Why the heck do we have a Labor Day anyway?

Let's take a little trip in the Wayback machine to the last quarter of the 19th century:

1884 - Grover Cleveland , Democrat, elected president

·    corruption, trusts, suppression of civil rights

1888 - Benjamin Harrison, Republican, elected president

·    civil service reform (largely blocked by Democrats and corrupt Republicans)
·    civil rights enforcement of voting rights for African Americans (largely blocked by Democrats and corrupt Republicans)
·    modernization of U.S. military
·    reciprocal tariffs against tariff-exacting countries in Central America and Europe
·    currency stabilization, silver coinage
·    antitrust legislation (Sherman Antitrust Act)
·    beginning of electrification
·    ecological progress -- national forests, historic site preservation
·    price of German pork products skyrockets due to U.S. tariff reciprocation to German embargo of U.S. pork
·    Wounded Knee -- not good!
·    wage stagnation -- not good!
·    lost shaky majority in congress in mid-term elections, legislative agenda blocked -- not good!

1892 - Grover Cleveland, Democrat, elected president  -- again!

·    gold standard comes back: given international speculation in gold, destabilizes currency
·    corruption, trusts, suppression of civil rights
·    massive recession / inflation / unemployment -- the "Panic of  1893"
·    rise of "big money" (J.P. Morgan, et al.) in Federal government
·    worker riots
·    violent suppression of Pullman riots / anarchists
·    Cleveland signs Labor Day Holiday act June 28, 1894
·    Cleveland uses 12,000 U.S. military personnel to shut down railroad strike

A-a-and, back to the present.

So.  What did we learn?  Let's see.  The press has always been corrupt and always full of liars? Labor bosses back Democrats and expect the workers to go back and lick the hand that beat them?  Supporting a return to the gold standard is either engaging in crazy cargo cult economics or paving the way for manipulation by trusts and cartels?  Republicans have always been the real environmentalists?

Yes, but what does that have to do with Labor Day?

It's a bone Democrat Cleveland threw the American Federation of Labor after beating down the Pullman Strike.  But he was only recognizing a thing that was already happening.

It turns out that starting in Manhattan in the early 1880s there were worker parades in early September.  It's kind of like declaring, "We may be powerless, but we can party!"

So Labor Day is a nationally established secular version of every Jewish holiday:  "They tried to kill us; they didn't; let's party!"


What is this decade, anyway?

The Twenty-Teens decade is spinning to a cultural entropy point in so many ways.  Go home, Twenty-Teens -- you're inebriated with your virtual self.

  • Clothes that Pinterest better than they last through launderings.
  • Recipes that Instagram better than they taste.
  • Vacation destinations that photoshop on Tumblr better than real life.
  • Witticisms to SnapChat because I can't get a word in edgewise IRL.
  • Wii Fit, but  not, you know -- fit.
  • Facebook friends not IRL friends.
  • Etc.


Simcha Fisher made me cry today

Because nostalgia.

It takes very little nostalgia to make me sick.  And it doesn't even have to be my own nostalgia.

Simcha's memories, recent and distant, pop open the lid of the highly pressurized mil-spec case of my own stomped down stay in there because shut up! memories.

And I didn't read every single teentsy weentsy word in her article, either. Because it takes very little nostalgia to make me well up and wish I had spent a few hours of the last twelve years just wallowing in the sad happy wet-eyed hurt of being reminded of "the good times" of bygone days.

That's all -- I'm jumping up and down on the lid now and flipping the heavy duty mil-spec latches closed with a great big stick.


Avoidable tragedy in the Andaman Sea

The United States Navy Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) managed to collide with an oil tanker in the Straits of Malacca on Monday morning Singapore time (Sunday in USA). 

A number of sailors are missing.  Severe damage to the McCain. 

How does this even happen?

I was thinking about the problem of naval collision back on 2 August this year, when the anniversary rolled around of the loss of PT-109 skippered by Lt. jg. John F. Kennedy in 1943.  Setting aside Kennedy's reputed heroics after the fact, how the hell does the lightest, fastest, and most maneuverable craft in the theater get cut in half by a Japanese cruiser?  Hold my beer and watch this?  What the hell, JFK?  At least he pulled one of his passengers out of the water, which is more than you can say for brother Teddy. 

Back to the McCain though:  they can make a car that parallel parks itself.  They have all the computing and technical power of the United States military.  And they can't prevent peacetime collision?  

How does this even happen? Maybe they already do have collision avoidance technology. 

"What's this blinking light, sir?"

"Oh, it always does that when we're in the Straits of Malac-- Holy F--!"


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I was born under a wandering star, the song said.

Actually I was born under 48 very stable stars.

The 48 star flag of the United States was used from 1912 until 21 August 1959, at which time I was a chubby little crumb cruncher working with a dozen or so teeth.


I followed a truck all the way home from work

Some dude in some kind of Chevy or GMC 2005 plus or minus half a decade SUV ended up going my way for several miles.

His truck had wider-than-standard tires that stuck out beyond the fender wells by a couple of inches, which used to be a fix-it ticket offence in California. The front wheels tracked about three inches to the left of the rear wheels, like a one-eyed dog trotting down the sidewalk.  That's how I know it was a Chevy type product.  Never seen a Ford or a Dodge do that.  There was a throaty hole in his exhaust system somewhere, or a cut-out system, and the engine was at a stage that we used to call "Yeah she burns a little oil."

I pretty much merge toward the slow lane after the intersection of the interstates, and then I stay there.  It's not a long commute, so if I take a low key approach and let every merging vehicle in, miss every light, and end up behind every overloaded truck trying to make it to the dump before it closes, it still loses me very little time.  What's a minute and a half, three minutes?  So I don't press and don't stress.

The Chevy SUV took a different tactic.  He would roar up to the slow landfill-bound truck and tailgate for a while, then roar out two or three lanes and try to pass some people.  But every time, he ended up just one space ahead of me.  It was like going for a walk with a hyperactive retriever that doesn't know how to heel, but goes roaming around about and back with his tongue hanging out -- and trotting along with his front paws a bit to the left of his rear ones.

We parted ways just before I turned left on the Crowndot street of residence.  Somebody in front of Mr. Chevy turned up the hill, giving him a clear path ahead, and off he roared in a cloud of partially burned diesel and motor-oil soot.

Bottom line:  I don't want to hear a damned thing about MY carbon footprint.