Snarky

Okay this is really snarky and not much like me. I’ll limit myself to the one snarky comment but… Because Donald Trump lurked, and paced, and humped his chairback I was forced to look at him rather than just the usual media shot from the shoulders up. And what crossed my mind was: why, with all the money he has didn’t he wear a suit that fit.

Returning to Blog

It’s been about seven years since I’ve written on my blog. It’s about time for that to change. Hopefully I will be back to active status in the near future. I started a piece yesterday but it got too big for me and I need to do some rewriting. So, if you accidentally end up here and it looks abandoned, well it was for awhile. Please check back again in a week or two.

The Law of Unintended Consequences Pt 1

It’s not really a law, not in a legal sense, but it is a law of nature just like gravity, and dropped toast lands butter side down. There is almost nothing you can do good or bad that won’t have unintended consequences. That doesn’t mean freeze in the deer in the headlight pose but it does mean that even the best ideas bear some thinking through before being enacted. Unless of course you’re being chased by a bear, then just run.

I’m an engineer, we’re known for looking for every conceivable thing that could possibly go wrong. Personally I think that’s a good way to live, but I understand that’s not a majority viewpoint.

I recently heard a discussion on why our K-12 education system is going down the tubes. I’ve been hearing the same old tired refrain for years and years: not enough money, crappy teachers, crappy students, crappy parents, crappy buildings, need I go on? But this was something I hadn’t heard before and it made so much sense I don’t know why I it isn’t talked about all the time (With the idea creating a solution of course.)

The gist of what this person said was, and I’m sorry I never caught who it was, is that at one point in time ( I think after WWII) the K-12 schools were full of women teachers who were highly educated and well qualified in their fields of study, but who couldn’t get the better paying, professional, “real” jobs. (You know, cuz they weren’t men.)

Now I’m a woman and an engineer, you will never tell me that it would be better if women were relegated to “women’s” jobs. But, perhaps if we had looked at what was happening we could have found a way to mitigate that unintended consequence of equal opportunity employment.

What would that better way have looked like? I don’t know but I’m sure it would have looked differently if it had been tackled early on instead of waiting until our school system was failing so badly. As Sandra Day O’Connor recently said on The Daily Show: “Only a third of Americans can even name the three branches of government….75% of Americans can name at least one of the American Idol judges.” She goes on to talk about how one of the unintended consequences of the “No Child Left Behind Act” (Every child left behind?) have discouraged schools from teaching civics and history as they are not on the national tests.

But going back before the monkey president to when our education system started failing, what happened? I’m not going to address that question today, what I’m thinking about is: when women started working in professional roles did anyone ever stop to ask “What were these women doing before?) Did we really just assume they had all been housewives? One day they were housewives, they next day magically they were doctors, lawyers, engineers, business women? It has to be obvious now that were becoming educated in these roles for years before they were able to actually step into them. It should be equally obvious that they didn’t all get married after college and lay around the house watching soap operas.

Whose job was it to notice this phenomenon? Well, no-one’s really. I guess that’s where I’m going, there are thinkers, that like/have to consider every possible thing that can happen about just about everything they know anything about. What do we do with these valuable people? Ignore them! Yep, ignore them. They’re always saying things like, “that bridge needs maintenance”, and “but if we do that, then this other thing might happen”, and other uncomfortable statements. Better to ignore them and then if something bad happens we say “well no-one could have predicted that”, but, of course, someone could have, and probably did.

Blame the Workers

You know I’m not shocked that the republicans are so blatantly trying to bust up the unions. But, how stupid are they to write it out in a memo! The following is an excerpt circulated among senate republicans:

“This is the democrats first opportunity to payoff organized labor after the election. This is a precursor to card check and other items. Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.”

For the rest of the memo: http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/new-gop-memo-entitled-action-alert-abou

I’ve read a number of blogs written by people who have had various dealings with the management of the big three and it’s not a picture of competence and inspiration. But, it isn’t all management’s fault either. You’ve been paying attention, you know that banks don’t want to loan money for new cars or just about anything else. You know that people are losing their jobs and that the people who have jobs worry about losing them. Consumer spending is down, and hey, that includes cars.

There are so many factors at play here that are causing these worldwide economic problems, but the republicans want to blame anything they can on unions and union workers. It never seems to occur to them that treating people with dignity, and offering them a living wage, and fixing health care would get them far more votes than waging war on unions and working people.

And you know, with so many people unemployed or under employed they are getting some traction with this. I’m sure when you’re making bupkus at Wal-Mart it seems like the auto workers are getting a pretty sweet deal. But, don’t we all want health care, a decent wage, people we can call on if our boss is abusive, or our working conditions were unsafe?

We don’t get stronger by tearing others down. It’s hard to stick up for someone who makes a better wage than you, but you know the old saying: “If we don’t hang together, we will all hang separately”. As individual workers we were truly an underclass. We didn’t always have the 40 hour work week, or child labor laws, or work place safety standards. We didn’t have laws to protect us from harassment, or from the boss who threatened to fire us if we didn’t agree with him.

The autoworkers have a pretty decent deal, but hardly unreasonable and nowhere near as good as the senators do. And the thing is the autoworkers agreed to make many concessions. It just didn’t matter because the republicans had an agenda and that agenda was to weaken the union and unions in general.

I don’t think unions are the be all and end all, but the workers are, and the unions attempt to protect the workers and help them have a decent quality of life.

Prop 8 & the culture of lies

Proposition 8 was not a typical voting situation. We weren’t voting to regulate or not to regulate an activity, to raise or not raise taxes, or between two or more individuals. We were voting on whether or not to take civil rights away from a group of people. But people have the right to vote however they choose. It doesn’t matter if you have any knowledge about, or any stake in the matter. It doesn’t matter if you’ve even thought about it, or whether some guy in a robe told you to vote that way or you’d go to hell. I don’t disagree with voting freedoms, I definitely don’t want the government messing around in my mind or trying to determine my intentions.

That said there ought to be some vetting of what is put on the ballot. If by passing a measure or proposition a situation would be created that violates the law, not changes but violates, there should be a way to keep it off the ballot. You could put a measure on the ballot today taking the right to vote away from women, or the elderly, or gays, or any group you like. And, there would be people that would vote yes. Amazing, and one likes to think that a measure like that couldn’t pass, but with enough money and a good advertising campaign (you know, one full of lies), maybe it would.

The idea of the initiative process is a good one but it’s been subverted somewhere along the way. When a state-wide election is determined by “out of state interests” maybe it’s time to take another look at the process.

AND, as I rant merrily along, this goes to all election campaigns, it should (and maybe technically is) be illegal to outright lie in campaign commercials. I know this is not a new phenomenon, but I do not understand why it has been allowed to continue. It’s a time honored tradition to say that your opponent will raise your taxes, or his grandmother wears army boots, but that is not what I’m talking about. When the ERA (equal rights amendment) was actively undergoing ratification people said it would require that all public bathrooms be unisex (it didn’t). With prop 8 they told people that their church would lose its tax exempt status (and other lies). These are not things that remain to be seen or just general childish smears, these are statements and they can easily be proven to be not true (that means they’re lies.)

I’m not sure what to do about the culture of lies that has become American politics. I’m about to go into full rant mode so instead I’ll invite other comments.

Privacy

If I were ruler of the world private mail would be private and there would be penalities for he who opened it without a warrant, and that warrant would be hard to get. Phone calls would be private too, and what I did in my bedroom would be my own business. I wonder why there aren’t any countries with rules like those?