Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smell Like Lando, Drink Buffy, and Nations as Dresses

A company will allow you the chance to buy some Star Wars Perfume so you could smell like Princess Leia (slave princess that is) or you could go for the Eau Lando Cologne and smell like Lando - it even has it's own cape.

Or, as offered at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, drink some sodas named for Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters. They really sound awful and even I don't want one.

Apparently, a common thread to the Miss Universe competition is a parade of contestants wearing dresses designed to represent their home nations. Looks like Switzerland is ready to stop being neutral:

And I'll let the ... um ... "fabulous bloggers" at Tom and Lorenzo provide their own caption below for the ... dress?? worn by Miss USA, Rima Fakih:


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Using Fear To Crush America

I do not like having to write some things I've posted here - I spent days trying to put my thoughts together over the madness in America about religious buildings, and I very nearly deleted the whole thing. Why bother? With 145 bajillion blogs to read, it's like scratching at Mt. Everest with a toothpick.

Most people around me seem to be hellbent on vengeance and anger at Others. I don't really want or need any more anger aimed at me. I'm a very creaky construction of ideas, full of doubts, seldom as wise as I wish to be, and like most everyone else I know, it's a real struggle, this journey we all share. I don't want trouble.

But I posted my thoughts anyway. And today I read another bit of writing at Obsidian Wings which I think is worth sharing:

Whatever some rabble-raising politicians say about one mosque doesn't trump what America really stands for--the values enshrined by our constitution that guarantee equality and freedom for all, whatever your race, religion or creed.

And the Republican Party is almost uniformly against it. And its opposition is manifesting in ways that are as vile as they are counterproductive in terms of keeping us safe.

That's really quite remarkable. The GOP is willing to risk American lives in order to sow hatred and bigotry for a short term boost to electoral prospects."

For the next few days, I'm vowing to work harder to write about our world without hand-wringing and worries. Rather than stare right at some horrible thing headed toward my personal vehicle, I'm going to focus on the part of the road I want to be on instead. It can't hurt to try and studies show my vehicle will likely avoid that horrible thing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Constant Demonizing

Ir's pretty disgusting to witness the constant demonization of some "Other", which masquerades as social and political debate. The world seldom gets down to the Either/Or state of life, and when a person's world (or a group's) perspective is down to just two options, then one is surely in a battle royale.

The demonizations now seem to be the sole purpose of so-called cable news and talk radio, and yes, giant chunks of the Internet too have been swallowed up on the road to nowhere.

Like you, dear reader, I have been most recently bombarded with righteous and furious anger over the building of a religious center in Manhattan.

Truth is, religious buildings govern much in America -- one can't build an establishment where alcohol is sold unless a certain distance from religious buildings is maintained, a distance which in Tennessee which varies from town to town. 300 feet is too close, 301 feet is fine.

Truth is, some 80 feet away from where a crazed, radical group of terrorists slammed a fully loaded passenger plane into the Pentagon, Islamic services are held daily and have been since just after the horror of the Sept. 11th attacks. And those attacks were made possible by deeply deranged people who demonized all of America for ... well, for everything wrong in the world, I suppose.

And there are two mosques already quite near the site of the fallen twin towers - just blocks away. The one being planned now is meant to house the spillover of members, there isn't enough room for those who wish to attend. More hysteria is taking place here in Tennessee, in Murfreesboro, for a proposed expansion of a mosque and religious center, even though the group has been in Murfreesboro for decades.

Truth is, it is far easier to terrify and frighten people than it is to educate and illuminate them. Mark me down as someone who refuses to give power to those who want to terrify.

Today, I read about many celebrations marking the adoption of the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which allowed women the right to vote. A Tennessee fellow named Harry T. Burn cast the vote leading to victory for the movement, in part because his mother (Mrs. J. L. Burn (Phoebe "Febb" Ensminger) of Niota, Tennessee) admonished him to "be a good boy".

