Monday, 31 March 2008

I Feel Like I Just Got Second Prize in the 'Francis-Grady's-Not-Such-A-Bad-Bastard' Award

Hell's Bells.

I've just come from my union local's Annual General Meeting where I was elected president for the coming year.

As things turned out, my competition was unable to stand for election because he is a member but not a member in good standing. [He is indeed a member, which means that he has worked for the employer over the past twelve months but being a member in good standing means that he has actually perfomed productive labour in the past four months.] If a member with standing runs for office unopposed the Board can appoint them. If a member in good standing runs, however, they automatically lose.

While technicalities such as these seem trivial, he was assuming that he would automatically be appointed by the outgoing board because no-one in their right mind would dare to challenge him.

Conveniently, I have been so sleep deprived over the past month that I am no longer operating in my right mind.

This led to much angry recrimination after the meeting that the by-laws are outdated and obviously irrelevant because he didn't win. As I've known him in a professional capacity for the past eighteen months, I must say that his hissy simultaneously made me feel bad for him but also glad that I ran against such a poor loser that he would go and whine to our union rep after the meeting.

I only ran after a great deal of thought but was still prepared to lose if the vox populi went against me.

Hell, beyond is impromptu rant to the union rep, he also had the nerve to snub me before and after the meeting.

Actually, I suppose this was a fairly painless introduction to hardball union politics because it could have been way, way worse.

My only concern is that he is going to be a real pain in the ass over the next couple of months. Only time will tell, but hopefully he will get distracted by his job and family and quit busting my balls for being an dirty rotten, evil, Machiavellian son-of-a-bitch.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Not for Everyone, for Madmen Only.

I normally avoid CNN because ... because ... well, because CNN is to journalism what ordure is to nutritious food. Watching CNN is like going to an all-you-can-eat feast hosted the hugely-litigious purveyor of fast food with the Scottish name. But occasionally even CNN does something worthy of note.

On Wednesday night, former Republican presidential candidate [and Harold Stassen stand-in] Bob Dole defended current White House hopeful John McCain on the Larry King show. While admitting that McClain indeed had a temper, Dole thoughtfully added that the Arizona senator 'can control it.'

Voting is a challenge at the best of times but knowing that you're potentially voting for someone would have their anger management coach appointed to the federal bureaucracy should give even the most die hard Republican pause for reflection ... but it is unlikely to.

Looking at what the American government has already done over the past eight years with a pseudo-soldier at the helm, I don't even want to know what they would attempt with a former P.O.W. with anger management issues in the driver's seat.

And, on a lighter note, I'm posting a clipping from the L.A. Times, that respected academic publication. Not sure of the exact providence of it, but I believe that it is two or three years old. Despite that, even the potential for the U.S. Army to opt out of the Geneva Convention is troubling.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

China Banned! What's Up Next for Worker's Paradise?

Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society [part of the Harvard Law School] kept tabs on the websites that the Chinese authorities were keeping tabs on between August 2002 and November 2003.

The individual sites that were targeted can be found at Inaccessible Sites Tested by Users of the Real-Time Testing System along with a few observations as to why these sites have been censored in the first place. While some might be obvious, others less so. [Issues of aesthetics or good taste aside, why would they bother to censor granny porn sites??]

A recent article in The Atlantic observed that China's 'Golden Shield Project' [as the Internet firewall is known] allows for government authorities to monitor all Internet traffic going in or out of the country in a way that would be impossible in other nations thanks to a series of 'choke-points' created by the layout of China's phone service. A consequence of this technological bottle-neck has been China has been able to block videos on the Tibetan protest movement posted on YouTube while being unable to completely stop the flow of information related to Tibet from moving into and out of China, thanks in part to bloggers and others using spam tactics to bypass Chinese filters.

With the upcoming Olympics and the ongoing issues in Tibet, censorship can only get worse ... both in China and over here.

Despite all this, it is still [allegedly] possible to get outside news into the Worker's Paradise through a number of Transwiki: Bypassing the Great Firewall of China.

Anyhow, this might provide me with my big chance to get my own blog blocked by the Chinese authorities by passing on the following message from Play Fair 2008:

'Play Fair 2008 is an international campaign taking place in the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games to push for respect for workers’ rights in the global sporting goods industry.'

'Play Fair 2008 is organized by The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Worker’s Federation (ITGLWF). The campaign is also supported by a diverse coalition of organizations worldwide.'

'We believe that sportswear and athletic footwear companies, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympics Committees, as well as national governments must take steps to eliminate the exploitation and abuse of workers in the global sporting goods industry.'

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

I suppose I shouldn't encourage people to leave my blog but Free Rice is totally addictive in a nerdy, social justice-y kind of way.

You pick the right definition for a word and the sponsors give 20 grains of rice per successful pick to the UN World Food Program. Like everything else in life, everything counts in large amounts. [I've just quoted Depeche Mode. I feel ill.]

Since you insist on bathing in the warming glow of your monitor, you might as well help somebody else out while building your vocabulary up at the same time.

But first, please feel free to look around my all-too humble excuse for a blog.

Also, please note that none of this refers to Nitroglycol, who is already a little too smart for his own damn good.

Just a Touch Pissed-Off, I Suppose.

This coming Tuesday [March 25th] marks the 97th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City. In the worst loss of human life during a single incident [until 9/11, of course], 148 of the women who worked in the sweatshop were given the odious choice of either burning to death or jumping the nine floors to the ground.

The owners of the sweatshop [as I discovered in a highly educational book on litigation] escaped both the fire itself [by sneaking out before the fire got too bad] and justice [by paying the worker's families paltry sums of cash, political connections, and hiring the best trial lawyer that blood money could buy].

... and, 97 years later, exactly what have we learned?

When you ask people about organizing their workplace, they act as if the role of the manager is to protect them from the big, bad union.

Hell, most employers would probably harvest your organs for beer money if they could find a way to keep you working sans your viscera.

But now the stakes are greater and the world is a whole lot smaller and so the fight continues.