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05 September 2006

Another suggestion for Mr. DaVos, er DeVos



If you have been reading this blog, this mensaje is for you specifically.
Between your beyond-impressive business career and your budding political career,
I see it as unlikely, but I'm assuming these days most
politicians have 'operatives' for sundry tasks including 'public opinion research'
in the form of literal dumpster diving in the blogosphere.
In any case, I feel justified if even one reader from any walk of life
considers the present post 'edifying' as an example of an 'open letter.'



Mr. DeVos, in spite of your socially conservative reputation and my
almost left-anarchist worldview, I am seriously considering supporting you.
Think of it as a mirror image of the "Republicans for Granholm" concept
unleashed at the Straits in Labor Day. But don't count your chickens just yet.
You may or may not have noted my recent post that you could be one stand-on-an-issue
away from getting my vote. The particular issue in question was queer rights,
in which I prioritize the pro-ENDA over the anti-DOM aspect of queer rights.
Since you started proudly proclaiming that Amway-as-workplace (unlike Google, at least here in MI) isn't just for salesy
personality types (any more?), I've come to believe that anything is
possible in the current gubernatorial race. This uncanny feeling is
reinforced, of course, by your opponent's DLC-on-steroids approach to things.
This pattern has been consistend and assertive:



* I strongly object to her policy of allowing the state and its political subdivisions to become even more
economically dependent on (i.e. indentured to) the gaming industry, and 'sin' taxes in general.


* Granholm's 'de facto tax' policies, including the introduction of draconian late fees
on payments for state services, and the even more regressive so-called Driver Responsibility Law.
This policy is especially diabolical as it has the highly demonstrable effect of further marginalizing the already
profoundly economically marginalized.
Perhaps you admire these for being adoptions of financial practices long considered standard in the private sector.
I don't admire this trend at all.
There are Democrats (even during these center-to-right spectrum times) who are morally qualified to
criticize the Republicans for balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.
Granholm most emphatically is not one of them.


* Touting the apparent comeback of the MIC as a potential jobs engine.
If that's not bad enough, it's worse than the Eisenhowitzer era, when the 'I' stood for the
relatively benign word 'industrial,' a word you seem to know a lot about,
although I still get the impression 'sales' still means way too much to you.
Yet...Even if I were to hire in with Amway or one of its parent companies or subsidiaries and discover,
to my almost bitter chagrin, that the workplace culture is every bit as
right-of-center as I had feared, I'd still take glorious pride in working in the
real private sector. By this I mean the P2P (private to private) type
customer base in the
spirit of B2C (business-to-consumer, your stock in trade, no?) and B2B
(you do commercial products, by any chance? I'm down w. that too.)


Special note: I was turned off by the "you got a problem with that?" punctuation to the
by now I'm sure infamous Amway PR spot, spoken with
what I (mis?)interpreted as a sort of (stereo?)typically-conservative 'swagger.'
Sombunall of us from the eastern part of the state are
acutely aware that, in the television medium anyways, Wal-Mart addresses (or so it seems to think) Canadian
viewers with a Canadian accent (in both official languages, of course), while it addresses Michigan viewers (literally 90% of the time)
with an Arkansas accent. Think about that next time you're tempted to refer to a certain Empire State Senator
as a 'carpetbagger.' I suspect such a change in perspective could prove literally profitable,
commercially or politically.

More Fun With Dick And Jen



04-Sep-2006, 1907Z



I waited with baited breath to find out what Granholm's response would be to
the (precedent-setting?) inclusion of TV ads of the advertisement-as-press-release genre into the mix, already considered
by some to smell somewhat of conflict of interest due to the mixing of the
advertisement-as-campaign-speech and advertisement-as-opinion-piece metaphors.
I didn't have to wait long, as evidenced by the new (to me, anyway) Granholm ad I saw this morning.
How sad.



