Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Beginning Of The End Of Capitalism
I Have Met The Capitalist, And He Is Me

2007 International 8600

Those who know me or read this web log know I have no love for Capitalism. I haven't had any for most of my life, having been radicalized almost as soon as I started attending community college in Michigan. I've identified myself as a Socialist for most of my life. I've written many posts on this web log that express my distaste for Capitalism and some have expressed my hope that someday it will be overthrown and replaced with a more just economic system. Now, I'm going to be a Capitalist myself.

About a month ago we got news at work that the part of the company we're in had been sold to another company. Not much will change, we were told, except for the few hourly employees, like me. Our jobs will cease to exist because at the new company everything, except what management does, is done by independent contractors.

 We're in the Eexpedited business, is, I think, how it's referred to in the industry. I'm not really versed in that end of things. They needed someone with a commercial license and I got the job. I tell people we're a small version of Fedex or UPS. We deliver things they won't, or can't do as cheaply maybe. It's a niche market in trucking. We deliver pharmacy supplies, clothing to retail stores, various supplies to various distributers, etc. Things that small businesses order. Some is highly miscellaneous, like big blank canvases that go to art supply stores, and office furniture some of the reservations order.

We have "hubs," or warehouses, in cities like Albuquerque, Phoenix and El Paso. Semi trucks do the bulk hauling between these hubs and that's what I do. When I back the truck up to the dock, the delivery drivers start unloading and sorting it. The delivery drivers own their own mini vans. They have always been independent contractors.

My boss, who was offered a job with the new company, encouraged me to work up a proposal for the new management for what I'd charge for doing the job as a contractor. I eventually did, but only after two or three weeks. Although I've been in the trucking industry for almost 20 years now I didn't think I knew very much about the business side, having always been what's called a company driver. I always drove someone else's truck and was paid hourly, or more often, by the mile.

I didn't even think I knew much about trucks themselves. Many truck drivers do. When they congregate at places where they're all waiting to get loaded or unloaded, the conversation often turns to trucks, and truck engines. When it does I usually walk away. I just have other things on my mind. There's reading to do. I might be someplace I've never been before and it needs to be explored.

Not knowing about diesel truck engines is significant. The engine is the truck, as far as I'm concerned. When you see a semi truck on the road, if it's, say, a Freightliner, it doesn't have a Freightliner engine. The engines are all made by a different set of companies -- Detroit, Daimler-Benz, Cumins, etc, as are the transmissions and some of the other major components. The engines usually last multiple hundreds of thousands of miles, because they're used that much -- over the years I've easily averaged 120k to 130k miles per year -- but a series of anti-pollution regulations have come into effect over the past several years and some of the engines made during that period have had problems with reliability and fuel economy. The engine companies are always playing catch-up and have sometimes rushed things to market.

I also knew little about running a business, which is what buying and operating a truck amounts to. It would be a simple business, I was told by an accountant friend, but it wouldn't be like running my checking account, which runs itself, actually. I haven't balanced my checkbook in many years. 

Besides the business aspect there are many state and federal regulations that apply to trucking. It's interstate commerce. It also comes under many post 9-11 regulations having to do with safety and security. There's drug testing. There's documenting that employees, even one, have been trained in this and that. You have to do things like apportion your fuel taxes yourself according to how many miles you operate in which states. I wasn't really sure what that meant.

If I was to submit a proposal I'd have to overcome my lack of knowledge about trucks and engines and the business and regulatory aspects. My ignorance of those things only heightened my natural lack of confidence, and over those or three weeks I changed my mind about submitting a proposal several times. I vacillated. I'd start researching things and get overwhelmed with the amount of things to be learned and their complexity and stop. I'd consider my savings and my age, 60, and stop.

But I ultimately did submit my proposal, and it was accepted by the district manager of the new company. They've kept us hourly employees on until things can be switched over, but as soon as I get my new used truck on the road I'll be submitting weekly invoices, according to the terms of my proposal, which they accepted as written.

I did do a lot of research, and I scoured the country for the kind of truck I wanted (the engine was the main thing -- this has a Cummins ISX -- but I also wanted it to have a low rear-end ratio, which should translate into better fuel economy, large fuel tanks, cruise control, a/c and a few other things) and I found it at an International truck dealer in Amarillo, which is where I took the picture above. On this past Monday I drove over there and looked at it and test drove it, and another one they had with the same engine but which was a Kenworth, made the deal that evening, and paid for it on Tuesday. (Basically, when you add it all up, they threw in a two-year extended warranty and paid for part of the sales tax.)

I Have A Dream, Too

I have become familiar enough with it all to take a calculated risk, but I finally submitted a proposal because in the back of my mind were always a couple things besides what I've already mentioned. One, of course, was that this would be Capitalism. If you've read my web log very much you've heard me rail against it and especially against Neoliberalism, which is the academic term for the stage Capitalism is in now.

