There seems to be this pervasive belief in the US that we can invade, bomb, drone, kill, occupy, and tyrannize whomever we want, and that they will never respond. That isn't how human affairs function and it never has been. If you believe all that militarism and aggression are justified, then fine: make that argument. But don't walk around acting surprised and bewildered and confounded (why do they hate us??) when violence is brought to US soil as well. It's the inevitable outcome of these choices, and that's not because Islam is some sort of bizarre or intrinsically violent and uncivilized religion. It's because no group in the world is willing to sit by and be targeted with violence and aggression of that sort without also engaging in it (just look at the massive and ongoing violence unleashed by the US in response to a single one-day attack on its soil 12 years ago: imagine how Americans would react to a series of relentless attacks on US soil over the course of more than a decade, to say nothing of having their children put in prison indefinitely with no charges, tortured, kidnapped, and otherwise brutalized by a foreign power).
Let’s imagine that they were, as many have rushed to suggest that the Boston Marathon bombing ought to be. Let’s imagine that instead of sending a handful of investigators from the ATF and the Chemical Safety Board to West, Texas, we marshaled every local, state and federal resource available to discover the exact sequence of events that led to the explosion. Let’s imagine that the question—Why?—became so urgent that the nation simply could not rest until it had overdetermined the answers. We’d discover that OSHA hadn’t inspected the plant in twenty-eight years—did this play a role in the disaster? If it’s found that the company that owns the plant, Adair Grain, violated safety regulations, as it had last year at another facility, we might call it criminal negligence and attribute culpability. But would we ascribe ideology? And which ideology would we indict? Deregulation? Austerity? Capitalism? Would we write headlines that say Officials Seek Motive in Texas Fertilizer Explosion? And could we name “profit” as that motive in the same way that we might name, say, “Islam” as the motive for terrorism? Would we arrest the plant’s owners, deny them their Miranda rights and seek to try them in an extra-legal tribunal outside the Constitution, as Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested we treat US citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Would we call for a ban on the production of ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia? Would we say that “gaps and loopholes” in our nation’s agricultural policies were responsible for the tragedy, as Senator Chuck Grassley has suggested about immigration in the Boston bombing case?
No, we won’t. We won’t do any of these things, because even if the West fertilizer plant disaster is ultimately understood as something more than “just an accident,” it will still be taken as the presumed cost of living in a modern, industrialized economy.
When it comes to terrorism, we have the opposite response. We launch wars against other countries, denude the Constitution and create massive state bureaucracies for espionage, covert operations and assassinations. Since 9/11, it’s become a political imperative that our nation must express zero tolerance for terrorism, even though, like workplace fatalities, terrorism has been with us long before globalization lent it a more exotic and threating provenance.
To the problem of violence, there ought to be a path between callous indifference and total social warfare. And that’s why the miserable and absolute failure of gun control legislation in the Senate—just two days after the Boston bombing and on the same day of the West explosion—was especially galling. Like acts of terrorism, the murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School precipitated a national crisis. In the wake of that tragedy, our collective grief took a particular shape, the shape of democracy. The deaths of those school children were linked to the fate of more than 30,000 victims of gun violence each year, and the impulse to act was channeled through our democratic system, where an overwhelming majority of Americans and a majority of the US Senate expressed support for new gun laws, which were nonetheless defeated.
If only Americans reacted the same way to the actual threats that exist in their country. There's something quite fitting and ironic about the fact that the Boston freak-out happened in the same week the Senate blocked consideration of a gun control bill that would have strengthened background checks for potential buyers. Even though this reform is supported by more than 90% of Americans, and even though 56 out of 100 senators voted in favour of it, the Republican minority prevented even a vote from being held on the bill because it would have allegedly violated the second amendment rights of "law-abiding Americans".
So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks).
What makes US gun violence so particularly horrifying is how routine and mundane it has become. After the massacre of 20 kindergartners in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, millions of Americans began to take greater notice of the threat from gun violence. Yet since then, the daily carnage that guns produce has continued unabated and often unnoticed.
The same day of the marathon bombing in Boston, 11 Americans were murdered by guns. The pregnant Breshauna Jackson was killed in Dallas, allegedly by her boyfriend. In Richmond, California, James Tucker III was shot and killed while riding his bicycle – assailants unknown. Nigel Hardy, a 13-year-old boy in Palmdale, California, who was being bullied in school, took his own life. He used the gun that his father kept at home. And in Brooklyn, New York, an off-duty police officer used her department-issued Glock 9mm handgun to kill herself, her boyfriend and her one-year old child.
Employers prefer applicants who haven't been out of work for very long, applicants who have industry experience, and applicants who haven't moved between jobs that much.But how long you've been out of work trumps those other factors. As you can see in the chart below from Ghayad's paper, people with relevant experience (red) who had been out of work for six months or longer got called back less than people without relevant experience (blue) who'd been out of work shorter.