Earlier, I winced when Granholm rolled out an outline of recovery
themed on Michigan's role in an earlier World War, characterized by
Willow Run, the Warren Tank Plant, Rosie the Riveter and her millions of colleagues,
and the invention (tragic, when seen in 20/20 hindsight) of literally marrying the nation's
(especially, it seems, Michigan's) health insurance sector with its human resources sector.
Her patriotism is admirable, as is her concern for the state economy, and even her concern (assuming
at least that's at least part of her reason for using her considerable cheerleading talents
on behalf of the MIC) for the frightening
degree to which the bar has been raised for promotion into the "with bennies" segment of the labor market.
Prior to 9/11, the bennies bar issue was, I think, the most neglected issue, easily the
most neglected domestic policy issue, in the entire range of approved-for-wide-consumption public debate.



Flash back to a picture of yours truly. The date is September 10, 2001.
A mere 15 months ago I had turned 35, by some diabolical twist of federal policy, simultaneously ending my military enlistment eligibility
and beginning (thankx additionally to my obviously unearned "Born in the U.S.A." status, how silly, eh?)
my presidential election eligibility. Lucky for me (perhaps) my life ambitions
at the time were neither military nor political. Actually, they were overtly political
in the "personal is political" sense. I had taken up the pen (which some say is mightier than the sword)
in literal and extremely heartfelt service to
various "political" movements, including the free software movement, the open content movement,
the data-mining-reverse-engineering movement, and copyleftism. Even my spartan (at least by contemporary American standards)
lifestyle required resume enhancement, and the "chatter" I was monitoring from sources as diverse
as monster.com, misc.jobs.misc, misc.jobs.resumes (and many others) was crystal clear: The opporunity cost
(please, look up 'opportunity cost' if you're at all unsure what I mean)
of having hobbies such as, say, writing public domain computer programs, was in the process of skyrocketing.



This morning's Granholm ad was essentially a re-hash of the points made by Bouchard in his pre-primary adblitz,
stressing the rule of law, and Granholm's extensive prosecutorial background, which
includes substantial federal experience. I found this oddly reminiscent of the 1990(?) CT Senate race,
when I remember hearing on NPR some punditry taking note of the fact that Lieberman was explicitly and
transparently running against his Republican opponent "from the right." OK, the opponent in question was Weicker[sp?], but hay,
is that really a valid argument? And what of Lieberman's career since? The Granholm variant on the
Lieberman gambit is something of a mixed metaphor, aligning oneself (at least in terms of priorities)
with a candidate for another office running on another slate.



Things get curiouser and curiouser.

Austerity as Atrocity



Where does, where should one draw the 'line,' if any between 'atrocity' and 'non-atrocity?'
Perhaps the 'term' 'non-atrocity' is overbroad.
An (the?) international legal controversy of late has pertained
to certain questions about where 'non-torture' ends and 'torture' begins.
I tend to concern myself with questions about the shape
of the threshold or 'frontier' between X and NOT-X.



I have been thinking about the subject of atrocities, torture and mistreatment since being a small child.
This is not because I have been mistreated, but because I have been known to watch
the occasional espionage thriller or even daytime soap on the plugindrug, and these art forms
tend to emphasize questions of personal conduct under extreme duress,
especially mental duress. In actual fact, of course, I am an American citizen by birth
and by virtue of (practically) that (alone) I am, I'm sure, well over 80th percentile
when it comes to enjoyment of humyn rights.



Like any NC1965 (NC=natal cohort) unit raised on soap, my youth was peppered with
conversations with peers and others modeled around the proprietary game Scruples®.
There seems to have been a general consensus that fear of intractable pain of
more than momentary duration is feared more than death itself.
Also considered a fate literally worse than death is to allow oneself
under duress to somehow serve causes antithetical to one's personal life
agenda. I may not be 'rugged' but I still identify shamelessly with 'individualism.'
Some call it hypocrisy.
I can't categorically 'demonstrate' that ruggedness isn't an
absolute prerequisite for individualism, but as with M. F. Luder,
there are some things some people simply want to believe.



