The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, March 10, 2008

Iraq and a hard place

I have to admit that people who rail against unions irritate me as much as people who think Big Business is evil. Labor and Management strike me as being pretty much opposite and (if possible) equal forces. When I think about the importance of the Writer's Guild in terms of health care and studio exploitation of talent...ouch.

I turned in an animation treatment BEFORE CHRISTMAS and still haven't even gotten the paperwork done yet. This is absurd, and only happens because the animation union is weak. I can only figure that the problem in perception is that most people really, really do think that "they"--whoever is on the "other side"--are not as human as the home team. So labor thinks management is staffed by monsters, and those who have no need of unions (wealthy, at the top of their field, people in careers without guilds or unions or owners of businesses) think that unions lead directly to Communism or something.
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So the common wisdom is that Obama is in a street-fight now, right where the Clintons want him. I suppose that's fine. If he can't protect himself in the clinches, he shouldn't get into the ring. But I'm hoping that he knows that he doesn't have to fight dirty to win. If he is a master, this is where he will show it...or not. Again, if Hillary twists arms to make backroom deals with Superdelegates to win...I may not like it, but would consider that within the rules. Fine.

But if she fights to get Michigan and Florida seated without any kind of do-over? THAT I consider cheating, and so do a lot of other people. And my respect for her plummets. The only thing that would keep me from voting for McCain is a REAL sense of not wanting to reward the Republicans for the way they behaved the last seven years. I'll be between Iraq and a hard place on this one...
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The sign-up buttons for the LIFEWRITING DAILY TIP has been down for a couple of months, and I didn't realize it. It's back up now, and I invite you to sign up. Primarily writing tips, delivered to your mailbox daily...
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Last week I did a Bruiser Gama Cast Density workout (Clean to Order), followed by a Bikram yoga session. The Club Bell workout only takes 18 minutes (18 sets of 6 reps, starting one at the top of every minute) but it thumps the whole body. Unreal, really. The Bikram session seemed to REALLY help in recovery, but I still felt tightness in my Achilles tendons four days later. Wow.
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Heading to Millinicon this week, and Norwescon next week. Any blog readers attending those conventions should be sure to introduce themselves!

19 comments:

Brian Dunbar said...

I have to admit that people who rail against unions irritate me as much as people who think Big Business is evil.

I've got no beef with unions as such - I know where my forty-hour work week came from.

Some of the practices of some unions irk me - as an example the teachers union in Wisconsin doing their best to shut down virtual charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The problem that Unions have is the same problem that any organization has(business, government, etc.): it is the nature of it to grow. Big Unions are BIG business; and when there is nothing for the Union to do it has to come up with a way to justify its existence and the dues it takes from its members. After all why join something that doesn't benefit me? Labor is a commodity that has a market value and at times Unions try to trump that. What ensues is rarely good and often leads to the loss of jobs to overseas labor markets.

I'm all for collective bargaining, but I can see the exploitive side of unions just much as I can see the exploitive side of big business. To me there isn't much difference between the two of them.
Peace,
Scott.

mjholt said...

"I'll be between Iraq and a hard place on this one..."

Remember that you are not simply voting for a person, you are voting for an administration, Supreme Court appointees, Federal prosecutors, the AG, and so on.

This is from Ron Drummond: A so-amusing-it's-horrifying parody from the Onion -- our next president revealed, eight months early:
Onion Spoof of Diebold

and Jon Stewart pondering Bush 43's cluelessness on the cost of gas going to $4. I saw a picture of a LA gas station price sign with $4.10 gal.

Mike Ralls said...

Hey Steve,

Interesting article here suggesting that people get more liberal as they age;

http://www.livescience.com/health/080310-liberal-seniors.html

"The researchers measured a greater change toward liberalism in older people than in younger people.

"What we believe has happened, at least for the race relations, is that the older group, starting out at a position of significantly more negative feelings, had further to go," Danigelis told LiveScience. "

Anonymous said...

"The only thing that would keep me from voting for McCain is a REAL sense of not wanting to reward the Republicans for the way they behaved the last seven years."

That reminds me...

http://www.sptimes.com/2008/03/09/Opinion/Why_McCain_should_wor.shtml

Josh Jasper said...

Here's the full link Why McCain should worry women


He should also worry you if you're against torture.

Amazingly, John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war, defied his own stated conscience on torture for nothing other than party solidarity and the approval of the President.

If Hillary possibly playing power politics upsets you, wht does John McCain giving up his opposition to torture do?

I hate to put anyone in a position of choosing the lesser of two evils, but I think it's necessary to compare minor dirty politics with an utter abandonment of humanity by someone who had every reason to oppose it.

Michael Canfield said...

