Widening the horizon to sports, culture and other topics.
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I'm thankful there are still people who fight for the common good against daunting odds, and that some of us are still principled enough to support them in their fight. Now if only Aramark doesn't pull any funny stuff, we might have a happy ending here. Via In These Times:
Grill cook Janet Irving has worked at the dining hall for Loyola University in Chicago for 26 years. But she still makes only $14 an hour, has no health insurance and gets little benefit for her seniority in scheduling shifts.
Issues like these are why the 204 workers from 16 countries decided to form a union. After a difficult organizing campaign where they initially faced intense opposition from their employer, Aramark, on Nov. 16 the company agreed to recognize UNITE HERE Local 1 after 80 percent of workers signed union cards.
Contract negotiations will begin in coming months and Irving, 49, is confident that things will get a lot better for workers. ?It?s beautiful, it?s great, only good things can happen now,? she said.
She said workers will be surveyed to come up with specific demands for a wage increase, affordable health insurance, seniority rights and other issues. Currently Irving can?t afford the health insurance Aramark offers, so she is uninsured and relies on the public county hospital for treatment for her heart condition.
Aramark had employed Loyola workers in the past and there was a union contract. Then another company, Bon Appetit Management Services, ran the cafeteria for six years.
?Aramark is strictly about the company making money, they?re a multi-billion dollar corporation, they don?t care how we survive or that we are living pay day to pay day,? Irving said.
Irving said workers tried to unionize several years ago but the effort was squashed by intimidation before it got off the ground. This time, she said, the key was keeping organizing secret until they had gained a critical mass. Loyola students and professors and Chicago interfaith and community groups also supported the workers, including at several public rallies.
?Without them we wouldn?t have made it,? said Irving, adding that continued support will be important as they negotiate their first contract. ?Students, priests, the neighborhood, teachers ? everybody stood behind us.?
The unionizing drive was especially challenging because of the diversity of the workforce, including refugees and immigrants from Bosnia, Mexico, China and several African countries. Some of them had negative impressions of unions or heightened fears about repression because of situations in their own countries.
?Half of them were really scared, or didn?t really understand what a union is all about,? said Irving. ?It was a little difficult, but we made it.?
At a threshold level, to prove their argument that something nefarious is afoot, they would need to start by dismissing other logical explanations for why this particular issue "suddenly rose to forefront." Most obviously, they would need to dismiss the[...]
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A bit of a historical reminder above, and thanks to Andrew Sullivan for surfacing this.
Israeli political leaders too often want to brag that they control the US President -- and that what they demand, they get.
In this case, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert bragged on video that he shamed then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and forced her via an uninformed President George W. Bush to abstain on her own UN Security Council resolution.
The trend continues with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling various close friends that he has the US Congress in his pocket and can largely ignore the White House. Netanyahu, according to sources, believe he can just bide his time.
Netanyahu wants to bring down President Obama, when it is Obama who should be destabilizing the far right coalition of the Netanyahu government.
-- Steve Clemons
-- Steve Clemons
I expect our older readers remember NBC newsman (and occasional newsscold) Edwin Newman. Apart from his qualities as a reporter and on-air newsreader, he was known for his (pre-Safire) concern for language. That was on the whole a nifty thing, I thought. I'm a confirmed fan of respect for language, which enhances communication.
But I was always uncomfortable with some of his biggest bugbears, or rather I should say I wasn't at all uncomfortable with some things that drove him crazy. Notably, he was an indefatigable crusader against stock phrases like "Have a nice day," on the ground that such phrases really have no meaning, and people don't mean anything by them anyway, so it's all a horrible charade and a debasement of language.
Or something like that. It's hard for me to be sure I'm representing his argument properly because I didn't buy it then and still don't.
I guess I do have a problem with the word "nice" in the expression "Have a nice day," because nice really doesn't have much meaning. It has some, though, and I'm certainly not unalterably opposed to it. But in this context, even I find it a trifle wishy-woshy. I'm more likely to say, "Have a good day."
Just as I've been saying, "Have a good holiday," to the semi-anonymous people I've had contact with yesterday and today -- the security people I pass on my way out of my place of business, for example, or the supermarket cashier. I realize that Ed Newman, who died on August 13, at age 91, is past caring, but I just want to let him know that I meant every damned word of it.
And what drives me crazy is: Why would anyone assume that I don't mean it?
