Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Contract Killers

Of course I mean people who kill contracts.

FedEx Says It Will Abandon Contractor Model in California
WASHINGTON, Sept 21, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The FedEx Corporation could pay between $26 million to $33 million in severance costs alone for abandoning its illegal contractor model in California, a change announced Thursday by company chief executive Fred Smith.


...California tax authorities, the California Court of Appeal and the National Labor Relations Board among others have all found the contractor model to be illegal....


"This is the beginning of the end for the contractor scam at FedEx Ground," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "FedEx pushed past the legal limits and pushed its drivers to fighting back to regain their rights." This major change in company policy means that FedEx is abandoning the contractor model in California but keeping the misclassification practice for the rest of the country.
If I worked the same job as someone else at another company, but I was classified as a contractor, so that I didn't have the same access to benefits, I'd probably be pretty pissed. And it was a possibility for that exact thing to happen to me. When I first started working, I was brought in through a temporary agency. I did the same job as others who'd started the year before, but they were considered employees, and I was decidedly not. At least they called us contractors, and not temps. I was lucky enough to be with an agency that did provide access to benefits and vacation time once you'd worked a certain number of hours, but not everyone has that.

My contracting days ended, though, when the company ended their hiring freeze, and they brought all the people who'd been doing the jobs for 6 months or more in for job interviews. We actually had to sit there and explain why we were right for the job. I went with "I can already train other people to do this according to company procedure". I honestly prefer full employee status, it makes me feel less like a second-hand citizen.

I can see how contractors have their place in the business world. Short term staffing needs, or projects with a specific shelf life are good examples of when you'd bring someone in temporarily. Bringing in contractors to do every day tasks that your company must complete to do their business, like say, driving the trucks that deliver the packages for a delivery company, is an abuse of the system to cost cuts. It smells funny to me, and we now see that it smells funny to the California courts, as well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

When Everybody's Wrong, Who's the Good Guy?

OK, I don't like the President of Iran.
"We do not recognize that regime (Israel) because it is based on occupation and racism. It constantly attacks its neighbors," Ahmadinejad said in a video news conference from New York with the National Press Club in Washington, citing recent Israeli military action in Syria and Lebanon.

"It kills people. It drives people from their homes."
Fine, fine, maybe Israel is a construct made up in a treaty like so many other 20th-century nations, but at least it was a group of people who actually wanted to be one nation. As far as the concept that Israel is always the aggressor, well, it's just crap. I don't know who sent the first bullets flying all those years ago, I just don't, but I do know that today there are so many attacks on Israeli soil that they're just commonplace. Nobody talks about rocket fire near the borders because it's every day. I do not believe that average Israelis are sitting around cruelly trying to plan domination and gain territory. I think that they're just trying to figure out how the hell to get other antagonistic nations to leave them the hell alone.

And denying that that Holocaust actually occurred? That's just cruel, fucked up shit. I can't even describe it without the profanity.

Nope. I don't like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Why did Columbia invite him?

Friday, September 21, 2007

How About Infrastructure?

Or taxes, or ending unwanted armed conflict, or farming subsidies, or habeas freakin' corpus...

There are more important things to discuss than whether or not was crossing the line by using an insulting pun in an advertisement. Chris Dodd wants us all to say so in writing.

(By the way, if you don't like my use of the word "insulting", too bad. In my opinion, saying that someone has betrayed us is an insult. Just because something is true doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.)

I can't honestly say that I'm a member of "The Dodd Squad", but when someone's right, they're right.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soldiers Are People

And the loss of their lives hurts.
The Minstrel Boy reminds us to keep it personal.
Make it personal. Find a way to make this shit mean something deep inside you. Make it hurt. Then Do. It. Some. More. Feel the pain, feel the sadness when a 20 year old kid gets rolled over in a truck wreck. Then go to the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Keep. It. Personal. Do that and you might find a way to ensure that this madness stops. Drag people along with you so that they know how much it hurts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ya gotta have brain

Isn't it amazing, this human body. I've paused on occasion to wonder what it is about the number five that seems so integral to our construction. Five fingers, five toes, sure. But more to the point, it seems, five major limbs or extensions protruding from the core. Two arms, two legs, and ... the head. It's funny, isn't it? You can lop off a foot, a hand, an entire arm or leg - and you still have a person. Somebody who could talk to you, ponder the nature of the world... engage in a game of chess.

