culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Friday, August 30, 2002
Why do employers demand that employees pee for them before being hired? The argument is that drug users are unreliable and therefore risks to business. But really how much reliability does it take to be a janitor at Wal-Mart? Why shouldn't Wal-Mart janitors be stoned night and day? How could they bring down the company -- by not immediately attending to a wet clean-up on Aisle 3?

The truly upsetting thing about urine drug testing in the workplace is the lack of reciprocity. Shouldn't Enron employees have had Lay and Skilling and Fastow, et al., tested for reliability? Even if the entire Enron board of directors had provided urine specimens in the privacy of their executive restrooms, how would employees have known in advance how spectacularly unreliable they would turn out to be -- by destroying employees' life savings, their careers, and their reputations? What good do drug tests do anyone?

Colleagues who gets high now and then are far less risky to business than those who lie and steal hundreds of millions of dollars from employees and shareholders, even if their urine is so clean the SEC could swill it. Unless the positions involve public safety, drug screening in the workplace is nothing more than class warfare in a cup.
Thursday, August 29, 2002
Welcome to Chibloggo. There are some nice Chicago photographs on the blog of
Matt Maldre, whom I do not know. But I like his photo:

Glimmers of hope in the war against Ashcroftism. Occasionally there are signs that the Bush administration's rush to destroy American civil liberties can be thwarted. Ashcroft, who lost a Missouri election to a dead man, also deserves to start losing to some live ones in increasing numbers. Here, the US Court of Appeals of the Sixth Circuit sides with the Detroit Free Press in their arguments against
John Ashcroft, et al.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
The Fast Runner is an extraordinary cinematic narrative that takes us where Hollywood refuses to go: to society. No film in recent memory has so carefully presented life in a social context, with all the joys and troubles that accompany the simple fact of living with other people. I have no idea what it's like to be an Inuit a thousand years ago, but from The Fast Runner I got more of a sense of life actually lived than from any other non-documentary film in years.

Decades of screenwriting seminars have drilled the formula into American writers' heads: the protagonist has to want something and there has to be a conflict. This message has been received not only by screenwriters but by studio executives, with the result that Ben Affleck wants the girl and, oh yes, there's a thing called Pearl Harbor in the background. The world is just the background for the hero, in spite of the fact that the world is infinitely more interesting and dramatic than the hero. Still, the formula occasionally works, especially with fantasy and romance stories, and not every film needs to represent life as it's actually lived. But the media juggernaut is becoming increasingly jaded, with ever more simplistic iterations that are less about human life and more about emotional manipulation and product placement. "Branded content," as it being called when you see a strategically placed Diet Coke in a movie scene, is one step away from "no content."

To watch The Fast Runner is to look at life in a time before media, when news was immediate and personal and no one you didn't know told you what to think. The act of persuasion was performed on a one-to-one and not corporation-to-customer or politician-to-constituency scale. In a leap of logic, this leads me to the popularity of blogs: we feel lied to and manipulated, and we need to share our responses to the unbelievably pervasive but shallow media universe that blankets us.

When I see a movie, I like knowing as little as possible about it other than that it's good. So that's about all I want to say: it's really, really good, and you should see it. The movie has an official website, called
Atanarjuat, its Inuit title. Go.
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
The war on meaning. Rationality vanishes when words cease to have meaning. In just a couple of years, our American culture is being stripped of ideas, contexts and even the most basic meanings as power maneuvers driven by empty imagemaking pass for national discourse. Read more at the
Boston Globe.
Corporatism finds a new mistress. Is it just natural evolution that leads corporate interests to start new
religions? This is not a serious story by any means, but it does raise the question of whether people's need to believe can be consciously harnessed in an overtly religious way by the corporate elite. You could certainly make the case that human spiritual impulse is already manipulated on an enormous scale, but let's look at the question from another angle. Will corporations soon create and brand and market new religions the way they do other products?
Monday, August 26, 2002
Q: If Martha Stewart makes two or three calls to an executive before dumping $200,000 worth of his company's stock and Secretary of the Army Thomas White (a former Enron executive) makes 77 calls to Enron executives while dumping tens of millions in stock, why is the SEC only investigating Stewart?

A: Guess which one is a Democrat.

Courtesy of
Too Stupid to Be President.

View the Archive

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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