Speaking of hypocrisy, I myself have been known to self-identify with
scruples, norms; sometimes even 'morals.'
Sometimes I'm in an abstract mood and speak of 'self-imposed constraints.'
I can definitely think of things I've done that I wish I hadn't.
None, of course, fall under my meager 'understanding' of what
torture is, let alone what an atrocity might be.
I could make a list, but I use my real name here at blogger.com,
and we're living in the age of Total Information Awareness,
which is turning out also to be the age of Managed Migration
(and managerialism in general) so yes, Virginia,
not only is Big Brother watching, but so is the globe's
'collective' 'human resources department.'
The good news is,
AFAIK,
the situation hasn't yet degenerated
to one in which I would have to kill you
if I told you.
Perhaps next week there will be a 'confessions' section within 'my' blog.



Austerity as Liberatory Technology



The present blog, in case the present reader didn't already know, was started as a 'containment bucket'.
This means that opinionated content tends to be posted here. This is not done in order to increase
the level of acrimony here at blogger.com, but simply to serve as some kind of pressure valve
for you and yours, truly. In addition to creating a 'space' where you might be able to vent.
To do so, try clicking on any 'blue' (i.e. 'link-colored') 'underscore' characters you might see.
The present blog allows me
to vent when getting certain things out of my system (specifically my splenetic system)
before I'm OK to write the stuff I post in NPOV spaces such as those of the Wikimedia Foundation
and other NPOV groups.



The present screed is too partisan for the parts of wikiaspace that I sometimes haunt,
so I brought it here instead of to pubwan scratchpad, one of the 'mini-wikia,'
even though it would be considered 'on topic' there.
Good taste, as well as adherence to the neutrality principle of pubwan,
requires that pubwan-relevant screeds go with screeds, not with pubwan content.



Pubwan was originally intended as a liberatory technology.
It will probably be a long time before anyone knows whether
that potential actually exists.
Pubwan is to be configured (we hope)
to be capable of (among other things)
empirical research on the subject of austerity.
The normative question I am struggling with
is whether 'voluntary' austerity is somehow
'better' than 'involuntary' austerity.
I'd like to get some testable answers,
but testable answers to such questions
may in fact be theoretically impossible.
After all, information does not want to
be free, regardless of what I want
to believe.

The latest in a long series of volleys



03-Sep-2006 1509Z



Predictably, but frighteningly impressively, even to me, Dick DeVos' game of ideological hardball gets even harder.
Orchestration of the two genres of television programming known as 'campaign advertising' and 'issues-based advertising'
(i.e. 'astroturf') is absolutely old hat, and both of the political parties allowed non-marginal status are absolutely
prostituted to it. But wait! A third genre enters into the system of force vectors, the PR spot. PR spots are
common as hemeroids, and unlike the carefully concocted witches' brews of candidate-spam and soft-money astroturf,
they aren't "seasonal." But this is the first time I have seen one explicitly and transparently woven into
an election barrage. In the true spirit of "objection neutralizing" described in those motivational tapes that
folks in the salesier workplace cultures consume by the kilogram, the PR spot for the company that makes the products
sold by Amway™ representatives is literally a spoken "bulleted list" addressing the short-form laundry list of
objections to the Amway business model (let alone its cultlike reputation), as articulated ad nauseam on biz.mlm.misc,
or wherever exactly that newsgroup was/is in Usenet's Byzantine namespace.



I don't know whether there's truth to the rumor that there's a strong negative correlation between those understandably
ubiquitous "no peddlers, etc." signs on houses, and assertiveness with the word 'no.'
Predictably, though, the disappointment of the less gifted of gab among us in finding out Granholm's Google jobfeast
consisted 100% of sales jobs is clearly not lost on the CEO of the only company that (predictably but nevertheless sadly) actually goes
looking for
me on monster.com. Actually, now that I think about it, there's another one, that ducky AD&D firm that Ehrenreich warned me about.



