of donors decreases. Thus, the supply of organs would continually reduce.

Compounding this problem, the high success rate of organ transplants tended to discourage research into other viable medical treatments. As a result, medical research was stagnated to a large extent, focusing primarily on improving transplants and little else. Repairing a failing organ (which could presumably fail again later) was considered secondary to the “complete” solution of replacing the failing organ.

An example in the Known Space universe was that anyone who wore eyeglasses was considered a reasonable candidate for an eye transplant (one or both); whereas in the real world, today’s nearsighted population can solve the problem (temporarily) by wearing corrective lenses or (more permanently) by undergoing laser surgery.

On Earth, the problem led to a repressive society almost unrecognizable by today’s standards. Since the average citizens wished to extend their lives, the world government sought to increase the supply by using condemned criminals to supply the organ banks. When this failed to meet the demand, citizens would vote for the death penalty for more and more trivial crimes. First violent crimes, then theft, tax evasion, false advertising, and even traffic violations became punishable by the organ banks. This failed to solve the problem, as once the death penalty was passed for a crime, people stopped committing it. This resulted in nearly every crime meriting the death penalty. Further attempts to alleviate the problem by declaring certain groups of cryogenically frozen people to be dead in law (the so-called “Freezer Bills”) and harvesting their organs also proved to be unsuccessful. The freezer vaults represented a finite supply and therefore were eventually exhausted.

Nov 03

On This Day In History November 3

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 3 is the 307th day of the year (308th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 58 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, residents of the District of Columbia cast their ballots in a presidential election for the first time. The passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 gave citizens of the nation’s capital the right to vote for a commander in chief and vice president. They went on to help Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeat Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964, the next presidential election.

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the federal territory until an act of Congress in 1871 established a single, unified municipal government for the whole District. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. Named in honor of George Washington, the city shares its name with the U.S. state of Washington located on the country’s Pacific coast.

On July 16, 1790, the Residence Act provided for a new permanent capital to be located on the Potomac River, the exact area to be selected by President Washington. As permitted by the U.S. Constitution, the initial shape of the federal district was a square, measuring 10 miles (16 km) on each side, totaling 100 square miles (260 km2). During 1791-92, Andrew Ellicott and several assistants, including Benjamin Banneker, surveyed the border of the District with both Maryland and Virginia, placing boundary stones at every mile point. Many of the stones are still standing. A new “federal city” was then constructed on the north bank of the Potomac, to the east of the established settlement at Georgetown. On September 9, 1791, the federal city was named in honor of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia, Columbia being a poetic name for the United States in use at that time. Congress held its first session in Washington on November 17, 1800.

The Organic Act of 1801 officially organized the District of Columbia and placed the entire federal territory, including the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, under the exclusive control of Congress. Further, the unincorporated territory within the District was organized into two counties: the County of Washington to the east of the Potomac and the County of Alexandria to the west. Following this Act, citizens located in the District were no longer considered residents of Maryland or Virginia, thus ending their representation in Congress.

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1961, granting the District three votes in the Electoral College for the election of President and Vice President, but still no voting representation in Congress.

Nov 03

Cartnoon

Nov 03

SIx In The Morning

On Sunday

Agent provocateur: Inside the secret archives of East Germany’s secret police

Simon Menner spent three years trawling through millions of surveillance images in the archives of the East German secret police. What he found was often laughable. But, he tells Holly Williams, beneath the Austin Powers exterior, there was evidence of a truly disturbing machine that still has the power to break its subjects

HOLLY WILLIAMS  Author Biography   SUNDAY 03 NOVEMBER 2013

While the recent leaking of government-surveillance information hasn’t exactly been welcomed by the secret services behind it, an exception comes in the form of the documents obtained by the spies of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security run by the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).

After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the vast swathes of material the Stasi gathered about their compatriots was archived, and opened to the public. Now, a new book by the artist Simon Menner brings many of these bizarre but sinister records to light for the first time, from photographic guides on how to apply fake wigs, to coded hand signals and even images of Stasi award ceremonies and parties.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Protest in Russia: an activity only for the brave and foolhardy

Malaysia invests in a fresh start for business

Pakistan summons US ambassador over drone death of Taliban leader Mehsud

Kenyan press, opposition criticise proposed harsh media law

Abuse video shocks Saudi Arabia

Nov 03

Late Night Karaoke

Nov 03

Bill Maher’s New Rules: Minimum Wage

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Earn Notice

October 25, 2013 – Bill Maher ended his show Friday night going after Republican opposition to the minimum wage, calling them out for opposing something that would make people less dependent on government handouts. He targeted McDonalds in particular, saying “until Ronald McDonald starts paying his employees a living wage, he has to wipe that fucking smile off his face.”

When did the American Dream become the path to indentured servitude?

This is the question the right has to answer. Do you want smaller government with less handouts, or do you want a low minimum wage? Because you cannot have both.

Nov 03

Saturday Night Movie