People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Post Outdoes Itself

This photo was on the front page of the online version of the Washington Post this morning with a caption that read, "During a hearing, Cathy Hill looks at a photo of her late son, Chad." Am I the only person that finds the exploitation of a grieving mother in order to turn a profit to be distasteful in the extreme?

Click on photo to enlarge.
Photo courtesy of the Washington Post. Posted by Hello

Stalingrad, USA

I once spent a good deal of time working in the Cleveland / Akron / Youngstown area for a former employer. This AP article, entitled "Newspaper in Hard-Core Ohio Union Town Is Hit With Its First Strike in 40 Years," reminded me of the business climate there, particularly in the Mahoning Valley around Youngstown.

I was an avid talk radio listener and would tune into a local show in the afternoon whenever I could. To listen to the conversations between the host and his local callers was like stepping through a time/space warp into Soviet Russia in the 1920's. There was such hostility, even overt militancy expressed by many of the callers there that I, if I were a manager in one of the plants in the area, would fear for my life. When the title in this article refers to the town being hard-core, it is not exaggerating.

The odd thing is, one of America's largest employers is situated there. Lordstown, OH, just up the road, boasts a state-of-the-art General Motors plant that is the envy of the world, employs 8,000 workers (some of the highest paid hourly employees in the country), and has just gone through a retooling by GM at the cost of an estimated $500 million. The jobs there would be coveted by 98% of America's labor pool.

But you'd never know it by listening to the workers there bitch.

I would hear GM employees call in and complain about work rule (UAW and other union contract) violations relating to overtime, start time, lunch time, shift times, break time, overwork, stress, an endless array of management transgressions relating to the manner in which the employees are treated, environmental issues, sexual harassment issues, race issues, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, preferential treatment, nepotism, unsafe working conditions, unsafe equipment, unclean air, impossible production schedules, unrealistic production quotas, inadequate restroom facilities, poorly situated drinking fountains, insufficient lighting, inadequate and hazardous parking facilities, oppressive cigarette smoking rules, and on and on. And the employees make, on average, nearly $60,000, which they think should be supplemented with more attractive overtime pay and better benefits. Add to this group of malcontents all the union personnel in shops in nearby plants, offices, and worksites and you have a cacophony of disgruntled, Marxist Leninist wage earners.

Welcome to Youngstown, Ohio, the friendliest little city in America.

And now the unions at the newspaper have gone out on strike. I think we should show our solidarity. Let's read only weblogs until their demands are met.

We're Monitoring Our Cat Urine

Paula is an amazing woman. I wish every one of you could get to know her. The fact that she is always there to help me through illness and to provide support when I and our children need it is only part of the wonder that is Paula. The greater part has to do with her relationship with her pets. She would probably tell you her most important task in life is to take care of all of God's little fuzzy creatures; those less fortunate than us who need assistance to get through life.

And boy, do we have the fuzzy creatures.

Among the many cats that we feed each day - no make that every morning, noon, and night - we have Tiggie. Tigger came to us several years ago after someone dumped him along the roadside so that he would die - I presume. Because I didn't want any more cats around the house, I would take pleasure, at least for the first couple of weeks he began to appear, when I saw our resident bully at the time, a massive feline we called Panda (he looked and was built like a panda bear), chase down this golden tiger cat and rip into him, ultimately chasing him off into the woods. Well, the golden cat kept coming back each day, and with each day's passing, he looked ever more forlorn, and malnourished.

So the "better angels of our nature" won out and we brought the stray cat into the household, named him Tigger, and embraced him as one of our own.

You're probably saying, "You started this story talking about Paula and now you're telling us about a cat named Tigger. Where are you going with this?" Here's where the two intersect. Tigger has a problem and Paula is the best solution to nature's problems that has ever been on this earth.

Here's Mr. Tiggie's problem. He isn't peeing enough. How do I know? Why do I even want to know? Paula checks the litter boxes. All five of them. Apparently she monitors them. Yes, you and I are all going, "yick" about now. You're asking, what kind of person probes a cat poop box for information? That's my Paula.

The amazing thing about this story - and the reason I bring it to you here - is that we have a small army of cats in the house (all former strays that Paula has been kind-hearted enough to shelter) that use the litter boxes. In other words, there are a number of hairy creatures that are contributing to the goo that piles up in them. But Paula knows who's doing what in there. Paula knows everything.

She came to me about a week ago and told me she was concerned that Tigger had a urinary tract infection. I had two immediate reactions. (1) How on earth would you know that? I wouldn't know it if I had a urinary tract infection. (2) What's it going to cost me?