The state's archives notes:

The nineteenth century witnessed the birth of two monumental movements in American history: abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. While the two movements appeared to be distinct, both sought to secure the American promise of Liberty and equality for all people. Abolition was the mother of the suffrage movement and growing numbers of people actively supported both reforms.

A large number of women supported abolition and most men believed it was because of women’s high moral standards and their tender hearts. Frederick Douglass himself noted that women were key players in abolition. He believed that the true history of the antislavery cause would one day be written and when it was, women would take up the largest amount of space in that great tome because, “the cause of the slave has been peculiarly woman’s cause.”

During a time when social standing, race, and gender defined a person’s place in society, courageous women were involved in a common cause and dared to take a stand for freedom and equality."

The world is seldom simple. Yes, there are Rights and Wrongs. Knowing which is which, dear reader, demands we all be vigilant and resilient. Constant, bitter, hateful demonization only fuels ignorance and despair.

See Also:
Don't Follow The Terrorists' Script

Monday, August 16, 2010

Indentured Servitude via TDOT Part 2

The Vanderbilt Landscaping company, awarded contracts by the Tennessee Dept of Transportation using money from the federal Stimulus programs and other programs, accused of making legal migrant workers live and work in vile conditions akin to indentured servitude has offered a response to the claims (original post here and on KnoxViews).

Channel 5 News reports:

Joffery and Larry Vanderbilt said they could not believe the accusations when Hilario Jimenez and a group of protesters from the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice started protesting outside the company Thursday.

"All the allegations that they were stirring up were just -- it was crazy," said Larry Vanderbilt

They believe Jimenez was trying to retaliate for discipline he received at the end of June.

Vanderbilt Landscaping employs 60 people. The company has several contracts with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to cut grass along highways and interstates.

The H-2B program lets American companies bring people into the country as guest workers if they can't find Americans to fill the jobs.

Jimenez was one of them. Among his accusations -- Vanderbilt Landscaping doesn't pay overtime.

"Hilario made $12.33 an hour. We always pay our guys time and a half, and time and a half equals $18 and something cents an hour," Joffery Vanderbilt said.

The Vanderbilt's showed us Jimenez's last paycheck showing three hours of overtime. They also showed us a payroll journal showing how much he made.

The Vanderbilt's said workers get half hour lunches and two 15 minute breaks in addition to other breaks when they get too hot. As far as the accusation of working at gunpoint, the Vanderbilt's said that too is totally false.

"That is all false. None of us carry guns. That is false," Joffery said.

A Nashville Union leader also brought up the issue of taking jobs from American workers. The Vanderbilt's said they ran ads in newspapers in Nashville and Memphis for three weeks. They said they did 70 interviews, and said most of the applicants decided the work was too hard."

So not one, not one of the applicants accepted the job offered? That seems a real stretch of the imagination, and the firm got numerous contracts from TDOT and more money by claiming no one save migrant workers would take the jobs.

What you have to understand is that the U.S. guest worker program binds workers to one employer. That means that no matter how badly a company mistreats a guest worker, he or she can't leave to work for anyone else. If they do, they can be arrested and deported back home, where they face crushing debt.

The other thing you have to understand is that Vanderbilt Landscaping got the guest worker visas by claiming to the U.S. Department of Labor that it could not find a single American worker to fill these landscaping jobs. I know a few that would have been interested, but neither Vanderbilt nor the Department of Labor ever gave me a call.

Hiring exploitable guest workers and locking U.S. workers out of jobs let Vanderbilt undercut the competition, and they won $2.48 million in state landscaping contracts paid for with our tax dollars. On top of that, Vanderbilt got $900,000 in guaranteed loans through the federal stimulus program. And instead of putting all that money toward good jobs for struggling Tennesseans, they locked American workers out and locked legal guest workers in.

Why has TDOT not responded to these allegations, or the State of TN? Though complaints have been filed, how long until an actual investigation occurs?

Southern Beale is on the story.

So is Coyote Chronicles.