Random (but not really)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Best Lack All Conviction, While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
— W. B. Yeats (1919)

Written by Michelle at 3:27 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Politics  

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Why I Am DONE with Manchin

For years I have been holding my nose and voting for Joe Manchin.

Never again will I vote for him, because with the chips were down, he lacked the testicular fortitude to do what needed to be done for the country, instead focusing what would get him re-elected.

And now we have a person who completely lacks judicial temperament given a life-time position on the Supreme Court.

Aside from the allegations of sexual assault. Aside from the untruths in his stories. He threw a temper tantrum and whined about a liberal conspiracy attempting to keep him off the court. He behaved as if that seat was his by right. He utterly exposed his partisanship and made it quite clear he is a conservative activist judge.

A judge with whom we will have to live for decades.

The only reason I voted for Manchin–the ONLY reason–was to keep conservative activist judges off the supreme court. To keep them from sending the country back to the dark ages.

His claim he is working for the betterment of West Virginians is complete and utter bullshit. He is instead working to return us to the days of out-of-state ownership of everything of value here. Of being dependent upon our employers for utterly everything.

Anyone remember company scrip? You could only buy things from the company store? You think that isn’t happen to our health care? Remember mine disasters where hundreds of men died? You think that can’t happen anymore? Remember when black lung killed men on a regular basis? You know that’s happening again, right?

This is a Supreme Court that voted that corporations are people. People who place the good of a corporation of the good of citizens don’t give a shit about what happens to us.

And that’s what Manchin has given us.

So the argument that we’re screwed if a Republican gets that seat holds no water anymore. A Democrat HAD that seat, and he failed to stand up for us, instead looking out for his political future.

To hell with that.

I don’t know who is the 3rd party candidate for the Senate, but I will write in “None of the Above” before vote again for Manchin.

Written by Michelle at 7:52 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day

Textile Mills

ChildrenSpinning

girl-working-at-cotton-mill-P

millgirl

Landscape

Factories

child-labor

Fields

child-labor-3

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

Triangle-Fire

triangle3

Chimney Sweeps

childsweep2

Mining

Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

youngminers

My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won.

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

child-miners

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Farmington-Mine-Disaster-smoke

monongah-mine

sago

Upper Big Branch

child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3

child-labor_idp_2

child labor today 4

child-labour-pakistan

Child_labour_Nepal

child_labour

Just a reminder what we’re celebrating today.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Back-to-School, Back-to-Free Lunch

Two news bits, one after the other, struck me the other day. They were the following:

Staff Council to collect back-to-school supplies for children of WVU families

Third Annual Back-to-School Supply Drive sponsored for local families

It’s laudable and awesome that the WV and WVU communities support WV and WVU families in need.

HOWEVER

I find it upsetting that so many local families and WVU EMPLOYEES are unable to afford the basic necessities for their children to get a proper education.

WVU is the state’s flagship university but doesn’t pay some employees enough for them to buy pencils and papers and notebooks for their children for school.

How can anyone read that and not be mortified? How can we live in a day and age where people need go-fund-me pages to pay for medical bills so they don’t go bankrupt?

How can people think that education, health care, and a living wage are privileges and not basic human rights?

How such people can live with themselves–especially people who claim to be Christian–is beyond me.

Written by Michelle at 9:05 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Morgantown,Politics,West Virginia  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

It is not too soon

It is entirely too late

Written by Michelle at 7:31 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thoughts on Social Responsibility

I’ve been thinking recently about social responsibility and the social contract.

It’s that time of year, so there are lots of people complaining about paying taxes, and bragging about how they manipulate things so they pay a minimum tax bill.

There are also a lot of people who insist on buying only things that are cheap: never pay full price, never buy quality goods.

Why do I think this is an issue? Because that is socially irresponsible and it breaks the social contract.

First, let’s clarify what I’m talking about.

Social contract:
1. the voluntary agreement among individuals by which, according to any of various theories, as of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau, organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare or to regulate the relations among its members.
2. an agreement for mutual benefit between an individual or group and the government or community as a whole.

When we are part of society, we have implicitly agreed to follow certain rules and regulations that allow large groups of people to function without descending into chaos. We don’t steal, we don’t murder, and we treat fairly with each other.

But the social contract is more than that. In a moral and ethical society, it means we care for those who cannot care for themselves. For example, it’s why we have special legal protections for children.

It also means there are some things that are better managed by the government than by individuals and private companies: law enforcement, roads, and public safety come immediately to mind.

Taxes are the way we pay for these societal needs. If you don’t pay taxes, or attempt to shirk this duty, then you are taking advantage of your fellow citizens.

Let me be clear: I don’t mind paying a little extra to make up for the elderly widow who has minimal income. I don’t mind paying a little extra to cover the single parent trying to make ends meet. These are the things we do in a moral society.

What I do mind is people who can pay their way refusing to do so.

When people scheme to get out of paying their way in society, they are refusing to pay for the roads they drive on, the police that protect them, and the schools that educate future generations.

When people who have the ability to do otherwise choose to spend their money on the cheapest things available, they are making things worse for everyone else.

When people who have the ability to do otherwise buy the cheapest items available, it means they are driving down wages for those who make those goods.

They are supporting sweatshops.
They are forcing farmers to hire illegal immigrants.
They are requiring a minimum wage that is not a living wage.
They are forcing those at the bottom to struggle to pay their rent and put food on the table.
They are forcing those at the bottom to live in substandard and even dangerous housing.
They are encouraging a disposable society, where things are used briefly and discarded.

