mm485: Celebrating small "L" labor

August 31, 2008
© Irisangel | Dreamstime.com

© Irisangel | Dreamstime.com

The first Monday in September is celebrated as Labor Day in the U.S.

Always enjoyed the three-day weekend, but as the middle class scion of a entrepreneurial family, never had much sympathy for the cause of organized labor in this country. As time has passed, however, my attitude has evolved.

In my defense, organized labor had long since won its important battles as I came of age, and was as established and comfortable as its so-called adversary, big business.

In an expansive economy, business finally realized that labor peace was well worth the expense, and in an expansive economy could pass that expense along to its Consumerist Age customers.

As Henry Ford, that brilliant, miserable anti-Semite, revealed to a shocked world, well paid workers can afford to purchase the products they labor to produce for you. I’m not being sarcastic — this was an incredible breakthrough.

The lasting images of pot-bellied union representatives cozily dealing with their pot-bellied corporate counterparts; and the often hinted (and sometimes proven) relationship between organized labor and organized crime; all this kept yr (justifiably) humble svt from feeling too much sympathy for what seemed an obsolete cause.

Portly and comfortable, labor long since lost its fighting trim, and paid the price as business steadily, and with little fear of labor’s confrontation, moved jobs, first to union free states mainly in the Southern U.S., and ultimately to Canada, Mexico and offshore altogether.

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mm484: Whiners, take back America from the crass

August 30, 2008
© Stephen Finn | Dreamstime.com

© Stephen Finn | Dreamstime.com

Mudge's musings

Seldom are the battle lines as clear as they are in election season 2008.

Establishment conservative versus up from the streets progressive.

Moneyed comfort (via marriage) vs. up from food stamps, self-made comfort.

Explosive, short-fused temper vs. articulate, Ivy League erudition.

Chiseled in stone libertarian capitalism vs. government as proper societal safety net capitalism.

Bomb first, ask questions later approach to foreign affairs vs. talk first, inclusive globalism.

Pandering to the women’s vote with a barely qualified vice presidential choice vs. persuading women that progressive positions trump empty symbols (Sarah Palin is this generation’s Dan Quayle) every time.

The marketplace is the proper solution to the crisis in health care vs. too many families forego medical care because health insurance is out of reach and this must end.

There’s no problem with the economy that ceasing whining won’t cure vs. the last eight years have been economically unpleasant for nearly everyone who has less than $5,000,000 a year in income, and downright catastrophic for far too many working people.

NYTimes economist Paul Krugman put it very well:

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mm483: Blast from the Past! No. 45

August 29, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Events, continue to conspire, sapping most of the vigor out of my keyboard, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[3]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, especially since it’s back to school time for millions, originally posted November 1, 2007, and titled “mm182: It’s Chemistry, baby!”

MUDGE’S Musings

Newest member of the L-HC blogroll is The 12 Angry Men Blog, a very much more accomplished, established and widely read (no gimmicks — it’s on merit!) fellow WordPress resident. With their hoped for indulgence, I reference a recent article I found there.

The post in question was particularly timely, as literally just the other day I was thinking about chemistry sets as I perused a wonderful toy catalog seeking out gift ideas for the official grandchildren of MUDGE and his better 7/8. (More below about the catalog and site.)

I distinctly remember musing: a chemistry set — together with a slightly better than toy-like microscope, the source of countless hours of education and entertainment during my own childhood — is it too soon to think about it for my (totally objective evaluation here) genius seven year old grandson?

No chemistry set. In a catalog full of really interesting and educational toys and games.

Angry Political Optimist fit the pieces in place for me, and when I encountered the post today it was a true forehead-slapping moment. Of course (slap!).

What grabbed me originally was the reference to the buzzword of the month, Islamofascism, as noted in this space last week.

But it’s so logical.

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mm482: Windy panacea? Not so fast!

August 28, 2008
© Damian Chung | Dreamstime.com

© Damian Chung | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Oops.

Turns out that all those ambitious windmill plans might be more worthy of Don Quixote than Michael Bloomberg.

Seems that generating power is only part of the equation, whether you use boring and dirty old technology (coal-fired) or exciting and clean new technology (wind turbines).

See, that power has to get from those lonesome windy landscapes to the nation’s factories (ah, an optimistic curmudgeon!), shopping malls and homes, and it won’t get there by wishing it so.

No, that generated power, sulfurously filthy or delightfully green, needs the national power grid to get from Windyvastwasteland, Texas to where it’s needed, and folks, the national power grid is a subtle but critical part of what one of my favorite amateur pundits calls, in a most memorable coinage, “this country’s infrastructure osteoporosis.”

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mm481: Carnival of the Liberals!

August 27, 2008

washingtoninternsgonebad

MUDGE’s Musings

Recognition is tonic.

Yes, yr (justifiably) humble svt is happy to announce that a recent post, “mm454: It’s going to take a liberal quantity of BOLD” has been chosen as an entry in the latest Carnival of the Liberals #72, hosted this time around at one of my favorite blogs, and a longstanding member of the L-HC blogroll, Jason Buckley’s Washington Interns Gone Bad.

Thanks, Jason, I’m grateful, and while I am indeed justifiably humble most of the time, tonight I’m darned proud. I really liked that post, and I’m glad it made the cut.

Check out the Carnival — good reading in a variety of styles and points of view.

And be sure to bookmark WIGB. It’s worth making it a regular habit.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm480: Beat up

August 26, 2008
© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Sometimes, you just have to admit defeat.

Or, perhaps, you just need to take a breather.

Tonight is a night that calls out for a break.

No sooner does one of our children get out of a suburban Chicago hospital, than another is admitted to a suburban Los Angeles one. Serious and painful, but, thankfully, not life threatening.