In short, Capitalists have made tremendous gains against the forces opposing Capitalism, which in the US amount the the Labor Unions, which have declined dramatically since the 1980s, and politically Left leaning people, of whom only a minority are politically engaged. They represent a smaller part of the Democratic Party now than they did 20 or 30 years ago, and of other institutions through which they might be able to exert power and influence. The Left has been in decline over the entire course of my life, in the US and everywhere else, and so much of what is written by Leftists over the course of my adult life has naturally had to do with that decline and what to do about it.

At some point it occurred to me that the reason there's so much injustice in Capitalism might have something to do with the Capitalists. People go into business, it seemed to me, not to spread wealth around, not to provide well paying jobs for their fellow citizens, not for any other reason except to get rich. The problem, I once wrote, is that we leave Capitalism to the Capitalists.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the decline of the Left. I've read quite a bit about the Labor Movement and the Liberal surge of the 1960s and 70s, the anti Vietnam War movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Womens Movement, the Black Power and Chicano Power movements, but especially about the Labor Movement, which is the one entity that has taken on Capitalism most directly and indeed is in a position and has reason to do so.

With movements, there are a few elements that have to be in place before any movement grows large enough to have any affect. First, there are always a few people devoted to any cause and they keep agitating, and arguing over and advancing the theoretical framework a future movement will take. Then there has to be a reason or reasons for masses of people to get involved in the movement. The conditions have to be right, the social and economic conditions, that is. Increasing numbers of people have to start feeling the need to do something, and they have to be able to see that there's a chance that taking the risk of getting involved will bear fruit.

I'm not an organizer, or a participant, or a foot soldier or a follower, or a leader. Realizing this I've tried to do what I could to advance my beliefs through writing, but I'm not much of a writer, either. But maybe ten years ago, I came up with an idea. If I could get a business to be successful I'd be able to experiment with different ways of worker participation and with collective and cooperative organizational structures; basically, with ways of implementing worker control of business.  If you and your workers came up with a model for organizing businesses collectively, that model might spread. The model could be designed with that in mind. People might start up their own companies and leave their Capitalist owned companies. It would be like taking Capitalism over from the inside.

Unions, which would constitute an independent power base, would be part of the strategy. Workers could be encouraged to form them, or would join unions on their own. Unions would help spread the movement to other businesses. I could help increase union membership myself. If I controlled a large enterprise and signed a union contract with the workers at one location, the other workers could be given the choice of joining the union and enjoying the benefits of the contract, or they could work for the minimum wage. The union would soon represent almost the entire workforce. My plan amounts, in some ways, to an inside-outside strategy.

It would take days to lay out the ideas I've come up with. Of course, I've never been in business and don't know what it would be like, so I'm aware that those ideas would have to change or be adopted to reality as I came across it. But also, possibilities that haven't occurred to me would occur to me. And I've worked for  businesses, of course, and corporations, and I've observed how they work, how they are structured, how people adapt to and shape those structures. I haven't been sitting idly by while I got up the courage and found the opportunity.

In the end it was this dream, this fantasy, this idea that made me decide to submit a proposal. It's what overcame the reluctance to make the financial commitment to buy a semi truck and to go into business. It will just be a simple business -- one employee, a relief driver. I have to have a relief diver -- but I had to put almost my entire savings in hock to finance the truck.

The Peculiar Institution Of Trucking

To do this job I had to get what's called an operating authority. I got it online on Thursday. It's issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission and is what every trucking company has to have to engage in interstate commerce, whether it has one truck or 10,000.

I've noticed, about the trucking industry, that companies come and go. Some of them get big quickly, then either go out of business or are swallowed up by or merge with other companies. Trucking seems to be relatively fluid, as industries go.

There's one other thing about trucking. It's absolutely essential to the operation of an economy. Virtually every business, and many organizations, rely on trucking, to obtain their raw materials and their supplies, and to send out their finished products. Fuel, food, clothes, building materials, all the critical things and most of the other things that go into making up an economy are shipped exclusively by truck. I've hauled it all myself. Because of trucking's central role in the economy, if you control trucking you can bring the economy to a halt, almost instantly. You can control the economy, and you can control Capitalism. Not by yourself, maybe. They'd come after you, they'd jail you, they'd kill you. But that's where the collectives and the unions come in. The independent centers of power.

Whether or not I accomplish any of this remains to be seen. Whether I can run a simple business remains to be seen. I think I'll do at least that much. But what I learn from trying to do the rest can be passed on as a blueprint, an idea. I can record it, put it online, print it out and leave it for those who come after me, and there will always be those ones, who, like I and millions of others, will come talong and who won't love Capitalism any more than I do and will want to find a better way.

Was Marx Right About Everything?

Karl Marx was a determinist. He argued that the material conditions of our lives determine who and what we are. He said Capitalists aren't by nature bad people, or evil or greedy, but Capitalism makes them that way. They have to be that way to succeed at Capitalism.