Inside the core, things are more vital but still not absolutely critical to the total package. We have transplanted lungs, installed the liver of a pig, invented dialysis machines to do the job of a kidney... we've even had a person live for a while with a mechanical heart pumping the blood through the system.

But not the head.

The head sits atop the structure and contains the brain. That pulsing few pounds of gray matter contains billions of synapses, firing at light speed twenty four hours a day, sending messages throughout the various lobes and (if still connected) down the pathways to the rest of the limbs and receiving signals back in return. Take this away and you lose the person, even if the rest of the bits are intact and functioning. Without that one limb, as it were, the functional whole fails. No communication, no pondering, no chess... the system won't even continue to breath or pump blood of its own volition. It simply stops.

The same formula applies to mammals of all sorts. Also to birds, reptiles, and virtually everything that follows the five limb format. There's that number five again - so important - but why? Certain insects who come from a seven limb family can have the head portion removed and function for quite some time. Worms and their kin can often be lopped in half and will grow two new worms from the detached portions. They seem to only have one limb to begin with.

What does it all mean? I have no answers for you. Only questions to ponder.

Call Me "Matey"

International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With Liberty and Justice for All

Senator Craig gets support from the ACLU.

As much as I despise the concept of people who do something in private and then rail against it in public - and I HATE that - I also firmly believe that everyone gets the same rights, whether I like them or not.
"Sen. Craig has not always been a great friend of civil liberties, but you shouldn't have to endorse the civil liberties of others to keep your own," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, alluding to Craig's history of voting against gay rights.

Police must be able to demonstrate beyond a doubt that the sex was going to happen in public, he said. Regardless of whether it occurs in a bathroom or a bar, solicitation for private sex is protected speech under the First Amendment, the ACLU argues.
That's the sticking point for me - propositioning someone for consensual sex isn't illegal. Maybe it's rude, but it's not against the law.

Of course, lying to the police is a crime in most states, if I'm not mistaken, so I have no help for the Senator there. Because, really - you just happen to knock feet with people in public restrooms? That's about as believable as some of the crap my ex boyfriends spouted.

When I was YOUR age...

Younger readers have probably heard it countless times from old geezers like yours truly. "You kids these days are spoiled and lazy. Why, in MY day we had to...." You will then be treated to tales of childhood hardship which include, but are not limited to:
  • Having to do chores every day before and/or after school
  • Not being allowed to watch / not having a television
  • Being spanked
  • Killing a grizzly bear with their loose leaf notebook
  • Having to walk to school
  • Uphill
  • Both ways
  • In a snowstorm
Many of these stories may be true, of course, but I think we can all be a bit happier about our own situations when you hear how things are going for some of the children in China.

A bridge is to be built in a Chinese village where children are forced to cross a raging torrent on a steel cable to get to school. Nearly 500 children, from Maji village in Fugong town, Yunnan province, cross the most dangerous stretch of the Nujiang River each day.They fasten themselves to the cable with a metal carabiner and a rope and slide across the 200 metre wide canyon.

The youngest student, A Qia, 4, has to go over by herself each day.The villagers say that usually four-year-old children are taken by their parents, and begin to go by themselves from the age of five.

A Pu, five, who was stuck in the middle of the cable for nearly 20 minutes once, said: “I used to dream of having a bridge, but then I learned that my dream was too expensive.”

Things are looking up, however.
But officials finally agreed to spend £35,000 on a bridge after a TV programme was made about the children’s dangerous daily journey.

I had it pretty tough at times back in my day. I had to work after school, my parents were strict disciplinarians and we lived out in the country with few modern amenities. However, I clearly was living the life of the high and mighty compared to these kids.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Slightly Better Option

Mukasey: "Not So Bad".
Sen Schumer indicated he would want to know Mr Mukasey's approach on key issues such as wiretapping and the appointment of US attorneys, "but he's a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and has the potential to become a consensus nominee".
I've been so disappointed in my political choices for so long, that the phrase "a lot better than some of the other names mentioned" actually sounds really positive to me.

No wonder I drink so damn much.

Still Kicking

No, even though the world lost Alex the bird last week, it didn't lose me, too. I did have more surgery that I was rude enough to not tell most of you about, so I was happy and on pain meds and not writing about the world. I'll get back to that as soon as I can, hopefully later today.

