Friday, February 25, 2011

Would This Be Considered Organic?

Liquid gold, they call it.
When you are breastfeeding, or trying to anyway, it is drilled into your head how precious and wonderful breast milk is.

Liquid gold.

Now an ice cream shop in London is turning that breast milk (with some Madagascan vanilla and lemon zest) into frozen liquid gold, a treat(?) they are calling the Baby Gaga. It is served in a martini glass by a waitress dressed up in a Lady Gaga-style costume.
For $22 a pop.

And it is so popular they cannot keep up with demand. To meet the apparently insatiable appetite (or is it merely curiosity?) that Londoners have for the Baby Gaga, they are soliciting women to sell their breast milk.

The shop, Icecreamists, is offering to pay $24 for 10 ounces of pumped breast milk. That comes out to $2.40 an ounce. Which is pretty much on par with buying milk from a milk bank, which, in this country is about $2-3 an ounce.

I guess if you have extra milk and are looking to make some extra cash, this could be one way to do it. Though it also seems to me that a better use would be to sell it or donate it to someone who needs it for, you know, an actual baby.

And I know that breast is best and all that jazz, but the idea of breast milk ice cream just kind of creeps me out.

(Kinda reminds me of a certain scene from the greatest film ever produced.)

Personally, I'd rather take mine warm, directly from the spigot if the waitress is cute.

Clarifications: And I'm Not Talking About Wisconsin

Does "free economic association" mean an open marketplace, as in "marketplace of ideas" or are you saying "free economic association" falls directly under the first amendment as defined by the supreme court in the same manner than humans may have freedom of social association as insinuated in the concept of free speech?

When you say "Government workers operate within a monopoly where they can use the political process to choose who sits across the negotiating table with them" does this mean there is no alternative to the people at the table other than who the government workers choose?
I mean the freedom to choose with whom one receives services from. You don't have much of a choice when it comes to who teaches your kids, polices your streets, or processes your car registration.
Government workers are blessed with a captive customer base than cannot seek services elsewhere. This would be a monopoly. When box makers strike, the customers can go elsewhere for boxes while labor and management solves its issues, which usually hurts both parties in the short term, and quite possibly the long term. As labor, I would prefer my customers not experience better service and product from another supplier, especially if that supplier may even be cheaper. The market serves as a check on excessive labor demands.
In my line of work, labor and management both know a strike will hurt them, and try not let things go that far.
Teachers, on the other hand, love to hold captive students hostage with strike threats, knowing the difficulty of taking business elsewhere.

I don't need to explain how narrow interest groups can hold excessive power over the democratic process do I? The process that picks those who negotiate with other people's money across the table from those who also have the power to reward these same negotiators with money for themselves? It becomes less of a negotiation and more of a 'let's see what we can get away with' session.

And are you saying that you want to strike down an entire class of contracts without any detailed review of what they actually SAY simply on the suspicion that all the people the govt. workers have negotiated with are in their pocket? Without having to actually prove that's the case?

I think that the topic of their integrity is a worthy discussion.

Do you really think that because someone happens to be employed by the state, they forfeit any right to negotiate collectively for the best compensation that the labor market will bear?

Not entirely. But I think they should be governed according to a different set of assumptions than paper workers, teamsters, or any other union who must compete for a profit, as opposed to having a customer base assigned to them.
As for 'race to the bottom', in regards to teachers not having unions: in the unionized government systems, it seems that the biggest factor in teacher pay is years on the job, not skill/effectiveness as a teacher. A non-unionized, private school can put the compensation money where they need it based upon teacher effectiveness/educational needs.

Like I said somewhere else: If high salaries equaled good teaching, explain how I was taught better than I deserved by nuns who were paid meagerly by comparison?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Opposition To Government Unions

Generally speaking, I support labor unions. They have their issues, and don't always fulfill their purpose as they should, but still, throughout history their overall effect on the lives of middle class citizens has been more positive than negative.