Apparently when she cleans the litter boxes (I should say, on those rare days when I'm not cleaning the litter boxes. This is my weblog and I get to "mold" the story.), she checks to make sure that every little body that is contributing to the mess is doing it in a healthy way - as measured by some veterinary standard that I'm sure is beyond my understanding. And she noticed that some of the "leavings" of urine were tiny. I guess. So she was on the case! She knew that one of the cats wasn't urinating properly. She began to follow each of them to the boxes (!) and to sift through their "afterproducts" and gauge their volume. She narrowed the issue down to one cat - Mr. Tigger. And of course the next thing you know old Tig is off to the vet to get squeezed and prodded and in the end to have (expensive) antibiotics prescribed.

Why do I tell you this story? It says to all of us this: Paula is an amazing woman when it comes to her pets. Had I been in charge, I would have realized that Tigger had had a problem after about the seventh day he hadn't moved from his curled up position on the couch and the flies - along with a pungent aroma - were gathering around him. I usually notice a cat has some kind of health problem when there is a considerable amount of blood flowing - as when old Doc was badly bitten by a possum; I'll tell you that story some day but I'll have to add up all the medical bills before I can tell it properly - or when I come home from work and Paula is in tears. That's always a dead- giveaway.

So Paula is on the case. And of course I've volunteered to watch for Tigger going to the litter boxes too - like I'm going to go over there and lift his tail and see what is happening under there. But it gives Paula a bit of reassurance that I'm there to help. "Sure. You bet. I'm on it. I'll keep an eye on him. And wipe his little butt when he's done."

Paula appreciates that kind of response.

So, we're watching and waiting for Tigger to pee. May God have mercy on me and make it a normal one. You know, I wonder. If I went in and got an eyedropper and filled it with water and went to the litter box and ...

A Constitutional Conundrum

You learn something every day. Today I learned that I didn't know everything about the Constitution that I thought I knew. Specifically I'm referring to a case that was recently argued before the Supreme Court regarding the purchase over the internet of alcohol - particularly wine - and the transportation thereof from one state to a consumer in another. I took it for granted that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution prohibited states from banning such transactions.

Well, it gets a little complicated I found out.

In an editorial in the Washington Times this morning, I was informed of the language in the 21st amendment to the Constitution that ended prohibition. The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. Here is an excerpt from the editorial:
Although we are always in favor of preserving free trade between the states, this is not a question of what is the right policy solution. Rather, it's a question of what is constitutionally right.

The 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition, provides in Section 2, "The transportation or importation into any State ... for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited." In other words, argue the states that ban direct shipment, the plain language of Section 2 allows states to regulate the "transportation or importation" of alcohol in any way they like. While this might seem ridiculous, the advent of Internet commerce should not trump rights explicitly granted to the states by the 21st Amendment.

In other words each individual state maintains the right - specifically delineated in the Constitution - to regulate the sale of alcohol within its borders. And, as often happens, we have two Constitutional provisions on a collision course; the rights of the states to regulate commerce within its borders as guaranteed in this case by the 21st amendment, and the rights of consumers as guaranteed by the Commerce Clause.

There are times when I'm appreciative of the fact that I'm not brilliant. This is one of them. I'm glad we are going to involve smarter people than me to figure this all out.

Of course, I suppose a solution that doesn't require all that much IQ, as was the case in Roe v Wade, is for the members of the Supreme Court to just dream some of their famous fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff up.

The Times Is Three Years Late

Do you want a great example of why weblogs are referred to as the new media and tree-killers like the New York Times are considered the old media? Here's a story in the Times this morning:
Muslim Scholars Increasingly Debate Unholy War

Published: December 10, 2004

CAIRO, Dec. 9 - Muhammad Shahrour, a layman who writes extensively about Islam, sits in his engineering office in Damascus, Syria, arguing that Muslims will untangle their faith from the increasingly gory violence committed in its name only by reappraising their sacred texts.

Mr. Shahrour and a dozen or so like-minded intellectuals from across the Arab and Islamic worlds provoked bedlam when they presented their call for a reinterpretation of holy texts after a Cairo seminar entitled "Islam and Reform" earlier this fall. (
It's not that this story is illegitimate. It's that it's been a compelling story for years now. It's that bloggers like Charles Johnson (click here to see his work) have been pounding away on this subject each day for as long as I can remember. A subject in which many of us became desperately interested after 9/11.

Only now, two years after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, does the Times feel it appropriate to address the nature of the problem; that problem being, of course, the hatred that has become an integral part of Islam in certain circles around the globe.

Up til now they were more concerned about the hurt feelings arising from ethnic profiling. And about how the USA really brings the terrorist attacks on itself. Finally the fossils at the Times have come around to the real story within the story.

I expect a few years from now to read breaking news about the war raging in Iraq actually having had purpose after all.

After always being the key word in the case of the old media.