But, it’s beating us up, all of these health issues, especially when they don’t allow us to nurse our own mental and physical aches and pains.

So it’s shell-shocked times here at Casa MUDGE.

But, we’ll answer the bell for the next round.

That’s what adults do.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm479: Change Before It’s Too Late

August 25, 2008
© Debra Saucedo | Dreamstime.com

© Debra Saucedo | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Confession: Yr (justifiably) humble svt has been watching these past couple of months of virulent right wing zingers aimed at Barack Obama, that are apparently drawing blood among responders to polls, with more than a little tinge of déjà vu.

The rabid Rovian mudflood machine buried John Kerry last time around, using his war record, and his wealthy wife, as its prime weapons. Now, enough true believers are buying Jerome Corsi’s latest fantasy smearfest to make it a best seller. Uh oh.

However, Obama is facing a war hero with a wife so wealthy that he can’t keep track of how many homes they own. Do the Democrats have the bare knuckled instincts to strike back against McCain’s rabid Rovians? Frank Rich of NYTimes is urging that the time for polite cheek turning is long past.

nytimes

Last Call for Change We Can Believe In

Op-Ed Columnist | By FRANK RICH | Published: August 23, 2008

AS the real campaign at last begins in Denver this week, this much is certain: It’s time for Barack Obama to dispatch “Change We Can Believe In” to a dignified death.

This isn’t because — OMG! — Obama’s narrow three- to four-percentage-point lead of recent weeks dropped to a statistically indistinguishable one- to three-point margin during his week of vacation. It’s because zero hour is here. As the presidential race finally gains the country’s full attention, the strategy that vanquished Hillary Clinton must be rebooted to take out John McCain.

“Change We Can Believe In” was brilliantly calculated for a Democratic familial brawl where every candidate was promising nearly identical change from George Bush. It branded Obama as the sole contender with the un-Beltway biography, credibility and political talent to link the promise of change to the nation’s onrushing generational turnover in all its cultural (and, yes, racial) manifestations. McCain should be a far easier mark than Clinton if Obama retools his act.

Obama’s message of change needs an update, Rich says, and he makes a strong case.

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mm478: Blast from the Past! No. 44

August 24, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Events, and / or in today’s case, a general malaise, continue to conspire, sapping all the vigor out of my keyboard, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[2][4]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, especially since it’s back to school time for millions, originally posted October 31, 2007, and titled “mm181: Virtual classroom — real learning?”

MUDGE’S Musings

Apparently it’s Education Week here at L-HC! Earlier we looked at the number of engineers we’re training in the U.S.; devoted the last third of a Short Attention Span pastiche to OLPC (One Laptop Per Child); and presented a devastating counter to the engineering story with one high school teacher’s indictment of today’s students (ratified by hundreds of comments).

Featured today is a most interesting look at on-line learning at the college level.

nytimes

October 31, 2007 | On Education

By JOSEPH BERGER | HERSHEY, Pa.

The university classroom of the future is in Janet Duck’s dining room on East Chocolate Avenue here.

There is no blackboard and no lectern, and, most glaringly, no students. Dr. Duck teaches her classes in Pennsylvania State University’s master’s program in business administration by sitting for several hours each day in jeans and shag-lined slippers at her dining table, which in soccer mom fashion is cluttered with crayon sketches by her 6-year-old Elijah and shoulder pads for her 9-year-old Olivia’s Halloween costume.

In this homespun setting, the spirited Dr. Duck pecks at a Toshiba laptop and posts lesson content, readings and questions for her two courses on “managing human resources” that touch on topics like performance evaluations and recruitment. The instructional software allows her 54 students to log on from almost anywhere at any time and post remarkably extended responses, the equivalent of a blog about the course. Recently, the class exchanged hard-earned experiences about how managers deal with lackluster workers.

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mm477: A family affair, with granddog

August 23, 2008
© D | Dreamstime.com

© D | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

As I begin it’s near the nominal end of a summer Saturday; normally I might have had the opportunity to create some kind of post much earlier, but today was not normal, but that’s acceptable. Today was a beautiful day, and it had very little to do with the weather.

Disposed of the usual Saturday morning errand, grocery shopping, in reasonable fashion although closer to noon, having slept in somewhat later than is common.

Picked up MUDGElet No. 3 at his studio in his grandmother’s basement, took him to lunch at a sandwich shop on the way north to my favorite annual outdoor art fair. Mrs. MUDGE had determined that she was going to pass on the opportunity, due to the 90/90 (degrees Fahrenheit/percent humidity) weather, and the dire state of our discretionary art budget, and I was glad of the company.

We didn’t spend a long time there, but he especially enjoyed our stroll up and down one small section of what usually is a sprawling affair spread across several suburban downtown streets and parking areas.

Distressed economy note: fewer exhibitors, and many fewer members of the visual art loving public today (in previous years this particular event has been wall-to-wall people), but those in attendance appeared to be having a good time.

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mm476: The next Windy City?

August 22, 2008
© David Davis | Dreamstime.com

© David Davis | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Two recurring themes on this site converge this week, as alternative energy, mainly windmills, and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, not a presidential candidate, occupy the same NYTimes story.

nytimes[3]

Bloomberg Offers Windmill Power Plan

By MICHAEL BARBARO | Published: August 19, 2008

In a plan that would drastically remake New York City’s skyline and shores, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is seeking to put wind turbines on the city’s bridges and skyscrapers and in its waters as part of a wide-ranging push to develop renewable energy.

The plan, while still in its early stages, appears to be the boldest environmental proposal to date from the mayor, who has made energy efficiency a cornerstone of his administration.

Mr. Bloomberg said he would ask private companies and investors to study how windmills can be built across the city, with the aim of weaning it off the nation’s overtaxed power grid, which has produced several crippling blackouts in New York over the last decade.

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