August 31, 2013 archive
Aug 31 2013
Aug 31 2013
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
August 31 is the 243rd day of the year (244th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 122 days remaining until the end of the year.
I am very hesitant to make the death of Princess Diana the prominent story of the day but her death was a tragedy on so many levels that it is not surprising that the world nearly stood still for 6 days until her funeral. There are many things that we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when they happened, like 9/11 and, for those of us old enough, JFK’s assassination.
I was living in Paris then not far from the site of the accident. I had been out to dinner that evening with my then ex-husband, Dr. TMC, when we heard the crash, it was that loud, and shortly after the sirens of emergency vehicles. Not unusual in Paris, so, we continued on to our destinations. It wasn’t until very early that I heard that the Princess had died and where. Paris was stunned. The site became a instant memorial.
We all sat glued to the TV for days waiting for the Queen to say something. The Queen badly underestimated the admiration that was held her former daughter-in-law. The day of her funeral Paris froze, the only time I have ever seen the city this quiet was on 9/11.
After being criticized for failing to satisfactorily match the grief of the British people, the royal family arranged for a state funeral to be held for Diana at Westminster Abbey on September 6. Diana’s coffin was taken from Kensington Palace to the Abbey on a horse-drawn gun carriage, and an estimated one million mourners lined the route. Diana’s sons, William, 15, and Harry, 12, joined their father, Prince Charles; grandfather Prince Philip; and uncle Charles, the Earl of Spencer, to walk the final stretch of the procession with the casket. The only sound was the clatter of the horses’ hooves and the peal of a church bell.
The service, watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide, sacrificed royal pomp for a more human touch. Workers associated with Diana’s various charities represented 500 of the 2,000 people invited to attend the funeral. Elton John, a friend of Diana, lent a popular touch to the ceremony when he sang “Candle in the Wind,” accompanying himself on piano. After the service, Diana’s body was taken by hearse to her family’s ancestral estate near Althorp, north of London. In a private ceremony, she was laid to rest on a tree-shaded island in a small lake, securely beyond the reach of the camera lens.
Since the death of Princess Diana, Althorp, which has been in the Spencer family for over 500 years, is now a popular tourist attraction that offers tours to the general public.
I still light a candle in her memory on this day.
Aug 31 2013
Photos of the JoJo train are finally here and it’s not just the outside that looks cool
Earlier this week, we told you about the Yamanote Line train that will be decked out with the characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle (coming to PS3 on August 29). At the time, we could only provide you with a few artist renditions of what the train might look like. But now, may we proudly present to you 31 photos of the actual JoJo train, inside and out!
On August 26 at 5:57am, the first Yamanote Line train of the day pulled out of Osaki Station. This wasn’t the ordinary lime green-striped train that thousands of commuters have come to know, this one was special. The exterior, interior, monitors, and even the advertisements hanging from the carriage ceiling were covered in JoJo. On each side of the doors, the very same characters from the manga were proudly displayed for all to see.
Aug 31 2013
If you're stuck working minimum wage jobs like I am, you know what everyone else who earns the lowest pay allowed by law knows: You can't live on minimum wage, certainly not on the part-time hours employers give.
That's why it's heartening to see fast food workers across the nation going on strike to demand better pay. I pull in $8.30 an hour at around twenty hours a week. I can't afford even the cheapest of apartments on that. As a single white male with no dependents, I am ineligible for most public assistance, including welfare, housing assistance, and medical assistance (Medicaid). I get a pittance in food stamps every month, but it's not enough to keep me fed on a regular basis. I'm lucky if I can eat once a day.
My entire paycheck is spent paying bills before I even get it deposited to my bank account, which is typically at or near empty. That is the reality for me and for everyone else who works a minimum wage job.
