Saturday, May 23, 2015

Blue Collar vs White Collar Conditions

Nineteenth-century German intellectual fraud Karl Marx stipulated that there was an inherent conflict in the capitalist system between workers and their  bourgeoisie overlords. That's not now and never has been the case. The actual conflict is between the blue collar workers that deal with reality and their white collar counterparts that deal with abstractions, generally in a bureaucratic model. The owners of capital are bemused bystanders.

An example of the dichotomy between these two groups is plainly visible in the construction industry. The men and women that build the structures in which white collar workers later spend their time endure conditions that their bureaucrat brothers would refuse. It's not the work itself that's the issue, however. It's the workplace environment when no work is taking place.
During the construction of a new hospital workers assemble in this room each morning. It is the assigned space for breaks and lunches. Light is provided by half a dozen 60 watt bulbs hanging far above the floor, which is cleaned perhaps weekly. If food were being sold in this room, state health authorities would close the facility for sanitary reasons.

This is the dining facility at an existing hospital nearby. It caters to employees, patients and visitors.

The construction workers' lounge. Construction management uses well-lighted trailers.

The lounge at the nearby hospital.

Typical toilet facilities provided for construction workers. If this is sufficient for them, why is it necessary to provide more sophisticated and sanitary ones for the later occupants?

Why is one toilet reserved for women? And why is it secured with a combination lock? Do the workers in the plant that builds the porta-potties also perform their body functions in them or do they have real toilets? If for some reason one's toilet no longer functioned could they put a porta-potty next to the driveway and use it on a permanent basis?
The men's room at the nearby hospital. Women have a similar facility adjoining. It isn't locked.

Construction workers expect and accept dangerous, difficult and dirty working conditions. That's always been the nature of the business.  At the same time, why should they accept unsanitary rest  rooms and filthy, uncomfortable, poorly lighted break rooms? It could be said that these conditions are temporary. While everything is pretty much temporary in the big scheme of things, for construction workers this is a permanent feature of daily existence. When this project is completed, the next one will have portable toilets and filthy break rooms as well.

There's been an international conversation over income inequality. When will there be one about addressing the disparities in conditions between white collar employees and the people that build their facilities? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Virginia Camel Is Center of Law Enforcement Action

A camel owned by a Chesterfield County man has been confiscated by police and incarcerated at an animal shelter because it appears to be under-nourished, according to this story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As usual, the beast in question is referred to by his "name", in this case, Jacob. Like dogs and cats, camels evidently receive only first names, but no surnames. Anyway, despite what the article describes as camels being relatively common animals, people were so curious to see it that it had to be hidden from view by the hanging of tarps over the fence of the camel jail.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Intermittent Positive Reinforcement

Yes, indeed, experience it all,

but mostly experience the joy of putting tokens in a video poker machine. Can't think of anything much more entertaining than that. 

Monday, April 20, 2015


This Minneapolis Star-Tribune story tells about the Peterson family, residents of the northern Itasca County wide spot in the road called Effie. The folks have boated 1260 sturgeon since 2003 and haven't eaten a single one. All have been released back into the water. Pretty neat, huh?

Well, when you see junior pulling the wings off of a fly or poking a frog with a sharp stick you wonder if he's going to turn into a serial killer. It ain't nice to be mean to animals. Unless they're fish. Since nobody can hear the fish scream in terror, it's OK. It's called "playing" the fish. Catch 'em and throw 'em back in so somebody else can torture them at a later date. This is also the normal practice at fishing tournaments, where perhaps thousands of fish are yanked from the water by pros and then released, many of which will not survive.

It seems odd in an era when people are worried about the confinement of laying hens and injuries to race horses and discomfort to rodeo animals that nobody seems to care about the treatment of our piscine brothers, If you're going to go to the trouble of catching a fish, why not eat it?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bad Parents Let Kids Roam Again

A Maryland couple has once again disturbed the neighbors by not leashing their children and the authorities have taken action. As we reported earlier this year here at Pulverized Concepts, Mrs. Meitiv is defending their parental policy of allowing children, yes, children, to walk unescorted by adults about the hamlet of Silver Spring, Maryland. And without helmets.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wood Bison Finally Make It To Shageluk, Alaska

If you've been following the saga of the marooned wood bison, you know that these hairy creatures had been held prisoner in Girdwood, Alaska, a suburb of Anchorage, while bureaucrats at every level had shuffled papers back and forth in an effort to avoid responsibility for any unfortunate consequences. Our initial report on this fiasco is here.  A later update on the odd story is here. We don't know if all of these beasts have been set free or if a reserve is being maintained in captivity to provide reinforcements.

Sussex County Virginia Sheriff's Dept. Encourages Nightclubs to Hire Them as Security

Raymond Bell, Sussex County, VA Sheriff wants nightclub owners to employ his deputies as security. Or else, according to this article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The former owner of the club has shut down his business and filed a $15 million lawsuit against Bell and one of his lieutenants.