Friday, April 30, 2010

Ye Shall Know Us By Our Sign

Friends of Leon Berger Society
Communique #1: May Day weekend 2010
Reference: Post of February 9, 2009

Persons wishing to see the fulfillment of Mr Bergers' plans have swelled the membership to unprecedented levels. As we attend May Day ceremonies, festivities and events let's all recognize each other with a unifying symbol - a red thread tied around your neck will identify you as a friend and show gratitude to an innovative man. Time does not forget good ideas.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Isolated Incident

It's Everywhere, man
BEIJING — An unemployed man entered a kindergarten in easternChina’s Jiangsu Province on Thursday morning and stabbed 28 kindergarten students and three adults, critically wounding at least five children, local authorities and state news agencies reported.

It was the second mass stabbing of young students in two days, and the third in less than a month.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Crazier Every Day

1 in 76:
In, 1987, prior to Prozac hitting the market and the current ubiquitous use of antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs, the U.S. mental illness disability rate was 1 in every 184 Americans, but by 2007 the mental illness disability rate had more than doubled to 1 in every 76 Americans. Robert Whitaker was curious as to what was causing this dramatic increase in mental illness disability. The answers are in his new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (Crown Publishers, April 2010).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Room With A View

I went to Labor Notes in Dearborn, MI this year. I was last there to promote labor/working class television to the labor movement 12 years ago. I was still trying to sell them on the wonderful technology of The Television over the weekend. I'll be back in 12 years to deliver the same message, I'm afraid. I understand the "How to Make a Flyer" workshop was well attended.

There is a stressful undercurrent among these folks. From the system tweakers to the bread and butter unionists to the Anarchist party on the Penthouse 14th floor because, after all, "they have the biggest vision.". A beautiful suite overlooking west Detroit, it was.

I went to the Building Trades bitch-a-thon. I'm glad I did because when it came time for me to speak, I vented 25 years of disgust of the way tradesmen treat each other. I informed them that their worst advertisement was themselves and asked, "Did you ever see you yahoos out in public with your union jackets and phony, tough guy, rude attitude?" This meme I held all weekend was to promote the idea the American working class is mentally ill, in the grips of some Child Abuse Syndrome, siblings quieting any dissent, dysfunction should be behind closed doors, systemic internal abuse in the hazing of apprenticeship, or the stated fact of Lisa, (I believe an IBEW electrician from Boston), that "after thirty years on a career track they hated, 55 year old white men are miserable." It was nice for a Sister to have my back after I had just told the lot (and they still think they are in a union) that they are mentally ill.

The discussion did spur some interesting stories as there were several women of the trades, apprentices and even a contractor from NYC. (... does not compute...) A brave ironworker apprentice from Nevada (?) told an awful story of an abusive teacher at the apprenticeship school and how she, and only she of a class of 28, stuck up for the one sorry target that this Bully choose to isolate. I called her classmates "cowards" (I knew I should have shut up then and there, but oh no) and stressed that this category is the most emotionally beat down group of workers at this conference. I mentioned the work of Kevin Lynch and Dr Donohue at the 134 IBEW and the 6hrs of seminars on "Emotional Intelligence" taught to the 3rd year apprentices.
Far and away, trying to change construction culture is the most neglected work being done. The labor movement doesn't need more members, it needs better quality of people and the Building Trades has a long way to go to be an asset if there ever is a "movement" in labor.

It felt good to vent, and I let out a blast of hot air at the Pension worry-a-thon. There is still a deep faith, especially among the State workers that pensions just need to be reformed. These gentle folks don't see a Ponzi Scheme when it slaps a wet mackeral across their chops. It's flipped, people with pensions are to be resented in this New World Economic Order. The ship has sailed on this issue, it's all swirling down the toilet in my opinion, and I agreed with the UE rep that wanted to form financial institutions of our own, sans Wall Street, and go back to pre-Taft Hartley Proudhonian thinking. It was interesting learning how through long process in the beginning of the century having health care and, possibly, a pension if tied you to your paycheck. It doesn't have to be that way. These patronizing dependence wage packages make a slave. You earn it, The Trust steal a clip on every hour worked. Put it all on the check, me and my friends in Mutual Aid will take care of ourselves, thank you.

