Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A bad day in the life

For the past seven months I’ve been following the same routine every workday morning. Because there are no buses running at 4 AM and not being able to afford the expense of a car, I walk an hour or so (fortunately it is that close).  Part of the route is an “urban trail” where I can cover a considerable distance without being disturbed by traffic or unwanted people, before cutting across an empty parking lot and then onto the sidewalks the remainder of the distance. Sometimes I do encounter unwanted company, like a stray bike rider racing down the pitch-black trail without a headlight—or a “curious” security guard driving around in a marked car, who rather than seek a “confrontation,” just drives around slowly until you “go away” so they can go somewhere and resume their nap. 

But this was not the case during the most recent such “encounter” today, while walking down the third leg of my journey. A “Securitas” car drove up along side of me and the white female inside asked in an “intimidating” manner what I was doing out there. In no mood to humor her “tough guy” paranoia, I told her where she could get off, to which she informed that me that she had “already” contacted the police. Really? I informed her in my own inimitable way that it was of no concern to me what she did, and I continued on my way without further molestation.

Incidents such as this when my personal business is purposefully “misinterpreted,”  per the prejudices and stereotypes of others, are never entirely forgotten over time, just thrown into the recycle bin of the mind to be dredged-up for future reference. Some people can simply brush these things off and chalk it up to the ignorance of people, but I cannot do that; perhaps because I never “empty” the recycle bin, its overflow keeps the memories and the anger front and center.

Things didn’t seem to change for the positive much when I arrived at work. I’ve talked about the supervisor and the new individual she has bestowed obvious favoritism upon, despite her limitations as a worker. Except for two hours last week, until today the favorite was absent for two weeks without explanation, during a time when the department I work in was engaged on a particularly troublesome product. Although technically a temp, this lengthy absence did not harm her standing with the supervisor. Perhaps not surprisingly, the favorite’s absence coincided with a relative absence of interference in the lead’s running of the department, and production was only limited by the limitations of the temps that other departments discarded and we had to "trade" better people.  But that all changed when the favorite suddenly showed up today; the favorite had already decided she was going to do the easy work of filling tins and watch the people on her “team” scramble to do the “hard” stuff. There was nothing the lead could do, because she knew that the supervisor would be unhappy if she saw her favorite doing anything “hard.” 

But by lunch, the lead decided the favorite’s “team” was going too slow, and had the audacity to instruct the favorite to close tin cases; after an hour-and-a –half of this when others had been doing this for days, the favorite made the decision that she wasn’t going to do this anymore and just sit and do some minor piece work at another table, regardless of what the lead wanted her to do. The favorite actually had the audacity to argue for five minutes with the lead about what she was or wasn’t going to do; even I didn’t have that “right,” but because she is the supervisor’s favorite, this was not an “argument” that the lead was going win without the favorite going off and complaining to the supervisor. 

The favorite stayed put, claiming that her shoulder “hurt.” She engaged in some badass banter to get “friendly,” but those present were an unlikely audience and only lamely reciprocated, and the scene soon became very quiet, with further conversation only pursued in non-English languages. Perhaps feeling left-out, the favorite suddenly decided to get up and go home early, ostensibly because her shoulder still “hurt.” Soon afterward, the supervisor showed up and told the lead that everything was going to “change” the next day, regardless of where people were best suited to be with this particular product (the person who followed the lead in the hierarchy also supported "change"--except that her motives usually tended toward the self-serving rather than promoting production goals). If this was a typical work environment where people are tasked to do a particular function well, some of these people would not last long if they did not “like” the task. But here, there are “choices” if you don’t like the task you’ve been assigned to—or at least that is now the case for the “favorite” since she showed up.