Some stupid motherfucker was posting on a friend's Facebook page yesterday about how unfair it would be if fast food workers got an increase in wages to earn the same amount as he does in his construction job, because he doesn't expect that an increase in the minimum wage would necessarily bring an increase in his own pay. According to him, we minimum wage monkeys don't do any real labor, and therefore don't deserve to make anywhere near the same amount of money as someone whose job involves backbreaking physical labor. This same stupid asshole thinks that we can get higher paying jobs if we wanted to, and that we don't want to. Bullshit. If I could get a job working construction, I'd be working it right now. I've applied for those jobs and they haven't even granted so much as one interview. Most require that I have my own transportation, which I can't afford because I don't make enough to afford my own vehicle. Those that don't haven't deigned to give me an interview either.
I can tell you right now that this ignoramus wouldn't last even one full shift working at McDonald's. He couldn't keep up with the fast pace, and he certainly couldn't deal with impatient, often angry customers, standing on his feet for eight hours or more. I've done that and it's exhausting. My back is still screwed up from nearly three years of bending over a work table marinating, trussing, and spitting chicken carcasses for roasting, and I left that job in 2005 — eight years ago. These days I grind lenses for an eyewear company for barely above my state's minimum wage. I have to clock out for lunch if I work over six hours, costing me a half hour's pay, because the corporation for which I work doesn't want to pay me for a shift that's long enough to necessitate taking a few minutes to restore my energy levels.
News articles about the fast food strike state that the demand for fifteen dollars per hour would raise pay for full-time workers to thirty-one thousand annually, more than double the current annual average of fifteen thousand. Some, however, quote workers pointing out that most minimum wage jobs don't provide full time hours. They allow twenty or under, meaning someone like me might make $7,500 a year or less, and very often it's a lot less.
In an article on NBC Washington, it's revealed that financial woes actually have a negative impact on a person's IQ. That is, the sheer stress of not being able to afford even the basics, like adequate food and drink, is literally making people dumber. Starvation wages lead to actual starvation, so the body can't get the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy brain. Financial worries force people to devote more of their mental power to worrying over how they'll afford to live, leaving much less time and energy for other matters.
Who the hell can live on the current minimum wage? No one, not without public assistance, which is already slashed to the bone with Republicans and Democrats cutting the social safety net even further. Many of us are either homeless or soon shall be (myself included). No one is out there advocating for us. No one is doing a damned thing to lighten our financial burden. The vast majority of our tax dollars (yes, we poor folk do pay taxes) go to fund wars and Wall Street, with things like education, housing, food, and Social Security getting less and less. Yet we're told by ignorant assholes to “suck it up”, stop asking for “handouts”, to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and make do or die. If we could do that on what we get paid, we would. But we can't, and even though we work and pay taxes (unlike the obscenely rich), we aren't allowed to have a say in how our tax dollars are spent.
So what's to be done? Well, I don't know about you, but I for one have no intention of crossing any picket lines, and neither should you. Don't let striking fast food workers do this all by themselves. Support them in whatever way you can. Join them, in fact. If you know in your heart that everyone has the right to work “a useful and remunerative job” that pays enough to live on, then join them in solidarity and demand an increase in the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. Call and write members of Congress in both houses, call and write the White House, march on Washington in the millions and shut the place down, join striking workers on the picket line, donate whatever money and food you can afford to help people who are starving.
This country and this planet are going to hell in a hand basket, but only if We the people let them. Don't let them.
Aug 31 2013
The vigil for Islan Nettles, who died last week after being beaten into a coma and being declared brain dead, drew a crowd of hundreds to Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem. Nettles was a 21-year-old transwoman who was pursuing a career in fashion.
On August 17 Islan was walking with a transwoman friend when they encountered a group of men outside a Harlem police precinct station. One of the men, Paris Wilson, 20, had recently friended Islan on Facebook. Wilson reportedly began flirting with Nettles, until one of his friends yelled that she had been born a man. The friends began teasing Wilson until he attacked her. As he was beating her, the “friends” shouted anti-trans and anti-gay epithets. He continued to pound on her face after her head had been driven into the sidewalk. Wilson was arrested after police finally arrived. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on $2,000 bail.