Look at that again. As long as you've been out of work for less than six months, you can get called back even if you don't have experience. But after you've been out of work for six months, it doesn't matter what experience you have. Quite literally. There's only a 2.12 percentage point difference in callback rates for the long-term unemployed with or without industry experience. That's compared to a 7.13 and 8.95 percentage point difference for the short-and-medium-term unemployed. This is what screening out the long-term unemployed looks like. In other words, the first thing employers look at is how long you've been out of work, and that's the only thing they look at if it's been six months or longer.
This penalty for long-term unemployment is unlike any other. As you can see in the chart below, job churn is another red flag for employers, but not nearly to the same extent. Applicants who'd gone through five to six jobs but had relevant experience were still more likely to get called back than those who'd gone through three to four jobs but didn't. And they had about as good a chance as those who'd only held one or two jobs but weren't experienced. In other words, there is no job-switching cliff like there is an unemployment cliff.
Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap. Once you've been out of work for six months, there's little you can do to find work. Employers put you at the back of the jobs line, regardless of how strong the rest of your resume is. After all, they usually don't even look at it.
San Francisco Giants: Charles B. Johnson, a mutual-funds baron and the 211th-richest person in the world according to Forbes, spent some $200,000 to try to defeat California's Proposition 30, the sales and income tax increase that included elements of the state's millionaire's tax initiative. (Prop. 30 passed in November.) Other political expenditures: $50,000 for Prop. 32, which would have kept unions and corporations from using automatic payroll deductions to bankroll political activity, and $200,000 for Karl Rove's American Crossroads.
There was a run of all time great Survivor tribal councils over the past month; it was kicked off with Malcolm's getting Reynold to give him his immunity idol just before playing it. You can watch that moment here, in Legos.
I also did not miss seeing a four star wrestling match in the past two weeks:
NFL Network's now annual ranking of the best players in the league began its roll out.
In advance of that, as part of my draft prep I put together my Top 100. I'll unveil mine section by section along with the programming. Good times.
NFL Network List:
100. D.Pitta TE Balt (not on my list, I've got 4 TEs)
99. T.Williams T Wash (not on my list, I've got 6 Ts)
98. M. Jones-Drew RB Jax (on my list, much higher)
97. H.Miller TE Pit (wasn't one of the 4 TEs)
96. D.Goldson S Tampa (not on my list, I only have 3 S's)
95. M.Unger C Seattle (not on my list, I have 5 C's)
94. D.Washinton OLB Arizona (on my list, higher)
93. A. Boldin WR San Francisco (not on my list, which is over represented at WR with 15)
92. G.McCoy DT Tampa (not on my list, I have 7 DTs, he would be #8)
91. T. Polamalu S Pit (on my list, higher)
My List: (The five who just missed 101. Tony Romo, 102 Russell Wilson 103 Mario Williams 104 Mike Iupati 105 Ed Reed) 100. CJ
Spiller RB Buffalo 99. A. Hernandez TE New England 98. C. Myers C Houston
97. C. Nicks G Tampa 96. J. Ratliff DT Dallas 95.J. Long T StL 94.D. Bryant WR Dallas 93. M. Yanda T Baltimore
92. B. Flowers CB Kansas City 91. I. Taylor CB Pittsburgh
Here's my new top 100 as we move into the second round.
1. J.Cyprien S
2. M. Barkley QB
3. M.Te'o ILB
4. G. Smith QB
5. M.Watson T
6. K. Allen WR
7. R. Woods WR
8. E. Lacy RB
9. T.Carradine DE
10. K.Minter ILB
11. J. Hunter WR
12. M.Hunt DE
13. J.Williams DT
14. K.Short DT
15. Z.Ertz TE
16. D.Moore DE
17. A.Brown ILB
18. J.Jenkins DT
19. J. Taylor CB
20. M.Ball RB
21. R. Nassib QB
22. L.Warford G
23. J.Hankins DT
24. J.Banks CB
25. S.Moore OLB
26. Q. Patton WR
27. J.Collins OLB
28. A.Okafor DE
29. J. Franklin RB
30. T. Armstead T
31. DJ Swearington S
32. K.Greene OLB
33. A.Dobson WR
34. B.Williams DT
35. B.Wreh-Wilson CB
36. D.Slay CB
37. R.Alford CB
