Monday, April 30, 2007

Six (More) Months


FRIEDMAN VIEW-NIT. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand soldiers. Check out this graphical depiction of Tom Friedman’s many assurances over the past four years that we were entering (another) critical, six-month period.

Blacklisted for Being Anorexic and Innocent at University of Northern Colorado

The administration at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO has posted a list of "persona non-grata" at the University. These are people who are not allowed to step foot on campus and now have their faces thrown out on the web for violations such as being anorexic or not appearing for a campus disciplinary hearing at the advice of his lawyer for charges that were ultimately dropped.

Following the Virgina Tech tragedy, I am expect universities to be spending millions of dollars outfitting their campuses with expensive security devices, safe rooms, lockdown procedures -- and let us not forget security "consultants". Students are being blacklisted and publically humiliated by the same institutions that refuse to "reveal the identity" because of "privacy violations" for all sorts of other reasons" (from the Denver Post):

"This is a healthy discussion," [University President Kay] Norton wrote about reaction to the website. "However, we do not and will not talk about individuals who receive persona non grata orders."

While universities, including public universities, will spend millions of dollars each into the latest technology to assure that they are doing something. But, the most effective intervention would have been listening to his professors who notified authorities that they were concerned about his behavior and writings. But, that's not "sexy" or high-profile, so the impression of doing something is more important than actually doing something.


I would just like to let all of you know that "illegal immigrants" are messengers of Satan. That's right - the largely Catholic workers coming from Central America, are control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

Republican officials then allowed speakers to defend and refute the resolution. One speaker, who was identified as "Joe," said illegal immigrants were Marxist and under the influence of the devil. Another, who declined to give her name to the Daily Herald, said illegal immigrants should not be allowed because "they are not going to become Republicans and stop flying the flag upside down. ... If they want to be Americans, they should learn to speak English and fly their flag like we do."

No joke - this is what happened at the Utah County Republicans convention [1], as reported in the Daily Herald of Central Utah (via hilzoy). Rather than bursting out laughing throughout the article, the reporter actually reports the goings-on of the convention in more attention and detail than our national media does of the Democratic debate. That means that there are people in Utah County, Utah actually take this seriously enough that the reporter would be concerned for not reporting it with sincerety.

The good news for undocumented workers is that, if they do end up going to the county jail, the people of Utah County, Utah are fine enough people to make sure that criminals are prepared for their visit in the county jail.[2]

I couldn't make this shit up.

UPDATE: Via Pandagon, MSNBC has picke up on the story. View YouTube clip here.

[1] For those who have not spent twenty minutes online becoming an expert of Utah County, Utah (I guess they got bored coming up with county names after a while), it is the home of the main campus of the Mormon Brigham Young University [BYU-Idaho is the other campus] found in Provo - the land of no caffine OR alcohol and where students are upset that Vice President Cheney will be giving the commencement address.
[2] Check out the banner on the jail's website -- it's a dartboard with a BULLSEYE!!!

Sports Break

The Golden State Warriors are one hell of a fun team to watch.

And Charles Barkely is a jerk.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Old Mike, New Christine

This article from the L.A. Times was sent over our department listserv. It is an amazingly articulate article about the naturalness of transsexualism and one MTF's very public transition as a sports columnist for the L.A. Times. Definitely worth the read.

I can say that this is an issue that has become surprisingly close to my heart, mostly because of the work of the GEO activists during our last contract campaign. When Daniels writes:

How do you go about sharing your most important truth, one you spent a lifetime trying to keep deeply buried, to a world that has grown familiar and comfortable with your façade?

To a world whose knowledge of transsexuals usually begins and ends with Jerry Springer's exploitation circus?

it makes a whole lot of sense. Getting to know more and more about the topic over the past years, I have really come to understand how much more natural it is than I ever would have guessed if I had not gotten involved in GEO. But, as I talk with other GEO members about the latent hostility towards negotiation for transgender inclusion in our contract, I know that there is still a lot left to be done. I can only hope that the courage to write stories like this and negotiating for transgender equality in our contracts will help with this process.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Well said

This piece from Brown University is one of the best written pieces about that precariousness of graduate funding and the "benevolence" of administrators. It includes a nice quote from our own Dave Dobbie:


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What she said...

from Femeniste.

These people make me sick. As someone who is doing research on infant mortality (admititly, helping more on the methodological rather than substantive front), the denial of any link between maternal health and child mortality is just plain stupid.

"Culture of life" my ass!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Not Viable (Hopefully)

I think the Straight-Talk express is a runaway train...

But, listen to the crazy in his question, we have all "for quite a long time now, known where the real problem is in the Middle East..." in reference to Iran. Wait a minute, I thought that all of our problems would be solved by bombing Iraq?

So sad...

I managed to find a blog entry of this Iraqi man living in Baghdad who was singing Cat Stevens' "Peace Train" and, just as he sang the line, "Now I've been happy lately," a stray bullet flies into his room. He says:

It's like no one should be happy in this country, because if you say that you're happy, a bullet will come and smash your head right away.