The lead and I discussed what was going on here. We agreed that these “changes” were just a too-obvious smokescreen to conceal the real intent for it. The fact is that until the favorite showed up, as long as the machines didn’t break down we were fairly “productive,” and that there was seldom any quibbling about the lead's production choices and decisions. But that all changed when the supervisor’s favorite arrived. Instead of working her into the department to make sure she was a good fit and where (for example, not deployed on the side of a tin feeder where one is responsible for both loading trays and feeding them into the conveyor without constant assistance by others who are busy doing their own work), the supervisor told the lead how and where the favorite was going to be utilized—period.  If the favorite doesn’t like doing something she is instructed to do, she will go to the supervisor and complain about it, and the supervisor would “right” the situation for her, and the lead has no say in it. Suddenly, there were problems everywhere; now the supervisor is never “happy’ with how things were being run—unless her favorite is “happy.” Not surprisingly, production is down noticeably; for example, on one product we generally produced 180+ cases over the course of a day, but with the supervisor instructing the lead to utilize the favorite in “easy” positions that required speed, our production of the same product fell to 160 cases or less.

Now, there is a legitimate question to be asked if the favorite has some sort of physical (or psychological) limitations that we have not been told about, but because of them everything has to “change.” She is the “largest” person in the department, and while I wouldn’t expect an 80-pound Asian woman to lug around something that weighs almost half her weight, I have seen much smaller and older people (like myself) lift buckets with 35 lbs. of product more than two inches off the ground without help. On some days, I lift and dump at least head high with my 120-lbs. frame and skinny little 50+ year-old-arms 60 or more of these buckets over the course of a day, and I do it because I am expected to do it as a male, and any thought about feelings of soreness from the effort is just the price you pay for having a job. But for the favorite, any assignment that requires the slightest physical exertion or “excessive” movement of any particular part of the body is bound to bring about excessive exertions of complaint.

But for some people, having a job is a “right” rather than a privilege, and when obvious favoritism is tied to it, there shouldn’t be any “surprise” that people who work hard at whatever they are tasked to do—and without deliberately attempting to undermine the authority of a person above them or complaining of physical disability after only a brief time at the task—would find this favoritism off-putting.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week 6 NFL Notes

So Colin Kaepernick got his shot, and while the 49ers kept pace with the Bills for a half, the Bills, with the assistance of 312 yards on the ground, steamrolled in the second half to a 45-16 victory. There were only two things of interest to me in regard to this game. Is the QBR rating system supposed to be some kind of joke? E.J. Manuel took over for Tyrod Taylor to get a couple of reps in and was 0-2 passing, and ran three times for 8 yards. His QBR? 90.9 out of a possible 100. Now please explain what the QBR system is supposed to measure and why it is a more “accurate” measure of a quarterback’s performance than the old rating system. The other thing was that some in the Buffalo crowd chanted “USA, USA” meant to deride Kaepernick. 

A week ago Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had this to say about his recent engagement in protest against shooting of black males by police: "I think it's really dumb of them. Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it's dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it's a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn't lock a person up for doing it…If they want to be stupid, there's no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there's no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that." 

Now, I have written a post criticizing Kaepernick and his stance as being self-serving and hypocritical; look, you’ve made your “point,” and continuing to take the “knee” is putting more attention on your antics rather than your “cause.”  But I draw the line when it comes to calling people “dumb,” “arrogant” and “stupid” when this country has a serious problem with gun violence, regardless if it is law enforcement or criminals engaging in it. The big problem I have with Ginsburg, who is a feminist and probably a misandrist as well, is that she appears to be completely oblivious to the issues that Kaepernick and other athletes claim to be protesting against. I think the issue in regard to Ginsburg is the apparent self-involvement of white feminists and their lack of sensitivity outside their own self-service. If anyone is being “dumb, arrogant and stupid,” it is people like Ginsburg. 

Back to the weekend that was:

Cowboys 30 Packers 16 I’m not going to lie to you: I am a life-long Packer fan, and I never really liked Aaron Rodgers. I was apoplectic when the Packer management declined to receive Brett Favre back into the fold in 2008, when everyone knew that the reason why he “retired” was because he was being forced into making a “decision” and the Packers wanted him to report to training camp earlier than he usually did. Once Favre decided he had enough time off (and why not?—he was nearing 40), he “unretired” himself, and we know what happened after that. 