38. B.Winters G
39. M.Wheaton WR
40. G.Escobar TE
41. S. Thomas S
42. JJ Wilcox S
43. V.McDonald TE
44. T.Mathieu CB
45. D.Amerson CB
46. T.Williams WR
47. G. Bernard RB
48. L. Jones QB
49. J.Reed TE
50. B.Jones C
51. J.Simon OLB
52. S.Montgomery DE
53. T. Kelce TE
54. J.Boyer CB
55. BW Webb CB
56. D.Gratz CB
57. L. Bell RB
58. C. Michael RB
59. K.Reddick ILB
60. P.Thomas S
61. A.Ellington RB
62. K.Davis RB
63. R.Swope WR
64. M.Scott QB
65. D.Rogers WR
66. T.Wilson QB
67. M.Glennon QB
68. D.Taylor DE
69. S.Bailey WR
70. T.Bray QB
71. C. Washington OLB
1. E. Fisher T
2. L.Joeckel T
3. S.Floyd DT
4. B.Mingo OLB
5. D.Jordan OLB
6. L.Johnson T
7. S.Lotulelei DT
8. C.Warmack G
9. J.Cooper G
10. E.Ansah DE
11. S.Richardson DT
12. D.Milliner CB
13. K. Vaccaro S
14. T. Austin WR
15. T. Eifert TE
16. DJ. Hayden CB
17. J.Jones OLB
18. DJ. Fluker T
19. J.Cyprien S
20. M. Barkley QB
21. D.Trufant CB
22. M.Elam S
23. X.Rhodes CB
24. M.Te'o ILB
25. A.Ogletree ILB
26. D.Jones DE
27. S.Williams DT
28. G. Smith QB
29. M.Watson T
30. K. Allen WR
31. R. Woods WR
32. E. Lacy RB
33. J.Pugh G
34. B.Werner DE
35. T.Carradine DE
36. K.Minter ILB
37. D. Hopkins WR
38. C. Patterson WR
39. J. Hunter WR
40. M.Hunt DE
41. J.Williams DT
42. K.Short DT
43. Z.Ertz TE
44. K.Long T
45. D.Moore DE
46. A.Brown ILB
47. J.Jenkins DT
48. E.Reid S
49. J. Taylor CB
50. M.Ball RB
51. R. Nassib QB
52. L.Warford G
53. J.Hankins DT
54. J.Banks CB
55. S.Moore OLB
56. Q. Patton WR
57. J.Collins OLB
58. A.Okafor DE
59. J. Franklin RB
60. T. Armstead T
61. DJ Swearington S
62. EJ Manuel QB
63. K.Greene OLB
64. A.Dobson WR
65. B.Williams DT
66. B.Wreh-Wilson CB
67. D.Slay CB
68. R.Alford CB
69. B.Winters G
70. M.Wheaton WR
71. G.Escobar TE
72. S. Thomas S
73. JJ Wilcox S
74. V.McDonald TE
75. T.Frederick C
76. T.Mathieu CB
77. D.Amerson CB
78. T.Williams WR
79. G. Bernard RB
80. L. Jones QB
81. J.Reed TE
82. B.Jones C
83. J.Simon OLB
84. S.Montgomery DE
85. T. Kelce TE
86. J.Boyer CB
87. BW Webb CB
88. D.Gratz CB
89. L. Bell RB
90. C. Michael RB
91. K.Reddick ILB
92. P.Thomas S
93. A.Ellington RB
94. K.Davis RB
95. R.Swope WR
96. M.Scott QB
97. D.Rogers WR
98. T.Wilson QB
99. M.Glennon QB
100. D.Taylor DE
I enjoy the NFL Draft - I've got Kiper's blue book, the Ourlad's guide, and the Top 100 Big Boards for Rang and Mayock. You want to know why Bjoern Werner projects as a left defensive end in a 4-3, I got you.
I enjoy Bravo. I know the easy stuff, like to whom "close your legs to married men" was said, but can also play some deep cuts. Who was the best cast member from NYC Prep? What didn't ever get sold at End of the Century on Gallery Girls? I got you. My Bravocabulary game is tight. That sounds like a good game, actually. Call Parker Brothers.
So let's put those things together. Mock Draft!
1. Kansas City – This isn't a draft with an Andrew Luck who you’d deal your whole board to pick; this isn't a draft with an Orlando Pace or a Jonathan Ogden, a can’t miss franchise saving left tackle – so the Chiefs pick the one ca't miss superstar, Nene Leakes, bringing swagger and catchphrases with her to middle America. With two network roles and about to add a second Bravo show – Nene’s going to be a Trump Check cashing, sack dancing, scenery chewing machine. Plus, her oldest son was once arrested for bringing pot into a police station. Bloop! Plonk!
2 Jacksonville – A colorless town (with an unsettling burnt armpit odor) picks a colorless player (who is also weirdly odorless, the carbon monoxide of offensive linemen, he recently contributed to the deaths of half the cast of MTV’s Washington Heights) Luke Joeckel T Texas A&M
3 Oakland – It was Al Davis’s last wish, someone to return that renegade, swashbuckling, outside the law glory to Oakland. That person – the table flipper and recipe thief - Teresa Giudice. She brings along her husband Joe, who posed as his brother for a fake driver’s license, as they take their outlaw act to the East Bay. The Autumn Wind is a Raider. Pillaging just for fun.
4 Philadelphia – Chip Kelly comes from Oregon and he’s bringing one of his own, no, not Toni and Candace, co-owners of Women and Women First, that’s on IFC, but instead his pass rusher, Dion Jordan OLB Oregon.