I am a United Steel Worker. Seems kinda strange on the surface, as I work with paper within the paper industry, and the only steel involved in my job is in the toe caps of my boots. Oh, and razor blades. I use lots of those. But how a paper worker got to be labeled as a steel worker is another topic for another time.

At contract time, there is a lot more that goes into negotiating a wage and benefits package than simply demanding it and threatening to strike if we don't get our way. There are other pressures, external forces beyond the control of management or labor, that put downward pressure on wages. Market forces are tough and factories can close or move overseas. In California, they can also just as easily move to Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

In short: my hour of labor must produce enough wealth before somebody else can cover the wages and benefits that I demand. Naturally, I think that I am worth a whole lot more than that, but the market does a pretty good job of telling me otherwise.
If my labor is priced too highly, free purchasers are likely to choose another labor source from which to buy from.

This is a proper situation for a union to function in: free economic associations where the customer makes the ultimate decision on the valued combination of labor and product.

Anything else, like in the case of unionized government workers, is not a free market practice and can only lead to disaster if left unchecked, like we are seeing now, and have seen coming for a long time, at the state and local government levels.

Government workers operate within a monopoly where they can use the political process to choose who sits across the negotiating table with them. (And it cuts across party lines. Don't believe me? Take a look at Orange County, it's GOP domination at all levels, and the thick gravy obscenely ladled upon some of it's union workers.)
In my industry, any union bosses attempting to buy off the other side would get some prison time for their efforts. Government unions do this same thing every day, as an accepted manner of negotiating practice, all out in the open, and it's perfectly legal. This is as much the fault of the politicians who enjoy the buy offs and wouldn't dream of passing legislation to the contrary.

(Organized labor loves to rail against 'crony capitalism' in defense of the 'working families', but fails to recognise it's own sin.)

In my eyes, it's not much different than organized crime. It shouldn't be allowed to continue and any contracts that currently exist should be nullified as they were not negotiated in good faith.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Have A Dream

There is something inherently evil about a system where some are expected, or taxed to the point of, being required to work past the age of 70 so that the non-productive sector of the labor force can retire at age 55.

May the screws applied to the public sector unions be long, slow, and deep.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


If I were 74 years old, I'd be bragging.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hey, remember that laryngeal implant from December?
Well, it seems that I may be facing some rejection issues. If you don't hear from me for a couple of days, you can guess where I'll be.
At the moment, I'm just waiting for a call back from the Doc telling me when I can expect to be laid out again. He was hinting that it may be tonight, and put me on a fast... just in case.
This could fun, all over again. (insert smiley emoticon)

Talk to you again when I get back.

*UPDATE: After blood work and CT scan, he prescribed an antibiotic and wants to look at it again in 2-3 days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I find the proudly worn N.O.T.W. tattoo rather contradictory.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why Bother?

I've never been to a NFL football game, but in my youth I went to more Dodgers and Angels games than I care to count.
It started out easy enough. The Dodgers were the local team, and ticket prices, even after adjusted for inflation, were not near as bad as they are today. The whole family, five of us, would go pretty regular, once a month or more.
After a set of free tix found us at Angel Stadium, a little further away, we became Angels fans due to a more enjoyable family experience: the staff kept an eye on the rowdies and drunks, and didn't let things get out of control, unlike at the Dodger games. Add to that, the 70's Angels sucked, were never overly crowded , and priced accordingly.

After I'd outgrown the folks, I was a Dodger regular again... for the same reasons the family left for Anaheim: I wanted the rowdiness. After the last beer was thrown from the upper deck, it was exciting knowing that maybe we weren't going to make it back to the car without seeing something violent break out between drunken Mexicans or rival Blacks.
And still, back then, it was a cheap night by comparison. Even cheaper when you brought your own pocket bottle to spice up the $2 beers.

What it came down to, in reality, was not the game. It was atmosphere. Everybody cheering and cursing in unison. Dodging beer. Watching girls. Dropping peanut shells. The Wave. Swallows chasing insects at dusk. Another Wave! All the stuff you didn't do at home in front of the T.V., where you could have seen the action better anyway, along with instant replay.