After having no turnovers through five games. the Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott threw his first interception and lost a fumble, but it mattered little. Despite some slightly more productive numbers in this game, Rodgers simply can’t get the offense moving. The 25-yard pass play to Jordy Nelson represented the lowest long play in a game this year, and Rodgers continues to play as if he doesn’t trust his receivers. What is going on? In 2014, Rodgers had a 112.2 passer rating, with a healthy Nelson and Randall Cobb catching over 50 percent of his completed passes. Who else was catching passes on that team? Do the names Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers and Eddie Lacy ring a bell, Packer fans? Is Rodgers the “problem” on this team? 

Seahawks 26 Falcons 24 This was a could-have/should-have game for the Falcons. Seahawk kicker Steven Hauschka was all set to be the goat in this game until Matt Ryan—who shredded the Seahawk secondary for three touchdowns in the third quarter—threw a needless interception late in the game with his team on top 24-23. Hauschka had missed a 22-yard field goal attempt, and then the game-tying extra point attempt literally just moments earlier.  Maybe the Falcons just couldn’t handle fortune. 

Patriots 35 Bengals 17 Like the Panthers, the Bengals are headed in the opposite direction they were last season. The Bengals actually led in this game 14-10 after driving 80 yards to start the third quarter, and forcing a three-and-out on defense. But after a 15-yard pass play was reversed on a penalty, Andy Dalton was sacked in the end zone for a safety, and from that point the Bengals were "entertained" by the Tom Brady laser light show.

Redskins 27 Eagles 20 The final didn’t quite register fully how dominate the Redskins were in this game, save for the fact that piling-up  a lot yards doesn’t mean all that much unless you put points on the board. In fact, the game was still close enough that the Eagles decided to punt with less than two minutes to play rather than try a fourth-and-24 conversion attempt, and almost got the ball back with a couple of seconds left, except that Matt Jones ran 57 yards on a third down play. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you expect them to.

Titans 28 Browns 26 Cody Kessler came back and threw for 336 yards and two scores, but having next to no running game, predictability becomes redundant, and redundant becomes predictable again, which probably explains why the Browns are 0-6 now. The Browns may be showing more effort than in recent years, but it’s still no cigar. Marcus Mariota had a serviceable game, and the Titans are suddenly 3-3 and right in the “thick” of things in the AFC South, which is bad enough for even “bad” to be a relative term.

Giants 27 Ravens 23 The Giants offense was completely inept for most the first half, but the Ravens simply could not add to an early 10-0 lead. Despite two interceptions and a nonexistent running game, Eli Manning made up by throwing for 403 yards, most of them in the second half when the Ravens’ offense decided it needed to take a vacation and leave a weak and weary (pass) defense on the field. The Ravens still had this game in hand with 1:24 left when the Manning, faced with a fourth-and-one, caught the Ravens snoozing on a 66-yard touchdown pass play to Odell Beckham. 

Saints 41 Panthers 38 Drew Brees threw for 465 yards and 4 TDs in the win, despite a valiant effort by Cam Newton to lead a fourth quarter comeback. The Panthers are now 1-5. But the question is when the game comes down to passing, what kind of quarterback would you prefer to have under center—Brees or Newton?

Jaguars 17 Bears 16 The Bears led in this game 13-0 to start the fourth quarter, although these days with egg-head Brian Hoyer at quarterback, the Bears have to flood the stat line just to get a few points to trickle over the levee. Even against a team from the AFC South, that just isn’t going to cut it.

Lions 31 Rams 28 Both quarterbacks were sharp in this game, and Case Keenum was 27 of 31 for 321 yards and 3 TDs until his last pass, which was intercepted. Both teams are now 3-3, and unless the Cardinals and the Packers can turn things around, these two unlikely teams will likely be the second teams in their divisions, which is like a second-place baseball team being 25 games behind the division leader.

Dolphins 30 Steelers 15 The Dolphin defense threw ice water on Ben Roethlisberger’s recent inflated enhancements, and Jay Ajayi did his best Timmy Williams impression, coming out of nowhere to rush for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

Chargers 21 Broncos 13 Are the Broncos—like the Eagles—coming back down to Earth? Trevor Siemian threw a lot of passes for a lot of a little, which has been his problem all year. The Broncos defense remains stout, but there has to come a point where just enough offense becomes just too little.