5 Detroit – 50 years ago Detroit had the highest per capita income in the country; in 2009 the Silverdome sold for half a million bucks. This is a town in need of a hero. That hero – Shahs of Sunset star Reza Farahan, who referred to his best friend of two decades MJ as having been “double stuffed by some Jewish cousins.” Perhaps it is an overture to Michigan’s healthy Middle Eastern population, and the pick becomes controversial when Reza refers to Lions QB Matt Stafford as a “yummy white ho”
6 Cleveland – the Browns get their best cornerback pairing since Frank Minniefield/Hanford Dixon by giving Joe Haden a partner – Dee Milliner CB Alabama.
7 Arizona – I spent two weeks there last summer and there is nothing hotter than Phoenix. Except Padma Lakshmi, who the Cardinals absolutely steal with the 7th pick.
8 Buffalo – The Bills head into the season with Kevin Kolb as their starting quarterback; they end it with Geno Smith QB West Virginia.
9 New York Jets – Desperate for a pass rush, the Jets get the best edge man in the draft, Barkevious Mingo OLB LSU.
10 Tennessee – Music City USA has its pick of the full Bravo canon, from “Tardy for the Party” to “Money Can’t Buy You Class” (or my favorite, Miss Lawrence’s “Closet Freak”) – the pick is the singer of “On Display”, Melissa Gorga, whose husband Joe’s comfort with women’s wear could probably get her booked at Tribe.
11 San Diego – before Philip Rivers gets killed the Chargers get the best tackle on the board, Eric Fisher T Central Michigan
12 Miami – the median age of the town still drops .25 years with the somewhat unexpected selection of Inside the Actor’s Studio host James Lipton. And now, from the questionnaire developed by the legendary Bernard Pivot, Jim - What is your favorite word…suplex. My favorite word is suplex.
13 New York Jets – You don’t deal Darrelle Revis unless it’s for a tattoo worthy of Rex Ryan's other arm. In the spirit of Mike Mamula, the Jets pick a combine hero; one of the all time Height/Weight/Speed guys who has all the measurables: Atlanta based male stripper Ridiculous. Dude's gonna need a bigger cap.
14 Carolina –the value on the board is in the interior of the defensive line, the Panthers leap at Sharrif Floyd, to whom Chris Berman has presumably already given the obvious musical nickname.
15 New Orleans – the Saints year in football jail comes to an end, they want to spend this pick on someone who is above the fray, beyond reproach – and that’s Lisa Vanderpump. Jiggy becomes the toast of the French Quarter but is viewed as bougie by residents of Treme.
16 St. Louis – the Rams have been faceless since the end of the Greatest Show on Turf when Kurt Warner resumed his previous life bagging groceries and Mike Martz passed away mumbling “the horror, the horror”. Andy Cohen returns to his hometown to become that face, serving both an on field and front office roles. Wednesday becomes Shotski night in the Ram locker room.
17 Pittsburgh – the top defensive end is still on the board and the Steelers need to replenish that edge rush. Ezekial Ansah DE BYU.
18 Dallas – other than the American Family Association, there aren't too many organizations I dislike more than the Cowboys; my least favorite Bravolebrity is Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger. Here’s hoping they can’t turn the card in fast enough. I enjoy it when people I dislike align in some fashion; if Nancy Grace married my freshman year forensics coach, I'd put the wedding announcement on my fridge.
19 New York Giants – there remain 3 premium offensive linemen on the board, give New York the best tackle left Lane Johnson T Oklahoma.
20 Chicago – the Bears are dying for a guard; there are two elite interior linemen in the draft and both remain in this spot – Chance Warmack G Alabama.
21 Cincinnati – what are the two things we know about the Bengals? 1. They could use an influx of cash 2. They aren't afraid to draft players whose characters come into question. The pick is Adrienne Maloof; she brings some casino money and a sleazy veneer. Chef Bernie and Rod Stewart’s son come along for a dysfunctional entourage.
22 St. Louis (from Washington) – the best receiver in the country is still available here, Travon Austin WR West Virginia.
23 Minnesota – the Vikings have lost 4 Super Bowls; Tom Colicchio has won 5 James Beard Awards; you need to start changing the culture in Minneapolis. He’s the pick.
24 Indianapolis – there is some reason to believe that Colts owner Jim Irsay is batshit crazy, or at least,
enjoys a little drinky drink every now and again. That’s a good description of Sonia Morgan, who brings her interns and toaster ovens to the Midwest.
25 Minnesota (from Seattle) – They thing they’re drafting Mike Singletary; personally, I think the Vikes are about to get Catfished, but they’re taking Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame
26 Green Bay – Kenny Vaccaro S Texas is still on the board for the safety hungry Pack.
27 Houston – The Texans are close, filled with really talented players on both sides of the ball, but Matt Schaub, even though he’s not a bad QB, just isn't field general enough to lead this team to the Super Bowl. You know who is? Jeff Lewis – he’ll feed Andre Johnson and fill the writers’ notebooks. If he and Jenni Pulos can stay out of protracted litigation, this is the pick that puts the Texans over the top.