Clinton is very good at manipulating the narrative. One example of this is how she has done a good job of framing herself as the victim of media bias. But I've been looking at the numbers until my eyes bleed and I can say (with absolutely no expertise to back me, unfortunately) that Obama is much closer to wrapping this up, than the dominant meme makes it appear. I don't think she can get the delegates to pass him unless she wins every remaining state by double digits, even is Florida delegates are seated. She is holding a losing hand, and she is playing it hard, not caring a damn about the consequences. And maybe, from her p.o.v. she has no incentive to care. She has already made it clear that she believes only herself and McCain are qualified. If Barack wins the nomination (which he will) and McCain wins the general (which he will NOT) then Hillary can come back in four years when McCain is 75 and under pressure to step aside for Vice President Romney. Clinton could then argue she is the leader of the party and say that it was a mistake for us to nominate Obama back in 2008. That is my crackpot theory of Clinton strategy and her backup strategy: either win now, or muddy the waters and wait four more years. She's waited this long.

Other than that I don't see what her game plan is. Alternately she can be statesperson-like and step aside with -- or at least run out the contests with dignity and a refusal to trash the inevitable nominee. That's would be rather unClintonian of her however.

Jeez -- sorry for the rant.

Anonymous said...

If you read the history of World War II, you will find references to something called the Maginot Line. It was supposed to protect France from invasion. It was built by people with a WW I mindset who didn't appreciate how the change in technology of the industrial age had changed warfare.It failed.
Well now we live in the information age. Just look at how we are communicating. I for one don't want future history to write about the downfall of the mighty U.S. brought about by a small number of terrorists sneaking dirty suitcase bombs into a number of major cities. I believe that,those who oppose the giving the telecoms immunity for cooperating with government and the other surveillance protocols instituted by the otherwise awful Bush administration suffer from the same lack of foresight as the Maginot line creators.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...

I could imagine giving the telecoms immunity--in exchange for full disclosure. I want to know exactly what happened. I am far more worried about a repressive government than I am crazy terrorists. And I have no fear of America getting nuked before Israel does.

Josh Jasper said...

Steve, from what you said, it sounds to me like you misunderstand telecom immunity -they had it already. This is about extending the immunity, and no disclosure on who's listening to you. It's a blank check for the government to spy on us.

FWIW, McCain voted for telcom immunity, Clinton and Obama, against.

I encourage you to see how much of your distaste for Clinton, outside of her hardball politics, is fueled by a media portrayal of her that isn't in line with her actual votes. Sure, she's divisive, but how much of it is because she's being painted that way. her policy is only a little different than Obama's, and perceptions of her character is something of media creation, much like Obama's perception as some great uniting figure for change.

I like Obama better, and I'm voting for him. But I worry about the media campaign to smear Clinton without any actual facts behind it. Much of it comes from right wing activists who conveniently ignore that Bush's team did far worse. I don't approve of the politics she engages in to win, but let's not pretend she's unique.

Getting back to telco immunity, it's not a Maginot line. Data is not a Nazi invasion. The invasion is the government into our homes, with no warrant, and no oversight. It's all well and good to tell us that we're keeping terrorists at bay, but we could be doing that within the bounds of warrants and courts that answer to the people, not to the President.

Suitcase bombs? What a joke. The weapons used were bought in America. They were airplanes. Watching everyone 24/7 is not going to stop that. Marty S wants a country where we're under constant surveillance. So, for that matter, does McCain.

Anonymous said...

Suitcase nukes are worst case scenario, the point is there are groups out there who use terror as a weapon of war. Data is not a not a Nazi invasion, but information is a key element of a defense against terrorism in the modern age. The example of the Maginot line was trying to draw a parallel between the French relying upon it for safety when technology had changed the enemies options and us relying on our conventional(conventional includes nuclear for this purpose) armed forces to protect us when the enemy has other options than attacking us directly with their armed forces.
I don't say there should be no limits or safeguards on government surveillance, but I think a knee jerk reaction that giving the government any additional surveillance options is inviting the big brother scenario is overly paranoid and leaves us too exposed in todays environment.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

I don't say there should be no limits or safeguards on government surveillance, but I think a knee jerk reaction that giving the government any additional surveillance options is inviting the big brother scenario is overly paranoid and leaves us too exposed in todays environment.

The US government was listening in on phone calls with no warrant, no oversight, and now the companies that abetted that action get a "get out of lawsuit free card". This is what McCain voted for. It's what Bush keeps insisting in invaluable, and that anyone opposed to it is going to let the terrorists win. I'm opposed to it. I expect a warrant when the government searches without permission.

How is asking for a warrant to search my private communication, and expecting oversight "to exposed"? Please explain that to me.