So there's one other question, besides whether or not I'll succeed in this particular endeavor or in my greater scheme, and that's whether I'll change Capitalism or whether Capitalism will change me.

Live From Greece

This is a screen shot of a rally taking place in Greece -- as I write this -- against the "austerity measures" being imposed there, that somebody is streaming live -- uploading to the internet as it happens -- via their mobile phone. Hot damn modern technology.

Greece, Portugal, and Spain, the less wealthy countries of Europe, are being used as experiments by the more wealthy countries of Europe, Germany, France and England, to see how much "austerity" people can take. Austerity is another way of saying extreme Neoliberalism, Thatcherism, Reaganomics. It's all the same. Undoing the gains working people have made since the rise of the Labor Movement in first half of the 1900s. Redistribution of wealth upward.

Workers have been fighting back in all cases but until now have been unable to reverse any of the deep cuts in social services, layoffs, and reductions in pay and in their pensions, by as much as half, that are being imposed on them by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, the IMF, the front group for the US dominated banking system that imposes Neoliberalism as a condition for development loans.

But in Greece, a new political party, the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, which would take Greece out of the European Union, restore its own currency, and renegotiate or simply stop paying its crushing debt, came in second in last years elections but is expected to win next time.

I saw the link to the rally on Facebook, where the note said big rallies are underway all over Greece despite a pouring rain.

Also in Greece, workers have begun to take over factories that are closing down.  


As the mans says, they have begun production but face problems, include access to markets and credit. They are trying to work around the lack of credit by holding benefit concerts and soliciting donation through the web site Vio.Me.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Republican Intellect And Wackonomy

Someone posted this "partial list of (25) incredibly ridiculous Conservative statements and remarks" on Facebook, along with the picture of a baffled Joe Biden.

1.) Armed rebellion is a viable alternative to elections: ”Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don’t think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.” —Tea Party-backed Texas GOP congressional candidate Stephen Broden, suggesting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government if Republicans don’t win at the ballot box, interview with Dallas’s WFAA-TV, Oct. 21, 2010.

2.) Banning abortions for high-risk pregnancies can be a positive experience for women: “I have been in the situation of counseling young girls… who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made WHAT WAS REALLY A LEMON SITUATION INTO LEMONADE.” — Sharron Angle on abortion

3.) Bringing your gun to crowded public events is normal: “It’s not unusual in political rallies, it’s not unusual in parades, to see that type of thing.” — Joe Miller on guns at his rallies

4.) Carbon Dioxide is safe: ”Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” —Rep. Michelle Bachmann

5.) Climate change is a myth: “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination…It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time. Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ‘gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow.”’ – Ron Johnson

6.) Corporations are people: ”Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings, my friend.” —GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney

7.) Discrimination on the basis of race is desirable: “I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn’t mean we approve of it.” —Rand Paul, taking issue with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while arguing that government should not prevent private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.

8.) Evolution is a myth: “You know what, evolution is a myth….Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?” —Christine O’Donnell

9.) Geography is not important: ”I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know. Do you know?” —Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain

10.) Government has no role in job creation: “People ask me, ‘What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator.” —Sharron Angle

11.) Higher education is elitist: “President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob … Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.” –Rick Santorum

12.) Hitler coined the phrase “separation of church and state”: “The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ASK THEM WHY THEY’RE NAZIS.” — Glen Urquhart

13.) Inciting violence is acceptable: “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” —Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle, floating the possibility of armed insurrection in a radio interview

14.) Intelligent Design is a viable scientific theory: “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” – Michele Bachmann

15.) Lawyers are Un-American: “the ABA is about as far left as the Communist Party, so those who usually get those awards are lawyers committed to socialism, not freedom.” – Tea Party Nation Founder Judson Phillips

16.) Marriage is related to national security: ”Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” —Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), on congressional efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. (July 2004)

17.) The media is a threat to national security: “The greatest threat to America is not necessarily a recession or even another terrorist attack. The greatest threat to America is a LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS.” — Lamar Smith

18.) Minimum Wage created unemployment: “If we took away the minimum wage-if conceivably it was gone-we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” —Michele Bachmann

19.) Most Americans cannot accept gay marriage: “Gay marriage is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the next, at least, thirty years. I AM NOT UNDERSTATING THAT.” — Michelle Bachmann

20.) Obama is the enemy: “He has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an ENEMY OF HUMANITY.” — Trent Franks on Obama

21.) The rise of the Soviet Union is cause for concern among Americans: ”What people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.” —Michele Bachmann (R-MN), unaware that the Soviet Union collapsed more than two decades ago (August 2011)

22.) Sexual Revolution created AIDS: “We had the 60s sexual revolution, and now people are dying of AIDS.” —Christine O’Donnell, Politically Incorrect. August 1998

23.) Trees have a proper height: ”I love this state. The trees are the right height.” —Mitt Romney, campaigning in Michigan (February 2012)

24.) We should use prisons for low-income housing: “THESE ARE BEAUTIFUL PROPERTIES with basketball courts, bathroom facilities, toilet facilities. Many young people would love to get the hell out of cities” — Carl Paladino on housing poor people in prisons.

