Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dan Phillips: Finding ones self by building creative houses from reclaimed stuff

What we really need to do is reconnect with who we really are.

Why should everything be the same? Why do we have rows of ticky-tacky houses lined up on the hillside, all the same? Why, despite all the brands of everything in the store, are all the products the same? Nature doesn't grow uniformity. Nature grows stuff based on localized needs and conditions.

Start two plants of the same species, but in different places, and the result will be plants who've adapted themselves to the local condition.

Organic growth patterns don't result in uniformity. They result in automatic adaptation and reuse of whatever is lying around.

A lot of waste in our society is because some things don't fit the supposedly desired uniformity. Say a window pane cracks on its way to the construction site. The construction foreman will reject the window because it's nonuniform and throw it on the trash pile. Wasted stuff.

Suppose a box of cereal is dented just before it's put on the shelf? The store manager might object and put it in a reject pile. Wasted stuff.

Wasted stuff is materials which went through the mining, extraction, shipping, fabrication, shipping process - and then were deemed unsuitable (nonuniform) and to be thrown away.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Why don't they run that class at night" - unwarranted corporation intrusions of job life into personal life

For most of 2009 I was unemployed (like many people) and (unlike many people) attempting to make a living using this blog. Recently I rejoined the workforce to have a job (and more stable income) and being employed again has given me perspective on the role of working for a living. What I want to write about today is a comment by a co-worker that represents a typical intrusion of the corporate needs into personal life. I've never liked how our corporate masters feel they can require any obeisance including neglect of our personal lives in order that the corporation flourish. Having spent a year working for myself it reinforced for me the wrongness of a corporation demanding intrusions into employees personal time.

Just now I was standing next to a co-worker, he noticed a list of corporate training classes being offered and remarked how it would be more convenient for him if the class were held at night. I think his view is he's too busy during the day taking care of job stuff, and a night time class wouldn't interfere with his job duties. Uh..

The time we have to live this life is limited by the number of breaths between our first squeal at birth and our last gasp at death. In between those two breaths we breath in and out several times a minute, and have a life to live while taking those breaths.

What's the best use of that time? Is it the best use of our time to spend 24/7 at the job or otherwise taking care of job stuff? Or is the best use of that time to lead a life of balance between work, pleasure, home, travel, etc?

Maybe you know some people who conceptualize that the best use of their life is to spend it on the job. Obviously I know at least one person with that idea. Heck, I used to live that way myself. But after some time, and after being laid off a couple times, it became clear for me: the company doesn't care about me. It doesn't matter how they dress up claims that a given corporation will take good care of their employees, the bottom line is that companies drop their employees in a moment if the money in the balance sheet says they have to cut staff.

Why then do employees give any loyalty to the company if the company has no loyalty for them?

To make a few guesses...

Adrenaline: Some people get high on working hard. Corporations are all too happy to find an employee who'll work 24/7, maybe because that person will replace hiring a couple more people.

Fear: Some people fear the unemployed life, don't know how to survive without employment, and need someone to give them something to do.

Normality: The normalthink is that people have a job and the boss can tell you to do anything. There's a lot of laws behind that normalthink.

What I believe is that my time is the period where I can pursue my own interests. The time I give to the corporation is when I have to deny my interests and do what the company says to do. At the times I've let the company intrude their demands into my time I was completely unable to pursue my interests, and that caused a lot of internal pain.

To put a boundary between my company and personal time my employment, now, is on a contract basis. It means there is a strict set of hours I'm on the job, the corporation can't demand I work overtime, and my time is my time. Speaking of which my lunch hour just ended and I have to go back. Cheers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lost Generation

This video was created for the AARP U@50 video contest and placed second

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cerberus Capital: Literally Blood-Sucking the Poor to Make Their Billions | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet

Normally when people moan about blood-sucking corporations it's not as literal as this story. Cerberus Capital, one of Wall Street’s most notoriously ruthless leveraged-buyout firms made a $1.8 billion profit from buying, and the later selling, the company named Talecris. Talecris engages in buying blood plasma from plasma donors, then producing and selling products from that plasma.

Theoretically buying and selling companies is part of the free market, right? Wall Street financiers should be just as free as anybody else to buy any company they like, make corporate changes to refurbish the company, and then sell the company. It's just like when the car addict down the street continually buys and resells cars, but in the case of financiers buying and selling companies there are peoples lives at stake along with the products and services operated by those companies.

Cerberus Capital paid $82.5 million for Talecris and later sold the company for $1.8 billion. Quite a profit, eh? They must be real smart. Or extremely ruthless. According to the alternet article: "They did it by the most savage, heartless means possible: by paying peanuts to their impoverished human plasma donors, who increasingly come from Mexican border towns to blood-pumping stations set up on the American side, jacking up the price of plasma by restricting supply , and then selling the refined products to the most desperately ill, patients suffering from hemophilia, severe burns, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune deficiencies."

Cerberus Capital has a long and shady record. For example they bought Chrysler and GMAC, drove both companies into the ground, arranged for tens of billions in government bailout funds, bleah. The corporate management is a who's who of "free market" leaning Republican insiders such as former Treasury Secretary John Snow and former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Sometimes I think the "free market" people simply want less government regulation so they can have more freedom to screw everybody. That's what has happened in this case.

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