After two hours of this jabber, it occurred to me that no one brought up the idea that stopping war funding might be a stimulus package and save their Golden Years assess. It worries me still how little the wars were even mentioned throughout the conference. Antiwar buttons and a workshop, for sure, but no out and out End The Wars appeal. It could be that I just wasn't there, too. US Labor Against the War (USLAW) did represent but the madness continues as the International Longshoreman and Wharehouse Union (ILWA) is forcing locals on the West Coast to handle Hot (Scab) Cargo. It seems further away from the idea of labor having any impact on the War Machine. If they are forced to handle hot cargo, they will be handing munitions and supplies for the duration, it seems to me. Antiwar group should be aware of the details in this case.

Always in the lib/lab/lefty event world, a swirl of absurdity held center stage. The organizers of the event held a protest against the Hyatt Hotel chain on behalf of the scabbed-out 100 Hyatt Hotel workers from Boston, in the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel of Dearborn, MI where the conference was being held.

The bi-annual Labor Notes conference should be credited in its promoting face-to-face interaction of like minded people that have some deep seated need to fight the alienation of the modern workplace. Small personal stories of bravery were quite inspirational. It takes a bit of diplomacy and presence to be with so many people all with different spots on the political time line. It was good for me to define myself amongst them, talking verbally with inflection and nuance, enjoying the facial expression of whom I'm speaking, and wonder how and when the next generation will slip down the digital matrix. When their personalities will merge through the USB port in the back of their heads. The final Tweet rapture.

When will the idea of computer software programs saving the working class wear out its shine?Another e-mail on the way to the Revolution ain't making it happen. The military created the Internet, they can make it all go away, too. Big Brother is here and the IBEW installed it. Cyberspace is so nebulous, making the photo erasures eliminating the foes of Uncle Joe historical narrative, seem like crayons in literature. Digital imagery is pure illusion, filter what you see and hear, doubt your senses. Data can go away to NoWhereLand, JeeBus, I'm still digging 10 year old Labor Note rags out of the back of my desk drawer. The difference of a good handshake/hug and a FaceBook friend is an issue and a reflection on what is needed in future struggles. So much of technology has alienated us from each other ever more, seemingly while emancipating us. The illusion is complete.

Only one place for discussion for what the world is going to look like in the future and I had to take the freight elevator to the 14th floor to find it. One obvious anarchist lifestyle attendee from Madison, WI stated he was in the Socialist Party branch. Asked politely, "How does that work?" He said he and his two friends joined and immediately had a majority and took over the group. This is an example of the great Red Threat existing in America today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Future is Cloudy

Start "Em Young, Hooked Forever:

The use of powerful antipsychotics with privately insured children, aged 2 through 5 in the US, doubled between 1999 and 2007, according to a study of data on more than one million children with private health insurance in the January, 2010, "Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,"

The lead researcher on the study above, Columbia University psychiatry professor Mark Olfson, told Reuters that about 1.5% of all privately insured children between the ages of 2 and 5, or one in 70, received some type of psychiatric drug in 2007, be it an antipsychotic, a mood stabilizer, a stimulant or an antidepressant.


If There Is Ever A Reason:

Hamas officials in Gaza burned nearly 2 million painkiller tablets in a hospital incinerator today in a crackdown on a drug that has become an increasingly popular escape from the hardships of daily life.

"We're all living in a hard psychological situation and we used Tramadol to forget our daily worries and problems," Khalil, a 25-year-old student in Gaza City told the Associated Press. "I go to Tramadol so I can forget all that."


Help Is On The Way:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented byvirtual computer-generated imagery. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

Clarence, Where Are You?:
A man who told police he "just wanted to go for a swim" apparently jumped into the Chicago River this morning near Clark Street and Wacker Drive, police said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good Germans Don't See It

On Our Watch:

Since 1970, the prison population exploded from under 300,000 to eight times that number now. In the December 1998 Atlantic, Eric Schlosser called it "The Prison-Industrial Complex," a recent phenomenon with about 1,000 new prisons and jails built in the 1980s and 90s, and the trend continues in the new millennium, not because of more crime, because of getting "tough" on it against more people getting longer sentences under harsher conditions.

