Monday, April 20, 2009

Pack of six lean black women just raced by my window!

Six Black Women in the lead -- one doesn't see that very often, tailed by a lone white woman. Then a long gap, and the other white women appeared.

Ok, why focus on their race? ha ha. No pun intended. I dunno... Not an everyday sight, that's all. And now the men are sweeping by.

Yeah, I've complained that H and I live in a student ghetto and major homelessness hangout with raucous partyers and drunks making noise all night long.

But once a year there's another kind of raucous yelling on our street -- The Boston Marathon!

Huge burst of cheers -- what could that be? Who'd get more cheers than the Ethiopian female frontrunners?

OMG -- a guy with amputated legs, running on steel limbs!!! I'll try to find pix.

Update. Couldn't fit a pic of the amputee running on steel legs, but this report about amputees in the wheelchair category is pretty chilling (*15*):

Minard is one of 15 Iraq war veterans - all double amputees - slated to compete tomorrow in the Boston Marathon. They are part of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, run by the New York-based Achilles Track Club, which works to help disabled men and women compete in mainstream athletic events.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Should we expect more workplace shootings in today's economy?

One of the bloggers I frequently read (indeed, her blog is my home page -- great mix of psychological insight, wit and lighter fare) will be speaking on the Today Show about the important topic of "layoff etiquette." This involves things like:

What etiquette dilemmas do the unemployed and their still-employed friends face? What awkward situations have you encountered because of a friend's unemployment, or your own?

Discussion of the 10,000 laid-off per day are big in my household write (oops) now because H .... no he wasn't laid off or even threatened with such (H doesn't work outside the home) is writing a play which is set in 'The Present" against the back-drop of the current economic crisis. The play features a workplace shooting (or at least the threat of one, final act not completed yet).

So my brain has been spinning the etiquette question a couple different ways.

What should one do if a friend who lost their job confesses that they are so tired of the unfairness of our current economic system that they want to go postal -- the bosses need to pay too, etc, like the old rhyme from the rank and file in Vietnam, "Turn the guns around, shot the bosses down"... Advise them to work for change in a nonviolent manner? Why shoot yourself in the foot (head) just to have the satisfaction of killing your boss first?

There is a provocative book that says that workplace shootings are a way that frustrated workers vent their anger at an unjust social system,

from wikipedia:

Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond is the title of a book by Mark Ames, which examines the rise of office and school shootings in the wake of the Reagan Revolution, and compares the shootings to slave rebellions....Ames argues that "killing sprees" at U.S. workplace and schools are acts of political insurgency rather than ordinary crimes or the actions of disturbed individuals.

Indeed, Mark Ames also wrote a story on this last month: "Workplace Massacre in Alabama: Did Endless Downsizing and Slashed Benefits Cause the Rampage?"

Ames writes: "But of all the inexplicable circumstances surrounding the murder spree, one of the oddest has to be the way Alabama authorities went from focusing hard on solving the shooter's motive to suddenly dropping the issue like a hot potato and running away from the scene of the crime, as if they didn't like what their investigation produced..."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Product Placement -- in short stories??

I still vaguely remember the first time I heard about the nefarious, evil and disturbing practice of product placement. Was this 20 years ago? The prospect was being discussed that not only might we have ads at 10-minute breaks during TV shows, but the TV show producers would receive payment (or at least free products) if they positioned these products actually on their show. Wow. Like - someone drinks a coke, and that's an ad! But it still didn't seem possible. That stuff only happened in exaggerated scare-ya stories, like the book 1984. Then the idea loomed that it could even happen on movies, which were suppose to be ad-free, since we paid admission to see them. How dare they! And how manipulative!l

What a yawn those concerns seem today.

And how successful is that product-placement meme. There are always new boundaries to break. A tavern in Boston (and Harpoon Brewery?) is sponsoring a short-story contest for anyone who can incorporate the proper name Harpoon into their story (and the words pint, pen and Bukowksi, who was the most flagrantly alcoholic of the past centuries of alcoholic writers).

I do like the short-story contest idea, but not in order to sell products. There could be contests around things we care about -- recovery from alcoholism, for example. But could such stories increase any one's profit margin?

H said he couldn't submit to the contest. He wants to smash capitalism, not take his cut.

me: We must live in the world we want to change?

I suggested one could insert Harpoon as a character's name. Harpoon Bukowski, an acoholic's nickname, ha ha. Pint doesn't have to refer to a pint of beer. It's simply a unit of measurement -- you've eaten a pint of ice cream, right? Harpoon Bukowski could make a reference to his pint-sized daughter trying to write, barely bigger than her pen.

H: No, it's still product placement

It's interesting that all one's needs is $1,000 bucks (approx) and a website and one can sponsor a short-story contest. I've given away plenty more than a thou in charity of various forms. I've gotta tell my do-gooder parents about this idea...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Anger at management bubbling over -- Scenes from Goddard's Tout Va Bien

Some of you movie connoisseurs may know about  "Tout Va Bien," also known as "All Is Well." This is Jean-Luc Goddard's fictional account of the labor disputes and strikes by French workers in 1968.

The real-life version updated to 2009 is now appearing in towns across France...

Caterpillar bosses held hostage
Lizzy Davies in Paris
April 2, 2009
FRENCH bosses were given a fresh reminder of the dangers facing them during the economic downturn this week as angry factory workers in Grenoble barricaded their offices and took four managers hostage.

Protesting against job losses and meagre redundancy payouts, local employees of the US firm Caterpillar decided to take matters into their own hands and locked their superiors inside the plant's management headquarters.

The latest in a surge of "bossnappings" across the country, the incident aimed to bring a more satisfactory conclusion to the recently announced round of blood-letting in which more than 700 workers are to be laid off.

"We are holding them in the director's office," Benoit Nicolas, a union official, said during the stunt, or sequestration, as it is known in France. The hostages included Nicolas Polutnick, the factory director, the head of human resources, and the head of personnel. "They are a little shocked," Mr Nicolas said.

The bossnapping was a clear sign of France's reawakening industrial restlessness amid the financial crisis.

Far from a one-off, the Caterpillar crisis was the third since last month. Last week the head of a factory run by the US chemicals giant 3M was held for 24 hours in a meeting room.

The chief executive of Sony France, Serge Foucher, had to spend the night in a conference room as workers blocked exits with tree trunks, demanding improved redundancy packages.

Bossnapping is regarded as the ace card played by a workforce at the end of its tether.