family, politics


USRadiumGirls-Argonne1,ca1922-23-150dpiFrom a March 12th Rachel Maddow report, I just learned of a whole other group of people who underwent slow occupational poisoning from a watchmaking activity very similar to the one that eventually did in my dad. Decades before he succumbed to illness brought about by watch-cleaning solvent poisoning, young women were killing themselves with the radium paint being used on watch faces. All done with a tiny brush that needed to stay pointy for detailed work.


What more, in the name of love?

The writer linked here sets out to examine a very real problem (the darker side of “Do What You Love” career advice), but draws too many initial conclusions from a noticeably selective interpretation of one famous man’s accomplishments. Mention of whom is almost certain to guarantee page views on a for-profit magazine’s web site.

The first half of this article is a careless conflation of selective paraphrases of a speech Steve Jobs once made (from which Ms. Tokumitsu omits exhortations of the value of hard work, which Jobs never avoided) with the broader marketplace of Chinese contract manufacturing and declining salaries for American middle-class knowledge workers. Blame is assigned to elitist privilege in a meandering attempt to find the origin of a very real decline in the value our culture and our business class assign to work.

She finally gets to the point about halfway through the piece. But she’s still avoiding what I understood was Jobs’ original intent in saying “DWYL”: find something you love to do enough to get good at it. Do it well enough so you can make a living off it. Yes, that still originates from a point of privilege and romanticized notions of how much leisure time remains in the lives of a shrinking middle class, but it’s not quite as tunnel-visioned as the article attempts to suggest.

H/T to Kellie M. Walsh for finding this article.

politics, spew

A brief message from twelve years ago.

From a letter to the editor in Wired, May 2001.

America’s ideologically driven fear of “state interference” has allowed its corporations to be far more intrusive and abusive than any European government would dare to be. As you are finding out the hard way, basic services like electricity are not effectively supplied by market forces alone. Blind faith in science and technology may have made US citizens richer than we are in Europe, but rather than curing your diseases it has made you world leaders in obesity, mental illness, and drug dependency.

Your way of life is killing you: More of you are in prison, in debt, and in therapy than anywhere in the world. More of you just plain kill one another. Each of you produces three times more pollution than Europeans do. To think that having more money makes all of this OK is moronic. There is more to human freedom than shopping, more to compassion than lower taxes, and more to security than bigger guns. Why don’t American’s get this? It’s Europeans who look over the water and mutter, “What a bunch of losers.”

Yes, we’ve certainly come a long way.

politics, Uncategorized

Happy Fourth of Something.

About two-thirds of my life ago, I began to realize that what most people loudly and proudly call “patriotism” was just a mechanism they’d been raised with. Part of a ritual that distracted them from whatever deal they’d allowed their government to trade for their sweat and blood. As it has been since we learned to walk upright.

As someone very wealthy (and publicly devout) once said to my father-in-law over lunch on the other side of the world: “There are no countries. There are no religions. There is only business.”

If only more people realized this. The United States of America is a contract whose terms have changed over the past thirty years, and not for the better.

    Please sign the attached rider which commits your children and grandchildren to sacrifice their lives while killing people who signed a far worse contract with their own leadership. Note that your user agreement has been amended to modify those sections labeled “Bill of Rights,” “Social Security and Medicare,” and “Consumer Protection.”

Yes, we’re still getting a better deal for our money than a lot of folks elsewhere can ever look forward to. But that list is shrinking.

    Your apathy is greatly appreciated. We look forward to doing business with you and your DNA for the remainder of your lives.

Save your fervor for your loved ones. Reserve your faith for people you actually know.

politics, spew

Some fun excerpts found in Dick Cheney’s memoirs.

Page 47: “After crushing the testicles of an Iraqi detainee’s child, I often have them served to me in a dish of buffalo sauce alongside a nice bordeaux. Exquisite.”

Page 42: “I rarely looked John Yoo in the face during legal consults on the torture thing. Reminded me too much of a Filipino nanny I’d had deported when I was seven.”

Page 116: “I won’t ever dine with Wolfowitz again, especially at fund-raisers. That pedantic, droning kike chews everything open-mouthed and keeps talking through it. It’s like watching steak tartare having intercourse.”

Page 83: “Having been invited to a late-night C-Street party, I arrived, took one look at Sam Brownback’s flabby naked ass, and called in the CDC.”

Page 202: “After the second time, I finally had all of William Kristol’s incisors pulled and replaced with dentures. I despise the scrape of teeth.”

Page 50: “Very gratified to see that research continues towards my decades-old goal of having Richard Perle’s head successfully grafted to my spine.”

Page 424: “On Wednesdays I have John Bolton brought to my Georgetown house. That pedo mustache of his makes a great toilet brush.”

Envoi: “Nixon was an unmedicated amateur.”