28 Denver – Elvis (Dumervill) has left the building, the Broncos get the best lineman on the board, Star Lotulelei DT Utah.
29 New England – Bill Belichik does what he wants. And what he wants is to hand out with Vicki Gunvalson’s Maybe Boyfriend Brooks. “I don’t care what Tamra says, Brooks is the Bomb Dot Com.”
30 Atlanta – The first Husband/Wife combo on the same NFL team since the secret Ken Anderson/Pete Johnson elopement in 1981 – the Falcons draft defensive lineman Kroy Beerman’s wife (why? Why did he do this?) Kim Zolciak.
31 San Francisco – Sure, as someone who watches every Niners game I could give us Brandi Glanville, just for the Oscar dress alone – but our need for a safety wins out with the pick of Jonathan Cyprien S FIU.
32 Baltimore – the Ravens look for doubles in the first round, someone safe with a good track record and a high motor. Plus, we’re reminded by GM Ozzie Newsome “Girl wrote No Scrubs!”. Kandi Burress.
You know who didn't believe in any of that nonsense? Roger Ebert.
That's the soft version of that sentence.
You know who understood all of that was nonsense? Roger Ebert.
That more accurately reflects the evidence.
My facebook feed got hit with the "Siskel and Ebert are in heaven reviewing the new Vince Vaughn movie" posts pretty hard. I had a hard time looking at them, not just because it was in disagreement with Ebert's understanding of existence, a Christian appropriation of him in death that it could not have accomplished in life (sort of like Mormons baptizing dead Jews), but because I was genuinely embarrassed for the adults expressing this thought. Roger Ebert isn't really dead - he's on a farm upstate!
I hate thinking about death; hate that the reality of my existence and of the people I love is that it ends, no different than a pig or a chicken. If there were an escape hatch that I could take to avoid that truth, I'd take it. I don't know how eager I'd be to bow down to my master and admit I'm nothing and all of those other pretty nakedly obvious methods of social control that facilitate the domination of the many by the few - but if the tradeoff was a bottomless bucket of eternal popcorn, you know, that's a hard deal to turn down.
But its nonsense. Ebert's dead. Siskel's dead. I will be too one day. Sucks.
The United States collects less in taxes as a share of its economy than all but two other industrialized countries. Only Chile and Mexico collect less. Chile and Mexico. Right now a powerful group of CEO's, multi-millionaires and billionaires are calling on Congress to fix the debt. And their enablers in both parties are glad to oblige. Okay. But why not fix the debt by raising more taxes from those who can afford to pay? Close the loopholes. Shut down the tax havens. Cancel the Mitt Romney Clause Congress enacted, allowing big winners to pay a tax rate far less than their chauffeurs, nannies, and gardeners.
Instead, as we speak, our political class in Washington is attempting to fix the debt by sequestration – Washington doublespeak for bleeding services for veterans and the elderly, the sick and poor, for kids in Head Start.
Marching in lockstep beneath a banner that now stands for “Guardians of Privilege” -- GOP -- Republicans refuse to raise revenues, while Democrats have a president whose new budget contains gimmicks that could lead to cuts in Social Security. Social Security! The one universal safety net -- and a modest one at that – and yet the main source of purchasing power for millions of aging Americans.
2. Economic Inequality Contributing to Gap in Life Expectancy
Remember that the next time you hear about raising the retirement age.
The United States today qualifies as a plutocracy – on a number of grounds. Let’s look at some striking bits of evidence. Gross income redistribution upwards in the hierarchy has been a feature of American society for the past decades. The familiar statistics tell us that nearly 80% of the national wealth generated since 1973 has gone to the upper 2%, 65% to the upper 1 per cent. Estimates as to the rise in real income for salaried workers over the past 40 years range from 20% to 28 %. In that period, real GDP has risen by 110% – it has more than doubled. To put it somewhat differently, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the top earning 1 percent of households gained about 8X more than those in the 60 percentile after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007; 10X those in lower percentiles. In short, the overwhelming fraction of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid. That pattern has been markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Between 2000 and 1012, the real net worth of 90% of Americans has declined by 25%.
4. CEO Pay
5. Don't Listen to Meryl Streep - Thatcher Was Awful
Trained the Khmer Rouge. Called Mandela a terrorist.
Margaret Thatcher was a zealot, a friend to the worst mass murderers of the 1980s, a force for antisocial cruelty, and her violent means of ending the great British experiment in social democracy made the country a more brutal, less equal county. One of the most telling, and disturbing, of Thatcher’s catchphrases was “there is no alternative,” which was always invoked specifically to close off the possibility of considering the many extant alternatives to her top-down class warfare. At this point, the alternatives that might’ve produced a more equitable future are indeed long since gone, and the future — for England’s indebted, jobless youth and people the world over ground down by her philosophical comrades — looks about as grim as those horrid 1970s must’ve looked to the people who originally voted Thatcher into office. The world is better off without her, and it would’ve been much better off had she never existed in the first place.