Marc Mauer, author of "Race to Incarcerate," says America locks up people at five to eight times the rate of other industrialized nations, including many who shouldn't be there in the first place. Nearly two-thirds are blacks and Latinos. The vast majority are poor and disadvantaged. One in three black males and one in six Latino males will be imprisoned at some point in their lives. Black males are imprisoned at nine times the rate for whites, and in some states up to 26 times. Penalties include "mandatory minimums, one size fits all (and) three strikes and you're out."
Yet from 1970 - 1994, violent crime rates were stable, and the overall rate fell. The murder rate is the lowest since 1966, and from 1980 - 2000 it dropped 43%. It costs as much or more to imprison someone as send them to college and for older inmates three times as much. Higher incarceration rates for longer periods is unrelated to the crime rate. The prison-industrial complex is one of America's biggest growth industries, exceeding $60 billion annually, and private security adds another $100 billion. Crime fighters and prisoners comprise around 4% of the workforce.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Labor Beat: WTO Seatlle

Intrepid Labor Beat reporters get pushed, gassed and terrorized by domestic police forces on the streets of Seattle.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Sign of Empire Pathology

We See But We Don't See, We Know But We Don't Know:

Here is a shocking statistic that you won't hear in most western news media: over the past nine years, more US military personnel have taken their own lives than have died in action in either the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. These are official figures from the US Department of Defence, yet somehow they have not been deemed newsworthy to report. Last year alone, more than 330 serving members of the US armed forces committed suicide - more than the 320 killed in Afghanistan and the 150 who fell in Iraq (see

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Letter From A Brother

Wesley , I'm starting to think there is a disturbing analogy between IBEW members ( I think it's much broader than IBEW etc. but.... ) and abused/neglected children. In the analogy, the union is 'the family' or the 'parents' who either abused the child or stood by and did nothing to defend the child etc. The "kid" ( child or union member in this case ) later grows up but even though no longer a helpless child , the full grown adult ( union member ) remains perversely loyal to his parents ( union ) who actually abused him ( or her ).

Says things like," Well, mom & dad had a good side, too... let's not forget that... after the beatings I always got a hug. "

Anyway, that's a rough approximation, but you can see what I mean. All the elements are at hand. Sanctioned authority figure who can't be questioned, helpless object of abuse, overwhelming social approval of entire set-up, damaged subject of abuse who constantly struggles to rationalize/ repress the facts of his or her persecution, and of course " siblings" who will turn on you the minute you come up with a question that casts mum or pops in a bad light...

- Ahhhh , ain't it grand

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bite your tongue!

Chicago CEO Bans Office Gossip


April 25, 2008

Here's something to dish about at work: A CEO in Chicago has banned office gossip. Can't do it, not even a little. And if you're caught trying, you'll be introduced to something called "completion," where you must face the person you've been whispering about and 'fess up.

Tummy aches all around!

Exactly, said Sam Chapman, CEO of Empower PR. A year ago, Chapman said he got so tired of a "bad gossip problem" at his 17-person firm that he hired a business coach to help him fix it. The solution? Zero tolerance for tattling.

Chapman fired the employee who was earning a gossiping gold star (for personal trashing and sharing trade secrets outside of the firm), then canned her two cronies. Now Chapman hires only people "who appreciate a no-gossip zone. Gossip is a reputation-wrecker for everybody: the person who [the gossip is] about and the one doing it, who is hurting his or her own reputation."

Chapman said that "problem gossip" now occurs about once a week, instead of several times a day. "We changed our culture immediately. You'd be amazed at how quickly a no-gossip community can tighten up and behave themselves."

Ashley Gonias, 22, was an intern at Empower before the ban and said she literally can feel the difference. "You walked into a room before and it was heavier," said Gonias, a senior account executive. "Seriously, I can say almost to the day that it was implemented. It was just lighter. You had that freedom to talk, to say, 'This really bothers me.' Before, you would never say it, and it would just sit there and fester."