Thanks for sticking around whilst I was absent, and thanks, Jazz, for posting!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RIP Alex 1977 - 2007

A sad day. One of the great minds of our time has passed on. The leaps and bounds made by by intellectual titans such as Alex contribute to our understanding of the conscious mind and all of its potential. Taken from us at the tender age of thirty. It's simply sad. A picture of the dearly departed.

Alex, a parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials, has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain.

The cause of Alex's death was unknown. The African grey parrot's average life span is 50 years, Brandeis University scientist Irene Pepperberg said. Alex was discovered dead in his cage Friday, she said, but she waited to release the news until this week so grieving researchers could get over the shock and talk about it.
This story might pass by without notice, but here's the really creepy part.
The last time Pepperberg saw Alex was Thursday, she said. They went through their back-and-forth goodnight routine, which always varied slightly and in which she told him it was time to go in the cage.

She recalls the bird said: "You be good. I love you." She responded, "I love you, too." The bird said, "You'll be in tomorrow," and she responded, "Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."
Did the bird know? Did he sense impending doom hovering over his feathery shoulder? Or was that just some odd selection taken at random from his lexicon of phrases. Here was this creature who had a group of people caring for it, working so hard, every day for three decades to coax out the ability to bridge the gap... speak our language... communicate. And in the end, maybe Alex had something important to say about the nature of everything... but we just didn't bridge that gap well enough to grasp it.
You be good.
I love you.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Meanwhile, in the Garden State

As with any devotee of The One True Tami (blessed be Her name) I find it useful to keep tabs on what's happening in Her home stomping grounds of New Jersey. While those of us who move away to other areas quickly grow used to a panoply of Jersey jokes, (Oh... you're from New Jersey? Which exit? HAR HAR HAR!) it's important to realize how important the Garden State is to this nation. New Jerseyans can be justifiably proud of their state's many contributions to our country and our society, proving that the final resting place of Walt Whitman represents far more than mere overflow parking for New York City.

New Jersey has given us many things from Bruce Springsteen to a national understanding of the concept of a cranberry bog. And now... front lawn showering.

VINELAND -- A man was arrested and charged with lewdness Thursday after two young girls and their mother witnessed him showering naked on his front lawn, police said.

Fred Michaux, 49, of West Oxford Street, admitted to showering on his front lawn with a garden hose telling police, "I'm sorry, but I need to take a bath."

Obviously this was an individual in need of a good bath, but the police officers in question simply don't seem to be grasping the bigger picture. This guy isn't some random loon flaunting public sensibilities regarding lewdness. He's an innovator! Isn't New Jersey supposed to be a hotbed of Going Green and eco-awareness? Stop and think about it for a moment... Mr. Michawx is out there taking a shower, yes... but he's watering his lawn at the same time! That's right. Fred has found one of those "why didn't I think of that" solutions which has instantly cut his usage of fresh water in half. Or are the righteous individuals complaining about this too busy driving around in their gas guzzling SUVs, sipping Red Bull and Tanqueray from non-recyclable containers to notice?

I have it on reliable authority from sources familiar with this story that Fred also uses his back yard for gardening. How appropriate for the Garden State! Mr. Michawx is cutting down his personal dependence on out of state produce shipped in by fossil fuel driven trucks. And, yet again, he is ahead of the pack. To fertilize his crops, on any given day or evening you are likely to see him out in the yard pooping in his garden. But let me guess... some of you will be offended by that as well, right?

I'm reminded of some words of wisdom given by Christie Todd Whitman back when I was working on her gubernatorial reelection campaign. "Jazz," she said. "Everybody poops."

Truer words have never been spoken. We use cow dung to fertilize our crops all over the country. That's cow poop! What? You think you're somehow less capable of productively pooping than a cow?

No... we should be applauding Fred and his revolutionary and eco-friendly ideas. A Renaissance man like this only comes around once in a generation, and I think he needs all of our support. We'll be selling "Free Fred" t-shirts on the site later this week, with a portion of all proceeds going to buy something nice for Tami while she considers what to do about Mr. Michawx. Please remember to give until it hurts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jiggety Jig, etc.

I'm home, I'm ashamed of how much I hate IV's, and I'm fine.

The filter, she is in my vein, where she intends to stay forever and ever.

Really, having that thing stuck in your hand does hurt. People lie.