Archive for June 11th, 2009

I spotted undocumented unpaid workers in my front yard today

| June 11, 2009 | Reply
I spotted undocumented unpaid workers in my front yard today

I spotted several undocumented and unpaid workers in my front yard today. I stooped next to them, took photos of them and told them “thank you.” You can clearly see a “yellow pollen basket” on the bee in the top photo.

image by Erich Vieth

Image by Erich Vieth

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Tobacco money at work at Congress

| June 11, 2009 | 1 Reply
Tobacco money at work at Congress

When a product kills 450,000 Americans every year, don’t you think it deserves a high level of scrutiny and regulation? I mean, aren’t you a bit surprised that it’s even illegal, given that marijuana, which kills nobody (except due to insanely reactionary law enforcement), is completely outlawed?

Consider that the bodies of the people killed by tobacco every year would stretch more than 500 miles, if laid end to end. Every one of those dead people were using tobacco products exactly as anticipated by the manufacturers. Those dead bodies could stretch from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina (or pick your own 500 mile radius). Can you imagine the tobacco executives walking along one of those 500 mile lines of dead bodies, justifying the carnage? Walking, whistling and thinking, “Just look at all of those people who were dumb enough to buy that highly addictive product that I promoted and sold . . .”

And now consider the morals of some of our politicians. Step forward, Senators who oppose the new law that subjects tobacco to FDA

regulation. Thanks to McClatchy Newspapers, we know that many of you are tobacco whores:

Among the 17 senators who voted against allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco are some of the top recipients of campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, which has donated millions of dollars to lawmakers in the past several campaign cycles.

If you want more details who which tobacco whore has received how much money, visit OpenSecrets.org.

Consider, too, that the corruption that exists with regard to tobacco, also exists with regard to any major industry. For instance, consider health care, defense contracting, farming (including wasteful corn ethanol subsidies), and last but not least, the financial “services” industries. Serving themselves to our tax-dollars.

Now I’m not for outlawing tobacco. But I am for unleashing a torrent of high-profile prime-time advertising that would show the death and destruction caused by tobacco up close and in nauseating detail. And I am for allowing the FDA to join in the war against smoking. Why? Consider this comment from Dick Durbin from a report by MSNBC:

“This is a bill that will protect children and will protect America,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a leading supporter. “Every day that we don’t act, 3,500 American kids — children — will light up for the first time. That is enough to fill 70 school buses.”

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Where It Begins

| June 11, 2009 | 8 Replies
Where It Begins

I watched a family friend turn into a Nazi.

Back when I was a kid and didn’t know very much about the world or people or anything, really, except what was in front of me that I thought was cool or what was around me that hurt, my father owned a business. A number of his customers became friends. One in particular I remember because he was a Character.

Let’s call him Jonah. That wasn’t his name, but he did get swallowed.

You read about these sorts of fellows, amiable, not well-educated folks with mischievous streaks. Jonah was like a great big teddy bear. He stood over six feet, spoke with what might be called a hillbilly drawl. I don’t know what he did for a living, exactly. At ten, eleven, twelve years old that didn’t seem important. He was an avid hunter and that more or less formed the basis of his relationship with my dad.

Jonah was always quick with a joke. He was the first man I ever met who could do sound effects: bird calls, train whistles, animal sounds, machinery. He had a gift for vocal acrobatics that brought to mind comedians on TV. He could get me laughing uncontrollably. I suppose a lot of his humor, while outrageous, could be considered dry because h had a marvelously unstereoptypic deadpan delivery.

Jonah came to our house regularly for a few years, mostly on the weekends. He ate at our table, helped dad with projects occasionally.

He had a wife and a couple of kids. The kids were way younger than me, so I didn’t really have much to do with them. I remember his wife being very quiet. I would say now that she was long-suffering, but I didn’t know what that meant then. She was a rather pretty woman, a bit darker than Jonah with brown hair so dark it was almost black. She wore glasses and tended to plumpness, what we used to call Pleasantly Plump. They lived in a shotgun house with a big backyard.

Which Jonah needed. He collected junk cars. This is what made him rather stereotypical. There were always three or four cars in various stages of deconstruction in his yard, various makes and models. He’d find them. Fifty dollars here, a hundred there. He himself drove a vehicle that probably wouldn’t pass inspection today and he was always fixing on it. He found these cars and would proceed to develop grand plans to cannibalize them and out of the three or four, sometimes five, heaps he intended to build one magnificent vehicle that would run better than Detroit assembly-line and last forever. He would get energetic, tearing into them, and according to my dad he exhibited an almost instinctive ability to mix and match parts and actually do engineering on the fly. He came up with some first-rate gizmos out of all this, and from time to time an actual vehicle would begin to take shape.

I can only assume he applied much the same philosophy to the rest of his life. He owned one decent hunting rifle, which my dad managed to improve, but also owned several “clunkers” which he was always bringing in to my dad’s shop to fiddle with.

Jonah never seemed to finish anything.

I didn’t perceive this as a big deal then.

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