Dana Leavitt, 26, joined Empower after the ban and, while supportive in theory, admits the policy is challenging. "When I catch myself doing it, I'll stop myself," Leavitt said. "I don't think I was ever conscious of it before ... how easy it is to gossip. You never think about it when you're doing it."

Don't say what?

Which raises the question: Outside of one small company, is a gossip ban humanly possible? Or, put another way, if we can't gossip at work, what will we talk about?

We live in a culture, after all, that has elevated gossip to an art form. Just last week, launched as a way for web users to dish on neighbors, co-workers and potential dates. The site encourages users, mostly college-aged, to vote on gossip and rate their peers based on personality, looks and how good or bad they are in bed.

This comes on the heels of, another gossip site that's getting heat, and gaining popularity, for its anonymous threads of potentially devastating dirt (much of it false) about fellow students' sex lives, religious preferences and physical attributes. ("Who's that tall girl who works at the info desk??? Her muffin top is GROSS.")

"My initial reaction was, 'Good for them. What an initiative,'" said Minneapolis business consultant and author Sue Morem about Chapman's initiative. "But it's not possible. Part of what makes an office co-worker situation work is keeping up on people's lives."

Morem was one of many people interviewed who noted that gossip (juicycampus aside) isn't always bad. "There is a lot of truth and value in gossip," she said. "We need to be able to reach out." In times of downsizing rumors or leadership shifts, for example, talking with co-workers "helps us process," she said.

On the personal front, she recalls a pregnant woman who got troubling news from her doctor. She came back to work "desperate to talk about it, but she didn't feel like she should be the one to bring up her personal problems." One co-worker told others, and many people came over to ask how she was doing, which was tremendously comforting, Morem said. "There is benefit to reaching out and sharing our concerns."

Ascan Koerner, a communications studies professor at the University of Minnesota, agrees. He calls Chapman's concept "silly."

"People inherently are interested in what those around them are doing and the consequences of those behaviors. Not only does [the ban] go against human nature, but if people would really not gossip at all, the organization would fall apart."

By talking about what others are experiencing, Koerner said, we learn "what behaviors are encouraged and socially appropriate," and what behaviors are a bad idea.

Unfortunately, plenty of gossip heads south from there.

Tanya Gajewski, manager of Client Services at the Storefront Group in Minneapolis, has seen gossip used in deliberately dangerous ways to sabotage or gain power over others, "diminishing them in others' eyes by emphasizing their mistakes and vulnerabilities." Gossip, she said, is powerful, whether good or bad.

That's why Chapman did what he did. "I have to stop myself, too," he said. He's also been told to do some "completing" of his own. "But it sure is a lot easier to focus on your work when people aren't gossiping about you," he said.

Chapman does make one distinction, however. His employees may still talk about Britney, and read US Magazine.

And you heard that here first.

Gail Rosenblum • 612-673-7350

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Brain Study

It's Hard To Get By When Shy:

The brains of shy or introverted individuals might actually process the world differently than their more extroverted counterparts, a new study suggests.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

War Criminals American Style

Once A Slave...

Big Fat Bully Opinions Rule The Day:,0,758983.story
"I'm going to mark it as the day the ‘social web' became antisocial," Haque wrote on his blog. "Increasingly, today's ‘social web' doesn't empower people. It empowers hate, exclusion and polarization."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coming In For A Landing

Who Is In Control Now?:
Some pilots taking medication for mild or moderate depression will be able to fly as early as next week under a new government rule aimed partly at getting those taking antidepressants to disclose the treatment.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

About Time

Ignored For Too Long:

Monday’s bombshell indictments of nine teens in the Phoebe Prince tragedy have parents peppering authorities with bullying complaints, including a flurry to one prosecutor whose “phone is ringing off the hook.”

“The message is that we as a society are not going to sit back and allow the incessant, nonstop bullying of children which can lead us to such tragic consequences as what happened to Phoebe Prince,” Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz told the Herald. “We have an obligation to make sure we try to prevent this.”