All of this is why I just don't get the concept of luxury or VIP boxes, where the uppity can view the game in peace and comfort.

Last Sunday, I'm sitting here watching the Super Bowl, while the camera focuses on Jerry Jones, W Bush and all the big shot, super rich football fans, safely tucked away in their hidey-hole VIP boxes, separated from the full experience of a major public sporting event... I'm left wondering what it is they are doing there that they can't be doing at home.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lookin Like A Fool With Your Pants On The Ground

Long Beach Tells Teens To Pick Up Saggy Pants
City leaders want young people in Long Beach to do two things this February: pick ‘em up and keep ‘em up.

Bishop William Ervin along with Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson are calling on black children and teens to “pull up their pants on their waist” as a sign of respect during Black History Month.

But why stop there? A few suggestions I'd like to add...

Asians could be asked to drive like normal people during the Lunar New Year celebration. A good start would be to refrain from cruising the expressway at 25mph, or not signaling a right turn six blocks in advance.

Irish could refrain from drunken, loutish behavior in public every St. Patrick's Day.

Mexicans can turn down the cemetery boom boxes for Dia de los Muertos, and limit portable bar-b-cues to one per family.

Rednecks can put that rebel flag away on July 4th, and quit trying to run others down with their oversize truck.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And Darkness Fell Upon The Land

Well, that ruins my week.
The White Stripes have announced they have split up, saying they will "make no further new recordings or perform live".

The Detroit duo of Jack and Meg White thanked fans for their support in a statement on their website.

They added that they were calling it a day for a "myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band."

No, Jack and Meg. It is I, who thanks you. Music had never been this good before, and never will be again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Working From Home

Today, I awoke at 5am, got dressed (old t-shirt, worn jeans with boot socks), poured a large mug, dropped my lunch in a box (smoked oysters/crackers, bottled water, two bananas, a pack of instant rice noodles), and sat near the phone.
And sat some more...
As I've done every day this week, while waiting for that phone to ring, ready at a moment's notice to get out the door and head to work.
I kill much of the time receiving, and responding to, trash texts from my co-workers.
It's now Friday, and I have yet to get that call...

We have a drug screen policy at work. Anytime one sustains an injury, he gets sent for a drug screen (the piss in a cup, kind.) Anytime a supervisor suspects behavior under the influence, a drug screen is ordered. Anytime somebody is off work for a 30 days, a screen must be passed prior to returning.

It's 'Their' money that pays for it, and ridding the mill of inebriated/stoned/tweeked laborers is a smart thing that I tend to agree with. Once was a time when the paper industry was notorious for drug use among it's labor force.
Drugs were rampant. I mean, the shit was everywhere. It got to be old news when I could walk the department floor and kick a small pocket-pipe, or sweep up two or three roaches at a time during my shift clean up. Beer cans stuffed behind an I-beam was a common site. The Marlboro pack sitting atop the machine might be a drop.
Yeah, notorious and everywhere.
My brother once stated that I worked in a pharmacy with a corrugator in the middle of it.

About 15yrs ago, The Powers decided to clean the industry up. A lot of folks lost their jobs, and arbitrators gained new ones, as managements instituted new policies, bargaining agreements were violated, grieved, restored, renegotiated... etc.
A lot of push back and eventual understanding on both sides has brought us to where we are now:
With me reporting to work Monday for the first time since my surgery December 20th; barred from the production floor while being sent to the clinic to pee in a cup; sent home to await the results/phone call from my boss ordering me to work... at which point I am expected to report promptly to my scheduled shift.
All of this is on the clock.

My schedule is Days, 6am-2p. After about noonish, I figure I'm done for the day, but I'm still expected to answer that phone during my shift, should they call.
I just received the call, finally, five days later at 11:30am.
Yeah, Mando.
"You're good buddy, see ya Monday."

A week.
Boring and wasted.
But at least I got paid for it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And The Truck They Rode In On...

According to reports, things must be getting really rough in Egypt now that government thugs are riding around with camels.

How intimidating.