25.) Women are disposable: ”She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a President. And besides, she has cancer.”’ —future House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), reportedly speaking to a friend in 1980 about why he was divorcing his first wife

(Note: As an aside, I copied this just as it was on the web page, complete with examples of an internet  convention whereby people capitalize words or in this case complete sentences, to dramatize the words similarly to the way italics are used. To me it makes it seems like those words are being SHOUTED. But this is how they're doing it now. Another convention in current use, not used her but used a lot, is to break sentences off into their own paragraph.

For the sole purpose of dramatizing the words in that sentence.

Like that. It sounds dramatic in the writer's mind as he or she imagines the words being read as they write them, but it's not a substitute for good writing and as time goes by I find it more and more annoys me. I've noticed that the Albuquerque Journal's editorial writer has adopted this convention in his editorials, which aren't substitutes for clear thinking, either.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Mexico Delegation Fails To Support Bill That Would Outlaw Rape Of Native Women

Official New Mexico logo and state flag - borrowed from the Zia Tribe

A Minnesota congresswoman, Betty McCollum, has introduced a bill that would, among other things, make it possible for Tribal courts to prosecute non Natives who rape their Native domestic partners on tribal land. According to Native News Network:

The SAVE Native Women Act would give tribal courts special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction; enhance collaboration among the US Attorney General, Secretary of Health & Human Services, Secretary of the Interior, and tribal governments; provide federal grants so that tribal communities may prevent violent crimes, assist victims of abuse, and improve tribal justice systems; and mandate further research on violence committed against Native women.

It's wouldn't be surprising if not many people were aware that it's virtually impossible to prosecute non Natives in Tribal courts. You'd probably have to be a listener of Pacifica Radio or follow Native news outlets to know that 1 in 3 Native women have been subjected to rape or attempted rape, compared to an overall rate in the US of 1 in 6 women.

But it is surprising, to me, that not one of New Mexico's legislative delegation is a co-sponsor of McCollum's bill, since New Mexico ranks at or near the top in Native population, and it's surprising that similar legislation hasn't already been introduced in the Senate, since all of New Mexico's Democrats always say all the right things about womens' rights. It's especialy surprising to me that our new 1st District Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who campaigned and raised money specifically as a champion of womens' rights, didn't co-sposor the bill and hasn't said a word about it.

 I doubt many Natives are surprised, especially here in New Mexico with its history of conquest and reconquest and genocide and theft of Native land.

Here in New Mexico, where Natives first survived repeated attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth by the most powerful empire in the world at the time, the Spanish Empire, and since then have survived every attempt to wipe them off the face of the earth by the most powerful empire in the history of the world, The American Empire, but where, after all of it, they're still standing.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

The People Of Bahrain Struggle On

A Bahraini woman shows reporters a tear gas cannister in this photo by Hamad I Mohammed of Reuters taken on February 14, 2013 in the capital city of Manama, which is also home to a big US Navy base from which the US can project its power throughout the Middle East and can intimidate neighboring Iran. Note that the woman is also holding a cell phone to her ear. I just thought this picture was very interesting. She also has in her right hand, under the cannister, what looks to be a large onion. An onion, when broken open and held to the eyes, is an antidote to tear gas.

The tiny but wealthy US client state of Bahrain, home to 1.25 million, is ruled by one of those fake monarchies. You know, with kings and princes and princesses and dragons and fairies and all that. Like all those monarchies it's just a fancy cover for a dictatorship.

Its people rose up during the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. The initial mass protests were brutally suppressed with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia and under the approving gaze of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who never seriously complained about or did anything to stop the brutality. Many activists have been held in prison since then on no or trumped up charges, where most have been tortured. Doctors and other medical professionals who treated injured protesters were also thrown into prison. The ruler of this country is one sorry bastard, and is fully backed by the United States government.

But low level protests and underground organizing have continued, and this week, on the two year anniversary of the initial uprising, the protests swelled to more than one quarter million in downtown Manama while other protests occurred simultaneously throughout the country.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

(New addition to Greatest Rock and Roll Since Moses page)

I Am An Ape Man

I just discovered this collection of 162 recordings -- yep, 162 of 'em -- by the legendary rock band The Kinks at, where all manner of recorded material from music to books to movies, that is in the public domain, i.e., the copyright has expired, is posted and can be downloaded for free. (This includes a lot of stuff, and believe me, I keep finding out the hard way, that commercial interests, iTunes for example where I provide a substantial share of their profits, are still selling for money.)

