The “Let’s all pull together to save the country.” thing didn’t quite come to pass, did it?

Jon Lovett back in August of 2015 thinking he was writing satire, Looking Backward on the Presidency of Donald Trump:

“It was the terrific leader of India, Gandhi, who said, ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, and then you win.’ Well we won, didn’t we?”

That’s how President Donald John Trump began his inaugural address, that clear morning in January of 2017. The fact that Gandhi never said these words was among the very least of our problems. Besides, the line drew rapturous applause from the crowd. According to a joint statement released by the White House and Nielsen, the Trump Inaugural drew the largest television audience in human history. As President Trump himself pointed out in his second press availability that afternoon, the numbers would only go up, once you factored in DVR.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? How adaptable we are as human beings? It was only a year earlier that Trump was a punch line. Obviously, everyone knew, he could never actually get anywhere once the votes were cast. American democracy was too robust to let that happen. He was too dangerous to win, and to win would be too dangerous. It couldn’t happen because it couldn’t happen.


Labor Day Must Listen: “Why Do We Work?”

One of the segments on WBUR’s On Point this morning, “Why Do We Work?”  From the teaser:

We work to live, we live to work. Most of us lucky enough to have a job give most of our waking hours to our job. Why? Just for the paycheck? Our guest today says work for many of us is reduced to a paycheck, but what we yearn for is the right to work hard, to give to our job and our team and feel respect and self-respect.

I only caught about half of the segment but it was very good.   The featured guest, Barry Schwartz, was no pollyanna.  Yes, there will always be crap, deadbeats, etc. to deal with but, if we choose to, we can create work environments which defined by positive achievement rather than dealing with BS.

Two Three other Labor Day links:

Honor Labor

Sept. 1, 2014

Yesterday my daughter asked what I’d be doing at work tomorrow (i.e., today).   I told her I didn’t have to go to work because it’s a holiday, Labor Day.  She asked what Labor Day is.  We’ve talked about Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day as holidays which commemorate the sacrifices others made so that we could live better, safer, freer lives.  Labor Day hadn’t come up before.  I told her that it’s a day where we remember people who stood up for those who work for a living, people who insisted that when you do your job that you be paid fairly for the work you do so that you can pay for your food and the home that you live in – that it’s a day where we remember people who insisted that you not have to put yourself in danger when you go to your work – that it’s a day where we remember people who insisted that you not have to work all day every day in order to keep your job – that you be allowed to take weekends off and have a vacation.  My wife got her a book from the library last week, Brave Girl:  Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, so maybe at least some of what I said clicked.

I’ll hazard that the vast majority of people reading this post have paid vacation, employer-subsidized health insurance, and go to work in workplaces which are covered by OSHA safety standards.  We’re pretty damn fortunate to have those things.  We should take a moment today to think of the people who helped make things like 40 hour workweeks, paid vacation, and workplace safety standards a reality.  We should also take a moment to think of the people who are committed to seeing that those things are there for everyone who works for a living, not just the upper-middle class.   Finally, we should also take moment to think of those for whom 40 hour workweeks, paid vacation, and workplace safety standards aren’t in the cards.

With that, Shirt by Robert Pinsky: Continue reading

Not a happy day

From The Washington Post, Why the escape of numerous Ebola patients in Liberia’s worst slum is so terrifying:

People gathered near the entrance of an Ebola isolation unit, where dozens of patients, many of whom were suspected if not confirmed to be infected, were getting treatment. Pictures showed some in the crowd had masked their faces with T-shirts or shawls. Others, including a woman in a red dress named Batu Flowers, tried to convince the mob that Ebola was real, they weren’t being lied to, that news of the outbreak wasn’t a hoax. But the crowd wouldn’t be dissuaded.

It pushed against the gates of the Liberian primary school, which had been converted into a treatment center in the middle of West Point, which some call the most squalid community in Liberia if not West Africa. Thanks to poor sanitation and open sewers, the community of tens of thousands crowded onto a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean has long been prone to debilitating sicknesses from typhoid to malaria to lethal diarrhea. Now it has one more to contend with — a virus spread through feces, blood and vomit.

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Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Related links:


The value of good sanitation

From the NY Times, Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition:

[A]n emerging body of scientific studies suggest that … many of the 162 million … children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation.

Like almost everyone else in their village, Vivek and his family have no toilet, and the district where they live has the highest concentration of people who defecate outdoors. As a result, children are exposed to a bacterial brew that often sickens them, leaving them unable to attain a healthy body weight no matter how much food they eat.

“These children’s bodies divert energy and nutrients away from growth and brain development to prioritize infection-fighting survival,” said Jean Humphrey, a professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “When this happens during the first two years of life, children become stunted. What’s particularly disturbing is that the lost height and intelligence are permanent.”

Dougald Hine, What do you do, after you stop pretending?

From Dougald Hine, What do you do, after you stop pretending?:

‘Changing the world’ has become an anachronism: the world is changing so fast, the best we can do is to become a little more observant, more agile, better able to move with it or to spot the places where a subtle shift may set something on a less-worse course than it was on. And you know, that’s OK – because what makes life worth living was never striving for, let alone reaching, utopias.

There’s a big difference between the task of trying to sustain “civilisation” in its current form … which is what “sustainability” has largely come to mean, and the task of holding open a space for the things which make life worth living. I’d suggest that it’s this second task, in its many forms, which remains, after we’ve given up on false hopes.