I've never worked in manufacturing, at least not on the shop floor where they do the manufacturing part.
Perhaps this is my chance. And they even do R&D (cutting edge, so they say) here in Michigan.
I've always wanted to be involved in R&D. Hypothetically speaking, given the astonishingly rare
(remember, I'm an unrepentant introvert) "two offers on the table," I would of course take an R&D job in
academia over one in 'industry' (literally without even bothering to ask about salaries) but I would with even less hesitation choose
R&D at (sp?)Amway (including the dreaded nondisclosure agreements that now indenture virtually every job
that requires even a modicum of intelligence) over virtually any job in the resolutely Hobbesian military intelligence sector,
or even in some of the spookier parts of the private sector, such as data mining (e.g. Google) or
so-called wealth management (e.g. Bearing Point, formerly KPMG, although they don't qualify for my definition of private sector).



This doesn't change the fact that I don't relish the idea of having Amway's army of "stealth conversationalists"
(don't even try to tell me you haven't also been thus ambushed) as my particular
'rainmakers,' but it also doesn't change the fact that the pursuit of cheap Chinese labor, if it's a sin at all,
is categorically a lesser evil than offering to help engineer China's (or anyone's, IMNSHO) version of total information awareness,
as Google is doing. DeVos, despite my misanthropic mental picture of what the capo of an apparent MLM might be like,
seems to have my voter demographic nailed to a degree that's scary-smart, as if he actually uses advanced
data mining for market research or something. Jen better hope he doesn't seal the deal by declaring himself
against discrimination against queer folk; not likely based on what I've heard so far, but true to her infuriatingly
DLC self, Granholm hasn't exactly been assertive in her promotion of queer rights, merely hinting at nonsense
concepts like "cool cities" instead of, say, doing something actually meaningful like unequivocally supporting ENDA.



Jennifer Granholm had better the hell get her ass in gear if she's to stand a chance at even MY vote,
and I'm left of Conyers and Kucinich combined!

The other battle of the bedroom


Wednesday, 24 August 2006, 1205Z


Good Morning America
ran a segment on a battle
of the bedroom not entirely unlike the sinister demographic competition
between the Israeli and Palestinian
peoples in the middle east.


This bedroom battle is taking place here in America.
It seems that (surprise, surprise)
rightist attitude tends to be
associated with larger family size.
Apparently some leftists are concerned
that they may find themselves
memetically cornered by their
political rivals. I beg to differ.


For some time now, mainstream media
have been sounding loud alarms concerning
the increasingly top-heavy age-distribution
observed in the more democratic nations.
Now it seems a similar demographic
shift has been observed
(surprise, surprise) in the more
democratic and egalitarian subcultures
within American society, and perhaps
other societies.


We are told that the worker-per-retiree
ratio is dropping, and first-worlders
of my (currently 40-ish) age cohort will experience very
austere retirement years as a result.
I don't doubt the forecasts of austerity,
but I place the blame elsewhere.
I think people my age should worry
less about worker-per-retiree ratio in the future
and more about GDP-per-retiree.
I myself doubt that I will have the
luxury of retiring. More likely
I will work-to-live until the day I die.
I'm far more worried about the future
of age and disability discrimination and relevant
legal recourse (if any) than about
a top-heavy age distribution.