The Kinks were part of the British Invasion, the name given to that period in the 1960s when British Isles based groups like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits and etc. began having Top 40 hits here and so began coming over to tour and appear on US television programs and have roles in movies seen here. The Kinks hits of that era such as All Day And All Of The Night and Girl, You've Really Got Me Going were not the biggest hits but The Kinks had a greater influence on music than on the charts, as they kept coming up with licks and rythmic innovations that were copied and expanded upon by others.

This collection includes Kinks songs that have become fairly often heard classics, like Lola and Come Dancing, a wistful look back at a big sister written around one of the most beautiful melodies to come along in a long time, and it includes my eternal Kinks favorite, Ape Man.

Ape Man, now, sounds like it might have been intended as a good natured send up of the Back To The Land Movement, an offshoot of the Counterculture whose mouthpiece was a magazine called The Mother Earth News (which I subscribed to for a number of years) and it may have been, but I didn't know anything about the Back To The Land Movement the first time I heard the Ape Man, and I do remember the time. I was pulling off main street into a parking space in front of Josenhans Drug store. In my home town of New Buffalo, MI, population 2,500, Josenhans was where you got everything. It was the center of town life. There was a soda fountain and it was where the cool kids got jobs.

I sat in my 1963 Dodge four door, a former family sedan that definitely wasn't a cool car, listening to the lyrics to Ape Man.

I don't feel safe in this world no more
I don't want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore

And make like an ape man

I was 18, a senior in high school, and not cool. I'd made the basketball team, barely, but got kicked off for drinking. It was a relief, in a way, because the coach had always been sniffing around me and George Bates, who got kicked off along with me, saying he could smell cigarettes. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but this rising Counterculture, and its questioning of everything, was coming at a time when my youthful rebelliousness was peaking. I, like millions of Americans, mostly young but not all, had begun to identify with the Counterculture, and to question the narrative of America we'd grown up with, that said America was exceptional and that America always acted benevolently, that we always told the truth, and that America was always right.

In man's evolution he has created the city and
The motor traffic rumble

But give me half a chance and I'd be taking off my clothes
And living in the jungle.
'Cos the only time that I feel at ease,
Is swinging up and down in a coconut tree,
Oh, what a life of luxury, to be like an ape man.

The British Invasion came at a particular time in American history, at the beginning of the rise of the Counterculture, and it had a lot to do with its formation. Songs like The Kinks Lola, it can be argued, helped pave the way for the opening up of ideas, in this case our ideas about what gender means and how it is socially constructed.

The biggest issue of the time, of course, was the war in Vietnam. On that, I had supported our government for a long time. There were things the anti war movement was saying about our country that I just couldn't accept, even after my parents began to question the war. My older brother was a conscientious objector, but that hadn't' changed my mind either. I've always thought that when The Beatles came out against the Vietnam War, that made it OK for millions of young Americans to come out against the war. The Beatles legitimized being against the war, for me at least.

This loosening of the mooring lines, even to the point of the questioning of my blind patriotism, this huge expansion of the limits of reality and of the realities that were possible, that had held my identity in check, so that it wouldn't stray beyond the limits set by American mainstream society, took a few big steps forward as I sat in front of Josenhans listening with amazement and delight to The Kinks Ape Man.

I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane,
I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane,
And we'll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day,
Just like an ape man.

What A Consumer Can Do

“In the case of the pomegranate juice,” Roosevelt says, “the burden is on the importer to show that the product labeling is accurate.” “Otherwise, the juice is not going to make it into the U.S.”

This is from an article I just got from the FDA that talks about how you can report a product you think isn't what it's label says it is. It gives an example of how juice labeled "100 percent pomegranate juice" actually contained other ingredients and other kinds of juice.

But it's just some juice, right?

Yes, but more than half the medicine people buy in Africa is counterfeit. It's not even medication, or worse.
Chinese children being treated for kidney stones - Reuters
And China has a big problem with people selling counterfeit baby formula, which producers, who now operate under a Capitalist system that has very few regulations in place, load up with other things to increase its protein ratings. Hundreds of Chinese babies have developed kidney stones, have been hospitalized, and some have even died.

The BBC just reported the other night that Chinese who can afford it travel to Hong Kong and stand in hours long lines to buy baby formula they can't trust their government to keep pure and safe, leaving shelves bare in Hong Kong.

This is what free market conservatives want for America, a country where you can't trust what's in your food, or your medicine. It's the kind of America the people who want to to privatize everything want. It's the kind of America those who complain about government always being on the backs of business and who complain about excessive levels of government "red tape" want.

It's the kind of country people want who think that if you can afford it, you get the good stuff, and if you can't, too damn bad for you, and your kids.

Of course, when you get nothing from the media but a steady drum beat of how over regulated business is, and when no one points out how hard it is to get regulations into place when corporations with their deep pockets and powerful lobbying firms are lobbying non stop against them, and when no one ever mentions that there is not one regulation in place that we the people don't want to be there, that there isn't a sound and justifiable and thoroughly debated reason for every regulation that we have, you end up with the current situation, with people believing what Ronald Reagan famously uttered in his second inaugural address, that "government is not the solution, government is the problem.'