6. Every Drop of Juice.
Your company is squeezing you for all you have.
The relentless drive for efficiency at U.S. companies has created a new harshness in the workplace. In their zeal to make sure that not a minute of time is wasted, companies are imposing rigorous performance quotas, forcing many people to put in extra hours, paid or not. Video cameras and software keep tabs on worker performance, tracking their computer keystrokes and the time spent on each customer service call.
Employers once wanted long-term relationships with their workers. At many companies, that's no longer the case. Businesses are asking employees to work harder without providing the kinds of rewards, financial and psychological, that were once routine. Employers figure that if some people quit, there are plenty of others looking for jobs.
“Wages are stagnant, jobs are less secure, work is more intense — it's a much tougher world,” said Paul Osterman, co-director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research. “Employers have become much more aggressive about restructuring work in ways that push for higher levels of productivity.”
And the best piece of schadenfreude comes courtesy of anti-PED moralist and libertarian Curt Schilling, who probably should go to jail.
9. I Watch 4 Star Wrestling Matches
8 of them over the past two weeks.
Tanahashi v. Okada 4 1/4 NJPW
Devitt v. Shelley 4 1/4 NJPW
Nakamura v. Smith 4 NJPW
Lethal v. Elgin 4 ROH
Lesnar v. HHH 4 WWE
Undertaker v. Punk 4 WWE
American Wolves v. Fish/O'Reilly 4 ROH
Bret Hart v. Steve Austin, Sept 1996 WWF
The first major sporting
event I can specifically recall watching in real time is the ’77 World Series;
I remember Reggie Jackson’s three homer game with more specificity than I do
Albert Pujols matching him in 2011.
I had just turned 7.
The year before the Reds won
their second straight World Series; when I think about those late 70s Yankee
teams I feel them as part of my life– the way I process thoughts about the ’77
World Series is very different than everything that came before. Those Yankee teams were part of my life; the
Big Red Machine might as well be the Gas House Gang to me.
They’re pages in history books.
Popular sports bloggers now
are younger than I am; there’s a heavily trafficked Giants blog whose author is
too young to remember Will Clark. I
haven’t entirely reconciled that yet – probably in the same way someone of a
generation previous to mine who read something I wrote about baseball fifteen
years ago wouldn’t be inclined to give me the benefit of the doubt about Willie
I don’t remember any World
Series before ’77 or Super Bowl prior to XII.
But Wrestlemania? I was 14 in the spring of 1985, a wrestling
fan for 2-3 years at that point. I saw
Rocky III in the movie theater and Hogan and Mr. T in their SNL sketch with
Fernando as it was airing.
Not Fandango. Fernando.
These kids today.
I’ve seen them all. Every minute of every match. Sunday we do it again.
-A year ago, the build for
the first version of this match was predicated on an intergenerational
fight. Rock, representing the “Attitude
Era” the much lamented golden age of wrestling profitability criticized Cena
(and, by extension, the ethos of modern WWE) as being a children’s product. The Rock’s a weird vehicle for that as a
broader perspective might see both as quarter pounders with different wrappers
– the shift from Styrofoam to cardboard doesn’t really change a flavor designed
to be palatable to the most mouths possible.
I still go to McDonalds sometimes; it’s a super familiar taste but
don’t confuse it with a 4 star sandwich.
Rock’s got the strap, which
will surprise fans who only tune in once a year and wonder why the guy in those
Paul Walker movies is on USA leading into a dancing segment by the
Funkasaurus. He ended CM Punk’s run, the
longest since the Hulk Hogan title reign during which that first ever
Wrestlemania took place, at the Rumble
(Cena won the actual Rumble to get the shot) and has presumably been toting
this belt to all of his B list functions subsequent (I’m picturing Rock at In
and Out with Dax Sheppard and Marlee Matlin; the newly designed title belt over
his shoulder as they split some animal fries off the secret menu).
The storyline is that Cena
lost a match he could not afford to lose at WM28 and it has ruined his
life. That might be more impactful had
they played that at any point, in the way TNA is doing with AJ Styles. Instead, Cena walked out of losing to the
Rock and right into going over the returning Brock Lesnar at the very next PPV
and spent the year being the same John Cena we’ve seen for years, unchanged by
wins, losses, time, space. He’s a
cartoon. Colorful, flat, voiced by Hank
He wins here, because he has
to, in a match the will be just fine and too long and not worth watching a
I think there’s a possible
heel beatdown postmatch, either by Lesnar, taking out his frustrations over
losing to HHH – or, more interestingly, by Lesnar and Punk together – finally
joining forces under Paul Heyman to become a mega heel duo. 24 minutes. 3 1/2 stars. Comparable to last year's; about as good as two limited workers can do in a long singles match. No fun postmatch shenanigans.
-Del Rio has held the
secondary world title belt since the beginning of the year, turning babyface in
such a transparent way to gain Hispanic interest you’d expect that Rance
Priebus has joined the creative team.
