Alibi V.20 No.18 • May 5-11, 2011
Don’t Call Me “New Agey”
I never write letters to newspapers, but I feel strongly after seeing the documentary I Am. You dismissed this [ Film Capsules, April 28-May 4] by slapping a label on it—“new agey”—which will discourage many people from seeing it. I fortunately read the review afterwards. I wonder if Archbishop Desmond Tutu has ever been called new agey, or great thinkers of our time along with great wisdom from the past few thousand years. Or the fact that science has begun to explain why this world is interdependent—something we in this “new age” of computers and Internet can see without a scientific background.
When an effort to point out solutions to a world the majority of people feel is going amuck, when people are starving but we pay farmers not to plant, etc., etc., to dismiss it with a label and not take seriously an attempt to inspire us to take action, is part of the problem of this culture. And this attempt to inspire was well-done cinematically, was never boring, had great music and gave hope we’re not necessarily headed towards total destruction.
Please think about what labels you use, what impact they will have, and please don’t be so blithe about them. One of the scientists predicted the label would be used and talked about the difference between current science and “new age” ideas. I am not “new agey,” and everything that talks about our ability to have compassion for others is not “new agey.” When there is rarely nothing but violence to watch on TV and see at the movies, something that is uplifting is a joy. In the audience yesterday, we all clapped enthusiastically when it ended. Maybe go see it again and stay open to the message.
Film Editor’s note: What's so funny about peace, love and understanding? Nothing. I Am is an extremely well-meaning film, but it's far too simplistic and pseudoscientifical for my (and many other people's) tastes. I was hard-pressed to find a single review of the film that didn't include the words "new age." Seattle Weekly, for example, labeled it "the year's best-funded new age vanity doc." I'm glad it affected you. But that won't be the case with everyone. Maybe we're not as interconnected as Mr. Shadyac would have us believe.
—Devin D. O’Leary
Bleak Weather Predictions
To properly understand what is happening with the weather lately one must understand what happens to systems that go from one state of equilibrium to a different state of equilibrium. That interphase consists of a period of disequilibrium. This is true for most systems: governments, relationships, businesses, one’s health and the Earth’s climate.
As an example, consider the extreme state of disequilibrium that must have existed between the last ice age and this most pleasant climate age that we may now be leaving. The flooding from melting ice must have been horrendous, but then there was all this new land that appeared and was then populated by plants, animals and us.
We are now in the early stages of this next period of disequilibrium after what has been a long period of climate equilibrium which allowed for the formation of existing geological and geographical components, oceans, lakes, rivers, mountains and the exponential growth of living species around the world. This will eventually lead to another state of equilibrium, which no one knows exactly when or what that will be.
So, for the foreseeable future expect that weather extremes will become the new normal, records will be repeatedly broken, strange juxtapositions will occur (summer snowstorms?) and destruction and death will be all too frequent corollaries of these weather events and changing conditions.
This will be a huge challenge for the human race. Exactly how big a challenge and how well we handle it will be our future history.
On Sunday, April 17, the employees of my local Borders got together and celebrated the life and death of their store. Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, and by Feb. 21, Borders began liquidating their inventory at 275 locations all over the country. At that time, the employees of the Borders at 10420 Coors Bypass on the Westside of Albuquerque found out that they would see their store close and that they would soon be out of a job.
During the past couple of weeks I visited the store to purchase fixtures. I had a chance to get to know the various employees in passing and was amazed at the strength of the morale, the upbeat spirit, the affection that all the employees had for one another, and the high levels of customer service that they offered during very trying times.
If Borders is to survive to emerge successfully from bankruptcy protection it will need the support of employees such as these. This is a resource that the company seems determined to squander. The recent request of upper management for $8.3 million dollars in bonuses during a time that they are terminating a large number of loyal employees and shuttering shops must have come as a slap in the face to those who are struggling to serve customers in stores that are closing. Borders seems to have offered slim thanks to their employees who have worked so hard during this transition and appears to take them for granted.
Wednesday, April 20, was the last day that the Borders on the Westside of Albuquerque was open. During the two days after that they employees finished shuttering their store. They boxed up the remaining books. They organized or disposed of the remaining fixtures. They cleaned their store one last time. They did this cheerfully and thoroughly because that is the kind of people and the type of team spirit that they had. They worked together through some difficult times. They are not the kind of people who were going to leave a job undone. And then they went their separate ways and will probably have little opportunity to see each other again.
Borders is worried about retaining the wrong people. And that is why the company’s days are probably numbered.
I wish all good things to the employees of the Borders formerly located on the Westside of Albuquerque. Sylvia, Susan, Karen, Amber, R.J., Darryl and any other employees I was not fortunate enough to meet, may your future days be better ones.
May Day in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is following the roadmap of historical precedence.
Back in 1934, another state governed by the extreme right virtually eliminated organized labor by legal fiat, the so-called “Charter of Labor Act.” The employer was legally empowered as master, the unquestioned “Leader of the Enterprise” in the actual language of the law, while employees were denigrated to the status of powerless peasants.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and eyewitness does a better job of describing the results of the union-busting act: “Deprived of his trade unions, collective bargaining, and the right to strike, the German worker in the Third Reich became an industrial serf, bound to his master, the employer, much as medieval peasants had been bound to the Lord of the manor.” (William Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.)
That was 1934 Nazi Germany. The employer decided everything pertaining to the work environment. The employees had no input whatsoever in their working conditions, including pay and benefits. This was Nazism. This is the goal of corporatism. This is fascism in action in America today.
The main difference between the union-busters of 1934 and today’s is the different terminology used. The results are the same.
Collective bargaining is a key component of Democracy and is protected by law. Those that attempt to destroy it are enemies of Democracy in general and of our Democratic Republic specifically, as proven by history.
Now that the "birther" issue has been laid to rest, Donald Trump has reloaded and is aiming his ludicrous attacks at President Obama's academic record. The question is: Why? Unlike Trump's quixotic search for a valid birth certificate, that has nothing to do with Obama's qualifications for office. Here is what the Constitution says about that:
Article II, Section I: "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident of the United States."
That's it. The Constitution does not require that a President even have a high school diploma, let alone a college degree. Obama has both, having graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University. So what is the point in calling into question his academic achievements, aside from conning the gullible media into providing air time for a daft and disingenuous self-promoter?
Correction: In last week’s news story “Utilities Protest Carbon Caps,” we neglected to mention PNM's estimates for how much the greenhouse gas rules might raise customers' utility bills. According to PNM Spokesperson Don Brown, the larger rule could increase costs by as much as $85 million annually by 2020.
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