Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Cynic in Me Fades Away


Alright, I admit it.

I wish I had the balls that this guy has. This guy has stones. And I don't mean that in a sexist way. He has the bravery of the ages. He is standing there shirtless with cardboard, and the laconic cops are bored with it all. But he's there, and he's not afraid of anything.

Out there with him are other men and women who are equally as brave, trying to make something come together and work. A few years ago, a more cynical version of myself would have probably laughed. You can't stand up to the establishment in this country. You can't protest money, power, privilege and influence. The kids out there, running through the streets in ones and twos and threes and fours are no match for the fist of the Man.

Hey, the Man's gotta fall sometime. Why not now?

I don't know whether Occupy Wall Street is a fleeting thing, a fading glimpse of organized protest, a misguided attempt to put a country on notice, a media-ignored event of significant ramifications. I have no idea where it will go and I have a lousy track record for predictions.

It starts with balls. Courage. Conviction. And standing up with cardboard, sans hair shirt and in a good pair of shoes that'll let you run when it's time to beat feet.

Anyway, this guy has that rare element of fearlessness that you find in the best of America.

These are Americans, standing up for American values and the American way of life. Wall Street told America to fuck off years ago. Trading derivatives and flushing thousands of mortgages and destroying neighborhoods was Wall Street's way of demonstrating how it feels about America.

This guy is the real American. Those cops should join him out there and show the Man what's what. Peacefully, of course. And with all the love of a Beatles album or something like that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So Long, Elisabetta Canalis

In what must be a symbol of major distress to beautiful, rich, and famous people everywhere, Elisabetta Canalis has been dumped from "Dancing With the Stars."

Normally, I'd say, "I didn't see that coming," but the truth is, I don't pay attention to the actual shows themselves. I am inundated with the stories that run on the press wires. The fodder these shows generate is well in excess of their actual importance. They do get high ratings, however, so I can see why these stories run so frequently. They seem to be ginned up with phony outrage and fake feuds that aren't there.

Canalis is famous for being dumped by a rapidly aging American film actor named George Clooney. She is, or was, a model in Europe and has now been fired from an American television program that features a kind of reality television format. That's right--fired. Let go. Cut loose.

If Elisabetta Canalis can't find work in this country, what does that say about our economy? And how sad is it that this is what passes for entertainment and a relief from the day to day grind? Watching people dance, badly in many cases, is now the opiate of the masses. Nothing is more disposable than a show like this. How are you going to run this again when the eventual winner is crowned? The show itself isn't worth archiving let alone worth purchasing as a complete season. I've never seen the point in running so many cheap reality shows. But, then again, maybe there's no money to be made in syndication or reruns, either.

I also wonder what this does to confidence level of women in general. Do they see her defeat, so early in the season, as proof that the pretty girl doesn't win in the end?
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Important Detail is Missing From This Story?


I'll bet you can spot the missing detail.

We have a case where a man worked for the union, worked for the city of Chicago, and ended up with a large pension. Dennis Gannon was a public servant, and he has retired with a great deal of wealth. He didn't break any laws or do anything wrong. But his success in life is a reason to destroy his life? Because that's exactly what this article intends to do. The Chicago Tribune cannot point to a single thing that he did wrong, except know the laws, know the system, and do what he needed to do for himself.

Anyway, that one important detail?

Governor Jim Thompson was a Republican.

Doesn't that make you view this in a different light? And why is it that this article mentions nothing about Thompson's political affiliation? Don't you think it is relevant to tell people that the man who signed the law that allowed Gannon to acquire his pension was a Republican, given the case being made against organized labor practices in this country by the Republican Party?

You see, the current argument is framed as if the Republican Party has been the absolute pure and contented virgin, dipping her toes in the waters of corruption and sin exactly no times in the entire history of the Tea Party republic. And yet, when you consider that a Republican handed the people a law with his signature on it that would allow Gannon to do what he did, you can't help but wonder what all the fuss is about. He now works for a hedge fund, by the way. So raise taxes on hedge fund workers already, my goodness. Wouldn't that make all of this feel a little better?

It is perfectly okay to hand millions to the rich, the well-connected, the corporations, the oil companies, the energy conglomerates and even to the lowly people who work for the hedge funds. But if one man who works for a union ever gets himself a decent pension, forget it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How Society's Elite Deal With Adversity

I'm not unsympathetic to what is going on in this article. I have snipped out this piece at the bottom because that's the most compelling part of it. It's not a good thing to see an example of someone being "forced" to work in the sex industry. But this is about a lawyer that can't find work who chooses to work as a topless dancer because of a lack of opportunities. The whole smacks of an elitism that I think is worth commenting on.

No one grows up wishing or praying that they can enter the sex industry. Those who do enter it for a number of reasons, not all about money and not all about abuse or drugs. There are no simple answers, but there are a lot of simple reasons. How is "awful" that someone with a law degree has to dance in a topless bar while the other thirty or forty women have to dance there as well? Are they less important because they have not held a professional job or because they do not have a law degree?

If anything, this should tell you what a law degree is worth if you don't find the right job when you get out of law school. If this woman had specialized or practiced law in such a way as to make herself marketable, would she really be in this position? What if she is, in fact, marketable but chooses to live in a part of the country where there are few, if any, jobs for people who practice the kind of law that she has specialized in?

Is this really a reflection of American society, circa 2011, or is this a symptom of a more generally broken economy and something that should not reflect back on her? If so, then the other thirty women dancing topless in whatever establishment our lawyer is dancing in should not be held in contempt because of what they are having to do in order to survive in this economy. If you can consider the economic conditions that would have a professional woman giving lap dances in a topless men's club, then you can probably develop an understanding as to why all of this talk of austerity and belt-tightening is really putting the squeeze to people who are at their breaking point.

This article sounds, to me, anyway, like this woman is going to break if she cannot escape from the sex industry. Does that sound like heart-wrenching desperation or a calculated move? Some would say both. What better way to distance yourself from something than to set an artificial deadline for stopping.

As noted above, the indignities that this woman is suffering are all too real--for her, and for many other women in the sex industry. Does this article smack of elitism because of the horrifying view she has for being a topless dancer? Why is she so ashamed of what she is doing, legally, in order to make a living? If she were open and honest about what she is doing, wouldn't that help remove some of the stigmas that are associated with dancing topless? Wouldn't she be giving other women forced by economic desperation into this line of work some measure of respect?

If she is so unhappy about what she is doing, why doesn't she try to join the military? She could enter the United States Army, for example, as an officer and join the JAG corps. She could serve for four to six years and gain a tremendous amount of legal experience and probably find a great deal of professional success as a JAG lawyer.

Or is there a stigma attached to that as well?
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The End of Saab?


If Saab fails, then I'm certain that any remaining U.S. car dealers who derive even part of their business from selling Saabs will feel the effects. Are there any dealers who sell Saabs and only Saabs? Or have they all "folded in" with other brands?

The global auto industry has changed over the past few years, so no one is really shocked to see Saab's demise. Whenever a carmaker goes out of business, so many different groups are affected. The people who deal with and supply parts now have to make do with what they have, since the manufacturing process has stopped. The people who rely on their old Saabs for transportation--and can't afford new cars or expensive repairs--now have to wonder what they will have to go through in order to get a simple repair done for their car. What a mess.

These cars were somewhat popular in Minnesota. I can remember walking by a pair of parked Saab 900s every morning on the way to broadcasting school, circa 1988-89.