Tell that to the parents of a dead baby.

(Note: click on the link for the FDA article and you can sign up for their occasional product alerts and newsletters.)


Monday, February 4, 2013

When people band together to promote interests they have in common, that's a union. Capitalists do it all the time. The Business Round Table, The Manufacturers Association, all kinds of industry associations, the American Trucking Association in my industry, and the biggest union of them all, The Chamber of Commerce. And yet they have millions of idiot members of the working class thinking it's wrong for them to do the same thing.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

It sounds nice in here with the TV off.

Anyone interested in buying a barely used 22 inch RCA television set with built in DVD player that a girl from K Mart lifted up with one hand?

Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

Ray Lewis, the Baltimore player who was charged in a double murder in 2000 and then pleaded guilty to lesser charges in a deal in which he testified against two other men, and who was playing his last game today, was called up to the podium during the post-game trophy presentation ceremony and said a few inconsequential words to America.

When I then looked up his Wikipedia page, it had already been updated to show that Baltimore had won the game and that Lewis was a retired player.
Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

Baltimore will punt from their 20 yard line with 4 seconds remaining. The announcers speculate about obscure rules that might allow San Francisco to attempt a field goal from the point of a free catch, but San Francisco tries to run back the punt and does so unsuccessfully.

Final score: Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31.

A sideline camera picks up the Baltimore quarterback, Joe Flacco, yelling to a teammate, "Fucking awesome."

Fucking awesome.
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12 seconds to go, Baltimore calls time out. Their punter then runs down the clock to 4 seconds before running out of the end zone for a safety. 4 seconds to go.

Baltimore 34, SF 31
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Another run by Baltimore. The clock keeps running. Less that 50 seconds to go. Less than 40. Less than 30. Baltimore needs only to run one more play..
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Baltimore calls a safe run up the middle on the first play and San Francisco takes their final time out at 1:42 remaining.

Strangely CBS is no longer breaking away for commercials.
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San Francisco goes to 3rd and goal from the 7 yard line then calls time out just before the play begins to save a 24 second violation. After an incomplete pass, on 4th and goal, Baltimore blitzes everyone and the San Francisco quarterback throws the ball wildly into the end zone for an incomplete pass. Baltimore gets the ball back on their own five yard line. San Francisco has only one time out left.
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San Francisco drives down the field with a couple long passes, then a long run to the Baltimore seven yard line. If they score a touchdown with this little time left Baltimore, which led by as many as 22 points at onetime, will be at a severe disadvantage. 2:00 to go.

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Baltimore settles for a field goal to move five points ahead, which will require San Francisco to score a touchdown instead of a field goal. Time remaining 5:38.

Baltimore 34 San Francisco 29
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Antoine Bowlin of Baltimore catches the ball with a defender hanging on him to keep a drive alive as Baltimore gets close to making another score. A very good catch.
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With 7:32 to go the time remaining in the game will increasingly become a factor for CBS executives in their sky boxes as the time remaining to play commercials grows inevitably short.
Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

The San Francisco quarterback scores with a 20 yard running touchdown. The two point extra point conversion, which would tie the score, fails.

Baltimore 31 SF 29

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Baltimore is on a long march, is now inside the five yard line. They run it up the middle once, twice, for no gain, then try a pass but it's incomplete and kick the field goal.

Baltimore 31, SF 23.

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The third quarter ends Baltimore 28, SF 23. CBS is now playing the third string commercials, i.e., the kind you see every day. They aren't getting $4 million per 30 seconds for these babys
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Baltimore consumes time by calling only running plays, then makes a large gain with a pass play and are within scoring distance again. Time remaining: 1 minute 51 seconds in the third quarter.
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Wow. That was two touchdown in one post.

San Francisco recovers a fumble at Baltimore's 25 yard line. It's the power outage, the CBS announcers all agree. That was a special power outage.

Apple router is down again.

Meanwhile San Francisco gets a field goal. Their left footed kicker "drills it," a CBS announcer announces.

Baltimore Black Leotards 28, San Francisco San Franciscans 23.
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The game resumed while I was eating corn on the cob, but after a minute or so they stopped the game to play some commercials so I didn't miss very much.

The corn was pretty tasteless. I attribute some of that to it sitting in the refrigerator for a week but most of it to it being large agribusiness pretty tasteless corn.

San Francisco just ended an 85 yard drive with a touchdown pass and made the extra point and now trail Baltimore 28-13.

I'm waiting to post this until my Apple router comes back up.
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I bought two ears of corn last weekend at my local union Smith's Supermarket. I've husked it and am trying to cook it before the delay is over.

I usually buy three ears but this last time the price had increased dramatically so that two cost what three usually costs. This no doubt has something to do with NAFTA, which has devastated the small farmers in Mexico who produce most of the sweet corn we get here. Now that they are out of business, large agribusiness can charge whatever it pleases.
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A partial power outage in the stadium has delayed the game, allowing CBS to get in some extra commercials.