He’s been targeted directly by a newly repackaged Jack Swagger, now an
anti-immigrant zealot with a particularly effective mouthpiece, Zeb Colter
(Dutch Mantel). Swagger may not come out
of Mania with the belt, but he’s already polling really well in his
congressional primary. I look forward to
reading his position papers on climate change (Like evolution and raising taxes
on millionaires – another secular scientist hoax) and gun control (If Jesus
wanted to limit how many assault weapons
I could own why did He give me two hands?).
Swagger won the Elimination
Chamber match in February to get the shot and has taken out Del Rio and his
walkaround guy Ricardo multiple times.
They’re both competent midcard workers; given them 14 minutes and they
can give you a 3 ½ star match. I’m going
to say Del Rio keeps, but is then laid out by Swagger allowing for Dolph
Ziggler to cash in the briefcase and win the strap.
12:30. 3 1/4 stars. Liked it fine and had they given it two more minutes, maybe I like it another quarter star. They did the Ziggler angle the following night on RAW.
Lesnar vs. HHH
-Imagine if you will, from a business
perspective, the following counterfactual – Brock doesn’t put Cena over
immediately upon returning to wrestling; instead, he takes that white hot
reaction he received a year ago when he emerged, a conquering hero in the eyes
of a wrestling public that viewed him as a legitimate, UFC approved, wrecking
machine – and runs over everyone they put against him all year long until
facing the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
An unbeatable, maybe uncontrollable, legitimate force against the
Streak. Look, my wrestling preferences
are not aligned with the business needs of WWE; I am willing to accept that the
Wrestlemania I’d construct with this roster (Generico and Pac would get 22
minutes) is probably not the one best calculated to sell merchandise. But nothing, from the time Lesnar walked from
behind the curtain the night after last year’s Mania, could have seemed more
obvious, from solely a business perspective, than Unstoppable force v.
Immovable object, and they absolutely could have had that match and chose to
toss it away.
Instead they have this. Brock beat Hunter at Summer Slam, Brock broke
Hunter’s arm (and Shawn’s, for good measure) and then F-5’d the Old Man. Hunter busted up Brock hard way in
retaliation and then was forced to put his career on the line to get this
They’ve added Shawn for Hunter’s corner and
made this a No Holds Barred stip, ensuring this will be a good match; I’d guess
no worse than second best on the show. Theoretically it’s possible that Hunter might
lose (perhaps with Shawn throwing in the towel in a way that could lead to a
year long build to a Hunter/Shawn match at WM30; maybe if they are both
violating their retirement stip for one match they can get away with it – maybe
DX goes into the Hall of Fame the night before) but I don’t know that Hunter
has it in him to lose again to Lesnar. 22:30. 4 stars. I am entirely alone in this view of the match; I think because I am totally disinterested in crowd reaction - your enjoyment of a match in no way impacts my evaluation of it. The crowd was dead so the match was perceived as dead. I think that's right. Or I'm just wrong. I liked it more than either of the Undertaker/HHH matches. I liked it more than this year's Undertaker match. Hunter wins.
* CM Punk vs. Undertaker
What story were they
planning to tell before Paul Bearer died?
In each of the previews I’ve
written in this space, I’ve discussed Punk’s title run; encouraging as far back
as August that it be centered around length.
Punk had the longest WWF/E title run in a quarter century; it’s the
first line in his wrestling obituary. So
here he is, just two months after the end of that historic run in a match
against what is probably the most focused upon streak in the history of
wrestling – the Undertaker’s unbeaten record.
And instead of that story –
we’re throwing around an urn.
Among the merits to the last
four Undertaker matches was the lack of goofy.
The Undertaker is no longer undead, he’s a veteran athlete who, through
guile and fortitude, can rise to the occasion one day a year and win his match
regardless of circumstance. He’s
extinguished Michaels and Hunter in “last of a dying breed” matches – where the
implicit (and last year, explicit) premise has been the last connection to the
glory days of the promotion is on display, maybe for the last time.
You know that when Hunter
stood in the ring in the build to 28 and told the Undertaker that there weren’t
any guys in the dressing room like the two of them anymore – that Punk would
have been the most pissed off, the most likely to tell those old men to get the
hell out of his ring.
Instead of that – instead of running on that
kind of aggrieved, believable, “you Attitude Era assholes need to go away – and
with my 400+ days as WWE Champ, I’m the guy to make it happen” fuel, they gave
Punk Paul Bearer’s urn. And that just
makes the Undertaker so doggone mad.
There’s some mileage to be
gained from an full attack on the Attitude Era – Punk could have told the
Undertaker that not only is he better than the Undertaker, and Michaels, and
Austin, and Rock – but there are a half dozen guys buried throughout the roster
who are better than they are now or ever were and its time the WWE stopped
living in its past. Much like Punk’s
original shoot promo, the way to generate some heat into this program would be
to tap an existing vein. I can believe
Punk’s pissed off that the Undertaker is still hanging onto his Wrestlemania
spot; I can’t believe that Punk is tormenting him about William Moody’s death.