I mean, how much does it cost, either psychically or financially, to have and express this extremely modest bit of fellow-feeling toward one's fellow citizens? Answers: nothing and nothing. I certainly agree that anyone who doesn't feel such simple good will toward his/her fellow humans should in no way feel compelled to claim such feelings. I'll go further: Anyone who's truly indifferent to whether the building security guy or the supermarket cashier has a good holiday should definitely not fib about it. That really does pollute discourse. But does this really describe people generally?
I don't even have a problem with common expressions like "How are you?" Just the other day I heard a media wag, who took it for granted that the questioner has no interest in how the questionee is, joking that you could really stick it to the asshole by going into a detailed recitation of your assorted miseries. Won't that serve the sumbitch right?
Well, again, no, I don't think so. It's very likely true that the questioner isn't expecting a half-hour disquisition from the questionee, but really, are people so stupid that in formulating an answer they are utterly incapable of taking account of the context of the question? The questionee has an opportunity to provide some simple bits of information, based on the realities of the relationship.
Not many of us take advantage of that opportunity, and I think that's kind of too bad. I wish more of the people I asked how they are felt comfortable imparting, in a simple, non-impositional way, some information. If you've been better -- because, say, your cat is dying -- it's not all that difficult to convey this without unduly burdening anyone. Sure, you have to pick your spots; unless you've established a relationship with the bus driver, say, this may qualify as "too much information." On the other hand, if you have the same driver every day, and he or she has the time and inclination to mention that his/her kid just won the school spelling bee, would that be so terrible?
It ticks me off that these smart folks take it for granted that people don't mean anything when they see these things, and the people they say them to don't give a damn. I find that not only depressing but, as far as I can tell, inaccurate.
Same deal with such polite expressions as "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome." Like a lot of people, I'm sure, I was brought up with forced usage of these hoary old expressions. They were drilled into me, and I'm sure for years they didn't mean anything to me. But probably without my realizing it was happening, the phrases took on meaning. And eventually they came to mean, well, exactly what they say: "please" and "thank you" and "you're welcome." Not profound sentiments, surely, but real, and worth expressing, I think. They help keep the social fabric together. (Uh-oh, is that socialism?)
Is it really so hard to believe that a person can actually mean such things? Again, if you don't mean 'em, don't bother saying 'em. The social order won't crumble. But why shouldn't you mean them? Or at least why should it be assumed that you don't?
video details and more
A World's Fair Diary: This is the first ten minutes of NBC News's Edwin Newman report on the 1964 New York World's Fair, which aired on July 30, 1964. (The rest of the report is posted in five additional clips.)
Let me just conclude by saying, I hope you're having a lovely Thanksgiving, and please have a great holiday weekend.
[POSTSCRIPT: You're welcome.]
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The final match-up of the day has the Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) at the New York Jets (8-2).
Discuss the game, complain about the refs, argue whether Terrell Owens is a major ass or a total ass, or decry the mindless violence of NFL football. Bonus points to anyone doesn't doze off on the couch before halftime.
NFL is carrying the game.
We need a repertoire of transgressive contention.Because Ilargi is spot on:Debt always has to be paid down, restructured or solved through some combination of the two. For now, the negatives of both options are laid squarely on the shoulders of the[...]
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It's quite obvious that dark meat tastes better. End of story. Well, that's how it needs to be presented at the table if you're worried about a quiet meal.
But, seriously, I mean no disrespect, especially in this holiday celebration of fellowship and thanksgiving. And, yes, I'm familiar with the phrase "de gustibus non est disputandum"?there's no arguing about taste. But in the case of white meat from a Thanksgiving turkey, well, I'd argue about that.
White meat turkey has no taste. Its slabs of dry, fibrous material are more like cardboard conveyances, useful only for transporting flavorsome food like stuffing and gravy from plate to mouth. It's less a foodstuff than a turkey app, simulated meat, a hyperlink to real food.
But I am fascinated by how tastes get made and unmade, the intersection of culture, class and sensory responses. Not being a postmodernist I wouldn't call the overwhelming American preference for white-meat turkey a form of cultural hegemony. More like a mass hallucination. Why, for instance, hasn't white meat shared the same fate, the same cultural disenfranchisement, as packaged white bread?
Happy Thanksgiving, peeps. And remember, if you fall asleep after dinner, it wasn?t really the L-tryptophan in the turkey that caused it...[...]
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