Texans 26 Colts 23 Had the Colts not blown a 23-9 lead with 7 minutes to play, things would have been very interesting in the AFC South, with a three-way tie for first and the Jaguars just a half-game behind. But thanks to the usual culprits--the Colts offensive line and late-game defensive breakdowns--the Titans won in overtime. Interestingly, half the fans in Houston had left the stadium early; serves them right to be bamboozled by their own lack of faith in their team.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Paul McCartney doesn't need to be "validated" because a nobody basketball player never heard of him

There was a bit of joking around amongst some in the sports media recently concerning the fact that Sacramento Kings’ basketball player DeMarcus Cousins had never heard of Paul McCartney. Well, I didn’t know who DeMarcus Cousins was before this story broke, and I attended McCartney’s appearance at the Tacoma Dome during his “Back in the US” tour in 2002, so it is all “square.” I know great music that stands the test of time, and the Beatles were the greatest “pop” act of all-time, because virtually every song they recorded had “hit” potential (well, maybe not “Revolution #9,” a recording which still testifies to the greatness of the band); most musical acts are fortunate to record even one song that people remember. When there is a need of a song that reflect a certain feeling or emotion in a film, the rap or hip-hop “songs” that Cousins’ listens to just don’t fit the “bill”—the “old” songs have to be taken out of mothballs to provide that. 

On one of the national sports radio programs there was a discussion about whether the Beatles were “over-rated” because they only “lasted” a decade. Yes, the Beatles were a “phenomenon” and “revolutionized” the culture during their time in the spotlight. But they were a “product” of their times, and other bands like the Rolling Stones hung around a lot longer than they did, and U2 was more “relevant” because they contributed to various “causes.” I mean, how does that detract from the Beatles greatness? In six-and-half years they had 20 number one hits and 33 top-tens in the U.S. How is that not a mindboggling statistic? How does that make them “over-rated? After the group split, their “relevance” did not suddenly “disappear”; John, Paul, George and Ringo combined for 15 number one and 41 top-ten hits as solo acts—even lowly Starr had a string of seven straight top-ten hits, and his number one hit “Photograph” is my second favorite Beatles’ solo hit (behind Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”). 35 number one hits and 74 top-ten hits from 1964 to 1989; how is this not impressive beyond any reasonable measure? How is this not evidence of the greatness of the band and its musical output? 

None of this happened by “accident.” No other act had a core group that everyone knew their names and what role they played in the band’s success. Save for Elvis Presley, the Beatles left everyone else in the dust. They were a cultural phenomenon of their time, but their music lives on—the lack of education and the ignorance of many notwithstanding. Today’s so-called “musicians” could learn a great deal from the past about what real art is.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What is worse than the latest anti-Trump allegations? "Old" stories that expose the hypocrisy of the media and Clinton

Are Donald Trump’s denials that he inappropriately “groped” and kissed the women who are now coming out of the woodwork to be believed? Trump has already intimated that he engaged in such acts, in the belief that women thought that it was “OK” because of his celebrity. That might be a stretch, but one can understand his “outrage” that the media would be coming out with these claims that in his opinion are “misrepresentations” and fabrications. Meanwhile, the media is deriding his claim that Hillary Clinton is behind all of this, but I pointed out a few days ago that you don’t have to be Adolf Hitler to have your faithful underlings do all your dirty work while leaving behind no paper trail leading to you; all you need is a propaganda ministry masquerading as an “objective” news media, and mindless zealots who will fall on a sword for you.  

It certainly isn’t a “stretch” to suggest that because the election polls were too close to “call” that the media would be completely ignoring the “issues” and instead engage in relentless attacks on Trump’s character. Yet the person whose “character” is most troubling has always been Hillary Clinton’s. I would prefer someone to ask why we would want someone in office whose pathological lying goes to the most bizarre extremes: Clinton has claimed that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who along with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay “conquered” Mount Everest in 1953. The problem with that claim is that it is an obvious lie; Clinton was born in 1947, long before the New Zealander became well-known for his exploit. 