And the worst part is, all he can do is laugh about it.

BTW, here is the recording of the incident that he posted.

Shameless Hijacking of a Discussion Thread...

Since I apparently used tags that are not allowed in Blogger's comments, I am shamelessly directing a great discussion from Dave's blog to this one... I hope its not too shameless. But, anyway, on Dave's blog, I see Dave's post having two different "themes":

  1. He is tired of being lectured about the dying labor movement by mostly white and mostly male aging baby-boomers that oversaw that very decline.

  2. He is deeply skeptical of the ability of "corporate campaigns" to succeed as a force for organizing labor in this country

On the first point, I cannot agree with Dave more. I am tired of being told how great the labor movement used to be and how our generation "just doesn't understand." I am frustrated by the fact that, as I try and learn in the Movement, I am continually told that I have no clue what I am talking about or that I am a kid "playing union." I think that at some time or another, all of us in the grad labor movement have faced this -- and I am a straight, white male. I see Dave's criticism arising partly from the fact that labor leaders, union bosses to the rank-and-file leadership, have become complacent over the past fourty years by failing to incorporate employees from new economic sectors into their "good-ol' boys" club. Even as many of these boomers complain of the decline of the labor movement, Dave rightly points out that there has been an expansion in the public and service sector employment by unions that largely employ women and minorities (though it is important to note that the presidents of AFSCME, the UFCW, SEIU, and UNITE HERE are all white males).

But, on the second point, I find Dave's analysis a little bit more problematic. On the one hand, he argues that the decline of the labor movement is becoming perilous because we have been following the same old tactics of the boomers straight off the metaphorical cliff. On the other, Dave is skeptical of one of the new tactics that has been employed to try and reverse this decline. It is a point that Dave has made before, which sadly died with the Green Blog of Revolution, about the effectiveness of a labor strategy that does not incorporate job actions. I have two arguments. I believe the first falls in line with what Patrick and Wobblie have argued, and I have previously discussed on my blog; in short, the labor movement will be stronger and succeed more by building a strong community-based organizing model and working with organizations like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. I think that we all agree on this point.

My second argument addresses the tactics of "comprehensive campaigns" themselves. In the past direct labor action has succeeded because it was aimed at the bottom line of the corporations. In a period of mass accumulation, shutting down a plant for a day, week, month, year cost the corporation money. This is still true for our "white and tight" brothers and (some) sisters in the building trades. But, as corporations in the United States shift from making their their money by mass accumulation and much more from flexible accumulation and non-productive service work, then organizing a direct work action does not really affect the bottom line of the corporation. But, just as the CIO used new tactics of plant shut-downs compared to the AFL method of limiting the labor pool by controlling apprenticeships into the trades, the new economy requires new tactics be designed. Because so many corporations now rely on their images, the building a comprehensive campaign can be an effective way to start hitting the bottom line of corporations. And, where infrastructure has not been privatized, political pressure by highlighting the negative impacts of the corporation are entirely appropriate.

Which brings up Wobblie's point -- flinging poo 'til something sticks is not the best way to implement this tactic. Particularly in conservative Scottsdale. But, at the same time, at least the UFCW is organizing. At least they see the importance of building these connections. And, they have also taken a strong stand and their leadership has learned from their members at Smithfield and SWIFT plants and have, more effectively than any other attempt thus far, linked immigration to labor rights. And, with strong organizing with comprehensive campaign tactics, UNITE HERE has built a strong model in both Las Vegas and the Hotel Worker's Rising campaign. At different times, both of these efforts could probably have been accused of "flinging poo" but, overall, have given labor great hope in the past couple of decades. So, to the extent that the mistakes along the way are contained (see UFCW's TESCO campaign in Scottsdale) we should not discount the tactic of comprehensive campaigns.

Friday, April 20, 2007


So, at long last, I am now a lame duck at the good ol' #3550. I am very sad to end my "official" stint with the best damn local in the country. Being involved on a day-to-day level at GEO has been the second best decision I made in grad school (the first being asking E. to marry me). While I may be moving to the Big Apple, I know that I will never be far from GEO and GEO will never be far from me... So, to help get over my sadness, I have composed the following list of benefits of turning over a new leaf:

  1. I get to be with E. again. FINALLY!!!

  2. Helen will do a far better job than I could ever do

  3. I will be able to work on GEO's website

  4. Coming back to GEO will give me an excuse besides my academic work to come back to Ann Arbor

  5. I will reconnect with my friends on the 'osphere (I can't believe I just wrote that).

  6. Did I mention that I will get to be with E.?

  7. I will be living in f***ing NEW YORK CITY!!! (Sorry, not a whole lot of love lost for A2)

  8. Maybe I can work on my dissertation

  9. Did I say how excited I am to live with E.?

  10. We have the most kick-ass group of Officers, Stewards and Staff next year!

So, far-ye-well to Tuesday night meetings and Constitutional Robots - I will miss you!