To make things worse, many of the people who purchase goods at prices lower than the cost of US production are the same people who are against providing any benefits whatsoever to the working poor.

They fail to understand the basics of TANSTAAFL.

We can’t have roads without taxes.
We can’t have schools without taxes.
We can’t have clean water without taxes.
We can’t have safe food without taxes.
We can’t have public health without taxes.

When people insist that the cost of goods remain low, the price still must be paid, but it is paid by those who manufacture and harvest and serve.

The mutilations and deaths of those in the meatpacking industries.
The injuries and deaths of farm workers.
The spread of food-borne illnesses.
Child labor.
A culture and conditions where poor working women are at constant risk for rape and sexual assault.

But what really makes me angry is when those who refuse to pay their taxes, and refuse to support businesses that pay a living wage, profess piety and claim the mantle of Christianity to hide their immoral and unethical behaviors.

Here’s the thing: I was forced to take six years of religion classes in school, and have had more than a passing interest in comparative theology as an adult, so I have more than a basic familiarity with the bible and the tenets of Christianity.

The bible speaks of caring for the poor and the sick. Of helping those in need and forgiving your enemies.

Nowhere does it claim that the poor need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Nowhere does it say that caring for your neighbors is the responsibility of someone else.

Nowhere does it say that we should care for only the people like ourselves, and let the rest of the world sort itself out.

In fact, the bible speaks quite clearly on the subject of paying the taxes.

Matthew 22:17-21 (KJV)
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

If you choose to weasel out of the social contract, that’s fine. We have free will and are allowed to make our own decisions. But don’t expect me to respect you.

And don’t claim to be a Christian.

Written by Michelle at 6:44 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Greatest Free-Market Success Story in History

The Internet is “the greatest free-market success story in history”
–Ajit Pai

Unless, of course, you live in a rural area or an area suffering from poverty and urban blight.

Consider these numbers for WV, for percent of the population with access to mobile broadband service +25mbps. (Broadband Now)

Jefferson = 95.4%
Hancock = 94.9%
Berkeley = 93.5%
Wyoming = 93.8%
Wood = 90.9%
Kanawha = 90.4%
Monongalia =89.2%

Mon county (where I live) has the flagship state university, WVU, and yet only 89.2% of the county has access to broadband. Two of those in the top three are the easternmost panhandle counties–essentially bedroom counties for the DC area. The third is the northernmost county, which is just west of Pittsburgh.

But still, that’s not too bad, right? What about the rural counties?

Pocahontas = 0%
Calhoun = 0%
Ritchie = 14.0%
Clay – 16.7%
Monroe = 17.9%
Barbour 21.4%

Two counties with zero access to broadband. None. And one of those counties (Pocohontas) is in the Radio Quiet Zone where there is also ZERO cell signal.

And even without the Radio Quiet Zone, there are a LOT of areas in WV without any cell services. (1)

And here are the 2015 poverty rates for those bottom counties.

Pocahontas County = 16.5%
Calhoun County = 17.7%
Ritchie County = 20.7%
Clay County = 28.2%
Monroe County = 16.8%
Barbour County = 21.5%

The only positive here is that those don’t happen to also be the counties with the greatest percent of the population in poverty. (3)

Remember last spring when I was talking about food deserts?

Monroe and Barbour counties are also a food deserts.(4)

Transportation is harder to quantify. For the sake of simplicity (and lack of data) I’m going to look at areas without access to a major divided highway as having transportation issues. A lot of this is subjective unfortunately, since Rt 50 west of I79 is a well-maintained divided highway, but east of I79 it’s almost all single lane with a lot of switchbacks and 7-9% grades.

So what kind of roads do these counties that lack broadband have?

Pocahontas – Route 219
Calhoun – Rt 119/33
Ritchie – Rt 50 west
Clay – I70 across northern corner
Monroe – 219
Barbour – 119/250

You can look these up yourself, but if you’re willing to take my word for it, out of that list only Ritchie county has anything approaching a decent road running through it.

So what is my point in all this?

My point is that A good deal of WV lacks broadband coverage, and there is zero financial incentive for companies to bring it in. And once they come in, they’re going to want ways to boost their revenue, and the only way to do that would be to charge the big sites for premium access.

So no, I think repealing net neutrality is NOT a good idea.

Here is all the above data in a single table, if that makes it easier to parse.

 

  Broadband Poverty Median Unemployment Roads
Pocahontas  0% 16.50% $49,801 3.10% Rt 219
Calhoun  0% 17.70% $45,519 8.80% Rts 119/33
Ritchie  14.00% 20.70% $46,394 5.30% Rt 50 (west ofI79)
Clay  16.70% 28.20% $42,030 5.60% I70 (small corner)
Monroe  17.90% 16.80% $47,975 3.80% Rt 219
Barbour   21.40% 21.50% $46,623 4.60% Rts 119/250

(1) This is one of the reasons we bought a GPS for the car years ago, because google maps doesn’t work if you don’t have cell service. (2)

(2) It’s also why I’m pretty proficient in reading paper maps. Because our GPS hates us and often recommends roads that are not recommended for cars without 4-wheel drive.

(3) The bottom five would be:
Webster County = 26.1%
Gilmer County 27%
Lincoln County 27.3%
Clay County 28.2%
McDowell County 35.5%

(4) I am designating food deserts here as areas where you have to drive 20 or more to purchase food (ie groceries). This doesn’t mean a grocery story necessarily, just a store (like a Quicky Mart, Drug Store, or Dollar Store that also sells food.)

Written by Michelle at 10:35 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Computers & Technology,Politics  
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