Last year in an article in RealClearPolitics written by Larry Elder (who I would describe as a moderate-to-conservative commentator rather than a right-wing extremist), it was noted that while Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations were the stuff of yellow journalism—and Elder could have questioned the media’s fascination with black athletes and celebrities accused of sex crimes and domestic violence—he wondered why the Clintons continue to still get a “pass” on similar accusations:

Why does Bill Clinton continue to get a pass? Clinton was, after all, accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick. Broaddrick, on "Dateline NBC," claimed that Clinton, then-Arkansas attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, raped her: "I first pushed him away. I just told him 'no.' ... He tries to kiss me again. He starts biting on my lip. ... And then he forced me down on the bed. I just was very frightened. I tried to get away from him. I told him 'no.' ... He wouldn't listen to me."

Hillary Clinton, who knew all about her husband’s dalliances, and apparently was “accepting” of them because of her own appetite for a certain type of sexual “dalliance” for which Bill looked the other way as well, responded to Broaddrick’s accusation in the expected way:

She further alleges that Hillary Clinton, shortly after the alleged rape, verbally intimidated her, implying that Broaddrick better keep her mouth shut -- or else. At a political event two weeks later, Broaddrick claims that Hillary approached her: "She came over to me, took ahold of my hand and said, 'I've heard so much about you and I've been dying to meet you. ... I just want you to know how much that Bill and I appreciate what you do for him.' ...

"This woman, this little, soft-spoken -- pardon me for the phrase -- dowdy woman that would seem very unassertive, took ahold of my hand and squeezed it and said, 'Do you understand? Everything that you do.' I could have passed out at that moment and I got my hand from hers and I left. ... She was just holding onto my hand. Because I had started to turn away from her and she held onto my hand and she said, 'Do you understand? Everything that you do,' I mean, cold chills went up my spine. That's the first time I became afraid of that woman."

Elder also pointed out the hypocrisy of feminists and other fanatical gender advocates who derided Bill’s accusers, apparently more in support of maintaining Hillary’s future plans. He notes that Hillary was the “ringleader” behind the "nuts or sluts" strategy used to intimidate and marginalize Bill’s accusers.

Meanwhile…Michelle Obama is calling out Trump for his "hurtful, hateful language about women,” although this is clearly an overstatement and nothing like what is coming out of the Clinton camp and the media directed at Trump.  It is bemusing how many—even athletes—are denouncing Trump’s “locker room” comparison with the comments he made years ago that were clearly braggadocio. The Wells Report on the Ritchie Incognito/Jonathan Martin “locker room” commentary makes Trump seem almost like a monk. Here are some excerpts from the Wells Report:

The "you're my bitch" comments added to name-calling that had begun in 2012, Martin's rookie season, when Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey began regularly calling Martin a "cunt," a "bitch," a "pussy" and a "faggot." Martin was not surprised to hear these words used by football players, but believed they were frequently hurled at him with demeaning intent. The evidence shows that these words -- at least at times -- were spoken to Martin in a cutting tone or with the intent to humiliate him. According to Martin, these types of taunts were a routine part of his life with the Dolphins.

Martin’s sister was a frequent target of these locker room taunts:

We are going to run train on your sister. She loves me. I'm going to fuck her without a condom and cum in her cunt. Hey, Jmart's sister is in town. Get the plastic sheets ready, she's a squirter. I'm going to bang the shit out of her and spit on her and treat her like shit. Hear your sister has a wolf-puss. A fat, hairy pussy.

The report also noted that there were physical gestures that “simulated” what was meant by these comments:

Martin also recalled that the comments about his sister were sometimes accompanied by obscene physical gestures. For example, he claimed that on the practice field, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey would call his sister a "squirter" and then squirt water onto the field from their water bottles, and that while engaged in certain warm-up stretching exercises, they would simulate having sex with his sister. Incognito confirmed these allegations.

What is the point of exploring these “old” stories? That those attacking Trump in self-righteous terms are hypocrites of the worst order, plain and simple. Does this mean you should vote for Trump? No, it just means you should not vote for someone as corrupt and deceitful as Clinton.