CBS executives are dancing around in their sky boxes in ecstatic jubilation.

A man in a suit consults with the referees

Players in black leotards try to keep limbered up

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Baltimore's Black Leotarded Ravens run back the 2nd half opening kickoff for 109 yards and add the extra point and now lead 28-6.

It's the same player who made the great catch just a few plays ago. It's a guy named Jacoby Jones.

The San Francisco coach is looking grim.

The CBS announcer observes "It's gone from bad to worse." I resort that that phrase when in want of an explanation for just about anything.
Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

As the super star Beyonce performs, perhaps live, perhaps pre-recorded.

I've been meaning to write about an Add On for Firefox called Better Privacy. It detects and deletes the so-called Super Cookies, which are a second generation cookie that isn't detected and deleted when you tell your computer to delete all cookies. Super Cookies also don't expire, so they remain on your computer forever. They gather all kinds of information and send it back to whoever planted it.

Super Cookies are .lso files. If you do a search using .lso you will find all kinds of them and you can safely delete all of them. I have my Better Privacy set to let me know about what it's deleting when I shut my bowser down. You can have it delete them automatically but I wanted to get a screen shot of the notice it gives me.

When it found these 25 LSO, or Super Cookies, I had had the computer on for a day or two. Sometimes it just finds 3 or so after an hour or two browsing, but usually it finds about 7 or 10 of them in after an evening's browsing.

Note: The notice warns you that LSO cookies might contain valuable information, but I've always read that they can be safely deleted, and I have been deleting them for a year or more with no consequence.
Live Blogging The Pizza Hut Bowl

It's time for the Jeep half time show of the Pizza Hut Bowl.

It just occurred to me that it's not news to anybody that pro football games are highly commercialzed, but to me it's mind boggling to see all these advertisements embedded in the programming and the commercials one after another. I get all my news from the internet, and I have an "add on" (a program developed for Firefox by an amateur or a hobbyist) attached to my Firefox web browser called Ad Block that blocks all the ads on all the web pages I view. And when I'm listening to public radio I turn the volume down when an ad comes on. The BBC doesn't have ads.

My Add Ons

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First half ends with a field goal by San Francisco. Their left footed "soccer style" kicker has drilled both his field goals and has accounted for all their points.

"Drilled" is a word I often resort to when in want of an adjective.

Baltimore 21, San Francisco 6.
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It's now 21-3 as the result of a very entertaining play. The Black Leotards player fell down catching the ball, got up and evaded a couple pf SF players and scored. The Baltimorians are threatening to make it a lopsided win over the San Franciscans.

I've been looking for that web site I found Stoop Storytelling at.

The CBS color announcer often resorts to the word "special" when in want of an adjective. This could easily confuse listeners in China or Bangladesh, as it confuses me.
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The Baltimore Black Leotards march down the field unimpeded in turn. They are inside the SF ten yard line.

I like Baltimore. There's a Big, old TA truck stop right near downtown where you run into al kinds of strange characters. One of the podcasts I listen to comes out Baltimore. It's called Stoop Stories. I get it from a Baltimore radio station run by a black revolutionary.

Touchdown. Baltimore 14, SF 3.

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CBS says they are live streaming the game from their web site, where you can see the commercials on demand.

I could have saved $209 and 100 Trac Phone minutes, but I'd have missed out on Mexican boxing.
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San Francisco was marching down the field unimpeded but then fumbled, opening the door for another round of commercials. CBS executives in the sky boxes are going wild.
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Will Hillary run?

Reader Supported News included this picture in their daily newsletter, which has an article talking about the various ways in which Hillary Clinton has denied wanting to run for president again, always leaving herself a small out.

The game is not entirely arresting my attention.
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Commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial.
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The game is being played in New Orleans, where a real estate industry friendly local government and a Republican controlled state government have taken advantage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina to implement a vast program of gentrification and a vast program of school privatization under the charter school guise. Much of the working class population that left the city after the hurricane never went back because they had no place to return to,

I didn't hear anyone from CBS mention this as they broadcast pre game shows from around New Orleans.

San Francisco field goal: Black Leotards 7, SF 3.

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Commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial, commercial.
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Ravens with their black leotards and purple numbers 7, San Francisco 0 via a touchdown pass.

Commercial, commerical, commercial, commercial.
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Nice catch by a Ravens receiver with long dreadlocks to put the Ravens close to a touchdown. I know not one player.

The Ravens are wearing black leotards and have purple numbers on their jerseys. Change has come to pro football.
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The Black ref who did the coin toss is the same one who is on camera saying what the penalty is.

In Alabama there is a working class Republican watching the game with a gun in one hand and a beer in the other.
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"Ravens" doesn't sound like a pro football team name.