If the future looks even more dystopian
than the present
(and to me it does) I think it
will be more so for the supposedly
'small' or 'undersize' generation of young adults
than for people my age dealing with
the realities of retirement in
the post-bennies era.
I expect job-per-worker (or niche-per-adult) ratio to plummet further,
due mainly to automation, as well as the
accumulation of arbitrage advantages
by management in a world in which capital
is globalized (aggressively deregulated) while human migration is on lockdown,
or at best 'managed' under management's terms.
The symptoms of an overcrowded and overcompetitive society
are all around us, such as high school kids going postal,
and World War III being initiated over 'terrorism.'


childfree meetup

Union-bashing in high gear in Michigan



The astroturf has really hit the fan here in Michigan.
The degree to which the television airwaves here have been
bombarded with union-bashing ads demonstrates impressively
deep pockets. My own pockets are literally empty,
but it is still possible to post stuff here for free,
so I decided to post some counterpropaganda of my own.
With any luck an audience of some sort will stroll in.



The last of the ads that I've seen is deeply offensive.
It portrays two workers in an apparent public sector setting,
where citizens stand in a long line for some service or another.
The two workers are abusive of the customers, and both are
apparently about to go on break per the just-won agreement,
leaving the folkx in line stranded for some time to come.


To add injury to insult, the astroturf ad also depicts
one of the workers with a noticeable gap between her teeth.
I don't know if this is supposed to be some kind of an
insult to people of less-than-perfect cosmetic dentition.
I think it's an insult to working people in general.


The American workforce has been enduring an aggressive,
systematic program of de-unionization that has been applied
without interruption for decades, having gone into high
gear about 1980. The period 1980-present has been literally
a gift to opponents of the labor movement, whether you
look at political, economic, social or informational trends. Yet the ingrates
piss and moan that it's not enough. The balance of power
between management and labor has already shifted so
dramatically in favor of management that:




  • Virtually every job comes with a contract. Contracts that are not collectively bargained are literally boilerplate.

  • The human resources Establishment has access to a near-total information grid including medical, credit-scoring,
    address history, as well as machine readable (an important distinction)
    feeds from public record sources—usable information in the public domain
    about public corporations is of a very summary or 'low-res' nature, consisting of annual
    balance sheets and income statements in annual reports and prospecta.
    Private businesses are simply black boxes. Sometimes
    they have reputations of some sort, but beyond that
    and gossip, employment applicants are literally in an information vacuum.

  • The role of legal noncitizen residents in America's labor market is tightly managed,
    and on terms agreeable first to the employer (who has veto power over 'sponsorship'),
    second to the government (which has veto power over 'immigration status,' which is contingent mostly on employment and
    sponsorship status)
    and the worker, who is literally an indentured servant.
    The managed migration 'movement,' like the 'right to work' 'movement'
    behind the propaganda in question, threatens to disempower migrants worldwide
    to the even further unfair tactical advantage of management.

  • Underground labor economics as a driver of human migration has gone largely unchallenged by immigration authorities,
    resulting in its degeneration into human smuggling, which is to say, slavery.
    When wages are based on what the market will bear,
    there is no automagically-enforced 'natural law'
    to the effect that persons under duress are not economic actors,
    since it is apparent that many such persons
    function both as producers under indenture, as well
    as as a captive market for underground sheltering
    of so-called illegal persons.

  • The trend from gainful to marginal employment continues worldwide, as well
    as the very real expectation that workers assume more and more of the risks
    inherent in enterprise.



If people in the center-right coalition that controls this country thinks that
the period from about WWII to Reagan was one during which members of America's
unprecedented working-middle-class got more than their fair share
of economic security, they should do the intellectually honest
thing and step up to the microphone and state it explicitly,
or step out of the way of those of us who still dare to be



PROUDLY

PRO-UNION






02-Sep-2006 0230Z



As if Michigan's current multimillion dollar union-bashing astroturf campaign
isn't enough, tonight we got treated to the 60-minute long infomercial
for social darwinism re-branded as 'libertarianism' called 20/20.
So far I have watched the first 30 minutes, at which point I simply
had to dump some bile in my personal containment bucket, which is
to say the present blog.