I'm already OK with FISA, which allows retroactive warants. Don't condescend to tell me that I've got a "a knee jerk reaction that giving the government any additional surveillance options" as if I've never thought anything out about this. I know quite a lot about the topic. I do this thing called studying. It's the liberal alternative to FOX News.

Try reading Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Then read up on modern cryptography. The sort that's downloadable by anyone with a modem. No amount of warrantless wiretapping will prevent that from being uncrackable for a reasonable amount of time.

Anonymous said...

I read the Moon is a Harsh Mistress many years ago when it was first published. In addition to Fox news I also listen to CNN and MSNBC. None of that has anything to do with my position on this issue. Obama wants to improve health care by putting all my medical data on-line. He says there will be privacy protections, but if it is truly going to be useful, I see that as very difficult. I am brought unconscious into the emergency room if there is enough protection then the emergency room doctor probably can't access it. If he can access it there probably isn't enough protection to prevent abuse. As an ordinary citizen there are probably more abuses of and people who would want to abuse my medical data than there are federal agents who want to listen into my phone calls. As far as encryption preventing us from getting the information we seek, if these tools were useless to our information gathering then those seeking the ability to do the surveillance are idiots who haven't studied enough to know these tools won't help them. That is really scary since these are the same idiots that we trust with their finger on the nuclear trigger that could wipe out all mankind.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...

Medical records being available online, or through the mail is a matter of speed. Actual misuse of medical data will come from interactions between your employer and your insurance company.

As an ordinary citizen there are probably more abuses of and people who would want to abuse my medical data than there are federal agents who want to listen into my phone calls.

If it was just an ear listening in, you'd have a point. But it's not just phone calls, and it's not just phone calls. It's who you call, for how long, an if it fits a pattern, then it gets listened in to.

And then there's speech recognition software. There's a larger number of computers than all of that.

As far as encryption preventing us from getting the information we seek, if these tools were useless to our information gathering then those seeking the ability to do the surveillance are idiots who haven't studied enough to know these tools won't help them.

Or, they're not only after actual terrorists, and have a second reason for setting up a network by which they can listen into anyone's conversation without a warrant.

I worry far less about nuclear attacks by the US than I do about living in a police state, which we're moving closer to.

Anonymous said...

Josh:
I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the subject of whether to worry more about a potential police state or crazy terrorists, foreign or home grown who think its okay to blow up a recruiting office or knock down the world trade center. But one last comment. I use Easy Pass in my car. It allows the government to track my travel patterns. Where I go, how often I go there and how long I stay. I wonder how many people such as yourself who see a police state in the administration's surveillance protocols don't use Easy Pass or its local equivalent because of their fear the government will track them.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

"Actual misuse of medical data will come from interactions between your employer and your insurance company."

Or from your employer overhearing you on the phone with your doctor, if your workplace doesn't give you an office of your own with walls and your doctor is neither available outside your office hours (because he or she has the same office hours as you) nor available via email (because "some hacker might read the email!!!")...

Anonymous said...

Listened to O'Reilly on Fox. He made the following statement. I think Geraldine Ferraro is wrong. Obama would be where he is even if he were white. Sounds to me like someone calls it like he sees it rather than a biased racist.

Marty S

Josh Jasper said...


I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the subject of whether to worry more about a potential police state or crazy terrorists, foreign or home grown who think its okay to blow up a recruiting office or knock down the world trade center.


Not really, because you're trying to put words in my mouth. I never said don't worry about terrorists, but you're insinuating that I'm trying to make this into a choice between security from government spying and safety from terrorism.

It's a disingenuous thing to do. I want and expect that we can have both safety from an intrusive government, and intelligence agencies that keep us safe.

And I really don't trust politicians who tell us that freedom from oversight is necessary to keep us safe. You're apparently far more trusting than I am of the government sticking it's nose into your business. I wonder how much of that comes from the fact that, now, the President is a Republican. If it were Hillary Clinton, you'd somehow trust her just as much?

I wonder how many people such as yourself who see a police state in the administration's surveillance protocols don't use Easy Pass or its local equivalent because of their fear the government will track them.

Are you really incapable of telling the difference between transit on state operated roads, and a phone call made from the privacy of your own home?

Anonymous said...

Both the Obama online health proposal and the Easy Pass examples, were meant to illustrate in the current information age how little privacy we really have. For more examples Google something like “ss numbers stolen by hacker”. Every thing we do is a trade off. Take ethnic profiling. My personal feeling is profiling on highways to reduce drug traffic has small benefit compared to the damage it does to our society, but profiling at airports and shipping ports to foil possible terrorist activities probably is justified. Clearly different people rate the different threats as greater or lesser and so have different opinions.
As far as whom I would trust to use these surveillance protocols, I would trust all three presidential candidates with the power to use them. My problem with Obama is that while I would trust him with the power, I would not trust that he would make use of it.

Marty S