The problem with using “real
life tragedy” in a wrestling angle isn’t that it’s distasteful or disrespectful
– it’s that it isn’t believable; it makes the program a joke. No one above the age of 12 could possibly
think that Punk could really be desecrating Paul Bearer’s remains, and no one
under that age has any idea who Paul Bearer was.
It should have been a one
week reference; cut the heat promo on the dead manager, inject some personal
animosity into the broader program – but what could have had some real energy
just became a childish angle that makes this the most disappointing program of
the Wrestlemania build.
It’s probably still the best
match of the night, no worse than second behind HHH/Brock. 22 min. 4 stars. Exactly the match, the result, the quality I expected.
Kane and Daniel Bryan have
been champs since September. It’s almost
7 months. That’s the longest tag run in
Has this been a good year
for Bryan Danielson? A year ago, the most
sustained show long crowd reaction the day after The Rock met John Cena was not
for either of those guys, but instead for Danielson, who wasn’t even booked.
Daniel Bryan chants filled arenas for months – and while you can’t call a 7
month tag title run a burial, he clearly isn’t as over as was he at this point
last year. He became a crutch for
creative; Danielson could do the comedy vignettes that would fill the
programming, and the lack of good matches and the disinclination to frame him
for the WWE audience as someone who you can count on when you want to see a
good wrestling match (which was how they branded Mr. Perfect, for example)
makes this sort of a lost year.
Hopefully, what it’s done is eliminate the down side risk (good luck
with your future endeavors) as his non-wrestling utility is probably accepted
by management. I don’t know if he’s any
closer to a 25 minute Wrestlemania match today than he’s been throughout his
WWF tenure. Presumably, they recognize
they can’t rely on Rock/Hunter/Undertaker for too many high profile matches
going forward and would at some point utilize the star power of that generation
to help create the next wave of wrestlers who will make the company money in
I’m tired of being wrong about the champs
dropping this belt and Danielson breaking free of this tag team. I predict it in every event.
I’m picking it here
too. Ziggler and Langston win the belts.
There aren't any more 3 star matches from the show. This went 6:30 and was fine given the time allotted. Champs kept. It never ends.
Jericho vs. Fandango
For whatever reason, Vince became convinced
that “evil ballroom dancer” was the right way to counterprogram RAW against
Dancing With the Stars, and given his past appearance on that program (although
I don’t know that it’s been referenced as part of this build) Jericho has
gotten the call to help get Fandango over.
The “evil” element of the Fandango gimmick is
working pretty well; he’s viciously attacked Jericho multiple times and looked
believable in doing it. The ballroom
dancer part of the gimmick has shorter legs; like Doink – it probably can’t
work as a babyface. I’d expect this to
be too short to matter much with the dancer going over (Maksim Chmerkovskiy
left Dancing with the Stars this season, his run in to aid Fandango would be
the weirdest Mania celebrity cameo since Herb, the guy who never ate a Whopper,
teamed with GenichiroTenryu. 9 minutes, just okay. Fandango beats him.
* Ryback vs. Mark Henry
This is not an arm wrestling
match or a bodyslam challenge, but, for those of you unfamiliar with these men,
it might as well be. They will stand in
the middle of the ring and slowly hit each other with clubbering fists until
Ryback bodyslams Henry and gets the win.
8 minutes of bearhugs. Henry went over and Ryback turned on RAW.
* Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus vs. The
Shield (Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose)
If you’re like me you’re
watching the inaugural season of Big Brother Canada…
…And you watch the US and UK
versions as well – years ago, I was starting to go out with a woman and my
brother said “tell her you own 5 wresting DVDs.
Five. You keep that shit to
yourself”. My international interest in
the Big Brother franchise isn’t that – but it can see that from there.
So, if you’re watching Big
Brother Canada you know that the main alliance in the house has nicknamed
itself The Shield and uses the X armsign upon casting votes to evict. I’m rooting like hell for them.
I’m also rooting for their
WWE namesake – The Shield hasn’t gotten nearly enough ringtime considering the
quality of two of its members; WWE doesn’t have to become the workrate based
promotion that I’d prefer to recognize that they can use match quality to help
get guys over. There’s no reason to beat
them here against an ad hoc babyface team.
Randy Orton looks as bored as a 14 year old during a mitosis lecture. If he doesn’t turn here he’s never going to
10:30, this was just fine, Orton was selfish and it pissed the Show off. * Brodus
Clay, Tensai, Cameron and Naomi vs. Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Nikki and Brie
There will be dancing.
This got bumped. There was no dancing.
That’s the show – it’s
perfectly fine. The Undertaker/Punk and
Hunter/Brock matches certainly have **** potential; the possibility of Ziggler
cashing in his briefcase and Daniel Bryan wrestling for more than 18 seconds
are also worth some anticipation. The
pre-show has a Barrett/Miz (and maybe a Cesaro?) match; it’s five hours of
sports entertainment for your wrestling dollar, and is bound to be a