The first half of the show has been a re-hash of all the cases against
teachers' unions that have been the PR biz' stock in trade for decades.
The 'fact' that competition brings out the best in people, the 'fact'
that without competitive fires lit under their buns, human nature is
for all of us to be lazy and arrogant. This neoliberal 'fact' is almost
as insulting to humans as the neoconservative (Hobbesian or Straussian,
take your pick) insistence that, left to our own devices, we'd absolutely
slaughter each other and revert to something worse than warlordism,
or 'anarchy,' as the main$tream media insist on calling it.



First of all, the reason Belgium blows the doors off Amerika in
academic/intellectual performance is because Belgium is not because
educational professionals there have 'freedom to fail' (about
as astroturf and counterfeit a concept as 'right to work') but
because Belgium is a dramatically less socially conservative
(and therefore less anti-intellectual) society than Amerika,
where even something as core to human rights as the voting rights
act comes (repeatedly!) with an expiration date.



Anyone who's worked in the real private sector (as in 'defense' contractors don't count) knows that free market
competition is a natural meritocracy of salespersonship, manipulation,
kissing up to power/authority and general one-up-person-ship. Its effect
on things we should encourage, such as customer satisfaction, is certainly positive,
but obviously small compared to the effects of competitive pressure on
people's best empirical estimates of whether they have the sheer luxury
of adopting virtually any normatively established variety of 'best practices.'



My own vestigial (so far) career has been well over 95% private, for-profit sector, with
easily a private sector majority in agency/agency-customer customer base.
This is true, I would venture, whether the calculations are weighted by dollar or by hour.
The one job I had that was an exception was the work study job I had
at the university library back when I was a student there, many years ago.
This, not ironically, was the lowest-paid job I ever held.
Also not ironically, it was far more intellectually stimulating,
and I would venture more relevant to the real needs/wants of real people,
than any of the perma-temp or perma-part-time jobs I've done in
the bu$iness sector since then. I am only one person. I would certainly
not advocate concluding based on my experience that the public sector
is more public-spirited than the private sector, let alone more
meritocratic, cost efficient, etc.

Apparently I'm visible
8:12 AM EDT 18-Aug-2006
Yesterday we went to the library, so I did a little blogging.Yesterday's session was especially fruitful--I actually got myblogger.com content to be 'visible.' Much to my relief, simplypasting one of the 'sample templates' from blogger actuallyaccomplished the task, although I hope to learn how to saythings like "add some whitespace as a margin" in bloggerese.I first became an Internet user (i.e. a netizen) way back in 1991,so I'm familiar with the concepts of FAQ, 'newbie question' and 'bandwidth conservation.' Even in those innocent times, theamount of bandwidth necessary to post just one 'article' to justone 'newsgroup' could literally cost the 'net' hundreds if notthousands of dollars. So by all means, if you've come up withsome minimalist synopsis of core bloggerese syntax, say a "pocketrefcard," it would be better netiquette not to post it as a comment(assuming 'my' blog® even offers that level of 'read-write'functionality) as chances are the information you'd be postingmight be somehow redundant by virtue of the fact that it's alreadyincluded in some FAQ somewhere in blogger's vast administrivial namespace.
Actually, we aren't living in the Halcyon Nineties any more,so why not post it anyway? The fact of the matter is, the amountof SNR degradation inherent in such a post is trivial comparedto the amount of spam that I am obliged to shovel into the computersof visitors to 'my own' 'web pages' at Yahoo! GeoCities due to the fact that I am one of the 'nonpaying customers,' i.e. thetragic part of Tragedy of the Commons; one of the commoners.So on second thought, do, if you feel so inclined, use the present blog to share whatever tutoring or tutelage in bloggerese that you're smart enough to know about.
I believe 'my' blog® actually does have the 'two way communication'featurette turned on. Try clicking one of the underscore( _ ) characters where the "post comments here" linkoid 'should' be,especially if it's a different color from the other characters.My short term computer programming education goal is to learnenough bloggerese to correct that particular cosmetic defect,ideally within two library visits.

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