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Black Folks On TV

What strikes me most about watching television as opposed to the last time I had a TV is the amazing about of Black faces. Some of the ads are almost all Black people. Much of the network talent doing the pre game shows are African American. The referee who is doing the coin toss is Black. Change has come to America.

I don't see any Hispanics, Asians, Natives. Some change has come to America.
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Patriotic singing and the exploitation of youth.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School Chorus sings American The Beautiful, joined halfway through by singer-movie star Jennifer Hudson. I think it was live because Jennifer Hudson started out in a different key than the kids had been in.
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I've heard the commercials -- advertisements -- cost $4 million for 30 seconds and the corporations who buy them have calculated that they'll make a profit off that $4 mil.
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Still waiting for the pre game programs to end. I've watched a few of these high priced commercials they are always talking about. They are advertisements.

I drive to Holbrook and back every Monday through Friday, with stops in Gallup each way. I leave Albuquerque at around 8:30 p.m., depending, and get back around 7 a.m., depending. Overnight I listen to podcasts and the BBC, and in the morning after I leave Gallup for the second time I tune into the public radio network's morning program.

This past Friday on public radio they talked about the Super Bowl, but they talked more about the commercials they were expecting to see than about the football game itself.
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I bought a damn TV so I could watch the damn Super Bowl. I haven't watched one in probably ten years. I used to check into a motel to watch the Super Bowl, but I didn't remember the past few times, and for the past several years I've been driving locally.

I live in an apartment here in Albuquerque and had the cable but was just using it for the internet, so yesterday I went to the K Mart at Central and Atrisco and picked out a 22 inch RCA with a built in DVD player for $209. I had brought a shopping cart with me to carry my TV in, but the girl who unlocked the cables that were fastening it to the all the other TVs lifted my TV up with one hand and put it in the cart.

It was hell getting it to work right. First I had to go get a Comcast control box way over off Griegos, where I had to wait in a long line, and then I had to call Comcast four times and eat up a lot of minutes on my Trac Phone. It still doesn't work right. I have to use two remote controls, one that came with the TV and one that came with the Comcast control box, but I get a good picture and sound.

I have the minimum package. I think it's 67 channels. Last night I watched all of them and all I saw was crap. The only good thing I saw was Mexican boxing. It's regular boxing but the announcer speaks Spanish and is a woman. I watched some highlights, and one fight between what looked like light middleweights, maybe welterweights. Both were good boxers and were pretty much untouched after the ten rounds, but both were barely able to stand. It was a narrow but unanimous decision for this guy.

Military Equipment For The Police

"The police are preparing for an enemy. My question is, ‘Who is the enemy?’”

      Cobb County, GA resident Candace Garrett Daly

A steady trickle of articles in left leaning publications has documented the militarization of local police in America under a program by which the Department of Defense transfers military equipment to local police departments, but a report, summarized here, by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, hardly a radical rag, on some $200 million in military equipment the DoD recently transfered to police departments in Georgia, provides a snapshot of the nationwide program.

Local police in Georgia recently acquired, according to the Journal and Constitution:

  • One armored truck, 106 M16s and eight M14s for the Cobb County Police Department (in addition to a second armored vehicle purchased using federal grant funds)
  • One armored personnel carrier, 15 M16s and 12 M14s for the Newnan Police Department
  • Two armored personnel carriers and 16 M15 rifles for the Waycross Police Department
  • One armored personnel carrier and 17 M14 rifles for the Cartersville Police Department
  • One helicopter, one armored truck, 11 M16s and five M14s for the Clayton County Police Department
  • One armored personnel carrier for the Doraville Police Department
  • One armored truck for the Georgia Department of Corrections
  • Seven armored vehicles for the Georgia Department of Homeland Security
  • Armored trucks for the Sandy Springs Police Department and Pelham Police Department along with the Gordon, Morgan, Oconee, Pickens and Walton county sheriff’s offices

As we saw when the Obama Department of Homeland Security coordinated the simultaneous, often violent attacks that evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from their encampments around the country, our rulers will not tolerate even a minimal expression by the public of the latent power it has to question a government it sees as exclusively representing the interests of the rich and powerful.

As we have just seen in hundreds of documents released under the Freedom Of Information Act to Partnership For Civil Justice Fund that revealed vast FBI spying on and infiltration of Occupy groups, our government takes sides. Tea baggers, with their slavish devotion to the Republican Party and to the right of the rich and powerful to accumulate vast amounts of wealth, openly carry weapons at rallies and are never even questioned.

But it's another story if you question the Capitalist system, as the Black Panhter Party leaders learned who were targets of the FBI's COINTELPRO program and who were eventually murdered by FBI agents working with Chicago police.

And as the Occupy Wall Street Movement now knows.

As our federal government continues to beef up local police with military equipment, converting them into attack forces reminiscent of the security forces of distant lands who violently suppress their own people, our government is prepared to do the same thing here.